August 8, 2017

"He’s just a very plain, simple, common, ordinary, Nebraska cat. Really that is all he amounts to."

Said Bob Dylan about Marlon Brando. It was 1965, and Dylan was talking to Allen Ginsberg and had just gotten done telling Ginsberg that Marlon Brando "thinks about the universe, like you."

What sense does that make? free polls


Ralph L said...

I was tempted to go with all of the above but went with 3, because I don't care for Dylan (except for BLowin in the Wind).

traditionalguy said...

It's #1 all the way. Where did you come up with all those other thoughts for sensitive Bob Dylan.

Scott said...

You forgot:

"Dylan was being glib in a way calculated to make his fans think he was profound."

buwaya said...

Making small talk, simple conversation filler about common acquaintances.

Sometimes there really is no significance to words.

Bay Area Guy said...

Yes to Dylan, guarded Yes to Brando (mostly just for The Godfather), but absolute No to Ginsberg, who was a creepy old pervert.

sodal ye said...

Bob Dylan fans are delusional. He was shit.

Scott said...

I think Bob Dylan is the greatest living American singer-songwriter, ahead of Jimmy Webb. But when you're that revered, you can mess with people's minds. I think he likes doing that.

rcocean said...

There's wasn't much Nebraska in Brando. He spent most of his adolescence in Illinois and went to a Episcopalian military academy. By 17, he was in New York City, and he never looked back.

In one of his Larry king interviews, he thanked the "Jews of New York" for teaching him all about food, life, politics, art, etc. He might have gone on and talked about how wonderful it is the Jews controlled Hollywood. Or maybe that was another discussion.

Brando had a thing for girls of "color". Asian, Polynesian, Hispanic, Indian, African. Any color - except white.

And from what I've read and heard, Brando was really liked by a lot of his fellow celebrities- except for Richard Harris. Youtube has a great Harris intereview where he imitates Brando.

rcocean said...

I'm surprised that Dylan hung out with a phony like Alan Ginsberg. He was one of those guys who always hangs out with the people with real talent, but doesn't have much of it.

Then when all the real artists are gone, he becomes famous by association.

The Bergall said...

Well that's pretty profound..........were they smoking smoking thing?

khematite said...

When Dylan called Brando a plain, ordinary Nebraska cat in 1965, I wonder whether he knew that Brando spoke a fair Yiddish (from his early days in NYC when he lived with Stella Adler and her family) and that Brando had helped raise money for the Irgun in 1946. And then there was that night in the 1970s when Dylan and Brando attended a Passover seder together at a Reform synagogue in Los Angeles. A cat, maybe--but not so plain and ordinary once you actually knew something about him.

D said...

"I will take "name-dropping famous mid-century sorta-Nebraskans not named Brando on Ginsburg for $100, Bob."
"He was an ordinary cat."
"Johnny Carson - Nebraskans, $200"
"He was a cool cat."
"Bob Gibson - Nebraskans, $300"
"He acted like a plain cat."
"Henry Fonda - Nebraskans, $400"
"She sure as hell was no simple cat"
"Sandy Dennis - ok, lets finish it off for $500"
"This cat was really out there, on the edge"
"Um........ George Beadle?"
"No. The answer was: crazed spree killer Starkweather. That Bruce wannabe guy can eventually write a song about it, if he wants, thats not my thing"

Krumhorn said...

Frankly, I don't care what any of them think (thought). But that's just me.

Get off my lawn!


Jay Elink said...

I once had a book by Ginsberg, signed and inscribed by him on the front free end paper, as follows:

Allen Ginsberg


I've always wondered if it was Ginsberg's way of saying he regarded the person who asked him to sign his book as an asshole.

It fits.

mockturtle said...

Yes to Dylan, guarded Yes to Brando (mostly just for The Godfather), but absolute No to Ginsberg, who was a creepy old pervert.

Brando's best film by far was On the Waterfront. Second best was probably A Streetcar Named Desire.

rcocean said...

"Brando's best film by far was On the Waterfront. Second best was probably A Streetcar Named Desire."

Yep. Talk about an actor who peaked early. "On the Waterfront" was his best movie, but he hung around for another 50 years!

dustbunny said...

Both Dylan and Brando were incredibly famous by 1965, maybe Dylan was reflecting that despite the fame they were just regular midwestern guys. They both got fed up around that time with the adulation, Dylan disappearing ostensibly because of a motorcycle accident and Brando hiding on a South Pacific atoll.

Quaestor said...

Last week I got a yen to watch Sayonara, which features Marlon Brando, Red Buttons, and James Garner, among others. I don't know where the appetite came from, maybe it was the James Mitcher screenplay... Anyhoo, I found it on a media streaming site and kicked back — Jebus H. Crisp! It was total shit. Brando spoke in this godawful phoney-baloney Southern accent that literally made my teeth hurt, like nails on a blackboard. I got about 13 minutes into the film and gave up. Horrible. It's a heavy-handed anti-racism screed which starts off slugging the viewer in the face for being an American, and never lets up, or at least as long as I was able to watch, which was when supporting actor Ricardo Montalbán (the rich Corinthian leather guy) shows up as a onnagata kabuki actor who lectures a very obviously bored but striving to be polite Brando about the infinite virtues of Japanese culture. That did it, that and the din coming out of Brando's piehole. The theme of the movie is the nastiness of American racism, and yet the producers apparently thought nothing of casting a Mexican in role that rightly should have gone to any of a few thousand underemployed Japanese actors who at the time were stuck doing extra work in Yet Another Samurai Movie or fleeing from guys in rubber lizard suits. Horrible. Insulting. Absurd.

1957 must have been a drought year in Hollywood because the abominable Sayonara won four Academy Awards and got nominated for six more. Horrible. Insulting. Absurd. Noxious. Inane.

I'm not making the case that Brando wasn't a good actor, On the Waterfront proves his sometimes awesome ability. However, there is also plenty of evidence that Brando's reputation is largely mythical — Exhibit A: Mutiny on the Bounty (Do not view on a full stomach.) Exhibit B: One Eyed Jacks (Not a comedy, honest injun.)

Bay Area Guy said...


Loved "On The Waterfront", Yes, but not a big fan of Streetcar. I remember doing a book report in 9th Grade on it, and lauding Stanley Kowalski, but casting aspersions on Blanche DuBois. Maybe I should watch it again.

Younger Brando Yes, older Brando became fat and wierd.

traditionalguy said...

Hey, don't you guys understand that Dylan was saying that he was just a common ordinary Minnesota Cat. People add types and cultures along life's way, but they remain their childhood selves formed by God with an unalienable hold.

D said...

Island of Dr Moreau needed more dual piano playing. More dining room scenes with more rambling expositions. Maybe a parade. More hats. More everything. It was too spartan

rcocean said...

I'm not making the case that Brando wasn't a good actor, On the Waterfront proves his sometimes awesome ability. However, there is also plenty of evidence that Brando's reputation is largely mythical — Exhibit A: Mutiny on the Bounty (Do not view on a full stomach.) Exhibit B: One Eyed Jacks (Not a comedy, honest injun.)

I agree about "Sayanora". Its one of those anti-racist movies of the 50s and 60s that is so fucking patronizing to the victims of racism its impossible to watch. Brando gives one of his worst performances, and Red Buttons is the most obnoxious guy ever.

But disagree about "Mutiny" - I love Brando's effete snob act, and also like "One Eyed Jacks" although its more for the Monterrey CA scenery and the supporting players than for Brando.

Bix Cvvv said...

Like Dylan, I like to walk around ordinary suburban streets in towns I don't know (in his case before concerts, I don't do concerts, though): wondering about the cats who live in the houses. So Number One (people understand the universe well enough in their way, and that is a beginning).

mockturtle said...

Surprisingly, Brando wasn't bad as Marc Antony.

The Godfather said...

The poll didn't have an "I don't have the faintest idea what Dylan meant" option, which is how I feel about it. In fact, that's how I feel about 75% of Dylan's lyrics. But I don't think you're supposed to understand them in a left-brainish sort of way. That was my take-away from his Nobel Prize essay.

Mockturtle: Thanks for the shout-out, but I don't get it.

mockturtle said...

Mockturtle: Thanks for the shout-out, but I don't get it.

What 'shout-out'? I don't get it.

traditionalguy said...

Brando was more Nebraska like in The Appolosa.he still had it in him.

The Godfather said...

@Mockturtle: Sorry, I see you were quoting Bay Area Guy mentioning me.

@Bay Area Guy: Thanks for the shout-out, but I don't get it.

mockturtle said...

Well, GF, he was lauding Brando for his portrayal of you. Did he capture your essence, do you think?

sena nabila said...

Walatra G Sea Jelly

Guildofcannonballs said...

Buwaya significance is one of those funny words. I hope you have seen enough, but not too much, to infect laughter like proggies pain.

Be you 'ware. Betty Davis is on a 1988 rerun (redundant) of Carson. My gosh she sounds like Betty, but looks 88 lbs.

"MONDAY, JUNE 13, 2016

Blogging Under the Influence
Well, I'm in the clear for today. I wasn't needed for jury duty. In California you're on the hook for one week, but you can check in the night before and they may or may not need you. So here I am with nothing to write about, as usual.
As you can see from the sidebar, I've been reading Robert Spitzer's trilogy -- soon to be a tetralogy -- on happiness, suffering and transcendence. Right now I'm in the middle of volume 2, The Soul's Upward Yearning: Clues to Our Transcendent Nature from Experience and Reason. The whole structure of the series is a bit like One Cosmos (the book), except it is much more sprawling and sometimes repetitive, taking him four books to carefully convey what I recklessly packed into one eccentric flight of fancy.

For example, in my book there is a very brief passage on What It's Like to write under the influence of the Holy Spirit. I didn't put it exactly that way, but there is something in there vis-a-vis having one's language conditioned from above, as opposed to coming out in a mechanical or precogitated way -- about truly speaking instead of being spoken by language.

As an aside, the One Cosmos book -- very much like the blog -- was simultaneously written and discovered. It is by no means a work of "scholarship," although I naturally brought in scholarly support when and where I could." -

Guildofcannonballs said...

They are smoking.

"I'm trying to quit" says Johnny in 1988.

"You're trying to quit?"

Boom Betty is off to the races after her above quote.

Buckley wrote much differently in 2008.

You can find it if you want. I am not a fan of tabaco, never was. I was born a little too bit high strung to think smoking could replace better endorphins.

Guildofcannonballs said...

This is what I was trying to say the other night, but different.

You know?

The best job in Hollywood was being Robin Williams joke writer.


BOATS! BOATS! HA! Oh, boats, you know it's sex boats because not a boat, not boat, but boats, so boats well they float and bump into each other and ... MAGIC ...

Next day, Robin Williams joke writer.


TOUPEES! TOUPEES! HA! Well. You know if you can afford toupees you can afford hookers and their chemical friend's friends, so well they all bump into each other and ... MAGIC ...

Next week, Robin Williams joke writer.


DIRT. DIRT. HA! Dirty bumping pretties ... magic ...

Next year, Robin Williams joke writer.

"Just Quit."

JUST QUIT! JUST QUIT! HA! HA! Just quit was gonna fly in to tell the jokes tonight but his arms were too tired and he just quit.


Laslo Spatula said...

"Dylan wanted Ginsberg to know that he thought Ginsberg was a gasbag."

But even Marlon Brando sometimes must have to stand naked.

I am Laslo.

DKWalser said...

I thought he meant that every Nebraskan is a fine actor.

Danno said...

Too many cats on this post. Sounds like 1960s coffeehouse culture.

Valentine Smith said...

In 65' bob dylan was still about the 50's and segueing to the 60's and real fame as DYLAN. Here he's playing Ginsberg, chronicler of the beats, by dangling the delicious possibility that the great bi- Brando like the bi- Cassady forbidden middle american fruit and unreachable for the gnome-jew ginsberg was right there allen he's a cat man a cat just like you the wild one to your secular homo rebbe and he loves jews man likes the erudition and of course the cut dick at least once in a while. And who knows he may like a boy now and then.

Thereby assuring Dylan's place in the hipster pantheon.