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
October 18, 2015 - 12:43 p.m.
I feel my knee so I guess I'll start with the health update. I woke up with my left leg totally straight, I thought that didn't bode well for when I got out of bed. I was wrong. It wasn't bad at all. But it didn't like being straight as I type even though that's how the rest of me is comfortable. Actually it's how the knee is comfortable, it's just the bone bruise that is unhappy. But the real story is that it's now just an annoyance. I can get around and do things.
The first thing I think about when I wake up is what I am going to write about and the first step in that is thinking about what happened the day before. It is literally the first thing, well OK after, "how is my leg" and "Gotta go to the bathroom." There's no context and it sometimes takes me a few seconds to remember. My first thought was that I didn’t do anything yesterday, but I did, it was something great. It's just that it started and ended early so I remembered being home last night.
So what was the something great I did? I saw Mamie Minch and Tamar Korn (the first name is pronounced just like the first two syllables of "tomorrow"). I thought it was Tamara till I looked online when I got home. Say her name to yourself and you'll hear yourself mentally adding the "uh" between the "r" and the "k."
Mamie is high on my list of people I don't see enough of. She lives right here in Brooklyn, She plays at Barbès which is pretty easy to get to, I just don't hear of shows enough. I don’t know why. But I do know that every time I see her I vow to see her more often.
In one sense she's a cute girl with a guitar in that she's cute, a girl, and she plays guitar. Now get that thought out of your head because musically she's not a cute girl with a guitar. That is a genre, it shouldn't be but it is. It is very closely related to cute guy with a guitar. In those genres you'll hear some guitar as background for someone pleasant looking, with a pleasant voice singing pleasant melodies with the guitar not getting too much in the way. I'd rather hear Mamie play just guitar solos than most of those people. Mamie plays a steel resonator guitar from 1937, is it a National? A Dobro? Anything I've heard of? It has character. Mamie has character. Somehow a 1930 bluesman finds his way into Mamie's body when she performs. He isn't there between songs, but as soon as the music starts he takes over. I'd be perfectly happy listening to her play instrumentals, as long as I didn't know how great she sings. Her deep but not husky voice fits the blues and she sings with understanding. Singing is so much more than technique and sound, it's communicating, it conveys a message. Mamie does not forget that.
I was totally unfamiliar with Tamar, hell I thought her name was Tamara. Mamie did the first few songs solo and Tamar sat next to me. I had the best seat in the house as Tamara harmonized in sotto voice so only I could hear. Sitting next to a woman perfectly harmonizing with the performer is one of my favorite experiences. I was going to say "listening experiences" but the qualifier is unnecessary. If you want to seduce me and you're great at harmony that's the ticket.
Then Tamar took the stage and the music genre changed. It was not blues but it was still felt like the 20s and 30s and sometimes back into the previous century. I have a great video but I have to upload it and vet it with Mamie before I can show it to you. .Actually I should listen to it myself first to make sure it came out. But it was special and the songs are special. There are history lessons in them about the origin of commercial radio and long distance phone calls. The songs swing. Tamar dances. She plays mouth violin. No she doesn't put a violin in her mouth. She sings what would be the violin part while miming fiddling. She's as much fun to watch as she is to hear. Sort of the Jiffy Pop of musicians. Mamie is quite tall, Tamar is quite short. They are very aware of the physical contrast and not only joke about it but sing about it. If you couldn't hear them but saw them busking on the street you'd stop to hear what they were doing. Fred was busy seeing Vienna Teng in Toronto but I kept thinking of him. He'd love to photograph Tamar. She is a dark version of Beth Kaufman of Spuyten Duyvil and Honor Finnegan. We have joked that they should perform as a sister act. Tamara could totally join them. Everyone would be hypnotized by their hands and mesmerized by their voices.
I finally learned to not get to Barbès early. What usually happens is that the show is at 7 and I arrive at 5:40 and I'm the only one there. Nobody else arrives till 6 and the show starts at 6:20. So I arrived at 5:58. The room was packed. Fortunately there was that one seat available in the front row next to Tamar. Then the show started at 6:10. Who would have thought such an early show would be packed and start on time. That counts as on time in the folk world. Even the Metropolitan Opera starts 7 minutes after the announced start time. I sat next to a very interesting woman who lives a few blocks away and know Tamar. I love sitting next to kindred spirits.
I also dressed perfectly. I knew to dress in layers. It was 51° F when I left and dropping. I also knew it is usually hot at Barbès so I wore a t-shirt. That proved wise as it was very warm. I got uncomfortable just looking at the woman next to me in her sweater and mammie in her light jacket. They both took off the outerwear.
After the show I needed to go shopping and to the bank. There was a C Town on the way to the subway and I stopped there. It was the nicest C Town I've been to. I always find them seedy, this was nice and clean and well lit. They also had round steak eyes on sale and I bought them. I haven’t had that in ages. It's permanently on my shopping list. I then walked up to the closest TD Bank which was one stop up on the . Things worked out well till I got to Atlantic Terminal and just missed the . There was an 18 minute wait till the next one. I have no idea what was wrong. They never run that far apart except for very late night/early morning. I just checked it's supposed to be every 12 minutes, not as frequently as I thought but this wait was half again as long.
I made two of the steaks, they were small, for dinner. I made them in my cast iron skillet, one minute a side. I usually make these Cajun but as I haven’t had steak in forever I wanted to taste the steak so I tried something new. When I turned it over I put on garlic powder and a little butter. Then when I took it off I added steak seasoning but no steak sauce. That was perfect. Yes I still get a kick out of being a good cook.
OK now it's time to eat, poached eggs and Taylor ham on an English muffin. What would you do if I forgot to tell you what I was eating? OK I'll be honest I'll probably add Cheez-Whiz. Don't look at me like that. I never get sick. I just fall down gaps between the train and the platform. Maybe it makes me stupid.
Tonight I'm going to watch the magnificent Meg Braun perform on Concert Window. You can too and we can chat without disturbing anyone during the show.
Brother Brothers in Arms - October 01, 2017
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