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
November 25, 2012 - 1:04 p.m.
How did it get so late? My brunch plans are now askew. I wanted to go out and get a bagel but now it's almost noon and I just started writing. Well I guess I could in theory write this after brunch. Now I'm listening to "Ask Me Another" online. That's an NPR quiz show that features Jonathan Coulton as the music director. Diana who I spent Thanksgiving with was a contestant. That isn't the episode I'm listening to. Hers hasn't been aired yet. I know what happens and intend to get rich betting on it so here's some advice, don't take my bet. I want to get rich off suckers, not my friends.
I was so good last night. I ate the leftover bacon/garlic/potato soup for dinner then I walked to where I was going, ZirZamin a new to me music venue. It's a 1.4 mile walk. I walked a little further than I had to because of some sad ignorance of Manhattan geography. The address is 90 W Houston Street. I thought that on all the streets the odd numbers were on the north side of the street and the even on the south. That isn't true. It's the other way around on Houston. So I ended up walking down the south side of the street till I hit 75 and realized my error. At that point I had overshot the place by a block. No I wasn't an idiot and who couldn't figure out that the addresses were odd on the south side. 75 was the first address I saw posted when I walked.
So have you noticed how much I write about commuting. I always want you to know the details of how I got from A to B. Someone commented that I even did that at NERFA running between Quad showcases. Like multiplication and division I'm commutative.
Now that I told you where I was walking and how and what I ate I guess I should get to the minor details like who was playing and what the music was like. It was Nels Andrews' release party for his album "Scrimshaw." Anthony da Costa was supposed to have the slot before his but had to cancel because of tendentious in his hand. David Massengill pinch hit for him. That's a hell of a pinch hitter.
The only disappointment in the evening was the size of the crowd. Here were two not good but great and distinctive singer/songwriters playing in an intimate venue and the place was not packed. I can name a significant portion of the crowd. Anthony, Katherine, and two people that I met last night and want to show off that I remember their names, Lisa and Nels's wife Julia! I almost forgot Julia's name but she gave me the mnemonic, the last song on the Beatles' White Album. It was written for her. She's very well preserved. She credits moisturizer. At least that's how our conversation went.
Half a thousand words and I still haven't started talking about the music.
Yesterday was the day after Jack Hardy's birthday so David did a set dedicated to him. They performed together as the Folk Brothers. As Jack would say, "same mother different mailmen." David did songs that he performed with Jack, wrote for Jack, or were by Jack. It was a hell of a set. David is a hell of a songwriter. His songs remind me of a phrase by Tolkien, "They are filled with the sadness of Middle Earth." It's where they get their very much not unearthly beauty from. Poignant is the word that comes to mind, even when they are laugh out loud funny. They are for the most part story songs; full narratives told in five or six minutes. Each could be a film or play. They are the antithesis of confessional singer/songwriter material. His "Road to Fairfax County" sounds so much like a true folk song that it was credited as "traditional" when somebody covered it. It's the classic tale of the highwayman and his lady; "just like "52 Vincent Black Lightning" minus the modern trappings. I knew most of the songs well. He played them at the Budgiedome with and without Jack. They still affect me as much as the first time. "Ode to a Mouse" is sweet and sad and funny and reminds me of Robert Burns. I still cry every time I hear "Rider on an Orphan Train,." I still roll on the floor laughing when I hear the "Eunuch's Lament."
He was a perfect person to lead into Nels. Nels is carrying on in the same tradition. He would have fit in perfectly in the fifties and sixties Greenwich Village fold scene. Like David he's a poet but his newer songs are less narrative and more painting a portrait of a person or capturing a moment in time on a photograph. Without any pretention he takes you into his world so you can see things as he sees them. They too feel of the sadness of Middle Earth.
Anthony could not play guitar but he showed up. He was in the audience and joined Nels on a few songs. David told how he adopted a change that Anthony put into one of his songs. When David likes the way you did his song more than the way he did it himself that says a lot.
I of course did not make a quick getaway. There were too many fun people there to talk to. It is when I got to meet Julia. I told her that Nels has been keeping her away from me so she wouldn't discover what a schmuck is fans are. She said, "You mean his fan." She's one of my people.
I spent a lot of time talking to Katherine, I think we met at Jack's memorial at the Christopher Street Coffee House. I've spoken to her many times since then but we never had a sit down and get to know each other conversation till last night. I'm glad we did. She has some fascinating things in her life.
I was good and walked home. Then I wasn't so good and stopped for cheap pizza; two slices and a can of soda for $2.75. Then I got worse and had a peanut butter and chocolate cupcake from Molly's. Walking 2.8 miles does not make up for that, not even when it is cold.
It's almost one I better make brunch. It's going to be simple bacon and eggs today. I only have white bread to go with it. That's why I wanted to go out and get a bagel. I'll get one later. Actually it's Jeremiah's fault. He was John Platt's guest on Sunday Breakfast this morning and I found out that his father's congregation was in Queens. I knew he was a Rabbi. I asked Jeremiah where and it was near my old hood in Briarwood. In fact it is a block from my favorite bagel store. Once I thought of that I needed a bagel. Of course I'm always asking for bagels and harems. People rarely bring me either.
Now I'm going to really go before I die of hunger.
Brother Brothers in Arms - October 01, 2017
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