Saturday, January 09, 2021

Wait. It's January?

Might I make an observation about January that might seem trite to most people.  Yes?

Okay.  Here it is.  January might not feel the same to everyone.

& yes, you might point out the lack of authority in that statement.  More confident folk (who I find are mostly wrong) would have avoided the "might."  They would assert & would do so shamelessly.  They are generally insecure people who feel the need to speak in absolutes.  Perhaps they find succor in dogma.  In any event, it's uncomfortable for them to qualify a statement without making it somehow universal.  I can't speak for anyone but me, but I find that a bit sad.  Though surely they have a quote from someone of their ilk to punctuate their feelings.

When I lived in Lexington, January meant at least one snowfall & perhaps some very cold days.  One winter it got down to single digits.  That was quite unpleasant.

In Fort Worth, there were days of some cold, possibly even days where the temperature reached freezing.  But except for the scare of ice - ice on the road terrified even the most road-weary Texas driver - it never seemed like winter would inconvenience the average denizen of the Metroplex.

Yet I weigh roughly six years in snowland vs three years in Texas plains & I say: what happened to January?

It has been cold here.  Not too cold - maybe the mid-40s.  & it has rained here.  It's Portland man.  But snow?  Bitter cold?  That hasn't happened.  It's weird, right?

Or is it?  No one I've spoken to thinks so.  They think it might snow in March.  March!

This fucking West Coast.

By the way, I'm told it's less cold on the coast.  Just get to the Pacific, it's warmer & there's less rain.  What the actual fuck?

Friday, January 08, 2021

Photographs Of Places I've Lived # 18: Tulsa Rd

(image from google maps)

This unassuming red brick house was where we lived the first year my wife, my animals, & I lived in Lexington, Kentucky.  It was owned by an elderly couple: the husband of the pair showed the house, but it was pretty obvious the wife was in charge.  We were a hard sell - we had three dogs (we lied about the cats) but my wife's nerdy charms won the day.  The old man was smitten with her.  He would chuckle appreciatively about her when she would leave the room, as if I weren't there.  We figured he would have a hands-off approach to the rental property, & we were right.  He never came by.  We never had to hide the cats.

It had two bedrooms upstairs we never used.  Well, except for storage, & one time when someone I knew was passing through & needed a place to crash.  We used the downstairs.  It was a mostly pleasant place but in the spring we noticed something... odd.  We called it "the zombie smell."  It was an odor that seemed to emanate from the area around the bathroom that was redolent, well, of dead things.  It went away in the summer but we suspected if we stayed there another year, we'd be visited by it again.

The yards - both front & back - were huge.  The fence was useless, so we created a smaller area for the dogs near the back door.  They didn't seem to resent that.  Perhaps it was that we walked them regularly, no matter the weather.  Or perhaps they observed how unhappy I was mowing that gigantic fucking yard.  Which took two days.  Every time.  & when autumn came, & the leaves fell, well.  There went my week.  There was a nice woman across the street who asked if she could have my leaves for mulch, so I raked them & carried them over to her.  I don't think she said a single thing to me ever again.

While I was living there, I began deejaying at WRFL, & it was a happy time.  The wife was still working at Marshall & would occasionally drive to work there, staying at the house we owned there, which was for sale, but which took about a year to find buyers.  She got a job at UK in the spring of 2011, so she left Marshall & West Virginia behind.  I would've liked to go back & look around, but I never did.

All of my babies were well there, the last time that would be the case.  I have pictures of my cat Beatrice & she seemed very fat & happy.  Bronte, adopted in West Virginia, grew chubby there, too.  One story of that time bears repeating.  It's about how our dog Ringo almost killed everyone in the house.

Ringo, since his adoption in 2004, had always been a menace.  Food-focused, he would break into locked pantries, he would knock over deep-fryers to lick the grease, he would find things on shelves or countertops like bags of tortilla chips, open them & eat them all.  He was about eight when we moved into the rental on Tulsa Road.  We thought he might have mellowed somewhat, since he was officially "elderly."  One night the wife had prepared a bunch of sweet potatoes to be used in burritos.  I suspect it was a Sunday, because she left to come pick me up, & it was probably from an RFL meeting.

We came home to find a sweet potato nightmare.  The pot was off the stove, the floor & walls had remnants of orange on them, & Ringo was suspiciously fat.  But worse than that, the gas stove was on.  There was no flame, just gas.  We believe Ringo figured out - probably through trial & error - how to open the door to the oven, use it as a springboard, & get onto the top of the stove, where the delicious yam concoction was waiting for him.  But he must have accidentally jostled a knob, because he had turned on the gas.  We were gone for mere minutes; had we been gone for longer - we often did drive to Louisville, or Cincinnati - the house would have been flooded with dangerous vapors.

The wife thinks it might have made them sick, but not killed them.  But it was enough to make me decide to do something I cannot believe I hadn't thought of before: we started locking the dogs in the bedroom when we left.  I would give them treats so they would go willingly, even eagerly, but once in there, the baying would begin.  This would last until 2018, when Ringo died.  The remaining three - two of which never lived with us on Tulsa Road - were never as food-focused & nefarious as Ringo.  It felt weird letting them stick around when we left.  Ringo, even when he was old & gray, was still quite the threat.

The wife felt burned by the buying & selling of the house in West Virginia, & swore to me that she'd wait a couple of years before looking for a home to buy - after all, we didn't know if we wanted to stay in Lexington!  But in the fall of 2011, she found a house in the neighborhood she wanted to buy.  That, by the way, would become our modus operandi - rent in an area, decide we liked it, buy in the same or nearby neighborhood.  I was a bit irritated by this - we had just moved twice in the past two years - but she both found a place she loved & she found a place she wanted to renovate.  I was mainly focused on my radio life, & taking care of both my kids & my wife.

It wasn't quite as often as it would become, but I cooked a lot more at Tulsa.  I was starting to enjoy the process of following a recipe.  Which was good - having become vegan in Huntington, we found that there weren't many more vegan options in Lexington.  Luckily there were in Louisville & Cincinnati, which were closer, & which we did visit often.  As I mentioned.

In all, I enjoyed that house on Tulsa Road.  I just looked through old pictures (old! it was a decade ago!) but couldn't find one of the front of the house.  The place never felt like ours, & I hate corner houses.  But I had that sense of freedom one has when one escapes a terrible situation, like we did, when we left Huntington.

Thursday, January 07, 2021

Why Not Dickenbock Report?

You weren't paying attention but I had a lousy Monday night/Tuesday morning.

It started off all right.  I spent the day putting together that evening's Self Help Radio, I had a delicious dinner with the wife, I fed the cats, I took the time to do a little Twitter research, & when midnight rolled around, I tuned in to KBOO on my radio to listen to when I would be on the air.

You see, I have been doing Self Help Radio - & basically all the shows I've done on KBOO - live from my little room since last summer.  There have been occasional glitches, & I'm aware they can happen.  But there hadn't been one in several months.  I suppose you could say I was complacent.

The system in place at KBOO works quite well.  I basically stream my show from my home to KBOO, & if the stream is interrupt, it plays a song or a station spot & gives me the chance to reconnect.  This is partially because something as dumb as accidentally downloading a file can disrupt the stream.  We can't watch Netflix or anything like that, & we sure as hell shouldn't be trying to upload or download anything, while we're doing the live show.  Which is fine - it's midnight for fuck's sake, the wife's asleep, it's just me & some caffeine & my dumb radio thing.

But something awful happened Tuesday morning.  The show started after the KBOO spots played.  I was able to get SHR going & was even in the middle of my first airbreak when my internet just stopped. This was around 12:15am.  It wasn't a glitch, it wasn't something I did, it wasn't a power surge or anything like that.  It stopped & it didn't come back on.  For thirty minutes.

The worst thing was, there was absolutely nothing I could do about it.  I just listened to the radio as the automation system compensated by playing a song & a spot, tried to connect, played another song & another spot, tried to connect a second time, played a further song & spot, tried to connect a third time, played a desperate last song & spot, & then played an old episode of Self Help Radio from November of last year.  I texted a couple of people from KBOO to see if they were up & could help, but they weren't up - & by the time my internet came back on I was so demoralized I didn't think I could do the show.  I had a beer, I read a book, I felt like shit.

You probably can't tell, but I put a lot of work into these dumb radio shows I do.  Their shabbiness is my amateurishness, & if it were just me, I wouldn't feel so bad.  But I ask people to help out.  & when I can't do the show, it makes me feel I've let them down.

This turned into some massive self-pity for me but I actually wanted to say two things.  One, going forward, I don't think I'm going to do Self Help Radio - or any radio show - live from home.  I've never seen myself as oversensitive but I don't want to live through something like this again.  Anyway, the Dickenbock Report is recorded & it doesn't seem to suffer for it.

Which brings me to number two: if you want a dose of Gary radio this week, you can go to the Self Help Radio website & listen to this week's the Dickenbock Report.  I archive all those shows, actually, I just don't make a big deal about this.  This week I focused on Utah.  Why?  Go listen!  It's at the top of the page.

& next week's Self Help Radio will be what this week's Self Help Radio was supposed to be, only my airbreaks will be recorded tomorrow or Saturday.  I am still really bummed about it.  The chance of it happening again is pretty great, so I'm going to just nip it in the bud & not give that chance a chance.


Monday, January 04, 2021

Whither Jean's Show?

(Not that kind of jean!  Image from here.)

Tonight's show is all about people (mainly women) named Jean.  I thought about perhaps including the male Jean, since it's the same word, but mostly I found songs about women named Jean.  & Jeannie.  & Jeanette.  & I think a Janine or two.  If there's a Jean song about a dude, it's probably by accident, or because I didn't notice.

Plus I'll talk to some Jeans!  I was able to find three Jeans of assorted types - a Jean-Marie, a Jeannette, & a Bonnie Jeanne - & I'll ask them about their names, where they got them, what they think of them.  & since there are lots of film stars named Jean, our resident cinephile Chuck will talk about four of them.  That's in addition to all the songs!  & who knows what other Jean might show up?

Why do a show about the name Jean?  Wouldya believe I once wanted to be named Jean?  Because of Jean Grey of the X-Men?  You wouldn't believe that?  Well, good.  It's not true.  I had a hard enough time with the word "dick" in my last name; an ambiguously-gendered name would have been rougher still.  No, the reason I'm doing it is because I noticed lots of songs with the name Jean.  It's really as simple as that.  I thought, "I should do a show."  & now I will.

Tonight (or Tuesday morning if you prefer) on 90.7 fm KBOO, online at, from midnight to 3am.  You may think, does Jean really deserve three hours?  She does!  She really does.

Sunday, January 03, 2021

Preface To Jean's Show: Don't Know Nobody Named Jean

It's true.  I don't know anyone named Jean.  Certainly the only "Jean" that shows up in my Facebook friend search - & can we just acknowledge how weird it is that you can "search" your "friends"? - is someone I haven't spoken to in well over a decade & I'm certain she no longer looks at Facebook.  She might even have forgotten her password.  Anyway, I'm not sure it's her real name - she's using Jean as her last name but perhaps it's actually her real middle name.  The point is, I'm not sure if I reached out to her I'd actually get a response.

There was a time when there were two sort-of Jeans in my life.  My sister Pat's husband - he's a widower now - his mother was named Jeanette, but she's not been with us for a while.  & he now longer speaks to me.  So I couldn't ask him to talk about his mother, who seemed to be a very nice person.  I can see her face even now.  She had a lovely smile.

& the ex-wife of one of my brothers has a sister named Jeannie.  I thought about asking her - we're friends on Facebook - to inquire if her sister might like to talk on the show, but I somehow thought she'd either say no, or her sister would say no, or it would just be too weird for either of them.  I haven't spoken to that Jeannie since - this is absolutely true - the fall of 1988, when she gave me a ride to Dallas from Austin for I think Thanksgiving.  She was living on the Gulf Coast at the time & was swinging through Austin for some reason.  It seemed like a nice drive.  But we didn't speak again.  & I guess my brother & her sister were divorced soon after, so there weren't any family gatherings at which to see her.

& that's it!  So why do a radio show about anyone named Jean?  I suppose I can answer that tomorrow, even though you know what the answer is & shouldn't even ask that question anymore.

Post Script: I will talk to three people with some form of the name Jean on the show, though.