July 8th, 2004


You Cheer Him Up, Jimmy, With Your Euphonium

I have this bad habit of falling asleep to the radio. Generally, the computer also goes into sleep mode and the stream breaks, but this isn't entirely dependable. I fall asleep in a room of voices almost every night. Worried that I might miss some startling development in international news or, just perhaps, I've developed a taste for Westway.

Provided things go to plan, I should be in the States later this year. Quite possibly around the time of the election. I thought I'd warm myself up a little for the contest by listening to American radio. One thing that a domestic broadband connection provides is a reliable level of bandwidth to listen to radio online without it sounding too much like shellac. I'd been reading an article earlier in the week about Air America supposedly being especially reliant on blogging as a tool for gathering information and enabling broader audience response. As far as I understand it, Air America was set up recently to redress the rightward lurch of most talk radio. Rush Limbaugh is the only character I'm at all familiar with in the talk radio world in the US. Well, let's see what happening in the world of liberal radio. I think I stayed awake for about fifteen Earth minutes into Majority Report with Janeane Garofalo and Sam Seder [Garofalo's gone blonde?]. Now, in the broad and general view of things, this sort of programming may be a blessed relief for many Americans, but it really didn't impress me. I guess everyone outside of the Republican encampment is so wrapped up in the desire to oust Bush that they're rather disinterested in discussing politics outside of its partisan restrictions. I'm vacillating on Bush at the moment. I can remember often thinking that a possible advantage of Thatcher [eh?] remaining in power for so long would be that she would expose more effectively why radical change outside of parliamentary party politics would be required. What did we actually get? Political apathy and Tony Blair for the most part.

Should they vote in John Kelly? Well, danged if I know, that's really for Americans to decide. I can understand this unequivocal desire to remove Bush from office, but Kelly doesn't produce such different reaction in me. Of course, having a photo of yourself with John Lennon is bound to put me off. Now, if it was the MC5, well, that would be a different story. I was listening to Kelly announcing the appointment of [hang on, he's called Kerry. That must be some Japanese linguistic hangover!] John Edwards as his running partner. When he announced this, Kerry said the following:

I know his skill, I know his passion, I know his strength, I know his conscience, I know his faith.

[...I then later found the following comment from Bush two years ago about brother Jeb:

I know his heart. I know his strength of conviction, and I know his vision.]

What the Sam Hill does any of that mean, I thought. All I could see was a backroom of West Wing style script monkeys bashing away at typewriters. Raised on a diet of Hollywood cornball, rather than Cicero or Demosthenes, they are obviously of the mind that repetition helps hammer the point home. I know his DERRRR, I know his DERRRR and so on. I don't believe you, I thought. You are talking absolute shite. I wonder whether inserting of might improve the veracity. At least it wouldn't sound so absolute and, therefore, to my ears, not so preposterous. The monkeys obviously are ignorant to the fact that they don't have Al Pacino out front hamming it up and over-egging the campaign pudding.

Either: Kelly writes his own speeches. In which case, he's an uninspired dullard.
Or: Other people do. In which case they need to stop putting these sorts of words into his mouth.

But what do I know? They don't need to impress me. I'm not American. I'm not resident there and I have little actual idea of the country's workings other than what I witness from afar. It's easy to deride American politics for being reductive and asinine. I don't feel qualified to comment insightfully. Suffice to say, the standard of rhetoric (whether Bush, Kerry, Limbaugh, Air America..) makes me want to stick my head into an oven and scream. I would do that right now, but there's a fox asleep in the back garden and I don't want to wake it up. I won't pretend that much of British political rhetoric doesn't induce a similar reaction.

I was talking to Johnny Slap at the weekend and somehow the subject of radio came up. Probably because we'd been issued with walkie-talkies for the event and were coming up with stupid handles for ourselves. I was Bald Eagle and the others were Colonel Mustard and Hair Bear. Johnny was a CB nut back in the day. I mentioned how we used to be able to listen into the emergency channels on domestic radios. Maybe you still can these days, but it would need specialised equipment. Back in my day, son, you could hear the police having conversations on the radio. Oh, those were the days. Now, I can hear radio from all around the world without that ghostly shortwave music and interference. You could hear the distance then. Minutely tweaking the dial, trying to get it clearer. You are only coming through in waves. This is Moscow. Or Radio Tirana even. Have we lost or gained? Surface noise or higher fidelity. Hurry up please it's time...

A recent addition to the world of P2P networks and online music stores, for me anyway, has been a sudden growth in MP3 blogs. They're rather like going round to someone's house and them playing you recent finds and purchases. You can read about them elsewhere, but I enjoyed the recent monkey theme over at Tofu Hut. I didn't mean to listen to Black Is The Colour Of My True Love's Hair by Nina Simone at Womenfolk [mmm, and now Neko Case has just turned up on the front page. Good taste!], but I'm glad I did. I've been put off her by saturation bombing of My Baby Just Cares For Me over the years. There's a profund understatement of chord inversions, the way the bass hangs just so behind the piano and the vocal is outstanding. I sat here tearfully reminded of the transcendent powers of music. That is so beautiful. For a short while, Sarmoung Mansions was tranformed from the black monolith it resembles so much of late.

The Ramones doing the Spiderman theme? [Can't find that now...] I can see I might be losing a measurable percentage of future days looking around to see what else there is to be found. I should also mention the EC Brown page of MP3 links, I'm still working my way through that one.