Cloister Commentary, Day 50: “The Succor and Sustenance Awards, Iteration I”

I inadvertently began this journal on Nicole’s and my 28th wedding anniversary. Halfway to 100, at which point I expect to still be commentin’, I arrive at the 30th anniversary of our goin’ steady. We’d been very good friends for a couple weeks, I was licking my wounds from having been officiously dumped, and I hollered at her one day about going to show with me (the Coctails, Murphy’s, Sprangfield, MO). She’d really been fun and funny, which was helping me heal, and she had stellar taste in music and books, so I stopped by Record Center to say hi to ol’ Mark Vaugine and buy her a present in gratitude (a cassette of Rosetta Tharpe’s Decca label Gospel Train, Volume 1). We met at the show, that band was lively, she loved the gift, we were laughing our butts off–and I just stopped at one point and asked her, “Are we going out?” Her answer: “I guess so!” You know the rest. I hope we have 30 more in the tank!

The 1st Cloister Commentary Succor and Sustenance Awards (links in comments):

Best Anti-COVID-Blues Album: Carmen McRae, The Great American Songbook

Best Anti-COVID-Blues Movie: Duck Soup (“Hail, Hail, Freedonia” indeed….)

Best Anti-COVID-Blues Show: What We Do in The Shadows (I have a crush on Nadja–sorry, Nicole!)

Best Anti-COVID-Blues Book (three-way tie): √Člmer Mendoza, The Acid Test; Fernanda Melchor, Hurricane Season; Martin Duberman, Stonewall

Best Anti-COVID-Blues Curbside Grub: Beet Box

Best Anti-COVID-Blues TV Journalist: Don Lemon (nailed it, dude)

Next edition in 50 days. Have a great weekend if weekends still have definition for you!

Streaming for Shut-Ins:

This isn’t the recording I mentioned above, but it will well and truly suffice. I know Bob Bilyeu will agree!

Cloister Commentary, Day 48: “Seclusion from Seclusion”

Maybe it’s just teaching, but I’m a month away from starting a new virtual gig, and I’m already nervous. I’ve no reason to be–I’ve done this work for awhile–but I always am, until I’m in it. When my students complain to me of nervousness, I always tell them two things: one, that’s a sign you give a damn, and two, you’re gonna blink and you’ll be on the other side of the event, looking back on it. I should take my own advice.

The air was filled with repugnant news, but four things here in the house were redemptive. Nicole surprised me by restarting a ritual we used to practice: quietly leaving notes of encouragement for each other to find. I threw myself into the three outstanding books currently on my stack, and was deeply rewarded (two are by amazing Mexican writers, Fernanda Melchor and √Člmer Mendoza). We had grilled cheese sandwiches (talk about simple pleasures!). And, for a change, we retreated into my basement “office” in the evening to read, hang out with the cats, and listen to music (Moondog, Miles, Carmen McRae) in a nicely secluded environment. Don’t ask me why more seclusion was nice; it just was.

Streaming for Shut-Ins:

For some reason I can’t quite put my finger on, Ahmaud Arbery’s murder brings this, top to bottom the greatest reggae album I’ve ever heard, to mind. If you haven’t heard it, you should.