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 02, 2015 - 1:10 p.m.
It's a little after 11, it's sad but that's not a particularly late start for me. So here's my writing issue. I had a great time last night and want to write about it but it's not what I'm thinking about right now. The fire is burning in me now. Should I strike while the fire burns bright or wait till it's embers and I can be more considered. I'll go for that, chronological order is the tie breaker.
I had no plans for last night but then Eve Sicular posted on Facebook that her band, Isle of Klezbos, was doing a free show at community Garden in the East Village and that their guest would be Jill Sobule. I first heard Isle of Klezbos on the radio a decade ago and I don't remember where. I loved the music and I it's the best band name ever, if you get the joke. They are lesbians that play Klezmer music and of course the word lesbian originally meant a resident of the Isle of Lesbos. That's why I always want to capitalize lesbian. Klezmer is Eastern European party music. Klezmer bands would travel around Russia and the Eastern part of the Austro-Hungarian empire and playing at weddings and other celebrations. It's high energy and a lot of fun; it has a good beat, you can dance to it.
The thing is that I never saw Isle of Klezbos then a few years ago I friended Eve on Facebook after one of us liked what the other posted on mutual friend, perhaps Jill Sobule's timeline. Only after friending her did I discover that she was the leader of the band. But then I still kept missing them play. Something always came up. I tried several times to get someone to go with me to their klezmer brunches at City Winery but the plans never worked out. Then I saw the announcement for the concert at El Sol Brillante Community Garden and said, "I know what I'm going to do today." Followed shortly by "Where's Perry."
To make things even better the garden is on E12th street between Avenues A and B. On Sunday Beth told me about this great sandwich place, Harry & Ida's on Avenue A and 12th Street. This was fate. It's also pretty easy to get to, the to the then walk three and a half blocks.
I got a later start than I wanted, the show started at 6 and as it was free I thought there might be a lot of people and I'd have to stand near the back if I wasn't early. I got there at about 5:50 and saw there were a few seats left. Sitting on a bench next to me was Jill, working on her phone so I didn't bother her. Then someone came with a guitar. She had brought her electric thinking she'd plug in but the amp was out and someone in the neighborhood supplied an acoustic. They started talking and Jill mentioned that she used to live in Chelsea and it was right by where I lived when I was subletting from Hagrid. I wondered if were the same building so I jumped into the conversation, because you know I'm me and that's what I do. It wasn't. I introduced myself to Jill who I've talked to over many years but so infrequently I knew she didn't know who I was. She will after seeing me three times this week.
Because the amp was out the show was totally acoustic which was no problem. I’m guessing I prefer it this way. There was vocals, accordion, trumpet, clarinet or sax, standup bass, and drums. Eve is the drummer. The bass player was a special guest lesbian. He was also a man. Some might think this strange but as LORi's lesbian wife I think it's perfectly natural.
Their music was as good, no better than I remember it being. Some was standard klezmer but some was tinged with jazz and one was jazz tinged with klezmer. I have often heard the latter, jazz and klezmer have a lot in common and there was quite a bit of crossover between the two. Louis Armstrong played klezmer, or so I've heard. I wish I could hear a recording of it. I learned something, the Hora is actually a slow processional number played at weddings. It somehow got confused with the lively dance music that I've always thought it was. There was a lot of education going on between songs without spending that much time talking. Eve knows how to pack in the important stuff. Isle of Klezbos fits into one of favorite musical niches, music where there's a lot going on, the music is intellectual. Yet it also reaches you in ways that bypass all consciousness. You're feet start moving on their own. That's a pretty hard combination to beat. They can play at my wedding. Of course none of them would marry me. Well OK nobody not in the band will marry me either so being gay is not the only barrier.
Jill collaborated with Isle of Klezbos on her Yentl Musical, they were her band. I never saw that or any of the concert versions of it. Again it was just fate, I wanted to. Jill performed some of the songs from it and that was special. I've seen her many times but never heard those songs before. Jill is one of my favorite songwriters, incredibly witty yet her songs too have a beat. She's so much not yet another sensitive singer/songwriter with a guitar. Hey I said she brought an electric, that tips you off there's something else going on there. And her lyrics can be biting; "When they say they want our America back what the fuck do they mean?" She said "fudge" when she sang it last night because there were kids there. But the thing is even an angry song like that is funny and it doesn't sound angry. It's a sing along. I sang along. I didn't have to be asked to sing along. I'm well trained.
I took pictures and I took a couple of videos but those aren't ready yet. I have to edit them and ask permission on the videos. I had some technical difficulties. My phone gave me a warning that it was short on memory. I went to delete all the pictures from before last night that were on it I should always delete what's on it after I confirm they have been transferred to my dropbox. I just did that. But I hadn't. Then I hit something wrong and when I tried to select all the pictures it said there were something like 16,000. My phone can't hold that many and it took forever to select them. My phone almost froze. When it did there was no delete checked pictures. What happened was that included all my pictures I had uploaded onto Picasa, not just the pictures on my phone. But that took me 15 minutes to straighten out. Sorry to anyone that thought I was playing with my phone instead of listening to the music. I was listening but I needed to get this fixed so I could take the pictures and videos.
When the show was done I introduced myself to Eve, then I went in search of meat. Beth said that Harry & Ida's had the best pastrami. As a devout Katz's Deli many I considered that blasphemy and called her an apostate. But I'm devout not a religious extremist. I had to find out for myself. First off it's odd, the sandwich is sold on a club roll not rye bread. But I got passed that immediately. It was amazing. Better than Katz's? No but it's different, they both have their place and they are both better than anyplace else. The pastrami was not stringy at all. It almost melts in your mouth. It's a takeout place with no place to sit so I ate it as I walked. What I should have done is picked it up before the show and ate it at the garden.
OK so what was the fire that was burning inside me earlier? This morning I listened to the first edition of John Platt's new show, WFUV Sunday Supper. It had been Sunday breakfast but they moved it to the new time slot, 5-8 a time when I'll rarely be able to listen to it live. Then I had trouble finding it on the station archives. It wasn't on the Weekend Archive Page. If you clicked on the "Listen" button on the main page there was a list of archived shows but it wasn't there. But John assured me it was. Then I saw it said "next" in faint letters on the bottom right corner of the window. One I hit that it showed up. So this morning I listened.
I was not happy with what I heard. Half the show was classic rock, he celebrated the birthdays of Van Morrison and John Phillips. Then most of the rest was a subset of what you'd usually hear on the station. There were so few of the people I'd consider John's people, just Christine Lavin, Eilen Jewell, and Catie Curtis. Those would most times be his more mainstream artists. On this show they were the edge. There were none of the local artists I love. None of the people I discover at NERFA. At one point he said that the show sounded like Mixed Bag and it did. I don't need another show like that. I need a show that is going to play the music I don't hear anywhere else. Most weeks I get excited about something and write John how happy I was to hear that. Today I wrote him halfway through the show to say pretty much what I'm saying here. That hurt me. I like to be supportive not critical. But in sense I was supportive of what he's always done that was different from what others were doing. I hope he understands. It's because I love his show so much that I was disappointed. I did write again because I was excited about someone, The Batture Boys from New Orleans. I also loved Terrance Blanchard also from the Crescent City. In fact all the music I loved, those two and Eilen and Catie, were all part of a Hurricane Katrina set. The only exception was Christine Lavin. Even that involved a huge disappointment. He did a firefly set, Chris's A Firefly's Life, The Jason Spooner Band's Fireflies but finished it with Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga. What should he have played? Maura Kennedy's Fireflies. I forgot this one, there's also Miles to Dayton's Firefly. Those are the people we tune into John for, not Lady Gaga. If you go to the WFUV site and look at the Weekend Archives and Choose "Sunday Breakfast" as the show you can see all the songs he played. Jason Spooner was the only one that had played John Platt's On Your Radar and that's back when it was Under the Radar.
I so hate being negative about this. I love John. I love the show. I love the people at WFUV but they are making me feel more and more marginalized. They are no longer the station that felt that it was run just for me. I miss that special connection. I'm once again the outsider.
I'm also hungry. It's late and it takes a long time to make but I'm going for the grits today. Tonight I'm going to go where I won't be an outsider. Christine Lavin and Don White have Month Long Residency at Don't Tell Mama; their guest tonight is Julie Gold. Chris and Julie make it a home game.
Brother Brothers in Arms - October 01, 2017
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