Saturday, June 04, 2022

There's Always Something After The Show...

This picture:

was taken at the end of January on one of the dog walks the wife & I take (with the dogs of course) around the city.  I believe this was in Gresham, we went to walk through a park, & instead of walking back through it, we took a longer route through the neighborhood around it.  This was on a fence of a house which stood on the corner of a neighborhood road & a much busier street.

(There's a folder on my computer full of the many pictures I take when I am out & about.  I don't have a lot of time to go through them, so I am way behind, having only gotten to late January in early June.)

What's the story?  What is happening?  I can only guess.  But more than anything I wish I had found this before this week's show!

Friday, June 03, 2022

"Tim's Front Yard"

On Self Help Radio's show about yards this past week, we presented six never-before-aired episodes of the beloved radio serial "Tim's Front Yard."  Previous generations would gather at the appointed hour, just past dinnertime, to thrill to the tragicomic adventures of Tim, who wanted the perfect front yard, & his neighbor Bob, who wanted the neighborhood to look as good as possible.  The show ran from the early 1940s until radio died, & is fondly missed by many, especially those who never heard it.

Self Help Radio was proud to air the otherwise unheard episodes but unfortunately, it was in installments during the show, & no one in their right mind listens all the way through an episode of Self Help Radio.  It's three extremely painful hours long!  So for those who wish just to hear the serial, you can conveniently listen to all six parts right now by clicking this link.

You'll laugh, you'll cry, to see the front yard as a metaphor for the world, with Tim the Everyperson, & I guess Bob can be seen as both the powerful god whose capriciousness we cannot abide & the eternal antagonist who sharpens us as a stone sharpens a blade.  I mean, I wrote my senior thesis on the serial but it's been a really long time since high school.  The magic of a beloved work of radio theater like this is that it can mean whatever the fuck you want it to mean.  Please enjoy.

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Self Help Radio 053122: Yards

(Yes, it's a picture of my backyard.)

While there are lots of songs about lots of different kinds of yards - farmyards, schoolyards, courtyards, stockyards, junkyards, barnyards, brickyards, to name but a few - backyards seem to be the most common subject of "yard songs."  I just quickly counted eighteen songs on this show about backyards, at least in the title, & that's more than half the songs on the show.  So.  I thought I'd share my backyard with you.  I took that moments ago.  It's actually quite a lovely afternoon here in Portland today!

Meanwhile, late last night (or early this morning), I played on the radio for three hours, talked about & played songs about all kinds of yards.  As I mentioned previously, there were no songs about the yards we use in measurement, nor were there songs about graveyards.  Turns out I covered that one year for Halloween.

Please enjoy lots of songs about yards.  No matter which yard you happen to be listening in.  The show is over at the KBOO website.  It's also on the Self Help Radio website.  If you go to that last one, make sure you bring the username SHR & the password selfhelp.  But you'll be able to download the show!  Everything that happens is below.

Hm. I might go nap in the backyard now!

Self Help Radio Yards Show
"Yard" The Birthday Party _Prayers On Fire_
"Yard" Black Belt Eagle Scout _Mother Of My Children_
"I Don't Want To Play In Your Yard" The Vonnair Sisters _Goodbye To Toyland_

introduction & definitions

"The Farm Yard Connection" Fun Boy Three _Waiting_
"Swing In The Backyard" Lightnin' Hopkins _The Legacy Of The Blues Vol. 12_
"Me & Julio Down By The Schoolyard" Me First & The Gimme Gimmes _Have A Ball_
"The Backyard" Stevans _Rupture_
"Courtyard" Bobbie Gentry _The Delta Sweete_

interview with yard sale aficionado Jeremy Rogers

"Yardsale" Lifestyle _At The Risk Of Sounding Pretentious_
"Yard Sale" Jimbo Pap _It Can Always Get Worse_
"Clean Up Your Own Yard" Jackie Moore _Sweet Charlie Babe_
"Keep In Your Own Backyard" Peter Skellern _You're A Lady_
"Backyards" Broken Social Scene _Bee Hives_

interview with yard of the month winner Terry Jarvis

"Backyard Blues" Wilson's T.O.B.A. Band _The Rise & Fall Of Paramount Records 1917-1927, Volume 1_
"New Stock Yard Blues" Robert Wilkins _That's No Way To Get Along_
"Barnyard Boogie" Louis Jordan & His Tympany Five _Louis Jordan & His Tympany Five_
"Back In Your Own Back Yard" Nancy Wilson _Hello Young Lovers_
"The Yard Went On Forever" Richard Harris _The Yard Went On Forever..._

interview with "In The Yard" author Curtis Derren

"Back Yard Movement" The Mighty Threes _Africa Shall Stretch Forth Her Hands_
"In Your Backyard" Reptaliens _Multiverse_
"In The Backyard" The Rosebuds _Life Like_
"Junkyard" Alex Chilton _High Priest_
"Junkyard" U.S. Girls _Bills & Aches & Blues_


"The Big Back Yard" Robert Merrill _New York, New York: A Vintage Portrait_
"Back of the Yards" The Jack Teter Trio _Johnson Rag_
"My Backyard" Mose Allison _My Backyard_
"Barnyard Soul" Roscoe & Friends _Barnyard Soul_
"Brickyard Blues" Love Machine _Love Machine_
"Rain In My Backyard" The Moments _Sharp_

Scotland Yard?

"Scotland Yard" John Cale _Shifty Adventures In Nookie Wood_
"Government Out Of My Backyard" The Skywriters _The Skywriters_
"Backyard" The Big However _Las Vegas Amusements_
"Active In The Yard" Mission Of Burma _Forget_
"Backyard" Sløtface _Try Not To Freak Out_
"Sunny Backyard" The Intelligence _Everybody's Got It Easy But Me_

conclusion & goodbye

"Rock In The Yard" Upside Drown _Mood Music_
"Backyard Guys" 20/20 _20/20_

Monday, May 30, 2022

Whither Yards?

(It's true, there's at least one yard in Portland mostly full of statuary.)

In the years when I lived with my mother & siblings, I was mostly in apartments.  We didn't have enough money to own - or even rent - a house.  There was no yard to maintain or mow or rake.  To be sure, I was occasionally bribed by older siblings to mow or take their yards, but obviously never as often as the kid who grew up with a front or back yard.

The first place I lived - it was a duplex - which had a yard, the landlord mowed the yard for us.  It wasn't until we bought our first house in - gosh, 2005? - I would've been 37! - that I spent any time dealing with the care & upkeep of a yard.  Having dogs one kind of needs to have a yard.  The most time I spend in my backyard now I spent with my dogs.

Self Help Radio late tonight will talk about all kinds of yards.  Not just yards in front or or behind homes, but shipyards, schoolyards, churchyards, many different yards - probably not Rudyards, though.  I don't really know any, actually.  Is there anyone named Rudyard who'd like to be my friend?

Listen from midnight to 3am tonight (or Tuesday morning if you want to be technical) on 90.7fm in Portland & online at  To celebrate the humble yard.  But not the measurement!

Sunday, May 29, 2022

Preface To Yards: The Backyard Just Outside Austin

(image from here)

The Backyard was a music venue about twenty miles west of Austin in I believe the city of Bee Caves.  On this website, which doesn't seem to know it's been closed for over a decade, it says, "The Backyard is located in the heart of the Texas Hill Country in a natural, open-air setting enveloped in the shade of 400 year old live oaks. This one of a kind amphitheater hosts music of a varied & eclectic mix of musicians."

The Backyard is a venue I think I went to more than I actually did.  I saw Elvis Costello there at least three times - his gigography says he performed there four times, so maybe I saw him there four time.  I saw Belle & Sebastian there twice.  My three favorite shows there were Leonard Cohen in 1993, Richard Thompson in 1994, & Morrissey in 2007.

It was a very secluded place, with a dirt parking lot, & no matter how hot the day was - & it was usually hot - it felt about fifteen degrees cooler under those trees.  It was a lovely place to see a show.  & for some reason, I didn't go out there between 2004 or so & 2007, & when I did, holy shit.

A mall had sprung up around it.  It was like a completely different place.  We parked in an actual parking lot & walked past a Best Buy.  It was indicative of the changes Austin went through before I left - I can't be certain, but there were probably people who complained about the noise of the live shows at the Backyard which caused it to close.

It was such a nice venue to see music.  Here's how isolated it was: when Leonard Cohen played, he came out alone with a guitar for a few songs.  He had just started the song "A Singer Must Die" when - as if on cue - a police car came screaming past outside.  The place was so out-of-the-way there couldn't have been more than a dozen cars that drove by during his entire show.  He stopped playing & said, "Listen. What a sad, lovely sound."  & he waited for the doppler effect to subside before he started an entirely different song.

It was at the Backyard that I saw Richard Thompson for the first time, just him on a guitar with a stand-up bassist at his side.  I had never heard the song "Beeswing" before & his performance of it made me cry.  Tears just falling down my cheeks.  & he would crack jokes in-between the songs as he retuned his guitar.  He gave me emotional whiplash.

& after I had back surgery, I painfully made my way out to the Backyard to see Belle & Sebastian.  I lay on one of the grassy parts & enjoyed the show & it was almost a ritual event to ease my transition back into the world.

Despite being a huge fan, I had never seen Morrissey, not the least because he hardly came to Austin & also he cancels shows a lot.  So seeing him in 2007 was just a joy.  Look!  Here's a picture of it!  I'm in the audience you can't see.

It would be strange to do a show about yards & not think about the Backyard.

The weird news: this website says it'll reopen in 2024.  But will you be able to sneak in to see Elvis Costello & the Attractions at their soundcheck?  I don't believe you will.