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 19, 2015 - 3:05 p.m.
I woke up early today? Where did the morning go? How is it 12:15 and I'm just starting to write? Well part of it is that I've been working on fomenting revolution on Facebook. I'll get to that later. But before I get to what got me mad I'll talk about good things yesterday. Hey here's a good thing. I made the magnification less on Word, I am seeing better than yesterday.
Let's see, what did I do yesterday that made me happy? Why am I getting out of my funk? I know I went out and did things and I talked to people. That's better than therapy.
Wow I had to shrink the magnification again. That's a very good sign.
I had to figure out a route that included, Bushwick, Columbus Circle, SoHo, and Fort Greene. The last involved buying frozen food so it had to be last. I got a late start so I also knew that I might have to skip the Post Office at Columbus Circle. I started with Bushwick, that's where Tina and family were clearing stuff from their apartment and giving things away. I went the day before because I had the day wrong. Why? Because I'm an idiot. That was an easy question, none of you should have gotten that wrong. The day before I took two trains from their house to mine and it took forever. This time I was smart, I took one bus then walked. It took only 40 minutes or so. It helps that I timed the bus right. The giveaway started at noon and I arrived at a little after three, apparently most of the stuff went in an early rush. I still got some books and a cool little box. I also got something better, well two things better. First conversation. I talked to Tina, her daughter Rachel, and this woman what was also looking for stuff that was also named Rachel. Somehow that didn't strike me at all at the time even though we were talking about Rachel's the visitor, not the daughter, name. Even though she has an Irish last name people assume she's Jewish.
After the conversation Tina asked me if I wanted to see their studio. I jumped at the chance. I figured I'd love it. I did. It was just so them. Oh I'm going to use their last name, I wasn't going to but that's the price of celebrity. This is the Trachtenburg family of Slideshow Players fame. You can keep the Partridge family and Cowsills. They were the best family band. Now Jason has his band Pendulum Swings and Rachel plays solo and is the drummer for the Prettiots and Tina is Mother Pigeon, make model pigeons with the occasional rat, you can see her at Union Square. At least I do. The apartment and studio are just what it should be. I immediately thought of a line from Lord of the Rings, Sam giving his thoughts on the Elves of Lothlorien: "they seem belong here, more even than Hobbits do in the Shire. Whether they made the land, or the land made them, it's hard to say." I feel the same way about Joe and Emily. Has anyone ever felt that way about me? Maybe in my old room with my dinosaurs? Carey what do you think? I also met their pets, the world's meanest cat, the world's sweetest dog, and a pair of parakeets that I was delighted that Tina referred to as budgerigars. They should all come to the Budgiedome. That is where the name comes from.
I left there with an odd amount of time to fill. I had to be at City Winery at 5, it would take maybe 40 minutes to get there and it was 3:45. That did not give me enough time to go to the Post Office first. I figured I'd stop at Dunkin' Donuts and get a frozen dunkaccino. I had a discount coupon for one on my phone. I thought there might be one near 14th and 8th where I had to change trains, so I got off. There wasn't but there was one near the City Winery so I got back on the subway and went to that one. I was still at the Winery too early. But there was a line forming so I wasn't upset even though it was hot and sticky.
I was at the Winery to see the wonderful Willie Nile. The show wasn't actually in the winery but in their parking lot. They have a series of free shows there in the summer. This was the first I've been to. Eliot told me that I didn't have to get there early but when I saw the line I thought it was wrong. He wasn't.
When they let us in I went to my usual spot right up front by the stage. There was still one spot available there and it was dead center. I was happy. Then the opening band came on and the sound was horrible there. It wasn't just that it was loud, I can deal with that, it was distorted. I moved back till I hit the sweet spot. The rule of thumb is be at the same level as the sound booth because that's where it's being mixed for. I looked over and what did I see? I was even with the sound booth. And the thing is I could have walked in then and gotten exactly the same spot. Now I know, don't get there early. The crowd is loose enough that you can move around anyplace you like except right at the stage where you don't want to be unless you are there just to take pictures.
I spotted a few friends there. I talked to Paul, Eliot, and Jeremy. This was a cognoscenti crowd; Paul Cavalconte is a DJ at WFUV and WQXR, Eliot has a music blog, Now I've Heard Everything, and Jeremy is an engineer at WFUV and for the Outpost in the Burbs. He's done sound for Willie there.
Do you know Willie Nile? You should he's been making great music since the early 80s. I think I discovered him through Vin Scelsa but I might have just caught him playing someplace. He plays no-adjective rock and roll. You might worry about a rocker's music after 30 years. So often they become tribute bands to themselves. Not Willie, he is putting out new music as good if not better than ever. He still gives off the vibe of being a leprechaun on speed on stage. He radiates energy with the best of them. He also writes lyrics with the best of them. In other words he's one of the best of them.
I wrote the other day about the different ways a band can be good. I was thinking of the contrast between Willie and Tomoko Omura the last music I heard live. Tomoko is jazz but more my usual taste as it's intricate; each part is different, you have to hear several threads at once. Willie's band comes off as a whole. He has the classic rock formation, lead guitar, rhythm guitar, bass, and drum, like that other band you might know, the Beatles. It's what I always think of as a basic rock band.
However it is achieved the result palpable. I can't speak from experience of course but I imagine it’s the feeling others get from religion. Willie's music connects the listener to something cosmic; energy is released into the core of your being. Or to compare it to something more in my worldview, it's like Popeye eating spinach
The crowd was for the most part my age or older yet many were reacting like teenagers at a rock concert. There was one particularly embarrassing air-guitar player. Good thing I caught myself playing air drums before anybody noticed. I was bounding around and moving to the music, though not as much as Willie and the band. His penultimate song was One Guitar a song about how music can change the world. When he plays it you can believe it. Vin once said about Neil Young, "You get the feeling that he thinks that if he could crank up the amp a little more and add just a touch more distortion to the guitar he could rid the world of hypocrisy." That nails it.
The opening act was a rock act trying to fish in the same sea, they did not succeed. It's not about playing loud and fast. It's not about the style. There's an art to making this work that Willie has and they don't. I started to get anxiety and depression during their set. Maybe Willie didn't drive hypocrisy out of the world but he did drive my twin demons away, at least for a while.
I went from there to Pathmark. Know something? Grocery shopping isn't exciting to write about. Yes I know that I don't usually let that stop me. I could tell you about the three people that didn't know they took up space, well at least the two I can still remember. OK I will tell you about just one. I was walking down the left escalator into the subway with my groceries because that's what you do; the left side for walking and the right side for standing. It's America we pass on the left. Right before I got to one guy standing he moves from the right to the left. I figured he decided to walk and pass the woman in front of him. Nope, he just decided to block the walkway. It isn't even about not thinking, as he made a deliberate move. Willie can your guitar stop that from happening?
As I was walking into the parking lot where the concert was my phone rang .It was Brianne. I tried talking but they started playing music on the sound system so we had to stop. We decided to talk later. Just after I unloaded my groceries my phone rang, perfect timing, it was Brianne. So now I got to add a much needed conversation to my day. She called because she saw how down I was the day before and wanted to check up on me. One of the reasons I've been down is the lack of people I can talk about the personal issues with. Brianne is one of the few that I can that will spend the time talking to me. So here's the irony. I was down because I had no one to talk to about having no one to talk to about being down. Get that? And did Brianne and I talk about that? No, we talked about Werner Herzog and David Lynch. And know what? That was exactly what I needed. I felt connected. I'm still feeling better. I know that all the things bothering me are still there and will still bother me. But right now I'm thinking about yesterday and listening to the Kennedys sing the ultimate upbeat Life is Large and for the moment life is.
I have an entire essay to write about the changes at WFUV but that will have to wait till tomorrow. It's now 3:00. I forgot to tell you that I took a 2 PM breakfast break. You could have taken a break yourself then. I had poached eggs with Taylor ham and American cheese on an English muffin. That's a lot of fake food. I loved it. . I made my coffee in the morning so I had the essential fuel. Now I have to finally get to my PO Box. I might have a love letter waiting for me.
Brother Brothers in Arms - October 01, 2017
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