Grand Rapids, MN--Just left the town of Hibbing, MN. Philistine? Don't worry, that's just what I'm here for (ed.: he didn't remember either). Hibbing is the town in which one Robert Zimmerman was raised (Jon, I swear to God, if you don't know who that is I'll just stop trying). It's a mining town which at some point in the mid-20th C. was the richest place in the world per capita. The harder they come, the harder they fall. Maybe it's because it's a Sunday but we couldn't find a cafe in Hibbing (pop. 18,000, though who knows how recent that statistic is) and had to retreat to the relative glamour and urbanity of Grand Rapids (pop. 7,700). But of course, the town's wealth has left traces, nowhere more evident than in its high school, an enormous brick-and-granite testament to the fact that towns built on exhaustible resources (coal, iron, oil, etc.) never have any idea that opulence will seem tacky in 50 years when the mines shut down and the town fades into a prolonged death throe.
Of course, that said, this is the town from which Bobby D. emerged, and Eve has this fascinating idea that his career has essentially been one long trip down the River, and I'll tell you, being up here the connection between folk music/low-grade Marxism/early (student) stuff and the place from which it emerged seems pretty obvious. I don't know, it just seems like the right cultural climate in which a really literate, sensitive kid could become Dylan, and let us not forget that most of Young Bob's cited influences were European (save W. Guthrie but that's another story), and that he left Hibbing for the Twin Cities and, when that still proved too close, for NYC, and these facts plus the reaction of another literate youth from another small town (ed.: you pompous, egotistical prick, did you just compare yourself to Bob Dylan?)(no, I drew connections between myself and the Man, connections anyone could have observed) towards the town of Hibbing seem pretty strongly to suggest an approaching-irresistible urge to Get The Hell Outta There, which manifests pretty clearly through all of Big D's work in an aggressive cosmopolitanism we've all noticed, even if it's nothing to hold against him. Which all goes to say, I guess, that we shouldn't ever be surprised at the strangely humble or remote beginnings of anyone because those who strive against dominant local culture can not only attain but do in fact frequently surpass the worldliness and political awareness and musical/poetic/artistic acumen of their more “well-schooled” contemporaries because their roots force them to overextend. All of which is, I suppose, an obvious point (ed.: what a sneaky little f***ing escape route, say something barely worth repeating and cover your tracks with an acknowledgment to the same, you slimy, grotesque little weasel), but I'm just sick to death of the mythology that goes along with the story, the background, all of which is obviously important but he's not a fucking God, you know, he's a person and consequently reacts to certain situations and stimuli in entirely logical and even dare I say typical or predictable ways.
It might be easy to construe this, if you know me well and are therefore aware of just how egotistical/self-aware/narcissistic I am (take your pick, and choose not according to your fondness for me--for say what you will, I must have a couple of admirable qualities to offset all the crap, but then again I've taken a post about Bob Dylan and turned it into one pretty much entirely about myself and is this the nature of the Internet and the Democratization of Creation writ large or am I proselytizing unnecessarily?--but according to your heart's honest opinion), as a sort of preemption of any sort of talk this way about myself. This is most probably true (ed.: actually, despite that sounding like a sneaky way of putting it he's actually being pretty honest, because these posts are a kind of free-form stream-of-consciousness thing and who the hell knows where any of this stuff actually originates deep in his murky mind's recesses?), but I really don't mean it as any kind of self-important analysis but more as a way of saying that the experiences of young men and women in small towns are widely disparate. Robert Zimmerman was the son of a Jewish couple who worked in the town, not in the mine. I am not the child of poor coastal fishermen but rather a hyper-literate couple who for reasons I've actually never really understood chose to settle in couple of small Maine towns, and not only that but the small Maine town in which I went to high school (pop. <2,000) had a pretty sizable artistic subculture which, and here again I'm assuming and generalizing, I suppose nearly all small towns do. “Important” people emerge from everywhere for all different kinds of reasons, so stop the mythology! And I think I must stop this blog post too for it is becoming a bit difficult to control, and the only method I know of controlling an approaching-unstoppable force is to stop it before it gets actually-unstoppable, which is of course only useful in hindsight and on the Internet.
Editor's note: Actually, I don't have much to say; that was a pretty fun ride through a tired rower's mental calisthenics.