Friday, June 23, 2023

Self Help Radio 062223: Codes

Tips for decoding this week's Self Help Radio: listen carefully. That's all. It's not very complex, this code. It's mainly just a lot of music with the occasional interruption by me.

But all different kinds of codes are discussed! Dress codes, computer code, codes of honor, barcodes. The word is simple but has loads of meanings. It's my favorite kind of theme.

Is the show up to code? Hear for yourself - listen at the Self Help Radio website. Remember that you'll need this username/password combo: SHR/selfhelp. But you can download it if you want! Everything that happens on the show is below.

Also: if you can figure out this code that our friend Chuck has created, you can win a special Self Help Radio prize! Send solutions to gary at - here's the code:

4  54r 58 3-2*2 10r 22-2  22-2 8  39 8 92 37-2 34 3-2 9  13-2 7 66-2  8 90 99

Self Help Radio Codes Show
"Secret Code" Allan Sherman _My Son The Box_
"Zip Code" The Five Americans _Progressions_
"The Code Of Life" Y Pants _Y Pants_

introduction & definition - featuring the Definition-O-Tron 3000

"Talking In Code" The Boomtown Rats _V Deep_
"Coded World" Faith Global _The Same Mistakes_
"Code" Cabaret Voltaire _Code_
"Secret Codes" Kristin Hersh _Wyatt At The Coyote Palace_

our favorite librarian Carole stops by to talk about books about code

"Morse Code Melody" The Alberts _By Jingo It's... British Rubbish_
"Morse Code" Skypark _Summer Days Are Forever_
"Morris The Code" The Two Tears _Enjoy Yourself_
"Speak In Morse Code" The Fleeting Ends _Our Eyes Are Peeled_
"Morse Code" Reina Del Cid _The Cooling_

interview with author/political activist Chris Lawrence

"Dress Code" WC & The MAAD Circle _Ain't A Damn Thing Changed_
"Code Red" DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince _Code Red_
"Code Of The Streets" Gang Starr _Full Clip: A Decade Of Gang Starr_
"Barcode" Mongrel _Better Than Heavy_

our resident cinephile Chuck stops by to discuss movies about codes

"Into the Code" The Thermals _We Disappear_
"Rock'n'Roll Code" John Wesley Harding _Sings To A Small Guitar Vol. 1_
"Code Monkey" Jonathan Coulton _Thing-A-Week Three_
"Break The Code" Miaow _When It All Comes Down_
"Chrominance Decoder" April March _Chrominance Decoder_

interview with fashion designer Cale Long
+ conclusion & goodbye

"Rebel Code" Chumbawamba _Un_
"Codename: Rondo" Ghostland Observatory _Codename: Rondo_
"Code Word" The Moles _Code Word_
"Mountain Code 9" Skistar _This Is The Cafe Superstar Beat Vol. 1_

Thursday, June 22, 2023

Whither Codes?

Use code names!

Sometimes shows begat shows. A few weeks ago there was a Self Help Radio episode about telegraphy - mainly telegrams & telegraphs. One of the segments we did purported to be an interview with a descendent of Samuel Morse. Something strange started happening after that.

Songs about Morse Code - not to mention instructional YouTube videos - began showing up in my computer world. It was probably some sneaky algorithm but it could also just have been my brain taking notice of something it had previously spent some time on. In any event, I succumbed & started collecting songs about code.

The amazing thing is how many different meaning the word has. & they're all related to the same word. I'm linking that because I don't think I'll talk about the etymology of the word on the show. I got a lot of songs & a lot of guests. I only have two hours.

But the show won't be in code. It will be on the air in Portland from noon to 2pm on the 90.3+98.3fm frequencies, & online everywhere at the Freeform Portland website. There's no secret code needed. No Self Help Radio secret decoder ring. Just tune in!

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Preface To Codes: A Small Favor

(image from here)

My wife told me recently that we've moved from the "marriages & births" part of our lives to the "divorces & deaths" part. Inasmuch as anyone can be prepared for such things, I'd like to humbly as a small favor:

In the face of such trauma, can the world just stop for a little while? Let us catch our breath, take stock, get a little painless sleep? I'm sure there's some benefit to time moving steadily forward despite the tragedies & unhappinesses of our lives, but is there anyone who thinks it would be a terrible thing to just stand still for a moment, for a day, for a week. Maybe to let the tears dry, or have a little more time to gather the strength to face down the future, or just to sit somewhere quietly & start breathing normally again.

Speaking just for myself, I was woefully prepared for this portion of my life, with parents needing care & lives unraveling, with the sudden realization that the invulnerability of youth was a cruel illusion & that parts of you will break & you might not be able to fix them.

The world doesn't care, I know. Time is just doing its job. We can pretend we've captured life in some way with our clever minutes & years but it turns out it's ourselves we've ensnared. I'm not ashamed to admit I may not be strong enough to carry all this loss with me until my inevitable ending. It really is too much to ask - beg, please - for a moment to put it down & lean a little on a nearby wall.

This has nothing to do with codes but this show is being made in a backdrop of powerful loss & I wanted to express how helpless & weak I am currently feeling. The show I hope won't be anything like this.

Tuesday, June 20, 2023


I have lost my oldest friend. I have lost a brother. Russell & I met when I was in seventh grade & he in eighth at Memorial Middle School in Garland, Texas. Russell died last weekend.

He in recent years reminded me that at a gathering of something called the Beta Club (kind of a middle school National Honor Society) we ended up talking about the Beatles all night. It was music which bonded us. He made me my first David Bowie mix tape. He loved the Cars & Talking Heads & played them for me. When I asked him what he knew about Elvis Costello, he said, "He's a genius," which encouraged me - it practically compelled me - to buy his records. More than my actual brothers, he laid my musical foundation.

Russell was a talented guitarist, drummer, & songwriter who, in his lonesome teens, made full albums in his bedroom. I was awestruck. I somehow convinced him to form a "band" with me when I was in twelfth grade & he was attending junior college. He played music while I "sang" dumb things to make him laugh. Because Russell was the funniest person I've ever met. & when you can make the funniest person you know laugh, it's a kind of euphoria most drugs can't give you.

Russell channeled his wicked sense of humor into prank calls, gaining a notoriety for pranking conservative religious talk shows as the old woman Melba Jackson. You can explore that at your leisure at his Bandcamp page. Later still he would appear on Self Help Radio as my spiritual mentor the Rev. Dr. Howard Gently. Recording that every week for years remains some of my happiest moments.

Russell & I had a couple of falling outs (fallings out?) like friends do. But because we were friends, we found our way back to one another. In many ways it made us closer.

In the 1990s, he met a beautiful & smart woman named Liz who shared many of the same interests as he did. Although it was fun for me to find out about their differences. They married & had beautiful cats & when Magda & I visited & later lived in Dallas we got to share meals with them, especially at Kalachandji's. I can see the four of us there now, stuffing our faces & talking. He & I both commented about our dumb luck in finding incredible women willing to condescend to marry us. I don't think either of us have ever taken that for granted.

There is so much more to say about my friend because he's worth writing a book about. He was so very smart & so unbelievably funny & yet like many of that ilk he was tortured by depression. The last few years the medicines he was taking stopped working. When I visited Texas this past March I told him I'd like to see him but understood if he wasn't up for that. I wish I had been more pushy. I wish I had texted him more.

Next week I am going to play nothing but Russell on my three radio shows. Old cassette recordings, some of his songs, Melba Jackson, Howard Gently, & more. & I have so many things yet to say about him, so many stories, thoughts, & feelings, just not right now, it is so hard to believe he's gone. How is that possible. It can't be possible.

Monday, June 19, 2023

My Friend Russell & Me

A picture from 1993. Thirty years ago. Probably taken by my friend Lauren. It was in this place.