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
September 16, 2017 - 12:08 p.m.
Last night I went to see The Kennedys at the Christopher Street Coffee House. That was an experiment making the first sentence the subject sentence like my English teachers taught me. I figured it helps when people say the blurb. It's not my natural way of blogging. As you might have noticed I like easing my way into things; the way I am now. My first assay in writing this began with, "All I can really think about now is what should I have for breakfast." That's more me, right? Nobody else is going to start an entry on a night out like that. The thing is I'm quite cognizant that the reason nobody else would do that is because it's a bad idea. So is telling you that I'm sleepy. I'm sleepy.
I didn't even know about the show until earlier this week. It was not a Kennedys concert per se, it was called An Evening of Music, Humor, and Wisdom; an event that was literally unique.
Joe Raiola, Senior Editor of MAD Magazine, hosts an engaging program of performance and conversation with singer-songwriters, Pete and Maura Kennedy, and Zen teacher Konrad Ryushin Marchaj, former abbot of the Zen Mountain Monastery.
After not being there in perhaps a year this was my second night in a row at the Coffee House. Gene was a bit taken about that I take four trains and a bus to go to a show. I'm grown used to it. It actually takes me about the same amount of time as it took me to get most places in Manhattan as when I lived in Bayside before I learned to drive to Forest Hills or take the Long Island Railroad. It's worth the effort.
My original plan was to stop at Trader Joe's first and get coffee, I didn't have enough to make another pot, but I decided it was more important to eat before I left so I wouldn't have to buy dinner. Our neighbor brought over pizza so all I did was pop it in the microwave. There is a Dunkin' Donuts on the same block as the Coffee House and I went in there. I heard somebody say, "Be that way." It was Maura, I walked right by her and Pete while I was looking for the coffee beans. They were showing wisdom by getting coffee before the show. Coffee is magic. I was afraid I was a little late, I was doing the merch, but as they were in DD I knew I wasn't. When we got to the church I saw that Maura had already set up the merch in the center aisle. I put my stuff on the adjacent pew.
I still think of St. John's Lutheran Church as "my church" from when I was on the board of the Coffee House. I have to remind myself that I don't have free reign now.
Someone came over and said hi to me. He was coming out of light so a silhouette, and I'm blind, so I had to ask, "Who are you?" it was Tom, one of the WFUV volunteers. He had to debate whether to "subject his wife" to me. He decided that he had to. I remember her name, Danielle! Who is going to give me a cookie? How about bringing me some coffee? No? People say they are my friends but I need one simple thing, traveling an hour and a half to bring me a cup of coffee; where are they?
I've been Facebook friends with Joe since 2012. I had no idea who he was or how we met. I'm pretty sure it was at the Living Room but that's it. Then I saw his name come up in reference to Mad Magazine and I realized it was the same guy. Part of me wants to go back to elementary and middle school and tell the classmates who picked on me; "In the future I'm going to be friends with the Senior Editor of Mad Magazine and you won't and then you'll be sorry you were mean to me." I'm sure you are shocked that I was considered nerdy and got picked on, I'm so suave now.
Joe went on first, he was not only very funny but has a similar sense of humor to mine. He started with talking about religion and how disturbing it is to see Jesus suffering on the cross. Then he did a filk about Korea sung to the tune of Maria from West Side Story. One of the songs in The War on Terror: The Musical was Sharia sung to the same melody. Great minds work alike.
Then the Kennedys came on and did a mid-sized set. Perhaps a festival set except it wasn't usual festival fare. They didn't do their hits but their more spiritual songs and one that is political. During Listen I got into the spirit of the event, closed my eyes, and focused intently on the song. It was not meditating as I paid attention to the lyrics but it was very mindful.
I did not know how I would react to the Zen teacher. I meditate regularly but I'm highly skeptical of the rest. It was interesting. Some of it was just buzz words that sound like they have meaning but don't. But other parts were head on. He said that the current popular forms of meditation are very different from what he teaches but in the end, they are the same thing. I've been discussing with my shrink whether what I do counts as meditation and she said it definitely did. I don't sit with my legs crossed because when I do that instead of relaxing and losing myself I just become conscious of how uncomfortable I am. I just sit or lay down in the most relaxing position I can. I'm used to the church being cold, it is most of the year. But when it's hot outside there's no AC so it gets uncomfortably warm. It also gets stuffy. During the Konrad's segment, it got bad enough that I considered getting up and going outside to cool down and get fresh air. I was afraid that would look rude and a comment on Konrad so instead I did what was totally appropriate. I did meditate. I did the closing my eyes, focusing on looking at my eyelids and listening to my breath. I tuned everything else out and that included the heat and stuffiness. Meditation is the duct tape of the mind.
Between the Kennedys set and Konrad, Joe interviewed Pete and Maura. He asked them how they deal with working and living and traveling together all the time. Maura said that when she was a growing up the kids organized themselves into clubs, not formal thing, but groups of kids interested in the same things. She and Pete are a two-person club. They enjoy doing the same weird things, making detours when touring to see things that other people would think strange. It hit me, they are a duprass, a karass consisting of just two people. Who knows what I'm talking about? I know some of you do. They are concepts of Bokononism, the religion in Vonnegut's book, Cat's Cradle.
After the show, I hung out for maybe an hour then headed home. I had moderate transit luck. I was going to have a long day and go to the Park Slope Bluegrass and Old Time Jamboree, but I think that's just too much. If the friends I asked, a musician who could take part in the jamming, were going I would have but I needed that one added incentive. If I still lived in Brooklyn I wouldn't think of missing it. It runs from noon till 10 PM so I can still change my mind. I know I stayed home all day two days this week but I was sick then and it was not enjoyable. This will be different. I might even get started on the research project I'm working on. I really should go shopping too. Even if I spend the day binge watching Gotham I'm OK with that. I'll listen to music, eat, and meditate. That's a full day.
Brother Brothers in Arms - October 01, 2017
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