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Wednesday, June 09, 2004
USELESS AND POINTLESS
KNOWLEDGE. Let me confess up front that my sole exposure to
Christopher Ricks's Bob Dylan scholarship consists of reading
occasional references to it in Alex
Beam's Boston Globe column.
That said, I don't think I would be any less dubious if I were to sit
down and read Dylan's Visions of Sin, Ricks's 500-page opus,
which is the subject of this
Charles McGrath piece in
today's New York Times. McGrath writes of
At various points he
compares Mr. Dylan to Marvell, Marlowe, Keats, Tennyson, Hardy,
Yeats and Marlon Brando, to cite just a few of his references....
Other chapters ... draw insightful and persuasive parallels
between, say, "Lay Lady Lay" and John Donne's poem "To His
Mistress Going to Bed," between "Not Dark Yet" and Keats's "Ode to
a Nightingale," and between "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" and the
Scottish ballad "Lord Randal."
Whoa! The problem with Ricks - who
splits his time between Boston University and Oxford - is the same as
that of many academicians who are drawn to pop culture. By comparing
Dylan to the Great Poets, Ricks both overpraises and diminishes
Dylan's gifts. Although Brando makes sense.
Maybe a few of Dylan's songs can
hold up on the page; "Desolation Row," a Ricks favorite, certainly
comes to mind. But Dylan isn't a poet so much as he is a singer/
songwriter/ musician/ kick-ass rock-and-roller. His genius flows from
the combination of his lyrics, his music, and his uniquely urgent,
idiosyncratic singing. (Never mind his voice; Dylan is among the
greatest singers rock has produced.)
I don't think they'll be publishing
Wait" in any poetry
anthologies 50 or 100 years from now. But I hope people will still be
listening to Time
Out of Mind, the 1997
album whence it came.
IT'S ALL IN THE WRIST. If
you or I made a really small sundae, it would be a really small
sundae. But if MIT alumnus Kevin Brown makes one, it's something that
he "invented," earning him a huge
spread on the front of
today's Boston Globe Food section. Go figure.
AT LEAST IT'S NOT THE
ONION. An alert Wonkette
reader passes along one of her finds: a piece on the website Capitol
Hill Blue claiming that aides to George W. Bush "privately express
growing concern over their leader's state of mind." Writes
site publisher Doug Thompson:
Worried White House aides
paint a portrait of a man on the edge, increasingly wary of those
who disagree with him and paranoid of a public that no longer
trusts his policies in Iraq or at home.
"It reminds me of the Nixon
days," says a longtime GOP political consultant with contacts in
the White House. "Everybody is an enemy; everybody is out to get
him. That's the mood over there."
The president also reportedly veers
between quoting from the Bible and vulgarly denouncing his
File this under: interesting if
true. And: unlikely. But highly entertaining!
posted at 10:59 AM |
Let's see ... a 2-ounce sundae costs $3. At that rate, a banana split must cost, what, $68.50? What a bizarre, pointless story. Next week, we'll meet the Harvard postgrad who pours fruit juice into an ice tray, covers the tray with plastic wrap, and sticks toothpicks through the wrap before freezing to make "micro-Popsicles".
It's a stupid story, and microsundaes are terribly overpriced, and I eat them every chance I get. Walking thru the Yard on a sunny June afternoon with a burnt caramel microsundae--almost too much bliss.--Secret Agent Cathy
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Dan Kennedy is senior writer and media critic for the Boston Phoenix.