Wednesday, March 31, 2010

very interesting

as I understand it, I was fired for one real reason...I wasnt Abby's turd slave.

like you talked about on MySpace, the reason she gave was I wasnt paying attention, not connecting. which, in the final analysis, was true, but there was more to it than that.

I was engineering the talk show, fielding emails and interacting with the screener. at one point I looked around and the guest, one of the field reporters, was showing me 2 fingers, which I immediately interpreted as "cut 2" on "cd 1" since it was the first bite he had called for. so I played it.

afterwards he went into abby's office and complained I wasnt "paying attention" cause he wanted cd 2, track 1. in hindsight, I should have asked him on-air to clarify which track.

fate had other ideas.

when abby laid into me for it I told her it was really busy that day and it's impossible to keep all those balls in the air at the same time and not drop one now and then. but she didnt accept that. she started sending out emails about how we should all be perfect in the face of really obvious mistakes coming out of her office every day.

psychological rule #7: when you cant handle your job accuse everyone else of having the same shortcoming. she actually Said, "be perfect!" I remember how incredulous that was. I remember we'd have these little mental health meetings with HR where they said over and over, "dont hesitate to try things, dont let mistakes rob you of the reward of trying". then she turns right around and lays the 'be perfect' mantra on us. I couldnt believe what I was hearing and lost all respect for her. period.

later that week we had words over something else and she said, "I dont trust you" to which I immediately replied, "I dont trust you either". I saw it in her eyes...she was shocked at my insubordination. she was ready to fire me right then.

have I told you all this? anyway she needed a witness so she brought the exceedingly clueless yo who heard me jump at her bait of going over the talkshow "dissaster" to which I raised my voice saying "sometimes it gets hectic and the people giving me cues have to be very clear about what they want! we've been OVER THIS!" and with that she got yo and jeff to sign the death warrant.

it was a sham, but I was so disgusted with the whole scene by that time it became a mercy killing. not that it didnt cause serious serious psychological trauma and a financial sink hole. if I hadnt been a survivor I might have lost it completely. that is if I didnt have music and teaching, not so much for the money cause there I still went from 50G to less than 20 with a mountain of debt that doubled the next few years. but I had other things to live for. being on the radio was not my whole reason to get up in the morning.

Glenn offered to put in a good word other places which was very sweet. I was always an artist, not a journeyman microphone johnson. I was ready to hang it up. at least for a while.

then, over time, I realized how much my soul was worth as my self respect and music/education community respect blossomed. I feel like my priorities are right where they should be.

beyond all that...

I appreciate the nice things you've said about me and I remember having too much fun talking with you and hanging out at the station. you were obviously one of the cool people among mostly radio goobs. and of course I had a crush on you cause were a smart cute chick on the radio. major draw. and you didnt have the whole liza socialite hip chick thing. not a major draw.

not that I didnt have a crush on liza. who didnt? and there in lies the problem. I have little use for truly popular anything or anyone. once someone becomes a "kiss my feet" celebrity I'm out.

you were real, humble, fun, devoted to the music and audience, easy to talk to in all the right ways. all good stuff. it's all good. soon after you left the foundation fell apart. it wasnt hell yet but it had the ice berg in its sights.

again...all of which is good cause I'm really living the mission life now without commercial interruption and, as we know, PBS is really struggling to keep their mission in front of them.

at least here. theyre producing more but it's either boring as hell or so amateur it hurts.

right here.

not too shabby

I dont think I've used that expression since I did my last KERA weather forecast.

telemarketer prank

not too shabby

I never pick up the phone

in fact I've never given my 'new' home phone to anyone so I Know any telemarketing calls were sold to them by ATT and it started within a week of installing the line. jerkwads.

the only time I use it is to call out unless I'm pretty sure it's tory.

exception...when I feel like having fun with the poor sap calling from wherever. if it's a machine of course I just hang up, but if it's a real person I put on a voice and reeeeallly fuck with em.

I love pretending I'm a geezer who cant hear. "WHAT??? WHO'S CALLING??? JUST A SECOND, I DROPPED MY JUICE. NOW WHAT??? WHO'S CALLING???"

or I'm Mexican. "Que? Jose? Thees ees Pedro? Quando quando quando? Si, Jose?" I just keep going till they hang up.

or pretend I'm really interested. this is my favorite. "hang on a second, lemme get a pencil." put the phone down and pretend to be desperately looking, calling from a distance, "dont hang up I'll be right back..." one time I kept that up for 30 seconds came back to the phone and asked, "still there? now who is this again? can you spell that for me?" keep it up till theyre frustrated as hell, then say, "shit, that's the other line, can you hang on?" mute the phone and walk away.

give those assholes something to talk about on break.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Photos From the Archives

It's the Machines

that always call me on the phone, that have finally begun to freak me out. "This is your Rite-Aid Calling." "This is the office of Doctor Bwah Bwah Bwah Bwah Bwah Bwah Bwah (Charlie Brown bus driver voice) calling to confirm your appointment on (pause) Thursday (pause) March 20 (pause) at (pause) 11-thirty ay emm." "This is AT & T calling with a customer satisfaction survey. If you have time to take the survey, please press one. If you were satisfied with your customer service call, press one. If you wanted to reach through the phone and kick the agent's ass, press three." Seriously. And then there's the ominous ones, like the computer voice that told me that the call was CMRE financial services (the organization that UCLA's Ronald Reagan Medical Center sics on patients who don't pay the inflated and improper bills they send to you instead of to your insurance company. That's a whole other story, but the bottom line is that I am all paid up with UCLA, but this CMRE keeps calling me anyway. And they can't even have a person call me---it's this machine. The first time I got the machine I hung up on it because it freaked me out.

"If you are not (pause) Cynthia Birdy, please hang up. If you stay on the line, you certify that you are (pause) Cynthia Birdy." I thought, shit! What am I getting into if I stay on the line? I hung up the phone.

But the machine called again and said the same thing to my answering machine. Realizing it was my own answering machine playing the message for me, and that by listening to it I was not necessarily "certifying" anything, I went ahead and listened. The message told me to "call CMRE Financial Services" about my "account". But the whole thing left me tripped out and pissed off. They can't even do me the courtesy of having a human being call me. It's all reduced to machines, dealing with customers via machinery, and now the machines are even calling asking for money on behalf of a client that has no business with me at all. And they want ME to call THEM!

So I don't pick up the phone much anymore. And I certainly don't carry a phone with me. I keep one in my car in case of emergencies. But I regard the phone as an intrusion, which is how Steveo always dealt with it. I'm afraid I see it the same way. Now I was delighted to get your notes via your phone last night. That's the wonder of modern technology, that I can be comforted by someone sending the very words and text that I'm complaining about. We all have these little boxes and glowing tablets we stare into, to get our human contact. My problem is it seems to be drawing people away from the present. But if the present is full of apathetic, distracted people who only want to stare into their phones, why do I want to be in it, anyway? I'll just go home and smoke a bunch of spice and be perfectly happy.

But thanks for writing to me, anyway. My ambivalence toward technology is typical of my ambivalence toward human contact in general. Much easier to be a critic than it is to engage. But when engagement is reduced to text on a screen, I get to feeling lonely.
I want to hear the sound of voices, but radio is a wasteland. Except for Randi Rhodes, who is a thorougly bitchen babe. She said today that NPR is conservative. And you know what? I agree with her.

Assholes You May Know

I've got some writing here about engineering the board for Ruth Seymour during pledge drive at K-Crazy.

Thought you might enjoy it.

It also tells the story of my decision to shut down my facebook page for the time being. This was, oh I don't know, maybe two years ago or so.

I just don't really like it though. All those little white boxes, you know? And I would die without a theme song. It's just not the way I want to communicate with people. On the other hand, this is how people are communicating. Communication is being forced through text because everyone is doing it now. I just remember the phone fondly. But even the phone freaks me out these days.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

let's go, O

you know maybe after some success in the system the big O will come up to his election persona and re-collect that army that swept him into the big house.

it would be extra cool if all these predictions about the dems taking the boot next fall fell away and the repugs are left with their face in the eggs. THen maybe we'll have a peaceful revolution.

gotta get that army back in the saddle.

and check out the "new rule" video at...

bill maher may be an overzealous eccentric, but it's really time for our liberal pop prophets (bill maher, michael moore chief among them) to put it right out there in no uncertain terms.

to paraphrase, "can we finally stand here and point fingers at the Real bad guys? here we go..."

as an arkaniac, I love it when he lays into the "hillbilly half of the nation".

check it out. it's worth a few clicks.

Friday, March 26, 2010

No You Can't (featuring John Boehner)

Not crazy about the video but the song gave me chills.

At the same time, facial expressions are worth a thousand words.

healthcare stargate

I'm hoping the healthcare bill survives for one start moving forward.

is this related to what we've been talking about? in at least one way: to prove to liberals and progressives that we Can make positive changes and move this country forward. now theyre talking about regulating the banking industry, then push education reform.

taken all together that will move the culture to the left in ways that protect citizens and create a more humane atmosphere and encourage people to believe theyre living in a more respectful and cooperative country than they did during the Reagan-Bush years.

THen maybe we can get back to the America we grew up in...not the belligerent war mongering world cop job exporting baby huey we've been since the 80s.

THen maybe people in public radio will get back to the reason it was created in the first place: a non-commercial, non-ratings focused, non-greedy ALTernative to commercial networks. then you and I and the rest of the population will enjoy true Public Broadcasting into the foreseeable future.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

giving away the treasure

same thing happened here. I offered many times to take the jazz library to smu so it could retain its integrity and actually serve the community. anti-christ craig a wouldnt listen let alone understand what an important thing an archive IS.

then the day came when the whole thing was in the hall, the kitchen, out into the alley. it had already been picked over. I loaded up the trunk and watched it trickle away. what a cultural waste. so the jazz collection wouldnt be lonely, the classical collection was right along side it.

cause youre right. I dont hate the corporate administration process lightly. it screws up the priorities and squeezes whatever humanity and cultural awareness administrators Might have if it werent for their job priorities...paper pushing, yes man no man, profit margins, worthless meetings, meaningless productivity goals...and all the goddam politics the environment demands.

I understand it less now than I did 25 years ago.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

KCRW's Music Library Tragedy

In the 90's when I was a dj at krazy-RW there was a weird thing happening which didn't get me all worked up because I was walking in a dream then. The politics at the place were such a sticky thicket that no one could see the forest for the trees, least of all me. So when the music library started overflowing, alarms didn't go off in my head (or anyone's, apparently). Here's the thing. That music library was a resource unlike any other I have seen in my life. Wall to wall music, a whole wall of world music, from every country and corner of the world. Himalayan bell choirs to French hip-hop. Then a wall of soundtracks. A Hallway of Jazz. A Classical Library. All stuffed into this ridiculously tiny space underground at Santa Monica College. And overstuffed. Teetering stepladders barely reaching the fourteen-foot ceilings, space-saving drawers, they did the best they could with the space, and another little nook was for the tabulating and quantifying of tunes, plastered with posters off to the side. But just not enough room. And not a priority to make more room for the ever-growing collection of phenomenal music that streamed in via special delivery from hopeful bands and promoters.

I'm sure CD did his best, but there was no convincing management to make expanding the library a priority then. And so music started to be given away. We got to pick our picks. Then, in a seizure of tragic insanity, they just started throwing the music out. Don't ask me who decided this--I only know it happened. There just wasn't enough room. And for years-----and years-----and years-----out went the music like a neverending tide, boxes and boxes and boxes and boxes, for years and years and years.

Here's the tragedy of that, OK. A music library unlike any other, a station renowned for pulling in cash from its wealthy Santa Monica surroundings, and the physical riches of the music library did not glow in the minds of management. If ever there was a reason KCRW knocked the socks off other radio stations in the world, it was the music.

It was nice to have the studios redone. Nice to be in shiny new studios, sure. But the old ones, despite being oiled with 20-year-old sweat and bedbugs, worked just fine. It sounded fine. We did not need new studios as desperately as we needed more room to store music. More physical space. But the new studios and the state-of-the art equipment were what happened. Regardless of the fact that the personnel and the unique resource of the place was the actual beating heart of the station. That which is not living has little value in the world of music, and those cds and records were like oil---life's energy compressed into coded form, bursting to life at the drop of the needle or laser. WE NEEDED TO KEEP THAT STUFF. But what to keep and what to throw away is not a distinction KCRW management has understood well over the years.

So, finally, a few years back, KCRW began to realize what a treasure it was sitting on. But the fact of the matter is that Ruth didn't much care about the music. She had her own picks that she promoted during pledge drives, and they were usually great. But I don't think she really ever listened to, or engaged herself in, the music aspect of the station. She just didn't seem all that interested. Will Lewis, on the other hand (you notice I'm naming names here, and I don't care anymore, someone should)was completely into all the station's programming. He would listen driving home after working a 16-hour day, and on the way to the Antelope Valley, he'd have the music on and turned up. He would compliment me on shows the following day, and I would go, "You were listening?" It's Will Lewis who pulled Chris's cassette tape out of a box of discards, when Chris sent in for the Morning Becomes Eclectic opening back in the early 90's. That was something Ruth told me herself. Why, I don't know, because she rarely told me anything. Will Lewis never took credit for anything, never was recognized, and kept a low profile. Now Ruth's retired and the woman who replaced her was basically her hatchet-woman. Because the music was cool, the hatchet-woman, who is hypersensitive to coolness, is supportive of the music, I think. But I don't know, because I mentally disconnected from the place sometime after 9/11. The world got weird then, and KCRW got weirder. In the years before I left I just drifted further and further from the political core of the place. I met Tim and my friends had all long since quit. The friends who hadn't quit became embittered and it was hard to talk to them because of the high resentment-level in the discourse there. There was too little oxygen in the basement, and too many things that were not as they seemed. Extreme stratification of power in a physically small and cramped space---which meant that there were too many conversations in hushed tones with darting eyes, too many lies, and too much energy into turf wars. As much as I miss the job I cringe when I think of the poisoned atmosphere and am amazed when people complain about the place I work now (because people will always complain) because this is a much, much nicer place to work.

The best way to be involved at krazy-RW is to do a show on the weekend, come in, bring your stuff, or come in late at night and turn the lights down low and crank the music and bring a roomful of friends. But even that was frowned on after a while. There was a great vibe for a while after hours, but then people got all wigged out about the idea of strange intruders (music people) coming in off the street. Some CD's went missing, but since it wasn't management throwing them out, that wasn't OK. So policies tightened and there was less spillover from the outside world into the studios. I remember when I was working on Chris's show (for about a year) an artist would come in and he'd be like, sure, come on down, just sit and be quiet but bring friends, whatever, and the whole room would be full of people watching and listening to the live performances. Or he would bring his kids in, sit them in front of the microphone and have them say something in their widdle baby voices, and jiggle them on his knee, Mieke would be sitting there hanging out, I'd get out the magic markers and we'd all make a big mess on the floor. That's a radio station with music---that's what radio should look like.

There's still hope for KCRW, because it still kicks other music stations all six ways to Sunday and back. But I hope like almighty god they understand that they're sitting on a Smithsonian of Sound.

Old KCRW tapes

I've put some online here. Yeah, cassettes still work and I still love them. A while back they went around taking them out of the studios here at Metro and I snagged a double dubber and it's still sitting in my trunk. I've got a ton of cassettes that I've been dubbing to mp3 but many more still to do. And it makes me nervous because with the cassettes, at least there's a solid actual object I can hold in my hand. When it's all been coded into 1's and 0's and exists in the ether, I get nervous. Where's my music? CD's piss me off too, because they were supposed to be so much better than records, and the fact of the matter is they have to be handled just as carefully and they scratch all to hell if you're sloppy like me and tend to leave things in a pile after rooting through them for the right tune. But we had to have them, right. Even though it shrunk art and the whole satisfying experience of owning a nice large piece of vinyl, down to something that is, once again, shrinkwrapped. You should come out sometime and visit Ameoba with me. It's walking distance from my house and is pretty bitchen for vinyl. At least there's some appreciation of vinyl now that the shiny newness of cd's has tarnished somewhat with all the skippy players out there. Even the sound of vinyl is not so bad---I dunno. I'm a luddite who's given up my cell phone and I have never sent a text message in my life. So what do I know?

Anyway, I'm glad to have a place to complain, because it's one of my favorite things to do, and the fact that no one is complaining and screaming to high heaven about the lack of good music on the radio is something I find depressing as hell. Plus, you complain with such elegance. The music of people who understand what each other are bitching about is music to my mind's ear, anyway.

I'll go check out some of KERA's overnight stuff. Now are you talking about the new station that's started up? Or has it not gotten off the ground yet? The one you told me about on email some time ago?


well, it doesnt all suck over at K*&^. I was just listening to the overnight network stuff as I have before and there's some edge there...some coolness. so, it's not all crap. just sayin. the station has parked a bunch of their in studio stuff on line. I've listened to a few and, again, there's a lot of 'Great Value' brandology going on if you get my drift. it's good quality if you like white bread and peter pan. which I do on rare occasions.

every hour of every day? not so much.

the past, part 2

yeah, I thought we did some very cool stuff. however it was those tapes you sent me from KC$# that I listened to over and over cause they were really drivin a vibe...takin it down the road and over the hill. great stuff. I run into it sometimes thinking I should put it on cd.

but it was the flow...the magical flow of a live dj doing what they do. which of course you cant DO if it's just a bunch of tunes in the computer randomly showing up according to some binary code. and of course the turd brains dont understand Any of that. why the hell do most of the people in charge of entertainment have absolutely no clue what the relationship is between performer, entertainment and audience? the radio system stinks.

when I moved a while back I found one tape labeled 'radio show' and the thing I put together of glenn's original bed music I recorded and one more I did for my overnight audience that I offered at pledge. who knows if they even play...cassettes...I mostly kept them for the cover art.

then and now...

my lack of presence has been due to an amazingly productive and busy semester, playing more than ever with good players on really fun projects.

you know, I dont know how it's going over there at K&^% or whatever they call it. the little bits I've heard and heard about sound very generic and overly consistent. lots of, you know, singer songwriter, indie this and that, acoustic cafe, world cafe, carnage cafe, dont give a fuck cafe, people tryin real hard to sell their "Music to the (WAH)" slogan. lots of network shows that fit the Adult whatever format and I just cant do format music any more. it all smells like theyre tryin too hard to bring the damn pledges in. from their page: "I support K&^% cause it support the music I love!" you know's slick crap from the sewers of the music biz and that makes me wanna kick it in the groin till my foot gets tired. eat me.

music was never meant to be a slave, a pet maybe but never a slave.

sure we 'used' music to create shows and 'tell our stories'. we never abused it. we never stuffed it in an shrunk wrapped industrial plastic pre-fab widget and made it do stuff it was not intended to do. at least the vast majority of the time. we had fun and I'd like to think the audience and the music we aired was having fun, too.

then I fucked up by trying to squeeze mySelf into a widget cause I thought security and money was too good to pass up. I like to follow the river and that's where the river was going in 1997-98.

well, at least those sacrificial 4 years gave me ranting rights the rest of my free life.

now I improvise music and teach according to my own desire and design...I work all of 11 hours a week plus god knows how many practice hours I put in, at least twice that, and I get by. it's a positive life that contributes to only good stuff. no commercialism, no slaving meat wheel, no time oiling the machine for turd heads spinning their brains in the service of other turd brains. there are no turd brains in my life. how many people can say that? it's almost like I've already retired. all the turd brains I see are on TV.

I have no interest in going back into radio as we know it. I've probably said this more than a few times cause it's been on my mind a while: my pleasant little dream is to get a gig in a tiny ass free form station when I'm 70-75 in taos and do my version of ken nordine plus a ton of cool music from the various corners of my life. there has been some truly kick ass music recorded these last 50 years. millions of tunes I would love to choose from while I sit and smile at what I just said to the few hundred night creatures eavesdropping.

they might think I've become a whacko in my old age. they wont know I've always been this way.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Good Times

You know, those evenings at KERA were the best fun I ever had at a job in my life. Remember? We'd have wine and cheese, shoot the breeze, play some tunes, howl at the moon. Then one day one of your weird friends came ambling with a video camera to shoot your show and we all ended up sitting around til 5am, and then I moved to California with him. Why not?

You had a great show then, one of the best I've heard on radio, ever. Did you record any of those shows? I remember the long stretches of jazz mixed with esoteric ranting and rambling, the low notes strung through the hot August nights, the Dallas artists who dropped by and and dropped in and dropped jewels of information into the show, all in a flow that made sense, because rhythm is one thing you had, a sense of the movement of sound and the silence between sounds that decides so much about how sound echoes in the brain. The context, the frame of a sound, the pauses of listening, the pegging needles from laughter, the unpredictableness of a radio station where the suits were fast asleep in Turtle Creek and nobody cared whether things were irregular. Those were great programs and great days. Seven fifty an hour and loving every minute of it. Standing up at shows and kicking off the live music, what a kick. The kind of job that's not a job, that everyone dreams about. And the music was like a dream strung through my days and I have never since been able to surround my mind with music and rhythm like that. I've been searching for that world since I left it, but it evaporated behind me.

What's the latest with the new music station? Did they start up?

Any good?

That Hopey Changey Thing

A few weeks ago Sarah Palin sarcastically asked an audience "How's that hopey changey thing goin' for ya?" At last the Democrats have answered her: "Just fine, how you doin' with fear and anger?"

(from the comments section)

Read Krugman's column for a rare slice of hopefulness.