|Oil of Dog
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It is 2:45 a.m. I am crossing a parking lot. Suddenly a
snarling Volkswagen bug leaps at me, fiercely snapping its hood.
I barely make it behind a tree, but the monster extends its exhaust
pipe and the probing tube creeps toward me like a terrible metallic
groping hernia. I flee.
Safely within the master control room at WBFO, I prepare for the start of my show, "Oil of Dog". I always begin the same way. First, a recording of hyenas wailing. Then, "Good evening. I'm Gary Storm and this is Oil of Dog and I'm here to bring you all kinds of music all night long with nothin', nothin', nothin' but love . . . ." and I hit my theme song: "I Hate You" by Kim Fowley.
Good evening, gents and ladymen, and welcome to another night of
loathing and horror and beauty and holiness and all kinds of
wonders. How are you tonight? Yes indeed, it's time for
another Oil of Dog.
What I wanted to do here was give you an idea of what my show was like. Since you are reading me rather than listening to me, this is not so easy. I have contemplated including audio links of tapes from my show, or even fabricating a show and posting it as a series of sound files. But, in the end, I have decided I do not want to depart from the literary mode.
I have selected a number of recordings and attempted to create a verbal account of each one. I then arranged these mini reviews into the kinds of "sets" I used to do on the radio. Off the top of my head, I listed thousands of songs that were important to me. These were weeded down to the 100 or so music and comedy vignettes you will read in the right hand column as you traverse this website. Since I usually fill five hours with between 35 and 50 cuts, I have divided these selections into two "shows." These do not represent any actual shows or even sets that I have actually aired. They are simply a collocation of record cuts that were fun and easy to write about. Not all the music that inspires me necessarily inspires me to write.
Since language and music differ so greatly in purpose and form, it is, of course, impossible for these vignettes to actually convey the music. I hope you will understand how I think about the records I love, and the ways they can be used to bring to life the golden dream of radio. I believe I have coded these sets with a self evident system so it will be clear when one set ends and another begins. But for those who do not recognize this self evidence, the capital letters represent a group of songs that belong together, and the numbers in parentheses are the individual songs within that group. I feel what you find here is quite representative of what I used to do on the radio.
We’re going to start with Van Der Graaf Generator – man, I love Peter Hammill – and oh, by the way, I'm open for requests, so if there's anything you'd like to hear, call me at 831-5393 and if 've got it, I'll play it. Call me up. O.K., here's Van Der Graaf Generator. Once again, 831-5393, if there's anything you'd like to hear. Now Van Der Graaf Generator.
|I used to call DJs and make requests. They always made me feel stupid. They were curt and cool over the phone. I said to myself that if ever I were in their position, I would be polite to people over the phone, no matter how silly I thought they were, and I would be glad to do requests. In fact, that is one of the reasons why I became a DJ.||Image under construction.|
I have a rotten job this summer. One of the worst things about it is that the shift starts at 7 a.m. and it’s a half – hour drive from my house. I mean, I wake up and it’s dark. The one bright spot is traveling with Gary Storm’s "Oil of Dog" on WBFO on the way. Always a surprise – Soft Machine one day, a Wourinene string trio the next. Then, when I get to work, the radio blares out the BeeGees and Abba and such mind dullers all day. This is sorta what we mean by "Gazelles and Dinosaurs." *
David Graham. "Gazelles and Dinosaurs", SUNY at Buffalo Spectrum, June 29, 1979; Vol. 30, number and page unavailable.
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The aristocratic voice of PETER HAMMILL singing "A Place to Survive."
While the holocaust rages around you
be the eye of the storm
though the extent of disaster astounds
you, forearmed is forewarned
He thunders, he is jagged steel. His amazing group VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR, proud keyboards, jangling guitar, snorty saxophone, they sound like the parade of history.
The universe is doubtless unfolding
just exactly as it should
and these dreams of remorse or forboding
won t do you any good *
I once watched him in a solo performance, he sat at a piano on a black stage, he was a ghost a demon a mind. In the audience I talked to a soft little angel.
* Van Der Graaf Generator, from World Record, © 1976, Charisma Records, Mercury, SRM 1 1116.
I am very depressed. If I do something beautiful,
maybe I will feel better. Oftentimes, an imaginative and well
executed segue will change my whole state of mind. A segue is a
transition between the components of a broadcast, as between a theme
song and a commercial. For a disc jockey, segues are the heart of
his art, they are the movement from one song to the next. I am
almost the only disc jockey anywhere who can make any segue that comes
to mind. There are certain "Greatest Segues of All Time", such as
the transition from the cackling laughter at the end of "The Talking
Drum" by King Crimson into the exact same laughter at the beginning of "Uranian Circus" by The Flock; or sliding from the droning feedback at the end of "Sunrise" by Jefferson Starship into the startling crescendo at the beginning of "Roundabout" by Yes. But there are other powerful ways to move. I can go from a Puccini aria sung by Caruso to "Problems" by the Sex Pistols; or from "The Sensuous Woman" (yes, they actually made a record out of the book) into "Fuck Off" by Wayne County and the Electric Chairs:
If you don t wanna fuck me baby
Then fuck off
You think you re hot shit
But you re really a cold turd . . . . *
or from a tape of a tobacco auctioneer on Folkways Records into a Concerto Grosso by Handel.
Or I can seek a common spirit in unexpected places: I move from Bartok’s "Concerto for Viola and Orchestra" into a monochromatic spacey electronic piece by Edgar Froese called "NGC 891," then to "Concierto de Aranjuez" from Miles Davis’s Sketches of Spain, then "Virtually, Parts III and IV" by Soft Machine, into the first movement of Hans Werner Henze’s first symphony. The feelings aroused by this very long set of music are tense and dark and angry, all of the musicians were brooding about enormous things. I bring myself out with a very simple and pure guitar solo by Nick Drake called "Horn."
* Wayne County and the Electric Chairs. "Fuck Off”, “Fuck Off," © 1978, Desert Songs Pub., from Blatently Offensive E.P., Safari Records, WC 2.
|It is the year 2025. Two hundred million Chinese intellectual elite and urban workers sit in front of their color monitors with bags of Doritos watching re-runs of the "Donna Reed Show." Suddenly, they decide they have had enough. Gary sits at home with a bag of Doritos listening to old Elvis Costello sides, not realizing the end is near.|
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I cannot begin to describe what THE RESIDENTS are about, the way their music is created, why they do what they do. At first, they seemed to be another loony new wave act, singing silly sounding versions of old hits, proclaiming their hatred for the Beatles, purportedly being sued because the cover of their first album was little more than cover of Meet the Beatles graffitoed with grotesque scribbles.
But they are more mysterious than any new wave band, they are impossible to grasp, there are no pictures of their faces, even on the records they sound far away, they use an out of tune piano, they are silly. Now I associate them with the most experimental and courageous of rock music; they are the only totally unique band to appear in the 70's.
And this is no joke. Eskimo is an album, depicting purely with music, the folk tales of the Eskimo people. The plots are told by liner notes meant to be read while listening to the record – but it is the music that is the arctic wind, the hunting and chanting, the magicians, the terror, the sadness of survival, the looming of death. It is about being alive, absolute life grasped by music.
|Tonight I was one of a screaming bunch of idiots at a heavy metal concert with Blue Oyster Cult and Uriah Heep. Scott Field was with me. There was no reserved seating and no air conditioning and I was smashed right up on the stage. Blue Oyster Cult was first. But I thought they were the headliners, so I watched their whole act thinking they were Uriah Heep. Then I watched Uriah Heep and wondered why they didn’t play "Stairway to the Stars" and "Seven Screaming Diz Busters." After the show, Scott straightened me out. I guess I should have been drunk or stoned or something. At least the tickets were free. I wonder if I enjoyed myself.|
All night radio is a world unto itself. In
the sunlight, the purposes of radio center around entertaining and
informing. At night, people seem to expect much more from the
radio. They depend upon it to help maintain wakefulness and
sanity, states we take for granted in the sunlight. Daytime codes
of beauty and decency are less significant at night; all night radio is
free to express and explore matters otherwise suppressed and overlooked.
Night people are a special cult. On my show, I often play a beautiful song by Colin Scot with these lines:
In the dark the day begins,
in the night the loser wins. *
All night radio is set apart from the daytime world, from daytime media.
* Colin Scot. “Night People.” © 1971, United Artists, Ltd. from Colin Scot, Import Records, Imp 1009.
KING CRIMSON, "Larks Tongues in Aspic, Part I."
A kalimba close to the ear, pretty patterns over and over, grindings, ringings, scrapings. It is like moving through a pleasantly working galaxy of atoms and molecules all going about their business. Menacing enormity is near.
When I was a child, I would at night be clutched by a simultaneous sensation of absolute universal hard round enormity and absolute sharp brittle minuteness. This terror was called The Bigs and The Littles.
This music is like that. Horrible buzzing guitar, very distant. Gradually, a tribal beat takes over, drums like tin cans and garbage lids, wicked war drums, drums of ritual. Unconscious deep unnoticed bass solo. Like a spindly creature or a dry weed the violin spins a tale which is shouted away by pulsing guitar and voices from a soap opera, and the violin is frantic with melodrama. Sudden huge whirling of brilliant things and then it is dying dying tinkling tinkling softly tinkling dying. Shhhhhhhhh.
Figure 1: Gary Storm, Eric Bloom of Blue Oyster Cult, and Scott Field: “I’m gonna fix the guy who keeps setting up interview with kids who have nothing better to talk about than Soft White Underbelly.” (Photo by Zowie)
| BIBLIOGRAPHY NUMBER TWO
Cogent articulation about the difference between commercial and non-commercial radio first came to me in a book by Lorenzo W. Milam called Sex and Broadcasting: A Handbook on Starting a Radio Station for the Community. (Saratoga, California: Dildo Press, 1975.) (When I first bought it was available for approximately $5.00 from P.O. Box 3490, San Diego, California 92103.) The book is much more than an instruction book for those who wish to start a non commercial radio station. It is an inspiring ranting philosophic tome. It is hard to imagine anyone loving and hating at the same time anything more than Milam loves and hates radio. He ignited and illuminated many of my notions about my own show and helped me articulate my feelings about the whole business of broadcasting. Anyone interested in any aspect of radio must own this book.
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The portion of the FM band (at the time this was
originally written) between 88.1 and 91.9 is set aside by the FCC
exclusively for non commercial, public, educational, and community
radio stations. The rest of the FM band and the entire AM band
are the province of commercial stations. WBFO is a non commercial
public station and was given a niche at 88.7 megahertz.
The commercial stations generally view stations like mine as dipshit operations run by a bunch of amateurs who are only interested in esoteric boring dribble. They will tolerate non commercial radio as long as it doesn’t interfere with their own ratings. In my most cynical moods, I see the commercials as mere holes in the universe (to borrow Lorenzo Milam’s phrase) for making money, run by creeps who have no commitment to truth, beauty, art, music, or public affairs and who probably do great damage to the world.
The worst thing for people in non commercial radio is dealing with commercial realities. We have bills like everybody else and so a great deal of time and energy is expended in applying for grants, seeking donations from businesses, justifying ourselves to The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and – worst of all – running "membership weeks" in which we beg YOU, THE PUBLIC, to donate money. Moreover, as Popular Music Director, I deal with commercial record companies whose promoters are often possessed of severe top 40 retardation with no sensitivity to music and no sympathy for those of us who play music because we love it we love it we love it more than life itself without regard for its ability to generate revenue. OH, DON’T GET ME STARTED I COULD TELL YOU A THING OR TWO ABOUT THE RECORD BUSINESS.
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This liturgical chant dates from the 7th century and was sung before the Catholic Church chose the Gregorian form as the preeminent liturgical form. These haunting unharmonized melodies are called Mozarabic. They were sung in the Iberian Peninsula when it was under Muslim rule, rooted in the East and in the West, embracing disparate humanity. They are the empirical standard for human beauty.
Vide, Domine, et considera quoniam factus sum vilis.
(Look, 0 Lord, and behold for I am despised.)Vide afflictionem meam, quia erectus est inimicus.
(0 Lord, behold my affliction, for the enemy has triumphed!)
There is a myth that centuries ago, someone heard the voices of monks singing these chants,
echoing and blending into harmonies in the cavernous cathedrals. It was from this that the idea of harmony arose. They say that when the harmonized liturgy was first performed, the listeners screamed and fainted and rioted. It was angels.
The very first article ever written about my show was by Patricia Ward Biederman in the Courier Express way back in 1977:
He admires them, especially their remarkable gift for instant patter, but he has no desire to follow them into the compromising, if lucrative, AM radio.*
Actually, the only DJ of the four mentioned who used that hyper, top 40 style of "instant patter" was George Hamburger. The other three worked at FM stations. It is interesting to note that not one of these four DJs now holds the same job they had during the time of the article.
Patricia Ward Bierderman. "Storm’s Music Soothes a Lonely Night,” Courier Express, Jan. 14, 1977, Vol. CXLII, No. 178, p. 10.
| I weave a morning of passion with the poems of Alan Dugan, interspersed and illuminated with the piano music of Scriabin. In "The Natural Enemies of the Conch" are these lines:
(That’s the way it is
with the ugly: ugliness
should arm their flesh
against the greedy but
they grow such wiles
around the hurt
that estheticians come
with love, apology
and knives and cut
the beauty from the quick.) *
I am no esthetician. Tonight I will play The Fugs and I will play Alesandro Scarlatti.
* Alan Dugan. Poems. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1961.
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Well, it’s Tuesday night (or Wednesday
morning, depending on your perspective), and that means it’s time
once again for my Truly Classic Album Hour. I began this weekly
feature a number of years ago when WGRQ, the big AOR station, had a Classic Album Hour in which they featured albums based solely on commercial success, like the Doobie Brothers and Peter Frampton.
I decided it was important to expose albums that are historically
important but which were not necessarily commercial
successes. It has only been since about 1967 or 1968 that
album sales have surpassed the sale of 45 rpm singles, and since I have
been interested in rock’n’roll about that long, most of my
albums are from the beginning of the "album era." I define a
Truly Classic Album as one that is at least five years old, and is of
historical importance, or which was really great but got completely
overlooked, or which is a collector’s item, or which is so weird,
it’s hard to believe it ever got released.
Tonight’s album is one of my all time favorites. It falls into the collector’s item category. It is Walk Away Renee/Pretty Ballerina by the Left Banke. This is their first album and it came out in 1966. I love this album because most of the songs were written by a perplexing guy named Michael Browne. Though he never seemed to be able to equal his songwriting in any of the other groups he joined after the Left Banke – those being The Stories and The Beckies – he is, as far as I m concerned, immortal for writing "Pretty Ballerina." I think it is one of the greatest all time love songs because I’m always falling in love with dancers. He was only a teenager of 17 or 18 when he wrote these songs. It is interesting to note that the number one all time favorite song back in 1966 when this album was released was "The Ballad of the Green Berets," it was the top of the pops. The Left Banke went on to put out one more album called The Left Banke Too, but it was not nearly as good because Michael Browne had left the group. Let’s listen to it now, my Truly Classic Classic Album of the Week: Walk Away Renee/Pretty Ballerina by the Left Banke.
Every once in a while, I get in the mood for my
Famous Sing Along Set. More than rock’n’roll, more
even than classical music, these are the kinds of songs I heard as a
child. Probably because I was such a television kid and saw so
many variety shows, like The Texaco Star Theatre (otherwise known as The Jimmy Durante Show), The Dean Martin Show, The Ed Sullivan Show, The George Gobel Show (I really remember him, honest, he played the affable drunk), The Danny Kaye Show, The Perry Como Show, the original Dinah Shore Show (myl little pre-pubescent juices squirmed for her ), The Andy Williams Show, The Red Skelton Show
(what a heart-touching genius!) and on and on for years and years
without ever stopping even to use the bathroom. That’s why
I can sing along with everyone of these tunes and I ll bet you can, too.
Gordon MacRae singing "Soliloquy" from Carousel by Rogers and Hammerstein.
"A Wonderful Boy" sung by Mary Martin from South Pacific by Rogers and Hammerstein.
"Tonight" from West Side Story by Stephen Sondheim and Leonard Bernstein, sung by Larry Kert and Carol Lawrence.
Gertrude Lawrence and Yul Brynner singing "Shall We Dance" from The King and I by Rogers and Hammerstein.
From Oliver by Lionel Bart, Bruce Prochnik singing "Who Will Buy?"
And for a killer finale, from Stop the World - I Want to Get Off by Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse, "What Kind of Fool Am I?" sung by Anthony Newley.
Songs like these always make me cry.
LORD BUCKLEY was a comedian of jazz and of hip. Lenny Bruce, Dick Gregory, George Carlin, all learned their chops from him. He died in 1960. No one could fail being inspired by his story about Jesus of Nazareth:
Well, I m gonna put a cat on you was the sweetest gonest wailinest cat that ever stomped on this sweet swingin sphere. And they called this here cat The Nazz. That was the cat’s name. He was a carpenter kitty. Now, the Nazz was the kind of cat that comes on so wild and so sweet and so strong and so vivid that when he laid it – (WHAM! He stomps on the stage.) – it stayed there! *
* Lord Buckley. "The Nazz," © no date, West Coast Music Publishers Co, (ASCAP), from Buckley’s Best, World Pacific Records, WS 21879.
One of the DJs possessed of "instant patter" for
whom I expressed admiration in the Courier Express article was George Hamburger. At the time, he was the afternoon jock on WKBW,
the number one DJ for his time slot at the number one rock station in
the city. Hamburger has a long successful career in Buffalo
radio, he was one of the founders of progressive FM radio in the area
in the sixties and went on to become one of the most important AM
announcers. Though most stations are owned by cretins and managed
by mongoloids with bird-headed dwarfs as music directors, it takes a
truly remarkable person to take all the bilge and dreck they are
expected to push and still remain sincere and amusing and personable on
the air. George Hamburger was a delight to hear even if he was
expected to play safe music and dreadful commercials. He was
recently fired from WKBW in a much publicized turnover. Back in
1977 when I mentioned him in the article, he called me and appeared at
3:00 a.m. on my show. He was one of my most fascinating guests.
George Hamburger: In the early days I . . . when I worked 1:00 to 6:00 [a.m.] I’d be really tired.
Gary: Mm hmm.
H: So the kid, in-th in the Statler (Hilton, where the early progressive FM station, WYSL, was located) on the night desk I think, downstairs, he was like a night accountant or something, and he was really into radio, and he’d come up and watch us do all the stuff, and I sh- finally showed him how to run the board.
G: Oh, yeah? Hahaha.
H: And I brought an air mattress up in the Statler on the eighteenth floor, and I-I’d have a couple albums set out there y know, and I’d say "This cut from this album, this cut from that album," and at the time we had to say ID’s every half hour, . . .
G: Mm hmm.
H: . . . station ID’s. So about three or four in the morning, I’d finally sack out and I’d bring him up, he’d be on his lunch hour or something, and he’d play the cuts and segue from one cut to the next, then he’d wake me up a few minutes before the ID had to be given. At the time I didn’t even know enough that you could put something on a [recording tape] cartridge. When I first started I really didn’t know, that I could have put an ID saying “W - y’know - YSL FM, Buffalo" on a tape cartridge and he could have punched that and I could have slept for an hour straight, see?
G: Uh huh.
H: So he’d wake me up for the half-hour ID, say at 3:30 in the morning. I-I’d get up and sit at the mike and do it. And then once in a while I’d just plain fall asleep. He wouldn’t be there. I’d be, y know, for some reason, about . . . . I’d be really relaxed, y’know, I really loved it. I’d be so relaxed, put my head down for a second, like you did in school, y’know, on your desk a little bit, put my head down and I’d go right out.
G: And the record’d be skipping in the last . . . .
H: And then I’d wake up and hear fft fft fft fft – y’know, the center of the album and I’d think, "Now, wait a minute, how long was that cut, what time is it now, what time, roughly, did I start it, how long was it fft fft fft on the air?"
H: Then I’d open up with the mike and say, "Hey! Was that something???!!!" y’know, like it was a planned thing. And people would call up, "Hey, what was that? What was that?" Y’know, th-they’d really be . . . .
G: Oh man, I fell asleep once.
H: I did it, maybe . . . . I dunno, a couple times.
G: Oh, I wa-d-i-it was, it was really . . . weird for me, ‘cause I just like fell out on the floor, and then all of a sudden I woke up and the phone was ringing, and the record was skipping in the last groove and ah . . . .
H: Well, I was able to pass it off as something I planned.
G: Oh, I was, I uhh . . . .
H: People seemed to like it. (We both laugh.)
G: Well, that’s the advantage of progressive radio.
H: Another time I remember taking a, taking a-a very sof- what was it? – a very soft cut of something, and I played it, and then I stood up in front of the microphone, and put the pot – wh-wh-what would you call it, for the people who don’t know, for the microphone, it’s what controls the volume . . . .
G: Yeah, volume knob.
H: . . . . like a volume control. And I put that all the way up, and then took my zipper . . . .
G: Alright, hahaha.
H: . . . . and stood up right, to, the zipper to the microphone, with my zipper on my trousers, y’know, and went up and down with the zipper, real slowly.
G: Does that still work? I could do it.
G: Let’s see, I dunno if it still works right.
H: I’ll try it tomorrow at KB.
G: Airight. (Loud zipping and unzipping noises.) It still does. (We both laugh.) I’ll have to keep that in mind some time.
H: But I did it with the right music, and it seemed to fit pretty well at the time.
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A proto-new-wave group called MILK’N’COOKIES. Sweet boppin’ teenage-head-huntin' cheerleader-chasin’ milkshake-strokin’ backseat humpin’ kind of pop. "Little Lost and Innocent":
She was under age
And so was I . . . . *
This album was a miracle of levity and light. Never was there more perfect pop.
* ©1975, Island Music, Ltd., from Milk’n’Cookies, Island, ILPS 9320.
A letter from Jim Santella:
As I stated earlier, Jim really isn’t one of those "instant patter" DJs. At the time of this letter, he did the afternoon shift at the big Abrams station in town, WGRQ, known as Q-FM. I think he was rated number one in his time slot for FM radio. But stories abound of Santella’s exploits in the old days. He was one of the original progressive DJs in Buffalo and one of the greatest. He got his start, in fact, at my station, WBFO. Once, long ago, at a deteriorating progressive station, he got so sick of the tightening format that on his birthday, he played "Lather" by the Jefferson Airplane –
was thirty years old today
– and shut the station down in the middle of his shift. At least, that’s the legend.
But now Jim has adapted to the commercial life and seems very happy. He has said to me (knowing that I am now the lunatic on the Buffalo airwaves) that it is good for a person to be placed under the kinds of constraints that commercial radio imposes; it requires a disc jockey to discipline himself, to exploit the possibilities within a rigid framework. He told me how he is always on the lookout for clever stories and wise sayings, ways of moving from a commercial to a song. I guess I can appreciate this.
It was Santella who articulated for me the big difference for disc jockeys between commercial radio and progressive, non commercial radio: In progressive radio, he said, you are mostly into doing music, you want to turn people on to songs. But when you go commercial, you forget the music, you have to be into doing radio. The challenge comes, not in finding exciting tunes or powerful sets, but rather in keeping the pace lively, in being an interesting personality, taking delight in the segues between commercials and songs and public service announcements and weather briefs. Each commercial DJ is given the exact same finite set of materials: a specific rotation of songs, specific commercials, rigid time sheets, "good taste," the "image" of the station, and there is no doubt that it requires great skill to exploit these materials so as to hold an audience and make money for the owner.
In real life, Jim Santella is a friendly person and on the radio he has the friendliest voice I have ever heard.
* Jefferson Airplane, "Lather." © 1968, Mole Music Co., from Crown of Creation, RCA, LSP 4058.
| I remember the first time I heard Freak Out! by The Mothers of Invention. Suddenly, “not fitting in” became a different ethos. Nothing was the same after that.
If I were to actually meet Frank Zappa . . . . yipes! What would I say???!!!
DAVY AND THE CROCKETTS were a Buffalo band. This single was recorded at Tommy Collandra’s Buffalo College of Musical Knowledge studio. Collandra – formerly of the band Raven – is a saint who now spends much of his time helping young bands record their songs and avoid some of the heartache of the music biz that he experienced.
Soft-spoken Dave Meinzer led the Crocketts, specializing in womping rockabilly and sixties rockers as well as catchy little originals like this pop tune, "Turn Your Back." Happy music, sad words, get up and dance down those blues! Dave is now a member of the Cobras, a wild 100% fun straight-ahead rocking band, with Manny Guerara, one of the best guitarists around.
August 12, 1978. It is about five in the
morning, early Monday. I have a pimple on the inside of my
nose. I hope it doesn’t become infected and spread to my
brain. Snate called me tonight. He was putting on a show at McVan’s,
he fell off a horse yesterday could I please M.C. for him? Sure,
it sounds like fun. Snate is young, he’s a student at Buff
State, and he’s trying to gain experience by promoting some small
concerts. He alienates some people because he’s adopted a
hotshot promoter’s mannerisms, but I like him because he is smart
and he was the first person in Buffalo to actively work on getting punk
new wave bands into clubs. Lip Service, the first punk band in Buffalo, gained notoriety largely because of Snate.
So I go to McVan’s and there are hundreds of people all decked out in punk, beautiful flaunting girls and boys in leopard tights ruby lips graveyard eyes tattered haltertops dog collars rainbow hair safetypin earrings hero buttons skinny ties black suits white faces wraparound eyes menacing snarls. I wear an Armand Schaubroek T-shirt that says "KILL ME, ‘AIN EVER DIED BEFOR." I look in a mirror at my full beard and scraggly shoulder length hair and see an aging hippy and feel sad.
They say Gary you announce all the bands, we want you to announce all the bands. There are seven acts starting at nine o’clock. Here he is Buffalo’s King of Rock n roll, Bernie Kugal and The Goode. I love The Goode, it is true they are often out of tune, but they have the same innocent appeal as Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers. Bernie’s songs are sentimental and he writes and sings like the oracle of rock, he embodies in a way the history of rock; he knows no matter what rock n roll pretends to, it will always boil down to twangy guitars and hissing amps and muffled vocals and garage practice rooms and complaining neighbors. Bernie has probably played with literally hundreds of different people throughout the history of The Goode.
Davy and The Crocketts are next and they play good ol’ rock’n’roll rooted in the sounds of Elvis (Presley) and Elvis (Costello). Dave Meinzer is an excellent songwriter and their happy sound has everybody jumping.
I wander and wander all over the club as the bands play. I see beautiful shoulders and thighs and bellies, ugly crazy girls, the girl who danced and danced until her loose dress slipped off her breasts. I watch them follow the bands. They put their arms around musicians, sit in their laps, take them into corners for whispers. I would love to be in a band. If I could find one person with whom I could write songs and work up an act, and good musicians who would really do it for real with stars in their eyes, I know it would be fantastic.
OK it’s time to announce Cathy Moriarti and the Pagan Babies, not punky at all as their name would suggest. But KaMo, who established herself in the Buffalo folk circuit, has such a beautiful voice and writes fabulous songs. She could be a great performer like Joan Armatrading or Ellen Mcllwaine if only if only if only.
Snate says Gary I’m going to announce Mark Freeland, but you announce all the rest. And here he is totally insane, a full blown genius, in a crazy one man show. He has decked the stage with nets and strings and weird hangings and pans, sculptures of huge cigarettes and two-dimensional men with three-dimensional rubber hose dicks, flailing on that buzzing guitar to the backbeat of rhythm machines and tapes.
And now I present Aunt Hellen. They used to be called Grim Reaper but were forced to change their name when they ruined their reputation by attacking someone in the audience with a hatchet. Heavy type rock, too steeped in the Kiss and Alice Cooper sound for this punky crowd.
The Secrets tell me We have our own person to announce us, we don’t want Snate announcing us. Posing like fascist punks, black makeup black leather, female department store dummies and an inflatable woman through which they ram a bayonette, very angry songs including a fine number called "LSMFT," fuzzy distant guitar. Some girl in the audience is enraged at their sexism and they laugh at her.
The manager of the Jumpers says Talk to me before they go on and I’ll tell you the things I want you to mention, but when I go to find him he says Oh Gary we’ve decided to have Joe Fernbacher announce them. The Jumpers are the kings of new wave in Buffalo, they are truly incredible but I leave after they start. I want out. I want out.
I get a ride home from someone who tells me how record companies send their local promoters cassette boxes full of cocaine to put in the noses of music directors. How do you know this I ask.
Now five in the morning, my mind twisted, my ears screaming, my body sticky. Thank god I’m home. I wish they had not dealt with me as they did. They should not have told me I was to make announcements they did not want me to make. That is very unprofessional. Why do I do these things? Why do I get involved? I must try to make sense of Oil of Dog. I will write about my show. I will start tonight. I will keep a journal of things that happen on my show. Sometimes I will write at the station. I must do this. I will write about the books I read like In Bluebeard’s Castle by George Steiner. I will write meditations and memories and madness.
|A telephone call recorded by Beth B. and Scott B.:
(Strange metallic ringing noise is heard for several minutes. The noise fades out and a recorded telephone conversation fades in.)
Woman’s voice: . . . . Now that includes all body languages except for Greek, (she sighs) and that’s an additional twenty.
Man’s voice: I’m interested in English.
W: English. O.K., well you should have said so. (Her voice is a bit nasty.)
M: Well I’ve . . . . . been naughty.
M: I’ve been naughty.
W: Well if you’ve been naughty, you have to be clear with your mistress. O.K., you can’t be – I can’t misunderstand you. You have to tell me exactly what you want. Do you want to be humiliated and disciplined?
M: Yes, I kissed a man’s thing and I . . .
M: I kissed a man’s thing.
W: (gasps) That’s horrible!
M: He stuck it in my mouth.
W: (She is very stern.) Well, you’d better come by here and get straightened out. Is that O.K.? What time are you going to come by?
M: Well, I’d like to come by as soon as possible. My . . . . what happened, ahh, I’d like to have a repeat of this, you see my mother caught me doing that . . .
M: . . . and gave me an enema.
W: Oh no! Well, we definitely have enemas, that’s an additional ten dollars, and if you’d like a repeat of being humiliated and disciplined, that’s forty dollars for forty minutes and fifty for the hour.
M: She made me tell her all about it.
W: Well, come on in and you can tell any one of us all about it!
M: Do you have, ahh, the only thing I wonder is if there is a man or someone that can, y’know . . . .
W: No, sweetheart, we only have ladies.
M: Well, maybe you can do something with a . . . .
W: We, ah, well, we definitely have dildos. We can re-enact anything that you’d like in that respect.
M: It’s embarrassing, y’see, I never really did this, I wanted to, I . . . .
W: Oh, well, I m sure that we’ll make it an unforgettable experience. O.K.? We’re located at 132A . .
M: Uh huh.
W: East __th Street.
M: Mimi hmm. O.K., eas- one- t- . . . .
W: One-three-two A, East __th Street.
M: Alright. It makes me all excited to think about.
W: Ah well, c’mon by, we’ll get you even more excited, O.K.?
M: You can be my mommy.
W: Oh definitely, I can be your mommy, your mistress, or your baby, O.K.?
W: Bye, bye.
|For more than an hour, I feature songs by the early psychedelic group Love and I extoll their leader, Arthur Lee. Their album Forever Changes is one of the most subtle masterpieces of rock’n’roll. In no other time and no other way could any one have expressed with such fullness the inflections of passion, extrusions of the heart, caducities of bliss, inflections of solitude. Calls of thanks abound, from those who know, those who remember.|
That passage in Milam’s book keeps goading me:
So why am I here messing up my life doing a radio show, living on $100 a month, on a public radio station that nobody listens to and the people who run the station don’t even care about???? Why? Why? Why?
* Lorenzo W. Milam. Sex and Broadcasting: A Handbook on Starting a Radio Station for the Community. Saratoga, California: Dildo Press, 1975, page 20.
The new wave brings to light several rock groups called "The Boys." Two of them don’t get to me – THE BOYZ on the Kiderian label out of Phoenix, and THE BOYZZ in leather and choppers on the cover of a tame Epic album called Too Wild to Tame.
But THE BOYS on their own scruffy Outrage label from Lincoln, Nebraska do some of the most brilliant catchy pop tunes since the Beatles (whom they obviously emulate). You can’t stop singing and dancing to "(She’s my Girl) She’s All Mine".
But at the moment, we’re listening to THE BOYS from England on the Nems label, playing an immortal pop tune called "First Time." The girl says to the boy:
Oh! Oh, oh, oh!
It’s my first time!
Oh! Oh, oh, oh!
Please be kind! *
* © 1977, Panache Music, Ltd., from 45 rpm, Nems Records, NES 111.
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