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 15, 2017 - 12:48 p.m.
Yesterday was the fifth day of NERFA; after taking Monday off it reconvened in New York City. Most of you seemed to have missed it but not Jeremy and Rachel from The Belle Hollows. They have a gig at the Hard Luck Café in Huntington on Thursday and are staying out there till then. Their bandmate Robert had to go back to Nashville. They wanted to spend a day in New York and as soon as I heard that I asked if they wanted the Gordontour. They said they did. I don't know why the rest of NERFA didn't get the memo.
At last year's conference I ran into Rachel in a hallway and we ended up talking for 20 minutes. The next day I ran into Robert in the lobby and we ended up talking for 20 minutes. I figured any band with two such interesting people should be good, so I checked them out and loved them. They were one of my top discoveries last year. I knew I enjoyed their company, so I didn't miss the chance to hang with them for a day. I knew that Monday would be a day of rest, I'm going to the Knick game on Wednesday. Tuesday night was John Platt's On Your Radar; I figured that was perfect; the final NERFA showcase.
They took the LIRR into the City and I met them at Penn Station. I got their cell number from the NERFA program and sent them a text. I asked and found that it was Jeremy's phone. They are siblings and shared a listing in the program. On the way in, he texted me that his phone was wonky, and he texted me Rachel's number. One problem, he pulled a Gordon and texted me his number. To make it more fun I had almost no signal at the LIRR waiting room where I said I'd meet them. They had only been in the City once before and had never been to Penn Station; I was afraid they might have trouble finding me.
We didn't have that much time, I gave them the downtown tour. They took their first subway ride, we took it to South Ferry. We didn't take the Ferry, it is often a part of the tour but there wasn't time for it. We started at Battery Park and I got to see them get their first view of the Statue of Liberty. I love showing people the City for the first time. It was extra eye-popping for them as they are originally from rural Idaho where the big excitement is the sugar beet harvest. They taste like sweet dirt. Now they live in Nashville. Nashvillians feel the same way about tourists as New Yorkers do so I taught them how to not act like tourists. We never walked abreast or stood on the left side on an escalator.
I showed them the Fish Carousel and my favorite piece of environmental art, the drowning sailor. For reasons that were not given we were not allowed on the part of the waterside walk by the drowning sailor, so we had to look from a distance.
As I'm weird and they are musicians, I showed them Robert Wagner Jr. park, the place where Terre Roche leads the sunset sings in the spring. I told them that they should come back in May or June and join in. We went to Bowling Green. I love giving the historical tour guide talk about it including the story of the Charging Bull statue. I was delighted that it and the Fearless Girl were surrounded by the smallest crowd I've seen since the Girl was installed. The weather was cold and cloudy, maybe that's the key. I had never had a good look at how the two statues play off each other.
The next stop was Trinity Church, the best part, the graveyard, was closed. I didn't get to show them our historical rock star, Alexander Hamilton. We did get to see the beautiful interior of the church. This is not the kind of church they grew up in.
Then we walked over to the Oculus and took the subway up to the Lower East Side. We ate at a landmark, Katz's Deli. They knew it from When Harry Met Sally. We split pastrami and knoblewurst. It's so good.
When we got to Rockwood the NERFA extension attendance expanded. John Platt was there of course. The bill was Joanna Wallfisch, Alice Howe & Freebo, and Millpond Moon. All but Joanna had been at the conference. More NERFArians were in the audience, Richard & Vicky, Perry & Beth, Dan & Phyllis, and Joshua Garcia. I'm pretty sure I'm missing some. Jeremy and Rachel sat with me and my usual OYR companion Fred. Marty was behind us. I enjoyed introducing them to everyone.
There were no big local draws on the bill and I was worried about the size of the audience. I shouldn't have been, it was one of our better attended shows. That's only fitting as it was one of the better bills.
I hadn't seen Millpond Moon until NERFA; they made my list of NERFA discoveries. You missed that? Go read it now, You Need to Hear These People.. They are from Norway, they play Americana. It's the way the world works. Appropriation is a good thing.
You might have seen Alice Howe at Falcon Ridge where she was an Emerging Artist. She had a DJ showcase at NERFA. She's one of the most buzzed about performers. Freebo has been performing far longer than she's been alive; an odd pairing but it works.
Joanna was new to most of the audience but not to me. I had met her at Jean and Liam's Christmas parties and went to see her perform. This was the first time I saw her with the full band. She's even better with them than she is alone. Fred, John, and I all hear similarities to Jean. In one song she sounded like her but it's more in their ignoring genre boundaries. Joanna said she plays "music that sounds good." There's jazz influence but also folk, Broadway, and classical. More than anything there's Joanna.
We schmoozed a bit after the show then headed back to Penn Station with Fred. We had some more time, so I showed them Macy's. I was surprised, the Christmas Windows are installed. I hope they haven't been there since Halloween. Then we went to Penn Station and I got them on their train and I headed home. It was a great day; Only now is NERFA over. I loved spending time with Rachel and Jeremy, I hope they enjoyed it half as much as I did.
Now I have to eat and if possible, go shopping before I go to tonight's Knick game.
Happiness is not Wearing Shoes. - November 20, 2017
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