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
December 18, 2017 - 12:13 p.m.
Yesterday I ventured into deepest darkest Red Hook, Brooklyn to see Robinson & Rohe's Christmas Show, The Longest Winter. Despite being two hours away this counts as a home game; Liam and Jean at Amy's house is as socially comfortable as it gets. The series is not called The House of Love for nothing.
I was the first one there, that's typical. As by tradition that's when I catch up with Jean This was the second time this year that I saw Liam and Jean at a house concert that they went to arriving back in New York from on tour and before they even went to their own home. They are dedicated.
The Longest Winter is a nontraditional traditional Christmas show. They perform it with a lightbox triptych by Andrew Benincasa as a backdrop.
Most of the songs are traditional, but not the pop tradition. There's no Jingle Bells or White Christmas.; there is The Coventry Carol and O Come Ye Emmanuel; modern covers of Anaï Mitchell and Si Kahn, and originals. The repertoire is dark to match the long nights; the songs evoke the Middle Ages. The mix is spare and haunting. Some songs are a Capella. The instruments are guitar, banjo, accordion, and most importantly, the audience. This is a shared experience.
Usually when I see Jean and Liam what strikes me most is the songwriting. At these shows I notice their singing. It took me years to realize that Jean has a gorgeous voice. There's another earth in the multi-verse where she's a pop star singing songs by those three guys in Norway. I don't know what Liam is doing there. He too has a beautiful voice; perhaps he's a crooner. I'd like to think he's a saloon singer that fights crime.
The usual crowd was not there, the holiday season is hard to navigate. The only one I knew there was Courtney Hartman, she joined them on a few songs. As usual I made new friends. Right next to me was a couple with two young children. The youngest, a toddler, offered me an orange slice. She said to her father, Josh, "There's a daddy with a ponytail!" The kids couldn't keep quiet during the music but their parents handled it perfectly. They didn't shush or yell at the kids. They didn't do nothing. They quietly left. Jean was smiling the entire time. I was right next to them and I was smiling. It was all in the holiday spirit.
Who stole the real Gordon? I almost forgot to talk about the food. Amy and Mike made great chili and macaroni; it was just the right hotness. They baked great Christmas cookies. Most Christmas cookies are neither good nor bad, they are fungible, they are commodities. These were good enough that I had to comment on how good they were. One of the guests brought a sausage quiche. The ground up pig parts make it OK for a manly man like me to eat it.
For the first time ever, I was good about leaving there quickly. According to google maps if I took the 10:48 bus I'd be home in just 1:45. The various buses and trains would synch up well. I made my goodbyes and was able to walk, not run to the bus stop. What usually happens is that I run, miss the bus, come back to the house to wait for the next one, and often miss that too. Too bad Google Maps was wrong about the timing. Because of construction the 4 and 5 trains were running local, sharing one track with the 6. The congestion slowed everything down. I was still on the subway at 11:50 when Google thought I'd be taking the bus back to City Island. According to Google Maps I missed the bus by nine minutes. I had to take the 12:20 instead. That's not too bac. I was home by 12:30.
I'm going to do something I haven't done in ages, fully illustrate my blog. I don't have a way of embedding slideshows. I didn't take that many good pictures so I'll just show you all of them.
Now on to breakfast. I have no plans till Thursday when I go caroling at Washington Square Park
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