abba's way

Today’s Breaking News

Today’s breaking news notes Mitt Romney’s staying power, Red Tube’s banality and the low esteem in which aesthetics is held,  considers the current state of US online businesses and China, links to a post-automobile street action in Bristol and reprises an exegesis of Bob Dylan’s enjoyable song “I and I”. This is a feature I am trying out. If there is good response I will continue it.

Of Red Tube and Other Web Excrescences

June 10, 2011
Annals of the Aesthetic
EBay Continues to Try in China

June 10, 2011
Annals of Business
Chalking it Up in Bristol

June 10, 2011
Annals of Facebook Grass Roots Revolution
Parsing Bob’Dylan’s “I and I”

June 10, 2011
Annals of Great Music


pattern language, politics

Face To Face, Security and “Highlands”

Ah, the mind works in mysterious ways.

Let me tie these things together. Face to face is what we lose in a cyber world. We meet icon to icon across vast physical spaces. Eye to eye is getting so uncommon that it carries some dangers these days.


Community, and the quest for it, is a huge human drive, made manifest in the sagacious writings of a Durkheim, a Tonnies, a Robert Nisbet whose book “Community and Power” was originally titled “The Quest for Comunity”. It’s a scathing and wiondrous attack on the depersonalized, atomized state.

It is a call to consider how we might resuscitate a face to face world of neighborhoods. Let us not get prematurely weepy-eyed for the return of the town. Read “Wisconson Death Trip” for a graphic suggestion that there is no difference in the violent proclivities of city and town.

The trick is to move toward a society with the tollowing community-building elements.

Pedestrian ways with plenty of outdoor nooks and crannies and places to congregate, chap, sip, schmooze.

Work within a walk of no more than a mile.

An emphasis on small and focused businesses, retail outlets, entertainment venues, sports and fitness facilities, health nodes (for preventative services), educational nodes, for a move toward total education for all ages and a move to supplement conventional schooling and on residences that are connected, not detached, and sufficiently sense so that a human settlement can actually function as an economy.

Now once we start to give prizes to architects who can give form and substance to such ideas, and get them off the metrosprawl addiction, the immediate question of security arises. Why build a matrix to encourage community if everyone is getting more and more suspicious, privatized and interested only in one’s narrow group?

But this is precisely what must be defeated. We need to reclaim the world, not shut it out, to expand life, not reify it to the point we become things.

My general solution to this is a two pronged effort.

First, there must a rubric applied to the creation of public space. At present public space is a travesty. We need to reclaim it and make it for enjoyable public interaction. We need to have the following principle: Public space must attract, not intimidate, enhance not repel. The current warehouse mode of essentially protecting structures from human interactions is all wrong.

The second thing we need is security. Security can be achieved most easily by designing living spaces that are eminently safe and secure. Most often these should be apartments or connected dwellings where the outdoor space is common, that is to say public. My own sense is that we should build settlement models after the construction of stadiums with dwellings around the perimeter and a graded public (pedestrian) way between facing rows of homes of sufficient size and variety to make them attractive to many different sorts. Everything should be mixed.

This perimeter would have all manner of nodes and kiosks and such, making such necessities as we need available within a walk, not a drive.

Now why does this all add up to security. Because a community such as this can be monitored with much greater effectiveness than our metrosprawl communities. Or our impersonal mass-residence urban projects.

It’s that simple.

Now “Highlands” — one of my favorite Dylan songs, more recent than most.

It records an older person’s journey through life and notes the reality of face to face and at the same time the alienation and even depression it can create. I mention it because it is honest about the fact that we all die, we all have needs, we all have desires. That we do not think about these things, that we rely on drugs and alcohol to dull us to who we are and where we are going is merely an indication of an alienation index that is peaking.

Dylan could not have had this meditation without there being a pedestrian option. He walks in a park and sees people. He walks into a restaurant and has an encounter with the waitress. He cogitates as he strolls. At one point he’s listening to Neil Young and is yelled at for turning up the sound.

We live in a world where the nuclear family is no longer the the measure of all things. Where people are growing older. Where we are seeing that our current automobile, oil-based, interchange-riddled social and economic structure is going to pass from the scene.

The passage can be slow and painful. It most probably will be that. But it would be easier and smarter to begin to design the communities of the future, sustainable, eco-block conscious, with urban amenities whether in NYC or Tea, South Dakota.

We do not need more conventional philanthropic efforts to influence policy with studies. We need contests to create the future. Contests to design livable options which are sustainable, cost-effective and secure. I can see what I would like. But I cannot draw it. Someone else can though.

music, theology

Bob Dylan’s “I and I” — Some Notes

Please go here


Bob Dylan – Abraham Martin & John (Track 2 Yonder Comes Sin)

Moved here


Napster Addict’s Current Head Zingers

Jesse Winchester — Defying Gravity. His version and Emmylou Harris’s UT

Culture — Old Tattoo UT

Bob Dylan & The Band — Goin’ To Acapulco UT truncated

This last is derivative of Cripple Creek.

Goin’ down to Cripple Creek
Goin’ on the run
Goin’ down to Cripple Creek
Have a little fun

music, politics

The Song That Didn’t Make the Concert

Willie Nelson’s Heartland. He performs it with Bob Dylan. This could have been one of the songs yesterday. I am sorry it wasn’t. HEARTLAND LYRICS

bob dylan

Bob Dylan in 1963 Singing "Blowin’ in The Wind"


This video of Bob Dylan in 1963 singing “Blowin’ in The Wind” is a clear indication of Bob Dylan’s assurance as a performer. It’s by being committed and willing to go full bore that one achieves the greatness that is within. Sorry to wax philosophical, but watching this for me is like watching a seed sprout. The best of Bob Dylan is whatever you happen to like, from a corpus that has grown and grown, with never a lapse in the overall quality of his work.

Those of us who write get our kicks from little things. My kicks in relation to Bob Dylan are two. A little postcard from Abe Zimmerman in Hibbing, Minnesota, asking me to send a copy of an article I’d written on Dylan in the mid 1960s — it was called “Bob Dylan as Theologian” and it concentrated on songs like “It’s Alright Ma”.

My second kick was finding that article indexed in one of the standard Dylan references of the time, “Absolutely Dylan – An Illustrated Biography” by Patrick and John Bauldie Humphries. A writer of modest reach gains satisfaction from inclusion in bibliographies.

Funnily, I was never a real fan of Bob Dylan until the cyberspace era was in full swing. A few years ago, I went through an intense period of listening to everything by Dylan I could get my hands on.

There are sites forums like Expecting Rain where the huge body of Dylan-related material can be accessed.

I’ve watched films like Masked and Anonymous with pleasure, delved into the words of songs like Angelina and learned to love the Basement Tapes as a window on the realities that Luc Sante and Greil Marcus evoke with such skill.

So count me a fan of sorts.

And of course I have my fan fantasy. Sometimes I imagine, when I am playing Jellyfish Backgammon, Bob is sitting across with me.

We play without speaking.

Enough already. Suffice to say that some enrich our lives mightily. Our best response is to appreciate and keep some distance.

Bob Dylan — “Blowing in The Wind” (1963)

bob dylan

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