April 15, 2008
Monday April 7 Bob Dylan once again made history and proved the vastness of his influence on the current culture when he became the first rock star to win a Pulitzer Prize, one the highest honors of written art. He won the prize for his “profound impact on popular music and American culture, marked by lyrical compositions of extraordinary poetic power.”
This recognition of Dylan’s seemingly endless and consistent impact on American since the early ‘60s can only hint at his total and true impact. As reported in a NewYork Times article “Pete Townshend once said of trying to assess it, ‘That’s like asking how I was influenced by being born.’”
It has also been long argued that Dylan’s mid-‘60s trilogy consisting of Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde on Blonde could be the greatest American cultural achievement of recent generations. They are not without valid points. With Bringing It All Back Home Dylan helped create the folk/rock genre and the ‘60s sound that would forever change rock. In Bringing It All Back Home Dylan also made the first music videowith ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues.’ With Highway 61 he broke free from the two-and-a-half minute love song, opening with the epic six minute, antagonizing ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ declared by Rolling Stone Magazinethe greatest rock song of all time.
With his songs and poetry Dylan has touched the hearts, beliefs and emotions of several generations of people and when you affect the people you affect the human culture reaching far beyond the realm of music.
I feel that what makes Dylan so great besides the beauty and imagery of his poetry is the real emotion he instills into his songs. He explores every human emotion writing them into the songs then using his voice to sing them onto the records. His singing voice is always emotion filled. Listening to ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ it is hard to resist shouting out “How does it feel!!!” yourself. Also, what I like about Dylan is the variety of emotions in his songs. Anyone can shout anger or voice distress but Dylan voices desire, lust, regret, shame, joviality and many more just listen to Blonde on Blonde.
And he continues to expand his influence touring worldwide and releasing new records exploring the many forms of American music. Read my earlier post “Dylan: Far from Retired.” He has always created and explored refusing to fall into a rut staying in one place too long. His 40+ records include very successful ventures into folk, rock, the gypsy sound of Desire, blues, jazz, country, gospel and countless melding of them all. His greatest achievements are just beginning to surface.
April 10, 2008
I wanted to share a bit about a ‘hero’ of mine (for lack of better words). I am a student of journalism and love the work and character of Ernie Pyle. Ernie Pyle was a journalist most influential in his coverage of the front lines of World War II.
Pyle started as a roving reporter traveling and writing to his readers sharing his experiences abroad. Pyle was also an aviation reporter in the early days of flight.
The reason Pyle was so loved by his readers was the personal approach he took in his reporting and interviewing. He was soft spoken and a great listener and his interviewees very easily opened up to him. In his personal style of writing he set his readers in the same place and experience he was witnessing himself. His vivid, intimate reporting style found its highest purpose in war corresponding.
With the war taking place overseas many families were sending their sons, brothers and husbands to far away places and wanted to feel connected to them. Pyle provided that connection.
Pyle’s reporting was more intimate and more focused on the daily lives of the troops than it was on the victories, movements and generals. He would often comment on the strangeness of war. Those back in the U.S. needed that connection to their loved ones.
While reporting on the war Pyle lived and traveled with the troops on the front lines. Pyle and the troops developed a affectionate relationship.
Reporting on the front lines has its risks and after doing tours in Italy, Africa and all over Europe Pyle went on to report on the war in the Pacific and was killed by a Japanese machinegun bullet that went through his helmet. At the time of his death, Pyle was so loved by the American public that it is felt by many that his death overshadowed the death of President Roosevelt just six days before.
You must read his work. Here are some samples:
“This One is Captian Waskow”
“A Dreadful Masterpiece”
“The God-Damned Infantry”
February 9, 2008
It appears we are entering a new era of horsepower wars in the American automotive industry. I welcome it. It is bringing back a competitive nature to the industry reminiscent to the glory days of the horsepower wars of the sixties.
Many of the elements of today’s industry are just the revival and rejuvenation of the things of old. Chrysler has bought back the Hemi. V-8s that were recently reserved for trucks and SUVs are returning to their homes in family sedans and midsized cars. Chevy has plans to return to rear wheel drive on the many of their cars. The Camaro is fighting its way back into existence.
Good things are to come and you can see it in the competitive air within the industry. They say competition is the mother of invention and it has been proven time and time again as surges in technology and knowledge accompany all our major wars.
A competitive spirit leads to experimentation and discovery, and in the fifties and sixties it gave us a generation of mad scientists each working to squeeze out more horses, more torque and more speed then the next. And in the time before insurance difficulties, legalities, government restrictions, the oil crisis and environmentalism horsepower and speed thrived. (The Hairy Olds pictured here is an excellent example of some of the mad experimentation taking place. It was all wheel drive with two blown 425’s, one powering the front the other the back.)
It was a time when the family sedan could also be used to pull trees. It was a time when buyers got more then what they paid for (rather then less). The automakers were notorious for selling you a car that had an advertised “300hp” but in reality had much more.
I recently heard that a cable automotive show decided to build exact replicas of a few of the greatest engines of the sixties and dyno test them to find their true horsepower numbers. These engines from the sixties were sold with horsepower ratings in the 400s and 500s. When put on the dyno they proved to have horsepower ranging from the 500hp to approaching 800hp. Proving the long time suspicion that American car buyers of the sixties were getting more than what they paid for.
Today the industry seems to be returning to its competitive ways. They still have the restrictions of fuel economy, insurance costs and smog laws and so that is where the experimentations are being made by today’s scientists. They may not be the mad scientists of yesteryear but are instead geniuses of perfection and invention. They have worked to make the great massive Hemi more efficient than ever before. At Chevy they are using Displacement on Demand and they have supercharged the Corvette giving the “everyman’s sports car” the “700hp” it needs to feed on the expensive European super machines, at a fraction of the price. It’s only going to get better!
February 7, 2008
I have never been good at writing poetry
because the words that often flow from me
have a cheesy little rhyme scheme,
the A-B-A-B type.
I can never break the mold
and make poetic gold.
But maybe if i’m bold
I’ll write without the gripe.
But then there’s the issue of content.
No matter how much time I’ve spent,
other people’s poems I too often resent.
But their ideas i can’t blatantly steal.
Love poems seems silly,
Or, is it a good poem, really?
If I write about the weather being chilly?
If only I had more zeal…
I want to be good with words
like the people deemed, “nerds”.
Hey, this poem rhymes in thirds!
I’m breaking away this time.
So I guess I’ll just keep at it
this poetry mountain i’ll climb
oh no, that’s it, I’ve had it
I’m back to the A-B-A-B rhyme!
January 25, 2008
Today was a glorious day of rain and puddles, complete with paper boat races down the gutters of Route 66. For me, rain begets poetry in my heart.
Sweet rain, the most beautiful of all poets,
Your rhymes fall without meter
Pooling into stanzas upon leaves.
Rhythmically your meditations descend
Whispering soft memories of my beloved.
The unconscious audience continues unaware
As your verses seep into song.
Softening somber soil,
Fertily feeding our fibers,
As your reading fades
The weight of your words lift.
We may now stretch toward the sun
Left in your wake.