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
September 15, 2014 - 12:15 p.m.
Yesterday I had a musical doubleheader. The first stop was the Feast of San Gennaro in Little Italy to see Villa Palagonia (pah-la-go-NEE-uh). Did I pronounce that right Allison? That's Allison Scola and Joe Ravo. Allison posted on Facebook they were playing from 4-5.
Now back when I was young, college and grad school, I'd go to the Festival because I was now a grown up and could do these things. It was a New York thing to do. Then when I got older I became a real New Yorker and blamed it for blocking traffic.
I wasn't quite sure what he setup would be. My guess was there's be a stage and people would stand and listen. Actually there was a stage with seats. It is very easy for me to get there by subway and very easy for me to time. I planned on getting there at 3:45. I got there at 3:45. They started at 3:45. Yes 15 minutes early. Good thing I'm compulsively early. I took pictures.
I also took a video. I wanted one of her doing a tarantella but unfortunately she only did one, the first song, and I wasn't ready. I learned that it isn't called a tarantella because the dancer is supposed to move like a spider but because it's the dance you do to ward off the spider venom. Not only that but the venom could be metaphoric, depression or heartbreak, or it could be a spider bite. I might have to start doing the tarantella. Allison said she'd ask people to join her in a tarantella but ended up not having time for it. If she had I would have danced not videoed.
But I did get this video. It's not in Italian like many of the songs but it sounds Italian and like most of her songs inspired from her ancestral homeland Sicily. She has a business giving and planning tours of Sicily. You want to go there, talk to Allison, her website is Experience Sicily. After hearing this song you'll want to go. Go to her website and see the pics and you'll really want to go.
I always thought that if you pictured a Sicilian woman you'd picture Allison. She's have been perfect as Michael Corleone's Sicilian bride in The Godfather, except of course she's six inches taller than Pacino.
So I said yesterday I was going to stop forcing myself to come up with some clever analysis of every musician I see. And I am not going to do that. But sometimes I don't have to. Two things struck me. One was that especially in the up tempo Italian songs Villa has the carnival atmosphere of the soundtrack of a Fellini film. They'd be playing in the background and something totally bizarre would be center stage.
The other thing is passion. Allison is passionate about Sicily and that passion comes out in the music. I was going to say her singing but it's more than that, it's the playing, and her movement. She's dancing even when she's not dancing. Passion is an element of musical excellence I often forget when going through my checklist. There's musicianship, showmanship, song quality, genius, and passion. The audience won't be passionate about the music if the performer isn't.
The reason that they never got to the second tarantella is that they were cut short. They were scheduled to play from 4:00 to 5:00. Instead they went from 3:45 to 4:30. On the bright side it gave me more time to talk to Joe and Allison. I wrote it that order for a reason. Joe was nearer the stage stairs and had less equipment. He got off the stage and joined me. Allison was on the far side and before she could get off the stage the next act had started. She had to hide in the corner and be inconspicuous till he was done with his first song. It might have taken her two songs to make it. We didn't quite know what was keeping her till I saw her making herself invisible. She did a good job. Saw her invisible does not seem quite right.
In any event I had a lot of fun talking to them for about as long as they played. I met a neighbor of theirs and someone that used to work with Allison. The neighbor asked Joe his age and he gave it in hexadecimal. How can I not like talking to these people?
Then I was off to the second leg of my double header at Rockwood Music Hall. Savannah King was on at 7:00 but I was meeting Heather there at 6:00. It's only a short walk away. Let me see how far, 0.7 miles. It's hard to internalize how close they are as the neighborhoods are so different. I went from Little Italy to the Lower East Side. But they are adjacent. I got there and talked to Mel the guy that works the door. I just discovered that his name is Mel. We were talking and I said, "this is ridiculous, we always talk and don't know each other's names. So we introduced each other. When Heather arrived we had an hour before Savannah came on so we took a walk. We went to a fun store on Avenue A that reminds me of Alphabets. they had a Higgs Boson Watch! They also had watches from Doctor Who, Salvador Dali, and the Theory of Relativity. I want a bunch of them. We then passed Alphabets, they moved. Then we headed back to Rockwood. When we got there the previous act, Jess something or other from Australia was still on. I said hello to Savannah in the audience and she introduced me to her boyfriend Drew. Yes I remembered two new names, Mel and Drew and half of the name of the performer.
Savannah is having a golden year. First she was a Kerrville New Folk finalist. Then next month she is touring with, now get this, 10,000 Maniacs. She's not just opening for them but I playing in the band. She's a fellow Western New Yorker. If it weren't for Drew I'd be fixing her up with Paul, he's beautiful, talented, and from Buffalo. I think that's his complete checklist.
I didn't get any videos but I got some decent pics for Rockwood.
She cut her hair since the last time I saw her and now I think she looks like Alison Scagliotti from Warehouse 13. Do you agree?
After her set we talked for a bit and then Heather and I went back to her place. So you know what I hadn't mentioned? I had a mini-Crohn's attack. It passed while I was at Heather's and I had some garlic-cheese mashed potatoes. When I got home I had something more substantial. A bratwurst on a hot dog and chicken cordon bleu ala Jersey. I made it with Taylor ham and fake American cheese. And I put half of it on a hotdog bun. It was wonderful
I'm glad I came up with a metaphor for why I'm depressed, in addition to not being given any classes. If you missed it yesterday I feel as if Falcon Ridge notified me, that like Dan Bern, I'm banned from the festival. That creates two avenues of pain. the first is acute, a feeling of injustice. It's me, it's Falcon Ridge, who supports Falcon Ridge more than me? That generates the most obsessive hurt. But it's driven by the second which is stronger, and I know will last longer, a sense of loss. I waited a lifetime to find the sense of community I found at Falcon Ridge and I know that if I find it again it won't be soon. I'm an exile from a place that I love. Please remember that I'm not actually banned from FRFF. I'll be back next year. I'm already making plans.
The second is already surpassing the first but they both come and go. Yesterday was a good day. Today started off poorly but as always writing helps.
Oh one more piece of good news. I got home and my mattress was comfy. I no longer had springs digging into me. I thought they got a new mattress but they just turned the old one. Why didn't I do that? Oh right, I'm an idiot. No that's not it. It was the anxiety. I did think of it.
Brother Brothers in Arms - October 01, 2017
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