Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Countdown to Saturday: Nobel Prize Stirs Northland Dylan Fans

One thing Dylan's Nobel Prize selection has done is provide alternative subject matter to the recent election pyrotechnics. First there was ink spilled regarding the selection itself, which included stories about purportedly "worthier" candidates. Then there were all the stories (nearly 2 weeks' worth) questioning why Mr. Dylan did not respond immediately. This was followed by analysis of his cryptic response once he did reply, stating he "would be there... if able." This past week the word on the street is that Patti Smith will be the one to receive the award on his behalf and will read his acceptance speech. She will also sing "Hard Rain's Gonna Fall," one of the great songs of all time. (EdNote: I did not say, "one of the great Dylan songs of all time." This is, I believe, one of the greatest songs ever written. Period. No hyperbole, which I tend to be fond of on occasion.)

In the Northland, the big event that regional Dylan fans are looking forward to is a December 10 gathering of the Hibbing Dylan Project at the Androy Hotel in Hibbing, where young Robert Zimmerman famously came of age, so to speak. What originally began as a discussion about how to raise money to build a statue to honor the hometown boy who made good has evolved. When Craig Hattam and the organizers learned from Dylan's management team that Bob wouldn't want a statue it was quickly nixed. He'd rather have any money raised go to helping people in some way.

A meeting was then announced for his Saturday, the day the prize will be awarded, to discuss what the local community might be able to do. But even this is evolving. Governor Mark Dayton is using the occasion to declare December 10 "Bob Dylan Day" in Minnesota. I cannot attest to the depth of Governor Dayton's fandom, but I will say that his handlers are wise to encourage his participation here this weekend.

Today I saw a pair of stories on Flipboard pertaining to Dyan's influence. The first, an article from Rolling Stone in which Stephen King defended the Nobel Prize committee's selection. Kudos to King, who said rather pointedly,"People complaining about his Nobel either don't understand or it's just a plain old case of sour grapes." The second, was an article in which former vice president Al Gore cited Dylan's influence on his own social consciousness.

A friend from Chicago sent me a link to this weekend's Chicago Tribune story about Dylan's roots in northern Minnesota. The article includes a nice photo of the tip of Lake Superior kissing the Duluth shoreline with our skyline as a backdrop.  And speaking of Duluth, the News Tribune did a nice tribute on its editorial page this Sunday.

Then there's the Wall Street Journal story by Gabriel Rubin, a Chicago-based WSJ journalist, who made the trek up here early in the week before to feel the pulse as we proceed toward the day.

And then there's this piece from the Minneapolis Star Tribune. I think the photo at the top says it all. Dylan's having fun, here, and whatever happens this really is a very special moment for the man.

Whether you're planning to attend or following from afar, the best way to stay current is to tap into The Hibbing Dylan Project on Facebook.

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How big is a Nobel Prize? No question it's a tremendous honor that is bestowed with gravity and acknowledged by many to be "the biggest award on earth." That's why as a young writer I made the Prize a facet of the story "Liz Mills," which appears in my volume of short stories Newmanesque.

Meantime, life goes on.... all around you. Will I see you in Hibbing?

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