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
March 18, 2016 - 1:36 p.m.
I'm starting this at four minutes past noon. This is not good. I should be finishing breakfast now. I have to break out of this late schedule. I am getting up too late to play Question of the Day now and still not getting enough sleep. I am tempted to eat then write but I'm going to write this, just not post pictures.
Yesterday was St. Patrick's Day and I celebrated the only way I ever celebrate it, by hearing live Irish music. I did a conveniently located double header. First I saw The Yanks and AIR (Atmospheric Irish Recital) at the Atrium at Lincoln Center. There are a lot of free shows there. You sometimes have to get there very early to get in. The listed time was 6:30 and I got there at 5:20 or so. There was already a decent crowd but I got to sit at a table right up front. I was there to see the Yanks who was finishing sound check when I arrived. I know them two ways. The piper and flutist is Isaac Alderson who used to be in RUNA and therefore my people. I would have discovered them anyway because they had a formal showcase at NERFA. I had no idea what AIR was but figured I'd find out soon. After I sat down I found out that AIR just had a 10-minute bit at 6:30 and the Yanks wouldn't come on till 7:30. Who thought that was a good idea? I didn't like the idea of sitting around for two hours but if you leave there's a chance you won't be able to get back in so that's what I did. I was soon joined at my table by a former WFUV volunteer. I am totally blanking on her name. She recognized me from my voice. My voice is somewhat distinctive. Damn I forgot the disparaging description I usually use. How would you describe it? High-pitch grating whine?
AIR was one of the most neuro things I've seen and I've seen neuro. A young woman walked in like she was in a trance. Think of how someone looks when they are under mind control in a movie. When she reached the stage she stood stick straight and stared blankly straight ahead. Then they started showing a video on the screen behind the stage. The aspect ratio was off. Everything was stretched horizontally. The slim young woman on the stage looked stocky in the video. The video showed scenes of Ireland, I believe he west coast, all rocky cliffs by the sea. Other young woman entered the room in the same manner as the first one. The video played electronic mood music. Eventually there were atmospheric vocals, not quite a song. I thought it was recorded and the woman just stood there but now I think they were singing. You couldn't tell from the sound. When the video was over an older woman thanked everyone and asked if we wanted another song. The girls then did Danny Boy. I thought there were only three girls as did the woman I knew. One was right behind us. But there were about 15 of them distributed around the room. Even though one was right behind us we could only heard them through the sound system. For all I know they could have been lip synching. And that was the entire show. It's described as an installation. I thought of it as the Stepford Colleens. Now that's not right as a Colleen is unmarried. Is there an appropriate Irish term for a married woman? I was relieved to see after the set was over that the girls had free will and could act more naturally but even then it was more like Mormon missionaries than a gaggle of teen girls.
So then we had to wait 45 minutes. I knew I wouldn't have free time so I brought a peanut butter sandwich to eat. I thought I'd have it after the show but once there was the break I ate it then.
The Yanks came on right on time and were not robotic. They were just what you want on St. Paddy's Day a fun Irish band and like so many they aren't all Irish and as you might guess from the name are all Americans. They play traditional Irish music or their own songs that sound traditional. Isaac plays uileann pipes and flute, Dylan Foley, fiddle, Dan Gurney, button accordion, and Sean Earnest guitar and bouzouki. So is Isaac the only one that's not Irish? They are clearly a band I need to see more often. It's all instrumentals, reels, jigs, waltzes, and airs. The Irish like to dance. On the first song, I think it was jigs and reels the girls from AIR danced. That's when I was sure they were real people. The Yanks couldn't keep their eyes off them. That's how I knew they were dancing. It was off to the side but I went to see what the band was looking at.
Now I feel bad the words to describe AIR came flying off my fingers and I'm having much more trouble thinking what to write about the Yanks. They were four charming Irishman, Isaac is an honorary Irishman and nice Jewish boy, playing beautiful intricate music. That's something I can't get enough of.
When the show was over I heard someone call my name. it was Megan. She is a former Ceol na nGael host from WFUV. That's the student hosted Irish music show. I did see her at the Winter Drive when a lot of the old hosts came back but we didn't get a chance to talk. Since she graduated I mainly see her on social media. I don't get hugs on social media so this is far better. And just to show off my memory I'll point out that the friend she was with was Dan. That was easy because I asked my friend Dan to go with me to the show. I talked with Megan and Isaac for a bit and then had to make my way to my second concert at Bar 9. I had no idea where it was, I was thinking 9th street. But no it was on 9th avenue about half a mile from where I was. That was perfect. I just had to walk over a block to Columbus Avenue and walk south. Columbus becomes 9th.
I went there to see Three Pints Shy. Going to a bar on St. Patrick's Day is my antithesis of a good time. So why would I go there to see a band I had never heard? Because my good buddy Seth Morgan is in the band. I don't think I've ever used his last name here before because I don't use last names in social situations but here he's performing so the Wise Madness style manual says to use a last name. I will not use the New York Times Style Manual and call him "Mr. Morgan" on all subsequent references.
I said hi to Seth before it started and he said that Sarah and Zev were sitting "over there." So instead of standing off to the side up front I made my way back looking for them. They were in the very back and with other people but I spotted Zev and joined them. I know them through Chris. I talked to them till the music started but I couldn't see from there and couldn't hear well so I moved up front to listen.
These guys playing in an Irish bar are an Irish bar band. That does make a lot of sense. They got me excited by playing three songs that Great Big Sea, The Old Black Rum, Mari Mac, and the Old Black Rum. That's not that unexpected lots of people cover those songs but they did all of them I'm expecting it's not a coincidence. What did surprise and delight me was that they do Da Vinci's Notebook's Another Irish Drinking Song. I had to write Paul Sabourin and tell him that. I was even more surprised that Seth is not the one that brought the song to the band.
It was late and I had waited around two hours at Lincoln Center so my plan was to just stay for one set but I had so much fun I played for both. In the break I went back to talk to Sarah and her friends, OK can I remember their names? Well I remember Lauren who I spoke to the most. Then I went back front for the second set. It was hot and I had to stand but the crowd was for the most part well behaved and the crowd is why I keep away from bars on St. Paddy's day. Who decided that the patron saint's day would be celebrated by living up to the most negative Irish stereotypes?
Not only did I stay to the end but I stayed afterward and hung out with Seth for a while. Of course that's something I know I like and I got more hugs. I also got stout brownies. They were great. I think it's because I couldn't really taste the Guinness. They were quite chocolatey.
It was something like 11:30 when I headed home. It takes a lot longer get home than to get there because the trains run local then but there were no drunks on my car. This is how to celebrate St. Patrick's Day.
Brother Brothers in Arms - October 01, 2017
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