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
December 10, 2015 - 12:51 p.m.
I have something easy to write about today, why did it take me so long to start writing? Oh right, I’m an idiot. It’s nice have one simple answer to so many questions. Wow I could write a serious entry about that. That’s the attitude of religious fanatics and ideologues. But that’s not what I’m going to write about. I did something interesting yesterday so I can write about that.
Late Tuesday night Marti posted on Facebook that she had an extra ticket to see Yiddish opera Wednesday afternoon and asked who wanted to go. It took me the time to check my calendar to say yes. A chance to see Marti and hear opera and partake in Jewish culture was irresistible.
The opera was The Golden Bride [Di Goldene Kale]. It was performed by The National Yiddish Folksbiene at the Museum of Jewish Heritage. We got to go because Marti is a theater reviewer. I’ve gone with her before.
The Museum is in Battery Park, one of the easiest places for me to get to, the train 5 stops. The getting in the same place was a bit difficult as we had failure to communicate. She sent me a map and said meet at the café. On the map there was a café listed next to the museum, it’s actually right by where Terre Roche does her Sunset Sings so I know the place. The problem was that was not the café she meant. There is also one in the museum but thanks to the magic of cell phones we found each other.
I unfortunately see Marti rarely enough that she needs an introduction. I’ll give you the short version. I met her at a Moxy Früvous concert. I went with her to my first They Might Be Giants concert. When she was single we saw each other quite often, not as much of late. I should have taken a selfie of the two of us. Next time. That’s just because I always look best next to a beautiful woman. You might have noticed that I like that joke. Richard Cuccaro has noticed it. In the final print edition of Acoustic Live he posted this picture of me and Annika Bennett. with the caption “Ever notice how Gordon Nash always manages to position himself next to the loveliest women in the singer/songwriter scene?” Hey that is the only picture that anyone posted of me from NERFA where I wasn’t in a crowd. I know what I have to do to get attention. Oh that’s not what I’m talking about is it? I’m talking about the magnificent Marti. Here’s the elevator talk on Marti, old friend I don’t see enough of now and jump at the chance to see her when I can. Good now on with the story. I wish I could blame this on ADHD but no, I actually like writing this way.
We had pretty good seats, fourth row, that was fortunate as I am pretty sure that’s the last row I could have made out the super-titles from. The show was primarily in Yiddish and once we get past meshuganah I don’t speak it. I didn’t know what to expect from a Yiddish opera. I figured the music would be like Klezmer which it was in the overture. But that’s not what the body was like at all. First of all it wasn’t an opera as much as an operetta. The very first number sounded like Franz Lehar and could have come right out of the Student Prince. It just hit me that was not Lehar that’s Romberg. But that makes my point even better. The Golden Bride opened in 1923, The Student Prince in 1923, they were contemporary. It was written for Jewish Theater but was part of the wider world. There were a few songs that could fit nicely in Gilbert and Sullivan. There was Jazz. One song was a pastiche of George M. Cohan songs. None of it sounded particularly Jewish. It was musical theater. It was very entertaining musical theater. You translate this into English and I could see it on Broadway. One song was a prototype for Matchmaker from Fiddler on the Roof. Another, the George M. Cohan pastiche was structured like America from West Side Story except here it was debating the merits of America and Russia. The first song is about how money rules everything. I said “Yep this was written by Jewish socialists on the Lower East Side. This became clearer with the one song that was just dropped into the lighthearted show from outer space, a ponderous paean to post-Revolutionary Russia.
The plot was straight out of a Shakespeare comedy or perhaps Mozart. A poor Russian girl living with an aunt and uncle inherits a fortune from her father who immigrated to America when she was a baby leaving her mother and her behind. Her mother disappeared when she was four. Now that she’s rich all the boys want to marry her. There’s the boy she’s loved since childhood and three other suiters. She tells them she’ll marry the one that can reunite her with her mother and gives them money to aid them in their search. You can guess what’s going to happen. True to the form there’s a second romance going on between her rich American cousin and the poor friend of the newly rich heroine. I have a confession to make I can never remember which is heroine and which is heroin and have to look it up every time I use it.
The show as funny, the music was great, and so was the singing. It all worked. In no way do you have to be Jewish to appreciate this. I’d love to see them do it at the Metropolitan Opera. It would actually have been better for the New York City Opera. Maybe they can do it at BAM.
When the show was over just to spend more time together I walked Marti to her car and she drove me to the subway. That was pointless for any other reason as it was a five-minute walk from the museum. But spending more time with a friend is a very good point.
I stopped at Stop & Shop on the way home. I haven’t bought meat in ages, I’m just about out. I try to only buy things on sale and they haven’t had what I like This time I was able to get chicken thighs, it was buy one and get a second of equal or lesser value free. Would you do what I do? Try to find a pair whose weights and therefore price was as close as possible? I found to packages whose price differed by a penny so I could it essentially half-priced. Sorry that excites me. They also had English Muffins, buy one get 2 free! I’m set with that for weeks to come. That means eating fewer bagels. Bagels are better but these are so much cheaper. Bagels are now reserved for breakfast sandwiches. I’m having one as soon as I finish this.
Tonight I’m meeting another lovely woman, Erika, for dinner. I’m not as dumb as I look. Ok I am, I’m an idiot. Whenever I see Erika or Marti I say, “We should see each other more often.”
Brother Brothers in Arms - October 01, 2017
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