Friday, January 10, 2014

Whither 1978?

A sad show for me - the last show on WRFL - & of course whenever I do this show, it's always about getting older.  I'll be 46 in a few days - I understand I am on the downward slide of my life.

But boy there was great music in 1978!  Wow!  Tune in one last to 88.1 fm (to hear me, I mean - you are allowed to keep listening to the station!) if you're in Lexington or online at from 10 to midnight tonight as Self Help Radio goes back thirty-six years to 1978.  Musically.  I won't be ten years old on the air.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Preface To 1978: A Little Remembering

In January 1978, I turned 10 years old.  I lived in Garland, Texas, & I was in 4th grade at Caldwell Elementary School, in a classroom I associate with being cold & dark for some reason, with a terrible old teacher named Mrs. Harris, who was one of those people who hated children so much you got the impression that she became a teacher because she was forced to at gunpoint, or because the school district held her parents hostage.  I don't remember much about her except how angry she was, how she felt like the children were trying to get the better of her & she'd have none of it, & how mean she was.  Just mean.  Here's a story:

We were put in seats that Mrs. Harris decided would keep us from talking.  As I mentioned in last year's post about 1977, I was a garrulous kid with a lot of energy accustomed to getting in trouble for being loud & chatty.  Generally speaking, I got away with a lot of this because I was a good student.  Some might even say that I talked & fidgeted as much as I did because I was a little bored.  Well, my grades or my smarts didn't matter to Mrs. Harris.  She wanted me to sit down & shut up.

She didn't let any of us - we were ten years old! - go to the rest room except when there was a break.  She imagined (probably correctly) we just wanted to get out of class (but usually to get away from her).  One time this person who probably doesn't go by this name & anyway won't ever read this blog I hope named Cammie Morris raised her hand & asked to be allowed to go to the rest room.  Mrs. Harris refused, saying she should have gone when she had the chance.  Did I mention we were ten years old? I was in the row behind Cammie to her left - we didn't sit in individual desks but on rows of desks put together so we were side-by-side - & I remember seeing her start crying.  While Mrs. Harris went back to whatever she was teaching us, Cammie basically just went to the rest room at her desk.

The girls around her, splashed with her urine, jumped aside, but no one laughed, to our credit.  Cammie was in tears.  I remember seeing the puddle move slowly toward me, & stop.  & I remember seeing Mrs. Harris' face, for the first time, looking alarmed & puzzled.  I don't remember her being nicer to us because of that, or it being any easier to go to the rest room, but I did perhaps experience my first "we fucking told you so" moment that is elusive when dealing with adults.

We were very resentful of the restroom restrictions, & I remember hating this fellow who came to the school during that year, whose name I just remember as "Bobby."  Bobby was very, very large - I was a fat kid, but he was Fat Albert large.  He apparently had a glandular disorder & had to go to the rest room often during the day.  He frankly smelled like shit, & of course no one liked him.  We didn't know about the glandular disorder till later, so I was resentful that he could just get up & leave the room.  Mrs. Harris didn't seem to care.

By the way, I found out later, talking to my brother-in-law who's a long-haul trucker, why Bobby might have smelled so awful.  My brother-in-law told me of these truckers who are so obese they literally can't wipe their own asses.  That might have been the case with Bobby.  Or his parents were so poor he didn't bathe regularly.  I have no idea.  He didn't stay at Caldwell long, & was gone before the end of fourth grade.

I hated Mrs. Harris' class, though.  Everyone was so unhappy, & I was picked on a lot.  That year may have been the most I ever missed school.  We had moved away - looking at Google Maps, I see that it was a little over a mile, but it was never within walking distance for me or my little brother, so we had to wait for one of our older brothers to take us, & we spent a lot of mornings banging on their apartment door trying to wake them up (we lived in the same apartment complex).  Some days - especially bad weather days or cold days - it just wasn't worth the trouble.  So Chris or I would call my mother - she was at work before eight am when school would start - & we'd say we were sick, & what could she do?  My sister Karin was sixteen at the time, so I suppose she'd skip school too.  I remember spending the day (after going back to sleep) eating cold cereal & watching shows like Hogan's Heroes & Green Acres, staples of 1970s afternoon television.

I think the school sent us a note at the end of the year that I had missed almost half of the days of the school year.  I did fine - I was an ace at getting school work done - but I wish I had the wherewithal at the time to say, "It's because of this shitty, mean, awful teacher!  I am a child & she makes the learning environment horrible!"

I wrote this about the year 1977 in regards to the music of 1977, & it's true about 1978:

"None of the music I will play on my show this week is anything I was listening to at age nine.  I liked listening to the radio, to what would later be called 'classic rock.'  Sometimes I taped it on a random cassette, but it wasn't important to me.  I hadn't discovered the Beatles yet.  I hadn't yet been so alienated from the world that I needed to find far-away voices who sounded like me to speak to me."

1978 would be the year that I discovered the Beatles.  There was a movie theater very close to my apartment complex called the Ridgewood Theater (here's some info about it; another site says it was opened in 1967, so it was a young movie theater) which for some reason just kind of gave up in 1978.  It showed the terrible movie Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band for weeks & weeks & weeks.  We would go & see it a lot - I suspect my sister would take us so she could make out with boys in the dark (I'll have to ask her).  I remember having a crush on a girl named Babette who lived in the apartment complex who came into movie at some point & asked me & my little brother to the movies.  (She probably thought my little brother was cuter.)  (I have an embarrassing Babette story that I may tell at some other time.)

Anyway, something about the movie enchanted me, & it was doubtless the music.  For Christmas that year, one of my brothers gave me the Beatles album, & my life changed forever.

It's funny to think that all the Beatles were alive in 1978 & maybe even saw that movie.  I hope someone involved apologized to them.  Or maybe the money was apology enough.

I think I have some cassette recordings of stuff from the radio from 1978 but I won't be able to find them now without too much digging around.  Comic books - I loved the Legion Of Super-Heroes & the other non-athletic kids & I would play-act them during recess - & Star Wars ruled my world.  I had a decent collection of Star Wars figures & often, in my alone moments, played with them & made entire stories out of their adventures.  I'd sometimes do this outside, & would lose one or two occasionally - I remember once finding the cloth cloak of a Jawa but never finding the little plastic fellow.

I concluded my blog about 1977 like this:

"But holy shit if I were self-aware there was some awesome music in 1977.  The fact that none of my older siblings noticed or brought it home is a fundamental reason why we were never friends, & don't really communicate with each other in our adult lives."

That may be a stretch.  Looking at the Billboard Top Songs Of 1978, I can see that they must've hated  most of that.  "Disco sucks!" was something I heard from them a lot.  One of my brothers worked at a tee shirt store in the mall - one of those that ironed-on stickers onto cheap shirts - & I wore one of those shirts to school one day - remember I was ten years old! - with a picture of Jimmy Page on it.  I paid enough attention to my brothers when I was asked who it was & said, "The guitarist of Led Zeppelin."  I sort of got it wrong when I was asked, "What kind of music is it?" & answered, "Acid rock."

But the fact that my brothers listened exclusively to commercial radio meant I wouldn't hear any punk or post-punk.  That never figured onto their radars.  Although it obviously would become some of the music that meant the world to me, as you'll hear tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Big Changes In Store For Self Help Radio!

I am making three changes to Self Help Radio starting next week.  Those changes are:

1) Self Help Radio will no longer be on WRFL after this Friday.

I hope you couldn't tell in the radio shows, but I have not been having much fun doing Self Help Radio on WRFL for a little while now.  It seemed time for a break.  There's always a possibility I'll return to that fine station at some point, but for now the show will be exclusive to the Self Help Radio website.  Which brings me to:

2) A new Self Help Radio every Friday at noon.

I'll do my level best to make sure there's a new Self Help Radio every Friday at noon.  I'll be announcing it here, on the Self Help Radio Twitter feed, on the Self Help Radio Facebook page, & maybe I'll make sure to add a blinking gif that says NEW! when I add a new show.*

3) Shorter, pithier Self Help Radio shows.

I would probably do a three-hour Self Help Radio if I could (like this one) but I've been thinking I've felt the show was best when it was around ninety minutes long.  So starting with the January 17th show, I'll be aiming for only an hour & a half or so of SHR.  Of course, I won't be constrained by artificial time limits or selfish deejays playing too-long final songs or pushy coming-on-next deejays fading my songs out - but the show will only be longer if the themes suggest to me I should be.  (Or maybe shorter too?)

4) Wait, didn't you say there were only three changes to Self Help Radio?

Oh yeah.

5) I just like numbered lists, I can't help it.

I hope everyone listens to my last RFL show this Friday at ten pm.  You should!  It's my birthday show, & if you listen to it, you don't have to get me a present.

* That's a terrible idea.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Self Help Radio 010314: Confessions

I confess, this was the first Self Help Radio of 2014.  I confess, there will be more.  I don't know what my penance will be but I believe it's going to be heavy.

Hey!  Show at updated-for-the-new-year Self Help Radio website.  Also available directly from these links: part I + part II.  List of confessional songs below.

Remember the seal of confession!

(part one)

"My Confession" Bob Wills _San Antonio Rose_
"Confession Blues" The Maxin Trio _Ray Charles: Genius & Soul_
"Confessin' The Blues" Billie Poole _Confessin' The Blues_

"The Confession" Phil Ochs _Farewells & Fantasies_
"True Confessions" The Undertones _Babylon's Burning: The Rough 'N' Ready Rise Of Punk Rawk 1973-1978_
"My Confession" The End _Inner City Sound: Australian Punk & Post-Punk_
"Confessions" Flowers _Mutant Pop Compilation_
"I Confess" Dorothy _I Confess 7"_

"Confessions" X-S Discharge _Kilt By Death: The Sound Of Old Scotland_
"Confessions" Violent Femmes _Violent Femmes_
"I Confess" The English Beat _Special Beat Service_
"I Confess" Lyres _On Fire_

"Confessions" Peter Murphy _Should The World Fail To Fall Apart_

(part two)

"Confession Time (Cops)" Bill Hicks _Rant In E Minor_
"Confessions Of A Psycho Cat" The Cramps _Big Beat From Badsville_
"Mi Confesion" Gotan Project _Lunatico_

"Lazy Confessions" The Moldy Peaches _The Moldy Peaches_
"Confessions Of A Big Brother" Arab Strap _The Last Romance_
"Night Time Confession" The Charade _The Best Is Yet To Come_
"Confession" George Carlin _When Will Jesus Bring The Pork Chops?_
"Confession" Anyways _Older Than Yesterday_

"Confess" The Tellers _Hands Full Of Ink_
"The Loud Confessor" My Teenage Stride _Lesser Demons_
"Confessions" Emma Pollock _The Law Of Large Numbers_
"Ghost Confessions" Cinema Red & Blue _Cinema Red & Blue_

"True Confessions" RJD2 _You Don't Know Ninja Cuts_
"I Confess" Land Of The Loops _Bundle Of Joy_
"Hard To Confess" Heptones _Studio One Showcase, Vol. 1_