Friday, May 01, 2015

Self Help Radio 050115: Los Angeles

(Original image here.)

& that's it!  My last Self Help Radio at WRFL.  I am leaving soon for Los Angeles - the City of Angels - La-La Land - & so I did a show about Los Angeles.  I am guessing there were more anti-L.A. songs than pro-L.A. songs - but the town appears to be a place people love to hate.  For me, well - it's time for another adventure!

At the end of the show, I thanked a bunch of folks & it makes sense for me to do it here, too.

I thank WRFL for letting me play on the air for the time they did - I came to the station in July 2010 - & never was I made to feel unwelcome.  I met so many great people.  I had so much fun.  It's a marvelous place & I will miss it a great deal.

I thank the listeners of WRFL.  This town is full of people fiercely loyal to the station - & full of old timers (heck! people my own age!) who remember the struggle to get the station on the air.  It makes them feel like the station is one of their own.

I thank the funny friends I have who help me out with fake interviews.  David, Russell, & Mark have been my mainstays for a long time - it's easy to do a radio show when you have people way funnier than you to "interview."  I hope they'll continue to play with me when I'm in Los Angeles!  There have been other folks - my wife Magda was awesome as Werful, the monster who lives under WRFL.  & people like Allen, Nick, Suloni, Macy & Maria have at one time or another filled in & had fun.  They're all invited to L.A. with me!

I hope I can find a suitable radio station there to do my dumb show.  I love to play music that most of the world hasn't heard & I love the artists that I play for being so great despite the horrible monolithic music industry.  I wish that industry would go away already.  Wasn't the Internet supposed to destroy it by now?

The show is available any time you want to listen to it at the Self Help Radio website.  From here to L.A. & back!  You are required to enter a username & a password - those are available on the site.  The songs I played are below.

Thanks for listening!  There'll be a new Self Help Radio in June, I promise!

(part one)

"Los Angeles Blues" Peggy Lee _Blues Cross Country_
"Take Me To Los Angeles" Jimmy Soul _Jerk! Shake! & Vibrate!_
"L.A." Jackie De Shannon _Laurel Canyon_

"Hello L.A., Bye-Bye Birmingham" John Randolph Marr _Country Funk 1969 - 1975_
"Funky L.A." Paul Humphrey _Paul Humphrey & The Cool-Aid Chemists_
"L.A. Blues" The Stooges _Fun House_

"The World Began In Eden But Ended In Los Angeles" Phil Ochs _Rehearsals For Retirement_
"L.A." Neil Young _Time Fades Away_
"Men's Room, LA" Kinky Friedman _Old Testaments & New Revelations_
"I Love L.A." Randy Newman _Trouble In Paradise_
"L.A., L.A." Translator _No Time Like Now_

"L.A. (My Town)" The Four Tops _The Complete Motown Singles, Vol. 12: 1972_
"Los Angeles" The Egyptian Lover _One Track Mind_

(part two)

"Drinking In LA" Bran Van 3000 _Glee_
"Everyone Is Someone In LA" Felix Da Housecat _Devin Dazzle & The Neon Fever_

"Goodbye You Lizard Scum" Bill Hicks _Arizona Bay_
"L.A." The Fall _458489 A Sides_
"Los Angeles" Lewis Black _The White Album_
"Los Angeles, I'm Yours" The Decemberists _Her Majesty_

"First Of The Gang To Die" Morrissey _You Are The Quarry_
"Moving To LA" Art Brut _Bang Bang Rock & Roll_
"Ode To L.A." The Raveonettes _Pretty In Black_
"L.A., CA, USA" Stereo Total _Monokini_

"L.A. Woman" D.O.A. _Greatest Shits_

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Whither Los Angeles?

It's so easy!  I'm moving to Los Angeles in a couple of weeks, & so I'm doing a show about Los Angeles.  Duh!  It'll be on for the very last time on 88.1 fm WRFL here in Lexington, & it'll be online at wrfl dot fm at the same time.  Seven till nine a.m.  That's 7-9am.  If you're not up early enough, I'll archive it on the Self Help Radio website some time tomorrow.  I hope I don't cry during the show.


I want to say a couple of things.  The fellow I wrote about here, John, his memorial service is tomorrow.  I don't think I'll go.  My wife will go.  I'm not sure I can take it.  I think that makes me a flawed person.


Also, I went to Louisville last night - probably the last time I'll ever be in Louisville - to see Peter Hook & The Light.  It was subtitled "A Celebration Of Joy Division," & I was happy the audience had youngsters & old fucks like me.  I was genuinely thrilled to see Peter Hook, though he came out in washes of synth music & promptly did a New Order song I don't much care for ("Thieves Like Us").  I didn't realize there was an "opening New Order set," as it says on his website; I had heard he was going to do Unknown Pleasures & Closer in order, so that confused me.

Peter Hook does not do a good Bernard Sumner.  Except for "Ceremony," which of course Ian Curtis co-wrote, & sang first, most of the songs sounded off.  & too long!

The crowd didn't care.  They were happy.  They ate it up.  My wife very much enjoyed herself.

By far the strangest thing is that Peter Hook came onstage with a bass guitar & played it from time-to-time - but there was another bassist on stage, & he kept playing when Hook stopped.  It seems pretty obvious that Hook, who hasn't really fronted a band before or, if you count Revenge, not for two decades, can't sing & play bass at the same time.  Luckily the music was really loud - he occasionally seemed to remember he had to project his voice into the microphone to be heard.

After a break, the band returned to do Joy Division songs.  But something had been broken in me.  Yes, I know Hook sang when Ian Curtis was ill on some Joy Division dates.  Yes, I know he sang on Movement (although none of those songs were played last night).  But he's not a strong vocalist.  I sat through "Atrocity Exhibition," "Isolation," "Colony," a few more, but I came to feel like I wasn't seeing a show with one of the founders of a band that means a lot to me (Joy Division, not New Order), but that I was at a very loud Joy Division karaoke night & that one old guy in a football jersey was hogging the mic.

It also didn't help that I didn't want to force my way to the front, & was therefore around the chatty people with the giant Bud Light cans who were there socially.  But I was so disappointed.  It was such a let down.  I wanted to get home - it's an hour drive - where my pets were waiting to be fed.  The wife was sympathetic, so we took off.

Later I read Hook's Twitter feed & saw so many people had a great time.  Some seemed so moved by it.  Some just felt grateful they could experience it at all.  I kinda wish I had decided not to go.  Then I could feel I had missed something great, instead of being as bummed by the experience as I was.

Is it because there's something sacred to me about Joy Division?  That the music has just meant so much to me for so long?  I hate to feel this icky, & I also hate to be this negative.  But I did need to get it off my chest.


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Preface To Los Angeles: Twelve Things

1) I haven't watched David Letterman in years.  But I'm going to miss David Letterman.

2) That has nothing to do with Los Angeles, I just read that article & started to feel sad.

3) I think I've done this list thing on my blog before - you know, number sentences that seem like a list but really aren't a list.  I probably got the idea from a short story by Donald Barthelme.

4) Here's a crazy thing: when I first discovered Barthelme, he was not only still alive (though dying of throat cancer) but just a hop, skip, & a jump away from where I was living, in Austin.  He was living (& teaching) in Houston.

5) I had a girlfriend whose parents lived in Houston at the time.  I went there with her a couple of times.  I might even have driven by his home or a hospital he was in.

6) I haven't read a Donald Barthelme story in a long time, either, but I am sad that he is gone.  He would have written some amazingly creative shit.

7) I don't mean to be equating David Letterman with Donald Barthelme or anything.  I thought of writing down things I was interested in/worried about/excited for in Los Angeles, where I will be living in less than a month, & before I started to type, someone on Facebook linked to that article, & it waylaid me.

8) Or derailed me.

9) Another interesting coincidence: I'm leaving Lexington around the same time the Letterman does his last show.

10) Wouldn't it be cool if it were around the same time Donald Barthelme had been born or died?  But that's not the case.

11) I'm certainly not lucky enough to have something like that help me tie up one of my dumb blog entries.

12) You know?

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Beginning Of The End

The beginning of the end is still a beginning.  & every ending does seem to sprout some kind of beginning.  Unless it's the final end.  Then - well, I don't imagine there's anything after that, but lots of people respectfully & disrespectfully disagree with me about that.

Damn, this got dark quick.  That wasn't my intention.  It's hard not to equate the end of one part of one's life with death.  There is a chance I'll never see Lexington again, just as there's a great chance I'll never see Huntington again.  I know I'll never live in this house again, even if fortune returns me to Kentucky.

You wonder how much of your memory is your senses.  For example, I am usually cold here.  As I sit at my computer, when the day is sunny & the weather outside is 58 degrees, I know (because I checked as I walked through the house moments ago) that it's only a little warmer in here: 63 degrees.  I can't bring myself - not when it's sunny outside, when it's spring - to turn the heater on.  So I sit at my computer, my hands colder than my body, but all of me quite chilled.

I noticed this first five years ago in West Virginia.  I'd be sitting at my computer & my hands would be cold as ice.  I actually went & purchased what my friend Suloni calls "hobo gloves" - the ones that look like this:
Because I couldn't type with gloves on, & I couldn't type with them off because my hands were frickin' cold.

I have a feeling that this won't be a problem in Los Angeles, as it wasn't a problem in Austin.  Not ever.  Not even when it was winter, & it does get cold for a little while in Austin.

Will I remember this?  Will my body remember this?  My wife put all her winter clothes in a box she marked "Fuck-You Winter Clothes."  She doesn't want to remember this.

I'm already planning new episodes of Self Help Radio, but it will feel weird not doing the show at WRFL.  My body does have sense memory of doing it at KOOP & at WMUL.  If I close my eyes, I can even see the respective boards at waist level, can almost reach out to where the CD players or the turntables or the computers or the other components were.

I open my eyes, they're nowhere to be found.  At least three places I've deejayed no longer exist - one of them has actually burned up!

The spring here has been so lovely, it might fool me about how cold it usually is here.  But my hands don't lie.  I will go put a long-sleeved shirt now.  & realize - in three weeks, I will be leaving this safe & happy home I've lived in for almost four years.  I will leave it forever.

Monday, April 27, 2015

A Neighbor Story

I was going to write something today about the countdown to my last show.  But then, life happened.

We moved to Lexington in the summer of 2010.  We rented a house on the south side, the area called Rosemill.  One of the things I did almost immediately is pore over the neighborhood map for a dog-walk route.  We try to walk the dogs every day - &, weather permitting, we do.

A year later, we bought a house in the Picadome neighborhood (not far from where we had been renting) & I had to come up with a new route.  This route took us across Southland into some of our old walking area, but it was near the high school where we met John.

John was a plain-spoken, skinny fellow of an older age.  I thought he was over sixty; the wife thought he might be younger.  He had a house he was literally re-building my himself.  As we walked by, he'd say hi, then he introduced himself, & then we'd stop to chat.  Our dogs came to love him, & wanted to always come up to him.  He'd climb down from his ladder, or he'd wander from over where he was chopping bamboo, & he'd take off his gloves, as our dogs would whine for him to pet them.

John told us he'd been married once.  He said he used to surf, & had spent time in Australia & Hawaii.  He still loved reading surfing magazines.  He operated a concession stand at Grand Canyon for a time.  & he worked in Lexington, where his family is from, usually in the restaurant business.  The house he constantly worked on was purchased from his parents.

He was funny, irreverent, & thoughtful.  He loved to laugh.  If we walked the dogs on summer evenings, when the sun set late, he'd be out in front of his house, chatting with the neighbors, or he'd be working on a flower bed set in the middle of the street, something he took upon himself to take care of, when it was probably the city's responsibility.

We talked about having him over for dinner.  We thought, frankly, he'd be there for as long as we lived here.  We even imagined that he'd never finish the house - the house where he, in the last couple of years, set a new porch & even raised the roof, all by himself - as that was kind of the thing he did.

I remember he was friends with one of the former hosts of WRFL's classic rock show.  He regretted missing his friend's last show, but because I was involved with WRFL, I was able to get a copy of the show & burn it to CD for him.  He was always so generous with his time, it was the least I could do.  He was a kind man.  Such a kind man.

We didn't see him much during this past winter.  Even if we could walk the dogs, it would be too cold for him to be out working on his house.  Another neighbor told us a few weeks ago that he had been diagnosed with cancer - it was very serious - John hadn't been to a doctor in years - & that he was already in hospice care.

I dedicated a song to him on my March 27th show.  His favorite band in the world was Midnight Oil.  I don't think he ever heard it - it was exactly a month ago - but I didn't expect him too.  His family had taken him in.  Another neighbor, a good friend of John's, Bill, kept us apprised of John's condition.  (We walk by Bill's house every dog walk, too.)  He saw John often, & invited us to go see him, but my wife & I never got around to it.

We never got around to it.  We never invited him over for dinner.  We never got around to that.  We thought he'd be there forever.  As long as the house needed work, John would work on it.

I found out that he died this afternoon.  I don't think he had any regrets.  He had been married once, for a short time, & it ended.  He lived simply, & alone.  But he had so many friends.  He would go to the neighbor's to watch television.  He was so friendly.  Everyone in the neighborhood knew him.  Everyone in the neighborhood was so glad they knew him.  So glad & lucky to know this man that Thoreau might have admired.

My wife & I, we're so glad we knew him.  As we talked about him, after we found out the news, she summed him up in a way he'd smile at.  She said, "He was rad."