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Jun 2017

Most of the Time I’m Somebody Else’s Problem: Transmission 335, 2017 April 10

June 7, 2017

Bauhaus_-_Bela_Lugosi_s_Dead_-_back_cover.jpg Welcome to the 30th birthday party for my extremely non-lucrative radio career. I pointed out a few weeks ago that it had occurred to me that this anniversary must be approaching, and that I had sussed out when it had to be (more on this in a minute). But I had not anticipated, at that brainwave's first appearance, that I would actually have a chance to observe the anniversary on air, seeing as how it fell on a Monday night instead of "our regular weekly time together." I was more or less prepared to just post that old show tape and be done with it, but then fate decided to send Roger somewhere other than the Kenny Ritter Memorial Studio on this particular evening, so--as it often happens--I "stepped in." Aside from being a special night, numerically, this is also a rare confluence of circumstances: (a) having access to Surprise Airtime and Knowing What To Do With It--I notice that on the last TWO iterations of April 23, I have filled in for someone without managing to do anything for David Gedge's birthday (or William Shakespeare's, for that matter); and (b) having the aforementioned Surprise Airtime at a suitable hour for me to drag my old-ass body down to the station and actually conduct whatever needed to be conducted (still feeling guilty about flaking on Andrew Eldritch).

I started to write this post, and then abandoned it for nearly a month. This probably deserves unpacking, but the time will never come. Odds are, I wanted to discuss circumstances and atmosphere, since, aside from a handful of actual records that I used to play, that's what I carry with me from Spring Quarter 1987. You might think this constituted "traveling light." You would be wrong.

As I mention during the program, the first dozen or so broadcasts I did at KDVS were from 3 to 6 in the morning, that being the standard "debut" slot for a new DJ. Even this undesirable shift resulted from a six-month process of dues-paying, attrition, "extreme vetting," and a bit of training and soundchecking here and there. I have no recollection of how I stayed awake until 3am, and would have to guess that it was 99% "being 18 years old" that did the trick. I do recall the oddity of having a key to Freeborn Hall (the student union, effectively) but not to the station itself (I guess we took security more seriously than the University for some reason). If I'm not mistaken I still have that Freeborn key. Wonder if it still works.

A persistent memory: leaving the building after my program and being greeted by sunlight, which was super-weird. Going back to my dorm room and crashing for several hours (perhaps I didn't have class on Fridays? It probably wouldn't have mattered). Already I was becoming isolated from people--maybe on account of my radio activities, or trying to do music of my own. I don't remember, other than that fights and silences that I didn't understand were piling up quickly, and that this three hours a week of panicked improvisation was really the closest thing to "fun" that I was having. Sometimes I think it was ever thus!

Since I didn't plan this anniversary program either, other than picking the records I brought down to the station, there were some oversights, which I would address in the next regular Wednesday broadcast. There are probably many stories to tell about individual songs and the people of whom they remind me, but it's all gossip. I'll make a general observation sandwiched in between two specific ones. First, it really upsets me that I botched the beginning of the LKJ tracks. That's a thing that never used to happen when I was 18 and competent, and I commit these errors all the time now. Representationally--this broadcast isn't nearly as Wax Trax-y as the first KDVS programs were, which is sort of a beautiful lie; it's also devoid of 4AD content, which is also nice--that would soon be an obsession of mine, but not yet. Finally, Cabaret Voltaire--I can't tell you how much time I spent in the listening rooms, during my "probationary" period, spinning Cabs records. Particularly Voice of America, though for my programs I tended to prefer the ones with heavier drums. I have a very clear memory of listening to VOA while weaving a "friendship bracelet"--but for whom? Did I ever even give it away? Seems like a pretty loaded image.

Thanks for being my friend.

BOMBAST playlist, 2017 April 10, 1900-2100:

  1. "Clustering Train" | The Golden Palominos | Visions of Excess | Celluloid
  2. "Michael Jackson" | Negativland | Escape from Noise | SST
  3. "Qaf Harpy" | Click Click | Fight! | Cathexis | "Physical Evidence"
  4. "The Human Jungle" | The Jazz Butcher | The Human Jungle | Glass
  5. "Dance of Framin" | Tiokoala | Fight! | Cathexis | "Physical Evidence"
  6. "Reality Poem" / "Wat About Di Workin Claas?" | Linton Kwesi Johnson | In Concert with the Dub Band | LKJ Records
  7. "Hazey Daze" | Chris & Cosey | Reflection | Wax Trax!
  8. "Amputate" | Project GK | Fight! | Cathexis | "Physical Evidence"
  9. "The Milkman of Human Kindness" | Billy Bragg | Life's a Riot / Between the Wars | Cooking Vinyl
  10. "Out on Your Own" | Easterhouse | Contenders | Columbia
  11. "The Pilgrims Progress" | Clair Obscur | Fight! | Cathexis | "Physical Evidence"
  12. "Kundalini" / "Vegas El Bandito" | 23 Skidoo | Seven Songs | Ronin
  13. "Bela Lugosi's Dead" | Bauhaus | Bela Lugosi's Dead | Small Wonder
  14. "Thumbs of a Murderer" | Shockheaded Peters | Fight! | Cathexis | "Physical Evidence"
  15. "Israel" | Siouxsie and the Banshees | Nocturne | Polydor
  16. "Teen Love" | No Trend | Teen Love | No Trend
  17. "T.V. Mind (It's In My Brain Version)" | Revolting Cocks | Fight! | Cathexis | "Physical Evidence"
  18. "Uncorrected Personality Traits" | Robyn Hitchcock | I Often Dream of Trains | Midnight Music
  19. "Get Out of My Face" | Cabaret Voltaire | 2 x 45 | Rough Trade

sweat and dirt and sloping shoulders