THE OLD GRAY LADY  2:30 pm April 11, 2011

Maureen Dowd Is Still a Smug Idiot (Reason #115)

by Ken Layne

'I don't care what you do, I don't care what you say, I don't care if you go, or how long you stay away. Someday baby, you ain't gonna worry poor me, anymore.'Unless we just want to torture some people at brunch by reading it aloud in a comical voice, we steer clear of Maureen Dowd’s cat-lady musings in the Sunday paper. But the self-obsessed dingbat’s latest column apparently targeted 69-year-old singer/songwriter Bob Dylan … because, uh, he didn’t perform enough of his early 1960s material when he played a show in China. Dowd wasn’t there, obviously, and apparently has no idea that Dylan has written and recorded hundreds of songs and dozens of albums since she heard “Blowin’ In the Wind” in that Time-Life ’60s documentary she cries herself to sleep to every night, alone, but that didn’t stop her from the usual NYT op-ed columnist practice of writing 500 trite words about it!

Sean Wilentz of the New Yorker responds:

Dowd isn’t angry that Dylan performed in China. She is angry that he apparently agreed to do so under certain conditions, that he didn’t sing “Blowin’ in the Wind” or “The Times They Are A-Changin’,” and that he didn’t take the opportunity to denounce Chinese human rights policies.

I don’t know exactly what Dylan did or did not agree to. (I don’t think Dowd does, either.) But whatever the facts are, Dylan knows very well—as I tried to tell Dowd when she interviewed me for her column—that his music long ago became uncensorable. Subversive thoughts aren’t limited to his blatant protest songs of long ago. Nor would his political songs from the early nineteen-sixties have made much sense in China in 2011. Dowd, like Mr. Jones in “Ballad of a Thin Man,” is as clueless about all of this as she is smug.

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user-of-owls April 11, 2011 at 2:38 pm

Who rights this way, that smug ho, ho, ho.

weejee April 11, 2011 at 3:01 pm

Mmmm, a kosher Santa?

nounverb911 April 11, 2011 at 2:39 pm

Dowd's still there? I thought she went away when the pay wall came in.

undeterredbyreality April 11, 2011 at 2:43 pm

Downfister must love Mo.

SudsMcKenzie April 11, 2011 at 2:50 pm

Personally, everything went away when the pay wall came up.

weejee April 11, 2011 at 3:01 pm

♪♫ The Timez they are a chargin' ♫♪ – fail

MittsHairHelmet April 11, 2011 at 2:40 pm

Saying a Dylan show sucked because he didn't play "times they are a-changin" and "blowin in the wind" is like saying a Bruce show sucked because he didn't play "pink cadillac" and "hungry heart".

KeepFnThatChicken April 11, 2011 at 4:19 pm

Poet schmoet. When Dylan can fucking sing, I'll show up at his shit. Until then, he sounds like cat sex.

Fare la Volpe April 11, 2011 at 8:13 pm

Cat sex.

Mr. Chicken, are you trying to seduce me?

KeepFnThatChicken April 12, 2011 at 12:13 am

I'm saying that "cat sex" often sounds bad, but hey… one man's white trash is another man's pleasure. I'll wear earplugs. :)

102415 April 14, 2011 at 2:40 pm

I saw the LA Hollywood bowl show. Half folk and half what he wanted to play. I was 17. It was awesome. Including the future teatards who paid to come and see what would happen and boo when it did. And now here I am on Wonkette enjoying "Love and Theft". It's all good.

mavenmaven April 11, 2011 at 2:44 pm

Dylan on this current trip to China apparently missed his big opportunity to end the war in Vietnam.

joobajooba April 12, 2011 at 9:28 am

He saved that for April 10, when he went to Hanoi. Pretty much the same setlist as in China, with the addition of "My Wife's Hometown." A shoutout to Joan Baez, who was in Hanoi for the Christmas bombing?

nounverb911 April 11, 2011 at 2:46 pm

The more I read her, the more I'm convinced her father is Elwood P. Dowd.

DustinDeWynde April 11, 2011 at 7:56 pm

I went to Junior/High School with the Grandkids of the Pulitzer Prize Winning woman that friggin' *wrote* 'Harvey'.

Take the Pulitzers off the table and Maureen Dowd is *still* no Mary Chase.

chascates April 11, 2011 at 2:47 pm

Needs moar Peggy Noonan.

CrankyLttlCamperette April 11, 2011 at 3:28 pm

Needs moar Soy Bomb.

Fare la Volpe April 11, 2011 at 8:15 pm

Whatever happened to her? Is she still sucking Ronnie's mummified balls, or is she stumbling around in the forest somewhere in a gin-soaked haze?

chascates April 11, 2011 at 11:57 pm

I think in a world of Sarah Palins and Michele Bachmanns the courtiers of the conservative aristocracy lose their appeal and are reduced to sighing at Beltway cocktail parties.

Ken Layne April 11, 2011 at 2:48 pm

B-b-b-ut a famously eccentric artist who Maureen Dowd only knows as an early '60s cultural figure didn't do the exact same things he did FIFTY FUCKING YEARS AGO!

Gopherit April 11, 2011 at 3:01 pm

She was probably having an acid flashback.

undeterredbyreality April 11, 2011 at 3:02 pm

She also refers to the "2,000 Chinese apparatchiks in the audience taking a relaxing break from repression." Did her brain stop updating information in the early-to-mid 70's? Will Reagan tear down the wall?

zhubajie April 12, 2011 at 7:19 am

Has she ever been to China? Been to a Chinese restaurant that didn't have a fortune cookie and a place mat with the 12 animals?

Negropolis April 12, 2011 at 7:51 am

I read it as "Will Reagan, tear down this wall?" and was wondering what alternate universe we were in. Funny what a little ole comma can do.

horsedreamer_1 April 12, 2011 at 10:20 am

Finishing what Genghis Khan started.

weejee April 11, 2011 at 3:06 pm

Bet MoDo was one of those who got all pissie at the Newport Folkie Fest in 1965 when Mr. Zimmerman went electric with Mike Bloomfield and Al Cooper.

poncho_pilot April 12, 2011 at 5:41 am

a shame, too because you can't really argue with Al Kooper. unless you're a terrorist, that is.

qwerty42 April 11, 2011 at 3:36 pm

I opened the NYT on Sunday, read maybe a para of that piece and quit. You should have too, Ken. OTOH, …Maureen Dowd’s cat-lady musings… does hit the target.

AJW@[redacted] April 11, 2011 at 6:55 pm

I couldn't understand him even then, before my hearing was destroyed by the Wall of Sound and gunfire. And 50 years ago, he was relevant. Today, not so much(unless he's singing stuff from 50 years ago to the same people he played to 50 years ago).

smokefilledroommate April 11, 2011 at 2:50 pm

Guess who's getting a Freewheelin' Bob Dylan Remote Control for her birthday?

SorosBot April 11, 2011 at 2:50 pm

Was she also angry at him for using an electric guitar?

BaldarTFlagass April 11, 2011 at 2:52 pm

She's probably still pissed off that he went electric at the '65 Newport Folk Festival.

Edit: Dang you, Sorosbot!

Ken Layne April 11, 2011 at 3:01 pm

Wait 'til she hears he's really a Jew named Zimmerman!

horsedreamer_1 April 12, 2011 at 10:21 am

You know who else is a Jew from Minnesota?

SorosBot April 11, 2011 at 3:17 pm

A two minute difference; it could easily have been me looking dumb.

BaldarTFlagass April 11, 2011 at 3:35 pm

It's ok, Beetagger below ignored us both…

SorosBot April 11, 2011 at 4:02 pm

And weejee in a reply; and their were late enough they really should have seen us.

BaldarTFlagass April 11, 2011 at 2:55 pm

Hope he did "Rainy Day Women #12 & 35." China is definitely a market that our Northern California agricultural industry should exploit.

Come here a minute April 11, 2011 at 2:56 pm

Bob Dylan's dream #2,645: Maureen Down struck by a train going west.

Mahousu April 11, 2011 at 4:16 pm

I'll hazard a guess that Bob Dylan doesn't actually spend much time caring about Maureen Dowd's opinions.

Come here a minute April 11, 2011 at 7:58 pm

I wouldn't have guessed that Bob Dylan would dress up in costume for a "Must Be Santa" video.

Negropolis April 12, 2011 at 7:55 am

I'll hazard a guess that Bob Dylan doesn't actually even know who the fuck Maureen Dowd is. I envy him for that.

Bezoar April 14, 2011 at 1:35 am

Now that you mention it, you must be dead nuts on about that.

RGHunt57 April 11, 2011 at 2:58 pm

In her rush to reprint the usual old-icon-sells-out piece, Dowd didn't bother to let facts get in the way. The Taipei show has already been bootlegged; the last track: "Blowin' in the Wind". (The set also included "Gotta Serve Somebody", "Things Have Changed", "Highway 61", "Desolation Row" and "Ballad of a Thin Man" – hardly a timid line-up.)

JustPixelz April 11, 2011 at 2:59 pm

I saw Bob Dylan in concert a couple years ago. He didn't sing those songs then even though he was under the umbrella of freedom. And if my concert is any guide, most of the Chinese will leave early and wonder why they bought tickets. (Or had tickets forced on them by the Ministry of Seat Filling.)

aguacatero April 11, 2011 at 3:01 pm

It's a wonder she can even feed herself.

imissopus April 11, 2011 at 3:06 pm

Did he sing "Maggie's Farm"? That's as explicit a refudiation of collectivization as he has in his catalog. Maybe he made it more China-appropriate. "Ain't gonna work on Maggie's farm no more…until the State subsumes it into the revolutionary machinery to feed the People's Glorious Leap Forward…" Doesn't quite roll off the tongue, I admit.

zhubajie April 12, 2011 at 7:21 am

Collectivization is long gone.

GodShammgod April 11, 2011 at 3:06 pm

I wonder if her and David Brooks will be the non-obese, establishment liberal version of K-Lo and Jonah Goldberg.

horsedreamer_1 April 12, 2011 at 10:22 am

I'm just glad that succubus didn't steal all of Aaron Sorkin's mojo.

In fact, quite the opposite. I'm sure Sork was so able to convey the pettiness & snivelling attitude of Zuckerberg by channelling MoDo.

EdFlintstone April 11, 2011 at 3:41 pm

I just hope Dylan came off as manly enough for Mo.

Lost_Teabaggers April 11, 2011 at 4:22 pm

You know, without going into the whole Bill Kristol being hired by the Times as a columnist (they made up for this by firing him) or Scooters gal Friday pushing blatant lies as legitimate copy…that had to be the single most shameful episode at the Times this past decade (yes, I know about Jayson Blair too…but what he did would get him an award at Fox News). I don't care what inflection Bush was told to use, she literally called an ex-Male cheerleader who went into the National Guard because he didn't have the courage to rupture his own ear drums to avoid a war HE SUPPORTED, "manly" and John Kerry (like him or not, the guy is easily more manly than Bush and Cheney combined) "effete". She also called Obama "effete" compared to said male cheerleader as well….fucking shameful, I mean seriously….that's like calling Sylvester the cat tough and manly because he could inflect a tough guy voice in pre-written speeches…in fact, it's exactly like that.

Negropolis April 12, 2011 at 7:57 am

Needz moar brevity and moar snark, and that goes for most of these from you.

prommie April 11, 2011 at 3:54 pm

She must not be a Billy Bragg fan.

DemmeFatale April 11, 2011 at 3:56 pm

Hey! I learned guitar just so I could belt out "Come mothers and fathers, throughout the land…etc." when I was told to clean my room!

Modo: don't criticize what you can't understand…

(Meh, why should this time be any different.)

Guppy06 April 11, 2011 at 4:16 pm

Dylan's playlist is a-changin'.

pinkocommi April 11, 2011 at 4:17 pm

Radioactive water leaking into the Pacific, gas prices at an all time high, slaying of protesters in the Middle East and Maureen Dowd devotes her column to criticizing Bob Dylan's set list?

EatsBabyDingos April 11, 2011 at 4:26 pm

Yeah, saw him with the Dead years ago, and he sounded like a tasmanian devil with a hairball. But with all the drugs it was one of the best concerts ever. I think.

FlownOver April 11, 2011 at 4:33 pm

Twenty years of droolin' and they put you on the Op-Ed.

Ken Layne April 11, 2011 at 5:15 pm


102415 April 14, 2011 at 2:45 pm

Nice work.

bflrtsplk April 11, 2011 at 4:39 pm

Mo must be part of NYT's new paywall strategy to lure wingnuts by ridiculing former "counter culture" icons.

Lost_Teabaggers April 11, 2011 at 4:41 pm

Oh, stupid AND smug….just like a teabagger.

__kth__ April 11, 2011 at 4:44 pm

It's a wonder she still knows how to breathe

hagajim April 11, 2011 at 4:58 pm

Hell – after hearing Dylan on the Grammy's, I'm not sure anyone would really know what the hell he was playing.

Lionel[redacted]Esq April 11, 2011 at 5:45 pm

You know, Ken, you can just make the headline "Maureen Dowd," as the rest is understood.

Callyson April 11, 2011 at 7:19 pm

Meh–compared to the Gail Collins – Donald Trump fight, this is tedious.
Now, what bitchy comment did The Donald make about Gail today, and what funny reply did she have?

BZ1 April 12, 2011 at 12:15 am

Who's Bob Dylan?

ShaveTheWhales April 12, 2011 at 6:04 am

I've seen Bobby Z a number of times, including the Oakland show in what, '73, that you had to enter a lottery for, and the Last Waltz, and even once after he found Jesus, and a few times after he changed his mind. I haven't seen him live for at least twenty years, since I involuntarily became a single father.

But what I remember most distinctly about all the times I saw him is that he played what he wanted to. It's not that he ignored the audience, it's just that their expectations had no influence whatsoever on his set list. A couple of times, this resulted in gigs that I, personally, found to be boring (there was a later one at Oakland that I've always referred to as "Vegas Bob"). But mostly, they were fantastic. I think sometimes people lose sight of the fact that, in addition to being a counter-culture anti-war icon/prophet/guru/whatthefuckever, the guy was a fucking amazing musician.

He wasn't a technically adept player, and his voice could strip paint, but he could get the players and singers surrounding him up past the boiling point. (He did also knock out a few decent tunes). I never saw Acoustic Bob (except in brief excerpts), but Electric Bob was, with his electric associates, fucking electrifying.

I have no idea what he's doing these days. Fuck, he's as old as ttommy. I'm afraid music is not currently as important a unifying factor as it has been at times in the past, so I think Dylan's set list in China is appropriate for MoDo (that is, irrelevant).

In any case, I suspect that several of my favorites — say, "Watchtower", "Hurricane", "Lily, Rosemary", and "Maggie's Farm" — would be lyrical nonsense to even an English-speaking Chinese crowd. But they might still like the music.

Negropolis April 12, 2011 at 8:00 am

Dylan was on the Grammys a few weeks back doing Maggie's Farm. He didn't so much sing the song as he growled and gurggled it 'till he made it to the end. As a youngin' not so familiar with this guy or what he was, I'm still not sure I "get" him.

zhubajie April 12, 2011 at 7:18 am

Oral sex is pretty well-known in China.

zhubajie April 12, 2011 at 7:23 am

At worst, they'd just deport him.

zhubajie April 12, 2011 at 7:24 am

Young people in China these days go for romantic ballads, not protest songs and certainly not rock.

joobajooba April 12, 2011 at 9:03 am

Ok, this is my playground. Any community college English major could string together a Dylan-goes-subversive theme with this setlist:
Beijing, China
Workers Gymnasium
April 6, 2011

1.Gonna Change My Way Of Thinking
(Bob on keyboard, Donnie on lap steel)
2.It's All Over Now, Baby Blue (Bob on guitar, Donnie on pedal steel)
3.Beyond Here Lies Nothin' (Bob on guitar, Donnie on trumpet)
4.Tangled Up In Blue
(Bob center stage on harp, Donnie on pedal steel, Stu on acoustic guitar)
5.Honest With Me (Bob on keyboard, Donnie on lap steel)
6.Simple Twist Of Fate (Bob on guitar, Donnie on pedal steel)
7.Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum (Bob on guitar, Donnie on pedal steel)
8.Love Sick (Bob on keyboard, Donnie on electric mandolin)
9.Rollin' And Tumblin' (Bob on keyboard)
10.A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall (Bob on keyboard, Donnie on electric mandolin)
11.Highway 61 Revisited
(Bob on center stage on harp then keyboard, Donnie on lap steel)
12.Spirit On The Water
(Bob on keyboard and harp, Donnie on pedal steel, Tony on standup bass)
13.Thunder On The Mountain (Bob on keyboard, Donnie on lap steel)
14.Ballad Of A Thin Man (Bob center stage on harp, Donnie on lap steel)

(1st encore)
15.Like A Rolling Stone (Bob on keyboard, Donnie on pedal steel)
16.All Along The Watchtower (Bob on keyboard then guitar, Donnie on lap steel)

(2nd encore)
17.Forever Young (Bob on keyboard and harp, Donnie on pedal steel)

Bezoar April 14, 2011 at 1:43 am

I commend your thinking, and would also suggest:

Chimes of Freedom, Bob Dylan alone with guitar and harmonica
The Walls of Redwing

In general, I bet that Bob Dylan understands that the Chinese know how their society could be improved better than he does.

horsedreamer_1 April 12, 2011 at 10:24 am

MoDo's column seems to be a case of fighting yesterday's war today. Since nobody went after Beyonce, et. al., for playing songs/shows for Ghaddafi's son, we now have to bash artists for playing shows in other totalitarian places.

ttommyunger April 12, 2011 at 10:02 pm

"Maureen Dowd Is Still a Smug Idiot "…You forgot "Ugly", thank you very much.

Gopherit April 11, 2011 at 3:59 pm

maybe an acid peel flashback?

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