Friday, March 30, 2007

A Friday Plea

This Friday post is deadly serious. KOOP's Spring 2007 Membership Drive starts today & it's your chance to not only support Austin's best radio station, but also to become part of an exciting experiment in locally-controlled media. It's a win-win for all of us!

What? You think radio doesn't matter? Well, consider this story:

It's 1861, & in Charleston, South Carolina, there are only four radio stations. Three of them are owned by Plantation Media, the same group that owns all the radio in the South & a lot in the North. (After the Civil War, they became Clear Channel.) However, a plucky band of communists, anarchists, freed slaves & other "uppity" folk (as the late Molly Ivins would call them) run a community radio station which plays more than the faux English music & the annoying anti-Abolitionist screeds that the Plantation Media (a subsidiary of Fox) plays non-stop. In fact, it was this small station, called Radio Longfellow, that the first blues were ever played on the radio. Recordings of Thomas Paine & Thomas Jefferson were played often. The now-infamous "Russion Explosion Hour" featured live remotes with Tolstoy & Bakunin - all on a very limited budget. The owners of this station were harassed & persecuted by the elite slaveowners of South Carolina - but enough of the citizenry supported them that they stayed on the air. What a glorious time it was for radio!

Alas, when the Confederates started firing on Fort Sumter, a renegade Confederate officer named Clement Thurmond (a great great grand-uncle of Strom Thurmond) turned his cannon around & fired straight into the studios of Radio Longfellow, putting them off the air permanently. Why would he do such a thing? Because the station violently opposed secession, & they were starting to turn the people of Charleston around. Yes, some among the new Confederate ranks felt that a radio station was more of a threat than a garrison of Union soldiers.

Imagine! Those pesky volunteers could have stopped the Civil War! & nearly a century & a half later, radio is more vital than ever. That's why you want to support it, baby.

What? There were no radio stations in 1861? Whatever. The point is the same. Could radio have stopped the United States Civil War? Discuss among yourselves.

Alas! There will be no "Song Of The Day" today. I must rush to the station to help with the Membership Drive. Please please please tune in & please please please give to KOOP radio. You know in your hearts why it's important.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Your Letters Are Troublemakers! (But I Answer Them Anyway)

I answer letters every Thursday on this blog. There is no topic which I won't write about. So write me an email!

Here's a mostly made-up letter from a strictly speaking imaginary person we'll call "Rose."

He writes:

So, seriously Gary, what's so important about the Membership Drive?

I am glad you asked, man named Rose. (What?) You hear a lot of "pledge drives" & "membership drives" & fundraising efforts & it seems like everyone has them, but they don't. The crappy ass commercial radio stations you're always switching away from when they play crappy ass ads don't have to have fund-raising events because those crappy ass ads you're always avoiding - you know, when you switch over to KOOP - they pay for the station.

Why doesn't KOOP have ads? Or, maybe, you ask, doesn't KOOP have ads? We have something like them called underwriting announcements, but there are strict rules on what those spots can say. & - be honest - they're not nearly as annoying as commercial radio ads. & maybe because of those rules, KOOP doesn't make a lot of money from underwriting - we make our money to survive during these membership drives.

So. Here's the answer: we need the drive to survive. That's what's so important.

If you can give, please give. I'll have special premiums & I'll put on astonishingly good shows. You must therefore give. What would a world without Self Help Radio be like? Would you want to live in that world? Think about how fucked-up the world is outside of Austin - they can't hear Self Help Radio on the radio there. That's the problem with the world! So don't turn Austin into the rest of the world. Support KOOP & support Self Help Radio.

Speaking of, my show from last Friday is available for download in a podcast-sized mp3 ball. Click here - it's at the top of this page. Goes well with copious amounts of alcohol.

Today's "Song Of The Day" is a shabby psychedelic nugget by Houston's own the Red Krayola from their first record The Parable Of Arable Land. Click this name: Hurricane Fighter Plane for enlightenment. I will keep it available for two weeks. Then it's bye bye.

Tomorrow: the Membership Drive starts, I salute the Godfather Of Soul. You give lots of money to a worthy cause. Gird your loins. It's coming!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Whither James Brown - Sampled?

I was talking yesterday about how I keep my teeth clean with two parts shoe polish & one part vodka - but I wasn't talking about it here so I hope you're not confused. I carry on conversations in more than one dimension THANK YOU VERY MUCH & if you can't keep up, I will walk a little more slowly.

When James Brown died, nearly everyone on KOOP, recognizing the importance of this great artist in all our lives (let's be honest - they wouldn't be nearly as funky without him), paid some tribute or other. When I returned from Europe, I played him on my show that week - but only one track. I wanted to do something special.

During a Spirit Walk with my guru, Herb, I realized that, although I could breathe James Brown like air for days on end, it might be fun to see what really creative types (unlike my poor self) did with James Brown. I thought first of covers. Then I came out from under the covers. I was covered in shame. My guru, Herb, was covered in ghee. Don't ask. We communicated psychically - or maybe we were muttering under our breath - anyway, we decided that "covers" wasn't good enough.

Herb mentioned that James Brown was the most sampled artist in the world. I was a little embarrassed about this until Herb explained it was his music that was sampled, not him personally. He totally thinks I'm a prude. He says I'm the only spirit that turns up to a Spirit Walk completely clothed. He says, in fact, that I should perhaps LOOSEN THE FUCK UP.

I discovered that not only hip-hop artists have sampled the Godfather. & you can listen to my favorites of those intrepid folk Friday on my show!

Plus - it's a Membership Drive show, so please, wake the neighbors, call in favors, burden your family & steal from your work, but try to help KOOP out with a little cash. We do such good work for you & for the community, but we need to pay the bills. Besides - where else in this town would you find a Self Help Radio?

My "Song Of The Day" is a pretty song I played on my South By Some Some show, but you can listen to it here in better quality mp3 ism. It's from My Latest Novel from Scotland, from their debut record Wolves. It's called Sister Sneaker Sister Soul. Click to enjoy. Enjoy it until April 11. Then it goes away.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Preface To My James Brown Tribute: Will I Get Arrested For Sampling Samples?

James Brown actually came to Austin last summer. Did I see him? No, I didn't. Wanna know why? Because I'm a moron & there's a spiteful part of me that says "Since you couldn't see him at the Apollo in the 60s, when he was arguably at his best, you shouldn't see him now." Why do I do that? I don't know. But I do now regret it.

When James Brown died on Christmas Day last year, I was about to get on a plane to go to Europe. Someone else died around the same time - maybe an old president or something, whatever, nothing big - it occured to me that, even if some corrupt old lawmaker or other passed laws that somehow affected me in regards to the environment, taxes, education, etc., what I am most concerned with is the inner life I lead - the part of me that needs music in the way that politicians need power or religious folks need to believe - & in that part of me, James Brown's legacy, from the music he made to the music made with the music he made to the music he influenced - he touched me life in the way nearly no one else could have.

With typical speed, I am now getting to the tribute. Why the way I am doing it? Er, I'll talk about tomorrow. I am busy listening to hip hop songs trying to guess if that's a JB sample or not. Hmmmm.

Today's "Song Of The Day" is an outsider music track by the amazing Shooby Taylor - The Human Horn from Irwin Chusid's wonderful compilation Songs In The Key Of Z. The song is Stout-Hearted Men & even though it'll be gone in two weeks, you can find more of them on the page I link to up there.

Tomorrow: I'll try to be funny. But I miss James Brown.

Monday, March 26, 2007

If It Was Michigan Friday, It's A Monday Wrap

Thank you so much for tuning in last Friday as I broadcast Self Help Radio from a flaming asteroid hurtling toward Michigan. I'm so sorry we accidentally hit Ontario. That's my bad. I was totally listening to Bush administration scientists. I won't do that again!

We did have some haiku winners, though, & they won with these winning haikus:

Car stalled in Detroit
Arrested in Grand Rapids
We cannot escape

Take me to that state
That’s stuck between three Great Lakes
Rad peninsula!

Lonely Michigan
Losing its songs & its jobs
Sleep in a snowbank

I need something new
Winter's lasted way too long
Sing your sweet spring song

& the mystery limerick writer wrote this:

My wife, she divorced me in Michigan
I lived all alone & got rich again
     We went for dinner & dancing
     The week I visited Lansing
& now she wants us to get hitched again!

This week is the start of the Spring 2007 Membership Drive so we may not have time for haiku. But maybe if you write a good one, we'll make the time. This week's show is a tribute to James Brown featuring my favorite hip-hop songs that sample him. It'll be very worth giving your money to you bet.

Today's "Song Of The Day" is by a sweet little English band called Magoo from their first record, The Soateramic Sounds Of Magoo. The song is called A To Z & Back Again, & click it to listen to it from a to z. It'll zoom away on April 9, 2007.

Tomorrow: the day I met James Brown & sampled him, & other crazy lies.