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I ask that pawn shop man, "What's them three balls doin' hangin' on that wall?" (He) said, "It's two to one daddy, you don't get your things back out of here at all" - Blind Boy Fuller, Three Ball Blues

Author Topic: Elvie (L.V.) Thomas  (Read 16620 times)

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Offline Kokomo O

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Re: Elvie (L.V.) Thomas
« Reply #45 on: April 18, 2014, 08:04:37 AM »
Uncle Bud, a couple of small observations, and one larger one--if McCormick wants to sue, there's no better place than south Texas. You can find plenty of plaintiff's lawyers there, and many will take a case on contingency. Of course, establishing damages will be difficult in this case.

I think the consent issue is a little complicated. My strong suspicion is that McCormick consented somewhat early on in the process, then the apparent theft of his information occurred, the article got completed, he never revoked his consent, and they went to press. But we'll probably never know for certain unless there is a lawsuit.

The larger observation is that I do think as a matter of law that Randy's right--that McCormick at least potentially had rights in the information he collected regarding LV Thomas. Whether he effectively protected that information, either by copyright or by contract, and then kept it protected, is an open question. It is also legitimate to ask, as you do, whether the law ought to grant him those rights.

Offline Gilgamesh

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Re: Elvie (L.V.) Thomas
« Reply #46 on: April 18, 2014, 10:18:03 AM »
First, it is quite obvious that Ms. Rose was a plant sent more than likely from the writer of the article, considering they both have ties to Mississippi and this http://www.oxfordamerican.org.
So why are we not asking about the long term deception? And why was she fired? More than likely because McCormick began to catch on to what was happening.

I hadn't considered that possibility until you mentioned it, since Sullivan presents Caitlin's apprenticeship to McCormick as something independent of his own interviews with the man. I certainly thought it was unusual that a 21-year-old would independently (a) know or care who McCormick was, and (b) be so interested in his work that she was willing to leave school and move to another state to become his understudy. It could happen, but the fact that both Sullivan and Caitlin are associated with "The Oxford American" magazine (based at the University of Central Arkansas) makes one suspect there is more to the story.

The fact that she would have photographs of the exact interview, out of the thousands of presumed pages of the Monster, that Sullivan wanted the most, at least suggests a potential plausibility to this conjecture. That would mean that Sullivan was lying when he asked her if she, perchance, had a copy of the Thomas interview manuscript.

I guess the only way to clear this up is to get McCormick's side of the story. But I'm not holding my breath.

Offline Gilgamesh

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Re: Elvie (L.V.) Thomas
« Reply #47 on: April 18, 2014, 11:23:40 AM »

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Elvie (L.V.) Thomas
« Reply #48 on: April 18, 2014, 02:45:01 PM »
It seems like there might be a way to decode qualities of voice, like a vocal DNA code that could be used to track down living relatives of people who've left only a voice behind.
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Offline btasoundsradio

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Re: Elvie (L.V.) Thomas
« Reply #49 on: April 18, 2014, 03:45:36 PM »
Has anyone else noticed that the voices in the dialogue preceding Pick Poor Robin Clean show that "Gitchie" is the younger less gruff voice and "Slack" is actually the louder, tougher voice, the voice that is singing on "Last Kind Words", which would mean the LV Thomas is actually singing on that track and Geeshie Wiley is actually the voice heard on "Motherless Child"? This is baffling me, is this maybe a labeling error on Paramounts behalf, or am I crazy?
Charlie is the Father, Son is the Son, Willie is the Holy Ghost

Offline dj

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Re: Elvie (L.V.) Thomas
« Reply #50 on: April 18, 2014, 05:59:40 PM »
I have to say it was a great article in so many ways:  it added exponentially to what we knew about Gitchie and L.V., it added a bit to what I knew about Mack McCormick, it introduced tens of thousands of people to both the musicians and Mr. McCormick, and, via the online version, vastly increased the number of people who have ever heard Gtichie's and L.V.'s music, AND it was well written.  A big well done to John Jeremiiah Sullivan and Caitlin Love.

It's a bit odd to me to hear so many people speculating about Sullivan and Love having somehow "stolen" McCormick's research.  I mean, the only way anyone would have any idea that the research was stolen would be via the article, and Sullivan's openness about where all his info came from certainly indicates that to him (and, of course, to the Times legal department), everything was within the bounds of what is legally and ethically acceptable.

As to those who hope that someone can help Mack McCormick carve some sense out of the jumble of his research before he dies, all I have to say is "ain't going to happen".  As someone who has on two occasions tried to help hoarders organize their hoard, I can understand why things didn't work out between McCormick and Love, and why they won't work out between him and anyone who tries to help him organize.  While I don't think McCormick is as bad a hoarder as the people I've tried to help, here's how it went with me:  Me: "Here's a shoe with no sole and no mate.  We can get rid of that."  Other: "No, I'm going to get that fixed some day.  The other shoe is in my bedroom somewhere." Me: "Ok.  Well, you sure don't need this old pizza box."  Other: "I do!  It's got a phone number on it."  Me: "Whose?"  Other: "I don't know, but I'll remember someday.  I need it.  I don't think you're helping me.  It isn't working out."   

Finally, I tend to agree with O'Muck on who "owns" research.  I mean, if someone does research and publishes the results in a timely manner, that's one thing.  But research, especially about the fairly recent past, needs to be published or followed up on fairly quickly, before people die, photos get thrown out, records get used as shingles on the hen house, etc.  As Sullivan said, lots of people told him "You should have been here a few years ago, before so-and-so died.  He could have told you a lot about L.V."  While it's true that facts about the life of a minor musician aren't going to change anyone's life, it's also true that once the people who remember are gone, once the photos are thrown out, the information is gone for good, and we're just a bit poorer for the loss.  Publish, share, or the information perishes.           

Offline Gilgamesh

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Re: Elvie (L.V.) Thomas
« Reply #51 on: April 18, 2014, 08:45:41 PM »
It's a bit odd to me to hear so many people speculating about Sullivan and Love having somehow "stolen" McCormick's research.

Perhaps because the author explicitly says it was stolen?

"Caitlin was stranded in Houston. I?d still never met her, but the photorealistic detail of her dispatches from inside the Monster had been enjoyable to follow, and I admired the bravery of her act of quasi theft, feeling strongly that it was the right thing to do. You?re not allowed to sit on these things for half a century, not when the culture has decided they matter."

Finally, I tend to agree with O'Muck on who "owns" research.  I mean, if someone does research and publishes the results in a timely manner, that's one thing.  But research, especially about the fairly recent past, needs to be published or followed up on fairly quickly, before people die, photos get thrown out, records get used as shingles on the hen house, etc.       

What I find most striking about this attitude is that is so strangely close to the position that blues people supposedly detest; that is, a record company issuing or reissuing an artist's music without their permission or compensation. I suspect that the people asserting our "right" to a writer's work are the same people who have expressed moral outrage when a record company recorded and issued something without the artist's permission. You cannot have it both ways.

Offline wreid75

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Re: Elvie (L.V.) Thomas
« Reply #52 on: April 18, 2014, 08:51:08 PM »
"So, I conclude: in this day and age and with crowdsourcing, etc and from the small circle from which Mack still does have faith in - let us prove that we do respect the ones that brought us original work - like Mack. The same way we respect the Lomax's. Because Mack has done it. On the ground. And think about all those recordings he has in addition to the wealth of biographical information. All of this could bring a hundred Thomas and Wiley stories and most of all, respect to the man who spent much of the prime of his life collecting it."


Being in North Carolina makes showing up at his house very difficult and I'm not sure how many members who no longer have to work are living near Houston.  If there are I would throw money into a pot to help out , and I would love to live close enough to go myself.  I have been hoping to find a family member that is sitting on Blind Boy Fuller, but I digress. 

« Last Edit: April 18, 2014, 08:59:15 PM by wreid75 »

Offline wreid75

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Re: Elvie (L.V.) Thomas
« Reply #53 on: April 18, 2014, 08:56:19 PM »
It might be a good idea for someone with the means and clout to get things done to get in touch with his daughter and discuss what to do once he dies, or if he ends up having to be placed in long term care. 

This is a great reason to crowd source but how many would really chip in?  I once tried to get a letter writing campaign to flood Mack to encourage opening up his info and was crucified by several people.  I honestly had people spend longer explaining why it either wouldn't matter or why it was wrong than it would to just write the letter.  I can only imagine the vile and venom that would come from the haters if real and well resourced effort was undertaken to save it now before it is too late.

Offline wreid75

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Re: Elvie (L.V.) Thomas
« Reply #54 on: April 18, 2014, 09:11:55 PM »
I suspect that the people asserting our "right" to a writer's work are the same people who have expressed moral outrage when a record company recorded and issued something without the artist's permission. You cannot have it both ways.

I understand where you are coming from but that isn't comparing apples to apples.  Songs written by the talent and creativity of a musician hijacked for the financial gain of someone unreleated to the music is different.  Mack isn't hording his own creations.  He is hording information freely given by people in the know or from the musician themselves.  He didn't create it.  He is just the third man down the totem pole.  The musician created and lived the music and life.  Other that knew them told what they knew and filled in gaps.  He collected that info. 

To justify the "cant have it both ways" comment is to place equal importance and significance to Socrates (who never wrote anything down that we know of) and the person who wrote his teachings down.  The scribe didn't own Socrates knowledge and ideas, he simply preserved them for future generations.

Offline Suzy T

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Re: Elvie (L.V.) Thomas
« Reply #55 on: April 18, 2014, 09:24:04 PM »
I was pretty disturbed by the idea of Mack's research being appropriated so I asked Chris Strachwitz about this.  He reminded me that Alan Govenar is working on completing the book that Paul Oliver was writing with Mack.  Chris Strachwitz is contributing to this book, as is Kip Lornell. It will be published by Texas A&M University Press, but I don't know when that's supposed to happen.  So, we can look forward to reading more about Mack's research and maybe there are some more hidden gems in there!!
I still am bothered by the ethics (or rather lack thereof) of the NYT article writer.  He piggybacked on a lifetime of work, added a few days of research using the web, and got huge recognition from his cover story.  It seems somewhat analogous to the current notion that it's okay to steal recorded music -- also okay to steal someone's research that they've been accumulating over a lifetime??  Especially if it's true that somebody else (authorized) is working on the big book??
Nothing to be done about it but I don't have a very friendly feeling towards this fellow.

Offline dj

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Re: Elvie (L.V.) Thomas
« Reply #56 on: April 19, 2014, 06:43:45 AM »
Quote
He piggybacked on a lifetime of work, added a few days of research using the web, and got huge recognition from his cover story.

To be fair, he interviewed people who had known L.V., including church members and surviving family.   Sullivan and Love used McCormick's information as a starting point, but added a lot to it, and told not just L.V.'s story, but also the story of their search for information about her.  It's a different story than McCormick or Oliver would have told, and Govenar et. al. will tell.  I'll probably prefer Govenar's book to Sullivan's article, but Govenar's book won't introduce nearly as many people to Gitchee and L.V.'s music as Sullivan's article did, and Sullivan's article won't prevent one person from buying Govenar's book.  If anything, it might increase sales by a small fraction.  To me, there's not just room for both, there's a need for both types of presentation, popular and scholarly, in this world.

Just as an aside, I was driving through Rhinebeck NY yesterday.  It's a touristy village just up the road from me, and it was filled with people up from New York City for the Easter Weekend.  It was a warm day (well, warm in relation to the winter we just finished), I had the window down, and it chanced that as I drove through town, the iPod was playing Gitchee and L.V.'s "Pick Poor Robin Clean".  It occurred to me that I must be passing a person or two who would know that song because they'd heard it for the first time while reading the online Times article.  I thank Mr. Sullivan and Ms. Love for that.

Quote
What I find most striking about this attitude is that is so strangely close to the position that blues people supposedly detest; that is, a record company issuing or reissuing an artist's music without their permission or compensation.

Gilgamesh, please don't go putting words in my mouth or suppositions in my brain.  Copyright and patent law have their place in allowing the holder of copyright or patent to profit from their creations/inventions.  I fully support that.  But copyright and patent have always had limited terms in recognition of the fact that there's also a benefit in eventually allowing unfettered access to the general public to those creations/inventions.  It's legitimate to discuss how long a given invention or artistic work should be protected, but I stand firm in the belief that there should be a limit to those protections in the interest of access by the general populace.  And I say this as the holder/co-holder of several patents.     

     

Offline CF

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Re: Elvie (L.V.) Thomas
« Reply #57 on: April 19, 2014, 08:16:06 AM »
Wonderful article, what a read!
I would say that there's a bit of revisionist history stating that Geechie & L. V. changed American Music! When an artist is known by less than 1% of the population & whose songs have only been covered by a few souls in the know . . . well, you get the drift. Also, I would argue that they are not necessarily the most mysterious & compelling of the early, unknown blues artists. That sounds like the author's opinion to me. Other than those quibbles, I quite enjoyed this.
Also, I think in terms of importance to the genre & popularity, the recent discoveries made in the life of Blind Blake trump the findings here. Blake is a giant who we should know much more about. G & LV are/were great but they're minor characters that hold more of a niche interest.
Stand By If You Wanna Hear It Again . . .

Offline Stuart

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Re: Elvie (L.V.) Thomas
« Reply #58 on: April 19, 2014, 08:49:23 AM »
"Researcher" and "Research Assistant" are both recognized occupations. To appropriate the results of their efforts without permission to do so, and/or without fair compensation, is akin to theft of service.

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Elvie (L.V.) Thomas
« Reply #59 on: April 19, 2014, 08:53:02 AM »
The history behind this idea may have originated with Greil Markus' book "Weird Old America" Where he sites "Last Kind Words" as the only song of equal stature to Bob Dylan's "I'm not There" which he considers the greatest of the great.  They are great, but the greatest? A pop-rock drop in to the arcane Blues scene may very well have read that book at some earlier point it may even have served as an introduction and a catalyst..


Wonderful article, what a read!
I would say that there's a bit of revisionist history stating that Geechie & L. V. changed American Music! When an artist is known by less than 1% of the population & whose songs have only been covered by a few souls in the know . . . well, you get the drift. Also, I would argue that they are not necessarily the most mysterious & compelling of the early, unknown blues artists. That sounds like the author's opinion to me. Other than those quibbles, I quite enjoyed this.
Also, I think in terms of importance to the genre & popularity, the recent discoveries made in the life of Blind Blake trump the findings here. Blake is a giant who we should know much more about. G & LV are/were great but they're minor characters that hold more of a niche interest.
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

http://www.youtube.com/user/MuckOVision

 


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