I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity.
Edgar Allen Poe
The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.
- H. L. Mencken
Many people would sooner die than think; In fact, they do so
What I have been telling you, from alpha to omega, what is the one great thing the sigil taught me — that everything in life is miraculous. For the sigil taught me that it rests within the power of each of us to awaken at will from a dragging nightmare of life made up of unimportant tasks and tedious useless little habits, to see life as it really is, and to rejoice in its exquisite wonderfulness. If the sigil were proved to be the top of a tomato-can, it would not alter that big fact, nor my fixed faith. No Harrowby, the common names we call things by do not matter — except to show how very dull we are ...
-James Branch Cabell
August 19, 2017 - 12:15 p.m.
I managed to sleep late today, exactly the late I wanted, 9:30, so I have enough sleep. Now I need another excuse for this entry to suck. Ow, I got something in my eye. It's such a distraction. I'll keep writing anyway, sorry if this is not my best work.
Since I moved therapy to Fridays, Fridays have become travel stories. First, I trek up to Harrison in Westchester then most weeks down to Manhattan. Yesterday I went all the way to Brooklyn. So often I'm racing time and want to make the 3:51 train and end up missing it and have to wait to 4:24. Yesterday I was in no rush so of course I made the early train. I was at Grand Central Terminal more than three hours before I had to be at the Way Station in Brooklyn. My plan was to shop at Trader Joe's, eat dinner, walk around my old Brooklyn haunts, and get to the Way Station a half hour early. It didn't work out that way.
After shopping I had to decide where to eat. I was in Brooklyn, I wanted to take advantage of that. I had three choices in mind, The Mile End Deli for poutine, The Vanderbilt for their great sausages and cottage fries, and the legendary Tom's Diner. The latter two are within walking distance of the Way Station so I narrowed it down to them and ended up with Tom's. The visit was a bit neuro. When I got there, around 6, it was empty. I was the only customer. There were a bunch of guys working there yet I had to wait to get a menu and then for them to take my order. Ordering was particularly neuro.
I'll have a rare burger deluxe.Sounds like this wasn't going to be a good dining experience, right? It was. From there on in the waiter was so nice and the burger and fries were made perfectly. There's a reason Tom's is legendary. I have no idea what was going on when I ordered. Maybe the waiter had just been watching John Belushi. I should have ordered a Coke to see if he'd say, "No Coke, Pepsi."
It was raining when I left the restaurant. I was prepared, the rain was torrential in the morning and I had both an umbrella and a poncho. This was just a light rain but it still made the idea of walking around the neighborhood unpleasant so I went to the Way Station an hour early. At worst, I could entertain myself. Katherine said she'd try and come and of course there was the band I was there to see, The Whiskey Charmers.
I thought there might be a band on before them but there wasn't. I took my usual seat and played on my phone. Katherine had subway problems, the wait for a train took longer than the entire trip should have, so she ended up not coming. The train still hadn't arrived when the show started. And that was my favorite subway line, the Q. Does everyone have a favorite line? Mine used to be the F, till I moved to Brooklyn.
I have only seen the Whiskey Charmers once, they did John Platt's On Your Radar. I loved them. I Facebook friended Carrie when promoting the show. I did not get a chance to talk to them at the show, for some reason or other I had to run, but I had continued to exchange comments with Carrie on Facebook. She has the delightful weirdness typical of my friends. Still she wasn't someone I talked directly to and I had even forgotten the name of Lawrence, the other half of the band. I had no idea if they'd know who I was.
When they came out of the Green Room I said hi, and saved them from trying to figure out who I am by introducing myself. They did know who I was and joined me so I didn't have to entertain myself. They entertained me. Lawrence is also delightfully weird. Talking to them was like talking to people I've known for ages. I love that.
They also play music. You probably figured that out. As always, I wracked my brains trying to figure out how to describe them to My Gentle Readers. Somebody had compared Carrie to Suzanne Vega. They are similar the way that Beyoncé is similar to Patti Smith. I could start from there. Think about what someone totally unlike Suzanne Vega would sound. I was thinking than Eilen Jewel might be a good comparison with the surf rock guitar replaced by Lawrence's country blues on his electric and lap steel. That's not bad, you'd get something of the Country Rock vibe then but it doesn't hit the mark. No, the best description is their name, The Whiskey Charmers. Don't think the current upscale whiskey tasting world. Think of someone going into a dive bar and telling the bartender, "Whiskey." They play pretense free, raw emotion, honky-tonk whatever it is. Carrie's vocals and Lawrence's guitar complement each other perfectly. I loved the music, I loved the lyrics, and I loved the variety. Instead of all their songs being a drone, none of their songs were. It's not the music I'd expect from talking to them. They are silly nerdy people. The music is not silly and nerdy. I always think, which of my friends need to hear this act. This time Seth's name called to me. Seth, next time they are in town, you are coming with me. Katherine, you too.
I have adopted Carrie's family. Her last name is Shepard but her maiden name is some long Jewish name beginning with Nus that could totally be what Nash was shortened from. They are from the same part of the world. After they started, her family came in. She thought they wouldn't be able to make it but they did, just a bit late. They wondered why Carrie said, "Gordon these are the Nus…. I was telling you about."
After their set, I said my goodbyes and showed great restraint and didn't go to Ample Hills Creamery. Next time for sure. Carrie and Lawrence, you should join me, best ice cream in Brooklyn.
Going home I got to take my favorite train, the Q; the best part is the ride across the Manhattan bridge with the spectacular view of lower Manhattan. I should have made it home in an hour and a half, the same as from most of Manhattan, but just missing two trains meant missing the bus which runs every half hour. It was worth it. After a week, off from live music after Falcon Ridge I'm on a good run. Tonight, I'm seeing No Fuss and Feathers at Rockwood. That's my fourth concert his week. I might go to Folk Fights Back tomorrow but I'm going to Katherine and Deb's birthday party so I have to see how the timing works out. My guess is that I'll miss it. Now I'm craving a home cooked meal. I have to see when I can squeeze one in. Wow, I have only one concert on next week's calendar, The Lords of Liechtenstein in Hastings. I do have a Met game. I'm looking forward to that.
I'm written a lot so I'm not going to go deeply into politics but I want to bring up one of my peeves. Make that two. We are living in what the Chinese curse calls, "interesting times." There is so much going on, so much to process. Every single day something happens that deserves outrage. Yet that is not enough for some people. They have to generate their own outrage. Does a skit about sheet cakes on SNL deserve outrage? You don't have 3,962 other things you can focus your energies on that are more deserving? The other thing, do you really need to make up out of whole cloth other things that you are afraid of happening behind the things that are actually happening? When people say, "I'm afraid that what's really going on … " that this is a statement about themselves, not objective reality? They often act like they don't; that they are berating the rest of us for not recognizing it. Next time you are tempted to write something like that remember that what you feel is no different than the dread that I feel that the email I put off opening is someone saying that they hate me. It's your amygdala not your forebrain talking.
Whiskey! - August 19, 2017
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