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 10, 2012 - 2:52 p.m.
The Chronoklepts are working extra hard today. I have things to do and I am not doing them. Let's see how fast I can write this and get moving.
Yesterday I headed out to deep and dark Long Island to see The Guy Mendilow Ensemble. OK that is just not right. Huntington is not deep and dark Long Island. As long as I had a car I called it local; I didn't have to pay a toll to get there. It's just a pain getting to Hecksher Park from the train station without a car. Getting to the town takes only an hour if I catch the right train from Atlantic Terminal.
Last night Mike picked me up at the train station. I was so out of it I didn't know where the show was. I thought it was at the Folk Music Society of Huntington and indoors. Good thing Mike brought a chair for me. We got there early and were able to put our chairs in the second row. The shows are absurdly late, 8:30 on a weeknight. Why would they do that? Many people left before the show was over. That worked out particularly bad for me but I'm getting ahead of myself.
It is someone expensive getting their by LIRR so it has to be something special to get me out there; Guy and the ensemble are something special. They play variations on world music, not something I usually hear. Last night's show was part of a project he's been working on for some time, songs in Ladino, the language of the Sephardic Jews after the exile from Spain in 1492.
It was a show, not a concert. The talk and music were integrated. It was not isolated songs but a lesson on the culture. The effect was mesmerizing.
The ensemble are all amazing musicians. I've written about Tomoko before. This is the third incarnation I've seen her in. She is also in RUNA and plays solo. Each incarnation is in a different style, RUNA is Irish and her solo work jazz. I've also heard her play classical music off stage. She is great no matter what she plays.
I always love Aubrey Johnson's vocals but she was even more impressive singing the Ladino songs. I got a kick out of hearing how impressed the people around me were.
I was impressed at how much the audience enjoyed the show. It is so different from what people are used to. All but two songs were in a language that I'm sure nobody there knew. The music was in a tradition foreign to most of them though one song was reminiscent of Klezmer.
I learned things about Jewish history that I didn't know. I had no idea that the Balkans and Greek islands, particularly Rhodes, had large Sephardic Jewish populations till the Holocaust. One tenth the population of Sarajevo was Jewish. I always thought of the Sephardim living in Arab countries, not Slavic. The reality is they moved throughout the Ottoman Empire and the Balkans were under Turkish rule till WWI.
I had a nice conversation with Tomoko but we didn't get to talk to Guy much. That's too bad, he is a fascinating person to talk to. He's lived in Israel, Brazil, the UK, I believe South Africa, and here. He can throat sing! He made his own berimbau (look it up). He's a musicologist and a gifted musician. He's just fun.
I knew the timing coming home would be tight. The last train back to Brooklyn left at 10:28. That was just about when the show ended. That meant going back via Penn Station in Manhattan, adding 30 or 40 minutes to the trip. Then it got worse. Once I missed it we hung around to socialize. I didn't check when the next trains left. There was one at 10:58, I checked the time at 10: 56. So that was out. Then came the bad news: The next train was 12:16 That meant I didn't get home till 2 AM. The show started at a more reasonable hour I could have caught the 10:28. Do you know any concert series that starts at 8:30 on a weeknight?
Mike and I grabbed some pizza and hung out till it was time for the train. I never mind that of course. I love the post concert food and socializing.
Now I have lots to do so you amuse yourselves till I write more tomorrow.
Brother Brothers in Arms - October 01, 2017
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