Thursday, May 18, 2017

Self Help Radio 051717: Firsts

(Original image here.)

This is far from the first Self Help Radio I've ever done.  I actually don't have an exact number, but if I've done a show every week for fourteen & a half years - which I haven't - I've done about 750 shows or more.  (That's probably bad math.)  While I did do a hello show, which was technically the first SHR, I also did a goodbye show which was far from the last SHR.  So nothing means anything is the lesson?  I guess.

This week, though, I focused on firsts.  It's crazy to think that there are some firsts - like first human in space - that only one person will ever get, while there are other firsts - first time in Hawaii! - that lots of people get to share.  & there are contradictions, too: every animal in my house, including the human female I live with, is first in my heart.  Is that possible?  Of course it is!

It does trouble me that this might be the first Self Help Radio someone has ever listened to.  But then that would trouble me with every show, so that's not a first for me.  In any case, the show is now at the Self Help Radio website, waiting patiently for you to be the first to listen.  The song played are below.  So many firsts!

(part one)

"The First Day Of Spring" Friends _The First Day Of Spring EP_
"First Few Desperate Hours" The Mountain Goats _Tallahassee_
"First Love" The Bartlebees _From Path Of Pain To Jewels Of Glory_

"First Bus" The Smittens _Believe Me_
"Our First Fight" Jens Lekman _Life Will See You Now_
"Ladies First" Shel Silverstein _A Light In The Attic_
"First Aid" The Wibbley Brothers _Go Weird_
"The First Cut" Eurthymics _Touch_

"The First One" Gary Valentine _Tomorrow Belongs To You_
"The Girl He First Met" Zuzu's Petals _The Music Of Your Life_
"First I Look At The Purse" The Contours _The Complete Motown Singles, Vol. 5: 1965_
"First Love Never Die" Soko _I Thought I Was An Alien_

"First Notebook" The Railway Children _Reunion Wilderness_

(part two)

"You Are My First Love" Pat Hunt _Los Angeles Soul: Kent-Modern's Black Music Legacy_
"I Dumped You First" God Help The Girl _God Help The Girl (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)_
"First Cigarette In The Rain" Jerusalem & The Starbaskets _Dost_
"First Tell Me Why" Clefs Of Lavender Hill _Stop! Get A Ticket_

"Who’s On First" Abbott & Costello _When Radio Was King_
"McGuillicutty & Green" The Kids In The Hall _Season One_
"The First Cut Is The Deepest" Cat Stevens _On The Road To Find Out_
"The First Time You Saw Snow" Shirley Lee _Shirley Lee_

"My First UFO" Figurine _Transportation + Communication = Love_
"First One Today" The Fall _Sub-Lingual Tablet_
"The First Boy" Frankie & The Heartstrings _The Days Run Away_
"One Of These Things First" Nick Drake _Bryter Layter_

"In Love For The Very First Time" Talulah Gosh _They've Scoffed The Lot_
"First Summer In A City" Free Cake For Every Creature _Talking Quietly Of Anything With You_
"First Of A Million Love Songs" The Pooh Sticks _Optimistic Fool_

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Whither Firsts?

(Image from here.)

Wow, it just occurred to me that I have no real idea where I got the idea of a show about firsts.  But I do know that, when I was a kid & learning about ordinal numbers, I was almost taught "first" incorrectly because of a smart-ass kid two years older than I was.

His name was Todd & he lived in our apartment complex.  We were learning about ordinal numbers - I'm not sure they used that word, but whatever - & we were taught that, except for one, two, & three, you formed an ordinal by adding a -th to the end - you know, four becomes fourth, five becomes fifth, thirty becomes thirtieth, million becomes millionth.  The exceptions were first, second, & third.

This kid managed to convince me - I was little, I probably didn't need much convincing - that it was perfectly all right - in fact it was what they would teach us later, because it was proper English - to say oneth, twoth, threeth.  I took some delight in knowing something as such a tender age that only adults - proper adults - knew.  But I was delighted to a fault - I wanted to show it off.

& the only person I knew who'd truly "get" it was my teacher*, so I told her.  & she said, "That's wrong.  Whoever told you that was wrong."

Knowing that Todd was bigger, older, & probably likely to hit me, I never told him that his trick didn't work.  & he fucked with us constantly, so he didn't mention it again.

Perhaps I should dedicate this week's show to Todd, wherever he might be (he's probably still living in Garland, Texas).  It's on from 8-10pm central, 9-11pm eastern, on 93.9 fm in Lexington & online everywhere at Lexington community radio dot org.  Be the first to listen!  But there's no first prize for doing so.

* Surprisingly, I never thought to ask my older siblings.  I understand not mentioning it to my mother - she's German, English is her second language, I couldn't be sure she'd know the "proper" way to speak.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Preface To Firsts: Twenty-Sixth Hundredth

Tomorrow - not today - will make the twenty-sixth hundred post in this blog.  I usually make a big deal out of it - I'm sure there are more people who have written more on their blogs, but surely writing 2,600 discrete blocks of text (& some pictures, most of which came from somewhere else) is a kind of achievement.

But.  I don't imagine anyone cares but me.  So, for the first time on this blog - & this is not related to this week's theme! - I am not going to mention on the blog on the day I get to the next notch of one hundred posts.

Do people still call them "posts," by the way?  I have used that word since my days on the Usenet, but I'm not sure what people call individual blog entries.  "Entries"?  Anyway.

"Hey, Gary," I hear myself hear you say to me, "aren't you making a big deal about it now?"

Well, no, because this is the 2599th entry.  Shit, that's a big number.  Maybe I should be making a big deal about it.

"Hey Gary," the voice in my head says because I forgot to stop listening to it, "are you trying to have your cake & eat it too?"

Listen, man - you try writing shit down 2599 times.  You write about dumb shit.  Here's an entry from  the 1300 series - so, roughly half the show ago:

Do you worry about urinary tract infections? Or do you have a urologist on speed dial? Could there be such things as lousy urologists? Wouldn't someone enter that profession to make the most money possible? So wouldn't they want to be the best urologist possible? This is something perhaps you know.

That's the sort of thing one might write if:

a) one really had nothing to say; &
2) one wrote in a blog five days a week

Indeed, this is not celebrating.  This is a collection of thoughts I need to share with my therapist.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Often Apologizing

Listening to music for this week's show, which has the theme "firsts," I found myself slowly realizing I had hours - hours - of music I could play.  But I was only going to get one hundred & twenty minutes.  There had to be some kind of filter to decide what was going to get played.  & that filter, alas, is what I like.

This happened last week with the Johnny show.  So many songs about different Johnnys!  & yet, I ended up playing what I liked best.  That doesn't seem fair.

Don't get me wrong - I am nervous about shows where the theme is kinda hard, & I can barely find enough for the show.  But I am self-conscious enough to worry that - even after fifteen years - my taste in music might not be what's best for the show.

So please accept my apologies.  I know Self Help Radio is my show, I've been doing it for a very long time, & I never play music I really hate or even dislike on it.  But when I have so much music to sift through, & I gravitate toward the Morrissey song, I feel a little guilty.

Maybe this week I won't do that?  Probably not.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

At This Point I Have No Idea How Much I Talk About Driving

If one drives south down I-35 from the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, one notices that the scenery gets sparser, the trees get shorter, &, if it's at all possible, the sun gets brighter.

What could make the sun noticeably brighter just a few lines of latitude south?  Perhaps the same thing that makes the sky seem larger once one drives away from the hills of Appalachia into the more open areas in central & western Kentucky: perspective.

But at this point I don't want to write about that particular stray observation I made during a brief visit to Austin this weekend; I have another one in mind.  I want to mention that, since I lived in Austin for over twenty years, I made the trip up & down I-35 numerous times.  I waited through countless construction projects, I groaned when the city filled up for SXSW & ACL & other capital letters that aren't really acronyms since they don't spell anything.  I watched helplessly as NAFTA turned a sleepy artery that lazily connected Dallas with the town of Laredo - where the art of the siesta is all you wanted to cultivate during the summer which lasted from March to November - into a choked vein of Wal-Mart semis & U-Haul trailers & car, SUVs, cars, trucks, SUVs, & cars (& trucks).  & it didn't seem like it could ever get much worse.

But it's much, much worse.

There's a fuzzy memory - alcohol was involved, I'm sure - of me on a warm summer's night, it's very late, I'm with a girl, neither of us have cars, the buses are no longer running, we're going to a place called Star Seeds, an all-night diner where the ex-junkie fry cooks in the back listen to death metal at a deafening volume, & it's on the other side of the highway.  We happen to be somewhere between 26th Street (now called Dean Keaton) & 38th Street, & I suppose we could just walk down to 32nd street, where we could cross over & under the highway simultaneously - at this point I-35 has split into a "lower level," where you can exit at the streets I've just mentioned, & an "upper level," which bypasses those exits in a hopefully "express" manner - but instead, feeling frisky, we simply clamber onto the lower level, walk to the median (which has a concrete barrier we also have to climb over) & then walk to the other side, where we find a way up, & stumble, laughing, onto the frontage road.*

It's after 3am I'm sure.  There are no cars on the road.  No trucks, nothing.  Well, maybe on the upper level.

That doesn't happen anymore.  There's no way you could do that now.  It's a harrowing game of real-life Frogger if you try.  & think of this: if that's the case all night long in Austin, what is it like during the day, when most people are awake?

It's a nightmare.

A three-hour drive in 2007 is now a four-hour drive.  Without any sign of workers, or accidents, or anything but obvious construction - always, always the widening of the highway - traffic just stops.  Stops for a half-hour or more.  I was told it was worse on the way to Austin than on the way from, but if anything, today, it was worse coming back to Fort Worth.

Nothing said here is a revelation, & anyone who lives in Texas knows this.  In fact, it's almost as bad here in DFW, but, perhaps as my wife says, the highways are better here.  Nor do I have any solutions  - I am certainly not a civil engineer nor any kind of city planner sort.

But sort of like how badly we think our government is run, & yet continue to return the same desperately terrible congresspeople back again & again, it's a wonder we endure the exhausting awfulness of our highway system.

Well, some of us.  My friends in Austin tell me this: "We just don't go out very much anymore."

It's not, I assume, because the sun is much brighter there.  Or maybe it is, since they've had to cut down more trees to both build & to make room for bigger highways.

*Austinites can feel free to call bullshit on this story, as I'm pretty sure it didn't happen this way.  We either crossed below 26th street or I am conflating that story with one when I cross just north of 51st street from the Cameron Road side to the sleazy hotels & massage parlors on the west frontage road.  The point is, I made this crossing more than once, & with at least two different women.  Anyway.  It doesn't matter exactly how it happened.  In one case, we were definitely going to Star Seeds.  In both cases, there were almost no cars - or no cars - on the road.