Tuesday, October 6, 2015

My friend Bob Dylan

I have poked a little fun at Bob Dylan over the years here at clerkmanifesto. His fans have been a little dense about it, but Dylan himself curiously started following my blog after coming across a couple of my sardonic posts. Then he started following my blog obsessively, which was followed by his commenting on my posts incessantly, and asking me regularly in those comments for personal advice that it was really impossible for me to give. It was all a bit much. But when Dylan mentioned my blog glowingly at an awards acceptance speech, I was touched by the gesture, and we slowly developed a quiet friendship. Now when he's in town during my free day (Thursdays before 6) we usually get together to walk around the city, check out bookstores for the old kids' picture books he likes to collect, and maybe have a leisurely lunch and drinks somewhere. We both like those bizarre and complicated cocktails that have elevated the bartending scene over the past few years. Though Bob can get a bit taciturn, he sort of blossoms when he's had a Marley's Ghost (a drink at the Marvel Bar he likes. The ingredients: Cardamaro, punt e mes, smith and cross, Appleton VX).

Just this last Thursday we spent the afternoon together walking around Dinkytown, a neighborhood on the edge of the University of Minnesota. Dylan reminisced about his time there from before I was born. Dylanophiles may have found his remarks on all the historic changes to be of interest, but to me they
mostly seemed to have to do with where record stores used to be and how things were better way back when. We had an only slightly ill advised meal at the Loring Pasta Bar (just barely acceptable food and cocktails, charming Italian Disneyland Baroque environment that pleased me more than him). But, as is often the case, after a couple mixed gin drinks we were in a better mood, and Dinkytown, exactly as is, looked more charming to both of us.

Dylan commented on how alarmingly fanatic people used to be around him, how in the old days they would stalk him, expect crazy visionary answers from him, ones that could never be correct no matter what he said, and they would mob him just to be close. Now, he says, in his older age, everyone strives so hard to be cool with him. We walk down the street and they step back. You can almost see people recognize him and then force themselves to do nothing. They seem to say "Maybe Bob Dylan will notice how cool I'm being."

I say "It's just the same for me Bob. No one ever brings up my blog. No one asks me for autographs. It's like they're pretending so hard that I'm just another person."

Bob gives me a very small, sideways look he has, and he almost grins. He almost scowls. I have no idea what he's thinking. And then I remind myself; I never have any idea what anyone is thinking ever.

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