Category Archives: You’ve Got to Check This Out

Douglas Adams (YGtCTO Words #59)

Last Chance to See


Book written by Douglas Adams

Honestly, he wrote other stuff.

But it all has to start with the book.

I found my copy beneath the Yule tree, a gift from by brother and sister-in-law. At the time of purchase, I’m not sure how much they knew about it beyond scanning the first few pages. I think they said that it seemed funny. I was probably the sort of youth that occasionally looked like he could use a little funny, like so many other youths.

They were right. It did seem funny. And rather difficult to explain.

I returned to school and made the unexpected observation that numerous other students seemed to be bent over the very same book while downing their cafeteria food. A few lingered in their chairs beside desolated trays. Who knew that a young man traveling around the universe with his towel would allow so many to identify so well?

In retrospect, the book was quite odd, like reading a Monty Python script without having seen any of the shows. A fierce intelligence seems to be buried within the text as well as a wealth of sarcasm. Yet, some sort of emotional core seeps through as well. Is it really possible to empathize with a whale that has only now popped into existence for a brief, unfortunate plummet? (I did read all the books in the trilogy- I’ll let you count them.)

Like so many others, I was delighted to read whatever Adams wrote. In those authorially-alphabetized sections of bookstores, his last name made the short list of place to check for anything interesting. (Poor Richard Adams was unfairly responsible for more than a little disappointment.)

I loved Dirk Gently, a character who managed the miracle of allowing the reader to project his own mildly heroic qualities into the novel. Come to think of it, that is the wonder of all the best protagonists, isn’t it?

Douglas Adams

Then,
this non-fiction book falls from the sky. What do you make of that, eh? So, Douglas Adams is a world traveler now, eh? Good on him. But what’s he going on about? Beasts that are disappearing through extinction?

I honestly thought that if anyone was going to change the world and make it a safe place for people and the rest of the animal kingdom, then Douglas Adams was the man to do it. Of course that was never going to be the case. But he certainly did his bit.

I don’t agree with people’s dismay when someone well-known spouts off about some issue or other. If Adams wants us to spend a few minutes thinking about extinction and the environment, then swell. The fault is in the hyping of the opinion. You write a book, then you seem to have given the issue some thought. You spout into a microphone, then that deserves the same level of thought you gave your fulmination.

Recently, Stephen Fry followed up on Adams’ travels. I’ve been a little hesitant to watch. It’s a little like joining Facebook and seeing who’s dead and dying. A certain degree of ill-defined responsibility suddenly accrues. If only someone like Adams were around to put all this dithering in its place?

You’ve Got to Check This Out is a blog series about music, words, and all sorts of artistic matters. It started with an explanation. 124 more to go.

New additions to You’ve Got to Check This Out release regularly. Also, free humor, short works, and poetry post irregularly. Receive notifications on Facebook by friending or following Craig.

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Desmond Dekker (YGtCTO Music #59)

Israelites

Song written by Desmond Dekker and Leslie Kong and performed by Desmond Dekker & The Aces

Apparently, I have hit a bit of a wall here. I just like Desmond Dekker- quite a bit, actually. Really, I don’t have that much to say about it other than that.

Which does give me pause and make me want to consider the point of You’ve Got to Check This Out. I do think about that more than you might imagine (or maybe you figured that out about a hundred posts ago).

So far, I’ve written much more about having a personal relationship with art than doing any sort of real analysis of the art. Ignoring the latter while talking about the former is unwise, but I’ve done a pretty good job at that. The main reason is that I originally intended to explore how art is important in a subjective way. In a very real sense, I don’t know that art can be fully appreciated objectively. We can evaluate the craft of art in universal terms, but it appears very difficult to predict how a specific work of art is going to impact a unique individual.

When we deny ourselves the time to consider the art in our lives and the art that is available to us, then we deny ourselves participation in some of the most basic qualities that make us human: communication, empathy, self-expression, tool mastery, etc.

We all sit at the opposite end

of the diagram from the artist- we are the audience. That can be an uncomfortable seat. In many ways, it is the challenge of picking the right pew at church or the right stool at the bar. Your neighbors are going to heavily influence the next couple hours. They may very well be inclined to communicate in ways that make us quite uncomfortable.

Desmond Dekker

Consider a Jamaican artist who produces music that is initially released only in Jamaica. I doubt that he had expectations of reaching a significantly larger audience, though he likely had such aspirations. Given all that, I am willing to guarantee that he did not expect a pre-schooler at that time living in Ohio to celebrate the advent of Spring nearly five decades later by driving around in his car blasting his music somewhere near the Canadian border.

I’m not sure why I like ska and reggae and rock-steady. Pretty much everything about me screams that I should be listening to a lot of Willie and Waylon (which happens, too). Sure, it might be generational or college-related. The reality is that it takes effort to listen to anything and I don’t do it nearly enough anymore.

You’ve Got to Check This Out is a blog series about music, words, and all sorts of artistic matters. It started with an explanation. 125 more to go.

New additions to You’ve Got to Check This Out release regularly. Also, free humor, short works, and poetry post irregularly. Receive notifications on Facebook by friending or following Craig.

Images may be subject to copyright.

Rolling Stone (YGtCTO #174)

Magazine founded by Jann Wenner

I have a vague memory of the Saturday Evening Post popping up on the coffee table when I was quite young, sort of like Life Magazine periodically resurrects in supermarket checkout aisles these days. I suppose a century ago when magazines were the hot new media, maybe The New Yorker, Punch, or American Mercury would have been the thing, though I have jumbled some dates there.

When I got a bit older and could tear myself away from the comic book racks, I was amazed by the profusion of magazines. Many were stuffy or boring or glorified newspapers. Let’s face it, they had to compete with Mad Magazine if they were going to garner my attention. National Lampoon was asking too much. Cream and the other rock rags walked a fine line- they looked like the teenybopper drivel, but sometimes had decent writing. They were brief preparation for that giant magazine printed on cheap paper. Remember how Rolling Stone always seemed to sit by itself, because it was the wrong size? Also, you weren’t going to read their magazine surreptitiously.

Rolling Stone

The dam burst when my oldest brother moved to California and started shipping care packages home. Through the goodness of his heart, he crammed all the magazines that came his way into a giant envelope, after he was finished with them. There was a lot Billboard, as I recall. Nothing was absolutely current, but neither was it so out-of-date that it seemed like old news.

They didn’t just talk about music.
Who knew? They had humor and film and politics and all of it seemed to be written for me. I had not fully grasped how much I had been missing. Of course, I hadn’t fully grasped that I was part of a viable demographic, either, but that happened soon enough. I also started to grasp a few things about discernment in choices, whether they were about record purchases or political support.

What I most took away from digesting those magazines was the quality of the writing. This was long before the 500 word blog post, but fully in the deep end of the 500 word record review. Yet, whatever the length, whatever the subject, the writer had to care about it. Otherwise, it wasn’t worth publishing.

I went away to college. The packages continued with all my gratitude. I moved off campus into a three story campus ministry building. They rented out the top floor. We didn’t have a television, let alone any sort of computer in the apartment. I found work and stuck around campus during breaks. It… was… so… boring…

Don’t tell anyone, but I wandered the building at night, poking into closets. The basement turned out to be a torehouse for stuff. In retrospect, it was probably for a thrift sale. I’ll assume that so I don’t feel bad. You can only imagine my joy at finding a box of Rolling Stone‘s. I must have studied the articles, because I still remember details about Neil Diamond and Warren Zevon and Bob Dylan that no brain should store.

You’ve Got to Check This Out is a blog series about music, words, and all sorts of artistic matters. It started with an explanation. 126 more to go.

New additions to You’ve Got to Check This Out release regularly. Also, free humor, short works, and poetry post irregularly. Receive notifications on Facebook by friending or following Craig.

Images may be subject to copyright.