Thursday, December 28, 2006

Sad News In Swinging London


This always seems to happen. I was in New York City when Ray Charles died, & right before I left for Europe, I get word that the Godfather of Soul has left us. MOTHERFUCKER.

If this were a just world, a world where greatness was truly respected,we would shrug off the deaths of evil fucks like Reagan (who died right after Ray Charles did, so the headlines were overwhelmingly focused on that clown) & Gerald Ford (who died right after Soul Brother No. 1) & the death of someone like James Brown - whom you celebrate, whether you know it or not, every time you dance to something funky - would result in a national day of mourning.

God bless you, James Brown. You touched the world more than you knew, & you KNEW a lot.

This is a short note from London. The city itself at the end of 2006 is not terribly cold but it is grey & crowded. Crowded! Tomorrow it's off to Cambridge & then Belgium.

Be sure to listen to Self Help Radio tomorrow - Lisa of the Clear Spot will be guest-hosting!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

I Answer The Last Letter I'll Answer In 2006!

It's true, I won't be answering any more mail this year. In fact, that's what this letter, from someone named Justin, was about:

Hey gary, why are you having subs for two weeks this month?

Because I will be going on vacation for a couple of weeks. Plus, it's not two weeks this month - it's the last Friday of December & the first Friday of January. Don't you own a calendar?

But I won't be leaving you with just any substitutes: next Friday, the amazing Lisa of The Clear Spot will be subbing SHR, & the week after that, the great Jay Robillard will be subbing. They've both picked great themes: Lisa will do a show about "missing" & Jay's show will feature songs about onomatopoeia.

I will be in Europe & I may blog a little from there, if what I've heard is true, there might be some places that have the internet. Keep looking!

I'll be back to the regular blogging after my January 12th show. You can keep writing me emails!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Whither Christmas?

That's a heavy question, man. Whither Christmas? What does "whither" mean, anyway? Do I even know? Yes, I know. & if I didn't know, why the fuck would I begin every Wednesday posting with the word? Don't I know there's a Will I continue to ask a bunch of questions here only I can answer? Since I am the only one writing, I mean. I don't presume that you can answer because you can't really. Except in the comments section. So maybe I should write a bunch of questions & you can answer them. But what if you don't? Won't this already piss-poor blog seem even more pathetic? Is that really possible?

Surely someone listens to Self Help Radio. Even if that someone is my mother, who can't listen because she lives two hundred miles away & doesn't have a computer. Also, she's German. She does perhaps listen to recordings of the shows that I send her, but she is, after all, German. Anyway, if I am writing to a generic "listener," & that listener isn't my mother, to whom am I writing? I don't normally drink a lot before I write anything, so I can't be hallucinating, although I do sometimes have lucid dreams when I am really exhausted. Have I ever dreamed about writing stuff in this blog? I don't remember either way, but I have dreamed about finding my house rearranged in ways that are not structurally possible. Therefore, I believe the way that reality can be manipulated in dreams in such a way that makes a kind of irrational sense is the same way I should perceive the readership of this blog. You are the reader of my dreams.

Now, since someone listens to Self Help Radio & also reads this blog, at least in sleepytimeland, there is therefore the presumption that they are intriqued about why I choose the topics I choose. But surely this hypothetical reader is not a complete & total moron. Are you? You can at least read, right? Do you know what "whither" means? Have you ever read anything by Walt Whitman? I'm sure he said "whither" all the time. He was probably in the middle of a Washington DC hospital & he'd be like, "Excuse me, doctor, whither the lavoratory?" & the doctor was like, "Jesus Christ, Walt, it's the fucking 19th century, can't you talk like a modern man?" & Walt was all like, "Ooo, she's upset, isn't she?"

My sharp reader might notice that I used the word "whither" in the above sentence to mean something different than I use it to mean in the titles of my Wednesday posts. That's because I was trying to make you doubt your own understanding of the word's meaning. Did it work? Or did you think it was a lame, debate-team-ish move that deserves only scorn? "Whither" can mean "to where" both figuratively & literally. I use it figuratively; Walt Whitman used it literally when he was hitting on doctors.

To continue: you're not a moron & you're aware that it's the week before Christmas & some deejays enjoy - nay, feel compelled - to do Christmas shows. Some do them way too much. Some of them play that fucking Bruce Springsteen "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" song like it's some kind of classic & not the exact song they played at Abu Ghraib right before they sicced the dogs on the prisoners' legs. Seriously, I could take any amount of Windham Hill Christmas shit over that Springsteen travesty. I'm surprised it doesn't routinely clear malls. In a world where people weren't force-fed music on commercial radio, it would. & Springsteen would find himself lynched by the first group that ran into him.

In sum: it's the week before Christmas & I am doing the Christmas show I always do. But when I say "I always do," I don't mean, "I am playing the same recordings I usually play," like deejays who are less inventive than myself do. No, every song I play Friday will be a song I have never played before. & it will be a magical holiday show for the entire family. Or maybe not for your grandfather. He takes himself way too seriously. Put some valium in his egg nog - only then will he be truly able to digest my world-famous Christmas show.

You'll do fine, though.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Preface To Christmas 2006: Ho Is Short For What?

I don't know why I love Christmas music. I wasn't raised religious & Christ isn't my lord & savior. I grew up in Dallas, Texas, where Jesus may vacation, but where it can get cold but it rarely snows, & never enough to ride sleds or skate. We were lucky if a snowman lasted more than three hours. I have no real clue why the fuck I love Christmas music so much.

All I know is, I ain't the only one. Have you seen the amount of Christmas music out there? Someone is buying the John Tesh/Green Day Xmas Extravaganza. I think perhaps the reason so many people loathe Christmas music is because of the sheer volume of it. I would venture a guess that the amount of schlocky Christmas music outnumbers the amount of sincere religious music (hymns & what-not) written for the Baby Jesus by tenfold. If not more. For example: John Denver produced fifty-nine Christmas records during the 1970s alone. (Eighteen were with the muppets, of course, & at least thirteen were with Satan.)

Oh, & there are a lot of Christmas music blogs, too. I couldn't link to them all. (Or I could, but I'm lazy.) Most of them, as you might imagine, are the sort that collect the treacly commercial Christmas pap you've heard you're entire life - Celine Dion's Wonderful Chanukah Memories & An Elton John Kwanzaa, for example - but there are some skewed gems out there. I have surfed a few of them - I am in awe at some folks' OCD natures & their need to find that Quick Draw McGraw Christmas Song at all costs.

(I hope there's a Quick Draw McGraw Christmas Song - I don't know if there is. But it's very sad to note the passing of someone who was very important to me in my childhood - Joe Barbera. While I don't really have much interest anymore in Hanna-Barbera cartoons - with the exception of their early Tom & Jerry - I did eat them up as a child, from the Flintstones to Scooby Doo to Laff-A-Lympics. Goodbye & thank you, Joseph Barbera, for enriching my childhood so much.)

Okay, things got heavy for a second. Where was I? I might have been wanting to explain why people love Christmas music so much - above the obvious, people who are celebrating their faith - but I did start out asking why I like Christmas music so much. I don't know. I do know that I like it just enough - that too much is really too much. People who have been playing Christmas music since just after Thanksgiving are doing it a disservice. The Law Of The Conservation Of Music Quality (which holds that 99% of most of the music produced will suck hard, & that 99% of the people who consume the sucky music will like it because it's overplayed) applies to Christmas music, too. Good Christmas music can be ruined by too much repetition. Producers of radio out there, I beg of you! Only one Christmas show per year! If you must!

So why do I like Christmas music so much? I think it's for three reasons:

1) There are a finite number of famous songs that can be made & remade - & remixed - a billion ways. Most of these songs have gorgeous melodies. They are familiar but you can still be surprised.

2) Christmas is rife with possibilities for absurd songs in the way a holiday like Halloween is, & in exactly the sort of way that a holiday like Easter is not. Plus, everyone eventually writes a song about Christmas. Sometimes without even knowing it.

3) In both cases, self-importance & pompousness (for whatever reason - ego, bloated religiosity, incompetence) can easily trump the lack of talent & often even the message. That's delicious.

So I like Christmas music. Is that why I do a Christmas show every year? I'll answer that tomorrow.

Monday, December 18, 2006

2006 Haiku Wrap Up

My first show in KOOP's snazzy new studios went very well, & should be up on the Self Help Radio website by the end of the day today. This week's show - which I will of course talk about enlessly on this blog - will be my world-famous Christmas show. By world-famous, of course, I mean that my mother enjoys it. She taught me what "world-famous" means. (It means that your mother enjoys it. Right?)

Last week's show was made up of my favorite songs of 2006 & it would have been absurd (though, come to think of it, not entirely unlike me) to ask you to write a haiku about my favorite songs, so I suggested you write about the year 2006. Most of you, instead, opted to write about the year ending. This is what you nice folks sent me, & how they ranked, from fourth to first.


I guess this year sucked
But I’m used to them sucking
I didn’t notice


Piano keys held
All weight on crushing fingers
Last chord of the year


Darker earlier
Insert your own metaphor
I’m going to bed


Leaves fall, the year ends
Time swirls down the gutter in
Warm December rain

Ach, ye hade the touch o' the poet this week, dintcha now?

If you are in the mood to write a holiday haiku, visit the Self Help Radio haiku page for more information & to send a haiku. It's better than being published!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Answering Letters Is All I Know How To Do Baby!

It's Thursday, it's time for another dip into the Self Help Radio emailbox. This email is from someone called Ms. X. She writes:

GARY! Why don't you do more electronic shows??? People love it!!

Yes, Gary. Why don't you do more shows that maybe will bring in an underserved audience & maybe even net you a little notoriety as "that dude who does the way cool electronica show on KOOP"? Instead of what you're known as now, if you're known at all - as that guy who talks too much on that weird show on Fridays. What up?

I guess I'm being stubborn. I listen to & love a lot of electronica - but I like other stuff, too. I've subbed a lot of shows at KOOP, from the reggae show to the "punk" show, & hopefully I did a good job, because I like a lot of music from a lot of different genres. Being trapped in one genre would be... I dunno... Scary. Sad. Even if ithe genre deserved its own radio show, which I totally think it does.

I am involved with the Training Committee at KOOP, & I have encouraged newcomers who are interested in electronica to get involved at KOOP & work toward getting a show. But KOOP doesn't just give you a show if you have a good idea & show up - you have to become involved in this all-volunteer org. & some people don't have the time to give, so they drift away. Alas! Alack! A really good electronic show is much needed in this town - & I don't really know of one. Do you?

I'll try to tailor my themes to fit more electronica in, but I'll keep Self Help Radio the way I've always done it, because it suits me to show off as much as what I love as I can. Do keep listening, though. Robots will win in the end, unless the zombies get them first.

Wanna ask me a question? No? I'll let you call me names! Yeah! Email me!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Whither My Favorite Music Of 2006?

I wrote yesterday about "best of" lists & ended the post with a question: Why is my "best of" list better than anyone else's?

The answer is: it isn't. It's just mine. That's the reason it was called "best of" last year but this year is called "Gary's favorite."

I am fascinated by people's opinions because we have the desperate need to defend them as if not liking what we like &/or not thinking what we think is an utter rejection of us as a fellow human. (& if it's not believing what we believe - people kill for that shit.) I love to read music & movie & tv reviews that contain opinions wildly different from mine - & those that have ones that are in total agreement with mine - if & only if the reviewers explain themselves. There are reasons for pretty much everything, & thoughtful people will graciously explain why they feel the way they do, & I love a decently reasoned argument.

It's one of my great struggles to not make my opinions sound like they have the force of facts, although I can be dismissive & condescending with the best (the worst) of them. Opinions are never facts, but they approach factness (to an observer/listener) when the reasoning behind the opinion is strongest. So, for example, you may really love the newest Britney's Destiny's Lindsay song on the radio, but if all you have to say about it is that it's catchy, I'm probably not going to pay much attention to it - I believe that commercial radio plays the same thing over & over just to get it lodged in your head, & therefore your observation of it as "catchy" isn't much of a defense. If you, on the other hand, explain the song in terms of the evolution of pre-fab pop from the Brill Building to Motown to Bubblegum to trends in synthetic soul in the 80's & 90's, well, I'll be impressed, but I probably still won't like it. But I'll understand you like it because of some predisposition toward corporate music creation. I'll be able to understand why you like what you like.

Which also mean that I have a sense of what you like &, with more opinions, I'll be able to gauge whether or not we have anything in common - & then I can start treating your opinions as guideposts, telling me whether I'd like something or not.

There are people whose opinions I am completely in disagreement with, but whose reasons are compelling. I like reviewers like that a lot. Sometimes more than the people I agree with more than 90% of the time.

I probably won't be explaining myself too terribly much on Friday - instead, I'll be playing music I like & hope you'll like it, too. (I mean, I always do that, but this is about what I liked best from this year.) In the end, opinions can lead you somewhere, but you have to make your own mind up. If the music I like sucks, any urging on my part won't help. & however glowing my reviews, if it's great - & it is - I can never do it justice with mere words.

Someone wrote & asked if I wanted to end "best of" lists. I don't really care. Most people who make those sorts of lists are either doing it because they feel obligated, or they're egotists anyway. Just remember: they're just a list of things people like. They're not supposed to make you feel bad, or feel like you should make your own list. Just read - or in the case of my show, listen - & feel how you want to feel.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Preface To Gary's Favorite Music Of 2006: What Is A Best Of List & How Does One Avoid Them?

Boy, best of lists make people mad. People argue over best of lists all the time, it's freaky. I was thinking the first real bust-up about a best of list is when that Moses guy showed all of his friends his "Best Laws From The Mountaintop" list & they were like, "We only have one law, & it's that the Golden Calf - it rules!" & he was like, "Fuck you, you die!" I guess I shouldn't be so mad, then, when a pal & I disagree on what Dylan's best songs are - at least he's not killing every third male I know.

I love best of lists, not because I care whether someone agrees with me or not - I do like it, like everyone else, when people like what I play on my show - but because I like to read people explain why they like stuff. Since taste is the science of opinion, the supporting "evidence" is more important. You might not think much of Brian Wilson - & I don't, he does next to nothing for me - but the evidence suggest that he's important, since a vast majority of people who really listen to music (contrasted with those for whom music may be something they like & use to pass the time, but they don't go any deeper than that) think he's very important in the history of recording. You're allowed to have your opinion, & there's no right or wrong - but you'll be (with me) in the minority.

Unfortunately, the world's a lot more complicated since Pet Sounds, & there's much, much more music out there, with as many songs written per day as there are myspace pages going up. The best of lists that'll soon be popping up, if they haven't already, will be filled with what you'd expect: Dylan's new record, either Neil Young's new one or the Fillmore East rerelease, Tom Waits' new collection, the new project by the White Stripes dude, & if there's a noteworthy comeback or if there's a flavor of the year (this year's Bloc Party or Franz Ferdinand), they'll be on it, too.

They won't be on any 2006 best of lists because they are good, although some (a small fraction) might have their merits. No, nothing Neil Young, Bob Dylan or Tom Waits can do at this point in their careers will ever match the greatness of their earlier stuff. They are rasping, gasping shadows of their former selves & it's our devoted dog love that makes us see them live & buy their records & force them down our throats. I love that humans are sentimental - I can be the same way, too, so I'm not trying to say it's in & of itself a bad thing - but every spin of a dinosaur's attempt to make himself richer drowns out all those bands that deserve their moment in your field of vision (or hearing). Not because they're better than the best of these old farts - some of them are trying to sound exactly like the best of those old farts - but because what they're doing now has more vibrancy, more vitality, more soul than the retreads those old bastards are selling you.

I'm not pretending I'm telling you anything new, of course. As for the flavors du jour - your White Stripes, for example - they might be worth paying attention to, but the truth is, they got lucky & were squeezed past the exclusive front rope at the Corporate Radio Bullshit Club & as long as they pay their dues, they'll get to be on the charts with the small community of People Who Get Rich Being Musicians. Usually that means whatever got them there in the first place will quickly be stamped out. I sometimes pay attention - I mentioned last week, I did listen to the new Flaming Lips - but while I feel some bands deserve to have a certain notoriety, what their doing is usually no longer terribly interesting. Maybe it's the direction they've taken, or maybe it's the sameness of their "innovation." Either way, it leaves me bored. But I was talking about lists.

Most of the critics who make these best of lists don't actually go out & buy records, you know. Maybe - maybe - some of them are actually fans & maybe they spend their big bucks on older records - but the vast majority of them get their records for free, from record companies that can afford to print thousands of comps. (I shouldn't complain - a lot of the employees of the places that hire these critics get copies, too, & put them out there for downloaders to sample a long time before they're commercially available, & that's awesome!) So they're not listening to anything more than a small fraction of what's released that year, & they are paying attention to the Grammy Mentality - "it has made money, therefore it's important." Hooray! Justin Timberlake is a Artist!

Think about this when you see the "Best Of 2006" lists. Even from cool folks like the your local alternative weekly. They get tons of shit for free you bet. We're human - that influences us like campaign donations influence politicians. & when you have nothing to listen to but the free shit you get from Big Corporations, you'll find something you like in it. But there's so much more.

I'll have some of that so much more Friday. But why is my "best of" better than anyone else's? I'll defend myself tomorrow.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Screw The Haiku Wrap-Up - KOOP's In Its New Digs!

Wow. It feels like a million years ago (tho it's been barely twelve months) since KOOP's downtown studio was trashed by two fires in one month - so it seems like a hazy, hopeful dream suddenly, astonishly realized that KOOP is now broadcasting from its new location at 3823 Airport Blvd. There's media about it videowise from a local news station & printmediawise from a local newspaper. Incredible.

So my show this Friday will be aired from the new space. & space is the word - the deejay booth ("studio one" the esteemed Thomas Durnin calls it in the video interview above) is larger than two living rooms. The equipment is state of the art, & KOOP's illustrious Training Team worked double overtime for more than a week to get the current programmers up to speed.

If you only know me as the fellow what does "Self Help Radio," you don't really know my commitment to & complete love of the radio station at which I volunteer. The fact is, like other KOOP volunteers, I am often accused by my partner of "cheating" with KOOP - that's how deep the love goes. I hope some of you have a chance to visit the new place - especially those of you who've helped us financially in the past year. Your money went a long way, & we owe you the deepest debt of gratitude. We hope we can pay it off with great programming from now until radio is replaced by futuristic cerebral thought/music implants. Or at the very least tricorders.

Last week's show was my favorite electronica of the year - but during the show, at which I was giving away CDs of the electronica I was playing, we went off the air for the last third of my show. If you were hoping to win one of the CDs, but couldn't because you weren't listening online, please send me an email & I'll see about finding a fair way to get some of the music to you. Or you can wait until the end of the day, when the entire show will be saved in tasty, bite-sized mp3 on the archive section of the Self Help Radio website. It should be there before 5pm, I promise.

This week's show is my favorite music of 2006 oh boy. Write a haiku about 2006 for that show! Here are the haikus (I only got three) from this week:


I am a dance floor.
Somebody needs to mop me.
Add a coat of wax.


The robots one day
Will attempt to talk to us
In beeps & in beats.


You can’t dance to this
It makes you feel bare & cold

Congrats all. Tomorrow: who makes "best of" lists, & why?

Thursday, December 07, 2006

I May Be An Idiot, But I Answer Another Letter!

Here is a nice letter from someone named Scot with one t:

Gary, I like that you are doing a show about electronica but I thought I would ask -- why do you like electronica? I am not a big fan myself but I like to ask people why they like it. Do you mind??

I don't mind, but you should know there's a story behind it. It begins (as everything does) in the womb.

That's not true! It begins around the time I learned to read. I loved reading, & I read everything. & when I discovered music, I focused not on the music itself, but on the words. It made perfect sense that the music I loved tended to have words that were silly, or clever, or just deep enough that I could waste time thinking about what they meant. (An example is the song "Rocket Man" by Elton John - as an eight-year-old I was fascinated by the idea of a "rocket man" as a job "five days a week." Or in John Lennon's "Come Together" - the obvious of "one & one & one is three" baffled me in a delightful way.)

So when songs like the ones I played in my Brief History Of Sampling show started to come about, I was far more interested in the samples than the music. Though, let's be honest here - I had already made a decision about the music. I rejected commercial crap pretty quickly, & that included metal, synthetic "soul," & mainstream "country" music. So I did care about the music in its way, but I might not have liked a record of, say, Cure instrumentals as much as The Head On The Door.

Somewhere in my early-to-late twenties, I started listening to jazz. Jazz teaches you a vocabulary of something other than words, & if you start (like I did) with early jazz & Big Band, they sneak it at you, first with songs with singers, then slowly eliminating the singers entirely.

Finding electronic music, samples & all, intriguing, & having a small but growing background in jazz, set me up for what came later - hanging around people who love electronica. I worked in a place where we fought over the background music - it was a video store - & lots of the music a couple of the clerks played was electronic. I was in a position where, to listen to what I liked, I had to spend some time listening to what the other workers liked. As is usually the case when the music is good, I discovered I really liked a lot of what the others liked. & they weren't listening to "house" or "techno" - it was electronica that wasn't made for dancing. (Amusingly, this is called IDM, or intelligent dance music.)

After that, my own scavenging obsessive nature took over, & now, even without the vocals, I listen to a lot of electronica. Since I am verbally-oriented, it's great to listen to when I am doing something like writing. Or when it's late & dark & your thoughts are your own. Or, of course, when you wanna dance.

& yeah, a lot of electronica still has words. But most of what I'll play tomorrow does not.

Thanks for the letter! Anyone can write me anything!

& if you're still reading: I have recently put up last week's show, & two recent subbing gigs - the Elk Mating Show & the Lounge Show in German - on my archive page. Go have a listen!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Whither Gary's Favorite Electronica 2006?

Yeah, spill it. Why do you do one entire show on electonica & another show which (presumably) will contain your favorite rock, indie, indiepop, comedy, jazz, hiphop, country, kazzo music, show tunes, hardcore metal, hardcore pornography, & Christian music? What makes electronica so fucking special? Hunh?

I know you don't really care, but it's sweet of you to ask.

It's primarily because I really do listen to a lot of electronic music, but I hardly ever play it on my show. Why don't I play it more? There are a lot of reasons, but the two main ones are these:

1) I kinda like my shows to be quick, quirky & upbeat; a lot of the electronica I listen to is, unlike the common idea of electronic music, not really "dancey" or "beat-driven." Some of it is, but sometimes I am forced between sticking a gorgeously beautiful (but slow) electronic piece in the middle of two ridiculously bouncy indiepop songs or not playing it at all. A lot of the time, I forgo the electronic piece.

2) Since my shows are based on themes, & since a lot of electronic pieces are instrumental, the only way a lot of them can fit the theme is for the title of the piece to relate somehow. But electronica performers love to title their songs with silly words, made-up words, nonsense words. It makes it hard to attach them to a piece.

As an example, here's a track listing from a record by a prominent electronic artists, Autechre, who don't have a record out this year, but who were on my "best of" last year.

Xylin Room
Theme of Sudden Roundabout
VL Al 5
Reniform Puls

I'll work on my show about "V-Proc" just as soon as I find other songs about it. Any other song. Maybe I'll write eighty minutes worth of songs about it.

I should also point out (since I made the argument myself, I can easily rebut myself, sucka!) that the situation with having one day for electronica & another day for "everything else" is kind of misleading, since I don't really listen to "everything else." I pay almost no attention to commercial rock, pop, country, hiphop or soul. I don't listen to a whole lot of world music or jazz, & most of what I listen to of that is usually older when I get to it. Bands that a lot of people think of as alternative - like the Flaming Lips, let's say - I will still check out, but usually (I've found) critics & others tend to find their work exceptional because it's decent (& better than the majority of commercial radio crap), but they haven't heard everything else out there - they're really not digging deep enough. What my "favorite music of 2006" will doubtless focus on is indie rock, indiepop & some other stuff generally in that genre. The other stuff, like I said, I usually get to later. To my eternal shame.

There isn't enough time!

By the way, I found a website which apparently rates every album released during the year, although I'm not sure how. It's got a thousand album that came out this year listed (astonishing!). (The website is Here are the top twenty:

01 "Ys" Joanna Newsom
02 "Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards" Tom Waits
03 "Ashes Against The Grain" Agalloch
04 "Blood Mountain" Mastodon
05 "American V: A Hundred Highways" Johnny Cash
06 "A Matter Of Life & Death" Iron Maiden
07 "The Crane Wife" The Decemberists
08 "No Heroes" Converge
09 "10,000 Days" Tool
10 "The Drift" Scott Walker
11 "Return To Cookie Mountain" TV On The Radio
12 "Modern Times" Bob Dylan
13 "Score: 20th Anniversary World Tour" Dream Theater
14 "With Oden On Our Side" Amon Amarth
15 "Okonokos" My Morning Jacket
16 "Live At The Fillmore East" Neil Young
17 "We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions" Bruce Springsteen
18 "The Great Cold Distance" Katatonia
19 "Pure Reason Revolution" The Dark Third
20 "The Life Pursuit" Belle & Sebastian

Like with any kind of list - especially an anonymous one - it's important to take such conclusions with a grain or twelve of salt - but this list is especially intriguing for the weirdness of the amount of what I guess is hardcore or metal (eight, or nine if you count The Dark Third, which is a prog band) & the fact that Scott Walker's new record is tenth. Two of the records are by musicians who I feel are utterly irrelevant & I wish they'd stop making music & retire to their estates (Dylan & Springsteen), & two are basically re-releases or posthumous collections (Young & Cash). I reserve the right to withhold judgment on Tom Waits, although his last few records have been pretty dull. So I'll listen to the new one eventually - I just can't believe it'll make my favorites list.

In fact, there's only one record in that list that'll make my favorites. It's easy to know which one that is, especially if you know I don't really like TV On The Radio or My Morning Jacket, & that I found the new Decemberists record incredibly disappointing.

What is it? Find out a week from Friday. This week, though, it's all about the electronica.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Preface To Gary's Favorite Electronica 2006: Beep Beep Beep Beep

People who are still talking to me often ask me why I separate "electronica" from "other music" when I do my "best of" (now called "favorite") shows of the year. The main answer for this is because I hardly ever play electronica on my show during the year, & I listen to a lot of electronica. But I can talk more about that tomorrow.

I don't have Attention Deficit Disorder but sometimes when I am typing, my eyes get hung up on a word. For example, the word "separate" up there. I know I spelled it right, but suddenly, after writing it, I was reminded that, when I was in 6th or 7th grade, & some mean English teacher corrected my misspelling of the word, it occured to me that there should be different rules for that word based on pronunciation. So, if you were going to use it meaning "apart," as in "separate beds," the regular spelling should apply; but if you were going to use the verb form, as in, "We were separated at birth," it should be spelled with an e instead of an a at the second vowel: seperate. Besides, it's how most people spell it anyway.

Nowadays when I write it like "seperate," it looks completely wrong. Thinking of how my 6th or 7th grade mind works, I think I was trying to make the spelling conform to the pronunciation, but I was a syllable too early - it should have been separete & separate.

That has nothing to do with electronica, it was just on my mind. I am perhaps too easily distracted, & the "anything goes" nature of this "blog" format makes it easy to go off on tangents. For example, I just realized I am using a lot of quotation marks in this entry, when normally I might italicize something to make a point - so I'd put the previous sentence this way: I am perhaps too easily distracted, & the anything goes nature of this blog format makes it easy to go off on tangents.

No, I was right to use quotation marks. Italics are not conveying the meaning I intend. Which also reminds me, a friend of mine who is otherwise rational-minded & relatively sane started sending me emails with emoticons in them. Out of the blue. Like he'd just discovered them. What's up with that? How long have humans been writing email back & forth? Surely he's seen an emoticon before. Maybe he's just being ironic. I hate it when he does that. I'd prefer him to be contrarian. He's a snob anyway.

This post was going to be a grand history or electronica, stretching back to the days when it was invented by ancient Greek sailors hanging out in North Africa with drum machines & synthesizers, back with Socrates was the hottest deejay in Athens, then moving on to the renaissance of Italian house with Galileo & his fucked-up rave culture, when kids would star into the sun for hours, & finally making some incredibly poignany comments about how, when the robots finally destroy us, human-made electronica would be as meaningless to them as whalesong is to us. I had a lot of this planned, & some great works to cite (including long passages from Shakespeare's "Dance Motherfucker Dance"), but I got distracted. I'm sorry.

Maybe I'll talk more tomorrow?

Monday, December 04, 2006

Magda's Birthday Haiku Wrap-Up

Well, Magda's birthday came & went, & another weekend was spent in the slammer, & I have two new tattoos given to me by strangers while I was out cold. One of them is a picture of Magda appearing to bite the area of my body where the tattoo is, & the other is a picture of a pretty young man which those in the gay club scene refer to as a "twink." The funny thing is, I didn't have any alcohol at Magda's party, but she is fond of drugging me & putting me in places (usually naked) where hilarity may ensue. That's why I love her!

Alas, no one wrote any birthday haikus, so I had to solicit entries from my children, who wrote haikus for their mother below. I must point out that the second-place winner did NOT follow the rules correctly, so the judges, who also happened to be the writers, were not given any treats during the weekend.


If it’s your birthday
& you have any cake left
You will give it me.


I hate birthday cake
Unless it’s made from carrots
Ice cream on it too.


Cake, ice cream, whatever
Just leave food unattended
So I get to pick


Shut up, everyone!
It’s mommy’s birthday today!
Show her you love her!

This week's show will be my favorite electronic music of the year, & if you would like to write a haiku about it, you just have to go here.

Birthdays are hazardous to my health, I think.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

After A Week Off, I Start Answering Your Letters Again

I'm so sorry I didn't answer your letters last week, but, in accordance with the McCain-Schickelgr├╝ber Thanksgiving Correspondence Bill of 2002, I was legally unable to answer any mail on the national day of thanks. My apologies to those of you who wrote to ask about my delicious recipe for cranberry tofurkey scramble. Maybe next year!

Today's letter comes from Taylor, who says he's an "old friend from the good old days" (even though I don't recognize the name & I've never had good days, not now, not before), & he writes:

Good to hear you on the radio! We always thought your meth habit would lead you into a darker future - maybe working at a car dealership or something. The entire family appreciates the show, especially when it isn't on.
I gotta ask, though - what the hell do you have on the people at your radio station who give out shows? Aren't there laws against bribery or coercion? Is this something the FCC handles? Because no one in their right mind believes you got your show on its merits.

Actually, Taylor, the FCC has no rules governing the ways a person gets on the radio. My radio station, KOOP, is different than most commercial radio stations in that, unlike, say, a Clear Channel radio station, you don't have to have your blood drained & your personality re-programmed by a robot before you get a show.

But I find your slanderous comments more offensive to KOOP than to me. I feel the same way when people give my girlfriend pitying stares when they see us together. Obviously, no one out there can see the real me. Or, in your case, hear the real me. Except the radio station I love & the woman I shack up with. They both hear & see me just fine. & I'm all right with that, especially if they don't find out the other exists. Because then I would be in trouble of sitcom-like preportions.

Thanks for writing! If you'd like me to respond to an email, write me one!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Whither A Birthday Show For Magda?

Seriously, just because I have a radio show, should I be able to give my own girlfriend a special birthday show? What the fuck is up with that? What if [insert irate listener name here] wants to do a show about my girlfriend/boyfriend/spouse/partner/lover/special animal friend's birthday, but they can't because they don't have a radio show? Does that seem fair?

Does this really make anyone mad, or am I simply reacting as I might react (since I am self-important & irritable) if I were listening to a radio show where the dude on the air was playing songs for his girlfriend's birthday? I dunno, but if I were the guy I am imaginging that I am writing about, I'd probably stop reading this blog right now & go read snarky comments about superhero Hostess ads of the 70s. Then I'd feel a lot better.

But wait! my more observant listener will note. Gary, didn't you already do a birthday show for your girlfriend a couple of years ago? & maybe also before that in 2002? Are you just going to play the same damn songs you played then? Didn't you once say something like, "There are so many themes that I'll never have to return to the same ones ever!"

The answers are: yes, no, & probably. There'll be a whole new slew of birthday songs for the discriminating birthday music listener. & not just songs about my girlfriend's birthday - it could be about anyone's birthday. & I'm doing it because the day happens to be her birthday. What the hell sort of boyfriend do you imagine I'd be if I didn't do a radio show for her on her birthday? Do you not want me to get laid again ever? Besides, I've been doing this "Self Help Radio" show for over four years now. You know how much I drink. I could very well be forgetting a previous theme. As I age, I'll repeat myself, like the old often do.

Sometimes to humorous effect.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Preface To Magda's Birthday Show: Who Is Magda? Why Does She Get A Show?

I'll invite you to take a little trip into the past. Nearly twenty-eight years, in fact - were you even born then? I was a mere ten years old, & had already had my heart broken & my teeth knocked out. But I am not travelling back to my past - I'd be more embarrassed than anything to meet myself - but to a past I never saw nor knew.

It's December 1st, 1978. The President of the United States is a space alien named Nell Carter, & the number one show on television is a Korean War high school comedy called "Welcome Back, M*A*S*H." In California, space aliens are slowly prying the state away from the San Andreas Fault & tipping it into the sea, causing a former governor named Reginald Reagan to promise he'll stop the aliens if he becomes President. & in a Bay Area hospital, a woman with the unlikely name of Barbara Muchlinski is giving birth to a space alien who will be called Magdalena.

Or was she? We're travelling back in time because the space alien named Magda, who happens to live with me & oftentimes makes me dinner & yells at me about my drinking, this space alien is a liar. She cannot be believed. She's told me the most ridiculous stories, from unbelievable tales about how whiskers help monkeys evolve to meeting David Bowie in Prague & helping him inflate his bicycle tires. Yes, this space alien, whom I love dearly, cannot be trusted. She is a fountain of untruth, prevarication, tall tale, fable, falsehood, statistics & damned lies.

So we travel back in time - we go to the hospital where she was supposedly born, to see for ourselves. We must do this, alas, with our imagination, since time travel is patent pending, but we can certainly trust it more than the words of the space alien I love. Because she can't tell the truth. In fact, I'm not entirely sure she's a space alien. For example, she cannot mind meld. She doesn't speak a space alien language, & she hardly ever gets collect calls from Alpha Centauri. & the ones she gets she insists are wrong numbers.

On our trip back in time, then, we need to examine her ridiculous claims, to prove or disprove them with the most ridiculous facts we can find. Here are some questions we'll need to ask ourselves:

- Where were space aliens usually born in the Bay Area in the late 1970s? Were they allowed to be in human-oriented hospitals?
- Was she born during an earthquake, when it would have been easy for a space alien baby to change places with a human baby? If so, is the real Magdalena Muchlinski living on the third planet around Sirius playing high-stakes poker & smoking like a chimney?
- Was her mother, Barbara, who is charming & very human, an accomplice or an unknowing vessel for space alien seed? Can we discover if her other children are aliens, or if they are hybrids?
- If we make bets in the past & win because of future knowledge, can we take the money into the future? Or does money from 1978 look like Monopoly money today?
- If we were born after 1978, can we stop our parents from meeting & see if we cease to exist? If we cease to exist, will we therefore be unable to stop our parents from meeting, & then begin to exist again? Will it become a cycle that never stops, & will those of us watching find it fucking hilarious?

Let's travel back in time, & return tomorrow, & report what we discover!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Dysfunctional Family Holiday Haiku Wrap-Up

Man, what the hell happened last week? I know it was a holday week, but I was totally lame with the whole posting on the blog thing. My bad. My really bad. I don't know what was going on.

But in addition to subbing the Lounge Show & Virtual Noise, I managed to do Self Help Radio with the usual flair & grace. & kind listeners wrote weird haikus for the show, which I will share with you now. These are the winners, from fourth place to first:


At the Thanksgiving dinner
Waiting for the pie.


Mommy I’m sorry
The store took my fake ID
I can’t buy your beer


I was wrong to lock
My brother in the closet
From third to fifth grade


There’s no family
That doesn’t screw with your head
Your entire life

This week's show will be a birthday show because it happens to fall on the birthday of my beloved, whose name (really!) is Magda. So if you want to write a haiku for Magda, or a haiku for birthdays, then most assuredly you can do so by clicking here. She'll appreciate it.

Also, Friday's show - most of it - is now available on the Self Help Radio show archive page. Listen to it away from your family.

I do say "most of it" because the first few minutes didn't get recorded due to a screw up with the station's recording device. It's my fauly, really, so I should just say "user error." My apologies to completists & to the folks who made the music that you won't get to hear if you missed it live. Sigh.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Whither Dysfunctional Family Circus?

Whatever happened to those Dysfunctional Family Circus cartoons, anyway?

Oh, they're right here:

They sure were amusing the first time I saw them - but then, they weren't set up like a Mad Magazine "fill in the blank" thing - someone had hand-picked the best completely incorrect lines to put under the Bil Keane pictures. Sigh.

Those cartoons were in no way an inspiration for the show this Friday - they were just a handy name. No, the inspiration for the show is the fact that the holidays are here, & from now till the end of the year some if not all of us will have to spend time with other families. Most of the time, we don't like our families, or at the very least we don't like some of our families. I know people who get downright snarly when I say such things - I fuckin' love my family & I'd fuckin' die for them! - but I assume they're the members of the family that are the unliked ones, so they are the cause of the unhappiness, & therefore I am not writing this to them or about them. As I was saying, we who are honest with ourselves have issues with some or all of our family's members, & because of this, I thought I'd do a show about screwed-up families.

I've been wanting to do this show for a while, actually - the season just gave me an excuse. Which is ironical, because I won't be around my family during this vacation. I'll be here in town, not eating turkey, & preparing three radio shows - in addition to Self Help Radio, I'll be doing Virtual Noise (Friday at 11am) & the Lounge Show (Saturday at 10am).

Self Help Radio should be disturbing for the whole family this week. So do tune in. & if you want to hear last Friday's show, it's available at Self Help Radio archives.

Have a good holiday weekend!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Preface to 'Dysfunctional Family Circus': Hey, Wait A Second, What The Hell, You Haven't Posted Anything To This Blog In Like A Week

I know, I know.

I am in an awkward position here. I write a blog about a radio show that, though unbelievably good, no one listens to, & consequently, there's this blog that I keep which no one reads. (Actually, one person has stumbled onto it. This person did a search on Google for "Wonder Woman's bodice," & I actually referred to that as something that is yellow in my post about my yellow show. Sorry dude.) But I suppose one day some archaeologist of "community radio" might stumble upon this blog, you know, & I'd hate to think he/she (because in the future, we'll be both genders at the same time) thought I was a slacker.

& it's certainly not that I don't have anything to say. I can make shit up at the drop of a hat. I can make shit up ABOUT the drop of a hat. But it's just that I need a little time, you know, to myself, you know, naked, you know, in a pool of warm rubbing alcohol, you know, to write something of value. You know.

Yesterday totally slipped past me. Today was stolen by a medical emergency involving my girlfriend, a bike, a bum knee, a bum's knee, someone who kneed a bum, a group of people who need bums for their own nefarious political purposes, a self-important opthamologist who thought he was a kinesiologist, an oversexed duck named Elixir, & my own desire to find an easier way home than the one I currently take. Now it's late, & I'm certain I have a lot to say about a radio show about fucked-up family relationships, & it'd be topical, since the United States are fleeing home for Thanksgiving.

But instead, I'm lame. I'm sorry, Mr/Ms Archaeologist. I'm sure someone on a station with less wattage kept a really cool blog in northern California. If you can't find the link here, then, I'm sorry. That must be computer code rot.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

I Am Still Answering Your Letters!

It's Thursday - the day before my show - & so, I am answering your letters yet again. Please remember that I am an open sort of fellow who is never offended by free inquiry unless it's about my body, of which I am ashamed. So feel free to send me an email, & my address is slug at mail dot utexas dot edu.

Today's letter is from Tony, who writes me in all small letters:

i am not familiar with your show but i have a question for you. this is writing because of serious issues with the teaching of socalled science in the classroom. do you or have you ever think that it's good idea to tell lies to your children with the goverment money? if you have time to discuss this on your show i am available at the following times at the numbers below. i have spent many years researching this very issue of social import and would gladly discuss it on your show with you. thank you.

Tony will not be on my show tomorrow, alas, because his email does contain a hint of trouble, if not an entire spray can of trouble about to be opened upon the children of America like so much processed cheese spread.

Damn right, Tony, I have an issue with the teaching of socalled science in the classroom. My friend, I have a problem with the teaching of anything of the socalled variety, be it socalled math, socalled history, & especially socalled home economics, which (I have found) is neither economical nor homely.

Your concern heartens me, mainly because I see just the opposite of what you say each & every day - everyone is more concerned with that which is socalled, rather than that which is. We go to socalled work, we eat socalled lunch, we read the socalled newspaper, we make love to our socalled spouses (unless we're socalled gay, in which case we can't make love to our socalled spouses because it would destroy the institution of socalled marriage). It scares me, you know, that these things we do are socalled, but who exactly is calling them so? Is it me? Is it you?

Do write me back & we'll see about having you on the show. Or maybe we can just schedule you to be on socalled Self Help Radio, & at this point we'll have vanished into socalled irony & so be available for download on the socalled internet. There! That was easy! Thank you, Tony.

Keep those letters coming! I may even answer them!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Whither Trouble?

I have a friend, who's really not much of a friend, because this friend's kind of a critic, but not a critic in the good way, you know, nothing constructive, just a lot of sniping & grumbling, usually beginning with comments about how fat I sound on the air, & getting more personal & irrelevant as time goes by, but occasionally, when I am least expecting it, this friend'll say something that is mean & lowdown & cutting, but it turns out to be something quite apt. So this friend said to me, today, when asking me what my show's theme would be this week, & I answered, "Trouble," my friend said, "Aw, man, that's a gimme ain't it?"

What my friend meant, of course, was that it was an "easy" theme. There are bound to be millions of songs with the word "trouble" in the title, even if they don't mention trouble or talk about particular kinds of trouble. The Allmusic Guide lists 524 songs called "Trouble," & even if a lot of them are covers or repeated versions, that's surely at the most conservative fifty (50!) songs called "Trouble." There are hundreds of other songs with "trouble" in them, songs with names like "Boy Trouble," "Car Trouble," "Testicle Trouble" & "The Trouble With Tribbles." & this doesn't count songs about trouble in which "trouble" is not mentioned in the title.

My friend expected me to defend it with something like, "Au contraire, ass pirate, I picked this theme because of a particular meaning of the word 'trouble' as it applied to a recent experience of mine of great import, like quitting smoking or being beat up by the checkout person at the CVS pharmacy because I accidentally called it an Eckerd's." This friend, so used to my thin skin & my irritability to the typical lame-ass poking & prodding, expected me to bust out the etymology of the word or some alternate meaning that only I & a few other weenies who like that sort of thing would know. My friend wanted me to disagree on the more fundamental of levels, angrily, vehemently, an argument worthy of Plato or, if my friend were completely baked (as is usual), some second-generation Tarantino dialogue.

Instead, I agreed. What else could I say? I chose "trouble" as a theme precisely because it'd be simple to find songs to fit. I mean, my previous show was songs about staring. That was fucking hard. Sometimes I need a gimme. You know?

Of course, that meant that I did have to stumble through some five hours of music this weekend, & more still today. So it wasn't nearly as easy as I'd hoped, which turns out to always be the case with "easy" themes. A show about the sun will always have more songs than a show about Alpha Centauri, but you still have to listen to a million songs about the sun before you find the perfect ninety minutes.

Tune in Friday - I'll have ninety perfect minutes of trouble. It's not quite the gimme my friend thought it would be, but it'll be good nonetheless.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Preface To Trouble: I Didn't See Nothin' Officer

This week, Self Help Radio is in trouble. Or is it that trouble is on the radio? I am sitting here talking to one of the students who works for me about Henry David Thoreau, while I am writing this, so instead of writing stuff & nonsense, I think I'll try to write down some of my favorite Thoreau quotes. Like this one:

I love a broad margin to my life.

But having said that, Thoreau had his own fair share of trouble in his life. First of all, he was apparently an ugly cuss. As Nathanial Hawthorne noted:

He is as ugly as sin, long-nosed, queer-mouthed, and with uncouth and rustic, though courteous manners, corresponding very well with such an exterior.

His brother, who was also a friends, died of tetanus when they were both young men. He also spent time in jail (famously). Some might say that these troubles helped him become a better person, but then you might start sounding like some kind of creepy spiritual person who believes that suffering increases one's character. Or, as Batman once said famously:

Hunger is good for the soul.

None of this, perhaps, has anything to do with trouble, nor with why I want to do a show about trouble. Perhaps I am attracted to the negative in this world, & perhaps I like to spook the superstitious with shows that they may see as lightning rods for unhappiness. Maybe one day I'll rate my show themes & find out if there are more "minuses" than "plusses." But tomorrow I'll tell you what troubled me so that I will make a show about trouble.

Meanwhile, you can go here to listen to last Friday's show.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Staring Haiku Wrap-Up

It was uncomfortable on Self Help Radio last Friday, seeing as everyone's eyes were on me. I just couldn't help feeling exposed & scrutinized. Luckily, others felt the same - & shared their haikus with us. Here are the winners.


Cable news networks
Bloated, ego-filled train wrecks
Can’t avert my eyes!


Don’t stare at the sun!
It’ll burn your retinas!
Look at me instead!


Though he can’t see me
Behind the two-way mirror
I still feel his gaze


Listen, friend Blinky
You can watch me all you want
But you cannot touch

This week's show is all about trouble, & you might be in trouble if you don't write a haiku for the trouble show. So do it now.

Friday, November 10, 2006

It's Okay To Stare

Today's show (which begins in less than two hours - shit, I need to pick some stuff out) has been supplemented by wonderful musics created for Self Help Radio, or at least with Self Help Radio in mind. Or maybe with Self Help Radio as an afterthought. What are they?

There's a strangely non-danceable intro from Austin's own CJ Buchanan. Since Rick Perry's reelection, he's been busy teaching the governor how to use Instant Messenger to communicate with teenagers, but he's taking time out of his busy schedule to make an intro that will have you "Staring." (Ha! I've always wanted to do that. I don't know why. It's kinda awkward. It also doesn't make any sense. Maybe if I were talking about a movie? Who knows?)

Secondly, Dallas' own the Ramonalisas recruited also Dallas' own Rahim Quazi to make a song about staring called "I Went To The Store To Buy A Box Of Bread But Returned With A Volleyball Card Collection." Or maybe it's just called "Staring." It's quite lovely. Believe it.

Thirdly, the mysterious musical duo called the Licorice Whips weigh in with a sugary tune called "Voyeurism Is The New Tattoo." While it's probably too deep a thought for me (I still haven't figured out what those posters with the cute cat attached to a branch with the big letters "HANG IN THERE!" above it means), it sure is a wonderful song.

So there are three unique reasons to listen to Self Help Radio today at 4:30 on KOOP, online at That's too much, you don't really deserve more. But if you want more...

Well, there will be haikus. I'll talk about the "male gaze." I'll also continue with the new feature I started last week at a listener's request, the Self Help Radio Self Help Minute. Finally! One minute of self help during Self Help Radio.

Tune in! You won't be sorry!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

I Continue To Answer Your Letters!

It's Thursday, so it's time to see what you, dear listener, have to ask me. This email came only moments ago, from Barney. He writes:

Dear Dude,
You were on the Elk Show today and you talked alot about some benefit this weekend. I looked all over and couldnt find nothing about it. Whats the skinny?

It may seem awful strange for me to get an email which is so amazingly timed to a KOOP benefit at which I am deejaying, but I am told that that sort of serendipity happens all the time in the blogworld. Who knew?

Yes, there is a benefit this Saturday, the 1st Annual KOOP East Austin Rock Marathon, which is happening from 4pm till 1am at a cozy little space called Red's Scoot Inn, which is located at 1308 East 4th Street, at the corner of 4th & Navasota. In addition to me spinning some tunes in-between the bands, there are bands playing in-between me spinning tunes. Those bands are:

Moonlight Towers
Andrew Duplantis & The Unfaithfuls
Summer Wardrobe
The Nay Says
iKill CaRS
Youngmond Grand
Crawling With Kings

There is information at, but the interesting thing is it says this about me:

Plus KOOP's own Self Help Gary selecting tunes to a "theme," between sets.

I'm sure the only theme will be to keep you entertained between sets. Although do not rule out songs about me needing a cigarette. I've written over a dozen of them since I quit smoking nine days ago. & they all rule!

The benefit should have something for everyone, so please come out. It's for a good cause. & thank you, Barney, for your timely email!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Whither Staring?

I am not good with eye contact. I don't make it, is what I mean. I generally avoid looking in people's eyes, for whatever reason. In fact, one of the benefits (of which there are many) of delicious alcohol & its delicious effect on a person is that, when quite deep in the cups, it's very easy to maintain eye contact, because if you let your eyes wander, the room may start spinning. I can easily hold someone's eyes in mine when I am way too drunk to dare look away.

Which begs the question: why a show about staring?

I think first we must recognize that a lot of staring takes place far from the object of the stare, whether across a crowded room (or club, or bar), or across the street, or from behind a curtain (or peephole, or tinted windshield), or through binoculars, or a two-way mirror, or simply in a crowd. & the object of the stare need not be another human - it could be the wall, the sun, the ground - or parts of yourself (your hands) or your entire self, if you're staring at a mirror. & the stare need not be sustained for some length of time before it become a stare. A stare is a stare. Even if it's a glance or a look. Even if it's a glazed marathon of a stare. A stare is a look is a peek is a gaze.

We're always staring, whether it's at a computer we're writing on, or a passive television that's telling us how the Democrats won control of the House of Representatives. I find I can't help but stare at people who are walking or biking or running past my house. I also find that I am more than likely to return a stare if I catch someone staring at me on the bus. I'll also return a smile, & look away, if they smile at me.

"Stare" is a fun word, & it's safe to say that not all the songs I'll play Friday will mention that word, but will mention some aspect of staring, be it looking, watching, peeping, ogling, gazing, etc. According to the OED, it's a totally German word that infiltrated the English language early on, & of course I now have the image of drunk German people staring me down during Oktoberfest. Speaking of, we have a weird game associated with staring, don't we? A "staring contest" is a kind of psychic war of wills wherein the first person to blink their eyes loses.

A show about staring I hope will celebrate this solitary practice which we all partake in in some manner or other, sometimes naughtily, sometimes innocently. It's something we do with only the voice in our heads to keep us company, because the spell is nearly always broken with questions like "What're you looking at?" & comments like "Stop staring at me!" Think of that while you're listening to the show - a stare is a personal thing, & very rarely is the stare in any way explicable outside of the one whose eyes are doing the work.

This Friday, you'll want to stare all afternoon long at Self Help Radio.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Preface to Staring: What?

I find this amusing. I didn't write a preface to staring today because I've been staring at the election results all night.

Also, it's officially a week since I quit smoking. Never quit smoking during an election. That's my advice to you.

Not that I've buckled - it's just been hard.

Tomorrow: why a show about staring?

Monday, November 06, 2006

Party Haiku Wrap-Up

My apprentice Erin's most excellent "Party" show is available now for listening in a podcast-sized mp3 file or two over on the Self Help Radio homepage. It's especially fun because I have a party horn. I like to blow the party horn.

Erin also solicited for haikus for the show, & so, here are her haikus she solicited:


The keg is floated
and we're all out of whippets
so let's get naked


Good wine and hookahs
unabashed hedonism
now that's a party


Top-notch party
Morning dew covers the stranger
Naked on the front lawn

(Please note: this haiku is NOT in the standard style. It therefore shouldn't have won second place. I have filed a protest with the International Committee for Haiku Regulation. Erin will be hearing from my lawyer!)


and then he took me
kisses in a dark hallway
our private party

Congrats to all the winners, including the sneaky one. This week's theme is "staring." Stare at this page until you feel compelled to write a haiku.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Self Help Radio Today! Parties!

Today on Self Help Radio:

* Self-satisfied radio personality "Self Help" Gary cedes content control to his apprentice, "Erin" (last name unknown). Rumors about the transfer of control abound, not the least of which is that Gary has apparently "quit smoking" & "needs a little time to freak out."

* Erin's choice of show theme: "parties." Discussion on the street is that Erin's been to every "it" party that's been hosted this season. Many famous political figures & local celebrities are afraid Erin was at a particular party wherein a playful partygoer took a lot of pictures with her cell phone. Governor Rick Perry, a regular attendee of "it" parties, has particularly been waiting for incriminating photos to come out before Tuesday's election (if they don't, he won't have to come out before Tuesday's election). Does Erin have these photos? Will she reveal secrets on today's show?

* For the seven-hundred-&-fourth show in a row, haikus will be read. Nearly two thousand Austinites per decade enter the famous Self Help Radio haiku contest & this Friday's show is no different. In that, there's a contest, & haikus. The Self Help Radio web site has a page about the haiku contest, if you care. No link, though. Find it yourself.

* Surprises? Would it be a surprise if you knew there'd be surprises? Or are you so jaded that expecting a surprise would only make you feel there's no surprise, so a surprise would truly surprise you? If so, I'm surprised you feel that way. If not, well, no surprise there. But it could be surprising if there were a surprise today on Self Help Radio & you in turn felt truly surprised. So if there's a surprise, I'm not telling. It would spoil the surprise.

Self Help Radio, 4:30 to 6:00 pm today on 91.7 fm KOOP Austin. Theme: parties. Live online at

Thursday, November 02, 2006

I Answer Your Letters - Again!

Ah yes, it's Thursday, so it's time once again to dip into the Self Help Radio eMailbag & look what you, the devoted listener - or you, the misguided stalker - or you, the person to whom I owe money - have written to me, the minor programmer at the small though amazing community radio station.

This letter comes from Maureen, who says she lives "a block or two over." But from whom? From everyone? Maureen is a transdimensional freak! She writes:

As someone who's watched your career on radio since you went on that student station back in the 90's, I have to laugh when you mention you have a girlfriend. First I've seen you. Second who'd want to be your girlfriend. Third it's not nice to lie, altho you lie all the time and are proud of it. Forth I think it's time you told the truth about your sexuality and your lies.

Wow, that's an intense email. Maureen, since you live close to me, I'll assume you hear me sobbing right now. I am sobbing miserably because - how else can I put this? - you hit the nail on the head. You see, not only am I an abject failure as a blogger, I am also a liar whose sexuality - which is to say, whose absence of sexuality - I've dedicated my life to obfuscating, if not out & out distorting.

God, it feels so good to tell the truth. Having to pay a woman to be my "girlfriend" (not to mention having to pay three cats & two dogs to be my "pets") was really causing a lot of financial distress. Because of my minor celebrity status, I have been putting off the expensive surgery that I've wanted since 1994, which is basically a sexuality implant. Back then, of course, it was dangerous, but ironically, my years of subterfuge & deception let me wait out the technology - & now, not only is a sexuality transplant surgery actually quite safe & affordable, but it's also now available in two flavors - homosexual & bisexual. My choices ten years ago were nowhere near this amazing.

Also, I can finally quit pretending I'm a smoker. God that was embarrassing. Especially to my lungs.

Thank you, Maureen. I feel so good now I want to have a party. So listen to Self Help Radio tomorrow, & party with me. & the rest of Austin. & if you'd like to send me an email (not you, Maureen - the rest of Austin), you can click here to send it!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Whither Parties?

This week's show, as advertized on television & in the national print media, will have as its carefully-chosen theme "Parties." While November is hardly known as the month for parties, it might make a lot of sense, this choice of a theme, once it's explained. Unfortunately, I don't know why this subject is the theme for Friday's show. I don't know because I didn't choose it. My apprentice, Erin, did.

KOOP has a six-month training process for interested folks who want to get involved in Austin's best radio station. One aspect of the training is apprenticeship. At the beginning of the current training cycle, Erin was assigned to my show. She's been a lot of fun & only occasionally does she show up completely coked up & demanding her own dressing room. Since she's been so great, I thought, hey, give her a day. Let her choose the music & talk the talk for a day. Take a day off. Find something more interesting to do, like giving blood or quitting smoking.

So you'll have to ask Erin why the subject is parties, because I don't know & I haven't asked her. Partially because I really never know why I come up with the themes I do, so I don't want her to have to lie to me. & partly because, not knowing what's she's thinking, I can speculate:

1) She's a party girl. Duh.

2) It's a complicated pun based on the fact that it's election season, & elections are choices of candidates between "parties."

3) She went to a marvellous Halloween party this weekend, dressed, as she was on my show, as Barney the Purple Dinosaur, & everyone was there, & she had such a good time, & this show is just her playing all the great songs she heard at the party & oh my god she's going to tell us all about it.

4) She went to a dreadful party recently, one of a long list of mundane, criminally dull parties where she had to stand around & listen to the same old people talk & watch the same old drunkards embarrass themselves, & that was that, that's the last boring motherfucking party she's going to go to, & this show will be a searing indictment of the Austin "party culture" which wastes time, money, good booze & lives.

5) She's recently committed a crime & she's now the "guilty party." Or maybe she thinks my show is a crime & she's now "party" to the illegal act.

6) She knows I never get invited to parties & so she's totally taunting me - as someone who goes to all the great parties - & will reduce me, on the air, to tears.

Which is it? Is it all of them? None of them? Three of them? You'll have to listen Friday to find out.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Halloween Show!

Hey all!

Last Friday's Halloween show has been digitized & put online just in time for Halloween night. Please visit:

It's at the top of the page. Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Halloween Haiku Wrap-Up

I am sorry to say that I probably won't have my Halloween show (from last Friday) digitized by tomorrow night. Alas! A couple of listeners called to ask, since (apparently) my voice is scary & will frighten children. I recommend another show, perhaps? Or maybe last year's Halloween show?

But the ghouls chose to write haikus for the Halloween show, & here are the four winners:

FOURTH PLACE: Eleanor Reynolds

I guess I must be
What people call a monster
Since I have green fur


On this Halloween
Don’t dress as something fiendish
You’ll look too normal


Just like Godzilla
I hate models of Tokyo
I want to stomp them.


If monsters scare you
I suggest you make a change:
Don’t re-elect them

You know the drill. This week's show is about parties. You can write a haiku for that show or any other show, really, if you want. You know you want. You big baby.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

I Answer Your Letters!

As an incredibly obscure & virtually unknown minor programmer on a small community radio station in Austin, Texas, you can bet I receive more mail than princesses or death-row artists. So I thought that, for a regular Thursday feature (well, it's Friday morning now, but I haven't had time to write today, & anyway, who's paying attention but me? nyah), I'd answer the mail that I receive. Feel free to write me with your pressing questions about me, my show, my meshow, my showme, or my meshowshowme. Clicking here will allow you to access my super-secret email address, which is slug at mail dot utexas dot edu. Shh!

My inaugural letter comes from Jimmy, who says he lives "on the other side of Hyde Park." Jimmy! Don't make yourself so easy to find! Here's what Jimmy writes:

Frankly I am a mess. I tuned into your show because its called Self-Help Radio but instead you were just talking about bikinis one week and then motorcycles the next. What the hell? I need Self-Help man!!! Why cant you just have a Self-Help radio show instead or playing all that music and shit???

First of all, Jimmy, it's Self Help Radio. There's no dash between the Self & the Help. Please don't make that mistake again.

Second of all, I totally feel your pain. I understand that many folks, in desperate need for a stranger to tell them simple ways to solve their difficult life problems, often wander over to my website or my radio show expecting me to be waxing prosaic like Dr. Laura Phil. I cannot believe I have been hurting so many people by simply being ironic.

So in the near future, I will announce the Self Help Minute on Self Help Radio. It will be sixty jam-packed seconds of condensed self help which, when added to your wet brain, will be like four or five hours of those other guys, without the commercials. I will scour the self help sections of used bookstores & the self help sections of used websites to find the information that is most appropriate to your life.

Problems will be solved. Answers will be discovered. Souls will be scrubbed clean. Teeth will return to their pearly whiteness. Hair will be made firm & bouncy. Women will be loved. Men will be loved. Not necessarily in this order.

Thanks for the letter, Jimmy. My eyes are open to my listeners' needs. Watch for the Self Help Minute. It'll revolutionize the time you spend listening to the radio for an entire minute.

Then, you know, back to the music & the inane chatter.

Tomorrow: Halloween show 2006! Whoo-hoo!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Whither Monsters?

Halloween shows can be a bitch. First off, I don't like playing the same song more than once. I can't say there's a philosophy behind it, but I think I can make up one which may well be the truth, & it would sound like this:

I'm on the radio ninety minutes a week. I have a few thousand records in my collection. Most of the time, people who listen to the radio hear the same thing over & over. Why not dedicate my show to playing as much different music as possible?

In general, though, most radio - even the wonderful programs on KOOP - is generally the same thing over & over. So, on Halloween, you can usually expect the same thing over & over. Most people like this, of course. I'm just trying to be difficult.

Second off, I do a show that's themed. I pick goofy themes to challenge myself to find stuff I haven't played before, & to give myself a context so I don't repeat myself all the time. But there are limited themes to Halloween: candy, trick or treating, vampires, wolfmen & wolfwomen, Frankenstein, zombies, outer space aliens, haunted houses, being scared. I've probably just listed my themes for the next few years on Halloween (except vampires - I did those last year). Besides, even when I do regular themes (like I talked about yesterday) I don't repeat myself. So why not do the same with Halloween?

Third off, there is no third off. I think I've conveniently answered my own question to my complete satisfaction. (Now I know what Donald Rumsfeld feels like.) I picked monsters because it seemed like a viable theme. What else is there to say?

Trouble is, there are a lot of monsters, Frankenstein notwithstanding. I have songs prepared for Friday about ol' Frankie, abominable snowmen, the blob, Bigfoot & others. It's a broad, cowardly topic. I hate myself for it. But what's done is done.

On Friday, four days before Halloween, you'll get to hear lots of songs about monsters, some of them imaginary & supernatural, others more down to earth. There'll also be some treats I'll give away on the show - no tricks! - but you'll got to listen to find out what.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Preface to Halloween 2006: There's A Monster In My Radio!

Recently, someone at the station who peer-evaluated my show said that, although they liked it, it seemed like my themes were "arbitrary." I liked that comment, because it's not that it seems that way. It is that way. I come up with themes at a moment's notice, sometimes, when something strikes me. For example, just today, I was listening to my iPod on shuffle & Darren Hanlon's wonderful song "(There's Not Enough Songs About) Squash" came on, & I started thinking about a show about obscure or little-celebrated sports. & that's an example that's got a reasonable beginning. Some of them are so random & inexplicable, I can't remember why or when I thought of them. (That's when I make something up.)

But there are shows that I do & have done every year since Self Help Radio began four years ago. Those shows are:

1) A Christmas show. But just one. Christmas music is fun, but too much is hard to swallow. Plus, people who do Christmas shows play all the same songs every year. Sometimes for the entire month of December. One Christmas show per year. That should be a law.

2) A "best of" [insert current year here] show. Sometimes it's hard to do, but I feel I should be trying to keep up. You know?

3) My birthday show. I was born in 1968, & three years back, on the week of my birthday, I played songs from my favorite albums from the year of my birth. The next year, it was from 1969, etc. This January, it'll be 1971.

4) A Valentine's show. I didn't get to do one this year (since KOOP had burned down & we were off the air). But I'll hopefully get to do one this next year. (The theme this year was going to be "breaking up." I don't know if I'll revisit that for 2007, or think of something else.)

5) A South By Southwest Show. As a public service. Especially if you, like me, don't really want to pay for the wristband or stand in line for all those shows.

6) An Arbor Day show. I love trees! (Okay, that's not true.)

& finally:

7) A Halloween show.

This year the theme is Monsters. I didn't want to just do a theme about Frankenstein's monster, although there are plenty of songs about him. I wanted to do a theme that talked also about humans becoming monsters. Or human who are monsters. & I take as my text for this venture this passage from John Steinbeck's East Of Eden:

I believe there are monsters born in the world to human parents. Some you can see, misshapen & horrible, with huge heads or tiny bodies; some are born with no arms, no legs, some with three arms, some with tails or mouths in odd places. They are accidents & no one's fault, as used to be thought. Once they were considered the visible punishment for concealed sins.

And just as there are physical monsters, can there not be mental or psychic monsters born? The face & body may be perfect, but if a twisted gene or a malformed egg can produce physical monsters, may not the same process produce a malformed soul?

Monsters are variations from the accepted norma to a greater or a less degree. As a child may be born without an arm, so one may be born without kindness or the potential of conscience. A man who loses his arms in an accident has a great struggle to adjust himself to the lack, but one born without arms suffers only from people who find him strange. Having never had arms, he cannot miss them. Sometimes when we are little we imagine how it would be to have wings, but there is no reason to suppose it is the same feeling birds have. No, to a monster the norm must seem monstrous, since everyone is normal to himself. To the inner monster it must be even more obscure, since he has no visible thing to compare with others. To a man born without conscience, a soul-stricken man must seem ridiculous. To a criminal, honesty is foolish. You must not forget that a monster is only a variation, & that to a monster, the norm is monstrous.

Yes, don't forget! It'll inform the show Friday. More about this tomorrow.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Weekends Haiku Wrap-Up

It's eerie. I did a show about weekends last Friday, &, as if by calendaric magic, I got a Saturday & Sunday in quick succession afterwards. I tried to do a weekends show today, in the privacy of my little cubicle at work, but all I got was the promise of a Tuesday, &, if I was good, maybe even a Wednesday so just shut the fuck up & get back to work.

But nicely poetic & poetically nice folks wrote nice, poetic haikus for the show. As always, I tell you there are great rewards for writing haikus for Self Help Radio. Just ask these four fine folks:


I love the weekend
Even though I'm unemployed
& I sleep all day


So the week must end
We dance over its dead body
Like we have no choice.


The weekend's too short
Make Saturday two days long
Hey! Now you're talking!


Swimming, drinking, rest
Dancing, partying, yard work
Movies, sports: week end.

This week's the World Famous Self Help Radio Halloween Show. This year's all about monsters. If you have a haiku in mind, do share it with us.

Friday, October 20, 2006

& what does the weekend mean to you?

I am so used to being contrary - doing a show about Tuesdays on a Friday, for example - that I am a little embarrassed that I am doing a show about the weekend as the weekend begins. Plus, if you live in Austin, the weather is gorgeous - a little too warm & humid, perhaps, to remind someone of a northern California summer day, but close enough. It will indeed be a gorgeous weekend.

But the show is, as they say, in the can, which means I have gathered the material to make the show, & will lug it up to KOOP in a scant ninety minutes, & then I will unleash it upon anyone out there listening. I wish I could tell you something about the show to tease or tantalize, but it's going to be what you expect from me. Or is it?

I have lots of indiepop, & some old rock & roll (including Chubby Checker & Eddie Cochran). I have some silly songs from Germany, as well as entries from Japan & something in French by a band that I believe is not from France. There will doubtless be inane banter between me & my lovely apprentice, Erin, as well as me talking a whole hell of a lot about that book I mentioned earlier this week.

Oh, & no Loverboy. Thank god for that. Because I polled a small group of friends, & none of them were working for the weekend. Most of them, in fact, were slacking off for the weekend. They borrowed some money & bummed a few smokes.

Do tune in. It'll be fun. It'll (o god I can't believe I'm writing this) start your weekend off right.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Whither Weekends?

I surveyed nearly two of my friend - I mean, friends - recently about my choice of topic for this week's show, which is "weekends." I said to her - er, I mean them - why do you think I'd do a show about weekends? Their response was obvious & wrong. "Douchebag," they said (it's a pet name), "your show is on a Friday. You like to say shit on the air like, 'Your weekend starts now.' You do some kind of topical thing every now & again. What the hell do I care?"

But my mother was wrong. I mean, my friend was wrong. Friends. My friends were wrong. Because they weren't paying attention! Also, they don't read this blog. Virtually no one does. If I didn't read it to my cats, almost no one would even hear all the stuff I write here. It's really just like the poetry I wrote in high school. Except maybe I spell better now? I don't know.

Anyhoo, the point is, I'm not doing a show about weekends just because the much-beloved Self Help Radio rests on the edge between "week" & "weekend." No, there is a sentimental reason.

About four years ago last month, I got my first show on KOOP. I wasn't sure what I was going to call it, & it was temporarily occupying a place on Friday mornings (which I kind of enjoyed, but it wasn't meant to be). I had already decided to organize the show around "themes" for a couple of reasons - which I think I've already explained here - but I was also doing it against the advice of a couple of people, who said that a mildly-famous local radio host also did that. "Except," I said, "I'll play good music!" That shut 'em up. What they didn't know is that my themes would be challenging, inexplicable, utterly arbitrary - most of the time.

My very first show was a show about Friday. What a way to start it all off! Literal & appropriate. Except. I found out about getting the show just a couple of days before I was to go on the air. What? No time to prepare? Whatever shall I do?

I did what I could. I found a few Friday songs, & then, seeing as how Friday was the gateway to the weekend, I rounded it off to include some weekend songs too. That was my very first show on KOOP. As my show. Which wasn't called Self Help Radio yet. In fact, I think for some reason it was called The American Horseracing School Presents. The doctors hadn't quite figured out my meds at the time.

What's all this got to do with the price of weekends on Friday? Well, when I went to Wednesdays (where Self Help Radio stayed for three & a half years), it felt permanent. So I began my tenure there with a "Hello" show, & the award-winning run of Self Help Radio began. That was in early October 2002. Look where I am now. I have gray hairs all over my beard. Also, I've started to develop a limp. Is that natural?

Since it's the four-year anniversary month, I thought I'd sort of revisit an old theme (not really) (since I'm not doing a show about Fridays) as a kind of fourth anniversary celebration. I will have muffins made with the number four on them. Or maybe I'll defrost all those cookies I made for the Fantastic Four viewing party I had that no one came to. That's a better idea! No one will recognize the "four" logo - they're too cool to come to my parties.

So wish my a happy fourth anniversary by tuning in Friday to hear songs & talk about weekends. I promise you, after it's done, you'll get an entire weekend.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Preface to Weekends: It's Only Tuesday?!?!

I am a fanciful person, by which I mean I make a lot of stuff up. If you were me, you'd understand. I've not gotten so bad that the truths I invent to understand or enrich my life have completely overtaken me, & I believe them like they really happened - no, I'm not a Republican! - but I do sometimes have amazing fantasies in my head that are so far & above how the real world works that it's a durned shame that some of them aren't true.

Some are fed by a steady diet of movies, music & books - for example, I did once contemplate (at the age of ten) opening a microwave oven while it was operating (in the days when you could do that) so I'd be exposed to the mysterious rays & get super powers like every other Marvel Comics super hero. But some are just the workings of my mind, absurdities trying to elbow out the mundanities of tepid life in the 21st century.

& some are propped up by the arbitrary ways human beings, in our ten thousand years of so-called civilization, have constructed their ways of seeing to make sense in the world. For example, I am a bit obsessed with time. Time as a concept seems straightforward enough - it has something to do with light, something to do with the universe expanding, something to do with the nature of our mechanical, physical world - the fact that we live on a planet that spins on its axis & rotates around a yellow star. What's fascinating to me is how humans have chosen to chop up that time - seconds, minutes, hours, days - to months, years, centuries, millenia. In between all that, there is this phenomena called "the week."

I am tempted to write a very silly story about how the week was invented by a bitter old man - Ted Week - when he got really sad when his schoolmates from some ancient Babylonian or Greek or Egyptian or Chinese grade school equivalent - his pals like Herbie January & William Saturday, for example - all got periods of time named after them. Even weirdos like Horace Second & Bernice Century got some divison of time named after them! So Ted Week plotted... You can see how it would have gone.

But the truth is even weirder. As I'll explain (or try to, anyway) on my show Friday, time divisions like the month or the year are easily understood with natural phenomena - the moon, the seasons. In this wonderful book I found, "Waiting For The Weekend" by Witold Rybczynski - the author points out:

Day spans the interval between the rising & setting of the sun... The month measures - or once did - the time required for the moon to wax, become full, & wane; & the year counts one full cycle of the seasons. What does the week measure? Nothing. At least, nothing visible. No natural phenomenon occurs every seven days - nothing happens to the sun, the moon, of the stars. The week is an artifical, human-made interval.

I love the hell out of that. So why make anything up? The truth is already plainly delightful. & it doesn't even begin to suggest why humans invented a "weekend" as we now understand & experience.

By the way, this book (which I just started reading today) has nothing to do with the show being about the weekend. I'll talk about why I'm doing a show about weekends tomorrow.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Too Many Thanks

Normally - or what I'd like to do normally, anyway - I'd do a haiku wrap-up on Mondays. But I didn't get to read the haikus on Friday because it was a Membership Drive show. So, instead, without being too syrupy & goofy about it, I'd just like to thank the nice people who gave money to KOOP through Self Help Radio. I did very well for this Membership Drive because of you, & I am forced to keep making delicious radio shows because I know you have a well-developed palate for the sort of radio KOOP provides. So, without embarassing too many people, I'll thank you by your first names:

Thank you, Jenny. Thank you, Heath. Thank you, Stan & BJ. Thank you, Michael. Thank you, Paul. Thank you, Joe. Thank you, Mike. Thank you, Rosey Rose. Thank you, Jim. Thank you, Gary (what a great name you have!). Thank you, Nancy. Thank you, Bolan. Thank you, Twyla & Schrieber. Thank you, Robert. Thank you, Tania. Thank you, Robert. Thank you, John. & finally, thank you, Tim.

Stephen Colbert jokingly calls his audience "the heroes," but KOOP is such a deeply personal enterprise for its volunteers that I think it translates into a deeply personal radio experience for its listeners, & you guys are more than heroes to us at KOOP - you're our best friends. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Last Day Of Membership Drive Jitters

What the word that means before the thing that is before the thing that is last? Like, the last thing is the ultimate thing, which always amuses me when I see a Steely Dan "greatest hits" record which says "The ULTIMATE Collection," as if (oh, if only God were good) it was going to be the very last Steely Dan collection ever. Alas, it won't be. "Ultimate" has become a word that just sounds good so it must be cool. Anyway, before ultimate is penultimate, which means, basically, next to last. As in, "I was the penultimate pick by the popular kids for the dodgeball team. But Gary was their ultimate choice." (They used to say that to make me feel better. Twelve seconds later, I was the first kids "out" by getting beaned by a filthy, smelly, sweaty ball to the groin.) But there is no word, as far as I know, for "next to next to last." But if there was one...

My show is the [insert nonexistent word meaning "next to next to last" here] show of KOOP's Fall Membership Drive, & boy am I nervous about it. It starts in about two hours, &, while I am convinced it's an excellent show, of the nerdy & drooly quality that I love in all music shows, I know how fickle radio listeners are, & I know that some people just can't afford it. It still makes me nervous. I love KOOP like I love cheese, so you can imagine how high the stakes are for me.

& thusly. I present, for one last time, the link to the page on the KOOP web site where you can make a pledge & become a member of KOOP. I hope you listen, I hope you like, & I hope I move some people enough to help out a unique & utterly wonderful experiment in community-run radio like KOOP.

But ugh. My stomach is killing me.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

I Am Daydreaming About Law & Order

You think I am kidding, but I'm not.

A few years ago, maybe half my life ago, I was in love & there were bunnies who held my held my hand & I sang each morning when I woke, & it was special song, not unlike those cell phone rings that only young people can hear, except my songs were beautiful to people who were in love, & to those who weren't, it induced fits of nausea & vomiting which are more common to those who have radiation poisoning.

Anyway, it ended (as it does), & I was a broken person. While I have always been a hungry-to-voracious reader, I found that people were constantly writing about relationships. Either the beginning or the ending, but any talk of relationships in any form - poetry, plays, novels - it made me physically ill & plunged me more deeply into unhappiness than before. (Also, the products were misleading. I tried to learn what we talk about when we talk about love in Raymond Carver's book, "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love," but I could never figure out what exactly he was talking about, & I realized that I just want to hear any more damn talk about love, goddamnit!)

So, visiting my moms, I picked up a Sherlock Holmes collection by Conan Doyle, &, reading through it, I realized, "Hey! Sherlock never talks about love! He fucking hates it!" So I began to devour detective literature in earnest. Because there, even if love somehow plays a part in the murder/crime/whatever, it's the crime that counts. You can ignore the syrupy lovers. (& in the hard-boiled stuff, like Spillane, it's more about sex than love.)

I was so happy when, about seven or eight years ago, I discovered Law & Order on TV. I liked the fact that the shows were plot-driven, that a lot of the "crime solving" was in the police procedural vein, & especially that, like in real life, you found out details of the lives of the main characters incidentally. (Incidentally, I love Vincent D'Onofio's character in the the L&O: Criminal Intent show mainly because of his Sherlock Holmesian qualities, which some people don't like.) (Also, I rediscovered the brilliance of Columbo & appreciate it on a very similar level.)

I am a much happier person now, though I never quite regained the big heart I had in that early relationship that went bad, but I more than ever love mystery stories & good tv crime drama. That's not why I was daydreaming about Law & Order today, though. It's even more sinister.

I was thinking how much I truly like the characters, how sad I am when they "die" or "move on," & how sometimes the fate of these fictional folks moves me much more than people in my real life. If I "knew" the fictional characters in their fictional worlds, I'm not sure they'd like me very much, but that's also true about a lot of the musicians I deeply admire. (I have a feeling I'd spend most of my time with Dylan restraining myself from punching him. & I think John Lennon would think I was a douche.) What all this means is that I spent some time today, usually on smoke breaks, thinking about people who aren't real & comparing them to people who are, but whom I don't generally care about as much as the made-up characters on the tv.

This has nothing whatsoever to do with Self Help Radio, of course. It's just a thought I am having, a snapshot of my day. But it might be an insight into my obsessive nature with regards to music - because there are songs that have moved me more powerfully than events "in real life." I feel a fundamental truth in human creation - even if I don't get that a lot from regular ol' humans.

Did I mention KOOP's Fall 2006 Membership Drive? We have two more days to go. Please think about giving something to the station - also a creation - that I dearly love. As well, if you can do it during my show from 4:30 to 6:00pm CST tomorrow, it would be cool. The toll free number is 1-888-917-5667.