A Review

Themes And Variations

The Tarzan Novels Of Edgar Rice Burroughs

#18, Tarzan And The Lion Man

Part 7 of 10 Parts

by

R.E. Prindle

First published on the ezine, ERBzine

The Storyteller

The City Of God

7 a.

 

     The first to the Falls, Rhonda was then spotted from the plateau by some of the Apes of God.

The Reviewer

     Now begins the story within the story.  A long short story or novelette that is as fine as anything in Fantasy or Science Fiction.  This story is the eighteen caret ruby in the diadem of the Tarzan series.  That this story should have gone unrecognized for over seventy years is incredible.

     Not only is it objectively stunning but the subjective richness is beyond measure.  Just as some background on the number of influences on the story let us begin with two, both of which are interconnected in ERB’s mind.

     The novel by Mary Shelley, Frankenstein, had a profound effect on ERB’s mind.  He apparently read it early which is to say before 1900.  The possibility of creating life had interested him from the beginning of his corpus while references to it are interspersed throughout.  One of the greatest of his creations, the great physician and scientist Dr. Ras Thavas, will succeed in creating life five years hence in The Synthetic Men Of Mars but will botch the job terribly.

     In this story Burroughs’ character, God, doesn’t create life but he manipulates genes to create a whole new species.  Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein in 1818 and in 1931 Universal made the definitive movie.  That was two years before Burroughs wrote Lion Man so it is reasonable to assume the movie had an effect on him.

     IMDb provides a quote from the movie that may have inspired ERB; I don’t think there is any doubt that he saw this seminal horror film.

     Henry Frankenstein:  Look! It’s moving.  It’s alive.  It’s alive….It’s alive, it’s moving, etc.

     Victory Moritz:  Henry- in the name of god!

     Henry Frankenstein:  Oh, in the name of God!  Now I know what it feels like to be God!

Frankenstein's Monster

     The 1931 Frankenstein is stil an overwhelming experience to watch over seventy years later.  For the audiences of 1931 it must have been overpowering.  The fabulous castle of Dr. Frankenstein was surely an inspiration for the castle of Burroughs’ God.  What Burroughs did with the inspiration is as astonishing as both the Shelley original and the movie.

     In the news also at the time for over a period of a decade or more was the spectacular career of John R. ‘Goat Glands’ Brinkley.  This is an astonishing story.  I rely mainly on two accounts:  Vishwas Gatitonde’s excellent article “Magic Men’ in BB New Series #59 and the account in Wlofman Jack’s autobiography.  Wolfman Jack’s autobiography slipped by unnoticed but is one of the great autobiographies of the second half of the twentieth century, probably the twentieth century and possibly of all time.

Also see on the internet:

Dr. John R. Brinkley- A Story You Should Know

Grift, Goats and Gonads by Scott McLemee

Kansas State Historical Papers- John R. Brinkley

Border Radio Quackery by Gene Fowler and Bill Crawford

The Goat Gland Doctor by Joe Schwarcz, PH.D

     The medical practices of God involve gland transplants along with genetic implanting or splicing.  Over the years based on a foundation of Frankenstein ERB had built up a magnificent fantastical scientific edifice of life creation based on Evolution.

     There can be no doubt that he read and thought about the subject a great deal.  He was very well informed on evolutionary matters.  He was a well educated, thoughtful, intelligent man contrary to nearly every opinion about him.  His ideas as presented in Lion Man are probably as far as he could take them based on the knowledge of his time.  The discovery of DNA was only a little over a decade away, actually made a few years before he died.  One wonders what he would have made of it.  Even then ERB’s notion of ‘germ cells’ with their indestructability contains the essence of DNA so ERB was on the right track in his thinking.  I’m going to handle this out of order as the ideas explain what follows better.

     ERB was familiar with the use of cannibalism to ingest certain qualities of slain warriors.  Thus it was thought that to eat the brains of especially intelligent people transmitted that intelligence to oneself.  To eat the flesh of a brave man made oneself also brave, etc.

     From there to cellular therapy is a short step.  Even though there was probably no one who believed in the physical benefits of human cannibalism this side of Africa when it came to animals parts intelligent men threw common sense out the window.

     Cellular Therapy arose at the end of the nineteenth century.  Joe Schwarcz explains:

     Charles-Edouard Brown-Sequard, a noted French physiologist, had shocked the medical community by injecting himself with the crushed testicles of young dogs and gunea pigs.  Afterwards he claimed that he had regained the physical stamina and intellectual vigor of his youth.  Many men availed themselves of ‘La Methode Sequardienne’, but once the placebo effect was filtered out little remained.  In Vienna physiologist Eugen Steinach proposed that youthful vitality could be restored by increasing levels of testosterone.  the easiet way to do this, Steinach said, was through vasectomy.  Sperm production wasted testosterone, and if the channel leading from the testes to the ejaculatory duct were tied off, then blood levels of testosterone would rise.  Brinkley may also have heard of the work of Serge Vorenoff, a French doctor who was stirring u a storm of controversy with his experimental gland transplants.  Vorenof had been a physician in the court of the King of Egypt, and there he had spent a great deal of time treating the court eunuchs, who suffered from a variety of illnesses.  He hyposthesized that maintaining active genital glands was the secret of health.  As proof, he cited his experiments with an aging ram into which he transplanted the testicles of young lamb.  the ram’s wool got thicker, and his sexual vigor returned.  Voreneff then went on to transplant bits of monkey testes into aging men; he claimed success, although he could offer no scientific validation of his claim.  In America the stage was set for the meteoric rise of J.R. Brinkley.

     Brinkley began to transplant goat glands into the testicles of his patients.  As he began his career in the early 1920s radio made its appearance as a commercial entity.  On the qui vive Brinkley realized its potential to increase his business and spread his gospel.  He bought the first radio station in Kansas in 1923, his practice was in Melford, His call leters were KFKB- Kansas First-Kansas Best- as bold a claim as his medical ones.  He was actually a fine broadcaster transmitting Country Music, weather, farm reports and other items of interest as well as infomercials for his medical practice.  This notoriety brought the AMA and government down on him.  By 1930 he had had both his medical and broadcasting licenses revoked.

     Now, here’s where the man showed his innovative brilliance.  This really got him attention.  Nothing daunted he moved down to fabled Del Rio, Texas, Brinkley created the fable, across the Rio Grande from Villa Acuna.  His radio station in Kansas was small, a mere 1000 watts, although probably non-directional.

      In Mexico without US regulations he was able to build a boombox of 75,000 to 100,000 non-directional watts.  This was later incresed, if this is believable, to 500,000 watts and tahen to1,000,000 watts according to Fowler and Crawford who really should know.

  

Clap For The Wolfman

   Alright.  When I grew up in Michigan in the 1950s I could clearly pick up the successor Del Rio station after dark when its power was only 250,000 watts.  Wolfman Jack who worked the station tells an amusing story of his arrival.  Driving through the desert to the transmitter he noted that all the cars parked there had left their headlights on.  This mystified him but then he learned that the wattage was so powerful that headlights glowed in consequence.  The air crackled around him.  At a half million and a million watts people must have levitated.

     So, Dr. Brinkley was much in the news all these years so that ERB as Gaitonde suggests couldn’t have missed him.  While in our time there is no reason to mention La Methode Sequardienne yet with Brinkley being reviled it is quite possible ERB came across a discussion of cellular therapy in his reading which did mention these earlier experiments.

     ERB has God, a formerly handsome Englishman, create a hybrid hominid between a gorilla and a human.  God himself has regressed being a hybrid human/gorilla.  p. 133:

     “What is this strange purpose we are to serve?”  asked Rhonda.

     “It is purely scientific; but it is a long story and I shall have to start at the beginning,” explained God.

     In the beginning.  God appears to have been a medical student back in England with a strong interest in biology.  p. 134:

     “I had always been intrigued by Lamarck’s investigations and later by Darwin’s.  They were on the right track, but they did not go far enough; then shortly after my graduation, I was traveling in Austria when I met a priest at Brunn who was working along lines similar to mine.  His name was Mendel.  We exchanged ideas.  He was the only man in the world who could appreciate me, but he couldn’t go all the way with me.  I got some help from him; but doubtless, he got more from me; though I never heard anything more about him before I left England.”

     ERB gives us a fair amount of information here.  He is familiar with the Frenchman Lamarck of the eighteenth century who centered on heridity.  A red flag goes up on Darwin because if God left England in 1859 he would have known nothing of Darwin who published that year.  In any event while Darwin’s Origin Of Species sheds light on the mechanics of the variations among a species I can’t find any evidence of how species themselves evolve.  ERB is also familiar with the genetics of the monk, not priest, Gregor Mendel, who published in 1866 sending a copy to Darwin which the latter dismissed as irrelevant.  However, Burroughs through God seems to have taken Darwin less seriously than Mendel.

     He imples that Mendel was on the right track with his peas but that following the same line of reasoning God went well beyond him which indeed he did.  Mendel was disregarded in 1866, his revival beginning in the year 1900.  So Burroughs in 1930 is keeping up his reading.

     Burroughs then goes on to explain God’s theory of heredity.  His theory is not all that bad.  It shows Burroughs obviously doing some reading and thinking on the subject.  p. 134:

     “In 1857 I felt that I had practically solved the myster of heredity, and in that year I published a monograph on the subject.  I will explain the essence of my discoveries in as simple language as possible, so that you may understand the purpose you are to serve.

     “Briefly, there are two types of cells we inherit from our parents- body cells and germ cells.  these cells are composed of chromosomes containing genes- a separate gene for each mental and physical characteristic.  The body cells, dividing and multiplying, changing, growing, determine the sort of individual we are to be; the germ cells remaining practically unchanged from our conception, determine what characteristics our progeny will inherit, through us, from our progentors and from us.

     “I determined that heredity could be controlled through the transference of these genes from one individual to another.  I learned that these genes never die; they are abosolutely indestructible- the basis of life on earth, the promise of immortality through all eternity.

     It appears that ERB’s main concern is heredity and indeed genealogy was important to him.  While his information is a clumsy account compared to what has been learned since then, given the times ERB was quite advanced.  He doesn’t have the handle on DNA which is a decade or so in the future, Watson and Crick published in 1947, but in the germ cells he’s on the track of the right idea.  The notion of the body cells is, of course, superfluous.

      But now God runs up against a brick wall when he publishes his theory in 1857.  Remember Mendel’s discoveries were still eight years in the future while so far ahead of their time that they will be disregarded for thirty-four years.

     I don’t know what horror films have been released by this time, Dracula and Frankenstein for sure, but here the plot seems very familiar, possible Burke and Hareish.  Unable to proceed in a legal manner because of society’s obtuseness God turns to criminal means, but quite novel crime.

     As he has detemined that germ cells are immortal he raids the tombs of Westminster Abbey extracting germ cells from Henry VIII and his court and entourage.  Thus he has a little time capsule when he is discovered and flees England to avoid blackmail.  He decides to conduct his experiments on gorillas in Africa.  He finds the greatest concetration of gorillas in Africa, and hence on earth, in the valleyof diamonds.  In something like seventy years he converts pure gorillas into a hybrid of gorillas and humans capable of speech and human cognition.  They build his magnificent City of God for him which must have been quite new when Tarzan arrived.

     As they are bred from the genes of medieval Englishmen  the effects of Lamarckian heredity are evident as they speak a medieval form of English and replicate the City called London after its medieval progenitor.  Following Burroughs’ earlier thought in Opar the gorillas accept only beings born in gorilla form with human attributes.  Sports and mutations are expelled.  the other are, of course, the result of Mendelian genetics that are beings with odd combination of genes.

     God was born in 1833, the same year as Burroughs’ father, thus in 1933 he is one hundred one years old.  Some forty years back or so as he realized he was aging so he decided to splice in the body cells of young gorillas in a form of cellular therapy to rejuvenate himself.  This worked well in preserving his youth but unfortunately the more gorilla body cells he spliced in the more gorilla-like he became, so that when Tarzan and Rhonda meet him he is a grotesque hybrid, more intellignet than the gorilla hybrids, but reverting rapidly to pure gorilla.  Serious problem.

     God is very pleased to capture two such fine looking human specimens as Tarzan and Rhonda because by splicing in their body cells he will be able to resume his human shape in some style.

     So Burroughs has been developing his ideas in a creditable scientific way.  While it’s true his actual science is speculative he is employing some fairly sound reasoning on the matter that may not have been too dissimilar from the tack taken by Stalin’s scientists, while creating a human-ape hybrid has apparently been a timeless fascination.  It is said that our own scientists have succeeded in actually creating a chimp-human hybrid but that the specimens have been destroyed. I haven’t any confirmed proof that such has been done but rumors are around.

     Having given a reasonable scientific explanation of the gorilla hybrids and God’s purpose for Tarzan and Rhonda, Burroughs with his usual ghoulish delight introduces his favorite topic of cannibalism.  He informs the two that after satisfying his need for body cells he intends to eat them thus imbibing their characteristics.  He also says that he will extract several glands from Rhonda for some special purpose.

      I’m not exactly clear on what cannibalism meant to ERB.  It seems he associates it with his father who was particulary hard on Burroughs in his youth which ERB may have interpreted as being eaten alive by his father.  As we have God, cannibalism and his father associated here his father may be the reason for the recurring  reference to cannibalism is his work.

     The female glands recur again in Tarzan’s Quest where the Kavuru chief Kavandavanda requires female glands for his immortality pills and Vishwas Gaitonde finds the subject mentioned again in Tarzan The Magnificent. 

     So when Rhonda arrives at the Falls and is spotted from above by the seeming gorillas, she is actually spotted by a clone of the real fifteenth century Lord Buckingham in his gorilla guise.

     Now begins a series of astonishments, jokes and twists such as are found in few novels.  As I mentioned, today much of this is old hat, but in 1933 this was startling fresh and new.  At this point we are unaware of the hybrid nature of the gorillas.  The following passage then was not only startling to Rhonda but to us.  p. 94:

     (Rhonda) felt very small and alone and tired.  With a sigh she sat down on a rounded boulder and leaned against another piled behind it.  All her remaining strength seemed to have gone from her.  She closed her eyes wearily, and two tears rolled down her cheeks.  Perhaps she dozed, but she was startled into wakefulness by a voice speaking near her.  At first she thought she was dreaming and did not open her eyes.

     “She is alone,”  the voice said.  “We will take her to God- he will be pleased.”

     it was an English voice, or at least the accent was English, but the tones were gruff and deep and guttural.  The strange words convinced her she was dreaming.  She opened her eyes, and shrank back with a little scream of terror.  Standing close to her were two gorillas, or such she thought them to be until one of them opened his mouth and spoke.

     “Come with us,” it said; “we are going to take you to God;” then it reached out a mighty, hairy hand and seized her.

     There’s a shocking opener to the twilight zone between R2 and R3 as ERB prepares the curiosity of the reader for what is perhaps the most amazing story he ever told.

King Kong

     Rhonda, physically and emotionally exhausted by the terrific events of the past few days, slips into a trance in the middle of Africa only to be brought out of it by voices speaking Enalish saying they are taking her to God.  What can that possibly mean?  When she opens her eyes she sees two gorillas are doing the speaking.

     That’s something else, isn’t it?  Had they been on the screen could they have competed with King Kong that was released in that year of 1933?   Out of King Kong came 1949’s Mighty Joe Young while the public’s fascination with gorillas continued until Planet Of The Apes which, if it doesn’t owe anything to Burroughs’ story, develops the theme ad absurdam.  Kong, Young and Planet Of The Apes, Stalin’s experiments all owe their origins to the Tarzan oeuvre.

     Burroughs raises the theme to heights that have never been surpassed.  Combining the human gorillas with the City of God was incomparable genius.

     With the background clear let’s take a leap into the future.

The City Of God

God At Work

 

7 b.

The whole thing seemed like a hideous and grotesque nightmare,

yet it was so real that she couldn’t know whether or not

she was dreaming.

Lion Man p. 95

     In taking the ‘germ cells’ of individuals from the time of Henry VIII, as the cells were cloned with those of the gorillas the hybrids cloned the environment they knew.  While clones have no mermory of a previous existence, in the popular imagination they do.  Thus in the paranoid classic movie The Boys From Brazil of 1978 the number of clones of Adolf Hitler all exhibited the supposed conditioned responses of the original which they could not have experienced themselves.

     At the same time ERB cleverly replicates the political situation between God, Church and Henry VIII.  When Rhonda was captured, two gorillas named the Dukes of Buckingham and Suffolk quarrel over whether she is to be taken to Henry VIII or God.  As we still have no idea of what is going on we are as mystified as Rhonda.

     And then as Rhonda tries to order her bobbled brain she realized she could communicate with these improbably English speaking apes.  p. 96:

     Now she had an instant in which to think clearly, and with it came the realization that she had the means of communicating with her captors.

     ‘Who are you?”  she damanded.  “And why have you made me a prisoner?”

     ‘The two turned suddenly upon her.  She thought their faces denoted surprise.

     “She speaks English!” exclained one of them.

     There’s a neat turnabout similar to when Tarzan addresses Buckingham in Mangani and the gorilla answers him in English.  The gorilla exclaims, “She speaks English.”

     Then follows an explanation of God, Henry VIII and Cranmer that only succeeds in confusing Rhonda further as she seems to be in some costume play in which for some inexplicable reason actors clad as gorillas are acting out a play  about Henry VIII.  She pinches herself to no avail.  She is awake.  This isn’t theatre, although Hamlet soon would be played in Nazi uniforms which is just about as ridiculous.

     The gorillas take her to Henry VIII where we will leave her until she is joined by Tarzan.

     While Rhonda escaped theArabs Naomi had been recaptured.  In company with the Arabs she is brought to the canyon that leads to an easy ascent of the plateau according to the map.  As the ascent becomes steep they leave the horses with Eyad going ahead on foot.  Awaiting them at the crest is Stalin’s dream corps.  Throughout the oeuvre one is always amazed at the disregard for their own well being the apes exhibit.  They  charge in story after story with complete disregard for their own well being.  Always a signficant portion are left on the field of battle but the survivors never complain while Tarzan complacently accepts their sacrifice as his due.

     So here, barehanded against the Arab firearms the gorillas launch a wave attack reminiscent of the Chinese in Korea that doesn’t stop until all the Arabs are dead.  No regard at all for casualities.  No wonder Stalin thought Burroughs was on to something.  While the apes perform as they have always performed in Tarzan stories the difference here is that these are not mere apes but hybrids with human intelligence.  If Burroughs was aware of Stalin’s experiments was he laughing at the Great Commissar?  Is this battle a reference to Stalin?  One can’t be positive of course but I am sure that the character of God-the formerly handsome Englishman- is partially based on H.G. Wells who was associated with Stalin.

     Naomi was with the Arabs.  She is captured by Buckingham  who asks her how she got away from God;  she is identical to Rhonda so Buckingham naturally confused her for the latter.  The Apes sense of smell was not as developed as Tarzan’s.  I’m sure the Big Bwana would have smelled the difference immediately.

     ERB is now dealing with his sexual problems.  Of the three women involved with the City of God- Naomi, Rhonda and Balza, it is necessary to sort out which woman represents what to ERB.  As Naomi is weak and vacillating she obviously represents Emma.  Rhonda who is strong and self-willed seems to represent ERB’s Anima ideal or in other words, La of Opar.  La disappears from the oeuvre after Tarzan The Invincible of 1930 but as Tarzan and Rhonda in God’s prison replicate Tarzan and La in the Lion’s den of Invincible it seems probable that ERB has transported La from the fantasy world of Opar to the mere imaginary world of the movies.  This leaves Balza- The Golden Girl- who probably represents Florence, but we will deal with her in the appropriate place.

     ERB has now gotten the two women, the Arabs and Tarzan to the Falls.  Orman, West and the safari are assembling at the base of the Falls so, having dissolved his story after the Bansuto attack ERB has now reintegrated it.

     After a series of adventures during which Buckingham kills Suffolk, Tarzan appears to rescue Naomi killing Buckingham.  At this point in Burroughs’ psychology he assumes the identity of his ordinary self and that of Tarzan into one being.  As the movie people have never seen Tarzan they assume that he is Stanley Obroski his identical twin.  Tarzan does not correct anyone but allows them to believe he is Stanley.

      As I perceive it then ERB has now deluded himself into believing that he is Tarzan.  Those who know him still perceive him as Ed Burroughs.  He has no choice but to let them believe that because if he attempted to impose his delusion on them he might have been committed.  Thus for a period of about five to six years from 1934 to 1939-40 Burroughs perceives himself as Tarzan but  capitulates  in Tarzan And The Madman giving up his illusion of being the Big Bwana.  In Lion Man he describes Tarzan as a madman so the two novels are linked by the concept of madness.

     After writing Madman Burroughs left California for Hawaii where he forced Florence away from him.  WWII came along which saved him from himself.  After the war he went back to LA to die.  It is interesting that he didn’t choose to live in Tarzana but bought a house in Encino that backed against the Promised Land.  thus like Moses, with whom there was a connection made in Tarzan Of The Apes, ERB was destined to view the Promised Land but not enter it.

     In Lion Man he is flush with the hope of being able to live out his fantasy.  He is now a few months from abandoning Emma so symbolically he returns Naomi to the safari at the Falls from whence she disappears from the story.

     Only Rhonda and Balza will figure in the rest of the story.  Emma is no more although Jane will appear again in Quest probably as Emma’s replacement Florence.  In Magnificent Florence is mentioned only anonymously as Tarzan’s ‘wife.’  ERB is definitely struggling.

     Having delivered Naomi to the safari Tarzan then reascends the plateau in search of Rhonda and the City of God.

The City Of God

7 c.

Every one of us, I believe, is possessed of two characters.

Often time they are so much alike that the duality is not noticeable,

but again there is a divergence so great

That we have the phenomenon of a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

in a single individual.

E.R. Burroughs- The Swords Of Mars

     Tarzan And the Lion Man was followed at the end of 1933 by the Mars story The Swords Of Mars which features the return of John Carter.  ERB had taken a vacation from Emma returning to the scene of his own early adventures- Arizona.  Not coincidentally in the White Mountain of Apache country.  ERB’s motivations are sometimes obscure.  He was in the Army in Arizona in 1896-97 which was before he married Emma.  So he took his leave of absence from Emma to a place before he married her.  Setting the clock back, so to speak, somewhat reminiscent of The Eternal Lover.

     Just as Tarzan and Stanley met in Lion Man so while about to go to sleep, O.B.- The Other Burroughs- hears the door open, the clank of a man in war gear walking across the floor; terrified like an adolescent in a bad dream, O.B. is relieved and pleased when John Carter, back from Mars, greets him.  A real Jekyll and Hyde situation.  Thus as with Tarzan and Stanley the two Martian aspects of Buroughs are reunited but not melded.  John Carter then tells O.B. a bedtime story as though Burroughs were a child again.  I’m not that familiar with the Mars stories but there must be a connection to Lion Man and the MGM situation.  This must be true because this is the novel in which the opening letters of each chapter spell- TO FLORENCE WITH ALL MY LOVE, ED.  One assumes then that although the decision to leave Emma was difficult to make, ERB made the final decision in the Arizona mountains.

     So now a few months earlier Tarzan/Stanley makes the journey to the City of God where he will be reunited with his Anima ideal, Rhonda -La of Opar- in prison.  Thus his whole person both Anima and Animus are locked up by MGM.

     Rhonda had been taken to Henry VIII by Buckingham and Suffolk.  The city was called London, the country England and the river The Thames.  As ERB jokingly smirks- The English always take a little bit of England with them wherever they go.  Pretty funny, actually.

     Here the events of Henry’s reign are being reenacted.  As the apes are clones of Henry and his court who replicate their times one wonders whether each succeeding generation will be stuck in this one period of history reenacting it over and over until the end of time.  Once again I am reminded of The Eternal Lover.  ERB seems to be obsessed by the idea of time.

     Rhonda was first placed with the wives of Henry, a week later being moved to a cell in God’s castle where Tarzan found her when he too was captured.

     For now he was moving through the night until he came up against the ten foot high wall surrounding the City of London and within it the City of God.  Here we have the historical confrontation between the spiritual and temporal powers.  At the least the story is a very humorous parody of the religious situation of Henry VIII.  Once again ERB ridicules religion and this is done so cleverly and with such genius.

     But there are many levels of meaning.  Earlier I mentioned that the capture of Tarzan may have been meant to replicate ERB;’s capture by MGM.  In that sense then the City of God might represent MGM which boasted that it had more stars then Heaven.  So there is probably a joke there too.

     On the other hand, God is described as a formerly handsome Englishman.  The only candidate for that role I can come up with is ERB’s bete noir, H.G. Wells.  I think that I have adequately documented the literary feud between Wells and Burroughs.  Wells began well with his scientific romances.  While not as fresh and stunning as they were at the time of issue they still hold up well today.  Even though ERB denied having ever read Wells I think that claim can be dismissed out of hand.  ERB, then, would have been as impressed with Wells’ early romances as anyone else.  Then when Wells began his campaign of defamation and ridicule which is most clearly represented in his Mr. Blettsworthy On Rampole Island  he fell from favor in Burroughs’ eyes, hence the grotesquely deformed ‘formerly handsome Englishman.’

     As much as I like Wells he does pontificate.  Like all Liberals he has a difficult time distinguishing his opinion from truth, right and wrong, or reality.  While he does sometimes make a hit in his prophesying he is mostly wrong.  Backing the Worker’s Paradise of Stalin’s USSR was certainly wrong and more than enough to discredit him in the staunch anti-Communist Burroughs’ eyes.

     Wells probably shook Burroughs’ faith in the glory of England which had been a keystone of his secular faith fromt he beginning.  Thus, combining MGM, Stalin and the USSR and Wells, Burroughs packages all the troublemakers of this perilous time for him into one big box with a bigger bow on top.

     As his story could have no effect on his situation let us hope it was at least cathartic for him.  When Tarzan ends up in the cage with Rhonda that about epitomizes Burroughs’ situation vis-a-vis MGM, Stalin and Wells.  There are so many coincidences here that the brain revolves like a turret.  Was it wholly coincidental that Wells showed up in Hollywood at the end of ’35 to visit fellow Red Charlie Chaplin just as Burroughs was completely boxed in because of his Guatemalan adventure?

     Isn’t it amazing that Burroughs met his fate in Guatemala, the scene of the adventures of his early hero General Christmas and also the scene of some of the adventures of Ogden McClurg who was killed shortly after this return from the area in 1926?  It may be truly coincidental but the further one digs very often the more dirt one turns up.

      Burroughs may have felt confident he could write his way out of this box just as he was able to escape by self-publishing in 1930; perhaps he thought he could escape this time by making his own movies.  If so, a little analysis would have shown him that the rules had drastically changed.  Especially as he had signed the rights to represent his character Tarzan away.

     Coincidental with the release of the MGM Tarzan movies which preempted the nature of Tarzan from literature came the decline in Burroughs’ own literary powers.  Whereas in 1930 he was able to respond to the challenge with a series of top novels, after Lion Man there is a preciptious decline in the the quality of is work.  While the later novels have their charms for Burroughs’ admirers they do lack commercial appeal.

     By 1935 also Burroughs had antagonized radio which had become the major source of his income so that that medium was closed to him during his lifetime.  With publication revenues declining and the comics by Burroughs’ own admission producing a pittance, ERB had only one major source of income left and that was the moves.  MGM had him over a barrel.

     MGM might have produced a whole series of Tarzan films along the lines of the Charlie Chan movies as Burroughs reuefully remarked but they chose instead to issue only four movies between 1932 and 1939.  Obviously the makret would have borne more.  The limited release schedule kept EBB on a short financial tether.

     It is said that events cast their shadow before them so that it is possible, if not probable, that Burroughs foresaw the shape of things to come even as he wrote Lion Man.

     In 1930 when the Reds invaded his dream land of Opar ERB abandoned that fantasy.  The fabled city ceased to exist in his imagination while disappearing from the oeuvre.  Now in Lion Man it appears that the enemy had captured the castle while building a ten foot wall around it with Tarzan/Burroughs on the outside.  Thus Burroughs’ dream of separating himself from the world by a tne foot wall has been inverted in his imagination.  He wasn’t keeping the world out; the world was keeping him out.

     In the novel succeeding Lion Man, The Swords Of Mars, when the mad inventor Fal Sivas quails at taking hsi invented spaceship to the Martian moon Thuria the following exchange takes place between he and John Carter:

     “But you built this ship to go to Thuria,:  Carter cried.  “You told me so yourself.”

     “It was a dream,” he mumbled; “I am always dreaming, for in dreams nothing bad an happen to me.”

     Fal Sivas can be taken as an alter ego of Burroughs.  The Sivas probably refers to the Hindu god Shiva or Siva with whom Burroughs had become a devotee or developed a fascination for.  Thus while his heroes Tarzan and John Carter are men of action Sivas/Burroughs or any other combination is not.

     So in Lion Man Burroughs is desperately trying to become the man of action rather than the dreamer.  The problem now is that ERB himself is past the point of no return.  He has been walled out from the City of God.

     In dreams however Tarzan enters the Heavenly City by a fantastic feat of strength that recalls Burroughs’ 1890-1920 infatuation with the Strong Men such as the Great Sandow.

     The wall which Tarzan fancies was built to keep out lions i.e. the Lion Man has sharpened stakes pointing downward.  p. 124:

     …he leaped for the stakes.  His hands closed upon two of them; then he drew himself up slowly until his hips were on a level with his hands, his arms straight at his sides.  Leaning forward, he let his body drop slowly forward until it rested on the stakes and the top of the wall.

      That seems to be an impossible feat of strength except in dreams, but then by this point Tarzan thinks he is dreaming.  This might as well be an MGM movie lot such Burroughs spent five weeks on.  Here the dream faces a sort of reality.  As though pasing through a movie set as ERB must have done during those five weeks Tarzan comes to the steps leading to the Heaven of God.  this Stariway to Heaven, Jacob’s Ladder.

     As if to accent the relationship to MGM he passes the Apes of God who are dancing and partying.  The scene will be replicated at the foot of the Falls when the movie company duplicates this scene thus strengthening the connection with MGM.

     Tarzan begins the long climb up the Stairway to Heaven.  The fire flares illuminating him on the steps but the apes below don’t notice- high above on a parapet of Heaven, God does.  Note the resemblance to the move castle of Frankenstein.  A man of action God quickly prepares a trap.

     In real life the trap was probably the promise of the contract and money.  ERB blames the movies for being duplicitous, which is definitely true, still, he had had a dozen or more years to work out the conditions prevailing on his own.  After all, by 1932 he had proven product to sell.  The public had even given a profit to some pretty crummy movies so that had he taken the time, acted on his own conditions, rather than just signing for a few quick bucks he might have retained a position of some control, made himself an equal partner.  So, while MGM did betray him he might have been able to manage the situation.

     Tarzan enters the castle to be confronted by six doors of which only #3 is open.  Depending on how you count them there were six to eight major studios, thus the six doors may represent the Studios of which only MGM was willing to deal with him.  Remember he had been blacklisted since 1922, the blacklist having been broken in 1928 by Joseph Kennedy.

     Tarzan descends the stairs as heedlessly as Burroughs signed the contract and like Burroughs he finds himself trapped.  The nose of noses sniffs the air and detects the delicate scent of a White woman.  He has found she whom he sought, Rhonda.

7 d.

The Confrontation With God

     Now Tarzan is reunited with his Anima ideal in the person of Rhonda formerly La of Opar.  That Rhonda can be associated with La is because this scene is a replication or double of Tarzan and La in the lion’s den of Invincible.  There La and Tarzan were imprisoned in a cell beneath Opar.  They escaped the cell in a duplication of their escape from this prison.  In Invicible there was a runway within which the lion fed.  A shaft led upward to a room in a tower.  There the old man who betrayed them discovered them.

     In this case a breeze passing over the floor indicates an air shaft to Tarzan.  This is probably borrowed from Rider Haggard’s King Solomon’s Mines although it will soon if not already be a staple of the movie genre.  Tarzan locates the shaft in the ceiling in a corner of the cell.  He and Rhonda ascend it to the opening in front of which God is talking to some gorillas.  Thus the scene virtually duplicates Invincible.  La and Rhonda must be associated in ERB’s mind.

     As an aside Burrughs uses a variation of this scenario in The Swords Of Mars when John Carter is imprisoned.  There are beams some twenty feet ot so above the floor to which Carter leaps.  He takes a position above the door dropping on his keeper when he enters.

     At this point in the story Tarzan and Stanley Obroski may be considered to be reunited as one persona.  Rhonda, who has never seen Tarzan, addressed the person in Stanley’s guise as Stanley.  ERB has a little fun as he has Tarzan play along.

      As he says in Swords, he is convinced that every man has a dual Animus, that is two different aspects, sometimes nearly identical but sometimes as different as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  Thus at this point his mind is impressed with Shelley’s Frankenstein and Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde.  He had read both novels before 1900  while both stories were released as movies in 1931.  So the stories are very fresh in his mind.

     Tarzan/Obroski may be considered of the Jekyll/Hyde variety.  There is little doubt that Burroughs saw the pair and himself that way.  Thus Carter and Fall Sivas in Swords may also be seen as two sides (Jekyll/Hyde) of the same persona.  Tarzan does not try to convince Rhonda that he is not Stanley, but in the Jekyll side of the persona he astounds here with Hydelike feats compelling her to reevaluate him.

     There are undoubtedly snippets of other horror movies here that ERB has seen also but I can’t remember the titles or dates.  There was one about two Scottish body snatchers Burke and Hare which I think I can detect here and another about a mad doctor who operated on the brains of abducted victims that shows up here and in Swords that was called the Black Sleept or somesuch.  The latter would have had a castle along these lines as well as Frankenstein.  Of course, which of that ilk of movie didn’t?  Burroughs is combining an astounding number of influences here both literary and cinematic but both combined.

     Thus, having availed himself of ‘such a God given opportunity’ to find Rhonda he is imprisoned with her.  The joke was ERB’s.  You know, God left the doors open- God given opportunity.  I chuckled softly to myself as I read.

     After an exchange of repartee between Stanley/Tarzan and Rhonda God makes his appearance.  Not exactly what one would expect God to look like.  In fact it is almost amazing that the fundamentalist Christians didn’t create an uproar.  After all according to the Old Testament man was created in God’s image.  There’s a laugh.  Here’s the image.  p. 128:

     It had the face of a man, but its skin was black like that of a gorilla.  Its grinning lips revealed the heavy fangs of an anthropoid.  Scant black hair covered those portions of its body that an open shirt and a loin cloth revealed.  The skin of the body, arms, and legs was black with large patches of white.  The bare feet were the feet of a man; the hands were black and hairy and wrinkled, with long, curved claws; the eyes were the sunken eyes of an old man- a very old man.

     The Scopes Monkey Trial had only been about seven years before.  So here Burroughs is making sport of God with a sort of reverse evolution.  God is a cross between a man and a gorilla.  Yet ERB led such a charmed life that his mockery or parody of God created no comment.  If he wanted to start a ruckus to promote his book sales he failed miserably.

     God might have been half ape but he had a whole hearted sense of;humor.  Overhearing Tarzan say that he had come for Rhonda his opening comments are mock injury.  p. 128:

     “So you are acquainted?”  He said.  “How interesting! And you came to get her, did you?  I thought that you had come to call on me.  Of course it is not quite the proper thing for a stranger to come by night without an invitation- and by stealth.

     “It was just by the merest chance that I learned of your coming.  I have Henry to thank for that.  Had he not been staging a dance I should not have known, and thus I should have been denied the pleasure of receiving you, as I have.

     “You see, I was looking down from my castle into the courtyard of Henry’s palace when his bonfire flared up and lighted the Holy Stairs- and there you were!

     Burroughs is justly criticized for the occasional bit of wooden dialogue but I find the confrontation with God very well written.  The constantly mocking tone of God is carried off very well.  Tarzan’s indignation is very well executed.  The influence of Shelley, Stevenson and the various movies is seamlessly blended into a very tightly executed scene.

     All this is done in a very few pages while it is a remarkable bit of writing.

     God hints at his motives for their use for him.  p. 129:

     “…I shall keep you for a while for the pleasure of conversing with rational human beings.

     “I have not seen any for a long time, a long, long time.  Of course I hate them nonentheless, but I must admit that I shall find pleasure in this companionship for a short time.  You are both very good looking too.  That will make it all the more pleasant, just as it increases your value for the purpose which I intend you- the final purpose, you understand.  I am particularly pleased that the girl is so beautiful.  I always did have a fondness for blonds.  Were I not already engaged along some other lines of research, and were it possible, I should like nothing better than to conduct a scientific investigation to determine the biologial or psychological explanation of the profound attraction the blond female has for the male of all races.”

      Burroughs doesn’t tell us how blonde Rhonda and Naomi are, whether they are platinum blondes like Kali Bwana or merely blondes.  Of course today ERB would be censored for his handling of the sexual and racial preferences for blondes but it is a recurrent theme in his writing and one worth studying.

     Having piqued our curiosity as to his purpose for the couple God leaves to check up on Henry.  p. 130:

“Come back here!” (Tarzan) commanded.  “Either let us out of this hole or tell us why you are holding us- what you intend doing with us.”

     The creature wheeled suddenly, its expression transformed by a hideous snarl.  “You dare issue orders to me!”   It screamed.

     “And why not?” demanded the ape-man.  “Who are you?”

     The creature took a step nearer the bars and tapped its hairy chest with a thorny talon.  “I am God.”  it cried.

     There you go.  The cat’s out of the bag.

     The scene is dramatically successful while the reader is now left to guess the model for God.  We are told that he was a formerly handsome Englishman now deformed as a hybrid ape-human.  The city is London, the territory is England and the river is the Thames.  A reasonable place to look would be among the English.  Who among the English is bedeviling ERB?  H.G. Wells is the only one I can think of.  Regardless of whether Wells considered himself a Communist or not he is sailing his craft so close to the wind that it is impossible to distniguish between the two.  At the very least Wells is throughly subversive.  If anything he resents not being in Stalin’s place.  So Burroughs must consider him Communist.

     To my mind then, Burroughs is mocking Wells much as Wells mocked Burroughs in ‘Blettsworthy.’ God has delusions of grandeur and so does the highly pontificating Wells.  My vote for the model is Wells.

     One also notes that in the last of the MGM Tarzan movies, 1942’s Tarzan’s New York Adventure, Tarzan is captured by the circus roustabouts and thrown into a mobile cage.  The camera then pans around to front which identifies the cage as a lion cage.  One thus has the joke of the Lion Man in a lion’s cage.  A final thumbing of the nose at Burroughs exiled in Hawaii.  MGM then dropped what had been a very lucrative series.  Strange behavior indeed.

     God then returns to give his history as detailed earlier in the essay.  While for some reason everyone, fans and detractors alike, wants to think of Burroughs as a semi-literate boob who is coincidentally a ‘master of adventure’ yet both in content and exposition, God presents his story in a masterly way.  In 1930 there may have been few of his readers who had ever heard of Mendel and possibly Lamarck, although one hopes all had heard of Darwin.  So it is possible that a reader might have been puzzled by the inclusion of Darwin while dismissing Larmarck and Mendel as fictitious.  Of course if you’re reading strictly for fast-paced adventure you may not notice the details even though they are far from concealed.

     God also clears up the mystery of the map.  Surprisingly the map is not a stage prop but authentic.  In fact, God made it about seventy years previously.  It seems that he had been in love with a women back in England but she preferred wealth to being the wife of an impoverished scientist.

     This may be a coincidence but that is the premise of the plot of H.G. Wells’ In The Days Of The Comet.  Perhaps it was a message to Wells in case he hasn’t gotten it yet.  But then God discovered the immense number of diamonds in the valley so he wrote the girl promising her riches beyond imagination.  He had employed a native runner to take the letter to the coast to mail it but since he had never had a reply he wondered if it had ever been received.  Now it came back to him.  A simple but inventive twist.

     When God leaves this time Tarzan sets to work to escape.  Following the draft across the floor he finds the air shaft.  Just as in Invincible he sends La up first now he sends Rhonda up first.  As in the earlier story they are trapped at the top.

     Looking through the entrance to the shaft they spy God and some gorillas in front of it.  Their escape is spoiled.  Now begins the Gotterdamerung.

The City of God

7 e.

The Gotterdamerung

      Burroughs now has both aspects of his Animus with his Anima trapped in the tower unable to go foward or backward.  God and his gorillas stand in anticipation before the opening.  Burroughs has been stalemated.  At this point one aspect of God must be MGM and its contract.

     ERB has spun out his fantasy in a plausible way to this point, but now he has to find a way to resolve his dilemma.  As he is daydreaming and this is a mad dream, as Fal Sivas says in Swords, in dreams nothing bad can happen to you.  In this bind something bad can happen to ERB.  He can lose his grip on reality.  In that way he becomes mad or insane which is what the story is about.

     In speaking of Henry God might also be speaking of ERB. p. 143:

         “You all forget,” (God) cried, “that it was I who created you; it is I who can destroy you.  First I shall make Henry mad, and then I shall crush him.  That is the kind of gods humans like- it is the only kind they can understand.  Because they are jealous and cruel and vindictive they have to have a jealous, cruel and vindictive god.”

     There’s a lot information in that quote.  It refers to the ancient Greek saying:  Those who the gods would destroy they first make mad.  So we have an excellent joke here.  The incredible mind of Burroughs can conceive humor in the midst of the blackest despair.

     He is talking of the Yahweh of the Old Testament while he quite soundly understands that god is a psychological projection of the mind of his creator.  In a masterly grasp of Freudian group psychology, whether he knew it or not, he realized tha the people have created a god in their own image and not vice versa.  Trapped in the tower this is a real agonized cry of despair before losing his grip on reality.

     I don’t mean to say that ERB went stark raving mad but he edged into a fantasy world at least once removed from the fantasy he had been living since 1912.  For the period of his marriage to Florence he can only be described as spaced out.  Bear in mind that it’s going to get worse as he gets trapped into his movie production experience.

     The Masenas in The Swords Of Mars make the threatening moves on John Carter who keeps backing away.  Only too late he realized he had maneuvered himself where they wanted him.  The Masenas were cat-men, i.e. lions who had two mouths.  In a sly way Burroughs is caricaturing the Jews of MGM and their mascot Leo the Lion.  The upper mouth which is sort of pursy and purring to seduce one, is above a lower mouth that is all teeth and no lips to rend one.  So he is saying that he is dealing with two-faced people.  While the upper mouth is assuring, the lower rending mouth is ever ready to destroy you.

     Tarzan realizes that he has no choices left but to stay put or rush God and the gorillas.  Alone he would have had a chance of success but with Rhonda in tow he is lost.  This is an interesting reflection on the relationship of the Animus to the Anima.  I’m at a bit of a loss to explain this.

     God had sent for Rhonda to be told that she was not in the cell.  Knowing that Tarzan was in the air shaft it followed that Rhonda was too as neither could have escaped the cell otherwise.  He orders smudge pots to be  lighted to smoke them  out.  Thus Burroughs acknowledges that his own situation is untenable while he has no solution.  The only one left is the Samson like effort of pulling the temple down on his own head destroying both himself and his enemies.

     God’s plan backfires as he sets his own castle afire.  Unable to stand the smoke any longer Tarzan rushes out to be felled by a blow from one of the apes.  At this precise point ERB goes mad or loses his mental balance.  I don’t believe there is a Tarzan novel in which the Big Bwana isn’t knocked on the head at least once.  In this case when he gets up he won’t have lost his memory but he will be a different man, another round of emasculation.

     Once again he is separated from his Anima.  Rhonda is spirited off to Henry.  God and Tarzan are trapped on the patio as the castle becomes engulfed in flames.

     This chapter is appropriately titled ‘The Holocaust.’  In its way everything that ERB had hoped and dreamed goes up in flames with God’s castle.  Heaven is reduced to ashes.

     Tarzan has his trusty rope so he can escape over the parapet to the roof of a lower level.  God begs him to save him which Tarzan reluctantly does.

     Tarzan, one has difficulty in styling him the Big Bwana in this emasculated state, reverses the actual situation between Burroughs and MGM by placing the rope around God’s neck putting him on a short tether.  Henry is now in full revolt.  Tarzan agrees to help God in exchange for his help in recovering Rhonda and letting them leave.  Perhaps Burroughs was asking MGM for a release from his contract.  Let by Tarzan the forces of God defeat Henry.

     I’m not clear who Henry represents or if he is meant to represent a real individual.  Aware of his defeat Henry abandons his wives for the blonde White woman, Rhonda.  He has a secret subterranean escape route.  Thus Burroughs, who through Tarzan stormed the gates of Heaven, the heights of consciousness, has first returned to earth and now slips back into the subconscious.  In all probability then, his attempt to integrate his personality  had failed while coming so close.

     Henry had followed his tunnel to emerge into the valley of diamonds and mutants.  Here he encounters a lion.  Throwing Rhonda down he runs from the lion which we all know is the exact wrong thing to do.  Rhonda then escapes.

      Tarzan emerges from the tunnel just as the lion is rending Henry.  So Henry perishes.  Tarzan sets off into the valley of diamonds in pursuit of Rhonda or, in another word, his Anima.

The City Of God

7 f.

The Golden Girl

     While one is astonished that there was no uproar because of ERB’s treatment of God, Heaven and the gorillas, one is even more astonished that at no time since 1912 was ERB ever under attack for his views on evolution.  The oeuvre is a veritable compendium on the various possible results of evolution yet no one ever said a word nor has to this day.

     In LIon Man which treats of evolution in perhaps his most daring way yet, his effort is met with stony silence.  God, in his creation of the hybrid gorillas according to the logic of Gregor Mendel, had a large number of sports and variations.  The ‘normal’ hybrid apes refused to accept these either killing them or driving them from their society.

     God laments that the tendency to exclusivity, or like to like, was such a strong characteristic of the new species that he could do nothing to break the hybrid’s attitude.  This must be a wry comment on those who wished to break down racial and special barriers.

     Apart from the role of White women in racial politics, which ERB through God has already commented on, there is not, nor will there ever be, inclusivity of different races on the pshysiological level nor even on the intellectual level of religion.

     Thus the theme of separation in this spurious London, England was a variation on Opar where normal males were killed producing the ape-like male Oparians, while only the beautiful females were preserved.  In this case the rejected hybrids, who bear some resemblance to the Hormads created by Ras Thavas, have taken up residence across the Thames.  Among them, as one might suppose, Mendelian genetics predicts, were two human looking specimens.  The male who was perfectly human in form had a gorilla mind; the female although rumored to have a gorilla mind in fact was a perfect human in mind while also possessing a normal human form.

     She is the mate of the human looking male as kind mates with kind.  Tarzan, having recovered Rhonda, finds Balza, which means Golden Girl, being abused by her mate.  He rescues her but the trio is set upon by the whole tribe of mutants.

     Balza explains to Tarzan that having defeated her former mate Tarzan has claimed her for his own.  She is his, will-he or nil he.  She then becomes hostile to the Anima figure of Rhonda.

     So now we have a difficult psychological situation.  Burroughs, who believes that every man is of a dual personality, has first united the two Lion Men and has now killed off one half of the duality leaving Tarzan as a single psychological unit.  Not integrated but half a man so to speak.  This is in violation of his stated belief which he has clarified no further.  At the same time Balza seems to be driving his old Anima figure of La/Rhonda away, replacing her.  Thus this Wild Thing becomes both Burroughs’ Anima ideal and human woman.   We have single with single, or half with half.  Now we have a single Animus, the Lion Man, Tarzan and Wild Thing as his Anima and woman.  This is quite a combination.  That would certainly explain the nature of the next several years of ERB’s life when he seems to run completely off the rails.

     He expresses this in his work of the thirties in different ways.  The Venus series is born out of this conflict in the second half of 1932 subsequent to the release of the movie Tarzan, The Ape Man.  John Carter does reappear at the end of 1933 in  The Swords Of Mars but Burroughs in the Venus series creates a much lesser man than either Carter or Tarzan; Napier is a pale shadow reflecting Burroughs neo-emasculated state.

     In the first venus volume Napier heads for Mars in his rocket ship.  Mars or the Greek Ares is the manly planet.  But now suffering from his further emasculation Burroughs no longer feels capable of competing with men on Mars.  Thus Napier has miscalculated the influence of the Moon, or female influence,  which bends his trajectory sending him to the female planet Venus instead.  In terms of classical mythology with which Burroughs was very familiar the Moon represents the feminine principle, while Venus, the Roman form of the Greek Aphrodite, represents the force of Love.  Thus in symbolical  terms ERB/Napier is diverted from the Manly principle of Mars by the female principle of the Moon and sent to the planet representing domination by the feminine principle of Love.  Napier is not a warrior.

     In Lion Man, written a  few months after The Pirates Of Venus Tarzan follows his female Anima principle, Rhonda, into the valley of diamonds, where he is attached to The Golden Girl, Balza.  In Burroughs’ terminology diamonds represent the realization of his sexual hopes.  So Rhonda in this instance can be taken to represent Napier’s moon who leads him to Balza, the planet Venus or Florence.  Burroughs is now severely handicapped in his conflict with MGM.  In this chapter of Lion Man when he catches up with Rhonda  comes across Balza being beaten by her man, the sport with the human appearance and gorilla brain.  Balza had been misrepresented earlier, actually having a human brain.  She now attaches herself to the emasculated Tarzan.

     In their flight from the mutants- Tarzan running away again- they discover a pit full of diamonds.  Presaging Tarzan And The Forbidden City in which the father of diamonds is a piece of coal, the huge pile of diamonds has lost any value to him.  Thus Burroughs senses in 1933 that love is going to be a serious disappointment.

     As a matter of fact in his psychological malaise Balza/Florence seems to have lost any value to him.  He leads the women to the foot of the Falls where they rejoin the movie company who are living riotously.  Their dance is a double of the Dum Dum like dance of the gorillas.  Not a favorable comparison, perhaps indicating that man has not advanced much from the apes.  Leaving Balza to become a movie star Tarzan returns to the jungle to find Stanley dead, thus the dead Stanley is rather unaccountably accepted by the movie company who return to LA.  The whole story becomes a sort of mirage which, while we know it did happen, never happened.

     ERB as a writer has now completed Ring 2.  He completes his Ring construction by returning to the site of Ring Left 1, Hollywood as Ring Right 1.  As Holtsmark notes he has followed the classical mode of Homer.  He has not only done that but written his most perfect example.  I find Lion Man masterly on all levels, in fact, ERB’s Magnum Opus.

     A year after the movie company returned to the US Tarzan himself undertakes a visit to the film colony of Hollywood.

Go To Part 8, More Stars Than There Are In Heaven

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exhuming Bob

VIII

The Walls Of Red Wing

 

1.

Bob And The Radio

 

Haunted By Old Memories

     It seems like most of Bob’s biographers are English.  This poses certain problems as they try to write about things that they are not familiar with.  Radio and music are two of them.

     As regards the two it is very important to fix Bob’s age in the years of the fifties.  He graduated high school in the last year of the fifties- 1959- at the age of eighteen.  That means he began high school in 1957.  That also means he attended Junior High from 1953 to 1956.  Born in 1941 that means he was twelve in 1953.

     There was no Rock and Roll in 1953 especially in Hibbing.  It takes a lot of years for modern times to penetrate such outposts.  I am three years older than Bob.  My birthdate is two days after Bob’s so when he had just urned 12 I had just turned 15.  My brother is the same age as Bob.  The first true Rock and Roll song I remember was Bill Haley And The Comets.  Shake, Rattle And Roll was OK but Rock Around The Clock was thin for me.   Haley was pioneering but unsatisfying.

     Things stayed that way pretty much until 1955 when RnR broke loose.  Now, I was probably as much into records as Bob was.  The town in mid-State Michigan that I grew up in was probably not too different from Hibbing although larger.  Like Bob I went to an all White high school.

     The only records I heard before Rock that were interesting were Hillbilly records after 1954 called Country and Western.  They became ashamed of Hillbilly and wanted to dignify the genre.  Country which is apparently thought to have a great deal more dignity than Hillbilly became the first half and Cowboy songs where dignified by Western becoming the second half.   Wolfman Jack speaking of his station in the area around Shreveport said that they played both kinds of music- Country and Western.  There is a rather sharp division there for those who have the eyes to see it.

     Things stayed that way for me pretty much until 1955 when RnR broke loose.  That was probably Elvis doing Heartbreak Hotel which played John to the Jesus of Be-bop-a-lula by Gene Vincent.  Vincent faded quickly but Be-bop-a-lula strikes me as the actual birth of teenage rock and roll.  It was backed by Woman Love which was even as great as the A side.  Actually I think it was intended as the A side but the B side became the hit.

     I didn’t really get into records until about 1955, mainly because there weren’t any records that merited getting into.  I was then a Junior which put Bob in the eighth grade.  If he says he was listening to all those downstream radio stations in eighth grade maybe he was but I tend to doubt it.  That seems a little early but, may be.

     Now the early to mid-fifties was a time of real diversity in pop music.  Not only diverse but the hostility of not only old people but half of my class toward rock and roll was quite pronounced.  Everything was done so suppress ‘moron’ or ‘pimple’ music.  Ministers proclaimed it the devil’s music and a Communist plot.  Might have been something to both charges but if there was it made no difference to me.  And there really wasn’t much of rock and roll until late ’55 early ’56.

     Big Band was still tailing off.  The Dorseys had a big hit with the swing song So Rare as Rock took off.  The male quartet, Four Lads, Crew Cuts, Hi Los were very popular, lots of big hits.  Mitch Miller produced many excellent folk flavored records- The Bowery Grenadiers, She Wore A Yellow Ribbon.  Hank Williams songs were crossing over into pop performed by guys like Guy Mitchell.  Even Marty Robbins, country itself, scored with A White Sport Coat And A Pink Carnation.  Heylin may make fun of ‘Poor People Of Paris’ and songs of that ilk but they were at least equally as popular as RnR.  Jim Lowe’s Green Door.  Couldn’t be better.  After all Pat Boone ran neck and neck with Elvis for a number of years.  No kid at the time would have turned up his nose at such songs. Napoleon XIV  They’re Taking Me Away, Ha Ha.  Leroy Anderson has always been a favorite of mine- Syncopated Clock and others.

     Of course in late ’55 and into ’56 Black ‘pop’ acts like Bill Doggett, Little Richard and Fats Domino -Chuch Berry- began to score.  I recently bought a book by Cousin Brucie the New York Jock of the era; I never even heard of half his so-called classics.  Where I was and where Bob was we never heard any real Black music nor would I , for instance, have listened to it.  I tuned into Detroit Black stations a couple times and tuned out just as quickly.  To put it politely, it was foreign sounding. Chicago was another country.  So whatever Brucie and Alan Freed thought they were doing they were doing it in a major metropolitan area.  It never reached the hinterlands.  There was stuff that never even reached New York City.  I’ve heard it and know why.

     Bob and his family got a TV in 1951.  That was kind of early but then his dad ran an appliance store.  We only got our TV in 1954 so TV made an impact on me but more negligibly than on Bob.  I was surprised that Bob doesn’t ever mention Dick Clark and his American Bandstand which should have been very influential in the life of Junior high kids in ’55 and ’56.  High schoolers in ’57, ’58.

     It should also be pointed out that there was little programming for TV in those years and fewer channels.  For instance in Oakland, California where I was in 1958 there were only two of the three major networks on TV and there was barely enough advertising to support them.

     If more than two channels could be pulled in in Hibbing I would be surprised.  One of them carried Ed Sullivan because Bob saw Johnnie Ray on the Ed Sullivan show in ’53 or ’54.  Heylin is mistaken in calling Bob on that one thinking Dylan could possibly confuse Johnnie Ray with Johnnie Ace.

      Johnny Ray’s act was as outre as they come.  It was so astonishing one could only gawk.  All the other singers at the time tried to be sophisticated, cool, or whatever you want to call it.  Ray was so emotionally unrestrained that he was psychotic.  His song was ‘Cry.’  ‘When you sweetheart sends you a letter of goodbye, you’ll feel better if you let your hair down and cry-y-y.’  And Ray did just that right there on Ed Sullivan’s stage.  He sobbed and moaned, leant over backwards until he doubled up then fell on the stage floor and sobbed from there.  J. Geils went even crazier but by that time it was old hat.  When Ray did it the first time your eyes just popped, you stopped breathing, looked around the room in wonder and pointed silently at the screen.  That’s what Bob remembers.  It was not Johnny Ace.

     So that’s an approximation of the musical background we grew up with.  Bob was picking this up three years before me at the same time.  As a punk kid I can’t gauge his reactions accurately.  If I’d known him at the time I would have thought he was a little moron.  That was what I thought of my brother, a totally out of it kid, it didn’t matter what he liked or didn’t like.

     We were all, those of us record literate, dissatisfied with our local radio stations.  I don’t know if I was really dissatisfied but I knew or heard that there was more out there.  Duluth was about the same size as my town so there would have been several local stations for Bob including Hibbing’s sole radio station.  But, they would have been nothing compared to the down river mega blasters.

     For the benefit of English readers the area between the Rockies and the Appalachians called the Mississippi Valley is an enormous flat area fifteen hundred miles wide by fifteen hundred miles long, give or take a mile.  That means that a radio signal can travel unimpeded if it is non-direction over the whole expanse.  After six o’ clock in the evening in those days a lot of stations shut down so there was less interference for the 24 hour stations.  There was only one non-directional mega blaster tha I know of and that was XERB in Del Rio, Texas.  The studio was in Del Rio but the transmitter was across the Rio Grande in Mexico.  Mexico didn’t regulate it’s stations so their wattage was unbelievable.  At the time Wolfman Jack began his career they were blasting 250,000 non directional watts from across the river from Del Rio.  Since I presume any readers are interested in this sort of thing Wolfman Jack does a fabulous telling of the history of XERB from ‘Goat Glands’ Brinkley to the present in his no less fabulous autobiography.  The Wolfman’s slipped by unnoticed but it is well worth seeking out.

     Strangely to my ear Bob is never mentioned in the same breath as Del Rio.  XERB must have come in clear as a bell straight up river to Hibbing.

     Bob merely talks about Shreveport, the home of the Louisiana Hayride.  This is also the area that the Wolfman got his start.  I believe he talks about Gatemouth and that he patterned his act on his.  I could get Shreveport but I didn’t like it as well.  Besides I was probably off to the side of the signal and it didn’t  come in as well.  I listened mainly to Del Rio, Wheeling, West Virginia, Waterloo, Iowa and WCKY Cincinatti, Ohio.  C for Cincinatti and KY for Kentucky just across that particular river.  Those were all pure country stations especially Wheeling.  If Bob didn’t get them they may have been directional off his band.

     At any rate for all his talk of listening to Black music when people mention items in his record collection they’re usually country.  Webb Pierce was of course tops.  Bob also listened to a fair amount of Hank Snow.  He owned Hank Snow Sings Jimmie Rodgers but he doesn’t seem to have had any of Rodgers records themselves.  He apparently listened to those over at Echo’s.  Rodgers requires a certain taste but if you have it he can’t be beat.

     My impression from listening to Bob is that he had a lot stronger country background than Rhythm and Blues.  I can’t believe there was too much R&B up there on the Iron Range.

     And then he got those Leadbelly records for his graduation.  Heylin may think it was spelled Lead Belly but I never heard that anywhere but in Heylin’s biography of Bob.  Bob and I must have heard Leadbelly together for the first time in different places.  Just for background I was in San Francisco in ’59 in the Navy.  There was a record store down on Market St. specializing in Folk, Blues and Jazz.  Some really obscure stuff.  Don’t know how he sold enough to stay in business.  Didn’t actually, when I went back the store was gone. 

     That was where I was introduced to groups like the New Lost City Ramblers and Bob Gibson and people like that and of course Leadbelly.  Leadbelly was already legendary to me perhaps from Seeger and the Weavers.  Huddie Ledbetter, his real name, was the most godawful stuff I ever heard up until that time.  Since then, of course,…but why go into it.  The songs were transcribed from worn out 78s onto a 10″ LP and not only was there nothing but noise but even with sound quality it would have been just hideous moaning.  Bucklen was right; it wasn’t great, it was only OK.  It always amazed me that people who wouldn’t listen to Hillbilly because it was ignorant would go gaga over stuff like Leadbelly.

      So, anyway, that was pretty much Bob’s musical background until he showed up at U. Minnesota.

2.

Bob’s Social Status

     It is necessary to reconstruct to some extent Bob’s social status and his relationship to Echo Helstrom.  Bob has a very deep seated psychotic reaction to his childhood in Hibbing.  It is something that almost seems to grow with time.  He had a real sense of rejection.  This is not an uncommon situation of course but Bob had the uncommon talent to impose his psychosis on the world, a psychosis he has never been able to resolve.

     This pyschosis is a difficult thing to work out.  I have to combine my thinking here with an email correspondent whose initials are RM.  The complete file of correspondence which is more than two hundred pages long can be found on the Lipstick Traces Part IX post on I, Dynamo if you want to read through it.  RM has a real stream of consciousness writing style but she is extremely well read in the area of Dylan and Presley while having very good ideas.

     The work is a matching of known details as reported by the biographers and an analysis of the lyrics of Dylan’s songs.  The biographers seldom agree on the exact details while Heylin and Sounes seem to borrow extensively from Scaduto and Shelton.  The general outline seems to be clear.

     Bob”s early childhood seems to have been relatively happy but then the turning point in his life seems to have been his Bar Mitzvah.  Rather this is so or not by the age of fifteen his sense of rejection and resentment had been firmly established in his mind.

     Much is made of the so-called ‘anti-Semitism’ in Hibbing and its few Jews.  Actually Hibbing had a fairly large Jewish population for its size and they were very influential.  Nadine Epstein and Rebecca Frankel wrote an article for Moment Magazine, August 2005, titled:  Bob Dylan; The Unauthorized Spiritual Biography.  Moment is a Jewish magazine that doesn’t publish online so you’ll have to go to the library to download a copy of the article if you want it. 

     The two authors describe Hibbing thusly:

     Hibbing’s downtown stands as a monument to its once vibrant Jewish community.  “Every single store except for the J.C. Penney’s was owned by Jews,” recalls Neil Scwartz, 53, who grew up in Hibbing and is now a cantor in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  A glance at the 1942 Hibbing City Directory confirms this observation:  Hyman Bloom owned the Boston Department Store, Jacob Jowolsky operated Hibbing Auto Wrecking, Nathan Nides owned Nides Fashion Shop, sold insurance and lent money.  The first Avenue Market was owned by David M. Shapiro, Jack and Israel Sher ran the Insurance Service Agency and Louis Stein was the proprietor of Stein’s Drug Store.  The Edelstein- Stones owned a string of movie palaces, including the local drive-in and the Lybba Theater on Howard Street, named after Bob Dylan’s maternal great-grandmother Lybba Edelstein, who came to the United States from Lituania in 1902.

———-

     By the 1970s, most of these businesses were gone.  “When the mine closed and the miners lost their jobs, people were forced to move, and so the Jews who owned the stores lost their customers,” says Steve Jowolsky, 45.  One of the handful of Jews remaining in Hibbing.  Jowolsky runs his family’s scrap yard.

     So Bob grew up in a town perhaps divided by a religious and social barrier.  The Jews who owned the businesses and the goys who patronized them may have been resentful.  There must have been inevitable conflicts which is probably why Bob didn’t like to be identified as a Jew.

     The critical point is that after his Bar Mitzvah at thirteen for the next four years he attended a Zionist summer camp- Camp Herzl in Webster, Wisconsin.  The Camp was and is a large 120 acre summer camp.  There  it seems that the Jewish youth of Minnesota and, actually from around the country and world, met and became acquainted so that Bob had extensive Jewish connections in Minneapolis-St. Paul the home of U. Minnesota.

     There is some mystery concerning Bob’s Bar Mitzvah.  For non-Jews, a Bar Mitzvah is a coming of age ceremony for men.  If you’ve read your Golden Bough by J.G. Frazer you’ll know that when a boy was young he passed his time with his mother and the girls but when passing into puberty he was taken from the women by the men and underwent a born again ceremony to become a man going to live with the men.  An example Frazer uses is that of passing through a rolled up cowhide symbolizing rebirth as a man.  The story of Achilles in the women’s quarters is a coming of age of ‘Bar Mitzvah’ story.

     In Bob’s case it is said that as there was no Rabbi on the Iron Range a Rabbi was brought in from Brooklyn specifically to give Bob a crash course in Judaism for his Bar Mitzvah.  The mission having been accomplished the Rabbi was put back on the bus for Brooklyn.

     This is a strange story.  Shelton tells us that there was a synogogue and Rabbi in Hibbing while Duluth with a fairly large Jewish population had four.  Certainly the several dozen Jewish families in Hibbing educated their sons for Bar Mitzvahs without resorting to each individual parent bringing in a Rabbi from Brooklyn, New York.

     If the Rabbi was actually brought in then something else was going on.

     Now, Bob’s Jewish name is Sabtai, that is he was named after Sabatai Zevi the last great Jewish Messiah.  This says something about Abraham Zimmerman’s state of mind.  A sect was founded on Zevi’s death in the seventeenth century that flourished as a signficant portion of Judaism in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and continues to this day.  Freud was of this particular Jewish persuasion.  So must have been Abe Zimmerman.

     If the story is true then the reason for rejecting the local and Duluth Rabbis must have been the the Sabbatian or Frankist  Rabbi was essential to Abe Zimmerman’s conception of the religious education he wanted his boy Bob to have.  The sect was centered in Brooklyn.  Thus Bob’s adolescent and pubertal mind was clouded at thirteen with a concentrated infusion of Sabbatian-Frankist, possibly Lubavitcher, lore.  Bob was now well on his way to his fabled ‘mixed up confusion.’  He had to reconcile extreme fundamentalist Jewish religion with a Country and Western goi outlook.  This is what makes the guy really interesting.

     Then on top of his Frankist crap he began to spend several weeks at the Zionist Camp Herzl.  I interpret several to mean four to six, so that would be a large chunk of the summer separating him from the social life of Hibbing.  Obviously his father wanted to immerse him in some fairly intense Jewish nationalism and religion.  Theodore Herzl is of course the originator of Zionism which is a nationalist Jewish movement.

     Bob attended four consecutive summers beginning in 1953.  No person is independent of their environment.  The Jews had become very distraught as a people after WWII.  For some reason they projected Nazism on Americans and were very fearful that Americans were going to create an Auschwitz for them here.  When McCarran built camps in 1953 for a possible Communist roundup the Jews felt sure it was for them.  By coincidence Bob began attending Camp Herzl in that year.

     As an example of the Jewish paranoia William Paley who owned CBS was so fearful that an attempt at extermination was near that he devised a plan to ‘save’ as many Jewish performers as he could.  Thus he incorporated a number of Jewish musical and comedy stars as businesses and sold shares in  their careers to prominent gois.   TV emerged shortly after the war thus for ten years or so there was a long parade of Jewish performers down to Red Buttons who were given TV shows to provide a return for their investors thus ‘securing the lives’ of the performers.  Jack Benny was a difficult act for them to program but once they did he amply rewarded his investors who had bought into him.  I believe Benny was the last of the packages.  So for all those years the performers were merely on salary when they could have been raking in the coin less the paranoia.

     So that is the Jewish environment Bob was living in   I am not Jewish but my wife is.  Growing up in the fifties she was indoctrinated in the notion that everyone hated the Jews and were out to kill them.  This affected her psychology profoundly but her reasoning was why woud anyone want to be something everyone hated when you didn’t have to be.  She consequently rejected religion entirely, so there was no religious incompatibility between us as I from my side also rejected religion.

     So Bob began his several week visit to Camp every summer in this environment.  They don’t show extermination camp movies on TV like they used to but you may be sure Bob was given a steady diet of them every summer.  Boy, they used to piss me off.

     Before his Bar Mitzvah it is said that he was a friendly outgoing guy but became withdrawn and solitary in his high school years.  I have little doubt that his religious training was responsible for it.  If his father considered himself somewhat of a Jewish scholar as represented by this Hasidic or whatever Rabbi from Brooklyn then this added to Bob’s feeling of separation from what is described as almost wholly a Catholic environment.  I would have felt stranger than he did.

     Thus, while Red Wing may have precipitated a crisis in his psychology it was merely the icing on the cake, the straw that broke the camel’s back, etc.

3.

Bob And Echo

          Bob entered high school in 1956 at tge age if 15,  At 15 he would have been fully aware.  Little Richard would have burst on him in ’55 when he was either 14 or 15.  Apparently Little Richard’s seeming lack of inhibitions made a tremendous impression on the already inhibited Bob.  Richard hit at about the same time as the movie Rebel Without A Cause.  The movie and its star, James Dean also blew Bob away.  He saw it several times.  He saw it at 14 I saw it at 17.  I loved the movie but I was unimpressed by Dean.  I saw the movie with a bunch of friends and while I was in awe they appeared to be in shock.  This was serious stuff.  Of course I fell in love with Natalie Wood while I was repelled by the bug-eyed Sal Mineo.

      What spoiled the movie for me was Dean himself.  It didn’t take me long to realize that he was an adult playing a ‘juvenile’ role.  In his most famous scene, rolling the milk bottle over his forehead and actually drinking out of the bottle offended my so much I can’t explain it.  He looked old there, at least 28, and he actually looked ancient in the scene in the police station.  I may be the only one that ever thought that though.

     Now, Heylin misunderstands the chicken or emasculation contest at the end of the  movie.  To set the scene properly America was just emerging from the Depression.  Parents were still virtually paralyzed by their memories of the pre-war years.  Teenagers were just beginning to be able to afford cars.  The gut was full on Saturday nights but most were driving the family car.

     For those that had cars the exhilaration was fantastic.  That was the golden age of customization.  Cars were lowered in the back, dual exhausts were put in, cars were souped up so that for a few years kids had cars that could outrun the stock models of the cops.  Wow!  Hey!   John Dillinger never had it so good. Pretty Boy Floyd would have thought he was in heaven.

     So, you’ve got the hot wheels and all that power so what do you do with it?  You invent the game of Chicken.  That Hollywood thing on the Pacific Palisades if it ever happened in real life was only possible because of the location on the Palisades. 

     The idea everywhere else was for two cars, two drivers to face each other from maybe three or four blocks away then floor the beast, accelerating all the way head on at each other.  The first guy to swerve lost and was the chicken.  Thoroughly emasculated.  Some guys chickened out early some didn’t.  I watched a few of these and thought I’d never seen such craziness.  I hadn’t up to that time, but since…

     So the idea in Rebel on the Palisades was not to jump out as close to the edge as possible which was so crazy some movie guy would have had to have invented it but to drive as close to the last stopping point as possible before hitting the brakes.  I mean, this was so stupid.  So the winner went well behond the stopping point and his car went over the cliff with him in it.   Who’s going to get into a chicken contest and try to jump out of a car going sixty or seventy miles an hour?  Kids are crazy but I hope there’s a limit.  Although, I don’t know, I once played Russian Roulette with a loaded gun.  Three rounds.  I don’t like to admit it but you can’t change history.

     So at this point Bob and Abe came into direct conflict.  If Abe couldn’t understand Dean you can imagine Little Richard’s effect on him.  So here his wonderful Hasidic Jewish kid is entering high school and flushing himself down the goi toilet.  The conflict must have been intense.  Apropos of parental conflict that was so intense it led to his disowning him.  I read somewhere that his mother Beattie was the model for Visions Of Johanna.  Bob’s own words but I can’t remember where I read it.

     So Bob began what appears to be the three most action packed years of his life.  Leaving the tenth grade shortly shortly after his sixteenth birthday Bob pestered his dad for a motorcycle now that he could get a license.  Not a scooter either but a big machine. Harley. No Hondas.  So at the incredibly young age of sixteen Bob got himself a big bike.  Bob’s dad must have been a very indulgent father.  You can ride a bike up on the Iron Range for only a few months a year.  Bob went to summer camp between 10th and 11th too so he really didn’t have much time to ride it.  But somewhere in there he met Echo Star Helstrom.

     Echo impresses me as a tough chickie from the other side of the tracks.  she apparently impressed others that way too.

     Scaduto quotes one Linda Fuller:

     Bob was considered one of the tough motorcycle crowd.  Always with the black leather jacket, the cigarette in the corner of his mouth, rather hoody.  And Echo with her bleached hair and vacant look; That’s mostly how I first noticed him, running around with this freaky girl hanging on the back of his motorcycle, with her frizzy white hair flying and her false eyelashes.  It was shocking to me.  I tried not to be narrow minded, but I thought that crowd was a bunch of creeps.  We used to laugh at the sight of them on the motorcycles.  They used to zip through town and it was funny to see them.

     The thing is motorcycles were taboo because motorcycle guys were automatically bad.  I had to stay away from them.  They were terrifying, Bob with his big boots and his tight pants.

     Then Echo chips in:

     (Bob) didn’t fit in with the bums.  I knew the real bums.  All my friends were the wrong-side-of-the-tracks people, the dropouts, and Bob didn’t fit in with them.  He didn’t fit in with anyone in town, really.

     So here we have the portrait of a Nowhere Man posing as a Bad Motorcycle, acting a screamer on stage but quiet and withdrawn in the classroom and school.  Almost a manic depressive.

     Without meaning to cast aspersions on Echo she was what we would have called ‘cheap’.  She knew the real bums, they were all her friends.  The Fugs could have written their song ‘Slum Goddess From The Lower East Side’ about her.

     When she first met Bob she said she thought he was a ‘goody goody.’  Must not have been on his bad motorcycle with those boots and tight fitting pants;  one of those directly opposite of ‘cheap’ or hoody, not one of the bums.  Echo would have seen Bob as ‘upper class’.  Echo was probably going to put Bob on.  That he went for her must have seemed too good to be true.

     Probably Bob moved in on her and meant to pick her up for a cheap thrill or whatever then found to his delight that the girl knew every rock, R&B and Country song in the catalog.  Bob wanted to impress her with his own musical chops so on their ‘first date’ they break and enter the Moose Lodge so Bob can cavort on the piano.  Didn’t even have to think about it, he flipped out a knife forced the lock and they were inside.  Easy as pie.  Must have done it a time or two before somewhere, don’t you think?  The story comes out in different variations in the biographers.  Either Bob or Echo sprung the lock with either his knife or her knife or she with her own knife.  In any case they both appear to be experienced housebreakers.  This is important.

     And now we have a minor problem.  Bob told Echo that he didn’t have an allowance so she ponied up for the hotdogs and cokes.  Yet at the same time Abe bought Bob a motorcycle that would have been expensive while requiring gas and lots of maintenance.  Bikes never run right.  Abe seemed to to give Bob enough money for that.  So through October or whenever the snow began flying Bob is driving Echo around with her frizzy bleached blonde hair blowing in the wind.

     None of the biographers handle the details of these years carefully so I am reconstructing and attempting to arrange the chronology to fit with the details in the time frame.

     Now, Abe and Beattie are watching the apple of their eye get wormy right before their eyes.  Neither Beattie nor Abe had any use for Echo.  Being respectable middle class people they were horrified that Bob was running around with such a cheap trick.  Abe was horrified to see his son ‘defiling’ himself.  At some point in Bob’s young life Abe told him that it was possible for a son to become so defiled his parents would reject him but possibly God would lead him back to the path of righteousness.  These are very strong words and Bob must have strayed from the path for Dad to have expressed himself to strongly.  But I don’t think he mentioned this fact to Bob just yet,  although Bob’s behavior would get worse.  So bad that it is not impossible that his dad may have essentially had him committed for psychiatric attention.

     According to Heylin Beattie did let out that Bob was ‘away’ for a couple months in the summer of ’59 that was a cause of intense embarrassment to her.  One report says that he was sent to a reform school or clinic in Philadelphia while another says that he spent the summer in the house of detention of Red Wing Reform school down on Highway ’61.  Highway ’61 revisited, you see.  As there are no references to psychiatric treatment in the songs I am going to pursue the Red Wing side of it of which there are many references and a clear paper trail in the songs. 

     As Bob entered the eleventh grade he and Echo were evidently quite serious or at least Echo thought they were.  At some point they committed themselves to going steady and Bob gave her his ID bracelet to wear.  ID bracelets were popular at this time.  I wore one for several months in my senior year, maybe even to the end, I can’t remember.  They were a little silver plaque with your name on it.  Kind of like a wrist watch without the watch.

     For what it was worth they talked of marriage even choosing babynames.  Given Bob’s later fecundity they should have chosen several.

     In the eleventh grade Bob also launched himself as a band with a somewhat mixed reception.  Well, it wasn’t really mixed, it was more a form of rejection.  He not only got booed for the first time, but laughed at.

     The question here is how did it affect his reputation in Hibbing.  If your fellow students laugh and boo your act that has to result in a certain amount of contempt in the halls.  People have to make snide comments.  So Bob really had to develop a thick skin.  This would have set him in good stead for his world tour a few years later.

     I smiled when in his autobiography he tells of how Ricky Nelson was booed when he tried to change his style.  He wryly commented that he and Ricky had something in common.  Hurt like hell though.

     And then comments must have been made to his parents.  Already sensitive about his relationship with Echo Abe and Beattie must have begun consulting friends for psychiatric recommendations.  People don’t understand; they didn’t understand me either but like Bob I ignored them and kep on bopping along.  Of course Abe and Beattie belonged to the sub-societal Jewish set also.  So they must have taken redoubled abuse from that quarter.  Synagogue must have been unbearable in those trying days.

     Nevertheless Bob was calling unfavorable attention to himself.  Not only was he ‘getting’ it from Echo through the eleventh grade but we are led to believe that he was succeeding quite well with numerous maidens with shelf like breasts.

      Always indiscreet Bob couldn’t conceal his activities from Echo.  Echo claims that she was faithful to Bob over this year long romance.  I can’t quite believe that of a girl who knew all the bad boys in town but she may actually have given Bob her heart.  Faithful or not this is a very serious situation for when you have given your heart to someone they have it with them and it’s not always that easy to get it back.

     That Echo was hurt to the quick is evident by the manner in which she broke off the engagement.  She chose to do it publicly by handing Bob back his bracelet in the halls at school.  Makes a boy shudder just to think of the ignominy.

     May have hurt Bob as much as anything in his life.

     However, and this is serious, Echo felt like a woman scorned.  Scorning  women is serious business which I know from experience.  I wouldn’t recommend it to boy or man, young or old.  They don’t leave the matter where you think they should and Echo was not going to be satisfied with merely humiliating Bob in school.  She didn’t get adequate satisfaction from that.

     Now we’re at the end of the eleventh grade.  According to the biographers Bob had been after Abe to get him a car.  Abe couldn’t resist his son.  Really, now, Bob had an affluent boyhood in addition to getting laid enough to be the envy of the school.  This guy did a lot better than I ever did on both counts.  If Bob expects sympathy from me for having a tough childhood he can forget it.

     Between eleventh and twelfth grades Bob had a car that he used to drive down to Minneapolis several times that summer.  In one account it was a ’50 Ford with the metal showing through the paint and according to Sounes it was a pink convertible.  No ’50 Ford was ever pink while anyone living in the Minnesota winters would have to be crazy to buy a convertible but I merely report what the biogrpahers say. 

     Cars are even more expensive than motorcycles.  Even if mileage was low and gas was cheap dollars were less plentiful back then.  Since Bob hasn’t done a lick of work yet Abe must have had an open handed attitude.  Wait a minute, it is said that Abe sent Bob out to repossess TVs  which must have been about this time.  Tough job.

     In fact Bob was costing Abe a lot of money.  The report is that Bob was riding down the street on his motorcycle and a kid ran into the street and bounced off the bike.  Must have given Bob the idea for his ‘accident’ a few years later.  Did he really have that famous fall from his bike?  I can’t say but I’m waiting for further developements before I make up my mind.

     If Bob was dangerous on a bike that was nothing compared to Bob in an automobile.   There are reports of more than one accident but the worst one cost Abe four thousand dollars to make good.  That one tested Abe’s notions of defilement.

     Four thousand dollars in 1958 was a chunk of money.  You could still buy paper back books for from twenty-five to fifty cents each that now cost 7.95 and 8.95.  Calculate four thousand dollars to that ratio.  In the Navy in the same year I was making two thousand dollars a year.  I was twenty-five years old before I topped four thousand dollars a year.

     So Abe forked over a sum.  Besides which Bob would definitely have been cited perhaps arraigned in court.  He may have been facing a jail sentence if Abe hadn’t bought the plaintiffs off.  Bob was becoming known at least as a wild man in the rather small Hibbing legal environment.

4.

The Chimes Of Freedom

But it’s hard lookin’ in and you can’t see out.

Dylan- Cold Irons Bound

     During the summer of ’58 when Bob was spending so much time down in Minneapolis doing god only knows what Echo was stewing home alone.  That was equivalent to being ignored and when you’re going steady.  Naturally a girl wants vengeance but the question was how to get it.  Echo would have known a lot more about Bob’s reputation in Hibbing than he did.  Bob may have been oblivious to the outside world paying attention only to what was going on inside his head.  The appearances are that he was probably thought of as a troublesome lad.  Proabably a lot of people would have liked to have seen him take a fall, go to jail.  I think it probable that Echo arranged that fall.

     It probably didn’t take much to get Bob to go around with her a bit in the Fall of ’58 so he would have thought that everything was alright and he’d gotten away with things.  The evidence from his songs that we’ll get to here in a bit is that Echo lured him into breaking and entering.  My surmise is that she had arranged for them to be caught and caught they were.

     As we know from the Moose Lodge Bob was an adept at breaking and entering.  One can’t say that he was suspected of other such breakins for sure but his reputation was such that he had to be taught a lesson.

     From appearances I would say that he was caught, tried and sentenced sometime in the late Winter of ’58-’59.  The question is when did he serve his sentence?

     My original thought as expressed here was in the Summer of ’59 but as he would then have been an adult of eighteen he would have been too old for Red Wing where the top age was seventeen.

     In Chronicles I Bob says he left home in early Spring of ’59.  Based on that slender hint I’m going to suggest that he was in Red Wing from Possibly March 25th 1959, released on his birthday of May 24th or the day before.

     Thus he was back in Hibbing in time for graduation.  His reluctance to attend the large party his parents got up may have been from shame just as the party may have been to welcome him back to acceptance.  His reluctance was overcome and he is said to have had a great time at the party.  So, awaiting further information I am inclined toward the last two months of his senior year.

     As we have seen Abram Zimmerman and his fellow Jews were powerful in the city so that it is possible that In order to let Bob  finish school his father may have pleaded with the Judge and he was allowed to serve perhaps a two month sentence in July and August of ’59 just before he began U. Minnesota.  His senior year was when he fell off the honor roll according to his mother.  It was probably at this time that a mortified Abe advised him that he could defile himself to the point that his parents would renounce him.

     After having extricated Bob from all previous difficulties so that Bob may have thought he was Bobby Teflon Bob may have held his father responsible for his having to do time at Red Wing.

     At any rate Bob graduated in June of ’59 collected his Leadbelly records, spent a couple two or three weeks as a busboy in Fargo then returned to do his time out on Highway 61.  This esay will stop at his possible release from Red Wing.  And now for the evidence from Bob’s songs to give credibility to the above scenario.

     The actual breaking and entering for which he was arrested and sentenced is recorded in his song The Chimes Of Freedom.  Bob had a way of clothing things in words that made common place events ethereal.  Chimes of Freedom is one of those.  The song seems to record the breakin in a stream of high flown metaphors.

     The first line:  Far between sundown’s finish an’ midnight’s broken toll, means literally well after sundown that in Winter in Hibbing would probably be 3:30 in the afternoon and between midnight something happened late during that interval.  That’s pretty clear just confused by language.

     What happened was:  We ducked inside the doorway, thunder crashing.  In other words the ‘we’, who I asume to be Bob and Echo slipped the knife into the lock and sprung the door.  The excitement of the moment made each noise sound like thunder crashing.  In other words Bob is describing his psychological state of mind.

     Then he has the nonsense phrase ‘As majestic bells of bolts…’ That is literally meaningless but gives a sense of his heightened sensibilities.  ‘…struck shadows in the sounds seeming to be the chimes of freedom flashing.’  more emotional tension and atmosphere.  This was a key moment in Bob’s life and he’s making the most of it.  Bob wrote this in ’63 or ’64 some four or five years after the incident.

     And then he goes into a flight of self-pity comparing himself and Echo to loners against the world.

Flashing for the warriors whose strength is not to fight

Flashing for the refugees on the unarmed road of flight

An’ for each and every underdog soldier in the night

An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing.

      There you go.  That sounds heavy and coming from the speakers backed by the emotional wailing voice, howling harmonica and flailing driving guitar rhythm it sounded then and sounds now like there’s meaning there that isn’t transparent but in fact there isn’t any deep meaning.  Bob has just generalized his break in emotions.  One hears the tone of voice and listen to the music and gropes for what isn’t there.

     Bob goes on like this through six long verses as he milks the tale for all it’s worth.  Actually the first four lines of the second verse if you know the story are quite well done:

In the city’s melted furnace, unexpectedly we watched

With faces hidden while the walls were tightening

As the echo of the wedding bells before the blowin’ rain

Dissolved into the bells of the lightning

     In so many words he’s saying that the authorities are closing in and that he and Echo are about to be caught as the ‘walls close in.’  If he and she were attempting a reconciliation that ended as the wedding bells dissolved as the authorities arrested them- in other words, the lightning.

     And then four more lines of self-pity:

Tolling for the rebel, tolling for the rake

Tolling for the luckless, the abandoned and forsaked

Tolling for the outcast burnin’ constantly at the stake

     There’s a neat little description of Bob’s situation in Hibbing as he sees it.  Jim Stark the Rebel Without a Cause.  Bob obviously considered himself a rake.  Luckless is obvious and writing four years later he realized that he was abandoned and forsaken by Echo.  He ignores his own actions that led her to forsake him.  And then the eternal outcast burning at the stake.

     Another couple verses follow that go on in the same vein; then Bob comes to the climax of his story.

Starry eyed and laughing as I recall when we were caught

     Here Star reflects the Echo of the first verse and indentifies his companion as Echo Star Helstrom so that she would know he was talking to and about her.  This is for world wide consumption.  This is unimagined success, laying your complaint before the whole world.  But, Bob doesn’t explain that he and Echo were caught in the act of breaking and entering.

     So now he and Echo are apprehended by the authorities; caught in the act:

Trapped by no track of hours for they hanged suspended

     So they became so involved in their crime- starry eyed and laughing- that they lost track of time.  Remember Charlie Starkweather and Carol had just committed their crimes a little to the West so the authorities would have been on edge.

As we listened one last time an’ we watched with one last look

Spellbound an’ swallowed ’til the tolling ended.

     Yes, now like Jim Stark of Rebel Without A Cause Bob is down at the jailhouse coming down.  He’s been busted and busted good.  His dad can’t get him off and the Judge gives him his time in Red Wing.  I imagine that his father may have negotiated terms that let Bob down as easy as possible such as allowing him to graduate and do his time in the summer or possibly an easier task of negotiating with the school to allow Bob to graduate.

     Echo apparently skated out of there but Bob for the rest of the year was a convicted criminal as the whole school sneered at him.  I don’t think there was any question that Bob was set up.  Echo was the agent but there must have been others involved or else they probably wouldn’t have been caught, unless Bob turned all the lights on.

     The crime created what seems to be an undissolvable bond between Bob and Echo.  R.M. has followed Bob’s career whereas I signed off at John Wesley Harding so she pointed out the 1997 song from Time Out Of Mind called Cold Irons Bound.  This song appears to be an ode to Echo and Hibbing.

     I would guiess that for the remainder of the school year she snubbed Bob refusing to acknowledge his existence.  Bob expreses this snubbing as a metaphor in Cold Irons Bound:

I went to church on Sunday and she passed me by

My love for her is taking such a long time to die

     And then Bob records his feelings fresh as green grass nearly forty years after as the cops drove him down Highway 61 to Red Wing.

In waist deep, waist deep in the mist

It’s almost like, almost like I don’t exist

I’m twenty miles out of town, in cold irons bound.

     Yep.  Echo got him good.  You can be sure she was standing out of sight when they put Bob into the car for the long drive down to Red Wing and relishing every moment of it.  Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.  She might not be finished yet.  They wait and wait and plot and plot.

     My own corroborating experience that I have recorded in my novelette,  The Angeline Constellation on reprindle.wordpress.com, check it out if you’re interested, it’s a good story, 100 pages, confirms Bob’s.  I got off light at the time although I’m not anxious to give Ange a second chance. 

     Briefly the romance took place when I was in the tenth grade.  Ange other than making my life miserable in the background could find no opportunity, or if she did I’m unaware of it.  There is one incident in my life sort of like Bob’s that I’m not sure of but if she planned it it misfired and didn’t come off satisfactorily.

     But I went into the Navy in ’56 returning on leave in  the summer of ’57.  Ange was, if not waiting for me, quick on her feet.  I ran into a girl I had known right after Ange who Ange turned against me.  I saw her on leave and asked her out being haughtily, coldly and, dare I say, insultingly refused.  Well OK, no problem.  Then she must have mentioned that she saw me to Ange.  Ange came up with a plan immediately.  This girl then asked me to go to a party.  Well, after having been told what I could do with myself one would have thought I would have said:  No thanks.  I’ll never be that dumb again.

     I went to this party.  She insisted I wear my Navy uniform.  I don’t get that.  I was not allowed to escort her to the party but was to meet her there.  Yeah, well, I’m not so easy now.  Of course, I’m not so young either.

     At the party I was plied with booze.  I didn’t drink at the time.  I had never even had a bottle of beer.  So I got schnockered pretty quick.  I mean stumbling drunk.  The hostess kept pouring.  So Ange went to this woman who hosted the party and a number of her girl friends, I don’t remember any guys at this party, to set me up and be done.  Ange stayed out of sight until I was pretty drunk then she came out of the back of the house to gloat at my back.  She doesn’t know to this day that I knew she was there and I saw her.  But I did.

     Now drunk and sick it was time to leave.  I asked for a ride but was refused.  I asked for my hat but was again refused.  So there I was stumbling down the street a sailor without a hat, in undress.  You can be sure Ange was following my progress and laughing bitterly.  Bad enough but the next day it gave my stepfather, a drunk, with who I was on bad terms a chance to scorn me.  So four years later a scorned woman wreaked some revenge.  And that is the way it works.  Watch your step.

     You can bet that Echo stood gloating out of sight as they put Bob in the car and drove down the side of the gaping pit toward Highway 61 and Red Wing.  I believe that’s how Bob’s little drama may have worked out.

5.

He’s In The Jailhouse Now

 

I used to know a guy named Rambiin’ Bob,

Who used to steal, gamble and rob,

He thought he was the smartest guy around.

Well, I found out last Monday,

They arrested Bob last Sunday,

They got him down (on Highway 61) in the can.

He’s in the jailhouse now.

Immie Rodgers

     The question is was Robert A. Zimmerman ever at Red Wing Reformatory for Boys?  On the one hand we have the evidence of his songs and his actual statement to the NYC journalist Al Aronowitz that he did time at the prison.  On the other hand we have the claim of the Minnesota Department of Corrections that Bob Dylan never served time at Red Wing.  Of course Bob Dylan didn’t.  There was no Bob Dylan in existence in the Spring or Summer of ’59.

     The DOC however declines to say whether a Robert Allen Zimmerman did time.  And then there is the competing claim that Bob was under psychiatric care in Phildelphia at the same time.  Still no records.  There seem to be no references to this latter option in the songs so I do not consider it a viable option.

     Certainly the key piece of evidence is the song The Walls Of Redwing.  The song was first copyright in 1963 so it was possibly written in 1962 which would be roughly three years after the event.  Unlike the very heavy metaphors Bob uses elsewhere Walls was written in plain English as though the terror was still on him.

     There are those that say the song didn’t require direct experience to write, that it is just generalized stuff that could be filched from movies or whatever but both R.M. and I agree that the allusions are too personal, reflect actual experiences, than to be just a story.

     I’ll reproduce the lines here.  These are taken from the Bob Dylan website:

The Walls Of Red Wing

 

Oh, the age of the inmates

I remember quite freely,

No younger than twelve,

No older than seventeen.

Thrown in like bandits

And cast off like criminals

Inside the walls,

The walls of Red Wing.

 

From the dirty old mess hall

You march to the brick wall,

Too weary to talk

And too tired to sing.

Oh, it’s all afternoon

You remember your hometown

Inside the walls,

The walls of Red Wing.

 

Oh, the gates are cast iron

And the walls are barbed wire.

Stay far from the fence

With the ‘lectrified sting.

And It’s keep down your head

And stay in your number,

Inside the walls,

The walls of Red wing.

 

Oh, it’s fare thee well

To deep hollow dungeon,

Farewell to the boardwalk

That takes you to the screen.

And farewell to the minutes

They threaten you with it,

Inside the walls,

The walls of Red Wing.

 

It’s many a guard

That stands around smilin’,

Holding his club

Like he was a king.

Hopin’ to get you

Behind a wood pilin’

Inside the walls,

The walls of Red Wing.

 

The night aimed shadows

Through the cross bar windows,

And the wind punched hard

To make the wall siding sing.

It’s many a night I pretended to be sleepin’,

Inside the walls,

The walls of Red Wing.

 

As the rain rattled heavy

On the bunk house shingles

And the sounds in the night,

They made my ears ring.

‘Til the keys of the guards

Clicked the tune of the morning,

Inside the walls,

The walls of Red Wing.

 

Oh, some of us’ll end up

In St. Cloud Prison

And some of us’ll wind up

To be lawyers and things,

And some of us’ll stand up

To meet you on your crossroads,

From inside the walls,

The walls of Red Wing.

     Bob at eighteen would have been the oldest boy there so he could watch them more or less as an outsider.  Bob is obviously the one who is going to meet us at our crossroads where he intends to take his pound of flesh.  His whole career is one of wreaking vengeance on somebody.

     I’ve never been in prison but I have been in the Orphange and the Navy.  While not jails or prisons they are similar enough so that I have some understanding of the experience.  Altogether I spent five years out of my first twenty behind fences under the control of men and women but little different than prison guards.

     I know many of the things Bob is talking about and my understanding of the lyrics is that Bob was there and knows what he is talking about from first hand experience.

     I would never lie to a journalist about being in prison whose very job is to broadcast tidbits about celebrities.  Or maybe Bob would claim that it was only ‘hophead’ talk and not to be taken seriously.  If it were me I wouldn’t even let it be known I knew what hophead talk was.  Bob told so many tall stories he could compulsively slip in an occasional truth without expecting to be believed.  The difference is that none of the rest of the tall stories found their way into his songs.

     The song was so painful and personal that he never released it at the time.  It was eventually released in the Bootleg Series.  R.M. who has followed the playlists says that Bob only sang it in public one time.  That one time was in New York when had flown his parents out to a Carnegie Hall concert. However Mike Bloomfield who saw Bob in Chicago says he was singing the song that time.

     Remember that, if Abe had disowned him, Bob had disowned his parents.  He claimed in New York to be an orphan maintaining that dodge.  People were very surprised to learn that his parents were still alive.  So, with his parents in the audience, singing, one imagines directly to them, he recited the Walls Of Red Wing.  I don’t understand exactly why he held them responsible.  There are some things even a father in a small town can’t fix.  In looking over his career I don’t think Bob even knew the meaning of restraint.  He seems to have believed that whatever he wanted or wanted to do should never be denied.

     The effect of his being restrained and constrained in Red Wing was devastating to Bob’s mind.  And Red Wing was forever linked in Bob’s mind with Echo.  R.M. points to You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere written at Woodstock, copyrighted in 1967, as an example.  Two verses, the first and the second, are relatively clear:

Clouds so swift

Rain won’t lift

Gate won’t close

Railing’s froze

Get your mind off wintertime

You ain’t going nowhere.

Whooee ride me high

Tomorrow’s the day

My bride’s gonna come

Oh,oh are we gonna fly

Down in the easy chair.

     Incarcerated in July and August Bob’s thoughts turn to wintertime when he will be free, in the meantime R.M. thinks he believes that Echo is going to relieve the tedium of his imprisonment by visiting him- his bride, but she’s punishing Bob like Bob punished her.  He put her in a psychological prison and now as a prelude to a psychological prison she has him in a real prison and she is going to let him rot there.

     The feeling was translated into words in the song Steel Bars copyrighted in 1991:

In the night I hear you speak

Turn around, you’re in my sleep

Feel your hands inside your soul

You’re holding on and won’t let go.

 

I’ve tried running but there’s no escape

Can’t bend them, and (I know) I just can’t

break these…

 

Steel bars wrapped all around me

I’ve been your prisoner since the day you found me

I’m bound forever, till the end of time

Steel bars wrapped around this heart of mine.

     So Bob is learning the hard way inside the walls, the walls of Red Wing.

I don’t care

How many letters they sent

Morning came and morning went

Pick up your money

And pack your tent

You ain’t goin’ nowhere.

     So apparently Mom and Dad sent letters but nobody would pay the visit Bob so desperately needed.

     As R.M. points out visiting hours were in the morning so that the morning came and the morning went and Bob’s hope of a friendly face went on being frustrated.  As for those letters they could have stuffed them.

     And then in 1968 in a show of bravado Bob wrote a demand letter to Echo, possibly, in the song Nothing Was Delivered:

Nothing was delivered

And I tell this truth to you,

Not out of spite or in anger

But simply because it’s true.

Now, I hope you won’t object to this,

Giving back all of what you owe,

The fewer words you have to waste on this,

The sooner you can go.

     Perhaps Bob thought he could bully his way to freedom.  but he couldn’t.  Echo didn’t have to listen.

     And so Bob left Red Wing at the end of his term, the die was cast for the rest of his life.  He ‘tried running but there was no escape.’  ‘He thought he was alone but the past was just behind.’

      Echo had trapped him behind the walls of a psychological Red Wing.

Finis.

 

I Thought I Was Alone But The Past Was Just Behind

I Thought I Was Alone But The Past Was Just Behind