I'm sitting here in short sleeves in front of my computer, looking out the open window. It's a 65 degrees, bright sunshine, blue sky kind of day - spring time. Wasn't it snowing last week? Suddenly it's time to get out the porch furniture, the BBQ, the shorts, the badminton net. Suddenly it's time to start planting the tomatoes & basil. I'm always amazed at how quickly spring seems to just appear. Maybe it's because we refuse to believe wintery weather is really over until you're sweating in your living room wondering where the air conditioner is.
At least the nice weather puts me in a good mood. I can't even get a good rant going today. So Happy Spring. I'm off to put the lounger out on the porch.April 11, 2005
In my pursuit of writing regularly:
Last week was the first week of the annual Rock 'n' Roll Rumble, presented by one of our commercial rock stations that NEVER plays local music except during a late night Sunday specialty show. Unfortunately, the Rumble usually has very little to do with "rock". I went to 2 nights, to support some friends - first to see Spitzz, and then to see the Turpentine Brothers on Thursday. Thursday I also got to see Beyond the Embrace, a very metal band who had all the hair moves & finger moves down perfectly. I actually enjoyed watching about half of their set. I would've enjoyed it more if they hadn't seemed to take themselves so seriously. They won. I just checked the Rumble semi finals & I am very relieved to see both the Marvels and Muck & the Mires are there. At least there'll be some good rock at the "Rock n Roll" Rumble. They're both playing Saturday at the Middle East. I'll be there.
I didn't make it to the see Muck & the Mires on Friday, or Mono. I opted for the Konks CD release party at the Abbey. It was beyond packed, and hot as hell. I hope the extensive renovations the Abbey folks have been doing include a very powerful air conditioning system.
Yeah, Friday is Tax Day. That always makes everyone really cheerful. Even people who are getting refunds don't seem to be cheerful on Tax Day. I'm not cheerful. As a Freelancer you not only pay any taxes due on April 15th, but you also have to pay quarterly taxes. This is a ridiculous burden. There should be at least a month between those 2 dates. Every year at this point I wonder if people would be more willing to pay taxes if they could designate where their tax money went. I know I would, and I'd be curious to see what people would really choose. It'd be an interesting social survey.April 4, 2005
It was my New Year's resolution to get back to writing these on a regular basis. OK, so it took me 3+ months to actually do it. I'm nothing if not an expert procrastinator.
I'm going to at least mention what shows I'm planning on seeing in the upcoming week, and any thing I might want to say about shows I went to last week.
I'm even going to go back to commenting on world news & events, but lately, most world news makes me so mad I'm not sure I should even say anything...
This Week's shows:
Monday 4/4. I went to the Rumble at the Middle East to support Spitzz. They were supposed to play at 9:00, which I hoped would get me over to Great Scott early enough to get in to see DMBQ & Lightning Bolt. Unfortunately, the Rumble started late. Spitzz totally rocked the full room, but we didn't get to Allston until 10:20. There was a HUGE line outside, as Great Scott was full to capacity. I was pretty bummed since I really wanted to see DMBQ, who are from Japan. Their CD (Essential Sounds from the Far East) is such a blast of garagey loud noise/rock I was psyched to see them live. It's really frustrating when I want to see an opening or middle act on a bill, and the show is sold out because of the headliner. Especially when it's not even possible to get advance tickets. I also suspect 95% of the people there were there only to see Lightning Bolt, and probably had no idea who DMBQ is. Not that I don't love LB, but I've seen them a bunch of times, and wanted mostly to see DMBQ. Ah well, the best laid plans...
Thursday 4/7 is another screening of Marissa Acosta's LRC documentary, along with a documentary about Unnatural Axe. It's at the Coolidge Corner Theatre at 7:30pm. Check http://www.coolidge.org/balagan for info.
Then it's back to the Rumble to catch the Turpentine Bros. I'll probably stick around for Antler also.
Friday 4/8 is one of those nights where I need clones. First it's Muck & the Mires playing the Rumble. Then it's the Konks CD release party at the Abbey. Finally it's a great show at TT's with Mono & Eluvium. Unfortunately for me, they're all playing at the same time!! Not sure where I'll end up, and how many of the sets I'll manage to see.
Saturday 4/9 is Black Helicopter opening for Sonic Youth down at Lupo's in Providence. I'm not sure I can get there after my show, but I'm certainly going to think about it.
Well, don't take this the wrong way, but you would think the ONLY thing that has happened in the last 2 days was that the Pope died. Yes it's very important, but last I looked, Catholics were a minority religion in the world. There have been other events in the last 3 days that affect a great many of the worlds' populace, but you wouldn't know it if you watch TV news. It always amazes me how limited the TV news broadcasts are, even the 24 hour channels where you'd think they cover more stories since they have so much time to fill. That's why I read the newspaper, listen to BBC world news, and read a number of online news services & blogs. Staying informed takes a little work, I only wish more people tried.April 30, 2004
Here it is April already. I guess I have to admit I lied in my last view - at least I'll say it! Good thing I'm not a politician.
First - Cheese Patrol obviously did NOT occur on Presidents day weekend. Unfortunately the Cheese Queens, Lisa, Nancy & myself have been very busy, and had some scheduling problems. Right now we're planning on having a special pre-Independence Day Cheese Patrol event, on July 3rd. Not definite - there'll be an announcement when we get it finalized.
Second - yes, some of you are still waiting for my long promised CD's. I'll be contacting the folks who requested these way back when (at fundraising!!!!) & arrange to get them to you. I could go into a long explanation about why they're SO late, but suffice to say there are things from our move that have completely vanished, even though we seem to have accounted for & unpacked EVERYTHING. As Nancy often says "Go Figure!"
Finally - the whole new FCC crackdown is such a drag, especially for those of us who play punk rock. Yes, there have always been indecency & obscenity guidelines from the FCC, but for a long while there was a huge gray area which fell under "artistic expression". The general interpretation was: if the offending words appear in the body of the piece, then the use can be considered necessary to the presentation as art, and thusly can be construed to have "artistic merit". Of course us DJ's feel ALL the music we play has "artistic merit", so we looked at those naughty fuck's & shit's & etc. lyrics as being necessary to the presentation of the piece.
The FCC for years essentially ignored the content of lyrics, and let it stand that as long as the announcer didn't announce the name of a song or piece that contained the bad words, and didn't read lyrics, or body text that contained bad words, just playing the work as the artist created it was not truly a direct violation. So we played the MC5 singing "kick out the jams mother fuckers", but couldn't announce it as such. Now the FCC had opined that any broadcast of any of the 7 deadly words, or explicit description of sexual or excretory actions is punishable by a hefty fine. Hefty as in up to $500,000.
Based on this, preparing for a 2 hour show can take a very long time. For example - I've been playing Flipper for years. I don't have all their lyrics memorized. Next time I want to play Flipper I'll have to listen to every song I might want to play all the way through, and hope I can make out the lyrics well enough to confirm there's nothing that'd attract the FCC's attention. And since most DJ's, myself included, play music that has come out over the last 35-40 years, that's' a lot of back catalogue to try and catch up on. One can only hope that this might again relax after November, but even a regime change in the White House is no guarantee of that.December 21, 2003
Well, the apartment hunting trauma has finally ended. We found a place in Cambridge that fit our parameters. Yes, its close to the red line, has 6 rooms, and 2 porches. We even get our very own washer/dryer & a parking space!
Of course, now comes the really fun part - packing! It's truly amazing how much stuff 2 people can collect in 10 years. So much of it consists of things you don't know what to do with. Things you feel compelled to hold on to, but you don't really know why. Old letters, New Yorker cartoons, newspaper articles. Blurry photos of your friends band playing at some unrecognizable club. Blurry photos from various parties, mostly of drunk people you don't recognize. Paraphernalia from various trips you've taken. Old T-shirts from bands you used to love. Old T-shirts that no longer fit from bands you still love. Then there's the trauma of getting rid of old things you really need to get rid of, but don't want to just throw out on the street. Like that huge old chair you have been promising to re-upholster for the last 8 years, and the wobbly table that no matter how much you tighten the screws still wobbles. Or the rug that you spilled coffee on 2 years ago that you were going to bring to the cleaner. Pots that would be great if only they still had covers that fit. Favorite coffee mugs that are cracked. Dishes that are all chipped. Not to mention those bamboo blinds that would be swell if you just bought some cording & restrung them. And that TV cart that sags so much in the middle you've been expecting it to drop the TV for 2 years...
There's also the fun part - figuring out what colors to paint your new place, where to put the furniture, hanging up those paintings you never put up in the old place. Getting new curtains. Getting new furniture. Actually organizing your CD's, LP's & books. Finally graduating from milk crates to some actual "storage units".CHEESE PATROL ALERT!!!
Unfortunately, my impending move has caused the rock chicks to delay our annual holiday radio programming. Cheese Patrol will not be heard this coming Saturday. It'll be in February, on "Presidents' Day" weekend. I will be doing my "Best of 2003" show on Saturday December 27th. For those of you who asked for my special CD's with your fundraising pledges, both the "Best of" & the "promo music" CD's will be sent out in January.
To my listeners (& readers)
Happy Holidays, and all the best in 2004.
November 24, 2003
First of all - a huge THANK YOU to everyone who donated during the annual WMBR fundraiser last week. The Saturday afternoon rock chicks banded together for a whole afternoon of fundraising mayhem, and you listeners out there did not let us down. It's always rewarding to see the phones ringing during your 2 hours of begging time, and they were ringing all afternoon.
I haven't written a view in a very long time - but sometimes you just gotta vent!!!
The most pressing thing on my agenda is the need to find a new place to live. After renting our current place for 10 years the house is being sold. We found out after the beginning of September, which meant we missed the major apartment roll over period for the year. We set out to find an apartment similar to our current place, a 3 bed room, 6 room apartment with a porch in a 2 family within 15 minutes walk to the Red Line. We were pretty concerned, but all the realtors we talked to assured us it's a total renter's market, prices are plummeting, and we would have absolutely no trouble finding a great place. Well, 5 weeks, 35 apartments, and a lot of frustration later, we're still without a home. The truth is the supply of nice apartments has totally dwindled in this city, especially in Cambridge & Somerville. There's plenty of apartments geared towards students, where walls have been constructed, porches have been enclosed & turned into bedrooms, closets have been wedged into former living rooms & dining rooms, all so the landlords can put 2-3 more people into the space than before. After all, who needs a porch? Unfortunately in the real estate frenzy that's been going on, most of the other 2 or 3 family houses have been converted to condos. Very expensive condos. And those plummeting rents? Sure if you consider $2100 a month "plummeted". YEESH!
May 20, 2003
Big News - Once again, Aural Fixation is on the move. I will be moving to Saturday afternoon, from 4-6 pm beginning the first weekend in June. This is my 11th move since I began the show 20 years ago, and the first time I'll be on the air in the afternoon since 1987! I'll be moving between 2 cool rock shows which have been on Saturday afternoons for the last 4 years, The James Dean Death Car Experience, and The Clueless Clubhouse. The Clueless Clubhouse had occupied the 4-6 pm slot, and will be moving back to 6-8 pm. I realize that some of you won't be able to listen to Aural Fixation in this new timeslot, and it was a tough decision to move out of a weeknight slot. It was also a tough decision to move again after being on Wednesdays for a little under 3 years. Ultimately the opportunity to return to a rock block, and not be just a 2 hour show in between totally non related programs will be really fun for both me & the listeners. I had hoped to one day return to a 2 hour show between 6 & 8 pm, but it looks as though our schedule is going to retain the current truncated 6:30-8:00 pm prime time slot for the foreseeable future. I did try to do a 1&1/2 hour show a few years ago, and, well, 2 hours is already too short to play all the music I want to. I hope many of you will tune in on Saturdays. Please let me know what you think about this change, I always want to hear from my listeners. And I really appreciate those of you who have followed me around the WMBR schedule all these years.
My last Wednesday show is going to be extra special. The student DJ before me is leaving for summer break, and asked if I would cover his timeslot. I will be starting the final Wednesday Aural Fixation at 6:30 pm on May 28th, and going until 10 - so remember to tune in early.
March 26, 2003
I apologize for getting last week's playlist up so late, but my mind has been occupied by other things. It's a little scary to be on the air when listeners start calling you & telling you our country has officially started a war. I'll get on my soapbox (after all, this is my website) & state that I am opposed to "Pre-emptive" war to stave off possible future aggression. You can't make war based on a possible scenario. Sure, there was a vague chance that Iraq might lob a bomb our way, but the idea of Iraq launching a full scale invasion of this country is pretty laughable at best. I think we have more to worry about from groups that operate within the "friendly" countries of the Middle East - don't forget that most of the 9/11 terrorists were from Saudi Arabia. You can't predict the future, no matter how much Bush & his war happy cadre would like the American people to believe they can. What if we had stuck with diplomatic solutions for another month & Saddam Hussein died from a sudden heart attack and thus ended his reign?. But now that we've launched the strikes, and started the bombing, we've set events on a path that could be even more dangerous than Hussein's "possible" aggression. Is this truly what a majority of Americans want?
I also would like to expound for a moment on the news media that attempt to equate anti-war sentiments with anti troop sentiments. This is just a slimy approach to make the protesters seems like the "evil" people. Yes, that was a low point in the Vietnam era protests. This time I think most anti war protesters will express support for the men & women who are over there fighting, it's the government that sent them there they are protesting against. For a different perspective on the war in Iraq, check out Free Speech Radio News, broadcast on WMBR every Monday- Friday from 6-6:30pm. For info about protests: www.justicewithpeace.org
February 25, 2003
I haven't written one of these in quite a while, but I have a few things I feel the need to address.
First of all, I want to mention that Wednesday, March 5th's show will mark the 20th anniversary of "Aural Fixation". To celebrate I am going to re-create my very first show. I have all of my play lists, but I don't have a recording of the first show (and I'm not sure I'd even want to if I did!). The first edition of Aural Fixation was broadcast on Thursday March 3rd, 1983 from 1-4pm. Since then I have held 11 different timeslots on WMBR, (my current slot for nearly 2 years), & have watched as my approach to programming (mixing 1960's & 1970's garage, beat & psych with punk/indie rock) has become the norm on almost all of our "rock" shows. I hope you can tune in!
Secondly there's the tragic fire during the Great White show at the Station club in Rhode Island. Obviously a lot of factors were involved, and the finger pointing will continue for months, probably years, but the bottom line is carelessness & stupidity. I was surprised enough when I saw Quintron at TT's a few months ago & he set some papers on fire on the stage. I expected someone to come running up with a fire extinguisher at any moment. No one did, nothing happened, and it was over pretty quickly, but in the very packed club I was looking around for the nearest exit. Fortunately in TT's an exit is never far away. I find it beyond belief that any one with half a brain would set those things off in a small club with a 10ft ceiling.
The thing I find really amazing has been some of the reporting on the tragedy, where the reporters have focused on the "danger" element of rock 'n' roll, how the musicians & clubs feel like they have to push the envelope with bigger & wilder light & floor shows, and the audience demands it. Yeah, maybe at the Fleet Center you need do a lot of flashy stuff to entertain the audience - since most of them can't even see the musicians on stage. That is one of the many reasons I never go to big arena shows. One of the primary reasons I go to clubs is to actually SEE the musicians play! Am I the only person who gets annoyed when I go to see a band in a smaller club & they flash the lights so much you can't see the band? The Middle East Downstairs unfortunately is one of the worst offenders. The lights they have behind the band on the stage tend to shine directly into the audience, blinding a good portion of them. I often find myself closing my eyes, or looking away from the stage, which really annoys me.
I want to wish you all happy holidays & a happy New Year. I'll be glad when the season is over - if I have to hear "Frosty the Snowman" one more time while doing my grocery shopping my head might explode. Holiday music is nice and all, but there's more songs out there than the 6 traditional ones that muzik programs play on an endless loop. And I'm pretty tired of the exhortations to go out & SHOP SHOP SHOP because that's going to save the economy - yeah, right!
OK, I'll get off my soapbox & let you know about a couple of upcoming radio events on WMBR.
First of all there's Cheese Patrol, our annual tribute to all those songs you love to hate & hate to love & don't want to admit you know all the words & sing along. This will be the 10th Cheese Patrol, and we get more & more requests every year. So go up to the attic, dust off those guilty pleasures & tune in on Saturday December 28th from 12 noon until 4am Sunday.
Secondly - I will be doing my Aural Fixation "Best Of 2002" show on Wednesday January 1, 2003 starting at my usual 8pm time, but going 4 hours until midnight. I generally look at the releases from the past year chronologically, so it's not a count down type of show.
Thirdly - If you want a count down, that'll happen on Thursday January 2, when we air the WMBR top 100 of 2002.
Finally, I will be returning to the airwaves of WZBC, filling in for lots of DJ's who are out of town for the holiday break. People often ask me to let them know when I'm going to be on the "Z", so I'll post my schedule here on my "view" each week. Here's when I'm on-starting next week :
Monday December 23 from 3-5pm
Monday December 30 from 3-5pm
Friday January 3, "Mass Ave & Beyond" 4-6pm.
November 22, 2002
WMBR's Fundraiser is over, and with the dedication of our listeners we raised nearly $72,000. A big THANK YOU to everyone who pledged during our fundraiser, and who pledged on Aural Fixation.
So, how many other gullible people out there got up at 4 AM on Tuesday to see what was being called the most spectacular astronomical light show the North East would witness for the next century? I did. I'd seen all the reports in the paper & on TV that said the Leonid Meteor showers were going to be SO bright that if you got to a good open spot you'd be able to see them in the city. Blue & green & gold trails zipping across the night sky just before dawn at a rate of one every 6-10 seconds. So my boyfriend & I crawl out of bed at 4 in the 25 degree weather, and drive over to this park high on a hill in Arlington. Beautiful view of Boston off in the distance. Well, there's about 40 people in the park, including families with small children, and we all stand around scanning the skies. The big show was supposed to be between 5:30 & 6:30, just before sunrise. We looked & looked & got very stiff necks. I saw maybe 8 faint trails and then the sun came up. At least it was a beautiful sunrise over Boston. Later that day I watched the local news to see if the weather guys said anything about the event, even if it was - "well, you really couldn't see anything in the city, but it sure was great out in the woods". None of the weather folks said a word on the channels I watched, and the newspaper conveniently didn't have a thing to say about it the next day. Needless to say I was pretty peeved all day Tuesday - a combination of total lack of sleep & feeling like a complete chump.
November 9, 2002
Please note: WMBR's annual fundraiser starts on Tuesday November 12 & runs through Monday November 18. I will be on the air on Wednesday night from 8 - 10pm (EST) asking for your contributions. This year we will be asking our listeners about the importance of webcasting, whether you listen to us on the web, and would like us to continue. It's really important for us to hear from our out of town listeners on this, as webcasting is going to cost us fees in the upcoming year and the demand for our webcast might figure into what we do. So I am personally appealing to any of you out there who listen to Aural Fixation, or any of our programming on the internet, to please consider donating over the next week. We will have a secure on-line form up for your convenience, and pictures of all our cool thank-you premiums will also be on our site. Go to www.wmbr.org
On other topics, I went to see both of the "Swedish Invasion" tours in the last 2 weeks. The first being the Flaming SideBurns & the Sahara Hot Nights, and the second being Citizen Bird, Cato Salsa Experience & The Sound Track Of Our Lives. The FSBs & SHNs were rock rock RAWK, the Sideburns being a little bit MC5 & a little bit Stooges, and the Hot Nights being a rougher nastier Donnas. I especially liked the lead singer of the Sideburns spandex leopard spotted pants. The CB, CSE & TSOOL show was an excellent night of mostly neo-psychedelic music with a good rock edge. Cato Salsa was the odd band out, being a more early 60's beat influenced sound than psych sound. TSOOL lived up to their hype, putting on a spectacular sonic wash of loud pulsing guitars, & keyboards lead by the full-out singing of their black robed lead singer. It's too bad there weren't more people out to see the show. There was a front page article in our local paper (the Boston Globe) this past week about the drop in local club attendance, and a lot of speculation about why. Most club owners cited (of course) the economy, and others said they see less foreigners coming through the doors. Still others said people are still staying home more, are less likely to go out to the "city". I am not sure why either. It's not like the door charge for most shows is a lot -usually equal to going to a movie, and you get a lot more entertainment for that $9! And there's plenty of good music going on. Are you still going out as much as you did in the last few years -and why not if you're not. I'm curious to know. Send me an
October 17, 2002 - the Terrastock Review
OK, Ok, Ok, I know I'm way behind on posting my playlists. I really do try to get them up in a timely manner, but sometimes I just can't keep up. I can always blame my webmaster - but that's not really right. I just posted the last 3 weeks, and will once again try to keep up to date. You can always email me if you want to know something before I get the playlist up. I attended the Terrastock Festival here in Boston this past weekend, and I'm still in recovery. This is my 3rd Terrastock, and it's always a fun, but grueling time. This year there were 37 bands to see over the course of 3 days & 34 hours. By day 3 my feet were killing me, and I spent a lot of time trying to find places to sit down. I don't know if I would've made it to the end except for the fact that the last 5 bands on the bill were: Bardo Pond, Subarachnoid space, The spacious Mind, Kinski, and Acid Mother's Temple.
Here's some comments on the weekend.
FAVES: The Major Stars, never fail to amaze me. This time out they had a substitute bass player who had only been with them for about a day. He was truly amazing for his ability to jump right into the sonic fray that Kate & Wayne make. Hope Well played a very strong psychedelic flavored twisted rock sound that sounded better live to me than on their CD's (although I do really like their recorded output.) Ghost were mesmerizing with their signature haunting psychedelia. Bands I'd never seen before that impressed were Paik, who wove sonic soundscapes that transfixed me, and Motorpsycho, who were the closest thing to Prog rock over the whole weekend. The Sunshine Fix were a breath of harmonious flower pop. Sonic Youth played a messy set that started off pretty pop for them, and degenerated (in a good way) into a screeching noise fest.
Subarachnoid space played a loud burst of guitars over a throbbing bass, where the bassist spent a lot of the set detuning his bass & walking the stage looking for the perfect set to cause all of Axis (especially the patrons) to vibrate. Kinski played another mind blowing, jaw dropping set of layered guitars, bass, using a fascinating mix of effects. Acid Mother's Temple ended off the festival with a typical insane set, ended by the guitarist smashing his guitar into smithereens.
DISLIKES: First of all there was spending 3 days at the Lyons Brothers complex of Axis & Avalon. Things started off on bad footing when the Axis had promised that their upstairs room would be finished in time for the Festival, and was not even close. Terrastock requires 2 stages, and a deal was struck to use the Avalon stage. Unfortunately for the biggest day of the Festival Avalon was not available, and this left Festival organizers & volunteers to build a second stage in Axis on their own. I personally feel the Festival organizers should sue the Lyons Brothers for breach of contract. All through the weekend, the sound people in Axis seemed uninterested in trying to properly mix the bands, leading to a lot of overwhelming booming bass & kick drums, turned off microphones while singers were singing, tons of feed back, no guitars in the PA. Often the sound people were at the board talking to their friends with their backs to the stage while the audience yelled "MICS", "GUITARS", etc. Also, Saturday nights' program got a little too folky for me. I didn't feel there was enough true Psych in a lot of the program, and things were pretty quiet/ambient most of Saturday.
August 28, 2002
Aural Fixation will not be on the air this coming Wednesday, September 4th. WMBR is holding an opening house for new students interested in being DJ's, so expect to hear a lot of first timers & probably not the music you usually hear on Wednesdays at 8pm.
I'll return the next week, on September 11th. I'm really not sure how to approach being on air on the 11th. There's already so much media attention, and retrospective programming going on. Last year I was supposed to be doing my regular 10am-noon shift at WZBC. I heard the first confused reports about what was happening on my way over, but by the time I arrived in the WZBC studios, someone had turned the TV on to CNN. As it turned out, WZBC was off the air at the time, due to a power outage the night before at the transmitter location, and no one had gone over to the transmitter to put us back on the air. I spent a lot of the morning trying to get us back broadcasting, watching CNN, and wondering what I would say if we went back on the air. In the end, I didn't end up being on the air, although I did finally get the station up. This year, since my WMBR show is Wednesday, I am again on the air on September 11th. It just makes me feel strange; a little bit of weird Déjà vu. I figure alot of what needs to be said & played will have been done by 8pm. What would you do if you were me?
August 15, 2002
I love the summer, but this year has finally eroded my resolve to not have an air conditioner. I am from this area, and have never had air conditioning. Sure, there's been a few nights every summer that I melt into a little puddle under the bed, but mostly I enjoy the cool summer night breezes, & the crickets chirping. OK, so it's hokey, but it's true.I also live in a very old house with sketchy wiring & only 2 circuit breakers for the entire apartment and I was fairly sure we'd plug one in & blow all the circuits. Besides, air conditioners have always been notoriously loud, and I'm one of those people who doesn't like loud noise while trying to sleep.
BUT, this summer pushed me to the edge. During our previous heat wave I seriously entertained the notion of purchasing an air conditioner. That heat wave ended before I got to the store. But a couple of weekends ago my boyfriend & I headed to the cape for a short vacation. It was once again 95 degrees in the shade, even on the cape. While visiting my parents they offered us an air conditioner they no longer used. So, when it was predicted to hit 100 degrees (which it did) we put the AC in the window, crossed our fingers & turned it on. The lights dimmed, but we didn't lose power. It blew cold air. After 5 hours of running at maximum our bedroom had cooled down to the frosty temperature of 82 degrees. So much for AC! Sure it was 3 degrees cooler than the rest of the house, but it also sounded like a 747 had landed on the roof. I got my fans back out. The trouble is, now I'm hooked on AC. I can't wait until Saturday so I can go shopping!
July 10, 2002
Yes, it really is commentary. You'd think I'd have something to say more often than once every 2 months, but, well, it's been a long while.
First off I'd like to apologize for getting so behind on my playlists. I will finally be caught up tonight, and am going to put myself on a schedule so I never get behind like that again. What is the point of putting them up if they don't appear in a timely fashion? People who know me, and probably a number of you who don't, know that I don't work a regular full time job. For the last 6 months or so that had translated to not working any job at all. This leaves one with lots of time to follow other pursuits -such as doing a lot of radio, & setting up a website with all these dreams about how to expand it. There's the dream that I'd have a full photo page with photos from the stations I'm involved with, and from concerts I've attended. There's the dream of getting all my "Best Of" show playlists entered. There's the fantasy of having a links page with lots of sites I find interesting, updates on the fight to keep webcasting free, etc. and there's my "weekly" view, which has degenerated into quarterly commentary.
I've been back to work full time for a month now, and look what happened- I'm a month behind on my website! Ah yes, work. So, I get in my car in the morning, and spend 45 minutes driving to the west. I work in one of those office "campus" type things off route 9. The cafeteria food is atrocious, but there's nowhere else to go, except for suburban type restaurants, such as the 99, or Subway. In order to go anywhere, you have to get in your car and drive. No time for lunch hour errands to say, CVS, unless you have 2 hours for lunch & want to spend them all driving around on crowded roads. There's nowhere to sit outside & eat, except for 2 splintery picnic tables in the sun, with a fine view of the sea of asphalt parking lot. And I've yet to find a nice place nearby to drive to & sit outside. I do not know how people work for years under these conditions. It makes it pretty impossible to have a life. If you have to do all your errands after work, you get home with barely enough time to eat dinner & go to bed. Sure makes you grumpy. No wonder Americans often have meltdowns at their work places. I'm very thankful that I have only 3 more months to go. Freelancing can be very inconsistent, scary, and don't even mention "benefits" near me. But I don't think I could ever work permanently in a large corporate office (& office park!) environment.
There's three shows coming up that I'm psyched about -The Von Bondies on July 19th, The Stratford 4, & The Cato Salsa Experience both later in the month.
Apr. 13, 2002
I went to see the White Stripes last week, for what might be the last time I see them. Went to 2 completely packed sold out shows, first at the Roxy in Boston, then down to Providence, at Lupo's. Great, no, amazing shows. But if they continue the way things are going, the next show will be at the Orpheum Theatre, or the Tweeter Center (out door amphitheater with 3000+? capacity), and that's when I stop going to see bands. I'm too used to seeing my bands up close & personal, and being able to talk to them after the show, to go see them in a huge venue where they resemble midgets on stage. The indie rock snobbery backlash dance is also in full force with the 'Stripes. It's the old problem of wanting the bands you love to reach a wider audience, get signed, make money, and gain the respect & recognition you've thought they deserved since you first heard them. As soon as that happens, you get all disappointed. The band is no longer your private, secret, cool underground next big thing that mainstream folks have never heard of; the sort of thing that at parties you can name drop them as your favorite band & receive blank looks (& then feel all superior). It's a strange dichotomy that has no resolution.
It's Tax Time. Which makes a lot of people really cranky -especially when you realize how much money the federal government sucks out of you. No one will ever be able to convince me that the Massachusetts is "Taxachusetts". I've decided if there was some way to tell the feds where I wanted my $$ to go, I'd feel a whole lot better about paying taxes. A checklist on your tax form so you could indicate where to apply your taxes would make me a lot happier about the whole process. Of course it would be interesting to run some sort of social/political science survey to see where people would actually apply their taxes. Would it still end up with 600 billion $$ going to the military & about 2 million $$ to health, housing & education and the arts?
So we're out at a very poorly attended show this past week with a couple of good rockin' out of town bands The show was at the Milky Way in Jamaica Plain. I know too many people who think JP is half way to the cape, or situated in the middle of some scary area which they perceive to be a bastion of muggings, mayhem & scary people. Anyone who has been there or lives there can tell you that's ridiculous. Getting back to the show. So, the last band is obviously unhappy with the turnout, but are on stage plowing ahead. The Bass player is looking especially annoyed at the fact that there were tables right on the floor in front of the stage, & people were sitting down, including the members of the other band. So first he knocks over the closest table to the stage. Then he decides to jump onto the table next to one of the few patrons left, who was tapping his feet & bobbing along. The bass player then stepped on his head (literally) to jump to the next table. The patron gave the bass player a big shove, and he fell into a table & broke a chunk off his bass. The patron yelled "Hey I was enjoying your band & you stepped on my head." Bass player yelled "hey that's rock-n-roll". A bouncer type had to run over & herd the bass player back on stage. Yeah, I guess its rock-n-roll to piss off one of the 10 people left in a club who's there to see your band. Good way to sell merch, and gain fans. NOT.
Feb. 16, 2002
I just have to take a moment to rant about purchasing tickets to events. Yes, the object of my wrath is Ticketmaster, other wise known as the Evil Empire. What a rip off! Here's the story: I decide I want to get tickets to the White Stripes at the Roxy. So, first off, it's impossible to actually go to the venue in person & get tickets. They do not operate a box office. So... you have to purchase them from Ticketmaster, either on-line, or on the phone. I get online. The tickets are $15.00. OK. But, then there's the $4.25 service (convenience) fee. I'm not sure what service /convenience I'm getting for that, since I'm the one doing all the work on-line. But you have NO CHOICE. Then there's the order processing fee. Isn't that what a service/convenience fee is? But, you have to pay it - you have NO CHOICE. By the time I'm done the tickets cost $20.00 per ticket. Why don't they just say they're $20.00 & be done with it. It is utterly impossible to pay only $15.00 for the tickets. The BEST part is when I want to purchase tickets for another show. I want to get tickets to the White Stripes in Providence. (OK, I'll admit I'm a White Stripes fanatic). There is no way I can charge both transactions to my credit card in the same purchase. SO, I go through the whole process over, have to type in all my information again, and GUESS WHAT, I get charged an entirely new "order processing fee". Now I'm going to end up with 2 separate charges on my credit card bill, and 2 separate envelopes of tickets wending their way to my mailbox. As far as I can tell, making customers fill out a whole new order page for each purchase makes a lot of extra work for the customer, and is just a cheap ploy to be able to charge you a separate "order processing fee" for each concert. I hate monopolies. I hate businesses that seem to go out of their way to rip off the general public. I hate that they can get away with the double extra charges they tack onto to tickets. I hate that live music venues have ended up selling their tickets through Ticket master. I wish I could think of some way avoid Ticketmaster, but even Pearl Jam tried to fight them (and they lost the fight).
Jan. 24, 2002
Well, it's been a while since I've written anything in this column. Can you say writer's block? Maybe I just need something to occur to get me riled up enough to spout. Well, that has happened. The occasion is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. This is a bill that if passed in its current form will make internet broadcasting for any outlet except giant corporate radio impossible. Essentially the record labels are looking for another revenue stream, and have seized upon internet streaming as the source. The want to impose a fee for broadcasting a radio station signal over the web. The fee they want to impose would be so expensive most radio stations would have to cease internet streaming. You can read all the details & then send a letter to the appropriate politicians, or sign a petition at the following website: www.ruf.rice.edu/~willr/cb/sos/
I also went to see the return of Mission of Burma this past weekend. It was a whole lot of fun. It was like falling into a time warp (except we were all a little bit older). I saw people I hadn't seen out in a club in 15 years, and of course heard music I hadn't heard played live in almost 19 years. The band sounded fabulous, but I'm glad that they are saying this reunion is not going to lead to a full time band. There's no reason to live in the past, as the members of MOB have gone on to bring us many great bands and musical ventures in their separate endeavors since 1983. I have to say one thing about Avalon. They try their hardest to make going to a show there an unpleasant experience. The latest bit of idiocy? The new coat check policy. This is one item to a hanger. So, if you're wearing, say, a hooded sweatshirt under your leather jacket, and you go to the coat check, they make you pull them apart, and put them on separate hangers. Then they of course charge you double- because you're using up 2 hangers. Needless to say this caused a lot of outrage at the show Friday night. It also screws the poor coat check girls. They get all the verbal abuse, and earn less tips because people who end up paying $4.00 to check items will not have much left over for the tip. Also, since fewer people end up checking coats, they get less tips. Who dreamed up this piece of utter absurdity? I hope there aren't any more shows I want to see there while it's cold out.
Finally- If you haven't seen this month's Improper Bostonian, there was a very nice article about college radio, which featured WMBR. There was an insert box that mentioned shows to listen to, and one of them was Aural Fixation. Except for the fact that after quoting my program description word for word from the summer 2001 program guide, they managed to change the name of my long running show to "Aural Experience". Talk about lame proofing. I intend to send a correction and hope to see it in print next month. Unfortunately the Improper Bostonian does not have a web presence.
Just a quick notice - my Best-Of 2001 show will air this Wednesday, December 26. Until then, Happy holidays!
Dec. 6, 2001
Sue's mea culpa:
First of all, I want to apologize for being lame & not updating this website every week. And now, back to your regularly scheduled comments:
Thanksgiving. I like Thanksgiving. Maybe it's because my family doesn't get together on thanksgiving. Well, we do actually have a pre-holiday get together, which leaves me free to have friends over for the actual day . Maybe it's because stores have nothing to push at you to purchase for the celebration except food. I still can't believe that Christmas advertising starts up right after Halloween. I mean, I was in Osco Drug the first week of November & they had the tinsel up already. The amount of crass commercialization that has happened to Christmas is just incredible. I swear the push didn't used to start until after Thanksgiving. By the second week of December I'm so sick of Christmas muzak that going to the store to buy anything is akin to torture. I'm so glad that the walkman was developed.
There's a bunch of shows coming up in the next few weeks where I like the opening acts more than the headliners. I don't know what that says about my musical tastes. would be This starts with Friday the 7th , where Miniwatt are opening for the Flying Luttenbachers. I'm not saying I won't stay for the Luttenbachers, but I'm much more interested in seeing Miniwatt. Then next week the Yeah Yeah Yeahs are opening the show for Rainier Maria. Again, this is not to say I dislike Rainier Maria, but I really love the Yeah Yeah Yeahs who put on a great show at the Abbey the first time they played up here. And lastly, Radio 4 are opening for Luna. Ditto above comments.
THANK YOU to everyone who pledged during our WMBR Fundraiser a couple of weeks ago. Thanks to all of you we exceeded our goal. Don't forget to send in those checks. (WMBR, Dept. 2001 3 Ames St. Cambridge, Ma 02142).
I'll be doing my "Best Of 2001" show on Wednesday December 26th.
Finally - Cheese Patrol, an annual WMBR event will be broadcasting on Saturday December 29th - starting at 12:00 noon & going for as long as the cheese crew (myself, Lisa, Nancy, Keith, Shawn, Eric &a supporting cast) can stand it. If you not familiar with what Cheese Patrol is -check out the cheese page on WMBR's website.
Nov. 12, 2001
I went to see Oxbow last night, a show one could only call an experience. I really knew very little about the band before I went, except for a write up in the Phoenix last week, and some friends telling me that I HAD to see them. Very intense, dark, disturbing, and noisy all at once. Of course I was warned there would be nudity, and there was some. Enough to scare a few people out of the room. I didn't realize rockers were such prudes.
Last weekend (November 3 & 4) I spent in New York attending the final Cavestomp garage rock show. This was a yearly event for the last 5 years, but this was the first one I was able to attend. It was held in Brooklyn in a club called "Warsaw", which is actually the Polish- American Home. It is beautiful space with a large bar attached. There was Polish food (Pirogi & Blintzes) and Polish beers I'd never heard of. Each year Cavestomp has featured a reuinion by some popular 60's garage acts, and this year we were treated to Mark Lindsay (Paul Revere & the Raiders), Electric Prunes, Downliner's Sect and the Creation. Of course, none of the bands had all their original members, but it really didn't matter. We also saw the Waistcoats from Sweden, The Buff Medways (Billy Childish's new band), Los Straightjackets, the Kaisers, and some of a band from Rochester NY called the Priests. Unfortunately the Priests opened the whole show off by having the drummer break a drum stick after the 4th song. Incredibly he didn't bring any extra drumsticks. There was a long wait while other bands looked for drumsticks, and musicians in the audience who lived near by ran home to get some sticks. By the time sticks were found, their set time was over. What a start! The organizers all looked like they were going to have heart attacks.
Tomorrow starts our yearly 1 week of Fundraising at WMBR, and I hope that those of you who are dedicated listeners will find it in your hearts ( & wallets) to donate this year. Your donations help us make better radio. Thank you.
Oct. 30, 2001
I went to see Thalia Zadek at TT's on Sunday, and was once again mesmerized by her set. Her new material is quieter in some ways than Come, but very intense, and, together with her current backing band (Chris Brokaw, Dan,? from the Knoxville Girls, and ? on Violin) created a very memorable show. The next day I was talking to a friend who was at the show & he remarked - "It's amazing that all of the bands Thalia's been involved with have been truly incredible - Dangerous Birds, Uzi, Live skull, Come, and now her own project. Someday people are going to look at us in amazement when we say - 'Oh yeah, I saw Thalia play at TT's infront of 65 people'". He's right.
On a separate note: I saw what I consider to be the most ridiculous comment yet in the Boston Globe today about the Anthrax scare. Granted there is a good reason for some people to be alarmed, and a good deal to make most people at least uneasy. BUT can we please exercise something that resembles common sense. Here's the comment from an aritcle in today's (10/30) Boston Globe - City & Region section page B1 "Tricky Question" (quote on page B4)
"On the distribution side, people should take care to hand out appropriate treats" said Newton Police Lieutenant Paul Anastasia. "For example, the powder filled Pixie Sticks might not be a good treat to hand out because someone might mistake it for anthrax." (read the whole article here) Sheesh!
Oct. 18, 2001 - A Special Message from the Webmaster!
I know that by now, you're all asking yourselves, "what's it like in the glamorous world of community radio show web hosting?" Well, there are the star-studded champagne-filled Jacuzzi weekends with industry movers and shakers, of course, as well as recent 10-figure buyout offers for the domain, on top of the weekly playlist-update parties at Radius... What?? This isn't 1999 anymore?! Oh yeah, I forgot, macaroni and cheese on a paper plate again tonight...
So, in addition to being the webmaster, I'm also Sue's personal typist. For your amusement, I thought I'd show you a picture of the source material I get to work with every week. It's a dirty job, but someone's got to do it.
Oct. 12, 2001
You've probably heard the story about the "banned song list" that Clear Channel Communications (owners of just about a third of the commercial radio stations in the country) circulated immediately after the Sept. 11th attacks. It contained songs that the powers that be felt were insensitive, or contained words like "Burning" (such as the Talking Heads' Burning Down the House) that might upset listeners. There was immediately a great hue & cry about the list, causing Clear Channel to publicly back pedal & claim it was only a list of SUGGESTIONS. You can read more about this on the Snopes urban legends website.
Now, along comes our President, and his National Security Advisor, to put the pressure on major networks. Just 2 days ago, the network news agencies were asked to not broadcast in full any videotapes from Osama Bin Laden, as the tapes might contain inflammatory propaganda (!) and possible coded messages to terrorists. The executives at most of the agencies agreed to only run excerpts, and carefully screen any missives from Bin Laden. Now the administration is making the same request of our print media. I'm sure the call is out to major radio networks also. It's a concern when the vehicles through which most people get their news these days is in danger of being censored by the government. Lets think about other countries where the government tells the media what is OK & NOT OK to print, or broadcast. I've always thought freedom of the press was one of our unassailable essential rights. When those very outlets are even willing to consider a form of censorship, it sets a very dark precedent. Of course they've all said they intend to work on a case by case basis, and all operate under the principle that the public has a right to know, but I find this frightening. It's right up there with the newly created "Office of Homeland Security" - doesn't that just conjure up an image of jackbooted thugs! Next on the list-the Thought Police. I've already heard from friends who say they don't feel comfortable expressing their viewpoints at work or social gatherings, especially when their view is for a more peaceful solution, and re-examination of US foreign policy. Fortunately there is alternative radio, ( where we can usually disclaim "the views & opinions stated are wholly mine & do not represent....") and the internet. We've discovered just how hard it is to censor websites. For those of us who think hearing all of what Bin Lauden has to say or seeing & expressing alternative viewpoints is important, it's out there. There are also alternative broadcast news sources-we have some of them on WMBR. (check the news at 6:00pm Monday -Friday). Here's a short list of sites to look at.
Oct. 5, 2001
I just had to comment on the fun time (seemingly) had by all at the Trans Am, Fucking Champs, Pines of Nowhere show at the Garment District's "Dollar a Pound" space last Saturday Night (Sept. 29th).
First off I love going to shows in alternative spaces. Sure it often means a less than stellar sound system, and no beer, & no smoking, but it also means everyone is there to revel in the music, and not to lean on the bar & schmooze. 500 people were there last week to rock with the Pines of Nowhere's hard edged post -punk, the Fucking Champs' over the top interpretations of the heavy metal guitar rifts to which you played air guitar as a youth, and Trans Am's new New Wave, Prog Rock, slightly Industrial synth/guitar dance rock. Unfortunately, due to early curfew, and a late start, all the bands played slightly truncated sets, although after being told they had to stop, Trams Am were ushered back on stage to play a few more. The evening ended with small stuffed animals (from a nearby table) sailing through the air. Lets hope that a bit of tossing the merchandise around doesn't dissuade the Garment District & the Middle East from collaborating again.
BTW, if you've never shopped at the Garment District, you might want to check it out - lots of good stuff cheap. I know I never leave the place without finding something.
Sept. 28, 2001
Over the last week I've attended a number of shows featuring both local & touring bands. None of the shows I went to were very well attended. Maybe I have chosen to attend the more esoteric shows, but these were all bands that generate requests & queries during my show, and are also being played a lot on most of the other WMBR rock shows. Are people just not so interested in seeing live music these days? Is it the cocooning effect? I know the nation is for the most part in a national funk, but getting out, seeing musicians give it their all on stage, and mingling with other people (strangers or not) has been for me a very positive experience over the last couple of weeks.
April 30, 2004