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
-Bertrand Russell

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

June 30, 2013 - 4:55 p.m.


This is not the entry I planned on writing. The roller coaster went off the track. I got a call yesterday about the apartment I looked at in Crown Heights that I could move in today. I was packing this morning when I saw I got a text. The rug was pulled out from under me. I don't have anxiety, anxiety has me. I'm back at square one.

I'm finding it hard to write this. I'm spent and want to go sleep but I need to write. OK now you know the payoff and I'll write about yesterday.

I went to the American Roots Music Festival at Caramoor. Carter picked me up from the House of Tom Bombadil and drove me to the Festival. His Common Ground Concerts were one of the cultural partners. I knew most of the cultural partners, Coco and Bruce for First Acoustics, Richard and Viki from Acoustic Live, and Mike from Acoustic Music Scene. The Festival has excellent acoustics. Maggi organizes the Festival. John Platt was the emcee. This counts as a home game.

There are two stages Friends Field with a sound system and the pure acoustic Sunken Gardens. Except for David Wax Museum the same acts were playing at both stages, I spent most of the day at the Friends Field, I should have gone for the Sunken Garden. Here's who I saw and where.

Spuyten Duyvil Friends Field
Doug & Telisha Friends Field
Stray Birds Friends Field
John McCutcheon Friends Field
Doug & Telisha Sunken Garden
Stray Birds Sunken Garden
David Wax Museum Friends Field.

I sat most of the day by myself till Lisa and Katherine showed up. After that I spent some time with them.

As always I played social butterfly and bounced around talking to people. Doug & Telisha live in Nashville and don't get up here much so I made sure to talk to them.

I hardly got a signal on my phone there but at some point I got enough to receive a text. It was from the woman with the apartment in Crown Heights telling me I could move in. Aren't you glad I warned you that wouldn't work out? I got excited and told everyone. Then during David Wax Museum, the one artist that I don't see often, I've only seen him once before, I had a severe anxiety attack. I really had to fight this one. I sang along during sing alongs and tried to pay as much attention to the music as possible but it wasn't enough. When I first heard I got the apartment I was relieved but then thinking about the mechanics of the move overwhelmed me. I didn't really get over it till the concert part of the day's schedule was over and the social music hour started. Mark from Spuyten Duyvil led it. This was true folk, music, not performers and an audience but everyone participating. I sat with Katherine and she lent me her uke on some songs and attempted to help me play along. I know only three chords but they are the chords of the people's key, C Major. The way I put it is that I pretended to play the ukulele. I have been thinking of buying a uke so I could participate in things like this. I've also considered a small accordion. That is the instrument I have the most instruction and experience with. Most often I think of getting a keyboard and just playing for myself at home. But the thing is I was reminded just how talentless I am. I don't think I can ever get good. Piano teachers who see me play something I know think I'm good but that's because they don't know how much instruction and practice I already had. I do get the keyboard way better than fretted string instruments. But even with them I'm not good. Maybe I should try voice lessons. I just want to not be so bad as to bother people that have to listen to me. Katherine and Goldberry said my singing isnt that bad but I pointed out that's because they love me.

In the evening there was the big concert under the tent by the Del McCoury band. I have seen them once before but I cant figure out where. I am pretty sure it was indoors not a festival, Del plays bluegrass but what put them on my RADAR was their cover of Richard Thompson's 1952 Vincent Black Lightning aka The Greatest Song Ever WrittenM. I have no objection to doing it as bluegrass or even changing Box Hill to Knoxville. It does what a great cover should, make me pay new attention to an old favorite and hear it in different ways. Of course I still start crying right on cue with the the line, "But he smiled to see her cry," And the tears really well up at the greatest line from the greatest song ever written;

Said James, "In my opinion, nothing in this world beat a 52 Vincent and a Red-headed girl"

I have tears in my eyes just from typing it. So why is that line so great? I'm not the only one that feels that way about it. It isn't about the motorcycle. I don't particularly care for motorcycles. And while I've always loved red-headed girls and made Carey wear my black leather jacket because "Red hair and black leather my favorite color scheme."
That isn't it either. It's because that simple line pretty much says everything about love, the rest is commentary. Of course I can't put it into words. It would take a book, a library of books, to say what Thompson said in 17 words.

The evening's show was assigned seats and fortunately I got to sit with a friend, Mike. I have not seen him nearly enough recently so it was great to catch up. During the first set we sat behind a pole but I scouted out empty seats in the middle we could move to for the second set and we did.

The first set was Woody Guthrie lyrics that Del put music to. There were a few that were among the very best of the posthumous Woody Guthrie collaborations. Nora, Woody's daughter has been inviting songwriters in to put music to songs that Woody just left the lyrics to.

The second set was Del's usual music. It's real bluegrass. Just because there's a banjo doesnt make it bluegrass. It's a fairly specific musical style though Ray Wiley Hubbard's, "to play bluegrass put the capo very high and play very fast."

I was worried that I'd have trouble finding Carter after the show but he put his hat on so I'd spot him. That was a relief. Carter, Mike, and I walked back to the cars and had a nice talk. Then Carter and I talked more on the ride home. We talked a lot of music.

Writing this helped a lot. Losing the apartment knocked the wind out from me. Now I have to pick myself up, brush myself off, and start all over again. I'm sure I've said this before but with all the great literature I've read and all the great movies and plays I've seen, I think of an episode of Remington Steele. Remington tells the story of a smuggler he knew that finally saved up enough money to buy a freighter. It sunk on its maiden voyage. As it was going down he started to laugh. Remington asked him why and he said, "Think of the possibilities."

I signed the Pro-Truth Pledge:
please hold me accountable.

Memories: Not that Horrid Song - May 29, 2018
Wise Madness is Now In Session - May 28, 2018
The NFL and the First Amendment - May 27, 2018
On The Road Again - May 26, 2018
Oliver the Three-Eyed Crow - May 25, 2018

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Horvendile June 30, 2013
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