What is it all but ludicrous?
It's a Friday night in a St. Louis suburb and I am sitting in a library with hundreds of hippies waiting for Art Garfunkel to come out and speak.
That's right. You heard me.
I spent $31.00 to spend the beginning of my weekend hanging out in a room that I can only summarize with one word.
I'm sitting next to an old lady that smells like patchouli, cat litter and disappointment.
A lone female figure walks out to the podium and begins the opening monologue.
"Welcome to our event, blah, blah, blah, Mr. Garfunkel requests no video recording, no photography and this includes cellphones. Enjoy your evening."
Wow, Beyoncé. Way to start out the night on a diva note.
From a back room, I see two older men walk out. One is a former new anchor that has long been retired but has been asked to interview Mr. Garfunkel for tonight's venue.
The other one is Bernie Sanders.
That's not Bernie.
He looks just like someone's Jewish grandpa coming home from a day at the office.
He starts speaking and I actually cringe.
This is not going to be a man telling stories about the music, about the life of a musician. Stories form on the road.
He is a wonderful story teller.
As long as the stories are about how wonderful he is.
This is a pompous, pretentious man telling stories about himself.
He is rife with vanity and his book reads like a personal to-do list thrown in the midst of over the top poetic regurgitations. The man actually spends three pages listing the songs on his iPod.
Three fucking pages.
The sad part is, his own songs, which were never a hit here, there or anywhere, comprise the largest selection.
Garfunkel opens his nostalgic grocery list of life by self-professing that his voice is a gift from God and that by the time he was nine, his voice was bringing grown men to tears and by twenty his songs were delighting the world. At one point, he boasts that once on a walk, he brought cows to tears with his voice.
Insert gag reflex here.
He is overly animated and glib and takes all credit for the success of Simon and Garfunkel. He is neither gracious nor sincere. He comes across as bitter and when asked point blank, he discloses that he will never sing with Simon again.
While he spins his web of glory, he sings bits and pieces of songs. Snippets from the American songbook, fragments of hit songs. His voice is weak, at best.
I want to feel something for him. Some sort of empathy for a man that will
remain half of one of the greatest musical duos of our time.
But I can't.
He will not allow it.
He answers a few questions from the audience and shuns one woman who worked with him in the seventies. It was uncomfortable for everyone.
By the time the hour was finished, I was too.
I had expectations that were far different than the reality. I had visions of hearing about music and creativity and genius. Apparently, Garfunkel was having visions of his own.
Visions of grandeur.
I went home that evening and I started reading his book. I had to, in all fairness. I needed to be just and fair if I was truly going to give an impartial review.
By the twenty-fifth page, he sets himself on the same level as Lennon. His advisor even.
This is deeming itself to be a difficult read.
Garfunkel is so overly self-righteous and narcissistic and his writing feels almost drunk. He takes you on a rollercoaster of prose and name dropping all in the name of art. He puts the "e" in artist.
By Chapter Six, I want to throw his book in the trash.
He inserts a photo of Michelangelo's Pietà on a page that begins with his father dying and then a rambling of adjectives regarding Grand Central Station. Absurdity.
He compares himself with the likes of Rimbaud, James Dean,
Rousseau, Achilles, and Odysseus.
He obsesses over a dead woman that he had a relationship with, all the while professing his spiritual, almost pornographic adoration for his wife.
I will be honest about one thing. I have to give him credit for some of his
writing. When he is not making side notes for the reader with the correct pronunciation of a word in a poem so that it will rhyme, some of his works are actually quite lovely. He writes a piece for his wife that is sentimental and heartfelt beyond all the flowy, showiness.
I finish the book on Sunday evening.
The book ends as it began.
In an exasperating eye roll.
I wanted to think that this man could share insights into his real thoughts about music. I would have been happy if I thought that these were real thoughts and not just dramatic considerations that he threw into a book and said, "Print it."
So, Mr. Garfunkel, I thank you for taking the time to create something that you felt was a look into your soul. I also thank you for the music that you
helped create. That will live forever. I can't give any thanks for wasting my time reading your trivial ramblings. Those hours, I'll never get back.
What is it I feel?
Confusion, amusement, pity?
What is the purpose of writing if you give nothing of
yourself that is authentic?
What is it all but ludicrous?