The Second Baez (2023) Documentary

The first Joanie doc, How Sweet the Sound, provided a more conventional overview of her long, successful career. So why this one?

I’m guessing she felt the need to amend the previous picture and to give fans a glimpse into the many emotional and psychological doubts, struggles, and setbacks that have largely escaped her fans’ attention. I suspect she wanted to also set the record straight that it hasn’t been easy, regardless of how many big moments she’s had in her 80 years.

The doc, with the title that is underwhelming and does not do justice to the content of this film, was put together by Magnolia which specializes in offbeat, unconventional movies, which this one is. It is also directed by three women, which is an odd choice, suggesting a possible bias when it comes to the film’s late revelations of possible sex abuse by Joan’s dead father, who cannot defend himself.

That said, Joan certainly reveals warts and all here, confessing to various career mistakes, personal foibles, and broken relationships, claiming responsibility in the instance of Bob Dylan and David Harris, her younger, political husband. In many ways, this doc is about a lifelong depression from some inner centre of darkness which also afflicted her younger, similarly-confused sister Mimi.

There are many positive moments with her older sister and her grown-up son whom she neglected in his youth and who eventually played percussion in her last bands. There are a number of reconciling moments which help to aid  the prevailing mystery and gloom of Joan’s inner life.

The viewer gets to see many off-stage, behind-the-scenes moments of the popular entertainer who had no problem entertaining audiences in the thousands, but could sustain a single relationship, one-on-one with anyone else.

Joan’s has been a strange journey, for sure, and despite an archived room full of interview tapes, photos, and her drawings, her central, recurring mystery remains unresolved, though she has made her peace with everyone including her unsupportive older sister who didn’t want to live under Joan’s shadow, her ambiguous but influential deceased mother, and her even more bizarre, egoic father.

I should add that Dylan’s influence, as in several songs, photos, and a painting included, looms quite large. For anyone who ever was unsure–yes, he was the love of her life and he did ‘break her heart’ after she had shamelessly promoted and accompanied him everywhere back in the mid-’60s.

There is a  vagueness that periodically colors all of this–as in her letters to home and the somewhat inaudible read-aloud diary entries and self-pitying tapes sent to her family. The last half-hour, focused on the possible sex abuse, has a weird muzziness of inconclusive, imperfectly remembered moments from her own past with her father, which I found unconvincing and far from conclusive. What likely happened to Mimi once doesn’t necessarily transfer to her mostly uncertain sister.

What the viewer is left with are two docs on Baez, the second which purports to be more truthful. I am reminded of a concluding line from John Ford’s movie The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence: “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.” That may make the more/most sense to her long-time fans (as well as–I might add–the many fans of Buffy Sainte-Marie, another famous folk singer of the sixties, who did much for natives and native causes, but has been recently taken to task by the media. It is important to remember what made these people special, important, and great in the first place.)

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R. D. Laing Quotes from His 1967 Classic

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Another Canadian Golf Win Today!

Stephen Ames won the PGA Champions tournament.

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Relevant Quotes for February, 2024

The Two Big Assumptions: 1) Things will always be permanent and remain the same. 2) The Moment or Opportunity will still be there tomorrow and requires no action or choice in the here-and-now.

–Richard Davies

Money is not needed to buy one necessity of the soul.

–Henry David Thoreau

When money speaks, the truth is silent.

–Russian Proverb

I fear the day technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.

–Albert Einstein

We have met the enemy and he is us.

–‘Pogo’/Walt Kelly

Common sense is very uncommon.

-Horace Greeley

Shallowness spreads.

-Daniel Liebert

I shop, therefore I am.

-Barbara Kruger

Where there is no vision, the people perish.

–Proverbs

I have to protect myself from the toxicity of this culture.

–Kate Braverman

Man’s inhumanity to man/Makes countless thousands mourn.

–Robert Burns

Violence is suicide.

–Mahatma Gandhi

An unexamined life is not worth living.

–Socrates

The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.

–Henry David Thoreau

Orthodoxy means not thinking–not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.

–George Orwell

Most people would rather die than think and many of them do.

–Bertrand Russell

The quality of your happiness depends upon the quality of your thoughts.

–Marcus Aurelius

Irony is wasted on the stupid.

–Oscar Wilde

The goal of the journey is to discover yourself as consciousness.

–Joseph Campbell

Be where you are. Otherwise you will miss most of your life.

–Buddha

The last of human freedoms: to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.

–Viktor Frankl

Conditions are never just right. People who delay action until all factors are favorable do nothing.

–Joseph Campbell

In delay, there lies no plenty.

–William Shakespeare

The strongest principle of growth lies in human choice.

–George Eliot

A man can do all things if he will.

–Leon Battista Alberti

Follow your bliss. Live from your own center.

–Joseph Campbell

Be yourself.; everybody else is already taken.

–Oscar Wilde

I must create a system or be enslaved by another man’s.

–William Blake

The proper study of mankind is books.

–Aldous Huxley

Words are, of course, the most powerful drug of mankind.

–Rudyard Kipling

Music is the best means of digesting time.

–W.H. Auden

Art serves to rinse out our eyes.

–Karl Kraus

Genuine poetry is conceived and composed in the soul.

–Matthew Arnold

We all live in the hope that authentic meeting between human beings can still occur.

–R.D. Laing

Love is, above all, the gift of oneself.

–Jean Anouilh

I think women need kindness more than love. When one human being is kind to another, it’s a very deep matter.

–Alice Childress

Touch is the meaning of being human.

–Andrea Dworkin

Enthusiasm is life.

–Paul Scofield

The stars  are in one’s brain.

–Bertrand Russell

I am large….I contain multitudes.

–Walt Whitman

That is happiness, to be dissolved into something complete and great.

–Willa Cather

The most exquisite pleasure is giving pleasure to others.

–Jean de La Bruyere

Happiness can only exist in acceptance.

–George Orwell

I am an optimist. It doesn’t seem too much use being anything else.

–Winston Churchill

If you want to be happy, be.

–Leo Tolstoy

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“If the only prayer you said in your whole life was,

‘Thank you’, that would suffice.”

–Meister Eckhart

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Navalny’s Sudden Death: Cohen’s “Everybody Knows”

Alive yesterday, dead at 47, today. Like one of those many prominent Russian leaders ‘mysteriously’ pushed out of high-rise windows with abandon.

“Everybody knows” whodunit.

“The King! The King’s to blame!”

Doh. Guess who ordered his death?

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Another Day, Another CD Project

(“Mending Wall’, Derry, N.H. farm)

IMG_20130918_0001

(West-Running Brook, Derry, N.H.)

Joining my readings of Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Emily Dickinson, John Donne, and Thoreau.

Frost was actually the first major poet I encountered in any depth back in grade 11, fall of 1965: “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”, “After Apple Picking”, “Birches”, and “The Road Not Taken”. What appealed to me back then was his descriptions of Nature and he interwove delight and wisdom into each work; I grew up close to Nature in the Winnipeg outskirts so his speakers and situations were easy to identify with.

Leaf from Robert Frost Place, 1991 A.D.

(from Trail behind his home, Franconia, N.H., high in the ‘mountains’)

I returned to him and his work back in 1991 and 1993 on two fall literary wonder-tours of New England. My wife and I visited his Derry, N.H. farm, his Franconia, N.H. homestead, his grave in Bennington, Vt., and the hotel where he often stayed at in Amherst, Mass. when teaching or reading at Amherst College.

(His first, Derry farm)

Reading his poems aloud at 74, I found many nuances I was not previously aware of. Looking back, he remains my favorite American poet.

Some of his famous lines and quotes:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— /I took the one less travelled by, /And that has made all the difference.

Yet knowing how way leads on to way, /I doubted if I should ever come back.

The best things and best people rise out of their separateness; I’m against a homogeneous society because I want the cream to rise.

We love the things we love for what they are.

The world would not find me changed from him they knew—/Only more sure of all I thought was true.

The afternoon knows what the morning never expected.

In three words, I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.

The words are lovely, dark and deep /But I have promises to keep, /And miles to go before I sleep, /And miles to go before I sleep.

One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.

The most creative thing is to believe in a thing.

…what to make of a diminished thing.

A person will sometimes devote all his life to the development of one part of his body—the wishbone.

What we live by, we die by.

Ah, when to the heart of man /Was it ever less than a treason /To go with the drift of things, /To yield with a grace to reason, /And bow and accept the end /Of a love or a season?

I have been one acquainted with the night.

I am overtired Of the great harvest I myself desired.

Nothing gold can stay.

Some say the world will end in fire Some say ice.

It looked as if a night of dark intent /Was coming and not only a night, an age. /Someone had better be prepared for rage.

There would be more than ocean-water broken /Before God’s Put out the Light was spoken.

What design of darkness to appall? /If design govern in a thing so small?

I have a mind myself and recognize /Mind when I meet with it.

I may return /If dissatisfied /With what I learn /From having died.

Earth’s the right place for love /I don’t know where it’s likely to go better.

I had a lover’s quarrel with the world.

From what I’ve tasted of desire /I hold with those who favour fire.

Love is an irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired.

You don’t have to deserve a mother’s love. You have to deserve your father’s.

A mother takes twenty years to make a man of her boy, and another woman makes a fool of him in twenty minutes.

We shall be known by the delicacy of where we stop short.

Half the world is composed of people who have something to say and can’t, and the other half who have nothing to say and keep on saying it.

I’d hold it to be the inalienable right of anybody to go to hell in his own way.

The world is full of willing people, some willing to work, the rest willing to let them.

Never be bullied in silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life; define yourself.

Good fences make good neighbors.

It is far better for a man to go wrong in freedom than to go right in chains.

You have freedom when you’re easy in your harness.

It couldn’t be called ungentle /But how thoroughly departmental.

The only certain freedom’s in departure.

How many things would you attempt if you knew you could not fail?

I have it in me so much nearer home /To scare myself with my own desert places.

Before I built a wall I’d ask to know /What I was walling in or walling out.

If we couldn’t laugh, we would all go insane.

Happiness makes up in height for what it lacks in length.

All the fun is how you say anything.

I’m not confused, I’m just well-mixed.

The best way out is always through.

I believe in teaching, but I don’t believe in going to school.

I am not a teacher, but an awakener.

How many things have to happen to you before something occurs to you?

Home is the place where, when you have to go there, /They have to take you in.

To be social is to be forgiving.

A jury consists of the twelve persons chosen to decide who has the better lawyer.

Unless you are educated in metaphor, you are not safe to be let loose in the world.

An idea is a feat of association and the height of it is a good metaphor.

The artist in me cries out for design.

No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.

The ear is the only writer and the only true reader.

A poem begins as a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a lovesickness.

To be a poet is a condition, not a profession.

Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words.

Every poem is a momentary stay against the confusion of the world.

A poem begins in delight and ends in wisdom.

Writing free verse is like playing tennis with the net down.

Like a piece of ice on a hot stove, the poem must ride on its own melting.

I never started a poem yet whose end I knew. Writing a poem is discovering.

Poetry is what gets lost in translation.

(my signed Frost book)

001 (35)

(final resting place)

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Trump rhymes with

dump.

The media is currently missing the point by obsessing about Biden’s age while not addressing Trump’s attack on NATO and giving carte blanche to Putin against Europe.

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Nick Taylor, way to go!

Canadian golfer steals the big Scottsdale Waste Management tournament, beating Charley Hoffman on the second hole of a playoff. Loved it!! And not a bad big payday for his extraordinary birdie home-stretch efforts: $ 1.5 million.

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That billionaire Taylor Swift might suffer from jet lag,

after returning to the States from China, affecting her at the Super Bowl, does not affect me a jot or one iota. I already have zero sympathy or pity for this egotistical, overblown mega-pop icon.

During the game, all women watching got to see what a ‘desirable’ hunk-hero Travis Kelce was as he melted down easily, bumped into his coach and screamed directly into his face because he couldn’t get onto the field to impress his girlfriend. That is the barbaric animal Swift wants to marry. Doh. Like, how long before he abuses her? Her impending choice smacks of a lack of smarts and common sense observation.

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