|Oil of Dog
|Links Under Construction Contact|
and Beth B.,
we put a call on the air from a guy named Bob.)
Gary: Ah, we have a caller here, so hopefully this will work. Hello. (Nothing happens.) Ooops, I didn’t do it right. Hello, you’re on the air.
Bob: Oh, can you hear me?
G: Yep, I can hear you.
B: Okay, good. Ah this is the first time I’ve ever listened to WBFO, so naturally I’m amazed at what I’m hearing haha over the air. Urn I’m a little bit naive, ah because ah I’m 29 but I’ve never ah slept with anybody because of me, I have like high moral principles, and I feel that if I’m going to sleep with anybody or do any of-th-of this sort of thing that you’re talking about, I ah actually I wouldn’t go so far as to be whipped by anyone, but I’m-I’m talking in terms of sex itself, aside from the other stuff, okay. Um I feel that I would only engage in that kind of thing (clears throat) if um . . . . . if I were married. But the reason why I’m calling is urn I-I guess I’m not really sure who your two guests are ‘cause I just tuned in, but I-I gu-I-I assume that they’re connected or have been connected with a house of prostitution. Is that correct? Could you possibly fill me in, then I’d like to ask a que-a-a question, which I think would be in the proper context, I think it would be, ah I think I’d be able to ask then what I want to ask.
G: Okay, sure ummm.
Beth B: (Ready for an argument) Why can’t you ask us ah what you want to ask us right now?
G: Well, wait, well, here wait, why don’t you – he probably hasn’t been listening so why don’t you just . . . .
B: Oh. Okay, we’ll fill you in, then.
G: Why don’t you just tell him like how you got those tapes.
Bob: Yeah, I-I-I just tuned in.
B: Oh! Okay. Well, that’s-that’s different. (She laughs.)
Bob: I’m amazed at what I’m hearing.
(An explanation ensues in which Beth B. and Scott B. explain that the tapes were obtained when Beth worked as a receptionist in a whore house talking to potential tricks. They talk about their film work, about their latest work on terrorism, and about where underground films like theirs are usually shown.)
Bob: Okay, the question I was going to ask is I-I . . . . .
B: Oh yeah!
B: Back to business.
Bob: It might be ridiculous and like I say I’m a little bit naive, but I’ve always been curious about (clears throat) prostitutes and hookers, and the question I’ve always had in my mind: Is-it is-it possible for a given hooker to meet a customer and subsequent to their meeting or during the course of their meeting find that she’s really interested in him and fall in love with him? Ah-ah is-that is-that a ridiculous question? Um I-I’ve been, y’know, I’m curious about that. Does that happen or can it happen?
G: I don’t think it’s a ridiculous question.
Scott B: No, not at all.
B: I mean, I’ve known women who have – that’s happened to them before. So I don’t think it’s totally ridiculous. I mean, like they meet a gu-I mean, it’s not real often because a lot of women have, they’re in this job, and they have sort of a bad attitude, let’s say.
Bob: Toward ummm . . . . .
B: Toward men, y’know, in general. But there are women who really do enjoy it. I’ve met women who just really get off on it, I’ve met women who um have ended up, y’know, being serious with a man who comes in initially as a trick. So there are all, I mean, I think that’s what’s interesting about prostitution is that it ranges between like all sorts of different types of situations, and depending upon who you are and what kind of place you go to, you can, y’know, more or less experience different types of things.
Bob: Mm hmm. Well, thanks for being patient with me.
Lest you think that new wave is Gary’s sole musical territory, one listen to “Oil of Dog” will dispel that notion. Gary juxtaposes an avant-garde jazz piece by Oliver Lake and Joseph Bowie with a delicate piece performed on hammer dulcimer and concertina, followed by some classical impressionism and later new wave. Gary is speed personified as he races through the vast record library to select from the droves of music he has cataloged in the old gray matter, not unlike a painter selecting his colors and stroking them on the canvas as he creates a sound mosaic. It is his belief that the great circle of music is within the grasp of everyone. People are inherently smarter and able to absorb more than commercial stations would have us believe (if Yes, then why not classical too?). These unnecessary gaps between various forms of music would be eliminated with an emphasis on eclecticism a la Gary Storm.*
* Dave Comstock. “Storm Spices ‘Oil of Dog’ with a Delightful Blending.” SUNY at Buffalo Spectrum, Feb. 7, 1978, Vol. 28, no. unavailable, p. 10.
Once early in the morning as the sun spread its honey sweet fingers across the grey old town of Buffalo, Gary the disc jockey decided to read to his listeners:
Edward Bear, known to his friends as Winnie-the-Pooh, or Pooh for short, was walking through the forest one day . . . .*
Gary tried as hard as could be to read in a moan drone monotone so as not to be too cutesy wootsy. But he squeaked his voice for Piglet, and yawned his voice for Eeyore, and hooted his voice for Owl.
A girl calls: Stop! I’m going to puke!
Oh no! No. I love A.A. Milne. Not even Disney, not even the real Christopher Robin, can spoil his vision and his words.
* A.A. Milne. Winnie-the-Pooh, New York: E.P. Dutton & Co. Inc., 1926.
MEG CHRISTIAN is one of the founding artists of the Olivia record label. A response to the fundamental sexism of the recording industry, Olivia is an all-women’s recording collective – all the people involved from engineering to performing to album art to distribution and promotion are women. Meg Christian is one of the most brilliant of the feminist performers. This song is called “Scars.” I love her classical guitar and almost operatic voice, and the cello. And I love the words.
Yes, I’m happy now
that I know what is real
Old answers wrong
My reasons right
But now it’s a different fight
I’m still caught unawares
By ghosts lurking in my nightmares
That mock our revolution
With ancient loneliness
And ancient pain
And the old scars
And the old scars
* © 1974, Thumbelina Music (BMI), from I Know You Know, Olivia, LF 902.
BIBLIOGRAPHY NUMBER FOUR
In January of 1978, while in New York City, I visited the offices of Punk Magazine, the most brilliant of all the publications to emerge from the new wave punk rock movement. I met the great cartoonist, John Holmstrom, who edited the magazine, and the “Punk in Residence,” Legs McNeil. Several months later Debrah Lary – manager of The Vores – showed me a long article about Legs McNeil in The Village Voice. It was called “Cool in an Uncool Time: Teenage Hipster in the Modern World” by Mark Jacobson. (Village Voice, August 7, 1978, Vol. XXIII, No. 32.) This book is deeply indebted to that article because it is from Jacobson that I derived much of my terminology about cool and The Modern World. Jacobson articulated sentiments that had been boiling in my unconscious for some time. He also described the punk phenomenon in terms I could never have known in Buffalo because it never really happened here. By late 1978, punk was quite passé, but through Jacobson I was able to understand its cultural context. Being so concerned with popular culture, I find it difficult to admit I was ever behind the times. But if I thought I was missing out after reading Jacobson’s article, I can only wonder how we are all light years behind George Steiner and Gregory Bateson.
Figure 18: The issue of Village Voice that featured “Teenage Hipster in the Modern World” by Mark Jacobson. (Photo by Zowie.)
DICK GREGORY is one of my all time heroes. From an album released just after his presidential campaign.
And what’s the number one lie we tell you young kids today? We say, “The number one problem confronting America today is air pollution.” Well . . . . that’s what we tell you . . . . The number one problem confronting America today is the problem of moral pollution. This is the most morally polluted degenerate insane nation on the face of this earth, bar none . . . .*
* Dick Gregory. © no date, no pub., from The Best of Dick Gregory, Tomato Records, TOM-3-9001.
THE MODERN WORLD
“Be Here Now” was the cry of the sixties. So people looked at the here and now and found it was too horrible to face. The Jam, a new wave group from England, have a marvelous song in which they sing “This is the modern world.” It sure is. It seems to me that few people can stand the times in which we live. The Modern World is Hell.
I encounter Mark Jacobson’s fascinating article about Legs McNeil in The Village Voice, and how they waited on the bank of the Delaware River for a monster to emerge from the muck.
Something clicks. Like everything with me it clicks three or four years too late. But it clicks. I realize the danger of my nostalgia. I feel slimy and effete. I need a change. I cut off my beard for the first time in nine years. I never made a good hippie anyway. Besides, I am tired of girls thinking I look creepy. I feel a little better.
But the soul of the modern age will not be a monster. At least, not like Godzilla. There are monsters of course. I am told that in Erie County, babies conceived near the West Valley Nuclear Dump Site are born once a month with two heads. Who knows if this is true. All the poor little premature babies, and babies with protruding spines, and autistic babies, and jelly heads. These harmless little monsters. These are the patron saints of the World, of nuclear reactors, of distant wars, of golden arches, of mechanical bull.
The great challenge is not what to do, not how to destroy the bad guys. The great challenge is to acknowledge what is. What real people really do. I do not think most people can handle that. It is much easier to find a worthy cause and raise a family.
* Mark Jacobson. “Teenage Hipster in the Modern World,” Village Voice, August 7, 1978, Vol. XXIII, No. 32, page 19.
Figure 19: Legs McNeil confronts Hitler as depicted by John Holmstrom in Punk Magazine (from Legs McNeil. “A Legs McNeil Famous Persons Interview: Hitler,” Punk Magazine, March 1977, Vol. I. No. 8, page 10.) (Photo of cartoon by Zowie.)
|I am learning that being strung along is the status quo of being a disc jockey. It does not matter if you are a top-rated AM jock in a commercial market or a non-commercial DJ with a cult following. No matter how talented or successful you may be; your life is still in the hands of bureaucrats whose decisions are totally mysterious, arbitrary, illogical, and indefensible. To the folks in management – commercial and non-commercial – a disc jockey is just another piece of equipment like a turntable or a diode. If it works out, keep it; if not, get a new one. But unlike a piece of equipment, the DJ does not have sensible, empirical rules like the laws of electricity and mechanics to justify his status at the station. He is told what to do by people who know less about what’s going on than he does; sometimes – especially in non-commercial stations – the management knows almost nothing at all about programing. All the DJ’s I have ever met live under this constant uncertainty. As the prestige of the job increases, so do the benefits, but you still pay the price of never knowing what the next day will bring. You can come out number one in The Book one day and be out on the street the next. It makes no sense. Jocks rarely respect or agree with the programming policies of their superiors – especially in FM rock stations – and they try to push the rules as far as they can. Because the rules are usually stupid. A disc jockey must be highly mobile and self-sufficient, he must be cool, because no matter how fantastic he is he may have to clear out any minute.|
I discuss record collecting with Bun E. Carlos of Cheap Trick, a famous vinyl junkie. I used to be a passionate collector of Stiff Records
until they started getting weird with colored vinyl re-issues and
limited pressings given only to music industry types. I
can’t afford to be a Stiff collector anymore.
Gary: Do you have all the Stiff ah col1ector-item freebies?
Bun E. Carios: I’ve got Stiff DJ singles, I’ve got . . . .
G: (In pain.) He’s got everything! I’ll bet he has . . . . . . I’ve I-I-I-I-I’ve got four songs by DEVO though, that I bet you don’t have. (A friend of the group gave me a tape before their first album was released.)
B: I have about . . . . . three live shows by DEVO.
G: Oh yeah? . . . . . (groans). (Everyone in the room laughs at Gary.)
B: CBGB’s, things like that. I just read their set list in ah Zigzag. (More laughter at Gary.) I just read, they just pri-they just printed their set list in Zigzag, so now I-I’ll know what I don’t have.
G: Oh yeah? Do you have Randy Holden’s solo album?
G: Randy Holden.
B: Who is Randy Holden?
G: Of Blue Cheer, he took over, he took over for . . . . .
B: I didn’t like Blue Cheer! (Laughter in the room, some now point at Bun E.) I saw Blue Cheer in nineteen . . . . . sixty . . . . . eight at the Rumpus Room and they were too loud for me.
G: He took over for Leigh Stephens when Leigh Stephens – what is, I don’t I can’t imagine . . . .
B: Leigh Stephens . . . . . did ah . . . . . a few solo albums which went straight to the top . . . . . (general laughter) and ah . . . . .
Rick Neilson: Yeeeeah!
G: Yeah, Leigh Stephens was one of my heroes.
R: He was pretty funny.
B: Let me say one thing, I collect for the music. I . . . . . had a copy of The Move live EP, I’ve been offered copies and I don’t take it because I have a cassette of it. I’d rather, y’know . . . . .
G: Uh huh.
B: I buy things to listen to ‘em, not to have ‘em.
|It is the year 2020.
The Chinese have co-opted the entire Western Civilization.
Gary is last seen as a pop-top collector for commune 999 in Mongolia.
|Image under construction.|
* Bill Maraschiello. “Madness in the Middle of the Night, Courtest of Gary Storm.” SUNY at Buffalo Spectrum, March 11, 1977, Vol. 27, No. 63, page ff.
Well, I went to a concert and got picked up by a girl and I brought her home and slept with her because I told her I am a DJ and she asked me if I ever go backstage and I told her yes but she kept snorting “T” and she didn’t know anything about music and she didn’t know how to kiss and I couldn’t wait until she left. Never again.
Imange under construction.
I do not know the facts but my sense is that T.S. McPHEE was the black sheep among the great British blues musicians of the 60’s. In the middle 60’s there was a vibrant blues scene in England comprised of a lot of bands and musicians who would later become famous, like Clapton, Beck, Page, Savoy Brown, Fleetwood Mac, John Mayall, Alexis Korner, and Cyril Davies and the All-Stars. T.S. McPhee was part of it and became known as one of the finest bottleneck stylists around. He formed a group called THE GROUNDHOGS. Like all the bluesers of the late 60’s, he went psychedelic, but the difference seems to be that he stayed that way, went underground and became totally diseased.
Split is a psychotic masterpiece, a suite of four songs released in 1970. The blues have been left behind. I am seized by his sobbing voice, this ain’t outer space, it’s. the planet Earth, but the music, the solid ground is out of control. Those unmistakable T.S. McPhee smashing dissonant chords.
YES, I AM A DISC JOCKEY. BUT I DO NOT JUST PLAY
RECORDS. Each record – each work of art – possesses
that quality called style. Style is the mark of the artist, the
personality. A man named Buffon
once wrote “Style is the man himself.” The style
– the punk style, the romantic style, the blues style – is
the message. (Obviously another word for style is medium.)
“I Just Wanna Have Something to Do” when sung by The Ramones would evoke an utterly different philosophy of life if sung by Doris Day or Tex Ritter or Bobby Womack. There are a trillion songs that say “I love her” but it is the sobbing notes or snarling words that tell the story. It is not the sense of the words that matters – it is their style, and the style of the music that carries them.
By the time a song reaches my listeners it has been translated and entwined by many mediating factors. A song coming through the radio is a product of many styles – that of the songwriter, that of the performer, the style of the producer and the studio, that of the businessmen who release and promote it, that of my show, even the style of the songs I place before and after it. This is what I present my listeners – a matrix and mingling of many styles – many ways of life.
Each song – every piece of music ever created – comes with its own kit, batteries included. Each one is different with a different set of instructions for operation and enjoyment. True, some models don’t work very well – faulty design. Some don’t last long – they are victims of fads or planned obsolescence. But the performance of a Tin Pan Alley model cannot be compared to the Rockabilly model or the Baroque Chamber model. Nor can we compare the Ornette Coleman line to the Paganini line, or even the Jackson Browne line to the Joni Mitchell line. They can’t be compared and they can’t be used to judge one another. They are on their own.
EXCERPTS FROM A REAL LETTER WRITTEN BY A REAL LISTENER THAT COULD ONLY HAVE COME FROM THE HEART OF BUFFALO, NEW YORK.
Immaculately hand-printed, postmarked January 22, 1977:
“You may relax,” I wrote Richard Nixon recently, “while old age is threatening. I have this thick, terrible, gnawing feeling of guilt all the time, because I think rotten consistently and invariably do dirty.”
No, it’s not sympathy I seek In writing, from an unsuspecting friendly person – just a loose sense of some identification with humanity, reduction of that pressing, guilty feeling. I still want to go my clumsy, sordid way, thinking rotten thoughts and doing dirty deeds. It’s my nature, confound it.
Sometimes, over the morning beer, I try to kid myself that it’s not so, that basically I’m a good guy, merely over-over-reacting to the cruelty of the world.
But in my heart of hearts, gnarled much the same as a head of lettuce, I know very well I’m incorrigible – a blackguard, not even fit to be born again into a faultlessly-scenic, vastly-improved, unpolluted world, for that would only be repeating the same mistake twice as the saying goes, which would, I think, quadruple the world’s misfortune?
Consequently, I haven’t a 1eg to stand on in defense of my pretensions here.
The fact is, I have committed another dismal, anti-social act: I have written a poem that nobody asked for.
Surreptitiously, I am herein dispatching a second copy to you.
Now I can’t promise you that if you’ll destroy your copy, I’ll destroy mine. My nervous system could not withstand it. I only bargain unilaterally, shuttle-style. But I can promise that you will never have to read this poem in the “Morning Mail” column of the Buffalo Courier-Express . . . . .
. . . . . to my mind poetry is like tossing stones into a placid pool of water – one likes to see disturbance made upon the surface. It gives the tosser a sense of initiative and power emanating outside of himself. If you’re stuck on a bridge with no nice stones convenient to heave, you spit down disconsolately and pretend as if it doesn’t really matter.
After a while you get tired of throwing stones at the water and wish you might fling them directly at human beings – not enough to put them out of misery like they did in the Bible – just enough to keep them hopping while you snicker or cackle or lustily guffaw.
As civilized people forcibly steeped in complex education, we’ve come a long way from instinctual, uncreative ferocity. Hockey, for example, in that we’ve added ice and a stick to the game for good measure and the fans hurtle products of industry.
Well, poems, I divine, are pretty much the same thing in the spooky arsenal of cultural development. When you’ve made up one, you want to hit somebody with it. You just can’t let it lie there. If it’s really quite rotten, temperamentally you just throw harder, choosing a target least likely to retaliate. Mine follows; it’s called “Maladjustment in Buffalo – A Poem That Nobody Asked For”.
Maladjustment in Buffalo –
A Poem That Nobody Asked For
There used to be a little place there on that corner
Where a dirty workingman
Could get himself a plate of hot food
Substantial enough to fill his belly
For pleasure or muscular, monotonous work
At a cost that fit his pocketbook.
Now his job’s gone South;
The sensible eating place is drearily boarded up
And earnings no longer line his pocketbook.
Okay, so things change. Sweet, sweet leisure
Is what he cleaves to this day –
Selecting the best in library fare;
Soaking up classical music on radio;
Improving his manners;
Expanding his perspective;
Cleaning his fingernails;
Languorously relaxing at any hour without guilt.
“For the very first time in my entire adult life,” he avers, “I feel energized.”
That’s not easy to do holed up in a government housing project –
This guy’s got guts!
Crisp clothed these days, and well-informed
He’s “beating the system” magnificently
And entered the New Year
With a resolution not to look for work for the rest of his life.
But I am not convinced he has the character to keep it.
You see, he was born and reared
J. Robert SheaI never do send a reply to Mr. Shea. Nor, to my knowledge, did I ever meet him. I am lost in an effulgent tailspin of words.
My friend Debbie Katz and I are talking to Chris Stein (guitar) and Clement Burke (drums) from the group Blondie. Debbie Harry is off being photographed with the people from Harvey and Corky (the Harvey of which became Harvey Weinstein of Mirimax
fame). My dark-haired friend Debbie and the Blondie Debbie are
both about the same age, one a highly tallented avant garde
actress and former dancer on the TV show Shindig,
the other on the verge of becoming the queen of pop. You are
doing what you must do, I know you are not merely what you seem said
Gary: You also met Phil Spector.
Chris: Well, yeah. Briefly.
G: And yer-albums yer-albums seem to like be in a Phil Spector sort of style.
Ch: Well, they-have they-have that girl group, y’know, flavor, I suppose. But that’s never been a conscious thing – to ape Spector, y’know. I like Spector’s stuff, y’know
G: Did he tell ya things or is he gonna ever produce
Ch: He told us (talking through his nose like W.C. Fields) “Godfrey Daniels, nyahh.”
G: Godfrey Daniels!!! That’s the gr-you know that album!?!? (Note: The Godfrey Daniels album, Take a Sad Song . . ., is a marvelous collection of modern rock songs like “Whole Lotta Love” and “Hey, Jude” and “Woodstock” done in a fifties doo-wop style.)
Ch: That’s what he’d say, yeah, well, no. That’s what he says all the time, well, he’s-he-does-he-does this perpetual W.C. Fields drunk imitation, y’know, he just (talking through his nose again) “Awwwww aawwww”, staggers around. He’s completely coherent, he’s just totally eccentric. He’s coherent but makes believe he’s incoherent.
Clement Burke: Very . . . . funny.
G: And he really carries guns and has bodyguards?
Ch: Yeah, he carries guns, yeah. He has these two six-foot twins, body-guards, who are the Kessel Brothers who are producers and freaks.
Cl: Barney Kessel’s Sons.
Ch: Barney Kessel’s sons. They’re freaks-about’-town in L.A. and they’re about six feet tall, karate guys, and th-they’re twins. And he-he carries, like, y’know, he carries like three guns on, like a .45, a .38, and a .22 most of the time. And this time we went to his house and he-had-he had like guns all over it
Ch: ‘Cause he’s crazy.
G: Hahaha, but coherent.
Ch: Yeah. No, he’s not crazy, but he is crazy, but he’s not, uh . . . . .
Cl: Someone urinated on him when he was in The Teddy Bears and he’s been paranoid . . . . .
Ch: Somebody beat him up, dragged him into the bathroom and . . . . .(At this point, the interview is drowned but by someone dragging some partitions around the room, horrible shrieking noises.)
G: There’s people helping out the interview. That’s cool.
(We all go into our Lenny Bruce imitation (or at least that's the association that came to my mind) from “Father Flotskie’s Triumph.”)
Debbie Katz: Shut that guy up! Shut him up!
Ch: (Talking through his nose again.) Shut up. Shut that nut up!!
Figure 20: Debbie Katz, Gary Storm, Debbie Harry, and Christ Stein of Blondie – “Here’s that Buffalo disc jockey who was so nervous he could hardly hold the microphone.” (Photo by Zowie.)
|MUSIC IS THE MUSEUM OF PASSION
We cannot keep feelings alive. They just go. DO YOU HEAR? When I listen to the music I REMEMBER.
I am obsessively collecting records from the late 60’s, I frantically hunt the budget bins, write away to auctions, go to the bank for more money, visit the used record store daily, prod through garage sales. I must find all these records, even the ones I don’t know about. The Thirteenth Floor Elevators, The Leaves, The Seeds, Peanut Butter Conspiracy, Ultimate Spinach, The Music Machine, The Electric Prunes, Vanilla Fudge, Moby Grape (lots of food names among psychedelic punks), The Standells, The Shadows of the Knight, The Count Five, Iron Butterfly, Quicksilver, Fever Tree, The Fugs, Lother and The Hand People, The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band, Mitch Ryder and The Detroit Wheels, as well as the giants like The Jefferson Airplane, Doors, Velvet Underground, Yardbirds, Cream and totally questionalbe albums by groups like Mint Tattoo and Tiffany Lampshade that I have never had the nerve to junk. On and on, getting every last album by every last group, all five albums by The Strawberry Alarm Clock, all eight by Love, all ten by Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band, every last goddamn one. It is now 1975. Very few people are interested in these records, everyone watches Fonzie instead. But I think that in a few years there will be a revival of this psychedelic era. No one but me plays this stuff on the radio.
When I listen to records from that time, I visit a museum of feelings that are long gone. The myth of the sixties. They say people felt like they could really change the world, there were real feelings of hope, there were new modes of thought and feeling. I remember the things I felt, when I was in high school, my first date, that September walk in the mountains, that face, that day, the shock of college, something was happening, restless and a million places to go. BUT IT WAS NOT REAL. NONE OF IT WAS REAL. NO ONE REALLY FELT THIS WAY. IT WAS NO DIFFERENT FROM NOW. It is just that we think we have fallen from some elusive beauty into old-fashioned murderous ways. We have fallen from something that was never really there. But because of the war and Nixon, because I am in my twenties, we all feel fallen. Restless and there is no where to go. This is a time of dead dreams. Histories should call the 70’s The Age of Dead Dreams. We have given up. Only music holds those old feelings. We are all afraid. When I listen to the music I REMEMBER. I FEEL.
|Image under construction.|
|Image under construction.||OUTRO
Okay! That was the astonishing genius of T.S. McPhee and his group The Groundhogs. That was the title cut from their album Split. It’s actually four songs that go together. Before that, one of my heroes, Dick Gregory. Even though it’s old, I think it’s still relevant.
At the end of every show, just before the final tune of the night, I always say something
This is Gary Storm for Oil of Dog saying Goodnight.
|Gary: Let’s see. Other-other famous DJ’s from Buffalo: Joey Reynolds and George Lorenz, were they [on WKBW]?
Sandy Beach: George Lorenz was The Hound.
S: George Lorenz, whose son owns WBLK now, ahh was absolutely a national legend. He was ah one of the first jocks in the country to play ah-um songs by black artists appealing to a white audience. In other words, in those days music came out in two versions, it came out in black and white.
G: Mm hmm.
S: Ah, and this-is this-is absolutely true, you’d get a song by the Crew Cuts and a song by The Flamingos. And if you were appealing to a white audience, you’d play the Crew Cuts and a black audience The Flamingos. Well, they suddenly found through guys like The Hound, George Lorenz, the black versions were infinitely better. So he said, “Why not play ‘em?” and he did and it really caught on nationally. The Hound i-is just a legend, an absolute legend. And so is Joey Reynolds, in a different way. Reynolds came by later and did – ah really developed the “personality DJ.” Ah, his act was um when Joey Reynolds was at WKBW, I felt that he was the best disc jockey in the country at the time. Very creative, that-that type of thing which was new, really, ahh he did such a fine job on . . . .
Norm Schrutt: I was a salesman at the time and I remember that-ah that-ah Danny (Neavereth) used to go off the air – Danny was doing three to seven – Danny used to go off the air with a forty-four percent share of the audience . . . .
S: Believe that? Hahahal
N: And Joey! Joey would come on and at times had fifty-five and sixty percent of the audience!
G: Of the whole audience?!?!
N: Of the available audience.
G: My God!
N: And it was impo-you couldn’t sell it. You couldn’t because no one would believe you. I mean, we-we would get The Book and we’d say, “God! It went up again . . . .”
N: “. . . . . Please go down a little!”
S: To give you an idea . . . . .
N: Because you’d go into an advertiser and you’d say, “Well, Joey Reynolds got sixty percent of the audience.” “Oh, yeah?! Right, right. Sure. What, are you kidding me?!”
S: But to give you an idea, now if you go – if you ever achieved eighteen percent of the audience, they’d make a shrine to you.
|Image under construction.||
In the liner notes they call it a cante-fable – a combination of song and story-telling. “Peter
Kagan and The Wind” by GORDON BOK is one of the most strange and beautiful recordings I have ever heard. It is a myth about a fisherman who marries a seal. He is caught at sea by the cold North Wind.
The Wind says: Listen, I got something to tell you.
Kagan, rowing: I don’t want to hear it.*
Gordon Bok worked among the fishermen off the toast of Maine, he is a poet and plays one of the most singing ringing acoustic guitars on record.
Kagan is freezing dying until . . . . . . he dreams his wife comes down the smoking sea and climbs into the dory with him . . . . .
* © 1971, Machigonnne Music (BMI), from Peter Kagan and the Wind, Folk Legacy, FSI-44.
The media writer for the Courier-Express inserts this somewhat vague and ungrammatical item in his column:
WBFO-FM was caught using “blue” language at 4 a.m. when Gary Storm spinned George Carlin’s “Seven Words Guaranteed to Make you lose Your Hair . . . .*
I receive several worried calls from friends and listeners asking if I was caught by the FCC. I assure them that only my airwaves had been snared by the ears of the columnist. The man who wrote this is the sort of journalist who seems to consider a vicious item to be the most valuable.
Recently, the Supreme Court decided against a radio station that played this exact same routine by George Carlin. The Court decreed that Yes indeed the Federal Communications Commission does have the right to catch and penalize stations that broadcast “obscene” material. What a bunch of swell guys.
I am the only disc jockey almost anywhere who will play Lenny Bruce or Richard Pryor or Dick Gregory. Or some of Lily Tomlin’s finest material, or hilariously obscene skits by The Committee and The Conception Corporation, or comedian Franklin Ajaye, or the fraternity songs of John Valby, or the irredeemably filthy Barbara Marquay, or the angry obscenity of Armand Schaubroeck, or those nasty virtuous ditties by Patrick Sky, or The Fugs, or Frank Zappa’s most blatant numbers, or the poetry of Ed Sanders or John Giorno, or readings by William S. Burroughs. All the wonderful recordings blighted by a stinky word or two or ten or fifty. Sometimes the naughty words are aesthetic and beautiful; sometimes they are funny; sometimes they are used in making a powerful social statement; sometimes they are “street talk”, legitimately used by a particular dialect; sometimes a recording is important because of those awful words; sometimes despite them.
If I had to judge between the Truth of the words of the Dead Kennedys’ “Too Drunk to Fuck” – and I mean the high holy absolute Truth with a capital “T” – and the Truth of the racist mumbles of the Supreme Court, or the deviant sexuality of Morality in Media, or the swasticross-talk of the Moral Majority, or the satanism of Pentagonese, or the cowardice of Nixonian newspeak, or the blind optimism of Carterese, or the lies that kill of Butcher Reagan – if I had to declare whether these were less obscene than the Dead Kennedys – ah don’t get me started. I believe all censorship is evil. Censorship is the only dangerous idea. No good can come from hiding what is. I believe obscene material – and I mean legally-defined and established as obscene – should be broadcast at some time on the airwaves even if it is no earlier than 3 a.m. and no later than 5:30 a.m.
* Jim Baker. “Channel One.” Courier-Express, Feb. 22, 1978, Vol. CXLIII, No. 217, page 12.
|BIBLIOGRAPHY NUMBER SIX
Besides unnamed people who have worked for Abrams stations, much of my information about Lee Abrams comes from an article in Trouser Press by Barry Jacobs called “Who Ru(i)ns the Radio?”(Trouser Press, October, 1980, Vol. 7, No. 9, page 26 ff.). I also stole the marvelous phrase “free flow of information” from a letter written by someone from Chicago called The Media Guerilla in the February, 1981 Trouser Press (February, 1981, Vol. 8, No. 1, page 2). Trouser Press is one of the very best rock fanzines, though I used to like it better in the early days when they would include discographies and you could read about people that no one else would cover like Nick Drake and Michael Brown and Syd Barrett. Now it is very new wave oriented. I met the editor Ira Robbins on the same trip in which I met the Punk Magazine staff. Robbins looked the way he writes – young, intelligent, cold, insightful, arrogant, aesthetic, commercial, defensive, over-worked, proud, concerned, indifferent. Needless to say, he wasn’t very impressed with me, either.
|TIME TO GO HOME
Funding for Oil of Dog was provided in part by The Mighty Taco, Fantasy World Used Comic and Record Store, and The Central Park Grill.
You’re with WBFO in Buffalo.
Stay tuned for the blews from NPR.
|A LONG ESSAY ON LEE ABRAMS
The following essay was written in 1980, give or take a year or so. Since that time Lee Abrams has continued to destroy music by exploiting other forms of electronic media, in addition to radio, although there are those, not involved in the music business, who applaud his tenure at XM Radio. Similarly, Arbitron has evolved with the changes in technology, still making inaccurate determinations of public sentiment with the latest digital mechanisms. It is also disheartening to note that the record companies are as shortsighted, unprofitable, oblivious of the extent to which they depend on their customers' love of music, stupid, fearful of new sounds and new artists, greedy, blind, and incapable of adapting to changes in technology as they were when I wrote this essay.
|AN ESSAY ON LEE ABRAMS: THE TRIUMPH OF THE MUSIC KILLERS
The second time Elvis Costello played in Buffalo, he dedicated his acidic song “Radio Radio” to Lee Abrams telling him to shove some object “up his fucking ass.” Neither John Farrell nor I can remember what the object was supposed to be but it is certain that it would have been uncomfortable even for someone like Abrams. I have never ‘seen a picture of Lee Abrams. He almost never comes to town. But I think he has done more to damage radio and rock music and popular culture than almost any other single person on the face of the earth. (I know that is a heavy claim and there are lots of contenders for the title of Biggest Asshole in the Music Business, but it is a defensible proposition.) Lee Abrams is the person who first successfully introduced sophisticated marketing techniques into the progranining of FM rock’n’roll radio, much like those used by AM radio. With the use of his surveys graphs charts lists research opinions trades statistics and such it has become almost unnecessary for radio stations to actually play a record to see if it will be a hit. The success of a song can be market tested ahead of time. In the good old days, the music director would listen to all the newly released records and he would pick for airplay those he felt were worthwhile. There was the attitude of throwing things against the wall to see what sticks. Radio stations would race each other to be the first to discover the next sensation. The emphasis was more on the music.
Moreover, FM radio was, for many years, a bastion of underground alternative programming. It was the place where you could hear classical music and foreign languages and, later on, in the Sixties and Seventies, the soundtrack to the revolution that would not be televised.
But Lee Abrams introduced an entirely different consciousness to FM programming. According to legend, he started in little clubs as manager of some small-time bar bands. He found that after surveying the kids in the bars, he could get a good idea of songs they wanted to hear. And if his bands played those songs they got lots of gigs and lots of blowjobs. More importantly, bands that acted like juke boxes MADE LOTS OF MONEY. Lee Abrams said to himself Wow if I take this idea to the FM radio stations and make them sound like juke boxes they will make LOTS OF MONEY (and so will I).
Now, it is important to understand how radio stations gauge their success.
ESSAY ON LEE ABRAMS continued on Oil of Dog Page 8
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