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 14, 2015 - 12:23 p.m.
Last night I figured out what to write today. I now have no memory of it. It was something musical. Maybe it will come to me. I hope so.
I had a bad day yesterday, never went further than my kitchen. So much for enjoying the beautiful day. I did take care of myself in terms of cooking. I said I'd make myself barbecue chicken for dinner but I didn't. I made garlic jerk chicken. This is where I know I'm fooling myself but it still works. Barbecue chicken isn't really cooking as all I do is put the chicken in an oven for 35 minutes at 425 °F then pour barbecue sauce on it when I'm done garlic jerk chicken is cooking because I put on jerk seasoning and garlic salt before I put it in the oven for 35 minutes at 425°. When you add something after cooking it's a condiment, before it's cooking. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. I made fried plantains with it. You know I'm likely not happy if I fry. It was a great dinner. Oh I have to eat breakfast early today as I finished my iced coffee and need to make a batch of cold brew. That takes 24 hours..
I managed to rip a lot of CDs yesterday. I have a backlog. I still have some from last NERFA. It's one of the odd things I get anxiety about. Acknowledging that I lost my entire CD collection from storage is motivating me. I had a beautiful library of well over a thousand albums. The things I miss are the music, my books, and personal things from my parents. The rest are just things.
I told you I had a bad day, I had a bad night too. For the first time in a while I woke up with diarrhea. When I got up to go to the bathroom I had balance issues. Maybe I sat up too fast, maybe it's because my legs got caught up in the sheet but I was woozy. That was disconcerting. I am fine but it took till I was back in bed for a while for my head to clear.
I hardly heard any live music this week then tonight there are six shows that I very much want to go to. None are by the usual suspects, they are all by acts I don't see enough. Here are the choices in sort of geographic order, Slaid Cleaves at the Rubin Museum, Cricket Tells the Weather at Rockwood, Skye Steele at the Living Room, Tomoko Omura at ShapeShifters lab, and Mamie Minch at Barbes. Anyone figure out the order? It's North to South. Chelsea, Lower East Side, Williamsburg, and the last two in Park Slope. The Living Room might be slightly north of Rockwood but it's also Manhattan then Brooklyn. And of course they are all at the same time. It take just 18 minutes to walk from ShapeShifters to Barbes but I can't see both. So what am I doing? The one that is most different, Tomoko who plays jazz. Why can't one play yesterday and another tomorrow? Clearly all these people hate me.
So why do I remember the scary topics not the fun ones that you'd probably prefer reading about? I got it! I remember what I wanted to discuss.
I have talked before about people's musical sweet spots. There are certain buttons that when pushed will make it far more likely that a particular person like an artist. This is important when it comes to presenters and music writers. I can count as both. I know some people's sweet spots quite well. When an act fits into someone's sweet spot you know it lowers the bar of on how good the act has to be to get booked or get praised.
The most commonly discussed soft spot is beautiful women. Everyone assumes that every male presenter or writer has a weakness for them, every lesbian presenter too. I often joke about me having a weakness for cute women. And know what I do, but not musically. What brought this up was my not liking the songwriting of a woman that is attractive and thinking that the reason others might like her is her looks.
Does this go on for men too? I don't hear people talking about straight women presenters booking some guy because he's hot. Well actually I have but that's at house concerts. But I don’t think it's as bit an issue.
So here's the thing. It is almost certainly true. Look at the women who are playing and they are more attractive than average. It is clearly unfair to less attractive women. But it is also unfair to beautiful women; why? Because other people think "She just got booked because she's hot." And while that might sometimes be the case it usually isn't. Too often someone is dismissed as just another pretty face. I have heard some of the most talented women I know discussed primarily for their looks. Creepy guy number 3 earned the title by not letting go discussing how sexy some of my musician friends were and asking me about their relationship status. I tried to make it clear that they were my friends and not how I thought about them but he couldn't get past that.
Something similar that goes on is people being liked for their social skills as opposed to talent. This of course goes on a lot at NERFA. Some artists are very good at it and some bad and it has little to do with how good they are as musicians. There are some musicians I love that I do know because they were forward and introduced themselves to me. But there are others that did it that I like as people but not musically. It always bothers me when I see people getting gigs based only on their schmoozing skills. The good thing is nobody can seem to maintain a career based on that.
Those of us who write or present need to be aware of our own prejudices. During a show I see how I'm reacting to the music and just the music. That's what I try and make my main criterion. Do I always succeed? No I'm human. You can't perfectly compartmentalize. But I do a better job than I would if I wasn't aware of it.
Should I not use attractiveness when trying to sell an artist? That's a different question. I totally do use it. I know there are some women and some men, that I just have to show a picture of and that's enough to get them in the door. It perks up the interest. But does it make others think I only like her because of her looks? I wish I knew. I'm just a soul who tries to be good. Oh lord please don't let me be misunderstood.
Brother Brothers in Arms - October 01, 2017
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