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Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


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   acoustic Jayhawks show
Sunday, January 20 2002
Usually Sally lets me sleep in late, to something like 9:30 or 10, but this morning she wanted to go out and play in the sow. So we were out in Prospect's Long Meadow by 8:30am. It was actually Gretchen's morning to walk Sally, but she'd been sick all night and actually had to work today. Yes, people still work in 2002, believe it or not. So I took pity on her.

Sally in the Long Meadow of Prospect Park.

Sally from a distance.

Sally (left) meets some friends.

Gretchen held her big birthday celebration party as an informal gathering at Mooney's on Flatbush Avenue, the least pretentious bar in Brooklyn. I arrived at the appointed time, 6:30pm, but Gretchen wasn't there yet and only two people, Evan and Eulala, had shown up. They didn't know each other and that they'd come for the same purpose. Concerning the absence of pretence at Mooney's, Eulala was in full agreement. "I think the lights actually get brighter as it gets later here," she said.
Gretchen's friends kept arriving and we kept adding more tables to our empire until we'd pretty much taken over the entire place, with the exception of the bar itself.
At a little past 8:00pm, it was time to head into Manhattan to see the Jayhawks at the Bowery Ballroom. For whatever reason, this had the effect of vastly pruning our contingent. By now it was down to just Gretchen, Anna, Evan and me, and Evan was thinking he didn't want to go and he needed convincing, something I successfully accomplished by spontaneously chewing up one of Sally's tiny dog bones. My usual punchy drunkenness had been succeeded by something a bit more extreme.
Since Anna has a car, we actually drove to Manhattan. Mostly in this city, when your car gets to where it needs to be, you reach for your wallet, as opposed to worrying about parking.
Anna had some pot, so we smoked a joint out on the sidewalk (well, everyone except Gretchen did) and then headed in to see the Jayhawks. Poor Evan; he couldn't get a ticket, it was a sold out show. Bye Evan! Enjoy your subway ride!
I don't know if it was the pot; the pot and the beer; the pot, the beer and the sold out show; or what, but, damn, the music was so good. The opening act, the Cash Brothers, were a couple of guys playing electrified folk and singing in harmony. I realized that the acoustic guitar, with its plinky staccato strings, was serving mostly as a percussion instrument while the electric guitar was carrying the largest share of the tonal instrumental burden. I'm a sucker for the sad folk electric sound they were serving.
Tonight's Jayhawks performance was billed as an-all acoustic show, and this made me nervous. There's something more than a little off-putting about a band that makes its name playing one instrument trying to make a show of playing something else considered more sincere and sensitive. Imagine, if you will, going to see Chuck Yeager fly a rocket plane back and forth across the desert and it turns out that he's really just going to be pedaling a rusty three speed around a parking lot instead. It's sort of like that.
But the Jayhawks didn't disappoint. They kept up a steady barrage of what can only be described as heartbreak. Heartbreak was in absolutely everything they did, or more importantly, in the changes between the things they did. My heart was in constant peril of ruin. They'd be on one chord and, oh no, here's a different chord and the difference left my heart in tatters. They'd do the same thing lyrically, specifically both with the intonation of words and the words themselves. "There's nothing more heartbreaking in all western music than when he sings '...five point stars,'" I told Gretchen at one point with complete sincerity. Other times I just cried like a baby and was happy that it was too dark for anyone to see.
Then again, it's possible I'm just a wuss.

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