Saturday, January 23, 2016

The Gary Files # 18: Gary Glitter

(This creepy picture is from the dude's Wikipedia page.)

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 Glitter is, according to the Wikipedia, a "former glam rock singer-songwriter & musician who achieved great popular success between the early 1970s & mid-1980s... He has sold over 20 million records, spent 168 weeks in the UK charts, & has had 21 hit singles placing him in the top 100 UK most successful chart acts. From 1997, he gained notoriety for sex offense convictions, being imprisoned for possession of child pornography in 1999, & child sexual abuse & attempted rape in 2006 & 2015."

When did you first become aware of him?  Are you really doing this?

What do you mean?  This is like one of the worst Garys you could have picked!

But it says he's one of the most successful musicians in UK history! It also says that he's a convicted child molester & child rapist!

Couldn't we focus on the more positive aspects of his life?  No we cannot!  Once you're convicted of raping a child, your destroy whatever accomplishments you've had up until then!

You're thinking of Bill Cosby, aren't you?  Of course!

But Cosby hasn't been convicted of anything.  You're trying to change the subject.  We're not going to argue about that.  You're featuring a child molester named Gary in the Gary Files series!

He's a famous - maybe an infamous - Gary.  That's the thing.  He's not even a real Gary!

What do you mean?  His real name is Paul Francis Gadd!  He picked out that stage name, to glam himself up.  I mean, Gary Glitter?  For fuck's sake!

So you don't want to talk about the tune "Rock & Roll"?  Let's just stop it here.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Self Help Radio 011916: 1980

(Original image here.)

So much good music from 1980!  I hope I gave a decent representation.  Luckily no-one called & complained that I didn't play REO Speedwagon.  Although that's not a thing that I think has ever happened.

Nothing more to say - it's my birthday today, we're snowed in, & I may nap.  The show is now at the Self Help Radio website, please pay attention to login/password info.  The songs I play in both hours of the show are below.

Happy birthday!

(part one)

"Wednesday Week" The Undertones _Hypnotised_
"Another Nail In My Heart" Squeeze _Argybargy_
"Girl U Want" Devo _Freedom Of Choice_

"Totally Wired" The Fall _Totally Wired_
"Cake Shop" Swell Maps _Jane From Occupied Europe_
"Don't Catch Fire" Toy Love _Toy Love_
"Sex Drive" The Embarrassment _Patio Set/Sex Drive_

"Up The Hill Backwards" David Bowie _Scary Monsters (& Super Creeps)_
"Babooshka" Kate Bush _Never For Ever_
"Treason (It's Just A Story)" The Teardrop Explodes _Kilimanjaro_
"Crosseyed & Painless" Talking Heads _Remain In Light_

"Going Underground" The Jam _Going Underground_
"Washington Bullets" The Clash _Sandinista!_

(part two)

"King Horse" Elvis Costello & The Attractions _Get Happy!!_
"Kingdom Of Love" The Soft Boys _Underwater Moonlight_
"Fall" The Psychedelic Furs _The Psychedelic Furs_

"Play For Today" The Cure _Seventeen Seconds_
"Christine" Siouxsie & The Banshees _Kaleidoscope_
"Dark Entries" Bauhaus _Dark Entries_
"Atmosphere" Joy Division _Atmsophere_

"Fa Cé-La" The Feelies _Crazy Rhythms_
"Straight Jacket" The Attractions _Mad About The Wrong Boy_
"I Need Two Heads" The Go-Betweens _I Need Two Heads_
"Don't Tell Me No" The Cars _Panorama_
"Watching The Wheels" John Lennon & Yoko Ono _Double Fantasy_

"Shack Up" A Certain Ratio _Shack Up_
"Enclave" Vic Godard & Subway Sect _What's The Matter Boy?_

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Whither 1980?

(I found this image here.)

Every year on the week of my birth (my birthday's tomorrow), I spend a show playing music from a certain year in my life.  I started, way back when I began doing the show, with the year of my birth, 1968.  Years have passed.  Hairs have greyed.  Eyesight has dimmed.  & I have reached the year 1980.

There is something I always feel like saying when I do these shows, & it's this: in no wise is this music I was actually listening to in 1980.  I was twelve years old, I had barely grasped the concept of albums.  Most of the music I loved, with the exception of the Beatles, was stuff I heard on the radio, & my brain was pretty uncritical.  My family loved & listened to "classic rock," so that was the music that surrounded me.  I was pretty obsessed with the Beatles, though, & I think I had taped several of their albums from the radio, & had copies on cassette, especially the Red & Blue singles collections.

My real musical awakening would happen in high school, when I had a car to go to record stores & money to buy records.  That started, interestingly enough, with musicians you'll hear on today's show, but with whom I wouldn't start becoming obsessed with until high school.

So!  All this great music from 1980, & I had almost no access to it.  The music I did have access to, from the radio, I would later find to be tiresome & outright awful.  To me, of course.  Many people loved it - like members of my family who, to this day, probably enjoy it when it comes on the classic rock radio they still tune in to.  They would most probably not recognize most of what I'll play on my show today.

Self Help Radio celebrates the amazing music made in 1980 today from 4-6pm on WRFL in Lexington - that's 88.1 fm as if you didn't know - & online at wrfl on the web.  I found so much music, I won't be able to play it all.  I hope you listen, I hope you dig.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Preface To 1980: Twelfth Year

1980 was not a memorable year for me.  I turned twelve years old, a teenager!  But it wasn't that exciting a time.  That I can remember.

As I discussed last year, I lived in some probably pretty awful apartments in 1979, with my mother & little brother.  We lived in the same apartments in 1980.  I was finishing my sixth grade year, I was going to start my seventh grade year in the fall.  In between, Dallas had a heat wave.

There are some odd memories of sixth grade.  I was still friends with Phil Claunch, about whom I spoke here; he used to ride his bike to our apartment, drop it off, & walk with me to school.  There was a kid in my school, whom I just met in middle school, his name was Mike Neff, & he was extremely competitive with me.  I hated that.  In our sixth grade Reading class, we had this program in which he had to read a book, then take a test, & it was never-ending.  I read fast, I suddenly had my name on a star on a wall.  Mike Neff took this personally.  Suddenly I wasn't in the lead because it came natural to me, suddenly I had to read fast because he was telling me he was smarter, read faster, etc.  There were moments when we were neck & neck, but at some point in sixth grade, his family moved away.  I was unchallenged after that.  I won an award at the year-end presentations!

Another memory of sixth grade is that we literally learned about the birds & the bees.  In "Earth Science" (I believe it was called), we had a section on birds, & another on bees.  I had of course heard all my life about "the bird & the bees."  I knew it was a euphemism for sex.  But suddenly we were really learning about the birds & the bees.  It was kind of a mind-fuck.

In sixth grade, I developed my first crush, on a girl named Jennifer Foster.  I was enamored with her all through middle & high school, although of course she thought nothing of me.  At some point in a math class, I drew a picture for her.  It delighted her.  That was probably the only time she ever was sweet or positive to me; otherwise I was mostly non-existant.  I last saw her after my second year of college, at a post office, in Garland.  I was on a bike, she was driving.  We said hello.  The fact that she even knew who I was had more to do with the fact that we were in the same schools for seven years, not that we ever talked more than seven minutes during that time.

During my sixth grade year, the school still had a newspaper, & I wrote an editorial against the then-common fashion of rabbit-fur coats, which all the little girls wore.  My dumb diatribe imagined that rabbits were actively hunted for their fur, but I was curiously set straight by student & teacher alike with the fact that the rabbits were, in fact, farmed not shot in the wild.  I was kind of shocked by this "defense."  It would be something I would come up against time & again when I became vegetarian, which was (as shocking as it might seem to me now) only six years away.

At the end of sixth grade, I was inducted into the Beta Club, which at the time didn't carry on through to high school, but which was sort of like the National Honor Society (which I was also be in in high school).  It would be in Beta Club that I would meet one of my best friends, Russell, with whom I am still friends to this day (& who plays the Reverend Dr. Howard Gently on Self Help Radio).  I don't know if we were friends yet in 1980, although I do believe I must've noticed him at meetings.  In seventh grade, we would serve on the Yearbook Staff together.

My family moved into a smaller apartment in 1980, since my younger sister returned from Georgia, turned 18, & moved out.  The new apartment faced the fifth street, & although there was a small privacy wall at the time in front, the owners removed it at some point long after we left, & so the apartments (no longer called Villa Cordoba, although most probably predominantly Latino at this point) look like this (the hedge is much shorter than the wall was):

The apartment in green is where the family lived for at least two more years.  Apartment 48.

One of the main reasons I know which damn apartment I lived in & when is because in 1980 there was a tremendous heat wave in Dallas.  You can read about it here.  Because we lived in what many folks would consider terrible low-income housing, we of course had a moment during the heat wave when the air conditioning failed.  This meant several nights of misery, as the temperatures probably didn't get below 80 degrees at night, plus we had to have our windows open (we tried that thing poor people do with putting fans in the windows with ice cubes in a bowl underneath them).  That may not seem so bad but - well - cockroaches.

Look, I'm no entomologist, so I don't know the names of those gigantic cockroach-like creatures that live in the trees in Texas & that find their way into people's houses.  Some of them fly.  All of them terrify me.  I have a distinct memory of being awake well into the night, our windows open, it's hotter than Hades in my bedroom, & I am looking outside & the walls are crawling with those bugs.  & they were coming in, too.

The apartment complex had a pool, & the heat wave occasioned several late night pool parties, but though I was now old enough to swim alone (or I thought I was - looking back, the sign probably said "children twelve & under not allowed unless accompanied by an adult"), I wasn't allowed to be out that late.  & frankly, the pool was always filthy.  But I did sneak a look, & they seemed to be having fun, all these people in bathing suits in lukewarm water getting a respite from the heat.  Also, of course, there was alcohol.

One thing I do know is that I didn't like seventh grade as much as I liked sixth grade.  Phil had moved away, & I didn't have a lot of friends.  & in Reading class, where I had had my triumph in sixth grade (remember, I won an award), my teacher Mrs. Reeves hated me.  But I joined the Yearbook staff, & took photography class, & found I was good at developing film, though I never was very good at taking pictures.  (I'm still not - you can see here.)  I have a memory of having to go to Yearbook staff meetings after school but wanting to be home by 3:30 to watch Star Blazers, an obsession of mine at the time.

Though I can't remember her name, one yearbook staff supervisor was always deeply concerned about me.  She was the special education teacher, & she talked to me in a voice that suggested she thought I might be slow.  I wasn't slow.  In fact, at some point in the seventh grade, after one or another round of the Iowa Test Of Basic Skills, I was brought to the Principal's Office to meet some people from the school district.  Apparently I scored very well, & maybe one day I'll see my "permanent record" to figure out what the fuss was about.  But Mrs. Special Ed was one of the first people who was deeply concerned about where I lived, & it was one of the first times I was made aware that somehow I was different from the others.  When I told Mrs. Special Ed I lived in the apartments catercorner from the school, she looked downright alarmed.  I did need to go, though - Star Blazers was on!

Somewhere I have a piece of paper where I sketched out things that happened in seventh grade, chapter titles for a book I planned to write, a kind of tell-all about kids my age.  One of those chapters involved the darkroom.  Because I was good at, in complete darkness, cracking open canisters of 35mm film & threading them on the devices in which the developer was poured, people would ask me to do that.  One time, Jennifer Foster (yes) & girl named Michelle Whitman were in the darkroom with me, & they asked me to thread their film, & while I was doing it, they talked about boys & even (horrors!) used dirty words.  I was a little scandalized - I never knew the cute girls talked like real people - but in retrospect I should've realized I was nothing to them, like a servant in an upper-class household.  If I can find that piece of paper, I'll look it over for next year - though I do recall the last time I looked it over, I couldn't make heads or tails of chapter titles that at one time I thought were self-explanatory.

The photography teacher was a lovely, tall, thin woman at whom the boys gawked because she wore sheer white shirts through which you could see her bra, though she wasn't at all busty.  She was very kind to me although she didn't understand me at all, nor I her.  She recognized that I had some aptitude in the darkroom, though (like I said) my composition skills sucked.  She was also my drafting teacher as well, & though I might be talking about something that happened later, I have a fond memory of showing her the place in the apartment where I wanted to put a darkroom.  When my family didn't even have enough money to get me a cheap camera!

Speaking of the apartments: things were changing there.  My little brother & I were getting older, & most of the friends we had there stayed a year at most, usually a shorter time.  The new people moving in had younger kids, certainly not ones I wanted to hang out with (though my little brother, being more athletically inclined, did continue to sportsball with them) (it wasn't something I enjoyed) (I was so much bigger than they were!).  It became kind of a lonely place.  When we finally moved out, before I started high school, I had no friends left at the apartments.  But I didn't have a lot of friends at school, either.  So many people at the school were people I went to elementary school with.  It was cool, however, that there were so many people I didn't know, like Russell, with whom I probably became buds in 1981.  That's something to talk about in the next year.

As far as music goes, I was still very into the Beatles.  I also listened to the radio constantly, which was to my detriment.  At one point I remember owning Styx's Paradise Theater & REO Speedwagon's High Infidelity on eight track.  Where I got them I don't know; I never had any money to buy records or cassettes, but that year we did get for Christmas a little radio/cassette unit that I used to record stuff off the radio.  Previous to that, I recorded the radio by putting a tape recorder next to the radio speaker.  For reals.  I recorded television shows I loved that way, too.  I have so many tapes from that period - I would record & record over my recordings - but of course thought I physically own them, there's a good chance they no longer work.  It's been thirty-six years!

Tonight I'll search my memories to see if there are any triumphs or traumas from 1980 to share tomorrow, but mostly it just seemed like a year that went by.  I did well in school, though I was mostly ignored if not outright disliked.  My little brother, who half the year was still in elementary school, grew farther apart from me, which was inevitable.  We're not very much alike.  My mother was often away, working, & so I became more introverted than I had previously been.  Seventh grade promised more of the same.  I can think of two bright spots at school:

We had a great English teacher, Mrs. Abbott.  I sat several places in her class, but in one of them she had a poster I would stare at constantly: it was a drawing of a city with places with punny titles.  For example, the smoke shop was run by Nosmo King, & the grocer was P.T. O'Maine & Sons.  I feel like I learned so many words from that silly poster!  I wish I could see it now.  Mrs. Abbott, for one week during the year, put aside our lessons just to read us an entire Jack London book.  It was so fun.  It might have been "Call Of The Wild," but it could as easily have been "White Fang."

& my love of science, which doubtless was spurred by the television series "Cosmos," which would premiere in the fall of 1980, & re-run a lot on the PBS station in Dallas (probably still channel 13), was helped by the Life Science class I took in seventh grade.  My teacher, Mr. Mobley, would be disappointed that I didn't go into the sciences, because I loved his class.  I would stay after to ask him question after question.  Of course, I was also beginning to realize I was not in a science-friendly world - Mr. Mobley had to be careful about mentioning evolution to my mostly Baptist classmates.  He did tell me the difference between a regular theory & a scientific theory.  That was cool.

At the risk of being gross, I'm pretty sure I went through puberty starting in 1980.  I remember feeling like I could see the world more clearly, that I was paying attention to things like world events (Russia invading Afghanistan, the Iranian hostage crisis) & of course to girls.  But if it started in 1980, it didn't run its course until the next year.  & I had no one to talk to about it. If I tried to bring up the subject with my two older brothers Ralph & Steve, I got stories of sexual conquest that I didn't understand.  (My brother Eddie, married, with a daughter, & out of the picture, had no interest in his two youngest siblings.)  (Though his life would change in 1981.)  (But no spoilers.)  My sister Pat was still living in Georgia, & my eighteen-year-old sister Karin didn't want anything to do with me.  & I wouldn't dare talk about it with my mother - & that was a good thing!

So I was pretty much alone on my journey to young adulthood.  & frankly, I'm grateful.  Knowing what I now know about my older siblings, & my mother, & my absent, alcoholic father, I think they would only have made it all so very much more difficult.

Sunday, January 17, 2016


Hmm, I wonder how many times I've put this recording on my blog:

Whenever I return to this, it's probably because I'm having a birthday.  I sort of kind of celebrate my birthday for me by doing a radio show featuring my favorite music from a certain year.  If you've not heard why I do that, I'll talk about it in the next couple of days.

First, though, I need to nap.

Napping!  Is that a sign of age?  I mention it because I otherwise don't feel older.  My body doesn't creak the way it's supposed to, I don't have any of the obvious signs...  Well, let me qualify that:

Certainly I look older.  Since moving to this part of the world, my beard has turned mostly white.  There's gray in my hair.  & of course lines on my face & the beginnings of splotches on my skin.

Oh & of course I fumble for words now & then.  My brain will do a poorly-planned core dump at the most inopportune times.  There was a time I thought I might do well on a Jeopardy-like game show; now, my once formidable memory fails me regularly.  It could be age, it could be alcohol.  It could be the internet, actually; one thing my brain is aware of is that it doesn't have to hold all the information it once needed to - most of it is in a little device in my back pocket.  It must take comfort in that, since it has every damn song the Smiths ever recorded memorized for instant playback.

Damn it, my eyes.  Not damn my eyes - damn it, my eyes.  My eyes are failing.  I need glasses for driving, glasses for reading.  I need new glasses, actually.  That is a sign of age.

Otherwise, I don't feel like a middle-aged man nearing his fifties.  & I am with Oswalt on this: it's not a big deal, my birthday.

Except for the radio show.  The radio show will be cool.

Cradle To Grave (Episode Eight)

The difficult eight episode.

Actually, I kinda feel like I'm getting the hang of this.  Maybe?  A little?  Whatever - it sure is fun to do!

So many birthdays on January 16 (so many parents fornicating in the late spring!) that I had to leave folks out.  It was sad.  I hope I made the right decision.  You get to decide.  It's you who will listen or not listen, as the case may be.

The show!  Now at Self Help Radio website!  There's a password you know!  Pay attention!  The show, in two parts, is divided by birth & death, & you can see who in which part below.


(part one: birthdays)

"Buddy's Habits" Charley Straight & His Orchestra _The Rise & Fall Of Paramount Records, Vol. 1: 1917-1927_
"I'll Go With Her Blues" Robert Wilkins _Before The Blues, Vol. 1_
"I Get A Kick Out Of You" Ethel Merman _American Musical Theater: Shows, Songs & Stars, Vol. 2_
"Some Lonesome Day" Buddy Moss _Complete Recordings, Vol. 2: 1933-1934_
"Comin' In On A Wing & A Prayer" The Four Vagabonds _The Jive Is Jumpin': RCA & Bluebird Vocal Groups 1939-52_

"Mairzy Doats" The Merry Macs _The Merry Macs Sing Mairzy Doats_
"Maybellene" Mac Curtis _Rockabilly Hall Of Fame, Vol. 1_
"Tobacco Road" Nashville Teens _Tobacco Road_
"Nice & Easy" Barbara Lynn _You Better Believe It: Rare & Modern Soul Gems_
"Swamp Witch" Jim Stafford _Jim Stafford_

"Spoon" Can _Ege Bamyasi_
"The Belldog" Eno Moebius Roedelius _Begegnungen_
"Dum Dum Girl" Talk Talk _It's My Life_
"Jonathan David" Belle & Sebastian _Jonathan David_
"Radio" Teenage Fanclub _Thirteen_
"Last Nite" The Strokes _Is This It?_

(part two: death anniversaries)

"Frankie & Johnny" Fate Marable's Society Orchestra _The History Of Jazz: New Orleans Joys_
"Lover Man" Ike Quebec _It Might As Well Be Spring_
"Higga Boom" Gene Harris _Astral Signal_

"Witch Doctor" David Seville _The Music Of David Seville_
"The Right Direction" Clara Ward _Big City Soul Vol. 2_
"Boogie Woogie" Johnny Barfield _Hillbilly Boogie Classics, Vol. 3_
"Georgia On My Mind" The Four Knights _Jivin' & Smoothin'_
"Charlie Brown" The Coasters _The Very Best Of The Coasters_

"Nine Moons In Alaska" Beaver & Krause _Gandharva_
"Rocking & Rolling" Johnny Jano _Louisiana Rock & Roll_
"Silver Stars" Cliffie Stone _The History Of Country & Western Music, Vol. 13 (1947)_
"Baby It's You" Pookie Hudson & The Spaniels _The Vee-Jay Record Story, 1953-1955_
"No More Blues" Jimmy Wyble _Shuffle Town (Western Swing On King 1946-50)_

"King Kong" The Jimmy Castor Bunch _The Everything Man: The Best Of The Jimmy Castor Bunch_