Exhuming Bob XXX: Pt. 3 A Review of Masked And Anonymous

June 11, 2011

Exhuming Bob XXX

Part III

A Review Of Bob Dylan’s Movie

Masked And Anonymous

by

R.E. Prindle

A Catalog Of The Usual Suspects

      I will now deal with the leading characters of Masked And Anonymous and what story line the movie has.    It is clear that not many have seen this movie so I will try to relate the review of the movie to Dylan’s life as the film is clearly autobiographical.

The characters have their individual roles while being paired up in various combinations.  The most obvious is that of Fate and the Promoter or Manager Uncle Sweetheart played by John Goodman.  Uncle Sweetheart has a very large dose of Dylan’s real life manager Albert Grossman while being a composite of every promoter who ever existed.  Uncle is also paired with Nina Veronica played by Jessica Lange as the exploited female Producer.  She also does a very creditable job.

Later in the movie Bobby Cupid is introduced played by Luke Wilson.  Cupid is obviously Bobby Neuwirth, Dylan’s sidekick of the early sixties, and who also shared the spotlight with him on the Rolling Thunder extravaganza.  Cupid is a smart ass put down artist as Neuwirth was reputed to be.  Cupid forms a pair with Uncle Sweetheart also as an antagonist which may have been the case in real life with manager Albert Grossman but one can’t be sure.  At any rate Cupid merges his identity with that of Fate while acting as his enforcer.

The interest is not the movie but what Dylan reveals of himself.

2.

A Run Through The Scenes

Influences

     In many ways this movie is based on all the Rock n’ Roll movies of the fifties.  All of them could have been written by the same hand, at least the American ones.  The English Tommy Steele’s Doomsday Rock might have slightly different being from England but probably not.  Cliff Richard’s movie that I’ve seen only recently was from the American mold.  Dylan ‘s movie is on a par with all except for the greatest of them, the apotheosis of Rock n’ Roll films- The Girl Can’t Help It.  That movie told the whole story of Rock n’ Roll  while being a perfect summary of the fifties.  Can’t recommend it too highly; had more stars than the Big Dipper.

     The big drawback of Dylan’s movie is that once he gets out of jail Fate can’t stop droning on about his opinions about everything. He might have thought he was on a par with Phil Marlowe but he wasn’t.  Dylan’s close with Greil Marcus and he and his crowd are big on Raymond Chandler, the creator of Philip Marlowe.  Chandler is great but not transcendental, and I’ve read all his stuff short stories and novels but not the letters so his mystique for Marcus, Dylan and that crowd escapes me.  Marlowe narrates with comment as Dylan does here so there may be a strong Chandler influence.

Enter The Characters

     Scene 1 is the fireworks.  Scenes 2 through seven introduce, in order, Uncle Sweetheart, Nina Veronica, Jack Fate, Prospero, Tom Friend and Pagan Lace.  The scenes establish the main characters while providing the raison d’etre for the movie, or in other words, what passes for a plot.

Mid Sixties Dylan     Scene one is the violent opening.  Scenes two and three present Uncle Sweetheart and Nina Veronica.  The name Sweetheart is obviously ironic as Uncle is conniving and irresponsible.  John Goodman who plays the role is a big fellow as was Albert Grossman.  As the movie is autobiographical Uncle Sweetheart must refer to Grossman who came across to Dylan as doing something for him but who wound up taking more of the earnings than went to the singer and writer of the songs.  Still he is a composite of every promoter than ever existed.  Nina Veronica played by Jessica Lange is a smart talking long suffering legman for Uncle.  Lange co-starred in a Presley movie thus establishing Dylan’s connection to Elvis without whom, as he says, he couldn’t have been doing what he is doing.  I can’t really identify a specific model for her but she is blonde.  Might be some connection to Edie Sedgwick and Echo Helstrom among others.

     Scenes four, five and six introduce Jack Fate with an interlude with Cheech of Cheech and Chong as Prospero referring to A Midsummer Night’s Dream thus establishing Dylan’s connection to Shakespeare to whom some inexplicably compare him. Scene six brings Tom Friend into the stream.

     As Uncle cannot find a ‘Star’ to perform solo at this benefit concert he is staging, he is forced to dip into the bottom of the bucket to spring Fate from prison where he is apparently doing life for being a bad singer  without parole.  Fate collects his guitar and moseys down to the bus stop where he finds his old friend Prospero waiting for him.  Here Dylan begins his marvelous collection of clichés.  ‘Where you goin’” asks Prospero.  ‘That way.’ says Fate pointing to the right.  ‘Oh yeah?  That way’s pretty good too.’  Prospero says pointing to the left.  Whew!  Are you prepared?  The use of Prospero for this downer film must be ironic.

     Boarding the jalopy bus Fate asks the Black female bus driver:  ‘This bus cross the border?’   ‘Oh no, you’re going the wrong way, mister.’  ‘Alright’ Fate replies resignedly.  And this is only the beginning of the movie.  Fates passes the Mexicans and chicken to find a seat at the back of the bus.  I presume that this is a racial comment that it is now time for Whites to sit in back.  After all as Dylan sings in his song: Them that are first shall be the last.  To give credit when credit is due, Dylan with great economy lays out the direction down the midway of his view of  Desolation Row that the movie will pursue.  This is Dylan’s version of reality that even a hundred million dollars obviously can’t change.

     The scene that introduces Friend takes place in the Editor’s office.  Here we have a contrast between

Recent Dylan Persona

the archetypical, cynical, hard drinking nineteenth century newspaper editor confronted by a wise ass current edition of Dylan in hoody and dark glasses.  This is an interesting contrast in historical periods.  Not only do Friend and the Editor come from different periods but the Editor has a copy of the statuette of the monkey reading Darwin’s Origin Of Species on the desk.  As Friend is associated with both Dylan’s early New York period and his present this might be a time to note the influence on Dylan’s mind, which he acknowledges, caused by his study of Civil War era newspapers in the New York City library during ‘61-’62.  Actually he studied the social scene North and South in the years just before the war.  It would be interesting to know how many different papers he read.  The old black-face minstrel Oscar Vogel  who appears later in the movie refers to these studies as also does probably Dylan’s inexplicable inclusion of his version of the Southern anthem, Dixie.  He might have done better to have performed Cowboy Copas’ Alabam‘.  One might add his version isn’t very good.  Nevertheless those studies color his mind.

The Day The World Changed Eras

Dylan And The Press

     Friend also raises the question of Dylan’s relationship with the press.  Now, Dylan had before him the example of the Beatles and their amazing exchange with the media upon touchdown at Idlewild airport, renamed JFK, in January of ‘64.  We were fairly electrified at the aplomb of the Fab Four and their cheekiness.  This was in contrast to the humble pie other musicians ate before the microphones.  The Beatles established a superior distance to ‘all that thing’ that struck just the right tone with the generation.  In that one brief exchange they changed the direction of the history of the world.  Of course, scruffs like the Rolling Stones and Animals who followed them maintained the tone creating  the right antagonism between the generation and their elders.  This was the beginning of the generation gap.  The old timers who had survived the Depression, WWII and the Korean War had developed a definite world outlook that we with different experiences couldn’t share but the cleavage between the two generations was so sharp that conflict was inevitable.  This is where it began.

The Bad Boys Of Rock

     Dylan’s father in his interview with Walter Eldot of Duluth let the cat out of the bag when he said his son was a corporation and his whole persona was an act, a character that Dylan had assumed to make it.  That being said then Dylan had plenty of time to assess the situation and prepare an act for the press when his turn came with good and correct examples before him.  Since he couldn’t be flippant and amusing like Lennon and the others of the Fab Four he had to create an antagonism between himself and the press so we may assume his proto-Keith Richards act was a put on from the start.  It seems impossible that a young man like Dylan wouldn’t have been flattered and awed by being interviewed by the international press while being broadcast on the evening news on two continents on a regular basis.

The Name Terrified The Old Folks

     Nobody expected much from the unknown quality of the Beatles in ‘64 but Dylan in ‘65 was already ‘the spokesman for his generation’ whether he wishes to acknowledge it or not.  His shucking and jiving and renunciation of his role did have a cooling effect.  He was supposed to be supremely wise, ‘Something’s going on here but you don’t know what it is, do you?’, with answers for everything but he wasn’t and didn’t.  He could say anything stupendous nor could anyone have.  Knowing his incapacity he chose to pick a fight; probably the wisest thing he could have done.  He didn’t answer any questions but asked more questions back than were given him.  That way he didn’t have to take a position on anything.

     It’s interesting that his alter ego, Friend, is full of sage and trite expressions of opinion, he spouts them non-stop a la Phil Marlowe.  Friend who represents the Dylan of ‘61-’65 has Lace/Cruz as his live in.  It follows then that Pagan Lace must represent Suze Rotolo.

Searching For The Vacant Couch

      In his memoir Chronicles Vol I Dylan creates Ray Gooch and Chloe Kiel who he says he stayed with for some time on the West Side, sort of the Bank Street crowd.  There is no possible way to fit them into the time frame nor had anyone ever heard of them before Chronicles so they must be a composite of the MacKenzies, Dave Van Ronk and various other couches he slept on.  He very quickly moved in with Suze Rotolo by late ‘61 down on Fourth Street.  As near as I can tell he stayed there until perhaps ‘63 when they split up.  By 1963 he would have been famous and prosperous enough so that he couldn’t go back to sleeping on other people’s couches so between then and the time he showed up at the Chelsea Hotel it isn’t too clear where he lived.  That was before Warhol demolished what was left of the Chelsea’s reputation when he made his movie Chelsea Girls.

     Friend’s really great Beatnik pad was probably a composite of locations Dylan knew.  It’s terrific.  Not a lot of books  in it though as Dylan describes in his memoir.

Memories Of Suze

     As I noted Pagan Lace was very fearful much as Dylan always described Suze.  Suze was intellectually vital in introducing Dylan to art and the theatre while Pagan Lace being Mexican is reminiscent  of the Ramona of Dylan’s song To Ramona.  ‘I could forever talk to you by my words would soon become a meaningless hum…’ which is essentially the relationship between Friend and Lace.  Friend and Lace go in search of the Benefit Concert to track down the elusive Jack Fate.

     Scene eight is the totally irrelevant interlude with the paramilitary who has no idea which side he’s on.  The movie could have done without it.

     Dylan insists on talking over the scenes like some Philip Marlowe but more vapid.  If he wouldn’t give the reporters his opinions in his prime he makes up for it here while amply demonstrating the wisdom of having kept his mouth shut previously.

     In scene 9 Fate’s father lies dying.  Why he’s Mexican isn’t clear to me unless Dylan is merely eliminating as many White faces as possible.  Dylan relates the particulars of Fate’s mom and dad which obviously correspond to those of himself and his parents.  In another long interlude he checks into a hotel in what is supposed to be a dead pan comedy routine with the desk clerk.  Another very long stretch of clichés.

Robert C. Neuwirth

    In scene 10 Fate makes a phone call to his old buddy Bobby Cupid who during Fate’s incarceration has been working as a bartender.  A very dissatisfying scene takes place between Cupid and a customer.  Wretched acting and even more miserable writing.  If Warhol was right that amphetamines made Dylan’s lyrics sparkle in the sixties, he should have fortified himself with some while writing this script.  Having received his summons from Fate Cupid throws down his towel leaving the cash drawer open and liquor on display and leaves the building.

     In the meantime Fate has found his way to the studio cum bar.   This scene may be dated back to

A More Mature Neuwirth

Dylan’s teen fantasy that he is living out today.  Contrary to what he would have people believe Dylan’s oeuvre is singularly free of Blues or Negro influence.  Dylan quite frankly is a pseudo-Hillbilly.  Well, maybe not that pseudo.  He has been since the first day he showed up in Greenwich Village disguised as Woody Guthrie.  In fact one reason it took him two months after arriving in New York to reach the Village was that he was actually scoping it out, reading the scene to develop an act as he couldn’t play straight country and succeed.  Not too confident he backed up his Woody Guthrie/James Dean act with a large dollop of  the lovable Charlie Chaplin for comedic relief.  Still, he knew all the great Country songs and acts of the fifties.  He had probably seen  all the greats and lesser lights come through Hibbing.  Awe inspiring.  They used to have these great package shows.  Where I lived I remember one show headlined by Ernest Tubb backed up by lesser lights like Johnnie and Jack and others.  Both the show and the audience was a trip.  I’m sure Dylan on more than one occasion was outside the stage door to watch the performers troop in.  A sight to see.  They weren’t gods but they’ve never been replaced.  The Rocker never even came close.

     The whole benefit sequence is Country and Western probably what Dylan calls traditional music.  Bearing in mind the country concerts, Dylan makes a marvelous entrance as the traveling country troubadour shot from the back.  Wonderful.  He has the shambling bowlegged gait, guitar case in hand in the oversized cowboy suit down pat.  He even manages the bowlegged stiff back stoop so you might think it was I don’t know who rambling past.  He does all kinds of imitations of the Country stars he knew and loved:  Hank Snow, Webb Pierce, Slim Whitman, I don’t know who all.  If you know country these scenes give away Dylan’s major influences.  Heck, when he hired Mike Bloomfield for Highway 61 he told him he didn’t want any of that blues crap and he made Bloomfield play out of his genre.  If he could have gotten Country picking out of him he probably would have been happier.

Back In The Country Mode

     Once he got out of the miasma he’d fallen into from ‘61-’66 he went straight Western with John Wesley Harding and just in case you didn’t get the message on Nashville Skyline he comes out of the country closet tipping his hat to you as if to introduce himself in his real guise.  Obviously that is the real Bob Dylan.  My problem with that, as my jaw dropped, was that he’s a lousy country singer and writer.  Merle Travis he’s not.

Dylan In White-Face, Rolling Thunder

    Now, the bar in the scene is a real old fashioned Country bar although this one is improbably populated by Negroes and Mexicans and the occasional old girl friend.  The only thing the scene is missing is the chain link fencing around the band to keep the boys from catching a flying bottle with their teeth.  I can tell you that those crowds were rowdy and I’m only alive to talk about it by the grace of god.  In Dylan’s fantasy all those peaceable Negroes and Mexicans are so enthralled by Fate’s hillbilly music that they just keep smiling’ and boppin’ along.  Heck even the Black Country singer Charlie Pride didn’t like the music that much, he only went to C&W when he realized he wasn’t going to make the major leagues as a ball player.  So, during performance time here we’re in Fantasyland.

     To put the scene into some kind of perspective it would appear that Dylan is combining the Rolling Thunder Revue and the We Are The World Benefit concert.   The stage has a couple different backdrops here and they are quite reminiscent of the backdrops for the Rolling Thunder Revue of 1976 which in turn were based on the drop curtain of the movie, Children of Paradise..  Apparently that was a happy period of Dylan’s life.

Rolling Thunder BackdropHighway 61 RevisitedRemember it’s all symbolism here and Dylan is telling his life story, not as it happened but corrected to what he would have liked to have happened.  Thus he has a couple different backdrops based on the designs of the Rolling Thunder Revue.  I didn’t get it all but one is revealing.  There is some speculation as to whether Dylan was a Juvenile Delinquent who did time at the Minnesota Reform School at Red Wing.  Red Wing is a town down on Highway 61.  Highway 61 begins in Duluth at the wrong end of 61 and ends down in New Orleans in Blues country.  So one should not confuse the wrong end with that end.  Dylan is talking abou the Wrong End of Highway 61.  It has nothing to do with the Blues.    The town of Red Wing is also home to the Red Wing boot and shoe company, the last American made boots and shoes available, if they still are.     Even though the very literal minded Duluth reporter, Walter Eldot, made a point of saying that Red Wing did not have walls as claimed in Dylan’s song The Wall Of Red Wing there must still be at least a chain link fence.  I’ve never been to Red Wing but I’m speculating that you can see the Red Wing shoe factory through the fence at the reformatory.  I may not be right on that speculation but one backdrop advertises American Made Shoes in a cartouche to the right and Retail in a cartouche to the left.  If you remember the song Highway 61 Dylan makes reference enigmatically to 40,000 red, white and blue shoe strings.  So there are a number of ties to Red Wing for Dylan.  The Minnesota Dept. of Corrections isn’t going to tell us whether Robert Zimmerman was an inmate in 1959 but I think there’s enough evidence here to make the surmise conclusive.     I’ve never seen Dylan live but if his show is anything like this movie I’m not going to spend seventy dollars to do it.  His band are good musicians as far as that goes but Dylan doesn’t believe in a good bottom.  He’s got a drummer but no rhythm section.  He brings three guitars up front not including his own leaving his drummer flailing away, not particularly concerned with keeping time in the background.  If Country drummers can’t do anything else they can at least keep time.     The songs he uses here are not distinctive..  I wouldn’t pay money to see Dylan do an insipid Diamond Joe and I’d have walked out before he finished Dixie.  God, playing Dixie to an audience of Negroes and Mexicans.  He should have had the Stars and Bars suspended behind him to complete the insult.Mississippi On My Mind     While we’re on this Southern kick we might as well include the scene between Fate and the black-face minstrel, Oscar Vogel.  This appears to be a significant name.  Oscar is an old English name meaning Spear of God while Vogel is German, possibly Yiddish, for bird.  A singer is a sort of bird while Oscar was assassinated for speaking ‘truth to power’ or a Spear of God.     Vogel would seem to refer to Dylan’s stint as a ‘freedom rider’ in the Civil Rights era of the early sixties.  In point of fact people were killed during this period while it is likely that Dylan escaped an early demise by a hair’s breadth.  For example in his song Motorpsycho Nightmare which take place Bates Motel  style from Hitchcock’s recent 1960 movie Psycho the last line is ‘if it hadn’t been for freedom of speech I would have wound up in the swamp.’     If one considers Dylan’s outspoken career during ‘63 and ‘64 it is not inconceivable that he made many powerful enemies.  Between songs like Blowin’ In The Wind, The Times They Are A’Changin’ and Masters Of War combined with the his appearance in the Washington Mall with Joan Baez and Martin Luther King it would seem certain that he at least came to the attention of then director of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover.  It is clear that Hoover would like to have discredited King who he correctly believed was either a Communist or Communist inspired.     In the early years Dylan might not have counted for much but by 1964 he was becoming the ‘spokesman for his generation’ and much more influential.  Hoover would have to have become concerned.  Thus when that nerd Pete Seeger induced Dylan to travel to Mississippi to lend his voice to the freedom riders Hoover for one might have said to himself, ‘That boy has got to be stopped.’     In Motorpsycho Nightmare in order to outrage the Farmer Dylan shouts:  I like Fidel Castro and I like his beard.  The Farmer calls him a Commie as Dylan, the narrator, hit’s the ground running.  In another song commentary Dylans says in his 1997 Mississippi, ‘I stayed in Mississippi one day too long.’ Sad Sack Current Dylan

    In that light Fate’s confrontation with Vogel is interesting.  One imagines Vogel was a pre-Civil War minstrel so that he refers back to Dylan’s Civil War studies undertaken in Dylan’s pre-Civil Rights period.  Being in black-face could refer to Dylan’s Mississippi incursion with that twit Pete Seeger.  Let us say then that the connection to Vogel is Mississippi.

     Now, Dylan had been shooting off his mouth insulting Congressmen or whoever in songs like The Times They Are A’ Changin’, Blowin’ In The Wind and Masters Of War, callow, sophomoric songs all expressing high school essay sentiments.   He was at the DC protest so the Mississippi trip and a song like Oxford Town might have been the last straw for the Feds, the tipping point.

     Vogel delivers a monologue on his own murder while the doleful, long faced Dylan sits quietly listening.  Vogel, played by Ed Harris in a particularly glossy black Shine, tells Fate that at one time he was a very famous minstrel but that a cause came up and as he had a podium as an entertainer he undertook to ‘speak truth to power.’  As he tells Fate it’s not what goes into your mouth that gets you in trouble it’s what comes out.  Freedom of Speech didn’t save him from the swamp, so let’s say it was probably a combination of Freedom Of Speech and intervention by Albert Grossman to save his meal ticket that did it.  I have read someone’s opinion that Grossman served that function for Dylan more than once.

     Fate having heard the story began walking away.  When he looks back Vogel is gone, proving he was merely a projection of Fate’s/Dylan’s psyche.  In place of Vogel is a real Mississippi Negro with a baseball bat.  The implication is- don’t come back.  In this connection during 1976’s Rolling Thunder tour Dylan appeared not in black face but in white face perhaps referring back to his Mississippi blunder.  Thank you Pete.

Trouble Begins For The Children Of Paradise

     On Fate’s arrival at the bar Dylan begins to lose control of his movie as the story gets more complicated.  His relationship with Uncle becomes tense as in real life his relationship with his manager Grossman begins to come apart.   By 1970 Grossman and Dylan were in court.  That tenseness is aggravated by the arrival of both Bobby Cupid and Tom Friend along with Pagan Lace.  The key players in Dylan’s life are assembling.  To top it the writing  becomes even more execrable and the acting worse.

     The best scene is the arrival of Cupid.  Bobby is not a composite character but seems like a real life characterization of Dylan’s sidekick Bobby Neuwirth.  Neuwirth was a fixture with Dylan in the mid-sixties when he served as sort of an enforcer.  The two went their separate ways until the 1976 Rolling Thunder tour for which Neuwirth was summoned somewhat as here in Masked And Anonymous.  In this scene he returns absurdly bearing Blind Lemon’s old beat up guitar, or reputedly Blind Lemon’s guitar.  When Uncle asks where he got it Cupid replies in Houston from a friend of a friend of Blind Lemon’s who said he had been told the guitar had been Blind Lemon’s.

     Uncle remarks that he can get a guitar just like that at any pawn shop in town.  ‘Well, maybe you can,’ Cupid answers, ‘But it wouldn’t be this guitar.’  That is an unanswerable reply but lame logic.  Cupid wanders off saying he is going to restring the guitar.  Get it?  Fate/Dylan is the new Blind Lemon.

     While Cupid is diddling with the guitar Friend shows up asking for directions to Fate. Ha, ha.  In the language of today Cupid serves as the Gatekeeper and won’t let Friend through.  However Uncle wants the publicity and insists that Fate let himself be interviewed.  This leads to the rather incongruous requisition by Friend of Fate.  In this instance, as Vogel served as a sort of conscience for Fate so does Friend here.  Not exactly what one expects given Dylan’s relationship with the press.   Remember that Friend is wearing Dylan’s 1965 clothes while talking to the currently dressed Dylan.  ‘Yonder come the vagabond in the clothes that you once wore.’  In that sense Fate or Dylan is talking to himself as though his conscience.  Strange conversation.

     Friend reprimands Fate for not having been at Woodstock.  His absence must have bothered Dylan Four And A Half Hours Of Symbolismmore than he lets on.  Then Tom runs on about Jimi Hendrix being out in the rain with his guitar in that horrible rendition of the Star Spangled Banner. On and on about Hendrix being a native son.  And then even more strangely Tom brings up Frank Zappa and his eight and a half hour movie Uncle Meat.  Talk about out of the blue.  There is no direct reference to Dylan’s Renaldo and Clara at four and a half hours except that Zappa was able to let it all hang out which took him another four hours apparently to get it all out.  I must say whatever  was going on in Dylan’s mind it did escape me.

     And then comes another irrelevant  interlude harking back to 1963 and possibly Mississippi of the genre ‘and a little child shall lead them.’  A White woman leads her little Negro daughter up to the assembled cast and orders her daughter to sing The Times They Are A’ Changin’ for Dylan.  The mother says her daughter had memorized every song Fate/Dylan had written.  Not exactly a feat like memorizing the Bible but daunting nevertheless.  ‘Why did you do that darlin’?’  Fate coaxes.  The mean, nasty White woman interjects:  ‘Because I made her do it, that’s why.’  That’s one mom from hell.

          So then as this little Negro girl begins singing the Master’s song a kind of a hush fell over the world.  As the little Negro girl intoned the more than Shakespearian lyrics the screen goes silent except for the little Negro girl’s voice as the cast experiences an epiphany not unlike Paul when he fell down in the dust of Israel.  I tell ya folks it was angelic, there was a lump in my throat.  I was eating popcorn at the time.

     Of course, the girl wouldn’t have given the kid Michael Jackson the tremors, nor Donny Osmond for that matter, but she got all the words right and knew when to quit.  About this time Fate decides to walk out on the benefit, he borrows Cupid’s car which he wrecks and goes to visit his faithful old Negro prostitute spouting clichés all the way.  This scene is apparently reminiscent of 1968 when Dylan’s dad died before Dylan could reconcile himself with him.  Here also Fate’s dad dies as Fate sits quietly on the bed beside him shedding his last tear.  It wasn’t as good as Little Nell.

     Junior Jive, his putative brother played by Mickey Rourke, then takes over for pop.  Once braceros they are now running the country he says.  Rourke was unconvincing in the role.

There Must Be Some Way Outta Here

     Well, this thing has to end sometime so Fate goes back to the bar to perform the Benefit.  One has the feeling that this was some sort of apology for the We Are The World benefit when Dylan and Keith Richards took the stage before the world wide audience and showed how stellars make fools of themselves.  In this replay Edmund (Rourke) begins a destruction of Desolation Row and the rest of the world which erases Fate from the television screen and hopefully We Are The World from Dylan’s memory.  And then comes what we have all been fervently praying for- The Grande Finale.  Probably the lamest scene in a movie of lame scenes.

     Edmund has unleashed Armageddon on the world simultaneously eliminating Dylan’s Save The World embarrassment and fulfilling his need for universal destruction a la Hitler down on Desolation Row where everything was broken and is now disintegrating.  While all the colored people of the world are off destroying themselves Dylan’s White elite are about to self-immolate a la The Twilight Of The Gods.  Ragnarok, Hiroshima a hundred fold.

      All the world’s a stage as that minor poet said and this scene appropriately takes place in front of the stage but not on it.  It’s a major rumble.  I hope I can describe it right.  Fate, the fate of fates has arrived.  This is the fate that no one can escape.  Now you know why Jack’s last name is Fate.

     Fat old corrupt Uncle Sweetheart makes a move on Pagan Lace trying to persuade her to have a drink on him.  The girl was a teetotaler.  She resists Uncle’s enticing.  Uncle grabs the delicate thing making a move to pour the firewater down her throat will she, nil she.  We hear a dog whistle off stage and its SuperFriend to the rescue.  He has apparently always wanted to kill Uncle so he grabs the erratic microphone cord proceeding to throttle Uncle.

     Everything might have worked out fine from Friend’s point of view but for the fearful little Pagan Lace who drags him off  thereby leading to his death.  Fate shows up challenging Friend.  Dylan settles accounts with the press here.  I don’t know how big Jeff Bridges is  but if Dylan is 5’ 10” 150 Bridges is 6’ 5” and 250.  Odds do not daunt Fate.  They go into a clinch with Friend’s back to the camera.  I don’t know what Dylan did to Friend, perhaps twisted his balls, but Friend recoils fifteen feet clutching either his stomach or his gonads- the picture gets fuzzy.  In perhaps the hokiest bit ever devised for film a thoroughly unconvincing Fate breaks the fat end off a JD bottle steps coyly up to the prone Friend and wiggles the jagged end in front of his nose, then steps back.  You really have to see it to believe it.

     Well, Friend is lying down but he’s still not going to take it.  He pulls out a flat gun, might be a .45, might be a 9mm.,  I’m not an expert on firearms, and instead of shooting, leers menacingly  while waving the gun around like he intends to shoot it sometime in the future.  Or, perhaps Dylan and Charles were expertly building suspense because Bobby Cupid is creeping up behind bearing the murder weapon  which is, you guessed it, or maybe not, Blind Lemon’s old guitar.  Or, quite possibly as Uncle suggested,  it was just an old guitar from a pawn shop.  No matter, sneaking up behind Cupid bashes Friend with the unstrung front side.  The guitar flies to pieces, it was old and flimsy, leaving Cupid holding the neck stump.

     Unlike Fate and his JD bottle neck Cupid plunges the guitar neck into Friend’s throat.  Death by guitar, perhaps a Movieland first.  Symbolically Blind Lemon and all Negro musicians have avenged themselves for the purloined royalties.  But, Bobby is now a murderer although for a good cause.  Someone shouts here cum de fuzz.  The ever magnanimous Fate gives his own guitar to Bobby thus replacing the broken Blind Lemon and one assumes passing the baton of musical justice on to Cupid while he shows Bobby the door and tells him to run.  Cupid does one of the lamest exits ever.  You can see him stop running when he thinks he’s out of camera range.  So, the faithful servant’s fate is reconciled.

     Meanwhile the two Black loan enforcers from the first scene show up to seal Uncle Sweetheart’s fate.   They give the sage but cliché’d  advice:  ‘Everybody pays Sweetheart.  Some pay up front some pay at the end.  Come with us.’  Uncle resignedly marches off to his fate.

     The cops show up.  Nina Veronica steps up, points to Fate and says he did it, I saw him do it.  This may possibly connect Dylan to 1958 when he and Echo were caught burglarizing in Hibbing and possibly Echo laid it on Bob.  Just a guess.  Well, the concerts over and it’s back to the Black Hole Of Calcutta for Fate.  A woman put him in jail to begin with and a woman returns him to jail.  It is Fate’s fate.

      Yoicks, can this movie be finished?  No.  Frank Zappa made an eight and a half hour movie, this one only feels like it.   Dylan’s not finished philosophizing.  The camera focuses steadily on Dylan full face for four and half minutes as Dylan drones on.  I’d given up, I wasn’t listening anymore.  I will say this though, consider these pictures of Bob and Dave Zimmerman.  If they don’t have two different fathers I’d be amazed.

How Did I Get Roped Into That Picture?

A Note On My Method

A note on my method:  I do not compose at the computer.  I write my essays out long hand first.  I then transfer to the computer using a different site.  I save and print a copy then copy and paste to WordPress so I always have backup copies in case the copy flies away from WordPress while all restore methods have been disabled.

So while disabling restore and removing the copy is an inconvenience I always have backup copies.  I then enter the photos printing copies page by page so I can always reconstruct the work.

The education has been less than pleasant but I presume it has been worthwhile.  Thank you.

A Note On Bob Dylan And His Privacy Lament

Dylan seems to be unaware that by offering his efforts for sale he has sacrificed his privacy.  His music and songs are open for criticism whether he likes it or not.  Masked And Anonymous and his other films are automatically subject to minute scrutiny and interpretation.  If he doesn’t like that then he should not have taken up his pen.

Secondly:  Dylan invaded the privacy of every listener by offering his efforts for public consumption.  There was no escaping his songs broadcast over the radio so his listeners had their minds violated in that sense. He made a personal mental contact and if he doesn’t like the results of the message he gave out, that is just too bad.

Thirdly:  He often says he never asked to be the spokesman of his generation.  That shows either a lack of understanding or is an outright lie.  The Times They Are A’ Changin’, Blowin’ In The Wind and Masters of War imply that he has answers  of which his elders are unaware.  Ballad Of A Thin Man positively states that he knows what’s happening and others don’t.  Desolation Row is a Ship Of Fools put down song that claims that Dylan has a loftier and more accurate view.

His audience accepted him at his word and when the burden became too heavy for him he betrayed that audience and abandoned them.  That was a criminal offence.

It is time Dylan accepts the responsibility of his actions.

 

Correction: based on the Rolling Thunder Revue should read ‘based on the French movie Children Of Paradise.’

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