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
July 27, 2014 - 12:05 p.m.
Welcome to a Lena's in the shower edition of Wise Madness it's length depends on how long she takes to get ready. Then we are going out for brunch.
She got out after three paragraphs so this is being written the next day. did you miss me?
Lena belly dances with a troupe and they have a gig in New York tonight. she came up a day early to play with me. We didn't have any plans and I made some on the fly yesterday. I picked met her bus in front of FIT.
I borrowed Richard's jacket last week at Huntington. I told him that I was going to be in the City and I'd return his jacket if he could meet me there. But then I missed his email saying he would and I forgot the jacket. he was there, saw us, and since I was an idiot he drove us to Brooklyn, where he was going anyway, to get his jacket. Poor Lena had to listen to the two old men talk shop most of the ride.
We dropped off Lena's bag then went on our first stop, getting me glasses. So you know how I keep saying that I'm blind. I had my eyes checked. I'm blind. With my glasses on I'm 20-400. The optometrist said I should tell people I'm Big E. That's all I can read on the chart. If I could not be corrected at all I'd be legally blind.
I loved the optometrist. it struck me afterward that she reminded me of my childhood dentist. I was the only 5-year-old that looked forward to going to the dentist because I got to play with Doctor Kurzias. No idea how to actually spell that. I had fun with this optometrist. Forgot her name of course. So of course I couldn't resist flirting. When she put the test glasses on me to see if I could walk in them I looked at her and said, "Now I can see that you're cute!" It didn't get me a discount on the glasses. I should have said tha guy running the shop that he was cute. I apologized to him for not thinking he was cute. But the big thing is come Tuesday night or Wednesday morning I'll be able to see again. Oh for those of you know know about these things I'm -6.75 diopters. My current glasses are -2.50. That's why I can't see. She said it was probably the cataracts that made the change. They are now bad enough that though they don't have to be removed they will remove them if I want.
I know other people think medical stuff is personal. Don't get that. This is stuff happening to me, not things about me. Of course here I talk about me too. I get personal. One of the reasons I tell you when I'm depressed is that I know I rarely affect unhappiness. I always seem up and peppy. I think of that as my normal state and that's how I act. But then it bothers me when everyone assumes I'm doing well when I'm not.
Now back to adventures. Lena had never been to the fabled Island of Coney so I took her there. She hadn't eaten so our first stop was what? You got it Nathan's. I love Nathan's but there is nothing like the original on Surf Avenue. OK now I'm happy just thinking about it.
Lena has a thing about heights so we didn't go on the big rides. What did we do? The Wild River, that's the log flume and Spookarama, the cheesy haunted house ride that I never miss. Mainly we walked around and played some of the games. Then we went to something I hadn't been to in years, Coney Island USA. There's a bit of a museum but mainly it's the Sideshow by the Seashore, a traditional Ten-in-One. AKA a freak show. Don't be politically correct, they aren't. I love it. Damn, Now I forgot everyone's name. Ah but they are listed. There's Xander Lovecraft aka Blockhead. He hammers a nail up his nose. Then he puts an awl up it. Later he swallowed a balloon that was longer than he is. He's a little person. There's Betty Bloomerz. She is a sword swallower and contortionist, and fire eater. Ray Valenz is Richie Valenz's great nephew. He's also Betty Bloomerz's brother. He is the emcee and does a bit with an electric chair. He asks for a volunteer from the audience, puts her in a chair, and lights torches and florescent bulbs with her. Velvet Crayon has a rare disease that makes his bones super brittle. He is in a wheelchair. As he said, "You can see I wasn't born like other people. He did to bits. "Ask me anything" where you can ask him anything. But what he really is, is a musician. He is one of the 15 people that saw Velvet Underground and started a band. He's a one man band. He plays electric guitar and writes his own songs. I could hear the VU influence.
What struck me was that so much of the show is not what they are doing but theatrics. These people are talented performers not just freaks of nature. It's the patter that makes it fun.
Our next stop was Ample Hills for ice cream. This was a Brooklyn visit. I've shown Lena Manhattan for years.
Yesterday we went for brunch in Fort Greene That was good then I took her into the City to meet one of her dance troupe. I was going to go to my office and write but decided there really wasn't time so I ended up walking to Grand Central Station via Bryant Park where I stopped and read and made a few phone calls. That was relaxing.
The reason I went to Grand Central was so I could take the train Dobb's Ferry to see Jean Rohe at Rooftop Underground, part of the Common Ground Community Concerts series. Sure I see Jean all the time closer but she's as good as it gets, I haven't seen her recently, she always has a different band configuration, and it's Carter's series. I merch and do whatever else is necessary. Last time I was set up crew. This time I manned the doors and helped lug a piano into place.
This was actually a co-bill with Skye Steele who often plays violin with Jean. I had never seen him do his own material. There's a definite prog rock influence but he said it's indirect. His singing reminded me of someone and I couldn't figure out who. Then I realized why it was hard. It was the guy from Crashtest Dummies who sings an octave lower than Sky and has a gravelly voice. So what is similar their phrasing. It was so clear to me yet I'm sure nobody else hears this. Maybe I'm delusional. He joins the small group of people that uses a looper that I like. They key is not making the looper the show. It's just a tool.
Jean was joined by Skye and Liam on accordion and piano, thus the piano lugging. Liam has played with her more than anyone as far as I can tell. This is quite different than the bit "End of the World Show" band and she did different material. She did just one song from the new album, the stripped down and simple Pacific Street..
So here's the thing; her songs on The End of the World Show are elaborate complex songs. They have intricate arrangements and are sung in multiple languages. If that's all you knew of her you'd think that was her trademark. But it isn't. She has new songs with simple but beautiful melodies with just her on her guitar or with just Liam. And when Liam and Skye play along it's nothing showy. It's complements the music. Did I use the right complement? I did! You should compliment me on that. When she does the less elaborate songs you can appreciate her singing more. All she needs is her voice to move your heart. Lots of people have beautiful voices, but not many of those can express themselves like she can.
I got to hear a new song she just wrote. It's about the apocalypse. You'll never hear a gentler song about the end of the world.
I of course just missed my train and they come only once an hour. But that wasn't to bad. Jay from The YaYas did the sound. So I hung out with him as he cleaned up and he gave me some sound lessons. I always think that's one of the things I should be able to do. I would like to be an emergency sound guy if needed. I've stood around helpless often enough. Jay then drove me to train. It's a short walk but sort of creepy at night. The first part is very dark and with my eyes that makes it a bit dangerous.
I finished reading the Silmarillion while waiting for the train. On the trip home I even went through the glossary of Elvish roots to see how many I knew. I did pretty well. I speak a smattering of Quenya and Sindarian. Yes I am a nerd. Now what do I read? I think I go back to Dead Souls. I'm doing well enough to try something that isn't fantasy. I'm having bad anxiety but not as much existential angst. It's easy to feel good after spending time with such good people.
Now I have to make breakfast. What's it going to be? I think a breakfast sandwich. I have no sausage or Taylor ham but I do have ham. I can use that.
Brother Brothers in Arms - October 01, 2017
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