In our ninth issue we covered The Ballad Of AJ Weberman, a documentary on the famous and somewhat controvserial Dylanlogist, AJ Weberman. He is a man who has dedicated his life to Bob Dylan, an artist he embraces but a man he despises. He's rummaged through his garbage, taped phone calls and written many books. In order to get a little further insight into the mind of AJ and his relationship with Bob Dylan, we caught up with him...
What first started your relationship with Bob Dylan as an artist? Was there a song or album that really got to you?
It all started in September 1962 when my parents had me shipped out of New York City to Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan, to get me away from the bad influences I had cultivated at Erasmus Hall High School in Brooklyn, New York. My mom Sara Weberman discovered roaches under my bed and knew I was smoking pot. I received a warm welcome at MSU, when the first thing I did there was start playing my bongo drums and reciting beat poetry. Then I disassembled my bed and put my mattress on the floor, like in a beatnik pad I saw on Armstrong Circle Theatre TV production of Raid In Beatnik Town, where cops dressed up like beatniks, let their beard grow and made buys of marijuana. That was how the word “fuzz” as slang for undercover cop arose. At MSU I associated with almost everyone including folknicks Larry Kopp and Doug Messenger. We would sit around and sing Woody Guthrie and Cisco Houston songs. One night, while in the common room, these guys told me, "Weberman, there's this folksinger in Greenwich Village named Bob Dylan who looks just like you." Like me? Kinky hair? Hook nose? Skinny Jew? They gave me Dylan's first LP, CL1776, entitled Bob Dylan and said they would introduce me to Dylan at Gerdes Folk City, when we got to New York City.
When did you realise that you were more than just a passing fan when it came to his music?
When he said I had a special gift in 'Dear Landlord'. That was the most amazing thing about the Dylan-Weberman thing, Dylan knew so early in the game that I was the one, the one they call seventh sun!
What is your favourite Bob Dylan song/album?
Highway 61 Revisited, Bringing It all Back Home, Blonde On Blonde
What is your least favourite Bob Dylan song/album?
Idiot Wind, Blood on the Tracks, cause that’s my blood on those record tracks.
"Preacher was preachin there’s a sermon he gave he said Bob Dylan’s conscience is vile and depraved."
Least favourite lyric?
To those who aren’t aware, you invented "Dylanology" – how would you best describe that term?
The study of Bob Dylan’s poetry, not ticket stubs from his concerts.
Tell us about the first time the two of you made contact?
He came down and told me I was not going to get into his life.
When was the last time you had contact?
On the street he told Jesse I had a nose job and was ashamed of being Jewish and Jesse should never be like Weberman when he grows up
I’m sure it’s difficult to summarise, but could you please explain your current thoughts on Bob Dylan both as an artist and as a man?
The great artist is not always the great man. Look at Louis Ferdinand Celine. Dylan has one verse in 'Tweedle De Tweedle Dum' in which he claims hundreds of thousands, not millions of Jews were killed by Hitler.
When will your relationship with the work of Bob Dylan end, if ever?
When I croak, but I plan to outlive him. He says people will be pissing on my grave, “someday you’ll be in the ditch flies buzzin round your eyes.” Get it the sound of pants flies, zippers buzzing open. So I plan to piss on his grave.
For somebody who you clearly dislike and would “piss on his grave”, do you ever just consider giving up? I can’t think of many people who dedicate their life to studying and writing about a man they despise. Or is your intention to inform the world that Dylan is a bad person?
I will never give up until I fucking die.
What do you find so fascinating about him?
Would you say you are obsessed?
Was Verlaine obsessed with Rimbaud?
Do you still attend his concerts?
Do you still listen to Dylan’s music? Or has your view of the man overshadowed the power of his music?
I listen but much much less now that I know what an evil person he has become.
Do you consider him the greatest living songwriter? Anyone else you admire?
Dylan deserves the Nobel Prize for racist literature. McCartney, Springsteen, Jagger, the rock poets.
Many consider Blood On The Tracks among Dylan’s finest albums. If you feel it was about you, in a way did you not feel complimented?
Two songs, 'Idiot Wind' and 'You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go' pertained to our relationship.
Situations have ended sad
Relationships have all been bad.
Mine've been like Verlaine's and Rimbaud.
But there's no way I can compare
All those scenes to this affair
Yer gonna make me lonesome when you go.
“Situations”: a critical, trying, or unusual state of affairs: problems, Weberman. “Have ended sad”: have ended sadly for me as he got one over on me with his shenanigans, but they might also end sadly for Weberman, in fact he might meet his end. “Relationships have all been bad”: my personal relationship with Weberman turned out badly for me. I was nice to the guy and he screwed me over. “Mine've been like Verlaine's and Rimbaud”: my relationship with Weberman can best be described as being similar to that of French poet Arthur Rimbaud who became disenchanted with his relationship with his critic Paul Verlaine. During a drunken argument in Brussels, Verlaine shot at Rimbaud, hitting him once in the wrist. “But there's no way I can compare / All those scenes to this affair”: but I can’t compare all that literary drama to the Dylan-Weberman affair, since Verlaine never went through Rimbaud’s trash, he never brought a thousand Rimbaud fans to Rimbaud’s crib for Rimbaud’s 30th Birthday Party, etc.. “Yer gonna make me lonesome when you go”: boy will I be happy when Al is dead.
Yer gonna make me wonder what I'm doin'
Stayin' far behind without you.
Yer gonna make me wonder what I'm sayin'
Yer gonna make me give myself a good talkin' to.
“Yer gonna make me wonder what I'm doin'”: sarcastic; you are going to make me be filled with doubt” about “stayin' far behind without you”: about being alive far after you, Weberman, are dead. “Yer gonna make me wonder what I'm sayin'”: you are going to make me wonder what I am saying when I arrange for your demise since I have never done anything like this before. “Yer gonna make me give myself a good talkin' to” sarcastic: my conscience is going to bother me for having you offed.
In the documentary The Ballad of AJ Weberman, I found it quite surprising that he continued to speak you even though you were consistently critical of him. Why do you think he did so?
Because he was sick of the dumbshits who didn’t know squat about him. I might not have known much but in the land of the blind the one-eyed man is king. He respected my gift.
What did you think to the documentary film about you? Do you feel it presented AJ Weberman in a fair and accurate way?
Never watched it as it chronicles a bad period in my life.
If you were to have a conversation with him now, what would you say to him?
I don't talk to Holocaust revisionists.
You have spoke quite vehemently against his heroin use (or supposed heroin use to some). You have been a drug user yourself, why does it upset so much even if Bob Dylan did take heroin?
I smoke herb and drink booze and caffeine. I don't mess with dugi which is a shit evil drug
Would you argue that this period of drug use provided some of his strongest material? Both lyrically and sonically?
Yeah, 'Mr. Tambourine Man' was the great song written about smack.
You have also said the same of his son Jakob Dylan – why the interest in him and what he chooses to do with his life?
Because it was his diapers that were smelling up Dylan’s trash.
Likewise, you state that Dylan contracted HIV in the late '80s and on your website you call him an "AIDS-ridden ex-junkie." There seems to be an almost accusing manner to this claim, would this not be an incredibly sad thing if he was ill? Do you also feel that in the twenty-plus years since you say he contracted it, he would have deteriorated more and would not be touring the world just after his 70th birthday?
He has that big bus, doesn’t go to rehersals and has the best medical care. HIV is manageable. Occasionally it catches up with him, like in Long Branch when he got picked up by the police.
You also consider Dylan to be a self-hating Nazi, is this correct? Again, I’m sure it’s difficult to get down in a few words, but please explain…
Cannot explain in a few words. You are going to have to buy my new book, The Devil and Bob Dylan.
All of the ideas you have on Dylan stem from your interpretation of his lyrics rather than historical fact or accuracy, is this correct?
Translations not interpretations. I get my info on Dylan straight from the source. When he was doing dugi, right from the horse’s mouth.
Do you accept that you could be wrong on some matters?
Absolutely. I know that for a fact.
In regards to you accepting that you could be wrong about some matters. If you were to realise that you were, would you feel bad or guilty about saying some of the things you have?
Dylan was a righteous Jew when I met him. I was fucked up. I am sorry I gave him trouble for supporting Israel.
The drug use of Dylan has been relatively well-documented, or at least it is accepted that he has used a variety of drugs in his career, but do you ever wonder why other Dylan authors, fans or people who study him haven’t come to the same conclusions or theories as you in other areas?
Did you hear the BBC interview where he admits having been an addict? I have been vindicated.
Do you still conduct "garbology"? Could this not be seen as more of a fascination with celebrity or fame than anything else? What is your actual point or intention when going through famous people’s garbage?
Yeah, I go through trash. I am not fascinated with celebrity. I just like to fuck some people up.
Where do you stand on people’s rights to privacy?
As long as its my privacy I am for it but for others let the devil take the hindmost.
Do you worry you could end up in jail again due to your pursuits?
I am looking forward to it as long as it is in Otisville, New York, a camp. Convicts don't go to heaven they go to Otisville.
Have you ever had any altercations with Dylan fans? I can imagine some of his more passionate fans would be quite against what you have to say?
Never had anything like that – the only person to attack me over Dylan was Dylan and I got to experience what Sara experienced. Dylan on top of me.
How would you best like to be remembered when you are gone?
As someone way ahead of his time who solved the Kennedy assassination, invented garbology and Dylanology, and fought for the legalization of pot.