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.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Whither Sampling?

Oh, really, why the hell not? The idea of extremely catchy tunes - some with the music itself sampled - with silly samples - from old movies, from old instructional records, from other songs, from unknown obscure sources - & sometimes with some cool-ass turntablism skills - that idea, played on the radio, should be very fun. Shouldn't it?

Well, I think so. & it's my show.

The first time I heard a sampled tune was probably the eminently ridiculous "Mr Jaws," which, it turns out, was made by the same folks who created a sampled tune from the fifties called "Flying Saucer" (which I will in fact play on Friday). As a kid about three years away from discovering Dr. Demento, I was charmed. I tried to do the same thing myself - writing fake questions for songs I owned to insert into. Not so easy! & a little time consuming. & I soon gave it up to play with my Star Wars figures. But a seed was planted.

When I started to become interested in music that somehow spoke to me (as opposed to music that made me laugh) (look, I was a sullen teenager who identified with Robert Smith & Morrissey far more than Barnes & Barnes or Weird Al) (besides, there was smarter music that was funny & yet actually meant something in my future), I forget about the whole "sampling" thing. Until, of course, my sorry little white boy ass was exposed for the first time to hip hop.

What! These guys aren't playing anything! They're using drum machines & sampling songs by James Brown. Never mind that I, a person naturally geared toward the verbal, completely missed the rapping element of the MC, or even the delivery - the moment that turned me around was hearing the Bomb Squad's production on Public Enemy records. Sampled sounds, meticulously crafted, making them more than the sum of their (borrowed) parts. True musical collage. Extraordinary. & funky.

(I won't be playing any PE Friday, though. Why? Because:)

Then came "Pump Up The Volume." The lyrics are all samples! Listen to that! & for a little while, until money entered the picture, there was some neat stuff coming out. Nowadays, it's harder to do that, since you have to clear samples, & some people want lots of money for the little pieces of the songs artists might want to use.

I probably don't own a lot of it, but the stuff I like - from Coldcut to the Avalanches, from the Books to David Byrne & Brian Eno's work in the early 80's - will be stuff I play this Friday. I am calling it "A Brief History Of Sampling," because it'll be ninety minutes long & I don't feel I have an exhaustive collection. But it should be fun fun fun. & also you can dance. & do that thing you do when you hear a sampled sound & you're like, "Christ, what movie/song/TV show/other did that sample come from?"

I should also mention that show will be on the very last day of KOOP's Fall Membership Drive. So if you listen & like, please give.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Preface To A Brief History Of Sampling: I Stole All The Letters I Use In This Blog

Do I have to tell you over & over? KOOP is having its Fall Membership Drive right now. Go support KOOP!

This Friday, for my second & final Membership Drive show of the year, I am going to play lots of silly songs that have either samples of people talking, samples of music, samples of samples, or all of the above. I'll have a couple of songs that predate the year of my birth, but most of them will come from the last twenty-five years or so. Why is that? Because the first digital sampler was released in 1975. That's essential. Before that, it was a lot of cutting up & pasting of tape.

I myself was sampled once, & this is definitely not the beginning of a story about some sex shop I visited in Copenhagen, nor is it a story of being cannibalized. Actually, I think I've been sampled more than once. I guess that comes with being on the radio. People can tape you, they can edit you, they can mix you up. I fully expect one day, with all the talking I do, to hear myself talking very audaciously about something terribly disgusting. That would rule.

I'm a little tired & so can't think of any funny lies about sampling. I guess sampling applies mainly to the music/sound world, so if I "sampled" anything in print, it'd just be plagiarism. A lot of the problems people have with sampling is related to the concept of claiming someone else's writing is your own - surely it's the same with music!

& so it is. But the truth is, the stuff I'll play interests me because it's creative, not derivative. Nowadays, a lot of musical artists will basically sample an entire song, usually a popular song, even if they sing or rap something different over it. Far more difficult is to do something truly creative, like what Danger Mouse did with Jay Z & the Beatles. I can't play any of that, though - that's illegal!

I am very amused & excited by songs in which the normal verbal parts are replaced with samples. That's a lot of what I'll play Friday. But why a show called "A Brief History Of Sampling"? Ask me tomorrow.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Velvet Underground Haiku Wrap-Up

I must apologize, because in the heat of the Membership Drive, where it's important to get as much information about supporting the station as possible, along with the regular stellar mix of music, I forget, this past Friday, to read your haikus. I am so sorry.

But wait! Did someone say Membership Drive? That's right, KOOP's Fall Membership Drive continues. Please give something to the greatest radio station ever in the history of radio I kid you not baby.

& thank you to those who pledged their support to my show Friday.

Now, the unannounced winners:


Please tell me, Lou Reed
What’s that John Cale fellow like?
He is so dreamy.


Give me sex & drugs
Help me to understand them
Like the Velvets did


When I am hurting
When I’m lonesome, need a fix,
I know who to call


Behind ev’ry door
People do desperate things
Velvet Underground

This week I'll be sampling (ha ha) a few musics that are important in the history of sampling. You can always write a haiku about it. If you want.