When Bob Dylan Shocked the Newport Folk Festival in 1965

On May 4, my new book will be published. It’s called The Magic Years: Scenes From a Rock and Roll Life, and it chronicles my fifty year history of producing music and movies with artists like Bob Dylan and The Band, George Harrison, Martin Scorsese and Wim Wenders. What follows is an excerpt from the prologue.

Strapped to a Fender Stratocaster electric guitar, Bob Dylan launched into the opening chords of “Maggie’s Farm” almost before the band was ready. The Newport Folk Festival of 1965 was going to close with a commotion. I had just turned eigh- teen, and was…


Letter to the Millennials 6

This is the sixth installment of a conversation with the generation of my students and their younger peers since August of 2014. The tone has been encouraging, though at times in the depth of the Trump Era, pessimistic. This week the Trump Era is officially over. Yes, he escaped impeachment, but at the end, even the leader of his own party Mitch McConnell stated, “The leader of the free world cannot spend weeks thundering that shadowy forces are stealing our country and then feign surprise when people believe him and do reckless things.” As of this morning, 58% of Americans…


Zuckerberg, Dorsey, Wojcicki, Murdoch, Hannity, Limbaugh, Carlson, Ruddy

America has endured political demagogues before. Joe McCarthy and George Wallace come to mind. But America never had a violent insurrection on the Nation’s Capitol. We need to acknowledge that we are experiencing not just a political crisis, but a communication crisis. There is only one reason why 50 million American’s believed Donald Trump’s Big Lie that the election was stolen. We have a media system that willingly promulgates falsehood in pursuit of profit.

Fox News, Newsmax and OAN are of course responsible. But the real blame must sit with Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. As Tim Berners-Lee wrote, “They learned…


Back in September I posted this tweet about the Y2K election.

I don’t claim any prescience, but it seemed obvious at the time that all the forces involved in the election had the need to preserve the notion that we were heading for some sore of democratic apocalypse. The media’s rationale was obvious and self serving — the need to sell more advertising. As the New York Times reported, “spending on cable news last month was up 60 percent from the equivalent period four years ago.” For the Republicans, the notion that Mail balloting was some kind of massive fraud…


Berlin 1933

Richard Evans, in his monumental study of the rise of Hitler, The Coming of The Third Reich, notes the role that the Fascist street violence provocations played in the Nazi rise to power.

The cult of violence was at the heart of the movement. By 1929 it could be seenin operation on a daily basis on the streets. The Nazi movement despised the law and made no secret of its belief that might was right.It had also evolved a way of diverting legal responsibility from the Party leadership for acts of violence and lawlessness committed by brownshirts and other elements…


Its clear that Trump believed he could suppress voting by kneecapping the Post Office. But Democrats must realize that he can be stopped by three fairly simple moves that they can control.

First, the Post Office must restore all mail processing capacity, meaning both machine infrastucture and the necessary human overtime needed to deal with the surge of mail in ballots. The ability to handle 100 million Mail in ballots is not an issue as the Atlantic points out: “The Postal Service processes nearly 500 million pieces of mail every day, and it annually handles more than 3 billion pieces…


Trump Tulsa Rally

Brooks has a column this morning that is the classic conservative “whataboutism”. The column is called “The Coronavirus and America’s Humiliation” and after laying out how we screwed up, Brooks notes, “Sure, this was a Republican failure, but it was also a collective failure, and it follows a few decades of collective failures.” Brooks continues,

What’s the core problem? Damon Linker is on to a piece of it: “It amounts to a refusal on the part of lots of Americans to think in terms of the social whole — of what’s best for the community, of the common or public…


Hard Days Night, 1964

In 1922, the British Empire held sway over a population of about 458 million people, one-quarter of the world’s people and covered more than 13,000,000 square miles: approximately a quarter of the Earth’s total land area. By 1956, after the disastrous attempt to hold on to the Suez Canal, the British finally abandoned the last of their imperial pretensions and settled into rebuilding their own country, culture and spirit. It took them 20 years or so to do it but by 1964 the rest of the world was already sharing in the joy of their life after empire.Swinging London of…


Letter to the Millennials 7

Pandemics have a way of radically altering societies. The Renaissance came on the heels of The Black Death, a plague that killed millions in Europe in 1348 and 1349. We cannot make the mistake to believe that Covid-19 is some sort of 1000 year flood that will not come again. As John Gray, wrote recently in The New Statesman,

Yet the notion persists that pandemics are blips rather than an integral part of history. Lying behind this is the belief that humans are no longer part of the natural world and can create an autonomous…


Here is the basic problem for any Democrat trying to unseat Donald Trump in 2020. According to the latest Quinnipiac Poll, “73 percent, describe the economy as either excellent or good, while only a quarter, 25 percent, say not so good or poor. Among those who say the economy is either excellent or good, 56 percent approve of the job President Trump is doing, while 40 percent disapprove.”

But that leaves the question of how do the Democrats beat him next November. I’m not positive that the corruption angle the Warren (and to some extent Sanders)campaign is playing, will change…

Jonathan Taplin

Director Emeritus, USC Annenberg Innovation Lab. Producer/Author, “Mean Streets”, “Move Fast & Break Things”. New book, “The Magic Years”, out 3/21.

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