Wednesday, March 30, 2011

"I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, de-briefed or numbered."

Let me insert another photo of yours truly with King Crimson drummer Bill Bruford.  This picture was taken outside the soulless, modern KTYD studios in Goleta, after having left the eighth floor of the historic Granada Theatre building.  Note, I am wearing the unusual wooden glasses that I had bought from France, imported into Santa Barbara to an optical store on State Street and Micheltorena.  It's the '80s folks, and these are my Salad Days (what the Hell does that mean? That I couldn't afford the main course?).  I loved those glasses.  They were made of lightweight Asian wood.  Comparisons were made to Elton John or Trevor Horn, but I never saw anyone else have a pair.  And at the time, I thought they fitted in with what I was trying to do.  A little style, a little Art, for one who felt ambivalent about show and biz.  I used to joke about the frames: 1) I would say that the wood was from the Original Cross, and 2) that the wood was so light, that if I ever drowned, you could locate the body where the frames were floating.

Anyway, I make a long story longer...

Those glasses...the front of the soulless studios.  Later on, a photo was taken of the radio staff (in front of the same studios) for a Christmas Greeting Card.  We are now run by a GM who breaks the mold in hyper, right wing paranoia.  He is my bete noire.  My wooden glasses have broken their spring-based ear stems.  I can't wear them for the photo. I will have to wear my older, John Lennon-like wire frames for the foto shoot.  GM goes Bobby De Niro or Al Pacino fumed nutso. Pulls Program Director aside and sez, "What's Guden trying to say? That modern rock sucks and we should go back to the '60s? Fire him!"

This was not the first time El Jefe tried to remove yours truly.  It started during the election of Reagan against Carter.  On election day, boss man comes into the studios, eyeing me as the soul member of a '60s based mindset (I still had the longest hair among the Sales types).  He boasts that he was the first to vote in the early morning hours at the Santa Barbara Court House ("I wanted to be the first one to vote for Reagan").  He mentions that he stumbles on a couple of long-hairs, camped out to be the first to vote for Carter.  "Your people, " he digs at me.  I reply: "Well, I voted for Carter, so my vote cancels out your vote."  Surprise, surprise!  It's AMAZING what you can say to a high octane fueled, ultra paranoid Big Biz type that can set him off.  He pulled off his dutiful Program Director into the Secret Sanctum and commanded: "Fire him!"  The PD rather timidly pointed out that someone couldn't be fired for their democratic freedom of choice at the ballot box.  But the V for Vendetta was put into place.  "Find a reason...and Fire Him!"  Ah, those were the Good Old Days, Mein Herr (und Meine Dammen).

And they found a way.  During the Christmas Holidays I got sick, so I called in a fellow employee to fill in for me.  This was a breach of command ("I should have called the GM, despite being unavailable for such trivialities, to authorize who would fill my time spot.  Unacceptable.  You're fired. 12 years with KTYD, severance pay... get out, f**k off.").

Now this came from a man who boasted that he had paintings on his wall that had swastikas hidden behind him, and he would invite his Jewish business friends over for dinner just to laugh at them for not knowing that they were there (!!!).  This man would tell you that a certain nightclub owner (who was a sponsor) couldn't be trusted because he was a coke addict, while he himself was doing lines of coke in the business room.  It was a movie, folks.

And you wonder where my cynicism comes from.

Like I said before, my own egocentric behaviour wanted to be the longest surviving member of KTYD.  And I was.  This totally noncommercial, really weird program of electronic and foreign music, mixed with sound collages and very odd should have died years ago.  And yet, with all the format changes and other lasted.  Why?  Because the audience knew...far more than the sales wonks, that love it or hate was the real deal.  With all it's flaws, and I take full responsibility for its was free.  Freedom of choice.  Freeform.  No corporate strings were pulling the show.  It was up to the audience.  Here's the music.  Do you like it or not?

So, with that, I let go of my desire to set a Guinness World Record for being the most noncommercial radio program on a commercial radio station; silently told coke-fuelled General Manager to go fondle his tiny penis...and went down the street to have the best radio job of my life.

For a while, at least.  Then came the General Manager who thought the station should have a news helicopter, loved to drive the streets in the news car at 3.A,M.... like he was in the Batmobile, and would call me during Space Pirate Radio and tell me to play "Smuggler's Blues" by Glenn Frey.

Hey...any Space Pirate Radio listeners with tapes, remember "Smuggler's Blues" popping up somewhere between Tangerine Dream and Amon Duul 2?  No?  I didn't think so.  Guess where that decision went?  After dealing with so many chemical infused, ugly bosses, I didn't care about protocol anymore.  When new toady boss called me during the show and told me to play "Smuggler's Blues," I said, "You can come in and play it yourself."  "You're NOT going to play it?" he barks.  And smart ass me sez to to Bossman, "In 20 years of Space Pirate Radio, no one has told me what to play in the show and you're not going to be the first.  So come on in and play what you want and I'll go home.  Otherwise go f...k yourself."  Well, I was marked by then.  He hired 3 program directors to fire me, but the first: I clued him to how he was actually going to hire the man who was going to replace him; the second was an LA pro who knew how successful Space Pirate Radio was and he wasn't going to let it go; the third was his hit man.  I bet he liked "Smuggler's Blues."

The show remained faithful, as best as it could.  But the background continued to be ugly.  It was a business.  And business was usual.  Unfortunately, it was I who continued to remain unusual.

Sorry, old habits die hard.