Friday, September 22, 2006

If Life Weren't Already Yellow Enough...

In less than two hours, Self Help Radio goes all yellow. But it don't mean I'm afeared of ya! Because yellow is the color of Emperors in China. It's the color of all kinds of penalties in sports. & it's the color of safety vehicles, since it's widely believed that yellow is the color most easily seen from a distance.

(But also, I'll admit, I am a coward.)

I'm pleased to say the show will have unique contributions from local Austin crackpot & part-time butler CJ Buchanan as well as a lovely cover of a Tahiti 80 song by Dallas Renaissance Woman Tania Ion - which was recorded today (how does she do it?). As well, I steal a "Yellow" song from a CD by a former Self Help Radio guest of honor, Laura Freeman. If she notices it missing, I will take back what I said about her fixation with the color teal.

There will be much music, much discussion of things yellowy, & of course haikus. I hope you'll listen.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Telling The Future

I apologize for not blogging today - yesterday - Thursday. It was a busy day for work & for KOOP, which is a mostly all-volunteer organization & with which I am intimately involved. I'm not just some dork with a crazy fabulous radio show, I am a dork with a crazy fabulous radio show who is deeply devoted to the idea of cooperatively-run community radio. Maybe I'll talk more about KOOP hereabouts some time, but the idea here is to talk here about the crazy fabulous radio show which I do. You know, the one where modesty takes a backseat to hyperbole.

I'd like to let you know up & coming themes, & I confess I try to think of them (or be inspired by the Muse of the Moment, who is a perverse little bastard) weeks in advance, so that I can ruminate & gather & take input from you, listener, reader, if you so choose. Mainly because I am insecure & always feel I'm going to forget something sometime somewhere. & I always do.

So here's what's coming up after we tackle the difficult subject of the color yellow tomorrow - today - Friday. The two shows following the next one are what we in the noncommercial radio world call "Membership Drive Shows." This means a chance for listeners to show support for the sort of radio that is built from the guts & brains of the programmers, not the computerized corporate decisions made by a dude in Los Angeles who really needs to recoup the money his label put into Mariah Carey's new record. You can contribute to KOOP any time by going to the KOOP home page & becoming a member with a financial gift. It's money we sorely need, & maybe if enough of you help us & stop paying the corporations, we might not ever have to hear another new record from Mariah Carey.

I'll do more of the begging here later, so bear with me. Remember, this money ain't for me; it's for an idea made audible, free speech as pure as possible in the loud "global economy" run by five or six megacorporations. But I wanted to talk about the future themes... So here they are.

Next week, to underscore my natural state, & to give everyone a rest before the Membership Drive starts, I'll be playing songs about being sleepy, drowsy, tired. Hopefully it'll be at least little peppy, or you might crash your car trying to suppress a yawn.

Then, on October 6th, my first Membership Drive show will be a tribute to the Velvet Underground. I am collecting my favorite covers of the esteemed band to show their immense influence, as well as a song or two about them.

On October 13th, I am going to indulge my love of cobbled together music by presenting a wholly incomplete Brief History Of Sampling. I love songs with goofy sound clips & snatched dialogue. They make me happy. I hope they affect you the same way.

On the 20th, I will be celebrating the fourth anniversary of the month I started Self Help Radio with a theme revisited - sort of. My first show, before I even had a name for the show, was on a Friday, so I played an hour of songs about Friday. Except. I wasn't prepared enough to have enough songs about Friday, so I cheated & played a few songs about the weekend. The show will therefore celebrate the weekend. As an idea. As a place of respite. As a place for drinking, loving & resting.

On the 27th, I will make & play my annual Halloween show, which a special emphasis on "monsters" - human & otherwise - from Frankenstein to the baddies in Greek myth, to the monstrous people who terrorize our real lives. If you know a good song about a Gorgon or about Mothra, point me in that direction please!

Tomorrow - today - later on today - Friday - I'll hopefully speak a little more about what you'll hear on the show at 4:30pm. But that's for tomorrow. I should go to bed, & try to dream of songs to fill the themes I have above.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Whither Yellow?

This week's show will feature songs about the color yellow, as well as songs about yellow things. Unfortunately, no one has written a song (that I am aware of) about yellow burnies, yellow discipline, yellow coffee makers, or the Yellow Sea, but we'll have all other improbably yellow things. Trust me.

But why yellow? It hardly seems the season! Why such a springtime color as summer ends? Because I am not moved, sir, by the vagaries of seasonal fashion. I live in Austin, Texas, sir, where we are lucky to have two seasons: "summer" & "thank God it's not summer." The vegetative world is equally confused - the two trees in my backyard have been losing leaves all summer long.

No, I answer to a completely different muse. The Muse of the Moment. (Which was also, I believe, a totally rad metal song by 80's superstars Asia.) A Muse that has no problem with kneecapping me when I least expect it (which makes this Muse a little like my high school Algebra teacher). So.

I was indulging myself in the wonderful world of song-poems a few weeks back - & if you don't know what song-poems are, you may certainly find out at the American Song Poem Music Archives - although they apparently don't host mp3s there anymore - &, like with brilliant poetry & strange bumps on your skin, I always find something new & strange & wonderful when I revisit song-poems. This time, it was a weird recitation of yellow things called, aptly enough, "I Like Yellow Things."

(You can find the mp3 for this down the page here, if you want a preview before Friday.)

I was interested in all the yellow things the singer Bobbi Blake lists, & then thought, "What other songs are about yellow things?" In particular, I decided that, despite being able to round up a multitude of songs about lemons or the sun or traffic lights, I'd focus on the weirder, more poetical stuff - yellow as descriptive metaphor rather than a list of yellow stuff (like I did here yesterday).

So Friday, you'll hear songs about yellow brick roads (with different permutations), as well as yellow rainbows (what?), yellow guns (hunh?!), & maybe even yellow forests (eh?!?). I'll concede some obvious ones - the sun, taxis, the obligatory submarine - but mainly I am looking for the counterintuitive yellow. Hopefully I will succeed.

As always, you can email me with requests for yellow songs. (& no, I won't play that annoying Coldplay song, sorry). & even if you can't think of a yellow song, how about putting your pencap where your brain is & writing a haiku?

Is this over? Can I take a day without talking about the color yellow? Good.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Preface to yellow: what's the difference between gangrene & jaundice?

Quick! Think of twenty yellow things!

Pie crust. Cheese. Number 2 pencils. Post-it notes. The W on Wonder Woman's bodice. The outermost light of something on fire. Sickly apples. Highlighters. That long line down the coward's back in old cartoons. Betty Cooper's hair. My voter registration card. Sickly sweet soda pop. Nancy Drew book spines. Day-old pus. The light that's supposed to mean "slow" but really means "speed up." Corn (boring). Corns (you mean, like on your feet? better). Sickly people. Middle-aged, middle-of-the-road stars like our sun. &, er, Yellow No. 5.

The color yellow is, of course, the next-stinkiest color on the spectrum, after brown, & not including black, which is not a color but the absence of color (duh). When asked why white, which is all colors to all people (including color-blind people), is not as stinky as two of the stinky colors that make it up, white has been known to respond by pointing out that red, blue & purple are very sweet smelling colors & cancel the stinkiness of brown & yellow. Red & blue, as well, are colors that grow to enormous sizes, while yellow in particular can be a strangely runty color. It takes billions of yellow to make sunlight, for example, while a comparatively small amount of blue can make an entire sky. & the entire amount of blood in any animal's body (once exsanguinated, of course) is usually only one or two red.

Yellow was most probably invented shortly after an organ that did something somewhat different was conscripted by natural selection into being an eye. Even if that eye originally didn't see colors, yellow was pretty much in the bag & would only suffer a real crisis in its long existence when forced to deal with the Fauvists in the late 19th century. It took a mean-spirited old bruiser the likes of Piet Mondrian to restore yellow's good name just in time for it to be used for warning signs & fruity alcohol beverages designed to get sorority girls drunk.

I myself first met the color yellow when, in the early 1970s, I visited a schoolmate's house & saw my first color TV. I don't remember what was on, but I did take with me a sense of the grayness of my seven-year-old life & the need to pay a little more attention to the outside world. A group of angry sunflowers assaulted me on the way home, but their bellicose petulance did little to move me, since it wasn't long before I retreated into my own head again & yellow became just another word, like bellow, hello, mellow, cello, & Ernest & Julio Gallo (an early experiment in near rhyme) which I could use to help finish my first epic poem, "This Gary person is a really fine fellow." (It's still unpublished, although it may be ironic to note that the manuscript has yellowed with age.)

Yellow, being yellow, can't be said to have "yellowed," since that would be like saying "black has blackened" or "blue has the blues" (er, something like that), & I must admit, it's doing very well for its age. While a little disconcerted about what it calls "the upstarts" (especially infrared light, which really ticks yellow off), it's glad it has a place in everyone's life, every if it's mainly in advertisements & the aforementioned warning signs. (Yellow admits to being very fond of the signs that indicate an upcoming road crosses a railroad track. "That blows my mind!" says yellow.)

Yellow warns us, as Self Help Radio plans a "yellow show" this Friday, to not dwell on the negative - yellow as cowardice, yellow as urine, yellow as synonym for sensational journalism - but to concentrate on the good stuff - yellow in lemonade (which will cause copious urination), yellow in sunlight (which can cause skin cancer, lack of ozone layer permitting), yellow in good-for-you fruits & vegetables (now genetically altered so the yellow gleams like the hood of a car).

So Self Help Radio shall not. Because, despite some qualms about the color yellow - mainly its stinkiness - Self Help Radio is celebrating yellow this Friday.

& tomorrow I'll tell you why.

Monday, September 18, 2006

At the beginning of the week, I have nothing to say

But I can completely fill a few paragraphs saying it.

I didn't do anything for the Austin City Limits festival that happened this past weekend in Austin, unless you count giving up the guest room (which is what it's there for) to someone going to the festival. That means I didn't stand in the heat behind smelly people to see a band that I've seen in more intimate settings before, nor did I find myself at some bar afterward discovering that some cool indie dude is deejaying there, nor did I wander past a hotel only to see [insert some cool musician whom I probably wouldn't recognize anyway] enter & follow him/her/it into the lobby to try to get invited to a party upstairs.

I also didn't drive drunk, throw up on a stranger's shoes, wait in long lines to go to an overheated (& therefore delicious-smelling) port-o-potty, wait in the extremely humid Austin afternoon for a band to show up & discover I was at the wrong "stage," or spend too much money on beer & water & the obligatory paramedic's visit.

I might be a bit antisocial, but it's by choice, not necessarily because I don't like people or am agoraphobic or am prone to LSD flashbacks when the light hits me just right. But I just can't bring myself to become excited by these big-name festivals which try to be all things to all people (Tom Petty and TV On The Radio! Guy Clark and Stars!), because, while it might be fun for the bands (is it?) to play to people who wouldn't normally hear them, surely we as human beings have naturally more discriminating taste, & I for one would hate to be enjoying a set by Stars, for example, & have to hear, rumbling over the speakers on the other side of the park, the dreadful artificial alternative radio dredge that is the Raconteurs.

Some people love this sort of thing, though, & I don't mean to disrespect their enthusiasm for events like this. I was just saying that I didn't go, I didn't even consider going, & I did see the long lines on I-35 when I drove over & I thanked my lucky stars that I didn't see anything at the festival that made me desperately wish I were there. If you had fun, it's because we're wired differently. Or are we weird differently?

So you see? I really have nothing to say. Why say anything, then? Because this blog is anorexic! I need to fatten it up! Almost a week old & I got nothing here!

I can also tell you that Friday's show (about sugar) is now up. You can just click here to go to the archive page where you can listen to it. I don't rant at all during that show, mainly because my mouth was full of sugar the entire time.