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Feb 2020

What Can We Do To Stop This Insanity? Transmission 500, 2019 December 11

February 20, 2020

massive_attack_atlas_air.jpgLast night I had another teaching dream. I was in a large, run-down auditorium, lecturing as I once did to a few hundred people who would rather be somewhere else. (I keep having to remind myself this never had much to do with me.) It was a familiar lecture that I actually used to deliver in real life, one that I was good at and refined constantly. But my heart was not in it and I (or the material) was losing people. At some point I decreed a bathroom break; to my surprise it seemed that the auditorium was located in some city centre, next to a bunch of retail spaces. Most of my "audience" trailed off to various stores instead of returning to class, and frankly I think I chose this option too. The dream dissolved as usual into incoherence and I woke up, not wanting to sleep anymore.

This keeps happening, probably because I keep not learning from it. But I already know that I failed at being emotionally and spiritually present in my previous life. Did I always understand this? Funny story...

My academic misadventure is pretty neatly positioned between my two stints as a disc jockey. In January 1993 I did my last KDVS program five days before leaving for graduate school; the Bombast program launched about 16 months after I vacated my last faculty office. It's weird to demarcate things this way, but where is the lie? 

Anyway, at the beginning of my MA program I needed some funds to float me for about a month or so before my graduate assistantship checks started rolling in--to cover niceties like rent, food, and so on. I had nothing worth selling except for records and CDs. It's wild to think about what was possible at that time, and what we valued. You can't make any money doing this today, no matter what Discogs tries telling you, but it absolutely worked for me at this time. AND, five months later, when my apartment was broken into, the thieves took my CDs and left my computer. If you were somehow transported back to that world, you would not recognize it.

So Lady Catharsis (yes, even then she was with me) drove me down to Amoeba in Berkeley and watched me unload about 1/3 of my collection. This wasn't one of those occasional prunings you do, just to make a little room, or because you've moved past certain things. You wouldn't believe the stuff I had to jettison. It felt like cutting off a limb. They'll tell you that commodity fetishism is a poor substitute for having a personality, and "they" are right. But I do have a personality, and this happened to hurt a lot. Sacrifices Had To Be Made, and I Needed To Grow Up. Sometimes I try to bargain with memory and imagine that maybe it was other people who told me these things, but I'm almost positive it was me saying them to myself. Anyway, in the moment you couldn't consider it anything but sensible, so onward and upward I went.

In times of acute stress and despair, during the ensuing years of being variously (and sometimes simultaneously) marginalized, stalked, overlooked, surveilled, bullied, swindled, targeted, and finally discarded, all while incurring tremendous debt and distancing myself geographically and emotionally from loved ones, I would think back to the Faustian bargain that made it all possible.

What if I had just said No, and kept my records?

How much worse would that have been? Is that a silly thing to wonder?

This is probably more than you want from a community radio podcast, sorry.

But when I speak grandly about the show's mission it's as real as it is selfish and mundane and ridiculous. I'm trying to close a circle and conjure a ghost--a lost child, maybe. If it's funny that I think of this as a self-healing ritual then at least I have brought you momentary amusement. That's something. It's amazing (even if behind the scenes I have fucking earned it and then some) that WRFI has let me do this for one thousand hours. Maybe one day I will even have spent as much time in the Kenny Ritter Memorial Studio as I spent standing in front of a resentful audience talking about things that don't matter to anyone.

Trying to rationalize what I did in this 500th ritual, I guess I would say I was a bit more overt about it than I am most of the time. Lady Catharsis told me to be my usual awesome self, and I have to say I was! It was not exactly a smooth blend of present and past, but somehow, magically, it worked.

Cabaret Voltaire actually has a song called "Invocation," but did you know that for me "Bad Self" truly invokes something? I have always loved it more than is healthy but the word "mercenary" has taken on special meaning in my postgrad life. Because I need to have some secrets I will just say that it has worked a kind of magic in my world. So this tune is a kind of theme song now for me, the guy who has no money and is letting you download his mixtapes with no strings attached.

Looking back at my other milestone programs, I don't think they were that remarkable or successful. Transmission 100 was all but a secret, executed late at night (I'm too old for that now!) and without planning or fanfare. I don't feel like hiding my light anymore as I must have felt back then. I tried to fold an acknowledgement of "200" into the usual business of that program, but you can always tell when a thing is forced. Episode 300, looking back, was a kind of Oedipal moment--the patricidal kind, not the incestuous kind--that had to be happening in a downward spiral. At the moment I'm not interested in hearing it again. The 400th show was a disaster--another magic word!--but it is one of many lessons I am learning these days about boundaries. However, this one, right here, makes me proud. It even made me proud in the moment! 

yes it's real

But I must continue to own my negligence. Since this program was broadcast, 71 days ago now, I've gone on the air 12 times. At the gym (always the fucking gym) I am listening back to a transmission from 39 days ago. I've just finished editing a sound file from 22 days ago--5 shows ago. Running through the archive, I note that I have spent an awful lot of time being two months behind here. Maybe I should just embrace that.

I know that you people don't read, but for just a moment longer I'm going to pretend that you do, and mention that a few posts ago I promised some statistics. But I've decided to spare you because if you've made it this far you've been through enough. Look, sometimes I flake out and sometimes even I get bored with me. Isn't it time for a bathroom break, or some shopping, or something? Anything?

Sweet dreams.

BOMBAST playlist, 2019 December 11, 2100-2300:

  1. "Party at Ground Zero" | Fishbone | Fishbone | Columbia
  2. "The Revolution Will Be Televised" | Tupelo Chain Sex | Spot the Difference | Selma
  3. "Menebo Nden" | Moussa Doumbia | Sound d'Afrique II - Soukous | Mango
  4. "Ooze" | 23 Skidoo | The Gospel Comes to New Guinea | Ronin
  5. "No Age Dub" | Lee "Scratch" Perry | Life of the Plants | Stones Throw
  6. "Tea Leaf Dancers" | Flying Lotus | Presents INFINITY Infinitum Maida Vale Session | WARP
  7. "Metal Banshee (Mad Professor Mix One)" | Massive Attack | Massive Attack V Mad Professor Part II (Mezzanine Remix Tapes '98) | UMC / Virgin
  8. "Confession" | Chris & Cosey | Exotika [reissue] | Conspiracy International
  9. "For Suzanne" | The Durutti Column | Fidelity [reissue] | Les Disques Du Crépuscule
  10. "Stop the Coup (Mikk Stupp - Rocked out Miami Remix)" | Cabinet of Millionaires vs Zion Train | Stop The Coup | Chocolate Fireguard
  11. "Privatise the Air" / "Privatise the Air Pt. 2" | Gary Clail & On-U Sound System | End of the Century Party | On-U Sound
  12. "Motivation" | The London Underground | Current Affairs Session | On-U Sound
  13. "Bad Self (Part One)" | Cabaret Voltaire | James Brown | Virgin / Some Bizarre
  14. "Space Dookie / At Last" | Afriqua | Colored | R & S
  15. "The Tides" | Jeff Mills | Moon (The Area of Influence) | Axis
  16. "March of the Rising Sun" | The Comet Is Coming | Death to the Planet | Leaf
  17. "Hum Along And Dance" | The Jackson 5ive | Get It Together | Motown

motivated by hype and avarice