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
May 05, 2018 - 5:31 p.m.
I got home at 3:10 AM and then slept, with a few interruptions until almost noon. That late start and then having to go out means rushing now to get this posted before I go out for the evening. As I as out until three for good reasons, I have a lot to write about. This is known as the Zeno's blogging paradox, the more you have to blog about the less time you have to blog. The skeptic philosophers considered this as proof that blogging is impossible.
Last night was the WFUV Volunteers party. As a volunteer supervisor, founder of the Volunteer Facebook group, and life of the party my presence is expected, almost mandatory. I didn't go. Anaïs Mitchell was headlining at The Outpost in the Burbs, Robinson & Rohe opened. If Anaïs is playing with Jean & Liam at a show I can get to attendance IS mandatory. There is no almost about it. Those are two of my top five musical acts, do not ask me to name the others, there are about 15 in my top 5. Don't ask how many are in my top 15. The fact that I missed the volunteer party, which is only half an hour away, to go to a show in New Jersey that takes me hours to get to, is enough to show how much I love them.
To make it even more fun I came from therapy in Harrison which meant a bus to the MetroNorth to the Times Square Shuttle walking to the Port Authority and taking a bus during rush hour; a long trip. I met Fred at the Port Authority who saved time and bought the tickets before I got there. Note for next time, take the train to the Outpost but the bus home. Because traffic was so bad we just had time for pizza before the show. It didn't help that we got off the wrong stop and walked. The information on the DeCamp bus website was not very helpful. We didn't realize the bus went almost to the venue. I didn't know where to get pizza, so I did what's even better than google. I asked a teenager sitting on a bench and she pointed.
Before we got to the pizza I spotted a back of someone whose walk looked familiar. Despite being blind I recognized Glenn from behind from quite a distance. It's a gestalt thing, no way I could explain how I did it. I've learned new ways of processing visual clues since the cataracts set in.
During the time it took for us to eat dinner only one person got on line at the Outpost. I've been there where people lined up way early. You just can't predict these things, better save than sorry.
Glenn, Fred, and I ended up sitting separately, Fred wanted to be up front to take pictures but there were only two seats there. Glenn sat on an aisle and I wanted to do the same, so we sat on opposite side. The reason I couldn't sit with Fred was that I was being joined by Gen. This is Deja vu all over again but this time she could make it before the show started. If she could have parked closer, she would have been there when I arrived.
Who else was there that I knew? Glamorous Gail and Dynamic Don both volunteer. I forgot that Don does that, he's a Brooklyn guy. Perry and Beth had the two seats next to Fred reserved. The seats had sheets of paper with their last names on them. I'm evil so I wrote "Not Perry" on the aisle seat. Sadly, it was in pencil and he didn't notice it till I pointed it out. I'm 12 years old but on the bright side that means I have something like 70 years ahead of me.
Was that really it for friends at the show? This is Anaïs and Robinson & Rohe, core musicians and community people for me. Why weren't you there? I will forgive those that went to the volunteer party or saw Hamilton. The rest of you made the wrong choice. Fine, Springsteen and Come from Away are valid excuses too. But that's it.
For the second time I knew someone who got mail from Robinson & Rohe troubadour express and picked it up for delivery. He should have been there as we passed his block on the bus ride. You know who you are. The punishment for missing the show is missing the show. That counts as cruel though not unusual.
Here's what I noticed last night about R & R. Jean's band music is complex, there are many moving parts, and Liam does the orchestration. There is as much to unpack as in a Bach concerto. Liam & Jean songs come off as simplicity itself. The Shaker hymn, Simple Gifts would blend seamlessly with their repertoire. If I were to include musicians to play troubadours at a medieval or Renaissance Tavern they are the ones I'd commission to write and perform it. Jean even looks the part, Liam is a bit too contemporary. Their music is pure and beautiful and at peace with the universe.
Anaïs and Jean are a perfect pairing. Since I heard Jean's "End of the World Show" material I've compared her to Anaïs. They both have a rare breath and depth of talent and vision. Neither writes songs thinking, "This is what people want to hear." They write and perform the songs they need to write and sing. If that means writing a folk opera based on the Orpheus Myth or composing a new National Anthem, so be it. They follow the muse where it leads them.
By not coincidence, Liam is the music director for Hadestown, and he accompanied Anaïs. Anaïs's music does not have many moving parts, it's usually Anaïs and her guitar. The complexity is in the lyrics and development. Her voice is not sweet like Jean's and Liam's, it's hard to describe. It's her own, there is always an edge to her singing. There's some cognitive dissonance as her personality is as sweet as they come. Visually, she's known for her eyes which is fitting, as her outlook is often that of a wide-eyed child; she sees the world and takes nothing for granted. She sees the exquisite wonderfulness but also pierces the dark shadows. It's a mix I cannot resist.
As an encore Jean joined Anaïs and Robinson for a song by the ultimate Jersey guy, Bruce Springsteen, Atlantic City. Their voices and appearance are as far removed from Bruce's as can be. They made the song more lyrical. They did want a cover should do, transform the song.
After the show I could have raced to catch the last bus with Fred but instead I hung out with Gen. We talked to Don, Anaïs, and Jean then went out for coffee or whatever. We couldn't find the place Gail directed us to be the place we found was perfect. We were the only ones there and great diverse old music played. Except for the bit when I thought there was heavy machinery operating underground but then found out it was a club playing some kind of music that involves lots of bass notes and drums and someone closer akin to making the noises of someone tormented in hell than singing. It might be screamo.
We then spent the next two and a half hours sitting there and talking. I know this is important to you, I had iced coffee and a chocolate croissant. Gen had a brioche and I believe a latte, but I'm not sure of the drink. I know, I should have taken notes, I failed as a blogger.
We had one of those conversations that ranged all over the place, from meercats to #metoo to me telling the teach the horse to sing story. There was of course music and Broadway in there too.
I then had to find a way home. Gen was kind enough to drive me to Newark Penn Station where I could get a PATH train. I know that runs all night. I didn't think fast enough. When I arrived, they announced that a Jersey Transit train to Penn Station New York was leaving in three minutes. I should have hopped on that. I've have gotten home much earlier. I forgot that it's not that expensive. So instead I ended up all the way at the World Trade Center and had to take a local subway all the way up to Pelham Bay. It was of course well after the last bus left so I had to take a cab. There was a line of cabs there so at least I didn't have to wait.
Now must run. I'm seeing House of Hamill tonight and need to get there early as I'm doing merch. That means I'll have more to write about tomorrow. Till then farewell wherever you may fare, till your eyries receive you at your journey's end.
I signed the Pro-Truth Pledge:
please hold me accountable.
Video Didn't Kill the Blogging Star - May 18, 2018
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