Monday, May 31, 2021

Memorial Day: Remembering the Sacrifices of Those Who Served

Skyline Drive is a favorite stretch of road going west from 
Twin Ponds here in Duluth. Each year I see the flags placed on 
the graves at this cemetery for Memorial Day. This is the first 
time I have stopped to walk quietly in their midst.

Related Link

Sunday, May 30, 2021

A Few Things Things I Learned This Week During Dylan Fest

Bob Prophet (Claude-Angele Boni')
It has been anything but quiet here this week in Dylan-Land. Last weekend was the three-day streaming symposium from the TU Institute for Bob Dylan Studies. The range of topics discussed was striking. Dylan's career is touching and has touched people from all walks of life. Today there are even Tweeners getting tangled up in Bob.

Dylan turned 80 on Monday and the first three days of our Duluth Dylan Fest were a challenge because I also wanted to listen to as many presenters from Tulsa. Fortunately, those who paid the price of admission for the Tulsa conference -- a very low hurdle, for the record -- have six months to listen to everything they missed. That was a perk I will take advantage of.

The first presentation was by a young man named Nathan Blue, a student at TU who has the privilege of reading bags of unopened fan mail from 1966. There are literally thousands of documents in moldy mail bags that had to be disinfected for safety sake. His talk was titled "Don't Send Me No More Letters, No."

Those familiar with Dylan's life recognize 1966 as a significant year in his career. It featured his world tour with the band, the recording and release of Blonde On Blonde, and that motorcycle crash that became a 180 degree pivot away from life on the road. 

Michael Kramer's talk was titled "One Should Never Be Where One Does Not Belong." Kramer discussed this post crash period and Dylan's journals from that time as he developed the material for John Wesley Harding

What struck me most profoundly was how secretive and yet open Dylan has been his entire life. Let me explain.

Having come from a marketing/PR career I've always seen Dylan as the consummate marketer. He created buzz every time he opened his mouth, a master of misdirection and bafflement. He was photographed continuously. He had photographers documenting what seems like his every move from the moment he stepped into the spotlights very early on. The whole bootleg subculture and unofficial fan culture was profound. The manner in which every one of his concerts and even private playing seems to have been documented and captured -- how many others have had that? 

But the selling of his personal archives for the Dylan Museum in Tulsa, this was simply over the top. I just finished reading a biography of Jack London, written by the scholar who manages the archives of Jack London.  These archives were assembled posthumously. One of the scholars who spoke in Tulsa last weekend has been caretaker of the James Joyce archives. These, too, were assembled posthumously. How incredibly unusual that Dylan's archives have become accessible, are being organized and dissected while the man is still alive. This is something akin to an autopsy while the patient is still alive. It's unheard of.

People were digging through his garbage in the Sixties for anything and everything that could offer an insight into the enigmatic Bob. I just finished reading the section in Chronicles again where he described all these intrusions into his privacy as exceedingly annoying. Yet, today... His most private journals are being made available for microscopic inspection by every Dylanologist out there. What, exactly are we/they looking for? What new things do we/they hope to discover?

Like a master magician, the real Dylan is still playfully elusive. What does it really mean?  

Another big takeaway this week was seeing smiles on faces as we gathered again. This past year had us tangled up in blues. At last we've finally been released.

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Friday, May 28, 2021

Dylan Inspires Visual Artists, Too

Bob Dylan's creative spirit delivers inspiration in a variety of ways. One of these has been the inspiration he's generated in the visual arts. While exploring the various other facets of Expecting Rain this past winter I clicked on the Exhibition tab and discovered a four page gallery of artwork by Dylan Fans. The visual arts have been part of the Northland's Dylan celebrations for some time as well. Here are a few selections from Expecting Rain and our own local artist community.

Bob Dylan (Paul Butler)
Triumph (Jack McInroy)
In Dylan There Is Light (Mike Fratangelo)

Bob Dylan (Claude-Angele BONI)

Young Bob (Becky Perfetti)

Blowin' in the Wind (Ed Newman)

Forever Young (Daniel Botkin)

Looking Back (Margie Helstrom)

Later today local musicians will be performing at the Duluth Does Dylan Volume V release party across the bridge at Earth Rider Festival Field on North 3rd Street in Superior, 6-9:30 p.m. Here's a full schedule of the rest of this week's Duluth Dylan Fest events

For more Dylan-Inspired Visual Art

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Throwback Thursday: Together Through Life, 10 Years Later


I woke about an hour early this morning. As I lay there my mind began planning the day as it often does. Call Mom at eight, as is my custom. Pick up paintings from Homegrown Art Festival at 2:30... visit an artist's studio at three... paint in my studio and listen to Highway 61 Revisited, a.k.a the Dylan Hour, on KUMD at five... make a decision about going to the Million Dollar Bash at Beaners later. 
While thinking thus I drifted back to sleep. Then the alarm went off. Whoa! It's Friday!!!! Gotta go to work! 
It's been one busy, jam-packed week, and we're not done yet. Tonight there will be a couple more art events and still more Dylan activities. The Open House at Maggie Flowers Interior Design is a three day French Fling based on the European flea market motif. I have a number of new paintings there (Thursday thru Saturday) and will be there myself from 5-7 p.m. Location is at the corner of 15th Avenue East and Superior Street here in Duluth. Visit for more information. 

From there I will be running over to a one night only art show aptly titled Ten Emerging Artists at the former European Bakery, 109 West First Street, again in Duluth. Ten artists will be on display, or rather their work will be. I strongly encourage anyone who's out and about to drop in to see the art and photography of Adam Rosenthal, Alexander Hanson, Anthony Zappa, Brent Erickson, David Moreira, Justin Iverson, Leon Nyarecha, Rob K-Sm Nicolas Monson and Steven J Read. 

To my dismay I will again miss the singer-songwriter competition at Hibbing Auditorium, perhaps the highlight event of Dylan Days there. But for Duluth-bound fans, the Brewhouse will be putting it all out there as Duluth Does Dylan to their hearts content. 

If you're here from out of town and looking for something to do to kill time till tonight's activities, you might want to drive along our Skyline Drive and take in some of the views of the bay, the ore docks, bridges, ships and Lake Superior. Any time, day or night, Skyline Drive offers great vistas. 
You also may want to drive past 519 Third Avenue East and take a peek at the house young Bob Zimmerman once lived in till he was age six and his family moved to Hibbing. The fellow who purchased this house ten years ago is himself a Dylan fan and has been renovating it as time goes by. He maintains one of the most comprehensive Dylan sites on the internet if you need to know anything and everything Dylan, from tour dates to links to stories in the news. This morning there are 24 of the latter. The web address is 
In the meantime, enjoy the sun and the moon and the music and your friends. And have a great Memorial Day weekend. Don't forget Sunday's Battle of the Jugbands. Till the morrow.... 

PHOTO Top right: Drawing based on cover of Dylan's Street Legal. I placed it here because it looks like a guy looking for something. This week a lot of people were looking for Dylan. He turned 70, a milestone for any of us, and being a human like the rest of us, he very likely blew out birthday candles like the rest of us. Where did it happen? You can find quite a few articles online this week asking that very question. 

After half a century of listening to Dylan music, you might say we've been Together Through Life.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Photos from Our Duluth Dylan Fest Birthday Celebration at the Hillside Home of Bob Dylan

It was 80 degrees here the day before, then 40 on Monday the 24th as we shivered against the cold on Duluth's Central Hillside. The forecast had been for rain, but the weather gods smiled and we were blessed. A crowd of 90 people or so came to hear music, a few short talks, a reading of the Proclamation of our Year of Dylan and lots of camaraderie as we celebrated Bob Dylan's 80th birthday. 

Souvenir pens for fans and collectors.
519 North 3rd Avenue East. First home of
Robert Allen Zimmerman. The family lived upstairs in this duplex. 

Greg Tiburzi has been providing accompaniment for longer than
I can remember at this annual event. 
Bill Pagel (leather jacket on right) owns both houses Bob Dylan
grew up in here in the Northland. Talking with Christa Lawler 
of the News Tribune who also served as a judge in the 
singer/songwriter contest.
Miriam Hansen (L) keeps the flame lit as host of the 
KUMD radio show Highway 61 Revisited. With Zane Bail. 
Notice how they are mugging for the camera rather than 
listening to the speaker. (wink)
County Commissioner Frank Jewell read the Official Proclamation.
Jewell has served 10 years as commissioner, 4 years on the
City Council and a lifetime as a community organizer.
View from up the hill.
A volunteer hands out copies of the Proclamation
regarding our Year of Dylan in St. Louis County.
Zane Bail (R) has been the Chair and primary engine for the 
Duluth Dylan Fest Committee this past decade. 
Sunbonnet Sue (L) is an Honorary Duluthian for her 10 years 
of annual service to the cause of honoring Bob Dylan's Birthday.
It takes a village... and we've welcomed her to our tribe.

Craig Grau, retired professor from UMD welcomed the gathering crowd of well-wishers, then introduced writer/blogger Ed Newman who shared remarks about how amazing that Robert Allen Zimmerman was once a toddler who played on this very porch. Mighty oaks emerge from tiny seeds. After Commissioner Frank Jewell read the proclamation we all sang a cheerful, heartfelt Happy Birthday chorus.

We're saving a piece of cake for you. 
Thanks for all you have given us.

* * * 

All photos on this page courtesy Michael K. Anderson,
our exceptional documentarian.

Monday, May 24, 2021

Bob Dylan Turns 80: Too Many Events, Too Little Time -- Photos from Saturday

The Zimmerman home in Hibbing where young Bob
lived before setting off on his life adventure.
Saturday was the groundbreaking for a memorial in front of the historic Hibbing High School, organized by a team called The Hibbing Project. I was told there were about 80 people present, one for each year of his life, I guess. After the event at the high school the festivities moved down the street to the former Hibbing home of Bob Dylan, now owned by Bill Pagel.

Saturday was also the opening day of the Dylan @ 80: TU Institute for Bob Dylan Studies, the first of three days of streaming roundtables, presentations and information about the historic Bob Dylan archives which have been acquired, assorted and will be studied for years to come. 

And finally, Saturday was the kickoff of our nine-day Duluth Dylan Fest, honoring Duluth's native son with music, poetry and other events.  

Saturday in Duluth began with a tour of historic places related to the Bob Dylan story, which technically begins in Duluth. (Theoretically, you can go deeper into Dylan's roots and find elements of his family history that prove relevant to his formative development. Some of that is covered in Dave Engel's book Just Like Bob Zimmerman's Blues. Mr. Engel will be our featured speaker in the John Bushey Memorial Lecture Series this coming weekend.) 

8 VIPs with gold shovels. Bill Pagel hoped to 
steal one for his archives.
The evening events included a special show on KUMD's Highway 61 Revisited, hosted by Miriam. Afterwards the Bob Dylan Revue reunited to perform a socially distanced and streamlined live show, one of many events featuring Dylan music. The photos here begin with the Hibbing Groundbreaking Ceremony for the Dylan Project, photos courtesy Nelson French grew up nearby in the 'hood.

* * * 

The city creatively embellished
the crosswalk in front of Bob's home.

The photos beneath, courtesy Michael Anderson, 
feature the event at Sacred Heart. 

* * * 


This week is Duluth Dylan Fest. Join us.
Many events this week will be streaming, some 
will be live, like the Birthday Party on the Porch 
here in Duluth where young Robert spent his 1st six years.
1:00 p.m. CST. We'll meet you there.

Duluth Dylan Fest Links

Sunday, May 23, 2021

A Happy 80th Birthday Crossword Puzzle for Dylan Fans

My granddaughter Lena is also
a Dylan fan.
My daughter creates crossword puzzles, many of which have been published in the NYTimes and other major publications. Because she's also a Dylan fan I thought she would not object to my requesting a Dylan-themed crossword puzzle for his 80th birthday. It's not quite as easy as a Word Find puzzle. It will make you scratch your noggin, much like trying to resolve the meanings of many of Dylan's lyrics. 

Speaking of puzzles, Dylan used the word "puzzle" only once in all his catalog. Bonus question to those who solve the crossword: In which Dylan song did the word Puzzle appear? 

* * * *

The NYTimes image below is filler so as to put a little more separation between the puzzle and its solution. Look at the answers only if you've given up all hope. Enjoy!

One of Christina's puzzles was published on January 1, 2020
the first NYTimes puzzle of the new decade. 


        Bootleg Series Vol. 9: The Witmark Demos
        "Well, you cut me like a jigsaw puzzle..."

"Happy Birthday, Bob!"

Every blog post this week will be Dylan-themed in one way or another. If Dylan is not your thing, come back in June. There's a backlog of other material waiting to be shared.


Related Links

This week is Duluth Dylan Fest
Many of our events will be streaming.

Duluth Dylan Fest Links

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Claude-Angele BONI's It's Alright, Ma + Eden

"It's alright Ma I'm only bleeding and
there are no truths outside the gates of Eden"
Over the years I have frequently repeated the quote, "If a man is worth knowing at all, he is worth knowing well." The saying applies to women equally well, obviously, and the one I am applying it to here is Claude-Angele BONI, a French artist who has been immersed in Dylan-inspiration for five decades or more. 

In 1993 she published a book of her Dylan-themed paintings and collages titled Stuck Inside of Mobile (With a Rhapsody for Bob Dylan.) The more I see of her work the more I have been enthralled, not simply by the imagery but by the stories behind the pictures.

Here are some notes from our correspondence that help shed light on the painting here displayed.

She first heard "Gates of Eden" and "It's Alright, Ma" in 1966. Though she did not speak English she was impressed by the few words she was able to understand. For years she listened to his songs translated into French, so it wasn't until 1976 that found Writings and Drawings and was able to understand exactly what he was talking about, word by word. "I was amazed! I started to analyse those songs so mysterious and clear at the same time, like some "charade", some enigmas, so I left aside the conception I had of him based on his special voice and his fragile and innocent look and I started to consider him as a wise sphinx," she says.

"As soon as I had been free to paint again, in 1974, I made a painting on those two songs. It was the one I chose to offer him in 1978, the year I saw him in the flesh for the first time. It changed my life. Then I started to read a lot of books on history and psychology... The Pandora Box was opened! I started to consider my environment with my eyes wide open... " 

Of the painting itself she writes:


"It's alright ma I'm only bleeding'' is the main title. It refers to the struggle of life and "Gates of Eden" refers to resilience and faith. The complete title might be: "It's alright Ma I'm only bleeding and there are no truths outside the gates of Eden. 

This painting is about a son who has stayed long enough with his mother and needs to 'cut the cord' as we say in French when a boy remains too long dependent on his mum. Bob Dylan on the first plane is thinking about what it takes to reach his goal only by himself. Just on his left Bacchus and his bacchanalia will show him the good side of the emancipation, but first he has to 'kill the father.'

Beginning with Elvis laying down in his swimming trunks in Hawaii, like the young David, he will have to fight his opponents with courage using tricks and weapons. Many times, he will remember his mother who blessed him when he left and as soon as his trip really begins he will have a look at the door he has to close behind him, and take a deep breath before he enters the purifying waters. 

I copied David from a picture I had of a bronze by Donatello. I had just visited the city of Firenze (Florence, Italy) and the museum Palazzo Bargello. When I saw the statue, I felt like I was meeting again someone I used to know... I felt a lot of affection for this little David. 

At the Uffizi Gallery I also had the same feeling when I saw the painting by Caravaggio of a young "mischievous" Bacchus. So It gave me the great need to start a painting with Bacchus and David and the idea to add Bob Dylan came as an evident link to David. At the back, the Virgin Mary is a copy of The Annunciation by Leonardo da Vinci. As I have, first of all, an Italian background I have a lot of affinity with the Italian painters. 

Thanks for making me have this look back at my beginning.

* * * *

Related Links
French Artist Claude-Angele BONI Explains Two Dylan-Inspired Treasures
Fun With Collage: Claude-Angele BONI's Lily, Rosemarie and the Jack of Hearts, Vers. 1 & 2

This week is Duluth Dylan Fest
Many events this week will be streaming.

Duluth Dylan Fest Links

Friday, May 21, 2021

Flashback Friday: The Case for Celebrating Dylan's Home Town

Don't Look Back (Avail. as print or original)

A few weeks ago I mentioned a gentleman from Manchester with whom I had visited during my Dylan-themed show at the Ochre Ghost Gallery, the week of Dylan Fest. Since that time we've begun a correspondence and it turns out he is no ordinary Dylan fan. He's a professional who has written extensively about the topic of music-based tourism. 
Last week I received a 17 page document co-authored by David Leaver and Ruth A. Schmidt of Manchester Metropolitan University titled, "Before they were famous: music-based tourism and a musician's hometown roots." The paper opens, "Music-based tourism is well developed and growing, especially in countries featuring both mature tourism and music industries, such as the USA and the UK." One sources estimates that destination travel related to music involves as many as 55 million annual visits worldwide. The destination points rely on evidence of cultural activities, incidents and tangible artifacts that can be photographed. 
The paper cites Liverpool as one community that increased its incoming tourism dollars by 40% when they deliberately embraced this concept, that people want to visit and see the places the Beatles actually once were. Graceland in Memphis attracts 600,000 visitors a year now. Buddy Holly's birthplace, Lubbock, Texas, is another lodestone for the rock 'n roll faithful. 
As the Beatles once sang,
"There are places I remember
All my life though some have changed..."

, MN, in recent years began to capitalize on this notion of place with regard to Dylan, creating an annual celebration called Dylan Days. And it's about time, because a lot of people want a time and place for seeing the school auditorium where Dylan first played, and the surrounding neighborhood he grew up in. 
Last week I talked with someone who said the first day that he got his motorcycle license, the very first thing he did was ride to Hibbing to see where Dylan grew up. At the time, there was nothing to see. Today we have Zimmy's and more. There are things one can photograph and save for a scrapbook of memories, and touch and feel.
Some people think all this nostalgia quest is just a bunch of aging Baby Boomers trying to keep the flame alive. "Come gather round people wherever you roam...." But the Leaver/Schmidt study notes that 34 per cent of the people who visited Graceland in 2008 were under 30. Not only is the music being passed down to new generations, but the significance of the places and people is being noted. 
In David Leaver's recent email to me on this topic he wrote, "I learnt a long time ago that it’s not the message sent out but the message received that’s important so we will all have different takes on it."

Included in this email was the link to a 22 minute film he created based on the 1966 Dylan concert in Manchester's Free Trade Hall. The film is essentially three men reminiscing about that critical juncture in Dylan's career when he careened into a new path, going electric, which many fans thought was a betrayal of his own ethos.

"My interest in the Free Trade Hall 1966 stemmed from my interest in the notion of place and its link to music and emotion (my first degree was in Geography.) The film is dedicated to my friend Ruth Schmidt with whom I wrote three Dylan related papers on that topic. Ruth loved Dylan and her adopted city of Manchester. She passed away on May 17 2011 – the 45th anniversary of the concert and every time I go past the FTH I think of her." 
When you have time, check out this film about Dylan at Manchester's Free Trade Hall 1966.

Message to Duluth: Remember, these visitors are emotion-driven customers who spend without thinking. Duluth and Hibbing deserve the same recognition as Memphis and Nashville, don'tcha think? Have a great day!

* * * 
Related Links

Duluth Dylan Fest Links

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Dylan Weighs In on the Disease of Conceit

There’s a whole lot of people suffering tonight
From the disease of conceit
Whole lot of people struggling tonight
From the disease of conceit
Comes right down the highway
Straight down the line
Rips into your senses
Through your body and your mind
Nothing about it that’s sweet
The disease of conceit

Conceit is a word we don't hear used that much anymore. We say things like, "He's full of himself," or "He's got a big head." We also hear quite a bit about narcissism, frequently in the context of dating advice. "Five Signs to Help You Spot Narcissistic Behavior" and "11 Signs that You're Dating a Narcissist" are on the first page when I Google this.

The word narcissism comes from the Greek tale of Narcissus who fell in love with his reflection in a pond. Dylan incorporated this tale into the last verse of "License to Kill" (Infidels):

Now he worships at an altar of a stagnant pool
And when he sees his reflection, he’s fulfilled
Oh, man is opposed to fair play
He wants it all and he wants it his way

Narcissus by Caravaggio
Dylan's imagery hit me like a zap from a 220 volt copper wire the first time I heard it in 1983. What is it about our nature that inclines us to self-deceit and an overweening sense of self-importance?

The opening line of the song sets the stage: "Man thinks 'cause he rules the world he can do with it as he please..." 

Another word that can be used interchangeably with conceit is arrogance. Psychologist Karen Horney (Freud's first female student) in her book Our Inner Conflicts (A Constructive Theory of Neurosis) asserts that the greater the variance between our idealized self-image and our real self, the more amplified our neurotic tendencies. She writes:

"Precisely to the extent that the image is unrealistic, it tends to make the person arrogant, in the original meaning of the word; for arrogance, though used synonymously was superciliousness, means to arrogate to oneself qualities that one does not have, or that one has potentially but not factually."
--Our Inner Conflicts, p. 97

What Dr. Horney goes on to say is that our self-inflation is not something we do consciously. That is, arrogant people are unaware of how divergent their real behavior is from their idealized version of themselves. This is what makes it so tragic and troubling.

Dylan's "Disease of Conceit" breaks it down in some interesting ways. The first stanzas describe the results of conceit. People are hurt. It causes heartbreak. People are crying, and even dying because of it. "There's nothing about it that's sweet, the disease of conceit." 

Then comes the bridge in which he describes conceit as something of a mystery. (Life has many mysteries, doesn't it?)

Conceit is a disease
That the doctors got no cure
They’ve done a lot of research on it
But what it is, they’re still not sure

The song's last stanza is a reminder that we are but dust, a warning to beware of "delusions of grandeur" because ultimately we all await the very same fate. 
There’s a whole lot of people in trouble tonight
From the disease of conceit
Whole lot of people seeing double tonight
From the disease of conceit
Give ya delusions of grandeur And a evil eye
Give you the idea that
You’re too good to die
Then they bury you from your head to your feet
From the disease of conceit 

* * * 
In 1937 Salvador Dali produced a painting that he titled The Metamorphosis of Narcissus. If you Google the word Narcissus and click on images, most of the images will be of a yellow flower called the Narcissus, though more commonly called the daffodil today. 

The Metamorphosis of Narcissus (Salvador Dali) Tate Museum
© Salvador Dali, Gala-Salvador Dali Foundation/DACS, London 2020
Though Dylan's "Disease of Conceit" ends with a rather bleak prognosis (buried from your head to your feet), there's a seed thought in the tale of Narcissus which Dali captures in his painting (currently on display at the Tate Museum in London). Here is a portion of the text that accompanies this image:

Narcissus was a youth of great beauty who loved only himself and broke the hearts of many lovers. The gods punished him by letting him see his own reflection in a pool. He fell in love with it, but discovered he could not embrace it and died of frustration. Relenting, the gods immortalized him as the narcissus (daffodil) flower.

The Disciple
Oscar Wilde's ironic twist on the myth of Narcissus

When Narcissus died, the pool of his pleasure changed from a cup of sweet waters into a cup of salt tears, and the Oreads came weeping through the woodland that they might sing to the pool and give it comfort.

And when they saw that the pool had changed from a cup of sweet waters into a cup of salt tears, they loosened the green tresses of their hair, and cried to the pool, and said: "We do not wonder that you should mourn in this manner for Narcissus, so beautiful was he."

"But was Narcissus beautiful?" said the pool

"Who should know better than you?" answered the Oreads. "Us did he ever pass by, but you he sought for, and would lie on your banks and look down at you, and in the mirror of your waters he would mirror his own beauty."

And the pool answered: "But I loved Narcissus because, as he lay on my banks and looked down at me, in the mirror of his eyes I saw my own beauty mirrored."

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