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

May 24, 2014 - 12:27 p.m.

Making Fancy Caffeinated Designs with My Mind

I say it here often but I have a feeling people don't get how alienated I feel. Do you get why that's funny? No? Oy, now I really feel alienated.

But then there are the little bonding moments. On Facebook Mira posted about having a great cup of coffee. I was drinking a great cup of coffee at the time and said so. We went back and forth for a bit then came this bit.

Mira: Do you make fancy designs in the foam?
Me: Nope, just a simple french press and half and half.
Mira: And then you make fancy caffeinated designs with your mind

That would make a great title for a blog and I told her I'd use it for this entry. It's a pure miracle that I remembered to do so. Exchanges like that are a big part of why I love Facebook.

Last night I went to Bargemusic to see Rob Schwimmer. I've planned on going there quite a few times, always to see Rob, and something has always come up to prevent it. Last night I finally made it. It helps that now it's easy to get to from where I live. It's just what it sounds like, music on a barge moored by the Brooklyn Bridge. I figured that the show was at 7:30 and as I bought the ticket in advance I didn't have to get there early so I'd leave here around 6:00 and eat dinner in Brooklyn Heights. I then got a slow start and left around 6:30 so I figured I'd just grab some pizza. I figured I'd pass someplace along the way. I got out of the train and checked my phone for directions. That meant going to my calendar to get the address and saw that the show was actually at 7:00. It was 6:50. It was a 15 minute walk to the barge I figured OK, I have my ticket and since when do shows start right on time? I walked there quickly and even stopped to take this picture.


I had a bit of trouble figuring how where to walk into the venue but made it at 6:07. The show had started, Rob was playing. Ugh. I took a seat in the back till he finished the first piece. Then I want to move to my seat, third row on the aisle and somebody was in it. It ended up being treated like general admission even though I picked my seat on the website. That was actually to my advantage as front row center was available and I moved up to that.

I guess I have to tell you about Rob. I shouldn't. At least my friend in New York should know him. But I'm afraid they don't. I'm afraid you don't. He's a studio musician that's worked with ome people that you have heard of; Simon and Garfunkel,Wayne Shorter, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Stevie Wonder, Willie Nelson, Paul Simon, Chaka Khan, Laurie Anderson, Bette Midler, Queen Latifah, Arif Mardin, Adam Guettel, Mary Cleere Haran, T-Bone Walker, Sam Rivers, Marc Shaiman, The Klezmatics, Christian Marclay, Matthew Barney, David Krakauer, Ang Lee, Maria Schneider, Michel Gondry, Trey Anastasio, Bernie Worrell, Nels Cline, Annette Peacock, Gwyneth Paltrow, Marshall Brickman, Karen Black, Larry Campbell, Josh Groban, Mabou Mines, Geoffrey Holder, John Cale, Steve Buscemi, Theo Bleckmann, John Stubblefield, Burt Bacharach, The Roches, Edie Brickell, Teo Macero, Hal Willner, Vernon Reid, The Everly Brothers, Ethel, James Emery, Bela Fleck, Lenny Kaye, Kurt Vonnegut, Anjani Thomas, Odetta, Drepung Loseling Tibetan Monks, Sussan Deyhim, Bernie Worrell, producer John Simon, Joseph Jarman, Alwin Nikolai/ Murray Louis Dance Company, Marc Ribot, Frank London, C&C Music Factory and Sammy Davis Jr..

He plays:


The Piano


The Theremin


And this thing

Can anyone identify the last instrument? I'll give you time. I'll even let you use Google as long as you don't Google Rob or look at his website.

When I came in he was playing the piano. What does he play? Pretty much everything, classical, rock, jazz, you name it. He plays everything but the other kind of music and he play it well. He is also funny. Very much corny Jewish dad humor. Which is perfect as he's a corny Jewish dad. His son was there assisting him. Yesterday was the 45th Anniversary of the Who's Tommy. It was released 45 years ago yesterday. Which is totally irrelevant as Tommy doesn't know what day it is. That' Rob humor. His motto as a thereminst is "Once more without feeling." He' my people. Well except that he has perfect pitch and can play music.

Speaking of perfect pitch as soon as I sat down the barge began to pitch. A storm was rising. I immediately saw this was trouble. Look at the theremin. It's a variable capacitor with the player's hand being one of the plates. It works exactly the same way putting your hand near rabbit ears change TV reception. You know how sensitive that is. You move your hand freely in the air a few cm to change the notes. For the high notes it's a few millimeters. Imagine doing that while you are on a pitching and yawing boat. It was something of an adventure for Rob and you could see it in his eyes as he played. He did an amazing job of it.

So figure out what that third instrument is? It's a continuum. I want to go into business making them o I can call my company "Spacetime." Don't you want your own Spacetime Continuum? It is almost exactly the instrument I always imagined but even better. I always thought the perfect electronic instrument would simply be a pad where left-right controls the pitch and up-down the volume. The continuum almost work that way but is three dimensional, not two. Left-right is volume and it has the brilliant idea of marking where the note are like a piano keyboard. But up-down is not volume but tone. You control volume by how hard you press. It allow you to shape a note as on a theremin but also to also play more than one note at a time. Like a piano you can use all your fingers. I wish my videos had come out but they didn't. I hit a snag each time I tried. What I really wish I had recorded but didn't attempt was "the Mosquito" by Alexander Scriabin. Rob set the continuum to sound like a buzzing mosquito. Everyone had the same reaction, You wanted to laugh out loud but felt you shouldn't as he's in the middle of playing a piece of classical music. I looked around and you could see everyone attempting suppressing laughter and not quite succeeding. That's what I did. That's the essence of Rob, virtuoso musicianship and silliness combined.

There was lots of thunder during the show which Rob used to comic effect. I think he should have billed it as a duet with Thor.

It was just drizzling when I left and I was able to take this pic.

What a City? I can hear great unique music within sight of that.

After the show I went to eat. I ate backwards starting with dessert. The Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory was right there on the pier. I was OK but overpriced, no Ample Hills Creamery. Then I had pizza before hopping on the subway. No way I'm missing the next time he plays at the Barge. Who is coming with me?





Brother Brothers in Arms - October 01, 2017
Late to Bed and Late to Rise - September 30, 2017
On Your Feet or On Your Knees - September 29, 2017
Why Life Doesn't End on Closing Day - September 28, 2017
Anna and King of I Am - September 27, 2017



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Horvendile May 24, 2014
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