Monthly Archives: May 2008

Accidents will happen

So, in a memoir published in the Netherlands, a Dutch artist named Jan Cremer claims that he saw Bob Dylan in drug rehab in 1966, during the time when he was believed by the world to be recovering from a motorcycle accident.

Well, I think it’s a common presumption that Dylan took advantage of whatever accident took place to get off of the lethal roller-coaster that he was then on. And that’s why he’s now a 67 year-old who played a gig last night at Viking Stadium, in Stavanger, Norway, versus being just a permanently young face on a t-shirt like Jimi Hendrix or James Dean. And thank the Good Lord for that. As to whether he went to some kind of rehab, I’m sure I don’t know, but if he did you have to give him and everyone involved kudos for keeping it completely discreet. (Actually, I always thought of Big Pink as being his rehab, albeit not one that was alcohol-free.)

One thing’s sure: the story raises the profile of Mr. Cremer’s memoir by many notches, which can’t hurt the book sales. I’m reminded of another memoir, by Simon Napier-Bell, in which he reported that he just happened to be sitting in front of the desk of CBS honcho Dick Katz when Katz loudly commanded Bob Dylan, through the phone line, to can his gospel music or else. A curious thing that Napier-Bell and Cremer have in common is that they had both apparently already written memoir-type books years before they got around to remembering their juicy Bob Dylan story. It is indeed admirable to have both the restraint and foresight to save something so relatively news-worthy for a later book, rather than putting it in your first. Remarkable, actually.

Blank review

In the New York Times, Marisha Pessl gives Bob Dylan’s “Drawn Blank Series” a rave.

In Bob Dylan’s extraordinary collection of paintings, “Bob Dylan: The Drawn Blank Series,” we are given insight into the expressive, unvarnished way this artist approaches the world and reminded he is that rare person who can move effortlessly between music, word, ink, paint, as if he’s just futzing around with a few different instruments in the studio. Yet again and again, he reflects life back to us with a truth and simplicity that defy words. He shows us views from his hotel and backstage dressing room, a playground slide that caught his eye, a fat curtain in his room, an inquisitive young man named Nick Leblanc. He riffs with color across the same simple black-and-white sketches the way he plays songs in concert, sometimes making subtle changes, other times brutally overhauling them. His brush strokes are like his voice: straightforward, rough, occasionally fragile, but always intent on illustrating the treads of human experience. Seemingly unworried about how something looks, he’s not after artistic perfection but something larger, a moment, a feeling. The effect is enthralling.


In the crowded “Rooftop Bar,” no one but the artist notices the solitary woman staring off the balcony, her back to us, face unknown. And the lady waiting at the bar in “Woman in Red Lion Pub” would never have dreamt her broad back would become the electric-red subject of a painting. But in her slanting, voluptuous silhouette, her choice of dress and hat, Dylan points out her power and sturdy elegance, qualities she herself seems unaware of.

One for Bob’s scrapbook.

Odds & ends

Charles Krauthammer writes on Carbon Chastity: The First Commandment of the Church of the Environment.

Environmentalists are Gaia’s priests, instructing us in her proper service and casting out those who refuse to genuflect. […] And having proclaimed the ultimate commandment — carbon chastity — they are preparing the supporting canonical legislation that will tell you how much you can travel, what kind of light you will read by, and at what temperature you may set your bedroom thermostat.

Only Monday, a British parliamentary committee proposed that every citizen be required to carry a carbon card that must be presented, under penalty of law, when buying gasoline, taking an airplane or using electricity. The card contains your yearly carbon ration to be drawn down with every purchase, every trip, every swipe.

There’s no greater social power than the power to ration. And, other than rationing food, there is no greater instrument of social control than rationing energy, the currency of just about everything one does and uses in an advanced society.

One thing about the Fr. Michael Pfleger story that I don’t see being addressed in the mainstream media is the question of why a Roman Catholic priest can get away with so visibly giving his endorsement to a presidential candidate who supports perpetuating the legal guarantee of abortion-on-demand — something the Catholic Church describes as an intrinsic evil. That doesn’t require Catholic priests to campaign against candidates who support it, or to campaign for candidates who oppose it, but you would think at least some agnosticism (so to speak) would be called for in a public posture towards pro-abortion politicians — especially presidential candidates. In fact, until a couple of weeks ago, Fr. Pfleger was a member of a group called “Catholics for Obama.”

The Chicago Tribune is reporting the following on the reaction of Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George:

Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George on Friday said that Rev. Michael Pfleger, who mocked Sen. Hillary Clinton from the pulpit of her opponent’s South Side church last weekend, has promised the cardinal he will “not mention any candidate by name” in the future.

“To avoid months of turmoil in the church, Father Pfleger has promised me that he will not enter into campaigning,” George said in a statement. “[He] will not publicly mention any candidate by name and will abide by the discipline common to all Catholic priests.

“Racial issues are both political and moral and are also highly charged,” George said. “Words can be differently interpreted, but Father Pfleger’s remarks about Senator Clinton are both partisan and amount to a personal attack. I regret that deeply.”

I would have thought the racial aspect is very much a side issue, as compared to the message Pfleger is sending by vociferously supporting someone so dedicated to maintaining the status-quo on abortion rights. I guess I’m naive in these things.

Bob Dole writes a note to that “miserable creature,” Scott McClellan.

In my nearly 36 years of public service I’ve known of a few like you. No doubt you will “clean up” as the liberal anti-Bush press will promote your belated concerns with wild enthusiasm. […]

I have no intention of reading your “exposé” because if all these awful things were happening, and perhaps some may have been, you should have spoken up publicly like a man, or quit your cushy, high profile job. That would have taken integrity and courage but then you would have had credibility and your complaints could have been aired objectively. You’re a hot ticket now but don’t you, deep down, feel like a total ingrate?

By letting it be known in interviews that he is considering voting for Barack Obama, I think that Scott McClellan has basically blown any bit of credibility he may have had remaining right up the chimney. He’s not any kind of conservative, obviously, and, put together with the reported content of his book, it’s clear enough that he never really was.

McClellan now says he is “intrigued by what Sen. Obama has been running on about changing the way Washington works.” This is essentially the same reason he gives for his attachment to and support of George W. Bush to begin with, i.e. his plan for a new tone in Washington, for bipartisanship, etc etc. All very well, but bipartisanship in aid of what? That’s the more fundamental question, isn’t it? What do you actually want to achieve at the end of the day? To take two examples: Lower taxes, or higher taxes? Continuing down the road towards things like embryonic stem cell medicine, or moving towards a culture of life? These were issues that led many to support George W. Bush, or his opponent, as the case may be. But for Scott McClellan, if you take his words seriously, it was simply his love of the idea of bipartisanship for bipartisanship’s sake. Who cares what we do — so long as we do it together! If Obama can “bring people together” (which he can’t, but that’s another story), then Scott McClellan can throw his support to him, even though he’ll be bringing people together in order to achieve his own very liberal agenda — a 180 degree contrast to Bush’s agenda.

If McClellan were presenting himself believably as a principled, serious conservative, with the misgivings about the Bush administration that he has expressed, then he might well deserve a very serious hearing. As it is, his total philosophical incoherence ought to earn his dismissal by serious observers.

Of-course, in reality, he and his story are going to be with us for awhile, and when it all dries up I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get a nice job as a political analyst on television somewhere. That’s if he even needs to work, after the payday for his calculated hit-job.

It takes a lot to laugh

Top story in the New York Sun today: Congress Eyes a Rocket Train To Washington.

A two-hour rocket train between New York and Washington is the goal of new legislation that cleared a key hurdle in Congress last week, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.


If passed, the legislation would require the U.S. Department of Transportation to solicit requests for proposals from private developers to create a two-hour “door-to-door” high-speed rail service.

Rep. Michael Castle, a Republican of Delaware who co-authored the legislation, said gaining the support of Mr. Mica, the ranking Republican on the transportation panel, was key.

“I think he understands the congestion we have in the corridor. There are a number of concerns here and he realizes that Amtrak can’t resolve the problem,” he said.

Mr. Castle said the surging price of gasoline and the increased hassle associated with air travel make it ideal timing for a high-speed train alternative.

“If you can get it to two hours, or even close to that, you are going to see that many more people shifting to this usage. There is just an enormous amount of traffic out there,” he said. The legislation calls for an appropriation of $14 billion over five years.

That’s fourteen billion dollars over five years, and, as everyone knows, the price tag for projects like this rises exponentially as time passes. For what? To create yet another way of getting from Washington D.C. to New York City and back. Who needs this? Oh, that’s right: the power players. The elite. The ones, in many cases, who will be voting for it.

“It’s a little late in the game, but we need it,” the chairman of the political science department at Touro College, David Luchins, a longtime adviser to Senator Moynihan, said yesterday in an interview. “It’s important because of the cost of oil, its important because of the environment, and it would be great for the economy — I see no downside. It is the most economically sound way to move people from New York to Washington.”

Mr. Luchins also said that the job of generating political support could be eased by the disgruntlement of lawmakers who must deal with the rigors of shuttling between New York and Washington.

If the idea of a high-speed train service between New York and Washington has something of the sound of deja-vu to you, it might have something to do with the fact that such a service was just launched by the heavily subsidized Amtrak in the year 2000, eight short years ago, to great fanfare and at enormous expense. The Acela high speed service runs the length of the Northeast Corridor from Washington D.C. to Boston. As mentioned in this article, the scheduled trip time between Washington and New York City on the Acela train is two hours and forty-five minutes.

Fourteen billion dollars (the starting quote) to build new tracks and new trains in order to reduce the travel time between Washington D.C. and New York by forty-five minutes, for those who just can’t stand the hassle of taking an air shuttle. That gentleman from the political science department, Mr. Luchins, quoted above, sees “no downside.” No. What downside could there possibly be?

This is definitely one to remember the next time someone in Washington is talking about the need to raise taxes.

Why do presidents hire guys named McClellan?

It’s pretty jaw-dropping, alright. Not so much the things Scott McClellan apparently says in his new book, but more the fact that someone who thought this way had the job that he had, and held it for as long as he did. The real indictment of the George W. Bush presidency in all of this is that he allowed himself to be so ill-served for so long by someone who seemingly was on a totally different wavelength. McClellan was always an ineffective White House press secretary, and a weak replacement for Ari Fleischer, who himself wasn’t the most impressive press secretary in history. McClellan was stuck in a defensive tone, and rarely sounded convinced of what he was saying. I guess now we know why.

His criticism of the Bush administration seems to reveal someone who was incredibly naive (or perhaps it just reveals someone who wants more than anything else to be a bestselling author). He says the Bush administration emphasized the weapons of mass destruction argument to take out Saddam Hussein, and hid the other goal of fostering democracy in the Middle East. Well, I wasn’t in on the high level White House meetings that McClellan presumably attended, but I was well aware at the time — just by being your average ordinary news junkie — that there was an entire panoply of reasons for dislodging Saddam Hussein, and I was well aware that the weapons of mass destruction argument was being touted as numero uno because (1) It was an argument that seemed to possess the greatest urgency and the one that seemed (to the administration) to be the easiest to make and (2) It held out the possibility of winning an endorsement of action from the U.N. Security Council. President Bush gambled on his belief that weapons of mass destruction would be found, and he had reason to think it was a very good bet to make, and that his rationale for invasion would be quickly vindicated. Just about everyone thought that, at a minimum, Saddam Hussein possessed some stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons. American troops didn’t go into battle burdened with heavy chemical protective suits for nothing. It’s still unclear whether Saddam himself might have believed he had such materials, or whether he wanted to maintain that impression to intimidate his neighbors. President Bush lost the gamble, obviously, and history will judge how that tarnishes his presidency, based largely on how well other goals in Iraq are achieved. But McClellan is not exactly revealing news on these issues with his book, although he seems to be revealing a continuing inability to understand the history he lived through.

McClellan also faults the Bush administration for falling into a “permanent campaign” mode. It kind of makes you wonder where McClellan was during the Clinton administration. The permanent campaign is now a permanent part of American politics. I don’t put the blame, as such, on the Clintons, although it seems to have originated with them. The blame must also go to the atmosphere created by a hyped-up 24-hour news media. All of Washington is in permanent campaign mode (have Bush’s opponents, from Tom Daschle to Nancy Pelosi, ever slowed down or pulled their punches?). The truth now is that if a president is not in some sense campaigning for something at any given time, then he or she will quickly be drowned out by critics and seem to fade into irrelevance. I think most of President Bush’s supporters have not been bothered as much by a permanent campaign mode as they have been bothered by its lack of efficacy, or it being focused at times on the wrong issues, or it being led by such unconvincing spokespeople as Scott McClellan.

McClellan writes of being misled, or of being unhappy to be providing an incomplete picture to the press corps during his time at the White House podium. And no doubt there were times when he should have been sent to the podium with a better message, or with more complete information. It was surely part of his job in those circumstances to demand better information, or to make an argument as to why the administration’s message ought to be crafted differently. I mean, he was the White House press secretary — not just a spokes-model pushing a new cosmetic. He should have been an integral part of deciding how to communicate with the American people via the White House press corps. Perhaps, had he been better at this job, he would be more satisfied and less resentful today, and the Bush administration would have achieved more policy success during this second term. Or, it may be that had he insisted on doing things differently in specific instances, he would have been laughed out of the room. If so, he would have had justification for resigning, and his book would perhaps seem more the work of a conscientious objector, and not appear so glaringly instead to be the poisoned product of a snake in the grass.

Odds and ends

The president of the Czech Republic, Vaclav Klaus, spoke in the U.S. at the National Press Club today. He’s long been in the vanguard of those recognizing the current global warming mass hysteria for what it is, and he also recognizes the underlying agenda of some of its proponents. He’s almost a minority of one when it comes to world leaders; that’s especially easy to say if one is considering just western world leaders (I have problems believing that such as Putin and Hu Jintao believe in any of the global warming nonsense, although they may tactically take positions on it in their chess game with the U.S.) . has some notes on what Klaus said today:

The merits of global warming where questioned by President Vaclav Klaus of the Czech Republic at the National Press Club where Klaus likened the environmentalist movement to the communism of his youth. According to Klaus both ideologies promote causes that transcend the individual; environmentalism promotes the planet while communism promotes the proletariat. Klaus asserted that climatologists are only motivated to do research in one direction due to large-scale acceptance of environmentalism and government subsidies that encourage the development of green technology.

Klaus said that both communism and environmentalism are motivating forces that cause people to ignore opposition and live in a world of reduced freedoms. Klaus stated that “global warming alarmism” is a greater threat to the world than socialism and that environmentalists, through government subsidies that favor certain industries, take away from a free market’s ability to provide for the welfare of its citizens.

Jeffrey Lord has a superb piece in the American Spectator, despite the odd title: Seeing Evil: The Arms of John McCain. It takes both the story of Neville Chamberlain and the story of John McCain’s torture by the North Vietnamese as jumping off points for a consideration of how history reveals that there are always those who fail to recognize evil — and therefore seek appeasement of characters who just appear to be acting out — and then there are those who do recognize it, and who have the will and foresight to act against it.

It is a sad if curious and very, very dangerous fact that not only will there always be evil in the world, there will always be men like Chamberlain or Barack Obama or Jimmy Carter. […] People who simply, honestly cannot see evil unless they are looking at old newsreels from seventy years ago. People who will, in the current context, watch Iran go busily about building a nuclear capability even as its leader vows to exterminate the “stinking corpse” that is Israel. People who would and did turn a blind eye to the evil of Saddam Hussein just as Chamberlain believed in negotiating with Hitler or Jimmy Carter was convinced peace with the Soviet Union was better than the Reagan policy of simply defeating the “focus of evil in the modern world.”

David Shushon has a fascinating and lengthy reflection on varied meanings of “Zionism for Christians” in the current issue of First Things.

Israel always matters. Biblical scholars have devoted endless pages to ancient Israel as a religious idea, and pundits have penned endless newspaper columns about modern Israel as a geopolitical entity. The deeper implications, however, have received less attention than they deserve in recent years, overshadowed by the exigencies of Middle Eastern politics. Indeed, real questions remain: What does the sheer ­existence of the modern state of Israel mean for theology—particularly for Christian theology? And what does that theology mean for the continuing existence of Israel?

“Hardly anybody will dispute that the foundation of this state had something to do with the biblical prophecy,” Christoph Cardinal Schönborn said in 1996, “even if that something is hard to define.” At ­present, the major Christian denominations are kindly disposed toward Judaism, and many Christians—­especially American evangelicals—strongly support the State of Israel. And yet not all Christians agree with the mainstream Jewish view that modern Jewish life requires the existence of a Jewish state. Indeed, it seems counterintuitive to expect Christians to support an explicitly Jewish state in an age in which Christians have mostly abandoned the idea of explicitly Christian states.

Some recent stories of the armed citizen, as compiled by the NRA at this link.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Tucker, GA, 3/20/08
State: GA
American Rifleman Issue: 3/20/2008

When an intruder broke into their Tucker, Georgia, home last Tuesday night, 81-year-old Robert Jenkins heroically protected his wife and property with a handgun. Jenkins grabbed his 78-year-old wife’s handgun after hearing unfamiliar noises late in the night and encountered an intruder in his kitchen. The intruder charged at Jenkins and they struggled over the gun until Jenkins fired, killing the intruder. DeKalb County police spokesman J.T. Ware said, “He defended his home, defended his wife. He did what everybody would hope to do in a situation like that.”

The Tulsa World, Tulsa, OK, 3/13/08
State: OK
American Rifleman Issue: 3/12/2008

Don Gibson of Oklahoma and his nephew were closing their restaurant one night when they received unexpected visitors. Gibson’s nephew was just walking out the front door when two armed robbers forced him to the ground. Don Gibson heard his nephew’s cry that the robbers holding him were armed and grabbed his gun to defend his family and his business. As the robbers advanced into the restaurant, Gibson fired two shots, hitting both in the back. Both robbers are in police custody and charged with attempted armed robbery.

The Macon Telegraph, Milledgeville, GA, 3/04/08
State: GA
American Rifleman Issue: 3/4/2008

A week before Christmas, Ken Foshee of Milledgeville, GA was contentedly sitting on the back deck of his new home, his wife and grandson warm inside when two armed assailants surprised Mr. Foshee, forcing him into his home and demanding money. In the struggle, one of the robbers shot Mr. Foshee in the hand. Foshee’s grandson ran next door to alert his uncle, Ronnie, the Foshees’ son, who grabbed his gun and ran to help. Ronnie fired a warning shot, causing the robber who was holding a knife to Mrs. Foshee’s throat to flee. As the remaining assailant was severely beating Mr. Foshee in a bedroom, Ronnie shot and killed him, saving his father’s life. Baldwin County Sheriff Bill Massee said, “Had it not been for the grandson’s brave action and Ronnie Foshee arriving at his parents’ home, it’s likely the attack would have ended in even more tragedy.”

Each story is a testament to the incalculable value of possessing an equalizer.

Memorial Day

Bob Dylan and his band singing Searching for a Soldier’s Grave, from Cardiff in 2000. Click here to go to YouTube or play below.

You ask me, stranger, why I make this journey
Why I cross three thousand miles of rolling waves.
Like so many others my love was killed in action.
So I’m here searching for his grave.

Birthday notes

Bob Dylan’s birthday yesterday inspired a lot of tributes, not least this epic post at BabyBlueOnline, where there’s also a selection of Bob’s jokes from “Theme Time Radio Hour” which were transcribed by David Allen of the San Bernardino County Sun and printed in full in his column at this link. A few of them:

“What do you do if you miss your mother-in-law? Reload, and try again.”

“All musicians get girls, but a guitarist always has his pick.”

“What’s the difference between a drummer and a savings bond? Eventually, a savings bond will mature and earn money.”

“They got a new `dial-a-prayer’ for atheists. You call it, and nobody answers.”

Rolling Thunder

From Jennifer Harper in the Washington Times today: District to be ‘Thunder’-struck.

“Rolling Thunder” is a most fitting motto.

Indeed, thousands of bikers are rolling along the Washington area’s roadways today with plenty of gumption and an unabashed carbon footprint. Exhaust pipes are vibrating, pistons are pumping, and it is, well, thunderous.

For the 21st year in a row, the two-wheeled crusade called Rolling Thunder has taken over the capital of the free world. An estimated 350,000 motorcyclists — plus their intrepid passengers, activists, organizers, fans and awestruck spectators — have assembled here to draw America’s attention to fallen soldiers, lost warriors, prisoners of war, honored veterans and military families.


“First thing, this is about supporting America and our folks in the military, past and present. It’s about love of country, love of bikes. People have a calling to be here,” said Pete Ries, a detention officer from Fredericksburg, who has ridden “Old Blue” — his spotless, chrome-crowned Harley-Davidson — in the annual event a half-dozen times.


The experience is unique, even for Mr. Ries, a Vietnam-era Army vet who has ridden motorcycles for four decades.

“It’s a sea of bikes when we’re assembling at the Pentagon. Every kind you can imagine. It takes five hours. Then the word finally comes — ‘Start those engines.’ You hear the thunder as we fire up, row after row, like a wave coming — then we start the move forward. When it’s your turn to go, it’s unbelievable. People get choked up,” Mr. Ries said.

Hear my humble cry

Of all of those great hymns from the hills that Bob Dylan sprinkled into his set lists during the late 1990s and the early part of this 21st century, the one I’m most grateful for is Pass Me Not O Gentle Savior (here’s a version from Bismarck, ND in March of 2000). I’ve posted about it on multiple occasions in the past. It’s a song written by Fanny Crosby in 1868 (melody by William H. Doane) and it seems to me to carry with it both its own heart-rending poignancy and a sense of intertwinement with so many of the strands of American sacred music.

One of those strands is the art of shape-note singing. I’m grateful to a reader, Don, who shares, on YouTube, some recordings of shape-note singing in which he himself partakes. Below and at this link is a great rendition of Pass Me Not O Gentle Savior from May 17th last at Etowah United Methodist Church in North Carolina.

Another closely related strand is bluegrass music, of the kind so beautifully played by the Stanley Brothers. It may well be that Dylan learned this song from their version, which you can also hear at the moment on YouTube. Click here or turn on the radio below.

A crime?

There’s what you might call a bracing antidote to Dylan adulation in Nova Scotia’s Chronicle Herald, written by one Jim Meek, who saw Bob perform up in that part of the world. It’s called “Dylan commits songicide in Halifax.”

It was a wall on inchoate sound, a melange of mumbled lyrics, an attack on melody.

Not that the musicians were bad. There was talent on the stage — you could tell during the solos.

Too bad Bob didn’t introduce the boys to each other before the concert.


Adolescence has its charms, and Dylan has managed to sustain his for 50 years or so. (He turns 67 Saturday.)

But I did expect Dylan to display a passing attachment to his own music and incomparable lyrics.

Here was the man who had written two dozen of the best songs in pop history.

On Wednesday, he performed a few of them — notably It Ain’t Me Babe and Positively 4th Street — after putting the tunes through some kind of industrial-strength blender.

Musical rearrangements?

Heck, no — we’re talking songicide. They should add this offence to the Criminal Code.

Mind you, mine may be a minority opinion. Around the newsroom, most concert-goers gave a thumbs-up.

“Didn’t expect much, anyway,” one colleague said.

“I already knew he mumbled his lyrics,” another said.

As defences go, these were pretty lame.

Well, I think the telling thing about Mr. Meek’s point of view is his assertion that Dylan has “written two dozen of the best songs in pop history.” That he has, but the fact that many of his songs can stand as great pop songs doesn’t make Dylan himself a pop performer, strictly speaking. A pop performer is expected to go on stage and reproduce his or her hit records virtually note for note, and gets kudos for the ability to do so. Even a notable like Paul McCartney still basically does that with the Beatles’ classics. No one (apparently) wants to hear some odd new spin on Yesterday from the man who wrote it. However, Dylan has never been a pop performer in that sense. He’s always sung his songs in the moment, always adjusted arrangements and always delivered something new to his live audiences — even long before the “Never Ending Tour.” So to go to a Dylan concert and expect him to wear his guitar and harmonica and do All I Really Want To Do just like it is on Another Side of Bob Dylan is really pretty cockeyed at this point. Yet, it has to be acknowledged, a certain number of attendees at each Dylan show come with something like this expectation and leave unsatisfied. The proof that what Dylan does works, however, is his ability to keep returning to the same places year after year and to sell tickets. People are really not that masochistic. They go, and return again, because they’re enjoying what Dylan is doing, and they understand the language and purpose of his performance.

From Liverpool in 2001, there is a clip on YouTube of Bob and the band doing Boots of Spanish Leather. I think that it would be hard to say he ever wrote a finer song, and it would be hard to find a perfomance of it better than this one.

Odds and ends

I’m late getting to this, but thanks to Jay for the link to this page at the NPR website, related to Suze Rotolo’s new book, “A Freewheelin’ Time.” You can read a generous introductory excerpt of the book there, and also listen to a 25 minute interview with Rotolo from the “Fresh Air” show. Maybe this isn’t the thing to say, but if you’re not curious enough about the book’s contents to buy it, but you are a little curious about it, you can probably satisfy that curiosity by visiting that page. Suze Rotolo comes across as sincere and, well, nice.

Tomorrow is Bob Dylan’s birthday. He’ll be 67, and playing a gig in St. John’s, Newfoundland, on his way to Iceland and beyond. His birthday is being marked in Hibbing, Minnesota with the now regular Dylan Days festival. Here’s an article from the Duluth News Tribune on an exhibit at the Ironworld museum in nearby Chisholm, which explores Bob’s roots in the area.

I enjoyed reading this piece by Leland Rucker, reminiscing about how a review he wrote of one of Dylan’s 1980 shows almost ended up printed on the Saved album cover. It’s also interesting to read the review all these years later, and it’s not hard to see why Dylan would have been taken with Rucker’s appreciative words.

A new Dylan-related blog is Ramblings of a Ragged Clown, and the writer there makes an argument that Bob should use On a Night Like This as a show-opener, which argument then becomes an extended appreciation of that song and Planet Waves generally. Nice in particular because you don’t read much Planet Waves, do you? Maybe it’s obscured by all the dirt thrown up by the impact of the album that followed it, i.e. Blood On The Tracks.

Housekeeping note: The eagle-eyed amongst RWB readers would have noticed that there are new doodads at the bottom of each post. Inspired by the recent upgrade of my WordPress platform — necessitated by hackers — I’ve been adding some compatible plug-ins (or again, to use the technical term, doodads). One automatically compares the content of each post with past posts in the database, and comes up with links to allegedly related content (some of which I might be better off leaving buried, but them’s the breaks). The other facilitates sharing the post on a “social bookmarking” site, or easily emailing the link to a friend, or indeed, to an enemy. Should your favorite social bookmarking site not be featured, by the way, drop me a line and I can probably rectify that. There being about 250 of those kinds of things these days, I didn’t choose the option of including a drop down menu with all of them in it, as it seemed to slow down the page loading significantly.