If 'Mystery Train' is my Nixon book and 'Lipstick Traces' my Reagan book, 'Invisible Republic' is my Bill Clinton book. I really liked Clinton. He made me proud to be part of this country again. For all of his failings, the way he put all that he'd done in jeopardy, I supported him from beginning to end.
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Along with a lot of other things, becoming a Bob Dylan fan made me a writer. I was never interested in figuring out what the songs meant. I was interested in figuring out my response to them, and other people's responses. I wanted to get closer to the music than I could by listening to it - I wanted to get inside of it, behind it, and writing about it through it, inside of it, behind it, was my way of doing that.
We fight our way through the massed and leveled collective safe taste of the Top 40, just looking for a little something we can call our own. But when we find it and jam the radio to hear it again it isn't just ours -- it is a link to thousands of others who are sharing it with us. As a matter of a single song this might mean very little; as culture, as a way of life, you can't beat it.
What always attracted me to [Bob] Dylan, and what has sustained me as a Dylan listener, or has always continued to surprise me, is his voice, the way he sings, the way he wraps his voice around certain words, the way he backs off from melodic moments, the way he moves forward to grab something in a song that, were anybody else performing it, they would have no idea it was even there.
as I write, Johnny Rotten's first moments in "Anarchy in the U.K."-a rolling earthquake of a laugh, a buried shout, then hoary words somehow stripped of all claptrap and set down in the city streets-I AM AN ANTICHRIST-Remain as powerful as anything I know. Listening to the record today-listening to the way Johnny Rotten tears at his lines, and then hurls the pieces at the world; recalling the all-consuming smile he produced as he sang-my back stiffens; I pull away even as my scalp begins to sweat.
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Farber had a huge effect on me as a writer. I don't mean I write like him. Farber is, first of all, a great stylist, a great writer. Anyone can read Manny Farber's film criticism, whether that person is a novelist, a poet, another critic, a historian, and learn a lot about writing by reading him.
The Sixties are most generously described as a time when people took part - when they stepped out of themselves and acted in public, as people who didn't know what would happen next, but who were sure that acts of true risk and fear would produce something different from what they had been raised to take for granted.