Thank the Lord for Neil Diamond

Neil Diamond 2

Neil Diamond, Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne, 27 October, 2015

Neil Diamond is one of my guilty pleasures. The man’s music utterly seduced me as a naïve teenager. I found his voice beguiling and his lyrics profound. I heard a lonely ache in his voice that resonated with my growing dissatisfaction with my place in the world. I was a nascent solitary man, and I liked the fiercely independent, non-conformist streak in Neil Diamond songs like ‘The Boat that I Row’ and ‘Thank the Lord for the Night time’ (‘day time turns me off and I don’t mean maybe, nine to five ain’t taking me where I’m bound’). I also liked the wistful and nostalgic songs like ‘Brooklyn Road’ and ‘The Grass Won’t Pay No Mind’. Here was a sensitive, poetic, soul, I thought. I put a large poster of Neil Diamond on my bedroom wall. He was my first man-crush, my first pop idol. I guess he was a role model of sorts, although I didn’t really know the man behind the music. Of course, this obsession didn’t last. Along came punk, and it was pretty much game over as far as my public relationship with the man was concerned.

Ok, Neil wasn’t as radical as the Sex Pistols, but, fuck it, I couldn’t fully exorcise Neil’s tunes from my consciousness. A bit later, I went to university and became enamored with cultural studies — a ‘right-on’ academic subject that took popular culture seriously, and saw the consumption of music as a site of political resistance. I read the Adorno, and immediately felt like a capitalist dupe for investing so much energy in the products of the Brill Building song factory. In any case by the time I’d left school I’d discovered a plethora of much cooler artists, and became aware that Neil Diamond, the Jewish Elvis, was seen as something of a joke by serious music cognoscenti who dismissed the man as a Las Vegas hack, a sequined lounge lizard, a purveyor of sentimental pap. True, Neil’s post Hot August Night work never really appealed to me. He stopped playing his strummy acoustic guitar, and embraced overblown orchestrations, and big ballads, which he probably saw as musical progress. But, damn, those early recordings were catchy, and despite publicly renouncing the man many times for his sins against good taste, I never really lost my passion for Neil Diamond’s music of the 60’s and early 70’s.

 

So, after many, many years of keeping quiet about my love for Neil Diamond’s music, I decided to come out, or at least go to a Neil Diamond concert. My 16-year-old self would have been thrilled to be in such close proximity to his hero. I secured a seat close to the stage, and waited for the now 74-year-old star to make his appearance. I arrived about 15 minutes before the scheduled start, which was enough time for the solitary man sitting next to me to strike up a conversation. This bloke was big, lantern-jawed, friendly and a tad arrogant. Turns out, he was some kind of captain of industry, full head of grey hair, carrying a few too many extra pounds, and extraordinarily chatty. I was in no mood to talk, but I decided to overcome my natural inclination towards shyness and be polite. My new found friend remarked on the crowd, observing that they all looked quite old, he himself was in his late 50s, and his observation was right on the money. Neil’s demographic is pretty old, and, let me tell you, they are not the coolest looking bunch on the planet. This was nothing like say, a Nick Cave concert. Now Mr. Cave is not as old as Neil Diamond, but he’s no spring chicken, yet his crowd tends to be a bit more diverse than Neil’s. The prince of darkness attracts young people as well as my middle-aged cohorts. You see a lot of people dressed in black at Nick Cave concerts, and you don’t see too many people with grey hair (possibly because Cave fans are prone to following their master’s lead, and dying their aging locks). Anyway, Cave’s followers exude cool. Neil’s people, conversely, are just so middle-of-the-road. Now, this should not have been a revelation to me given the man’s reputation as an easy-listening balladeer, but I felt out of place amongst my fellow Diamond enthusiasts. Surely, I couldn’t be as old and uncool as these people, could I? Things go worse as the time ticked past 8.00pm. Neil was late, and my companion was just warming up, regaling me with questions about my occupation, marital status and even asking me whether my son went to a private school. This guy was seriously rich, and was not at all embarrassed about talking up his wealth, and expressing amazement on how people earning less that $200 000 could live a decent life. Oh, boy. Middle-fucking Australia!

 

Thankfully, Neil appeared. He was 20 minutes late, but I was thrilled to hear the band start up, and drown out the guy next to me. Neil started with one of my favourite songs: ‘I’m a Believer’. I was and I am still a huge fan of the Monkees. I remember feeling my love of Neil Diamond’s music was vindicated when I discovered that he wrote a handful of hits for the so-called pre-fab four (another critically reviled band that I happen to love). And the hits just kept coming. Classic after classic, some of the bigger, more up-beat numbers like Cherry Cherry, got the crowd up on their fee. Now one of the annoying things about concerts is that the people on the floor in the good seats usually remain standing throughout the performance. Even when fellow audience members shout them down, the fuckers remain on their feel oblivious to the fact that they are blocking the view of large numbers of people who have paid big bucks to see their idol (see my Bob Dylan concert post). Neil’s loyal band of enthusiasts could only intermittently summon the energy to stand up and shake their aging booties, so folks in the cheaper seats had an unobstructed view of the performance.

 

The minutes ticked by, and hits kept coming. Diamond is nothing if not a crowd pleaser, so his set, predictably, consisted of his biggest hits with a few tokenistic numbers drawn from his most recent album. Even the bombastic, America, with its garish use of the stars and stripes transcended simple-minded jingoism by coming across as homage to the migrants that built ‘the home of the brave’. I got the sense that Neil Diamond genuinely loves his audience by the way he purposefully addressed each section of the crowd, including those with obscured views of the stage. Age has not diminished his joie de vivre, nor has it significantly compromised his engaging baritone voice. There was something triumphant and uplifting about Diamond’s performance, and despite my feelings of unease about belonging to his legion of middle-class fans, I couldn’t help but feel grateful for finally witnessing a Diamond concert, and allowing myself to revel in one of my first musical obsessions. If I close my eyes I can almost hear the timbre of my old mono cassette player as it filled my childhood bedroom with music produced on a hot august night more than forty years ago. Thank you, Neil Diamond, may I never again take your name in vain, or feel embarrassed for finding myself in your beautiful noise.

RIP Glenn Frey

Glenn Frey in 1977. He was a great man and a good musician, but he was part of a truly bad rock band.

 

January was a bad month for music lovers. The world lost David Bowie, and Glenn Frey, guitarist, and songwriter extraordinaire. Yes, that’s correct, Mr Frey was, in my not so humble opinion, a great songwriter. There, I’ve said it, and what’s more I’m not ashamed to declare my love for Frey’s band, the Eagles, an incredibly popular, but much maligned outfit — maligned mostly by my gang of post-punk pals, and one Gersh Kuntzman. Kuntzman wrote, ‘No disrespect to Glenn Frey — whose death this week is a cause for genuine mourning — but the Eagles were, quite simply, the worst rock and roll band.’ He goes on to vilify the band further by characterising them as soulless and generic. Indeed, I’ve often heard the Eagles described in these terms. The band apparently represent the worst excesses of 70s corporate culture in popular music by purveying ‘easy listening,’ ‘commercial’ music with the sole aim of making millions of bucks. In short, these corporate cowboys are not artists, but businessmen. It follows, then, that their music is a mere commodity, devoid of authentic feeling, and intellectual substance. The Eagles, for many, are the raison d’etre for punk — a politically oppositional genre, supposedly uncontaminated by the ugly commercial considerations of capitalist record companies.

 

 

Let’s be perfectly clear. I’m a huge Bowie fan, and I can’t begin to express how shattered and impoverished I feel by his death (I’ll elaborate on this in another post). Now, while I don’t think Frey was in the same league as Bowie in terms of cultural impact, stylistic flair or musical innovation, I do think the man could craft a melody like few others, and I do respect his success, and ability to connect with a vast audience. Obviously, I didn’t know Glenn Frey, but he did touch my life in a number of important ways (which I will go on to enumerate at a later point). If you don’t like the Eagles, that’s fine by me, but, please, think carefully about what you’re buying into when you start to spout this ‘corporate rock’ bollocks. The ‘hipper-than-thou’ attitude articulated by Kuntzman, and his ilk sticks in my craw because it’s so fucking hypocritical. All popular music is commercial. That is, it’s made and distributed for profit, and whatever its other merits may be, no album financed by a big, badass record company floats above the ugly capitalist market place. Now, it is possible, and perfectly valid, to compare and contrast Bowie and Frey in musicological terms, but I suspect the Kuntzman camp hate Frey’s music because it doesn’t resonate with their self-image as ‘right-on’ oppositional pop connoisseurs. Popular music is never just about music. In my view, it’s mainly about identity formation, a way of making you feel like you belong to some exclusive club. We all invest in fantasies about who we are and who we would like to be through our patterns of consumption. In short, we are what we consume, and in the affluent Western world people tend to fetishize their purchases in order to consolidate a sense of self. We divide into tribes based on various factors, but, for the middle class, our taste is music, film, television, food and various other commodities define our identities, especially when we are young. Sure, in terms of my personal identity, I’d rather invest in the Bowie fantasy — I’d like to see myself as a shape-shifting, radical Starman; an alien that doesn’t respect conventional generic and gender boundaries. This fantasy is far more appealing that the Eagles fantasy, at least for me. I’m sure there are many people out there, that saw Frey as a kind of ego-ideal, but I digress. If the truth be known, I’m not talented; certainly not gifted as Glenn Frey, and light-years away from David Bowie’s genius. I am, like so many other people, very fucking ordinary, which is why I have so much respect for those artists that can help transcend the banal, dull world of my everyday life. Bowie and Frey, each in their own ways, contributed to giving me momentary respite from the various social and political forces that constrain me, yet my love for their music is not purely about identity, fantasy or flight from ‘reality, ’for music also acts as a repository of memory par excellence.

Music often takes me back in time, and enables me to revive long lost reveries. Frey and his confreres transport me back to my long lost teenage world in suburban Perth, a world characterized by fiercely hot summer days spent lolling around the Swan river, and balmy nights spent in front of the stereo listening to a wide array of tunes. The Eagles, though, were, for me, the sound of summer, and their melodies will eternally float on the dope smoke I usually exhaled while listening to the band compete with the sound of chirping crickets. If you listen carefully, there is something inherently spooky, and mysterious about Hotel California, something that resonated with the inhabitants of a city on the other side of the world from where the music originated (Hotel California was on high rotation on Perth radio in the latter part of the 1970s). The Eagles also sang, like so many others, about longing, loneliness and loss — listen to Desperado or ‘The Best of my Love,’ and, for better or worse, this is the music that attached itself to my earliest experiences of sex, drugs and rock and roll, and this is why I take offence at Mr Kuntzman’s lazy critique. That greatest hits album still manages to lift my spirits and make me smile, so fuck you, Kuntzman.

Rock and roll may occasionally shake the political order of things in ways that are usually very difficult to quantify, but let’s not kid ourselves that badass rock and roll actually changes very much. For all its posturing, preening, ranting and raving, rock, in my view, remains locked in the realm of fantasy. At best, its part of a complex web of cultural artifacts that allows us to vicariously experience danger and participate in rebellion while distracting us from many of the material forces that actually make our lives a living hell. So, friends, pass the spliff and play the music fucking loud! RIP Glenn and RIP David. I loved you both.

 

 

Baal, Sydney Theatre Company 2011

Baal

By Bertolt Brecht

Translated by Simon Stone and Tom Wright

Directed by Simon Stone

Malthouse Theatre, 21 April, 2011

 

This play seemed much longer than 70 minutes. I was disengaged, and bored despite the eye candy — the spectacle of young female flesh abundantly on display had the predictable effect of making my mind stray into parts of my psyche that are nobody’s business except mine, and my therapist’s, but, hey, that’s another story. In short, this play was pretty crap.

Bertolt Brecht wrote Baal when he was a young man, and perhaps it’s a play best seen in one’s younger days when the experience of sex is a relatively new sensation, and it’s still possible to be unconditionally driven by the inexorable force of the pleasure principle. This Sydney Theatre Company production attempts to tap into this amoral, untameable aspect of human being, but fails to deliver more than a few banal platitudes about the dangers of the aesthetic life. Yes, we know, the-self indulgent, self –destructive urge to avoid confronting big existential questions by finding solace in sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll will end badly, so tell us something we don’t know. Please! The play’s biggest problem is that it’s devoid of intellectual content, and relies on a few cute technical tricks to distract us from this sad fact, but more about the paucity of ideas later.

The play opens with Baal delivering a rough and ready rendition of a song, which, as far as I could make out, provides a few clues to what is about to unfold — I thought I heard references to sex, sin and women, but the lead actor’s muffled singing voice made it difficult to follow the lyrics with any degree of precision. Anyway, this much is obvious from the opening scene: Baal is a rock star, a Dionysian force akin to a Jim Morrison, blessed with genius, good looks and a vicious streak of misogyny.

In the first scene a group of attractive young women, representatives of the middle-class literati, toast Baal’s artistic virtues. He responds to their praise with obnoxious behaviour — he insults them, one-by-one, and makes it clear that he’d rather fuck them than listen to their vacuous platitudes. He is a genius, and behaves as though he has every right to treat women like shit. Of course, this ‘bad boy’ display makes him even more alluring to the female sycophants who can’t help throwing themselves at this anarchic man-god. Subsequent scenes present various scenarios that reinforce this dynamic, but do little to provide insight into the relationships between the characters.

The audience is treated a few more deliberately rough songs, none of which display the poetic genius necessary to find the eponymous character especially charismatic. Sex and violence on stage can be extremely embarrassing if performed unconvincingly. Baal is supposed to be an potent force of nature — ‘a man society can’t control’ according to the translators’ notes, but Thomas Wright’s Baal didn’t exude any sense of menace, but, to be fair, this is hard to do, especially in the scenes where the actor strips naked. Baal is supposed to have an insatiable appetite of sex, with men and women, so I found it somewhat troubling that Baal’s dick was limp throughout the bacchanalian proceedings. In lieu of anything remotely approaching intellectual substance to occupy my attention, I became concerned with the flaccid state of Baal’s penis (which, inadvertently, functioned as an apt metaphor for the sorry state of the drama). How did he mange to keep his boner under control, I wondered? Did he shave his pubic hair to make his dick look bigger? Sadly, I became more interested in these ‘technical’ aspects of the production for most of the play’s duration. This is because I either have the attention span of an ADD delinquent, or the real star of the show is the set, which proved more interesting and animated than the performers strutting their stuff upon it.

The set looks like a gallery space. It consists of two white walls and a large white floor, which change colour through some smart lighting changes. Half way through the play, the large back wall collapses onto the floor, and water pours down from the lighting rig. Everything turns to black, and the water pours down like a nourish rainstorm. This is, no doubt, an impressive effect, but the pay-off is minimal. The sound of the water masks the actors’ voices, making it difficult to concentrate on their lines.

Baal murders two members of the cast, one male and one female, before getting his inevitable comeuppance. The murders are unconvincing, and the fake blood offensive. What was the production team thinking? What sort of aesthetic effect were they attempting to create? The violent acts weren’t performed ironically, or symbolically — they were just lame, and a result of a lack of engagement on what to make of Brecht’s text today. If you’re going to waste a precious resource like water in the service of art, it’s important to make it count.

What was the fuck was this production trying to say? It didn’t appear to be trying to engage with the later Brecht’s estrangement effects (not in a sustained way, at least).  I get that Baal is a slave to his body’s impulses — he’s pure id, amoral, and anti-authoritarian. I get the idea the he who lives by the dick will die by the dick, or some other suitably phallic substitute. And are we to make of the representation of women? They come across as mere playthings, a bit of T&A served up for the audience’s delectation. They’re basically anonymous, interchangeable machines faintly damned for reproducing human misery. What idea or intellectual point is made by putting woman on display in this manner? I’m not against nudity, or genuinely transgressive work, but Baal just seemed pointless. Given the fake downpour, and the plethora of young female flesh, I think I might have enjoyed the show more if I’d brought my raincoat (I certainly wouldn’t have been the only person wanking in the theatre).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bob Dylan and his Band: Live and in Person!

No doubt, Bob Dylan has heard it all: the chorus of boos that greeted his first public foray into electric rock music at the 1965 Newport folk festival, the infamous ‘Judas’ taunt in 1966, and the derisive jeers that mocked his notorious gospel concerts in the late 1970s and early 1980s are only the most obvious expressions of disappointment aimed at a man burdened with a ludicrous degree of adulation, admiration and expectation. When you carry such a load, you’re bound to piss people off from time to time. Perhaps more than any single figure in recent history, Dylan functions as a kind of canvass upon which his fans draw idealized images of what they consider him to be: a poet, a prophet, outlaw, fake, or even a star of electricity, as Todd Haynes put it in his extraordinary cinematic rendering of the Dylan myth.

Fans get mightily agitated when the man confounds their expectations, and heads in unforeseeable directions as an artist and man. After all, we have a lot invested in the Dylan’s music, and we want him to make us proud. Actually, we often just want him to confirm our own take on life, our own narrow political beliefs and prejudices. I remember my own sense of horror when Bob released Slow Train Coming in 1979. I’d recently discovered Dylan and Karl Marx, and become intoxicated by the heady dose of self-righteousness and indignation that both writers inspired in my adolescent mind. I desperately wanted to change the world that had gone so badly wrong by entrenching poverty and misery as a norm for so many.

I was outraged by Dylan’s turn to Christianity because I held religion responsible for many of the world’s ills. Shit, surely the guy who sung ‘With God On Our Side’ couldn’t be speaking in tongues and hastening the end of days, could he? Besides, how could the ‘voice of a generation,’ the rebel beatnik who wrote ‘The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll’ and so many other great songs that rallied against injustice and inequality fall for such hokum as born-again Christianity? For me, as a right-on teenager, things were black and white. I knew which side I was on, and fuck anyone who took a different path.

Needless to say, I’ve mellowed with age, and I’m now willing to tolerate all kinds of dissent and dispute. Hell, I’ll even give Fox news a pass (from time to time — I’m not that tolerant of outright vapidity as an everyday occurrence). Anyway, Slow Train Coming is now one of my favourite Dylan albums. See how liberal I’ve become now that the scales of dogma have fallen from my eyes. And, in a way, I, too, have been born again. I’ve morphed into a respectable, middle-class professional (with a decent disposable income). This in itself is nothing extraordinary. However, it’s this current born-again persona that’s largely responsible for my current beef with the great man. Yes, folks, Dylan has pissed me off again, and the preceding paragraphs are nothing more than a preamble to explaining why I’m so incensed.

So here’s the deal, and I’ll let you be the judge of whether it’s a big one. I paid $175 to see Dylan’s concert at the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, Australia on Thursday 21 April 2011, a date that will go down in infamy. That’s one hundred and seventy five dollars multiplied by two, by the way (I took my teenage son, who, incidentally has never had a problem with Slow Train Coming, since I trained him to be tolerant of all creeds by whacking him around the ear every time he said something bigoted).

Anyway, as a loyal customer of the Ticketek Corporation, I was granted the privilege of securing pre-sale tickets. I fired up my computer at the anointed hour, typed the prized pre-sale code into the appropriate box on the screen, and lucked out by getting fourth row seats, front and center. I usually get nosebleed seats at arena concerts, so I was stoked — and it’s an understatement to say I was eagerly anticipating the event. After all, I’d be in close proximity to a living legend. Now, in the interests of full disclosure, I’ve got to come clean, and admit that I’d seen Dylan on many other occasions, and even had good seats once (back in 2001 at the same venue when he delivered an absolutely stunning set that I’ve never forgotten, perhaps because most Dylan performances I’d witnessed were so mediocre). So, I wasn’t a Dylan virgin. I knew what to expect, or so I’d imagined.

I expected to see Australia’s own Dylan, Paul Kelly — he seems to get all the prestigious support slots, especially if someone literate like Dylan or Cohen is touring Australia. I’m not a big fan of Mr. Kelly, but I’ve seen enough of him at these arena gigs to appreciate his artistry. I expected Dylan, to play very little guitar, and turn his back to good proportion of the audience when he played his keyboard. I expected the coarse, sandpaper bark that passes for his voice these days. I expected the throng, of greying, middle-aged hippies with expanding waistlines to sing along with those songs that still retained their original melodies. I expected the band to keep their eyes peeled for any unexpected curve balls that Dylan might throw in mid-song. I expected loose arrangements, the occasional ramshackle ending, and, perhaps, a few moments of transcendental bliss when Dylan conjures the spirit of one of those ghosts from the Invisible Republic.

I also expected to buy a few pieces of tour merchandise at outrageously inflated prices, and maybe eat some of the junk food that’s always on offer at such events. I expected to see a few surreptitious scalpers and bootleggers, and I expected to moan about the poor sound quality that always seems to plague the Rod Laver Arena.

I didn’t expect to get into fight.

Ok, a heated exchange that almost ended in physical violence, then. I’m not really the fighting type (I’d have a hard time beating Woody Allen in his dotage), but, I can make like Larry David when provoked, and this unfortunate tendency has got me into more than a little trouble over the years. Sometimes, though, it’s hard to not call a crock a crock, and suck up patent abuses of power and prestige.

Things began as expected. Mr. Kelly, accompanied by his nephew, Dan, played an engaging set. I even snapped a couple of photographs. Man, I was so close. I couldn’t wait for the main event. Kelly departed the stage, fully deserving the warm applause of the audience. Then, there was a brief intermission while the stage was prepared for Dylan and band. I could feel the excitement building. How cool was this. I had amazing seats, and I was anticipating a stellar performance — I had a feeling that this one was going to be special. The lights slowly dimmed to black. The band took their positions, and then the crowd roared as the first strains of ‘Gonna Change My Way of Thinking’ — from Slow Train Coming, no less —washed over the auditorium. The crowd stood as one, row by row everyone stood to get a better glimpse of the man. I took my camera out of my pocket and started taking photographs. After a few minutes, I became aware of the people behind me yelling for me to sit down — they couldn’t see because the first three rows were still on their feet. I dutifully complied, out of politeness, and because I fully expected that everyone in front of me would also comply in the name of community spirit and fairness. After three or four songs it became obvious that the people who’d bought the best seats were going to remain on their feet for the duration, their backsides were not going to touch the plastic monstrosities that passed for chairs until the proverbial fat lady exhaled her last bellow, and Dylan left the stage.

I looked around me. The people immediately behind me kept yelling, the young man to my left, stood his ground, he’d obviously resolved to remain upright, and endure the slings and arrows of verbal abuse; the couple in front of me sang and danced without a shred of self-consciousness, irritating the crap out of me. I felt my blood pressure rising to dangerously high levels for a man of my vintage. I bit my tongue, hoping that those selfish fuckers would have the good grace to sit down after being on their feet for 30 minutes. No such luck. My inner Larry came to fore. I tapped the young man in front of me on the shoulder, and explained my predicament.

He looked slightly aghast, and dismissed my request by pointing out that he had to stand because those in front of him were also standing. Impeccable logic. How do you argue with that? I resumed my seat, fuming until my inner Larry could take no more. I made my request again, this time more insistently. Again, I was rebuked. Not content to sit it out passively, I stood for a third time, and shouted a full-throttled string of expletives at the young man just as Dylan finished ‘Tangled Up in Blue’. The crowd’s applause had died to an ambient hush, so my words rang out around the arena:

‘Sit down you selfish cunt, or I’ll fucking deck you!’

I swear I saw Dylan raise an eyebrow. I’m sure the great man heard me. What was he going to say?

‘You’re a liar, I don’t believe you?’

Obviously, I was no Keith Butler, and my boorish explosion of frustrated machismo was not going to constitute a turning point in the history of rock ‘n’ roll. The moment seemed to last an eternity before the band kicked into the next song. I sat down, defeated, humiliated, and shocked at my outburst. My sense of disgrace was exacerbated when an usher came to see what all the fuss was about. She was an absolute darling — sympathetic to my plight, and even willing to reason and then admonish the offending couple that blocked my view of the spectacle. After making a futile appeal to my adversaries, she patiently explained that Dylan’s camp had issued specific instructions to allow people to remain on their feet, so there was nothing she could do, sorry. WTF? Dylan himself was responsible for this shitty situation. What a night, and what a disappointment. The venal couple made a hasty retreat at the end of proceedings, possibly believing that I’d make good on my idle threat. They needn’t have worried, I wasn’t going to do Jack.

So, Dylan pissed me off, again, but he’d also given me pause for thought, again. Wasn’t it the music that mattered? Why was I so hung up on having an unobstructed view of the icon? Why privilege sight at a musical event? Isn’t rock and roll supposed to move people to shuffle their feet to the beat, shake, rattle and roll?

But I’d paid to see Dylan, damn it! I wanted my money’s worth! I wanted to sit comfortably in my chair after a hard day’s slog, and passively luxuriate in the mystical aura of celebrity.

So, there you have it, folks — the root cause of my anger. I hadn’t got what I expected, but ain’t that just the way life rolls? It’s taken me more than a year to summon the courage to reflect on this incident and interrogate my own response to the event described above. I’m still pissed, but more at myself than Dylan, or the self-regarding hordes who occupied the first three rows on that contentious April night, and, I have no doubt, I’ll be there when Dylan comes to town next time. He seems to have a knack for making me think (twice).