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
September 17, 2016 - 4:16 p.m.
This is the latest start I've had writing in ages; it's 2:45. That's not good. I got home at 1:15 and for the second time recently instead of quickly going to sleep stayed up till 4 AM doing absolutely nothing of importance. I can't let myself do that; it isn't fair to My Gentle Readers.
On the bright side I've eaten and had coffee so my brain will be clear for a bit before it returns to the fog. My brain has cataracts.
Yesterday I made sure to get to my PO box as I have mail there and it isn't open again till Monday. I am great at arriving just before the post office closes. Unfortunately, I'm also great in arriving right after it closes. There was a delay on the train and I just missed it. So here I was at Columbus Circle when I needed to be in Red Hook/Carroll Gardens Brooklyn I decided to not waste being in that neighborhood and have a relatively healthy meal at Whole Foods. If I ate in Brooklyn, I'd have had poutine which is delicious but not relatively healthy. What I like about Whole Foods is I can eat a sampling. I had a tandoori chicken thigh, a Korean BBQ drumstick, and a barbecued rib along with bacon-corn mashed potatoes and roasted dill potatoes.
My next stop was Trader Joe's in Brooklyn Heights, or is that across the border into Carroll Gardens? I had forgotten to get cat food the day before. I wanted to get bacon ends and bits too but for the second time in a row they were out, very disappointing.
My final goal was Jalopy. I used to complain how hard it was to get to when I lived in Brooklyn. It's way harder from City Island but it's one of my homes away from home and this is their 10th Anniversary Celebration. I got two invites, one from Jalopy and the other from The Calamity Janes. They were on first. There were two stages, the main one in the theater and a smaller one in the Tavern. As I explained yesterday I knew two acts in the Tavern, Dubl Handi and The Four o'clock Flowers but they were playing the same time as bands I wanted to see at the main stage. The place was a sell-out and packed so I stayed in my seat in the front pew. I of course got there early.
This was a home game and one of the places I consider mine but I didn't know anyone in the audience, just on stage. I didn't get a chance to talk to them much either so it was not an evening for socializing. I know all the women in the Calamity Janes but the only one that I know for sure knows me is Stephanie Jenkins, the banjo player. Stephanie couldn't make this show and her place was taken by Stephanie Coleman, who I know just about exactly as well. Other shows where Stephanie couldn't make it her spot was taken by her sister, I'm guessing that means Cassie, unless she has another sister I don't know. So the banjo player is always either a Stephanie or a Jenkins. I was thinking that then Mimi said it from the stage.
The Calamity Janes are one of my feel good bands. It's urbane and urban women, and Jared, playing what used to be called Hillbilly Music. There's Old Time and Bluegrass, and Gospel in the mix. They are great musicians, making great music, and having fun; which means the audience has fun too. I try to not miss them as they don't play often. Kari's six-year-old daughter was there sitting right behind me. At times she went up to the stage and talked to her mother, or just watched her mother closely, or danced. It in no way interfered with the show and just added to the feeling that all was good and right in the world.
Next up was the Jalopy Choir. I heard them practicing on the sidewalk before the show and they sounded great. The full chorus has something like 40 members, 14 plus the leader were there last night. I was surprised to find that I knew one of them, Athena. I've known her since she was a kid. I'm friends with her parents from Frühead days. I met her mother Carolyn 16 years ago. There were so many people that they couldn't all fit on the stage, some were in front of it. Athena was right in front of me.
When people think Jalopy they think the more traditional strains of Americana Music. That's not what they sang, it in a sense the opposite, World Music. The origins and languages ranged from Corsica to the Republic of Georgia. There was one song in English. It was all heavenly. They made a song about a brother wanting to kiss his sister sound like liturgical music. And in a sense it is divine. Choral music is about e pluribus unum, out of many one. The individuals singing many notes, and often different melodies some together and create something greater than the sum of the parts. It's a role model for society. If I could sing I'd join a choir.
Next up was Eva Salina & Peter Stan. Eva is the choir director and Peter plays accordion. They continued with the world vein with Romany (Gypsy) music. That's part of what kept me up, reading about the Roma on Wikipedia. There is a lot of interesting things going on with them. It's so weird that they came from India but ended up in Europe and North Africa and pretty much nowhere in between.
The other group I knew came next, Mamie Minch and Tamar Korn. When Mamie is solo it's primarily blues, great blues, as good as it gets blues; with Tamar it's everything. Theatric is a word that comes to mind. They resurrect old songs and write new ones that sound like they were from the 20s and 30s. They have a great and humorous chemistry. It's only my second time seeing them as a duo and I need to see more. I need to see Tamar solo or with her band Brain Cloud. Have I seen Brain Cloud? Maybe I have. I just remember loving Tamar. They were on after Mamie & Tamar but if I stayed for that I'd never get home.
I would have liked to have stayed and spoken a bit with Mamie and Tamar but looking at my phone I saw there was a bus on the way and they don't run frequently. I made it to the stop with only a few minutes to spare. I took the bus to Borough Hall to the to the to the last stop, Pelham Bay Park. By then it was more than an hour after the last bus to City Island left so I took a cab. Jane said I should call her and she'd give me a ride but she goes to sleep early. I didn't have the heart to do that. The City Island cabbies walked straight out of an old New York movie. They are for the most part natives of the Bronx and want to talk with you as they drive. That's fun. Last night I didn't feel like talking but he drew me out.
Tonight Jane, Bernie, and I are going to Common Ground Coffeehouse to see Eef Barzalay with special guest Bay Uno. No those are not typos. I never heard of them but if they are good enough for Carter they are good enough to check out.
Hyperbole Has Three Syllables - September 22, 2016
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