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 23, 2016 - 3:25 p.m.
I hate when I have things to write about and I start late. Why have I been procrastinating? Nope, not because I'm an idiot. That isn't always the answer. Sometimes the answer is anxiety. That's not the same thing at all; being an idiot is funny.
I very much wanted to see Sam Baker at the Tender Mercies Festival at the Sheen Center but was balking at the cost. Then Bobtown who played the festival on my birthday posted a discount code yesterday and I jumped at getting the ticket. Then things really came together. Dan called me and asked if I was still going to see the Hello Strangers. What was yesterday of course. I told him I was seeing Sam Baker and told him he had to come too. Then I texted Kathryn who I knew would be going if she didn't have to work and asked her if she's be there. She said yes and was going with Paul; so we arranged to all sit together. I got one of my favorite musicians and got to sit with three friends.
I'm glad I grabbed a peanut butter sandwich before I left the house. I ate it as I walked to the bus which I just made. The bus was fine; the subway wasn't The doors wouldn't close at a stop along the way. We waited and waited and waited and eventually had to get off the train. We were told there was another right behind us. Well not quite. It did come after not that long of a wait but it didn't stop. When trains back up behind a stalled train the first will run express to put some distance between them. We had to wait for the next one. This cost us half an hour so I had no time to grab a slice before the show. I texted Kathryn and Dan and said to save seats.
When I got there I saw Dan out front. He said the doors were locked. We knew it was the right day and time. This was the same place we saw Bobtown on my birthday, part of the same festival. But it was not the same theater at the Sheen Center. There are two. This was at the smaller Black Box theater which has a separate not nearly as well marked entrance. Dan and I thought that might be what happened and we walked right by the entrance. Then other people came and we followed them in. OK that was being an idiot. You are allowed to laugh at that, especially at Dan.
When we went in I found Kathryn and Paul and we joined them. There was no room with us but later Deb, Gidge, Loyse, and Katherine came in and sat together. So there were two groups of my friends there. Everyone but Kathryn and Paul were also there on Tuesday for my birthday with Bobtown. Katherine was not in the audience; she was performing then. This was my birthday reunion.
Sam Baker is special. He writes brilliant songs, sings some covers, tells stories, and goes off on very funny tangents. The last is important. Many of his songs are about very heavy subject matter but he also keeps you laughing. That balance is brilliant. It comes off not as individual songs but as one long performance piece. Dan compared it to the Martian Chronicles, short stories that are connected. My guess is that most people, certainly me, think of Sam as brilliant songwriter first. But so much of genius comes out even when doing covers. It's not that he has an amazing voice. It's that every song comes from the deepest recesses of his mind. He makes everything his and it feels like there is no artifice and no barriers him and the audience. Sam onstage is exactly like Sam offstage. He has the charming trait of being able to discuss something very serious but dart off for a bit on something funny that strikes him, then return to grander themes. He keeps me mesmerized.
He is working on something new, a play. He was in a train that was blown up by the Shining Path in Peru. He was right by the bomb. His hands were badly damaged, his hearing impaired, and lost so much blood he only survived because of the good fortune that he could be flown to a US hospital. That's the material for the play but it's about what happens inside his mind more than the outside events. It was as you might guess life altering. He has a love of life and appreciates every second of it. He knows how precious it is and shares that with the audience. He's not a Pollyanna, as I said he sings of dark things but he always sees the rainbow after the storm. Thinking that live is great doesn't preclude you from seeing the grave evils that do exist and working to make things better. It fits in so well with what I so often write about. He's a kindred spirit.
I've seen so many great shows this week, Haas Kowert Tice, Bobtown, Lisa Gutkin, The Hello Strangers, and Sam Baker. I loved different things about each of them. HKT and Sam are polar opposites. HKT is all about the musicianship and musical intricacies. Sam is all about the lyrics and stories. I often call him not so much a singer as a lyric poet. Yet they are each as good as it gets. There are many different ways of being a great artist.
After the show Dan had to go but Sam, Gidge, Loyse, Katherine, Deb, Kathryn, Paul and myself went out for coffee at Think Coffee on the Bowery. It's right across the street from CBGBs, that got Paul and me talking about the good old days.
We left the theater around 10 and I really should have gone straight home to make sure I made the last bus back to City Island. The latest I could leave is 10:45 or so. Of course that wasn't going to happen. I love hanging out after a show almost as much as I love going to shows. These are some of my favorite people. I bit the bullet and decided I'd just take a cab from the subway when I got back. We ended up leaving around midnight. Katherine, Deb, and myself all had to walk the same way. I was taking the , same as Katherine though I went in the opposite direction. But before I got on the train I had to go to the bank so I'd have cab fare. I knew where the TD bank was, or thought I did so I went there. Of course I turned the wrong way on Broadway but soon caught my mistake.
When I didn't have cab fare the other day there was a line of cabs waiting at the subway station. Yesterday when I did there was no one. One came but he didn't even pull over to me. I had to walk into the middle of the street and get in. When I said I was going to City Island he said, "Is it that way?" He pointed the right way but that did not inspire confidence. He did find it. When I arrived he didn't tell me how much it was. It's always the same so I asked "$10?" He said, "That sounds good." I have a feeling he was a cabbie's friend taking a fleet cab out without permission. I got home safe and quickly and that's what matters.
Yesterday really was a rerun of my birthday. I once again got to combine hanging out with a group of friends and hear amazing music. All that was missing was the great food. Today I'll make sure to eat well. I started off on a good foot with a perfectly made sausageeggandcheese on a bagel. I think I will not leave the Island today. It's hot and I've been going out every day. I think that was enough music even for me. If it cools off some I'll take a walk on the Island.
Brother Brothers in Arms - October 01, 2017
Follow on Feedly