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What is Blues then? It's a worried mind. It boils down to worry. Sometimes you worry so, it cause you to jump off the 'Frisco bridge up here, worry you so it cause you to stick a gun in you... that's all, it's worry. Some folks say, 'well, he went out of his head'. Well, if it's worry cause you to go out of your head, that's what it is. But that's the Blues - Reverend Rubin Lacy

Author Topic: A Cautionary Tale of Plagiarism  (Read 1664 times)

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Offline Bunker Hill

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A Cautionary Tale of Plagiarism
« on: April 26, 2012, 03:33:06 AM »
I was hunting through Blues & Rhythm of the 1990s and upon reaching the April issue the first of the following leapt out at me. Nothing odd in that but upon arriving at the August issue, well what can I say? It speaks for itself.

Highway 49: A Story Of The Blues
Keri Leigh for the Oklahoma Blues Society
1989; 21pp; price not given


This 21 page, comb bound booklet was originally produced as a free gift for members of the Oklahoma Blues Society and writer, Keri Leigh, obviously feels that it might be of interest to a wider audience.

In her introduction Leigh states that: "The articles have been written on two levels. Those just beginning to learn about the blues will (hopefully) find basic facts laid out in a clear and concise manner. More knowledgeable readers will find these basic facts have been arranged in such a way to suggest new insights and approaches...". To attempt a summary of the blues in 21 pages is nigh impossible and Leigh has had to leapfrog her way through its chronology/history in four chapters in a "journalese" that attempts to convert her readers to the wonders of the music: quite a refreshing approach even if the literary style makes this particular reader wince. To give Keri Leigh her due, she does convey the general history of the music and works into it the main protagonists with accuracy (though where she gets the idea that Jay McShann was in London recording with Mayall and Clapton on "Raw Blues" is a poser) but, try as I might, I couldn't discover any "new insights" to have me leaping around in amazement at my own short-sightedness. One positive thing which did suggest itself to me about this booklet is that it would make very good copy, and serve a useful purpose, if marginally expanded and reprinted in the rock press with view to spreading the work in those circles.

Otherwise, if you're in the Oklahoma area and would like a copy of "Highway 49: A Story Of The Blues" write to: Oklahoma Blues Society, 3481 NW 27th Oklahoma City, OK 73107, USA         
Alan Balfour (Blues & Rhythm 51, April 1990)

Below from letter page  B&R 54 (August 1990)

DUPLICATION BLUES
First of all, congratulations on your fine publication, which I have read since its inception. Question of the month: Do all Oklahoma blues fans named Kerry/Keri think and write identically... or does one just plagiarise the writings of another? In issue 51 of B&R I noted with some dismay and only a little amusement Alan Balfour's review of Ms Leigh's booklet, 'Highway 49'. What caught my eye was the paragraph quoted from the introduction. Actually it is MY paragraph from an introduction to a booklet I wrote in December 1987 called 'About The Blues'. This booklet was mailed out as a Christmas gift to members of the Tulsa Blues Club (of which I am currently president) in that year. Sound familiar?

I have since obtained a copy of 'Highway 49' and was further dismayed (but not really surprised) to discover that the first two articles in it are in reality the first two articles in 'About The Blues' with only their titles changed. I have enclosed a copy of the latter for comparison.

Alan Balfour was correct in saying that information written on this level would be useful to novice fans. That was my purpose in writing 'About The Blues' for our club members, many of whom know about the blues via Eric Clapton or Stevie Ray Vaughan, etc.

In her introduction Ms Leigh also mentions "years put into compiling... information" and "endless hours stuck behind her computer". She might also have mentioned her time at the photocopy machine. History will deal with Ms Leigh; that and the fact that she may read this in your letters column. Meanwhile I am considering a proposal of matrimony to this diligent researcher so that our two minds may become one... or has this already happened? Please set the record straight.

PS: 'About The Blues' is available in the USA from the address below for $3.50 postage included.
Kerry Kudlacek PO Box 702426 Tulsa, OK 74170-2426 USA
« Last Edit: April 26, 2012, 03:34:40 AM by Bunker Hill »

Offline Lyle Lofgren

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Re: A Cautionary Tale of Plagiarism
« Reply #1 on: April 26, 2012, 06:29:39 AM »
Back in 2007, I wrote what I thought was a funny piece on the difference between old-time and bluegrass music and posted it on the Old-Time USENET group (reprinted at http://www.lizlyle.lofgrens.org/BrnSnift/OTvsBG.html ). Someone else must have agreed with me, because most of the article was lifted and republished,  with with Celtic music added as a third component. Whoever did it didn't even bother to change the wording or rhythm of the sentences.

They say imitation is the sincerest flattery, so I was flattered at the same time I was irritated. But I shouldn't have taken umbrage. There's no money involved here, either for me or the plagiarizer, and the internet seems to be the modern equivalent of the traditional oral song process. Once you send it out, you no longer own it, any more than anyone can own a traditional blues song.

Still, if I see this message reprinted verbatim with another signature, I'll probably get mad all over again. Of the deadly sins, Pride is a difficult one to keep in check.

Lyle

Offline Norfolk Slim

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Re: A Cautionary Tale of Plagiarism
« Reply #2 on: April 26, 2012, 07:04:58 AM »
Back in 1998, I wrote what I thought was a funny piece on the difference between Hip Hop and rap music and posted it on a USENET Group. Someone else must have agreed with me, because most of the article was lifted and republished,  with Drum & Bass music added as a third component. Whoever did it didn't even bother to change the wording or rhythm of the sentences.

They say imitation is the sincerest flattery, so I was flattered at the same time I was irritated. But I shouldn't have taken umbrage. There's no money involved here, either for me or the plagiarizer, and the internet seems to be the modern equivalent of the traditional oral song process. Once you send it out, you no longer own it, any more than anyone can own a traditional blues song.

Still, if I see this message reprinted verbatim with another signature, I'll probably get mad all over again. Of the deadly sins, Pride is a difficult one to keep in check.

Simon.

 >:D


Offline Lyle Lofgren

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Re: A Cautionary Tale of Plagiarism
« Reply #3 on: April 26, 2012, 07:10:34 AM »
Grrrrrr!

Offline Norfolk Slim

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Re: A Cautionary Tale of Plagiarism
« Reply #4 on: April 26, 2012, 07:18:43 AM »
Sorry couldn't resist! ;) :)

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: A Cautionary Tale of Plagiarism
« Reply #5 on: April 26, 2012, 08:34:11 AM »
How about an Englishman coming to New York who happens to have your same name and is also a painter and gets a gallery to show his work only when you take a look at his bio/reviews folder on the desk it has reviews of YOUR shows in it?
Moth#R F*ck@r!
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

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

Offline Stuart

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Re: A Cautionary Tale of Plagiarism
« Reply #6 on: April 26, 2012, 10:48:25 AM »
These tales of fraud and chicanery brought this to mind:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/nycdreamin/6917857348/#

Offline Lyle Lofgren

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Re: A Cautionary Tale of Plagiarism
« Reply #7 on: April 26, 2012, 11:05:57 AM »
I forgive you, Norfolk Slim. I, too, can resist anything except temptation.

I'd completely forgotten about the fake Buddy Miles incident. I was living in Minneapolis in 1971, but I guess all my brain cells have been replaced since then.

It seems to me there was a thread here about counterfeit blues performers in the south in the days before photographs were distributed so widely. Or did I dream that?

And my dreams are suspect. Last night, I dreamt I was doing a crossword puzzle, and one of the answers was "Iphigenia." I last read The Iliad about 40 years ago, and have never seen nor read the Euripides plays, so, even while dreaming, I thought it odd that I'd run across the name. Several times during the rest of the night, unknown strangers would appear, all spouting nonsense about Iphigenia. At least, I think it was nonsense.

Lyle

Offline Bald Melon Jefferson

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Re: A Cautionary Tale of Plagiarism
« Reply #8 on: April 26, 2012, 01:04:50 PM »
A friend of mine was a child star of the big and small screen in the '50s. He retired at the ripe old age of 12 when his signature voice changed to that of a normal teen. Recent DVD and cable exposure has made him a bit of a minor genre star to a whole new generation. While checking into an autograph signing convention, where others like him can do a surprising amount of busines supplementing their income/ milking their long-past 5 years of fame for the next 60, he discovered that "he" was already signed in and working. My friend watched from a short distance as his doppelganger sold and signed black and white glossies of "himself" from back in the day while regaling a rapt crowd of 10 or 12 with side-spliting stories...backstage antics with Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell, playing model trains with Cary Grant...some pretty close to the truth, some pure fabrication. I asked my buddy what he did, expecting to hear a wild story of a royal**kicking, public humillation, arrest... lawsuits... my buddy replied, " Well...he was doing a really great job, better than I could do. So after a lull in the action I went over, introduced myself, while some of the others looked-on, professed my admiration and went home."

and then there's this guy..

 http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/09/26/questions-raised-about-dylan-show-at-gagosian/
« Last Edit: April 26, 2012, 01:06:30 PM by Bald Melon Jefferson »
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Offline Lyle Lofgren

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Re: A Cautionary Tale of Plagiarism
« Reply #9 on: April 26, 2012, 01:20:54 PM »
In his youth, Dylan was very much the mimic. I first met him at a party in Minneapolis sometime in 1959 or 1960. Someone told me he was just coming out of a phase of imitating Odetta. He was sitting in a corner singing Woody Guthrie songs, sounding very much like Woody. I was older than he, and had been around the music for longer, so I sang him a Woody song he didn't know (I think it was "Refugees," although it might have been a similar obscure one). I don't know if he ever learned it, but he certainly soaked up everything like a sponge.

Even then, he was into myth-making -- a lot of what he related as fact really took place in some alternate universe. Still, he outgrew those imitative phases really fast, and went on to produce some  imaginative, original music. Maybe he's now going through the same phases with painting.

Lyle

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: A Cautionary Tale of Plagiarism
« Reply #10 on: April 26, 2012, 08:22:17 PM »
Bald, as a denizen-victim-participant in the NY artworld for forty years I can tell you that Dylan is a small time piker compared to the daily goings on in this business. All art is synthesis and Dylan was more completely at home with that idea than almost anybody. Of course it turns out that Woody Guthrie exaggerated his Okie accent for show biz, Ramblin' Jack Elliot (Elliot Adnopoz) is a Jewish doctors son from Queens New York, and the list of the reinvented or re-imagined goes on and on. The larger point is that in 1966 Bob Dylan was to my mind the greatest artist in any medium on the planet. Many of his songs, even the ones like Desolation row where he lifted whole phrases from Kerouac , are works for the ages, unsurpassed in combining image, mood, poetry and feeling. So the guy's a dick so were Wagner and Gauguin.
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

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

Offline Stuart

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Re: A Cautionary Tale of Plagiarism
« Reply #11 on: April 26, 2012, 11:57:52 PM »
All art is synthesis...

But of what? --specifically?

Historically in some cultures imitation is considered legitimate--and an art  in and of itself. There's an old saying in Chinese that is roughly translated, "The blue outshines the indigo" or "The blue is truer than the indigo," (the indigo plant from which it is derived) meaning that not only does the imitation acknowledge and honor the original, but in doing so surpasses the original--in quality, spirit, etc.

As an aside, I went downtown to see the "Gauguin and Polynesia: An Elusive Paradise" exhibit  at the Seattle Art Museum yesterday. While I was there, someone came up to me and started chatting. I (straight faced) slipped in a quote that our own Dr. G once posted: "I know art, but I don't know much about what I like." (A guy sez to his shrink...) Needless to say, the conversation paused for a moment of contemplation--demonstrating that the stuff one picks up here at WC can be invaluable...

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