Althouse | category: Dylan



an endless succession of beans and nuts.

"We tend to overstate the poverty of the style that precedes a style we admire..."

"... histories of rock and roll treat what accompanied it on the airwaves of the fifties as if the music were all 'Sing Along with Mitch' and 'How Much Is That Doggie in the Window?,' when it was also Sinatra’s concept albums, Sarah Vaughan’s collaborations with George Treadwell, and Dave Brubeck’s million-selling recording of a jazz instrumental in five-four time. And so we remember paperback books, pre-Push Pin, as either clinically bare, as with Modern Library editions, or outlandishly lurid, as with an edition of 'Madame Bovary' featuring an Ava Gardner-style femme fatale, complete with slipping negligee....There was, in truth, much ambitious 'art' illustration in those years, including Ben Shahn’s covers for S. J. Perelman and Kauffer’s cover for Ralph Ellison’s 'Invisible Man.'"

Here are those Ben Shahn covers.

Here's that Kauffer cover.

And I think this might be the referenced "outlandishly lurid" "Madame Bovary" cover:

Or... this fits the description better (but it's a British edition):

"The Full Audio Recording Of Judge Kyle Duncan At Stanford Law."

Presented by David Lat at Substack.

I've listened to the first 22 minutes (and intend to finish later). That is, I've relistened to the Tirien Steinbach intervention, and I've heard, for the first time, everything that went before, that is, what students did that required the intervention.

As I heard it — and much of it was difficult to hear — there was one student who did most of the speaking, and she seemed to be trying to control the event by addressing the judge, inviting him into a dialogue instead of delivering his prepared remarks. The rest of the crowd seems to be supporting her effort, adding to the pressure on the judge, as if he might decide that the best path through the evening was to throw the written speech aside and take on all comers.

I can imagine a character in a movie doing something like that, really looking the questioning student in the eye and saying words that truly connected.

The movie in my head looks something like this:

Immediately, I think of the words of the poet:
The man says, “Get out of here

I’ll tear you limb from limb”

I said, “You know they refused Jesus, too”

He said, “You’re not Him

Get out of here before I break your bones

I ain’t your pop”

I decided to have him arrested

And I went looking for a cop

The judge took a different route. That's the second half of the recording. I'll listen to it soon enough and get back to you. 

"He was always at the centre of high fashion and yet existed outside of it. Keith Richards, John Lennon, Jim Morrison — they all copied Dylan."

"And when that happened, he moved on pretty sharpish... [to the look of a] respectable country gentleman with roots in Nashville, a little carnivalesque, a little Clark Gable."

Said Lucas Hare, the co-host of the "Is It Rolling, Bob?" podcast, quoted in "When it comes to style, Bob Dylan still gets it right/Even in his eighties, the enigmatic performer always looks elegant" (Financial Times).

Bob Dylan in Missoula

Photo credit: Me!

"The first time I saw Bob, I was still a folk singer and Bob was still a folk singer. He was playing at one of the big clubs in the Village...."

"I sat there and I listened to him and I said, 'Well, shit, I can sing better than that.' Then it penetrated to me what he was singing. I listened to the words. Then I thought seriously about just quitting the business and taking up another line of work. I knew I couldn’t match that...."

Wrote David Crosby, one of 80 artists quoted in the "80 Artists Pick Their Favorite Bob Dylan Song For His 80th Birthday" (Stereogum, 2021). 

"Bob never really did anything musically sophisticated. It was the words. He’s friendly, but he’s not out front. He doesn’t let you in. You’ll say, 'Bob, where do you live?' And he’ll say, 'Well, you’re looking at a man that has no home.' He’d be telling you about life instead of telling you he lived in Malibu. He’s not an easy guy. To this day, he’s not an easy guy. He doesn’t welcome you in with open arms and show you who Bob is. He likes being mysterious. He likes being oblique. And he’s smart enough to pull it off. He’s a very interesting guy to be friends with. Very interesting."

In case you were wondering what Antony Blinken is up to these days or just want to know which Bob Dylan song title is getting played with in high-level government.

Here's "A font feud brews after State Dept. picks Calibri over Times New Roman/‘The Times (New Roman) are a-Changin,’ read the subject line of a cable from Secretary of State Antony Blinken to U.S. embassies as part of an accessibility push" (WaPo).

Must I rail about "The Times They Are A-Changin'" again? I'll just quote something I wrote back in 2018:

[T]he old song... anchors Bob Dylan in his political protest time, from which he changed. But Baby Boomer politicos have always harked back to it, and it serves them — I'm not including me — right to have that song sung in their face now that they are old and not ready to roll over for whatever advancement the young people think is due.

I don't include myself because I've never liked the forefronting of Protest Bob. "The Times They Are a-Changin'" is the song picked out from all the others by people who don't really know and love Bob. I don't like seeing him used this way, restricted to this narrow version.

And the words are too cruel and anti-inclusive to use generally (outside of the literal blocking of doorways in the desegregation era).

Now about those fonts... did you know sans serif fonts are supposed to be easier for sight-impaired people to read? I've been sight-impaired, and I've never chosen a sans serif font for my Kindle, and I'm always searching for what's easiest to see clearly. But according to this WaPo article...

The secretary’s decision was motivated by accessibility issues and not aesthetics, said a senior State Department official familiar with the change.... Many experts agree that serif typefaces — categories of fonts with added strokes — are more difficult to read on computer screens...

Who am I going to believe — experts or my own imperfect eyes?

“Good practice would be the use of a sans serif font,” [said  University of Edinburgh’s Disability and Inclusive Learning Service] in an accessibility guide. “Fonts such as Times New Roman are much less accessible.”...

 Maybe in Scotland.

In its cable, the State Department said it was choosing to shift to 14-point Calibri font because serif fonts like Times New Roman “can introduce accessibility issues for individuals with disabilities who use Optical Character Recognition technology or screen readers."

Oh! It's not about human eyesight at all. It's about a computer doing the reading.

"It can also cause visual recognition issues for individuals with learning disabilities,” it said.

Again, I presume, it's not about eyesight. This relates to brain function.

While Calibri may improve the experience of readers who use screen readers or OCR — technology that can convert the image of text into editable text — it could make reading more difficult for others, [said Jack Llewellyn, a London-based designer who specializes in typography]....

Exactly, that's my point. So many people have eyesight issues.

"I had to say something/To strike him very weird/So I yelled out/'I like Fidel Castro and his beard'..."

Sings Bob Dylan in "Motorpsycho Nightmare." 

That was just my first thought on reading a headline this morning: "Prince Harry is upset his brother didn’t like his beard." 

That's a Guardian piece by Bridie Jabour. She muses about sibling strife within her own family, with her younger sister and then as a mother:

[H]aving my own children has only transported me right back to the intense outrage that dogged me whenever I perceived a sibling to be getting different treatment to me. Never mind that you have to treat your children differently, from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.

Oh! As they say on Reddit: unexpected communism.  Embarking on this blog post, I wasn't expecting a double dose of unexpected communism.

"Dino sings deceptively. You can’t hear any effort, you can barely hear any breathing."

"There’re little slurs and modulations that are as hard to sing as they are easy on the ear. In the bridge, he hits a blue note and then a line or two later ('I heard somebody whisper, please adore me') there is a little waver in his voice that brings to mind Nick Lucas, Tiny Tim’s mentor, who sang the original 'Tip-Toe Thru the Tulips.'"

Writes Bob Dylan about Dean Martin's version of "Blue Moon, in "The Philosophy of Modern Song."

Let's listen to Nick Lucas:

"Perhaps no single male fashion accessory provokes as much emotion as the bow tie."

"People who wear them fall in and out of love with them or bear them as a burden for life. People who have to look at them can find them irritating or worse. The presence of a bow tie always seems to draw comment and the phrase 'bow tie-wearing' in certain contexts can sound like a slur.... To its devotees the bow tie suggests iconoclasm of an Old World sort, a fusty adherence to a contrarian point of view. The bow tie hints at intellectualism, real or feigned, and sometimes suggests technical acumen, perhaps because it is so hard to tie. Bow ties are worn by magicians, country doctors, lawyers and professors and by people hoping to look like the above. But perhaps most of all, wearing a bow tie is a way of broadcasting an aggressive lack of concern for what other people think.... Another class of bow-tied men is comprised of comedians who wear them ironically, like Mark Russell [and] Pee-wee Herman.... [George] Will said he started wearing a bow tie in the 1960's as a statement 'when things started going crazy.'..."

From a 2005 NYT article by Warren St. John: "A Red Flag That Comes in Many Colors."

1. Much of that article is about Tucker Carlson, who is, like the bow tie, considered annoying. But he doesn't wear a bow tie anymore. 

2. Wikipedia has a long list of bow tie wearers — Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud, FDR, "devil-may-care characters portrayed in films by actors like Humphrey Bogart and Frank Sinatra, and — later, to the discredit of the tie — "nerds and geeks, such as... Barney Fife...."

3. I ran into this topic Bob-Dylan-style, that is, by wandering about intuitively. Bob got me listening to an obscure Frank Sinatra song — "Whatever Happened to Christmas" — and then I was reading about Sinatra, mainly because commenter Lurker21 said "Whoever made the video apparently thinks that Christmas went away when Frank left his wife and kids for Ava Gardner" and I needed an answer to the question how long did Frank Sinatra stay with Ava Gardner? At some point, Wikipedia's bio of Sinatra has this: "Such was the bobby-soxer devotion to Sinatra that they were known to write Sinatra's song titles on their clothing, bribe hotel maids for an opportunity to touch his bed, and accost his person in the form of stealing clothing he was wearing, most commonly his bow-tie."

4. Did you ever wear a bow tie? I'm not just talking to the male readers. I'm talking to the female readers too. I graduated from law school in 1981, which seemed to be about the peak of the "Dress For Success" craze. The man's version of the book said not to wear a bow tie unless "you are a clown, a college professor, or a social commentator." But the women's book had us wearing floppy silk bow ties. Here's a 1989 Chicago Tribune article reporting that the magazine Mirabella had marked the death of the ''brief flirtation with laughable dress-for-success suits-and even more laughable floppy bow ties.'' The new approach was, ''a woman flies her own personal flag.''

5. Now, I'm reading about Tucker Carlson. Who were his parents? Was he some kind of rich kid? His mother was an artist, and his father, Dick Carlson, a journalist, "was born the son of college student Richard Boynton and Dorothy Anderson, 18 and 15 years old, respectively. He was born with rickets and mildly bent legs, as Anderson had starved herself to keep the pregnancy a secret. In 1943, Richard Boynton attempted to persuade Dorothy to accompany him in stealing their baby and get[ing] married; when she refused on the grounds that she was a junior in high school and nobody but her parents knew about the baby, he shot and killed himself two blocks from her house." 

6. There are people in this world — perhaps you know one or are one — whose life story inspires them to represent the aborted.

"If I go looking for something I usually don’t find it. In fact, I never find it. I walk into things intuitively when I’m most likely not looking for anything...."

"Obscure artists, obscure songs. There’s a song by Jimmy Webb that Frank Sinatra recorded called, 'Whatever Happened to Christmas,' I think he recorded it in the 60s, but I just discovered it...."

Said Bob Dylan, recently.


Questions for discussion:

1. What's the use of looking for something? You'll have better luck walking intuitively while not actually looking. That is, don't look where you're going. That's exactly what doesn't work.

2. Frank Sinatra is hardly an "obscure artist," but there are many recordings of Frank Sinatra singing an obscure song. What's your favorite obscure Frank Sinatra song?

3. Even Jimmy Webb is not obscure, but how many songs has he written, and what percentage of them are non-obscure? But don't talk about them. Talk about a Jimmy Webb obscurity.

4. Whatever happened to Christmas? Remember how love was all around? Whatever happened to you?

5. What have you found, Bob Dylan style, by walking into it intuitively? 

"I changed the door panels on an old 56 Chevy, and replaced some old floor tiles, made some landscape paintings, wrote a song called 'You Don’t Say.'"

"I listened to Peggy Lee records. Things like that. I reread 'Rime of the Ancient Mariner' a few times over. What a story that is. What a poem. If there’d been any opium laying around, I probably would have been down for a while. I listened to The Mothers of Invention record Freak Out!, that I hadn’t heard in a long, long time. What an eloquent record. 'Hungry Freaks, Daddy,' and the other one, 'Who Are the Brain Police,' perfect songs for the pandemic."

That is what Bob Dylan (says he) did during the lockdown.

Let's all read "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" for Bob.

And I had done a hellish thing,
And it would work 'em woe:
For all averred, I had killed the bird
That made the breeze to blow. 

As for Zappa, he was alerting us to "The emptiness that's you inside" ("Hungry Freaks, Daddy") and raising the question whether the people we know are melted plastic and soft chrome ("Who Are the Brain Police?").

The perfection for the pandemic of "Brain Police" must have to do with the long middle section repeating "I think I'm gonna die" and "I'm gonna die." It's interesting to picture Bob grooving on that and thinking How eloquent... perhaps while laying floor tiles.

"We tend to overstate the poverty of the style that precedes a style we admire...""The Full Audio Recording Of Judge Kyle Duncan At Stanford Law.""If I go looking for something I usually don’t find it. In fact, I never find it. I walk into things intuitively when I’m most likely not looking for anything...."

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