Wednesday, November 11, 2015

thing one, and thing two

Today I am making note of two things I've learned.

I learned one today, all of an instant, while reading.

The other one I "learned" -- (finally got it through head) -- over time, and then sifted the puzzle until finally figured - out as in, "Light Dawns On Marble Heat" as they say in Massachusetts.


Learned-Thing 1 -- Reading a wonderful history of American popular music, The Chitlin' Circuit, written by Preston Lauterbach (whom I suspect is British), I noted this and said, "Ah - hah!" --

--------------------------------- [excerpt, Chitlin'] ----------------- Crucially, the dance business and not the record business stirred the new cocktail.  Booking agents, not record companies, controlled artists day to day, deciding how many musicians they could afford to carry, where they went, and how long they stayed. 

Acts built on the Tympany Five model simply required less cash flow to tour than did big bands -- fewer members meant fewer uniforms to buy and clean, fewer instruments to buy and maintain, fewer vehicles to fuel and rooms to rent, which translated neatly into lower performance fees, with the savings passed down the line to cash-strapped partiers. 

After decades of big-band music, audiences were ripe for novelty.  Naturally, promoters and club owners pushed these cheaper acts out of financial necessity.  These sweeping artistic and economic trends catalyzed black pop's modification from swing to rock 'n' roll....

...After Louis Jordan's rise pushed the vocalist into the limelight, the band became an afterthought. ------------------------- End, excerpt, AND --

"END" my confusion about why Chuck Berry often traveled alone and played with local pickup bands, instead of bringing his own band.  Coming from the generation he did, as well as being from St. Louis, he would be well aware of the vocalist emphasis, with traveling acts, and the idea that you could work with any band you hired at the location where you were going to perform. 

(Keith Richards used to object to that -- he discusses this topic in the documentary film, Hail, Hail Rock and Roll -- but then again, not every entertainer has Rolling Stones budgets...)


And "Thing two" that I learned and have been thinking about lately -- I have had several experiences with loaning people things which did not have positive results.  And I could never understand it.  Like -- it's free.  There's no obligation.  Just enjoy it!

But the thing I've realized is, when you lend a book or a movie to somebody, you think you're doing something nice, and you do it out of the feeling of love of the art-work (movie or book) and the happy experience you yourself had with it, and the loving, generous feeling of wanting to share that.

But what ends up happening is, if you (and by "you" I guess I mean "I") lend someone a book, you're really giving them THREE ASSIGNMENTS.  (Yikes!, right?)

Assignment 1 -- they have to read it.

Assignment #2 -- they have to like it.  and

Assignment 3 -- they have to give it back.

And it's too much, because people have only so much free time, plus they're tired, plus you have to be in the "right mood" to appreciate an art-work.

Same goes for films -- if "you" (I) lend someone a movie on DVD, I am actually giving them three assignments --

--  They have to watch it

--  They have to like it, and

--  They have to bring it back to me.

What is originally meant as joyous, generous, enthusiastic sharing, turns into a Negative Experience for the person who had the Thing Loaned to them.  (Call the police!  This woman is trying to loan me a Woody Allen movie...!)


One reason maybe why it was a slow process for me to learn this, is that someone loaned me a short stack of Rolling Stones record albums once, and invited me to further explore their music, since I had said I was interested, after seeing a short documentary in Boston.  What I did with these record albums was,

--  I listened to them
--  I liked them
--  And I gave them back to the guy who loaned them to me.

This was NOT a negative experience for me, it was an extremely positive experience.  So -- having had this happy experience myself, I've sometimes wanted to repeat it, or as they say -- "pay it forward" by loaning something I loved to someone else...for THEM to enjoy...(only it never works!)...

So possibly my positive experience with having Stones albums loaned to me was simply the "exception which proves the rule"...


There's an episode of The Cosby Show -- I think it's in Season 4 -- where the Huxtables' neighbor, portrayed by Wallace Shawn, comes by on Halloween to pick up a power drill he had loaned to Cliff some time ago when Cliff had one of his ongoing household projects in-process.

As Clair points out, the project is still not finished.  So Jeffrey (the neighbor) comes for the drill, and Cliff can't find it. 

It's funny, and pretty affecting, as the tension builds -- at first Cliff is not worried, thinks he can find the drill; Jeffrey isn't overly worried -- he'll come back later for it, he says...

but then it becomes more and more fraught because Cliff looks everywhere and cannot find the thing, and when he offers Jeffrey the brand new drill he's just purchased for himself, Jeffrey doesn't want the new drill, he wants the original one!  (It belonged to his father! lol)

He tells Dr. Huxtable, "I don't see how you could lose a power drill!  It's not like a -- button.  Or a peanut.  This is a major household appliance!"

And you just feel tense, in the audience, for Dr. Huxtable.  Then Jeffrey starts getting worked up, "My father told me, 'If you lend someone something, WATCH them while they're using it, and when they're FINISHED with it, TAKE IT BACK!'
I wish I'd listened to him!!"


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