With the Phil Ochs Collection out of isolation and now acclimated to the environment, my intern, Elizabeth Dahl, and I have begun the intense task of preserving and making sense of it all. We have stabilized the 78s, LPs, cassettes, VHS, Beta, U-Matic, and various other audio and film reels, and we are now preparing to have digital access copies created from these artifacts. What’s on them? Stay tuned in! 🙂
Currently, I am working through the Phil Ochs diaries and scrapbooks.
What have I learned so far? Phil was witty with a keen sense of humor about the world (very much like Woody). They both needed this whimsical aspect to balance the sobering reality of their charge in life: making people aware of social injustice. What I find most deeply moving is their versatility; they each had an ability to come up through the layers of their personalities and reach out in many contexts of society.
In one of his diaries Phil discusses wrestling and basketball games mixed in with daily conversations and observations from the colorful characters in his life. One moment he is going to a gathering and notes the delicious spaghetti sauce served by a friend’s daughter, and in another moment he is confronted with a disquiet and unrest at the falsities of various personalities. Haven’t we all felt the surface of the outer world’s pleasures, good food and great conversations? Haven’t we also all felt the deeper feeling of isolation, that Phil observes, at one point or another in our lives?
Phil was also a lover of film, from Mary Queen of Scots to the Godfather and Charlie Chaplin. When reading his words we are being given a golden opportunity for insight into his thoughts. We become aware of and know his humanity, something we all share. At this moment Phil has become our friend and time and space are no longer limitations.
He was a truly passionate person, and with Phil and Woody both here in the archives, well let’s just say the conversation is getting pretty dynamic!