Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Sunday Re-Run

One of my earliest pieces... I had been blogging for about two and a half months when I wrote this... and got zero comments.  The impetus for this re-run is a discussion Occasional Reader VX and I had some time ago about college radio... which was my principal on-line listening source before Radio Paradise and Pandora came along.  The piece:

Just Ramblin' On...

So. Just had to get the Stein thing out of the way earlier. In one respect, it’s not a pleasant thing to begin your day by reading some such twit. On the other hand, it does get the blood and bile flowing, especially when you see that many, many others share your view.

Now it’s on to mundane, hum-drum, everyday life as I know it.

Today’s soundtrack
is being provided by KXLU, the Loyola Marymount college radio station in West LA. I’ve written before that one of the best things about going back to a desktop as my primary computer is I can listen to internet radio again. The laptop’s tinny speakers just didn’t cut it. The desktop’s audio is adequate in terms of volume and fidelity, even if it doesn’t come close to my stereo. And adequate is sufficient as background, as opposed to serious listening.

I love internet radio, especially the college variety. College radio exposes me to stuff I’d never hear on commercial radio, some is lame, most is good. Commercial radio is entirely lame. If you disagree, give me an example. I’m willing to change my mind. In the mean time, here’s a
good resource for college radio, 77 stations from which to choose, to be precise.

I was first exposed
to college radio back in 1967. I’d come home after a swing shift up on the radar site and wasn’t quite ready to go to bed. So I flipped on the stereo, grabbed a beer and began twiddling the dial, winding up on KCSB 91.9FM, Santa Barbara (Isla Vista, actually). And my life was changed forever. No hyperbole here, I really mean it. I stayed awake the entire night listening to the most amazing music I’d ever heard, groups like Jefferson Airplane, Cream, Moby Grape, Buffalo Springfield. While it sounds strange today, those groups got next to zero airplay on commercial radio at the time. The sun came up, the First Mrs. Pennington walked out of the bedroom, rubbing the sleep out of her eyes, and said “You’ve been up all night?” Indeed I had. We had breakfast and within an hour we were on the road from Lompoc to Isla Vista. I dropped an obscene amount of money (for a poor USAF three-striper) in the campus record shops that day on music I’d heard the night before. Hearing KCSB was an epiphany quite unlike any other, before or since. My politics changed, my circle of friends changed, my outlook on life changed. If that ain’t epiphany, I don’t know what is.

Two more college radio
anecdotes. First: If you didn’t click on the KCSB link above you don’t know that Sean Hannity was fired from his student DJ gig on KCSB for making a “disparaging remark” about homosexuals. The great irony is the ACLU came to his defense and KCSB offered him his slot back. Hannity refused, demanding more air time. The A-C-frickin’-L-U, one of Hannity’s biggest targets these days. The ingrate. Second: The great thing about college radio? Earlier this morning, the 20-something female KXLU DJ played Joni Mitchell’s “Song for Sharon,” off of Hejira, quite possibly my favorite Joni album. Why is this unusual? Joni turned 62 back in November. I find it amazing a 20-something would even listen to someone old enough to be her grandmother, let alone play her on the radio. But that’s college radio. And by the way, the First Mrs. Pennington and Ms. Mitchell share birthdays: November 7th. I had a thing for older women back in the day. They could buy me beer.

Last year around this time
I wrote a 14-page illustrated story titled “When I Was Eight” for my youngest son and my grandson on the occasion of their eighth birthdays. Sean, my grandson, is five months older than my youngest son. I’m thinking of serializing that story for the blog, but I haven’t made up my mind one way or the other. The most interesting thing about my eighth year? I attended the third grade in three different countries: Atlanta, Georgia; London, England; and Paris, France. I also was victimized by a cross-country road trip from Sacramento, CA to Atlanta, GA, including an unprogrammed three-day layover in Salome, Arizona when the family car broke down. This was in 1953, well before Interstate highways criss-crossed the country. A road trip back then was a serious adventure; it was a lot more serious for a young Mom, alone, with an eight-year-old and a two-year-old in the back seat. I had an “interesting” childhood. In a lot more ways than one, lemmee tell ya!

Well. Enough for now.
A short editorial note: I did post the "When I was Eight" story, in three parts.  There are links to the posts in my sidebar under "My Favorite Posts."  Further... You'll note there were neither photos nor video with the post above.  We since changed our style and illustrate everythang we put up, which is a lesson I remember from my tech-writing days: always illustrate your narrative.  Always.  

Video works pretty well, too.  Here's Joni singin' "Song For Sharon," the tune we went on about in our ramblings above.

Good stuff, innit?


  1. I spent a week at Loyola Marymount one summer - my only time to CA. I know nothing about college radio stations other than my niece worked at one in Austin. She said their motto was: no hits at anytime.

    I remember your 8yr old stories - good stuff.

    1. Thanks, Lou. OU has (or had) a great radio station in Norman, it was a staple of my FM listening when I was stationed at Tinker.

  2. Boy you're right about x-country rod-trips in the 50s, Buck. My first one was a 6000mi road-trip like summer vacation that toured the West (mentioned it here once before in another context) when the interstate was just new, but gas stations (let alone repair shops!) few and far between in the far West. I can't imagine it in the 50s on a two lane sans air-conditioning. I STILL have bad memories of road-dust caked, sweat-soaked 270mi (one-way) summer trips on the two-lane from our home to visit relatives in Collinsville, Ill just outside St. Louis growing up in the 50s

    All of which makes the summer-long trip my Dad and two buddies took in a Model T in 1935 between their jr&Sr yr in HS out West from Bloomington-Normal Illinois all the more remarkable. Hell, then not all the roads were yet paved, some stretches of the old Route 66 were still log "corduroy roads" at that time. Their generator went out at one point and they drove at night to beat the heat holding flashlights out each side (not much traffic, tho) The slept on the beach @ Venice Beach And when 1st gear went out on a climb up Pikes Peak they backed over the Continental divide in reverse, lol! And coming back they had a short stay in Cheyenne, Wyo for repairs when they threw a rod thru the engine block. Lol, a trip only a few steps above Conastoga Wagon times..

    Wonder how many parents would allow their kids to take such a trip alone today even w. cell-phones for emergencies and Garmin GPS direction guides! LOL (And if they did, given today's PC times, would probably be arrested for child neglect, lol)

    1. On yer last... I'm thinkin' a lot o' parents let their kids road-trip today. As you noted, the advent of nav systems and cell phones has taken a lot o' the danger out of the activity. And thanks for the story about yer father... that puts stuff into quite another perspective, don't it?

    2. PS: Buck, they snuck into the Rose Bowl with a football and tossed it around. Dad said he caught one and ran some x number of yards and crossed the goal line just to be able to say with a straight face (semi, lol) that he had once "scored a touchdown in the Rose Bowl." LOL!

  3. OK, I need to ask, because either the explanation isn't here or my reading comprehension has dropped precipitously: What is/was "the Stein thing"?

    Music is powerful, as you've so agilely noted. I had a similar epiphany (aided and abetted by one c. sativa) when I was 14. Prior, I had a regular boy's haircut and only listened to sports on the radio. After, my hair sprouted to shoulder length, I pre-programmed WBCN onto every radio to which I had access, and I became caring about politics. For the record (so to speak) it was Deep Purple's "Highway Star" that put the initial spark to my fire.

    1. The "Stein thing" was the post immediately preceding the re-run... it was a rant. Our experience in this space has a lot in common, Jim... except mine came quite a bit later in life. I was 22 when all that went down.


Just be polite... that's all I ask.