Sunday, December 19, 2010

Post-"RADIO NAPALM" Depression

Captain Beefheart: "Tim, I'm having tea here in the afterlife with John Peel. Can you please un-retire, so I can get a proper radio tribute?"

Good morning. Just polished off a plate of Texas french toast (so-called because I saw loaves of Texas toast at the 99 Cent Store, which caused me to think, "Hmmm, that would make great french toast....") and sausage links, and I'm working on my 2nd cup of good, strong coffee. (French roast. Am I seeing a theme here?) The coffee was hard-won: The roommate moved out two days ago, taking much of the kitchen supply stash with him, including the coffee maker. Thankfully, The Freecycle Network yielded someone wishing to pass on some plates and cups and a Braun coffee maker that's missing the filter basket. (All of which I collected after a two-hour total journey via Metro Bus in one of Los Angeles' periodic bouts of "Blade Runner"-style weather, which is always rendered more miserable in cold times. But I digress.) This, of course, makes coffee making an adventure until I can locate a filter basket: This morning, I managed to jury rig plopping the filter into a wire mesh strainer basket that was also in the box of dishes and coffee maker, and sitting that assembly atop the carafe, propped up by a paper towel dispenser. Mind you, I only had to mop up a small amount of coffee overflow....

(BTW, in case you're curious about the egg wash for the french toast? Two small eggs, 1/4 cup milk, a pinch of cinnamon and a pinch of sugar. Trust me - it's nirvana on a plate.)

I should thank all of you who tuned in, in such large numbers, to the final-for-now "RADIO NAPALM" netcast the other night. It was (as I hope I'm not overstating) the 2nd Anniversary show, made more special by the presence of Ronn Spencer in a scripting and acting role. He reprised his long-mothballed radio persona of Art Fraud, co-host of '80s Boss-Radio-cum-absurdist-comedy program "The Cool And The Crazy," a one-time staple of Los Angeles-area NPR outlet KCRW's Saturday night lineup. The show was a lot richer for his presence (as well as the cameo from his Cool Show partner Vic Trip, played by Gene Sculatti, who is still Vic every Thursday at 6 PM West Coast time on Luxuria Radio's "Atomic Cocktail"), and for the lively company we had in the Woody Radio chatroom. We had many first-timers in chat, either O.G. Cool Show fans or actual cast members on the show! It was a beautiful night of radio, and I couldn't be more pleased to have left on this note. Thanks to you all.

(Incidentally, for those who missed it or want to listen again, the show is archived for streaming or download at this link right here.)

Ronn, who has grown to be one of my best friends, warned me when we spoke by phone right after we got off the air that I'd experience some "post-partum depression" once the dust settled. He was speaking from experience, having shut down "The Cool And The Crazy" himself after two years, for similar reasons to my own. Boy, was he right! No sooner had Don "Captain Beefheart" Van Vliet died (the very next day!) than I was thinking, "Oh, shit! Fire up the generators! Call Scooter and Ed! We've gotta unshutter The Garage for the good Captain!"

Paying radio tribute to Beefheart will have to wait. I seriously need a long rest from this show, and to figure out a new production methodology to keep the damned thing going. As it is, this fershlugginer program is taking up so space in my life, I would seriously need to start getting paid to do it. Mind you, a life in punk rock has prepped me well in the art of working a shit job and doing your band and your writing and your everything else around (barely) making a living. But in this age of making even more bare of a living than before? The current Napalm Show production methodology is ridiculous.

Despite what a certain dear friend is urging of me, "RADIO NAPALM" is only temporarily gone, so far as I can see. I, at least, need a couple of months away from it, for my sanity's (and pocketbook's) sake. And I'm sure Beefheart will get his proper "RADIO NAPALM" salute upon my return. Meantime, may I suggest this 1980 Lester Bangs profile of the good Captain, originally in The Village Voice and represented online by the L.A. Weekly? I shall also re-present the recently-much-blogged "Captain Beefheart's 10 Commandments Of Guitar Playing," a list initially presented last year at the WFMU website.

Thank you for indulging all this jive. I'm now off for cleaning the house and cleaning myself. Enjoy!

Captain Beefheart's 10 Commandments Of Guitar Playing

1. Listen to the birds. That's where all the music comes from. Birds know everything about how it should sound and where that sound should come from. And watch hummingbirds. They fly really fast, but a lot of times they aren't going anywhere.

2. Your guitar is not really a guitar. Your guitar is a divining rod. Use it to find spirits in the other world and bring them over. A guitar is also a fishing rod. If you're good, you'll land a big one.

3. Practice in front of a bush. Wait until the moon is out, then go outside, eat a multi-grained bread and play your guitar to a bush. If the bush dosen't shake, eat another piece of bread.

4. Walk with the devil. Old Delta blues players referred to guitar amplifiers as the "devil box." And they were right. You have to be an equal opportunity employer in terms of who you're bringing over from the other side. Electricity attracts devils and demons. Other instruments attract other spirits. An acoustic guitar attracts Casper. A mandolin attracts Wendy. But an electric guitar attracts Beelzebub.

5. If you're guilty of thinking, you're out. If your brain is part of the process, you're missing it. You should play like a drowning man, struggling to reach shore. If you can trap that feeling, then you have something that is fur bearing.

6. Never point your guitar at anyone. Your instrument has more clout than lightning. Just hit a big chord then run outside to hear it. But make sure you are not standing in an open field.

7. Always carry a church key. That's your key-man clause. Like One String Sam. He's one. He was a Detroit street musician who played in the fifties on a homemade instrument. His song "I Need a Hundred Dollars" is warm pie. Another key to the church is Hubert Sumlin, Howlin' Wolf's guitar player. He just stands there like the Statue of Liberty-making you want to look up her dress the whole time to see how he's doing it.

8. Don't wipe the sweat off your instrument. You need that stink on there. Then you have to get that stink onto your music.

9. Keep your guitar in a dark place. When you're not playing your guitar, cover it and keep it in a dark place. If you don't play your guitar for more than a day, be sure you put a saucer of water in with it.

10. You gotta have a hood for your engine. Keep that hat on. A hat is a pressure cooker. If you have a roof on your house, the hot air can't escape. Even a lima bean has to have a piece of wet paper around it to make it grow.

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