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
June 08, 2017 - 10:25 a.m.
I stayed up late last night then something woke me up early so this is a drowsy edition of Wise Madness. I love my Gentle readers so I will soldier on.
My expedition yesterday was to the Prospect Park Bandshell to see Lake Street Dive, part of Celebrate Brooklyn. I went with a group, Fred, Seth, Chris, Kevin, Edith, Hans, and Sharon. This was the Opening Night Gala and LSD is big enough to sell out Radio City so we knew we had to get there early to get good seats. This is a tradition of Seth and me. Doors were at 6:30, the plan was to get there at 3:00. Even though there was a delay on the I got there at 3:00, which was faster than Google Maps said I would. I was the first person on the line. I thought I might be. Fred arrived next at 3:15 or so. Still no one else on the line. Then Seth showed up at 3:25. Still no one else on the line. Shortly after one more person came. We were shocked. The guy behind us was shocked. It's impossible to predict what time people will start lining up for these things. Sometimes you get there at 5:00 and can't get in. Often by 4:00 the line goes as far as the eye can see. The weather was perfect, maybe that's the reason but I'd think it made it a delightful day to hang in the park. The crowd came, just later than they often do. We waited three-and-a-half hours but as I was with friend, that was part of the fun, not a price to pay for good seats.
Not that long before doors I saw a woman walking that looked a bit like Rachael Price. I'm blind so that means having similar hair and body type. As she gets closer she said "Hi" to me and walked in. It was Rachael. I love that the performs go in the same place the people waiting for the free seats enter. That's democratic music.
We won the land rush and grabbed seats in the first two rows. Once we were settled I went to see who was manning the WFUV booth. It was Shelly Colman. Funny, I went to double check how to spell her first name and found that I had her last name misspelled. I hung out with her for a while and learned from a WFUV fan that there is a salmon spectrum. They artificially color farmed salmon. Shelly and I thought that was a great band name. I offered it to Seth but he didn't want it. Now I'm offering it to My Gentle Readers. I'm expecting many of you to jump at the name so if you want it you better let me know immediately. I will grant it to the first person to ask. You don't have to pay us anything but you have to thank Shelly and me on the liner notes. You can get us pizza too if you like.
I didn't see anyone else I knew but then Fred saw that Bill posted on Facebook. He could figure out where Bill was from the camera angle. We went over to say hi. Bill is eight feet tall so easy to spot. When we got over there he said, "this is my friend Don." I saw but didn't look at him before then. It was Don from the Brooklyn Music Shop, the presenter for Gordonpalooza. It is a small world. It's going to get smaller.
Hans wasn't there yet. He's a friend of Edith and Kevin. Edith has known him since he was four. They said he took bass lessons from Bridget from LSD and added that Hans was a brilliant musician and the original bassist for Cricket Tells the Weather. I know Hans. Not well, not like I know the others. But we've met and talked because the world is tiny. It's going to get even tinier.
When I said we were in the front row, I meant the front row of free seats. The people that paid to attend the gala were in front of us. The only other people I knew at the show were there, Beverly and Morse, WFUV volunteers. That doesn't make it a small world. I expect to see people I know at these things.
The show was simulcast on WFUV. We were wondering who the emcee would be. Fred got it right the first time, it was Rita Houston. She did not see us from the stage and say, "Hey security, these guys are with me, let them sit in the Gala area. I'm sure it's because she didn't see me.
LSD is a trip. Sorry, I had to say that. They put on such a good show. I have probably said this before but there are actually people that do not read every single edition of Wise Madness I know you do but for the others I'll risk repeating myself. I don't classify music as much by genre as by what part of my mind it appeals to. Intricate jazz and Bach appeal to the same part of my brain. I love all the moving parts coming together. A band like Great Big Sea bypasses the forebrain and goes directly to the pleasure centers. They deliver pure joy. Dar Williams gets you through the lyrics. For some bands, it's musicianship. Lake street dive combines going directly to the pleasure centers while being virtuoso musicians. I can't think of another band like that, though I'm sure they exist. It's part of the reason for their success. People that just want to hear fun music can enjoy them while the aficionados, i.e. snobs, e.g. me, don't get bored.
The crowd got pumped up the first song and never came down. It was a fantastic set. I love that a band that I saw opening at Southpaw is now huge. Kevin saw them opening at Arlene's Grocery which is even smaller. I was thinking about this after the show. A musician friend told me that one thing he likes about me is that I don't care what other people think, I like what I like; I don't need my taste to be validated. When someone I know makes it big it doesn't validate my taste, it validates everyone else's. Sometimes the crowd has wisdom.
By the encore we were on our feet. We were singing along. We had that being part of something bigger feeling that you get at some live performances and sporting events. It's the one thing you don't get at the intimate venues I usually attend. Thousands of people getting excited at the same thing you are bypasses the forebrain just like Lake Street Dive's music does. People evolved to be social animals.
There was no opening act and the show ended early, a little after 10. That made me very happy as it meant I had a chance to make the last bus back to City Island. Fred and I raced to the though he took the G. I had a longer wait. I had a wait for the . I had a short wait for the express and then another wait when I switched back to the local. I did end up ahead of the train I would have been on if I stayed on the . I knew I needed every minute. I pulled into the last stop, Pelham Bay Park, just in time to make the bus but checking on my phone I saw it was running four minutes late so I didn't have to race down to the stop. Do you see where this is going? The bus made up the lost time and arrived right on schedule. Now I had to run. The door closed while I was at the back of the bus. I shouted, 'Waaaaaait!" The driver did! Yay! That saved me $10. I managed to spend no money.
I bought two peanut butter sandwiches and a banana with me. I figured lunch, dinner, and snack. I ate them all at once before we went in. Hey, I'm a bottomless maw. Fred bought me a giant ice cream sandwich that looked like a moon pie. Two chocolate cake circles with vanilla ice cream and caramel. Celebrate Brooklyn has great venue food.
I took a picture of our group and posted it on Facebook. Today when I looked I saw that Aviv commented, "You know Hans?" Aviv grew up next door to him, so it isn't a musical connection. The world is microscopic and Hans is at the center.
Jane is back from her trip so now I'm going to go downstairs and talk to her and make breakfast.
Brother Brothers in Arms - October 01, 2017
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