Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Self Help Radio 122915: Indiepop A To Z # 49

 (I found all the album covers here at

The last show of the year is bound to be something of a letdown.  While I don't exactly plan for that - it seems pretty obvious, I think, that themes are presented with almost no sense of why they're happening when they're happening - I am aware that at the end of the year, with a lot of people at home, with family, & not driving around, not forced with finding something on the radio to occupy their time getting home in traffic, that there are going to be less listeners.  Hell, the station itself is deserted - I saw Tyler, the deejay before me, & James, the deejay after me, & no one else yesterday.

So I retreat to a show that's slightly easier to do - I still have to listen to a lot of records, scrunch up my face & ask myself "does this qualify as indiepop?" - around this time of year (& near the end of the spring semester, & at the end of the summer semester).  I very much enjoy doing it, & I wonder where I'll be with the show at the end of my life - maybe the letter S? - but I understand that, one, it's not like most of the other Self Help Radio shows I do, & two, it's going to only appeal to a certain group of people who like this sort of music, or who are curious to hear sounds they may not have heard before.

That being said, hey!  I finished the letter K!  & hey!  I started the letter L!  The show is now at the Self Help Radio website & you can listen to it whenever you please.  There's username/password information on the website if you need it.  The songs I played - in glorious alphabetical order - are listed below.

& that's it for 2015!

(part one)

"Tattva" Kula Shaker _K_
"I Am Always With Him" Kumari _Beikoku-Ongaku # 11_
"I Can't Swim" Miles Kurosky _The Desert Of Shallow Effects_
"A Perfect Life" Kyoko _Viva Mobstar_

"Galaxy High School" L.A. Tool & Die _Fashion For The Evildoer_
"Fix My Wagon" LMNOP _Camera-Sized Life EP_
"In A Blue Balloon" Labrador _Goodbye Susanne_
"We Are Kids" Lacrosse _Bandages For The Heart_
"Like A Summer Rain" The Ladybug Transistor _The Albemarle Sound_

"Giving & Receiving" Lake _Giving & Receiving_
"Shrewsbury Girl" Lake Holiday _Send Off The Summer_
"Faking The Books" Lali Puna _Faking The Books_
"Heartbreak Bombardier" Land Of Ill Earthquakes _Heartbreak Bombardier_
"Good Weather" Gerard Langley & Ian Kearey _The Great Fire Of London_

(part two)

"If It's Not You" Language Of Flowers _Songs About You_
"End Credits" Laptop _Opening Credits_
"All Or Nothing Girl" The Larks _All Or Nothing Girl_
"I'll Beat Myself Up Tonight" Larz _What You've Missed So Far_
"Way Out (Single Version)" The La's _Callin' All_

"Last One Standing" The Last Names _Wilderness_
"Barbecued" Last Party _The Sound Of Leamington Spa, Volume 1_
"This Is Pop" Latimer House _All The Rage_
"Paul McCartney" Laugh _CD86: 48 Tracks From The Birth Of Indie Pop_
"Wouldn't You" The Laughing Apple _Whaam! Bam! Thank You Dan! A Whaam! Records Compilation 1981-1984_

"Sacred Heart" Laurel Music _Labrador 100: A Complete History Of Popular Music_
"Ride" The Lavender Faction _Take Down The Walls_
"What If You" Leaving Mornington Crescent _Corners EP_
"I'm Always Home" Jack Lee _Trophy Life_
"Walk Away Renee" The Left Banke _There's Gonna Be A Storm: The Complete Recordings 1966-1969_

"Red Roses" Lefties _Pop American Style_
"Big Bluff" The Legendary Bang _Big Bluff EP_

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Whither Indiepop A To Z # 49?

Yes, this last Self Help Radio of 2015 continues the series that I began way back in Austin many moons ago.  It is based on a list I found on the internet, at a site called twee dot net, but of course I am not content to just follow a list.  I had to add more.  Bands I thought deserved to be on the list.  Bands I felt should be represented because of their influence on indiepop.  Even bands that were kind of proto-indiepop.

This has made the list long, & because I do the shows only three times a year, it makes it easy to add bands that have just appeared on the scene in the intervening years.  Is that a wise way to be doing it? Does it make any damn sense at all?

Probably not.  But I'm committed!  You can listen to me finish the letter K & start the letter L today from 4 to 6pm on 88.1 fm WRFL in Lexington, wrfl dot fm online.  I will archive it tomorrow at the show's website, & in fact you can listen to almost every previous episode of Indiepop A To Z by looking at this list.

The show will be a globespanning experience!  I hope you listen!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Preface To Indiepop A To Z # 49: Reckoning

For the record, the show will finish the letter K tomorrow.  It will start the letter L tomorrow.  It will not finish the letter L tomorrow.

This may seem like coded information directed to a small, perhaps elite group of people who enjoy a small, elite subgenre of independent music.  This is not so.

This is accounting by & for someone who has what some might call an obsessive need to continue a program of musical tabulation that will never be finished, & which interests virtually no one but the person doing the work.

Still, there's bound to be some good tunes.  How could there not be?

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Some Thoughts Near The End Of The Year

As the year comes to a close, as one's eyes begin to close, one thinks to one's self (or is it oneself?) (it would sound better as "one's self," but oneself is a perfectly fine adjective & perhaps even preferable) (a matter of opinion, certainly), "My, what a year it has been, & perhaps, since I am already sitting here with a snifter of something & a well-oiled suit, I may spend a moment or thus opining & surmising, with one hand on my stumbling memories, & another in the cookie jar."

For example, one might recall that the year started, as most years do, in early January, & no one had any idea that there might be relocation in the air.  Relocation!  The movement of one life in one place to a not dissimilar life in another, stranger place!  Boxes must be packed, books must be sold, furniture of questionable taste must be placed on the curb for the strange men in the beat-up pick-ups to take when no one is looking!  Relocation has not written on the inches & inches of snow that covered three whole months of this year.  But the word was uttered!  The decision was made!  Then it was unmade!  & yes, then came the rue.  The bitter, bitter rue.

Must one always look back upon the year with rue?  What happened to the nepenthe of youth that served as the antidote for rue?  Must rue accrue as the years pile up behind one?  & why is it so enjoyable to say the word "rue."  One sometimes wishes one had children, about whose mental & social conditions one didn't care, such that one could name them fun words like "rue."  Please, one might say, let me introduce you to my children.  This is Rue.  This is her sister, Woe.  This is Little Ruin, & of course you know our eldest, Scourge.

Ew.  It suddenly appears that one is writing some kind of rip-off of a Neil Gaiman story.  One should quit while one is quite far behind.  In fact, one should forego writing until one can more comfortably employ pronouns in a much more readable manner that that heretofore displayed.

But wait!  One has some pseudo-poetic lines that one has not yet incorporated.  For example, this was written on a scrap of paper stored under a salt & pepper shaker: "Can one truly have thoughts for such a thoughtless year?"  Isn't that a fabulous line?  Isn't that worth having to slog through all the turgid prose thus far exercised in these purple paragraphs?

No?  Well, shoot.  One kind of feels like 2015 was exactly like that.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

The Gary Files # 14: Gary Owens

(I found this image here.)

An explanation: Since the name Gary is going extinct, I thought it incumbent upon me to celebrate more notable Garys than myself.  This is the fourteenth of a series!

Gary Owens was an American deejay & voice actor. As the Wikipedia notes, "his polished baritone speaking voice generally offered deadpan recitations of total nonsense, which he frequently demonstrated as the announcer on Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In."

When did you first become aware of him?  On repeats of Laugh-In, probably.  I was too young to have seen it when it first aired.

But but but Space Ghost!  Oh do not get me wrong.  I first heard his voice as Space Ghost, that is most definitely the case.  But I didn't develop my penchant for reading credits until much later.  If you asked me at age eight who voiced Space Ghost, I would have said, "Space Ghost!"

You've never heard any of his actual deejay work?  Alas, I have not.  Honestly, I always thought the funniest thing he did was send up the fakey deejay voice that everyone expects awful deejays to have.  I'm not sure I'd enjoy him using his voice as an actual fm radio deejay.  But what do I know?

He has a record - have you heard it?  Indeed I have.  It's called Put Your Head On My Finger, & it has its moments.  Although the Allmusic Guide review is pretty damning.  But fuck them - I've played him on Self Help Radio!

But - you're not impressed by him?  Do not think that's the case!  I appreciate anyone who's able to survive & thrive in the entertainment industry for as long as Gary Owens did!  In fact, if you read Mark Evanier's appreciation of him, you'll understand he was that thing we all strive to be: very good at what we do.  He was, by any measurement you could imagine, astonishing.

Was his name really Gary?  He was born Gary Bernard Altman in 1934.

So you don't know where the inspiration for the name Gary came from?  I don't.  Maybe a family friend?

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Ghosts Of Christmas Shows Past!

(I found this - among many other delightfully odd Christmas photos - here.)

Oh boy!  It's almost Christmas!  Why not compound the drunkenness, family fights, & self-loathing-inspired overeating with an old Very Self Help Radio Christmas?  No one has ever accused them of being "useful" or even "good," but they probably walk the line somewhere between "naughty" & "nice."  Consider it an extremely lame gift to you from your friends at Self Help Radio, & be grateful none of us here were your Secret Santa.  You lucked out.

Happy holidays!!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Self Help Radio 122215: A Very Self Help Radio Christmas 2015

(Original picture here.)

Ho ho ho!

What is there to say?  For almost every year of Self Help Radio, there's been a Christmas show.  (There wasn't one five years ago because I was in Australia which, as you know, celebrates Christmas in July.)  (That's not true.  I was trying to be funny.)  This year was no different.  Two hours of Christmas music including a song performed for the show by local musicians.  Plus!  An interview with an elf (retired) who worked with Santa!  And!  A conversation about Christmas with the Reverend Dr. Howard Gently!  Also!  An interview with a man who claims he invented Christmas!  So much yule!  Maybe too much yule!  Also perhaps an excess of noël!

You can listen now & make every day Christmas at the Self Help Radio website.  Pretend it's a present & unwrap it!  There are two parts, the contents of which are detailed below.  Make sure you pay attention to username/password information on the web page.  It's not me being grinchy!

Happy holidays!

(part one)

"Santa Claus Hides In The Phonograph" Ernest Hare _Voices Of Christmas Past_
"Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" Arthur Treacher _And A Sled... And A Catcher's Mitt... And A Puppy... And A Popgun... And A Big Christmas Album From Merv Griffin & His TV Family_
"Department Store Santa Claus (After Xmas)" Howard Morris _Hipster Christmas_

"I'll Be Home For Christmas" Cassie Ramone _Christmas In Reno_
"Five Pound Box Of Money" Pearl Bailey _Jingle Bells Cha Cha Cha_
"Here Comes Santa Claus" Gentleman Auction House _Christmas In Love_
"Dumbo, The Clown (Who Loved Christmas)" The Residents _Subterranean Modern_
"The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire)" Invincible Czars _Ornaments_

"Jingle Bell Rock" Inquiring Mind _Christmas Meltdown!_
"Drummer Boy" The School _12 Days Of Christmas_
"The Snow" The Pink Flamingos _The Snow_
"Holiday On Ice" Celeste _The Colder Insight EP_
"Do You Hear What I Hear?" Mark Kozelek _Sings Christmas Carols_

"Christmas Waltz" Jenny & Lee (from Owlsey County) _Christmas Waltz_
"Hard Candy Christmas" Tracey Thorn _Tinsel & Lights_
"Loneliest Christmas Tree" Lise Miller _Love Is_

(part two)

"Christmas With The Beatles" Judy & The Duets _Christmas With The Beatles_
"White Christmas" Bob & The Dylantones _White Christmas_
"Can't Wait For Christmas" Loose Tapestries _Can't Wait For Christmas_

"Jungle Bells (Dingo-Dongo-Day)" Les Paul & Mary Ford _Christmas Cheer_
"Santa Mouse" Bob Morrison _Santa Mouse_
"The Twelve Days Of Christmas" Bob & Doug McKenzie _Great White North_

"Happy Christmas (War Is Over)" Seattle Tuba Project _Guess Who's Pregnant?_
"I'm Giving You My Cold For Christmas" Lee Rosevere _I'm Giving You My Cold For Christmas_
"Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer" The Winter Wonderband _You Know It's Christmastime_
"Christmas Tears" The Hit Parade _More Pop Songs_

"Christmas Flexi" T.Rex _T.Rexmas!_

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Whither A Self Help Radio Christmas 2015?

(I found this image - with helpful safety tips - here.)

My mother, who is German, tells me that, when she was a child, in pre-World War II Germany, they would put candles on the Christmas tree.  Even though I was a child, my first thought was "Holy shit! Wouldn't the tree catch fire & burn the whole fucking house down?!"  & I was very happy that, though the electric lights on our tree got a little warm, they weren't a freakin' open flame.

My wife, who has Polish parents, tells me she heard the same thing from them.  What they told her - & what my mother wouldn't, because the past is pretty rosy in her hindsight twenty-twenty - is that, yes, there were fires on the tree.  All the time.  All the time!  It was a thing that happened, because, you know, they were putting candles on a flammable object.  Of course there were fires!

Having said that, I think I would enjoy watching a Christmas tree burn.  Not in a house, with presents under it - that would be sad!  I'm not a psychopath.  But I can't stop looking at that image up there.  I like fires, I'm human.  One of our neighbors keeps promising to invite us to a bonfire.  I wonder when that's going to happen?

None of this has anything to do with this week's show, with is full of Christmas music both traditional & odd, both reverent & the opposite, but hopefully nice & novel & different than the canned stuff you hear in all the places you go this time of year.  I don't want to do the same sort of Christmas show everyone else does.  But perhaps it's my vanity saying that - I have a sneaking suspicion I'm not all that special, you know.

The show is on here in unseasonably warm Lexington from 4-6pm on 88.1 fm (that's WRFL) & all over the unseasonably warm Christmas world on wrfl dot fm.  I hope you can tune in, but in case you can't, I'll archive it on the show's website in time for Christmas!

Ho ho ho!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Preface To A Very Self Help Radio Christmas 2015: Naughty & Nice

Have you noticed - have you really noticed - that's there a lot of Christmas music out there?  It's ironic that some people think there's a war on this particular holiday, because I believe there's more Christmas music out there than there's porn.

& like porn, most Christmas music is awful.  I mean, most if not all porn is just terrible.  Most - but not all - Christmas music is the very definition of intolerable.  Almost always designed to make a buck.  By hacky musicians or musicians who are struggling for relevance.  Who buys Christmas music?  Or should I ask, who doesn't buy Christmas music?

For me, the challenge is to find songs that aren't tedious copies of the originals, or originals that have some personality, or - this is an epiphany I had last night - music that's disrespectful.

Because I do love Christmas music, despite the fact that I don't celebrate the holiday at all.  The wife & I don't exchange gifts, we don't immerse ourselves in the mythology, heck, I don't even want to be around my family this time of year.  (The wife's family went on a trip, or she'd have flown back home to be with them.)  So I won't be offended if someone is utterly & completely disrespectful of some great Christmas song.

There will be, I confess, a couple of disrespectful Christmas songs on my show tomorrow.  I have found some real goodies.  Some real square tunes too.  But - I can't stress this enough - not any that are as awful as the pornography-level Christmas tunes you'll hear in any store now until the end of the year.  Guaranteed!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Cradle To Grave (Episode Five)

My other radio show, called Cradle To Grave, aired last night, & I forgot to mention it on social media.  My bad!  I get caught up in dumb life.  But I think it was a lot of fun.

One of the treats of doing the show is that I can celebrate musicians that mean a great deal to me, & last night featured the birthday of one of my heroes, Phil Ochs, are well as the death anniversary of one of the top ten greatest blues artists ever, Blind Lemon Jefferson.  But there's much, much more.

The show is now at the Self Help Radio website for you to be listening to at your earliest inconvenience.  I recommend looking at the page for password/username info.  It's right there, it's no secret.  The show is divided in two parts, one for birthdays, the other for sad days of death, & what's in each part is listed below.

Please to enjoy.

(part one: birthdays)

"Stomp Off Let's Go" Erskine Tate's Vendome Orchestra _The History Of Jazz: Chicago That Toddlin' Town_
"Riverside Blues" Lu Watters' Yerba Buena Jazz Band _The Good Time Jazz Story: San Francisco_
"L'Accordeoniste" Edith Piaf _Blue Skies: 45 Hits From The 30s & 40s_

"Sparkling Blue Eyes" Bill Carlisle _From The Vaults: Decca Country Classics 1934-1973_
"Country Boy" Little Jimmy Dickens _The History Of Country & Western Music: 1949_
"Rehearsals For Retirement" Phil Ochs _Rehearsals For Retirement_
"I'd Love To Change The World" Ten Years After _A Space In Time_

"Mardi Gras In New Orleans" Professor Longhair _Gettin' Funky: The Birth Of New Orleans R&B_
"This Here" Bobby Timmons _This Here Is Bobby Timmons_
"Teasin'" Cornell Dupree _Teasin'_
"Mighty Mighty" Earth, Wind & Fire _Open Your Eyes_
"Hurry Hurry" New Birth _Love Potion_
"Best Of Friends" Twennynine with Lenny White _Best Of Friends_

"Side Car Cycle" Charlie Ryan & The Timberline Riders _Side Car Cycle_
"Do You Believe In Magic?" The Lovin' Spoonful _Do You Believe In Magic?_

(part two: death anniversaries)

"I Want To Be Like Jesus In My Heart" Blind Lemon Jefferson _The Rough Guide To Blind Lemon Jefferson_
"Sleepy Time Gal" Gene Austin _Voice Of The Southland_
"On The Road Again" Floyd Jones _The Chronological Floyd Jones: 1948-1953_
"That's All Right" Jimmy Rogers _Blues Greats_
"Gotta Serve Somebody" Pops Staples _Don't Lose This_

"That's My Kind Of Love" Marion Worth _Marion Worth's Greatest Hits_
"Drivin' Nails In My Coffin" Ernest Tubb _Walking The Floor Over You_
"Older Guys" Flying Burrito Brothers _Burrito Deluxe_
"Sittin' Here Drinking" Christine Kittrell _Night Train To Nashville: Music City Rhythm & Blues, 1945-1970_
"Like The Weather" 10,000 Maniacs _In My Tribe_

"Winin'" Art Hodes With Milt Hinton _Just The Two Of Us_
"El Hombre" Pat Martino _El Hombre_
"Wah Wah Man" Young-Holt Unlimited _What It Is! Funky Soul & Rare Grooves (1967-1977)_

Saturday, December 19, 2015

The Gary Files # 13: Gary Peacock

(I found this image here.)

An explanation: Since the name Gary is going extinct, I thought it incumbent upon me to celebrate more notable Garys than myself.  This is the thirteenth of a series!

Gary Peacock is an American jazz double bassist. He has performed with a great many people, including but not limited to Keith Jarrett, Albert Ayler, Bill Evans, Bill Frisell, Jan Garbarek, Paul Motian, & more.  Impressive!

When did you first become aware of him?  It was probably in the last twenty years, when I became interested in jazz.

His name stood out, didn't it?  Yeah it did!  Not only was he a Gary, but he was a Peacock!

Is jazz bass something you're interested in?  Not necessarily.  I mean, I am very fond of Albert Ayler's Spiritual Unity, but I listen to it mainly for Ayler on sax, not for the crazy bass & drum combination.  But you know, I understand how important that is.

Do you like any of the Keith Jarrett records he's on?  Of the ones I've heard, probably the Standards recordings of the early 1980s.  But they collaborated a lot!

Do you like any of his work as a leader?  I am ashamed to say I haven't heard a ton of it, but most recently I was listening to the record he made with Bill Frisell in the 1990s, & I dug it.

So there isn't a record out there that's your favorite Gary Peacock recording?  No, but there should be.  He's not just a Gary, he's also a Peacock!

He is 80 years old now.  & bizarrely enough, from Idaho.  This is a marvelous world.

Is his name really Gary?  His name is really Gary Peacock!

It seems a nicer name than Gary Cooper, don't you think?  If anyone can bring back the popularity of the name Gary, it has to be Gary Peacock!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Self Help Radio 121515: Gary's Favorite Releases 2015

Now comes the point when I get around to listening to a record that I got a month ago & it turns out to be my favorite record of the year.  It's always like that!  Damn it all.

Not much to say except, hey, here's some music I liked a lot this year, as well as bits by funny people.  I am going to try to find more time next year to spend with music like I used to.  This may mean my radio work will suffer, but I waste a lot of time giving things a chance that I end up disliking.  That's not good or fun.

The show has some music I like plus! a visit from CNN contributor David Fruchter! plus! an interview with New York Times cultural critic CJ Buchanan! and! an enlightening conversation with my spiritual mentor the Rev. Dr. Howard Gently! wow!

The show!  Oh, yes, the show.  It's now at Self Help Radio website place.  There's a password, etc., but that info is on the page, should you want to listen.  The songs I played are below, divided into parts.

Sorry it's not a "best of."  I just don't do those.

(part one)

"Music" The Lovely Eggs _This Is Our Nowhere_
"Come Down" Wavves x Cloud Nothings _No Life For Me_
"Monkeys" Malcolm Middleton & David Shrigley _Music & Words_

"Johnny Delusional" FFS _FFS_
"Cut Me, Baby" Kelley Stoltz _In Triangle Time_
"9 Years Old" Louis CK _Live At The Comedy Store_
"Bad Year" Evans The Death _Expect Delays_

"Spore" Momus _Turpsycore_
"Looking for Another Town" The Apartments _No Song, No Spell, No Madrigal_
"When You Go" Darren Hanlon _Where Did You Come From?_
"29/31" Garfunkel & Oates _Secretions_

"Quit iPhone" The Fall _Sub-Lingual Tablet_
"Photograph" Pataphysics _My Phone's About To Die_

(part two)

"The Legend Of Chavo Guerrero" The Mountain Goats _Beat The Champ_
"I Could Hear The Telephone (3 Floors Above Me)" The Wave Pictures _Great Big Flamingo Burning Moon_
"Grover Cleveland (feat. Paul F. Tompkins)" Shunt McGuppin _Bad Honky EP_

"Ideal World" Girlpool _Before The World Was Big_
"Trippy" Hinds _Burger_
"Ask A Pastor" Eugene Mirman _I'm Sorry (You're Welcome)_

"Going Out" Dinner _Three EPs, 2012-2014_
"Wintergreen" The Orange Peels _Begin The Begone_
"Separate Bedrooms" Joanna Gruesome _Peanut Butter_
"Go!" Public Service Broadcasting _The Race For Space_

"Lake Song" The Decemberists _What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World_

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Whither Gary's Favorite Music/Releases 2015?

(I found that image over there.)

Every year, at the end of the year, there are lists.  So many damn lists.  They come from people of dubious authority, people in whom we place trust because of familiarity, or assumed esteem, or just the brand name.  None of them - not a one - can really purport to know what's best because that is a matter of opinion.  Always has been, always will.  It's entirely human to want to believe that you're part of a tribe that values excellence, but it's at the cost of excluding, & perhaps demeaning or even demonizing, others that don't share your values.  Year-end best-of lists are just another sad way that humans clump together to trumpet their opinions over others.

Ah, you say, but you're no different, Gary!  You do the same!  I do.  I do.  Sort of.  I don't use the word "best."  I don't think my opinion is better or worse than yours.  I will value & respect your opinion if it's informed, if you know why it is you like the things you like, but I won't dismiss your opinion otherwise.  & I don't care if you don't do the same, because it doesn't bother me that people like things that you like.  When you use the word "best," however, I'm laughing at your hubris.  Just like I laugh at all those year-end best-of lists that'll pollute the web like smog in Beijing now until the end of the year, & beyond.

What I do have that maybe you don't is a radio show in which I can play my favorite stuff, & that's why I am careful not to say that this is "the best music" that came out this year.  One, I didn't listen to everything that came out this year.  It would be impossible, & besides, I have no opinion about many genres, like hip hop, country, opera, etc.  Two, I can't say what's best.  I only know what I like.  & three, even I may not think it's up to same standards of my favorite music ever - I only know this is music I listened to over & over & over this year.  Next year I may forget all about it.  Who knows?

So with that caveat in mind, please tune in today from 4-6pm to hear a sampling of my favorite releases of 2015.  There'll be comedy bits, some oddness, a lot of twee & fey, & some great songs by musicians I've just discovered & others that I hold so dear their music is now part of my DNA.  You can listen on 88.1 fm in Lexington + online at wrfl dot fm.  I hope it'll be fun to listen to.

Oh!  There'll be guests.  Talking about 2016.  & nearly all of them mention Donald Trump!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Preface To Gary's Favorite Releases 2015: Year-End Lists

Wow, it's weird to go over all the music that came out in 2015, & even weirder to think of the amount I managed to listen to.  It was somewhat to the detriment of the stuff I really loved, but I am hungry for good music, which means you have to listen to a whole lot of not-good music to find it.  A whole fucking lot.  Because there are more people making music now than ever before, & the nature of commercial radio/media makes it very hard for the cream to rise to the top.  Indeed, the top has never been more curdled (to beat a metaphor to death); the whole industry is about making money as fast as possible with whatever fad or dinosaur act it can.  It's depressing.  But probably more depressing for artists.

& that's the problem with year-end lists.  They can no more determine what was "best" (as if they ever could) than they can claim to be comprehensive.  I've tried to stopped looking at them, but I admit it's hard to stifle my curiosity - what do the people who think they know better than everyone else think is great?

That's not something I'm going to talk about here.  I think you care about that as much as I do.

If that's so, what do people who care enough to vote for their favorites think?  To answer that is to discover, for me, how out of touch I am with most everyone rating their music.  & to do that, I go to a site called Rate Your Music Dot Com.  I like this site a lot. Regular folks from all over vote on what they like.  It has a couple of flaws - I think it skews young, & I also think the fans of metal are way over-represented on the site - but I find myself in agreement with a lot of their lists (more or less), especially as you travel back in time.

But these days?  Well, here are the top ten releases of 2015 as voted by their users, minus the metal stuff, which, as I've said, is nowhere near actual listener levels:

1. Kendrick Lamar: To Pimp A Butterfly
2. Sufjan Stevens: Carrie & Lowell
3. Joanna Newsom: Divers
4. Kamasi Washington: The Epic
5. Toby "Radiation" Fox: Undertale Soundtrack
6. Lil Ugly Mane: Third Side Of Tape
7. Julia Holter: Have You In My Wilderness
8. Oneohtrix Point Never: Garden Of Delete
9. Chelsea Wolfe: Abyss
10. Elza: A Mulher Do Fim Do Mundo

Two of these (#s 1 & 6) are hip hop, which I enjoy but which I don't actively seek out to listen to.  One of these (#4) is called "spiritual jazz" on the site, & I am not keyed into new jazz at all.  One of them (#5) is video game music, which bores me, & another (#8) is electronica, something I used to spend  more time with but don't anymore.  I can't say I heard that record.  One of them (#10) is samba (!) & is probably an outlier, as it has 302 votes while the Lamar album has over 7,000.

That leaves 2, 3, 4, & 9.  They are "indie" & therefore in my wheelhouse.  & can I say, none of those I found too exciting.  The one I guess I liked most is the Joanna Newsom, which I like mainly because it reminds me of Kate Bush, but it doesn't have the hooks that the best Kate Bush had.  (I much more preferred this year's Joanna Gruesome record, which didn't even make the top thousand on Rate Your Music.)

Just like last year, & I probably talked about this then, there's not a record in the top one hundred that makes my favorite music list.  You have to go to # 169 to get an artist I'll play on my show.

So how does an artist make the cut?  I guess I'll talk about it tomorrow.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Cradle To Grave (Episode Four)

Hey! Didya hear my show last night?  Cradle To Grave?  The December 12th episode?  On WLXL?  You didn't?  No?  I know why!  Because nobody did!

Perhaps it's not well-known, but the show is prerecorded.  There are reasons for this that are too dull to go into, but I make the show on Thursday, I take it to the station on Friday & put it on the station's automation, & it airs on Saturday nights.

Except.  This week, I fucked up.  I did something wrong when I put it on the automation.  It aired last week's show instead.  & I listened helplessly, I couldn't do a thing about it.  I don't know what I did wrong, & I won't find out till next week, when I try, try again.

But!  Here's the show as I made it, as it should've aired, as you could listen to pretending it's still Saturday night all over again.

The show is resting shamefacedly at the Self Help Radio website.  There's a password, pay attention.  The songs I played are below.

Usually I'm apologizing for the radio show.  Now I get to be sorry for not airing it at all!

(part one: birthdays)

"Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out To Dry" Frank Sinatra _Frank Sinatra Sings For Only The Lonely_
"Lyin' Woman" Count Basie & Joe Williams _Just The Blues_
"You're Nobody 'Til Somebody Loves You" Connie Francis _Songs To A Swinging Band_
"Let Me Go Lover" Joan Weber _Your Hit Parade: 1955_
"Anyone Who Had A Heart" Dionne Warwick _The Look Of Love: The Burt Bacharach Collection_

"Keep On Dancing" Brian Poole & The Tremeloes _The Beat Scene_
"Have I The Right?" The Honeycombs _Here Are The Honeycombs_
"Over & Over" The Dave Clark Five _Greatest Hits_
"(We Ain't Got) Nothin' Yet" The Blues Magoos _Nuggets: Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era, Vol. 2_
"Rocket Reducer No. 62 (Rama Lama Fa Fa Fa)" MC5 _Kick Out The Jams_

"I'm Glad She's Mine" Lonesome Sundown _Authentic Excello R & B_
"Leaving Home" John 'So Blue' Weston & Blues Force _So Doggone Blue_
"Voodoo Woman" Lonnie Liston Smith _Expansions_
"Everything That Touches You" The Association _Birthday_
"Mississippi Mud" Hank Williams III _Hank III_

(part two: death anniversaries)

"Rockin' Chair" Mildred Bailey _The History Of Pop Radio (1930-1932)_
"Oh Me, Oh My, Oh Gosh" Slam Stewart Quintet _Slam Stewart 1945-1946_
"La Parrala" Concha Piquer _Concha Piquer Oro_
"Chanson d'Amour (Song Of Love)" Art & Dotty Todd _Chanson d'Amour_
"One Room Country Shack" Mose Allison _Mose Allison Sings_

"Ya Got Trouble" Van Johnson _The Music Man (Original London Cast)_
"Notoriety Woman" Eddie Burns _Juke Joints, Vol. 4: That's All Right With Me_
"I Love Her" The Koobas _English Freakbeat, Volume 2_
"Getting Nasty" Ike Turner _A Black Man's Soul_
"Louisiana Two Steps" Chenier Clifton _Frenchin' The Blues_

"Smiling Jack" Ronnie Ross _Cleopatra's Needle_
"Music Is The World" Crown Heights Affair _The Best Of Crown Heights Affair: Dreaming A Dream_
"Roll 'Em Pete" Rocket 88 _Rocket 88_
"In The Misty Woods" Jimmie Spheeris _The Dragon Is Dancing_

Saturday, December 12, 2015

The Gary Files # 12: Gary Busey

(I found this image here.)

An explanation: Since the name Gary is going extinct, I thought it incumbent upon me to celebrate more notable Garys than myself.  This is the twelfth of a series!

Gary Busey is an American Academy-award-nominated (!) actor.  He has perhaps become more famous for his erratic behavior & weird way of expressing himself than he ever did for his acting.

When did you first become aware of him?  I think it was when he played Buddy Holly in The Buddy Holly Story (for which he was nominated for an Academy Award).  That was in 1978, so I was ten.  He seemed too large to be Buddy Holly to me.

Did you ever see the film?  No, never did.

Did you like him as an actor?  Except for that movie, I can't think of a single film that he was in that was made notable by his presence or acting.

Really?  Yeah, looking over his IMDb page, I am struck by how I have barely noticed him in movies at all.  I might remember his performance in Law & Order.  That's about it.

I think I've noticed his son in movies more often than him.  Maybe because it's weird to see someone that looks so much like Gary Busey.

Do you think of him as mainly a crazy celebrity?  Yes.  You can thank The Soup for that.  The Gary Busey clips were always funny & not a little bit disturbing.

You have a two- or three-degrees of separation with him, don't you?  I do!  He was married to a girl I went to high school with, whose name is Tiani Warden.  I don't think she & I ever spoke, but I do recall my little brother had a crush on her.  She was in his class, I believe.  The rumor was that after high school she became a stripper, & that's how she met Busey, although the two of them became born-again Christians at some point together.

I just looked at pictures of them, & I recognize her name but not her.  We must not have known each other at all.  But wow!  He was over twenty years older than she!

Is his name really Gary?  It's his middle name.  William Gary Busey.

He was born in 1944, so it's Gary Cooper, isn't it?  Dollars to donuts, it is.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Self Help Radio 120815: Skin

(Original image here.)

Did you know, I've actually been to a dermatologist before.  I won't go into details, but despite the reason I was there, they first wanted to give me a good going-over, & there was a nurse-type person who had what I think was a canister of liquid nitrogen (?) which I got the impression they used to remove blemishes of some sort from skin.  Okay, I just looked it up - they freeze moles & stuff.  I guess they were looking for those on me.

Anyway, after I took my shirt off & the nurse-type person was inspecting my back, she said, "Hm, I see you have some sun damage here."  That was alarming.  Sun damage!  God damn it!  I knew I should never go out during the day!  Then I thought, "What does that mean, sun damage?"  So I said, "Do you mean freckles?"  "Yes," she said.

Of course I can't see my own back, & have probably not espied it for years, & most certainly that was true then, but I did recall a terrible sunburn I got way back in 1990 or so by spending a summer's day splashing around in the San Marcos river.  Apparently a dermatologist or at least a dermatologist's nurse-like helper (she could have been a nurse, I don't recall) can tell, years later, like moldering clues from the scene of a cold case, that one was so feckless & careless.  It was a sobering moment - I never really did anything like that again without slathering myself in smelly oily sunscreen.

This is all I'm going to tell you ever about my skin.  The show this week showed way too much skin, & I'm surprised actually that I got away with it.  Honestly, if it hadn't been on the radio, I'd probably have been arrested for indecent exposure.

You can listen now at the Self Help Radio website-type place.  Blah blah blah username password blah blah blah SHR selfhelp.  All the songs I played, in both parts of the show, are listed below.

Agh!  Biopsy that!  Quickly!

(part one)

"Skin" Allan Sherman _My Son The Box_
"Skin" Siouxsie & The Banshees _Kaleidoscope_
"Quiet As Skin" Shana Cleveland & The Sandcastles _Oh Man, Cover The Ground_

"Beauty Is Only Skin Deep" Robert Mitchum _Calypso Is Like So_
"Beauty Is Only Skin Deep" The Temptations _The Complete Motown Singles, Vol. 6: 1966_
"Beauty Is Only Skin Deep" Ike & Tina Turner _The Collection_
"Skin Deep" Nick Lowe _Labour Of Lust_

"Perfect Skin" Lloyd Cole & The Commotions _Rattlesnakes_
"Perfect Skin" Peace _Happy People_
"Sacred Skin" Hellfire Sermons _Hymns, Ancient & Modern (1988-1993)_
"Candyskin" Fire Engines _Fond_

"I've Got You Under My Skin" Frances Langford _Stars Of The 30s Sing Cole Porter_
"Skin & Bones" The Kinks _Muswell Hillbillies_

(part two)

"Gimme Some Skin" Frank Penn _Cult Cargo: Grand Bahama Goombay_
"Skin I'm In" Sly & The Family Stone _Fresh_
"Skin & Fur" G.D. Luxxe _Between Zero & Eternity_

"Skin Storm" Bradford _Shouting Quietly_
"Skin Diving" The Bardots _V-Neck_
"W/O Skin" Gut Bank _The Dark Ages_
"A Second Skin" Girls Names _The New Life_

"Soft Skin" Mountain Man _Made The Harbor_
"Settle On Your Skin" Swan Lake _Enemy Mine_
"Skin To Wear" Straitjacket Fits _Melt_
"Skin" Bailterspace _Thermos_

"Second Skin (Live In Bremen, 1983)" The Chameleons _Script Of The Bridge_

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Whither Skin?

(I found this image here.)

Do you remember those skin diagrams from health textbooks in middle school?  Boy, did they used to creep me out.  Holy shit, I think they gave me nightmares.  Just look at that picture up there!  The sweat gland looks all fucked up.  The hairs are like daggers stuck up from some medieval torture weapon.  & the subcutaneous tissue looks like it's warty or something.  For fuck's sake!

Hopefully the show today won't be as fricking gross as this diagram.  I can't un-remember this now.  I think I passed out once in health class because of this.  Either this or drugs.  I know!  I passed out because the teacher was talking about intravenous drug use!  I probably was thinking about the needle going through the skin, right through some sheath or other, uprooting the hair bulb & puncturing the stupid scrambled-up sweat gland, & pouring heroin or morphine all over that gross subcutaneous tissue!  Who wouldn't faint thinking about that?  I'm a little light-headed as I write this, actually.

All right, get yourself together, Gary.  The show is about skin, but luckily there aren't too many songs about subcutaneous tissue.  You can listen to today's Self Help Radio from 4-6pm on 88.1 fm in Lexington, & online at wrfl dot fm.  If I don't pass out during the show, I'll put it up on the Self Help Radio web page tomorrow.  But you should listen today, when the skin is nice & fresh!

(Whatever that means.)

Monday, December 07, 2015

Preface To Skin: Acne

There's one weird, specific memory I have of being a kid - a teenager I guess.  It won't surprise anyone that I spent a good portion of those teen years being hopelessly self-absorbed, & managed - through sheer luck - to avoid incurring the wrath of the bullies who picked on other people I knew.  Because I was a total nerd.  I should've at least been pants once or twice.

Anyway, at some point, because of the horrible hormones coursing through my body, I became a pimply-faced adolescent.  I'm sure it wasn't pretty but at some point I must've realized it didn't matter to me because, quite frankly, I was an unattractive kid & I was wholly incapable of being anything but a bystander to the whole dating/experimenting with sex stuff that was happening to so many of my classmates.  This is not to say I didn't want something like that (the hormones were making me want something like that); I was just enough of a realist to understand it would be something other than my looks that would get me into that world.  I had to make some kind of plan.*

Therefore I didn't bother with cremes or ointments or whatever kids use or used to try to keep pimples away.  In fact, I found them fascinating, & when bored in class I would often just touch them, these odd growths on my face that didn't seem to stay in any one place.  I don't know if I noticed them on anyone else, but maybe I did.  I just wouldn't have judged, since I myself knew my face was awful splotchy.  Or what's that British term?  Spotty.  Boy, I must've been awful spotty.

Oh, but I had a friend - he might better be called a "friend," for although he seemed to enjoy hanging out with me, much of the fun he derived from doing so involved making fun of me - which is something I came to understand much later, because, you know, head up my own ass & all - & at some point he became aware that my skin was much worse than his (if it was - I wasn't staring so intently in his face).  He began to criticize me for my "whiteheads."

That was not a term with which I was terribly familiar.  I knew "blackheads" - they used that word in all the pimple cream commercials.  But this guy - his name was Gus - he used "whiteheads" in a way that made me think someone had just taught him the word.  He made me self-conscious, & I began to pick or pop them (whatever the term) rather than ignoring them as they more or less had ignored me.

Luckily I grew older, & they went away.  & hey!  Gus did too.  But he did leave me this weird, specific memory about my skin - which I might not have if he hadn't been such a little douche to me when we were teens.

* "Others conquered love, but I ran.
I sat in my room & I drew up a plan."
- Morrissey

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Cradle To Grave (Episode Three)

Last night at 7pm, the ears of Lexington were assaulted with malice aforethought by the third episode of my other radio show, called Cradle To Grave, on 95.7 fm WLXL.  How it went I can't tell you.  My brain dumps all the information in my head right after a radio show, to make room for the next damn show. Let's just say I did the best I could & hope that counts for something.

In the first hour, I played songs by musicians who were having a birthday that very day, December 5, which surely was a happy day for them, & in the second hour I played musics from folks for whom December 5 was the end of the line.  I think I quipped that it was like throwing a birthday party & a funeral back-to-back.  Doesn't that sound like fun?

The show can be listened to at your convenience at Self Help Radio Web Central.  "Web Central"?  Boy I'm pretentious.  If you need a username & password, you can find it on the website, no worries.  The stuff I played is listed below.


(part one: birthdays)

"Nothing But The Blues" Al Hibbler & Kay Davis with Duke Ellington _Big Band Voices_
"Chili Con Carne" Willie Kent & Willie James Lyon _Ghetto_
"Don't Start Me To Talkin'" Sonny Boy Williamson II _Blues Masters Vol. 2: Postwar Chicago Blues_
"Corinna" John Henry Brown _High Water Blues_
"I Got The Same Old Blues" JJ Cale _Okie_
"The Peanut Vendor" Alvin 'Red' Tyler & The Gyros _Simply 'Red'_

"Happy Times" Freddie Hubbard _The Artistry Of Freddie Hubbard_
"Kalimba (Lua Cheia)" Egberto Gismonti _Sol Do Meio Dia_
"K9 & Impro K9" Enrico Pieranunzi _Plays Domenico Scarlatti (Sonatas & Improvisations)_

"Slippin' & Slidin'" Little Richard _The Essential Little Richard_
"Smokes" ? & The Mysterians _The Best Of ? & The Mysterians_
"Do I Love You (Indeed I Do)" Frank Wilson _The Complete Motown Singles, Vol. 5: 1965_
"This is How It Feels" Inspiral Carpets _Life_
"The Asian Thing" Margaret Cho _I'm The One That I Want_

(part two: death anniversaries)

"Poor Ellen Smith" Molly O'Day _The History Of Country & Western Music, Vol. 17 (1949)_
"Prairie Blues" Montana Slim _Cowboy Songs_
"I Live In The Past" Bill Monroe _Bluegrass (1959-1969)_
"The Duck's Yas-Yas-Yas" Johnson's Jazzers _James Stump Johnson (1929-1964)_
"Going To Fishing" Fiddlin' Joe Martin _Walking Blues_

"Blue Rondo A La Turk" Dave Brubeck Quartet _Time Out_
"The Black & Crazy Blues" Rahsaan Roland Kirk _The Inflated Tear_
"Lotus Blossom" Kenny Dorham _Quiet Kenny_

"Rockin' Behind The Iron Curtain" Bobby Marchan & The Clowns _Atomic Platters_
"Notify The FBI" The Arena Twins _Oh What A Shame_
"The Boy From New York City" The Ad Libs _The Red Bird Story_
"The Girl From New York City" Tony Rivers & The Castaways _The Tony Rivers Collection, Vol. 1: Castaways_
"Stay" Thor's Hammer _Umbarumbamba... And More_

"Hupenyu Hwangu" Bhundu Boys _Shabini_

Saturday, December 05, 2015

The Gary Files # 11: Gary Cole

(I found this image here.)

An explanation: Since the name Gary is going extinct, I thought it incumbent upon me to celebrate more notable Garys than myself.  This is the eleventh of a series!

Gary Cole is, according to Wikipedia, "an American actor & voice artist."  You probably know him best as Bill Lumbergh from Office Space, but he's all over the place.

When did you first become aware of him?  Like everyone else, from Office Space.

Surely he was in other things before that?  He played the father in the mildly entertaining Brady Bunch movies in the 90s, but I don't think it was a star-making turn.  I'm pretty sure Office Space put him on the map.

But did you know his name, I mean, even after you saw Office Space?  I always read credits, but, to tell the truth, I wouldn't have been able to tell you his name even after that film.  Maybe it wasn't a big break for him after all.  What the hell do I know?

Do you like him as an actor?  One of the rumors that was going around when Office Space was in its heyday (& this might just have been in Austin, since the city was proud it was filmed there) was that he was something of a humorless person, & the reason he's so funny in the movie is because he didn't quite get how funny the character was.  I don't know if that's true - he plays very dry characters very well, so I imagine his sense of humor is close to that.

Like in Veep?  Oh, yeah.  He's great in that show!

But you wouldn't see a movie or a TV show just because he was in it, would you?  Probably not.

Is his name really Gary?  Gary Michael Cole.

Do you know why he was named Gary?  He was born in 1956, the year Love In The Afternoon came out, so if he folks were film fans, I'd say the enduring popularity of Gary Cooper had something to do with it.

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Self Help Radio 120115: Magda's Birthday Show 2015

(Yes, that's really my wife.)

Hooray!  Another year of birthday songs successfully deployed!  I honestly was sure this year I was going to run out.  I am officially calling on every great musician to write some sort of birthday song.  One each.  Comedians, also!  Come up with some funny birthday routines!  I know there's not the money in such things as there is in Christmas music, but boy, if you could write the next "Happy Birthday To You," you'd clean up!  & I could play it on my show.

I had just enough songs for this year, but I kind of thought I would.  As I wrote last year in this space, "Check back with me in 2016.  I should be pretty desperate then."  We'll see.

I'm happy to report my wife had a lovely birthday.  The show seemed incidental to her overall birthday happiness.  That shouldn't have been a surprise to me - I did it for her!  Oh well.

Please have a listen on your birthday at the Self Help Radio website.  Password is on the page, please pay attention.  Songs I played are below.  Best enjoyed after lighting candles on a cake, then blowing them out.

Happy birthday!

(part one)

"Happy Birthday Polka" Red Pony Clock _Hey, It's My Birthday_
"Before Your Birthday" The Hollyhocks _Understories_
"Birthday Cake" Orchard Thief _Work +_

"It's Your Birthday!" Tall Jenny _Tall Jenny_
"Birthday Blues" Weird Dreams _Found_
"On Birthdays" Birthmark _Shaking Hands_
"Happy Birthday" The Icypoles _My World Was Made For You_
"My Birthday" The French Goodbye _Living In The End Times_

"Birthday Party" Ross Beach _Ride Theory_
"The Day After Your Birthday" The Pooches _Splitting An Omelette With My Mother_
"Unhappy" Janie Grant _Teenage Girls: Volume 1_
"Birthday Party" Jonathan Donaldson _You're So Great You're So True You're So Square!_
"Birthday Party" The Little Wretches _The Little Wretches_

"Unbirthday" Pogo _Wonderland_
"Birthday" Bob Nanna _Top 100 Of 2001_

(part two)

"After Your 65th Birthday" George Carlin _When Will Jesus Bring The Pork Chops?_
"People On Their Birthdays (Live)" Rod McKuen _Sold Out At Carnegie Hall_
"Birthday Party" Toughies _Tough Enough_

"Happy Birthday (I'm Still Sad)" Tyrannosaurus Grace _Tyrannosaurus Grace_
"Birthday" Bye Bye Badman _Authentic_
"It's Your Birthday" The Moon Is A Disco Ball _The Moon Is A Disco Ball_
"Happy Birthday To My Loose Acquaintance" Garfunkel & Oates _Secretions_
"To My Birthday Party" Adam Powell _Let's Ride Bikes_

"Happy Birthday Blue" Joni Lyman _I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself_
"Birthday Girl" Imperial Teen _What Is Not To Love_
"Birthday Cake" The Safes _Record Heat_
"The Birthday Party" Alien Skin _The Unquiet Grave_

"Answer" They Might Be Giants _Glean_
"Too Little Too Late" PINS _Wild Nights_

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Whither Magda's Birthday Show 2015?

(A picture from three years ago of Magda with two creatures she loves much more than she loves me.)

Every year around the day of her birthday, my wife gets a radio show birthday present from me.  What a cheapskate! you say.  Indeed, the time I spend working on the show is time I could be spending with her!  But our life doesn't really work that way.  She's content in her downtime to be on her favorite sofa with her favorite people in the world, who happen to be dogs & cats.  Four of each, actually, in our house, & a game she likes to play with me is "Guess How Many Dogs I Have!"  That's when I try to decide how many of our hounds are under the blanket she has draped about herself.  When the answer is four, she squeals with glee.

The first radio show I did for her featured music she loved.  If I had continued to do that, you'd hear the same Magda-approved songs around her birthday every year.  She would be fine with that.  I am a bit more restless.  I began to use her birthday as a chance to play songs about birthdays.  There are a lot of them, but of course the majority aren't very good.  I've been doing this birthday thing for eleven of the thirteen years I've done Self Help Radio.  (I don't know why I skipped two years.  Those early days are something of a blur at this point.)  Ten of those years have featured birthday songs.  I am not entirely certain I can keep playing unique recordings of birthday songs into the near future.  But this year I have enough to make a solid show.

This is how much I love the silly woman who deigned to spend her life with me.

Maybe it's your birthday too?  Maybe soon?  Maybe we just missed it?  In any case, unless you find birthday songs as annoying as Christmas songs, the show today is a birthday show & it's on from 4-6pm on 88.1 fm WRFL in Lexington + online at wrfl dot fm.  I'll archive it tomorrow like I do unless I eat too much birthday cake tonight.

Wait - I won't - the birthday girl will!

Monday, November 30, 2015

Preface To Magda's Birthday Show 2015: The Inexorable March Of Time

There are some phrases you'll hear from old & older people - that I hear from my 86 year old mother, for example - among which are versions of these: "Life is short."  "It all happened so fast."  "It was all over in the blink of an eye."  I understand why they say this.  I sympathize, but don't entirely feel the same way.

Perhaps what is missing is a lack of perspective.  Imagine listening to a fourteen-year-old tell a story, maybe a simple tale of excitedly seeing a old friend at an unusual place.  The teenager will tell the story - even if she's telling it well - with a lot of unnecessary details.  Superfluous description.  Possibly whole remembered snippets of conversation.  & most assuredly the story will lack any background, asides describing shared experiences between the friends, even historical or social context.  At fourteen, you haven't lived a great deal of life.

The same story told by a forty-four-year-old would be a completely different affair.  Indeed, the meeting would be mostly a pretext to discuss what had transpired in life between their last meeting - if it could be recalled - & the circumstances that brought them to the unusual place.  Dialogue wouldn't be recounted - a summary of topics discussed would be more the order of the day.  Not to disrespect the narrative skills of your average high school freshman, but this older person's story would be much, much more fleshed-out.  & it would probably be a better story.

The obvious difference between the two storytellers is, well, thirty years.  Somewhere along the line, I believe, our brain learns ways to keep us from going crazy from years of memories.  We simply can't store the minutiae we experience every day, so our memories are bundled into stories, stories that we often forget, stories that we tell ourselves to give ourselves definition.  We learn to distill time as a way, perhaps, to keep ourselves sane.

Our perception of time is affected by our passage through time.  Days that are much the same blend into one another.  It takes a kind of will - & it's not entirely pleasant - to try to remember the tedium one slogs through during a regular twenty-four-hour period.  As I often tell my mother, "It seems like time has sped right by because you're not thinking about the long, boring, uninteresting moments you've spent, which may have been the majority of your life."

That's a big difference (among many) between my mother & me.  I can recall some moments where the nothing in my life threatened to smother me.  Long hours in a room reading as the light dimmed, or lonely times waiting, staring at a wall & unable to make a positive move.  I remember vividly long drives where a sign might say "next town 52 miles" & I felt an hour had passed before the subsequent sign read, "next town 50 miles."  I have lived forty-seven years & it hardly ever feels to me like it's gone by too fast.  In fact, this past year, with its disappointments, its deaths, its seasons acting out like spoiled children, has felt like two years to me, even possibly three.

This is not something I'll immediately share with my wife, who's having a birthday tomorrow, & whose birthday I will celebrate on tomorrow's show.  I've done it eleven times before, a birthday show for her, & have not repeated - & will not repeat -  a single birthday recording.  (I have played - & will play - cover versions should they be good.)  It's getting more difficult as the years go by, & maybe I will eventually recycle the shows.  But not tomorrow!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Cradle To Grave (Episode Two)

The second episode of my ridiculous new show, called Cradle To Grave, aired last night on Lexington's community radio station, WLXL.  In a two hour block, I celebrated the birthday (first hour) & the last day (second hour) of several artists who either arrived or left this crippled world on November 28.  I hope it went well, but how could I possibly judge such a thing?

As happens with some of my other radio shows, you can now find this episode for a time at the Self Help Radio website.  The show is broken into two parts - listed below - the first part where birthdays are celebrated, the second part where deathdays are mourned.

The site requires a password, which you can find on the site.  Why in the world would I make it difficult to listen to one of my radio stumbles?  It's bound to be hard enough as it is!

I hope you like.

(part one: birthdays)

"By The Beautiful Sea" Ada Jones & Billy Watkins _By The Beautiful Sea_
"How Come You Do Me Like You Do No. 2" George Wettling Rhythm Kings _The Complete Commodore Jazz Recordings, Vol. 2_
"Capri" Donald Byrd/Gigi Gryce _Complete Jazz Lab Studio Sessions # 2_
"Midnight Tango" Gato Barbieri _Ruby, Ruby_

"I Wish I Could Sing" George Coleman _Bongo Joe_
"Come Softly To Me" The Fleetwoods _The Fleetwoods Greatest Hits_
"The Love Game" The Mudlarks _The Hits Of 1959_
"Help Me Somebody" The "5" Royales _All Righty_
"You Don't Have To Be A Tower Of Strength" Gloria Lynne _The Birth Of Soul, Vol. 1_
"Whiter Shade Of Pale" R.B. Greaves _Atlantic Unearthed: Soul Brothers_

"Tyger Tyger (Dub Mix)" Jah Wobble _Glitters Is Gold_
"Cousins" Vampire Weekend _Contra_
"Grey Cell Green" Ned's Atomic Dustbin _God Fodder_
"Important Dates (with Stephen Colbert)" Jon Stewart _America: The Book_

(part two: death anniversaries)

"Old Folks At Home" Jules Levy _Old Folks At Home_
"Ohio" Rosalind Russell & Edith Adams _American Musical Theatre: Shows, Songs, & Stars, Vol. 3_
"Won't You Be My Baby (Jimmy Rushing, vocals)" Bennie Moten's Kansas City Orchestra _1929-1930: New Moten Stomp_
"Blue Lights" Papa Lightfoot _Blues Harmonica Wizards_
"Stormy Monday Blues" Bobby Blue Bland _Here's The Man!!!_

"Loving You Has Made Me Bananas" Guy Marks _Loving You Has Made Me Bananas_
"(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear" Elvis Presley _Elvis' Golden Records_
"Fight Fire With Fire" Frances Nero _The Complete Motown Singles, Vol. 6: 1966_
"One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer" John Lee Hooker _The Best Of John Lee Hooker_
"Dust My Broom" Koerner, Ray & Glover _Blues, Rags, & Hollers_
"Apache" The Shadows _Feelin' Fine: Gems From The Columbia Vaults_

"Chicken" Jack Starr _I Hate CD's: Norton Records 45 RPM Singles Collection, Vol. 1_
"28" Steppenwolf _Steppenwolf The Second_
"Heyday" Mic Christopher _Skylarkin'_
"Sriram Bhajo Sukh Mein Dukh Mein" KC Dey _Sriram Bhajo Sukh Mein Dukh Mein_

Saturday, November 28, 2015

The Gary Files # 10: Gary Gilmore

(I found this image here.)

An explanation: Since the name Gary is going extinct, I thought it incumbent upon me to celebrate more notable Garys than myself.  This is the tenth of a series!

Gary Gilmore was, according to Wikipedia, "an American criminal who gained international notoriety for demanding the execution of his death sentence for two murders he committed in Utah. After the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a new series of death penalty statutes in the 1976 decision Gregg v. Georgia, he became the first person in almost ten years to be executed in the United States."

When did you first become aware of him?  The song "Gary Gilmore's Eyes" by the Adverts.

Did you know who they were singing about?  Not at all.  I figured he was someone English I wouldn't know about, & he had died & was giving his eyes to someone else as an organ donor.

You were alive when he was executed.  You don't remember anything about it?  He was executed three days before my ninth birthday.  That sort of thing wouldn't even have been on my radar.

When did you find out what the song was about?  A few years later, when someone mentioned to me that the Judy's song "How's Gary?" was also about him.  Around the same time, I read an article about the reinstatement of the death penalty in the United States, & his name was of course in the article.  Suddenly things started making sense.

He died by firing squad!  Not only that, his last words were apparently, "Let's do this."

What do you think of this line, from the Wikipedia article? 
The founder of advertising agency Wieden+Kennedy, Dan Wieden credits the inspiration for his "Just Do It" Nike slogan to Gilmore's last words.
I think it's pretty fucked up.

Is his name really Gary?  Apparently he was christened Faye Robert Coffman, but the reasons for that are in the Wikipedia article.  When his family left Texas, he was renamed Gary Mark Gilmore.

Do you know why he was named Gary?  I'm more interested why someone would name a boy Faye.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Self Help Radio 112415: Gardens

(Original image here.)

Do you have a garden?  How much time do you spend in your garden?  Do you give away a significant portion of your garden's yield?  Can I have some?

You may wonder why I ask.  On our regular dogwalk, the wife, dogs, & I pass at least two gardens which people have in their sort-of front yards (both houses are corner houses) in which I watch vegetables grow, ripen, & eventually rot, because the tenders of the gardens don't seem to manage their gardens well.  (If my dogs get close enough, they'll grab a tomato or a bell pepper!)  Gardens can be ornamental, of course, & these look great, but it seems weird to me to go through the process of planting, growing, & tending a garden, only to let what it produces go to waste.

Ah well.  Nothing goes to waste on this week's Self Help Radio - except the time you take to listen to it!  Lots of garden songs (listed below).  Interviews with a master gardener, a person who wrote a book about famous gardens, & my guru, who encourages everyone to grow a "spirit garden."  All done with a tremendous lack of style!

The show is now at the Self Help Radio web page.  Pay attention to username/password information!  & please be careful - there are creepy-crawlies in the soil!

(part one)

"The Garden" The Smittens _A Little Revolution_
"The Garden" The Shondes _The Garden_
"Walking Garden" Smack Dab _Queen Crab_

"English Country Garden" Jimmie Rodgers _Folk Songs With Jimmie Rodgers_
"Rooftop Garden" Lou Reed _Legendary Hearts_
"Garden Of Chalcedony" Licorice Roots _Licorice Root Orchestra_
"Perfume Garden" The Chameleons _What Does Anything Mean? Basically_

"Hong Kong Garden (John Peel Session)" Siouxsie & The Banshees _The Scream_
"The Hanging Garden" The Cure _Pornography_
"Garden Of Serenity" The Ramones _Hey! Ho! Let's Go: The Anthology_
"Gardenhead/Leave Me Alone" Neutral Milk Hotel _On Avery Island_

"Octopus's Garden" Jeffrey Lewis _Abbey Road Now!_
"The Garden At Night" The Clientele _God Save The Clientele_
"Island Garden Song" The Mountain Goats _The Coroner's Gambit_

(part two)

"City Of Gardens" Bent Denim _Romances You_
"Japanese Garden" Bernthøler _Merry Lines In The Sky_
"Garden Waltz" Bran Van 3000 _The Garden_

"Paradise Garden" Peter Jay _It's Hard To Believe: The Amazing World Of Joe Meek_
"The Hanging Gardens Of Reigate" Would-Be-Goods _él: The Legendary B Sides_
"Strawberries Are Growing In My Garden (& It's Wintertime)" The Dentists _Some People Are On The Pitch They Think It's Over It Is Now_
"Sculpture Gardens" The Art Museums _Rough Frame_

"Magical Garden" The Bartlebees _Acid House Kings/The Bartlebees EP_
"Arthur The Gardener" Television Personalities _Yes Darling, But Is It Art? (Early Singles & Rarities)_
"The Bottom Of The Garden" Bouquet _Miniminou_
"Botanic Gardens" Language Of Flowers _Songs About You_

"Avant Gardener" Courtney Barnett _The Double EP: A Sea Of Split Peas_
"Tip To Gardeners" Gary Owens _Put Your Head On My Finger_
"Rose In The Devil's Garden" The Castaway Stones _Make Love To You_

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Whither Gardens?

(I found this image here.)

This is another of recent shows whose theme was suggested to me by a listener in the recent past*.  Normally I don't respond so quickly - not even to my own ideas - but this one made me think it'd be a good show.  Well, it might be a good show - in the spring.  In the autumn, teetering on winter?  Like most Self Help Radio episodes, it's a little silly in context.

At a different radio station, long ago, a peer reviewer (someone at the station reviewing the station's show to help improve them) once wrote a review of Self Help Radio in which the fact that my themes seemed arbitrary really stuck in her craw.  "I don't understand," she wrote, & I'm paraphrasing here, "why Gary does shows about the things he does when he does them."  (I added emphasis, imaging that was how she meant it to sound.

The answer is blindingly simple: obliviousness.  I usually become so occupied with a theme that I forgot to ask "Is this at all appropriate?"  It usually isn't.  Like gardens.  Today.

Today!  It happens from 4 to 6pm today!  On 88.1 fm!  Online at !  I hope you'll listen!

Spoiler alert: no gardening tips offered at all.

* You can suggest a theme too!  Just email me!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Preface To Gardens: Someone Should Have Said

Why didn't you warn me?  There are so many songs about gardens!  Wow, I think I've spent the entire weekend listening to songs about gardens.

Do I have a garden myself?  No.  Sadly I don't.  I am kind of afraid of bugs, & while I am not a neat freak, I don't enjoy having mud or other things on my hands.  It's one of the reasons that, though I love to cook, I don't bake too well - I am constantly washing dough off my hands.  I think the idea that I'd need to have my hands in soil, which has bugs of all kinds in it - slugs & worms are basically bugs to me! - has kept me from gardening.

Which is a shame.  I think I'd love to grow my own vegetables.  I have a plan, actually, to grow some hot peppers in the house come spring.  I'm told it's easy.  Maybe I will transition at some point to an actual garden with lots of vegetables.

But don't hold your breath!

Also, don't hold your breath till tomorrow - it's good to stay alive, as it might be a good episode of Self Help Radio.  (No promises, though.)

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Cradle To Grave (Episode One)

Happy day!  November the 21st was the birthday of some great musicians!  Unhappy day!  November the 21st was the day many great musicians met their doom!  My new radio show on Lexington's community radio station, WLXL, celebrates both days in a couple of hour blocks.

In case you missed it, or in case you miss November the 21st for some reason, I've put the show up on the the Self Help Radio website for you to listen to.  The show is broken into two parts - listed below - the first part where birthdays are celebrated, the second part where deathdays are mourned.

The site requires a password.  That information is not a secret - it's on the site, actually!  There should be not trouble finding it.


(part one)

"Bawlin' Baby" Johnny Horton with Hillbilly Barton _The Early Years_
"Mercury Boogie" K.C. Douglas _The History Of Country & Western Music, Vol. 14 (1947-1948)_
"Rockin' With Big John" Big John Greer _Ham Hocks & Cornbread_
"Only You" The Platters _The Platters' Golden Hits_
"Istanbul (Not Constantinople)" The Four Lads _Moments To Remember: The Very Best Of The Four Lads_

"Delirium" Red & Miff's Stompers _Anthology Of Jazz Drumming Vol.1 (1904-1928)_
"Under Paris Skies (Sous Le Ciel De Paris)" Coleman Hawkins _The Hawk in Paris_
"Clusters" Charlie Palmieri _Latin Bugalu_
"Changó Obarí" Clifford Thornton & The Jazz Composer's Orchestra _The Gardens Of Harlem_
"Mama Roux" Dr. John _Gris-Gris_

"All Day Music" War _All Day Music_
"Soul Bowl" Memphis Horns _Memphis Horns_
"I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)" The Electric Prunes _Nuggets: Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era_
"Girls & Boys" Blur _Parklife_

(part two)

"I Don't Believe You Met My Baby" The Louvin Brothers _When I Stop Dreaming: The Best Of The Louvin Brothers_
"Kentucky Bluegrass Angel" Jim Eanes _Bluegrass Ballads_
"Sunrise" Country Gentlemen _Yesterday & Today, Vol. 3_
"I'm Gonna Dig Myself A Hole" Robert Lockwood _Mississippi Blues (1935-1951)_

"Dixie Jazz Band One Step" The Original Dixieland Jazz Band _The Original Dixieland Jazz Band_
"Full Moon & Empty Arms" Frank Sinatra _The Best Of The Columbia Years_
"That's My Desire" Hadda Brooks _I've Got News For You_
"Keep On Dancin'" Alvin Cash & Scott Bros Orchestra _Soulin' Vol. 3_
"Hurt So Bad" Little Anthony & The Imperials _Out Of My Head & Payin' Our Dues_
"Down By The Old Mill Stream" Jerry Colonna _Songs For Screaming_

"Get Out Of My Life, Woman" Q65 _Revolution_
"Hot Wire My Heart" Crime _Hot Wire My Heart_
"Zerox" Adam & The Ants _Dirk Wears White Sox_
"Look My Way" The Vels _Velocity_

Saturday, November 21, 2015

The Gary Files # 9: Gary Burghoff

(I found this image here.)

An explanation: Since the name Gary is going extinct, I thought it incumbent upon me to celebrate more notable Garys than myself.  This is the ninth of a series!

Gary Burghoff is, according to the Wikipedia, "an American actor, known for playing Charlie Brown in the 1967 Off-Broadway musical You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown, & the character Corporal Walter Eugene 'Radar' O'Reilly in the film M*A*S*H, as well as the TV series."

When did you first become aware of him?  On M*A*S*H.  Can I just write MASH?  No, maybe not, that looks weird.  But it's such a pain in the ass to write out those damn asterisks.

Sounds like a personal problem.  No lip from you!

Did you like the character he played?  Yeah, I mean, I think the show was brilliant, even know, but I guess Burghoff was funniest in the movie, where he knew was Henry Blake was going to say before he said it.  That was the kind of joke what would've gotten old pretty fast on television.  He was never as interesting or funny as the leads of the show were (especially Alan Alda) but as a member of the ensemble cast, he was fine.

Did you watch AfterM*A*S*H?  Yeah, a couple of episodes, but even my young, completely non-discrimating self realized it was an unfunny turd.  It needed more Hawkeye!  Hell, it could've used a sprinkling of BJ Hunicutt!

Did you know he played Charlie Brown?  I did not.  I don't think I've ever seen a performance of You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown.  Though I like some of the songs.

He was on Match Game a lot.  You love Match Game, right?  Oh yes.  Best. Gameshow. Ever.  But sort of like on M*A*S*H, he was overshadowed by funnier people.  I can't really remember seeing him on Match Game, though his Wikipedia page says he was on 428 episodes.  Eep.

Is his name really Gary?  No, it's Radar.  Actually, it's Gary Rich Burghoff.

Do you know why he was named Gary?  Gary Cooper was at the height of his fame so, probably in honor of the actor.

Friday, November 20, 2015

"Big" "Announcement"

(I found this image there.)

Surely something you know about me is, despite an almost embarrassing lack of natural ability, I love to be on the radio.  If any radio station in town gave me a daily 2am to 6am slot to just play music & be ridiculous on the air, I'd do it.  (I'd want to be able to pick the music I played, but I'm not going to double-down on this flight of fancy with a list of conditions because that's like making plans on how you're going to spend your money right after your bought your first lottery ticket.)  So when I discovered that new community radio station WLXL needed volunteers, I volunteered.  I am always glad to help out, but I did hope I'd eventually get a show there.  & now I have!

Premiering tomorrow night (that's Saturday), I'm doing a show from 7-9pm called Cradle To Grave.  The premise is dumb but simple: during the first hour of the show, I'll be playing music from artists who were born on the day of the show, & in the second hour, I'll be playing music from artists who died on the day of the show.  Obviously, tomorrow is Saturday the 21st, so if you love an artist who was born on that day, or who died on that day, there's something of a chance that you'll hear them tomorrow.  (How big a chance I can't say.  I mean, we might not have the same taste in music, you know.)

Who was born on November 21st?  Well, there's K.C. Douglas, Charlie Palmieri, Dr. John, & Alex James, to just name four of the folks you'll hear tomorrow.  Who died on November 21st?  Oh, there's Jim Eanes, Hadda Brooks, Robert Lockwood, & Matthew Ashman, to name four more folks you'll hear tomorrow.

If that sounds like fun, tune your radio dial to 95.7 fm in Lexington &/or tune your computer dial to the WLXL web page & click the "Listen Now" button.

Yes, I'll archive the shows for a short time on the Self Help Radio web page, but they're time-sensitive, aren't they?  Good for a day?  Something like that?

Maybe you'll listen?