In 1859, when Edward Fitzgerald published his English translation of the collected poetic quatrains attributed to Omar Khayyam, the Persian polymath from what is now Northeastern Iran had already been dead for more than seven centuries. The Rubaiyat was a popular hit with a Victorian English audience thirsting for the romantic Orientalism Edward Said would so brilliantly dissect a century later in his work about the Western relationship with the so-called Middle East. Point of fact, people in the Western World have been misunderstanding, fetishizing and inflicting war upon the various peoples of Europe-adjacent Asia for the entire (relatively short by comparison) history of the West. That Omar Khayyam, who lived in the time of the First Crusade, is as recent a figure in the general timeline of Persia, relatively speaking, as Kurt Cobain is in the timeline of American culture should give you a sense of how deeply ancient the history of that part of the world is. And even though I suspect that I am — along with anyone else picked at random by throwing a shoe into a crowded bookstore — more qualified to talk about the politics of Iran than our president, I won't. I do know that I am not qualified to talk about Iran's culture, as that would require a life of study, maybe more. I will say that losing any amount of that culture, and any of its people who are together daily making new verses therein, would be an incalculable loss for all of us. Just as the bushfires in Australia are a disaster beyond imagining for the natural world, bombing Iran would be many magnitudes worse than the burning of the Library of Alexandria for humanity. It cannot be allowed to happen. We must reject it completely.
The 23rd quatrain of the Rubaiyat goes like this:
"Ah, make the most of what we may yet spend,
Before we too into the Dust descend;
Dust into Dust, and under Dust, to lie,
Sans wine, sans Song, sans Singer, and — sans End!"
If you hear those words of that long-gone poet rise from the dead and feel an urgency to make all that you can out of our brief time in the sun, I ask you: How can you waste any time desiring the annihilation of people you don't even know? Last week I suggested that we should all make the right decisions this year. Is there any room for war in those plans?
Zion I is the two-decade-plus hip hop project of Steve Gaines, aka Baba Zumbi. Tonight at 9:30 p.m. the Oakland-area producer and MC returns to Humbrews to bring his formidable corner of the Bay Area style that gets so much play up here, from coevals Living Legends to older heroes like Too $hort. Expect a full house with dancing and strong lyrical work ($25, $20 advance).
The Miniplex at Richards' Goat is hosting another free local music showcase at 10 p.m. tonight. The three groups on display this evening are all new to me so I can't offer much in the way of description other than to say that the names are compelling and these shows are usually well attended and fun. If you have any interest in hearing what Ramekin, Over Yonder or Goblins Club sound like, go.
There's a benefit tonight for the Arcata Playhouse and its various programs over at the Ten Pin Building tonight at 8 p.m. ($15/$13 students and Playhouse members). Pupusas, tacos and tamales will be provided by Centro Del Pueblo, and drinks will also be available. However, the center of the evening will be an open dance floor, music by the Latin Peppers, all in a building that hasn't seen regular music shows in the two decades since the Pin Room lay inside the belly of the old cultural institution known as Arcata Bowl. A new frame awaits.
2019-minted Livermore, California, Celtic folk duo The Unquiet Grave makes a stop on its West Coast tour in Eureka tonight to play a free one over at Old Town Coffee and Chocolates at 6 p.m. Expect popular medieval folk tunes as well as originals from the Grave's debut record Ballads of Olde sung by members Elise Ebbinghaus and Randal Krieger and accompanied by traditional Celtic instruments. I have even heard that Robin Hood makes an appearance to lend some knavish inspiration.
Locals-no-more Dimboi return from the wilds of NYC with another returning act Shake The Baby Till The Loves Comes Out (nope, that name still hasn't grown on me but I have a terrible joke about it that I will share with fans and friends in private), to punch out an evening of groovy weirdo rock with Quenten Wall. The venue is the Miniplex, the time is 9 p.m. and the price is $5 if you've got it, but no worries if you don't.
The Arkley Center for the Performing Arts is hosting the Super Stars of the Blues Harmonica, featuring Magic Dick, Duke Robillard, Jerry Portnoy and the man I'm most stoked for, founding member of sublime funk wonderhouse War, Lee Oskar at 7 p.m. ($49).
If you want something a little cheaper with less mouth harp, the Siren's Song is hosting an Outer Space show with Portland trio Crybabe, recent Humboldt synth dance transplants from Chicago Zigtebra and local sweeties Blood Hunny at 8 p.m. ($5-$20 sliding scale). This show will likely be a blend of dancing and alt-folk rock bopping. DJ Rosé provides the bedroom beats.
Midwestern speed rapper and Strange Music Records magnate Tech N9ne rolls into the Sapphire Palace of the Blue Lake Casino this evening at 9 p.m. ($39-$49). Along with labelmate and fellow Kansas City, Missouri, native Krizz Kaliko, as well as local rapper 1Ton from Potluck fame, Tech N9ne is likely going to throw a lively and dynamic show.
Full show listings in the Journal's Music and More grid, the Calendar and online. Bands and promoters, send your gig info, preferably with a high-res photo or two, to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Collin Yeo will never stop praying for the downfall of the glutting war maggots pulsating in the veins of our wounded democracy. He lives in Arcata and prefers he/him pronouns.