Monday, June 26, 2017

This Happened Today

Someone from my past - someone I knew when I was a teen - friended me on Facebook tonight.  She said she joined Facebook just to find me.  She wanted to thank me for all the music I shared with her when we were younger.

That's how Facebook is supposed to work, isn't it?  That's nice.

Gosh, I guess we sort of lost contact maybe in 1994 or so.  I seem to remember visiting her in Dallas some time before I started deejaying, which was in August 1994.  It may have coincided with the use of email - she & I would write letters to one another.  Once I had email, though, I stopped doing that.

Anyway.  That happened & now I have to stay up late to work on this week's show.  I don't mind.  It's nice when nice stuff happens.  It doesn't seem like nice stuff happens all that often.  So it's nice to note when it does.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Everybody's Got One

When I was a kid, my brother Ralph* would sing songs that made prominently use of the word "love" replacing that word with the word "drugs."  For example, he would sing the song "All You Need Is Love" as "All You Need Is Drugs."  I suppose he thought that was clever.

He was at the time a big proponent of drugs, most specifically marijuana.  When I was in high school, I was adamantly against all drugs, for many reasons, among them how dopey it made my big brothers when they were high**.  I'm not sure what he thought he was doing trying to convince a fifteen-year-old boy to find marijuana & smoke it, but I'm certain my own inexperience - I was probably quoting him dubious facts & figures I had learned in a health textbook - was just as weird & annoying.

At the time we talked - & I remember this for some reason as clear as day, I remember him being in my bedroom, & the two of us looking out the window, & him bringing up drugs for no reason at all.  & specifically I remember him mention, because he knew I was a big fan of the Beatles, that John Lennon says at the end of the song "I Am The Walrus," "Everybody smoke pot."

"That's not what he's saying," I said.  "He's saying, 'Everybody's got one.'"

My brother said, "What the hell does that mean?"

I told him I had recently read*** John Lennon's last interview in Playboy where he talked about the songs & he said it meant a penis, a vagina, whatever - everybody's got one.

My brother scoffed.  "Of course he would say that," he said.  "He has to."

There was a moment there when I wondered if my brother knew anything about John Lennon.  I said, "He's very forthcoming in that interview about drug use, like his heroin addiction, & the fact that he & Yoko smoke pot.  Why would he choose to lie about it at this point, especially when he's devastatingly honest about all the rest of the songs they ask him about?"

My brother didn't have a response to that, but he stubbornly insisted, as is the way of my family, that he was right & the person who wrote the song was wrong.

This was part of a revelation that continued the process of my alienation from my family - both in my desire not to interact with them because of their defensiveness & in their reaction not to interact with me because of my tendency to shoot down, with facts & evidence, their generally wrong assertions.  The revelation was this: my family in general often doesn't know what they're talking about.  My brother had been a Beatles fan before I was born & still thought he knew better than John Lennon.  Could understand the motivations better than the man himself.  Would rather believe what he thought was true than accept what the person himself said was true.  This would happen again & again in my teen years, whether it was about music or politics or history.

It occurs to me that this story is completely without a good ending, & there isn't one - not that I remember - but if I am allowed to make up an ending, which I think I should be able to, it would go like this:

My brother just sort of shook his head at me, giving me a look of disgust & almost muttering "fucking know-it-all" under his breath.  Then he paused & said, "So do you wanna buy some pot?"

Really, I wish it ended that way.  & maybe one day I'll believe it did.

* Yes, I have a brother named Ralph.
** I have three big brothers, but I am referring here to the younger two.  My oldest big brother is quite the square, & has probably never tried pot.
*** I had at that time consumed as much information about the Beatles as I could, including several biographies.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Self Help Radio 062117: Venus

(Original image here.)

We went to Venus & back this week!  We took a goddess with us!  It was intense!

& also quite silly.  I won't lie.  There was silly astronomy & silly mythology.  & this was just in the interviews!  The songs were probably also somewhat silly as well.  Frankly I don't know how you put up with it.  Oh, you just don't listen?  Fair enough.

The show is now available for interplanetary listening at the Self Help Radio website.  Pay attention - you'll need a username & password to listen, & those are on the site's first page.  It's divided into two more or less equal parts - each around sixty minutes each - & the songs played in those parts are below.

Wear something loose & comfortable - it's hot on Venus!

(part one)

"Life On Venus" The Tornados _Ridin' The Wind: The Anthology_
"Transmissions From Venus '94" Man Or Astroman? _Astro Launch_
"Destination Venus" The Rezillos _Can't Stand The Rezillos: The (Almost) Complete Rezillos_

"Venus" Sam Cooke _Hits Of The 50s_
"Venus In Blue Jeans" Jimmy Clanton _Venus In Blue Jeans_
"Love Hymn To Aphrodite" The Mountain Goats _Hot Garden Stomp_
"Venus In Furs" The Velvet Underground _The Velvet Underground & Nico_

"The Song From Venus" Stephin Merritt _Obscurities_
"Girl From Venus" Perrey & Kingsley _In Sound From Way Out_
"Killer Robots From Venus" The Arrogant Worms _Russell's Shorts_
"Big Eyed Beans From Venus" Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band _Clear Spot_

"Venus" Television _Marquee Moon_

(part two)

"Venus" Nervus Rex _Nervus Rex_
"Mars Loves Venus" The Brunettes _Mars Loves Venus_
"One Touch Of Venus" Greta Keller _American Songbook Series: Kurt Weill_

"Venus Loon" T.Rex _Zinc Alloy & The Hidden Riders Of Tomorrow_
"Jet Silver & The Dolls Of Venus" Be-Bop Deluxe _Singles A's & B's_
"Venusian Star" Licorice Roots _Strangers In Marshmallow Boots_
"Ultra-Powerful Short Wave Radio Picks Up Music From Venus" Yo La Tengo _Genius + Love = Yo La Tengo_

"Venus Eccentric" Neon Hearts _Short Sharp Shock_
"Venus" X-Teens _Big Boy's Dream_
"Shapes Of Venus" Clone Defects _Shapes Of Venus_
"Venus" The Wedding Present _Saturnalia_
"Sunray Venus" Throwing Muses _Purgatory/Paradise_

"53 Miles West Of Venus" The B-52s _Wild Planet_
"Nightflight To Venus" Boney M. _Nightflight To Venus_

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Whither Venus?

(Nice map of Venus, in case you get lost on the planet, from here.)

Trying to remember when I first thought of doing a show about Venus...  I can't.  But I know I was thinking about the planet, not the goddess.  I'm an astronomy nerd.  I was very excited, for example, when the first images of Pluto were appearing a couple of years ago.  It makes me a little sad that our lives are consumed by the small section of the universe we occupy, that many of us don't look up at the sky & think about the immensity in which we live.

But at some point I realized I should be thinking about the goddess, a goddess of love, who shares her name - well, who gave her name, in a sense - to the planet.  Initially, I thought to myself, "Shouldn't I save it maybe for a Valentine's Day show?"  (I am still regretting wasting Cupid on a non-Valentine's Day show
.)  But as I gathered songs - & jeez there are a lot of songs about Venus - I realized that it would be best to share the show with planet & goddess songs as the planet & the goddess share the name.  Plus four people voted for that!
So, you know, I feel obligated.

The show about Venus is on tonight from 8-10pm central, 9-11pm eastern, on 93.9 fm WLXU in Lexington, & online everywhere at the Lexington Community Radio web site (choose WLXU).  Lots of songs, lots of guests, less & less of me - just like you like it!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Preface To Venus: THAT SONG

(image from here.)

People have told me the classic song about Venus is this one, Frankie Avalon's Venus</รข>. Written by Ed Marshall & Peter DeAngelis, the song was Avalon's first number one hit, & probably is most familiar to people my age & younger from its use in the TV show Dexter, as one season's serial killer's theme song.  I'm sure that's something Avalon hoped for when he recorded the tune in the late 1950s.

But for me, & people like me, who grew up in the 1980s, it's the Bananarama song that is most familiar.  This song was on MTV every hour of every day for what seemed like years.  It didn't hurt that the women in the band were super cute.  I might have watched the video for that very reason.  But it was a little freaky when, because I was barely out of my teens, I discovered the song was a cover of a song from the 1960s.  In the 1980s there were loads of covers.  Each one seemed to surprise me anew.

For someone doing a radio show, situations like this find one at a crossroads.  Play the original?  Play the famous cover?  Ignore?  Redefine?  Abort!

Maybe you don't feel this.  Certainly for some this is an easy solution.  Not this radio show!  In the collection of the person responsible for this mess (me), there are five or more covers of this song.  What to do?  What to do?

Luckily there are so many songs about both the goddess & the planet Venus that this will end up being no big deal.  But still - there's always more to agonize about, you know?

Monday, June 19, 2017

Poll Results! Something Else!

Recently I put up a poll up on Twitter asking if this week's show, which has the theme "Venus," should be about the planet, the goddess, or both?

Actually, the poll is still active - you can vote if you want on Twitter - but as of now, with a whopping
four votes, "both" leads at 75%!  So I guess that's what I'll do, then.  Don't say I never listen to you!

Here's something else: I'll be subbing the Tuesday Morning Blend on KNON in Dallas tomorrow morning from 7-9am central time.  It's basically a freeform show so there won't be a theme or anything, but if you'd like to hear me on the radio, & you're in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex, it's on the air at 89.3 fm, & if you're anywhere else, or in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex in front of a computer, it's at KNON dot org.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Staring At NASA Photos All Father's Day Long

(Like this one, from here.)

Hey, if you haven't spent any time just wandering around the NASA image of the day page, you're missing out on some lovely pictures of places & things humans don't think too much about.

It's funny, I often wonder what it would be like to see the earth from space, but now that I think about it, it would be much, much more interesting to see space from space.

Anyway, in preparation for this week's show, which is about the second planet from our sun, it might be good to brush up with basic facts about Venus.  I know I have been!

By the way, happy father's day to the appropriate folk.  I never really knew my father, & he's no longer with us, so the holiday in general hasn't meant that much to me.  & frankly, my children - four dogs & four cats - are total assholes & didn't get me one gift this year.  Ingrates.  Even now, at least four of them are curling up on the sofa with their mother!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Self Help Radio 061417: Visions

(The original is here.  Apologies for defacing a classic.)

Here you go.  Two hours of music & talk about visions.  All kinds of visions, from the strictly supernatural to the selfishly personal.  I think I learned something.  Is that rare?

In addition to all the music - which, as you can see below, ran the gamut from 60s psych to 80s synthpop, with stuff in-between & outside around - I had the chance to chat with a true visionary, with our friend Allen who is a pesky know-it-all, & to my spiritual mentor who has had more visions, I'll bet, than I've had hot meals.  Sure, there was some silliness here & there, but when is there not?  I must ask you, sir or ma'am, when is there not?  That's what I thought.

Perhaps this is enough to entice.  You may find the show now at the Self Help Radio website.  As always, pay attention to username/password information that's on the page.  The show is in two parts, each roughly or tenderly an hour long.  The songs I play in the parts are listed below.  Should I also list when the interviews happen?  I may start doing that.  It might be helpful.

The show is not responsible for any visions it may induced while listening.  Standard disclaimer.

(part one)

"Visions" The Looking Glasses _30 Seconds Before The Calico Wall_
"Visions" Letting Up Despite Great Faults _Untogether_
"Visions" Soko _My Dreams Dictate My Reality_

"Visions Pt. 1" Skyway Man _Seen Comin' From A Mighty Eye_
"Vision Of '61" The Embarrassment _God Help Us_
"Vision Board" Maria Bamford _Unwanted Thoughts Syndrome_
"Visions Of China" Japan _Tin Drum_
"Visions Of Domino" T.Rex _Dandy In The Underworld_

"Blind Vision" Blancmange _Mange Tout_
"You Are In My Vision" Tubeway Army _Replicas_
"Distance Equals Rate Times Time" The Pixies _Trompe Le Monde_
"Visions/Revisions" Adult Books _Running From The Blows_

"Visions Of Blue" Ultravox _Quartet_

(part two)

"Vision In Rags" Young Knives _Ornaments From The Silver Arcade_
"Some Grand Vision Of Motives & Irony" The Loud Family _Plants & Birds & Rocks & Things_
"Double Visions" Mini Mansions _The Great Pretender_

"Visions Of Sugarplums" John Davidson _Goin' Places_
"(Vision) In A Plaster Sky" Basil _Magic Cube_
"Thoughts & Visions" The Liberty Bell _Revolution! Teen Time In Corpus Christi (1965-1970)_
"Visions Of Johanna" Bob Dylan _Blonde On Blonde_

"The Vision Of Peregrine Worsthorne" McCarthy _I Am A Wallet_
"A Vision" Seapony _A Vision_
"Visions Of Old Machinery" Hood _Singles Compiled_
"Nightvision" Ornaments _Nightvision_

"A Powerful Vision" Legowelt _Amiga Railroad Adventures_

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Whither Visions?

(Image from here.)

Yesterday on this blog, I made the comment that I believed that visions & hallucinations are basically the same thing, & I had an anecdote to back up why I think that.  Today I was looking around, in preparation for tonight's show, & found this article about the difference between visions & hallucinations.  More looking around found this page, Basic Information About Voices & Visions, both of which have tempered my views somewhat.

Not that I now think that there's much of a difference, but that the way they're perceived makes all the difference.  In other words, they're of the same substance, but in general people who have visions tend to believe they're different than hallucinations.  The second website, with is called "hearing-voices dot org," has a comments section which is full of people who claim to hear things they know are not there.  The site asserts that between three to ten percent of the population hear things that others don't.  Visions are far less likely, but even if it's one in a hundred that seems like a hell of a lot.

Perhaps we'll get into this on the show.  It's a fascinating subject, & also it makes me a little sad - I kinda wish I heard voices at least some of the time, & would've loved a vision or two.  Instead, I have had audial & visual hallucinations only on drugs, or when unwell, like with a fever.  I comfort myself with the Shriekback line, "My dreams are visions."  I guess I can live with that.

Tonight's show airs from 9-11pm eastern, 8-10pm central on 93.9 fm WLXU in Lexington & online at Lexington Community Radio online.  Lots of music, lots of guests, lots of visions!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Preface To Visions: The Ugly Truth

Despite what I might say on my show tomorrow - & who knows what I will say? - I don't really believe people have visions.

Wait.  I need to qualify.  I believe people have visions.  I believe that they believe that they see things that aren't there which tell them things that they believe.  This is one of the definitions of vision: "The mystical experience of seeing something that is not in fact present to the eye or is supernatural."*

As I've probably said before, I don't have any supernatural beliefs.  But I do believe that people can hallucinate - I've done so myself - & yet, I don't believe there is much difference between a hallucination & a vision.  Ultimately, a vision is a hallucination one believes is real.

This is anecdotal & so has no real scientific backup, but I'll tell this story about the first time I did acid:

Before one takes acid, if one consults with people who've done acid, one gets an abundance of information.  How one will feel, what one will see, the things one will experience, etc.  One of my friends, a colleague at work named Eric, told me that the first time he tripped, he felt connected to everything through "the divine."  Eric was raised as a Christian & abandoned his religiousness in his teen years for a kind of hippie-like sense of a god of love surrounding & comforting all.

But you see, I was raised with no religion at all.  At an early age, I came to the conclusion that religions in general weren't much different from one another, so it seemed quite odd to me that one might pick one over another - the stories of the Greek myths, in my mind, seemed much more satisfying than the heroics of the Old Testament, but it didn't mean one was more true than another.

Indeed, as a child of the 1970s, the mystical coolness of The Force in the Star Wars movies seemed much more preferable than anything being espoused by adults or kids around me.  (I am glad that Grand Master Lucas chose to ruin it with midichlorians when I was an adult & couldn't give a fuck.)

The point is, without any religious indoctrination, my brain was free to explore the things that made up my belief system, & so my first acid trip was (unsurprisingly) untainted by anything supernatural.  I knew that everything happening to me was biological, chemical, & that there wasn't an "unseen world" that acid would lead me to explore.  & by the way, this was supported by future trips.  In all my experiences with acid, I never saw god, angels, devils, demons, or any of those things.  I think this was because I didn't believe they existed.

Does this mean the show about "visions" will be some kind of skeptic killjoy?  Nah.  That wouldn't be any fun, now, would it?

* Definition from the Free Dictionary.

Monday, June 12, 2017


Do you have a favorite equation?  I don't think I do.  But that sentence popped into my head today & I started thinking: I bet mathematicians & physicists & chemists have favorite equations.  Why wouldn't they?

This site has thirteen favorites.  Everyone is probably partial to E=MC squared because it's usually the only one anyone has heard of.  Plus, it's a pretty bitchin' Big Audio Dynamite tune.

But I think I like this one (image from the site linked above):

It's the equation for the Standard Model & I think it's kinda hot.

Heck, I might even try to memorize it.  But not tonight.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

A Decision Has Been Made

(Though it isn't currently reflected on the website.  Okay.  Now it is.)

The past few weeks - because, I can be honest about this, I plan my shows weeks in advance - I have been wondering if the show should be about "vision" - which is to say "the act or power of sensing with the eyes; sight" - definition courtesy of - or about visions - the plural version of this definition: "an experience in which a personage, thing, or event appears vividly or credibly to the mind, although not actually present, often under the influence of a divine or other agency" - (also thanks to

Well.  A decision has been made.

The show this week will be about the second definition.

Truth be told, I wanted it to be about the second definition.  But I wasn't sure I'd have enough songs to fill a two-hour show with.  But I think I will.

& if not?  I'll describe my own visions to you.  What?  You think I'm kidding?  You do not know what you are trifling with, friend.  You do not know.

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Self Help Radio 060717: Rising

(Original image here.)

This is it, the Self Help Radio show with the theme "rising."  But why, Gary? I hear you ask, maybe even more than you actually ask.  Why a show about rising?  & what's next?  Stumbling?  Leaning?  Ambling?

Those are all excellent ideas & we'll get to work on them.  But for now, please enjoy this week's offering about rising, featuring not only an interesting mix of songs (how many shows have both Red Lorry Yellow Lorry & Johnny Cash on them?) but also interesting guests: my spiritual mentor the Rev. Dr. Howard Gently, SuperPAC CFO David Fruchter, & architect CJ Buchanan.  Add to that the fact that Houston duo Tania + Holy Worm wrote an excellent tune for the show & I can't imagine why you'd let something like a ridiculous theme stop you from listening.

The show is now at the Self Help Radio website.  If you've never listened before, please note that you'll be asked for a username & a password; these are available in the words at the top at the page, under the logo.  The show is in two parts, each about an hour in length.  What songs are played in each part is below.

It strikes me that if the show had had the theme "falling," no one would think it so weird.  That's all.

(part one)

"Rise" The Sisters Love _Give Me Your Love_
"Rise" The Perfect Disaster _Heaven Scent_
"Rise" 14 Iced Bears _Let The Breeze Open Our Hearts_

"My Bones Gonna Rise Again" Dave & Howard _Black & White Hillbilly Music: Early Harmonica Recordings 1920-30s_
"We Will Rise" The Shaky Hands _The Shaky Hands_
"Sandman's On The Rise Again" Felt _Rain Of Crystal Spires_
"Rise" Public Image Ltd _Compact Disc_

"Rising High Water Blues" Blind Lemon Jefferson _The Rough Guide To Blind Lemon Jefferson_
"Five Feet High & Rising" Johnny Cash _Five Feet High & Rising/A Cash Country Collection_
"Rising Sea" The Strange Death Of Liberal England _Drown Your Heart Again_
"Everything That Rises Must Converge" Shriekback _Oil & Gold_

"Rising" Tania + Holy Worm _Rising_

(part two)

"Scum, Rise!" Protomartyr _Under Color Of Official Right_
"Rise Up" The Commodores _Funk Drops: Breaks, Nuggets, & Rarities_
"Rise Up" Foxygen _Hang_

"Rise To The Groove" The Rose Of Avalanche _The Rose Of Avalanche_
"A Darkness Rises Up" Broken Records _Let Me Come Home_
"Early Riser" Plus-Tech Squeeze Box _Fakevox_
"Early To Rise" Nice & Smooth _Nice & Smooth_

"High Rise" Girlpool _Powerplant_
"Highrise" Tall Dwarfs _3 EPs_
"High Rise" The Cherry Orchard _Grimsby Fishmarket 4 Norrkoeping 0_
"Rise (I Hope One Day)" Neon Judgement _Mafu Cage_

"The Rise" Red Lorry Yellow Lorry _Nothing Wrong_
"Rise & Fall" Madness _The Rise & Fall_
"The Rise & Fall" The Thought _The Thought_

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Whither Rising?

(Too much rising! From here.)

You wouldn't think that one could find two hours of music about bread rising, & in fact that's true.  There will not be two hours of songs about bread rising on Self Help Radio tonight.  Which I think is a shame.  Hey musicians!  More songs about bread, please.  It's an important part of the diet of humans who haven't convinced themselves they're gluten-intolerant!  In fact, I would argue that people enjoy bread much more often than things like love or sex.  But not that creepy unleavened stuff - we need bread that rises!

You'll have to make do with other things rising.  Which will happen tonight on WLXU 93.9 fm in Lexington from 9-11pm Lexingtime + online everywhere at Lexington Community Radio dot org.  You have to adjust for the difference in time zone if you're not in Lexington, though.  For example, in Fort Worth, Texas, it's on from 8-10pm.  You see.  I bet you can figure out.

Meanwhile.  Let's get more songs about bread, bread rising, baking bread, that sort of thing.  Start thinking of that.  I'll be here when you're done.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Preface To Rising: Turning Points

Whatever reason the show has the theme this week, I approached it with a kind of dread.  Rising?  What the fuck sort of theme is rising?

Add to that the fact that I had already done a show, three years ago, about sunrise.  Wouldn't that hamstring a show about rising?  What else rises, but the sun, & maybe bread?

But over the course of the few days I took gathering material for the show, something happened.  Something always happens.  Maybe it's just that there's a giant library of music that I have access to (my record & CD & digital music collection).  Maybe it's that I have a goofy process for looking for songs online.  Maybe it's that, despite doing this for years, I generally imagine I'm always going to fall short of the necessary two hours of music required for doing a proper show.  Despite/because of all that I steel myself for disappointment & instead find myself with too much!  There were too many songs about rising!  It's making the show hard to put together!

This probably sounds like a minor problem, but like with a fever - how long has it been since you've had a fever?  Do you remember, the last time you had a fever, that moment when the fever broke?  It's almost like an epiphany when a fever breaks.  If I am asleep, & the fever breaks, I will wake, & I will feel a calm that I assume is like when an acolyte finds herself in meditation for the first, & she is able to clear her mind completely.  It's that good.

In fact, it's a wonder I don't try to give myself horrible colds so I can experience more fevers.

A similar sort of thing happens when I realize that the show has come together.  I will stop what I am doing & take a breath.  Sometimes I don't even know I've done such a thing until after the fact.  I'll say, Oh yeah, when I listened to that song, I knew it would be all right.

Which is my way of saying that happened just today.  I realized that - whether it's actually going to be a good show or not - this week's Self Help Radio would pass my own test for a decent mix of music.

This is not a thing I expect, even after all this time.  It still surprises me.  It surprised me today.

That's a good thing, right?