Tuesday, March 29, 2011
"He's mad." "Mad?"
I admit that it took a certain madness to do Space Pirate Radio. An eccentricity that I am actually quite proud of. But true madness--not the Mad Magazine variety, but the ultra dark, I've just crossed over the border-line insanity type--this always belonged to the people in charge. Not a creative bone in their body; just a primal desire to control and run something and get back for all the trauma that happened in their childhoods. These types became General Managers at radio stations. :) If they used to like music, but forgot what inspired them and also dug the power, they became Program Directors or Music Directors. If your soul was completely washed out, but felt a toady thrill sucking up to the previously mentioned triumvirate of evil, you became a Sales Manager or more toady... Account Executive. Ready for a tour of Dante's Hell my friends? Well, let us descend...
(Suddenly Styx takes on a double meaning)..."It's another Classic Rock Weekend!"
Anyone who has travelled the halls of corporate power knows that the tiny people who sit behind the big desks in the opaque glassed rooms, sealed off by the doors of ancient sequoia redwood...these tiny people...are truly insane. But then again, those who have been down these halls and were somewhat impressed by the trappings of the golden calf...well, they were probably just jealous, and covetous and hoped to occupy the very same premises at an upcoming and future date. But I digress.
While doing Space Pirate Radio, I have certainly had the unusual pleasure (being ironic here) of "working for" some of the most "unique" (steam irony now) employers or bosses (take your pick)...well, carbon-based creatures that couldn't have popped out of a Dickens or Trollope novel better than Central Casting. As the years passed on, my wide-eyed enthusiasm for the power of the wireless was daily bombarded by the type of unsavoury character that kept the business of it all running.
It's been said that patriotism is the last refuge for the scoundrel. Then obviously the first refuge is Big Business. They go hand in hand, actually. So, for a while, in the Seventies...and then, in the wowie-zowie FCC de-regulated Ray Gun Eighties, radio was the game to play.
Where do I start? Should I even care? Blindfold me, spin me around and which bastard will I hit first? Tee-Hee. The best thing about this Hall of Darkness is that none of these people...and I mean NONE OF THESE PEOPLE...had a sense of humour, let alone a sense of reality, or the basic six senses (there are actually eight...and this could be the source of the problem...but folks, for me this comes off as a Sunday Parade feature rather than a thesis).
George Harrison's song "Piggies" could fit here regarding some of the General Managers I've worked for. Except, I always thought the term was an insult to the swine. Real pigs are far more sensitive and intelligent than the a-holes who were given command to broadcast to the community standard. The physical comparison can be made, but I'm sure real hogs are far more graceful than the paranoid jerks who fronted the mini-media empires they were entrusted to.
The difference here is probably because real pigs didn't do cocaine. Their snouts are used for sniffing food-like sustenance--not snorting cocoa-based powders from Columbia or wherever Free Trade exists.
Okay, it's starting to get dark and cynical here...so please scroll back and gaze upon the foto of my Top Cat, Emma! She is the current Queen of our six cat harem; the eldest since the passing of Serena. In between are the Brothers Karamazov and the latest lady, Six. ("You really are the limit, Number Six.") I'll talk more about cats later, but this was really an intermission in my tirade on the powers that run radio. I will say, most emphatically, that my cat Emma is far smarter than most of the General Managers I have worked for. She can actually cover over her own shit.
Since 1973 till 1985, KTYD went through so many ownership changes, yours truly is in a state of vertigo. The body count was worse than World War I. Usually some out of state group would buy the station, send their under achiever son to run it, and hoo-boy! Pure art and bad business would collide in a cosmic existential moment of Karl Marx meets William Randolph Hearst. Those were the days, folks!
I can recall doing a weekend show in the wee hours of the morning, only to hear the rattle of keys at the door (or were that rats nibbling at the portal?). Instead, I discover the drunken GM trying to locate his keys, entering the asylum, to find sanctuary in his big office (with the State Street view) to pass out in his over-stuffed chair, head down on the fake mahogany table (a must for those all important meetings of no importance). Leaving at 6am, assuming the morning jock arrived, which wasn't as often as one would wish, yours truly would view GM in a state of head paralysis (fake mahogany table, no substitute for comfy pillow). All part of the job description. But you know? Compared to some of the hyper-psychopaths I would work for later, this idiot was like Winnie the Pooh.
Anyway, I admit, it gave me a perverse pleasure to have Space Pirate Radio (which I believed was the most UNCOMMERCIAL radio show on the air) continue to survive, despite all of the commercial reshuffling that the station went through. At the time, this was my victory. This totally non-conformist, weird and alien program, with all the foreign, electronic crap, strange humour and noise would survive, while consultant paid, Arbitron ratings backed programming would fade and fade again. What gives? We paid good money for this book. Why is drive-time down? How come we lost 18 to 34-year-olds? What happened to female shares?
Well, if anyone is interested, I will tell you. And it's a ghost story.