Saturday, August 18, 2012

Preface To Shame: Shame Is Taught To The Young

I grew up poor.  My father was literally a sharecropper's son, & my mother came from hardy German working-class stock.  My father split when I was four, or was more accurately made to leave, as he was a drunk & my mother had to get herself & her children away from him.  I suppose he would've stuck around if she had wanted him to.

Anyway, being a child & not being terribly self-aware (it occurs to me that being self-aware might ruin childhood) I couldn't have told you that we were poor.  I knew a couple of facts but didn't seem to want to connect them to some overarching idea:

1) We lived in apartments, while most of my schoolmates lived in houses.
2) My schoolmates had more toys - they had more things, in general - than we did.

One big example is that my schoolmates - & I separate my schoolmates from my friends, since I was mostly friends in the "hanging out & playing together" sense with people who lived in the apartment complexes where I lived- my schoolmates generally had their parents drive them around.  My mother didn't drive - we didn't own a car - & though occasionally my older siblings took us places, they had no real sense of filial obligation & usually did so begrudgingly.

But it didn't seem weird to me because my mother didn't drive.  It was never, "We can't afford a car."  It was, "If Mom drove, we'd have a car."

My mother, however, has always felt deeply ashamed by her low economic status - although, it must be noted, certainly not so ashamed that she might work really hard to pull herself out of it - she never thought about going to school to learn a trade.  She went to work, but the jobs she chose - working at a convenience store or drug store, or a fast food restaurant - were jobs that didn't necessarily require more than the ability to count & a pleasant demeanor.

I have to point out in this long-winded anecdote that I am not trying to disrespect or criticize my mother for these choices, if indeed they were choices - she had six children to support - maybe one or two had left by the time of the divorce, but still, at least three of us were under twelve.  I have never had to do anything like that.  My mother has always been a creature controlled by shame & fear, so the strength it took for her to work to support her family is something I don't think I possess.

As I've been saying, I was completely unaware of our socioeconomic status, & blissfully so.  It meant that insults from the middle class kids at school went right over my head.  I remember once a teacher asked me if I lived in the apartments close to the school, & when I said yes, she said, "Oh, dear."  So they must've looked like an awful place to live - but at the time I was puzzled by her reaction.

Until.  This had to be a few months later.  My mother just turned to me & said, "Are you ashamed that we're so poor?"

& I wasn't.  Because I didn't know we were poor.  Only now I did.  & suddenly I was.

Friday, August 17, 2012

I Spend Too Much Time On Tumblr Blogs

It makes it sometimes difficult to write in this blog which has virtually no images at all.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Good News! (Good News?)

In honor of my lovely Bronte cat's birthday (oh, here's a picture of her; she turns five today:)

Happy birthday to her!

In honor of her birthday, I tell you this (potentially) good news: Self Help Radio is expanding from ninety minutes to two hours!  Starting this Monday!

I am not sure if I'll be able to pull it off, but for right now, I'm enjoying the excitement of the good news!

Bronte, on the other hand, is all like, "You call this a present for me?"

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

What A Joke!

How many episodes of Self Help Radio does it take to play songs & talk about jokes?  One, it turns out.  Oh, wait, did you think that was a riddle?  No no, this is one show about jokes that's positively humorless.

That's not true.  You'll hear a few funny things on the show today, & the playlist is below.  The show is at the Self Help Radio website, where is it saved in two parts: the hilarious part one & the delightfully witty part two.

Just stop me if you think you've heard this one before...

(part one)

"Joke Shop Man" Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band _Cornology_
"You're Joking" Evans The Death _Evans The Death_
"Cracker Jokes" Stephen Fry _Fry's English Delight_

"I Started A Joke" Dirtbombs _If You Don't Already Have A Look_
"Such A Joke" Vivian Girls _Vivian Girls_
"She Doesn't Laugh At My Jokes" Jonathan Richman _Having A Party With Jonathan Richman_
"Punchlines" The Lucksmiths _A Good Kind Of Nervous_
"That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore" The Smiths _The World Won't Listen_
"These Jokes" Demetri Martin _These Are Jokes_

"The Joker" Bob Bunny _Las Vegas Grind Vol. 2 (Louie's Limbo Lounge)_
"The Joker (That's What They Call Me)" Billy Myles _Greatest Hits_
"The Joker" Shawn Elliott _The Joker_
"The Jokers" Peter & Gordon _True Love Ways_

(part two)

"Joker In The Pack" The Adicts _Sound Of Music_
"The Joker (feat. Bootsy Collins)" Fatboy Slim _Palookaville_

"911 Is A Joke" Public Enemy _Fear Of A Black Planet_
"I Ain't No Joke" Eric B & Rakim _Paid In Full_
"Joking & Lying" Eugene Mirman _En Garde, Society!_
"Sick Joke" Love Parade _Past Crimes_
"? (It's A Joke, It's Supposed To Be Funny)" Mice Parade _The True Meaning Of Boodleybaye_
"The Joke" The Fall _Cerebral Caustic_

"Joke's On Me" Holiday Flyer _You Make Us Go_
"The Joke" Ed's Redeeming Qualities _Guess Who This Is_
"Joking Apart" Nightingales _Pissed & Potless: Greatest Hits_
"The Finest Joke Is Upon Us" Guided By Voices _Hardcore UFOs: Demons & Painkillers_

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Whither Jokes?

I am unfunny.  & unclever.

Tomorrow!  From 7:30 to 9am!  On 88.1 fm WRFL in Lexington!  & online at!  Self Help Radio will:

1) play music about jokes;
2) talk about jokes;
3) tell you how to tell a joke;
4) tell you the funniest jokes in the world - as proved by science.

It should be mildly amusing.

Maybe I should have just done a show full of jokes?

(What's not funny is you might miss the show but you'll be able to listen to it later on the Self Help Radio website.)