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 14, 2016 - 11:21 a.m.
Why did I wait so long to start writing? Now I have to rush. I don't have to leave for two hours and five minutes but when I have to write, eat, and shower, that's not so much time.
Yesterday I had another musical doubleheader. That means I have seen seven shows in six days. Remember a week ago I was complaining how little live music I was hearing? I could have seen the Head and the Heart tonight but I need a day off. Tomorrow I'm seeing a musical.
Yesterday was the second Tuesday of the month so of course I was at John Platt's On Your Radar. That was at seven and there was a WFUV Marquee Member show by Okkervil River at 5 at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2 that three people invited me to as their guests, Jim, Fred, and Damon. Jim asked first so I was his date. The show was at five and doors were at 4:30. I got there a little before then. I forgot I had to get there really early if I want the Statler and Waldorf seats. That's fine, I didn't mind standing and mingling. I knew quite a few people there in addition to the ones I mentioned there were Dan and Phyllis, and Howard. OK that's not that many people And of course WFUV staff, John, Sarah, Cara, Russ, and Carmel. That adds up.
As for the band, they did not excite me. I figured I'd give them a chance to impress me live and they didn't. It's not that they are bad, just not exciting. And it isn't really a band, it's a lead and his backups. The other musicians have totally changed since their last album. It's not a cooperative effort.
When it was over I slid over to Stage 3 where On Your Radar would start 50 minutes later. I wanted to get downstairs and made sure our tables were reserved, say hello to Shawna Caspi, the only performer I knew, and arrange with the woman at the door to let Katherine downstairs even though it was a sold out show because she needed to talk to John. I was fulfilling my role as node in the folk music graph. I was helping Shawna get to the show saving seats for people, checking on Jim's travel progress, and arranging things for Katherine. My phone was kept very busy. Of course Katherine called the 5 minutes I put the phone down to change and John called when I was in the subway.
I was glad to see that Shawna made her way there without a problem. I knew she could be she's from Toronto and doesn't know New York transit well. Last time I accompanied her all the way from New Rochelle where she was staying.
The On Your Radar guests this month were Great Caesar, Danny Greenberg, and the aforementioned Shawna Caspi. It was only the third sellout in OYR history but he second in a row. Maybe this bodes well Next time make sure to buy your tickets in advance. I had friends that couldn't get into the show but wanted to.
Great Caesar and Danny are local bands and they are the ones that brought in the crowds. I was so happy that Shawna, who I love, was able to benefit and take advantage of it. Her set rocked, the best I had heard from her, and the crowd loved it. I kvell when I heard the crowd say things like "She's fantastic" about my people. She came in with no-one knowing her but me but left with fans.
So why do I love Shawna? She makes the kind of music I'm so often not that fond of. I have to figure out those sorts of riddles. It's not because I like her as a person as there are plenty of musicians that I like as people but who I don't like as singer/songwriters. I closed my eyes and listened closely and this is what I came up with. First her musicianship, she's a classically trained guitarist and it shows. She's not showy, it's not in the forefront, but there is always a meaningful instrumental part going on. That's exactly the kind of thing I'll feel but not be able to pinpoint. Another thing is obvious to most people but sometimes gets by me, she has a beautiful voice and knows how to use it. Lastly she has passion. Are those the reasons? I'm still not sure but I know I love her. That's enough to satisfy most people but not me, I want to analyze and know why I love something.
So who was there? Before the show but after I grabbed the tables I needed to and said hello to Shawna I went back upstairs and saw Marty. Then when I was talking to him I saw what I thought might be Sharon in the corner. I investigate; it was Sharon. This was my third time seeing her since Thursday. I was just lamenting that I don't see her as often as I used to. I saw her at Thursday at her CD release and then at Kathryn's house for Paul Sach's CD release. Who else that I haven't mentioned. Katherine who I mentioned but didn't say I saw, Richard and Viki, Glamorous Gail, Maggi, Sheila, and the people I'm forgetting. Because it was a sellout some of the usual crowd couldn't get in.
One thing I was disappointed in was that some of the people there for the local musicians did not see the whole show. They just went to see the act they already knew. They aren't just disrespecting the other people on the bill but they are cheating themselves. This is curated music, not an open mic. There's a good chance of discovering someone new that you love. I did. Danny Greenberg. It may not seem like it to My Gentle Readers but I'm a tough audience. I don't like most performers. I don't dislike them; they just don't excite me. Look what I wrote about Okkervil River. I start as a skeptic and the artists has to win me over. Danny did. It's easy to see what I like about him. First he's a great songwriter, particularly lyricist. The music has great variety. They could be written by totally different people. Secondly even though they go by just his name he and the musicians he plays with are a real band. The other musicians contribute far more than the sidemen in Okkervil. He's not afraid of letting them be creative and draw attention to themselves.
I'm not as enthusiastic about Great Caesar. They are the opposite of Shawna; I can't figure out why they don't excite me. For god's sake they have a mellotron which earns tons of Gordonpoints. It's not a matter of being bad musicians or unoriginal. They have their own sound. I can see other people loving them but they didn't connect with me. It happens.
After the show I went out to eat with Shawna. We went to Creperie NYC on Ludlow. When the Living Room was open I went there all the time now I never do. It's ridiculous, it's three blocks away from Rockwood and they are fantastic. I hadn't eaten dinner so this was my main course. I had a crepe with dark chocolate, peanut butter, and banana. Hey there's fruit and a legume and grain. That's a balanced meal. The chocolate is a bonus. I resisted adding halvah.
I then escorted Shawna back to Grand Central Station where she could catch a train back to New Rochelle. She asked me to just be a backup, not the navigator. This way she can learn. She did great and our timing was good. She got on her train then I headed back to the to the . Miracle of miracles I made the last bus back to City Island by three minutes. It was three minutes late. Things just worked out.
I better post this, eat and shower quickly. I have to leave in 52 minutes.
We are More Like the Square - September 19, 2016
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