Weekend Notes

Serendipity schedules my weekends, and the Easter weekend that was was deeply musical. With little-to-no planning, I was met by live performances Friday through Sunday. And given where I’m at in the knitting of AFTH2012, this was especially useful: this year we’ll include a showcase, and I’m still deciding how to frame it. I know the creative spirit to be of one thread… And I’m of a mind to illustrate that insight with idiosyncrasy. Wouldn’t you know, that’s exactly what the weekend served up.

Dr. John and Dan Auerbach at BAM came to me first, on Friday night, through Morgan. Dr. John I’d heard of, but only with a passing familiarity, and The Black Keys are a group I’d only recently gotten turned on to. I’m sure the two can put on great shows in isolation, but in combination they made magic. Auerbach and the band were great, but Dr. John has been at it since long before any of us was born. It shows, and his collaborators defer to him, very wisely. The man is absolutely and completely himself and none other, and I don’t think there’s a better definition of success than that. He’s in town for a little while longer, and if you can manage it, go.

Winter is over, and I know this finally because The Brooklyn Flea is back. I happen to be a stone’s throw from the market that people flock to citywide, and thus have the luxury of using it only for food (read: quesadillas). When I stumbled onto the market’s opening day on Saturday, I was headed towards another local brunch spot with the ladies that were my guests for the weekend. Given how much I’d talked up Olea, we stayed on mission. But all the same, a good stroll through to say hello to good seasonal friends was necessary, and as we turned a corner a brass band struck up their opening notes. Raya’s bright tones were a perfect match for the sunshine and wide smiles of the day.

Social circles in New York exist in parallel, the great diaspora of them in close proximity but also infinitely far until an entrance point appears. When Rodney invited me to a Saturday night BBQ in Chelsea, I grabbed my parachute and headed out. Getting a live show out of the bargain was a lovely surprise, and it gave me the chance to consider the spoken word ingredient. Rap and I grew up together here, and as mentioned previously, an aspect of what I aim to do in the months ahead involves the resurrection of a culture-in-city that can perform as modern vessel for the spirit that used to rampage for no corporate agenda, only for itself, ten minutes ahead of trend and style.

Religious holidays were either ignored or half-heartedly acknowledged throughout my childhood. My mother was keen to distance herself from the obligatory Catholicism of her youth, and as a consequence I’ve had to make my own pilgrimage towards spirituality as an adult. I identify with no organized religion, as I’ve come to see them all as aspects of a whole, and I much prefer being able to borrow from the best of them. Each claims legitimate wisdom, and I am a hungry student.

Kito was along for the ride Friday night, and before parting he invited Ben and I out to Easter mass at his home church in Crown Heights, telling me to expect big hats and big spirits. Ben and I have been finding ourselves in churches lately, mainly without intention, and I was curious to experience this with him in southern Baptist circumstances. I know my son to be deeply connected to the way of things, and Easter is a holiday that I’ve come to recognize as one of the most profound.

I attach to the larger themes; the grand and eloquent ideas of cycles, of death leading to birth, for the brand of courage this perspective instills. In a universe where there’s no god out there, but rather right here, there’s nothing to risk, nowhere to fall. When death leads to the beginning all over again, and I suspect that it does, this moment becomes a workshop, an opportunity to perfect the excellence of existence as beings far more magical than we typically give ourselves credit for.

9 April 2012, 17:18