A pause in my usual weekly reviews and recommendations on public radio KBU and select websites of cultural endeavors from wherever, to add my voice to the chorus of congratulations for my next-door neighbor for being awarded a Nobel Prize.
Yes, I’m talking about Bob Dylan, who doesn’t live exactly next door, but around the corner a half mile or so away, and I know is at home only occasionally, being on the road and seemingly performing constantly, everywhere.
In the score of years we have lived on Point Dume here in Malibu I’ve only seen him once, in a car, which I happily report was going under the speed limit.
Actually, I met him once, 52 years ago, in 1964, when he was a rising star and recognizable, with that wild, wiry hair, the slouch, and sheepish, if not a sly grin.
He was in a coffee house where else but in Greenwich Village, at the next table being interviewed by the music critic Nat Hentoff, who was a mainstay, in a then defiantly different Village Voice
I was a reporter at the New York Times, but to the exasperation of my editor occasionally wrote books review and critical commentaries for the Voice. I also knew Nat, havin met him several times, at the paper’s infamous parties hosted by its infamous publisher, the writer Norman Mailer. It was very much a scene back then in a gritty, restive Village, and Dylan was a part of it.
At the time he was coming under a lot of criticism by the Voice and folk song purists for playing an electric accoustical guitar at a recent concert, I believe it was in Forest Hills, where he was actually booed. I was in the crowd that said let the kid do his thing, and cheered him.
And so seeing him, a few steps away, shook his hand, and to annoyance of Nat, said something to the effect that I liked what he was doing, and thought it was time for folk music to move on. I remember he smiled that shy smile, and murmured what I heard as a thanks.
He is the only Nobel prizewinner I ever met.
But not bearing witness to this, the only other Malibu story I eve r heard was from my late neighbor and friend, Al WInnikoff. He claimed to be Dylan’s realtor, and said he used drive him around looking at properties.
Al also fancied himself a singer, songwriter, and guitar player, and said on several times he got to perform for Dylan. Having tolerated Al’s indulgence, I can only shudder to think what Dylan experienced. 10.14.16