Saturday, April 03, 2010

Preface To What I Like: The Athens Of Ohio

Do you like that expression? Some people describe some cities as other cities. For example, because of the increasing number of movies & television shows being shot there, some might call Vancouver "the Hollywood of Canada." Or because of its horrible weather, Molly Ivins (I think) once called Houston "the Calcutta of the Western World." It's part of the human love affair with analogies.

Since it was known as the birthplace of democracy & science, among other things, Athens is always well-regarded (at least among people who like democracy & science, although revisionists who hate the implication "white people" {if you can even call them that twenty-five thousand years ago} inventing such things somehow makes them "better" than other races {see my Carl Sagan quote below})& people love to call a place "the Athens of whatever."

WIkipedia lists nineteen cities called Athens in the United States, although there are probably more. The most famous is Athens, Georgia, where a lot of bands in the "alternative" music spectrum have come from & continues to come from. Today I am traveling for the first time to Athens, Ohio, also a college town but one unlike Huntington, which is nearly two & a half times larger, but which doesn't appear to have nearly (if any) of the common appurtenances of college towns. Marshall University is weird like that.

Of course, "the Athens of Ohio" means something different than "Athens, Ohio." But surely they named it that, though, in the hopes that the name would somehow make Athens, Ohio, the "Athens of the United States." Or at least of Ohio.

Here's a Carl Sagan quote that will piss off racist scum & hopefully assuage the resentment of insecure folks not of a "Greek" or "Western" heritage about the idea that democracy & science were invented in Athens (this is from "Cosmos"):

"China and India and Mesoamerica would, I think, have tumbled to science too, if only they had been given a little more time. Cultures do not develop with identical rhythms or evolve in lockstep. They arrive at different times and progress at different rates. The scientific world view works so well, explains so much and resonates so harmoniously with the most advanced parts of our brains that in time, I think, virtually every culture on the Earth, left to its own devices, would have discovered science. Some culture had to be first. As it turned out, Ionia was the place where science was born."

Friday, April 02, 2010


I can't think of anything to write today. I think my mind is just a little blank. I mowed the lawn, I did some work for the radio station & I have to forage for my own food tonight because the wife has to do something with academics or something. I don't really know because I wasn't really listening because I've learned to tune out.

I was reading about this writer named Gary Indiana (& no, I don't just like him because of his name, although his real first name is Gary & he was born during the height of the popularity of the name Gary, thanks to the actor Gary Cooper, whose real name isn't Gary, but who was named Gary by his agent who was from - ta-da! - Gary, Indiana) & although I've never read any of his books, I remember reading something from him in The Nation about what he felt the Democrat's political platform should be in 2004, & while I am ordering one of his books online, I'll share this with you & hope it doesn't offend either him or The Nation:

"Ratify the Kyoto Protocol and withdraw from NAFTA and the WTO. Replace the World Bank and the IMF with a single Islamic structure that doesn't charge interest. Offer tax credits for the purchase of small, fuel-efficient automobiles. Cut taxes for individuals and couples who decide not to reproduce. Make abortions available and free at shopping malls, along with blood- pressure and glucose-tolerance tests.
Cut the military budget in half to fund healthcare, childcare, education and job training. Cut the remaining half by another half to rebuild urban infrastructures and expand public transportation. Cut the remaining half in half and give it to the families of civilian casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Restore full civil rights to convicted felons who have served their sentences in our gulags, the vast majority railroaded by the plea-bargaining process. Pay ex-convicts $100 an hour to meet their parole officers. Revise the grand jury system to allow defendants legal representation and the right to call their own witnesses. Simultaneously eliminate all plea bargaining so that every felony indictment results in a jury trial.
Restore the exclusive right of Congress to declare war, and declare any deployment of American troops 'war,' even if it's supposedly against abstractions like "drugs' or 'terror.' The only drug-related combat we need is a few years of intense forensic auditing of drug companies and punitive-damage awards to everyone they've overcharged. Make war profiteering and outsourcing of jobs federal crimes punishable by ten years of community service clearing litter from poor neighborhoods and seizure of corporate assets. Rescind the elements of the legal code that allow corporations to be considered 'persons.'
Make recreational drugs safer and available over the counter at pharmacies and liquor stores."

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Here's a nice image I took from

I hope they don't mind if I reproduce it. I think it's cool.

That kind of matter of course is not the same matter as in the question "Does it matter?" which Self Help Radio attempted to answer last night. Do you want to know what the answer was? No? Not even a little? Oh. Well, if you change your mind, you can find out whether or not Self Help Radio thinks it matters by listening to last night's show at If I didn't answer the question, there's a few songs that did.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Something About Menus

Do you know people who collect menus? I know one. One people who collects menus.

Why does this people collect menus? Wouldn't it be lonesome & hungry to sit in one's house, say, in Minnesota, while looking at a menu from, say, a lovely vegan restaurant in Brooklyn? Even if they delivered, it might be simpler to simply make a simple sandwich. Or a complex one. Though it's not as as tasty as the one that's on the menu. & what if the kid's on a bicycle? He could die in Cleveland!

Do you know people who can't decide what to order from most menus? I know several people like that. It makes eating out with them sometimes trying.

But I completely understand. If it's a great restaurant, like, say, a lovely vegan restaurant in Brooklyn, which you, living in, say, Minnesota, may not visit again for many months if not years, & who's to say it will still be there when you get back, you want to order the best food off the menu possible. What horrible regret faces you if you were to order the fourth- or fifth-best entree off the menu! Perhaps you should eat with people who will share with you.

Do you know of any radio show which has its own menu? I suppose that radio show would be more like a jukebox than a radio show. Is that what satellite radio is like? In any event, Self Help Radio has no menu. But it will be serving up its regular midnight snack tonight at midnight (that's why it's a midnight snack) on 88.1 fm WMUL in Huntington, & then as leftovers the next day at Bon appetit!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Whither Does It Matter?

I think I pointed out that this is only the third Self Help Radio that explicitly asks a question. (Other shows, of course, ask implicit questions, the most common of which is, "Why do they let this guy do a radio show?") I can't imagine why I haven't done more questions. Or maybe just formulated my themes more like questions, for example, "Cheese?"

The answer to which would of course be "Yes please!"

I do fear that Self Help Radio may get a bit too philosophical this week. I mean, "Does it matter?" Isn't that the sort of thing that short, bearded men in turtlenecks write big books about that are only read by their students? The truth is, I don't really know what I'm going to talk about. Y'see, one gets the idea for a show for whatever reason (a bolt from the blue, a telegram from one's mom, the desire to play a particular song on the radio & so constructing an entire show around it, etc.) & then one figures out what one is going to say in-between the songs. At least I suppose that's how it's done. I am like that dude from "Memento" - no, not buff, blonde & tattooed - I forget each radio show after I've done it. I'm surprised I haven't done this theme before. Or have I?

My one request is for the bands that I like to write more songs about cold noodles with sesame sauce. I would love to do any entire show about that. How delicious would that be? VERY DELICIOUS!

Also, does anyone else besides me think the word "makeshift" sounds naughty?