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
November 04, 2015 - 11:31 a.m.
Hey I'm starting to write at 9:13, my goal is to start before 9:15 so this is a win! Of course I'm cheating. I haven't read the Times yet. Usually I read that first. I often get inspiration from the news. OK I'll try it this way today. I didn't see anything on the front page or the Opinions section that I want to write about. In any event I did something yesterday and I have a backlog on my "Diary Ideas" file. Yes I keep a list of things I want to write about. I don't add to it nearly enough. I should keep it on my phone so it's always with me. Actually I do have one on my phone too. I even used it yesterday. It's where the title comes from. I have no idea what the title is as I haven't looked at what I wrote yet. Got it.
When I wake up I always check on the WFUV question of the day. There was some confusion as Paul who was filling in for Corny asked the same question as yesterday. So he changed the question and two people posted the question on the Facebook group. But then when you followed the link it went to an article in the Gothamist not the WFUV page where people could answer the question so I had to post it a third time. Then the new question was songs about staircases and as I only know "Stairway to Heaven" I lost interest. Hey that's part of why I'm writing early.
I've been listening to music on Amazon Music more recently. Right now instead of listening to the radio I'm listening to Dave's True Story's self-titled first album. It's so good. And hey I was thinking about them yesterday. That's not why I'm listening now either. I'm going through all my albums on in in alphabetical order and listening to what strikes me. And as I wrote that the album ended and I don't want to use the mental energy to choose something else so I'm listening to classical music on WQXR. That is often my default and probably the best thing to listen to while writing. I miss just turning WFUV on in the morning and keeping it there unless I wanted to listen to something specific or to classical music. I still get mad thinking of the person that lambasted people that don't like the changes on the station and said we should just learn to love what they are playing now and if we don't then we are terrible small minded people. What is that loyalty to the call letters? I loved the station because of the music they played not the music they played because of the station.
Yesterday I want to see the official release show for Pete Kennedy's Heart of Gotham at Bowery Electric. I think it was billed as a The Kennedys show and of course Maura was with him the entire time singing backup and rhythm guitar. One person in the audience asked me, "Doesn't Maura usually do most of the singing?"
I of course did the merch. They were the third act on the bill but I got there early enough to catch the first. That's a very easy place for me to get to. As I walked down Bleecker from the subway I realized that it still jars me when I get to The Bowery and don't see CBGBs. It's not that I was ever a regular there but that was my landmark; I don't see it and part of my brain says I'm in the wrong place.
When I got to Bowery Electric I found Scott there. I know him from WFUV and haven't seen him in some time. He was one of the people I invited on Facebook to the event. It's good to know somebody reads those things. Later we were joined by Eliot and Gidge & Loyse. The layout is a floor level then a bar area a small flight of steps up from there. Normally I'd be on the floor but the merch was up the stairs so I sat at the bar with Scott the first two acts. Eliot was up there too for those. And Eliot brought me a cable so I can connect my external hard drive to my computer. I'll now have access to hundreds of CDs that I ripped and put on that. Yay! I wonder what else is on it. I think I'll have to put most of it up on the cloud if I want access to it as there won't be room to add half a terabyte to my laptop.
Interesting at least to me side note about the way my brain works. When I typed that last sentence I wrote "add have a terabyte" now clearly I don't confuse the meanings of half and have but the automatic systems I use to type do. I seem to type phonetically so how do I get weird words spelled right? I have written "through" for threw." It's a mystery.
I felt the first act was generic and as I pointed out to Eliot by necessity that's what most acts are. They might very well not be generic to somebody else's ears. The key of course is that it's not the ears but the brain.
The next act was not my cup of tea either. I felt the singer was often off pitch. I suspect it was intentional as it so often happened at the end of lines. Things started a bit late and with my leg still not right I was not comfortable. Oh and I have a new problem. Somehow while sitting comfortably on the three stops on the I hurt the arch of my left foot. It's still sore. The Kennedys were supposed to go on at 9 and at ten to nine the singer said "we have two more songs to do." They did one and she said, "Now for our penultimate song." I said to Scott, "I hope she doesn’t know what penultimate means." After she did that she said and here's our last song." She did know what penultimate meant. Then when she finished that song she said, "How about one more song? My response was "If you can't sing at least be honest." I said that would be a good album title. I know I'll make it my blog title tomorrow." So that's where this comes from. I wrote it on inkpad app on my phone.
Then the Kennedys took the stage and I moved up to the railing on the top upper level so I could see. I found a spot where I could lean against the railing and that helped take the weight off my leg. Of course I found myself up and dancing at times too.
I have written about Heart of Gotham many times before. I heard the early versions of it five years ago. Yet last night new things struck me. Or maybe I just forgot that they struck me before. When people think of Pete Kennedy they think first of his amazing guitar playing. He's not just a master he's a wizard. But Heart of Gotham is all about the words. Yes there's some guitar wizardry but that's not the focus. A lyric poet who just plays simple lines on the guitar to accompany his voice could perform it with some modifications and it would still be great to listen to. Pete paints a word picture of New York. He doesn't do it by saying "New York is this" and "New York is that." He shows us slices of life in different parts of the City. It's a concept album, a true song cycle ending where it begins. Each song a piece in a mosaic. That's how they performed it, straight through the entire album with no breaks. It's his love letter to the City. And I realized how much it reminds me of one of my favorite passages in a book, one I've quoted here before. It's from James Branch Cabell's The Line of Love
"Listen," Francois said. "Yonder is Paris,--laughing, tragic Paris, who once had need of a singer to proclaim her splendor and all her misery. Fate made the man; in necessity's mortar she pounded his soul into the shape Fate needed. To king's courts she lifted him; to thieves' hovels she thrust him down; and past Lutetia's palaces and abbeys and taverns and lupanars and gutters and prisons and its very gallows--past each in turn the man was dragged, that he might make the Song of Paris. He could not have made it here in the smug Rue Saint Jacques. Well! The song is made, Catherine. So long as Paris endures, Francois Villon will be remembered. Villon the singer Fate fashioned as was needful: and, in this fashioning, Villon the man was damned in body and soul. And by God! The song was worth it!"Fortunately New York was kinder to Pete than Paris was to Villon. He wasn't damned in body and soul. He wasn't a pimp and cutpurse. Though if you are to believe Never Stop Believing he did steal apples and was arrested in Kansas. You might think of comparing Pete to Richard Thompson but would you think Francois Villon? Well you should. Of course Pete was older when I met him than Villon was when he died. When I first saw the Kennedys I was older than the 32 Villon was at his death. He had it hard. I'm glad that Pete didn't have to go through that to write Heart of Gotham. I would love to make a video not of one song but the entire album. It's is so visual. You might be able to make it of stock footage and stills. He should at least make a video of Williamsburg Bridge filmed on the bridge.
After the show I sold CDs. I had one fun encounter with a gentleman. He said that years ago he bought the Kennedys' first CD. He wanted to know how long they'd been together. I told him since 94 but I think the first CD was 95. The guy asked, "Is this the same people?" I told him yes. He responded "The girl looks too young for 94?" I assured them they were the same people He didn't believe me and asked Maura to verify what I said. I told you that Maura has a picture someplace that's aging for her. I have a number of friends like that. Oh no, am I the one that's aging for them?
After the show I made my goodbyes and headed home. My foot was pretty bad by then so I minimized my walking. I hadn't eaten dinner but I didn't walk looking for a place to eat. I just stopped at Popeye's by my house which is right on the way.
I seem to be one yet I'm having trouble putting this to bed. Well OK let's see if saying that lets me post this.
No it gave me the time to remember other things I wanted to say. I forgot to write about the annoying people! I once started a pubic diary on Diaryland called "Annoying People." A public diary meant that anyone can post on it. The idea was that when you ran into someone annoying you could vent about it. Nobody uses that, I don't know if it still exists even, so I'll vent here.
On the way to the show there was a guy on the subway who seems to not be aware there is such a thing as earphones. Now we've all seen and more importantly heard, the people on the subway listening to music or playing games on their phones without earphones. This guy was worse. He had a Bluetooth speaker boosting the volume. He seemed to think everyone wanted to hear his music. Well everyone except the girl that decided that everyone wanted to hear her music so she just turned the volume up on her phone. And I was caught between them. So I took out my phone and listened to Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer, with my earbuds of course. Even then the guy with the external speaker sitting across the aisle and half a bench away from me was as loud as Dave and Tracy.
I was already posting this but as I was adding the title I realized that i should add that the Kennedys can sing and are also honest.
Brother Brothers in Arms - October 01, 2017
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