Saturday, October 15, 2016

Dylan, Clowns and Bottle-Flipping


Yesterday I read a column about why Bob Dylan doesn't deserve the Nobel Prize. The gist of it was that Dylan's winning takes the prize away from real literature -- and besides, he's already got all his Grammys. His work isn't true literature because it's so deeply intertwined with his music, the columnist argued.

I don't buy it. I'm not a huge Dylan fan -- the only albums of his I've ever owned are his greatest hits compilations and "The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan," with that groovy cover shot of a boyish young Dylan walking down a snowy New York street with the seemingly adoring Suze Rotolo. Many of the ones that people mention as cultural touchstones, like "Blonde on Blonde" or "Nashville Skyline" or "Blood on the Tracks," I've never even heard. But come on -- Dylan is a poet. Of course he is.

So is Joni Mitchell, or Bruce Springsteen. So are any number of other songwriters. The division between poetry and music seems like a soft line to me. Poetry is music, and vice versa. In fact, music may serve as modern poetry even more so than traditional poetic forms -- certainly in terms of accessibility and public appreciation.

Speaking of literature, you may have noticed that for a couple of weeks now my "What I'm Reading" box on the right side of this page has said that I'm reading "Swamplandia!," a Florida novel given to me by my friend Sue in Tampa. It's true that the novel is sitting on our end table, with my reading glasses on top. But the god's honest truth is that I haven't even looked at the first word. What with studying French and staying on top of the incessant flood of New Yorkers I haven't had time. My goal this weekend is to finally start that book.

I'm sure you've also heard about this bizarre clown fad -- people dressed as scary clowns trying to frighten other people in public, sometimes with weapons. It's been all over the headlines here in London, another one of those puzzling American cultural imports. (This one really is puzzling.) I told Dave if someone dressed as a clown ran at me with a knife I think I might laugh. Although I'm not sure.

Another fad that's been making the rounds is bottle-flipping. The kids in school do this all the time, and a recent article about how it drives adults crazy really resonated with me. I'm constantly telling them to knock it off in the library. I didn't even know what they were doing at first. Apparently it all took off with videos on YouTube, and I have to say, some of them are pretty amazing. I just don't want it going on around me, or the library books!

(Photo: A rather patriotic drug bag on Hampstead Heath, last weekend.)

13 comments:

Yorkshire Pudding said...

You are right about Dylan. How could anyone doubt that he deserves the Nobel prize? His words have infiltrated so many hearts and minds. Perhaps his greatness will only become truly apparent to the world in the years beyond his death. I applaud the Nobel committee for their courage and broad mindedness.

Lesley UK said...

So, next year I'm proposing Pam Ayres for the Nobel Prize. I mean, I was a hippy chick in the 60s and 70, most of that time in the US. and Dylan was like a God. But, I can remember sitting for hours watching Happenings (well, it seemed like hours, but we all know what whacky stuff can do to time perception) So maybe a man lying in a sack for a few hours should be nominated for the Turner Prize. Whoops, I think maybe it already has. Seriously, for those of us of a certain age Dylan will always resonate, but a Nobel Prize?

Lesley UK said...

PS I don't like clowns I married 3 of them.

Lesley UK said...

PPS, I don't know what bottle flipping is, unless it's like Tom Cruise in 'Cocktail' and if the kids are doing that I just hope they don't spill any booze.

Red said...

I'm with you 100% on music and poetry. I always used Eric Clapton, and Shel Silverstein in my classes. I still have to find out what bottle flipping is?

Sharon Anck said...

I had never heard of bottle flipping so I had to watch the video and now that I've seen it, I have seen people do this. However, none of them as successfully as the people in the video. I had no idea it was a "thing".
Mark me in the positive column for Dylan.

37paddington said...

Bottle flipping! My nieces and nephews were obsessed with that at our family reunion last summer. I have to admit we adults got involved too, and there was lots of good natured trash talk. For once I feel as if I was ahead of the trend, though of course, I was only ahead of grown ups knowing about the trend!

And I agree with you about Dylan.

ellen abbott said...

I've never been a big Dylan fan either. or Joni Mitchell or any of the 'folk' singers. I was always hard and fast into blues and rock and roll. but I'm glad that he won and I agree, he is a poet. I think his lyrics would stand fine without the music. and I also agree that the music makes the work more accessible.

Catalyst said...

You're right about Dylan and about clowns. But those bottle flippers take the cake. Some of the high flips remind me of the fad of tossing a person's pair of sneakers with the laces tied together over an electrical line so they hang in the air. Great fun but again, you're right, wouldn't want it in the library.

jenny_o said...

Kids always come up with a new craze, don't they - some of the online videos are amazing. I completely agree that music = poetry and that Dylan was just as deserving of the Nobel prize as any of the previous recipients. Here's a list by year: https://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/laureates/ and I only recognize a handful of the names on it! I think there's a reading project for me in that list :)

John Gray said...

Pam ayres is a god

Linda Sue said...

Wow bottle flipping, thank you for the video, I had no idea, skills!! Leonard cohen could also be a nominee , his poetry hits to the core.

Kaki Veldu said...

I have never heard before about bottle flipping, but yes No 2 and 1 are amazing.
(Sorry for not commenting the last couple of days, I've been on holiday and can't post a comment via my iPhone, don't know why.)