I don't think I've ever seen a rock doc in quite this configuration before. Essentially a review session commencing in a turning point in The Master's evolution, following upon a still controversial motorcycle crash which some say indeed happened and others gravely doubt, After the Crash is not the usual DVD/CD combo but rather a full length 2-hour visual feast with an accompanying sonic-only release of a historically infamous phone conversation between journalist-agitant A.J. Weberman (provocateur, oddball, Revisionist Jabotinskyite Zionist, and American original) and Bob Dylan. So let me start with the latter.
Weberman was a Yippie and very much in the Hoffman/Rubin vein. I've always had a deep affinity for Abbie Hoffman—he, Walt Kelly (Pogo), and I were all born in the exact same hospital in the exact same room, and I swear to God the place must have been infested with an exotic muckraking virus of some sort—and Weberman has always touted that same anarchic mindset, though he can be seen to go a bit too far with it, a couple years ago publishing the David Horowitzian A History of Islamist Terrorism in America and last year releasing The Devil and Bob Dylan, which postulates that Zimmerman ransomed his eternal soul to ol' Dan Scratch in exchange for riches and fame. Any further and Weberman would've been joining Dave 'Three Nazis Under Every Bed' Emory…but, even if you want to cry out "Awwww, cah-monnnnn, A.J., f'chrissakes, lighten up and get a grip!", ya hafta be amused by such things. During the CD's exchange, it's entertaining as hell to hear two bullshitters, music legend and newshound, jacking with each other, but the psychological insights and excursions into actual and attempted duplicities are fascinating. You just know both gents are alternatingly fulla shite and dead serious, and the dance engaged in is a pas de deux the public only very rarely is privy to. It should, however, not be described but instead listened to, there are just too many subtleties, so I'll stop at that and leave the rest to you.
The DVD, a Pride production in association with ISIS, the Dylan magazine, lacks the snap, pizzazz, pace, and editing acumen of a Sexy Intellectual or Eagle Vision document, nor is it one of those kooky, sloppy, informal but way the hell cool one-offs that MVD specializes in producing or distributing. It's nonetheless essential, though, because the disc hits a 12-year period too infrequently discussed while featuring a few of the better Brit crits (Nigel Williamson and Clinton Heylin, actually more commentarists than critics, and Patrick Humphries, the true deadly and deadpan wit of the bunch) as well as Dylan associates (Scarlet Rivera, Eric Weissberg, etc.). The motorcycle crash, if crash it was, was, from all appearances, actually predicated in putting the brakes on a deadly fast lifestyle Bob had adopted and, happily, switched his energies from celebrity and various social whatnots over to his work, his art. This deceleration elicited another transition: the move into country music and elsewhere, resulting in some of Bob's absolute best (Blood on the Tracks) but also some of his more regrettable, which the commenters do not fail to note.
The chronicle itself details matters all the way up to the fallout after the legendary Rolling Thunder Tour going into its second leg, the time wherein the great minstrel found Jesus and reinvented himself yet again, said incident preparing the way for the third segment in this continuing DVD saga. One of the more interesting of many unusual opinings, though, comes from Rob Stoner regarding Phil Ochs…who had been rejected by Dylan for a place in a tour that would have given Ochs' career a much needed shot in the arm. The famed gentleman agitator troubador committed suicide not long after—so did, Stoner wonders, that turn-down provide the straw that broke the camel's back? Unknown to many, though, and unmentioned here, Phil had been undergoing a long nasty mental disintegration, so Dylan can hardly be blamed; still, the question's interesting…
…as is most everything having to do with the brilliant, tormented, iconic, gyrating, glowering Bob Dylan, and this DVD does much to add in details, straighten the timeline out, and bring the stratospheric figure back down to Earth. Fame was always a two-edged sword for the guy but efforts like this begin to take away the hype and cult phenomena so long ago injected by Rolling Stone and other venues. Still…one of After the Crash's most fascinating elements is the coverage given to A.J. Weberman. What a character that guy was and still is.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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