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, 2016 - 2:33 p.m.
I hate writing this late. I hate the things I have to do to not write this late. I don't actually hate any of it. It's more like mild annoyance. It's just like the way most people think of me.
There was a time I didn't have to open every edition of Wise Madness with an intro like that. I don't know how I did it. For now, I'm like Ed Norton playing Swanee River as the intro to every song. Noah Syndergaard warms up before he pitches and I warm up before I write.
It might seem like I'm just wasting time writing like this but I'm not. The subject of Wise Madness is always my mind. I look at it from many different angles and this is certainly a revealing view. Without this you wouldn't know what I was like inside.
What were my exciting plans last night? Wait, it was exciting, so forget the sarcasm. I'm getting exciting just remembering what I did. The centerpiece for the evening was seeing Kat Quinn at Sidewalk. I just noticed that it is no longer "The Sidewalk Café." I bet they changed that years ago when it reopened and I never noticed. That's one of my original East Village hangouts. I went at least a couple of times a month. It's a great place to hear live music. It's a listening room that's comfortable and serves food. In a word, it's civilized.
Kat went on at 9:30 so I did not avail myself of the food. There are a lot of places l like in that neighborhood. One of them is Frites on St. Mark's. Who knows what I ordered just from the name? I had poutine. If poutine is an option and I haven't had it in a while it wins. I then indulged myself. As I walked down the street I found one of the strangest food choices, Feltman's hot dogs. It's just a window to a tiny kitchen. It started in Coney Island. My father used to tell me about this. Nathan Handwerker of Nathan's fame worked at Feltman's before opening his own place. I figured I had to try it and I did. The hot dog is larger than most places and an old-fashioned dog with a skin. It isn't better than Nathan's which is still the best but it was unique and great. That was not the end of my culinary delight. As I walked down 7th street I found a cupcake place I didn't know. It didn't even seem to have a name. I had a chocolate cupcake with peanut butter frosting and a mini-marshmallow on top. This would have been a great evening even if all I did was eat. I haven't done a walking tour of East Village food in a long time. That means I probably won't be eating a Sidewalk burger unless I'm pressed for time. Which is not a knock on the food there, it's great.
Know what else is great? Kat Quinn. That is what drew me into the City for a show late enough to risk missing the last bus. Kat went on at 9:30 and I arrived at 9:00. I looked around for a place to sit and saw Kat and joined her. The preceding act was quite different. It was comedians playing Match game with the audience. One was the emcee and the other two were who you were trying to match. Kat is too young to know the show and some of My Gentle Readers might be too so I'll explain the game. The host reads a sentence with a blank in it and the panel and the contestants come up with what fills it in. The general structure of the question is, "Agnes is so stupid that when the waiter asked how she wanted her coffee she said (Blank)." The tradition as it evolved on network TV was for the answers to be double entendres. At the Sidewalk, they eschewed that tradition. The answers were single entendres. The winning answer generally involved cum. I can't imagine an act with better audience flow to Kat's thoughtful songs.
When it was over Kat took the stage and I moved up. Kat's friend Erin came in. Why is that of note? Erin lives in Chicago. I asked if she left to get away from the insanity. I'd be going towards it myself.
Kat tried out many new songs and announced a new project. She's in a band, The Kat and Josh. Or is it The Cat and Josh? She didn't spell it. She's Josh. I have to point out that was a joke, don't I? There's always one person that doesn't get it. The thing is she just met Josh in person for the first time he lives in LA. They have been collaborating online. She was happy to find that he wasn't a creep.
I write about Kat all the time. I usually say that she sounds like pop till you pay attention and find that the songs have hamburger not just helper. I met another geriatric friend of hers, Dave? Maybe; he said much the same thing.
Last night Kat played solo. That is like the Red Sox playing in a national league park and not being able to play David Ortiz at DH; it means foregoing one of their great strengths. Kat often plays with someone, often two people singing harmony. One of Kat's greatest skills is harmony arrangement. She's exceptional. But like the Red Sox in the World Series she found a way to win without one of her most potent weapons. Kat's from Marblehead MA so I particularly like this simile. I get excited when I think of things like that at shows.
Kat is also weird. I love her so that's to be expected. Too many people don't let their weirdness get into their songwriting, Kat does. She'll write a summer song featuring werewolves. That's one of the new ones. When she wants to say from A to Z she'll say 'from astronomy to zoology." This is all more showing off by me I remember something from a brand-new song. This always bears repeating, Kat has something to say. She's not trying to write words to fill a melody. She's not satisfied with sounding pretty. It's that creativity that I love; and it's what I find lacking in so many other songwriters.
I should have been racing for the subway after the show but I wanted to talk to Kat about the new songs and a few other things. Like applying for the Falcon Ridge most wanted next year. She has a song based on something that happened at Falcon Ridge.
I stayed and talked and got a hug before running out. My Android tells me when I have to leave to catch the last bus back to City Island. I pushed it to the limit and maybe a bit beyond. The thing is I can usually beat the time it says by switching to the express then back to the local at 125th street. I just missed a train. While I was waiting the express went by. When I got to 14th street I saw that the next was not coming for nine minutes so I just stated on the . I didn't think I'd catch up to the previous train so it was not worthwhile switching. I got to the last stop, Pelham bay a few minutes after the last bus was scheduled to leave. But the last bus was late! I made it! That proves I am a good person, smiled on by God. Not that long ago I was writing about how I kept missing the last bus. It's almost as if it was just random. That's pretty much my biggest reason for being an atheist. Things like good people being rewarded and bad people punished which is a feature in almost every tradition of how gods work, does not happen. I could expand that but instead I'm going to finish my laundry, shower, and buy more laundry detergent before going out to see Pesky J. Nixon tonight.
I'm On the Road To NERFA (without Hope or Crosby) - November 10, 2016
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