Exhuming Bob XXX

Part III

A Review Of Bob Dylan’s Movie

Masked And Anonymous

by

R.E. Prindle

A Catalog Of The Usual Suspects

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

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

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

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

2.

A Run Through The Scenes

Influences

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

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

Enter The Characters

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recent Dylan Persona

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

The Day The World Changed Eras

Dylan And The Press

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

The Bad Boys Of Rock

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

The Name Terrified The Old Folks

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

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

Searching For The Vacant Couch

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

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

Memories Of Suze

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

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

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

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

Robert C. Neuwirth

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

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

A More Mature Neuwirth

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

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

Back In The Country Mode

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

Dylan In White-Face, Rolling Thunder

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trouble Begins For The Children Of Paradise

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There Must Be Some Way Outta Here

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How Did I Get Roped Into That Picture?

A Note On My Method

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

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

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

A Note On Bob Dylan And His Privacy Lament

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

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

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

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

It is time Dylan accepts the responsibility of his actions.

 

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

 

Greil Marcus, Bob Dylan And Martin Scorsese

A Review of the Movie

No Direction Home by Martin Scorsese

by

R.E. Prindle

 

Texts:

Scorsese, Martin:  No Direction Home- A Film

Marcus, Greil:  http://www.powells.com/essays/marcus.html

 

     I’m not the only one that shakes  his head over the rants of Greil Marcus.  The perspective he’s coming from deserves some attention.  Greil Marcus in the disciple, probably the successor. of the decadent leader of the Situationist International, Guy Debord.

     The SI is a crank organization.  Like Hitler they place a lot of emphasis on architecture.  Architecture seems to go with the totalitarian personality.  Unlike Hitler whose goal was a Roman grandiosity to match his Thousand Year Reich, we can’t be sure what SI architecture would be like other than ‘human to make people happy.’  In other words Debord found fault with architecture that the majority were happy with but displeased him.  He seemed to think that he could create some stunning new architecture that might please someone other than himself.  We all know how hard a feat  that is.

     But he ranted and raved actually being influential in the moronic disturbances in France in 1968.  Whatever beauty he proposed we’re still waiting to see.  Greil Marcus still thinks the ability of the SI to transform God, life and beauty is within his grasp.  He runs around America at the public expense trying to drum up the Revolution.  Bob Dylan seems to be the centerpiece  of his plans.  Greil’s reaction to Martin Scorcese’s Dylan movie might then be a little more understandable.

     As film biographies go, and they don’t go very well on average, I thought Scorsese’s effort made the most of not too much.  After all there is really very little earth shattering in the career of Bob Dylan.  Greil thinks Bob brought in something new; at best Bob just brought in something a little different no matter how startling it seemed from the perspective of the times.  From the perspective of this time  one wonders what the fuss was all about.  Nevertheless Scorcese maintained a nice tension of interest.  But not for Greil.

     Martin Scorsese’s Dylan documentary- a shape-shifting assemblage of 1950s and 1960s film footage, still photos, strange music, and interviews with Dylan and compatriots conducted over the past years by Dylan’s manager, Jeff Rosen- never holds still, it allows, say, the Irish folksinger Liam Clancy, telling stories of Dylan in Greenwich Village, to contradict Dylan telling his own stories about the same thing;  the film contradicts itself.  There is nothing definitive here; within the film there is not a single version of a single song that runs from beginning to end.

     So now we’re essentially back to Guy Debord’s SI architecture argument.  Whatever has been created is no good and must be replaced by Debord’s ideas which unfortunately for us we cannot evaluate because Debord gave no examples.  It doesn’t really matter, of course, because if he did their ‘definitive’ beauty and utility would not be, perhaps, so apparent to the rest of us as it was to him.

     So, as Debord’s successor Marcus implies that Scorsese has made a movie as ugly as the architecture that Debord and presumably Marcus despises.  The implication is the Greil would have done much better.

You can imagine Rosen driving up to Scorsese’s door with a truck and dumping thousands of pounds of books, interview tapes, film  reels, loose photographs, a complete collection of Dylan albums along with a few hundred or a few thousand bootlegs, and then leaving, trusting that a fan who also knows how to make a movie to make you watch…could wave his hands and just like that a movie would emerge…

     Well, why not?  I’m not aware of Scorsese’s process but a very fine movie of its type does emerge.  With unerring insight Scorsese seeks out key influences, the most important artists in Dylan’s life, introduces them to the viewer, very likely for the first time, and brings some coherence into the Dylan story.  It’s only a movie though, no substitute for study.

     I do not consider it a fault that Scorsese presents all the high points covered by the four main biographies.  His purpose seems to be to cover the years from Dylan’s high school beginnings to Bob’s nervous breakdown in 1966 which he does.  Although already a long film it is never boring while to cover more ground it would be necessary to condense and eliminate to add anything beyond 1966 making the film unintelligible- something like Greil’s own prose.  Of course, the Situationist International that believes in magic might be able to snap its fingers and make it happen, although I think their blank screen notion might be easier to conceive than something with content.  Besides I don’t believe in magic.

     Greil apparently doesn’t believe in differences of opinion or else he feels that loyalty to his ideal requires everyone to ask what Bob said and confirm it.  Marcusian version of freedom of speech.

     As it is I thought Scorcese very skillfully selected song snippets to bring out the very best of artists like Hank Williams, John Jacob Niles, Makem and the Clancys and others.  His interviews with Dave Van Ronk, Liam Clancy, John Cohen and Suze Rotolo were apt and to the point presenting each as attractively as possible.

     I mean Bob left some bad vibes behind that were not accentuated, nay, even glossed over.

     The key point of the movie was the actual monologue or dialogue carried on with a very careworn looking Dylan.  Time has treated him fairly viciously.  Bob revealed himself as much as a modest man could.  There was very little braggadocio while Bob explained himself in a very natural droll manner.  He was much more charming than first person reports of him would lead you to believe.

     Of course, Greil is fixated on what he considers the revolutionary break with the Folk Tradition with Bob as the Promethean figure bringing electricity to ‘weird old America.’

     Greil apparently believes we viewer have been hoodwinked by Scorsese of malevolent intent as a result.

     So you enter the movie with your ideas suspended and your prejudices disarmed, thrown back- eager to be moved- as in moved from one place to another- as you were.  You’ve been set up; you’re ready for anything.  You’ll buy whatever the movie is selling.

     But by the end- when the film has taken the viewer from Dylan’s childhood to those halcyon days in the spring of 1966, then cutting the story off, cold, with just a little card to indicate that the story went on, Bob Dylan continued to do various things, but it’s not the movie’s problem so good night- you don’t know how it got to “Like A Rolling Stone” starting up on stage one more time.

     By this point Marcus has divorced himself from reality and vanished into the pure rhetoric of his armed prejudices.  He’s no longer talking about the content of Scorsese’s movie.  Greil is contrasting the movie he thinks he would have made, Debordian architecture, with the movie or architecture that actually exists.  An inability to perceive reality that is quite mad in its own way.

     It’s what the Jews call building a fence around Torah.  A mad attempt to prevent reality from disturbing the lovely inner version of not only the way they think things could be but shoud be.  Once again as with Debordian architecture or Marcus’ movie not a vision likely to be shared by many others.  One’s private dreams never would be.

     Greil even disagrees with Scorsese’s title in a rather vehement way:

     …despite that title, “No Direction Home,” from Dylan’s greatest hit, “Like A Rolling Stone”- already used as a title for Robert Shelton’s 1986 Dylan biography- such a cliche, isolated like that, so “On The Road”, so “it’s the journey, not the destination,” so corny.

     LOL.  I suppose so, but it didn’t bother me nor affect my enjoyment of the movie.  The running interview with Dylan unifies the movie while giving us an open window to Bob’s motivations and the working of his mind.  While no song was finished Scorcese has great taste and selected the most moving passages from the songs he showed displaying the remarkable vocal talents of the singers.  I was astonished at the mad approach of John Jacob Niles with its odd setting of his auditors standing over him as he sang.  I melted before Tommy Makem’s rendition of the Butcher Boy. (Don’t know the real title.) while the Clancys were superb.  I’d heard all these artists on record before but the recordings lost all the dynamics of the performances.  Even the old Red Pete Seeger really put his song across live.  The New Lost City Ramblers unfortunately were as stiff as their recordings.

     By this time I suppose most people reading this have seen Scorsese’s movie but for those Dylan fans who haven’t the movie is highly recommended.

     As for Greil I can only cite the words of the old Children’s game:  Greil Marcus, Greil Marcus, come out, come out, from wherever you are.

Exhuming Bob IX

Pensee 6: Bob And Dave

A Review

Dave Van Ronk: The Mayor Of Macdougal Street

by

R.E. Prindle

Dave At Work

Dave At Work

 Texts:

Dylan, Bob  Chronicles Volume One  Simon And Schuster 2004

Thompson, Toby  Positively Main Street  U. Minnesota 2008, reprint of 1971 text.

Van Ronk, Dave  The Mayor Of MacDougal Street: A Memoir  Da Capo Press 2006

     Van Ronk’s memoir published in 2006 becomes part of the ongoing Bob Dylan debate.  A part of the Greenwich Village folk scene of the early sixties Van Ronk little knew how his life would be affected, destroyed, by the arrival of Bob Dylan from out of the West in 1961.

     At the time of Dylan’s arrival Van Ronk was one of the most important, if not the most important, folk singer in the Village.  Thus Bob set his sights to suck out Dave’s substance and cast the empty husk aside.

     On page 211 of the paperback Dylan is quoted at the beginning of Chaper 15:

I once thought the biggest I could ever hope to get was like Van Ronk.  And it’s bigger than that now, ain’t it?  Yeah, man, it’s bigger than that.

-Bob Dylan c. 1964

     Once Dylan learned of Van Ronk on his arrival, it is doubtful that he had heard of him in Minneapolis, he made it his goal to insinuate himself into Van Ronk’s life.  Dylan tells how he began his assault on page 21 of his Chronicles.  The scene takes place in the Folklore Center:

     One winter day a big burly guy stepped in off the street.  He looked like he’d come from the Russian Embassy, shook the snow off his sleeves, took off his gloves and put them on the counter, asked to see a Gibson guitar that was hanging up on the brick wall.  It was Dave Van Ronk.  He was gruff, a mass of bristling hair, don’t give a damn attitude, a confident hunter.  My mind went into a rush.  (My italics.)  There was nothing between him and me.  Izzy took the guitar down and gave it to him.   Dave fingered the strings and played some kind of jazzy waltz, put the guitar back on the counter.  As he put the guitar down, I stepped over and put my hands on it and asked him at the same time how does someone get to work down at the gaslight, who do you have to know?  It’s not like I was trying to get buddy-buddy with him,  I just wanted to know.

     Van Ronk looked at me curiously, was snippy and surly, asked if I did janitor work.

     I told him, no, I didn’t and he could perish the thought, but could I play something for him?  He said, “Sure.”

     I played him “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out.”  Dave then said I could come down about eight or nine in the evening and play a couple songs in his set.  That was how I met Dave Van Ronk.

Bob and Dave

Bob and Dave

     Possibly.  But one learns to take Dylan’s stories with a shaker full of salt.  Bob has a difficult time separating fact from fancy.  The way Van Ronk tells it he was hanging around with a bunch of the boys when someone burst in and said  ‘New guy, come on, you got to hear this.’ and it was Bob.  So Van Ronk would have had an idea who Bob was not that he necessarily would have acknowledged him.  There are some interesting points in Dylan’s narrative which I believe is Bob at his most fanciful.  That he marked Van Ronk for destruction is apparent when he says he looked like he came from the Russian Embassy.  Maybe.  But Bob was a Jew and the Russians were the enemies of the Jews throughout the last two hundred years so Bob was casting him in the role of the enemy.  Then he identifies Van Ronk as a ‘confident hunter.’  Jews usually associate hunting with goys while traditionally despising the practice so Bob is saying that the hunter didn’t know he was being hunted.  And then Bob placed his hands on the guitar as he spoke to Van Ronk indicating that he was appropriating the man’s tool or emasculating him.   Very significant action.

      Bob says Van Ronk was snippy and surly.  Well, maybe but since I think he’s making this up he is casting a character on Van Ronk to make you dislike him.  Besides who wouldn’t appear surly if you placed your hands on the musician’s guitar.  The exchange after that when Dave asked if Bob did janitor’s work was a particular Jewish insult that gave Bob his excuse for hurting Van Ronk.

     Then like a parasite or lamphrey eel Bob latches onto Van Ronk slowly ‘stealing everything that he could steal.’

     When the process was complete and Bob was way bigger than Dave could hope to be Bob then disses Van Ronk off.  As Van Ronk tells it p. 217: Van Ronk:

For myself I consider it fortunate that Bobby and I reached our parting of the ways fairly early.  Shortly after his third or fourth record had come out had gone diamond or whatever, he was holding court in the Kettle of Fish and he got on my case and started giving me all of this advice about how to manage my career, how to go about becoming a star.  It was complete garbage, but by that point he had gotten used to everybody hanging on his every word and applauding any idea that came into his head.  So I sat and listened for a while, and while I was polite and even asked him a couple of questions, but it became obvious that he was simply prodding and testing me.  He was saying things like “Why don’t you give up the blues?  You do  that, and I”ll produce an album on you, you can make a fortune.”  He wasn’t making a lick of sense, and I finally pushed back my chair and said, “Dylan, if you’re so rich, how come you ain’t smart?’  And I walked out.

     So within three years Bob met and surpassed his mentor then trashed him like he trashed everyone and everything else in his life.  Beware of Bob.  To a very large extent MacDougal Street is the story of Bob Dylan within the folk scene of Greenwich Village although within that context Van Ronk tells a rich and rewarding story of the emergence of Folk from 1940 to c. 1970.  A fabulous book with a generous dollop of belly laughs.  I loved the book.

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     Van Ronk himself never made it.  I first heard of him in 1967 and listened to the Prestige Folksinger album.  There was nothing there.  Van Ronk rasped out all his vocals in a monotonous fashion in that same gargling hoarse voice with nary a variation from song to song.  At that age and time I found the songs uninteresting.  The arrangments didn’t grab me.  The music was about as exciting as the New Lost City Ramblers which is to say a stone bore.

     Van Ronk may have prided himself on his musicianship and it may have been pretty good, I couldn’t care less.  I know few people who listen to records for musicianship and I don’t care to listen to records with those who do.  So Dave was concentrating on all the wrong things.

     There were people running around saying how great he was but I was in the record business and nobody bought his records.  you can foget the Hudson Dusters.  Over the years his legend grew with that of the vanished Folk Scene and I guess twenty-five years or so after the fact he was able to cash in on that basis.

     There is one really great song Van Ronk did though called Don’t Leave Me Here.  I have it on The Folk Box, Elektra EKL 9001.  That’s a really fine four record collection compiled and annotated by THE Robert Shelton.  It has selections from nearly all the folkies of the Greenwich Village scene excluding Dylan.  A terrific collection and a perfect representation of the scene.  Hard to find though; I couldn’t find any copies on a quick search of the internet.

     However the story of Dave’s learning process is vastly interesting.  His history of the folk era, especially the late fifties and the people and personalities make the book a best buy.  But then we get back to Dylan.

     Bob not only wheedled his way onto Van Ronk’s stage but he wheedled his way into his very household appropriating Dave’s couch for his living quarters.  Now comes an interesting conjecture.  In Chronicles Bob says that he met a Ray Gooch and Chloe Kiel with whom he stayed for some time.  Now, Bob arrived in New York in January of ’61 and he rented his apartment with Suze Rotolo in the Fall of that year becoming financially independent thereafter never going back to anyone’s couch.

     So that gives him a maximum of nine months to sleep on all those peoples’s couches.  He says in Chronicles that he first met Van Ronk and through Van Ronk Paul Clayton.  These are two colorful characters.  He then says that through Clayton he met Ray Gooch.  So far, so good.  But then he gives a fairly minute description of the street the Gooches lived on, the building, the apartment and significantly the church across the street.

     Before w go on let us consider an incident from Van Ronk on page 4:

…Bob Dylan heard me fooling around with one of my grandmother’s favorites, “The Chimes Of Trinity,” a sentimental ballad about Trinity Church that went something like:

Tolling for the outcast, tolling for the gay,

Tolling for the (something, something), long passed away,

As we whiled away the hours, down on old Broadway,

And we listened to the chimes of Trinity.

     He made me sing it for him a few times until he had the gist of it, then reworked it into the “Chimes Of Freedom.”  Her version was better.

     Now let’s check into a passage from Toby Thompson’s ‘Positively Main Street’ pp. 210-211:

     But the larger portraits of Ray Gooch and Chloe Kiel are complex and layered with mystery.  Why haven’t we seen them before?  Correct me if I’m wrong, but their names appear in no biography of Bob.  Could they be projectionsof his own divided psyche.  Ray, the competent man of the world, the toolsmith, the gun collector, the would be warrior, and Chloe, the dreamy, slightly stoned performance oriented homebody?  Bob’s not certain whether they are siblings or lovers.  I’m not certain they are real.  Chloe was the heroine of Longus’s second century novel Daphnis and Chloe.   She was an orphan, nurtured by sheep, and is described as ‘a naive lily-white girl” who falls for the youth, Daphnis.  Echo is mentioned in the story.  In my case the apartment Ray and Chloe inhabit on Vestry is a boho Eden, Every hipster’s wettest dream of Manhattan digs.

     The Sunday after reading Chronicles,  a blustery afternoon in New York I took a subway to Franklin Street and walked north then west along Vestry, looking for the building that might have housed it.  Bob describes it precisely, Federal style, facing a Roman Catholic church with a bell tower, on the same block as the Bull’s Head Tavern, below Canal Street, not far from the Hudson River.  The neighborhood hasn’t changed much since the early sixties, but I could find no building that resembled it.  Not the church, not the Bull’s Head Tavern.  Houses disappear, but churches aren’t often torn down.  I wanted to locate that apartment, only because he described it so beautifully.

     So I think it safe to say the whole dozen pages or so in Chronicles is a fabrication.  Bob dreamed it a few times and wrote it down as fact.  A clue lies in the progression  Van Ronk>Clayton>Gooch.  Gooch has a made up quality to it so Gooch is probably a conflation of the personalities of Van Ronk and Clayton.  And possibly the pair are also a sentimental portrait of Abe and Beattie, the mother and father.  Not as they were but wouldn’t it have been loverly if they had been.  Ray’s background also coincides with Bob’s studies of the pre-Civil War era in the South in the New York Library.

     The church across the street reflects Trinity Cathedral in Dublin as in Dave’s song the Bells Of Trinity so that places the story after his stay with Van Ronk.  Note the specified bell tower on the church.  Bob’s not there and neither is most of his early reported life.  I’ll say again anything he says is untrustworthy.  As they say in Hollywood:  Based on a true story.

     The last couple chapters of MacDougal tell of the changes in the Village and performance after 1960 to 1967 when drugs took the scene down.  These are relevant and important chapters as he describes how Dylan’s success caused the failure of the scene.  ‘There’s no success like failure and failure is no success at all.’

     Altogether I give Van Ronk’s Mayor Of MacDougal Street exceptionally high marks, worth a second reading and retention as a reference work.  Positively Fourth Street by Toby Thompson has a place on your shelf also.  I’ll review that after a second reading.  It is well worthy of study, picking up the stray hint and fact here and there.

     Chronicles of course is important to understand what Dave called the convoluted workings of Bob’s mind.  Bob’s an interesting study because he has managed to fool a lot of people all the time and another pack of us for a time.  I tell ya folks if I could live my life over I’d do some serious homework before I began but then even that probably wouldn’t help.