Mixing up the Medicine

I’m not here, I’m back there – I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now.  It feels like a personal vindication – I am twelve again.  I shout down the stairs to my mum and dad – “I bloody told you so!” 

“We will have none of that sort of language in this house!” – it is the voice of my mother echoing down the years.  There is no need to respond.  I know when their argument has lost its foothold; they change the subject.

In response to Bob Dylan’s Nobel Prize, The Irish Times brought together the response of forty Irish authors, poets and scholars to his literary honour.  I have long been a consumer of Irish fiction, it is in my head as much as the work of Robert Zimmerman.  These reactions from The Irish Times will now provide a future guide to my consumption of Irish literature – those with a churlish or superior response will disappear from my reading wishlist.

But what of those I have already read and admire.  What, in particular, would Anne Enright have to say, would I be obliged to never open her books again.  I need not have been concerned – not only did she approve, she came up with a one-liner worthy of the man himself – “And once you “get” Dylan, you can’t get away”.

On the day his Nobel Prize was announced, Migrant in Moscow, on Blipfoto, clicked on the tag ‘BobDylan’ and a stream of ‘likes’ came pouring into my mailbox.  I had forgotten just how many times I have used his words on Blipfoto.  Many of these images have already appeared on WordPress but, I repeat them here in celebration – good on yer Bob!

Ballad of a Thin Man

You see somebody naked
And you say, “Who is that man?”
You try so hard But you don’t understand
Just what you’ll say When you get home
Because something is happening here
But you don’t know what it is Do you, Mister Jones?
Ballad of a Thin Man


Black cows in the meadow Across a broad highway Black cows in the meadow Across a broad highway Though it’s funny, honey I just don’t feel much like a Scarecrow today

Black cows in the meadow
Across a broad highway
Black cows in the meadow
Across a broad highway
Though it’s funny, honey
I just don’t feel much like a
Scarecrow today
With apologies to Black Crow Blues – Dylan

And I answer them most mysteriously “Are birds free from the chains of the skyway?”

And I answer them most mysteriously
“Are birds free from the chains of the skyway?”
Ballad in Plain D

... for playing electric violin on Desolation Row

You would not think to look at him that he was famous long ago
For playing electric violin on Desolation Row

... the bells on the crown Are being stolen by bandits I must follow the sound

Farewell Angelina, the bells on the crown
Are being stolen by bandits
I must follow the sound

... now over 50 years old

… now over 50 years old

I'm not there

I’m not there

When the jelly-faced women all sneeze.<br /> Hear the one with the moustache say Jeez, I can't find my knees.

When the jelly-face women all sneeze.
Hear the one with the moustache say Jeez,
I can’t find my knees.

Rainy Day Flowers #12 & 35 ...

Rainy Day Flowers #12 & 35 … (or Women)

And these visions of Johanna are now all that remain

And these visions of Johanna are now all that remain

You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows. Not when you have Egger.

You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.

This wheel's on fire, rolling down the road.

This wheel’s on fire, rolling down the road.

Leaving New York

Weekly Photo Challenge: Nighttime – I could write an extensive piece on the things I don’t like about cruising and cruise ships but it does have the occasional upside.  We had been at sea for six days, crossing the Atlantic, when we set the early morning alarm to ensure we didn’t miss the entry into New York.  Drawing back the cabin curtains we found ourselves easing up the Hudson to Pier 88.  This dark September morning Manhattan shone like a jewel across the river; it was one of the most magical travel experiences I have ever encountered.  It has to be the best way of arriving in the city.

When we left two days later nighttime was drawing in under thunderous skies – it is also a very impressive way of leaving New York.

Leaving New York

(click on the image to enlarge)

It’s Alright Ma …

Travel theme: Merchandise

Disillusioned words like bullets bark
As human gods aim for their mark
Made everything from toy guns that spark
To flesh-colored Christs that glow in the dark
It’s easy to see without looking too far
That not much
Is really sacred.

I don't wanna be famous ...
Fruits Salad
Hoodies and hats


Advertising signs that con you
Into thinking you’re the one
That can do what’s never been done
That can win what’s never been won
Meantime life outside goes on
All around you.

Bob Dylan – It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)

New York, New York

Travel theme: Cities

Guy Garvey interviewed in the Independent, February 2014:

“New York Morning” lays out his embrace of the city he describes as “the modern Rome, where folk are nice to Yoko”.

“That comes from John Lennon,” he explains. “In his last press conference when he left England for good, he said: ‘Why wouldn’t you go to New York? Every nation on Earth represented, all getting along – it’s the modern Rome’. Then he said: ‘Besides, they’re nice to Yoko’. Quite aside from what people think, whether she was responsible or not for splitting up The Beatles – and I’m very sure she wasn’t, knowing band dynamics as I do – it was the out-and-out racism that accompanied that, so when New York clutched them to its bosom as icons, they were very flattered, and it was the place where they felt they could live together and be happy. They were never far from my thoughts when I arrived in New York, being a Northerner and a musician. Knowing the love he had for his roots, it must have been very difficult for him to transplant himself, knowing he was a national hero.”

New York

New York New York New York

New York

In Garvey’s case, of course, it wasn’t so much a national hero and international icon exchanging one form of attention for another, as an escape from attention into blessed anonymity. Whereas John and Yoko relocated to Manhattan, he settled into the more localised, bohemian surroundings of Brooklyn, exulting in the chance to make friends purely on his personality.

“I enjoyed hanging round these diners, which very much reminded me of the places in Manchester where I decided to do what I did with my life, where everybody’s a writer or a sculptor or a painter, and holding down a job in order to support that,” he says. “I enjoyed being that nice older English guy who comes in every day, like Ralph Richardson in the corner on his laptop! It also made me realise how much more inaccessible that youthful verve becomes as you get older. I prefer the company of one good friend these days, whereas these kids were very much about discovering their identity and showing it to the world. It was a lovely thing to witness.”

Weekly Photo Challenge: Juxtaposition

I think I might be mistaking juxtaposition for incongruity but never mind, I don’t think I can be arrested for it 🙂 . This image was taken on the streets of New York. As a stranger to the city, I was just amazed by the amount of ‘stuff’ this guy had to carry around. I don’t think he was wearing a ‘bodycam’ but it must be coming.  Maybe it’s the same in London but in Hexham I don’t think we have progressed much beyond the truncheon (I may be exaggerating).  A grabbed shot which is fuzzier than I would like, but it fits The Bill

Have a nice day

Weekly Photo Challenge: Focus

There are occasions when you want to defy the laws of physics, to enter the realms of the impossible – in this scene from a New York ferry I wanted to focus closely on my beloved’s face (not the Elise) whilst capturing a landmark in the reflection of her sunglasses.  No amount of dodging around with apertures and depth of field was going to work – the solution – ‘simples‘ – cheat 🙂

Statue of Liberty

Travel theme: Dance

Travel theme: Dance:  These photographs were taken thirty years ago in Battery Park, New York.  The first is a little fussy with too much going on but with the passage of time perhaps it gains interest.  As I remember, the lone pom pom dancer had no connection with the street musician sat on the bench who was taking a rest between playing the accordion and the trumpet – a uniquely challenging feat for a one man band; the passers-by in their 1980s fashions seem too wrapped up in their own worlds.  Watching over them all is the Norman Millet Thomas Coast Guard Memorial established in honour of those from the US Coast Guard who served their country during World War II; nothing heals their wounds, nothing brings them back, nothing is learned – the world dances on.

Battery Park DancerBattery Park Dancer

On a lighter note, I was born with two left feet so I don’t generally take much interest in dance; consequently I found this theme choice quite difficult.  I have once again mined the Tallinn TREFF archive for these two images of clowns dancing:

Tallinn street theatre - danceTallinn street theatre - dance

(click on images to enlarge)

New York 1983

It is strange how things work out – my last post involved rummaging around some old 35mm negatives which just happened to be filed next to a set from a trip to New York in 1983.  I was so unimpressed by this image that I hadn’t even bothered to make a contact print.  With the passage of time it has developed some merit – the type of yellow cab and the cars place it squarely in the eighties but maybe the background also defines a precise moment in history.  Are the multitude of cranes on a building site or are they being stored? It is somewhere in Lower Manhattan but where precisely?  (click on image to enlarge)

New York 1983Perhaps most poignantly, the road sign points to the World Trade Center where the Towers still stood, tall and proud.