Monday, April 24, 2017

An Inquiry Regarding Bob Dylan's Guitar Collection

Looks like a Gibson, Clinton Inauguration, Jan., 1993**
Though a longtime fan of Dylan's music since the Sixties, it wasn't till 1998 that I experienced my first Dylan concert in person, an event I described as "an early Christmas." In my review of the concert I included the following observation:

Before the show I walked down to the railing directly overlooking the side of the stage and studied the racks of guitars. There must have been nearly a dozen guitars in racks on both sides of the stage which would be used during the show.

Those guitars weren't all Bob's, but as most anyone will attest who's been to a Dylan concert, Duluth's Native Son does strum more than one instrument during his concerts, commonly alternating between electric and acoustic sets and occasionally taking a stand at the keyboards.

In the same manner as Dylan's history with motorcycles, so likewise he's favored a variety of guitars over the years. For this reason I'd been contacted earlier this month via social media by tech editor John Gilbert of Street Rodder magazine regarding Bob Dylan's guitar collection. He initially reached out with this inquiry:

Ed, What do you know about Dylan's guitar collection? Writing about Bob's gate sculptures I emailed back and forth with Jeff Rosen. Asked Jeff about the 1917 042 Martin I sold to Bob brokered by Howie Hubberman Rosen told me Dylan didn't like Martins and didn't play one. Odd, Bob's first guitar was a '49 Martin. A moment of curiosity struck me. Thanks, John

As a follow up Gilbert, who like Dylan is a musician and artist as well as writer, went on to explain further:

Ed, Ramblin' Jack Elliott plays a Martin, and I'm guessing that's why Dylan's first guitar was a Martin. Rosen kind of pissed me off, kind of like he was worried I'd establish a connection with Dylan and make some money from it. It was around 1982 that I sold it. Howie told me Tom Petty's bass player and Dylan were both looking for an 042 Martin. When I picked up the $1,000 Howie said Dylan bought it. 1917 042 Martin five made two with ebony, three with real Ivory. Mine had Ivory. The next time you talk to Bob tell I'll give him $2,000 to get my guitar back. Thanks, John

Well, I don't talk with Bob very often (VBG*) but I do make inquiries with Google and frequently uncover some interesting details. With regards to Dylan's guitars here is what I found, a fascinating blog titled Bob Dylan's Gear.

I find it interesting that Bob's manager would state that Bob didn't care much for Martins when in fact Bob Dylan's Gear goes into great detail regarding the history of Dylan's love affair with the guitar including Gibsons, Fenders, Martins and more. One blog post states:

Cesar Diaz, Bob’s guitar technician in the nineties acquired many stock and Custom Martin guitars for Dylan and thanks to Dick Boak from Martin & Co. we can see the specifications asked for his guitars like the Spruce Top Specified...thinline Goldplus...and their serial numbers!!!!

Though we have repeatedly been urged not to believe everything we read on the Internet, there's a ring of authenticity here that's hard to argue with, especially when the details are accompanied by photos of Bob in all phases of his career with these selfsame guitars.

Robert Zimmerman & Friends at Camp Herzl. Nice guitar, kid.
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Since we're talking Dylan here, I might do well to remind you that Duluth Dylan Fest is one month away, beginning on Saturday May 20 with a concert by Robby Vee at Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum, an intimate kick-off to a very special week honoring the newly minted 2016 Nobel Prize winner for Literature. Here's where you can find the full schedule of DDF events. Will we see you there?

Meantime, life goes on all around you. Get into it.

* VBG means Very Big Grin. Though I have written excessively about Dylan and his music, I hope I've not mislead anyone into thinking Bob and I have ever talked.  
* * This photo was sent to me without a photo credit. If you own the copyright and object to its use, let me know and it can easily be replaced. Or let me know who sot it so I can give due credit. Thank you.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Local Art Seen: Friday's Goin' Postal 2017 Art Show

A Tara Stone contribution.
The food, the wine, the music, the art and the crowd -- all combined to produce an artmosphere that made people want to stay, except then they would miss the after-party at Cedar Lounge. As always I myself enjoy hearing artists talk about their work, seeing "what's new" from our regularly featured artists, and taking photos so I can share them here.

Several Adam Swanson paintings made their presence known in one section of the room, and a massive Frankenstein head with glowing eyes captured another portion of the room. Hosts Andrew and Becky Perfetti, as always, produce a fabulous spread when it comes to eats, garnering assistance from the many artists who bring it all together.

The mash-up of styles and the mix of subject matter also makes this an exciting show. There is literally something for nearly everyone.

If you've never been, it's likely you will be surprised by the energy generated when so many people gather for an art event.

One of several colorful Adam Swanson pieces.
Vivid imagery by Ash Marnich.
An engaging dialogue beneath wall of photography by Johnny Mudd.
Andrew Perfetti's striking Globe News shot evokes retro mood.

The original version of my Dogs of War was displayed.
Karen Sunderman of public television's The Playlist interacts
with Goin' Postal owner/artist/musician and show host Andrew Perfetti.

In the sunlight and stillness that preceded showtime.
The finishing touch, John Heino.
Special thanks to Becky & Andy for organizing the event and to everyone who contributed in so many various and essential ways. This blog post shows but a fraction of all there is to see. Be sure to stop in during the weeks ahead and take it in at your own pace. 816 Tower Avenue, Superior.

* * * *
I would be negligent if I failed to mention the After Party @ Cedar Lounge.
But then, that's another story. 

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Art For Earth Day, Duluth-Style

Queen Eleanore by Ingeborge
Violet and the Plant by Russell Gran

There's been plenty to see in our local arts scene. Though I only got to half of it, I saw plenty to keep me satiated, taking a more leisurely stroll rather than striving to inhale it all. If you were out and about, I hope you also got your fill.

Last night we were served the appetizer at Goin' Postal, as many as 15 artists assembled in that group show. Will try to share a bit that in a separate post. Less is sometimes more, the operative word being "sometimes."

What follows, in no particular order, are images from newly renamed 315 Gallery (formerly the Washington Gallery at 315 Lake Avenue North) and Lizzard's. It's always a pleasure seeing old friends, new work and new directions, accompanied by new enthusiasms.

Larger than life: the inimitable Mary Plaster.

Jonathan Thunder is preparing new work for a show at the DAI
Brianna Deterling /

Peering in through the window at Lizzard's.

White Daisies by Teresa Kolar is a captivating work. 
Patricia Canelake, flowing lines and delightful pastel colorations.

Meade Memorial in Washington DC Raises Curious Questions

One thing capitol cities are especially fond of is monument making, and Washington D.C. has them in spades. In addition to all the major monuments for our presidents and fallen heroes, there are an ample quantity of statues as well.

A couple weeks ago I was taking a leisurely stroll around the Capitol area when I came across a statue featuring General George M. Meade. Meade's fame rests on his having defeated Robert E. Lee's troops at Gettysburg, though my recollection is that he was late to the show and only arrived in the nick of time. After defeating Lee's army he then failed to follow up and as a result though dragging their tails between their legs Lee's troops were able to escape, recoup and prolong the war another two years. The actual location of this Meade Memorial is on the 300 block of Pennsylvania, just down the street from the White House.

Usually I do what most people do when I see these statues. I glance at the statue, note the bronze placard to see who it is, and pass on. This time, however, being in no hurry I loitered around its base, studying the actual craftsmanship and contents. To be honest, I thought it a strange collection of images, for it's not just the general on display. He is being attended to be a group of semi-clad young men and women whose aim appears to be to disrobe him.

The imagery was intriging enough to make me wish to understand it further, so I asked Google for assistance and found this:

The memorial is one of eighteen Civil War monuments in Washington, D.C., which were collectively listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. The marble and granite sculpture, which includes depictions of Meade and seven allegorical figures, rests on a granite base and granite platform. It is surrounded by a public plaza and small park. The monument is owned and maintained by the National Park Service, a federal agency of the Interior Department.

General Meade was not a popular general after the war, having fumbled his opportunity to fame. Nevertheless, the people of his hometown Philadelphia desired to honor him, and this statue was eventually produced.

The curious composition is made of marble and granite, depicting Meade in his military uniform standing tall, peering out into the distance with great dignity, flanked by six figures representing "qualities the artist believed necessary in a great military leader... Chivalry, Energy, Fame, Loyalty, Military Courage, and Progress." One would be hard-pressed to make this conclusion by merely gazing at the nude women and semi-clad men. The cloak being removed is the "cloak of battle." On the rear side of the statue we find the winged God of War.

Here's some additional information regarding the figures:

The figure representing Loyalty holds a wreath and garlands behind Meade representing his accomplishments. The female figure representing Fame is behind Loyalty and is supported by the male figure of Energy. Behind Chivalry is the male figure of Progress and male figure of Military Courage. The latter is locking arms with War. A gold finial of the state seal of Pennsylvania is at the top of the memorial. 

Ultimately the Meade Memorial reminded me that artists often put more into their work than viewers take out, that meanings can sometimes be elusive even when the details are engaging.

The God of War. The hilt of his sword is its handle, consisting of guard, grip and pommel. 

* * * *

Next time you're in D.C. check out the statuary. Every picture tells a story. 

Friday, April 21, 2017

Atomic Sentence Structure and Tonight's Goin' Postal Spring Art Show

Yesterday I began listening to a Great Courses lecture series title Building Great Sentences by Professor Brook Landon. I've already been rewarded with some new insights and am only on the threshold of lecture two.

Prof. Brooks, in the opening lecture, notes that writing should be both elegant and effective.  It is not sentence length that is important but effectiveness in achieving its aim. Every sequence of words has an objective, a core reason for its existence. If brevity were the whole aim, then the hippies were write to walk around saying nothing more than, "Far out." 

During the night I woke and thought about how sentences can be compared to atoms. Atoms are composed of electrons, protons and neutrons. The neutron and protons are at the core, and the electrons circle about it like the moons of Jupiter and Saturn. The thought I had was that it might be fun to make a periodic table of sentences. Hydrogen has one electron, so it would be a one-word sentence. "Wow!" Helium has two electrons, so it could be a two-word sentence. "Jesus wept." And so on. If you have trouble recalling all the elements that we learned about in chemistry class, you can find a chart here. What do you think?

(EdNote: For those who teach, check out my new book on How To Teach Writing. Good writing must engage the reader, not simply be grammatically accurate.)

* * * * 
Tonight it the 2017 Goin' Postal Spring Art Show, from 6 - 9 at 816 Tower Avenue in Superior. I stopped by last night to see how things were going and once again I was impressed by the caliber of the work. Artists with work in tonight's show include, Glenn Blaszkiewicz, Becky Perfetti, Andrew Perfetti, Tal Lindblad, Marcie Crain, Christie Carter Eliason,  John Heino, John Dromeshauser aka Johnny Mudd, Ash Marnich, Richard Rosvall, Tara Stone, Kerry Gauthier, Cully Williams, Matt Stengl, Jeanna Aldridge, new work by Adam Swanson and a number of new pieces by Ed Newman. There is a strong showing of new photography by the photographers represented here. New techniques incorporating new technologies.... all very cool, very chic.

Will we see you there? Stop by and say hello, even if only briefly. This show does generate buzz. Be part of it.

And don't forget! Tomorrow is Art For Earth Day here in Duluth. Whet your appetite tonight and then get out on the art circuit from 10 a.m. till 6 p.m. tomorrow.

Meantime, art goes on all around you. Engage it.

EdNote: Tree photos on this page were created from an image by Andrew Perfetti, chief architect of the Goin' Postal Art Shows. Come see it in person.  

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Is It Really True? Fake News and Other Misinformation


With all the bluster about "fake news" lately, here's a post from seven years past that addresses the same issue. The lingo may change but the issues remain the same. In fact, the situation may be worse, as we're pretty much lacking in fact-checkers. 

Is It Really True? 
(October 2010)

Did you know that October this year has 5 Fridays, 5 Saturdays and 5 Sundays, and that this happens only once every 823 years?

That was something I saw Tweeted a few minutes ago, but I really do not have any way to verify it. Seems hard to believe. What do you think?

That's the way a lot of stuff is online. You read it, and it is stated so factually that your brain just nods its assent and you absorb it into your knowledge base. But how much of that knowledge base is misinformation that you just swallowed uncritically?

Misinformation didn't just begin with the Internet though. P.T. Barnum famously quipped, "A sucker is born every minute." Even before the online age, credible sources would be getting it wrong. For example, in 1949, Popular Mechanics asserted that "computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons." The wording implies a fairly large measure of doubt, but we'll go out on a limb and weigh the possibility of it, even if unlikely.

The New York Times once warned that the electric light would cause blindness. How could it not be true? It was in the New York Times! Well, journalists make mistakes just like everyone else. Unfortunately, when it's in print it remains in print a long, long time. Whereas when it's on a blog or website, hey guess what? I can delete it or fix it in a minute.

That's a scary thought, too, though. If everything is transitory, if everything can be re-arranged, what's left that's firm and solid?

Better stop my rambling and get on with the day. Y'all have a good one.

* * *
For What It's Worth Dept.

Duluth's 27th annual Art For Earth Day Gallery Hop is this weekend. The DNT has assembled a nice summary of places to go and what you can expect to find.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Almost Wordless Wednesday: The Fall of the Wall

At the urging of others I visited the Newseum while I was in Washington D.C. last week. The Newseum is exactly what it sounds like, a News Museum.

The exhibits here feature a wide range of subjects including stories about how news is made, the history of journalism, major stories in history and how they were covered, and more. One of these exhibits featured the tearing down of the Berlin Wall. Here are several images from this exhibit. 

A life-sized guard tower with machine gun turrets.

After the Wall came down the West finally got a chance to see what was really happening behind the Iron Curtain. Alan Greenspan wrote in his autobiography that American leaders were well aware that East Germany was fairly far behind West Germany in GDP (a common measure of a nation's prosperity), but had no idea how far behind. They guessed that East Germany's GDP would turn out to be 70% of that of West Germany. They were shocked to discover the East Germany's GDP was less than half of this guesstimate. Now that the Wall had been dismantled, the hostage nation could finally rebuild. 

* * * * 
For what it's worth, I have a piece of the wall here on the bookshelf in my office, courtesy my brother and his wife who were there the day the wall came down. Are we really going to build another wall?

* * * *

Meantime life goes on... all around you.