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A. J. Weberman

Alan Jules Weberman (born May 26, 1945), better known as A. J. Weberman, is an American writer, political gadfly, and self-styled founder of the fields of garbology and "Dylanology". He is best known for his controversial personal confrontations with the musician Bob Dylan and for his 30-year involvement with the Yippies, a counterculture network. He is also active in the Jewish Defense Organization, a group that has been linked to violent attacks.

Public controversies

A.J. Weberman early took a great and abiding—perhaps obsessive—interest in the life and works of Bob Dylan, leaving college to focus on creating a word concordance of Dylan's lyrics. Although a strong advocate of Dylan's importance as an artist, he is less supportive of Dylan the man.

Weberman's literary analysis of Dylan's work, which he has termed "Dylanology", is centered around the concept that, to Dylan, many words have lesser-used meanings differing, sometimes greatly, from their common definitions. "Rain", for instance, often means "destruction" in a Dylan song, as it does, conventionally, in poetry and fiction.

Weberman first came to public notoriety in the late 1960s with his controversial research method of examining and interpreting the contents of Dylan's household garbage cans (ash bins).

This activity raised the question of legality, but it was concluded that household trash placed on a public way has been effectively abandoned as property and is, legally, fair game.

Legal or no, Dylan and his friends found this methodology, along with what they regarded as Weberman's haruspice-like tortured reading of meaning into discarded household items, to be an annoying and alarming invasion of privacy.

But even more than his garbage-sifting, it was Weberman's public hectoring of Dylan and his recruiting of like-minded individuals (styled the Dylan Liberation Front) to picket Dylan at home, that made Weberman such an annoying figure, both to Dylan—who physically assaulted Weberman at one point — and to some of Dylan's fans.

Other pursuits

Weberman later applied his unusual research methods to Richard Nixon, Norman Mailer, and other celebrities, coining the term "garbology" to describe his methods and writing the book My Life in Garbology.

Weberman, in a manifestation of his leftist politics, also attempted to expand his "Dylan Liberation Front" into a "Rock Liberation Front", intended to pressure pop musicians into greater political activity. John Lennon was briefly associated with this effort. More recently Weberman has worked closely with the Jewish Defense Organization in opposing Nazis, the KKK, Lyndon LaRouche and far-left anti-Zionist activists.

Weberman has also studied the 1963 assassination of US President John F. Kennedy and was employed by the late Congressman Henry Gonzalez of Texas and Senator Richard Schweiker of Pennsylvania. Weberman's book on the subject, Coup D’Etat In America, postulates the assassination as part of a coup d'etat led by rogue CIA agents Howard Hunt, Frank Sturgis (a contract agent) and David Christ, Head of the TSD of the CIA, angered by Kennedy's failure to remove Fidel Castro from power. The book includes transparent overlays, as in an anatomy textbook, so that the reader can compare the faces of the tramps briefly arrested in Dallas with photos of E. Howard Hunt and Frank Sturgis. Weberman's assertion that Hunt was involved in this action led Hunt to initiate a lawsuit, later dropped.

Weberman, an LSD and marijuana advocate, was arrested for marijuana dealing in 2000. He pleaded guilty to money-laundering charges and served a year and a day in jail, where he worked on the Dylan to English Dictionary and claims to have made "translations" of the texts to songs by Dylan.

In 2005, Weberman and other well-known Yippies, including Dana Beal and Pie Man (Aron Kay), joined forces to turn the long-time Yippie headquarters at 9 Bleecker Street on Manhattan's Lower East Side into a counterculture museum. As of 2006, renovation of the building has been partially completed, and a charter from the New York State Board of Regents has been granted. Weberman, who is a member of the Yippie Museum's board of trustees, announced in early 2006, in a typical display of Yippie spoofery, that the museum would house an Institute for the Study of Advanced Political Protest.

A film about Weberman, entitled The Ballad of AJ Weberman won the Raindance Award at the British Independent Film Awards (BIFAs) He also did research for a book by Peter Lance on an al-Qaeda triple agent who penetrated the FBI and CIA.

Reference material

Publications

Notes

References

  • Roberts, John. A.J. Weberman: Dylanologist (1995, private printing)
  • Roberts, John. "Dear Landlord: The A.J. Weberman Story" in The Telegraph 51 Telegraph 78-91 (periodical), Spring 1995

The Weberman tapes

  • Classic Interviews, Vol. 2: The Weberman Tapes (UK: Chromedreams. USA: United States Dist Media, Catalog #541, released May 31 2005.)

Recordings of telephone conversations between Weberman and Dylan, New York City, January 6 and January 9, 1971. Originally released as Bob Dylan vs. A.J. Weberman on Folkways Records, Catalog #FB 5322, 1977, quickly deleted for legal considerations, but circulated in various bootleg pressings. Original Folkways recording also contains an otherwise unreleased version of David Peel's "The Ballad of A.J. Weberman".
* An excerpt from a transcript of the above
*Full transcripts:
*East Village Other (periodical), January 19, 1971
*Authors or editors unknown. The Fiddler Now Upspoke Volume 1 (Desolation Row Promotions, other publishing data unknown)

Other recordings of interest

  • David Peel and the Lower East Side. "The Ballad of A.J. Weberman", on Santa Claus - Rooftop Junkie (1975, Orange Records. Re-released in box set David Peel, Rock 'n' Roll Outlaw — the Apple and Orange Recordings, 2005, Orange Records)
  • Weberman recordings, private collection, catalogued here:

*Bob Fass Show With A.J. Weberman & Ellen Sanders, WBAI Radio, New York, 1968 (155 minutes)
*Bob Fass Show, WBAI Radio, New York (Studio discussion with Bob Fass, Allen J. Weberman & Ellen Zander) (Part 1) 1970
*Bob Fass Show, WBAI Radio, New York (Studio discussion with Bob Fass, Allen J. Weberman & Ellen Zander) (Part 2) 1970
*Bob Fass Show WBAI Radio New York (Studio Discussion With Bob Fass, Allen J. Weberman & Ellen Zander) (Part 3) 1970
*Alex Bennett Show, WPLJ Radio, With A.J. Weberman & Anthony Scaduto, 1974 (46 Minutes)
*John Roberts, telephone interview with A.J. Weberman for The Telegraph, (July 20 1994) (12 Minutes)
*A.J. Weberman, WFMU Radio, New Jersey (18 Minutes) (no date given)
*The Larry King Show with A.J. Weberman, Garbologist (no date given)

  • Weberman appears in the film Bob Dylan World Tours 1966-1974 - Through the Camera of Barry Feinstein directed by Barry Feinstein, Joel Gilbert, and D.A. Pennebaker (DVD released March 8 2005 by Music Video Distributors and/or Highway 61 Entertainment)

External links

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