February 17, 2013
The Sixties: A Comic Book Heaven
Of course, everyone is, and always has been, slightly mad. Still, repressing the unreasonable side of his nature man in the Western world has, since the eighteenth century, built a civilization based on scientific reason and classic Aristotelian logic- the heritage of the Enlightenment. And the result, especially in this country [US] during the past fifty years [article dated 1970], has been a rational society that has made one technological break through after another, from the invention of the pop-up toaster to the ability to land men on the moon. Here, until recently, two plus two had inevitably equaled four, not five, as Eastern mystics suggest, and no one other than J.D. Salinger had been able to imagine the sound of one hand clapping.
–Thomas Meehan- Horizon Magazine, Spring 1970.
Comic books were first sold in 1933-34. Thus the first two comic book generations coincide with those too young to serve in WWII while many of the first generation was obliged to serve in the Korean war while the second generation missed both.
How deeply the mind of the first generation of comic book readers was formed is problematical. Comic books didn’t take their classic form until 1938 when the character of Superman was formed. The number of comic characters proliferated during WWII but as these, i.e. Capt. America, were war specific they fell out of favor after WWII.
The first generation of potential comic book readers, those born from 1933-34 formed the substratum for the sixties when they created rock and roll and the base for 60s pop culture during the 50s. That was Presley, Sanford Clark, Cash, Vincent, Nelson et al.
Following the war those born in 1937-38 and subsequently through about 1943-44 had their minds formed by comic books although not all to the same degree. A significant percentage of them were forbidden to read comics by their parents, perhaps wisely. There were some who indulged themselves indiscriminately. I was one of those. I read them all, avidly. The question is how were we affected?
There was a terrific reaction against comic books. Angry parents fought to have them banned. In perhaps the only, certainly of a very few, successful efforts of censorship, comics were banned in 1954. The survivor, of course, was Mad Magazine published by the worst offender, William C. Gaines. All of the comic book readers plus many of those formerly excluded shifted to Mad thus further polluting our brains. While I never gave up reading the comic books till their banning I did abandon Mad for political reasons after a year or so.
Now, with the exception of Capt. Marvel, and that may only be partial, the comics were exclusively of Jewish origins. Thus we in the US, Britain was excluded, were shown the Jewish point of view without our knowing.
One of the key themes was the all male group of do-gooders. These were some of my favorites. The tops, perhaps, was the very influential Blackhawks comics. The Blackhawks were a group of five ex-WWII pilots who each owned his P-38 fighter and flew around the world, Third World mainly, if I remember correctly, righting wrongs they recognized more quickly and efficiently, that is vigilante style, than organized government could or would. I remember the Blackhawks as terrific, I loved them. The fellowship of the pilots, each with a different character, each loyal to the others was something that I and I suppose every reader wished to emulate, especially the notion of a bonded group of five like minded guys.
Another was called the Daredevil. He had a red and blue set of body tights upper right and lower left red and vice versa for the blue. Weird but that’s the way he was. Daredevil was a surrogate father figure to five orphan boys, same character makeup as the Blackhawks, who righted wrongs in their neighborhood and lived in the same clubhouse. The later musical group The Monkees was probably based on them. The Monkees were short one, being four, which lessened their impact. If they’d had that fifth member I would have been an avid fan although older by then.
Thus in 1954 the origins of Top 40 began on radio. Twenty four hours round the clock seven days a week full time music. An innovation created by the arrival of television. The first generation of rockers were solo artists. Some came attached with a band such as Bill Haley And The Comets or Gene Vincent And The Blue Caps who were proto-Blackhawk type groups but mainly they were solo artists with a band not a group. Presley, Sanford Clark and that curious mixture of both, Ricky Nelson.
The societal maturation process was continuing and then in the mid-sixties the Charlatans came down from the hills of Virginia City dressed in movie style cowboy outfits to home base San Francisco and the first group of costumed crusaders a la the Blackhawks burst forth in full flower.
In Britain the situation was somewhat different although coeval with the US. While the US escaped devastation in WWII the South of England was bombarded mercilessly destroying millions of buildings. A good representation of the situation may be found in John Boorman’s I suppose accurate, I wasn’t there, movie, The Hope And The Glory. As Boorman, who was there, portrays it, acres and acres of rubble stretched in every direction. The kids who scavenged and roamed the area are portrayed as little savages. An interesting education for the age cohort that came of age in the fifties.
Those born in the early forties, the core of the second generation of rockers, themselves played in this same although shrinking devastation. But rations were short in hard hit Britain, restrictions were not lifted until 1954. How their psychology was impaired isn’t so clear, although in the mid-sixties a wild party time called Swinging London appeared. Gay abandon one might say.
The group situation there may have been the result of the generation’s discovery of American slave music- Rhythm And Blues. R&B as a new entry to the British music scene met with resistance so that the devotees were possibly forced to form small groups who recognized each other, many wanting to play the music so they naturally formed groups, two guitars, drums, bass and a singer.
At any rate the British invasion of the US consisted of these four and five man groups coinciding with the comic book groups of the US.
Other formative influences other than comics and radio were films and TV. Those all involved a specific point of view repeated ad nauseum or lessons from a know-it-all crusader cum super hero.
Of course we all grew up with Hopalong Cassidy and Gene Autry among others during the forties but with the fifties came the fantastic science fiction movies. One of the most important was The Day The Earth Stood Still with its famous characters Klaatu and Gort. The premise was preposterous but no one got it. Klaatu is an alien landing a saucer in the US. He is here to vet Earthlings to see if the they are ready to enter the intergalactic community in which peace reigns. Alas, Earthlings, you and me, are hopelessly primitively addicted to violence. Klaatu boards his saucer with a sign of benediction delivering a long sermon about shaping up and saying he’ll be back if we ever sort things out. Alright.
Movie after movie repeated the same message until today people actually believe that extra-terrestrials are all peaceful and Earth is the only rogue planet in the universe. Ask anyone. Flying Saucers were portrayed as hovering out there where the communications satellites would soon be. There they carefully studied mankind for any sign of the diminution of violence. Boy, I bet they think they’ve been wasting their time. Imagine circling Earth for seventy years waiting for indications of peacefulness. Obviously they’ve been sadly disappointed while being joined by the Negro Mother Wheel that appeared some time in the seventies to keep them company Hello, Earth calling Mother Wheel.
These movies established the idea that the whole universe except for Earth is highly developed and pacific along with the idea that Earthlings are worthless, hence most people accepted as fact we were being watched by superior beings and found wanting. We were inferior.
The movies established the notion that there were millions of inhabited worlds out there inhabited by superior beings who could travel billions of light years and get to home base in time for dinner. ‘Honey, I’m home.’
Now, at the same time, pulp magazines existed. Monthly editions of Amazing Stories, Astounding Tales and others poured out endless reams of the most astonishing stuff imaginable. Thus, all three, comics, pulps and movies, sci-fi and movies were rushing through our minds, forming expectations. Of course, the number of us who read sci-fi, almost as despised by parents as the comics, was small, but then as TV developed, Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone and Star Trek came along both of which mined the sci-fi stories of the fifties while spreading the notions throughout the entire population. This reduced the intellectual discrimination of the people whose minds were prepared to accept anything.
These years of the fifties were very crowded with the most exciting new developments. TV was perhaps at the top of the list. Bear in mind that cable didn’t exist. There weren’t even three channels in most places including a major market like the San Francisco Bay Area. People didn’t think TV would be profitable. The channels didn’t even broadcast until noon and shut down at ten o’clock prime time. There was no 24/7 TV.
There wasn’t even enough original programming to fill a ten hour day so they ran old movies and almost anything anyone could think up. Arthur Godfrey’s show ran for hours every day.
One of those odd things they chose to fill time was a character called Crusader Rabbit. I don’t know how well remembered the Rabbit is today but he had a profound effect in forming the minds of the 60s generation. Crusader Rabbit was a distant relative of the Blackhawks. While they flew around the world able to determine who were the good guys and who the bad, Crusader Rabbit was a self-righteous little bastard of a vigilante squad who instilled certain little minds with his self-righteousness and made them think they should impose their vision of reality on the world by mounting ‘crusades.’ Hawkeye of the later TV series Mash combined Crusader Rabbit with the Blackhawks.
Now, all this was happening in a short six years from 1950 to 1956. In many ways this was a major intellectual/psychological revolution preceding those revolutions of the sixties.
Equally, if not more important, was what was happening in the classrooms of our schools.
If an astonishing variety of educations was going on outside the classrooms what was going on inside was no less astonishing. I don’t know if everyone saw it the way I did but I had a tough time assimilating what I heard. Of course American superiority and the inferiority of Europeans was standard staple. At the same time we were warned to be humble as bearers of these great gifts and to share them with our inferiors who after all couldn’t help it that they weren’t born Americans. True enough I suppose.
And, because of the success of our own American revolution, barring any negative thoughts caused by the French and Bolshevik revolutions, we were taught, indeed, indoctrinated and conditioned to believe that revolution per se was good, indeed, a blessing. Ignoring whatever may have been going on in the world we were taught to revere the South American George Washington, Simon Bolivar, who flitted from country to country on the whole continent until he came to end of it in Venezuela tossing the Spanish aside like so much chaff. Viva Bolivar, hey? Well, Viva Zapata next.
Well, I came from the orphanage and I had a different idea of right and wrong. Heroes were much scarcer for me than for the kids from normal homes.
By the time we got to high school, 1953-56, teachers were preaching revolution, revolution, revolution full bore. Revolution was everywhere. Minute changes in processed breakfast cereals were described as revolutions. Crusader Rabbit was a revo. Who wasn’t?
The reverence for revolution continued in college too. Another four years of revo, rah, rah, rah followed in college which ended for my class in 1960. Portentous year, what? That was the year our limp President, John F. Kennedy created the Peace Corps. We were eager to share our wonderful achievement so recent college graduates with absolutely no knowledge of the world and inadequate educations sallied forth to tell the world how to do it right. OK? How’s that for arrogance?
Now, there were plenty of revolutions in progress in 1960 and all those graduates from say, 1954 to 1959, were primed for revo. Lived for it, breathed it. They didn’t even have to be recruited; they went searching for it. Give us revolution, they screamed.
These were years of the magnificent march of progress too. Years of change and hope, revolutions one might say, in all areas of endeavor. The people born from 1938 to 1945 leaped in with both feet and arms flailing. The sixties belonged to us, it was a world that we would make ourselves.
The next age cohort born from ‘46-’53 would be instrumental in forming the seventies, the eighties going to the next age cohort. Of course these cohorts created nothing merely extending the ethic of the 60s’ cohort. The interesting thing is that there was a fairly complete break between us and The Greatest Generation as our fathers have been styled.
Those revolutionary minded teachers of ours were mostly born c. 1890 so they were at the tail end of the post-Civil War corps, lived through two world wars and the Great Depression. Our fathers born somewhere around 1918 caught the Depression and WWII while witnessing the Korean War. We younger ones, in the US, avoided that while TV, Top 40 and other assorted wonders made us rather distinct, nothing alike in outlook. Our fathers didn’t really like, couldn’t trust us, and certainly were not going to accord us the dignity of adulthood and the authority that goes with it. So we grew distant from them not really thinking an awful lot of them or giving them our trust. Fuck, they couldn’t even deal with the Mafia.
Politically they kept control during the sixties while culturally and socially we managed affairs. As it was a new beginning of sorts the succeeding age cohorts respected us and what may be called our achievements, sex, drugs and rock and roll, but still maintaining that sense of breakfast cereal revo.
To make the break even sharper, in 1960 the real old guard headed by Eisenhower checked out and an Irish upstart son of a bootlegger, Jack Kennedy, leader of the Celtish Camelot and a guy who could twist the night away even with a bad back, attempted to lead the way.
His best wasn’t very good and he caught a piece of flying lead allowing that pale Texan reincarnation of FDR to see how badly he could muff it. He did a good job of muffing it too.
So, there we were on the brink of 1960 raring to show the world what we could do. Really revo the whole machine? We’ll see.
The psychological background of the sixties as exhibited by the second rock generation from 1938 to 1945 is a major manifestation of an effort begun back in the WWII days. It is the realization of the theologico-metaphysical notion of what Sigmund Freud dubbed the Unconscious. As the quote opening this essay indicates the sixties was the undoing of the several hundred year effort to realize the conscious. We thought we’d seen enough of the unconscious to last much more than a millennium. As the effort was begun before the awareness of the nature of the Un or subconscious the effort was achieved as Mr. Meehan states by the repression of sub-conscious motives not their elimination.
Freud quickly discerned this and he understood the function of dreams that he called the ‘royal road to the unconscious.’ Thus the motto he appended to his volume The Interpretation Of Dreams published appropriately in 1900 is ‘Flectare si nequeo, Superos, Acheronta movebo.” which translated means ‘If I cannot deflect the will of heaven I shall move hell.’
Freud interpreting the conscious mind as heaven chose to deemphasize consciousness in favor of his vision of the unconscious that he interpreted as Hell. Thus, you will find almost nothing in Freudian psychology referring to the conscious mind while he enthrones his Unconscious as the moderator of the human mind. He actually believed that the Unconscious was an agency separate from the body. In theological terms it had a supernatural existence. Thus, he has negated consciousness, or Science, in favor of Religion. As he has rejected God or Heaven then it follows that he embraced Satan and Hell.
As the sixties progressed the generation abandoned consciousness embracing unconsciousness. Time Magazine proclaimed in 1966 ‘God Is Dead’ while Satanism came alive, indeed according to Ira Levin in his novel, Rosemary’s Baby, Satan’s son, Andy, was born in 1966 just as God died. Levin continued his story in 1999’s Son Of Rosemary. Interesting.
It is no coincidence that Freud was both a druggie and a homosexual. Now, the royal road to free the mind of consciousness or Heaven is an obsession with sex and the free indulgence of drugs especially Freud’s favorite, cocaine backed with a pounding jungle beat. Eh voila- the sixties.
Sex, drugs and the hypnotic jungle beat of Rock and Roll. The sex was facilitated by the introduction of the birth control pill and anti-biotics; the amusing Shel Silverstein sang of Penicillin Penny who always had VD. If the girls took the pill both they and their boys were freed from the fear of pregnancies while the ga-ga types had no fear of Venereal disease because the cure was quick and easy by a regimen of anti-biotic pills. Almost paradise here and now and on Earth. For less than a buck you could get a nice big piece of pie too.
Freud had achieved his goal; he had overturned Aryan society.
Freud essentially by fraud allowed us to indulge forbidden appetites and responsibility from forbidden acts, for after all as the conscious mind had no authority and the will of the unconscious was unresistible we had no responsibility for our acts- If it felt good, we did it, as the mantra was. Hence by 1966 we had Richard Speck killing all those nurses in Chicago and Charlie Whitman up his clock tower at UT blowing away his fellow students. Guns aren’t the problem; Freud is the problem.
Hell, Dick and Charlie just wanted to be free. Indeed, freedom in the freest of all societies became a problem to the generation.
Sally Banks in her Greenwich Village 1963, Chapter 5, appropriately titled, Dreaming Freedom, explains her views on what being free actually meant to her and a very large part of the age cohort. She is writing from New York City.
In 1963 freedom was a vital political issue charged with artistic consequences for both the mainstream and avant-garde. Part of the avant-garde’s utopian vision was that liberty could be found within community. But, in fact, the very concept of freedom sets autonomy and the notion of individualism in conflict with the bondedness of community. For social life is a potent source of restraint [suppression of freedom], yet, paradoxically, total freedom would mean the humanly unrealizable (and unbearable) state of complete isolation. Thus there is a deep ambivalence in Western culture toward freedom and social life. The dream of community, itself, may be incompatible with the dream of freedom, a contradiction the avant-garde sought to discover.
The Sixties artists constructed an art that re-imagined daily life in terms of achieving both liberation and community. If such a situation proved illusory, in 1963 it seemed necessary- and it still seemed possible given the booming economic infrastructure- to find a model that would make these imaginings concrete.
Yes, people wanted total freedom- that is a disconnect from the reality of having to deal with unpleasant facts- free from all restraints including gravity and mostly free from themselves. The drugs seemed to serve as those releases. Under the influence people could imagine themselves as someone else who ‘really had their shit together‘, miracle men and women able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, move mountains with the wave of a hand, fly through the air like a host of angels but they inevitably came back down where if they were anywhere near a mirror they could watch their bodies disintegrate.
Freedom from reality has its price.
So, the sixties that began with such ‘High Hopes’ to realize ‘The Impossible Dream’ of Camelot began to crash in 1966 just as like a flash of lightning in the sky the realization of those dreams seemed to dawn. As Lewis Carroll said, be careful that your Snark is not a boojum, for you see….
The Truth Is No Defense
The sixties, then, was when the impasse between the Scientific Method came into its latter day conflict with the Theologico-Metaphysical mindset. The T-M system is merely a mental state that not only does not require objective validation but positively rejects it in favor of subjectiveness; what Freud called inner wishful thinking.
While the sciences of sociology and anthropology and biology produced irrefutable, by logical methods, results that ran counter to the inner wishful T-M thinking, as there were no means to refute the scientific results the T-M people merely denied them and forced scientists to suppress their accurate but uncongenial truths.
To ensure that the truths were suppressed and remained suppressed the T-M partisans passed laws making it criminal to express these truths. These laws called ‘hate’ laws were then applied to any who spoke these truths. As the truths were undeniable T-M partisans corrupted the law, common sense, and, one might say, the will of God to declare in a court of law by the judges that ‘the truth is not a defense.’
The truth is not a defense! Think about it. Such a rule of law is the triumph of absolute criminality and ignorance. And this happened during the watch of an age cohort that claimed to love freedom and revolution. Well, it was a revolution, one that enslaves the mind.
Now, in a position to punish those who disagreed with them the beneficiaries of the T-M mentality were able to enshrine their will as the law of the land. As the law was no longer concerned with the judgment of facts as evidence but the religious beliefs of the T-Ms the US at that point turned into a theocracy. The religious left became an established religion running counter to the old dispensation of the Constitution in favor of something not yet codified and something not approved by the former electorate that now became passive and an ineffective annoyance to the new slave masters.
The ruling social ethos in the US when the sixties dawned was the theory of the Melting Pot formulated by the Jewish writer Israel Zangwill c. 1900. According to that theory that had nearly the effect of a law all the disparate social elements forming the population of the US would fuse into one people of uniform American belief.
In 1960 or thereabouts the new theory of multi-culturalism was introduced which stated that each culture should have an autonomous existence. This was the dream, wishful thinking, of the wannabe Jewish Autonomous people. Nothing new, it was their age old dream. Thus the body politic of the US as a matter of principle was fractured into many warring cultures.
While the Melting Pot had always been a fantasy having no real existence in fact multi-culturalism was alive and real and exacerbated in 1965 when the immigration act was reformed allowing unlimited immigration to all the peoples of the world. And if they didn’t come willingly members of the T-M mentality went into the actual jungles of Africa, dragged the natives out, put them on a plane, free fare, and flew them to the US.
What can one say to such zaniness.
The whole notion of freedom advocated by the age cohort was thus negated. Dozens of laws were passed giving these ‘immigrants’ precedence over the rights of the native population, depriving the natives of equal rights. This is a true story. Incredible but true.
And lastly, for this essay we come to the complete overturn of reason in favor of a comic book utopia and the installation of an age of inner wishful thinking caused by the introduction of drugs as a mass phenomenon.
Drugs in the sixties were nothing new. Drugs begin to show up in literature during the nineteenth century Romantic period. Thomas de Quincey’s Confessions Of An English Opium Eater is the first famous confession or novel on the topic. Opium was much used in Victorian England as an ingredient in Laudanum which was given to infants to make them stop crying.
Opium was further reduced to morphine and then heroin. Freud is famous as the promoter of the joys of cocaine, synthesized from the coca plant. As chemistry developed, synthetic chemical drugs such as amphetamine began making their appearance at the end of the century.
Drug labs were busy and soon creating drugs that attacked any area of the brain. LSD was discovered in 1938 and popularized after 1943. Drugs like Miltown and other tranquilizers began filling women’s purses after 1950. Pot and hash had been simmering below the Hot 100 for some time but moved up the charts after 1960. So the whole pharmacopeia was available as the decade began. New formulas would be discovered in the following decades as drugs became part of the entertainment industry.
Drugs of course suppress the conscious mind exposing the raw wiring of the user. They also lower resistance to hypnotic influence. Hypnosis is merely a heightened sensitivity to suggestion. A drugged out population can be swayed by propaganda as no other, which is merely suggestion by another name, in any direction. They can be swayed but you mist control the means to do so. The mass media was the means, namely TV, Movies and records, and it was in the control of Jews with their special agenda.
Thus Movies, TV and Records propagandized a pro Jewish revolution agenda along with its subordinate Negro revolution agenda.
It is strange how all trends worked to favor the Negro/Jewish agenda. Of course, Jews had been instrumental in breaking down Aryan resistance to Negro music. Jewish DJs such as Alan Freed and Cousin Brucie along with Jewish song writers such as the hugely influential Leiber and Stoller and Goffin-King led the assault.
The songs they wrote were performed by Negro artists. While the Jewish song writers were not so familiar with Aryan culture as is supposed it was enough to bridge the Aryan-Negro gap making the Negro performances potable while paving the way for Barry Gordy’s Motown label.
As of 1960 there was virtually no one who listened to or was familiar with Negro Blues. The Blues was
brought forward by the British Invasion who apparently listened to that crap. I am always astonished by White Blues artists citing Robert Johnson as a source. There was nothing available by Robert Johnson until 1960 when CBS released its first collection that virtually no one bought. The second collection was released in ‘62 with the same result.
I first heard of Robert Johnson in 1968 when I owned a record store. Many people talked about the Blues but when I started a first rate Blues section the records remained untouched and unsold. I doubt that I ever had a Robert Johnson sale.
I was in a university town and when such Blues artists as Lightning Hopkins were brought to town the ‘séances’ were held in someone’s living room with maybe fifteen people attending, ten of which were girls worshipping blackness. Nevertheless White Blues was popularized by the British, spreading to American performers.
I should point out that White performers of the forties and early fifties such as the Singing Cowboy Gene Autry sang many Blues based songs. Autry’s song The Yellow Rose Of Texas is of course about a Negro woman, high yellow.
By decades end the cohort’s fascination with exaggerated notions of freedom and revolution had turned into drug addiction and violence. By the late sixties looney tunes like Bomber Billy Ayers and his female side kick Bernardine Dohrn with their Weatherman organization and the Jewish Defense League and its offshoot the Jewish Defense Organization were killing and bombing at will and furthermore they would get away with it. ‘Free as a bird and guilty as Hell.’ as Bomber Billy Ayers would put it.
So by the end of decade ending with the Caped Crusader, Mick Jagger, at Altamont a comic book vision of reality had triumphed over the real thing. Who can forget Mick Jagger mounted on a giant inflatable cock on stage before sixty thousand people. Now, there was a comic book fantasy. Two and two added up to any number you wanted.
June 11, 2011
Exhuming Bob XXX
A Review Of Bob Dylan’s Movie
Masked And Anonymous
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.
A Run Through The Scenes
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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 more 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.
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.’
April 7, 2010
Conversations With Robin
Conversations betwen R.E. Prindle and Robin Mark
Concerning certain musical questions.
I was born in Dixie
In a boomer’s shack
Just a half mile from the railroad tracks
My daddy was a Fireman
And my mama dear
She was the only daughter of an engineer.
I’m one of those who had to flee the South to escape the degrading slave economy. Off to bloody Kansas where we fought the Slavers to make K a free State. Of course after the war I fled Kansas, as who wouldn’t, for greener pastures. Did you ever wonder why Baum told Dorothy You’re not in Kansas anymore? What a drag it would be growing old in Kansas.
Of course, I always remember the Song Of The South and Uncle Remus with great fondness being a sentimental Alabaman. The real Alabama exists only as a figment of the imagination while the prewar Alabama is the dream. The South shall rise again and trample the Puritan bastards. You can feel it happening.
Nazis? There never have been any American Nazis except in the imaginations of Communists or Jews. In the twenties Communist became a dirty word but they had no counter name until the Fascists arose in reaction to the Commie finks. Then in the late twenties, early thirties the Commies were able to polarize American society by calling former ‘Red baiters’ Fascists.
Calling Americans Nazis is a Jewish thing that arose in the late fifties and early sixties when Jews wanted to stigmatize persons they found objectionable. Nobody in their right mind pays attention to this Jewish-Commie garbage. Sorry to have so say this to you because I know how sensiteeve you are to Jewish criminations.
But, if you will be archaic, a religious anachronism, there’s little that can be done about it. Always best to be scientific and discard the useless past.
What’s happening with Expecting Rain? I checked the message boards but couldn’t find anything. I’m not signed in. Did you?
Just remember one takes invective lightly. I apparently blew them out with the Warhol thing but that’s an expected reaction. Guilty of it myself when someone hits me with something new that turns out to be true no matter how preposterous sounding. Give ’em time to digest and come around. They will, they have to because I gave them some accurate history.
As far as the UofO I know I’m guilty of heresy but Toynbee is a great master of history, per se, interpretation is something else. By the way A Study Of History is not ‘a book’. It’s a massive twelve volume, six thousand page masterwork. I didn’t just pick up a few facts but in depth studies of what Toynbee considers civilizations, all the way from the Eskimos to the Chinese and all stops between over 10,000 years of history. It’s an amazing product of one human mind. Better than 3000 mikes of LSD for expanding the mind. Hits about that hard too.
The problem with Cal State was that as ex-high school teachers the ‘profs’ were used to dealing with immature sixteen year old minds. By the time I got there I’d been in the service for three years, in the work place for four. So, you know, a certain amount of incompatibility. In other words, I had the abrasive personality they thought, not them. Besides I was pretty tightly wound back then. Same way today, I see no reason to talk to anyone who sleepwalks.
Another interesting story is that after Kennedy was shot, being in an ‘intellectual’ atmosphere I was going around saying that Robert was up next basing my opinion on the Gracchi of ancient Rome. I don’t suppose any of those Bozos had ever heard of the Gracchi. Anyway they turned me into the FBI and the next thing you know I’m talking to three- one, two, three- Agents. Wanted to know how I knew about it like maybe I was one of a team of assassins. I don’t think they’d ever heard of the Gracchi either. Seemed kind of disappointed after my historical lecture. Didn’t have to be so insulting though. They called me I didn’t call them.
Second entry 3/07/10
OK Robin, I’m going to talk about Albert Goldman now and I don’t want you to come unglued. The guy does seem to have some interesting facts, if they can be relied on. What do you have on Parker’s setting Elvis up with the draft board?
And then, Larry Geller. Elvis’ regular hair dresser Overbite or Orifice or whatever can’t keep his appointment; Geller is sent over from Jay Sebring’s salon. Sebring is Streisand’s hair dresser. Are we making any connections yet? Could Streisand have wanted to sack Elvis but not know how to go about it. Too much of a condescension for her? Did she want to corrupt him? Anyway substituting Geller for Orifice is an obvious power play. Sebring just told Orifice to take a hike, he was out.
Why Geller? He’s an esoteric who captures Presley’s mind with what an ignorant Goldman thinks is rubbish. So Goldman, Streisand, Geller are Jews. Sebring probably although I’ve never considered him. So, whether you like it or not the Jew-Goy thing is operating.
Now, Goldman constantly denigrates hillbillies, rednecks, Southern people and the South in general. Very irritating to an old hillbilly like me, dare I say Goldman is a bigot? Let us then conclude that Goldman represents the attitude of at least the Hollywood Jews. So, Geller is there to play with Elvis’ mind. Take over, take charge. I’ve been through this myself.
According to Goldman Geller introduced Elvis to 24 esoteric titles among ‘hundreds’ of others that Elvis is said to have read while reading many of the 24 two or more times and making a 25th title The Impersonal Life his Bible.
As it is I’ve read many of the 24, in fact, I’ve read nearly everything Goldman implies he had read implying he is one hell of an informed guy. I’ve read the Golden Bough twice, all twelve volumes or whatever and some of those three times so it may be said that I can walk in Goldman’s path. I know what’s being said here. Generally speaking this is a very good list of esoterica, classic but good. Unlike the nut Goldman who doesn’t believe the Gnosis is religion, I know it is, but it is religion and you know my views on religion. The Gnostics were a part of history and thus cannot be dismissed or ignored. I find it hard to believe a hard partyer like Elvis had the patience to plow through Isis Unveiled and The Secret Doctrine by Madame B. Each is 1500 large pages long and requires a historical background to put it in perspective. Elvis couldn’t possibly have had that, nor did Geller.
The Urantia Book is a massive, large page 2500 page mind scorcher than can double as science fiction. It is a really interesting scientific/religious volume but once again it requires real concentration and then some, but a real mind boggler. Drugs and partying? Well, we’re all different but such a reading regimen seems a stretch.
And then the list contains some wonderful stuff by Manly Hall and his Philosophical Research Society. You’re down there so you could drop into their book store and library. Hall is a good writer and is as well versed as any in esoterica. Short books, no problem for Elvis.
Max Heindel is not so smooth but his Rosicrucian Society is terrific. The Cosmo-Conception is worth reading and even think about. His outfit is still down in Oceanside by San Diego is you want to drop in on them. It would be worth it. I’ll have to check out a couple items on the list like The Sacred Science Of Numbers. Numerology is an important historical study.
Over all a fine list of esoterica but I can’t believe Elvis actually read it all plus hundreds of others. About the time Geller came into his life he was down to ten years or less remaining. I can’t even believe that Geller had command of this stuff. He couldn’t have been that old while at 50 pages a day some of these books take a couple months to read. Seems like Geller was being provided titles by an organization like the ADL where scholars have organized all this stuff. It’s just to unreal to believe Geller had even heard of all these titles, most of which are really obscure.
I have to believe that something is wrong here. Goldman is either just showing off his knowledge or he’s flat out lieing.
Since this stuff is anathema to his Jewish sensibilities, the reason he objects is that the books give no precedence, no pride of place to Judaism, in fact, tacitly dismiss Judaism, Goldman is probably putting Elvis down although inadvertantly paying him one hell of a compliment. If Elvis could get through the Urantia Book he is one hell of a guy which is an inadvertant compliment to myself because I have.
Anyway The Swami chapter was very interesting. Applying your Elvis erudition what do you think?
March 13, 2010
Mourning Becomes Yoko
The Passing Of John Lennon
This magic moment
So different and so new
Was like any other
Until there was you.
To understand the sixties one has to go back in time to the foundation of Astrology. In Time beyond Ancient, Astrology and Astronomy were one. The very old gods and the sky were one. It was only when science, a more clear understanding of ‘creation’, if you will, removed the sky from the gods’ purview that Astronomy and Astrology separated. Astrology in those days had meaning that is not apparent today when the sky is just part of our natural surroundings.
The Zodiac was divided into twelve periods of roughly 2000 years each which formed the Great Year. The periods were called Ages with each Age having its own avatars. The avatars of the current Piscean Age have been Jesus the Christ for the first thousand years, and for the succeeding thousand years Artemis or Diana in northern Europe and Mother Mary to the south. Sometime within a few hundred years near the end of an Age a new avatar begins to form.
The first intimation of the dawning of the Age of Aquarius that I am aware of occurred at the beginning of the twentieth century. While not the first, the chief proponent seems to have been Edgar Rice Burroughs and his creation, Tarzan The Ape Man. Not one to
be dogmatic Burroughs left his intent open only to, dare I use the word again, the initiated.
Tarzan is timeless, he represents the past, being associated with the Atlanteans and the range of evolution, the present and, as the exemplar of the perfect man, the future. While rejecting organized religion Burroughs also rejected the Piscean avatar, Jesus The Christ in favor of the coming man-god. Thus the coming man-god must be a projection of the Aquarian avatar. Tarzan, a magnificent specimen is both physically and mentally the perfect man and hence representative of the future Aquarian man-god. Do not confuse the movie Tarzan with the literary creation of Edgar Rice Burroughs.
The longing then for a new messiah had been developing for half a century, at least, when circumstances came together for the appearance of a new avatar pointing toward the Age of Aquarius. This manifestation appeared on the stage of Ed Sullivan, in of all places, New York City. It was the Tupelo Mississippi Flash himself, Elvis Presley. In that brief magic moment on Sullivan’s stage he revealed himself and was recognized by his people.
Interestingly the appearance on 10/9 coincided with the birthday of John Lennon.
In that moment Presley’s future was cast. Whether the old order recognized who he was they knew how he was perceived and made every effort to slander, denigrate and destroy him short of actual murder. All to no avail. They might have been able to kill him, murder him, but he was inviolable to any defamation. It made no difference that they ridiculed him in a couple dozen fatuous films, he was the man-god. People endured his humiliations with bowed heads and resentful miens.
From him succeeding generations have taken their guidance. The first awe struck generation took the stage in direct emulation of him. While many had better songs (Gene Vincen’ts Be-Bop-A-Lula) none of the generation were anointed thereby developing a devoted following in the magnitude of Presley.
Elvis was not the last word but the first in what will be a procession. While the American Pharisees persecuted and scattered the faithful a new, younger generation was growing up in Elvis’ shadow. Their epiphany, that Magic Moment, would take place on the same Ed Sullivan stage in that same strange city of destiny, NYC, nine years later.
The gestation of this second manifestation of the godhead would take place in Liverpool, England. Inspired by Elvis Presley four young men of the second manifestation would be filtered through the persona of a young Scottish musician named Lonnie Donegan
When the settlers from the British Isles settled America they brought their musical traditions with them, most prominently to the Southern tier of States. Thus both the White and Black musical traditions of America stem from essentially the Celtic peoples. In the mid-fifties Donegan brought this music in the form of American Folk back to England in a form he named Skiffle Music. It swept England and its youth up being combined with Presley. Donegan added a ferocious beat to the music that evolved into the form termed the Big Beat. Thus the British musicians were schooled in American music as it had evolved from their own.
Now, the Magic Moment requires the man who has been prepared for the moment. If all goes right he is equal to his destiny, if not the moment fails.
While Presley was the man, the second avatar would be four men seemingly acting as one. The four men seemed to represent four archetypal personalities as in the four faces of the godhead. Those of us who didn’t ‘get’ them, of which I was one, were mystified by their apotheosis.
Just as Elvis had his unique preparation so did this fabulous foursome. Raised as four ordinary kids from varying levels of poverty and varying psychological backgrounds they were united by the music of Presley and Donegan.
They began a grueling and astonishing apprenticeship in the red light district of Hamburg, Germany. Unable to speak German they were thus compelled to rely on each other for companionship which created a unique bond. They were required to be on stage for up to twelve hours at a stretch for weeks at a time thus honing their musical skills apparently to perfection.
Thus the four aspects of humanity, one might say, were placed in a unique situation creating a unique combination of personalities seemingly as one. In those circumstances they were forced to be able to communicate instantly with their audience night after night. Valuable training.
Returning to Liverpool with their abilities seemingly uniquely developed they were adrift with no direction home and no other future than earning their livelihoods as best they might. But then, as by a miracle, a man appeared with no managerial experience who said he could take them to the top. Amazingly he got them launched. Even more astonishing they were assigned to perhaps the only record producer in the world who could bring out their unique talents. Thus this Fab Foursome took their home British Isles by storm succeeding as no other had succeeded before them but their Magic Moment, that lunge for the Golden Ring had not yet arrived.
The Magic Moment was awaiting them in NYC. A big jetliner brought the foursome to America’s shores in January of 1964 to appear on the Ed Sullivan show where they were to stand in Elvis’ footsteps so to speak. The difference in presentation between the two is interesting. With Elvis, he and his backing duo were standing in front of the drawn curtains on the edge of the stage, no set, his two band members were huddled behind him while the guitar player is turned sideways not even facing the audience. Presley is directly in front of them cavorting on a minuscule part of the stage. Mort Sahl would do his standup routine a few years later in the same manner with a newspaper as a prop.
In contrast the Beatles were given an open stage with decor behind them while the group was spaced dramatically and attractively. A very positive image which from long experience they knew how to take advantage of . But the appearance on the Sullivan stage merely confirmed their Magic Moment placing it indelibly in the American psyche.
The actual Magic Moment occurred when the Beatles announced themselves on the tarmac. Gods descending from the skies. For
whatever reason there were thousands of screaming girls awaiting them and a battery of newsmen and photographers. Some say the girls were bussed in, it isn’t unlikely that the astute promotion men of Capitol had a hand in the arrangements, but on the receiving end of the tube it looked genuine. Mystifying but genuine.
Posed a bunch of questions by the news cameras all four Beatles fielded them with aplomb, the cheekiest and most confident acting was John Lennon himself. All four personalities established themselves at that time as one- the Beatles. In that little flash of time the role of the Beatles was established for all time.
While each individual Beatle was adored for the face of mankind he presented each had only an identity as an aspect of the Beatles. When they split they became merely humans rising or falling based solely on the musical merits. Of the four, Lennon adopted the messianic mantle, was accorded it, and took it when he left. In one sense the Magic Moment had been his.
There would be argument about when the Beatles began to break up over the years but the when was coincidental with their annunciation. John Lennon was the weak link in the chain. Having now won what he had been struggling for for so long John Lennon discovered he wasn’t worthy. Incredibly he wrote, and the Beatles recorded his song, ‘I’m A Loser.’ He was a loser, not the winner he appeared. Now conflicted he tried to both accept and reject the role of ‘messiah.’ He was well on his way to losing the role two short years later in 1966.
The course of his career was affected by two people, Bob Dylan in 1964 and Yoko Ono in 1966. Historical ifs are difficult. It seems impossible that Bob Dylan’s career would have been possible without the overwhelming success of the Beatles. Dylan lacked commercial appeal then as he does now. He appealed to a minority audience- as opposed to the majority audience of the Beatles. Dylan lacked universal appeal then as he does now.
While the Beatles were one as a group they were two as the songwriting team of Lennon-McCartney. Since 1962 they had been turning out a steady stream of million sellers both for their own use and that of others. They were catchy tunes in the Tin Pan Alley manner that could be sung and whistled but very introspective at the same time. Dylan on the other hand wrote tortured introspective lyrics that resisted anything close to whistling or a Mitch Miller singalong.
Dylan considered his stuff amazingly thoughtful and profound. He apparently put himself in the same class as Elliot and Pound. He fooled most of his audience for a long time too. The Beatles for whatever reason became the top news story of the day; for months they either were, or seemed to be, on the news every night. Seriously, one had to ask: What’s Going On?
Just as mysteriously Dylan began getting the same treatment. Now, the Beatles were selling unprecedented millions of records on both sides of the Atlantic, at one time occupying the top five spots of the Top 10. Dylan was doing diddly squat with his tortured lyrics. He wasn’t selling records in any quantities while having essentially a cult following. Now, mysteriously he began to be given the same treatment as the Beatles. Time Magazine sent a reporter to interview him on camera. Dylan imitated the Beatles by giving smart ass answers. The Time reporter took his jibes seriously. Sitting out in front of the tube my eyebrows shot up. What is this? The rest of the world went wild in their applause of the Beatle’s and Dylan’s cheekiness. God, they were giving the finger to the Greatest Generation. The latter may have crushed Elvis but these boys were getting their own back.
Maybe Dylan got the attention because he was the only American act available, to balance the relative status of Britain and the US. Perhaps in the emerging racial politics of the time he was offered as Jewish competition to the great goy champions of Elvis and the Beatles. He entered the Beatles’ life in August of ’64 when the Jewish journalist Al Aronowitz took it upon himself to introduce him to the four-in-one. The meeting was more momentous for the Beatles than Dylan.
The story goes that Dylan introduced the boys to marijuana at that meeting. More importantly he lectured Lennon-McCartney on songwriting. Dylan told them in effect that they should stop writing hit songs and write the pretentious crap he did. Now, consider, the Beatles were incredibly successful at what they wrote, Dylan couldn’t do what they did and what he did do couldn’t compete in the marketplace with the Beatles. I mean, they should have been lecturing him, but they didn’t while accepting his viewpoint at the same time. They listened to the little twerp and fell under his infuence to begin trying to imitate him.
The imitation was not very good but as the current avatar of the messiah the Beatles were industructible, as the leader, for whatever reason, John Lennon was accorded the role of messianic leader, a role that he took quite seriously.
While the Beatles had always used various pill forms of speed or amphetamines after Dylan’s introduction to pot they quickly expanded their repertoire to include Acid or LSD. The other three seem not to have been so conflicted in their personalities not becoming as drug dependent as Lennon. He claims perhaps with exaggeration, perhaps not, to have taken LSD thousands of times in the next few years. Under the influence of LSD his personality already distressed by the transition from failure to success disintegrated completely. As he says, he lost his ego totally.
If so, adrift, he was open to a strongly directed personality to manage his. This personality appeared in 1966 in the person of Yoko Ono. She quickly commandeered his personality displacing his British wife, Cynthia. It would be two years before Lennon divorced Cynthia but he left her a year earlier.
Since signing with Brian Epstein as their manager the Beatles had had an ideal artists arrangement. Trusting him they left the business details to him which allowed them full time to devote to their creative efforts. If they needed money they asked for it while all business details such as negotiations, titles and even check writing were handled by Epstein so that the Beatles had no worldly business experience. In 1967 Epstein died.
With Brian gone the Beatles were left rudderless with no one they could trust to manage their corporate and personal finances. Forming Apple as their business alter ego they attempted to manage their affairs themselves resulting in a business regime of such dissolute ineptitude that it has been referred to as The Longest Weekend.
Having attached herself to Lennon, Yoko Ono now tried to insinuate herself into the group as the ego of John Lennon. Thus the group would have been comprised of McCartney, Harrison, Starr and Lennon-Ono. A clear impossibility, the Beatles would be dissolved. As the avatar of the sixties the era had no choice but to disappear along with them.
This was now the late sixties. The world as it had been , the world that gave birth to the Beatles c. 1960 had all but disappeared. Blown away in the wind, so to speak. Just as the sixties called for the Beatles as the messiah of the period so it called forth its anti-messiah of satanism. In 1966 Time Magazine’s cover story was Is God Dead? A title that offended Bob Dylan who petulantly asked: How would you like to be talked about like that? Right.
In 1966 Roman Polansky began filming a movie titled Rosemary’s Baby that actually portrayed the birth of Satan’s child. The story took place in the future home of the Onos- The Dakota Apartments. And then the Rolling Stones released their rather bizarre record, Their Satanic Majesty’s Request with its famous song Sympathy For The Devil. Right about then the Broadway musical Hair was staged that celebrated the Dawning Of The Age Of Aquarius. Synchronicity? Not a bit.
As the messiahs had abdicated it remained for the anti-messiahs the Rolling Stones to place the epitaph on the period which they did in 1969 at Altamont.
However John Lennon as the messianic figurehead was rescued by Yoko Ono. As an unsuccessful performance artist now with Lennon’s audience and financial clout to realize her wildest fantasies she, using Lennon, organized some of the most outrageous extravaganzas that catapulted she and Lennon onto the world stage playing messianic figures. The Bed-In was the most jaw dropping stunt since flag p0le sitting.
Part III will consist of the career of the Ono-Lennon’s to John Lennon’s death in 1980 and perhaps a little beyond. There’s some really interesting stuff involving John Green and a possible associate, Sam Green. The latter is an interesting story.
January 28, 2010
Conversations With Robin Page 4.
Conversations between R. E. Prindle and Robin Mark
Concerning certain musical questions.
Sorry to be so remiss but I was really involved with writingt Exhuming Bob 23 a and b: Bob, Andy, Edie and Like A Rolling Stone. I got them up a couple days ago and then I was really exhausted.
I think they’re really good work, real Sherlock Holmes stuff. The feud between Dylan and Warhol with Edie Sedgwick as their pawn is very important althougth Dylan has been very effective in shuffling it under the carpet.
I’ve always been amazed that no one came after Dylan because of the savage badgering he and Neuwirth put people through during what was apparently his Acid phase. Anent that I’ve always been suspicious of the back wheel of his bike locking up, obvious sabotage to me. Of course the reuslt would be flying over the handle bars that did happen. A probable result of that would be damage to the head neck and/or back with a very good chance of being paralyzed from the neck down much as Christopher Reeve did from his horse jumping accident which was also contrived.
Who would take that exact means to attempt to paralyze Dylan, I don’t think murder was intended. Warhol is my first choice. In addition to other humiliations Dylan publically insulted him in both Stone and Street using motorcycle imagery. Of course, it is now clear that chrome horse refers to a motorcycle so the line reads: You used to ride on a bike behind your diplomat…. Warhol had a bike and was Edie’s ‘diplomat’ so stripped of an obscure term the meaning is clear- Edie and Andy.
In Street Dylan sings: You know you’d like to see me paralyzed…so the bike accident is prefigured in the imagery of the two songs that have references to Warhol. If and when you read Part b of Bob And Andy the inference that Warhol’s crew were the perpetrators will become more evident.
That was hard work pulling all those details together but rewarding. Still, I’m going to have to take a week or so to recover. Research goes on of course. I think next I’ll tackle Exhuming Bob 24: Bob, Jack and Allen. I’ll start working on the ton of the period some.
Part of Elvis’ problem was that the ton shifted so dramatically after he was drafted. He began his career in the post-war ton of the late forties and early fifties actually causing the shift or, at least, abetting it. Then he was removed from the flow for two crucial years. when he came back the Kingston Trio had already shifted the ton toward the Folk genre that made Dylan possible but made Elvis an anachronism. While I don’t believe Elvis was part of any Illuminati type thing earlier or later it is quite possible that some such sort of conspiracy found him a useful tool. Of course, Parker, who was in the country illegally, could easily be manipulated to betray his and ‘his boy’s’ interests.
By the time of the return from the military Presley’s career was obviously being directed by Hollywood. So, who was getting what from mismanaging Elvis’ career?
August 20, 2009
Conversations With Robin, Page 3
Conversations between R.E. Prindle And Robin Mark
Well, well, well. Robert Goulet. I should have known that filthy bastard would be mixed up in there somewhere. What amazes me is that Guralnik could write two fat volumes on Elvis and never mention the Mob once. I think we can begin to integrate Elvis’ Mob conflicts pretty clearly now, although research will have to establish the connections for sure.
For starters, entertainment is a Mob industry both records and movies; that includes both Jews and Sicilians. If you haven’t read Gus Russo’s Supermob yet, do so. The Sidney Korshak role at MCA is crucial.
Anent shooting out TVs remember that Sinatra had a plane he called Superwop or something to that effect so it is clear he bore a grudge against the Anglo world. The plane was a small ‘Lear’ if I remember correctly. Elvis went out and bought a 707. Big plane, big penis; little plane little penis. Not exactly true in Frank’s case, but you get the point. So at least Goulet and Sinatra. I can understand why Dean Martin tried to distance himself from those creeps.
Parker must have had the business dealings with the Outfit. As he ran into gambling problems the only commodity he had to barter was Presley. Thus he would have had to ‘sell’ Presley to keep both his legs under him. Elvis’ rapid deterioration could have been because of his realization that he was ‘caught in a trap. I can’t get out.’ Devastating awareness. One could only retreat into booze and/or drugs.
Now, Leiber said that he and Stoller at one time worked for the Mafia. This wouldn’t be unusual nor should it be held against them because if you’re in entertainment you’re involved, like it or not. The question is when were they involved, for how long, and for what purpose.
We all know Fabian was a Mob creation. Why not others? If you haven’t seen and studied The Girl Can’t Help It, do so. The movie is an alegory of the record business. Everything you see in the movie is the Outfit in action. In the fifties every Juke Box in America was stocked by the Outfit. You didn’t get your record stocked unless you were Mobbed up somewhere along the line. Someone recently told me that the girls on the Dick Clark Show were prostitutes and Bandstand was used to showcase them for Johns. Don’t know that it’s true but I wouldn’t be surprised.
Leiber and Stoller could have been co-opted to write songs for, say, The Coasters. A Black act with interchangeable personnel. Kind of an early Back Street Boys. I don’t know but I’d like to hear Leiber talk about it. Might prove enlightening.
So, let us assume that the Colonel was drawn into the Mob scene from the beginning of Presley’s movie career. That might explain some of his stupid decisions and those dumb movies. Perhaps Parker didn’t have a free hand but was ‘wise’ enough to figure out that something is better than nothing.
Then after Vegas Presley was increasingly drawn into orbit until he learned the horrifying truth. Guralnik seems to have his head up his ass as far as I’m concerned.
As Presley learned the truth looking forward to forty more years of slavery he found drugs more comfortable than reality. Possible, it would make things make sense.
May 31, 2009
Exhuming Bob XX:
Bob And Johnny:
In Defense Of Dylan
The least said, the soonest mended.
In Dylan’s recent interview published by Rolling Stone Magazine Dylan raised his own litle fire storm. Whatever his intent the appearance was that he was trashing Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash, both more important and stellar than himself.
Both Presley and Cash were originators while what followed including Dylan were epigones. Accident of time, like it or not, Dylan and the rest are derivatives. They can never exceed their masters. So Dylan should have retained his modesty. However I come not to bash Bob but to defend him.
While I think there is a growing arrogance in his attitude as he seems to be beginning to believe his press releases, and while with Cash there may be something else going on in the background, yet, I am in sympathy with his opinion but not to the point of blackguarding Cash, I just listen to my favorites, among which is Big River, when I listen. That isn’t too often anymore.
One who did take deep offence to Dylan’s comments was fellow artist Joe Jackson of the pointy shoes in the Irish Times:
… in the Rolling Stone interview, which was reprinted in last weeks Sunday Times, Bobby, baby, finally revealed himself to be a musical illiterate, in one quintessential sense, when he stupidly dismissed as “low grade” everything Johnny Cash recorded after leaving Sun Records in 1958.
Dylan didn’t express himself very well, but he is a sort of an authority, he was there while Joe only heard Cash well after the fact having therefore a historical perspective having probably heard the old stuff after he heard the new stuff. Dylan was born in ’41 while Jackson was born in ’54. It therefore behooves someone born in ’54 to be rather circumspect in criticizing the opinion of someone who was there or almost there. I’ve got three years on Bob and was actually there at the creation. Dylan’s taste in music is nevertheless impeccable.
As I say, Jackson knows early Cash only in a historical sense. Time dulls all brilliance. No one can really
understand the effect of the music of Johnny Cash on the people who were there if they weren’t.
The early Sun of Cash was volcanic, other worldly, the equivalent of five or six of those mushroom clouds over Hiroshima. And remember, as a country artist Cash debuted in heavy traffic, the greatest of the great where reaching their apogee- that is to say Hank Snow and Webb Pierce and a host of other lesser lights but still greats. Dylan and I both revere Hank Snow, hey little buddy? Webb is unbelievable so into this milieu strides Johnny Cash with three or four mind stunners followed by I Walk The Line, not to mention writing Warren Smith’s Rock n’ Roll Ruby. Now, not everybody got it at the time, you had to be hep, you had to know in your guts. We were the congnoscenti. Of course by Line the word was out.
But these records of incomparable genius were as we said at the time Cash’s wad, after he shot it every thing was of a lesser quality; even on Sun, he followed up with Ballad Of The Teenage Queen and other such drivel only for the die hards of which I was one but I knew the best of Cash was in the past. Dylan apparently did too but that early flowering was enough to respect Cash forever. Dylan should have expressed himself differently. After all it was Cash’s endorsement that opened much wider horizons to Dylan.
Pushed by the interviewer further Dylan was quoted:
I tell people if they are interested that they should listen to the Johnny on his Sun Records and reject all the notorious low grade stuff he did in later years. It can’t hold a candlelight to the frightening depth of the man you have on early records. That’s the way he should be remembered.
That seems unduly harsh about a singer who followed his Sun hits with Ring Of Fire and many other excellent recordings although he may not have written them. In any event Dylan’s career parallels that of Cash: A short burst of relative genius followed by a long tedious fifty years.
So while I sympathize with Joe Jackson’s outrage at Dylan’s inexplicable gaucherie I understand what Dylan means. He was there and Joe Jackson wasn’t and that’s the difference, different memories. What was it Zappa said? Shut up and play yer guitar.
I fondly remember both Cash’s and Dylan’s best.
Cool Cat Jackson
November 13, 2008
Conversations With Robin
Robin Mark and R.E. Prindle
Well, you know, the river just keeps right on a flowin’ and you have to stay afloat but the bozos in Washington just don’t seem to have a clue and they’re so cynically dishonest. Eighty percent were against the bailout but they said we had to have it or the world would end yesterday. Now the bailout has gone away. first there was a bailout, then there was no bailout.
I thought both Obama and McCain were genuninely crazy to want to step into Bush’s shoes and I hope Obama gets what he’s got coming.to him before I get mine. The Commies have to be stopped this time; twice was enough of that bull roar.
But to turn the radio back up. Have you read any of Miss Pamela’s latest: Let’s Spend The Night Together? she interviews twenty-four groupies mining their minds for golden memories.
As super Presley buff you’ll want to read the first chapter by someone called Tura Satana. Taught Elvis nearly every thing he knew. How to kiss, the whole works. Came to her as a country bumpkin and left as The Sheik. Funny I haven’t heard you vent on her before.
And then a Catherine James invents the most improbable story about Dylan you’ve ever heard.
Elvira makes her guest appearance with some more info on Elvis that sounds like it might be as true, at least, as a Hollywood movie.
It’s kind of a kiss and invent book but Miss Pamela is her usual charming self. Get’s a little gruesome after a while though, but, Hey, here it is 2008 and they’ve all survived. Even Miss Mercy. Carazy mama but she’s got a few more tidbits on Elvis. Did he ever have an interest in a Memphis area club called Hernando’s Hideaway?
Those girls did get around but the question is what can they actually remember? It makes you wonder how Jimmy Page ever had a spare moment to practice guitar.
Good luck with your school. We’re a long way from the bottom yet. It amazes me how few people understand how far its fallen and that it is absolutely impossible for it to bounce back. For crying out loud the Faller has barely gotten ‘Timber’ out his mouth already.
I pity those poor Liberals who’ve finally gotten their wish. Now what are they going to do with General Motors. There is no forgiveness in my heart for them.
November 10, 2008
Let’s Spend The Night Together
Pamela Des Barres
Review by R.E. Prindle
Des Barres, Pamela, Let’s Spend The Night Together, 2008 Chicago Review Press
You make my heart sing.
You make everything,
Gather ye rosebuds while ye may
For tomorrow brings but sorrow,
The girls that are so sweet today
Will be mothers-in-law tomorrow.
Pamela Des Barres having apparently exhausted what appeared to be an inexhaustible fund of rock n’ roll memories returns to the publishing fold with a whole book full of other groupies’ memories. She introduces some twenty-four supergroupies to tell their back stage secrets of rock gods.
If you’re into titillating sexual stuff you’ve just found the Dutchman’s lost gold mne. For those into this stuff Cynthia Plaster Caster is pictured fondling the immortalized member of Jimi Hendrix. At least we know that one’s true. However some of the memories recorded seem to be sort of stretchers to me. Making a good story better is OK but pure invention is something else.
I did catch one of the girls, women, mothers-in-law, almost all grandmothers, in a fabrication or, shall I say, a delusion. I don’t want to be unkind because the lady in question, Catherine James, did time in the orphanage while having one of those mothers from hell. I can sympathize, a double whammy like that can do things to you. I had a number of issues with my mother, who has now gone to her greater reward wherever that may be, while she too put me in the orphanage. So, as I say, I can sympathize.
Well, Miss James says she quit the groupie game in 1971 at the age of nineteen while she began at age thirteen. That would have made her beginning in 1965. As she tells it those six years were eventful enough for any busload of wayward girls.
As I read my eyebrows kept going up. This was too amazing, it seemed, to be true. After reading her chapter I put the book down while my eyes were spinning around in my head. Then I began going over the details looking for that fatal flaw. As there was no way I could contradict her stories based on her revelatory details, I would have to examine dates and when I did I found that flaw. Not gentlemanly, but I do have that inquisitive mind that just won’t be satisfied. As it happened the flaw involved the ‘spokesman of his generation’ Bob Dylan.
Miss James says that she met Bob, as I gather he was the first, at thirteen. As she tells it Bob gave her some good soul saving advice about her mother; otherwise she might have been driven mad. I can dig that, too.
But there was a problem with that. Miss James lived in the LA area. She says she met Bob in California between the recording of Bob Dylan and The Free Wheelin’. That would probably have been about the time Bob was heavy with Suze Rotolo in NYC. At any rate in ’62 Miss James would have been about ten years old not thirteen.
Miss James who has extraordinary faith in the art of cosmetology believes that at thirteen she could make herself up successfully enough to fool a guy into thinking she was minimally legal. That alone seems like a mega stretcher to me. But what are cosmetics going to do for a ten year old?
Quite clearly Miss James could not have met Bob when she was thirteen in LA. She would like to have met Bob and gotten that good advice but she couldn’t have.
Making a good story better she compounds the delusion by saying that still at thirteen she made the pilgrimage to Greenwich Village to be with Bob. In an interesting dream sequence she describes arriving in NYC broke, not unlike Bob, with no place to stay. Talking to some young people in the Village she told them she was there to visit Bob. Naturally this admission was greeted with snickers. But, lo and behold, who should drive up to the street corner at that instant but Bob himself. She ran over to greet him. He rolled down the window to say he was off to a concert and drove away.
As I say I don’t wish to cause Miss James distress and I’m sure she ins’t any less truthful than any of these girls, women, mothers-in-law, but much of this stuff requires that extra grain of salt.
The opening chapter concerning the adventures of someone called Tura Satana and Elvis requires some documentation. But, why go into it. As Samuel Johnson said who but a blockhead wouldn’t write for money. I presume that Miss Pamela would like to see a nice fat royalty check. Lord knows Frank Zappa left Miss Pamela short when she was a member of the GTOs, so buy a copy if you like this stort of thing and make that ageing Wild Thing’s heart sing. She’s got it coming, believe me.
July 6, 2008
Exhuming Bob IX, Pensees 7:
Into The Lost Land
Dylan, Bob, Chronicles Vol. I, Simon And Schuster, 2004
Prindle, R.E. Exhuming Bob, VIII The Walls Of Red Wing, idynamo,wordpress.com 2008
Thompson, Toby, Positively Main Street, U. Minnesota, 2008, reprint from 1971
http://www.hibbing.org/dylan1/story.html Life In Hibbing: Hibbing Chamber Of Commerce
http://www.interferenza.com/bcs/interw/85-dec.htm Bob Dylan Is Not Like A Rolling Stone Interview, Spin Magazine, Volume One, Number Eight, December 1985
http://www.interferenza.com/bcs/interw/play78.htm Playboy Interview: Bob Dylan 1978
http://www.interferenza.com/bcs/interw/66-jan.htm Playboy Interview: Bob Dylan February 1966
In attempting to put together a reasonable facsimile of Bob’s life in Hibbing and Minneapolis, Minnesota and New York City as he mythologized it in his chapter of Chronicles, The Lost Land, I have come to the following tentative conclusions.
Bob was born in Duluth, Minnesota on 5/24/41. In 1943 he was taken to Hibbing where he lived from then until graduation from high school in the Spring of 1959.
Within the concept of normal Bob had a fairly advantaged childhood. His parents were indulgent buying him anything he wanted while providing adequate pocket cash. Bob’s family was one of the more important in town both within the Jewish community and the town at large. In what appears to have been a tight small town social scene Bob either excluded himself or was excluded from the dominant social groups within which he had a right to be included.
Perhaps Bob’s conception of the Hibbing period could be best interpreted from his favorite movie, Rebel Without A Cause, starring James Dean. Bob is said to have seen the movie several times. This was unusual as few people ever saw a movie more than once. He would have been a very impressionable fifteen at the time. Most of us didn’t have the money while quite frankly few movies, if any, were worth watching twice including Rebel Without A Cause. I was seventeen when I saw it and while I was in awe I wasn’t submerged. Of course Bob’s relatives owned the theatres so he got in for free.
As he set up a Dean shrine in his basement which greatly offended Father Abe we may be justified in assuming that Dean was a controlling influence in his life from the time he saw the movie. It is of interest that Abe was to remove the Dean shrine from the basement after Bob left replacing it with a shrine to his own son Bob Dylan ne Zimmerman.
Abe Zimmerman (1911-1968) worked for Standard Oil in Duluth when Bob was born. According to the C of C he lost his job in 1943 moving to Hibbing where his wife’s family, the Stones, could help the young couple. Why Standard Oil should lay Abe off in the middle of the war during a manpower shortage seems to pose a question. As can be seen from the photograph of Abe and Beattie above borrowed from the Flickr photostream of <drineevar> he was a well set up handsome man. He appears to be exceptionally self-possessed, sound in the eyes. Beattie appears to be a haughty high fashion queen which would accord with later facts.
Abram Zimmerman, for such was his name. Usually called Abraham, the name on his tombstone is Abram, and his two brothers Maurice and Paul bought the Micka Electric Company in 1943 changing the name to Zimmerman Appliance. In 1968 Paul Zimmerman told Thompson that they had been in business for twenty-five years which would mean 1943 although the date seems odd.
According to the C of C Abe came down with polio in 1946 requiring a lengthy convalescence. The C of C says that the Zimmermans bought Micka’s after his convalescence but if Paul Zimmerman is accurate it would have to have been 1943. There would be no record of what Abe did for a living then from 1943 to 1946. As Bob says both his uncles served in the Army it would seem that they bought Micka’s going into the Army shortly thereafter leaving Abe to tend the business.
Maurice and Paul became President and Vice-President of the corporation while Abe siginficantly assumed the controlling post of Secretary-Treasurer. Managed the money, paid the bills.
During the fifties at least Abe spent a fair amount of money on both Bob and Beattie. Angel Marolt whose family bought the Zimmerman residence after Abe’s death was trying to tell him of Beattie’s several fur coats, diamonds and Cadillac but Thompson says he wasn’t paying attention.
Thompson quotes Echo Helstrom as saying that the Zimmermans had stores in both Hibbing and Duluth. Having a customer base of approx. 250,000 makes more sense when one considers the amounts of Abe’s expenditures and the fact that the profits had to be split three ways.
The C of C describes Abe as a ‘big man’ in town partial to those big thick long cigars.
The couple had enough money on arrival to buy the large nine room house that Bob grew up in so Abe must have been well paid at Standard Oil before he was laid off. Both he and Beattie are well dressed in the picture while Beattie is actually overdressed.
Bob was entrolled at Alice School for his kindergarten year in 1946 at five years of age. The status of Alice School is unclear. Perhaps it was closed the following year or consolidated with the Hibbing High complex as Bob was transferred. Hibbing High housed kindergarten through twelve as well as the Jr. College. Thompson describes it as a huge and rambling building.
So from first grade to graduation Bob was with the same group of students. I sure wouldn’t have wanted to move into town in tenth grade and try to break into that one. While he wouldn’t have known them all well he must have known the entire student population on sight. This presents the problem then of why Bob, who was the son of the Big Man in town, wasn’t included in the top social cliques. Those cliques undoubtedly formed early persisting through graduation. If Bob was in one he was either forced out early or found it uncongenial to remain for whatever reason. Perhaps he thought his Jewishness excluded him. So if something happened we don’t know what it was and won’t; unless Bob tells it’s going to be difficult to trace.
Growing up in a small town anyone with any ambition looks around and sees very limited opportunities. Working for his father wasn’t a viable option. Not everyone wants to be a doctor or lawyer either. Nuclear Science is OK but a lot of those guys are out of a job now too. My next door neighbor when I was a kid for one.
Bob’s mind turned early to music and then to Rock and Roll. While Rn’R went on to conquer the world and become as respectable as such a spectacle could it was definitely considered discreditible and low class almost volunteer outlawry in the fifties. At the very least it was ‘pimple’ music. It took a certain amount of courage to say you liked Elvis Presley. Pat Boone was set up as his rival and you had better say you liked ol’ White Bucks. If you don’t think Elvis was considered a social criminal check out a couple of his movie roles like King Creole or Jailhouse Rock. What was the Colonel thinking? Clown roles, that’s all Elvis ever got.
And then Bob chose as his hero and model Little Richard. People looked at you funny if you said you
liked Little Richard! I mean, Bill Doggett was a respectable Negro with music you could understand, Fats Domino was as lovable as a chubby ten year old but Little Richard! They hadn’t even created the ghetto he could come out of. His band might have passed but then he opened his mouth. If there was ever a direct challenge to middle class sensibilities Tutti-Frutti was it. Not only was the song incomprehensible it was about queers. Nobody ever quoted the lyrics correctly, while I’m walking around saying ‘Tutti Frutti, I want Rudy?’ What does that mean? I hope no one overheard me. So when Bob gets up, ignoring Pat Boone entirely, and launches into some screaming vision like Rip It Up or She’s Got It or God only knows what, was the crowd taken aback? Chuckle, chuckle.
So Bob having opted for the lifestyle was forced to associate with the hoody crowd or have become a loner. Besides Colin Wilson’s book The Outsider had appeared in 1956 that began a cult of The Loner that peopled the early sixties. These guys, who were by no means rebels but deep thoughtful guys who had a line on the truth denied anyone else and that penetrated sham and hypocrisy sat alone ever ready to resolve a situation setting things right were highly romanticized fellows. There were as many Loners in those days as there were Hawkeyes a couple generations later. So Bob wouldn’t necessarily have been thought of as weird, strange but a Loner. A Loner was next door to weird and strange. Thin line if you get my meaning.
On the other hand the C of C describes the L&B Cafe as a regular jumping Bop Street right there in the heart of Hibbing, Minnesota. Bands set up and played continuously. They knew how to party in Hibbing. The C of C even says there was a radio station in town playing Bob’s kind of music thereby contradicting every other source even Bob. He says he had to go to Shreveport on the radio waves to get his kind of music. In this case I’m betting on Bob.
The C of C tells of Bob’s musical debut like this putting the best possible face on it:
Described by fellow students as polite, easy to talk with, and somewhat introspective, it was a total shock when he pushed back the piano bench and stood up to pound the first notes of a song into the auditorium, electrifying the student body. Kids jumped up, stared at each other open mouthed not knowing what the reaction would be.
Well, yes, they were electried but did they like it?
According to the C of C, looking back fondly, Bob went over real well with his fellow students. If you like this version don’t check the other sources as this is at variance with every other known account but then this is the Chamber Of Commerce speaking. Up to this point in the C of C account there is no reason for Bob to be as bitter as he is about Hibbing at all.
A note of interest is the reoccurence of Fourth Street in Hibbing, Minneapolis and New York City. Quite a coincidence, I knew there had to be some association with Fourth St. in Hibbing. So far we learn that Bob attended Jewish shule there. Whether the synagogue was also located there isn’t clear. The synagogue Bob attended is no longer anywhere at any rate. Tore it down. It was in the way. Had to go. Even though Bob’s father was the most prominent Jew in town, the President of B’nai B’rith and ADL as well as his business interests, and even though Bob had a mega Bar Mitzvah with four hundred people in attendance some say at the most prominent spot in town, the Androy Hotel, some say at the synagogue, he wished to conceal he was Jewish. This attitude may have contributed to his renouncing the Jewish fraternity house to which he pledged at UM while also hiding his religion in New York. The attitude was strange since he seemed to prefer Jewish musicians around him to the exclusion of goys.
Bob’s father Abe, was quite frankly a marvelous provider, spending very large sums of money on son Bob, wife Beattie and his second son, David. When he died in 1968 the house on 7th Ave., now Bob Dylan Ave. was sold. The owners at the time of Thompson’s visit were the Marolts. Angel Marolt who was at home when Thompson called offered to show him around. One thing he learned was that Bob had a clause in the sale’s contract that allowed him to stay in his old room in the Marolt’s house whenever he was in town. Too weird.
What quirk in Bob’s mind compelled him to live in other people’s houses? Perhaps Rebbe Maier back in 1954 impressed on Bob that Biblical scripture presribes that Jews would live in houses they never built. As an article of religion that injuction is a mind boggler. One can’t predict how anyone’s mind will interpret instruction. Bob who functions out of his subconscious very heavily must have accepted such teachings in literal ways. Rebbe Maier was a definite turning point in Bob’s life. Imagine getting out of school, going upstairs at a Rn’R cafe to sit before the only bearded man you may ever have seen, dressed completely in black with a black yarmulke perched on the back of his crown intoning things like: The Jews shall live in houses they never built and then go downstairs to boogie. Pretty spooky, don’t you think? And then as Bob says, he disappeared like a ghost. Let that roll around your brain for little while and see what you come up with.
Mrs. Marolt was trying to tell Thompson something about Mrs. Zimmerman’s multiple furs, heaps of diamonds, I’m sure all the latest fashions and her own Cadillac.
Bob was indulged to the extent of apparently more than one motorcycle, a car, lots of amplifiers and electronic gear for his bands, whatever he wanted plus free movie admissions and plenty of pocket cash. He must have had a large record collection for a kid as he spent his spare time at Crippas record store ordering the odd title. You can bet Crippas didn’t discount either, charging full bore. At the time (after 1958) stereo was 5.98 and mono was 4.98.
As the profits from a sole Hibbing store divided three ways could not have supported this sort of expenditure, having a store in Duluth could account for it. It is significant also tha Abram died in June 1968 and the store closed a few months later. Was the store a losing proposition for the last few years? Did Bob provide the difference so Abe wouldn’t be embarrassed by going banko? Then with his father gone there was no reason to support Uncles Maurice and Paul?
There really is something happening here, isn’t there?
Also as a petty expenditure for Bob (it would have been huge in my life) according to the C of C:
Almost every day Bob came in after school for his regular snack: cherry pie a la mode and coffee (or Coke.)
And then to dinner? No wonder the young Bob had all that baby fat.
If Echo bought those hot dogs for Bob and bought his story that his dad didn’t give him an allowance she was had in more ways than one.
So, Abe was nothing if not a generous father and husband. Beattie as President of Hadassah as well as a Stone must have made the Zimmermans the most powerful Jews in the syngogue while actually giving she and her husband the means to be petty dictators of the town, I saw something like this in Eugene, Oregon in the sixties and seventies, or, as the C of C says a Big Man and big people.
Bob must have a quirk in his mind to misrepresent his childhood so. He was the Fortunate Son John Fogerty only sings about.
In Thompson’s interview with Beattie he quotes her:
How can you know you have a genius in your house, when all my time is spent trying to feed him and keeping his clothes pressed.
In Bob’s story, The Lost Land, Chloe Kiel is shown ironing Bob’s shirts and at the end of the chapter she ‘slaps’ a plate of steak and fried onions in front of him just before he darts out the door to begin the next chapter, A New Morning, just as in the old days when he returned home from school for lunch and was fed by his mother he darted back to school.
Ironing his shirts and providing free steaks was a signal service for bare acquaintances like Ray and Chloe.
Chloe comes across as cold and indifferent and indeed there is a tinge of resentment and anger beneath Beattie’s statement. Motherly, of course, but there. Still, she doesn’t impress me as any Yiddishe Mama of the Mrs. Goldberg variety. Whether Bob was a good boy or not he does have an ambivalent attitude toward his parents. But then he claims that he was really raised by his grandmother, whether Stone or Zimmerman isn’t clear.
I believe the big change came over Bob with his Bar Mitzvah and I’m not talking puberty alone. According to the C of C Bob attended Jewish shule during his young years. This was done after public school hours. Then in 1953-54 when his Bar Mitzvah was approaching Father Abe sent to Brooklyn, New York to have an ultra-orthodox, almost certainly a Lubavitcher Rebbe, sent to Hibbing to indoctrinate Bob in untra-orthodox teachings. It can’t be any surprise that when Bob exhibited his Jewish reverence after his Jesus indoctrination with the Vineyard Fellowship he chose to show himslef as a Lubavitcher. Welcome home, Bob. The C of C tells it this way:
According to a 1985 Spin Magazine interview by Dave Engel, Bob said it was above the (L&B) Cafe that Rabbi Reuben Maier stayed while giving Bob Hebrew lessons in preparation for his Bar Mitzvah. The Rabbi and his wife showed up one day and stayed for a year while Bob got ready for his big event . The article quotes Bob as saying he would learn Hebrew after school or in the evening for an hour, then go downstairs and boogie at the L&B. After completing his Bar Mitzvah the Rabbi just disappeared.
In the interview Bob tells it this way:
There weren’t many Jews in Hibbing, Minnesota. Most of them I was related to. The town didn’t have a rabbi, and it was time for me to be bar mitzvahed. Suddenly a rabbi showed up under strange circumstances for only a year. He and his wife got off the bus in the middle of the winter. He showed up just in time for me to learn this stuff. He was an old man from Brooklyn who had a white beard and wore a black hat and black clothes. They put him upstairs in the cafe, which was the local hangout. It was a rock n’ roll cafe where I used to hang out, too. I used to go there everyday to learn this stuff either after school or after dinner. After studying with him an hour, or so, I’d come down and boogie. The rabbi taught me what I had to learn, and after conducting the bar mitzvah, he just disappeared. The people didn’t want him. He didn’t look like anybody’s idea of a rabbi. He was an embarrassment. All the Jews there shaved their heads and, I think, worked on Saturdays. And I never saw him again. It’s like he came and went like a ghost. Later I found out he was Orthodox. Jews separate themselves like that. Christians, too. Baptists, Assembly of God, Methodists, Calvinists. God has no respect for a person’s title. He don’t care what you call yourself.
The C of C knows the Rebbe’s name was Reuben Maier and Bob Dylan doesn’t? There were enough people in Hibbing to have a temple and shule but they didn’t have a Rabbi? The Rebbe Maier showed up in time for Bobby Zimmerman’s Bar Mitzvah but what? it was the first Bar Mitzvah in Hibbing’s Rabbiless history? No wonder four hundred people showed up. The Jews in Hibbing shaved their heads and worked on Saturday’s? I presume Bob means they didn’t wear beards but shaved their faces unlike the Lubavitcher in white beard and one of those funny round hats. I serously doubt there were three hundred or more Jews walking around Hibbing with shaved heads in 1954.
They took one look at Rebbe Reuben’s weird beard and outre attire and told him to get out of town? Now that I can believe. Beards in ’54 were a sign of great eccentricity or a psychotic desire to draw attention to oneself. But why in ’85 the mysterioso act? He just showed up to teach Bobby Zimmerman, a complete unknown with no direction home Lubavitcher tales like this: (actually this is pretty standard esoteric doctrine adapted for Jewish needs)
The messianic thing has to do with the world of mankind, like it is. This world is scheduled to go for 7,000 years. Six thousand years of this where man has his way and 1,000 years when God has his way. Just like the week. Six days work, one day rest. The last thousand years is called the Messianic Age, Messiah will rule.
Essentially what we have here is a variant of Madame Blavatsky’s Theosophy along with a little Hebrew Theology. If one looks real closely one can see the outline of Sigmund Freud’s notion of the unconscious.
According to Beattie Bob knew, oh, two hundred words of Hebrew. So much for several years of shule and a year of intensive training by Rebbe Reuben.
Whether Bob knows or admits it, it must be true that Father Abram sent for Reuben to instruct Bob in mysteries that Abe thought were essential to his vision of Jewish religion while they were not part of the services of the Hibbing congregation.
It is possible that Abram brought the Rebbe in on the approval of the congregation who rejected him. The comment by Bob of working Saturdays may be signficant here. The Jewish sabbath begins on Friday sundown and continues to Saturday sundown.
As a Lubavitcher, Rebbe Reuben could not have tolerated working during the sabbath while the congregation found it essential amidst a gentile population. Likewise beards are an integral part of the orthodox religion so that the congregation also refused to stop shaving. The only thing mysterious is why it took Reuben so long to catch on. Or maybe he had a contract for one year and the year was up. Of course Bob did need help on those two hundred words.
So Bob’s upstairs memorizing his two hundred words while the throbbing beat pounds insistently through the floor. The super patient Reuben and his wife never object. Bob shortly joins the revelers with his two hundred Hebrew words rattling round his skull, steps up to the mike and begins screaming: I’ve got a girl and her name is Echo. Hmmm. Quite an image out there in the Lost Land of Bob.
Now indoctrinated in quaint antiquarian rites Bob is bundled off to Webster, Wisconsin and Camp Herzl to steep himself in Israeli style Jewish living. Camp Herzl was conducted as Israel in America so those two hundred Hebrew words came in handy in that surrogate for summer in a kibbutz in the Holy Land.
The summer sojourns must have set Abram back a handsome fee for the times. Six to eight weeks of essentially summer boarding school does have expenses. Abe apparently was deeply religious: in Protestant circles he would have been known as a Fundamentalist nut. He and Mike Huckabee would have gotten along fine. One wonders if younger son David was given the same treatment.
So Bob from 1954 on is definitely the product of two nations. The world of the Three Hanks as the C of C puts it and this world of Adam, Moses and the Messiah. Bob was named after Sabbatai Zevi the last acknowledged Jewish messiah in the seventeenth century, his Jewish name is Sabtai.
As kids we all have a lot to reconcile, begin working out at graduation. Bob had a double load; he had two Bobs to reconcile. Personalities wander and widen in those years, Bob made a clean split. On the one hand he was the twerp Bobby Zimmerman of whom it may be said: There’s no success like failure while on the other he was struggling to be the super successful Bob Dylan in which he failed to assume the mantle so that failure is no success at all. At least he made this split off persona’s name mean something. As a note, it was not generally known Dylan was Jewish until after Blonde On Blonde.
Thus in his movie Renaldo and Clara he is not Bob Dylan. Anybody can be Bob Dylan he says, you can be Bob Dylan. Toby Thompson thought he could be and did a pretty good job of it walking a mile or so in Bob’s shoes. Sounded just like him.
As remarkable as it is that Bob realized his fantasy beyond anything he could have dreamed and became the hugely successful Bob Dylan he created an entire new set of problems whose solution eluded him. Well, you know, there’s something lost and something gained while it’s hard to know whether the gain was worth the loss. However the money has disappeared from the table.
The result then is Bob looking backward from 2004 to create a fantasy of how it was in Ray and Chloe’s place on Vestry Street in NYC. The chapter is approriately titled The Lost Land or possibly Never-Never Land might have been better. The chapter isn’t a complete fabrication but it is fiction. Something like the various incidents might have happened but not exactly the way Bob tells it. The framing story of Ray Gooch and Chloe Kiel is pure fiction however. They could not possibly have existed.
Bob tells the whole story of the Lost Land within the reference of Ray and Chloe and their fabulous apartment near Vestry below Canal near the Hudson across the street fromt he Cathedral with its bell tower. Thompson got it right.
A troubling aspect of Bob for me is his insistance on bumming other people’s apartments. This seems to be compulsive behavior.
Bob was actually voluntarily homeless from January of ’61 to October or November of the same year when he and ‘roommate’ Suze Rotolo took up digs on Fourth St. I suspect that Father Abe would have been only too happy to supply Bob with funds to live on Vestry Street if he had asked. Bob is simply untrustworthy in any of his stories. As he said of what he learned from folk music: If you told the truth, well and good; if you told the untruth, well and good also, so in Bob’s mind there are no lies, there is only the truth or untruth both having the same value and whichever is more serviceable at the moment. You can’t believe him.
A troubling aspect of Bob’s behavior is his habit of bumming couches in other people’s nests; gaining meaning, as it were, from other people’s lives. Perhaps that was the way he felt of his life in his mother and father’s house. Or perhaps as a Jewish outsider in a goyish land it was his attempt to insinuate himself in the main stream much as he appropriated Woody Guthrie’s persona. Of the houses I have traced they have all been those of goys; he didn’t choose to insinuate himself into the houses of his fellow Jews. His imaginary hosts Gooch and Kiel are obviously goys.
The Lost Land then is a mythologized version of his childhood and first few months in New York City. To my mind Ray Gooch is a combination of Dave Van Ronk, Paul Clayton, Matt Helstrom and his father. Chloe seems simply to be an idealized notion of his mother. (Study her picture for a few moments again.)
As the Gooch frame brackets the period from Bob’s encounter with Gorgeous George to the apartment with Suze Rotolo it must represent a time frame from sometime in ’58 to October ’61. In October Bob Dylan ceased sponging off others to take up his own apartment.
The only one in this time frame he knew who had a large gun collection was Matt Helstrom. The Helmstroms also had a large record collection that Bob listened to. The couch and apartment undoubtedly belonged to Van Ronk while certain exoticisms of Gooch are characteristic of Clayton. The library of Gooch may simply be the New York City Library of which the long narrow room would merely describe the stacks.
The Southern character of Gooch must represent a time after Bob studied the South in the library since there are several references to his Civil War studies. Gooch himself is a Southerner from Virginia gone North which is a symbol in itself. This can be symbolically described as Father Abe being a Jew in Gentile America.
Here then Bob creates or accentuates the more pleasant aspects of his memories in contrast to the very bitter unpleasant memories of the songs. He tells us a great deal about his dream life but little of its realities. At this point I am of the opinion that the party of Camilla ( who Bob says he gets to know quite intimately) is another fabrication of the based on a true story variety.
As Bob would say, folk music taught him that if what you said was true,well and good; if what you said was untrue well and good also. We may probably construe the Lost Land as both true and untrue while a good folk tale. Even the title has a fictive quality a la Edgar Rice Burroughs.
To round off the period back in the C of C milieu of Hibbing: Bob spent his last summer at Camp Herzl in 1957. In the summer of ’58 he was running back and forth between Hibbing and Minneapolis. At that time he would have become familiar with Highway 61.
In his Junior year of ’57-’58 he took up his relationship with Echo Helstrom. They were going steady hence were not supposed to be dating others. As he was in Minneapolis most of the summer he left Echo sitting home alone. She resented this. As the Senior year began she told Thompson, she took a revenge on Bobby returning his token in public in the hall at school. Boy, that hurts.
The feelings must have been much harder than either Bob or Echo portray them. A key problem area is did Bob spend time in Red Wing Reformatory on Highway 61 below Minneapolis and if he did what did he do to receive his sentence: I examine this more fully in Exhuming Bob VIII: The Walls Of Redwing.
He says in Chronicles that he was absent from school from some time at the beginning of April of ’59. He was back at least by the June 5th graduation. His birthday is May 24th. After that date he would have been eighteen and subject to adult sentencing. For what It’s worth he says in his song that no inmate was over seventeen. I’m suggesting that he spent a month of two at Red Wing returning in time for graduation. Certainly a Big Man in town like Abe could have arranged the graduation if he couldn’t get Bob off that time.
The question is what did Bob do? By the middle of this Senior year it appears that he had been in enough scrapes to be known as a troublesome boy; perhaps living out a Rebel Without A Cause persona. Father Abe used his influence up to that time to avoid unpleasant consequences for the lad.
I believe Bob’s song The Chimes Of Freedom tells the story of his crime. Quite simply Echo set him up. She obviously was not quite as complacent as she tells it. See Exhuming Bob VIII: Walls Of Red Wing.
Returning home from Red Wing his parents threw a graduation party for him. Bob was reluctant to attend the party, perhaps with good reason but was persuaded to do so.
This then leaves a very sketchy account of the three or four months of the summer of ’59 for which Bob provides little information. In Walls Of Red Wing I place his stint at Red Wing in August but that is probably wrong. In any event the period from April of ’59 to September of ’59 needs to be explained more fully.
Bob gives some brief details of his stay at Dinkytown but not much. A little bit of the John Pankake episode while avoiding the important details of his theft of Pankake’s records.
Thompson has some good information from Ellen Baker whose father’s folk song collection Bob used extensively.
Then to NYC and his account of The Lost Land segues into his New Morning.