Quotidian Update 42.iv.b

While I was taking my siesta this morning, aka as sleeping in, the little elves at the supermarket were busy filling the order that I will go pick up too soon because, you know, sleeping in. I think I’m about to shake off the shackles of this virus and start shopping for myself. Wait a minute, I hate that.

In other news…there isn’t any but here’s a cool photo of me talking to the kids. Bear is taking a polite sip from the cat’s water bowl. The wall there supports the 9th hole of the golf course. You can see the tennis court and, in the distance, the weeds along the ditch.

I think today Bear will get a similar walk because it is really her favorite. It’s safe for her to stick her nose into bushes and I think that the scenery dogs crave is that which appeals more to the olfactory than the visual. The scents out at the Refuge are now rather stale and few and far between. The water birds have finished nesting and are hanging out in the water more of the time, so far less goose poop. The carnivores have to work harder for a meal. The deer are seeking shade, the elk have gone to higher elevations. What a drag for Bear!!!

Meanwhile, under the category, “The Passing Parade,” when I moved to San Diego I started listening to a radio station that was all about marketing itself as rebellious alternative music. 91X. The DJ I heard the most was a British guy named Steve West. He came on the air the very moment I was driving home from teaching morning classes. I drove home, ate lunch and graded papers, his voice and playlist in the background. I liked most of the music. He introduced me to my “anthem” because it also often happened in winter that as soon as I got home I leashed the dogs and headed out for a hike. The song is Running Up that Hill by Kate Bush. I’m a radio person and throughout my life it’s been a “thing” in my life’s background.

Decades passed and Steve West moved to another radio station when 91X sold out or something. I kept listening to him. On Sunday mornings he started doing an “oldies” show comprising the music of the 1980s (oldies?? wtf?) and I listened to it even after I moved back to Colorado. He took requests and always played mine. “This is for Martha in the Back-of-Beyond!” he would say, or “For Martha freezing in Colorado!”

During this interval, he fought prostate cancer. One of the things he did on his radio show was a benefit for research. The big prize was going on air with him. In the past year or so he showed up with pancreatic cancer and lost his fight about a month ago. I didn’t know this guy yet he’d had a (pleasant) role in my life for more than 30 years. That’s a pretty long time. I was truly affected by his death as were a lot of other people who, like me, had listened to him for decades — actually I listened to him for more than half my life. His music choices influenced the music I like. Now, the station has rebuilt his very popular Sunday morning show employing an equally “seasoned” (old) DJ. It’s still good and time marches on.


Another Radio Spot

I just got back from the big city of Alamosa. I went to the KRZA radio station to do an interview about the China book and what I plan to read/talk about this coming Saturday. It was another interesting interview, and it was cool to meet the program director, Mike Clifford, who did this interview and the earlier one.

If you want to listen in, it will air tomorrow, December 4, at 8 am MST and again at 7:30 PM MST. I got to talk a little bit about Switzerland and Martin of Gfenn.

You can stream it here, https://www.krza.org by scrolling down to the KRZA Live Stream button and then clicking on the play arrow on the next page that opens.

Radio Days

Sunday mornings I listen to the RADIO. Its signals are no longer radiated through the atmosphere, but come through the miracle of cable Wi-Fi. It’s a station in San Diego. 94/9. The DJ, Steve West, is a guy I listened to back in the day, the 80s when the alternative station was 91X. Yes folks, it’s an oldies show called Legends of Alternative. Steve West plays alternative and punk, sometimes playing songs I request (through the miracle of Facebook). I’m pretty sure his favorite band is The Cure. If it hadn’t been for his radio show, which was always on when I was driving home from school around 1 or 2 pm, I would  not have heard many of the songs that are my life’s soundtrack, such as “Running Up That Hill” by Kate Bush and “Holiday in Cambodia” by Dead Kennedys.

I grew up with the radio. My dad was a radio man when he was in the army. Having failed to ship out twice with his outfit(s), he ended up out in the California desert with the Army Corps of Engineers. The Army finally sent him to school, and he was trained to be, as he described it, “a radio man.” He told me the whole story, but long before I was old enough to have the context points that would help it stick in my memory.

When I was growing up, our basement had lots of cool WW II tech stuff in it — hand-cranked generators, telegraph buttons (?), field phones (my brother and I LOVED playing with those), and an assortment of various strange radios. My dad had been a HAM radio operator while he was in college in Montana, so there was all that radio equipment, too. I thought of a radio as a box with sound coming out of it; for my dad a radio was a platform with tubes, wires, coils and antennae.

When I was very small, my dad worked for the University of Denver. Imagine how much fun this must have been. He shot up rockets carrying weather balloons dangling radio transmitters into the atmosphere to “find” radio waves emitted by, I’m pretty sure, the bomb that had been tested at Alamogordo, NM.

The most spectacular radio in our lives was his Zenith Trans-Oceanic. Once he and I (I was 10 or 11) had built his office in one corner of the basement, had stained the pine bookshelves mahogany (brown), put all the books away, set up a small sofa, put in his desk, arranged his things, we were ready for the ceremony of, “C’mon MAK. Let’s see if we can listen to Russia.” Usually we just got Juarez. “C’mon, MAK. We can practice our Spanish.”

I couldn’t choose between my favorite radio songs for this post, so here are my top three.