Wednesday, March 15, 2023
To Richard Lloyd at Mohawk Place last night. I don't think there is another album more important to me than Marquee Moon, so when this show was announced in immediately after Tom Verlaine died I bought tickets that day.
I needn't have been in such a hurry. To get to the important part first, Lloyd was terrific. His set list include plenty of Television songs, opening with "Foxhole" (which I've never cared for, but works well as a live rave-up), along with some Velvet Underground stuff, and things from his solo career that I knew, and that A also knew, impressing Captain X. The man can really play, and I shouldn't even have to say that. Richard Lloyd was one of the guitarists on one of the greatest guitar albums of all time.
This brings me to my second point: Richard Lloyd was playing on a Tuesday night in a bar in Buffalo that could be described as a dive, or a dump, or maybe even a toilet. The tickets were $15 bucks. In one of the obits of Tom Verlaine someone quoted Verlaine as saying that he spent his post-Television days, "Trying to avoid having a professional career." He seems to have succeeded, but Lloyd is still out there, still radiating punk energy and attitude, still playing.
In his most recent Christgau Sez the Dean opines about rock and roll longevity, and I think this is applicable to Lloyd:
Artists run out of gas, that’s all. They have an idea or an angle or just a bunch of stuff to say—musically, verbally, or both. They’re making a good living at it, enjoying the road although that seldom lasts, bonding with their bandmates. Conflicts arise, but at the very least they find themselves with a job they like. Only those artistic and interpersonal materials generally get stale even if replacement bandmates are easier to come by than replacement spouses. An impressive exception is Neil Young, who despite his affable demeanor there’s little evidence is actually all that nice a guy, his certifiable genius enhanced by endurance alone. In pop/rock/whatever that’s truly unusual. In jazz, where hard-earned technical skill counts for more and lasts better, lifers are far more common.... But in pop, even when commercial success endures, the aesthetic excitement often seems staler and staler even for listeners who engage with the innovations or if you like fads pop records have somehow been generating for over a century.
An artist like Richard Lloyd deserves to be heard, and deserves to be respected in the same way that we listen to and respect our jazz elders, and he's out there demanding it. It was a great show last night, even if only about a hundred of us saw it.
Tuesday, March 14, 2023
The collapse of Signature Bank reminds me that I have a story about - or at least involving- that institution. Some years back we represented a family that was involved in a bus accident. As I recall there were two parents and two children. They had arrived in New York and were taking the bus to Canada where they were immigrating. They were observant Muslims, which becomes relevant. The injuries were not particularly severe, and the liability was obvious, so in due course we were able to negotiate a settlement. In New York, as in most places, tort settlements involving children must be approved by the court, and must be placed in a trust that cannot be accessed until the child turns 18. There are several ways to handle the trust: frequently the money is deposited in an account at a savings bank with the bank as trustee, but it is also possible to set up other sorts of accounts. In this instance the father objected to the savings bank concept because under Sharia law the payment of interest is generally prohibited. There are, however, workarounds, and after doing some legwork we were able to come up with a solution that satisfied our client's religious objections while also- we thought- likely to satisfy the Court that the settlement was in the best interests of the children, which is the legal standard we are held to in these cases.
It was a bit of a production scheduling the Infant's Compromise hearing, which was venued in Brooklyn, because our clients' immigration status complicated their re-entry into the US, but we managed that and appeared before a judge who I will not name. I'd had history with this judge, who was generally a nasty piece of work, but this didn't seem to be the sort of thing where we'd have a problem. I met with the clients, went over the terms of the settlement, and then waited in the courtroom for the case to be called. At that point the judge did something I have never seen before: he started questioning the father directly about the trust we'd set up. Now, as it happens the terms of the trust were much more favorable to the children than what they could have received from a savings bank, and, as I have said, they satisfied the religious principles that were important to my clients. "Do you understand that if the trustee goes out of business, or goes bankrupt, that you will have no way to recover your money for your children?" he asked. "I am not sure about this settlement. Wouldn't you rather have this money in an account that is insured by the United States government?" This line continued for about 15 minutes. I tried to explain the situation, but the judge was having none of it. In the end my client, recogognizing that this authority figure was telling him to do something, acquiesced, and I found myself walking across the street to set up two infant's accounts with Signature Bank.