Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Serenity Gardens (09.10.18)

Getting into some autumn sounds at Serenity Gardens. Photo by Aurelie Chenaux.

As I do every other Monday throughout the year, I performed last night in Second Life at Serenity Gardens, which means that as usual, I'm writing this post on the following day, which happens to be Tuesday September 11. I've documented my own recollections of 9/11/01 a number of times before, most thoroughly in 2013 which you can read here. One of my most personal memories was not of the day itself, but of being in New York a couple of months after the tragic event on business. It was entirely bizarre. Everyone was extraordinarily polite, and the city itself, typically famous for its noise and hustle, was still very subdued. I didn't visit Ground Zero; it felt very wrong to be treating it like a tourist spot while bodies were still laying in halls of Javits Center as a makeshift morgue. But I was with a coworker in a cab on the way back to JFK, and as we crossed the Brooklyn Bridge he tapped me on the shoulder and pointed backwards. The sight of the Manhattan skyline with the gap where the World Trade Center buildings had stood made it all too real. I will never forget that moment.

In the years since then, I've made respectful remembrances of the event, as most Americans do and should. Unlike most of the world, we've been so fortunate in that after the early years of the country's formation (and our own civil war), we've had so few major attacks on our soil that 9/11 is impossible to overlook or forget, which is as it should be. It's sadly ironic that those of us who are immersed in political activism are sometimes called "un-American" by the opposing sides, while to me, it's obvious that we care more for the country than anyone who leads an apathetic life. That's why I can offer a perspective that American lives remain in severe peril even today, and yet the "Never Forget" crowd seems to be the first in line to deny this truth. Climate change is causing more dangerous and extreme weather patterns. The lack of attention to infrastructure leads to situations like unsafe drinking water in Flint, MI. The income gap between the extremely wealthy and a larger and larger segment of the population increases daily. And, of course, the policies of the current administration and treatment of America's allies and enemies alike may very well eventually lead lead to horrific acts of war and terrorism with death tolls that far eclipse 9/11.

None of this takes away from the sadness and rightful respectful remembrance of September 11. However, it does make you think what the future history books will say about the era in which we live today. "Why didn't they stop him? Why didn't they do anything about it?" will almost certainly be questions that our grandchildren and their children will be asking, and I don't have any answers. I can say that the small efforts I can make, like spreading the word about what's going on in the USA, and voting in the upcoming Midterm elections (and encouraging others to do so as well) will have its own small effect. Hopefully there are enough people who feel the same as I do that we can, collectively, push things back in a direction that's for the benefit of all Americans, and perhaps all people in the world. Meanwhile, a salute to the 9/11 victims, survivors, first responders, and everyone else affected is always appropriate on this day, and I offer it sincerely.

The Show
So, it's finally starting to cool down considerably here in Southern California. I awoke today to temps in the mid-60s and the high is only around 73 today. After yet another brutal season of high summer temps, the somewhat crisp weather is a hugely welcome change. I find it likely that we still have another heat wave ahead per our typical weather patterns, but for now it's amazing and refreshing. I was definitely inspired by this to build a set list for last night's show that was very autumnal.

A couple of notes. First, yes, I did improvise a song called "Being Creepy to Tyche", and it was as bad as it sounds. Second, I was reminded that Joni Mitchell's 75th birthday is coming pretty soon, and I will definitely be covering plenty of that amazing woman's music in tribute for the next couple of months. I did "Furry" for the first time in four years, and I was glad I did (despite having to make my audience be patient while I retuned, which is just par for the course for playing Joni's best stuff).

I guess they forgot to tell me it was Ladies' Night at Serenity Gardens. Where are all the dudes? No one knows. Photo by Aurelie Chenaux.

It turned out to be a pretty good show and a good time for me and, hopefully, the crowd. Photo by Aurelie Chenaux.

Serenity Gardens set list...
One of These Things First (Nick Drake)
Fire & Rain (James Taylor)
This Afternoon (Zak Claxton)
*Being Creepy to Tyche Improv (Zak Claxton)
Half Moon Bay (Sun Kil Moon)
So. Central Rain (R.E.M.)
†Furry Sings the Blues (Joni Mitchell)
Abrasion (They Stole My Crayon)
Jane (Barenaked Ladies)
After the Gold Rush (Neil Young)
1979 (Smashing Pumpkins)
Pretty Pimpin’ (Kurt Vile)

*Indicates the first time I've performed this song in SL.
†As far as I can tell, I haven't performed "Furry" since September 2014 during a show at Hesperia of Templemore.


Big thanks to everyone who attended my show, with special thanks to those who helped support it!
Sinful Xubersnak, Kat Chauveau, Englishrose71 Resident, TheaDee Resident, Anastasia Yanwu, Aurelie Chenaux (who also provided the photos for this post!), Tyche Szondi, my manager Maali Beck, and the fabulous team at Serenity Gardens, Tilly Rose and Ilsa Wilde.