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!