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He'd had the sense, moments earlier, that Caroline was on the verge of accusing him of being "depressed," and he was afraid that if the idea that he was depressed gained currency, he would forfeit his right to his opinions. He would forfeit his moral certainties; every word he spoke would become a symptom of disease; he would never win an argument.

Jonathan Franzen


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Friday, February 24th, 2012

A touch of inspiration, from Muldaur via Sanders

Reading Fug You this morning, I had a pleasant surprise -- a photo of old favorite Jim Kweskin and the Jug Band playing, and right in front is Maria D'Amato on the fiddle! I had completely forgotten she played violin, have just thought of her as a singer for years now.

So I've got some inspiration for the weekend, I want to get "Richland Woman Blues" happening on fiddle. (Also, I want to record "John Hardy was a desperate man", which I've been working on this week.)

Here is a bit of reminiscence about Maria, from Joe Boyd's White Bicycles. Joe went to the 1962 Cornell Folk Festival with Geoff Muldaur:

"We got lost on the campus and by the time we arrived the show - a double bill of Sleepy John Estes and Doc Watson - was over. At the post-gig party, the two men - both blind - sang old hymns shared by the white and black communities of the rural south. We noticed a dark-eyed beauty with a long black braid accompanying the Watson party on fiddle or keeping time with a set of bones. Geoff was too shy to talk to her, but swore that he would marry her. It was the young Maria D'Amato..."

posted evening of February 24th, 2012: Respond
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Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

Ensemble Autobiography

Just then Slippers, the bouncer, came into the bar and yelled: "Hello, Mayann. What in the world are you doing out on the stroll tonight?"

When she told him we were making the rounds he thought it was the cutest thing he had seen in a long time. Then he insisted that we have a drink with him.

By this time my mother and I were getting pretty tight, and we had not visited even half of the joints. But we were determined to make them all; that was our agreement and we intended to stick to it. Besides we were both having a fun time meeting the people who loved us and spoke our language. We knew we were among our people. That was all that mattered. We did not care about the outside world.

Autobiography and memoir have never been my cup of tea, really. But right now I am reading two autobiographies and digging them (Fug You, and Satchmo: My life in New Orleans), and I'm thinking I may have figured out how to read and enjoy the genre. Essentially it is this: don't read the book as the life story of the person who wrote it; read it as you would read a novel, and paying special attention to the "minor characters", that is to say the people around the author. A well-written memoir -- and these very different books are both well-written -- will give you some insight into the lives of the people who are not its primary subject, and this insight can allow you to see yourself in the picture.

posted evening of February 22nd, 2012: 2 responses
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Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

"What's that bird gonna do to that boy?"

Fug You is Ed Sanders' new autobiography. Check out Sanders reading from it at the launch, at Boo-Hooray gallery on Canal St. Boo-Hooray is currently hosting an exhibit of Fuck You/ A magazine of the arts.

posted evening of February 21st, 2012: Respond
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