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
June 06, 2015 - 12:51 p.m.
Blogging is not as easy as it looks. OK I'm not sure that's true. I have no idea how blogging looks. I'd like to think that I make it look easy but one of my hugest pet peeves and I think a key problem is the world is people basing their beliefs on how they make them feel not empirical evidence. So I'll say what I know to be true. Blogging is not always easy. I'm good at it. I know tricks. I make thinks as easy on myself as possible. So what's hard now is that my current emotions are not in tune with what I am going to write about. But this is when I think back to something I once heard somebody say about comedy; the difference between a professional comedian and a funny person is that a comedian can be funny when he doesn't feel funny. There are two bonuses for me. One is that I'll get to feel like a professional. Secondly I'm not happy now but I'm writing about happy things and that often makes me happy.
Last night I took that ride, across the river to the Jersey side. No I didn't take my baby to the carnival. I went to Spiral Sounds Concerts to see Sam Baker and Carrie Elkin. This was the last show of Spiral Sounds' inaugural season. I've been to every show but one. And I'm an idiot. The even said 7:30. I didn't know if that was doors or when the music starts. I sort of figured it was doors so I planned on getting there at 7:30. I am always the first one there. So you know where this is going. That's when the show started. I was not the first one there I was the last. People were wondering what happened to me. It is not easy not having a brain. I would have been there 10 or 15 minutes earlier if I wasn't nice and let a guy with a cane go before me on the escalator down to the PATH platform. He was very slow and I the doors closed just as I got to the car. Of course I'm never confident I'm on the ride train on PATH. There is no sign telling you where the trains go. This is of course insane. On the subway which is more complicated and has multiple trains on many tracks there's a sign by each track telling you where the trains go. On PATH if you don't know they don't want you going to Jersey. After I missed the train I decided to make sure I was on the right track by asking someone. I asked the first person to come down the escalator after me. He pointed to his earbuds and walked away. Did he not think of taking them out so he could hear what I was saying? I'm guessing he didn't care. I sort of wish I was saying, "There's a deadly black widow spider on your shirt about to bite and kill you."
Obligatory Establishing Shot
Even though I was the last to arrive I still got my seat down front with Fred. This was his first time at the show. What I didn't get to do was socialize with my friends. I did get the pleasure of finding out that Loyse was upset that I wasn't there. It's nice to be wanted. Gidge and Loyse host the series. Sam said that pronouncing their names was the hardest part of the show. Gidge is pronounced with a soft G as Jidge. That's easy. Loyse is Louise with a French accent. I have no idea how to write that down. I think of it as having one and half instead of two syllables; the slide into each other. And I think it's more like low-ease but I'll be honest I'm not sure. I hope my bad French accent covers up everything else. Good thing I'm cute so I can get away with that stuff.
So who else was there that I know? Mya, Scott, Kathryn, Karen, and Katherine, all musicians. Wait there was more. I know there was more because I knew people that Fred didn't know. OK I'm an idiot, my friends know I'm an idiot, and won't hold it against me that I don't remember who. And I'm still cute. I figure if I say that enough people might start believing me. I'm also delusional.
Yes there's music and I'll talk about that. But not quite yet.
As I was on way I was wondering if Carrie would remember me and if I'd have to introduce myself But as I was late I didn't see her before the show. She took the stage right in front of me, noticed me, got that look of recognition and said, "Hi," and actually looked happy to see me. I always pay attention to things nonverbal communication like that. Something I forgot to talk about last weekend. When I ran into Kristin at the Cuddle Magic show we said hi, started to hug, and both stopped. We both couldn't remember if we hug. So weird. We do hug. It's me and I know her well. But somehow we both glitched on it. Hey it was funny in my mind. But I don't have a brain so I'm not sure what that's worth.
Carrie standing right in front of me
I always go to Spiral Sounds, it's easy to get to. I'd trek further to see Sam, and even further to see Sam and Carrie. It's one of the super special acts. Let's start with Sam. Sam is a lyric poet. He doesn't so much sing as recite poetry to a guitar. They are three minute Steinbeck novels. Fred said he was a less urban Lou Reed. I see that and also hear a resemblance to John Prine. They see the world in poetry. They are about real people going through real things. I was discussing it with Gidge. He thinks the key is that Sam can express what we all feel so concisely. My hypothesis is that the key is not in the expression but in the understanding. He sees the central thing going on while to the rest of us it's lost in the details. Carrie is a real singer. Funny after the show Sam said that to me after I was thinking it. Here's a thing I have trouble expressing as I don't have vocal training. I don't know how to talk about singing. I do have physics training. I thinking about singing in terms of what's going on in a person's vocal tract. What Carrie does that a conversational singer like Sam doesn't do is change the shape of the tract to resonate with the notes sung. It's what makes you sound better in the shower. You are in a resonating chamber. It's why I violin sounds better than a naked string. A voice like Carrie's and a voice like Sam's don't always blend well. Ever hear Joan Baez sing with Dylan? It's terrible It's too people singing at the same time, not together. Carrie and Sam blend beautifully. They make the little adjustments to make them work. And they have brilliant arrangements. They do my favorite thing, singing different melodies and words at the same time. One of their songs made the country charts. If there were any justice they'd be stars playing Town Hall.
Sam is still looking at Carrie
So there are all these super serious poetic songs. They are filled with the range of human experience. Even the funny songs are moving. But that's only half the show. I'd pay to hear them talk. Sam is a storyteller. He's also ADD. He was totally channeling Da Vinci's Notebook, especially Bernie. Look a bunny! He went off on wonderful tangents that he kept harkening back to. He thought the best part of the evening was hearing Loyse say "squirrel." He was upset that Kathryn, didn't take the ferry to JC. Why wasn't he upset that I didn't take the ferry? Should I be hurt? Doesn't he care if I see the view? Look a bunny! Carrie is his straight man. Is there such a thing as a straight woman? Why do I think of that as being not a lesbian why never think of that of a straight man? See I can do the ADD thing too. Actually I can't stop from doing that.
During the intermission Loyse announced awards for the people that have been to the most shows. Yes I won! So my being late and making people think I might not show up was ironic or maybe zincic. I won an autographed CD! Next time I play DJ I won't have to ask Sam to send me an mp3. Yes there will be a next time.
Here's a slideshow of all the photos.
After the show we socialized for a bit then Kathryn, Fred, and I went to the PATH train together. There were no trains coming from Exchange Place so we had to walk to Grove Street. It's the same distance but not as nice a walk. Also I always get lost. I was the only one that had been there before but Kathryn had to set me straight. I could have waited another 11 minutes and taken the easier train for me, the one to the World Trade Center but you know I can't keep away from friends so I took the uptown train with Fred and Kathryn. Fred went all the way to 33rd Street. Kathryn and I got off at Christopher Street. I walked her to her bicycle. She lives in the East Village and a bike is the easiest way to go cross town.
I could give you my misadventures with dinner but I've already written 1717 words and Katrina is waiting to talk to me. And I am waiting to eat. Know what? I was right. I do feel better. Blogging is good for me tonight. More special music tonight. Jean Rohe is playing at First Acoustics. You should go too.
Brother Brothers in Arms - October 01, 2017
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