I figured the line captured a bit of the feeling of my morning in the MIVA Gallery and my afternoon around and at the Nobel Museum.
For those of you not totally up on your “Visions of Johanna,” the beginning of the line that lends itself to today’s title is Inside the museums. Walking home past a Christmas lights display in Berzelli Park, a display that I have taken to thinking of as The Urban Reindeer of Moonrise Kingdom, I figured the line captured a bit of the feeling of my morning in the MIVA Gallery and my afternoon around and at the Nobel Museum.
After the previous night’s premiere I may have succumbed a bit to jet lag (combined with a fear of the paparazzi gathered outside my cabin door) and slept in past the free breakfast. Again. I shook it off, promised myself “to be better tomorrow” and headed toward the MIVA Gallery. Ann Victorin suggested that I see if a few Dylan works were still hanging there. Overseen by Beth Cavallin, the space is two streets down and two streets over from the Mornington. It’s across from a Bentley dealership and has an uncannily convincing and slightly creepy statue of an official greeter as one enters.
The walls pop with color. Pop art color, at that—comic book covers and photographs of the Rolling Stones. I asked Beth, “Do you still have any of Dylan’s work on display?” She maintained her professional demeanor, which was perhaps a challenge given the smallness of the gallery and the obvious absence of anything Dylanish. She offered, “Not at the moment. But I can show you a few before we hang them for Friday’s opening. Then we will have fifteen on the walls and rock photographer Ed Finell will be speaking. There will be champagne.” I immediately thought of a line from “Things Have Changed”—There’s a woman on my lap and she’s drinking champagne/Got white skin, got assassin’s eyes—but chose not to share that with Beth. She did pull out two pieces for me—one of a Mexican fast food place and another of an old film palace with the marquee for a venue called El Portal. On the marquee was “We 3 Kings. Frank. Elvis & Michael. December 27-31. 508-4200.” I loved the colors, the humor, the less impressionistic effect than Dylan’s earlier paintings. For the second time in my life, I coveted something in a frame. The first was when I saw David Hockney’s photocollage of two little feet, one black-socked and the other red-socked, making their way through a rock garden in Kyoto. Instead of running with the El Portal piece, I convinced Beth to take a photograph of me with it and its companion. I promised to return at 4:00 on Friday.
I traversed the Norrstrom, the river that Paul Newman fell into in the cheesy 1963 movie titled The Prize. Watching it had been part of my trip preparation. Ernest Lehman, who wrote the masterful North by Northwest for Alfred Hitchcock four years earlier, brought his Cold War lens to Irving Wallace’s novel about intrigue and sex at the Nobels. The problem with The Prize, as I saw it, was that Hitchcock had not directed it and, no offense, but Paul Newman was not quite Cary Grant. This quickly led to my thoughts about such a remake with Dylan as the Paul Newman Literature Laureate, Ralph Fiennes as the complicated scientist, and Wes Anderson as the director. This notion carried me to Denifl Tobak, a cigar star in Old Town. I bought postcards for my most loved ones and a nice Cubano for my future walk home in the gloaming.
The cigar man had a number of regulars who came in while I was picking out my cards and looking at souvenir horses. He joked with me about whether I really wanted to return to America, hipped me to the reason I should buy ponies in his shop (which I probably will do before returning to America), and steered me towards the Nobel Museum. I arrived early enough to take in the Christmas vendors occupying the plaza—games of chance, bracelets, hats and gloves, numerous glogg (mulled red wine) stands selling warm cups at 25 and 40 kroners, lots of kids and quite a few of them with New York Yankees caps. It was like a movie. I can even imagine a scene where Fiennes is pursuing Dylan through the plaza, past the glogg vendors and into the Museum.
Inside the museum, the Dylan monolith was approximately six feet tall and eight to ten inches wide with his image on one side and a video of the news story announcing his selection looping on the other side. It was part of a semi-circle of all the other 2016 Laureates with their corresponding citation and news release information. The effect was one of a high-tech Easter Island inhabited strictly by geniuses. As I went through the exhibits, it seemed to me that the Museum was much more about science than it was about literature, which makes sense in terms of proportionality, accessibility of interactive displays, and, well, the nature of literature. (After all, how many little kids in Yankees’ hats would you want to see looking at the drafts of “Like a Rolling Stone”?) That balance was somewhat righted for me (who, in the words of Sam Cooke, Don’t know much about a science book) in the museum shop where Literature Laureates’ books far outnumbered the works of scientists. I bought postcards of Einstein, Toni Morrison, Martin Luther King, Jr., and the 2016 Laureates as a group because the individual Dylan and others cards had yet to be printed. I wondered what photo of Dylan would make the final cut as I wrote a few of those cards while late-lunching on Swedish meatballs, potatoes, and some dynamite cranberries.
Outside the museum, I lit my cigar among the gloggers and walked back as the moon rose at 3:30 p.m. By the time I had made my way to the street where I live, the reindeer herd was fully lit and I was facing the music that maybe I am becoming a sucker for Christmas after all. I was even thinking that my movie idea might have some merit. And if we cannot get Anderson and Dylan that maybe Steven Soderbergh and George Clooney could bring some of the Ocean’s Eleven vibe to the project. Patti Smith could sing “Changing of the Guards” for the soundtrack. A lot of people would come to something like that.