In The Limelight

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In the Limelight

THE VISUAL ECSTASY OF NYC NIGHTLIFE IN THE 90S

By Steve Eichner and Gabriel Sanchez

Published by Prestel Verlag, Munich · London · New York, 2020.

Hardcover $45.00 Oct 20, 2020

224 Pages | 9-1/4 x 11

ISBN 9783791386812

Documenting the birth of a radical era of music, fashion, pop culture, media, and art, Steve Eichner was hired by Club King Peter Gatien to make images of his clubs.

Sex, drugs, and dance music created the perfect cocktail of hedonistic bliss set amid a backdrop of iconic parties that catered to revelers every whim. 

On any given night, one could party alongside celebrities, club kids, drag queens, ravers, hip hop heads, models, banjees, body boys, bondage slaves, goths, and the bridge-and-tunnel set at legendary nightclubs like Tunnel, Palladium, Club USA, Roxy, and Limelight.

At a time when people from all walks of life came together at night to celebrate themselves. There was universal respect. No one could see what went on inside these nocturnal spaces…until now!

Steve Eichner was the official photographer of NYC nightlife. There are 200 brilliant images in this book.

Here is a sample of his work:

Shampoo Room at The Limelight 1995 (c) 2020 Steve Eichner.
(From Left): Sushi, Richie Rich, and Ernie Glam at The Tunnel 1995 (c) 2020 Steve Eichner.
The Palladium, 1995 (c) 2020 Steve Eichner.

This collection of vivid good times comes at a point when we could use a reminder of the days when people gathered in mass.

Ordinary people became clubbers. They rubbed shoulders with celebs and danced the night away.

Here, a new group of upstarts of all races, ethnicities, genders, sexualities, and economic backgrounds came together on the dance floor in a celebration of PLUR (peace, love, unity, and respect). 

This book will be a great addition to any coffee table this upcoming holiday season.

Available for Pre–Order here:

https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/646485/in-the-limelight-by-steve-eichner-gabriel-sanchez/

Steve Eichner

https://steveeichner.com/

Gabriel Sanchez http://gabrielheliosanchez.com/

Edward Van Halen

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Edward Van Halen died this week from throat cancer.

His journey from Netherlands to Pasadena, California enabled him to prosper in a culture that became the LA heavy metal scene.

The first Van Halen record features real photos of each member during a gig at the famous Whiskey–A–Go–Go on the Sunset strip.

In 1978 Punk and Disco were exploding in popularity.

With its opening power chords the VH album was a fresh audio blast of serious but joyful rock.

Runnin’ with the Devil, the guitar solo Eruption, and the rest would change music forever.

The members of this group were great looking too. Eddie’s brother Alex, Michael Anthony, and David Lee Roth would rise to become the model for all the rock music to come flooding into the hearts and minds of young people all over the world.

Now called Hair Metal, the bands that bought Van Halen’s records are legion.

Eddie was an ingenious player. He could not read music but was able to play spot on by watching other musicians.

There were wonderful collaborations with Michael Jackson on the smash hit Beat It and his appearance on Brian May’s first solo effort Starfleet Project.

1984 is one of my favorite albums of all time. Featuring hits Jump, Hot For Teacher, Panama, and I’ll Wait. They were MTV’s most played act that year.

The changes to Sammy Hagar then Gary Cherone of Extreme yielded 8 years in which they released several #1 records including 5150, OU812, and For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge.

Kiss were the band that VH opened for on their first national tour. Both bands would headline Britain’s Monsters of Rock festival.

Eddie Van Halen’s music still makes me feel great. I believe it’s timeless.

Although I only saw him in concert on their 2007 Tour, he went shirtless and played like the headliner he had always been.

The rockers of the 1980’s made their mark. Many of the bands from that era are still here recording and performing. Do not take them for granted.

Van Halen music is hard, heavy, melodic, harmonious, and the definition of great rock n roll.

I will miss Eddie Van Halen. He was such a huge presence in my life. Happy Trails…

.

ELW Photography #4

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Introduction

July 24, 2020

New York City entered Phase 4 this week of recovery from the Coronavirus pandemic. Outdoor dining and retail are back. I have gone out to dinner with my husband a few times already. We have seen some friends and family too!

Continuing to show my photographs of the Upper Eastside and Central Park I thought about my connection to these images.

This week I feature statues and buildings that have stimulated my lifelong sense of whimsy. A lover of fantasy since childhood I re-discovered places in the park I needed to explore.

I hope they bring back your sense of whimsy as well….

Statues

The base of the Mother Goose figure has characters like Humpty Dumpty and Little Boy Blue carved around it. A homeless man sleeps on a bench nearby. As enchanting as this statue can be there are many experiencing hard times.

This statue shows the famous author sitting on a bench reading his classic, “The Ugly Duckling”, with his top hat placed to the side. You can see the details of this work in each image including the sculptor of the work, Georg J. Jober. The architect who designed the work was Otto F. Lancmann. The statue was dedicated in 1956. The Park Conservancy works hard to preserve all of its treasures.

Hans Christian Andersen (/ˈændərsən/Danish: [ˈhænˀs ˈkʰʁestjæn ˈɑnɐsn̩] (listen); 2 April 1805 – 4 August 1875), in Denmark usually called H.C. Andersen, was a Danish author. Although a prolific writer of plays, travelogues, novels, and poems, he is best remembered for his fairy tales.

Andersen’s fairy tales, consisting of 156 stories across nine volumes and translated into more than 125 languages, have become culturally embedded in the West’s collective consciousness, readily accessible to children, but presenting lessons of virtue and resilience in the face of adversity for mature readers as well. His most famous fairy tales include “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” “The Little Mermaid,” “The Nightingale,” “The Steadfast Tin Soldier“, “The Red Shoes“, “The Princess and the Pea,” “The Snow Queen,” and”The Ugly Duckling,” our subject pictured above.

Alice In Wonderland

The centerpiece of this section is the statue of Alice. I took many images of this statue. On any given day the natural light cast many unique looks at this charming monument.

Above you see the entire statue large enough for children to climb on. You see close–ups of her Wonderland cohort: The Mad Hatter, The Rabbit who is always late, and the Cheshire Cat. If you look closely at the rear view you can find the Jabberwocky!

Charles Lutwidge Dodgson , better known by his pen name Lewis Carroll, was an English writer of children’s fiction, notably Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel Through the Looking-Glass. He was noted for his facility at word play, logic, and fantasy.

At the base of the steps are engraved plates displaying verse from the classic book seen below…

The Eldorado

One of a series of stately apartment buildings towering above Central Park West, The Eldorado is famous for its Art Deco-inspired twin towers that mirror its predecessor’s, The San Remo. Constructed a year after The San Remo, The Eldorado is a product of renowned architect Emery Roth, whose buildings are visible all along this stretch of Eighth Avenue. Its location, at 300 Central Park West is located near the reservoir.

Art Deco Twin Towers Rise Above Central Park West In Pre-War Grandeur. This is my favourite building.

My Neighborhood

The commercial corridor has declined over the past year. Several stores closed. A movie theater shut down. The Barnes & Noble bookstore is moving to a different location on Third Avenue, a much smaller space.

Restaurants have built outdoor dining areas on the street. The ones who had outdoor tables to start are expanded now. All servers wear mask.

The Metropolitan museum of art announced a return date of August 29, 2020.

The Streets

Walking down any avenue you cannot avoid passing people. Wearing a mask is really the only thing you can do to protect yourself. Remaining indoors is only an option during horrid spells of excessive heat. As of this writing we are having our worst heat of the season.

New York City has proceeded with caution. This enabled us to flatten the curve. Now there are over 30 states with out of control numbers of virus cases. This did not have to happen. Wearing a mask is not a partisan issue. The largest problem now is re-opening the schools.

Will New York City survive? Can we invent a new economy? Do we really need to depend so much on tourism?

The retailers in our area include H&M, Best Buy, Staples, Old Navy, and Banana Republic. Independent shops are mainly services like shoe repair and dry cleaners. A major re–think must be done. New York City is not really as interesting a place as it was in the 20th Century. The internet is a powerful tool but this tech has ravaged our urbanity. If every corner is a fast food chain what is so special about living here? It seems in the past 20 years people have raised children without imagination. Just staring down at screens is Huxley’s Brave New World come to dystopian reality!

In the past 2 weeks I have witnessed a solitary officer and his car guarding a statue of Columbus in Central Park and 3 police vehicles in front of the Met museum with lights on. It was not clear to me what had happened accept perhaps a kid was playing in the fountain. We have collectively lost our marbles during this stressful time.

I have theorized our police are dispatched in groups like street gangs. This can never result in positive outcomes. We need to change how our city is protected.

People are in heavy denial. Understandably the shock of this time is powerful. But I have thought from the start that nothing will come back quickly. I do my part by wearing a mask. Such a simple thing.

I have seen horrifying results of people who think they cannot wear a mask and not get sick. The sacrifice is small yet people are unwilling in so many cases.

My photography continues in the coming weeks of Covid Summer 2020. These were just thoughts I have had while being out enjoying the weather.

Stay healthy dear readers. No matter what polls say, Vote this November!

Bob Dylan’s Rough and Rowdy Ways —An American Classic

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Rating: 5 out of 5.
The 39th Studio Album from Nobel Laureate Bob Dylan and 42nd overall is a collection inspired by the best of Walt Whitman and William Blake. 77 minutes. Double CD/Digital Streaming.

Juke Joints Sing The Songs Of Self

“Endless unfolding of words of ages!
And mine a word of the modern, the word En-Masse.

Walt Whitman

“I Contain Multitudes” opens the record with a reference to another epic poet whose work, “Song Of Myself”, celebrates every living creature on the planet. The title of this track is a Whitman quote. The ‘I’ is used here inclusively. Evoking the value in all living things.

The songs speaks to the experience of life. Loving and hating in equal measure. Composing, painting, eating, drinking, and our bodies as vessels that contain a universe.

I love Mr. Dylan’s end to this track. You can accept this line as just playing recordings of the classical giants or perhaps it is an expression that his final chapter maybe spent composing classical pieces:

“I’ll play Beethoven’s sonatas, and Chopin’s preludes…”

The cover image for this record is important. Presented in a cinematic letter-box format, anonymous couples are dancing. They are people of color. A solitary figure is hunched over the juke trying to decide what to play or in anguish over lost love or any number of reasons you could imagine.

For the first time Bob Dylan’s name does not appear on the cover! We listeners are to focus only on the image of a juke joint interior. The name of the record seems to pop-up from the floor in vivid technicolor. The color scheme applied is simply the best ever used in his catalog of 42 records.

Once again he is creating a mythic eden seeded in the past but brought into our present. A secret place where people of color went to actually express their humanity. The Queer folk also went to these type of places to do the same. Evoking Whitman’s celebration of humanity and non-humanity alike within the dark spaces of the juke joint where all can be free together.

American Folklore’s Rough and Rowdy Ways

His choice of title reference classic folk music by way of Jimmie Rodgers. The adjectives of Rough and Rowdy are masculine in nature. Playful but potentially dangerous like people themselves. A Dylanesque wink to the underlying violence packed within the culture. Dylan loves to use folklore and tall tales for referents to his lyrics. This album is more than worthy of his best works. His mystique is intact; here now his innermost troubles are laid bare.

False Prophet

A 10 stanza poem that could have been a part of Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass.” In the sixth stanza he invokes the ‘I’ in repetition:

I searched the world over, for the holy grail, I sing songs of love, I sing songs of betrayal. Don’t care what I drink, I don’t care what I eat, I climb the mountain of swords On my bare feet.”

Mr. Dylan is baring his soul like never before throughout this record. In the verse quoted above you here his artistic declaration of mission. He once again invokes his religious beliefs too. Willing to climb a mountain of swords in bare feet is a form of stigmata.

“My Own Version Of You”

Expressing his heart’s desire to create his own Frankenstein—like creature in his image to be able to assign it the qualities he feels are required to balance the world. The lyrics here are macabre yet have a restless play about them:

I’ll take the Scarface Pacino and The Godfather Brando
Mix it up in a tank and get a robot commando

Using fictional toughs from the 1970s in ‘The Godfather’ and 1980s in ‘Scarface’ as his character ingredients expresses the raw masculine imagination at work. A modern American ethos is applied here.

Dylan appeals to Julius Caesar, St. Peter, Mr. Freud, and Mr. Marx. As usual for the Ancients to connect to the Moderns as the basis for a new brain. Politics, Religion, and Philosophy—these are the areas of human endeavor forever swirling around in Mr. Dylan’s grey matter too.

“I wanna bring someone to life, turn back the years
Do it with laughter and do it with tears

The strongest desire of all seems to be the return of older values and ideas. The masks of comedy and tragedy must always balance the equation of reality and fiction.

“I’ve Made Up My Mind To Give Myself To You

The love poem of the album is addressed to an unknown woman (or perhaps every listener). A nice ballad delivered pretty straight and dry. In contrast to all of the other songs here this track stands out as the least grim.

“I’m giving myself to you, I am
From Salt Lake City to Birmingham
From East L.A. to San Antone
I don’t think I can bear to live my life alone

Mr. Dylan has had two marriages that produced 2 grown sons. His declaration here becomes clear. He wants to give up his lonely wandering.

“Black Rider”

A 5 verse poem that reinforces letting go of youthful recklessness. The doppelganger of violent intent is warned to release its grip or be hacked to pieces. The song is the simplest one here.

“Goodbye Jimmy Reed”

A 6 verse poem expressing Mr. Dylan’s goodbye to the blues. Mr. Reed is the most influential bluesman who passed back in 1976. He is the connective blood and tissue to Mr. Dylan’s other friends, Elvis and The Rolling Stones who covered Mr. Reed’s songs.

Mother of Muses”

A poetic prayer expressed with a selfish desire to have the top muse all to himself.

Mother of Muses, wherever you are
I’ve already outlived my life by far

In seeming desperation he lays his soul out for her to see. That life has now gone on too long. He needs her injection of spirit. Perhaps to fill the void if he lets go of his former life.

“Crossing The Rubicon”

Reinforcing his connection with the Ancients via Julius Caesar again, here to express a dedication to a new and risky course. This is a 9 verse poem that Dylanologists will love parsing among themselves. The densest work in this collection. Great poetic phrasing with just the right dose of abstraction.

“Key West (Pirate Philosopher)”

4 Verses of philosophy; 4 choruses describe Key West. This is the second longest track here. It serves as Prelude to Disc 2’s opus, “Murder Most Foul”.

In such simple verse Mr. Dylan crystallizes his ways. Key West is flat land where he can keep his feet planted firmly and listen closely to a pirate radio signal for inspiration and peace.

My favorite lines make up Chorus 4:

“Key West is the place to be
If you’re looking for immortality
Key West is paradise divine
Key West is fine and fair
If you lost your mind, you’ll find it there
Key West is on the horizon line”

Throughout his years writing songs Bob Dylan embraces places real and imagined as Eden–like. Key West is now his present flashpoint in life. It represents his cohorts: Ginsberg, Corso, and Kerouac; his greatest influencers: Louis, Jimmy, and Buddy.

This song closes out Disc 1. Key West is defined by Dylan as a tonic for life. The epic track on Disc 2 acts as counterpoint to the divine.

Murder Most Foul” is a nation’s fall from grace as well as an individual’s reckoning.

Due to the length and depths of that track I gave an entire blog entry over to it.

Click here for my analysis of the 17 minute track: https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/evan-s-gate.com/1542

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Bob Dylan is that rare artist who continues to be inspired by the myriad roads travelled and the places he has seen. At once worldly and still forever in deep love with his own country, he is able to imbue his work with just the right amount of ambiguity and self—worth. He has become a true Renaissance man. I am a grateful listener.

Bob Dylan’s Murder Most Foul

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At midnight on March 27th, 2020, Bob Dylan released “Murder Most Foul”, his first studio release since 2017’s Triplicate and first original song release since 2012’s Tempest.

American Elegy—Our Nobel Laureate Publishes Another Masterpiece

In a career now spanning six decades Bob Dylan has been through numerous phases in a life that has itself become the stuff of living legend.

Now revealed that this song is the third side on his upcoming, Rough and Rowdy Ways, he continues to inspire and write brilliantly about history.

His ability to connect our ‘modern times’ with the ancient culture that brought it about, specifically the Romans, enabled his new life as a Nobel Prize recipient.

Murder Most Foul is Mr. Dylan’s longest song. if you take the time to listen to this track you will learn a lot about this wonderful country and its brutal past and present.

You will also discover an underlying feeling of hope in the soft accompaniment with its piano, light timpani, and strings.

Dylanologists are going to have another great track to explore for many years to come. There are a ton of deliberate references to all kinds of cultural arcana in this track. Too many in fact for a single blog entry.

But herein I will discuss some of my takes on this peerless work. The closest thing to a spoken word song or a revival of the beat poet in the vast Dylan catalog.

First Section

It was a dark day in Dallas, November ’63
A day that will live on in infamy
President Kennedy was a-ridin’ high
Good day to be livin’ and a good day to die
Being led to the slaughter like a sacrificial lamb
He said, “Wait a minute, boys, you know who I am?”
“Of course we do, we know who you are!”
Then they blew off his head while he was still in the car
Shot down like a dog in broad daylight

Was a matter of timing and the timing was right
You got unpaid debts, we’ve come to collect
We’re gonna kill you with hatred, without any respect
We’ll mock you and shock you and we’ll put it in your face
We’ve already got someone here to take your place
The day they blew out the brains of the king
Thousands were watching, no one saw a thing

It happened so quickly, so quick, by surprise
Right there in front of everyone’s eyes
Greatest magic trick ever under the sun
Perfectly executed, skillfully done
Wolfman, oh Wolfman, oh Wolfman, howl
Rub-a-dub-dub, it’s a murder most foul

Here in the beginning of the poem we are explicitly told how Mr. Dylan feels about the day President John F. Kennedy was murdered.

Using a phrase as his title, he frames the dreadful event as a Murder Most Foul. As the track continues there will be an evolution or rather a de-volution through the following decades as America’s culture and politics slowly decays.

The great hope of a young, handsome, and brilliant leader is cruelly blown off the face of the Earth. The promise of a new frontier delayed by his killing.

Mr. Dylan further frames the President’s murder as that of a lynching. Mr. Kennedy was white on the surface, but he was also the nation’s first Catholic elected to the Presidency. In Bob Dylan’s view he was ‘led like a lamb to the sacrificial slaughter’.

The first verses also make clear how this crime was such an American scene. Committed in broad daylight in front of the world; ‘greatest magic trick ever under the sun’.

The Second Section

Hush, little children, you’ll understand
The Beatles are comin’, they’re gonna hold your hand
Slide down the banister, go get your coat
Ferry ‘cross the Mersey and go for the throat
There’s three bums comin’ all dressed in rags
Pick up the pieces and lower the flags
I’m goin’ to Woodstock, it’s the Aquarian Age
Then I’ll go over to Altamont and sit near the stage
Put your head out the window, let the good times roll
There’s a party going on behind the Grassy Knoll
Stack up the bricks, pour the cement
Don’t say Dallas don’t love you, Mr. President

Put your foot in the tank and then step on the gas
Try to make it to the triple underpass
Blackface singer, whiteface clown
Better not show your faces after the sun goes down

Up in the red light district, they’ve got cop on the beat
Living in a nightmare on Elm Street
When you’re down on Deep Ellum, put your money in your shoe
Don’t ask what your country can do for you

Cash on the barrelhead, money to burn
Dealey Plaza, make a left-hand turn
I’m going down to the crossroads, gonna flag a ride
The place where faith, hope, and charity died
Shoot him while he runs, boy, shoot him while you can
See if you can shoot the invisible man
Goodbye, Charlie! Goodbye, Uncle Sam
Frankly, Miss Scarlett, I don’t give a damn
What is the truth, and where did it go?
Ask Oswald and Ruby, they oughta know
“Shut your mouth,” said a wise old owl

Business is business, and it’s a murder most foul

Now a tourist destination, the arts & entertainment hub of Dallas, TX was part of Kennedy’s fatal route on the day of his murder.

The last lines of these first 2 sections of verse connect to reinforce this crime as foul cold-blooded murder. ‘Rub-a-dub-dub, it’s murder most foul; Business is business, and it’s a murder most foul’.

The actual neighborhood near the crime scene of Kennedy’s death is referenced following the pop culture explosion of The Beatles who became a salve for the real pain young people felt at the time. Deep Ellum, the arts and entertainment hub of Dallas, TX had a rise in crime too.

Referenced in the song’s second section above: ‘When you’re down on Deep Ellum, put your money on your shoe’.

‘Don’t ask what your country can do for you’, the famous Kennedy line to demand public service of youth is juxtaposed to remind people now trapped in poor communities not to expect any government assistance. The social contract was murdered too.

Explicitly calling out Woodstock and Altamont and the Age of Aquarius with the mythology of free love and the violence of Altamont. America has always created myths to soothe the wounds of very real crimes.

The reality of the made up summer of love is the real slaughter of men, women, and children in Vietnam. The daily death toll were surely murders most foul.

Mr. Dylan performs a conjuring trick as well raising the original sin of race hatred in a line that also references his hit “Hurricane”. Blackface singer, whiteface clown
Better not show your faces after the sun goes down

Up in the red light district, they’ve got cop on the beat
Living in a nightmare on Elm Street

Also quite cleverly references a Wes Craven horror film released in the decade that followed his hit song about boxer Ruben ‘Hurricane’ Carter.

The name covers Dallas’ real murder of a President and the fictional murders of teenagers in a genre called the slasher film. The cruelty on display in Dallas would continue to resonate for the decades that followed.

The Third Section

Tommy, can you hear me? I’m the Acid Queen
I’m riding in a long, black Lincoln limousine
Ridin’ in the back seat next to my wife
Headed straight on in to the afterlife
I’m leaning to the left, I got my head in her lap
Hold on, I’ve been led into some kind of a trap
Where we ask no quarter, and no quarter do we give
We’re right down the street, from the street where you live
They mutilated his body and they took out his brain
What more could they do? They piled on the pain
But his soul was not there where it was supposed to be at
For the last fifty years they’ve been searchin’ for that
Freedom, oh freedom, freedom over me
I hate to tell you, mister, but only dead men are free
Send me some lovin’, then tell me no lie
Throw the gun in the gutter and walk on by
Wake up, little Susie, let’s go for a drive
Cross the Trinity River, let’s keep hope alive
Turn the radio on, don’t touch the dials
Parkland Hospital, only six more miles
You got me dizzy, Miss Lizzy, you filled me with lead
That magic bullet of yours has gone to my head
I’m just a patsy like Patsy Cline
Never shot anyone from in front or behind
I’ve blood in my eye, got blood in my ear
I’m never gonna make it to the new frontier
Zapruder’s film I seen night before
Seen it thirty-three times, maybe more

It’s vile and deceitful, it’s cruel and it’s mean
Ugliest thing that you ever have seen
They killed him once and they killed him twice
Killed him like a human sacrifice
The day that they killed him, someone said to me, “Son
The age of the Antichrist has just only begun”
Air Force One comin’ in through the gate
Johnson sworn in at 2:38
Let me know when you decide to throw in the towel
It is what it is, and it’s murder most foul

I set the third section above in big bold type since at this point forward the song becomes full and explicit. Brimming with anger at President Kennedy’s demise, whom Mr. Dylan likens to a King as the Kennedy White House became Camelot, then in a blink ‘his eyes, nose, and ears were filled with blood.’

The Zapruder film in some way becomes America’s first slasher film, only it’s real.

Mr Dylan describes the piece which he claims to have seen over 30 times, as ‘vile and deceitful’.

That first piece of social media created an infinity of conspiracy theories. I see it as a reflection on his own youth. In his youth the repetition is easily performed. Now, at 79 Mr. Dylan only needs a single reading.

Freedom, oh freedom, freedom over me
I hate to tell you, mister, but only dead men are free

This is my favorite line in the poem/song. Using Whitmanesque phrasing to connect Lincoln with Kennedy. Both men were after all the great hope of a wounded nation. Slavery in Lincoln’s era and Vietnam/Racism in Kennedy’s time. Both men were victims of murder most foul.

Mr. Dylan has undergone phases of life where he composed Christian influenced records. He has deep personal beliefs that crop up nicely here.

Declaring, ‘the Age of the Antichrist’ has just begun following the Kennedy assassination the nation saw a steep rise in cult activity, the crimes of Charles Manson, and satanic music also came into being in American culture.

Echoing the conventional wisdom that the nation had lost its soul are Mr. Dylan’s lyrics describing the Kennedy post mortem: ‘No soul was found where it should be.’

The Fourth Section

What’s new, pussycat? What’d I say?
I said the soul of a nation been torn away
And it’s beginning to go into a slow decay
And that it’s thirty-six hours past Judgment Day
Wolfman Jack, he’s speaking in tongues
He’s going on and on at the top of his lungs
Play me a song, Mr. Wolfman Jack
Play it for me in my long Cadillac
Play me that “Only the Good Die Young”
Take me to the place Tom Dooley was hung
Play “St. James Infirmary” and the Court of King James
If you want to remember, you better write down the names
Play Etta James, too, play “I’d Rather Go Blind”
Play it for the man with the telepathic mind
Play John Lee Hooker, play “Scratch My Back”
Play it for that strip club owner named Jack
Guitar Slim going down slow
Play it for me and for Marilyn Monroe

It’s Mr. Wolfman Jack to you. Bob Dylan has reached a point in his career that he can compose a poem that includes 1970’s icon Wolfman Jack.

This is a reference to the alter—ego creation that he underwent in the 1960’s, Robert Zimmerman became Bob Dylan; Robert Weston Smith became Wolfman Jack.

Also in the new age of the antichrist men were literally becoming beasts. It’s in this section that Mr. Dylan begins to recommend recordings using the word ‘play’ as a command.

It references his 2 years as a D.J. himself on satellite radio. Using famous titles/lyrics from the era’s violent refelctions include “Only The Good Die Young”, published in 1977, the year of the Son of Sam killings in New York.

Bob Dylan makes his listeners do a lot of history homework. I strongly believe this is why his work ranks so high.

Playing up the description of President Kennedy’s car of choice, ‘a long black Cadillac’, itself a coffin on wheels.

Take me to the place Tom Dooley was hung
Play “St. James Infirmary” and the Court of King James
If you want to remember, you better write down the names

For my take these 3 lines set up why Bob Dylan has become such a master at connecting seemingly disparate ideas.

You see the ‘place where Tom Dooley was hung’ is in North Carolina, where the Wolfman took his last breath.

Being white, Wolfman Jack died of a heart attack not a lynching. Tom Dooley became the subject of many folk songs, a genre that gave artistic birth to Bob Dylan.

Tom Dooley is part of a sad American tradition known as Appalachian Murder Ballads. A murder most foul.

St. James Infirmary references blues music. An alternate title for the song was “The Young Man Cut Down in His Prime”) about a soldier who uses his money on prostitutes and then dies of venereal disease. The theme ties in with Kennedy’s death.

Then closing the section with a simple notation of why the name checking will continue unabated for the rest of the piece—to remember with clarity write down the names.

Only an artist of Bob Dylan’s caliber tells the listener his intent in writing this or any other song/poem is to preserve it for the ages to come beyond his mortal years.

The Fifth Section (Conclusion)

Play “Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood”
Play it for the First Lady, she ain’t feeling any good
Play Don Henley, play Glenn Frey
Take it to the limit and let it go by
Play it for Carl Wilson, too
Looking far, far away down Gower Avenue
Play “Tragedy”, play “Twilight Time”
Take me back to Tulsa to the scene of the crime
Play another one and “Another One Bites the Dust”
Play “The Old Rugged Cross” and “In God We Trust”
Ride the pink horse down that long, lonesome road
Stand there and wait for his head to explode
Play “Mystery Train” for Mr. Mystery
The man who fell down dead like a rootless tree
Play it for the reverend, play it for the pastor
Play it for the dog that got no master
Play Oscar Peterson, play Stan Getz
Play “Blue Sky,” play Dickey Betts
Play Art Pepper, Thelonious Monk
Charlie Parker and all that junk

All that junk and “All That Jazz”
Play something for the Birdman of Alcatraz
Play Buster Keaton, play Harold Lloyd
Play Bugsy Siegel, play Pretty Boy Floyd
Play the numbers, play the odds

Play “Cry Me a River” for the Lord of the gods
Play Number nine, play Number six
Play it for Lindsey and Stevie Nicks
Play Nat King Cole, play “Nature Boy”
Play “Down in the Boondocks” for Terry Malloy
Play “It Happened One Night” and “One Night of Sin”
There’s twelve million souls that are listening in
Play “Merchant of Venice”, play “Merchants of Death”

Play “Stella by Starlight” for Lady Macbeth
Don’t worry, Mr. President, help’s on the way
Your brothers are comin’, there’ll be hell to pay
Brothers? What brothers? What’s this about hell?
Tell them, “We’re waiting, keep coming,” we’ll get them as well

Love Field is where his plane touched down
But it never did get back up off the ground
Was a hard act to follow, second to none
They killed him on the altar of the rising sun
Play “Misty” for me and “That Old Devil Moon”
Play “Anything Goes” and “Memphis in June”
Play “Lonely at the Top” and “Lonely Are the Brave”
Play it for Houdini spinning around in his grave
Play Jelly Roll Morton, play “Lucille”
Play “Deep in a Dream”, and play “Driving Wheel”
Play “Moonlight Sonata” in F-sharp
And “A Key to the Highway” for the king on the harp

Play “Marching Through Georgia” and “Dumbarton’s Drums”
Play darkness and death will come when it comes
Play “Love Me or Leave Me” by the great Bud Powell
Play “The Blood-Stained Banner”, play “Murder Most Foul”

In this final section of this elegiac piece Mr. Dylan reminds us of the worst scene of racial violence in the nation’s history.

The Tulsa race massacre (also called the Tulsa race riot, the Greenwood Massacre, or the Black Wall Street Massacre) of 1921 took place on May 31 and June 1, 1921, when mobs of white residents attacked black residents and businesses of the Greenwood District in TulsaOklahoma.

It has been called “the single worst incident of racial violence in American history.” The attack, carried out on the ground and from private aircraft, destroyed more than 35 square blocks of the district—at that time the wealthiest black community in the United States, known as “Black Wall Street”.

This awful history was dramatized on the Premiere of HBO’s ‘Watchmen’. Here the line takes us back to the scene of the original crime.

He connects it to the currents of hate/racism that from 1921 became a tsunami that killed another American President.

Then swirling through the American history of Jazz music and its iconic progenitors he adds crime figures like Bugsy Siegel who builds Las Vegas and on and on in a dizzying meter of names that arrives at “Love Me or Leave Me” by Bud Powell.

This is Dylan’s response to the hateful crowds that state, America love it or leave it.

The final line is perhaps the most stinging reminder of how far America needs to go to overcome its bloody past and present: Play The Blood Stained Banner , Play Murder Most Foul.

‘The Blood Stained Banner’ was a Confederate anthem and a version of the Confederate Flag presented in 1865. Bob Dylan is telling the nation to never forget this happened.

And to kindly play the song just ended, his American Elegy, Murder Most Foul.

Can This Really Be The End?

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Reason vs Derangement

The pandemic is scary. A majority of people have pre-existing conditions that can male them feel vunerable.

We still have irrational attitudes toward states of emergency in this country.

Most people are rational. They will self quarantine because it is the most responsible course of action.

The political divide is real. However, the labels we inflict upon one another is detrimental to dialogue.

Liberals are cloistered in cities. Out of touch with how millions of others live. Guns will never go away. We can live with them in a much safer way. Life’s risks can never be reduced to zero. That is not living.

Vote. Vote. Vote. But only once of course. If you want change then you must vote.

Wearing masks is not a gendered thing. Our culture must acclimate itself to it. I walk around the city with a mask. I uncover my nose when there are no people. Not difficult. But for some of us this is just not possible. It may be harder to breathe. Let’s not get crazy out there.

I have taken walks around the neighborhood. Documenting the empty streets with my camera. An upcoming blog will present my photographic work. New York City will function again. Just not in its former glory.

Restaurants will probably install partitions before re-opening. Menus and utensils will become disposable items.

Outside of New York I am concerned the fringes of society are quite visible with their Don’t tread On Me Flags and misplaced love for the current occupant of the White House. This pandemic is not some plan by liberals to rid themselves of enemies.

Our crisis is not binary. Smart vs Dumb; Liberal vs Conservative; Left vs Right. Black vs White.

Memo to all friends on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram: You are not expert in anything. Especially political science. Stop posting nonsense about your perceived manias. Do not shame healthy people taking foolish risks. Just keep yourself healthy for better times ahead.

I will not play anymore stupid games on FB either. We are adults!

Post a new hobby you have discovered or an old one you picked back up. Ask your neighbors/friends in other states/ countries how they are coping. Brazil is suffering too.

A virus will always find a host body. Close proximity between bodies will enable it to jump into another body. Like past pandemics this virus jumped from animal to human. And then humans flew around the world. The illness spread fast.

Beaches are filled with bacteria on a good day. Now that environment is hostile to human life. If you do not develop Covid symptoms, the sharks may pose a threat. Either way New York will forbid entry into the Atlantic.

And now kids are getting sick with a mysterious syndrome that shuts down vital functions. One moment your kid is fine, the next seriously ill. Over 100 kids have died. Schools cannot reopen.

The times are scary to be sure but we do not need conspiracy theory. We must stay home when possible. Don’t turn yourself into a prisoner. Enjoy fresh air. Staying shut in is also bad for your health. Muscles atrophy. Your mind will turn to mush.

This blog will continue to reflect issues and take some breaks for more trivial pursuits. Those of us who lived in the 20th Century post World War II are so lucky. We know what prosperity felt and looked like in the 1970s and 1980s.

Keep in mind, the derangement is not exclusive to the Far Right in America. Not since W. has a President incited so much hate from the left. If the opposition continues to feed into the baiting of their worst fears they may actually be realized in the Fall.

If history is accurate there will be a new administration in January 2021. They do not have a magic wand. Things will improve but over a long period of time. This will be the last chance to change the Supreme Court for another 50 years!

Our economy tanked with unemployment now at 20%. Herbert Hoover was not granted a second term. Let us hope that history repeats itself for our future sakes.

As I support local business here I see people doing the best they can despite the challenges of this awful situation.

I strongly believe nothing can re-open quickly. As much as we love to go out during Summer this year we are going to have to adjust to this reality. Just ask yourself if you want to get sick.

Covid-19 which causes the Corona virus takes away your ability to breathe on your own. Just think for a moment. Are you really willing to risk your well being for short term gatherings. Are you ‘dying’ to go to the beach?

Imagine down the road we get a path back to being out and about again. You will be able to keep breathing on your own. And now you will look upon your fellow human beings as survivors.

Keep busy. Relax too. Moments of peace are important. Below is a picture from a favorite show when I was a kid. The teen idols of that era were shirtless a lot. Jack Wild was one of my earliest crushes.

Revisiting the better parts of a past life can help ease the difficulties of this moment.

More about what I am watching during this Covid Era next week my dear readers! Thank you all for reading the gate!

Sigmund & The Sea Monsters
Jack Wild (on Left)

Beyond Here Lies Nothing

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Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love The Pandemic.

There will be a new world developing over the next 2 years. Some will get to work. Others will get to die. This sounds harsh. Reality is not without pain.

I experienced a lot of physical pain this week. My back went out. Then after recovering from back spasms I wrenched a muscle in my chest.

The pain was crippling. All I could do was sit in a firm chair. The Global Citizen special relieved my stress. I am still recovering. I had mild fevers too.

All injuries today are approached haltingly that it could be Covid—19. It will be years before a vaccine is made widely available. I did not have the virus.

I have learned for myself that this awful time in our shared lives is like all things just temporary.

Before this emergency most Americans were oblivious to the pain lived daily by people without means.

Now many of them know what it’s like to have less. Disease is a leveler of inequality; a forced end to armed conflicts. I am learning to love the pandemic.

Most of America is now a welfare state. Learning the hard way that a strong social safety net is not a bad thing to have in place if things go badly.

I refuse the pie-in-the-sky prediction of reopening the economy. There will not be the same culture anymore.

New York will lose $10 billion during this crisis. The Fed will literally allow us to drop dead.

Forget what you thought was good for you before this emergency hastened by globalization and policies devised by right wing zealots.

You are not better than anyone else. The massive base of working poor must be enabled to get out of poverty.

Progressive policy making will make this a better reality and recovery for all.

We must confront racism, voter repression, and cruel doses of capitalism meant only to make millionaires become billionaires.

Those who are happy looking down upon others have a long in waiting come uppance to experience for the next decade.

America’s folly of allowing right leaning demagogues to enrich themselves with wars of choice is at an end.

The entire world will suffer together. I have learned to love the pandemic since it has the potential to unlock dormant energy from people who deserve a healthy planet.

Our system cannot sustain our population. If you watch news provided by just 6 state supported companies you get their picture of what they want you to believe is a good outcome.

Restaurants and other small businesses were being thrown out of business by greedy landlords long before Covid.

The pie-in-the-sky I cling to is the hope that we can allow industries to die for the sake of human survival.

Let the cruise industry end. The billionaire class only believes in welfare for other billionaires. Let movie theaters end. These businesses are not worth our lives.

What worked for the 20th Century does not work for the 21st. The corporate state will use all of its resources to convince you that a world of endless sequels and violence is just entertainment.

Our streaming platforms have made theaters unnecessary. They want you to pay for their shoddy product. I say no.

Let us create together a spirit for a new era of capitalism tempered with a strong social safety net. And provide grants to cities that grow green renewable energy.

I dream of fast food becoming a thing of the past. Let them go out of business.

Move low wage workers into a federally funded training process to work for higher wages in green businesses.

I was living mostly like a partially quarantined citizen before Covid. Now the rest of society is equal with my reality.

I have empathy for those who thought being upwardly mobile was okay. People must know that no matter their circumstances it’s not okay to leave people behind because access was eliminated by a narrow greedy class.

Living large is not okay. Many places across the country are finding out the hard way we have a housing problem because too many were sold a bill of goods that huge homes were your right.

The American dream is a nightmare of 20th Century thinking. Mostly white male identity that enabled huge cavities of poverty in cities and suburbs alike.

Let this pandemic open your eyes. Let go of your apathy. Downsize soon. My husband and I just want a one bedroom apartment with a normal rent. No living space should cost over a thousand dollars.

If the census is accurate we will see New York City get less from the Fed. Allowing developers to build million dollar cell blocks was never a good idea.

I think people need to become aware of the big picture. NYC & Co. Times Square Alliance are the corporate takeover of public spaces. Their short-term view is a disaster now.

Tourist economies were for third world nations. Why did the richest country in history turn New York into a seamy tourist theme park? Wax museum, a Believe-It-Or-Not gallery, and a lot of junky movie theaters. Our politicians did nothing for actual residents of this city.

Now we are in free fall. Will social conditions devolve back to the 1970’s? More than likely a state of disrepair will prevail. A result of our political class applying short cuts instead of the hard work of creating sustainability.

I just read that the city of Tulsa, OK offers $10,000 to new renters if eligible. Apartments are $825 a month. Bye bye New York.

Tao of Bob

My newfound support of Bob Dylan applies strongly to our country. My blog will feature his lyrics when appropriate. Here’s this week’s debut installment:

Come writers and critics, who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide, the chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon, for the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who that it’s namin’
For the loser now will be later to win.

For the times they are a changin.

See you next week dear readers!

The City Sleeps

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Another week is done. I have calendars in my apartment. Two in fact. One features puppies in silly outfits and poses to fit the month/season. The other is a New Yorker magazine cartoon-a-day.

The small things that went unnoticed are now prime pins in my mental machinery. They keep me safe. Taking an anti-depressant is the other component in this equation.

Here we are in New York without sitdown service in restaurants. One diner remains with delivery. It’s called Midnite Express after the drug trafficking movie from the 1970s.

Funny to think how the underbelly of society is operating now. Are they wearing masks too? Everyone is required to wear them now.

So with all this time on our hands we come up with projects. My latest was listening to the entire Bob Dylan catalog. I found out I could listen to 9 albums in one day. This infuriated my beloved husband but I was determined to finish in less than a week.

No theater. No baseball. No concerts. Summer will present a challenge. No day trips. May there be no heatwaves nor hurricanes. Oh, the city pools will not open. The last time that happened was the polio pandemic.

We should remind ourselves daily we must allow the health sector to do its best to curtail new illness. We should also keep in mind that all workers are valuable in any economy. Do not scapegoat.

At 7 each evening New Yorkers are banging pots and pans while cheering for nurses and doctors; food deliverers, store clerks; pharmacists, drugstore clerks. Hand in hand those with advanced educations and those with limited resources are working together to keep us all safe.

The city is quiet. You cannot help but feel how fragile society can become when faced with these unusual circumstances. New York pride was once about being open all the time. Things have changed.

Before the pandemic hit Manhattan the complaints to 311 (our city services number) over noise was hitting records. Subway ridership was bursting, and tourism was high.

Now those complaints are not happening and the subways are empty save essential workers. No tourists.

The past 2 administrations created a city for visitors. This has proved to be a shortsighted vision. Without their revenue now what do we do?

The city sleeps. Schools are closed. Life will not return to normal. Our lack of hindsight has proven to be our folly in 2020, funnily enough a year whose numbers literally mean healthy vision.

Last night at twelve Bob Dylan released another single, “I Contain Multitudes”, referencing Walt Whitman, Anne Frank, and the Rolling Stones! Mr. D is doing his part.

See you next week dear readers!

The Great Society

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Change has been forced upon the population. Humanity faces another pandemic. This time it’s global!

The fault is not in the stars but in ourselves. We were sold a bill of goods.

For better or worse, the entire world became a small village. Air travel made it possible to be exposed to all kinds of new experiences.

Ultimately this includes our health. Now we face potential utter collapse.

Once upon a time there was the political idea of a ‘Great Society’. A social safety net in times of need.

Decades were tossed away to never ending corporate gain which has resulted in deep inequality.

Healthcare for profit has been a disaster. Why are we so short on medical supplies?

Why are we still occupying Afghanistan?

Last week I wrote about the consolidation of media power. This week just take a look at how this pandemic is being reported.

Social distance is one thing. Canceling an entire culture is quite another. I tend to see the big picture.

Closing theaters, postponing primaries, and telling a supposed free people to stay home is not a long-term solution.

Democracy means nothing if we do not live up to the ideals of land of the free, home of the brave.

Here in New York City no resident could stay home for a long period of time. The living spaces encourage outdoor activity.

Why are our leaders allowing the economy to drop so rapidly? This crisis can be the pathway to 100% employment.

By hiring and training people to convert malls, armories, and former retail spaces into medical facilities we could employ hundreds of thousands.

This conversion must happen now. Later will be increasing numbers of infected people with no beds in place; no quarantine spaces.

In just a few weeks the nation went from debates over socialism to wondering how they can cover daily expenses.

Our government is going to provide mortgage relief. A little bit of socialism can go a long way in this imperfect system.

We must put public pressure on our officials to sit down to do the hard work of forming a smarter agenda.

The idea of The Great Society was to provide healthcare as a right. Create new pathways to economic stability. And face the original sin of slavery.

Just think for a moment if you can see a brighter future for every citizen if we continue to feed deep inequality.

If we profit off the sick and infirm and ignore the treatment of prisoners as not human can we claim to be moral?

The environment is shared universally around the world. We the people need to step up to demand this issue be taken seriously. Our money means nothing if an entire population is drowned by rising sea levels.

I feel strongly the best we can do for ourselves is to reach out through Skype or Zoom to fellow citizens to debate these ideas. We must challenge our leaders.

I also think less TV news is a must for people. If you have to look at the headlines use factual outlets.

Cable news is probably the worst source for facts.

NPR and WNYC radio are solid outlets in the Big Apple. The New York Times provides updates, just don’t stare too long.

Grassroots organizing is still the best way to bring together the new ideas for galvanizing a culture that has been taught for generations how to be non-political and compliant with the worst possible agenda.

Take your daily walks/exercise, read a lot, and learn to think for yourself how we can better this now literally sick society.

L.B.J. introduced The Great Society during his presidency in response to poverty.

Album Cover Art In Our Digital Age

Since the 1960s the covers of long-playing records have undergone many changes.

Before the Beatles and Stones most records were just simple photographic images of the band leaders or crooners of the period.

During the 1960s when the counter-culture movement arrived albums underwent a major alteration.

The new artists had album covers that were more than just their mugs in close-up.

Before I continue let me be clear about what the cover of a record means to me.

I think covers are a canvas to be used to draw in would be listeners. It does not have to be literal or easy to understand.

After decades of releases before the internet we have thousands of covers to gawk at in pleasure and disgust.

The images can excite, enlighten, and become stand alone pieces of art.

In some cases they can also offend certain sensibilities.

The Beatles’ infamous butcher cover was censored by their record company upon release.

Capitol records pulled this album from circulation after distributors complained the cover image was revolting. If you can find this album with the offending picture it’s worth a lot today.

Guns N Roses biggest seller, “Appetite For Destruction” had its cover banned.

It featured a cartoon image of a flower girl being raped by a robot.

Guns N Rose’s original art got banned by their label. The cross and skull art is the cover now.

The aforementioned covers became highly valued on the market for collectors.

Their rarity increased the value of original prints. Digital representation of album art will never be valuable.

Many classic (old) rock groups hired artists to paint, photograph, and collage their cover art.

Roger Dean, Derek Riggs, and the firm Hipgnosis are good examples of why artists commission painters, graphic designers and illustrators.

The progressive rock group Yes compiled a catalog of music along with covers by Roger Dean.

His dreamscapes were colorful, fantastic, and surreal. This fit well with Yes’ music.

Fragile by Yes features the above art by Roger Dean to promote a greener planet.

Derek Riggs painted the first 8 Iron Maiden album covers.

His art became instantly part of the band’s image.

Each cover features the mascot Eddie, a decaying corpse reanimated back to life.

The art collective Hipgnosis was hired by British art rock icons Pink Floyd.

The indelible photographic elements are imprinted on the memory of any classic rock fan forever.

Their cover images include a cow for Atom Mother, a flying pig for Animals, and a prism for Dark Side of the Moon.

The records pictured above included extras you cannot enjoy digitally.

Styx and Pink Floyd had posters within their sleeves.

One more artist I want to mention is Michael Doret a designer, lettering artist, and illustrator based in Los Angeles, California.

He has created logos, album covers, magazine covers, and art for various brands in media, advertising, and sports.

The illustration he created for Kiss in 1978 was so eye catching the band worked with him again in the 21st Century!

Rock N Roll Over by Kiss was the last album in which all four original members performed. Ace Frehley had no writing credit.

Sonic Boom was released in 2009. The art is sort of a follow up to its 1970s predecessor.

On vinyl the album was issued with vinyl platters in six different colors.

The Rock N Roll Over album was reissued in 2015, complete with a sheet of full color stickers replicating the cover art.

The art is the original size meant for public view when it’s on a physical item.

Digital cannot transmit how vivid these covers actually appear.

Many albums have gatefold sleeves. This means they open up to show a two panel artwork.

Queen used an image by scifi illustrator Frank Kelly for News of the World in 1977. A two panel gatefold is featured.

Today album frames are sold as a means to display album cover art.

There are many examples of art for record covers. I have covered a few of my favorites for this article.

Keep in mind none of this art looks great in digital form. In physical presence you must stop and stare.

Record albums are cherished items. The extra goodies inside like posters are really cool too.

To be fair, digital music files can show the art. It’s tiny and trapped under the glass of your smart device.

MP3 files can become corrupted. I have had to stop my PC many times due to bad playback.

Records force you to take better care of your music.

It is much more of an experience to play an album on a turntable. You value it more. And the art is for keeps!