Thursday, September 18, 2014

A Dluth Master Comes Home: Gene Ritchie Monohan at The Red Herring

Poet/entrepreneur Bob Monohan and I have more than one thing in common. But one that is the highlight of today's blog is that both our grandmothers enjoyed painting. Mine, however, was just a dabbler, whereas Gene Ritchie Monohan was an artist of exceptional skill who had the privilege of being able to immerse herself in the burgeoning, vibrant 1950's New York art scene.

During last Friday's art crawl I eventually made my way over to The Red Herring to take in the late Ms. Monohan's works which are on display there through November 2.

Genevieve Mae was born in Duluth to Arthur C. Ritchie, an electrical engineer, and Jeanette M. Daily, a homemaker. Growingup in West Duluth she attended and graduated from Denfeld High School in 1926. After two years at a state teacher's college she transferred to the U of MN in Minneapolis where she married George Monohan, a fellow student. After her husband completed his R.O.T.C. course work the family lived in various locations like army families to. Though Gene focused on her family during that time she still pursued her interest in art and eventually completed a Master of Art Degree in 1942. When her husband retired from the army in 1953 they moved to New York City where she was able to connect with the art community there.


The works in this exhibition include more than a dozen oil paintings on stretched canvas which have been assembled from the personal collections of the Monohan family. There are also sketches, prints and more. It's apparent that she brings a warmth to the work so that the pieces aren't just technically executed but convey a feeling intimacy between her and her subject matter.


One of the pictures that is especially fun is the 1984 painting of her grandchildren, including young Bob. The kids were 9, 7 and 5. Cute kids.


The Red Herring has already begun to make its mark as a music venue, connected as Bob Monohan is to the music scene through his Chaperone Records. With this exhibit he's making a statement that it can also be a serious art venue as well.

Recommended: Find an excuse to check it out.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Margie's 1972 Search To Find Bob Dylan: The Encounter (Part 3)

Warfield Theater, November 8, 1979
There are undoubtedly many stories of fans going to extremes to meet their heroes. I knew a couple girls in my junior high school class who climbed through a window into the hotel where the Beatles were staying when the Fab Four came to New York fifty years ago. The efforts Margie Marcus made to find Bob Dylan also seem extraordinary. Unlike my classmates, Margie succeeded in her quest. I share this more as a human interest event, and neither recommend nor endorse this as a means of meeting famous people. Nevertheless, this is the culmination of Margie’s story (continued from yesterday)…. And here’s how it unfolded.

* * * *

FRIDAY, January 14, 1972

By this time it was about 11:30 and I had until 2:30 to meet Tony (Scaduto). Didn’t know what to do-so decided I would take a cab to the Village and try to find Dylan. Incidentally, neither Weberman nor Schechter would tell me where he lived. I happened to find the address inadvertently on a paper that I saw on Weberman’s desk about the birthday party he had given him and I asked him if I could have the booklet. He sold it to me for $1.

So, I had the address but had also been told by everyone along the line that Dylan uses fictitious names and disguises sometimes. I was sure that if I went to this address I would not know what bell to ring. I got out of the cab right in front of his house and went into the hallway. Lo and behold, the first name on the lineup of about 6 doorbells was Dylan. I couldn’t believe it. I rang it and in a moment his wife answered--I recognized her from the picture I had seen in the NY Times. I said “Mrs. Dylan?”

She said “Yes,” and I began to tell her that my name was Margie Marcus, that I came all the way from Deerfield, Illinois just to meet her husband. I was talking through a door and she was up on the first landing. She said she was sorry, they were very busy today and began to go in. I stopped her by pleading with her to tell her husband that I didn’t want to bother or bug him, I only want just to meet him and just couldn’t come all this way on a special trip and be so close and not accomplish it. She didn’t care, repeated that they were busy and closed the door.

She was nice, but just wouldn’t listen. So, I sat on the front radiator for a few minutes wondering what to do. I had my paper with me that I had written about him and wanted to give it to him.

I left the building and walked down about 3 doors and just stood there leaning against a wall. I was bound and determined to stay until hell froze over because I knew now that he was in there and figured maybe if they didn’t see me waiting that at some time maybe he would come out for a walk or something. This was about 10:00 and I waited about 15 minutes during which time I scribbled a note to him writing against the wall on a piece of paper telling him how it would be a high point of my life if he would just read this and if I could meet him, etc. (I have it all in my scrapbook.)

All of a sudden I saw a colored maid wheeling 2 little children in a stroller going down the steps into his building. I figured they had to be his children, they were about the right ages and the way I saw it, there are not many people in that area with colored maids--probably none--so I ran up to her and didn’t ask if she worked for him but just blurted out, “Would you please see that Mr. Dylan gets these papers.” I no sooner got the words out of my mouth, and she didn’t even have a second to answer, when the door opened and out he came with his wife and his guitar. I said either out loud or to myself, “Oh my God, it’s him.” “He walked up the 2 steps and I said, “Mr. Dylan, my name is Margie Marcus, I am from Deerfield, Illinois and I came all this way just to meet you and shake your hand and tell you how your music has changed my life.” The first thing he said to me was “Didn’t you write me a letter?”

I almost fell over. Yes, of course I had written him letters but had no idea he had ever received them or read them. Evidently he did because he knew my name. Then I began my little spiel –what respect I have for him and his music, how nervous I was just standing there and talking to him, couldn’t believe I was face-to-face with him, etc., and handed him my papers telling him that I would be so grateful if he would just take a few minutes of his time to read them. He took them from me and said “Thank you.” No matter what I said after that he just continued to say “thank you.” Not much of a conversationalist but I’m lucky he even stood there to listen to me.

His wife then said to him “Bob do you have the keys?” And he went back into the house for a minute, left the papers in the house and when he came out, I approached him again. We talked for a few minutes, made some small talk about the sights in the Village and I was so nervous I didn’t know what to say so I asked him what else there was to see as long as I was in the neighborhood and he said, “You can always go and see the Empire State Building,” a typical Dylan answer. After that he said he had to leave, so he and his guitar went one way and I went the other.

I was literally shaking with excitement and flew to the first cab I could get back to the hotel and called everyone I knew. My husband Dave was having lunch with the President of E.F. Hutton and I got him there and he was very flustered and couldn’t talk, obviously.

I couldn’t believe I found him. I couldn’t believe I had actually talked to him. I did it. Mission accomplished. Now this has changed my life and I can go home.

* * *
Margie Marcus went on to live an interesting life of involvement in the Chicago theater scene and corresponding with interesting people. Dylan later sent her a photo of himself and during a 1974 Dylan concert in Chicago Margie was able to place a yellow rose on the stage for him, which he received.

* * *
Photo credit: Bob Dylan at the Warfield Theater, San Francisco; William Pagel Archives

Monday, September 15, 2014

Margie's 1972 Search To Find Bob Dylan: The Audacious Adventures of Day Two (Tony Scaduto and Philip Schechter)

This is Part 2 of Margie Marcus' three day adventure in New York in mid-January 1972. Part 1 appeared Friday here. It was through Anthony Scaduto that Margie hoped to find and meet Dylan. This past month it was through Margie's search to find and re-connect with Anthony Scaduto that she found me, or rather, found my blog about Scaduto's book Bob Dylan. As a result of sharing her story, I made an effort to help her by writing a blog entry about her quest. In the end she was successful in both her quests, in unexpected ways.

FRIDAY, January 14, 1972

At 10:00 my phone rang, woke me, and the voice on the other end was Tony Scaduto--the man I had written to and made an appointment with from Deerfield. I wanted to make sure that when I got to New York he could see me and not be too busy. He is the author of the new book Bob Dylan: An Intimate Biography and probably has done more research and knows Dylan better--not personally but consciously and thinking-wise--than anyone except perhaps old acquaintances like Joan Baez. I would say after reading Tony’s book he knows him better than anyone, period. He figured out his mind so well-that there were ten pages in the original manuscript to the book, that he left out because he and the editors felt it was just too heavy--it weighed the book down with a personal psychoanalysis of Dylan’s head—so that Tony didn’t really feel he should print it or had the prerogative to do. So he left it out and told me he would send it to me in the future.*

He called me at 10:00 and asked if he could come to my hotel earlier than we had planned because he had to take a 4:30 train to Long Island. I said “sure, anytime.” I really had nothing planned for the day--I was playing things by ear. I got up, ordered breakfast in and then got on the phone and called Philip Schechter. He is a Rabbi who was fired from his pulpit because of his radical ideas and appearance--and the things he was saying from his pulpit were not what the wealthy members of his Temple wanted to hear. They fired him and he was written up in the Rolling Stone at length last year, which is when I made my first correspondence contact with him. He interested me and what he was saying interested me. Not only that, I knew Schechter knew Dylan and I wanted to get in touch with anyone who knew Dylan. So, I called him. His answering service said he wasn’t in and I tried to persuade her to give me his home phone number. (I had called the JWB Lecture Bureau, which was the only number I had.) She said she wasn’t allowed to give me his number and I kept talking, and this was one example of the perfect timing that seemed to be with me during my whole NY trip. As I was trying to get the number out of her he picked up the phone and said he had just gotten home. I told him who I was and he remembered me from the letters I had sent him and my interest in Dylan. We began to talk.

He said his lecture schedule and all his other commitments to the congregations he was working with part time did not allow him to time to see me, but he would be glad to talk with on the phone awhile. A while turned out to be about 45 minutes of delightful conversation. I asked him a million questions, some about Dylan and some about himself and he was really nice to talk to. He first met Dylan on the street while Dylan was taking his son to get a haircut. It seems that when Schechter was fired he had a rather large interview by the Brooklyn Bridge, a newspaper I believe in the Village, and Dylan was at the interview because he was curious about Schechter. Dylan didn’t identify himself at the time, but recognized Schechter on the street and stopped to speak to him, most unusual for Dylan. The conversation was peculiar. They talked about their kids. There would be lags in the conversation, then another comment would be dropped. I’m sure I didn’t get it the way it happened because my notes are sketchy but Dylan does not want to talk about his music, Schechter said. They talked a little about Israel and Dylan’s recent connection with leaders of JDL and giving money to Israel etc., and Dylan denied it all saying it was a lot of baloney. Dylan made a few disparaging remarks about Abbie Hoffman and told Schechter to read a book called The 1st 3rd, published by City Lights and about Neil Cassidy.

Won’t go into all the details, but Schechter said didn’t know what Dylan’s theology is, thinks there’s a lot of theology in his ‘Father of Night’ and thinks Dylan means that people use God to justify their behavior. Schechter said he’s a changed man since he was fired. He seems to be able to deal with things on many different levels and is still really trying to find out ‘exactly what I am’ but knows that he is comfortable with the word God. He is not a completely humanistic Jew, he is only humanistic as far as bringing things back to the people rather than to institutions. When our conversation came to a close it was 11:30 a.m. Friday.

Tony Scaduto called my room about 2:45 and I came downstairs to meet a very friendly and smiling gentleman. We went into the bar at the Sherry Netherland and sat down to have a drink. We immediately started talking about Dylan and I don’t think we stopped for almost 2 hours.

Tony had to leave at 4:30 to catch a train to Long Island and in all that time I really learned nothing about him at all except that he worked for the NY Post for 20 years as a reporter (I learned later from his book and other articles that he was a court and police reporter, too) and then quit the Post and is freelancing. He was a fascinating and incredibly nice person. He was so friendly to me--we had no trouble communicating at all--we both seemed as though we had known each other before. When our time was up, he told me to call him the next day in Long Island and we would talk some more. He gave me a copy of his book which he autographed, reading: ”Dear Margie: You are warm, you are lovely, and I dug so much talking to you. Good luck in your search. Tony Scaduto."

I read every word of the book in a week and my regret was that it was finished. I wished it had gone on forever. He again promised to send me that part of the manuscript that contained a lot of things that go on in Dylan’s head which Dylan said was very accurate. He’s had a lot to do and Part 1 of his book came out in last week’s Rolling Stone. He’s had a bit of a hassle with them--wasn’t sure they were going to print it. He told me he should probably be in Chicago sometime in March and I said I hope so, I’d like to talk with him again.

* Margie did eventually receive those 10 pages and still has them.

In Part III we'll learn how a whim and serendipity made her dream come true. 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Local Art Seen: Out and About in the Twin Ports

Greetings from the Zeitgeist Atrium
"Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom." ~Soren Kierkegaard

I frequently compare time spent painting in my studio to visiting a therapist. Making art is good therapy and I'm sure there are many others who see creative expression as a therapeutic endeavor. But the Kierkegaard insight above also touches something else I've experienced when painting. With so many directions to go, how does one decide? Large canvas or small? Canvas surface, wood or paper? Monochrome or multi-layered rainbow extravaganza? Explore new mediums, textures and subject matter, or work in the familiar circles that sharpen your strengths? Anxiety is indeed the dizziness of freedom.

Perhaps this is why young people coming of age especially feel such a weight upon them. When there are so many directions one can go, such freedom may not be liberating. In more primitive cultures you often knew from birth what you would be when you grow up and where you would live. Your father was a cobbler, farmer or royalty, and this would be your place as well.

Sean P. Connaughty's early explorations blending art and biology.
So it is with a sense of amazement that one can see so many varieties of creative expression here in the Twin Ports over the course of a few evenings. At least this is how I felt this morning as I pulled my thoughts together to share a few of the works I spied Thursday and Friday at the Duluth Art Institute (DAI) and other venues.

The DAI reception was everything expected and more. Sean P. Connaughty's works filled the Steffl Gallery. Connaughty, a U of MN art teacher, captured headlines when his Ark of the Anthropocene sank last weekend a day after its launch. The artist is undeterred however and will find a more permanent home in a lake nearer to the Twin Cities with less boat traffic turbulence. the Ark is his largest but not first such project and the various iterations which preceded it were displayed throughout the balcony are of the Depot's Great Hall.

Fatih Benzer... simply stunning.
The Morrison Gallery featured an exhibition titled Signs and Wonders, with ceramic works by Jim Klueg and paintings by Fatih Benzer. Benzer is a UMD art professor who is originally from Turkey. The complex paintings were quite stunning, numerous. Benzer described the thematic nature of their contents as a collision of cultures, the one where he was raised and the other where he now resides.

Klueg's ceramic pieces stood on pedestals throughout the gallery, but with such an enormous quantity of visitors to the opening it proved difficult to really take it all in. The work will remain installed till November 2, so I encourage any and all to take a little time from their busy lives to visit these galleries in the Depot.

Detail of a Benzer piece. 
Klueg's ceramic work offers a smile.
In the Corridor Gallery you'll find a restropective of Sean Austin's paintings and prints. Austin is a lifelong artist now in his twilight. A graduate of Gustavus Adolphus he has apparently much loved based on the manner in which those who know him spoke of him. "My interest in art has been the force that has sustained me since childhood," he stated in his artist statement. "I delight in trying to create my own universe."

Finally, the Sophronia Project had been assembled for another public event. A future blog entry will feature an interview with Joellyn Rock who has been central to this inspired project along with Kathy McTavish.

The only thing missing Thursday evening was the cheerful countenance of DAI Director Annie Dugan who was evidently in the hospital. Many of us were asked and able to send her greetings through that magical device called the Smart Phone.

During Friday evening's Downtown Duluth Walkabout I found myself face-to-face with artwork in the Zeitgeist Atrium, Pizza Luce, Washington Galleries and the PROVE.

Earl Austin in the Corridor Gallery, DAI
Eris Vafias at Pizza Luce
Space and time do not permit me from sharing everything here, so you will have to get out and about and check out what's happening where it's happening.

Plan your lunch hour meetings in places where you can also get a pit of art with the meal. Esther Piszczek's Zentangle-inspired work is at Beaner's this month. Kris Nelson's Chairs are at Red Mug. And my own "Influences" show is at Benchmark Tattoo. No, they do not serve food, but it's across the street from Sara's Table (Chester Park Cafe) and you can eat there before poking your head in across the way.

One more must-see exhibit is the Gene Ritchie Monohan display at The Red Herring Lounge on First Street. The paintings are on loan from personal collections of the Monohan family. More about this in a future blog post.

Meantime, art goes on all around you. Engage it.

* * * * *
EdNote: Ennyman's Territory was today listed as one of 5 blogs to follow by The Duluth Experience

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Fundamental Dylan Insights: A Review of Betsy Bowden's Performed Literature

Bob Dylan and his music has been analyzed, collected, inspected, dissected, occasionally corrected and often rejected, though sometimes the criticism is misdirected. Needless to say, his work has been scrutinized from nearly every angle, yet new books with new approaches continue to unearth new details and insights overlooked that may have a bearing on the understanding of his songs, his music and his life.

The book I have in mind here is not new, but one that I obtained last year and which provided what I consider a significant insight about the Bobster. I'm referring to Betsy Bowden's Performed Literature. Bowden's premise is best expressed in the review that accompanies it at Amazon.com:

Bob Dylan is not a poet. He is a singer-songwriter, a performing artist. The unit of his art, as collected and documented by his intended audience, is the live performance. Right now, no existing technological tool can give researchers ready access to his entire corpus of work. Revised from the author's Ph.D. dissertation (UC Berkeley, 1978) and again from its first edition (Indiana UP, 1982), Performed Literature develops a methodology for close analysis of verbal art that is heard, not seen, using as comparative examples 24 performances of 11 songs by Bob Dylan. The second edition adds a preface, two major appendices and one minor one, and a detailed index.

Two quick notes here. First, this book was written before his Never Ending Tour began, which is a form of verification that she was dead on, that Dylan's art really is about performance. Second, that she is no longer correct that is "no existing technological tool" that can give researchers ready access to his entire corpus of work. There are Dylanologists collecting and compiling everything now, and the advent of the internet and low cost reproduction technologies has helped expedite these processes, though for the most part Bowden is correct that most people do not have access. YouTube will give you a lot, however. And the written reviews of nearly every concert from the beginning of his career, which can be found at Boblinks.com, often provide good guidance as regard his manner of delivery in various places and spaces over time.  

The book is not a "pop" book produced by a major New York publisher and thus has not received widespread visibility, but this review at Amazon.com is what prompted me to acquire it:

I've read most of the books about Dylan out there - this one's the best. Bowden argues that dylan's lyrics cannot be thoughtfully analyzed without also considering the music and the performance - thus the title, "Performed Literature". Bowden's writing is clear, forceful, and engaging.

Oakland, Feb 1974 (courtesy Bill Pagel)
Chapter one is titled Protests. The second paragraph captures one essence of what caught peoples' attention about his work in the beginning.

"Throughout the sixties Dylan stayed a step ahead of other rock musicians, two steps ahead of his audience, and a city block or country mile ahead of the grown-ups. Other singers folllowed his lead after 1962, as Dylan released albums of rough-edged impromptu performances rather than the smoothly produced songs then expected of commercial recordings."

When Dylan switched from acoustic to electric he transformed his sound from white rural folk to black urban and electric blues. As rock went increasingly frenetic with shreiking electric and acid rock, Dylan pulled back and re-opened the way to calmer country music, which other musicians again followed into the soft rock arena. Poetry was the center of all of it, and a cerebral approach that enabled songwriters like Simon & Garfunkel and Jim Morrison to find a voice.

But this first chapter is more about how Dylan's approach to singing his protest songs became a characteristically Dylanesque manner of performing that is stylistically a unique fingerprint of the songwriter. Bowden then takes an in depth dig into some of the details of "Hard Rain" that help explain the particular effectiveness of this song.

In the second chapter Bowden talks about developments in Dylan's style, noting how Dylan fused the various streams of American folk music from black traditional music to white rural "hillbilly" music to country western as well as the blues. It's in this chapter that I found one of her most significant insights regarding his songs. She takes pains to show that Dylan's songs, even when written in the first person "I" narrative, do not necessarily indicate that it is Dylan speaking from himself.

"Let me pause to make an emphatic point. The narrator in the lyrics of a Dylan song may show some attitude toward women, toward war, toward authorities, toward whatever. But the 'I' in a song is not Bob Dylan. Like poems, songs can sometimes rework into an artistic pattern the songwrtier's own experiences. But a song is absolutely not biographical evidence."

Everybody tries to guess what this song or that is about, and Dylan's response is, "Some are about four minutes; some are about five, and some, believe it or not, are about eleven or twelve."

Bowden then takes a deep dive in "Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands" from his Blonde on Blonde album, unwinding not just the lyrics but again the manner in which it is sung.

I was once asked which was Dylan's best album and when I said I had a hard time picking just one per decade this person said it was Blonde on Blonde. Bowden notes here in this chapter that Dylan himself once called Blonde on Blonde his best. "The closest I ever go to the sound I hear in my mind was on individual bands in the Blonde on Blonde album. It's that thin, that wild mercury sounce. It's metallic and bright gold... I haven't been successful in getting it all the time."

After laying the above foundations, chapter three is where Bowden get down to underscoring that it's not just the songs that matter, but that his performances are the key. When Dylan was asked by Jann Wenner, co-founder of Rolling Stone magazine with Ralph Gleason, if there were any albums or tracks that Dylan felt were especially good, the artist replied, "On any of my old albums? Uhhh... As songs or as performances?"

Very early on Dylan had a sense in which the performance was the thing. That is why you can hear the same song in different ways at different periods of his career. Compare "It Ain't Me, Babe" as it was initially recorded with the fire-hot version that sizzles from his live performance on the Rolling Thunder Revue. Bowden is astutely attuned to the manner in which Dylan can use vocal inflections to put quotation marks around a word when sung so that it's meaning is altered. In chapter three she brings the magnifying lens into focus on "Just Like A Woman" to bring new insights a careless listener might have missed, but which most fans fully grasp.

Chapter four begins by pointing out that too deep of a study of the "how" a song was written result in missing the strength and power of that song. When Poe wrote about how he wrote The Raven, it was the dreariest of documents, whereas the poem itself crackles. "Like a Rolling Stone" becomes the topic of dissection here.

Bowden goes on to discuss effects, improvements and aesthetics before closing the book off with nearly 100 pages of appendices compiling texts, resources, a list of Dylan's albums and suggestions for those who intend to continue the work of analyzing his performances.

Bottom line: Betsy Bowden has made a useful contribution to the appreciation and understanding of Dylan's music. It's apparent he's made an impression on the author, and for those who are fans this book can be a useful resource.

The reason I wanted to share all this was to lay a foundation for a future blog entry in which I contrast and compare "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright" to Dylan's "Love Sick" from Time Out of Mind.

Meantime life goes on all around you. Seize it.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Margie’s 1972 Search to Find Bob Dylan: The Adventures of Day One (A.J. Weberman)

Misccellaneous Dylan memorabilia*
Margie Marcus was a 41-year-old suburban Chicago housewife whose spirit and soul were flatlining until one day the music of Bob Dylan snapped her back to life. She describes the experience as a zeitgeist in her life in which previously she had been immobilized in a cocoon shell and afterwards broke free, discovering she had wings and could fly. This life transformation began as a result of picking up a Dylan album from a Highwood record shop a couple years earlier. After buying that first record she bought everything and wired her record player all the way through the back door of the kitchen and on to the patio where she could sit for hours and listen to Dylan and literally memorize his work. 

Her awakening set in motion correspondence with interesting people including author Joseph Heller, and co-founder of Rolling Stone magazine Ralph Gleason. She was especially interested in people who were writing about Dylan, including Anthony Scaduto who’s book Bob Dylan had been released the year before and A.J. Weberman, the Dylanologist who infamously made a name for himself by picking through Dylan’s garbage.... Over time she developed an obsessive desire to meet the man who changed her life and when the opportunity came she took it.

What follows is Margie’s 1972 account of her whirlwind trip to New York to meet Dylan in person. Day 1.

Left Deerfield on a 7:00 a.m. plane to LaGuardia Thursday, January 13 exhausted before I started. I had sprained my foot two days before and limped around the whole previous day to the trip, which only made every bone in my body ache. Arrived in NY at 10:00 NY time and had every intention of unpacking and falling right into bed for a nap. Instead, decided that there was too much to be done, so unpacked and immediately got on the telephone.

Called my brother first, made arrangements to go to a play that evening, called his wife, and then got down to business. I went to New York to find Bob Dylan and there was no time to be wasted.

Bowery bar from an earlier era.
About 11:30 I called A.J. Weberman, freak garbage picker and leading Dylanologist. Woke him, asked him if he remembered me from previous correspondence (he did) and asked him if he would be there all day and if I could come up to see him. He lives in a tenement in the Bowery and although I called and knew nothing would stop me, I asked a few people about going to that neighborhood and they told me forget it. So, I promptly got into a cab and headed for the Bowery. That scene was an experience in itself. I knew I needed my head examined when on that rainy, dark afternoon we pulled up to 6 Bleeker Street where there were bums lining the streets, garbage set out in front of the tenements and no doorbell to even ring and see if he was there. There was an iron gate with 3 different locks on it on his door. It was the kind of place where you had to holler up, “Hey A.J., are ya there?” I asked the cabbie (he was a nice one and knew I wasn’t about to let him leave until he came up with Weberman) to get out and call A.J. So, for a price, he did and when the gate opened there he stood--just like he looked in the Rolling Stone, hair disheveled. I think I woke him again (he looked very sleepy) and his fly was unzipped with the end of his shirt sticking out. That was my first introduction to the man I had read about in the papers for so long.

I looked up a long dark flight of stairs with a black cat squealing in front of me and thought, since I had never exposed myself to a neighborhood like this or a circumstance like this with a stranger, “O.K. honey, this is it. You go up, but you may never come down.”

Up we went to the 2nd floor, where once again, he unlocked several locks into his ‘office’ apartment. It was cold in there, but bright. The place was strewn with hundreds of papers on a long table and filing cabinets where he keeps all of his papers and information on Dylan. Strung along the walls were wires on which were hanging all assorted articles and pictures of Dylan and Weberman and everything Weberman has written for the various Village papers. I sat down and didn’t know where to begin with my questions.

The guy is 26 years old and got his BA from the City College of New York as an honor student. Instead of going to school he quit and started studying Dylan’s music and became a Dylanologist, which means a scientific study of all of Dylan’s songs. He has in his possession a collection of rare Dylan tapes of unreleased songs, interviews and everything there is to know about Dylan. His study consists of what he calls concordances. They look like bookkeeping books only twice as big. Each word that Bob Dylan has ever used in a song he has cross-checked and found the symbolic meaning to--at least in Weberman’s eyes. He will sell these concordances for $100 each-they have all been computerized and are incredibly unbelievable. The years of work this has taken is hard to believe.

He is going to Knoxville, TN to the U of Tenn to speak sometime in April for which he will receive $200. He tried several years ago writing a book on Dylan. He showed me the manuscript and said he couldn’t get it published because publishers wanted $1,000 apiece to reprint each Dylan song. He says the book was academically oriented.

It was Izzy Young who told Weberman where Dylan lived in the Village. Izzy Young is the owner of the Folk Lore Center where he sells instruments and folk music for people. From this information, Weberman went to Dylan’s house and started going daily through the garbage to learn about Dylan. He found a letter from Johnny Cash the first day--then continued daily pickups and became a nationwide topic of conversation. He drove Dylan and his family nuts with the many things he did to get to Dylan. He gave Dylan a birthday party for about 400 people in front of Dylan’s house-all in vain but strictly for publicity because Dylan was in Israel where he had gone for his 30th birthday.

I was in the tenement apartments both the office floor and his ‘home’ floor for about 3.5 hours. I became really nervous and itchy toward the end because I had seen all I could see and talked all there was to be talked about Dylan to Weberman. We went from the office upstairs about an hour before I left and when I went up there I met Weberman’s girl Ann whom he sent on an errand while he recorded a tape for me from a reel-to-reel to cassette. She had a dazed look and moved like a ghost.

When we left the apartment--he locked several different locks both upstairs and downstairs and we went outside into the rain--he took me to Bowery Street to catch a cab. But first, we had to go around the corner to a store to break a $20 bill I had--I owed him $5 for the tape, then he hailed the cab and asked me if he could ride a few blocks with me. As he got out we shook hands and he gave me the name of a fellow Dylanologist in Chicago who ‘studied under him’ for quite a while.

Weberman is now writing a book called “You Are What You Throw Away,” presumably to be published by McMillan for which he will receive $7,500. Should be out in 5 months, he thinks. We’ll see.

Next: How what she learned at Weberman’s led her to Dylan’s door.

*memorabilia shot is from a wall in this blog writer's garage. The Bowert photo is public domain from Wikipedia.