Sunday, April 26, 2015

Tangled Up In Dylan

On April 12, 2015, sitting in the Altria Theatre in Richmond, Virgina, my two daughters on either side of me, I watched the greatest voice of a generation for what will most likely be the last time. Almost exactly 40 years ago, in the Beacon Theatre in Boston, I was seven rows from Bob Dylan, watching him for the first time. In-between those two concerts, he and I have lived most of our lifetimes.

Nothing stays the same, it's part of the price of admission to this thing called life. At 73, Dylan comes off as an aged shadow of his former self. At 65, I sit in wonder and respect for a man whose love of his craft has outlived his voice and energy as a performer. Would I pay $77 to sit in the same room as this man for two hours? You bet I would. He can hum and I would be just in awe. (On some of his songs, he should have hummed.)

I have two epiphanies about Dylan and his body of work. First, one of his most popular hits," Mr. Tamborine Man," is a beautiful song about death. As a young man in his early 20's Dylan contemplates his own mortality in a way that only he and I understand. A bond between two strangers, although it's inconceivable that this man could be a stranger in light of how well he understands my heart, and has touched my soul.

The second epiphany is that Tangled Up In Blue is a love song, not about two lovers, but about all of the loves of our life, every damn one of them described by every word and image in the song. It is from this perspective, as you listen to the song over and over again, that a recognition takes hold: Tangled Up In Blue is the preeminent love song of our (children of the 60's) generation.

As a testament to his age, his fatigue, the weariness of Dylan's never ending tour, he is a stanza into Tangled Up In Blue before the audience of 4,000 even realizes that he is singing it. The reaction, and the realization of just how powerful this song is to those of us who have lived that life, one of love, regret and of longing, is that Dylan gets a standing ovation mid-song. Even he had to understand for that one moment just how powerful a poet, folksinger, and in way, mentor that he has been to us.

Songs impact us in different ways, and just as we live our lives along our own imperfect paths, not all songs effect us in the same way. Mr. Tamborine Man and Tangled Up in Blue are just nice songs to some, incoherent rhymes to others, or piercing revelations of love and death to others. It is in this latter circle of aging hippies that I belong and the epiphany of it all is that he wrote these two masterpieces from deep inside of me. How he got there is the story of his greatness.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Gelato Wars

I brought home a container of Italian gelato last weekend, a very unusual purchase for me. I don't do well with temptation, but if it matters at all I bought it at Whole Foods, so its healthy, right? The first time was exquisite. Something called Salt Caramel Swirl that based on the orgasm, is the new porn.

The problem arose later that night. I was tucked in, had shut off the TV, was looking for some music on my iPhone for a little un-stimulation into sleep, when Ms. Salt Caramel Swirl came calling. I like exotic forms of sugar as much as the next guy, and just because of that I purposely do not bring them home for consumption. Yet there she was, sweet caramel gelato, creamy silk vanilla, so touchable and with arrogant blonde and caramel streaks, so alone in the cold, calling me out. I unleashed the hounds.

[Here's a tip: Do not walk out of the kitchen with a spoon and an open container of Salt Caramel Gelato. You will return in a sugar rush from a time-warp, carrying only a very polished spoon.]

About a month after my last scorched relationship, I finally found some quiet, that rare and elusive state called tranquility. It had been five hideous years of an alternating current between passion and torment. Torment finally won out, having massacred all in its wake. Left alone in the corner was one life standing, the one that used to be me.

A month passed, then another, then maybe a few more. One single date seemed harmless, just like that impulsive purchase of gelato at Whole Foods; sweet, good for my mind, my balance, mix things up, keep some skin in the game. Only I forgot about that intoxicating spell cast by the sirens allure; lovely, soft gentle touches, soothing, melodious whispers on a pillow next to mine. I hear them now, out far in the distance so sweetly singing, while I sit here enchanted, just me and my spoon.

The gelato wars. So it begins.


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Pale Blue Dot

“Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there--on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.”

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Detroit, Detroit

Sweep up
I've been sweepin' up the tips I've made
I've been livin' on Gatorade
Plannin' my getaway
Detroit, Detroit got a hell of a hockey team
Got a left-handed way
Of makin' a man sign up on that automotive dream
Oh yeah, oh yeah

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Hey Rabbit, Hey Rabbit

To the shy and beautiful soul who led me to this song,
Open your door, let me in.

A

"Hey rabbit, hey rabbit
Can you read the stars?
I get distracted
Sleeping in my coat again."


Saturday, November 22, 2014

Fifty-One Years Ago Today

Who killed the Kennedy's?
When after all, it was you and me.
-Mick Jagger
Can't let today go by without my small, humble remembrance. It was a day everything changed and don't ask me to explain, because if you were not there, you will never understand. If you were, there is nothing else to say. That we have let the questions go on so long without answers, it is our bad. The killers walk among us.

Every year, without fail, the president dies all over again. For a few days every autumn, the entire media is overwhelmed by those haunting photos from Dallas. Those cruelly happy and innocent pictures of a young president smiling and waving at bystanders, the first lady clutching a bouquet of roses. With their soft, prelapsarian colors, they seem to hail from another universe—one that has been stolen from us.

Perhaps it is that feeling of loss that explains the lingering sense of grief over John F. Kennedy’s assassination year after year, when the anniversaries of other, equally shocking events—from Pearl Harbor to 9/11—are generally quieter affairs. But there is also something unfinished about Kennedy’s death, a lingering suspicion that no one has ever been able to banish.

The real JFK mystery, 50 years later: Why the infamous murder must be reinvestigated


Sunday, November 16, 2014

Death of a visionary

Why are you here?

Why are you taking this course?

Why film?


The three questions asked by Professor Manupelli on the first day of class, "Introduction to Cinematography," University of Michigan, circa, 1970.

After an hour of toying with us, stripping us of all ego and pretense, we walked out the door at the end of class with his voice bellowing the one answer to all three questions, "Art, for art's sake!" I will never forget that class, those questions, his answer, nor the enlightening poignancy of spending a semester learning from this man, teacher and artist.

In an interview he did in 2009, he said this about teaching film at U of M:

"I came here in ’62. The curriculum then was drawing, painting, design — period,” Manupelli said. “I tried to get them to do sound as design. You don’t need to be a musician to make music. I didn’t get to teach film for nine years, and (I worked) without pay; I took the deal because I wanted to get at the students.”

Here I am, 44 years later, one of the students in that room and one who will never forget the meaning of,

Art for art's sake.

George Manupelli died in Bethlehem, New Hampshire, where he lived, on Sunday, Sept. 14 at age 82. He was a filmmaker, artist and professor at the University of Michigan School of Art and Design.

Death of a visionary

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Closure

I loved you in the morning, our kisses deep and warm
Your hair upon the pillow like a sleepy golden storm
Yes, many loved before us, I know that we are not new
In city and in forest, they smiled like me and you
But now it's come to distances and both of us must try

Your eyes are soft with sorrow
Hey, that's no way to say goodbye


Friday, September 19, 2014

Pacing The Cage

"I was just, I mean there was a lot about the way I was living at the time that just wasn't working and I was really feeling that and that's pretty much the song. You know, I don't think those feelings were unique to me, or unique to that time and place, they're, they're feelings that everybody, I think, well as its says in the song: sooner or later it's going to get ya. Um, hopefully not for long and not often, you know but...."