Friday, July 13, 2018

Self Help Radio 071318: The Mails

(Original image here.)

Recently someone asked me if I had any episodes of Self Help Radio that were my favorites.  I don't know if I do, but I do know that I enjoy making some more than others.  This week's show, for example, was hella fun to do.  My interview guests were great, I like so much of the music, & what's more, I loved looking for songs about the postal service.  I tried to stay away from "letter" songs - that's probably another theme, & I've already done a show about love letters.  & I discovered that, although I wanted to maybe have a section about postcards, there are so many of those that they'll easily make another show.  I also should send more postcards, but that's neither over here nor over there.

Today's show was probably also propelled by nostalgia - I certainly used to write a lot of letters & I have many if not most of the letters I received stored in a closet somewhere.  I didn't get them out to look at them for this show, but I did daydream about writing letters again.

In any event, I hope it's a funformative (if that's a word, which it isn't) look at one of our country's great institutions.  There were so many songs!  I had to leave stuff out, like the Monty Python bit about opening a new mailbox but you can watch that here.  Michael Palin is amazing in this.

Meanwhile, have a listen to today's show, which (like I said) I enjoyed making.  It's of course at the Self Help Radio website & you will of course need the username & password available on that page to listen.  (It's SHR & selfhelp.)  All the songs & all the interviews on the show are listed below.

Oh!  & I'm sending it postage due!  Sorry.

the show:

"Mail" Morphine _B-Sides & Otherwise_
"The Postman Rides His Bike" Chemistry Set _Chemistry Set_
"Mailman Bring Me No More Blues" Buddy Holly _The Memorial Collection_

introduction & definitions

"Mailman" Roya _Roya_
"A Hymn For The Postal Service" Hefner _Breaking God's Heart_
"Mailman's Sack" Tiny Bradshaw _The Train Kept A Rollin'_
"Mailman Blues" Lloyd Price _Lawdy Miss Clawdy_
"Night Mail" Public Service Broadcasting _Inform - Educate - Entertain_

interview with mail carrier David Fructher

"US Mail" Olympics _Dance Floor Winners Vol. 1_
"Please Mister Postman" The Beatles _With The Beatles_
"Twistin' Postman" The Marvelettes _The Complete Motown Singles, Vol. 1: 1961_
"The Postman" The American Analog Set _Know By Heart_
"Mailman" The Legendary Pink Dots _Plutonium Blonde_

interview with entrepreneur Lorenzo Schwab

"The Mail Must Go Through" Roosevelt Grier _The Liberty Records Story_
"The Mail Will Go Through" Tom Paxton _Bulletin... We Interrupt This Record_
"Stealing People's Mail" Dead Kennedys _Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables_
"Romance By Mail" Scars _Author! Author!_
"Lost In The Post" The Wombats _Proudly Present A Guide To Love, Loss, & Desperation_

interview with the Rev Dr Howard Gently

"Postman's Knock" Spike Milligan _The Spike Milligan Collection_
"She Was Only The Postmaster's Daughter" Durium Dance Band _Listen To The Banned_
"Waitin For The Evenin' Mail" Sissle & Blake _Ragtime: 1900-1930_
"Mailman" The Primary 5 _Ave Marina: Ten Years Of Marina Records_
"Postal" Piano Magic _Writers Without Homes_

Marge Most interviews the inventor of e-mail

"Postal Blue" The Softies _The Softies_
"Please Mister Postman" Dorotea _Hit Music Only_
"Postman Song" Ratboys _AOID_
"Return To Sender" Elvis Presley & The Jordanaires _Girls! Girls! Girls!_
"Doggin' In The U.S. Mail" Mike Seeger & Alice Gerrard _Mike Seeger & Alice Gerrard_


"Mailman Blues" Sleepy John Estes _Working Man's Blues_
"Hey, Mr. Postman" Ella Mae Morse _Barrelhouse, Boogie, & The Blues_
"It's Time For The Postman Rings" Martha Davis _Martha Davis 1946-1951

post mortem

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Whither The Mails?

(Not that Postal Service, silly.  From here.)

Someone asked me last week, seeing this theme on my website, what I meant by "the mails."  Being the sort that likes to say shit like "the mails," I just thought it was a formal or probably English way of saying "the postal service" (although my friend thought I meant the US Postal Service plus FedEx plus UPS).  According to Merriam-Webster, it does mean:

the system used for sending letters, packages, etc. : a nation's postal system

However, the definition is preceded by this: chiefly US, law, formal

Not British at all!  Somehow involved with the law!  But very, very formal.  I'll take it!

This week is a celebration of a service that nowadays gets stuff that you ordered on Amazon to you but used to be far more important in people lives.  You can still by books that are the "collected letters" of an author - I doubt anyone's going to want to read "the collected tweets" or "the collected texts" of someone modern.  But don't quote me on that!

Listen tomorrow at noon sharp, it'll be up at the Self Help Radio website, it should be tons of fun & there are lots of good tunes & goofy guests.

Do you need me also to remind you by email?  Damn it!

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Preface To The Mails: We Could Send Letters

As I have previously noted, I didn't have many friends in high school, but I did try to correspond with some of them after I went to college.  It's hard to imagine now, when people text each other the most mundane stuff, but long-distance phone calls were prohibitively expensive in those days.  My sister, who lived out of state, often made cassette tapes for my mother, & vice versa, rather than spending lots of money on telephone calls.

In my case, I wrote letters.  I wrote lots of letters.  I sometimes felt I spent way more time & energy on the letters I wrote than I could find in the letters I received, if receive them I did.  I often did not.  It seemed a weird thing to me, that I could take an hour to write something clever & get a response that took only minutes to read.  But that was the only game in town, really.  The two summers I returned to my hometown from college, I tried to write to college friends.  Most of them didn't write back.

It's hazy but I think I had pretty much given up writing people from my past by the time email rolled around.  & that revolutionized everything.  Except the whole time writing vs time reading equation.  In fact, email made correspondents even more lazy.  I would write paragraphs & get single words in response.  At least one person I loved dearly was offended by my characterizing our email exchange in that way that she never wrote to me again.  Never again!  A letter unreturned, at least, had more poignancy.

Yet I retain a fondness for the mails, for letters & postcards, & occasionally think I'll make an effort to write to folks regularly, send them packages of silly things, attempt to share something of the magic of those early days.  People don't mail much anymore.  I haven't stepped into a post office once since I've been back in Texas.  That makes me just a little sad.

P.S. This is the 2900th post on this blog.  I don't know if I meant to make a big deal of it, but I figured I should mention it.  Hooray!

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Dull Drums

Self-doubt is a weird thing.  It doesn't take into account, for example, the years one plies one's craft.  It doesn't care about a personal sense of accomplishment, or the kind words of people - sometimes strangers - about what one does, what one creates.  It simply does not give a fuck.

It's a long drive between Fort Worth, where I live, & Dallas, where I do a radio show.  I like to listen to music while I drive but it's funny, the silences that happen between songs, the silences even within songs, the distractions - oh the distractions by the shitty drivers in this metromegaplex - such small spaces of time are the perfect nesting places for self-doubt.

& you know self-doubt festers.  Holy crap, it needs so very little nutrients to grow & thrive.  What does it need?  Perhaps some smidgen of a lifetime of disappointment.  What about some random feelings of neglect?  Oh I'm sure there's space for pettiness & jealousy.  When I close my eyes right now I see a section of the highway which is always clogged because it's a short path between two major highways, & I see myself sighing, trying to pay attention, as people who could not give less of a shit about anyone else jockey to be first to an exit, & that's one of the moments where one is too vulnerable, where one is too tired, where one is too distracted to not notice self-doubt barge in like the hero at the end of the movie.

Long drives, the sun beating down - summers in this part of the world are a challenge.  I have a friend who spends summers at pools, lakes, beaches if he can get to them.  I have spent the past couple of summers remembering that season in places that have other seasons.  Texas has summer & not-summer.  That's not right.  & you know what?  That's not right is also where self-doubt lives.

It's a wonder anyone gets anything done around here.  Ah, but I forget: the same environments also foster self-delusion.

Monday, July 09, 2018

Bad Wordy

The other day or night, I was listening to some new singles on the computer, on the Bandcamp, & I came across one of them, in Spanish, that I was digging, & I used the Google Translate to Google translate the words (because I don't know Spanish) & holy smokes it was filled with bad words!  Not only that, a translation of the performer's name - you know, he called himself something other than his given name - that was indecent, too!

It seems that most if not all languages have profanity but it surprises me that some of them have analogs in English.  & not just one!  Sometimes the profanity has to do with context.

For example, back in my KOOP days in Austin, I for a time did Self Help Radio after a program called "The Pilot Show."  It was a show where new folks who came to the station had the chance to show the listening audience what kind of show they would do if they were to get a regular slot.  Sometimes the show would be Spanish-language, as we had several Spanish-language programs.

One day there was a group of young men who were doing something I guessed was political.  They were constantly referring to each other as cabron.  Google The Translate actually translate that as "dumbass" but I was told by the older gentlemen there (who could speak Spanish) that the word meant "goat."

Fast forward years later, I was watching a movie - darn, I had thought it was a John Sayles movie but I guess it wasn't - about new immigrants living in Los Angeles, & much of the dialogue was in Spanish, but helpfully translated for lazy viewers like me.  Every time - every time - someone used the word cabron, it was translated on the screen as "motherfucker."  From goat to dumbass to motherfucker - that's a hell of a journey.

The upshot is, I can't say this performer's name on the air, though I am going to play one of his songs on the Tuesday Morning Blend tomorrow.  What performer?  You'll have to listen to find out, you silly goat you.