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 08, 2015 - 12:29 p.m.
What's this with me being reluctant to edit photos? Where did that come from? But it's here and I am not going to spend my energy fighting it. I'll spend it writing; I don't want to disappoint My Gentle Readers.
Yesterday I failed at Brooklyn. I wanted to go to the Botanic Garden as it's free on Tuesdays. I told Fred, "I have to go to the BBG now." But no, I never left. I couldn't get myself moving. I know this seems odd to people who see me as a bundle of energy. It's just not as simple as that. I know I'd have been happier if I went too. Will I remember to talk about that at therapy? Maybe. I just made a note to remind myself
I can usually get myself moving to hear live music. I did last night. I went to see the Mike + Ruthy at Rockwood Music Hall. Mike + Ruthy just got their own macro. That's presaging what's to come. The show was at 7:00 but I wanted my Statler and Waldorf seats so I got there at 5:57. Fred was already there. He's Statler to my Waldorf or visa versa. We were there 15 minutes before anyone else. Then a woman came on line behind us followed closely by Norman. I'm standing there talking to Fred when the woman says to him, "You're the guy from WFUV! We were perplexed. Fred said "no." I don't think Fred sounds like anyone at the station but I could deduce who she meant. If she's there for Mike + Ruthy she must listen to the only two that play Mike + Ruthy and as I didn't think she meant Bob Sherman I said, "John Platt on Sunday mornings?" She said "Yes!" We had to explain that she was mistaken. I don't think she totally believed us. She kept on saying, "Yes you are. You sound just like him;" and things to that effect. OK I remembered the first thing I wanted to make sure to tell you about.
A little later Marty got on the line. That was already more non-musicians that I know than I usually see at a Mike + Ruthy show. Maybe the WFUV crowd is discovering them.
While we were waiting to go in Kristin Andreassen came out and I said hi. She and Aoife O'Donovan were special guests. Looking at my blog from when I met Aoife I discovered that she doesn't like having her name spelled out phonetically. I had totally forgotten that. But nobody who doesn't know Irish names can say her name right just from reading it. So I have to get creative. Aoife rhymes with reefer if you have a strong Boston accent.
Right before the show started Kevin arrived. He is the one friend I see at the shows by that crowd and I knew he was coming. I thought I was saving him the seat next to mine but someone sitting at the other side of that table was saving it for his friend. Kevin likes standing downstairs anyway so it wasn't a problem.
I did some people watching from our perch and thought I spied Sarah Jarosz and Alec Spiegelman down below and found out I was right. I don't see well so that's impressive. For Sarah it was pretty much knowing the shape of her hair and I don't know her well. I got Alec who I know much better and was closer by his posture. That's actually a big clue in recognizing people.
This is so me. I am 607 words in and haven't started writing about the music. That's not a criticism.
I've known Mike and Ruthy for ages, since they were in the Mammals. I can't count how many times I've seen them. What I can tell you is that the last two shows, Clearwater and last night are the best two shows I've ever seen by them. They have taken it to a new level. People, including me, think of them as coming from this trad background and being purist folkies. They aren't. They are folk rockers. This is their natural habitat. They aren't adding a band to the songs, the band is part of the songs. It's how the songs exist in their heads. And this was a rocking band. They didn't have the trombone that they had at Clearwater but someone a harmonica took its place and they still had a sax. As I pointed out, a harmonica is a horn, at least it's a read instrument. You blow in it to make sound. They got a full drum kit. They have a pedal steel. Any moment Pete Seeger could have come from beyond the grave with an axe to cut the power cord. Except I’m pretty sure he'd stop in his tracks and start singing along and moving to the music. I know that's what I was doing.
Now I've jumped ahead of myself. The evening started with songs by Kristin and Aoife. They were the opening acts and the Mike + Ruth Band backed them up. I've seen them countless times too. That's a lot of my favorite musicians on stage at the same time.
Mike and Ruthy live near Woodstock so it's perhaps not a coincidence that the band I'd compare them to is The Band. It's not that they sound like The Band. It's not that they are at all derivative of The Band. It's just that they walk the same line between rock and folk that pretty much defines Americana. And of course they perform The Ghost of Richard Manuel.
After the show we made our way downstairs. We ran into Gail and Glenn. So I knew saw five non-musicians at the show. That might be a record.
Oh just remembered the two other things I knew I had to write about. Ruthy described one of the new songs as "Banjo Funk". I took a picture and posted it to Facebook and tried to make that the caption. I typed in "bamjo" and my phone nicely corrected it to "banjo." As you know smart phones try to predict what you are going to type. It clearly couldn't get it's Android mind around the concept of Banjo Funk." It was not going to guess "Funk." Now you also know that smart phones don't like profanity, even mild profanity. When I type "Damn" it corrects it to "Damon." But when I typed in "Banjo Funk" it changed it to "Fuck." I guess android is not fond of banjo music. That was it editorializing. Lots of people feel that way, why not phone operating systems?
When Ruthy introduced the last song, When the Sun Comes Around she said; "People think you have to be miserable to write a song. This song was about a friend of mine. You don't have to be miserable, you just need to have friends that are miserable." That puts my entire life among musicians clear. Now I know why they tolerate me as a friend; my misery is their source material!" I'm pretty sure that nobody thinks of me as being miserable. I write quite a bit about my problems here and I'm not afraid to tell people that things are not going well for me. But I know that's not what I project. My affect is usually positive. I am full of energy and enthusiasm. Sure I'm also miserable but I'm cheerful hobbit.
Fred had to make a train and I went into the back room to congratulate Ruthy and Mike. Did you notice my usage? "Mike + Ruth" or "The Mike + Ruthy Band" are the name of the act. When I talk about the people I say "Mike and Ruthy" and I can even switch up the order like I just did.
Back there I ran into Alex and introduced him to Kevin and he introduced me to Jen who I've met before but I'm an idiot. This time we really talked so I will remember her well. I hadn't eaten dinner so wanted to not talk too long but Kevin and I had a great conversation I couldn't leave. Damn you Kevin. I stopped at the Sugar Shack to get a cupcake to hold me till I got home and say hi to Joe who works there. I got to the subway station and as I as waiting Alex and Jen came in. So I took the train with them. I got more fun people time. And that cupcake was great so I did have great music, great people, and great food. I hit the trifecta. Realizing that is how I stay cheerful.
OK now for breakfast. Not sure what I'm eating. And how did it get so late? Oh right, I procrastinated. And I did write 1579 words.
Brother Brothers in Arms - October 01, 2017
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