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Art cleanser

Monday 9/14/20

Just some straight up art. As a cleanse. I went through the story, "Show Me Your Knees," fixed what needed fixing--it was precious little--and sent it to a few people. Wrote the TLS about Washington Irving. Reached back out to the WSJ op-ed editor.

Irving was an American in England when he wrote the Sketch-Book. If you think Orson Welles was not playing off of that idea when he created his Sketchbook in England, on TV, in 1955, you'd be mistaken. This is the fifth of six episodes. Few people have any clue that this exists, even people well into Welles. He's simply talking. He's not reading, he's making it up as he goes along. Do you hear the difference between Welles and everyone on the radio or a podcast right now? Do you hear how his thoughts and words flow? There is no "you know," there is no ah, um, ah, ah, um. He talks like no one can talk right now. I'm not counting myself, but anyone who hears this and who hears me would understand why I feel as I do about everything else I hear. This is funny as well, but you have to listen for it. He's firing some shots. The topic is the infamous War of the Worlds broadcast from 1938. Welles is about forty here, by the way.

Here we have quite a rarity. Special rarity. Many believe the Who were at their best as a live band during the Tommy era. We don't have soundboards from 1971--even on bootleg--which would also be seen as in the running, but the truth is that the Who, in-concert, may never have been better than in 1975. That sounds weird, if you know the band. But their Toronto show from that year might be their best, or it could be this gig in gig at the Pontiac Silverdome in Detroit. There is a soundboard tape of a portion of the gig. It's circulated for years. You know that duck-walk part in The Kids Are Alright with "Roadrunner"? That's from here. But it turns out there's also an audience tape--in nice sound--of the whole gig. I'll tell you this--the Who, if they were ever better than they are here, weren't much better.

And finally this is Michael Hordern--he plays Marley in the 1951 version of A Christmas Carol, which I'm writing a book on--reading M.R. James's ghost story, "Oh, Whistle, and I'll Come to You, My Lad."


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