R.I.P.: Adam West

Never really escaped the Bat Prison. I sure went through a bunch of cycles about the TV show and the Batman character. I was amused by it until it became a hit. I didn’t like the “campy” comics at all — they took off as I was transitioning to Marvel for good. And though Batman and Robin were everywhere, I felt too much of the time it was merely a new way to say “comic books are junk.” West had a good sense of humor about it all because on some level he was aware he simply couldn’t come up with a second act.

And after time, I agreed there was something damned weird about Batman in general. The science and gadgets were window dressing — Frank Miller was on to something. Batman was, at bottom, a vigilante who had always had a vengeful and cruel streak. I suspected the police department he could work with also included Dick Tracey. So, valuable as they might be, I don’t have a lot of Batman in the back-room boxes. I’m more of a Plastic Man man.

R.I.P.: Gregg Allman

Because he was so inescapably, flagrantly human, I always wanted to like his solo work more than I did. Even got so I didn’t spin my one keeper, Playin’ Up a Storm, for years and years and more. Though to this day I point out Allman and Woman as a perfect anti-classic. I adored Low Country Blues probably more than reasonable because it came out of nowhere after what seemed sure to be terminal silence, because of the superb selection of players and because the sequences of covers made it feel like a ’60s-’70s rootsy release.

Can’t listen to him without thinking of MT parties in my youth. On alla time.

R.I.P.: Jonathan Demme

(I may say more later — right now I’m having trouble processing all these people passing on.)

Equals parts filmmaker and music nut and creator after my own heart. I thought a good deal of his stuff didn’t quite work, but every time out I could precisely feel and understand where he was trying to go.

The neglected item: Melvin and Howard. Eccentric, sure, but how many movies are not only eccentric but one-of-a-kind?

Favorite uplift from source material: Silence of the Lambs. The book, which I was captivated by the flick enough to read afterward, is clunky and ordinary in comparison. Every change Demme made is an improvement. Wise to shun sequels.

The ultimate of course is Stop Making Sense. Changed the way amplified concerts were filmed. No band could ask for a finer monument. I was riveted by right from the first of the several times I’ve seen it. About halfway through it hit me: “Ho-lee crap — there’s no question this is more exciting and overwhelming than seeing the actual show. No single audience position could knock out your brains like this!”

R.I.P.: Robert M. Pirsig

Writer who nailed his moment. 

Nice that Montana State University honored him.

(Though I have to be honest and say when he taught there, it was the toilet of writing-teacher jobs. But by all accounts he had wonderful effects and I wish I could have studied with him as …. a … well … 7-to-9 year old kid.)

I thought Zen and the Art was a captivating book, drew you into the spell of a flamboyant storyteller who was capturing a cross-America jaunt in the lineage of the Beats, the Merry Pranksters and itself as a final chapter. The land wouldn’t seem as open after the mid-’70s. I did not consider it profound, though I appreciated the boost for my interest in Buddhism and thought it laid out a detailed, off-beat, personality.

What I really resent, though, are comparisons that claim the book is a “post-counterculture” influence the way Carlos Castaneda is a ’60s influence.

Whatever its limitations and overrations, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is not a malevolent fraud.