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
July 20, 2015 - 11:34 a.m.
Welcome to the birthday edition of Wise Madness. It's not the blog's birthday. It isn't my birthday. It's the edition where I write about my birthday. Did I get "birthday" enough into that paragraph? Good start I'm already meta.
And now for a diversion. When I was at the Rhiannon Giddens show I came up with a description that I loved and wanted to include here. Then I forgot. Why? All together now; I’m an idiot. So here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to go back and edit that entry but I'm not going to make you go back and read the whole thing. I putt the addendum in right here.
Fred and I had been discussing how many musicians have nothing to say; there is no there there. At a Rhiannon show there is a lot of there there. She's a TARDIS, bigger on the inside than on the outside.
Now I'm having sleep issues. I told you yesterday that I did not get enough sleep the night before. I took the nap that I was hoping to in the afternoon. I have no idea how long I slept. Might have been only 20 minutes, might have been an hour. I felt better afterward and that's what counts
I gave myself a special treat for my birthday. Something I had never made before, a bacon peanut butter omelet. I usually don’t put bacon in omelets as that needs its own skillet and I have to cook two things at once and clean up twice as much. But I decided to try it. There was a problem. The light is out in the kitchen. I can't see what I'm doing even in the daytime. I ended up overcooking the bacon and the omelet. But it was still great.
My birthday plan was to see Bobtown and Diana Jones at Jalopy. They shared the bill with Ken Waldman who put the show together. I was unfamiliar with Ken. I got the invite from Bobtown and didn't even notice that Diana was on the bill at first and she's a favorite musician and a friend. I decided that as it was a favorite band that I saw on my birthday last year and in Brooklyn, the center of my social life I'd turn it into a birthday party. I invited people to join me at the Jalopy Tavern next door for dinner before the show. Turns out that only Dan could make it. Oh well the best laid schemes of mice an' men gang after aglay. On the bright side despite just missing a I got there in record time. That’s because I had no wait at all for the B61 bus. That wait can be a third of the travel time.
I took my seat and was going to text Dan that I got a booth when he walked right up to me. We times it perfect. We were both 10 minutes early. I had an exciting burger and fries. I'm a cheap date. Near the end of our meal Diana and Kay came in. Then Gidge and some friends. I couldn't finish my dinner. I had the beginnings of a Crohn's attack. I have a fathomless maw when I don't. I told Dan that I could go home and be sick or hear music and be sick so I might as well hear music and be sick. We went to the theater for the end of sound check. There are perks to being me. At Jalopy I'm with the band far more often then I'm not.
The show was a palindrome, Ken, Diana, Bobtown, break, Bobtown, Diana, Ken. Two more friends showed up after doors opened, Brian and Dan's brother Noah. I'm quite a bit older than the two of them combined. Brian rode to school on a dinosaur. He's two years older than me.
Oh and Bev was there. I just saw her at Rhiannon Giddens. I somehow forgot to invite her to my party but it was not really surprising she was there for Bobtown and Diana Jones. I wonder who else that was supposed to be on my invite list didn't make it. I am an idiot you know.
Ken is a fiddling poet or is that a poem writing fiddler? He is in fact the fiddling poet of Alaska. He came from far afield
I was telling Dan about Diana at dinner, right before she arrived. I said how good she is and that he'll love her. When he asked what kind of music I said, "Singer/Songwriter with Appalachian Roots." After I introduced Kay and Diana to Dan I asked her what her elevator speech was. I wanted to see if I was close. She said, and of course I'm paraphrasing; "It starts with Appalachian music but I'm a singer/songwriter so I apply it to modern settings." Either one will do. Now you know what she plays. I want to talk about one song she did in her second set. I think it's called, "I Can't Breathe;" It's about Eric Garner. I cringed when I heard her introduce it. Ninety-five percent of the songwriters would write a heavy-handed polemic. I only cringed for a second because I knew that Diana could do better, and she did. It was not a polemic at all. It was primarily told in Eric's voice. It didn't make him a hero. It just showed with the perfect voice that he was a human and didn't deserve what happened to him and that if he were white it wouldn't have happened. She didn't scream but she didn't whisper. The key was not in the words but in the melody. It set the melancholy tone. It was brilliant songwriting. It seems so simple but hardly anyone else could do it.
I haven't seen Bobtown in a while, they haven't been playing, but there were on my list of most seen bands last year and will make the list this year. There's a reason I saw them two years in a row on my birthday. I've actually seen Katherine three years but the first time she wasn't performing. She went with me to see Emily Elbert. All the songs they did but one were from their latest album, "A History of Ghosts." The ghosts were out in force as they twice broke Katherine's strap, one on her uke and the other on her accordion. I was going to volunteer to see what I could do with the accordion, I did play one, but she soldiered on with just one strap. That's not easy.
As you can see Fred was standing in the shadows. At one point they said he was the tallest member of the band. That and his hat kept his face in shadow; which is why he doesn’t get a pic by himself
The one song they did that was not on the album was their birthday song that Jen wrote. Guess who they sang it for. I'm not going to make you answer I'm the idiot, not you. Then Feral brought out a birthday cake! Feral is a musician who works at Jalopy. That's part of what makes the place special. It's a community of musicians and music lovers. It was also special that it was a cheesecake with chocolate icing. I guess I need to mention that the Crohn's attack passed! I could eat again!
I love Jalopy but the one problem is getting home. The busses run infrequently at night, especially on a Sunday. I lucked out, Bev drove. She gave me a ride to the subway. The only problem is we had to leave before Ken's closing set. The nice thing was getting to talk to Bev during the ride. She's so much fun.
I actually had another birthday cake when I got home. Chris got me two pastries on Saturday. I ate the brownie while waiting to get in but forgot to eat the flourless chocolate cake. So I ate that when I got home. I also had a banana. I told you that I'm fathomless maw.
So now for some honesty as that's the point of writing a blog. Everything I described was great. But I was not happy most of the day. I was anxious and sad. A few people noticed something was wrong. I appreciated that even if they didn't know what it was. With all this going on I still felt disconnected. One of the people I love most in the world and that I was so close to did not even send me a birthday greeting on Facebook. But that's not what was wrong. It's deeper and more complex than being one thing.
I once again didn't get my official Red Ryder carbine action air rifle with a compass in the stock and a thing to tell the time. That's a metaphor of course. There are in fact two things that fit the bill of being the best present I ever got or ever will get. Things that would make it so much easier to put up with all my problems. But I don't give up. That's built into me. I'm a Met, Jet, and Knick fan. I'm used to waiting for things that don't happen and don't seem like they'll ever happen. Cubs fans have been waiting since 1908. But opening day is still the best day of the year, anything is possible. So now I'll just wait for Festivus and maybe I'll get my air rifle then.
When I got home I told Carey. that I was feeling sad but that writing would make me feel better. It did. It made me focus on all the good things that happened, and on all the good people.
Brother Brothers in Arms - October 01, 2017
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