There’s more to life than books, you know, but not much more…
I just finished Malcolm Gladwell’s new book Outliers. I also recently booked (through the summer) films for Jefferson Market’s Monday night film screenings, including some great music documentaries in February. I’ve been thinking about both Outliers and music a lot recently.
On Monday February 2nd at 6PM we are showing Let’s Get Lost, Bruce Weber’s 1988 documentary about Chet Baker. This is an amazing film that has yet to be released on DVD in the United States. The reason? Unknown! If you haven’t seen Let’s Get Lost this would be the perfect opportunity to do so. Watch for appearances by a young Chris Isaak and Flea of Red Hot Chili Peppers. Also of note are interviews with Baker’s childhood friend Jack Sheldon who later voiced such School House Rock classics as Conjunction Junction and I’m Just a Bill.
On Monday February 9th at 6pm we are showing Is It Really So Strange? This documentary takes a look at an unlikely Morrissey fan base: Latino youths in East Los Angeles. The Smiths broke up in 1987 but Morrissey’s cult of adoring, devoted, and obsessed fans has never been more adoring, devoted, or obsessed. Johnny Marr has also remained busy with many side projects including stints with The Talking Heads, REM, and Modest Mouse. Much news was made about the reunion tours of famously disbanded acts such as The Pixies and Van Halen. Now if the songwriting team of Morrissey and Marr ever got back together, that would be cause for celebration. I know, I know, but never say never.
Lastly, on Monday February 23rd at 6pm we are showing Stormy Weather: The Music of Harold Arlen. My earliest recollection of the Arlen song Stormy Weather is from the May 8, 1987 episode of Miami Vice entitled Heroes of the Revolution. It wasn’t like I was even a fan of Miami Vice, but OK, I did watch a few episodes! I don’t know what it was about that song or why I remember the first time hearing it. To this day I can still picture Detective Gina Navarro Calabrese singing in a club with Crockett and Tubbs watching. Actually I don’t even remember if Crockett and Tubbs were in the audience. But they’re in the memory. As far as what I hear in my head when I picture this season three scene from Miami Vice it is now always Ella Fitzgerald’s version. For me, Ella’s is the definitive version of the song. Gina, Crockett, Tubbs, and Ella.
Which brings me to Outliers. The ideas in this book I found most interesting dealt with opportunities. Think about Ella Fitzgerald, Chet Baker, or The Smiths. Each was at the right place and right time for what they were doing. Jazz vocals? You’d be hard pressed to find a better time and place than 1930’s Harlem. Jazz musician? Sure there was an East Coast/West Coast thing going on, but being a jazz musician on either coast in 1951? You can’t beat that time or place! How about a post punk British pop rock band headed by an incredibly talented guitarist and a lyricist well-versed in literature and poetry with a unique vocal delivery? The time and place would ideally be one where you could catch the ear of British DJ John Peel. Peel is singled-handedly credited with launching the careers of countless bands and musicians. If he liked your music then he played your music and you sold many records and became famous. Sure talent comes into play (see Gladwell’s discussions on the 10,000 hour rule) but you can’t ignore the idea of being at the right place at the right time and taking advantage of the opportunities available. Gladwell takes a unique look at computer programmers (Bill Gates, Bill Joy), Jewish lawyers, The Beatles, and hockey players and shows that opportunity (which involves the 10,000 hour rule and being at the right place at the right time) is the key to success. After reading Outliers, I’m convinced.
That got me to thinking. What about librarianship? Being a librarian circa 1880 with Melvil Dewey would have been quite an opportunity and being around for the computer revolutions circa 1980 and 1995 would have been equally as interesting. But in regards to technology, access to information and resources, and the quickly changing virtual landscape (aren’t these all opportunities?) when would be the perfect time to be a librarian?
How Soon is Now?
Librarians of the world, unite and take over.