“Solidod: An Apace Original” (2012 / 52:00) Larry Massett
The Life and Times of Solidod, the last remaining member of her village of Mescalero Apache who lived on the edge of Death Valley. HV editor Larry Massett helped our friend Solidad publish her new e-book, An Apache Original: The Life and Times of Solidod.
Larry composed and performed the piano music in this radio hour.
Solidod is in her 80s and tells about 300 years of her life stories in the book. Here’s an excerpt from Larry’s…
When I first met Solidod she was living alone in a tiny room in a rather depressing subsidized-income apartment complex in Florida. She herself was anything but depressing, though. A few minutes after we met she showed me the little knife she carries with her in her buckskin purse. “But Solidod,” I said, “that’s kind of a dangerous knife, isn’t it?” I said- meaning, dangerous for an 80-year woman. “Yeah, it’s sharp,” she laughed, “but it would be better if it was rusty. So the cut would get infected in case I stab somebody.”
Wow, tough lady. Tough, but also funny, curious, brimming with energy, and a world-class storyteller. As she told me about the adventures of her life I realized she’s been everywhere and done just about everything: horse-trainer, bodyguard, trans-Atlantic sailor, carpenter, gardener, artist, you name it. And she’s busy. She spends her days zipping around town selling the t-shirts she paints and the jewelry she makes, checking on old friends and chatting up new ones. Most people her age seem to be winding down; Solidod’s just getting started…
Me and my Indian, my husband
Several of Solidod’s paintings grace the book’s pages. The e-book is in Kindle format: Amazon make a free Kindle Reader for nearly every computer, tablet, smartphone, and web browser. More…
Produced for the Vermont Folklife Center: In December 1944 the Allies were closing in on Germany. Hitler had a desperate plan to save the Third Reich, a massive assault he believed would so demoralize that the Allies, they would seek a separate peace, leaving only the Russian army on the eastern front. On December 16 the Germans unleashed an offensive that would become the most brutal battle of the European war: the Battle of the Bulge. Nineteen thousand Americans were killed, about the same number were taken prisoner. We hear from four Americans soldiers about their time in — before, during and after — a German POW camp: Cliff Austin, Harrison Burney, Bill Busier, and Robert Norton.
VFC Radio published a transcript and a CD of “Prisoners of War.” Harrison Burney wrote “From The Bowels of Hell, a soldier’s memoir of World War II, 1944-1945 (143k PDF). Music: “Reitba” and “Concerto No. 3 for Double-Bass and Piano,” composed and performed by cellist Francois Rabbath; “String Quartet in C Major”, the second movement in the “Emperor” by Franz Joseph Haydn, performed by the Concord String Quartet; and “St James Infirmary” from pianist Allen Toussaint’s The Bright Mississippi.
Beatrice is a white toy poodle, a neighbor, and “the most evil entity, force, energy known to man. Death to humans is a mere plop of a pebble in the ocean that is the evil that you are Beatrice. Evil Beatrice the white poodle.”
From Sonic Scenery, an exhibit I worked on at the natural history museum in Los Angeles a couple years ago. Composers were invited to record music specifically to be heard in wings of the museum. The visitor wears a headset, which plays the compositions when triggered by remote signals in the galleries. Experimental duo Matmos took it all the way by making audio environments for each of the seventeen dioramas in the North American Mammals hall. The timechart (above) was intended to cue the visitor to move from one window to the next, but you can read along for a similar effect.
In general, our work starts by taking an object, making sounds with that object, and working outward from those sounds in a free-associative manner, without a preconceived result or specifically targeted genre in mind.
In this case, we have had to reverse this process and have tried to think about the precise specifics of the North American Mammals hall and work to gather sounds that will evoke both the natural locale and the specific behaviors of the animals in the room. We decided to anchor our piece around the sounds of animals eating, breathing, and sniffing their environment, and to locate these noises of animal life against a backdrop of plateaulike drones generated with musical instruments associated with “Americana”: pedal steel, acoustic guitar, banjo, harmonica, and autoharp. Feeding peanut butter to a friend’s dog, we built up a basic library of mammalian lip-smacking, huffing, barking, whining, sniffling, and breathing noises, and combined this with a percussive battery of antler noises made by smacking deer antlers against each other and some softer rustling textures harvested by stroking and rubbing the pelt of a wolf.
The work is divided into miniature ‘cells,’ which stand in for the seventeen distinct dioramas/environments and animal species represented in the room, and this is split down the middle by a central section that corresponds to the large bison display at the far end of the room. Our work is intended to be a sound map of a walk through this room and is paced to coincide with a five-to-seven-minute counterclockwise walk through its contents
“17 Species of North American Mammals” (2:22 excerpt) Matmos
LA’s The Natural History Museum commissioned original music compositions to accompany their 2006 exhibit Sonic Scenery: Music for Collections. Matmos’ music used the vocal sounds of North American mammals.
One of America’s oldest roadside attractions is the Linesville Spillway in northwest Pennsylvania. Tourists toss bread; carp amass at the spillway’s edges: The fish are so thick that mallard ducks hop, skip and jump on the fish’s backs to compete for a slice of bread. Original music by Tim Fite, part of LHP’s song/story series.
Writer (Amazon), hunter, angler, outdoorsman, Norman Strung demonstrates the shrill sound and thrill found in calling for elk. (Miss ya, Norm: “Labradors [are] lousy watchdogs. They usually bark when there is a stranger about, but it is an expression of unmitigated joy at the chance to meet somebody new, not a warning.” –Norman Strung)
Father Rupe LaRock and son Joe provide a hunter’s perspective of the annual deer breeding cycle. “You can just smell the heat and smell the rut right in the air.” Another of the Deer Stories , produced with Gregory Sharrow at the Vermont Folk Life Center.
Erica was a private investigator; now she’s a radio producer. The skills overlap: you ask questions, try to figure what happened, and make a report. (None of the interviewees were clients when she recorded them.) Produced by Larry Massett.
A good neighbor goes bad in the producer’s DC block. Dozens of rats are infesting her yard and attacking other houses. Produced for This American Life, “Neighbors,” and part of Katie’s Neighborhood Stories series. End music: Music: “Cheval Noir” Fug, Ready For Us..
“I can break the law because… I am the law.” Sleepless in Tbilisi. A twenty-four hour tour, from Turkish baths to Batumi beaches, through the country of Georgia, in Southwest Asia. High-speed sight-seeing, driven by the accidental tourguide: “a ‘detective,’ or ‘special police,’ or ‘security force.’ It’s not clear. Sometimes he even says ‘KGB,’ though that no longer exists… does it?” Music: “Dachrilis Simgera (Song for Wounded)” Tbilisi Vocal Ensemble, Georgian Folk and Sacred Songs (2002). (Annotated transcript.)
In the early 1960’s, the United States was losing the Space Race. The first satellite in was the USSR’s Sputnik, 1957. The first human in space was Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, April 1961. The next month President JFK made a Special Address to the US Congress (2:10), that started the program which landed us on the moon eight years later.
“President John Kennedy’s Special Message to the Congress on Urgent National Needs, May 25, 1961”
“Zero G, and I Feel Fine” (6:01) transmissions are from the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo missions, with music by Jeff Artnsen of Racket Ship.
A women dreams of a visitor from the “Third Planet” (2:14) by Bisophere.
The “Last Man on the Moon” (2:41) are Apollo 17 astronauts Ronald Evans, Eugene Cernan, and Harrison Schmitt. They left the lunar surface December 1972. No one’s been back since. The music was by Jeff Arntsen.
A President has a distorted phone conversation with an underwater spaceman in “LBJ & the Helium Filled Astronaut” (7:21). Commander Scott Carpenter spent thirty days in the ocean at a depth of 200 feet as part of the Navy’s SeaLab project. This 1964 tape of helium speech comes to us from Larry Massett and Lost and Found Sound. More…
Offbeat retreats and obscure tours thru the heart of Americana:
“Losing It at Universal Studios” (4:37) Mark Allen
Temporarily insanity during a tour of Universal Studios in southern California. So many cool things to see, to do, to tour. The writer is overwhelmed by the magnificence of it all, and pretty much loses his mind. Based an Mark Allen’s web essay “I Suffered Stendhal Syndrome At Universal Studios Hollywood!.”
Boonville is a small community in Northwest California, founded in 1862, a few hundred feet in elevation, with few hundred residents. And… the town has it’s own language, Boontling. We go sharkin’ and harpin’ thru Boonville with Charles C. Adams, author of Boontling: An American Lingo.
“David Lynch goes into clean neighborhoods and finds the germs and bugs beneath; I go into dirty neighborhoods and find the life.” That’s how filmmaker Tony Buba describes his twelve documentaries about his hometown of Braddock, Pennsylvania. Buba is the son of Italian immigrants, part of the wave of Europeans who came to America in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to work in the steel mills of Braddock and other towns around Pittsburgh. Now the steel industry is almost dead, and Braddock is the prototypical post-industrial “‘rust belt” town, a town where a person either lives by his or her wits or lives in poverty. Buba tours through the streets of Braddock, past the old Croatian and Slovak social clubs and through streets, now empty, that once bristled with activity.
Sarah Vowell is a gunsmith’s daughter, in “Shooting Dad,” produced for This American Life (from Lies Sissies & Fiascoes). Sarah’s latest book is The Wordy Shipmates. (Music: “Rebel Rouser” Duane Eddy 1958 Have Twangy Guitar Will Travel, “Burnt Down With Feedback” Phono-Comb 1996 Fresh Gasoline, “Your Good Girl’s Gonna Go Bad” Jonathan Richman 1990 Jonathan Goes Country.)
Joe Frank lets us eavesdrop on a father-son phone call between “Larry and Zachary” Block, from Joe’s hour Karma 3.
Host Larry Massett and several other sons try to get to know their “Lost and Found Fathers,” produced for Soundprint, with help from Barrett Golding, Brian Brophy, Bob Burrus, and Henry Dennis.
Land of 10K Homeless is a Minneapolis music-audio documentary project by Voices of the Streets, “An Artistic Portrayal of Homelessness in Minnesota.” Thier “website of artistic activism provides a space for the disadvantaged to share their stories.” Producer Danny Burke created this mix of the main theme, blended with interviews with individuals staying at a family shelter in Minneapolis.
After leaving the Marines, George Hill became addicted to drugs and alcohol. He soon found himself on the streets of Los Angeles, homeless for 12 years. But the kindness of another homeless man changed everything. Hill is now off the streets, working for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and pursuing a computer information systems degree at Cal State University. Recorded in Santa Monica, CA; part of StoryCorps’Griot Initiative.
A portrait of the self-named, Crazy John, who lives on the streets of Austin, Texas. He tells writer Carmen Delzell about his life. Carmen was homeless for a couple of years in the early 1990s. This piece was made after she got on her feet and was living in Austin. Produced by Jay Allison (PRX).
Hitchhiking was once common, These days it’s aquired an aura of danger and desperation. Who wants to take the risk — especially after all those gruesome stories about rapists and serial killers? But occasionally you can still spot some guy stranded on the side of a road, sign out, thumb up, hoping that your car will be his salvation. Is he dangerous? Insane? Or just plain dirty? Maybe we should stop and find out. (PRX)
Recordings, remembrances, poetry, and PTSD from some of those who fought America’s longest war:
The sounds of Saigon, 1972: in combat, on the radio, in the streets, were recorded by Claude Johner for the Folkways recording Good Morning, Vietnam (liner notes 4M pdf).
Doug Peacock, former Green Beret medic, deals with the PTSD of vets, including himself (interviewed by Scott Carrier). Peacock wrote the book Walking It Off: A Veteran’s Chronicle of War And Wilderness.
Rich Kepler’s war experiences were bottled up and about to burst, until he released them in his poetry (producer: Larry Massett).
An oral history of African-American Vietnam vets, based on the book Bloods: Black Veterans of the Vietnam War: An Oral History by Wallace Terry; produced for radio by Katie Davis.
Writer Charles Bowden reports from the US-Mexico border about the drug wars, the poverty, and the environment. His writing is harsh but unflinchingly accurate. Host Scott Carrier portrays Bowden in the words of the people he has written about.