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
April 25, 2015 - 12:01 p.m.
Guess who couldn't get himself out of the house to do shopping yesterday. Come on guess. I bet you get it right. No, not Neil DeGrasse Tyson. That was actually a good guess but wrong; he bought potatoes. No it was me.
Despite the fact that I have to cross two rivers that are not actually river, the East and the Hudson, Spiral sounds is not just easy to get to it's fun to get it. Why? I get to see this.
That's the 9/11 museum and new World Trade Center. I see that when I walk from the to the PATH train.
When I arrive at Exchange Place in Jersey City I see this.
That is my establishing shot for Jersey City. Yes it's a picture of New York. You see the City best from Brooklyn, Queens, and New Jersey.
This is my fifth time at Gidge and Loyse's home and the first time I didn't use my phone GPS at all to find it. It's so easy from Exchange place but there are no street signs along the waterfront so I have to remember where to turn to their street. I think this is my first time navigating during the day. My other time going there when it was daytime was from Grove Street. That walk is not nearly as nice so I don't do that anymore.
By tradition I'm the first person to arrive. Last time somebody beat me and I felt defeated. This time my train timing was perfect and I got there ten minutes early. Unlike another house concert series I used to go to that's not a problem there. They let me in. At another I stood out in the rain and freezing cold. Oh and I was not the first one there. Somebody beat me by twenty minutes. Not only that but they took the seat I wanted! I can never get good pictures of Maria as she has a mic stand in front of her face coming from house left. So I wanted to sit extreme house right, and that's where the people chose to sit.
Also by tradition, or my totally unjustified but self-aware sense of entitlement. I use one of the coat hooks instead of putting my chair on the couch. I do a lot of introspective mental yoga.
I said hi to Maria who was on her way into the Green Room then headed upstairs. There I said hi to Loyse and her sister Odile. Did I get that right? I made an effort to pronounce it correctly. Loyse and Odile are Francophone Swiss. Loyse is Louise with a French accent. It flows smoother than in English. Who else did I know? Angel, Karen, Sue, Laura, and Deb.
Let me introduce he band.
I have a reason to identify with each of them. Rebecca's original instrument was viola, which is what I played in orchestra. Now of course she went over to the dark side, banjo. Jordana is Jewish and her name sort of sounds like mine. Maria is from Brooklyn and likes barbecue. I had a long talk with her brother who has a name, I know his name. I just friended him on Facebook, it's Louis! Which is an alternate spelling of my middle name. See it all comes together. I'm doing well with names today.
657 words in and I haven't gotten to the music. Harpeth Rising is supposed to be one of the acts it's easy for me to write about. I don't just know I love them, I know why I love them. So now I'm feeling pressure. They are in one of my favorite genres, conservatory trained classical musicians that play folk/roots/Americana music. The thing is they aren't like anyone else. From that description I'm pretty sure you wouldn't think they'd cover Stairway to Heaven but they do. Whatever they play they make their own and most of their songs are originals.
Oh wait, I almost forgot the opening act. An act that had the nerve to play Goodnight Irene a song that Harpeth Rising does too. Who was this upstart? Me! OK I wasn't the opening act but I took out my kazoo and started playing it from my seat before they came on. I thought I was just playing it for my friends but everyone could hear it. I am available to open at your house concerts. I'll play for free. If you don’t want me to play it will cost you big bucks.
What makes Harpeth Rising great is not the songs they choose but what they choose to do with them. They never let a song go stale. It's never verse, chorus, verse, chorus, each verse and each chorus the same except for a bridge. No they keep changing things up. You can even pick this up by just watching them. On one the first time through Maria was essentially playing slap bass on the cello but then switching to pizzicato and then bowing. Even if you had no training and wouldn’t know a pizzicato from a pizza you could see and hear the difference. And it's not that I see them doing this and say, "oh they are doing cool things so it's great." No it's I hear they are great then I figure out a part of what' going on. I want to know why I'm not getting bored in the middle of the song like I often do. They can be lighthearted and even silly. OK they are often silly. But even during their silliest song, about the end of the world and McDonalds, there is beautiful and sophisticated music going on. You could listen with half an ear and think, "What a lovely song" if you weren't paying attention to the lyrics.
They are also tons of fun. They tell personal vignettes. If I didn’t love them as people beforehand I'd love them from those stories. When Rebecca was supporting herself as a babysitter a four-year-old told her. "I think everyone is beautiful … even you." Isn't that being a four-year-old in a nutshell?
Oh so you know the people that got there early and took the seats I wanted? They had to leave and couldn't stay for the show. There was my chance to grab the seat where I could take pictures of Maria. But I was beaten to them by a couple. I couldn't ask them to leave. They were Maria's parents who drove me back to Brooklyn last time I saw the band in Jersey.
After the show I did what I always do. I check my phone to see when the next PATH train is leaving. Then I stand around talking till I miss it. Yes I'm an idiot. We know that. But know this time it was part of a cunning plan. I found out that the band was driving back to Brooklyn! I have no shame so I asked for a ride! They have no judgment so they said yes! So I saved time and money and I got to hang out with three great people. This is a good plan. And all I had to do was Sherpa duty carrying out things to the car. I of course would have done that anyway, and in fact I was doing that when I asked. And they would have given me the ride even if I hadn't.
OK more music today. I had planned on two shows, one in the afternoon but I see that I'll never be ready in time for that. I might have a video of this show ready for you next time. Now it's time for brunch. Matzoh brei is on today's menu.
Annoying People - September 03, 2016
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