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 12, 2014 - 10:46 a.m.
I'm writing one more Falcon Ridge edition of Wise Madness. There are thoughts about the festival that need to be expressed.
I'm meeting Erika for lunch today at 1 PM. I was going to skip breakfast as that's pretty close to when I normally eat it. I brunch around noon most days. But then Louise Mosrie posted "Dang. Someone in my condo building is frying up bacon...." and I of course had to follow suit. so I ate an early breakfast. Now this seems to be totally off topic and I wouldn't have mentioned it but Louise played at Falcon Ridge this year so it's totally on topic. It's also where I first saw her but I met her at NERFA. In any event Curse you Louise the Folk Singer. I said that in my best Dr. Doofenschmirtz voice.
So why do I have to write about Falcon Ridge again? Because I didn't discuss the most important thing, the way it affects us.
The Best View on Earth
That's picture and the caption are courtesy of Brianne. That's the view from the top of the hill on the other side of the tree line from the the Budgiedome. It just made me so happy that Falcon Ridge makes Brianne so happy. She's camped with us for I think 4 years and has become my assistant. The Budgiedome would have been a disaster without her this year. She picked me up when I stumbled.
This is what Fred said in posting a picture giving a very similar view:
The view looks down the hill from the approximate location of my campsite onto the festival site. For as long as I've been paying attention to the New York City folk/Americana/acoustic music scene (a little more than five years), I've heard tales of what a transformative experience going to Falcon Ridge was, and how it renews the spirits of the musicians and allies who gather there every year. This year I finally allowed myself the experience; I felt I was ready to benefit from it, and I was. At some point I'll post my photo set from the festival, and my own comments. I've been working on my photo skills for about a year and a half, but this event was not my finest hour. Equipment choices made and technical approaches honed in dim subterranean grottoes in the city didn't always translate here, and to be honest I was often too busy simply experiencing Falcon Ridge to be recording it. Be that as it may, it's my story and I need to tell it so I will. In the mean time, I look at these pictures from our host, and feel a keen sense of nostalgia for what was, only a week ago as I watched the last set at the main stage, and a renewed sense of how important it is to be an active member of this community and give as much back as I can in presence, in words, in pictures and videos, in persuasion. So if I nag you to go to shows a little more this fall, don't be surprised; it's for the greater good. It's about 51 weeks to Falcon Ridge, and counting.Falcon Ridge is about more than music. It affects us deeply. And that's what I need to write about.
I often wonder how you teach writing then I remember things my teachers taught me that helped me. One teacher, I am not sure who or what grade, anyplace form grade school to high school, said that essential thing in a drama is that a character is transformed. I objected to that at the time but every time I thought a story I loved I saw it was true. When characters are not transformed I dismiss the story as trivial. The thing about Falcon Ridge is that it transforms so many of us. We don't return the same person. This was a strange year. Most of the Steeple Tent community was not there. Being Kramer to their Seinfeld is one of the best parts of the festival to me. But despite that the festival worked it's magic. I was in a terrible place before I left. I am rereading The Lord of the Rings for the 8 zillionth time so I'll put it in those terms. I was Gollum sitting in the dark under the mountains brooding and muttering "My Precious." A few days after the festival I was walking to the subway, after seeing Altan, with a bounce in my step. I was alive and celebrating being alive. I had become Tom Bombadil bounding from hilltop to hilltop singing "Hey merry dol derry dol ding a dong dillo." That's what I called feeling like myself.
Look at Fred, look at Brianne, they were transformed too. Look at the Falcon Ridge group on Facebook. So many others were metamorphosed. What does it? Certainly it's partly the music but it's not just the music. As wonderful as it is New Bedford Summerfest doesn't work the same magic and the music there is at least as good.
Falcon Ridge is a Utopian community. EPCOT stands for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. Falcon ridge could claim the same. People there aren't perfect. The system isn't perfect. It's a prototype. But it works. I can wake up, go to the port-a-potty and have a meaningful conversation with a total stranger It's not socialist, it's not capitalist, it's caritastic. The best definition of caritas I can find online is form Wictionary, "charity, the attitude of kindness and understanding towards others." That is the spirit of Falcon Ridge. Nobody makes people share but people want to share. If you need something you can be pretty sure somebody will offer. You need help and more people will be there for you than you need.
We're hot, we're cold, we're wet, we stink, and we are better human beings while we are there and we take the last home with us. I made a meaning of Falcon Ridge playlist for this blog but it's too long so I'm shortening it to two songs. I have only heard one of the songs at the festival. They aren't festival music but songs that illustrate how it makes us feel. The songs I dropped were the title song of Camelot, even though that gets the weather wrong, and Blake's Jerusalem because we build Jerusalem in Hillsdale every year. The first song is how LORi and I always describe Falcon Ridge. The second I should not need to tell you. I'm sure Joe and Emily have figured it out. It is not the Falcon Ridge anthem it IS Falcon Ridge.
When I get hime from Falcon Ridge I'm always reminded of these lines from LOTR as the hobbits return to the Shire.
"Well here we are, just the four of us that started out together" said Merry. "We have left the rest behind, one after another. It seems almost like a dream that has slowly faded."
Next year in Jerusalem!
Brother Brothers in Arms - October 01, 2017
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