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Ballad Of A Thin, Right-Handed Pitcher

I’m not much one for follow-up postings, but I’ll supplement the below rant with a post-show evaluation. If all Bob Dylan did at the United Palace Theater last night was perform Ballad Of A Thin Man it would have been worth dragging my ass up to Harlem. Still being a relative neophyte at these shows (and having no intention of stalking the guy cross-country) there’s a certain amount of faux-idol worship I have to adjust to. Nothing can change one’s lofty evaluation of a performer faster than mixing with others of like mind. As Ray Davies (who is also playing NYC tonight) famously sang “I’m not like everybody else.” Live performances can be difficult. The experience differs from listening to a recording in much the same way that traveling differs from vacationing. There’s a certain amount of adjustment and dealing with external influences involved and you almost have to pick your spots and moments. Thin Man was one. Seeing the near-seventy year old step center stage with only blues harp, microphone, and wide-brimmed white felt hat, and actually sell this song he wrote in ’65 was near sublime. “Animated” is not too strong a word, and this is Bob Dylan we’re talking about. But I’ll stop before I become one of them.

The day had an equally strong start with the news that Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum had won his second consecutive Cy Young award. If the kid keeps it up, I’ll be using it as a yearly marker, as in “what was I doing at this time last year when he won?” I remember what I was doing at this time last year, and I even wrote about it. The day ended with the legs of the stool I was sitting on failing inexplicably. Yesterday’s most potentially similar yet auspicious happening came on the A train up to the show, when a young tough mistook my staring out the window behind him, trying to make out the sign at 168th Street, as a confrontational challenge. It’s understandable, as I frequently like to mix it up with a street-wise sort twenty years my junior in pre-game preparation for seeing Bob.  I shook myself from my typical train-riding trance long enough to realize he was locked on me, and to hear him ask “you got a problem?” Fortunately, my situational processing skills still kick in with apt urgency at such moments and I shook my head, responding to his query both definitively and in the negative. And like a well placed change-up, taken on the outside corner for strike three, the moment passed. Something is happening here, but you don’t know what it is .. do you, Mr. Jones?

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