Friday, June 30, 2023

Self Help Radio 062923: Howard Gently Year One

Sorry for that terrible graphic. I have not a lot of time today. Anyway, my friend Russell would have chuckled at it. I hope.

On the show I explain the whole premise, but suffice it to say, as a tribute to my dear friend, who died two weeks ago, & who gave so much to me, to my life, to my dumb radio show, I played the first eleven times he appeared on Self Help Radio as the Rev. Dr. Howard Gently. I found myself laughing out loud in the studio yesterday & that helped a little. He made me laugh for four decades, I am so glad I have recordings of him being funny, he can make me laugh for the rest of my life.

The Howard Gently Spectacular can be listened to now at the Self Help Radio website. Please remember to use the username SHR & pass the password selfhelp in order to download & listen. There's also the Corporate Standardized Programming episode from Tuesday if you find the KBOO website interface weird - if you download the show, you can fast forward to the parts that interest you. What happened on the show is below.

There'll be another Howard Gently Tribute before too long.

Self Help Radio 230629: Howard Gently Year One
"Know You" Russell Miles _Know You_

"Split Up The Money" Vic Godard & The Subway Sect _Twenty Odd Years: The Story Of Vic Godard & The Subway Sect_
"Split" The Rev Dr Howard Gently _SHR: February 28, 2014_
"This Is A Test" Wendy James _Now Ain't The Time For Your Tears_
"Test" The Rev Dr Howard Gently _SHR: March 3, 2014_
"Summer's Melting My Mind" The Go-Betweens _78 'Til 79: The Lost Album_
"Melting" The Rev Dr Howard Gently _SHR: March 14, 2014_

"Breathless" X _More Fun In The New World_
"Breath" The Rev Dr Howard Gently _SHR: April 11, 2014_
"Watch Her Disappear" Tom Waits _Alice_
"Disappear" The Rev Dr Howard Gently _SHR: May 1, 2014_
"You Just Can't Push Me (demo)" The Cars _The Cars_
"Push" The Rev Dr Howard Gently _SHR: May 16, 2014_

"Sunny Afternoon" The Kinks _Face To Face_
"Afternoons" The Rev Dr Howard Gently _SHR: May 30, 2014_
"Needles In The Camel's" Brian Eno _Here Come The Warm Jets_
"Needles" The Rev Dr Howard Gently _SHR: June 6, 2014_
"The Devil Ain't Lazy" Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys _San Antonio Rose_
"Laziness" The Rev Dr Howard Gently _SHR: June 13, 2014_

"Lemon & Lime" Herman's Hermits _Mrs. Brown, You've Got A Lovely Daughter_
"Limes" The Rev Dr Howard Gently _SHR: July 4, 2014_
"Seven African Powers" Russell Miles _Six Tunes By "Russ"_
"Candles" The Rev Dr Howard Gently _SHR: July 18, 2014_

Thursday, June 29, 2023

Whither Howard Gently Year One?

On the Self Help Radio website, the theme today is "Russell." That was very much the theme of this week's episode of Corporate Standardized Programming, which aired on KBOO on Tuesday. That show featured many of my late friend's songs, pranks, & musical choices, along with the bits he created with me for Self Help Radio. It was both exhilarating & emotionally exhausting to celebrate my dear friend in this manner. I have still hours of material of his I could go through. But I thought I would concentrate, on Self Help Radio, on the character he created for the show.

It became apparent as I listened, chronologically, to his bits, that I couldn't pick out my favorites. That I couldn't condense into two hours what was years of work. I know he did have his favorites & I know there were some he wasn't particularly excited by, but to me that was the idea - let's watch the character change & grow, let's listen when sometimes he wasn't as funny as his genius moments. Let me celebrate it all.

Many moons ago, Frank Miller & David Mazzucchelli had a celebrated comic series called Batman: Year One. It told the story of, well, the first year that Bruce Wayne operated as the Batman. It has become a story idea that DC Comics has done for many characters - & even places - there was recently a Gotham City: Year One. It took place in the 1960s. I decided to co-opt the term & make it literal - I am playing today every time Dr. Gently appeared on Self Help Radio in the first year - starting in February, 2014. There were 19 Dr. Gently spots that year - I doubt I will get to them all.

To break up the bits, I'll play songs from each show that I either know or suspect Russell liked. I knew his musical taste very well - he helped build the foundation for my musical taste - so that was easy. The hard part will be trying to keep my emotions from exploding while listening to my friend, whom I will never get to talk to again, make me laugh over & over & over.

The show airs from noon to 2pm on Freeform Portland. In town that's at both 90.3+98.3fm & online it's freeform portland dot org. It will feel a bit different from other shows. Because it's about an extraordinary person & the gift he gave me & my dumb radio program.

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Preface To Russell: The Road To Howard Gently

Sometime in early 2014 I was looking to make a change. I had been doing Self Help Radio for twelve years & I could've kept doing it the way I was - the show was much like the Dickenbock Report is now, without the silly conceit of being a newscast. But I wanted to add something new to it. Much like the bifocals & mustache that changed Dr. Gently up there, I wanted something that might have seemed cosmetic but which would transform the show a little.

What I wanted were interviews with "experts" about each week's theme. I knew it wasn't an original idea, but I felt like it might help the show become closer to being actually entertaining. There would still be lots of music, I'd almost certainly continue talking a lot, but if I could just entice friends of mine who were actually funny to help...

Russell was probably the first person I asked. He wasn't trained in improv & he didn't much like the idea of doing a different character a week, but he quickly came up with the character of the Rev. Dr. Howard Gently, a Deepak Chopra-esque New Age charlatan with whom I, as a host & acolyte, would be completely taken in by. He would be of indeterminate age - in some interviews, he discusses being a young man in the 1960s - & of often indeterminate wisdom - one of his funniest lines would be, after reading something obviously from the Wikipedia, Gently would say, "& I'm not reading this, Gary." He would often have slips of the tongue which, like much malapropism, would be unfortunate & often offensive. & he would be very focused on wringing as much money out of me (& you, if possible) as he could.

Gently appeared on Self Help Radio from February 2014 until last October. I went through his first year & discovered he appeared on the show nineteen times in eleven months. We might discuss what Gently might say before recording & I would sometimes crack Russell up with suggestions, but he hardly ever used my ideas. Instead, he'd slip into character & go whichever way his comic instincts told him he should. They were always right. I wish I'd saved our longer interviews because he would crack me up & then my laughing would crack him up. We had so very much fun doing these.

After listening to nineteen Gently appearances I knew I couldn't go through six or seven years worth of faux interviews & make it out alive. So instead tomorrow on the show I'll focus on the first year of Howard Gently. & return again soon to more of his funnies. How can I not play every time he appeared on the show? Gently was born on Self Help Radio, he made Self Help Radio something better, he needs to be remembered on Self Help Radio. Starting from his first appearance.

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Corporate Standardized Programming Brother Russell Show

(image of "Brother Russell" from the back of his second CD, found here)

Last night (or this morning - it's been a long day) I paid tribute to my friend Russell on my KBOO show Corporate Standardized Programming. You can listen to the show here.

That is of course not a picture of Russell. I have a vague memory of him showing it to me when he found it. I realize now looking at it, I didn't center it properly when I edited it. Oh well. He was always a little off. He might appreciate that joke,

The show was not easy to do. We don't often have literally hours of recordings of people we will never see again. In some cases, I was present when the recording happened. I have memories of Russell sharing his recordings with me. For one of his songs, he shared with me early mixes. I was always one of his biggest fans. My only regret is I couldn't find one of my favorite songs of his. If I do find it, I'll play it on Self Help Radio on Thursday. I'll discuss my plans for that show tomorrow.

Maybe there's some things you'll discover about Russell, maybe you'll like his songs, maybe there's a prank call you hadn't heard yet. I think he might be a bit embarrassed by all this, which is fine. He should've promoted himself more. Or picked better friends to promote him. Because as you know about my own self-promotion, I fucking suck at it.

Okay. Gotta get to work on Thursday's show.

Monday, June 26, 2023

Radio Filled With Brother Russell

Tonight on my show on KBOO, Corporate Standardized Programming, I'll play lots of pranks featuring the woman on the left up there, the venerable Melba Jackson, as well as interviews I conducted with the fellow on the right up there, the Rev. Dr. Howard Gently. The person in the middle of that picture is my friend Russell, who is no longer with us. He will be represented by lots of music he wrote & recorded. He was a very dear friend, a person whom I knew for decades, who shared so much life with me that it's strange & sad that he's not here to do that anymore.

Pranks & music & improvised radio interviews. & more? It'll happen midnight to 3am on 90.7fm KBOO Portland, kboo dot fm.