THE INFORMATION #926 FEBRUARY 3, 2017

THE INFORMATION #926
FEBRUARY 3, 2017
Copyright 2017 FRANCIS DIMENNO
francisdimenno@yahoo.com
Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.–Victor Frankl
 
WHEN THIS WORLD CATCHES FIRE
BOOK THREE: SAVAGE NOXTOWN
CHAPTER ELEVEN: PART NINE: DAYS OF WRATH
 
“I’ll tell you the problem with people like Little Joe the grifter,” said Count Victor Justin. “They are bound by their social class and the culture they grew up in, and, since they can’t imagine any other way to live, they plough their way through life with a narrow-minded furrow. They can’t conceive of a woman being anything other than a milk cow or a dray horse, and they don’t know how to think for themselves, but, rather, they keep their friends and family around to do the thinking for them–and their advice is invariably bad, don’t you see, because they’re not with it and for it all the way, as the carnies like to say. Fact of the matter is,” said Count Victor–and I could tell that he was working his way up to a stem-winder of a peroration, “most people–the mass of men, I might even venture to say– most men live their lives according to a pre-planned and mostly played-out script. Only maybe one in a hundred stumbles across the notion that there’s a better way to live. Your mother is usually a superstitious and hidebound woman who is so afraid of the wider world that she urges you to be nice to everybody and play fair and not make any waves. Your father, who is well aware of the snares and pitfalls that await an enterprising green Yellof, will always tell you to be brave, but also to be careful–and, if he’s any kind of father at all, he will counsel you to keep your temper when expedient, and to never show your hand. This overall is good advice, and well-meaning, and they tell you these things because they love you as much as they love themselves and maybe even more, and they want to see you thrive and prosper so you’ll have children of your own. But,” he added, with a meaningful look,”the weight of all this advice can leave a Yob paralyzed, and turn him into a milksop. I don’t give a hoot in hell for a Yellof who can never deviate from a set plan. Let’s be honest, for once–most people live their lives with some very fucked-up notions which they are scared to death to examine in any depth or detail, lest their whole world fall down. They are born in a lie, they live a lie, and they suffer the consequences of that lie for their rest of their lives.
 
“If anything, I predict the man of the future will be even more set in his ways, for all his infatuation with aeroplanes and horseless carriages and electrical lighting and wireless telegraphs and all the rest. People will forget what it is to live independent and free, what with their fascination with new conveniences. Stupefying palliatives–that’s all they are. Toys to make fat men chuckle. Life is a game, Yob. It has always been a game, and it always will be. It’s the stupid oafs versus the arrogant shits. And the arrogant shits are all rapacious businessmen, shyster lawyers, quack doctors, corrupt policemen, and crooked politicians. The only honest people are in the nuthouse. Too much truth will do that to a man, you know.  That’s why most weak culls cover their heads and hide, like simple field mice. And, like crawling vermin, they are always afraid of taking too much. They only thing they’re good at is eating shit. They are born slaves. Loyal to a fault, even when it leads to their own downfall. To survive in this world, Yob, I tell you that you need to be more like me. If I sense that a Yellof is dragging me down, I cut him loose with no ceremony at all. From that day forward, he is simply dead to me. I do not take such a step lightly. I am not a mean man; I WANT a Yellof to succeed, just so long as his business interests and mine are not at cross purposes. But once he starts in to drinking too much, or sniffing happy dust, or making a fool of himself over a woman, or developing a bad gambling habit, why, then, I won’t have any more to do with him. I don’t much care what people think of me, and I will be a bohemian when I can get away with it, but one thing is certain–people do judge you by the company you keep, and it’s better by far to have no friends at all than to have a weak and needy friend with a bad reputation.
 
“It may seem cold to you, but in this short life a man has got to divest himself of certain liabilities, like a clingy woman or a squalling bairn. Too many distractions get in the way of forging your own path. That’s why I admire people like the Gib Yellof–no sentimentality from that quarter! He has a fine eye for female flesh, but he doesn’t let himself be tied down to any one zook. And he doesn’t care what anyone thinks. Try to puzzle him out–and he’ll laugh in your face. And then he’ll have you killed–for asking too many damn fool questions. Reporters won’t go near him. The last newshawk who tried to grill him, why, the Gib Yellof drove him barking mad. He told me later that it was easier than knocking a sick baby off the pisspot. As far as he’s concerned, he’s always right, and anyone who opposes him or even questions him has got to be crushed underfoot like a bug. He’s always suspicious of people who nose around. He runs his office like an Oriental despot. His underlings practically worship the ground he walks on. Even though he treats them no better than slaves. Worse–because at least slaves have job security. But there’s no such thing as a cushy berth with the Gib Yellof. One mistake–and you’re out. Two mistakes–and you’re dead. He tells them how to dress, what to eat, and where to be at all times. He will brook no opposition to his ultimate goal–to turn the whole city into his willing thralls.” 
 
“Now, that right there, Yob, is the kind of Yellof you ought to aspire to be.”
 
*NOVELTY
MASTURBATING TO MTM  SOCIETY
5*AVATAR OF THE ZEITGEIST
CIRCLE OF CONCERN VS. CIRCLE OF CONTROL
 
9*RUMOR PATROL
STEWART BRAND: THE LAST PRANKSTER
10* LAGNIAPPE
WHITE RESENTMENT ON THE NIGHT SHIFT AT WALMART
11* DEVIATIONS FROM THE PREPARED TEXT: A REVIEW OF OTHER MEDIA
Small Town Talk: Bob Dylan, The Band, Van Morrison, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix & Friends in the Wild Years of Woodstock. By Barney Hoskins. Da Capo Press, 2016. 402 pages, hardcover.
Review by Francis DiMenno
 
If you read this book expecting to get some interesting and previously obscure gossip about the characters listed in the title, you certainly won’t be disappointed. But one of the key names listing from that impressive title roster (along with Paul Butterfield, Todd Rundgren, and Jules Shear) is that of a man named Albert Grossman. Although he is not quite the hero of the piece–his motives are too mixed; he is, after all, not a musician but a businessman–the enigmatic Grossman plays the role of the central protagonist (and sometimes antagonist) of the narrative. Maybe you’ve heard of Grossman. A big man in every sense of the word (he was indisputably quite the gourmand), he was famed for managing and promoting the careers of not only Bob Dylan, but also, at various times, steering (or failing to steer) the artistic development of other musician clients, notably The Band, Janis Joplin, Bob Dylan, and Jesse Winchester. (Allegedly Hendrix was too mobbed-up for even Grossman, widely known as a talented “fixer,” to extricate him from his difficulties, though this is only mentioned in passing.) . As Woodstock’s primary benefactor, Grossman also funded and oversaw the construction of various restaurants, a recording studio, and a record label, Bearsville, which prospered for a time, but folded in 1984. You might remember the label as the home, even as late as the early 1980’s, of such luminaries as NRBQ, the DBs, and even Foghat (!) Even after he died, Grossman’s legend lived on; he  posthumously bequeathed to the town a theater and concert venue which he directed his widow to manage.
 
Apparently, Grossman was on Dylan’s mind when he was holed up with members of The Band and recording the loose and in many cases wry and whimsical numbers (which were yoked to some Band numbers recorded off-site) and officially released in 1975 as “The Basement Tapes”–numbers such as  “Nothing Was Delivered” and “Too Much of Nothing” are said to refer to Grossman.There is also speculation that Grossman was the “Dear Landlord” of Bob Dylan’s post-motorcycle-accident LP John Wesley Harding, and a few other Dylan songs from that LP have allegedly been written about him, including  “I Pity the Poor Immigrant,” “The Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest,” and even “All Along the Watchtower” (“businessmen they drink my wine”).  
 
It was perhaps inevitable that Dylan would become estranged from Grossman. The story of how this took place forms the core of the book. Levon Helm’s manager Barbara O’Brien explains that “Maybe Albert was a wise businessman, but I think he’s the model for what managers shouldn’t do. I was a pit bull for Levon, but there are ways to do it so you don’t piss everybody off. Albert wanted to be as big as Dylan and Janis were, and he took too much from them The guy was an empire, but his personality stopped you from wanting to embrace it.”
 
However, the book as a whole, though shot through with stories about Grossman, is only secondarily about him and the artists he managed and the dozens of acts he signed to Bearsville Records (some successful, but many not.)  If Grossman is in the foreground, in the background is the milieu of Woodstock, New York, a town–you might almost call it a village–of some five to six thousand souls located 103 miles from Times Square in New York City. Sardonically referred to as “Peyton Place” (the name of a trashy tell-all gossipy novel of small town life which later became a phenomenally successful television series), Woodstock was also known as “The Laurel Canyon of the East Coast.” Similarly, its rustic environs nurtured–and sadly, in the late 1970’s, even eroded and destroyed–the careers and lives of many talented people. However, perhaps this was inevitable. According to Village Voice writer Perry Meisel, “Woodstock seems to have been woven out of so many contradictions that it couldn’t have held on for long in any case. The sweet country setting got canceled by big city tensions; the ambiance of a retreat by the prevailing deference and cool…even after the music and the people had both become absurd.” 
 
Overall, this book is a fairly comprehensive account of all the goings-on in this somewhat isolated Catskills community; a more complete account would probably tend to verge on tedium. The book serves as an East Coast counterpart which complements Hoskyn’s earlier, equally all-inclusive  book about the Los Angeles scene titled “Waiting For the Sun”, which similarly covered the respective careers of The Beach Boys, Buffalo Springfield, the Doors, Little Feat, the Eagles, Steely Dan, Linda Ronstadt,  and Joni Mitchell, among others. In my opinion, the main shortcoming of the book has to do with Hoskyn’s disinclination to provide much of a biographical backstory regarding the principle players. Ffor example, we are told that Janis Joplin comes from Port Arthur Texas, and that she was “pockmarked and bacchanalian”–and that is virtually all we are told about her early life. Much the same can be said regarding just about all of the principal characters in this story. This lack of backstory is particularly problematic in the case of Albert Grossman. Who was he, really? How did he get to where he ended up–as virtually the founding father of “hippie” Woodstock? I understand how an author might wish to limit the scope of his research to manageable proportions. (I certainly have no complaints regarding the amount of work which went into compiling this historical account.) However, a sentence or two of somewhat deeper biographical detail would not have unduly taxed the patience of the reader, and might have provided him or her with potentially valuable insights. Instead, we are left with a cluttered landscape of musical icons who do their thing on stage and off for a few or several years, and then pass from the scene. All the same, the chief pleasure of this book lies in the fact that, in its heyday, Woodstock was quite a scene indeed.   
 
*11A BOOKS READ AND REVIEWED
ARCHIE 2. WAID. ***1/2
BATMAN & ROBIN 7. ROBIN RISES. ***1/2
BLACK CANARY 2. NEW KILLER STAR. **1/2
CHICAGOLAND DETECTIVE AGENCY 3. ROBBINS & PAGE. ***
THE COMPLETE WORKS OF FLETCHER HANKS. KARASIK, ED. ****
COSPLAYERS. SHAW. ***
DC COMICS BOMBSHELLS 1. ENLISTED. **1/2
EASY RIDERS, RAGING BULLS. BISKIND. ****1/2
EXCALIBUR. LEE & HART. ***1/2
FLYING COUCH. KURZWEIL. ***
FIGHT CLUB 2. PALAHNIUK & STEWART. ***1/2
GODS AND MONSTERS. BISKIND. ****
THE HISTORY OF THE HUMAN BODY. LIEBERMAN. ****1/2
I HATE FAIRYLAND 2. FLUFF MY LIFE. YOUNG. ***
JACOB BLADDERS & THE STATE OF THE ART. MURADOV. ***1/2
KINDRED. BURLER, DUFFY, JENNINGS. ***1/2
THE MAN IN THE GRAY GLANNEL SUIT II. WILSON. ***1/2
MARY ASTOR’S PURPLE DIARY. SOREL. ****1/2
MY TURN. O’HARA. ***1/2
PARACUELLOS. GIMENEZ. *****
PETROGRAD. GELATT & CROOK. ****
PULP FICTION. [FILM.] ****
REUNION. GIRARD. ***1/2
ROCKET RACCOON & GROOT. O.: BITE AND BARK. ***1/2
ROCKET RACCOON & GROOT. CIVIL WAR II. ***1/2
SHIELD: ARCHITECTS OF FOREVER. ***1/2
SMALL TOWN TALK. HOSKYNS. ****
SOFT CITY. PUSHWAGNER. ****1/2
SPIDER-GWEN 2. WEAPON OF CHOICE. **
TEEN TITANS 2. ROGUE TARGETS. ***
TEEN TITANS 3. THE SUM OF ITS PARTS. ***
TETRIS: THE GAMES PEOPLE PLAY. BROWN. ***1/2
WAITING FOR THE SUN. HOSKYNS. ****
WE ARE ROBIN 3. JOKERS. ***1/2
THE WORLD OF EDENA. MOEBIUS. ****1/2
CONTROVERSIES IN POPULAR CULTURE.
901. THE ROAD
Cormac McCarthy’s The Road is an awful lot like a post-apocalyptic version of “Augie Doggie and Doggie Daddy.”
 
903. HATE RADIO

The hate radio demographic skews strongly toward alcoholic ex-servicemen who hide pints of cut-rate vodka in the glove compartments of their supersized cars and who wear double-breasted suits from 1951 and sport fedora hats three sizes too big for their shrunken heads with a fishing fly in the sweatband.

903. LAST TANGO RAPE SCENE CONTROVERSY
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