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
February 13, 2017 - 11:38 a.m.
It's 9:17 and I'm starting to write! I'm sleepy but I'm fighting through it. I also must fight through being distracted by Facebook. The WFUV Question of the Day is on now and there's always a discussion going on the group when it is. The topic was songs about the radio and Corny played one of my suggestions, Nanci Griffith's Listen to the Radio. Ok it's over and I can go back to listening to Bach: Complete Works for Harpsichord. It's 15 hours and 55 minutes, so this will take a while. I'm book one of The Well-Tempered Clavier. Unfortunately, the Amazon Music interface won't show the complete title when it's long so I can't see the key which is the entire point of The Well-Tempered Clavier. Bach harpsichord is great music to write to; it's not disruptive and the perfection can enter the author through osmosis. I'm not saying this is perfect, it's just less imperfect than it would have been otherwise.
The weather was miserable yesterday but not miserable enough to stop me from making the long trek to Red Hook to see Robinson and Rohe; this was the end of a mini-tour they did with Hannah Read. I first saw Hannah two months ago, on a bill with Rachel Ries. This is now my third time seeing her. It's weird how that happens. She's in my social circle yet went from never seeing her to seeing her often. Now she's someone I'll seek out, she doesn't have to be playing with one of my friends, she is one of my friends and I'm a fan.
Here's a tip, if you have a choice of days do not attempt to go from City Island to Red Hook by public transit on a Sunday. There was construction all over the place, some I was prepared for, others I wasn't. I knew that the wasn't running express and terminating at Brooklyn Bridge. Normally I'd take it to Borough Hall to catch my bus. that the stopped at 42nd Street so my plan was to take the to the at Bleecker Street. I get off the train and walked to the platform and see the entire area is cordoned off. There were signs saying that the wasn't stopping there. I already knew the wasn't going into Brooklyn. I asked a transit worker what was working. I told him that I wanted to get to Borough Hall he told me to go to Canal and take the N to Atlantic and the or back to Borough Hall. I knew that was ridiculous, I could catch the there and take that right to Borough Hall or even better Jay Street. It's closer to the bus there. I had to wait for the next or downtown. If I had known earlier I would have never gotten off. When I got on the next train the transit workers were announcing that there were no trains. Why didn't they do that when I arrived?
The transfer to the at Canal is involved but I made it. I also found that the N was running on the line so what the guy told me was wrong. Anyway, an N came, I made my bus and got to the House of Love aka Amy's house. No, she is not running a brother; it's a house concert series. Get your mind out of the gutter. It's one of my favorite house concert series, one that counts as a home game. If I lived closer, I'd go more often. I go often enough as it is. Wow it was my first time this year. Amy books so many people I love. It's a different set of musicians than NERFA standard, though most have been there. They aren't part of that community. I tend to think of them as the House of Love community. Often there are some in the audience. Many are involved with Miles of Music. If I went to the camp I'd probably refer to it as the Miles of Music community.
I was an idiot. Because of the bad weather and the trouble with my commute I got distracted. I use Google Maps just to see where I am on the bus so I get off the right stop. I map in the address so I can easily spot it. I got that from Google Calendar. The problem was I misentered Amy's address, I left off the first digit. I looked at the map and saw I had to make a right. It seemed wrong but I did it. After walking, what I knew was too far I realized what I did and walked back. With all that I was one of the earlier arrivals which meant I got my chair! My first choice is always the easy chair with a good view of the performers. I prefer that over first row in a wooden folding chair.
Two and a half hours after I left home the fun started. In this case, it meant food and socializing. Most of the people I know there are musicians. This time I was delighted to see Carolyn and Peter who arrived not that long after me. They had never been there before. They didn't even know how they got on the mailing list. They had not seen Jean and Liam before. Considering all that they got extremely lucky, they saw a great show at a great venue. The only downside was they had to see me too. Don't give me that look, a little self-effacing humor is allowed. I don't want to make fun of other people, that aren't Brian, so I make fun of myself.
I knew Lucas, Andrew, Stephanie and James, the other Stephanie, and a few more that as usual I'm blanking on. But I spent the most time talking to someone I just met, Claire aka my fiancé. I thought I heard her asking Amy what to do with the babka she brought. I said, "You brought chocolate babka?" She said, "yes." I said, "I love you." She brought babka, as anyone who watches Seinfeld knows whoever brings chocolate babka to a pot luck is a hero. Claire won the pot luck. She's Jewish and we did secular Jew bonding. She had been to the House of Love many times, I just never ran into her. She certainly never brought babka when I was there. There was a lot of other great food there, I stuffed myself, but it's silly to talk about anything else when there is babka. During the break, I went back and most of the babka was one. All that was left was the schplungs. Babka aficionados know exactly what I mean even though they never heard the world before, Claire made it up. It's those shreds of chocolate that sometimes fall off the slices.
Oh, there was also music. Sorry, the babka distracted me. There was great music. You know what's better than Robinson & Rohe? Robinson & Rohe with Hannah Read's fiddle. Robinson & Rohe songwriting is very different that Jean solo or with the band. Makes sense as Liam is doing a lot of the writing. On many songs, they are reminiscent of Simon and Garfunkel, it's not mainly the singing, it's the songwriting and arrangements. I'm not saying that if you like Simon & Garfunkel you'll like Robinson & Rohe, just that there are echoes of Paul Simon's songwriting from that period. R&R are not derivative, they are originals. Even one song is hard to pin down, it evolves. Many of their songs have very spare arrangements, even a Capella. But on others they will start that way and build while the stately gentle sounds of the opening gain energy and complexity. This is where Hannah helps so much, the fiddle adds another layer.
There are very few performers that will totally captivate me as I was last night. There is just so much there there. The music can be very serious but Jean, Liam, and Hannah, can be very silly. Not that I would ever be silly. No not me. They did one of Hannah's songs. I was based on a poem by Robert Louis Stevenson. I loved it. I really have to see her do a full set again. While they were being silly before Hannah's song I heard someone Scottish heckle them from the back. It was Maeve Gilchrist. She's a harpist that I met through Jean but I will try and catch whenever she plays. Hannah is Scottish too. They were joking about Scottish Gaelic which neither of them know.
After the show, I planned a quick getaway. Then I saw that the next bus was 17 minutes away. I had just missed one. Part of me was happy, it gave me more time to talk. I ended up talking to Maeve; I now have a beef to pick with her. We had a great conversation on harp music around the world and gender roles in music. She told me that in South America harpists are usually men and it's a muscular instrument while in the British Isles and the US it's most often played by women. But the thing is that Maeve plays it muscularly. The harp does not have to be mellow. See it was such a great conversation that I had to write about it here. It's better with Maeve because I got to hear it in a Scottish accent. I got to hear talk to two Scottish lasses last night. So, what's my beef? I was so involved in the conversation that next time I checked my phone the bus was one minute away. I raced to get my outer clothing on and did not even bother to put on my overshoes. I told Jean who was by the door that I'm racing for my bus and to say goodbye for me to everyone. You know what happened I missed the bus. I told Jean to tell Maeve that if that happened it was her fault. I had to wait 17 minutes for the next one. I was going to go back to the house but decided there was too much chance of being sucked into another conversation I couldn't pull myself away from so I just waited at the stop.
Then came the adventure going home. I tried something different. From Jay Street I took the to 42nd Street and the shuttle over to Grand Central where I can get the . The is express and takes a shorter route into the City so it is much faster than the but it adds another transfer. Everything went fine till I had a 15-minute wait for the . Once again I just missed it. It was all worth it. I had babka. Wasn't there something else? Oh yeah, music and great people. Did I tell you about the babka?
Now for breakfast. The menu prognosticator is pointing to eggs Horvendile.
Spiral Sounds Presents The End of America brought to you by Donald Trump - February 18, 2017
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