Today marks the birthday of Robert Zimmerman, known to most of the world as the superhero Bob Dylan, who has protected the town of St. Augustine for forty years. Patrolling the streets in his boots of Spanish leather, the crimefighting hero has pledged his time to catch criminals with the fearsome Idiot Wind that pours from his magical harmonica. After being bitten by a radioactive Woody Guthrie, Superhero Bob Dylan took to his uncrashable motorcycle and rode the streets to do battle with his arch-nemesis The Thin Man (aka Mr. Jones) and his deadly sidekick Isis.
Superhero Bob Dylan’s superpowers are legendary. Along with his magical harmonica, he’s known for his intoxicating Black Diamond voice, holding villains at bay, and the holy evil-quashing Chimes of Freedom which flash his wrath upon the unworthy. He also has clairvoyant powers, though his scepticism about psychic phenomena means he attributes his superhuman powers of insight to mysterious answers which are blowing in the wind. For decades he has been plagued with dreams of a strange woman called Johanna, a terrifying spirit surrounded by her fearsome Electric Ghosts. No one knows who she is, or what this means. Superhero Bob Dylan also has astonishing powers of teleportation. And festivity.
Many believe his headquarters is on Desolation Row, but I’m positive he’s based on 4th Street. At times he has teamed up with fellow superheroes Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts. They were temporarily joined by the mythical Achilles to form The Five Believers, obviously. Their greatest battle was against the Masters of War; it raged for weeks, but at the end, on a pale afternoon, their leader Judas was lowered into a righteous grave, and Bob stood over it to make damn sure he didn’t come back.
After Achilles left they were joined by Captain Arab and The Gypsy to form The Buick 6, named after their tricked-out crimefighting vehicle. Everyone was mad because that was right around the time he acquired electric powers. Some of us didn’t think twice about it but once the cynics saw what he could do with these new powers most folks just said, “I believe in you” and took him back into their hearts. The Buick 6′s most notorious battle was on the terrible Day of the Locusts; luckily, when all of his superfriends were incapacitated by Tiny Montgomery, he drew on the power of the mysterious Planet Waves, and beat him down with the force of a hurricane.
For about a decade Superhero Bob Dylan disappeared from view. Time passed slowly. Some believe he was trapped in some basement in Mobile by the vile duo Frankie Lee and Judas Priest, though others think he was recuperating in his mysterious Church of Solitude after a battle with the evil Jokerman and his dastardly Infidels. They say his enemies defeated him by exploiting his weakness: the colour blue. Once wrapped up in it, there’s only thing that can free him from the depths of despair; buckets of hard rain, which he transmutes into what he calls a shot of love. But that’s probably just poetic licence.
All I know for sure is that me and the whole entire world was waiting for him to save us sorry fools from ourselves. And he returned one glorious new morning, lovesick after losing his soulmate Sara, the woman he rescued from the lowlands of Durango. When he returned he was just as powerful as ever, even in these modern, changing times. The whole world – political or otherwise – is his stage now. He roams it eternally, never stopping, followed by acolytes who think he’s a living god. They might be right, you know.
I saw him once. While walking the streets with my Sweet Marie, I was absolutely sure I saw Robert Zimmerman buying some smokes from some legal street vendor. I said, “Hey Superhero Bob Dylan, what you doing with those smokes?” and he just smiled and said, “It ain’t me you’re looking for, babe.” I said, “I don’t believe you,” but he just laughed, called me a liar, and tipped his hat to me. Then he got on that motorcycle and rode off, rolling and tumbling down Highway 61 like some beautiful nightmare. Sweet Marie never forgave me. Wasn’t long after that she went her way, and I had to go mine. I miss her still.
But at least I got to see Bob.