Election Day Arrives at Last
A day when a bit of levity is in order. If only to quell nerves.
As you know, the Block Association keeps it local. And so does this blog. For the most part. I try to resist the urge to go beyond the catchment. Sometimes I stretch. But I do so from the perspective of a neighborhood resident. And what's going on outside of Bloomingdale matters a lot these days. Today in particular.
Twitter is lighting up with incredible pictures of Upper West Siders turning out to vote. And turnout in the catchment is just as impressive. And with luck we're just half a day from knowing what comes next.
Because, finally it is our turn to smoke out the "elephant in the room" aka Election 2016. The mammoth has been looming for nearly two years and the closer it has gotten, the higher the stress level has become.
But I have a guilty secret. For a few weeks, I have been walking on air. In an alternate or parallel universe, all has been well indeed. Why? How could this be?
What I am about to say is a might controversial: Bob Dylan earned the Nobel Prize in Literature. And I am ecstatic.
There. I said it. And it has nothing to do with our neighborhood.
Ha! (And here's the stretch.) Let me tie Bob to Bloomingdale in a parlor trick. About a year ago, Jane Jacobs's son Jim authenticated a song co-authored by Bob Dylan entitled "Listen, Robert Moses." Here's what Jim Jacobs has said, up to you to believe it or not:
"Jane and Bob Dylan wrote a song together. Jane needed a protest song for the fight against the Lower Manhattan Expressway in New York. A friend of ours, Harry Jackson, an artist, had a folk singer sleeping on his floor. He sent Dylan around to the house. Jane helped him, telling him how a protest song was structured and how it worked. I think it was the first protest song he ever wrote.
The song was penned about the Lower Manhattan Expressway, but on the UWS, we know well about the Moses-ification of the city. Our friends at the Bloomingdale Neighborhood History Group know of Moses's many connections to our neighborhood's shape. Incidentally, that group started as the Park West Village History Group in part a response to preserve what Moses had removed -- an old integrated neighborhood -- in favor of UWS development. I wrote about that here in an old "Throwback Thursday" post. (For all Throwback Thursdays click here.
And now I have done the undoable. Tied Bob Dylan's Nobel to our neighborhood. For the record, I don't think the Moses protest song to be one worthy of laurels. It sure is a pretty little piece of NYC history though and it's as fresh today as it was 51 years ago. If you can't read the lyrics in this image, go to the Gothamist piece.
So as my gift to you, fellow Bloomingdalers, to lighten the allostatic load today, below is a crazy, racing, unhinged 2011 Grammy performance of Bob Dylan and his progeny. Ingeniously paired up with Mumford & Sons, The Avett Brothers, a killer horn section and his own band, a mere five years ago Bob Dylan rocked out like the best of them with an electrifying "Maggie's Farm."
The younger bands set the tone with their superlative live performances: Mumford's "The Cave" where strength is found in pain, the Avett's beautiful "Head Full of Doubt" make the aptest of preludes to the mythic "Maggie's Farm." Whoever lined them all up in a row darn-tootingly knew what he or she was doing. And if you read the lyrics of all three today, each of these songs will sparkle with meaning.
[Note: If you are receiving this post via email, the video below won't load, so you'll have to go here and stream it: https://vimeo.com/20567315 for full effect.]
While I recognize this music and these performances will not be everyone's cup of tea, could we agree that a 50-year-old song that resonates today -- and has in ways become even more pertinent -- performed by musicians two or three generations after its time in this incredible fashion is a feat unto itself.
And even if the times haven't changed. Bob has changed the world. Or at least given it a good shake over the past 70 years he's been roaming around on it.
As he goes on, so do we all...bathed in his incredible wake.
Neighbors, see you on the other side of this November 8th! And now to Bob. Enjoy!