Saturday, January 16, 2016

The Gary Files # 17: Gary Gnu

(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 seventeenth of a series!

Gary Gnu hosted a no-gnewscast during the children's show The Great Space Coaster.  He pronounced his last name "guh-new," & he disliked television news, which of course he called "guh-news."  He hosted the "No Gnews Is Good Gnews Show."

Wait.  This is a cartoon character?  No, he was a puppet.  Can't you see the picture above?

Have you run out of famous people named Gary?  Why do you say that?

Because now you're using fictional Garys! It says up there I'll "celebrate more notable Garys than myself."  It doesn't say they have to be real human beings!

Oh all right.  When did you first become aware of (oh god) Gary Gnu?  On his television show, The Great Space Coaster!

It says here the show was on between 1981-1986.  Yeah, so?

You graduated high school in 1986?  I did - what are you implying?

You were still watching children's shows when you were 18?  Maybe not when I was 18 - but probably when I was 13.  I'm a nerd, I'm not ashamed.

Do I ask you if his name were really Gary?  I'm sure it was.  Probably to be alliterative with gnu pronounced with a hard g.

Is it time to stop doing this "Gary Files" bit?  Oh hell no!  I'm sure there are many more notable Garys out there!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Self Help Radio 011216: Pyramids

(Original image here.)

Pyramids!  That was a weird show.  Good weird, but weird nonetheless.

It's the sort of show, actually, that people made requests for songs for the show afterwards, not before.  Seriously, two folks suggested songs to me after I was done, last night.  It wasn't even, "You should've played..."  It was more like, "Here's a song for your show."  You mean, the one I just did?

The show is pack-jammed with interviews: I talked to pyramid expert David Fruchter.  I talked to antiquities "expert" CJ Buchanan.  My spiritual mentor, the Rev. Dr. Howard Gently, talked about the spiritual power of pyramids.  & I checked in with our man in Hollywood, Mark Miller.  All that & tons of songs about pyramids, as you can see by looking at the list below.

You can listen to this show now at the website.  Username is SHR.  Password is selfhelp.  You'll see.  The show is in two parts.  Like usual.

Maybe the show will last for five thousand years?

(part one)

"Pyramid" The Soul Brothers Inc. _The Stafford Story: On Top Of The World_
"Pyramid" Bombadil _Tarpits & Canyonlands_
"Pyramid" Au.Ra _Jane's Lament_

"Mesopotamia" The B-52's _Mesopotamia_
"Pyramide" Adou Elenga _Bankolo Miziki: Les Pionniers De La Musique Congolaise - De Léopoldville à Kinshasa; Anthologie Vol. 1_
"Pyramid Landing" Marbles _Pyramid Landing & Other Favorites_
"Haunted Pyramid" Miniature Tigers _Tell It To The Volcano_

"Pyramids" The Rumour _Purity Of Essence_
"Pyramid Dinosaur" Snot Patties _Toasted Coughs_
"The Pyramid Is Not A Tomb" The Gory Details _Killer Waves_
"Golden Pyramid" The Aquarium _The Aquarium_

"Pharaoh" Richard Thompson _Amnesia_

(part two)

"The Pyramid Song" J.C. Cunningham _The Pyramid Song_
"Pyramid Of Cans" Mel Tillis _Southern Rain_
"Pharaoh Pharouk's Phyrst Phood Phyramid" Bunny Clogs _More! More! More!_

"The Great Pyramid" Charles Earland _The Great Pyramid_
"Egypt" Kate Bush _Never For Ever_
"Pyramid Of Time" Kelley Stoltz _In Triangle Time_

"Gelatin Pyramids" Wrong Turn _Antipodean Screams, Vol. 2_
"Ghosts Built The Pyramids" Seven Blankets _Saint's Plastic_
"Africans Built The Pyramids" Half Japanese _The Band That Would Be King_

"Pyramids (Rose Out Of Our Pain)" Jenny Wilson _Pyramids (Rose Out Of Our Pain)_
"Pyramids" Man Man _On Oni Pond_

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Whither Pyramids?

(But where do they store all the grain?  Image from here.)

Before you say anything: no, I couldn't find any song that Bowie recorded that mentions pyramids.  That sucks.  I searched & searched.  I racked my stupid brains.  It's sad.

Does that mean I won't do a tribute show for him?  Probably not.  WHAT?!?

You see, I have already done one, many moons ago.  & I checked - this is true - I played Bowie sixteen times on the radio last year.  That's more than once a month.  (& probably more than 99.9% of all artists I played on my show.)  If you go back the twenty-some-odd years that I've been doing radio, it's probable I've played him hundreds of times.  Isn't that a tribute of sorts?

You'll hear Bowie on Self Help Radio next week for sure.  But this week - well, you'd think a man who wrote so many songs might have deigned to write one about a pyramid.  For fuck's sake.

As for pyramids - yes, I got the idea for doing the show from Dr. Ben Carson.  Of course.  To hear an actual presidential candidate - & at the time, frontrunner for the nomination of his political party - say such stupid shit has become so common in these Trumpian times it's almost cliché, but I still find it amusing.  I'm sure it'll get mentioned on the show.

But oh my god, do not read the comments for this Youtube video about who built the pyramids.  I mean, don't read the comments, ever, but it's especially awful to read the guy who doubles down on the idea that the Egyptians used the wheel to build the pyramids because, you know, the Bible.  It's amazing how people can explain things patiently to an individual & yet, wow, nothing gets in.

What was I going on about?  Oh yeah pyramids.  A show about pyramids!  & me still very heartbroken about David Bowie.

The show's on from 4-6pm today in snowy Lexington.  You can listen at 88.1 fm in town or also online at wrfl dot fm everywhere.  I have tons of guests, I have tons of songs, I have no plans to be dissected, embalmed, & entombed in a giant structure, but one never knows.  I hope you'll listen!

Monday, January 11, 2016


Words cannot express the loss I feel knowing I no longer live in a world with David Bowie.  He was, after the Beatles, my second musical obsession.  My dear friend Russell made me a tape in my eighth grade year that I wore out, & I date my high school experiences with purchasing & absorbing his records.  Some of my Bowie vinyl has skips on songs made by me desperately lifting the needle to listen to one song or another just one more time.  I'm almost certain that if you could tear apart my brain or my DNA or whatever, a considerable percentage of me would be found to be made of David Bowie.

Oh I could go on & on like this, but I don't think I could really express the impact he's had on me.  So I'll tell you a story about this morning instead.

My wife woke me at 5am.  It's no secret she's a big Bowie fan - she even has an Aladdin Sane tattoo.  As soon as her friends heard the news, they began to text condolences to her, even in the wee hours of the day, & weirdly, she asked me, shaking me out of sleep, "Have you heard that David Bowie died?  Is it true?"

Not entirely certain that my wife believed I had a newswire pumping current events into my brain as I slept, I went to my phone, noted the time, & typed "David Bowie dead" in Google.  Many, many hits.  It was confirmed.

She seemed to be beginning her day but I needed sleep, so we didn't say anything more about it.  Sweetly, she didn't want me to wake up, find out, & worry that she didn't know.  My own reaction was muted by the darkness, my sleepy state, the strangeness of it all.  I managed to get back to sleep with a little difficulty.  & then I began to dream.

There needs to be a caveat here that I don't believe in dream analysis or anything like that.  If dreams have things to tell you, they'll be pretty obvious.  I've known people who believe dreams are filled with universal symbols, etc., & I regard them in the same way I regard anything which requires supernatural means to be true, & that is with skepticism.

In my dream, an acquaintance here in Lexington had died.  I won't say who, but he's nothing like Bowie, except they're both musicians.  Plus, he's not really dead!  He was just dead in my dream.  For some reason, his memorial was being held at my home.  This wasn't the home I currently live in - it was a house that had a thin U-shape, with the front door at the end of the U, & something like a back door close to it, at the other end.  The bottom of the U was the back of the house, & it opened into a sort of backyard; the area in-between the stalks of the U was negligible - the U was long & thin.

A deejay at WRFL was there at the memorial, & I asked him how this acquaintance had died.  He didn't tell me - he didn't want to tell me, as if it were a secret - but he did tell me that the deceased had wanted us all to share what little money he had, & that amounted to five bucks apiece.  He put my share into my hand, & as I counted it out, I noticed I only had three dollars.  When I tired to tell him it wasn't five dollars, he began walking to the back-door area of the house, & I found people & objects in my way, so I couldn't follow him.

Instead, I went to the front door, to let guests in.  When I went outside, I was in an urban neighborhood - my front door opened into the street, like a brownstone's would.  It was all terribly familiar, although I have never lived in any place like that.  It was a warm, sunny day, & I took a stroll around the neighborhood.  It seemed like people from all walks of life lived there - there was a ranting person at the bus stop, a family walking down the street, folks getting in buses & taxi cabs, horns honking, street construction - you know the scene.  It seemed like a wonderful, vibrant place to live.

Suddenly remembering the memorial, I made my way with some difficulty to my home, & when I opened the door, the house was full of as many different people as outside: some older people had set up a card table in the foyer, & were playing cards; close to the back, someone had turned on the radio & a mix of young & old people were dancing; a nearby shelf was an impromptu bar, & plastic cups were being filled by a line of chatting guests; I even saw the actor who played Lester Freamon on The Wire, Clarke Peters, on an old wall phone, in a friendly conversation.  I was filled with a sense that this was the right way to celebrate someone's life, as well as a little anxiety that it was happening in my house.

The dream ended there.  I woke around 8pm with a sadness in the pit of my stomach, like somehow as long as I slept David Bowie would still be alive.

Do I think the dream was my brain processing the news of his death?  I don't know.

Of course I never met Bowie.  I never tried to communicate with him, ever.  It's one of the strangest aspects of recorded music that we can feel that we know, really know, people who are ultimately strangers.  & he can never really go away, not as long as something he recorded - he who made so many amazing recordings - is just a mouse click away.

All that's left to say is, goodbye, & thank you.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Cradle To Grave (Episode Seven)

Am I getting the hang of this?  I dunno, but I had a lot of fun doing this week's episode, which featured birthdays by heroes of mine like Scott Walker & David Johansen, & death anniversaries by geniuses like Amiri Baraka & Peter Cook.  Sometimes it feels just a little too easy.

In any event, I hope you're liking it too, & maybe catching it later if you're too busy on your damn Saturday night.  Because you can!  It's on the Self Help Radio website!  Please remember you'll need a username & a password to listen to the show, & that that information is right there on the front page.  The songs I played are below.

By the way!  I received a sort-of complaint about a previous show when someone wrote to me & said that I was playing music by someone who hadn't died &/or it wasn't his or her birthday.  That's because often I play music in which the artist in question is not the main performer.  In the case of this week's show, I play music by two songwriters (the Frank Sinatra & Loretta Lynn songs).  You have to listen to the show to find out who it is I am celebrating.  Sorry for the confusion!

Here's hoping you dig.

(part one: birthdays)

"Country Music Time" Lonzo & Oscar _Country Music Time_
"South Rampart Street Parade" Kid Ory's Creole Jazz Band _This Kid's The Greatest!_
"Saturday Blues" Ishman Bracey _When The Sun Goes Down, Vol. 2: The First Time I Met The Blues_
"Honeysuckle Rose" Benny Goodman & His Orchestra _Charlie Christian: The Genius Of The Electric Guitar_
"Railroad Bill" Frank Hovington _Folk Music In America, Vol. 6: Songs Of Migration & Immigration_

"Richard Nixon" Rod & The MSR Singers _The American Song-Poem Anthology: Do You Know The Difference Between Big Wood & Brush?_
"The Addams Family" Vic Mizzy _Television's Greatest Hits, Vol. 1_
"Grandad" Clive Dunn _A Time To Remember, 1970_
"Hello In There" Joan Baez _Diamonds & Rust_
"Pennies" Modern Folk Quartet _Modern Folk Quartet_
"Cream Puff" Jimmy Boyd _Teen Town USA, Vol. 3_

"The Seventh Seal" Scott Walker _Scott 4_
"Bye, Bye, Bye/Vine Street" Harpers Bizarre _The Secret Life Of Harpers Bizarre_
"White Summer" The Yardbirds _Little Games_
"Personality Crisis" New York Dolls _New York Dolls_

(part two: death anniversaries)

"Change My Mind Blues" Clarence Lofton & Walter Davis _Cripple Clarence Lofton & Walter Davis_
"Dat's Love (June Hawkins, vocals)" Cozy Cole _1944-45_
"I'm Gonna Quit You Pretty Baby" Silas Hogan _Authentic Excello R & B_
"It's Love Baby (24 Hours A Day)" Erbie Bowser, T.D. Bell, & The Blues Specialists _Down Home Saturday Night_
"Saturday Night Special" Eddie LeJeune _Cajun Soul_

"Sitting On The Bench" Peter Cook _British Comedy Classics_
"Ol' MacDonald" Frank Sinatra _All The Way_
"The Pill" Loretta Lynn _The Pill_
"Gotta Get To Oklahoma" The Hagers _The Hagers_
"The Legend Of Xanadu" Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich _Greatest Hits_

"Mi Shebeirach" Debbie Friedman _Songs Of The Spirit: The Debbie Friedman Anthology_
"Goodbye Johnny" Bridie Gallagher _The Essential Collection_
"Cuando Vuelvas" Ruth Fernandez _Canciónes Del Ayer_

"The Last Revolutionary (For Abbie Hoffman)" Amiri Baraka with David Murray & Steve McCall _New Music - New Poetry_