The Ragged Antique Phonograph Program

Reading this article about The Best Show:

Like WFMU itself, which takes pride in its esotericism (the lead-in to The Best Show for years was The Ragged Antique Phonograph Program, which played only 78s or cylinders on period equipment), The Best Show is a cult phenomenon. Its most hard-core listeners can literally become card-carrying fans: “Friends of Tom” are issued membership cards signed by Scharpling. For years, finding out about the show took some digging. Chicagoans who wanted to hear it had to visit the tristate area or find one of five CDs that Scharpling and Wurster self-released between 2002 and 2007. That finally changed in 2008, when they added a podcast.

and was like “haha what a hilarious gag from Scharpling and Wurster.  That’s just the kind of well-observed satire of the excesses of eccentric fandom they specialize at.”

But no, apparently, that really was the lead-in.  Here’s a photo of the hosts from their website, where you can listen to probably over a hundred episodes.

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This world is truly amazing.  I wonder if there’s a big future in documentary or “reality” comedy, that’s not making anything up but just observing and capturing the absurdities of what exists, the way all my friends watch documentaries now?  The trouble there might be it’s very difficult to construct a documentary that is purely funny without a strong dose of some pathetic sadness or hopefulness or something — you can’t get undiluted laughs out of unconstructed reality?  If the goal is simply, “watch something that makes me laugh” might be hard to capture.

Anyway, best of luck to Scharpling in continuing Best Show:


St. Vincent

St. Vincent

photo by Tod Seelie.

What red-blooded American hasn’t considered suicide?

HIGHEST recommendation to Marc Maron’s interview with St. Vincent.  A truly fantastic interview with a person who can’t seem to say anything except in some intriguing, innovative way.  Super cool.

A fun twist in my listening experience: I was skipping over the first ten minutes as is my way with WTF Podcast, but because there’s a mini-interview or teaser at the beginning, I listened to about five minutes of Andrea Martin, thinking she was St. Vincent:

Getty images.

Getty images.

A trippy misunderstanding.

One thing St. Vincent said is that, as a kind of resolution, she’s stopped reading the Internet, and she’s found — whether it’s causation or correlation — that she’s been more present, has more interesting conversations with people she comes across.

Unachievable goal for me, but I am gonna continue to think about this, she’s onto something here.

Today I looked at Drudge Report, as I so often do, and was like “what the fuck am I doing looking at this garbage?”  Some headlines from Drudge today, punctuation is sic:

Students slam Michelle O lunch rules: Mayo banned

‘SEX SLAVE’ MET QUEEN

PAPER: Unending Anxiety of ‘ICYMI’ World…

Man posts bail — with sneakers…

BABIES WITH ‘THREE PARENTS’ TO BE LEGAL WITHIN WEEKS…

RISE OF THE MACHINES: ROBOTS LEARN WATCHING YOUTUBE!

Al Qaeda warns of new ‘undetectable’ bombs to be used against US…

Egypt defence lawyers challenge police in gay bathhouse case…

Do I need this garbage in my life?

(Hey serious q: if any HelyTimes readers know some best practices for using photos from the internet on your non-profit blog please lemme know.  Can’t find a source for that St. Vincent photo, not sure how hard I should try/worry about that)


Merry Christmas

Esther [Judy Garland] finally gets to meet John properly when he is a guest at the Smiths’ house party, although her chances of romancing him don’t go to plan when, after all the guests are gone and he is helping her turn off the gas lamps throughout the house, he tells her she uses the same perfume as his grandmother and that she has “a mighty strong grip for a girl”…

At the ball, Esther fills up a visiting girl’s (Lucille Ballard, played by June Lockhart) dance card with losers because she thinks Lucille is a rival of Rose’s. But when Lucille turns out to be interested in Lon, Esther switches her dance card with Lucille’s and instead dances herself with the clumsy and awkward partners. After being rescued by Grandpa, she is overwhelmed when John unexpectedly turns up after somehow managing to obtain a tuxedo, and the pair dance together for the rest of the evening. Later on, John proposes to Esther and she accepts.

Esther returns home to an upset Tootie. She is soothed by the poignant “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” Tootie, however, becomes more upset at the prospect of the family’s move and runs downstairs, out into the cold to destroy the snowmen they have made. Mr. Smith sees his daughter’s upsetting outburst from an upstairs window.

Remember to let your kids smoke a cigarette.


Fist City

Loretta has such an admirable way of getting right to the point.


Hot Cross Buns

Finding a leftover roll in my house reminded me of the sad, funny sound of elementary students playing “Hot Cross Buns” on their recorders. I went looking for it on YouTube:

This video has 11,221 views.


utterly nonsensical

The chorus of the song is wordless, consisting of a repeated chant of “lie-la-lie”. Simon stated that this was originally intended only as a placeholder, but became part of the finished song.

“I didn’t have any words! Then people said it was ‘lie’ but I didn’t really mean that. That it was a lie. But, it’s not a failure of songwriting, because people like that and they put enough meaning into it, and the rest of the song has enough power and emotion, I guess, to make it go, so it’s all right. But for me, every time I sing that part… [softly], I’m a little embarrassed.”

It has sometimes been suggested that the words represent a “sustained attack on Bob Dylan”. Under this interpretation, Dylan is identified by his experience as an amateur boxer, and the “lie-la-lie” chorus represents allegations of Dylan lying about his musical intentions.  Biographer Marc Eliot wrote in Paul Simon: A Life, “In hindsight, this seems utterly nonsensical.”

Bob Dylan in turn covered the song on his Self Portrait album, replacing the word “glove” with “blow.” Paul Simon himself has suggested that the lyrics are largely autobiographical, written during a time when he felt he was being unfairly criticized:

“I think I was reading the Bible around that time. That’s where I think phrases such as ‘workman’s wages’ came from, and ‘seeking out the poorer quarters’. That was biblical. I think the song was about me: everybody’s beating me up, and I’m telling you now I’m going to go away if you don’t stop.”[5]

During a New York City concert in October 2010, Paul Simon stopped singing midway through “The Boxer” to tell the story of a woman who stopped him on the street to tell him that she edits the song when singing it to her young child. Simon told the audience that she removed the words “the whores” and altered the song to say, “I get no offers, just a come-on from toy stores on Seventh Avenue.” Simon laughingly commented that he felt that it was “a better line.”[6]


Polio and Songwriting

Joni Mitchell and Neil Young

both got polio in the same 1951 epidemic.

More on that here, with specific reference to Ian Dury.  Dury was played by Andy Serkis in the film Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll:

I learned that Mitchell/Young polio fact, and many other interesting things, from this David Samuels article:

His second discovery was that he could encourage the writing of hits by urging songwriters to follow his nine rules of hit songwriting. While Caren’s rules are not comprehensive or exclusive, it is easy to measure their value by a glance at the dozens of gold and platinum records hanging in his office. He is happy to run down his rules for me. “First, it starts with an expression of ‘Hey,’ ‘Oops,’ ‘Excuse me,’” he begins. “Second is a personal statement: ‘I’m a hustler, baby,’ ‘I wanna love you,’ ‘I need you tonight.’ Third is telling you what to do: ‘Put your hands up,’ ‘Give me all your love,’ ‘Jump.’ Fourth is asking a question: ‘Will you love me tomorrow,’ ‘Where have you been all my life,’ ‘Will the real Slim Shady please stand up.’”

He takes a deep breath, and rattles off another four rules. “Five is logic,” he says, “which could be counting, or could be spelling or phonetics: ‘1-2-3-4, let the bodies hit the floor,’ or ‘Ca-li-fornia is comp-li-cated,’ those kind of things. Six would be catchphrases that roll off the tip of your tongue because you know them: ‘Never say never,’ ‘Rain on my parade.’ Seven would be what we call stutter, like, ‘D-d-don’t stop the beat,’ but it could also be repetition: ‘Will the real Slim Shady please stand up, please stand up, please stand up.’ Eight is going back to logic again, like hot or cold, heaven or hell, head to toe, all those kind of things.”

The ninth rule of hit songwriting is silence. Why? Because most people who are listening to music are actually doing something else, he explains. They are driving a car, or working out, or dancing, or flirting. Silence gives you time to catch up with the lyrics if you are drunk or stoned. If you are singing along, silence gives you time to breathe. “Michael Jackson, his quote was ‘Silence is the greatest thing an entertainer has,’” Caren continues. “‘I got a feeling,’ space-space-space, ‘Do you believe in life after love,’ space-space-space-space-space.”

IMG_5214

In addition to writing all the music and lyrics for Nirvana, Kurt Cobain designed the band’s T-shirts and album covers and created shot-by-shot scripts for the band’s videos on MTV, as well as edited the bios and other publicity materials that helped shape the band’s narrative in the rock press. It was all part of his art, or inseparable from his art; it’s what he got paid for. “Rock and roll is a commercial art form, it’s not just about the music, it’s about what you look like, it’s about how you connect with an audience, it’s about the photos that appear in the British trades.” Nirvana’s longtime manager, Danny Goldberg, told me this when I met with him in New York, before I left for the Grammys. Even when Cobain was nodding off on rock-star doses of heroin in the MTV editing suite, Goldberg remembers, he could still identify exactly where the camera should come in and when to cut away. “He had a dark side, but he was so nice to me, you know, it was so out of proportion to anything that I did for him,” he remembered. “He was tremendously intellectually curious, incredibly creative, and had a great sense of humor; he was like a leprechaun or an elf. You’d go to wherever he was living, and he lived in a lot of places, and there’d be like reams of drawings and paintings and poems. He was also a great fan of other artists. He’d always be saying, ‘You’ve got to hear Captain America, you’ve got to hear the Jesus Lizard,’ or whatever those bands were.”

 


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