zaterdag 19 januari 2008


I've been interested in sound and audio recordings since I was very young. I loved old radios shows from a very early age which led to me to become interested in radio and recording - and El Cerrito High School had a radio station, KECG, which was my refuge - I obtained an FCC license at age 14 and played bad music and comedy sketches to 2 or 3 listeners who happened to live within a few blocks of the station ("rockin' the block"), while constantly having my life threatened by the "rap community" - you see, almost all the other DJs were thuggy rap DJs, and I annoyingly interrupted their Sugar Hill Gang marathons with my "white boy music" and unnecessarily long mike breaks - mind you, some of the crappy music I played probably did warrant the occasional death threat. While flipping the dial one day, I came across "Over the Edge" on KPFA, which was a weekly radio station done by the experimental group Negativland. They created "receptacle programming", which was like throwing loads of different sounds into a blender. I loved it and was hooked, and I suppose this lead me into having an interest in weird, obscure sounds and novelty records. Luckily, I survived High School and had much more fun on KALX, the local college/community radio station, which boasted a whopping 500 watts- strange to think that now, it can be listened to via itunes over the entire planet, whereas when I Dj-ed there, I was lucky to get clear reception at my own apartment. I also DJ'd at Imperial College Radio in London while on a semester abroad program (and receiving death threats from Brits who hated my Beastie Boys marathons when they wanted to hear things like T'Pau and Depeche Mode), but it was at KALX I discovered the amazing world of "alternative" music - not U2-type alternative, but obscure, forgotten or unknown bands or artists that the commercial world could never acknowledge. And of course, most college radio stations also love novelty records!

Fast forward a few centuries, and now I am a sound engineer. I spend a lot of time trying to make things "sound good" (sometimes more like polishing turds), but I think some clients would be surprised that I like listening to things that are usually of very bad quality! That studio manager who went on about the merits of Toto's album production probably would be shocked that quite a lot of CDs in my collection sound like they were recorded in a garage or bathroom.

Most people are familiar with Ed Wood, whose films are so bad that they're funny. The reason they are is that he was so passionate about making something great, but simply lacked the appropriate talent or perspective. He wanted PLAN 9 to be the next CITIZEN KANE. Well, for some of us, it was!

There are LOADS of Ed Wood's out there - ambitious people who passionately want to make music, films or literature. Recently, when constructing this blog, I came across WFMU's blog - they're the holy grail of community radio stations, originating in New Jersey. Not only do they play really good, diverse and interesting legitimate music, but they have quite a few guys and gals there who are, like me, fascinated by audio history and obscure recordings and novelty records. I was quite amazed and delighted to discover that some of these DJs and collectors have gone the extra mile and started mp3-ing and uploading, in their entirety, HUNDREDS of old novelty records! 8-year old preachers ranting about Satan, atrocious amateur songs about 9/11, Halloween kids records, terrible covers by wedding bands, children's sex education records - and even my beloved "Shemp Meditation Tape" (1 hour of the Three Stooges Shemp making silly noises) - there are literally thousands of files up there. And there are others, like The Audio Kitchen, who have mp3'd obscure cassette tapes of answering machine messages found at garage sales!

So, to help me combat winter depression in this cold, rainy, windy, impolite land in which I live, I loaded this stuff on my ipod and for some reason I can't fully comprehend, it helps me get through the day a little bit easier. How can I be annoyed by some rude, impolite, unbathed chucklehead bumping into me while the sound of Shemp laughing maniacally is going through my ears?? It's better than any anti-depressant....

As I uncover the odd gem, I'll probably link them here. I hope my blog doesn't wind up just being a series of links to WFMU's audio archives, but that's not out of the realm of possibility! Anyhow, thank God for's good to know I'm not the only oddball out there who would rather listen to Criswell predicting future events than to the latest pre-fab Top 10 garbage.

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