I hope you all are having as comforting a holiday time as possible. It’s hard not to be pensive. We should be. It is hard to know what is real and what isn’t.
We only have our own perception to rely on and how we load up that perception is on us: How we want to inform ourselves, what sources we draw from, what our priorities and beliefs are and how we buttress or question those priorities and beliefs. Do we detach entirely, thinking that focusing on our own business and life in the most morally responsible way possible is enough to be proactive? I mean, we have lives, right? It might not be enough because we have to be morally responsible citizens of a country we still believe in. We have to believe and we have to push back against an avalanche of anti-democratic psychological brutalization on all fronts, government-sanctioned. We can’t buckle and be defeatist and we can’t have blinders on. Which is a drag, because there are some really great blinder options out there. You can get them all on the Internet.
We might actually have to get involved, get our hands dirty and help others in a real way. I mean me, too. I am not saying any of this in a condescending way. I think about what I need to do all the time. I have to stop thinking and start doing. I can't think that talking about this in a broad and vague way is actually doing something. I guess it kinda is but I know there is more I can do. I’m taking time to reflect and get clear on what that may be. I hope you are, too. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and terrified and hopeless and then that becomes debilitating and can provoke a depressive state that becomes the focus. The bleak feelings of dread are not the pathology; the events you are reacting to are pathological. Your brain and body are doing the appropriate thing. Let’s relieve it by coming together.
All that said. I hope you got some cool presents. I hope you ate some good stuff. I hope you don’t feel too bad about yourself as we enter the new year. There are enough external things to feel bad about. Let yourself off the hook a bit with your interior attacks if you are waging those battles. Let’s externalize them, use that critical energy for things that need to be criticized that aren’t you.
A couple of outlier talks this week. Today I share a conversation I had in Las Vegas with Sammy Shore. If you listen to the show I am sure you have realized there is a sub-narrative that is a comic history of The Comedy Store. I have had an obsessive relationship with that place for decades, going back to when I was a doorman there in the eighties. Well, Sammy is the original owner of the place. He is Mitzi Shore’s ex-husband and Pauly Shore’s father. He is, what I’m sure he would categorize himself as, a somewhat failed comic. He had nothing to do with what The Comedy Store became when he handed it over to Mitzi in a divorce settlement in the early seventies but he has something to say about it and his life in show business. On Thursday I talk to David Bromberg. When I was a kid I had an album I inherited from somewhere. It had a sketch of a guy playing guitar on it. It was a David Bromberg album. It was a little too folkie for my taste at the time but I remember it. Then I got a new David Bromberg album in the mail a few weeks ago and I thought, ‘wow, this guy has been around a long time. What’s he been up too?’ So, I reached out to talk to this lifelong sessions player and I now know he is also the foremost authority on violins made in America, a passion he pursued during a 20-year hiatus from music. Interesting talks.