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
-Bertrand Russell

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

October 23, 2013 - 3:45 p.m.

Rohe My Boat Ashore

I'm getting a late start writing this today. I guess I'll be finishing after class. That's too bad as I have to do laundry when I get home. I had all day to do it yesterday but didn't get out of bed till it was almost time to go out in the evening. Yes it was one of those days. Mamma told me there'd be days like this. "There'd be days like this" my mamma said.

My digestive system is not at its best. After 45 years the Crohn's disease still comes up with new tricks. Last night I had what felt like a bad full blown attack but then it just let up and I was not only fine but hungry. The entire episode lasted maybe 45 minutes. No less than that. Half an hour tops.

I got distracted by actual schoolwork. Now I have to go teach.

I dont' care if the calendar says Wednesday it's Monday. I has the essence of Monday and that's what counts. This morning I go to print something out. We have a combined printer copier in the office. I shoot it over to the printer where someone had just finished copying something. I hear only one sheet came out when I printed 30. I walked over and saw it was out of paper. The other teacher had opened the draw and walked away to get, now get this, one sheet of paper. That's all he needed I guess and he'd let the next person reload the paper. I in fact was standing there with a ream of paper in my hand when he closed the drawer. Of course the first sheet of my job came out and then I got the out of paper error message. I loaded the ream and only 7 sheets came out. I don't know what he did. Perhaps he hit cancel job. I sent it to the printer again and saw that it was set to 30 sheets so it wasn't a mistake on my end. The other teacher acted as if he existed in a vacuum. In your life have you ever seen someone put a single sheet off paper in a copier? He was standing right in front of the bin with the paper.

OK enough ranting. Let's get to idiot stories. The first is about teaching. I did quite a bit of prep for today's lesson yesterday. I had it all written out in a blue exam notebook.. First class I went in and discovered that I left it in my backpack. I had to wing the entire lesson.

Now for the bigger idiot story that will lead up to the good stuff. Last night was the release party for Jean Rohe's Jean Rohe & The End of the World Show at Joe's Pub. I had bought my ticket ages ago. Katherine called me and said that when we had talked the other day that she forgot that we were going to the show. I said, "I didn't get you a ticket? I thought you couldn't go? She said she thought I had. I said no and she was off on her merry way. I then retraced my mental steps and realized I was thinking about a different show at Joe's pub and that I didn't remember buy the Jean Rohe tickets, Then I remembered buying them by phone and then thought I bet I did buy two. So I called up and found out that I had. No why I forgot? Yes I'm an idiot. I had to call back Katherine who was already on the subway and I left her an email and a facebook message to make sure she got it. Good thing she's a good sport who knows me well enough to not be totally exasperated. We arranged to meet at Joe's Pub and things went smoothly after that.

As you can guess from my not getting out of bed till late I didn't have a great day before that. I was going to get something to eat in the city before the show but then was hungry so I had peanut butter at home. But I was so anxious I couldn't sit at home so I went into the City. I had an hour to kill so I went to The Strand, the world's largest used book story. I actually remembered to check to see if Pam were working. I only discovered that she worked there a month or two ago. She wasn't. I almost bought a book, Dead Souls by Gogol but decided to pick it up another time. I have a couple of books to read before then. I decided to get to Joe's pub early and maybe get some work done or read. When I got there I found Katherine already there. Actually I could just make out her hair from a distance but she is usually attached to it.

The earlier show let out late so we had to hang out for a bit. Doors opened late. We ran into Richard and hung out with him till they opened. We were at my usual seat at the counter above the floor level. Richard was on the floor. I planned on shooting spit balls at him but he was too far away. Yes I am 9 years old. LORi stop giving me that look. She thinks I'm only 5.

Jean made the show an event. Her friend came out and introduced her and prep the audience. We were supposed to simulate the sound of rain by clapping softly and irregularly. It works quite well. I actually know a better trick and I'll tell Jean next time I see her.

That was a tipoff to her first song, Umbrella. I didn't have the album in front of me but I think she did the entire album in order. I thought I'd know most of the songs but I only had heard about half of them live. As you might have picked up I miss very few of Jean's shows. She is special.

In a bit of metablogging I realized that part of what I love is that she's very easy to write about. She just does things differently than other people and that gives me something to say.

The End of the World Band is big, seven pieces plus Jean. But unlike most big bands they aren't loud. Often there are only a few people playing at once. She has three percussionists but they don't have full drum kits. They each make their own unique sound. One doubles on eh vibraphone which is usually a percussion instrument. Sometimes he turns it into something else. He plays it by stroking it with a stick. That creates an otherworldly sound akin to a saw or a Tibetan singing bowl. That is the best analogy. . You can see him playing it in this picture.

After Katherine pointed out that they each have the own small percussion instrument I realized that is how Jean works. She builds the music out of many soft and subtle elements. Playing the vibraphone by stroking is typical. The drummer would sometimes spin a length of tubing over his head, as the Blue Man Group does and that creates an almost ambient sound. Each player does something that would hardly be noticed on its own but sum to something so much greater than the sum of the parts.

The same goes with Jean's voice. When she did the solo show a few weeks ago I thought she was singing in a different style. But she wasn't. Her voice is not powerful. She doesn't sing like an opera singer. It is not resonant. If she were in a choir the leader would not be saying, "She sings lead." What makes Jean a great singer is in her head, not her larynx. When Jean writes and performs a song, every little bit is in just the right place.

Her songs are fractal, there is detail at all scales. No part of the song is exactly like any other part. Just as the sound of the moment is built of tiny elements, the song unfolds in time as a series of tiny elements.

Jean is also delightful. She takes such joy in what she does. And then she talks about the joy and she talked about what makes the job tough. She's a one woman operation, other than the performance. She doesn't have people. When she sends an email she doesn't know that it isn't going right into the trash folder of every venue in Philadelphia. You hear that Philadelphia? Make damn sure that isn't happening. You want her to play for you. If things worked out she'd get me to come down for a show.

She's on my playlist of performers that I'm listening to that I prefer to what gets played on WFUV weekdays. She does get played by John Platt. I have to talk to Bob Sherman about her this week. He'll love her. I know she's a bit challenging for a general audience but she has some songs with broad appeal. No way that people wouldn't love Red Rover. That was a highlight of the show as there were 7 percussionists plus the audience clapping plus the audience singing along. I'd give Paul's eyetooth to have her do that at The Budgiedome.

The encore was the songs she wrote to be our National Anthem. Arise! Arise!

It's so odd it recounts so many of the country's sins yet is totally patriotic. It passes the Casablanca test for national anthem. If the Major Strasser and the Nazis were singing the Horst Wessel song and Victor Laslo asked the band to play Arise! Arise! everyone would join in and even Yvonne would join in with tears in her eyes and drown out the Nazis. Not sure what an American would shout out instead of "Vive la France;" Probably the USA chant.

After the show I bought the CD, Katherine and I said hi and buy to Jean as headed home. That's a good place for us to go home together from. We took the. She can take that home and I make the easy transfer to the .

Why do I feel the need to discuss that when I'm waxing poetically about music? Not because I'm an idiot but because I'm me.

So I had a bad day most of the day and that doesn't matter a tuppence because I had an wonderful evening. Know what's better that sitting watching an great musician? Watching a great musician in the company of a great musician who is also a great friend. I've been fortunate enough to be able to do that quite a bit I my life. It isn't just that the person singing along next to you is singing on key and in harmony. It's that you get to hear it through their ears.

OK Now I have to do something that's been giving me tons of anxiety and then I have to go home and do laundry then get to bed early as I have to be up at 4 AM tomorrow. That is way closer to when I usually go to sleep. That shows true love. I'm volunteering at WFUV.





Annoying People - September 03, 2016
This Play Was The Pits - September 02, 2016
Banking on Getting Better or Avoiding Katastrophe. - September 01, 2016
Unlike Gilligan I Got Off the Island - August 31, 2016
Call of the Wilder - August 30, 2016




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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License. Horvendile October 23, 2013
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