Earnest New Year’s Resolutions.

Earnest New Year’s Resolutions.calvin-hobbes-new-years-resolutions

1.) Improve Daily Diet & Exercise Regime.  (Will stick with this for the first week.  Will go to free gym attached to office and get into cycling for a few days.  Will tell everyone how are now exercising over salad lunch.  Will feel superior to everyone for those days.  Will wake up one day and feel awful.  Will not work out that day, and will return to binge watching Rockford Files for entire weekends.  Will not exercise again until Summer.)

2.) Loose 10 Pounds.  (Will begin to loose weight, will start to feel good about self, will start making plans about all the things will do when you are finally healthy, then will find the last few pounds to be too difficult to shake without actually working out.  Will dwell on the fact that resolution one failed so spectacularly, and will have gruesome images of impending death flash before eyes until Spring.)

3.) Read More Books.  (Will go to the library.  Will find that there is an overdue charge on your account from that Fantastic Four collection forgot to return last year.  Will pay the fee.  Will pace around the classics until grudgingly pick up Gulliver’s Travels.  Will look longingly at DVDs and Comics as checking out.  Will try to read book seven times.  Will return the book to library to avoid charge.  Will go home and have Max Headroom marathon, then re-read an old Conan comic.)

4.) Limit Alcohol Consumption.  (Will have made this resolution while drunk the night of New Year’s Eve.  Will wake up with incredible hangover and a sense of impending death.  Will have a beer that afternoon to take the edge off.  Will go to another party that weekend and get wasted.  Will have forgotten the resolution by the second week of January.)

5.) Limit Time Spent on MyFacester+ & TwInstablr.  (Will install a time tracking app on your phone.  Will make public posts about how you are limiting your time on Social Media.  Will set a date for your “last day” that is fairly soon, but not tomorrow.  Will spend a lot of time pimping out profiles to tell your friends how little you use these sites anymore.  Will promise yourself to only use e-mail, and to call when missing a friend.)

6.) Spend More Time With Friends.  (Before the end of Social Media hiatus, will reach out to friends requesting to arrange times to actually get together, irl, lol.  Will use Social Media embedded chats for communication to set up these meeting.  Will keep using Social Media to set up in person meetings.  Will not successfully arrange to see anyone new until Summer.)

7.) Pursue More Creative Projects.  (Will go to Target and buy four notebooks, pens, dividers, storage bins, paperclips, printer cartridges, scissors, index cards, colored paper and paint.  Will take these supplies home.  Will realize you don’t actually have that printer anymore.  Will find that you have many of these supplies already, in various states and forms.  Will open up the first notebook.  Will write on the first page: “Project #1:”  Will tap pen on notebook for a few seconds.  Will pull out phone to see if any friends messaged you yet.)

8.) Go On More Dates With Partner.  (Will go online and make lists of places to go in your area.  Will drop hints, asking where partner might like to do x or y.  Measure responses, then will return to interweb to refine results.  Will look at calendar and find day that works best.  Will find self feeling unmotivated the week of the date.  Will find partner having shitty week at work.  Will look at each other that afternoon and agree to put on pajamas early and watch Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade again instead.  Will promise to go on more dates next month.  Will try again in July.)

9.) Get More Organized. (Will make a list.  Will look at the list.  Will wonder what to do first on the list.  Will tap list with pen.  Will make new list in order of priority.  Will congratulate self for clever idea with a beer.  Will look at list again.  Will pick randomly the easiest thing on the list that you added at the last minute anyway.  Will do that thing.  Will cross off the item on the list.  Will look at list.  Will think list looks gross with that scrawl in it.  Repeat several times a day.)

10.) Reduce Stress.  (Will take up yoga.  Will listen to relaxation tapes.  Will make mind placid with serenity.  Will wonder why it isn’t working.  Will start to worry about not being able to reduce stress.  Will start to worry about not being able to keep any resolutions.  Will consider seeing a therapist again.  Will go for a walk to clear head.  Will feel better for some reason but will fail to make any connection to why that may be.  Will try harder to keep resolutions tomorrow.  Will make note on list to try harder.  Will feel anxious about self improvement.  Will wonder if that kind of stress is bad, too.  Will get drunk with friends later to forget stress.  Will eat fried foods & will forget everything for a while.)

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The Spirit of The Radio

History Lesson Part I$T2eC16NHJIQE9qUHsFi4BR,J(PNk!!--60_35

The incredible thing about living in the 21st Century is that we have access to information and media of which our early 20th Century counterparts could never dream.  Not only taking into account monoliths like Apple who entirely changed how everyone consumes information in the modern era, but just the access to factoids that would be difficult to source even 10 years ago.  We now live in the future, as difficult as that may be to fully process.  Case in point: at any given moment I can listen to digital transfers of Edison Wax Cylinders, watch The Avengers on a massive screen, text a friend of mine in Istanbul, and take 1000 pictures of a cat sitting next to me, all through devices that are middle class mundanities in this modern world.  The future, indeed.

As a media junkie, I’m always looking for new things to absorb, and with my mind on the very problem of and created by modernity, I stumbled across a CBC Radio broadcast of a program called “The Wire,” and the seeds of this show were first sewn.  Our relationship with music today is entirely born out of music’s relationship with electricity, something that goes back to the end of the 1800s.  As early pioneers discovered ways to capture music – an experience that, previously, required the listener to be in the same room with the performer – music entered a new kind of simulacrum, where mechanical objects were standing in for the real performance and “playing back” these sounds.  Obviously, Edison is one of the movers and shakers in this revolution, but that is not to say that he was the only person fixing sounds to some object in space.  However, his work set the template for the record industry that was to come, and in that sense, he is very relevant. Electricity is now married to music in a way that seems inseparable to the modern ear, and yet is in no way apparent when you are turning on a streaming service to help pass the time.

The idea for my particular punny spin goes back to 2011, when I first began to flirt with the “History Lesson” concept.  I had done a number of shows where I was getting more and more experimental with the editing thanks to my interest in Negativland and Over The Edge, and in some ways my show from the very beginning was about de-contextualizing recordings against music and other forms of audio, but with a “radio” sensibility to the presentation.  (I was, of course, still on the air.)

In 2011 I expanded the scope of these audio essays to a four-hour, two-part broadcast called “Before ’75,” briefly covering as much material as I could about the earliest days of the pre-punk music scene.  However, I always felt as if that show was not enough.  Four hours covered a ton of music, a number of artists, and included a lot of really good interviews and samples that drove the point home.  But the beginning felt lacking.  I always thought that, if you logically extend the story back further, punk rock only really has context if you tell the story that came before it.  Act I of punk rock is the merger of electricity with music; distorted guitars and DIY cassette releases need the first 70+ years of music history to make their revolution son incredible.  I immediately envisioned a new, bigger and grander idea for “History Lesson.”  Let’s really take the listeners back to the beginning.

As we roll back the tape to the end of the 19th Century, the state of music was merely that of being in the same room as a music source: a performer.  From there, we move forward through acoustic recording techniques with Edison, the major difference microphones had on the sounds you could record, and along the way present music that complements the story while driving the narrative from time to time.  Later, we discuss the impact recorded music had on the film industry, and enter a discussion about how these factors lead to the birth of radio itself, a pastime so near and dear to my heart.

At this stage in the program we switch our audio samples over to another very different documentary, “The Empire of The Air.”  This Ken Burns documentary of PBS covers the story of Radio through three men, interestingly enough glossing over Marconi, and omitting Tesla entirely.  (For shame.)  However, it does a good job of drawing a parallel to Edison and his relationship with recorded music: not only do the pioneers of radio develop amazing technology, they are setting the course for how radio would act in the public for generations to come.

And, along the way, there is music to help tell the story.  And what a story it is.

 

On & On & WAY UP.

01.) Turn It On * The Flaming Lips * Transmissions From The Satellite Heart
02.) Excerpt Part I * Ben Brooks * The First 50 Years of Radio Part One
03.) Edited Excerpts * Mike Staff * How To Become A Radio DJ

flaming-lipsIt’s easy to defend The Flaming Lips when they put out a great album, and have a hit song like, “Do You Realize?” and everyone is excited about festival concerts and the extreme production value they bring to their shows. But the cruel eye of hindsight is not so kind to them at times.  While their output is treasured by hardcore fans, they become increasingly panned as the flops start to add up.  This particular era of the band – we’ll call it the “Don’t Use Jelly” years – was not their strongest, to be perfectly frank. They had not yet written Clouds Taste Metallic, and where quite a long way off from The Soft Bulletin. In many ways they have become a bit of a cut-out-bin band, a novelty act that puts out Zaireeka (an album where you listen to all four discs simultaneously), or their absurd “7 Skies H3” (a 24 Hour Long Song), not to mention the song-for-song cover of Dark Side of The Moon, and “Christmas On Mars,” a holiday movie that is as inscrutable as it is terrifying. I can see why some people find them a problematic start to any story.

I don’t want to argue about their relevance or importance; I don’t want to claim that they are essential or a must for any smart psychedelic music fan; I don’t even want to convince you that you need to own or listen to anything else by them.

I just want to ask: have you ever heard anything as uplifting and strangely funny as “Turn It On” with these Mike Staff samples?

I gotta say, it’s better than it should be.

Now that you’re reconsidering The Flaming Lips, let’s get into it for a bit. I can’t change your mind, but they began to click for me when I had a better understanding when I considered the time and place.  Mid-West in the early ’80’s, where the rules of punk rock were trying to set fire to the entire pre-history before The Ramones. Punk insisted that the bullshit excess of rock music from the ’60’s was completely valueless, and that only when we get loud and fast do we break out of the norms that had become “standard practice”. The past had nothing to teach us, and in the name of punk, we could only look forward to getting drunk and fucking shit up. The loudfastfuckyounow of punk awoke in their fans a rigidity of thought and uniform, behavior and musical ethos. Its narrowmindedness is often better summarized as a rejection of everything else rather than an articulate analysis of what they didn’t like about… well, anything.

The Flaming Lips understood that punk rock was due for an infusion of something new to save it: psychedelic rock. The story of punk had, ironically, been paved when rock & roll discovered psychedelia, spinning out of it a million permutations on a similar three-chord idea. Punk was a revolution, to be sure, but was insular and defined by negation, following a narrow aesthetic ideology. It had stagnated without anything new to expand it, and the fascistic denouement of all other things became a hinderance. The Flaming Lips never planned to create psychedelic punk per se, and even still, The Butthole Surfers beat them to the punch. But the Lips were such students of psychedelic rock and punk that their ideology was equally in those two worlds. In essence, the heart of the Flaming Lips is their curiosity about music in these varied forms and structures, and they have dedicated their lives to it.

Their early work borders on avant guarde, as the band is clearly still learning how to be a band. But after a handful of albums like this, a thread starts to emerge, and they get good at playing and writing songs. As the ’80’s closed, The Lips were a fairly strong band that could get a crowd, keep ’em, and put on a fun show the whole time. As the ’90’s began, they released records when everyone was watching for the next big alternative act. In the wake of this, Transmissions From The Satellite Heart hit stores, an album that not only summarized their sci-fi / earnest aesthetic in a nutshell, but wove a radio metaphor into the very fabric of their music, specifically the album opener, “Turn It On.”

If a mainstream band wore their heart on their sleeve more in the ’90s than The Lips, I’m hard pressed to name them at this time. “Put your life into a bubble / we can pick you up on radar / hit a satellite with feeling / Give the people what they paid for.” They have chosen this life, have dedicated themselves to being artists on display for us. We, as listeners, have a chance to pick up the signal they are sending, and fortunately for us they are the kind of band who will “hit” us with a feeling that is as real as possible. For the Lips, there is no better experience than that of celebration, or raising your voice to sing along to a song you hear on the radio, to Turn It On and On and WAY UP, and share that moment across the country at the same time and moment connecting us all in a positive expression of loving a simple rock and roll song.

How cool is that?

You can see that thread throughout all their work: this idea of sharing a celebratory feeling with a large number of people to create a magical moment, even a sad one, or a mundane one, and share that feeling through these transmissions, these records and songs The Lips have been making for almost 40 years now. Their perspective is so much a radio metaphor that, while it might seem crazy at first, they are the perfect band to kick off any story about radio.

This particular mix – with the Mike Staff Samples – comes from another audio essay I made in 2009, “A Sound Salvation.” I was rummaging through the library and came across this self-help tape by a NuRock style DJ, Mike Staff, who was going to reveal his tips for those who wanted to become successful professional DJs. This tape was perfect to mix with songs about radio and DJs, and the show wrote itself. While I don’t usually like to listen to individual songs from a show like this one (as I think the show works great as a whole), there is something about the way the mix during “Turn It On” worked that really sounds good to me. Mike Staff is over the top and full of himself, but his voice has that tone that makes you want to believe what he’s saying. And, for all his cheese, he makes a good point: Your Dream is Important to you, and can guide you if you will let it.

Our Holiday Letter

 Happy Holidays From The Capital Couple!

It’s that time of year again around the 1Capital Couple Hideout, and we’ve had an incredibly strange and wonderful year that we’d like to tell you all about. We began 2015 in the city of Salem, OR, where we had lived for much of 2014, and has become our new home. Not only does Marla’s family live here, but we both found new jobs that not only fit our new lives, but were working out quite well for us. Feyd, of course, has yet to find a job, and continues to take advantage of us, in spite of our best efforts.

We had some very big changes around the homestead, the first of which is that Marla & I now have a podcast. The Capital Couple (thecapitalcouple.wordpress.com). We’ve done seven episodes so far, and we talk about the things we do for fun, what it’s like here in Salem, and anything else that comes to mind. We have quite a bit of fun doing it, and we would love to urge all of you to check it out. On top of that, I celebrated my 40th Birthday in a fairly dramatic way, with a two-day show in Portland at Plew’s Brews and The Kenton Club, with music and friends. It was one of the most fun things I’ve had the pleasure of arranging, and you can see some highlights using this link: bit.ly/40thPlewsKenton. It was awesome.

As if turning 40 wasn’t enough, Marla and 2I also got married! Yeah, that was sort of a big deal, as we had been waiting for over a year to officially tie the knot. But the wait was worth it, as we had friends and family there to help us celebrate, and it was, without a doubt, the best day of my life. I want to thank everyone who was there and helped, as both of us had an incredible time, and I can honestly say I have never looked better, ever. You can find lots of unsorted photos at bit.ly/MarlaCodyWedding. (And, if you took photos that we don’t have yet, please send them along. We would love to see them!) I never imagined that I would ever be married, and I am finding that this life is not only worth the wait, but is something I didn’t know I would enjoy this much. All thanks to my amazing and beautiful wife, who said yes.

3As if that were not enough (and, in a way, it wasn’t), our Honeymoon involved a two-week trip around the American Southwest, something Marla named, “The Great American Road Trip Colon Southwest Edition.” We drove over 3500 miles, saw The Grand Canyon, Disneyland, Monument Valley and the Zion National State Park, and it was as good as advertised. We had an incredible time, and realized that it was the longest trip we’d ever taken together, and the most time we’d ever spent together, continuously. It was amazing, and I am STILL going through all the photos and video I shot. You can see some of the highlights using this link: bit.ly/MarlaCodyHoneymoon. It was one of those trips that proved that I made the right decision with Marla.

2015 had some other ups and downs, but strangely enough, things seem to have worked out pretty well. I made a decision to stop working in jobs that I don’t like, and have been pursuing writing and podcasting full time recently. (acronyminc.org; anywhereanywhen.com). I can’t say that I know exactly in what direction this will all go, but I can’t wait to find out. I enjoy writing and radio almost as much as my wife, and I’m looking forward to seeing where they take me, too.

That’s it from our house this year. We are looking forward to seeing what 2016 had to offer, as this year worked out quite nicely for us. Until then,

– Cody & Marla “Rocket Danger” Rich

Holiday Decorations 2015

IMG_3707It’s pretty hard to sit in a room with a lit Christmas Tree, a fire on the TV, and vintage holiday songs playing in the background soothingly, and while all of that is going on, frown and say, “man, fuck this holiday.”  Because, and this is something I can’t believe I’m saying as an adult male, this time of year can have a soothing effect on you if you let it.

It’s funny how Christmas has, embedded within it, a narrative that goes on about how it has become too commercial in the current form, and must revert to that of some pure form that probably never was.  There’s some form of that in the story of Christ himself, and nearly every iteration of it retains some piece of the over-commercialization of the way the holiday is celebrated.  (The Peanuts Christmas special – arguably one of the first and best holiday specials to date, is about that very subject from the get-go.)  There is something about Christmas that has come to embody everything that is both bad and good about the spirit of spending money during the season, and the true meaning of the holiday is to find a way to embrace the contradictory ideas, and that there is intrinsic value in the experience of the season.  It just so happens that you must also buy and spend like Wilma & Betty on The Flintstones.

Christmas as a child is always so incredibly simple, and you have fewer years under your belt to really begin weighing the strangeness of this arrangement.  Good behavior throughout the year usually led to a boatload of presents being magically delivered to your home in December, and even with those draconian rules in place, you could often undo quite a bit of poor sportsmanship on your part through a hand-wavey explanation that it was in the spirit of the season, so long as you were good when your parents asked you to be.

But as the complexity of these experiences develops over the years, and layered meanings begin to create loaded holiday symbols that can cause even the strongest person to burst into tears.  It is one thing to love the tree that shows up when your parents return with it, and for presents to appear beneath it after a lot of build-up and waiting.  But when you remember all the holiday fights, the times spent alone, how you never really get what you really want anyway, and the overhanging threat that Santa is watching you at all times (with the surprise ending when it is revealed what is really happening as you get older), well… this time of year can take on a very different meaning.  Especially if you have lost a family member that played a roll in all of this.

IMG_3706When I began to live on my own, I made a few deconstructed efforts to participate in the holiday, and they were all met with equal parts derision and head-scratching.  As a kid, I had made a habit of finding a decorating very small trees in my bedroom with a more home-spun and Comic Book aesthetic, and this tradition for me continued through to High School.  On my own, my trees grew full sized, and soon accumulated beer cans and cigarettes as a sort of upraised middle finger to the spirit of the holiday.

Even this grew tedious for me after a few years, and soon Christmas was just became another day where I had to pay special attention to the bus schedule, had to get to the liquor store around this new schedule, but at least I might be able to earn an extra fat paycheck if I worked certain days in November and December.  Aside from a few random occasions, the time between my early 20s and my late 30s were often spent Christmas-less, tree-less, and only occasionally did I celebrate with family, when it was convenient for both of us.  I just couldn’t quite bring myself to get into the holiday spirit on my own, unless that spirit was bourbon.

While I have had girlfriends in the past who liked Christmas, right from the very first year we were together, my wife felt strongly about the holiday.  Before I could protest much, she had arranged for me to spend the holiday with her family, and it has been the way we have celebrated every year since.  Her dedication to the cool parts of the holiday, mixed with our mutual understanding that we prefer to leach out all of the religious elements of the holiday, has led to us developing a very nice collection of holiday decorations, and traditions that we both enjoy and love.

Included here is a photoset of our Holiday Photos going back to the first year that we were together, and it includes some of my favorite trees and decorations that we use every year.  We got a little ambitious this year, and wanted to set up more stuff than we were able to get to, but this often happens because of the hustle and bustle of the year, and we inevitably fall behind on this or that.  Obviously, we enjoy having a good tree, but there are some other decorations that we love putting up every year, too.  Here’s a few of them:

Blowmolds: IMG_3577Be it Halloween or Christmas, a good blowmold will attract our attention if we are out shopping.  When I first met my wife, she had one of the candles, but since then we have acquired the other three pieces.  Frosty is the most recent addition to the family.  However, the exceptional wind and rain this year made it a little difficult to keep these guys upright and in place.  Next year we’re going to use some loose gravel to weigh them down, along with ties to keep them from blowing over.

IMG_3710Stockings: If you look at the enlarged version of this photo, you can see that we have five stockings up on the mantel this year.  In the early days, we used the small red stockings, and added the small green one for our cat.  But I had the larger green and white Santa Claus stocking (on the right) from when I was a kid, and would bring it out occasionally as an extra decoration for the house.  This year, my wife surprised me by finding a matching stocking in the same style online (the white and green Santa Claus stocking on the left), and had it shipped to us for the holiday.  It was a very sweet thing for her to do, and now we have two sets of stockings.

IMG_3772Danish Paper Craft Decorations: I may have mentioned before, but both my wife and I are thrift store aficionados, and a surprising amount of holiday schwag will show up in stores, often at rock-bottom prices, to help the items move, quickly.

To that end, for a dollar each my wife found both of these Santa & Frosty Paper-Craft items.  Both of them came with these super-funky paperclips that not only spoke to their foreign nature, but how strange these
items are.

It is hard to cIMG_3773onvey how
strange these are in photos and text, but let me describe: in Frosty, the hathead, and body are interlocked folded constructions that rotate independent of each other, but also work together.  in Santa, the beard is a weird cardboard overhang that wraps around the face, folding out of the way when you collapse him.  They’re both incredibly neat and very weird at the same time, and they are excellent additions to our collection.

 

IMG_3738-ANIMATIONTiffany Glass Candle Holders: We see these at thrift stores fairly often, occasionally in their original packaging, and we now have five of them in our collection.  We struggled with how to light them at first, as burning actual candles was costly and didn’t quite work well.  (You would have to either buy short stubby candles, which were hard to find and did not burn long, or tall narrow candles, and let them burn down until they were the right hight, at which point they, again, don’t last long.  This year, my wife found electric candles that were the right height and diameter to fit into the candle holder in the back, and they now look great.  They not only light up very well, but they are much safer than when we had fires burning behind each ofthem.

IMG_3708Late ’50’s Paper Print Wall Hangings: As estate sale junkies, another place to find excellent holiday decor is in a place where someone old has passed on.  It is part of the natural life-cycle of material goods: the young pilfer cool shit from the elder folks that pass away, and we horde it until we pass away, and let some other young person pilfer all our cool shit at some far point in the future.  My wife is much more tuned into that part of the resale market than I, but this hasn’t stopped me from being impressed with the stuff she comes home with.

These two prints were together IMG_3709when she found them, and while we don’t know the exact
provenance of where they came from, we know that they have been around at least since the late ’50’s.  On the back of the prints, one of the previous owners has carefully written out the years that these were hung in their house.  It’s not only a great added feature to these images, but it tells an entire story of a family in a few scrawled years and dates on the back of these prints.  I have become obsessed with these ever since my wife found them, and I’m very happy to have them in my home.

IMG_3681Ralphie RadioMy wife and I have very different tastes in music, but one thing we can agree on is that older is often better.  And to that end we like to listen to Ralphie Radio when this time of year comes around.  I discovered this several years ago, and found that this is the perfect kind of holiday music because it is from the 1940’s (or, in some cases, older), and that helps when you are listening to the same pop pap that is often circulated this time of year.  The premise is that the music is appropriate for the time period in A Christmas Story, a detail that not only makes it more appealing, but sort of preps you for that movie, anyway, which everyone will see at least once this year.  While I would hope that you are listening to my Holiday Podcast Feed in iTunes, it would make sense that if you are not listening to that, you would want to listen to Ralphie Radio instead.  While I find the commercials on Live365 to be very annoying, and the interface for most programming in not ideal, the quality of the music on this station is well worth tuning in for, even for a little while.

Screenshot.46410.1000000A Digital Fireplace: When my wife and I bought our first TV (and a Roku to go with it in 2011), we discovered that Roku had created a holiday Yule Log, a digital fire with Christmas Music that played along with it.  (You could also just turn off the music and have the fire.)  We loved it so much that we’ve been trying to recreate it ever since Roku discontinued their version of the Yule Log a couple years ago, and in the place of it, they introduced other, much less impressive holiday programming.  Fortunately, nearly all streaming devices now have YouTube embedded within them, and finding a digital fireplace is easier than ever.  (Netflix also has a pretty decent one, too, but I find the YouTube ones last longer.)  Just play your favorite holiday tunes while you watch this, and you have the ideal environment for celebrating Christmas, without having to add logs or stoke the fire.

* * * * * *

The two things we did not get to this year was our Christmas Village – which we got started on, but just could not finish – and our outdoor lights, which were hindered by the rain and wind, making it difficult to get them up at a time when we were free to spend a lot of time outside anyway.  But there is always next year, and I look forward to trying again then, too.

I never appreciated how enjoyable the holidays can be when you get to celebrate it exactly the way you want to, and with the people that you care about most.  Now that I have someone like that in my life, this time of year means more to me than it ever used to.  Hopefully, however you prefer to celebrate, make sure that you do it with someone who you actually want to spend time with.

And, if you can, hang up a stocking or two.  It’ll help you get in the right mood.