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Credit bobdylanarchive. The public will get a glimpse of some of the material when the Bob Dylan Center opens in downtown Tulsa's Brady Arts District in about two years. Rolling Stone says the call for proposals hint at hopes that The Bob Dylan Center allow for public engagement with items from the archive, permanent and temporary exhibits, research facilities and space for educational programming, indoor events and performances. Others just get wet.

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Horowitz has brokered archives for everyone from Norman Mailer to Danny Fields. He hired Michael Chaiken to catalog the entire Dylan Archive. This immense undertaking took Chaiken the better part of a year. When it came time to move the entire archive to Tulsa, he was offered the job of curator. These days he spends a considerable amount of time getting the archive ready for public use, as well as sorting through the vast amount of audio, film, and written material.

Like everything about the story, Chaiken himself is quite an interesting character, with a background in film programming, writing and cataloging. He has worked with Norman Mailer, D. Pennebaker, the Maysles brothers, Nick Tosches, James Toback, and the up and coming filmmakers the Safdie brothers his short film on them , made for Filmstruck, may still be available online; if you want to see it, you better move fast because Filmstruck has just gone belly up. I sat down with Mr. Chaiken recently and what follows is an edited transcript of our conversation. JM: So what is your background?

How did you end up in charge of the Dylan Archive? Did you do your doctorate in Dylanology, do your thesis on Self Portrait? I grew up in Philadelphia. My dad went to high school with Fabian, when [oldies deejay] Jerry Blavat was a constant on the radio.

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It started as just collecting stuff, comic books, Mad Magazine , and learning about culture. He had blues box sets. My mom was a hippie, born in , they were separated by a generation. So I heard soul, a capella, blues. In his family, you went to work, not school. I went to University of Delaware for a year and ended up flunking out. But there were a lot of people hanging around the fringes of the campus, into jazz and stuff. I got involved with a magazine, sort of a precursor to The Wire.

All that kind of stuff was exploding. I saw Ornette Coleman, Pharaoh Saunders and all those guys. I got as far into free jazz as you can go. But I was floundering in Delaware. I was 19 years old and I came home and got a job in a video store. It was one of the first video stores on the East Coast. They were like a supplier for other stores. They had a giant telephone book-size catalog and 50, titles. I remember my dad taking me there. They hired me, and I got as deeply into movies as you can possibly get.

I was into art films, not so much Hollywood films— [Jean-Luc] Godard was my sacred cow, and his entire orbit, everyone influenced by him. Political cinema, avant-garde cinema and I guess what they called Third Cinema. Brazilian New Wave.. Michael Chaiken: Exactly. It was totally the opposite of Delaware, I met great people. I met great people in Delaware outside of the school, but Temple is a city school, so the people I met were unbelievable, I went in as an English major.

The critical studies of film were run through the English Department. There was a professor named Bill Van Wert who became a very cool friend and mentor. Bill Van Wert had started a radical film journal called Jump Cut. He had written a lot about Chris Marker, Alain Resnais, for me that was beyond my realm.

I took a year off and sort of became a collector. Philly had a great tradition of repertory cinema.


Like New York. Now you can get blu-rays of all this stuff but like Godard, Warhol films were off the map. It became an obsession. Bill Van Wert would rent films and make copies just so he had a copy. I found out about the Harvard Film Archive, the stuff they had, the quality.


It was what was left of the Grove Press film collection. Grove Press had an unbelievable library of films they distributed— all the crazy Godard films, William Klein films.

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I found out Harvard Library had acquired the Grove Press film collection, so I had Billy Van Wert , who was as ravenous as I was about trying to find this stuff, help me. I wrote them a letter saying he was writing a book about Alain Resnais and had to see this stuff. Bill ended up putting me in touch with the curator and they gave me a job, offered me a job for school credit working at the Harvard Film Archives.

I lived there; it took up a whole summer. Basically, they had just acquired the Grove Press film collection and hired me to catalog it. It was a dream job for me.

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That was my first interaction with film archives. I learned a lot; it was like grad school, and I managed to graduate early, my junior year. They were showing incredible films and letting me watch stuff. What do you do with an English degree? He was very disciplined.

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Whatever talents he had, he met that halfway with a lot of hard work. It turns out the Philadelphia Film Festival which was run out of an art house theater called the International House. I was the guy who had to co-ordinate getting the prints from the New York Film Festival and the Toronto Film Festival, about films. The film festival is run out of the International House, which is a seat theater that gets a lot of money from the state.

Part of the money was designated to go to cultural stuff— international music, film, whatever.

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They hired me in January Somehow, I convince them to program stuff. I was lucky; there was an opening and an opportunity. I started putting together retrospectives around directors, taking advantage of the fact we had this theater, an amazing projectionist, I was in my twenties and it was like wow. Then I got lucky. All I need is the poetry. Besides, what would I say? Facebook Twitter Pinterest.

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