Category Music

Podcast: Crackers and Bagels

Crackers & Bagels: Josh Alan Friedman on The Virtual Memories Show

Virtual Memories – season 4 episode 4 – Crackers and Bagels

“Among the many things that writing does, it gives you the chance for revenge, clarification; there are a lot of basic human emotions that you can address by being able to write about them.”

Josh Alan Friedman, author of Black Cracker, is the third Friedman brother I’ve interviewed, as part of my “Capturing the (Other) Friedmans” series of podcasts. (I really gotta rename that.) Josh is an accomplished author and guitarist, and has plenty of stories of New York at its most sordid. We met up at a cafe in Times Square to talk about his old days writing for Al Goldstein’s Screw magazine, why it took him more than 30 years to write Black Cracker, his “Lewis & Martin” theory about his estrangement from his brother Drew, his parents’ successful divorce, and more!

“I want my list of works to be lean and mean and everything was urgent and had to be done. Nothing to play the market. My family’s had to suffer for that, that I haven’t done commercial jobs just to bring home the bacon.”

Along the way, we also develop an idea for a high-concept movie, talk lewdly in front of some tourists, pay homage to his literary idols, and figure out that therapy just gets in the way of making good art. If you’ve got a problem with any of that (especially the coarse language) then you should skip this episode.

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes! Related conversations:

Follow The Virtual Memories Show on iTunes, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and RSS!

About our Guest

In 1987, writer-guitarist Josh Alan Friedman sold his soul to the devil at the crossroads (the Crossroads of the World: Broadway & 42nd Street) and moved to Texas. He’d just written Tales of Times Square, a cult classic. Josh’s latest book is Black Cracker, the story of his tumultuous childhood as the only white boy at Long Island’s last segregated school. In 2008, he wrote Tell the Truth Until They Bleed: Coming Clean in the Dirty World of Blues and Rock ‘n’ Roll. He has also written When Sex Was Dirty, and I, Goldstein: My Screwed Life (with Al Goldstein), and co-edited Now Dig This: The Unspeakable Writings of Terry Southern, 1950-1995. Josh also set off satirical fires and lawsuits as writer-half of the Friedman Bros, the most feared cartooning duo of the late ’70s and ’80s. Two anthologies remain in print, featuring the art of Josh’s brother, Drew Friedman: Warts and All, and Any Similarity to Persons Living or Dead is Purely Coincidental (Two). On the music front, as “Josh Alan,” he barnstormed the state of Texas for 20 years, rocking whole arenas with his Guild D-40. Copping three Dallas Observer Music Awards for Best Acoustic Act, he released four albums: Famous & Poor, The Worst!, Blacks ‘N’ Jews (the title of which became a documentary on Josh’s life) and Josh Alan Band.

Credits: This episode’s music is Jeff’s Boogie by Josh Alan (Friedman). The conversation was recorded at the Cafe Edison on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 microphones feeding into a Zoom H4n recorder. The intro and outro were recorded in a hotel room in London on the same gear. Processing was done in Audacity and Garage Band. Photo of Josh Alan Friedman by me.

Podcast: A Place To Rest

Emily Raboteau tours the Promised Land on the Virtual Memories Show

Virtual Memories – season 4 episode 2 – A Place To Rest

“We reach for stories to be able to take risks.”

Emily Raboteau, author of Searching for Zion: The Quest for Home in the African Diaspora (Atlantic Monthly Press), joins the Virtual Memories Show to show to talk about the many notions of “home” for black people. Along the way, we talk about the many notions of what constitutes a black person. As Ms. Raboteau discovered in the travels chronicled in her book — encompassing Israel, Jamaica, Ethiopia, Ghana and America’s deep south — there are a lot of ideas about who’s black and what blackness means.

“As my husband told me, ‘You can’t valorize the oppressed just because they were oppressed. It doesn’t make them saintly; more often than not, it makes them want to step on someone else to elevate themselves.’”

We also talk about churchgoing in New York City, what it’s like to travel to Antarctica, why the story of Exodus is so pivotal in the black American experience, why Jewish book reviewers thought she was pulling a bait-and-switch, why she chose to explore her black roots instead of her white ones for this book, what motherhood means, and what it was like to give a talk about faith on behalf of Bobby McFerrin.

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes! Related conversations:

Follow The Virtual Memories Show on iTunes, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and RSS!

About our Guest

Emily Raboteau is the author of a novel, The Professor’s Daughter (Henry Holt, Picador), and a work of creative nonfiction, Searching for Zion: The Quest for Home in the African Diaspora (Grove/Atlantic), named one of the “Best Books of 2013” by The Huffington Post and the grand prize winner of the New York Book Festival. She recently visited Antarctica and Cuba to research her next novel, Endurance, about a shipbuilder and his autistic son. Her fiction and essays have been widely published and anthologized in Best American Short Stories, Best American Non-required Reading, Tin House, The Oxford American, The Guardian, Guernica, The Believer and elsewhere. Honors include a Pushcart Prize, The Chicago Tribune’s Nelson Algren Award, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Christopher Isherwood Foundation and the Howard Foundation. An avid world traveler, she resides in New York City and teaches creative writing in Harlem at City College, once known as “the poor man’s Harvard.”

Credits: This episode’s music is Promised Land by Johnnie Allan. The conversation was recorded at the home of a friend of Emily’s on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 microphones feeding into a Zoom H4n recorder. The intro and outro were recorded at home on a Blue Yeti USB Microphone. Processing was done in Audacity and Garage Band. Photo of Emily Raboteau by me.

2013 Podcast Countdown: #5

On with the podcast countdown! The 5th most downloaded episode from 2013 was my conversation with musician and newly minted novelist Lori Carson!

#5 – Little Suicides, Little Fish - Singer-songwriter, member of the Golden Palominos, and debut novelist Lori Carson joins the Virtual Memories Show to talk about her new book, The Original 1982, the blurring of fact and fiction, the differences between songwriting and prose-writing (and album vs. book launches), the transformation of the  music industry, her favorite authors and the books that sustained her through her first novel, and more! It’s a great conversation with one of my favorite musical artists. (5/28/13) mp3

I’d been a fan of Lori’s music since I first heard Little Suicides back in 1994 (here’s a live version from 2011), but I think I did a good job of not having a nerd meltdown around her. My wearing a suit & tie to the interview — I had just come from a meeting with some Pfizer execs — probably helped me with that. She surprised me with the breadth and depth of her reading, and I’ve got a number of her book suggestions on my to-read list.

Now go listen to our #5 most downloaded episode from 2013! (and check out The Original 1982 and go listen to Lori’s solo work and her two records with the Golden Palominos, while you’re at it!)

Check back tomorrow for #4! As ever, thanks to all my guests for the great conversations, and thank you, dear listeners, for each and every download!

#10-8 – Craig Gidney / Ed Hermance, Drew Friedman, Jesse Sheidlower

#7 – Willard Spiegelman

#6 – Pete Bagge

And remember, you can find all our episodes at the podcast archive or by visiting iTunes! Wanna see pix of our guests? Check out the flickr set!

Podcast: Glamour Profession

Virginia Postrel talks Glamour on The Virtual Memories Show

Virtual Memories – season 3 episode 26 – Glamour Profession

Everyone is susceptible to some kind of glamour; it’s just a matter of understanding what kind of glamour you’re susceptible to. Is it technological glamour, or glamour of the intellectual life, or something else?”

Virginia Postrel joins us this week to talk about her new book, The Power of Glamour: Longing and the Art of Visual Persuasion. It’s a great conversation about the uses and abuses of glamour, the nerd fixation on space travel, the first known symbol of glamour, how people get seduced by IT glamour, how Barack Obama’s first election campaign was heaven-sent for Ms. Postrel’s book, and more!

“All my work is a continuation of the classical liberal tradition that goes back to the 18th century. Writers like Hume and Adam Smith were interested in the economy, in the role of the state, but they were interested in much more than that. Fundamentally, they were interested in the human imagination, in how human beings create a meaningful world around them, and relate to each other, and live in a civilized world order.”

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes! Related conversations:

Follow The Virtual Memories Show on iTunes, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and RSS!

About our Guest

Virginia Postrel is an author, columnist, and speaker whose work spans a broad range of topics, from social science to fashion, concentrating on the intersection of culture and commerce. In addition to The Power of Glamour, she also wrote The Substance of Style: How the Rise of Aesthetic Value Is Remaking Commerce, Culture, and Consciousness and The Future and Its Enemies: The Growing Conflict Over Creativity. She’s a regular columnist for Bloomberg View and was the editor of Reason magazine for more than a decade. You can follow her on twitter at vpostrel.

Credits: This episode’s music is Glamour Profession by Steely Dan. The conversation was recorded in a rather echo-y room at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 microphones feeding into a Zoom H4n recorder. The intro and outro were recorded in a room at the Omni La Mansion Del Rio in San Antonio on aSamson Meteor USB Microphone. Processing was done in Audacity and Garage Band. Photo of Virginia Postrel by me.

Podcast: Arts and Sciences and Bugs

david_rothenberg_playing_cicadas_bug_music

Virtual Memories – season 3 episode 17 -
Arts and Sciences and Bugs

Today’s episode of The Virtual Memories Show is a little offbeat, but I have faith in you, dear listener!

I take something that seems obscure, and it leads you to somewhere that is not where you expect.

–David Rothenberg

First, philosopher, musicologist, clarinetist and author David Rothenberg joins us to talk about his new book, Bug Music: How Insects Gave Us Rhythm and Noise, and its accompanying CD. It’s a fun conversation about rhythms and meta-rhythms, 17-year cicadas, David’s lifetime of music, the joy of bringing different people’s worlds together,  how aesthetic preference sorta trumps survival of the fittest. the development of bugstep, and the secret to finding a rewarding job teaching the humanities. (And, really, you should listen just to find out that secret.)

These points in your life, you often wonder what would have happened if you’d taken the other course. I could’ve gone into theology or some bloody thing. Instead I wound up in science and I’m atheist now.

–Clive Bennett

Then (around the 43:00 mark), we have a conversation with Clive Bennett, the CEO of Halo Pharma, a pharmaceutical contract manufacturing organization. I met Clive through my day job, and found him so delightfully literate, discursive and thoughtful that I asked him to record a segment on the podcast. Once I had him cornered, I asked him why he’d gone into the sciences, given his artistic, historical, musical and literary interests. (Really, I think it was just a condemnation of myself for not doing more with my time.) He decided to bring his Kindle along to reveal what he’s reading and why (and reveal himself in the process). It’s two men talking about the choices we make and those that are made for us.

Clive Bennett on the Virtual Memories Show

Enjoy the conversations! Then check out the archives for more great episodes!

Related conversations:

Follow The Virtual Memories Show on iTunes, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and RSS!

About our Guests

Philosopher and jazz musician David Rothenberg is professor of philosophy and music at the New Jersey Institute of Technology and the author of Bug Music, Survival of the Beautiful, Why Birds Sing, and Thousand-Mile Song. He is also a composer and jazz clarinetist, and he has nine CDs out under his own name, including On the Cliffs of the Heart, named one of the top ten CDs by Jazziz Magazine in 1995. He lives in the Hudson Valley, New York.

Clive Bennett has been CEO and president of Halo Pharma since 2008. He’s spent 40 years in the pharma industry, including 23 years at Hoechst Marion Roussel (now sanofi), as well as Fisons Limited, Evolutec, and Patheon. He’s also a voracious reader, history buff, opera-goer, and a lot of other things that don’t go on a CV.

Credits: This episode’s music is Katydid Prehistory by David Rothenberg. The conversation with David Rothenberg was recorded at his childhood home in Westport, CT on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 mics feeding into a Zoom H4n recorder. The conversation with Clive Bennett was recorded at his office in Whippany, NJ on the same equipment. The intro and outdo were recorded in my home office on a Blue Yeti USB microphone. File-splitting is done on a Mac Mini using Audacity. All editing and processing was done in Garage Band. Photo of David playing with cicadas by Charles Lindsay. Photo of Clive & me by Sally Langa. 

Podcast: Little Suicides, Little Fish

Lori Carson on The Virtual Memories Show (3/3)

Virtual Memories – season 3 episode 11 – Little Suicides, Little Fish

“There’s this misconception that something born of the imagination is less true. It’s more true, if you do it right.”

TheOriginal1982 PB CLori Carson joins us to talk about her debut novel, The Original 1982 (published by William Morrow, an imprint of Harper Collins). Lori’s one of my all-time favorite musicians, so the conversation also covers her singer-songwriter career and her time with the Golden Palominos, where she recorded two phenomenal albums, This Is How It Feels and Pure. It’s a really fun talk about the blurring of fact and fiction, the differences between songwriting and prose-writing (and album vs. book launches), how the music industry changed over the course of her career, her favorite authors and the books that sustained her through her first novel, why she made this life-jump from music to books, and more!

“Many people get to a point where they say, ‘I’ve done this all my life; what’s next?’”

(And there’s a book launch at The Corner Bookstore on Madison and 93rd St. in New York City on Thursday, May 30, starting at 6 pm.! If you’re in the area, check it out! Also, here’s a video of her reading the book’s prologue.)

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great talk!

Follow The Virtual Memories Show on iTunesTwitter, FacebookTumblr, and RSS!

About our Guest

Carson-Lori-ap1Lori Carson is a critically acclaimed singer/songwriter whose albums include Shelter, Where It Goes, Everything I Touch Runs Wild, Stars and Another Year. A former member of the seminal band Golden Palominos, she has contributed to the soundtracks of Bernardo Bertolucci’s Stealing Beauty, Kathryn Bigelow’s Strange Days, Keith Gordon’s Waking the Dead, and others. The Original 1982 is her first novel.

Credits: This episode’s music is Little Suicides, Souvenir, and Stars by Lori Carson and/or Golden Palominos. The conversation was recorded at the Harper Collins offices (thanks, Leah!) on a pair of Blue enCORE 100, feeding into a Zoom H4n recorder. I recorded the intro and outro on a Blue Yeti USB mic into Audacity. All editing and processing was done in Garage Band. Photo by Lauren Cook (thanks, Lauren!). There are a few more pix of us up at the Virtual Memories Show flickr set.

Last Responder

I was going to write some depressing remembrance about 9/11 for the 10th anniversary, but here’s the best thing I wrote about 9/11, a post from 2009′s anniversary. I don’t think I can improve on it, so much as riff. (Here’s something else I wrote about the towers, from 2005.)

I’ve been thinking of getting my “9.11.01 Never Forget” tattoo removed or covered over. I think I’m ready to forget.

I read today’s installment of Cul de Sac and laughed for a while. Thanks, Mr. Thompson:

Cul de Sac

Do something good today.

Unrequired Reading: Junebug

Just in time for July 4th, it’s a collection of my tweeted links and retweets, for those of you too lazy to get on Twitter and follow me @groth18!

First up, the retweets!

RT @MoCCAnyc (MoCCA): Kirby vs Marvel in the NY Times

* * *

RT @KenTremendous (Ken Tremendous): Wow. RT (@parksandrecnbc) The Ron Swanson Mosaic. Be sure to grab our free hi-res poster! #ParksandRec

* * *

RT @tnyCloseRead (Amy Davidson): David Remnick on the Big Man: Bloodbrother: Clarence Clemons, 1942-2011

* * *

RT @kylevanblerk (Kyle Van Blerk): Need. This. Bookcase.

* * *

RT @simonpegg (Simon Pegg): Memorable ink from the US book tour: 1 and 2

* * *

RT @kylevanblerk (Kyle van Blerk): animalsbeingdicks.com That is all. Have a good weekend.

* * *

RT @MarylandMudflap (Scotty L.): Etch-a-Sketch was really onto something. I wish I could shake the shit out of everything in my life when I need a fresh start.

* * *

RT @scottmccloud (Scott McCloud): OMG OMG OMG http://llamafont.com

* * *

RT @normmacdonald (Norm Macdonald): I’d have to be pretty hammered to see “Thor”.

* * *

RT @DwightGarner (Dwight Garner): Daniel Okrent (I think) said it in Esquire (I think) in the 80s: “John Coltrane & Johnny Hartman” = best LP ever recorded. I’m a believer.

* * *

Anyone know where #ProfessorZoom got his doctorate? #justwondering

* * *

Cover story: #magouflage

* * *

Nazis tend not to design great synagogues? I prefer #BattlestarJudaica! #FrankLloydWrong 26 Jun

* * *

Is #Cars a vehicle (ha-ha) for Intelligent Design?

* * *

Blind drunk: #notreally

* * *

Neat #PhilipRoth interview: #idontreadcontempofictioneither

* * *

If I ever have to move again, I have no idea what I’ll do with all the books. #unpackingtheshelves

* * *

Long-ass @BobMould conversation on wrestling, Catholicism, breakups and more: #seealittlelight

* * *

@SimonDoonan: wildly pro-Jew. #yay!

* * *

I am SO glad I didn’t watch the last six episodes of @TheKilling_AMC: http://bit.ly/mEhcSL #stillsevenhoursiwillnevergetback

* * *

I wish it hadn’t taken me so long to think of #WeAllKilledRosieLarsen. Still, glad I didn’t watch the last 7 episodes of @TheKilling_AMC

* * *

First, only time #AnnaNicoleSmith will be compared to #BleakHouse.

* * *

#SalmanRushdie offers up seven wonders (those Goya paintings the Prado are creepy as all get-out)

* * *

The Girl with the Caffeine Addiction? #TMCM

* * *

NYT sez: Life could be better if we blow off property rights, the environment, consumer safety, etc.: #highspeedrail

* * *

Introvert Myth #11: they don’t get Twitter.

* * *

Time-Traveling Male Sea Monkeys Make Bad Mates

* * *

Great moments in terrible casting, via @fuggirls (No #JessicaAlba as geneticist and/or blonde in #FantasticFour?)

* * *

Accidental Chinese hipsters: #umm

* * *

Bust 2.0? “If you squint just right, our business is actually booming!”

* * *

Do we expect too much of books? #iknowido #ralphwaldoemerson

* * *

(Un)happy Bloomsday.

* * *

Krypto’s got quite a pedigree: #superdog #legionofsuperpets

* * *

Rockin’ the GTH turban: #sikhandyoushallfind

* * *

Mandelbrot, P.I.?

* * *

No Mexican in Paris? WTF? I can’t even call this #firstworldproblems

* * *

Why I never took up smoking: #cheapjew

* * *

The Enhancer: “Yeah, but have you ever Disneyed . . . HIGH?” #weed

* * *

#Masa loses one star for F-U (by @samsifton)

* * *

Haberdashed!

* * *

“Not only is it okay to hate #LeBron, but it’s a fucking character flaw on your part if you do not.” #nbafinals

* * *

Anybody know what this is? #snakeonahike #herpetology

* * *

My hometown: a toxic mess that CAN’T be cleaned up, after multiple Superfund attempts: #ringwoodnj #eatlead

* * *

#JoeJackson & #TheRoots do #SteppinOut on @latenightjimmy

* * *

Apparently, I need to alternate my annual Toronto trip with some Montreal action.

* * *

i found my thrill on N***** Hill? #plaqueremoval

* * *

Never trust your parents, especially when you’re home for the holidays: #drugdeal

* * *

#Seth’s lovely eulogy for his father: #nosethdoesnothaveatwitteraccount

* * *

Every mall should have a bomb shelter: #shoptillthebombdrops

* * *

Puyehue makes an ash of itself: #underthevolcano #alsooverthevolcano

* * *

I’ll get to these right after I finish #ADancetotheMusicofTime. #johnswartzelder #simpsons

* * *

Sunfart: #justsunfart

* * *

Greatest pwnage ever? #nadal #federer #toughcall

* * *

To prize integrity is to fear disintegration” (via @asymmetricinfo)

* * *

Escapistism.

* * *

It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World: Greatest. Cast. Ever.

* * *

@comicsreporter on his hoped-for DC relaunches. #bwahhaha

* * *

Kirby. Gods. Watercolor. #nuffsaid

* * *

@michaelbierut on comedic design (sorta): #talkingfunny

* * *

We will be like birds.

* * *

#GeneHackman: “He tried”

* * *

#UmbertoEco on reading and not reading: http://bit.ly/jFXAQZ

* * *

#Francesa = #Jeter?

* * *

“You cook?” “I’m French.” #MelanieLaurent #aurevoirshoshana!

* * *

No one said, “I wish I kept up on Twitter more”? #regretsofthedying

Life and Times

Man, I wish there was, like, a line in here that says, “And these are the moments when you say something, and these are the moments when you don’t,” and it always works that way. Oh, God, it’s never gonna be that simple. I’ll go to my grave and never get it right.

Bob Mould

The persecutor within

It’s been far too long, dear readers! But, as I mentioned a few weeks ago, the month of June is devoted to the Top 20 Pharma / Top 10 Biopharma issue of my magazine. In addition to researching and writing a shit-ton of profiles, I also had to transcribe and edit a bunch of interviews I did with major companies and their outsourcing partners. I hate that process, but don’t trust other people enough to let them handle it. (I have a weakness for Q&A-style articles, so I try to include one or two in every ish.) Late in the process (as in last Monday), one of the pharma companies told me that the person they’d given me to interview had subsequently left the company. In the two weeks between the interview and my sending them the transcript. They didn’t get around to telling me this for 10 days, and offered no solution outside of, “You can’t run any of his quotes.”

I built a lot of flexibility into the structure of this ish, so I can absorb the loss of a two-page article a week or so before press time, but I’m still peeved enough at their crap behavior to put them on my banned list for future publicity, articles, etc. I mean, it’s not like they’re even going to notice this, being a $20 billion company, but I have to have my petty triumphs.

Still, I finished writing my Tops profiles a day ahead of schedule, putting myself in a less stressed mode before tomorrow’s trip to DC for the annual BIO convention. I still have to clean up the page layouts and write short intros for the two features, but those will be manageable. (With a little work done over July 4th weekend.)

During BIO, I’ll be staying at a hotel called the Helix. If my room gets downgraded to a double, I’ll laugh at the cosmic jokester.

Anyway.

This is my first post in a while, and I thought I’d ramble about Bob Dylan. He turned 70 a little while ago, which got me listening to his music. I also found myself watching two of his great videos, Jokerman and Series of Dreams. On Facebook, I pondered whether any other musician has enough built-up history/iconography to freight a video like this one:

“Freight” felt like an odd but appropriate choice, given the artist and the video.

Amy & I also watched No Direction Home, Martin Scorsese’s 87-hour documentary about Dylan. Not being too much of an acolyte, I found a lot of the details and anecdotes illuminating. I thought it was interesting to see a documentary about a guy with encyclopedic knowledge of music made by a guy with encyclopedic knowledge of film. I was surprised at how at ease Dylan was in his interview segments. I was expecting a mystic making cryptic / gnomic pronouncements, rather than a plainspoken older guy. (Which isn’t to say that he was necessarily honest, just that he was speaking plainly.)

I enjoyed the documentary up until the last hour, when I realized it was only going to cover Dylan up to the 1966 motorcycle crash (with a coda of his first post-crash live appearance, in 1968). Don’t get me wrong; it was a really engaging documentary. I loved learning about the schisms in the folk scene, how Dylan evolved from protest-singer to rock star, how his relationships went, both with lovers and other musicians, how he dealt with fame in the early days, how he transformed himself from that kid from Hibbing, MN.

But I realized as the documentary unfolded that that wasn’t the Dylan I wanted to learn about, exactly. See, I was hoping that the narrative would continue into the 1970s (and maybe beyond). I wanted the Dylan who embraced his Judaism, became a born-again Christian, got divorced, recorded Blood on the Tracks, sank, rose. What I wanted, I think, was to find out how he tried to live once he got all the fame and riches, and had no idea what to do. A lot of the documentary involved the matrix of Dylan and his audience: how betrayed they felt over his distance from the protest movement, how shocked they were when he went electric (ha-ha). I would have loved more insight about Dylan when those audiences became stadium-sized and his popularity was more immense. How did he cope?

I guess I’ve always been fascinated by that question, “What next?” It’s because stories so rarely seem to end, so much as just stop. It’s why I’ve always adored Anna Karenina‘s ending, because Levin finally understands that there’s no miracle secret to living a good life. He at last understands the day to day negotiations to try to live better. I think what I wanted from a documentary of Dylan is some idea of how he dealt with his life once he achieved (what he thought were) his goals.

And that made me wonder about the filmmaker. See, Martin Scorsese has confounded my expectations in exactly this fashion before, with The Aviator. That biopic about Howard Hughes focuses on the industrialist’s movie-making aspirations, and ends just before HH’s obsessive-compulsive disorder sends him totally ’round the bend. Sure, there are a few scenes of him losing his grip for a while, but I was much more interested in the Hughes who wore tissue-boxes as shoes, never cut his fingernails, and whittled himself down to 90 lbs. by the time he died. A pal of mine, SF writer and critic Paul Di Filippo, had the same reaction when I mentioned the movie to him: “That’s the Howard Hughes that I find interesting. I wish the movie had started from that point.”

Of course, I understand why Scorsese would focus on HH-as-filmmaker, what with that aforementioned encyclopedic knowledge of film. But as a character, batshit-nuts Howard is much more interesting to me than young up-and-coming Howard. And post-rise Dylan would have helped (me) complete the image of Dylan as an artist and as a man. Or at least it would have put together a narrative sequence, like a series of dreams.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers: