April 17, 2020

Dear Hope Nation,

Saturday night may be good for fighting. Saturday night may be the time you remember you ain’t got nobody. Saturday night may, if you’re a woman of a certain age be S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y night!

THIS Saturday night, though, is the Second Virtual Sicker Than Most Show! See and hear other folks in recovery sing, dance, juggle goldfish and who knows what else. While last month’s show was, in the words of one critic, “a fantastic fecal festival,” this month your musical host, the one-and-only Andy Ryan aka The Man of a Million Aliases may actually show up at the beginning of the show instead of 20 minutes in.

Seriously, Sicker Than Most is the best examples of creative community I’ve ever seen. From slick musicianship to clever comedians to heartfelt poetry to lip-syncing to Bruce Springsteen, Sicker Than Most has it all. What’s most exciting to me, though, is the audience reaction—every performer is gratefully applauded for taking the positive risk of standing on stage, or in this case, appearing on camera, and letting themselves be known. It’s truly beautiful. Join us!

Among my many secret hopes is that I’ve got talents buried deep inside me just waiting to be discovered. For instance, because I’ve never planted vegetables, if I did, perhaps I’d find out I can raise the best cucumbers in the Northeast. Or, if I just bought a harmonica maybe I’d be a great blues harpist. Even: given enough marble, a hammer and a chisel, maybe I’d unearth a stunning sculpture. My dreams nourish me as long as I never wake up and try to turn them into reality. When I do, those dreams usually but not always melt into stark reality.

Let me give two examples:

  1. As you know, I am an old man. Eighteen months ago, when I was a slightly younger old man, I turned 60 on November 17. The night before was a Sicker Than Most Show where I lived out a childhood ambition and performed seven or 10 minutes of standup. My material may not have been up to professional standards, and I’m sure my performance was stilted, but you’d never have known it from the audience. They laughed, sometimes at the right places even, then clapped much more than politely at the end. If my mother were alive, she would have been proud (and ashamed, since much of the material was, shall we say, blue). It was a magical evening of my dream coming true.
  2. Dawn Desjardins, the manic pixie dreamgirl who works at Hope, came up with a great idea earlier this week—the Hope staff performing as an ensemble at Sicker Than Most. Dawn’s idea was we’d join together in singing a song, an uplifting anthem. Dawn is kind and sincere. When we discussed it as a group the other day, the technical challenges of performing together on Zoom led to a different solution. Using the positive song Dawn had chosen, we’d each record our own version of it, then Dave Cote would edit it together. That was fine.

What wasn’t fine was my rendition. Despite no evidence whatsoever, I’ve always assumed, like gardening, harmonica-ing and sculpture, I might be a secretly good singer. Using my computer and phone, I listened to the song and sang along. In my head my performance wasn’t perfect, but it seemed pretty damn good. In my head. When I played back my isolated vocal track, I realized the truth: I sounded like a badly wounded animal howling at the universe. Not only did I have no rhythmic sense, any musical correspondence between my voice and the tune were purely hypothetical. My singing and any melody were like two ships passing in the night. It was, and I am, dreadful!

Join us tomorrow night at Sicker Than Most! Among a dozen or more performers, Hear most of the Hope staff sing an optimistic and upbeat song. Hear me attempt to slaughter that number and try to bleed out any beauty from its corpse. Mainly, join together with other folks in recovery and experience community.

After all,
You matter. I matter. We matter.

Keith

Join us for Sicker than Most
Time: Apr 18, 2020 07:30 PM Eastern Time
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 157 737 339