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
August 15, 2017 - 11:38 a.m.
I went out last night. I did very me things. I have Wise Madness things to write about. That should make this easy. I just have to get politics out of my head. It might leak out at the end.
I had a late musical doubleheader planned last night, Sam Reider & The Human Hands at 9 PM at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2 and Jean Rohe and the End of the World Show on Stage 1 at 10. They were both free and on the two stages next to each other; I didn't even have to walk around the block. This should have been a no-brainer but I have no brain. I was feeling lethargic and had trouble getting myself out of the house. As the time, I had to leave to see Sam approached I considered not going. Then I thought about it, I couldn't miss an opportunity to see both Sam and Jean and I got myself on the last bus that would get me there on time. It's actually a bus and four trains but the bus is the one that runs infrequently. I made it there just in time. I said a quick hello to Mel, who works the doors at Rockwood, and went in.
I was surprised that I was able to get a seat but it was a late show on a Monday night. That wasn't the real reason. It was because it was a late arriving crowd; most of the people arrived after the music started. I don't get that.
As I was taking my seat I saw a silhouette on the other side of the room waving. Rockwood is dark and I'm blind and figured he wasn't waving at me. All I could see was a shadow with a baseball cap on. The person continued to wave with great vehemence. I was sure he was waving at someone else, maybe Sam who was onstage near me. He didn't stop so I went over to investigate. I was sure I'd get there and find it was someone I don't know who would wonder why the hell I crossed the entire room to get to him. It wasn't a stranger, it was Eddie Barbash, a totally unsurprising person to see there. Eddie was in the Tres Amigos with Sam and is one of his oldest friends. He didn't come over to me as he had a saxophone and was joining Sam on stage. He's one of the Human Hands. When I first met him, and his hair was longer, he reminded me of Jian Ghomeshi from Moxy Früvous. That was a good thing then, now not so much. Just Google Jian's name and you'll find out why. Now Eddie looks like a Gordon Friend. That's a more relaxed look and not at all evil.
Eddie went on stage, I returned to my seat, and the show started. Sam is in Silver City Bound, formerly The Amigos Band, formerly The Tres Amigos. I should have said that Eddie looks like a Gordon Amigo. No matter what the name they play original interpretations of Americana Music. That's not what Sam does solo. Sam's a conservatory trained pianist who turned to the Dark Side, he plays accordion. It is easier to carry around. So what kind of music is his Human Hand work? It's its own genre. There's some Americana, some jazz, some classical, some things I don't know the words for. In addition to Eddie on sax, the Human Hands were Duncan Wickel on violin, Courtney Hartman on guitar, another guitarist, and a stand-up base player.
The sound on many of the songs, especially at the start, was lush. I was trying to come up with comparisons, The Nelson Riddle Orchestra on the Sinatra records? Burt Bacharach and Hal David? Romantic Gypsy violin? There were elements of all these things but none hit the mark. Most of what he played were pieces from an album Too Hot to Sleep. It's a concept album, the story of a man's journey through his dreams. Many of the songs have a calm dreamlike quality but not all dreams are pleasant. My favorite piece was Dance of the Djinn which was originally titled, Hell. It is an epic all by itself. Sam said it drew on his Jewish heritage and there's certainly Klezmer in it but there is so much more. It's a complex piece in movements with the mood switching from haunting to Night on Bald Mountain. I didn't get a chance to talk to Sam; the question I have is he familiar with Raymond Scott? You are familiar with his music; A small number of his works were published by Warner Brothers and Carl Stalling used them repeatedly in WB cartoons. Parts of Dance of the Djinn reminded me of Powerhouse and the mood shifts remind me of many Scott works.
My other favorite piece was the title track that he performed it at the piano as a duet with Eddie on sax. I felt that there should be a hardboiled detective talking to a dame in smoke filled room. Sam needed a cigarette dangling from his mouth. To be clear, I hate smoke and if Sam had a cigarette I'd have given him a stern reprimand; this is about feel.
The one thing that should be clear was that the music was not ordinary. There is a tremendous amount of there, there. If I ever get my show on WFDU I will be playing tracks from the album. It's marvelous.
He ended precisely at 10 and I ran next door to see Jean. I was once again surprised I got a seat and once again the room filled after I got there. By now I've written tens of thousands of words on Jean so you know that her music is never ordinary, it is high art. She was there as a sextet, Liam on piano and accordion, James on synths and hand percussion, Chris on bass, a drummer, and whoever was following her on the bill on electric guitar. Sorry drummer and guy following Jean. I'm lucky I remember Jean's name.
They did a few old songs but for the most part it was songs off their upcoming album. I'm not sure but I think Sisterly has evolved even more. I love being there as the song developed; it might be her very best. It's so hard to say. When Jack Nicklaus won the 1965 Masters, Bobby Jones then considered the greatest golfer that ever lived said, "Nicklaus played a game with which I am not familiar." That's how other musicians must see Jean. There's a dynamo in her head that emits a non-stop stream of ideas and the vessel for the dynamo is this sweet, charming, woman. I see her all the time but she's prolific enough that I got to hear a new song, she wrote following the election. She had to lift us out of the pit after that. I'm seeing Robinson & Rohe, her duo with Liam on Thursday. The music is very different.
I had my black bag next to my chair. At one point with my peripheral vision I saw black spread across the floor. I thought the bag fell over and as the room was crowded by then I didn't want someone to trip over it. As I touched it, it felt wrong, I took a look. It wasn't my bag, it was Courtney Hartman's guitar. She was sitting on the floor right behind me. I had never seen people sit on the floor of Rockwood 1 before but there were several people doing it last night. Courtney smiled and didn't get upset with me for stealing her guitar. She saw me do it.
I thought I saw Carolann in the room but it's dark, she's dark, and I'm blind. It was late on a Monday night no way it could be Carolann. When the show was over someone called my name. It was Carolann. She was in the City on other business and decided to see Jean. She suspected I'd be there. I had been thinking that this was like Falcon Ridge except I didn't have my friends with me. Now I was with one of my Falcon Ridge Family. We said our goodbyes to Jean, talked for a bit, and then headed out. We didn't take the same subway so we parted at the F train.
As has become my tradition I walked to the 6. On a cool night following a muggy day that's particularly pleasant. I walk down 1st street which is empty. I like walking down dark quiet streets alone, at least in a safe neighborhood. The feeling has a lot in common with walking in the country at night. It gives inner peace. I stopped at the 99¢ pizza place at 4th Street and Second Ave for late dinner as I walked. That's part of my tradition too.
I had nice timing with the trains. I went from the 6 to the express 4, and then back to the 6 with no wait at the transfers. I was at Buhre Ave one stop before Pelham Bay Park at 12:10 the bus leaves at 12:23. I should have had no trouble making it. The subway ride is only 4 minutes or so. Of course, I did or I wouldn't be mentioning it. Pelham Bay is the end of the line but there's no yard there. They keep one train in the station overnight so both incoming and outgoing trains pull into the same track. We sat there for 8 minutes waiting for the spot to open for us. I got to the bus stop at 12:23 and change but the bus had left and I had to wait a half an hour for the next one. I survived.
One other exciting thing happened yesterday. I got scones from Alex in the mail! They are pumpkin spice. The last time they sent them the never reached me. They returned a torn mailing label to Alex. I bet some postal worker knew it was scones and ate them. They are hard to resist. I'm being very good and sharing them with Jane and Bernie. One guess what I'm doing now. You got it. I'm eating one. The secret ingredient is love. Alex is a professional baker so there are probably other secret ingredients. I choose my friends well, they provide me with food, shelter, and music. I had foresight as Alex was not a baker when I met them. Arpie roasts coffee and Mark smokes meats. I need a friend to become a chocolatier. Any volunteers?
Now to make breakfast. I was going to make an omelet yesterday but I the first 10 eggs in the carton all had double yolks. I didn't want to waste a double yolk in an omelet so I had sausageeggandcheese. The eggs were doubled yolked! I have never had an entire carton of double yolk eggs. Should I buy a Powerball ticket? Too bad the world doesn't work that way. I won't buy one and consider myself a winner for not spending the money. Now for my omelet.
Brother Brothers in Arms - October 01, 2017
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