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
August 29, 2016 - 12:00 p.m.
Not So Creepy Stalker
How long can I blog without ever leaving the house? Hopefully we won't find out and I'll leave. This is pretty much the antithesis of my usual life. At least last night I watched something great on TV, Ray. It was on Showtime, I watched on my computer. This is a film I was mad I missed in the theater. Anyone not know it? It won the Academy Award, at least I think it did. It's the biopic of Ray Charles. I sadly knew much less about him that I thought. I didn't know he went blind from glaucoma, I thought he was born blind. More significantly I didn't know he was a heroin addict. That was all before he entered my consciousness. I did know about his music but not enough. I still need to explore it further. I of course read his Wikipedia article too. Historical books and movies do that. I want to know what really happened.
Like so many great men deciding if he was a good man is difficult. He treated women terribly, he cheated on his wife then on the woman he was cheating with. He had 12 children with nine different women. I'm channeling my father and calling him a crumbum or is that crumb bum? But he is also someone that stood up against segregations and by refusing to play segregated venues he helped end it at a personal monetary cost. And of course he made great art, but there's no such thing as a moral or immoral music; music is either well or poorly performed.
So now back to my obsessions. This time I'm sticking to music. I'm going to attempt to list all the musicians I've stalked. How am I going to define that? It's not like I have a count of every time I see a band. I'm going to try and limit it to acts I've seen over 20 times. Of course this will always be a guess. It also gets murkier the closer I get to the present when I see many musicians many times.
Renaissance – The first band I stalked. Carey not Carey had an extra ticket to see them at Queens College. I went. I was hooked. From there on we saw them anytime they played in the New York area. We went often enough to become friends with the other people that would get to the shows early to get a good seat. My first experience with the front of the line crowd.
The Roches – They were guests on Pete Fornatale's Mixed Bag. They said they were giving a free show at the United Nations. It was the room with the Foucault Pendulum. We both became big fans. They said their next show was at Town Hall; Carey and I drove there immediately and got tickets. This was in the 80s, driving into the City was much easier then. Of course I did just drop Carey off at Town Hall and didn't park there. We then proceeded to see every New York show of theirs. Every time it was at a different venue though eventually they became regulars at the Bottom Line. I started caroling with them so I can say I have sang with the Roches. Of course so did a slew of other people. Terre has kept up the tradition and there is video of me singing with her. After seeing them I bought all their albums on vinyl. Then shortly afterward I got a CD player and bought them all again in CD.
Christine Lavin – I heard Chris live at the Greenwich Village Folk Festival on WFUV. It was my first time listening to the station. By coincidence Carey was listening to. Hearing Shopping Cart of Love was enough to make us fans. Once again we got tickets to see her next show. I am shocked that I am not sure where it was. It might have been Snug Harbor but I have a feeling it was the Bottom Line. This was one year after the Roches but by then I had my CD player so I bought all her albums on CD. I had more CDs by her than anyone else. Starting with Chris most of the people that I stalked became friends.
Ruth Gerson – I discovered Ruth by walking into Café Sine to see whoever was playing. I used to often do that. I started checking when she was playing and making sure to go. She played often so I saw her often. She was the first one I stalked without Carey. This was just me.
Golden Carillo – That's the duo of Annie Golden and Frank Carillo. I discovered them when they opened for The Story at Celebrate Brooklyn. I would have stalked the Story if they had lasted longer. I did see all their local shows. Golden Carillo's most frequent venue was CB's 313 Gallery, next to CBGBs. I discovered them on my own but Carey went to see them with me quite a few times.
disappear fear. Carey and I saw them open for Renaissance or maybe Annie Haslam solo and started seeing them when they played New York. Carey didn't stick with them as long as I did. I never stopped; SONiA played the The Budgiedome this year. There were a few times I was the only man in the audience. I didn't care. I loved the music.
Dave's True Story – I first saw them at the Greenwich Village Folk Festival. It took me a year to see them again but after that I didn't miss them. My guess is that I saw them more than anyone. I didn't take post-surgical pain meds so I could drive to see them at an in-store. Dave Cantor is one of the most brilliant and original songwriters and Kelly Flint an amazing vocalist. She now writes her own songs and performs solo. Too bad it's always in Westchester. I could count her as a separate stalk. I saw her 20 times easy.
The Professor and Maryann – Ken Rockwood and Danielle damn I forgot her last name. Sorry Danielle. I always linked them with Dave's True Story. Ken was also a brilliant and original songwriter that played guitar and Danielle also an amazing vocalist. And yes, Ken Rockwood is the eponym of Rockwood Music Hall. I asked him, he said they won't perform again. That's sad.
The Kennedys – Pete and Maura are probably the act I've seen the most times. I have seen them both solo many times too. If you bought a CD at one of their shows it was probably from me. It's been a wonderful 21+ years. I first heard them on WFUV and first saw them at a Required Listening show at the Bottom Line. The series was curated by WFUV's Rita Houston.
Dan Bern. I discovered Dan on WFUV and immediately loved him. I am pretty sure I saw him at CB's Gallery but most shows initially were at the Bottom Line. I've seen him at big venues like the Bowery Ballroom and the tiny PostCrypt Coffeehouse. I think people have forgotten but when he started he was one of the next Bob Dylans. He has more claim to the title than most. I still see him every chance I get.
Moxy Früvous – This brought obsession to another level. First I made front of the line friends. But then I got online and joined an active community. For years my social life revolved around Frühead dot Com. I traveled to see them more than anyone, Baltimore, Buffalo, and Toronto. DC too? Maybe How about Philly? Perhaps. It was always places I had friends to crash with. That makes me a stay-at-home Frühead. So many traveled more than that. I made a lot of friends from that community. I first heard them on WFUV. Notice the pattern?
I'm going to end this there in the late nineties. Yes, that's all I'm up to. I didn't mean to for this to be so long but I ended up writing about each band. I wonder who I am forgetting? Should I have included Dave Van Ronk? I saw him more than 20 times but it was over 30 years. I'm not sure. I know I'm missing others. Hopefully they won't see this and get mad at me. Now for a ham, egg, and cheese sandwich. Today it's on an English muffin so it is not written as one word. That's just the rule.