Lester Bangs’ Basement

Did you ever wonder, as I have, if Paul Wittgenstein, who lost his right arm in WWI, for whom Ravel wrote a one-handed concerto, the brother of the great philosopher, ever recorded a version of Brahms’s sublime transcription for the left hand of Bach’s chaconne for violin? Surely the Rolling Stones never recorded a Rice Krispies commercial?

Just how poofy was Dinah Washington’s white cream-puff dress at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1958?

There’s a decent article about how you can find every song and video online in Slate. The author celebrates how everything is now available. After considering the objection that it’s good to hunt longingly for elusive treasures, he says, “But it’s hard to feel bad about the end of rarity; didn’t a lot of the thrill come from feeling superior when you had something others didn’t? You really want to get nostalgic about that? We’re finally approaching that nirvana for fans, scholars, and critics: Everything available, all the time. (Certainly Richards and Jagger would approve.) It’s not an ideal state of affairs for a rights holder, of course. But for the rest of us, what is there to complain about?”

I remember my teacher saying with a smile, “Vico looked at history and never smiled.” I don’t have too much nostalgia for not being able to see great movies any night I wanted. Yet I don’t think the deluge of stuff online is all that healthy, either.

It’s funny that just yesterday my dear friend recommended the movie Jonah Who Will Be 25 in the Year 2000. It’s not available on DVD or Netflix or anywhere else online, as far as I can tell. There is a brief, tantalizing clip.

Isn’t it heartening not to have it at your fingertips?

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