Saturday, March 13, 2010

Preface To What O'Clock Is It?: Rhetorical Radio Shows & Their Inherent Difficulties

The radio show asks a question. Do you answer it? Or do you look a fool if & when you try?

Take the young man, Eugene Vapor, who did not understand that some questions were not meant to be answered, but were asked, as it were, to make a statement or gain some sort of effect. (It should be known that young Mr. Vapor also had a genetic resistance to sarcasm, one side effect of which was that Mr. Vapor was utterly convinced of everyone's sincerity.) Mr. Vapor often spent his days writing long letters (this was in the twentieth century) to questions he believed he was being asked, questions he felt needed prompt replies. Mr. Vapor of course died from an infection he received from an unprotected mailbox he happened across in an unpleasant part of town.

But should we condescend to (some might have said accommodate) the Mr. Vapors of this world? The answer is, if & only if they have a lot of money. Then it is, as expatriates in the Czech Republic say, de rigeur. Yet poll after poll taken amongst animals in the neighborhood reveal that people like Mr. Vapor do not listen to shows like Self Help Radio, which insists to ask & answer its own questions like some kind of pusillanimous politician afraid to take questions from Boy's Life & Sugar Tits magazines. But judging a radio show like Self Help Radio is easy; listening to it is the difficulty.

Noted rhetor & amateur garbage sculptor Semaphor Livid was recently asked as if he didn't already know why some radio shows need to ask questions & others felt comfortable simply supplying answers. A long, mostly riveting response about a late 70's Pink Floyd concert he missed & the botched back-alley tattoo removal that ensued entertained the paid studio audience even as the FBI surrounded the building. The crew who refused to film the event, complaining about the lack of proper lighting & copyrights, later informed wary passers-by that, yes, questions were often asked, but no, answers were not forthcoming. But was this betrayal?

In the previous selection (see previous selection), half a dozen abrupt landlords met with tenants & nearby hobos to inform them of new rights per pending legislation a continent away in California. Surprisingly, a modest fire was built right there in the auditorium & someone with the obligatory electric guitar (along with a multi-instrumentalist who had only brought her flute) sang long, sad songs about this or that flight of fancy in this or that youth. Then - & only then, because versions differ & memories are faulty but the most trustworthy report was from a guy who assures everyone he was totally there because he still has a burn mark from the electric guitar on his hypothalamus - the cry went up, & a hush fell upon the city, & while some have called it a religious experience, it was anything but, as prescription drugs were in the water supply.

Were was Self Help Radio in all this? It was, of course, huddled in its garage apartment, peering through spectacles smudged with filthy, music-listening hands. Doing what? you may ask. Oh, you know: asking questions it doesn't expect you to answer.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010


I am done talking about kings, monarchy, kingdoms, realms, crowns, all that. Just sick of it. Not once - not once - during this process have I been offered the rule of a country. Or a small village, even. How much must one radio show person hint? Seriously.

That's okay, though, I can still run for elected office if I so choose. Please look from my announcement whenever my theme is "democracy." Or maybe "corruption."

If you aren't sick of kings, or if you missed last night's show, it's available online at for listening. Please do. & then vote for me for king!

Monday, March 08, 2010

King For A Day!

Apparently there used to be this horrible television show called Queen For A Day which is considered a godmother of television's modern "reality" craze. It began on radio. Tonight on the radio I shall be King For A Day!

Not really. It's only ninety minutes. & I won't be king. I'll be playing songs about kings, real & imagined, & also things that are titled "king" because of their importance. So there's no similarity between the old show & my new show. You can see one of the few extant episodes (they were usually destroyed like most of the television shows of the day) of "Queen For A Day" here. I warn you. It's awful.

You can listen to tonight's Self Help Radio live on 88.1 fm WMUL in Huntington & I'll archive it tomorrow on I can't predict how awful it will be. You'll have to listen to hear!

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Whither King Fill-In-The-Blank?

People sometimes think I get too weird about my themes. They say to me, do like the zombie that used to be Bob Dylan does: make millions of dollars writing great folks songs & then coast for more than half your life on your reputation. Wait. I mean, do a radio show with simple themes. Like "cars" or "baseball" or "days of the week that end in 'day'."

I do want to be more like the zombie that used to be Bob Dylan, especially with the money & the commercials with Victoria's Secret models & the occasionally flirtation with evangelical Christianity. But for some reason when my brain tells me to come up with a theme for a show, the chemicals involved get sidetracked, possibly by memories of seeing girls in their underwear, & suddenly bam! There's a theme that seems unnecessarily complicated.

For example, the zombie that used to be Bob Dylan would do a show about "kings." That would be simply enough & no one would scratch their head. His assistants would eagerly find songs for him that he would nod at as if he approved & then someone would write his script & his show would go off without a hitch. But not me. I am nothing like the zombie that used to be Bob Dylan. I am, some might say, not even a fraction of the rotting ego that that zombie that used to be Bob Dylan has. Because instead of doing a show about kings, or monarchy, or the notion of the divine right to rule, what do I do?

"King Fill-In-The-Blank." What?

See, this is the grand idea my foolish brain had: "Anyone can do a show about kings," my brain told me, "even the unpaid interns who gather music for the zombie who used to be Bob Dylan's show. But what if you saddle yourself with arbitrary restrictions in the theme? Won't that be something you might call fun but no one else would?" & because I am drinking at the time, I say, "Sure!"

Wait. What restrictions? Simple: the songs can be about kings, but they have to be about a specific king. King _____ . So you can't play a nice song like Tyrannosaurus Rex's "King Of The Rumbling Spires" but you can play a song called "King James." See?

Wait, wait. Does it have to be a real king? No. It just has to say King & some noun. Won't that be fun?

Oh, yes. Fun.