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the pioneer of Dylan Studies; writer, public speaker, critic; became a Doctor of Letters in 2015 (awarded by the University of York, UK)

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Friday, April 03, 2009


I'm sitting in the lobby of the Best Western Nyack on the Hudson (it says here), using one of two guest computers - having, myself, neither laptop nor blackberry to use wi-fi-ily in my own room. The snag with the lobby is that you must listen to an incessant musak of overwrought romantic rock ballads, with soupy machine-made music behind vocalists who only know hand-wringing, posturing, self-sentimentalising and gulps. The same stuff has been on almost every radio station available in my rented car these last few days. How did public taste get this bad?

The only alternatives were the usual menacing baptist ministers, and, least awful, NPR. Curious how even they manage to recruit djs/anchorpersons who sound deeply stupid, stumble over the simplest words and introduce bits of Classical Music in tones of voice they imagine are upscale and civilised. Bah humbug.

Torrential rain, such that I could barely see through the windscreen for a couple of Interstate hours, and heavy rain for an hour and more before the monsoon. I left Chestertown Maryland this morning. A really interesting town, with many a cross-street of lovely 18th Century houses, and set on the banks of a half-mile-wide river - the scene of struggles against His Majesty's tea-tax-collecting boats 200+ years ago. Washington College, which hosted my event at their excellent Rose O'Neill Literary House, was founded in 1782. That's Olde American.

This was my second US gig, after Daemen College, Buffalo NY - right up near Niagara Falls - on the last day of March. Quite a contrast between the two audiences: at Daemen it was mostly not students, but older college people (who could afford to buy my books); at Washington College it was mostly students (who couldn't). A very knowledgeable bunch they were too. And they broke into applause at the end of Big Joe Williams' and Bob's 1962 recording of 'Sittin On Top Of The World' - which was a first.

Tonight, the Nyack Village Theater, with, I'm told, Rob Stoner coming along - and, I hope, Steven Hart too: the author of the very best literary blog I've ever encountered (it's always in the Links List on the left). Then two days off before Hugh's Room Toronto on April 6.

Oh lawdy, now they're playing a whole slew of Elton John records. I have to leave now.


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