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
December 03, 2016 - 4:04 p.m.
As I've been doing far too often I'm writing this in the afternoon. I should get back on a better sleep/wake schedule. It's a beautiful day and I'm inside writing. Once I start I love writing. I just hate starting. That is true of so many things for me. I blame the anxiety but should discuss it more in therapy. Do I mention therapy to often? I'm getting anxious that I do. It's what I think about and one conscious objective of mine is normalizing mental illness and treatment. Nobody should be self-conscious or embarrassed by it. Nobody should be judged by it.
We are no fully into Festivus, I went to my first Festivus event yesterday, Robinson & Rohe do their Christmas show, The Longest Winter: A Christmas Concert and Singalong at Spiral Sounds in Jersey City. This is a home game, I love and I'm friends with both the artists and the hosts of the house concert. I can get there early before doors. They can ask me to help with anything. Yet I always have trouble deciding which house is theirs. The block is very similar houses and you can't see the address from the street at night. I know the right one, I'm just always insecure about it.
If you read my last entry you know about all my plans for before the concert. They never happened. Hey it's me. Lucky I made it to the concert in time. Ok that's always going to happen. Good thing that I got there exactly when doors opened and was the first one there. That's part of the Spiral Sounds tradition. I wanted to get there earlier than that as it would give me Liam and Jean (Robinson and Rohe) time but that didn't happen. First, I left a bit later than I wanted. Then I got distracted on the way there. I have several options on how to get there from City Island. I went for the to Union Square and the to the PATH train. All was going well and I got off the at 8th Ave, walked upstairs and couldn't find the PATH? Why? The PATH station is at 6th Ave. I knew that. It wasn't a matter of me missing the stop. My brain had a glitch and told me it was 8th. Stupid lying brain. I headed back to 6th Ave and went up the wrong stairway for the PATH. The signs are terrible. There was a sign that said, "This stairway to the PATH" Oddly it was at the back of the stairway, not where you walk on to it. I walked around and up the stairs and found myself on the wrong side of the street. I had to go outside, wait for the light, cross the street, and back down the stairs into the station.
The advantage of going this way is that I can take the first PATH train to come no matter what its destination. I prefer going to Exchange Place where I get off by the Hudson River and have a breathtaking view of Manhattan but it's the same distance from Spiral Sounds as Grove Street so taking the first one saves time.
With all that I arrived at exactly 6:30. I rang the bell and Loyse came down the spiral staircase to let me in. She knew it was me before she saw me. It's tradition, I'm the first one there. I'm also the first to eat the food and drink the drinks. My drink is diet coke. I'm a cheap date.
I didn't have a lot of friends in the audience, Karen, Laura, and Deb. I invited you to join me. I told you how special this show is. Why weren't you there? One friend got sick, he has an excuse. You don't. Don't tell me you live in California, it's worth the trip.
Now it's time for me to gush. That's the word I used to us often but haven't of late. It's when my love and appreciation just gushes out of my mouth, or in this case, my fingers. You've seen or heard me do it. I do it not just for music but for friends. I'll just gush how much I love you and how wonderful you are. I don't want to hold these positive feelings in so I don't.
Have I ever not gushed at anything Jean Rohe or Liam Robinson were involved with? Perhaps but not in the last 5 years. Everything they do is great and the breadth of what they do is breathtaking. The eponymous album Jean did with her full band, Jean Rohe and the End of the World Show was my favorite album of 2013 and perhaps my favorite album of the decade. It's a big band, as many as nine musicians including Jean. There songs were intricate with many moving parts meshing together. It is an art song concept album.
The Longest Winter is the exact opposite. The musical accompaniment, with Liam on banjo or accordion and Jean on guitar just vocals is spare. The effect is medieval and liturgical. I'd love to see them do the show at the Cloisters. I know the exact room to do it in. It struck me last night that it would be even better if Liam played just the harpsichord on each song. It has something in common with both instruments he plays and is more understated. It was built to play this sort of music. Liam, have you ever played one? I mean to ask him that last night. The harmonies are unique. They sing differently than when they sing original songs as a duo. The feel, even in an intimate setting, is that of a large of a sonic space surrounding their voices even in an intimate venue. It's like shepherds singing in a meadow far from civilization. The songs are between Jean and Liam and the universe and we're listening in. Ethereal is the perfect word for it, especially If you know the original meaning of ether.
The feeling is different on the many songs where the audience joins in. They have singalongs on long songs with lots of lyrics and changes that people don't already know and yet somehow the audience can do it. More remarkably, I can do it. They create a community of people joined in song.
There's not just music. They have a lightbox triptych created by cut paper artist, Andrew Benicas. It reinforces that this is a special evening. I love Andrew's work. Check out the other things he's done including the animation.
You put those things together and it's the formula for the holiday spirit. Many of the songs are opening religious and this atheist Jew has no problems with that. As Liam explains in the show these songs are part of our shared culture and they don't belong to just the churches and the don't belong to the past. Their meaning is there for each of us to make personal. You find magic in your god and we find magic everywhere. I read a lot on Facebook about how terrible people are. That comes from focusing on the wrong people There are wonderful magical people out there. Many of my Gentle Readers are. This show lets you see that. it's on tour. Check their calendar and go see them. Your life will be better if you do.
After the show, I, did not pretend to make a quick getaway. I just wanted to leave early enough to catch the last bus to City Island. Karen and I went to the PATH together and we both could take the first train to New York no matter which destination it was going to. I was glad it was to the World Trade Center as I have not used the Oculus, the new Terminal, yet though I explored it. Karen is one of the wonderful magical people so the ride home was fun. She even realized that being in the Oculus, feels like being inside a whale. You can now get to the without going outside. We walked underground to Fulton Street where we went our separate ways.
My timing was perfect and I got to the bus right before the last bus was scheduled to leave. It was six minutes late which isn't bad and is much better than being six minutes early which would have meant having to take a cab.
There are three great shows I can go to today but I think I'm going to forego all of them. I can't take it easy as I must go shopping but that's how I'll spend the day; the holiday market, Trader Joe's, and Stop & Shop. Aren't you jealous. I will also work some more on my radio show. I see I have email from a band I want to include. It's getting better and better. Who is going to give me a weekly show?
Brother Brothers in Arms - October 01, 2017
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