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
March 20, 2017 - 4:02 p.m.
The hardest part of blogging is starting. The organizing part of my brain wants to get all my ducks in a row before I start, the anxiety part of my brain doesn't want to start looking for what I need. My wise mind decided to stop wasting time and to start and look for things as I need them. I'm sure everyone goes through these little internal debates and all therapy does is help me put it into words. Or am I just a crazy person and all the sane people are thinking; "What the hell is he talking about?" I'm fine with it either way.
Yesterday's adventure was heading down to Park Slope to see Folk Fights Back for Immigrants and Refugees. Folk Fights Back is a wonderful collaboration of musicians that are raising money for legal assistance groups that protects the many causes under attack now. Before you do anything else like their Facebook Page. The first was for the environment, the second for immigrants and refugees, and the next one, on Mother's Day is for women's health. Events are held I a growing list of cities and each one picks a local organization to support. The one last night in Brooklyn raised money for RIF NYC. Please follow the link and learn about them.
There were two other concerts that I really wanted to go to yesterday, with friends performing, one was at the home of one of my dearest friends, but I thought it was important to help FFB. I can't give money of course so I worked the snack table and took pictures and videos. The music was fabulous, Here's the lineup.
Courtney Hartman & Celia WoodsmithSome of these names should be familiar to My Gentle Readers. I have written about Courtney, Jean, Eddie & Sam, Ilusha, Hannah, Lily & Dunking, and Phoebe & Dominick before. I had never seen Ilusha perform on his own or Courtney with Celia. They are both in Della Mae.
Not only are these all great musicians but they are incredibly diverse. They sang in 5 languages, English, Spanish, Georgian, Sicilian, Ladino, and a dead language that was spoken in one Scottish Island. You can figure out from the names who sang many of these. Ramon, Jean, and Julia sung in Spanish, Ilusha in Georgian, Lily in Ladino, Julia also sung in Sicilian, and Hannah the one from Scotland. Am I missing any? The music was as varied as the languages; each came from its own musical tradition. They didn't sing so I couldn't add Yiddish but as you might have picked up from the band's name Michael played Klezmer. This was the second night in a row I heard someone sing in Sicilian. It was also the second night in a row I sang to Jean's Arise! Arise!. I deserve a cookie for not saying "second night in Rohe." Then the cookie should be taken away for pointing it out and thus saying it anyway.
We had no idea how many people would show up. It was at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music which was easy to get to, not like Jalopy where the last one was. The room was packed. It was nice to see the basket full of money right by the snack table.
I was in charge of the wine and cheese. I don't drink. I learned how to open wine bottles as a kid as it's the kind of thing I wanted to learn as a kid. I've done it at parties since then but not for years. I had never seen a cork screw like the one I used. I figured it out with some help. I discovered that folk fans can eat cheese, crackers, and cookies and drink wine very fast. I was kept busy opening things and laying out more food.
I invited many people but the only people I knew there were musicians. I'd love to see you at the next one. Bring your mother. Not that I don't enjoy spending time with my musician friends.
The bathroom was not easy to find; it's in the basement. I only found out because Liam told me. It was not even obvious where the stairs to the basement were. I felt like I was in a horror movie and wouldn't come out. I told Liam that if I don't he should come down looking for me, then he would disappear. That morphed into a discussion that the basement led to catacombs under Park Slope that are filled with parents pushing strollers to avoid the traffic and the weather. There are also monsters. Of course, there are monsters. We are basing a show on this. Liam, don't forget you are writing the music. That seems like the natural division of labor.
It went a bit longer than I expected and I stayed a bit longer than I should have. I felt guilty about not staying for the cleanup but I wanted to make the last bus to City Island. When I got to the station the train was just leaving the station so I had the maximum wait for the next one. After two more trains, I got back to Pelham Bay, two minutes after the last bus. If I had wasted 20 fewer seconds before getting on the subway I would have made it. The story of my life.
Now I should try and edit photos before I leave. I'm not going to be able to finish. Sorry Lily, I will get them to you tomorrow.
And that reminds me. Folk Fight Back is the creation of Lily Henley, Kaitlyn Raitz, and the third person who I met last night whose name escapes me. We met as I was racing to leave so I didn't make that extra memory effort like I like to do. Something is telling me Rachel but I don't trust something. Something lies all the time.
I need to sing their praises. They are all busy people, they perform, they teach, they go on the road yet they are putting in a tremendous amount of time and effort to fight for what they believe in. They are fighting for what I believe in too. I admire them and I'm envious. I want to do more and find it difficult. I told Lily that I would like to help organize for the next one. I can't play but I can manage events and people and social media. I want to take some of the burden off them. This is in my wheelhouse, where music meets social activism. I was born to help with this. All it would need to make it perfect was if it needed math.
I'd also like to praise Melissa Tong who has created a new unpaid job for herself helping people who need help under the current administration. I've mentioned them before but there's also Daniella, Brianne, and Nadine who started Artists in Resistance. They have all answered the call. We owe all of them.
One thing I can do is put people together. If you are fighting the good fight and need someone with a special skill, ask me. I always know a guy. Often the guy is a woman. I can't help notice that everyone I mentioned is a woman. But no matter the gender, it's always "I know a guy." Sometimes I'm the guy. And sometimes, something is right. The third founder of Folk Fights Back is Rachel Baiman. Just because a source is unreliable it doesn't mean that it's wrong. It does mean you should get corroboration. I just noticed one more thing. All the musicians are violinists/fiddlers other than Kaitlyn who plays cello. Is there something about playing a bowed instrument that develops a social conscience? Don't fret over it.
Brother Brothers in Arms - October 01, 2017
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