Note bene: I started writing this post 2 days ago (it was actually the 11th day of lockdown, not the 10th), but things have gotten a bit more intense since. Tinkering with this blog and writing throw away posts has provided one anchor in the mental storm of the virus here in Northern Italy. Today is Day 13 of lockdown, and thank heaven for the radio.
Today makes the 10th day of lockdown in Trento, and I’ve been coping with a healthy dose of work at Reclaim Hosting (it feels good to be help folks get setup or expand capacity on the fly), playing with my dog, and broadcasting on the ds106radio. I appreciated Martin Weller’s call for the ordinary this morning, and given I’ve been working remotely for five years I’m not facing the same disruption many others are waking up to.
More than anything I feel guilty not being able to help out more, I would like to enlist in a civic corps to re-stock shelves, pack boxes, or whatever other ordinary task needs to be done. I really appreciate the folks in our local bakery and supermarket who’ve greeted so many with a smile, provided a much needed liter of milk for morning coffee, delivered food to the elderly, and generally showed up regardless of the direct risk to their own well being. The real heroes in this invisible struggle with the unknown will not be syndicated.
Anyway, here’s to hoping you all are finding your way and staying safe. I feel like I’m a few weeks ahead in terms of current events of friends and family in the UK and North America. So, for what it’s worth, get ready to go on an extended lockdown (and frankly if you aren’t already you really should be) and follow the solid advice of paring down all expectations of anything professional, educational, etc. More than anything, though, connect with those you love and be kind to those you don’t.
So, to the point of this post, I have been busy on the radio. I’ve done at least 8 shows in as many days, and most of those featured a #vinylcast, i.e. streaming one album—on real vinyl—from my modest collection. These take up about half of the roughly 2 hour broadcasts in the middle of the day. The other half is me blabbing on. So, what have a I broadcast so far? Let me get the list recorded below given I will forget otherwise.
First up was Jesus Lizard‘s Goat (1991) for Rowan Peter given he told an awesome story about his encounter with David Yow—radio gold. The next day I streamed Deerhunter‘s 2010 album Halycon Digest given I had purchased it in LA a few months back but still hadn’t played it, and that is when I decided this could be a regular thing 🙂 I took a break the third day given I wanted to put together a radio show about Muhammad Ali after watching the 1996 documentary When We were Kings. I found a couple of tracks off Ali’s (then known as Cassius Clay) I am the Greatest spoken word/comedy album produced 6 months before his fight with Sonny Liston.
The was then followed by Cat Power‘s “The Greatest,” which is a song I love:
After that I returned to I am the Greatest with track five titled “Will the Real Sonny Liston please Fall Down”:
There is some serious smack talking in that track, it is wild–so much so that it became a cultural phenomenon, bands like the Beach Boys were spoofing the smack talking. Here is a track wherein Mike “Cassius” Love and Brian “Sonny” Wilson have a back and forth that might be closer to home than either would care to admit?
After that I played a Youtube video highlighting some of Muhammad Ali’s more memorable trash talking:
After that I moved to discussion of the film When we Were Kings highlighting excerpts of the fight featuring Norman Mailer:
After that I played “Black Superman” by Johnny Wakelin, an opportunistic song inspired by the “Rumble in the Jungle.” It does highlight the play-by-play a bit, which is interesting.
After that, back to When We were Kings featuring George Plimpton talking about Ali’s commencement speech at Harvard delivering what he argues is the shortest poem in the english language: me/we
After that, two more songs inspired by Ali, the first was by “8ieme Round” by a Zairian band inspired by the legendary fight in that country in 1974:
And finally Eddie Curtis’s “The Louisville Lip”:
A quick note about this impromptu show, it was terrible. Nigel stayed with me, but it was a mess—my levels were off, I threw some major feedback back at listeners, and it was just hard. I was reminded that good radio is not easy, and lucky the standards on ds106radio have been lowered during these strange days, but damn it was frustrating. I think this is why I retreated to streaming vinyl so quickly. Hopefully I can get back in a groove sometime here soon with more impromptu shows on the radio, but for now #vinylcast #4life
Picking this post up two days later, I do enjoy the fact that the vinylcast’s do call for more focused listening to one album. They allow me to listen along closely as well, and I try and make sure it’s an album that holds up as an entire piece of art. In the two days since starting this post I actually got an idea after speaking with Kate Bowles via back channels about SPLOTs. She was discussing playing around with TRU Collector, which gave me an idea for a domain I recently registered, bavaradio.com, as part of a demo I was doing for a school getting up and running with Domain of One’s Own. I had the domain, and I registered it as kind of a goof, but after chatting with Kate it occurred to me I could be using that as a quick and easy site for starting to document the vinylcasts and any other radio shows I do. It is a slick and easy tool for this, and it allows me to quickly share any tweets posted during the broadcast, an image of the album, a link to the Wikipedia page, and some brief thoughts around the vinyl choice and how I was feeling during that cast. What I like about that is it is short form blogging that I have on my server and will serve not only as a record of my shows, but also of my attempt to reach out through the airwaves while simultaneously trying to cope with a rapidly changing world.
I added the first 11 vinylcasts, two of which I recorded and will add the show recordings to the posts as well. I also want to add the discussion I had with John Johnston on the radio about his experiences in a rural school outside of Glasgow, Scotland. But first I need to make sure he is cool with that and that the audio quality for any of my recordings is passable. Well, I guess that’s it for now, but hopefully not really it.