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
April 29, 2018 - 2:12 p.m.
My head has been in a strange place all week; maybe that's why I had vision problems, my eyes are in my head. The effect was that I stayed in all week and had trouble initiating any action, including blogging. Is it anxiety? Depression? I'm not quite sure. I'm not quite sure that's a meaningful question.
It looked like yesterday would follow the same pattern when I saw on Instagram that Stephanie Jenkins was playing at Pete's Candy Store. That's in Brooklyn but until the L train stops running I can get there as quickly as to most places in Manhattan. I haven't seen Steph in a while and I knew she had new material. Something inside of me clicked and I was able to get up and go out.
My plan was to leave early enough to stop at Trader Joe's and grab something to eat before the show. That gang aglay. I finished yesterday's short blog so late I wasn't left with much time. I just missed a bus. The next one was late. I'm an idiot. It was a beautiful day and I live on City Island. That means bumper to bumper traffic on the one road to the Island. Then it was a weekend on the New York Subway; there's planned work all over the place. The tough part was no express on the Lex line. That means the 4 and 6 share one track which leads to congestion. As I got to Union Square I realized I didn't have time to go to Trader Joe's. When I got to Williamsburg I didn't have time for a sit-down dinner. I found a pizza place by the Lorimer station and ate it while I walked. I got to Pete's with just a few minutes to spare. I heard the previous act do one song. He introduced it by saying, "Here's another anxiety song." He must be my people.
Stephanie usually plays in bands, this was a "solo" show. There was some question about that as she was accompanied by her brother Reid. Reid said it was still a solo show as were playing her songs. It's something we need a word for. So often when an artist in a band does a solo album there are other artists on it. It's not solo. How about calling it supported solo? I like that.
Stephanie plays banjo and Reid fiddle. They come from the Old-Time world. On the new album they just recorded, Steph's for supported solo, she went in a different direction; singer/songwriter. She even, horror or horrors, played an electric guitar on some of them at the show. I don't think she does on the album as Reid said, "That's new." The guitar had been their sister Cassandra's. I had to make an editorial decision there and I'm not sure I made the right one. They always call her Cassie, I was introduced to her as Cassie, but her legal name and the one she uses professionally is Cassandra. I don't know which would be more familiar to My Gentle Readers, so I made a choice then spent a paragraph explaining it. I am not getting points for conciseness.
I would like to hear Stephanie's vocal tracks isolated. Her voice when singing with the guitar sounded different than the banjo voice I'm used to. It was more belle canto and less twangy. Is that just the effect of the instruments on my hearing or her adjustment when she sings? I don't even know if she would know. I love her singing either way.
Even when doing the singer/songwriter material she wasn't sensitive chick with a guitar. There was weirdness in both melody and lyrics. I can't wait to hear the album hen it comes out in June. Dibs are merching!
I enjoyed Stephanie and Reid's banter and chemistry. Reid kept trying to get Stephanie into a punning contest but under pressure she came up with banjo jokes. Her day job is documentary filmmaker; you know all those cool images and videos that Ken Burns puts in his documentaries? She finds them in archives. She calls her jokes PBS humor. I loved the unscripted feel to the banter. It started by Stephanie announcing "We bring the fun to Saturday night; … I've been working on that for 30-seconds."
Stephanie supported the next act Ira Wolf. I knew that before I went down there. I had never heard of Ira but from the name I could tell he was Jewish and figured as he's a friend of Stephanie's probably from Brooklyn. I found at instantly that I was wrong as when I Ira took the stage I could see that he was a she. She later said she's from Montana. I'm still betting on her being the one Jewish person from Montana as I've never known an Ira that was born a Gentile. As I was wrong about everything else it would be hubris to assume that I'm not wrong about that too.
Ira's producer said that her album needed a sad banjo and to trust him, he knows the right person. That was Steph. She recorded her part without even meeting Ira. They met later. Stephanie usually has a big smile on her face, so I find I third to think of her as a sad banjo. Perhaps she's a closet sad banjo. I always look happy and I'm a sad spiny anteater.
I would have liked to hang around and socialize but it's a long trip home. I should have easily made the 11:20 bus but because the trains were slow I made it by just seconds. The next bus is half an hour later.
I'm going out again tonight; I'm seeing Madeleine Peyroux with Genevieve, a friend that I have not seen in years. She lives in South Africa now, not just a different country, not just a different continent, but a different hemisphere. This should be good for my psyche. My psyche needs good things. That's why when I got home last night I had ice cream with both hot fudge and peanut butter sauce. It's great having a therapist that approves of my self-medication regimen. Don't shake your head, for others this would be a big problem. It was a big problem for me in the early 90s when I expanded faster than the universe. It isn't now. My weight is stable
Now, I have to get myself to do something that I enjoy for someone else. It's been giving me anxiety for a week, today I do it or not die in the attempt. I better just do it.
I signed the Pro-Truth Pledge:
please hold me accountable.
Memories: Not that Horrid Song - May 29, 2018
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