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
February 04, 2018 - 3:36 p.m.
Last night I saw an amazing concert by Birds of Chicago, my first time seeing them. It's going to take me a little time getting to that but I'm going to listen to my first-grade teacher and put the main idea into the first sentence; I have a habit of burying the lede. I'm torn because I picked that up from Isaac Asimov and part of me thinks it's charming.
I've switched into the gear where I wake up the same time no matter how late I go to sleep. I was out late the last two nights. I'm listening to A Thousand Welcomes on WFUV. It's over in half an hour. I'll take a break in writing then and make breakfast and more importantly coffee. I want to do the edition of Wise Madness justice.
Punctuality is a mania of mine, but procrastination is one of my foibles. That combination leads to me often racing out of the house to catch the bus and in the process forgetting something. I'm working on that and doing a better job. Yesterday I just had to walk briskly to make the bus. The concert was at Irvington Town Hall, part of Folk Emperor of the North, Carter's Common Ground Concerts. That's easier to get to than you might think, two buses and the MetroNorth but It takes less than an hour and a half.
There's always an issue of where I should eat when I go there. I checked on Google Maps and found a place right on the walk from the train station to Town Hall, Revenge BBQ. That alone was worth the trip. When I got to Town Hall I told him where I ate and that my entire blog is going to be singing its praises. I had the Triple-Threat Pulled Pork sandwich. It's not just pulled pork there is Kreuz's sausage embedded in it. It was topped with melted cheese, sauce, and potato chips, not on the side, right on the sandwich. I'm a barbecue aficionado and this is one of the best. I love what the chips do to the consistency. I have done the same thing with peanut butter. It was one of those great culinary delights that you continue to taste after you finish eating. I'm in love.
As much as I loved Birds of Chicago recorded I figured that dinner would take up the bulk of today's Wise Madness. I'm happy to report that's not true. Birds of Chicago is amazing live, great enough to compete for my attention with delicious barbecue. That is as high a praise as I can give to musicians.
I do the merch and get there early in case they need my help with anything else. The bonus is that I get to listen to sound check. The sound check alone was one of the best concerts I've been to. Birds of Chicago is the husband and wife duo of JT Nero on guitar and vocals and Allison Russell and banjo, clarinet, ukulele, guitar, and vocals. Last night they were joined by Steve Dawson on electric, acoustic, and pedal steel guitars.
Allison is an incredibly versatile singer; on Étoile d'Amour a French version of Hoagy Carmichael's Stardust she fit right in with Madeleine Peyroux. On Barley she invokes Rhiannon Giddens. Madeleine and Rhiannon are the two of the three greatest vocalists performing today. She is no longer at her prime, but I still put Annie Haslam in my holy trinity. Allison sings French like a native; it helps that she's grew up and lived in Montreal. JT is not just an accompanist; he's a great songwriter, guitarist, and singer in his own right. Can you guess where JT is from? Yes, Chicago. They both lived there but have recently moved to Nashville. You should have realized that they are married as I did not mention proposing to Allison. Rhiannon and Madeleine are single, right? Steve Dawson's is given room to shine too and added a much to the performance.
As you can tell from my description of Allison, their genre is "good music." There's gospel, folk, jazz, rock, country, Appalachian, and even klezmer in the mix. This all works together to create one of best live music shows I've been to and I go to more shows in a year than most people do in a lifetime. Praise them with great praise.
They are also delightful people, totally natural on and off the stage. Their four-year-old daughter was there. She was running around before the show and found her way onto the stage twice. I highly approve of her taste in toys, she had a quilted sauropod. I was going to say, Apatosaurus, but it could have been something else in the same family. Clearly not a Brachiosaurus.
I had many friends at the show, I usually do at Common Ground shows, especially those in Irvington. There were Peter & Paula, WFUV Howard, Great Big Sea Howard, Ridgefield Barbara, Lou, and I should have written it down last night as I know there were more, people I spent time talking to. It's not easy to not have a brain. I also spent time with Common Ground crew Sarah, Winston, Jim, and of course Carter. Talking to them is another benefit of getting their early.
It's nice at Irvington, I sit at the merch table in the back of the orchestra and everybody comes to me. As I'm blind that's a big help. I did manage to spot Paula from across the room, she cheats by having red hair.
The trains run only once every hour so it's important that I catch the 11:17 train. Sarah is a doll and drives me and then heads back to the theater to help with the cleanup. It's close enough that we left with only nine minutes to spare and I still had to wait for the train. I could have walked but it's cold and dark. I always walk from the station and that's almost straight up hill and I get the ride back; unlike school when I was a kid it's not uphill both ways. I could just get a street luge and slide down to the station.
For once I had perfect timing with the BX 12 bus. I usually just miss the last bus before the one 25 - minute gap between buses. This time I made it. I paid for it at the other end. The BX 29 left one minute early, it's not supposed to do that, and it was driving off as I ran to the stop. The next one comes 31 minutes later. He also tried to leave early but too many people were getting on. On Friday night the bus driver got there early then sat for three minutes so people timing things wouldn't miss their bus. I had to wait but I was still grateful for his consideration. That was the last bus of the night so if you miss that you have to take a cab.
Today I'm taking it easy. I will probably not watch the Super Bowl, but we'll see. I have to run to the store and considered doing that during the game when it will be empty. I've done that before. Now to catch up on some TV, I haven't watched the last few days.
I signed the Pro-Truth Pledge:
please hold me accountable.
Video Didn't Kill the Blogging Star - May 18, 2018
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