Sunday, November 29th, 2009
Ellen's project for the last couple of months has been organizing with the South Orange/Maplewood Bicycle Coalition -- the goal is to make our towns a better, friendlier place for riding. The group hosted its first community ride today, from Meadowbrook Park in South Orange to Maplewood town center, and it went off without a hitch.
Turnout was huge, about twice as many people as expected -- Ellen thinks there were at least 50 people riding. It was a real kick to be riding down the street in such a big pack. This should definitely get us noticed -- time to push for more bike lanes!
Saturday, November 28th, 2009
Jim Cross and family were in town today; I brought a guitar for him to play over to Antonio's house and we played with Bob, Janis and Greg. Some of the songs were just great, sounding like we had been playing together for all this time -- like the thread of practice was unbroken. Song list below the fold.
- I Know You Rider
- Old Joe Clark
- Country Roads
- Saint James Infirmary
- I Threw it All Away
- Girl from the North Country
- How Long (Hot Tuna) -- I had never heard this song before; it would be a great one to work on. Sounded pretty nice just playing whatever I could come up with on the spot.
- Long Black Veil -- We batted this one around for a while but eventually could not agree on how to play it.
- Death Don't Have No Mercy/ West Texas Cowboys
- Mama Tried -- we played this straight, and then played a bluesy version Jim has come up with, then jammed from that into "Heart & Soul" and made a stab at playing "People Get Ready".
- Teardrops Will Fall -- another song I have never heard.
- Bonaparte's Retreat
We saw this video of Robert Frost reading his most famous (? -- I think) poem last night -- I had never heard Frost reading before and was really struck by the hypnotic, incantatory quality of his voice. Also he reads a little faster than I would have pictured.
Friday, November 27th, 2009
Speaking of set lists: I played music with John this afternoon (also his brother Vic was sitting in on piano). We played a number of songs we've done before, and also did some instrumentals out of my fiddle book (the misleadingly named but comprehensive Fiddle Fakebook) -- it was a new thing to play these pieces with an accompaniment, very enjoyable. We are going to play the open mic at John's church in two weeks!
Song list below the fold.
- Meet Me in the Morning -- I've been listening to this song a lot lately and working out some fiddle parts to it. We didn't really get it the first time around, but later on we came back to it and it sounded very nice.
- Old Joe Clark
- California Stars -- this is one of our best pieces.
- Prodigal Son -- still needs work, definitely; we're not sure yet whether to play it in D or in E, we tried it both ways.
- Jockey Full of Bourbon -- I like this song a lot, but I need to figure out how the verse goes. Right now I follow along gamely but there's a key uncertainty about where the changes come.
- Louisville Burglar -- we played this in C (which the lead sheet I sent John is in) and in G (which is where I normally play it) -- G is definitely the better key for my voice.
- In Your Dreams (by Wilco) -- this is a brand-new song for me, I don't think I had ever heard it before. It's got a nice sound, sort of ragtimey.
- Bonaparte Crossing the Rhine and a little bit of Bonaparte's Retreat. These are such fun songs! Earlier today I started learning Bonaparte Crossing the Rocky Mountains, too.
- Up on Cripple Creek -- Band songs are a lot of fun but difficult. We did not have quite straight where the verse starts, where the chorus ends, etc. I want to learn the fiddle tune "Cripple Creek" and play these two songs together.
- Wild Horses
- Will the Circle be Unbroken -- again, G seems like a better key than C.
- Sloop John B.
- Devil's Dream -- this song is my downfall -- I try to play it very fast, and I can do it, but I lose track of where I am. Need to slow down and learn it.
- Someday Soon -- another Wilco song that I don't know.
- Praying Mantis (Don Dixon) -- I had never heard this song before, I fell in love with it first time around. It is pretty easy to play on violin, too!
- Hickory Wind
- I Shall Be Released
- Angel from Montgomery
- Can't Always Get What You Want -- John's guitar part for this is great. We played for a long time, attempting with mixed results to jam into various songs like "Nails in my Coffin" and "Up on Blue Ridge Mountain".
- My Home's Across the Blue Ridge Mountains
- Meet Me in the Morning reprise
- Saint James Infirmary -- John played his arrangement of this, which is very different from the tune I know. Definite possibilities.
- Stagger Lee -- we both played guitar on this.
- Irene Goodnight
Hey look, I got linked from kindakinks.net! They linked some other reviews of the Wellmont show too:
Thanks for stopping by -- if you'd like to read some of what I've written about listening to music, check out my archives...
- No Expiration -- a blog about timeless music. No set list, but many of the songs Ray played are named.
- Ken Schlager's review in New Jersey Monthly.
- Jonny Diamond's (kind of callow) review in L Magazine.
- ...Looks like Jon Mandle of Crooked Timber was there as well.
Excellent! Also at kindakinks.net (and thanks to commenter John for pointing this out), the set list from Tuesday:
Ray Davies and Bill Shanley
- I Need You
- I'm Not Like Everybody Else
- In A Moment
- Waterloo Sunset
- Hymn For A New Age
- Dedicated Follower Of Fashion (with partial verse of I Walk The Line)
- Sunny Afternoon
- A Long Way From Home (with Ian on accordion and Karin on backing vocals)
Ray with Band
- Celluloid Heroes
- Till The End Of The Day
- Where Have All The Good Times Gone
- After The Fall
- Alcohol (short version)
- A Well Respected Man
- One More Time
- Vietnam Cowboys
- Walk Don‚??t Run (small guitar tease)
- The Tourist
- Come Dancing
- 20th Century Man
- Encore 1-
You Really Got Me (with slow story intro)
- Encore 2-
This morning, the most recent installment of our home redecoration saga is complete; we finished painting the dining room, and have put the room back together. Look!The painting is "Autumn Rhythm", by Jackson Pollock.
There are a couple of other views at the READIN Family Album, just click on the photo.
(Later on:) ...Such a pleasure, moving through this room and the adjacent two rooms, now that they are back in a proper state, not all chaotic as they have been the past couple of weeks. It feels like a stubbed toe or a sprained ankle, healed back up.
Tuesday, November 24th, 2009
So Ray Davies has (as Holly has been demonstrating all month) a huge catalog -- he made wonderful use of it tonight when Ellen and I saw him playing at the Wellmont Theater in Montclair, playing his greatest hits ("Lola", "You Really Got Me"), my personal favorites ("Come Dancing", "Waterloo Sunset"), songs I knew vaguely ("Low Budget", "Where Have All the Good Times Gone"), songs I had heard of ("Demon Alcohol"), and songs I had never heard of ("Cowboys in Vietnam"); and even one song he claimed himself to have forgotten having written -- "Moments", which he said he was playing because a Finnish journalist who was interviewing him requested it, and he had to look it up on YouTube to figure out what song the journalist was talking about.
A great, great show, and what I think will stick with me about it is the degree of participation from the audience -- from me and the people sitting around me and everyone in the theater. On every song, however well I knew or did not know it, I was bopping my head, stomping my feet, snapping my fingers, clapping my hands, bellowing out responses to Davies' calls. He played for two hours and my attention -- and the attention, it seemed to me, of the audience as a whole -- never flagged. I hope somebody posts a set list online, I'd like to remember all the songs he played.
Sunday, November 22nd, 2009
Spent the weekend in Atlantic City with Ellen's family -- happy 90th birthday, Lou! Here is a picture I took of Ellen and Sylvia on the boardwalk last night, that I'm pretty happy with:This reminds me a lot of the picture I took of Sylvia early last year:...Leads me to the conclusion that sunsets are just generally very pretty and a very good subject for photography.
Wednesday, November 18th, 2009
Ellen sent me a link to this beautiful poem, written by her old teacher Raymond Federman at the very end of his life, in the spring time:
I thank Robert Archambeau of Samizdat blog for sharing this poem, and Ellen for sending it to me.
A Matter of Enthusiasm
I am rereading Malone Dies
just to mock death a little
and boost my cancerous spirit.
I shall soon be quite dead at last
Malone tells us at the beginning
of his story.
What a superb opening
what a fabulous sentence.
With such a sentence
Malone announces his death
and at the same time delays it.
In fact all of Malone's story
is but an adjournment.
Malone even manages
to defer his death
until the end of eternity.
soon is such a vague word.
How much time is soon?
How does one measure soon?
Normal people say
I'll be dead in ten years
or I'll be dead before I'm eighty
or I'll be dead by the end of this week
Quite dead at last
Unlike Malone prone in bed
scribbling the story of his death
with his little pencil stub
normal standing people
like to be precise
concerning their death.
Oh how they would love
to know in advance
the exact date and time
of their death.
How relieved they would be
to know exactly when
they would depart from
the great cunt of existence
in Malone's own words
to plunge into the great lie
of the afterlife.
How happy they would be
if when they emerge into life
the good doctor
or the one responsible
for having expelled them
would tell them you will die at 15:30
on December 22, 1989.
Could Sam have written
I shall soon be quite dead at last
had he known in advance
when he would change tense?
because as Malone tells us
a bit further in his story
I shall die tepid
Does that mean on the contrary
of those idiots on this bitch of an earth
who explode themselves with fervor
to reach the illusion of paradise
while taking with them other mortals
that Malone's lack of enthusiasm
towards his own death is a clever way
of delaying the act of dying?
A lack of enthusiasm for something
is always a way of postponing
the terms of that something.
The soon of Malone mocks
the permanence of death
and his lack of enthusiasm
ridicules the expression at last.
And so before he reaches the end
of the first page of his story
Malone has already succeeded
in postponing his death to
Saint John the Baptist's Day
and even the Fourteenth of July.
Malone even believes he might be able
to resist until the
not to speak of the Assumption
which certainly throws some doubt
as to what really happened
on that mythical day
or what will happen to Malone
if he manages to hang on until then.
In fact Malone defies his own death
by giving himself
birth into death
as he explains at the end of his story.
All is ready. Except me. I am being
given, if I may venture the expression,
birth to into death, such is my impression.
The feet are clear already,
of the great cunt of existence.
Favorable presentation I trust.
My head will be the last to die.
Haul in your hands. I can't.
The render rents, My story ended
I'll be living yet. Promising lag.
That is the end of me. I shall say I no more.
Nothing more to add this evening.
Malone said it all for me.
I can go to sleep calmly now.
Good night everybody.
Sunday, November 15th, 2009
It is getting much easier in the last fifth of Museum of Innocence to relate to Kemal as a human being rather than a monster... Enough so that I get a little sympathetic thrill of suspense at the end of chapter 78, when he says
So I got back into bed, and happily imagining that she would soon return, I fell asleep.
All through the chapter I have been thinking Wait, why is this not the "happiest moment" of his life?...
I was speculating that possibly Kemal's repeated efforts to define "happiness" and to see how he can make it apply to his life, are a marker for the westernized nature of his worldview and of the circles he moves in -- with reference to Fazıl's statement in Snow that he must be an atheist -- i.e. westernized -- because "I don't care about anything except love and happiness."
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