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
November 07, 2016 - 2:28 p.m.
A late start but to make writing this more efficient I'm using the results of a study I recently read that said that listening to instrumental music is more conducive to working that vocal. I switched to WQXR. Can you tell by how efficiently I wrote this paragraph? This is going to be the best blog post ever; they played Fell in Love except they didn't.
I didn't update yesterday so the Wise Madness demand is furious. I have a lot to write about. I have been to two house concerts the last two days; they both featured, We're About 9. I've been writing about them since May 2002 when I discovered them at the first Susquehanna Music and Arts Festival. That summer they played The Budgiedome at the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival, or was in the next year? Yes, it must have been the next. Since then they have played The Budgiedome more than anyone. On Tuesday, they played with The Lords of Liechtenstein at Coco and Bruce's house in Brook, part of theFirst Acoustics series. On Saturday, it was a co-bill with Abbie Gardner & Craig Akin with Jim Colbert opening at Gene and Isabel's, aka Court House Concerts. Coco, Bruce, Gene, and Isabel, are all close friends. Abbie has played the Budgiedome many times in different configurations, with Red Molly, duo with Anthony da Costa, solo, and leading a jam. Has she played with Craig? He's played the Budgiedome but I'm not sure with whom? He's played with so many musicians. Jim has not played the Budgiedome but I've seen him play Gene and Isabel's five times. Even though it took more than two hours each way for both shows it was still very much a home game. God knows how many people I knew at the shows; some were at both including the hosts.
Do I need to write more about the Lords? I wish I could have an excuse to just write about Noah and not Dan who calls me Dr. Pajama Pants and doesn't like Nobel Laureate, Bob Dylan. I was told I didn't heckle them enough. I was off my game. They always wear argyle so I wore argyle socks and my Official Lords of Liechtenstein argyle sweater vest. They should have moved the concert over two blocks to Argyle street. Thanks to Noah and despite Dan they were great. They keep writing new songs and have an album coming out in January. They made Coco cry. I hit delays getting there and asked Dan to save me a seat, I didn't. I don't know how it worked out but even though almost every seat was taken before I got there I ended up with my usual seat, front row house left next to Fred. If you ever look for me at a show, that's where to look. I might not be there but it's the most likely place.
The people at both shows were Gene & Isabel, Coco & Bruce, Fred, Jim Colbert (in the audience on Saturday), Chris, and me. I was at house concerts with Gene and Isabel three days in a row. We win house concerts. In addition, Wise Madness recurring characters, the Lords' family, Michael, Star, and Autumn, and Seth and Aviv were there. Who am I missing? I know there was someone I wanted to get a chance to talk to that I didn't. It's hard not having a brain.
Brian said that I always write such nice things about [We're About 9] and that I should heckle them here. I said that I do that to Dan all the time so I should be able to do that to them, or at least Brian; I like Katie and Pat. KZing! My one good heckle was in response to Katie saying, "this is funny to me not to anyone else" and I said, "Just like Brian's jokes." KZing! They are one of the bands that I love enough to heckle, as are Pesky J. Nixon who I saw on Friday, the Lords obviously, and Abbie. I'm pretty much a terrible person.
I told Brian that I always say that WA9 is a boutique band and he liked that. I'm not sure I ever actually used that phrase before but I've had the idea for ages. They sold out both shows. They are the single biggest draw at the Budgiedome. The people that like them love them! To the rest of the world they are "who?" They are not Amazon or even the Strand. They are East Village Books. They aren't Guitar Center they are the Music Inn. They aren't Toys 'R' Us they are the City Island General Store. There are beloved and essential to the people with just the right taste. The songwriting is unique. Their harmonies and not sweet or beautiful, they are brilliant and intricate, and beautiful. There is so much there there, that they are a musical TARDIS bigger on the inside than the outside.
The show was in my once and future home borough, Brooklyn, the county of Kings. It wasn't on the edges either, but close to dead center. To make it more fun the was running express in Brooklyn. The good part of that is meant skipping stops which speeds things up. The bad part is that one of the stops skipped was Cortelyou, the one I needed. I had to get off at Church and walk. That happened the very first time I went there and I was very confused. Now I know the neighborhood well enough that I can just walk it without much thought.
The train was running local on the way back, that helped. I just made the last bus back to City island.
Yesterday I was off to Merrick New York on Long Island. That meant taking a bus and two subways to Woodside where I picked up the Long Island Railroad which was running only once an hour, not the usual once every half an hour due to track work. The railed travel gods did not smile on me this weekend.
I did time things well. I had to either leave home early and arrive early or leave home at an easier time for me and arrive half-way through the pre-show food and schmoozing. I chose the latter but asked Gene to save me my usual seat. As he's not a jerk, like Dan, he did. Not only did I have a seat, it was one of the Shea Stadium seats he got as a birthday present. Good thing I was wearing my Mets cap.
It's a pain to get to but any show at Gene & Isabel's is a home game. Over the years I might have missed three. When I made a request for Nobody's Flying This Plane on Saturday, Brian asked if I was coming the next day. I said, "Of course." After saying they'd do the song then he said, "Good, it would be weird if you weren't there. It will be weird with you there but in a different way." I can't argue with that.
Who was at that show that I haven't mentioned yet, Mike, Shelley, Marty, Jim from Virginia, not Colbert, aka Tall Jim, Dan & Phyliss, Rona & Bob, and so many more. Know who wasn't there? Lori not LORi. I sent her an invitation to the show months and months ago. Know her excuse for not going? "It was sold out." She waited for it to sell out before getting tickets because she hates me. She missed a great show just to avoid me so she was punished. She works with Rona and I told her to show Lori the sad face I made when I found out she wasn't going to be there. Lori hates me but I love Lori. That is the story of my life.
Gene met Jim, Colbert, PA Gym, bearded Jim, before he knew he was a musician. They were both big Richard Shindell fans. Jim asked if he could open for Red Molly at Court House Convert. He gave Gene a CD. Gene thought it was great and the rest is history. I love that Jim writes about weird things like a 1971 boat-tail Buick Riviera. I've heard him do that song many times but yesterday I finally thought to google it and see what it looked like while he sang it. I did, once I saw it I remembered the car. Jim said you either thought it was ugly as sin, or super cool. It's as ugly as sin.
There was at least one year that Abbie was the person, not the musician, the person, I saw the most. I see her less often now but it's starting to pick up. That's a good thing. I love her music. It's not as easy to write about as We're About 9. She plays the Dobro; which is a good start. She can sing folk, blues, and jazz. She can write great songs in multiple styles. She projects enjoying herself on stage as much as anyone I know. She can collaborate with people. When she's playing with Craig, who is now her husband; I mean playing instruments; don't get the wrong idea; his bass and her dobro have a musical combination. Did I mention that Craig is the best bass player I know? There was a song where Pat joined in on the guitar and it became a three-way dialogue. That's will always win me over. She did one new song where Katie joined her on harmonies. I forgot to tell her but it's the best song she's written. She described it as "slinky.' I might go with "haunting."
Come on people, what's left. You should know. Food. Isabel made two chocolate ring cakes, one each night, that I virtuously didn't finish so other people could taste them. I am a martyr. There was also apple pie and apple cider and all sorts of other wonderful things.
The rail travel gods were particularly difficult coming home. There were no trains at the Merrick station. All the trains terminated at Rockville Centre. Fortunately guess who lives in Rockville Centre? Fred! He kindly gave me a ride. The timing was good for trains leaving once an hour.
I had to change trains at Jamaica for Woodside. As there was a 15-minute late it might have been faster to go to Penn Station. But I wanted to go to Woodside for reasons that will become clear. I'm also an idiot for reasons that will become clear. It was cold and I wanted to put my Mets' cap on under my hood. I opened my bag to get it out. It wasn't there. I had left it on the train. On the way, there I went to take a drink from my water bottle after the change and Jamaica and saw I forgot my water bottle. But I didn't. I left that on the train. Yes, I left two things I often use on the train. I should contact the MTA when I'm done with this and see if they were found.
I wanted to go to Woodside because Donovan's Pub is there. Growing up in Bayside there was a Donovan's a few minutes from home. I loved it. I have not eaten there in years so didn't miss this chance to go to the one in Woodside. I ordered my usual, the chopped steak with fries. Chopped steak was my most frequent order when dining out and I have not had that in years? It's not nearly as ubiquitous as it used to be. It was still amazing. I'm so happy I went there. I even got served by a waitress with an Irish accent. It was just like the old days.
Tomorrow is election day. I have picked out my wardrobe and who I am voting for. I'll write about it then. I never received my election card, I hope I don't have a problem. I might need a provisional ballot. I hope not, those are often not counted. Expect me to write about politics at least the next two entries.
Now I have to get moving. It's Monday, bagel and Trader Joe's Day. I'll be home for the first time in days. I hope Jane and Bernie are too. If they are pumpkin spice scones are on the menu. I love cooking for other people.
NERFA Formalities - November 15, 2016
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