The Big Tent

the mural at the Waverly Inn in New York City by Edward Sorel

In the next few weeks I will be writing about my trip to Stockholm and the Nobel Prize ceremonies where Bob Dylan, whose art has been the subject of much of my work and joy, probably will not be appearing to receive his award. That will not, however, stop me from sharing a few illustrated posts about what I find and learn there.

There were several contenders for this blog’s title: Gainesing the World, Under the Big Tent at the Table of Joy, Under the Big Tent, The Table of Joy, All the Way to Heaven, Dancing Towards Stockholm, Dave Gaines’ 115th Dream, Many Things Considered, Ring Them Bells, and The Dylan Diaries among them. As I kicked each one around with those who have sailed with me, I started sounding like Woody Allen at the beginning of Manhattan, rejecting one after another as “too clever” or “too obscure” or “too…well, not quite it.” I also kept returning to two guiding principles for my final selection: less is more and everyone has their reasons.

“Less is more” is not only what I tell students in the English classes I teach at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas or as they write their personal statements for fellowships, scholarships and job applications. It is also the mantra of those who blog about blogging. In short, a title should invite the reader in, winningly suggest what s/he might expect, and stay out of the weeds and/or smoke rings of one’s mind as much as possible.

“Everyone has their reasons” is a line from Jean Renoir’s film The Rules of the Game (1939) that has long been in my pantheon of go-to quotes right beside Catherine of Siena’s “all the way to heaven is heaven,” Allen Ginsberg’s “Everything is holy!” and Leonard Cohen’s “every breath we drew was hallelujah.” Everyone, all, Everything, every…. In all of those words, I hope you hear my yearning for connection with as many people and things as possible through the poetic fusion of knowledge and emotion. Which is how I arrived at The Big Tent–and one with an enormous “table of joy” (as cultural critic Peter Coviello once put it in an article about Steely Dan) beneath it.

After Stockholm, I plan to continue reflecting upon the musicians, writers, painters, directors, actors, and athletes who have brought me not only self-knowledge and delight but also social connection. The way I see it, we’re all living in a series of murals that are all connected to one another.

In the next few weeks I will be writing about my trip to Stockholm and the Nobel Prize ceremonies (hence the aforementioned Dancing Towards Stockholm) where Bob Dylan, whose art has been the subject of much of my work and joy, probably will not be appearing to receive his award. That will not, however, stop me from sharing a few illustrated posts about what I find and learn there.

After Stockholm, I plan to continue reflecting upon the musicians, writers, painters, directors, actors, and athletes who have brought me not only self-knowledge and delight but also social connection. The way I see it, we’re all living in a series of murals that are all connected to one another. Our series includes the one from the Waverly Inn in Greenwich Village that artist and writer Edward Sorel so generously gave me permission to use as the illustration for this blog. Other generosities, murals and connections are no doubt on the horizon.

I welcome you, gentle reader and new or returning companion, and promise to do my best to help us enjoy our time together.

4 thoughts on “The Big Tent”

  1. cpsikora says:

    David, I am so happy to see your tweets and read about your journey! Thanks for taking the time to share it with us back in Georgetown! Love it! Totally laughed out loud at the reference to Manhattan…very evocative of that! xo Catherine

    1. David Gaines
      David Gaines says:

      Catherine: Thanks for reading. Keep on keepin’ on. David

  2. Pelle Ekman says:

    David: here’s to let everyone know that You from now on has a reader in Stockholm. Too enjoy your wit. And to make sure You don’t lie too much! Don’t get too close to the festivities. People who dine with kings and are offered wings tend to be too impressed😎

  3. David Gaines
    David Gaines says:

    Yes, my friend. “Steal a little and they’ll put you in jail/steal a lot and…” Well, you know the rest. Thanks for hosting me on Monday night and the zoo/”outdoor museum,” as you put it and leading me “to the ship.” I learned so much about your city: Benny Anderson of ABBA, Clapton staying at the top of what used to be the Strand and is now the Radisson, your green VW bus with eyelashes and “Blonde on Blonde” playing on the left side of the Liffey, 32K people hearing Marley in Grona Lund, Big Red (it’s band name, folks), and studying “Chinatown” in Oslo. I look forward to your keeping me honest.

Leave a Reply