Tuesday, October 04, 2005
I used to collect pictures of people who had found their gimmick. My collection started with a guy called Grimes Poznikov, the automatic human jukebox. He sat inside a phone-booth shaped cloth cage with his repertoire of songs painted on the sides and a slot to insert money. You would put in the money, say what song you wanted and he would play it on the trumpet. Badly. He set up shop near Ghirardeli Square and was frequently arrested at the behest of shop owners in the area. A week later he would be back. He was a man who had found his gimmick.
Usually the finders of gimmicks are trapped in them and never move on to something else. My collection included a picture of Tiny Tim, the man who sang with a high pitched flutter, played the ukulele and got married on the Tonight Show.
One picture had Lily Tomlin and Julia Child together. They had met at Macy's, I think. Perhaps they both loved their gimmicks and did not want to move on.
One was a photo of a guy named Demming who did corporate motivation. He had this box of red and white beads and this incomprehensible illustration of why everything is management's fault. I could not help associating his with Hesse's The Glass Bead Game and wondered if he had read it.
This is a fascinating game and applies in any context. Try it.
I want to give Bob Dylan credit--no matter how tempting it might have been to stay in his rut of success, he always transcended his gimmick and looked for new music to make.