“Lose your bearings. Regain a view of the horizon anew.”

Both the Dady Brothers and the Slambovians told Pete Seeger stories.

2015GrandSlamboviansFirstNightIt’s New Year’s Eve. The Wife is driving us to Oneonta; the Daughter is already there, staying with the grandparents. I’m wading through a stack of unread newspapers for the week, plus the December 18 edition of Metroland, the Albany area’s alt news and entertainment weekly.

Columnist David Greenberger wrote this positive review about a group called Lucius. Except it REALLY wasn’t about the group, or the concert, at all. It was “a passionate suggestion that the next time someone you trust recommends anything you’ve not experienced before, you say ‘Yes.’

“This isn’t just about music, but film, literature, food, a walk in the woods, anything at all. Step into such unknown realms that are offered to you with this a sort of towering kindness and willingness.”

The Wife and I had agreed to meet the relatives at the atrium. My parents-in-law are great fans of The Dady Brothers, described as an Irish folk duo, though they are far more eclectic than that. I had seen them perform at previous First Night Oneonta celebrations.

But before we found our family, we ran into our friend Penny, who lives near Albany; in fact, she works on the same floor of the office building I work in, though I’d known her for decades. We attended her daughter’s wedding in August 2014.

She and her husband Broome were there to see The Grand Slambovians, billed here as playing “Surreal Roots Rock”. She recommended highly that we stay to hear them, as she was sure I’d like them. I HAD vaguely heard of The Slambovian Circus of Dreams, and they are the same folks, more or less. Broome had seen them in Philadelphia, PA the day before, and he and Penny were going to see the group in Northampton, MA a couple of days later.

I might have stayed anyway – the adjacent space was crowded and cacophonous – but the endorsement sealed the deal. And I DID like them. Early on, they performed Very Happy Now, which “combined with two of the song’s influences, Donovan’s ‘Epistle to Dippy’ and the Ramones’ ‘I Wanna To Be Sedated.'” As Broome and Penny knew, this tickled me.

Even more so, I appreciated the merger of the Christmas carol ‘Angels We Have Heard on High’ with Van Morrison & Them’s ‘Gloria’. Broome bought me a Slambovian DVD, because he decided, as is he wont, that I needed it.

Interesting that both the Dady Brothers and the Slambovians told Pete Seeger stories. One of the Dadys wrote a song about Pete, which they sent to him. Later, they had a chance to play with him. At this show, they performed that song they wrote, plus the Pete classic This Rainbow Race.

The Slambovians gave Pete a ride from Cold Spring to his home in Beacon, at which point Pete invited them in and talked for four hours. They felt Pete knew they were faux folkies, while everyone knew Pete was the real deal. Pete, they realized, was really lonely, his wife of 70 years Toshi having died in July 2013; Pete himself died in January of 2014. The Slambovians played Suzanne, the Leonard Cohen song, in honor of Toshi and Pete.

The moral, perhaps for the year: I’ll Try Something New. Which, oddly, reminds me of a song by DIANA ROSS and THE SUPREMES with THE TEMPTATIONS.

The days of whine and hosers

whining copyThis will be a breakfast blog* post, just for my friend Dan:

30 December 2013: Took the bus to work early so that I could get my monthly allergy shot and not miss much work. There was a woman on the bus who was complaining about everything, sitting near the front of the bus. She was fairly loud, and about every fifth word was a vulgarity, no exaggeration. Worse, there were two or three women in that section who were listening to every perceived slight or projected hassle with rapt attention. After I got off the bus, I was SO relieved. My working theory is that some people LIKE to listen to others complain – I suspect they also watch those argument-driven reality shows such as The Real Housewives of Peoria, or wherever – but I found her exhausting.

31 December 2013: We went an hour southwest to Oneonta, NY. Two years ago, for First Night, it was about 50F (10C) at 5 pm. Last year, it was 34F (1C). This time, it was 14F (-10C).

First, we went to the new home of my parents-in-law. I mean, it’s new to them, and it’s nice, though they are still in the midst of unpacking. Sometime after I got there, I tried to post my blog post on ABC Wednesday, but I couldn’t GET to my blog. But I didn’t have time to investigate.

The trip to the motel was an adventure, with this sudden snow squall popping up. Do you know how there’s a covering at motel entrances? We were getting pelted by snow and wind WHILE WE WERE UNDER THE COVERING. It probably looked cool to watch, if one weren’t IN it.

Finally, after the wife and I got to the motel, I called the blog service provider. The blog problem wasn’t on his end; it was the dumb blogger who failed to update the Akismet, and my blog was under attack from Chinese spam. 20 minutes later, it was all fixed. Thanks, Shawn, and sorry!

That evening, went to venues with The Daughter, while The Wife went with her mother, and her father was off on his own. Among the acts were these Indonesian dancers, a woman and two children, whose music was not loud enough in the large room, AND who competing with the fire eaters just outside.

There were also belly dancers, and I was impressed, not only by their skills, but by the fact they didn’t have perfect bodies but put themselves out there; only one you would call slim. One of the young woman in particular, who my wife had seen months earlier, had particular confidence and charm. If there were snarky remarks, I didn’t hear them.

1 January 2014 (very early): The Wife and I stayed at a hotel, went to sleep c. 11 pm. Around 4:30 a.m., some folks were pounding on a door down the hall, complaining in a too loud voice about the fact that they had been locked out of the room. This went on for at least ten minutes.

Then it came to me: the absolute perfect putdown for these clowns. “You know that resolution you made not to be an a**hole this year? Well youve already broken it!” These things NEVER come to me in the moment.

But then I thought, in my foggy, exhausted haze, “Do I want the very first thing I say in the new year to be cursing out some strangers?” Instead, I opened the door, and said, in the most polite voice I could muster, “Hey, there are people trying to sleep here!” The crew mumbled some apologies, and eventually, we went back to sleep.

2 January 2014: Back in Albany a day early in anticipation of a snowstorm, which came. Shoveled a couple of times. The landlord next door hasn’t provided his tenants with a shovel, so they are always borrowing ours.

Went to the grocery store, listening to someone talking joyfully about being fired from her job, and from her retelling, I could see why. Everything was THEIR fault. She didn’t even bother sitting through the exit interview: “Am I fired? Then I’m outta here!”

3 January 2014: Shoveled the walk for the third time in the morning, when it was a balmy-2F (-19C). Got to work, and my computer would not connect to the network, so I couldn’t use it at all. Apparently, I’m at least the third person in my office to experience this. But the guy who could fix the problem was on vacation. His assistance came over in the afternoon, and after a few hours got me into my own computer at about 3 pm. My wife had TOLD me to stay home…

*Dan claims Ramblin’ with Roger is a breakfast blog, one a person reads at breakfast. I initially thought he was suggesting that I write about what I had for breakfast – I seldom do – but now, when I have a bunch of little bits that don’t warrant individual posts, I refer to those as breakfast posts. Like this one.