The first of a three hour-long retrospective of the first decade, of the century, of the millennium:
Shortcut Thru the 21st Century, Part One (52:00) Peter Bochan
After a quick 2009 intro, we survey selected speech, song, and soundbites from 2000 thru 2002; from the 2000 election and recounts, with Bush, Gore, Bill and Hill, thru 911, Homeland Security, and Afghanistan.
Shortcuts are assembled, mixed and mashed by audio wizard Peter Bochan, of All Mixed Up, WBAI-NYC and WPDK-Bridgeport CT. Next week, part two: 2003-2005 (all three at PRX).
Interviews from the Elvis archives, and new ones with Gordon Stoker of The Jordanaires (Elvis’ backup singers) and Elvis friends (aka, Memphis Mafia) Jerry Schilling and Patty Parry. Produced by Paul Chuffo and Joshua Jackson of Joyride Media, for the Sony Elvis 75 project, which has more music and interviews. Also check Joyride’s other Elvis hours: The Early Years, In Memphis, and He Touched Me- Elvis Gospel Music.
Chuck Denault is a Police Officer for the small town of Kittery, Maine. He has two passions;: Serving the community he lives in and being the best possible Elvis Impersonator he can be. In April of 2003 the producer went for a squad car ride-along for some behind the scenes aspects of law enforcement and Elvis.
Our show host maps get directions to Heaven, in the holy Hindu city of Vrindavan, India. A three story series:
“The Streets of a Holy Hindu City” are reminders that the Hindu faith is everywhere in Vrindavan — countless temples line the streets and pilgrims march in devotion. There is also stark, third-world poverty and suffering. But for the faithful, the city is a manifestation of heaven, here on Earth.
“Pilgrims on the Path of Krishna“, among the stones of ancient temples and bathing pools, march and chant praise to Krishna and his consort, Radha. They touch the holy water of the Yamuna River and walk barefoot down the same paths they believe Krishna himself once trod.
“The Embodiment of Earthly Divinity“, the focus of many worshippers in Vrindavan, is the Sri Radha Raman Temple, where a black stone statue of Krishna sits enshrined and wrapped in saffron robes. Many consider the small stone statue to be Krishna himself.
The producers gather sounds from the streets of their own backyard, the 112 square miles of the borough of Queens, New York, home to the largest mix of immigrants and refugees in the United States. These are people praying in different neighborhoods, in churches, mosques, synagogues, in apartments, at public gatherings and in private moments who come from Togo, China, Haiti, Nigeria, Queens, Romania, even North Carolina. Part of: Crossing the BLVD: strangers, neighbors, aliens in a new America.
The producer is in Harvard Square with his aunts, looking for a “side-room”: That’s their word for a place to pray. Five times daily, even when they’re away from home, they perform “namaaz” (nah-MAHZ), their prayer service. They find the direction of Mecca, and a space that, temporarily at least, is sacred. Hammad Ahmed’s piece, was produced for the Say It This Way podcast. A brief glossary for the uninitiated: “qibla” = the direction Muslims face while praying (i.e. towards Mecca), “namaaz” = any of the five daily prayers, “hijab” = Muslim headscarf, “sajdah” = lying prostrate during prayer, “side-room” = a private-or-not-private space that Muslims occupy for prayer when away from home.
A woman’s song on the streets of Taipei, Taiwan, leads the producer to the outskirts of town, to climb the rock steps of the White Temple. There, high in the clouds, one hundred voices are singing a salutation to the Buddha.
The producer, at age 2, sings “Silent Night” with her Dad. A woman homesteader remembers brutal North Dakota winters in the 1920s. Blues legend Brownie McGhee describes homemade Christmas presents. Adi Gevins’ father reveals that all New York Santas gain entry through the fire escape. And an Oroville grandfather uses a snow machine to make his plastic Christmas tree even more realistic. Produced for the series A Gathering of Days, with support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and KQED-San Francisco. Thanks to Adi Gevins, psychiatrist Ray Posie, John Langstaff: creator of Christmas Revels, and the late Peter Allison for the family recordings.
South Africa has been hit hardest with H-I-V/AIDS. Five million people are infected (Avert: SA). One of them, Thembi Ngubane, at nineteen years old, carried a recorder in 2005 to document her life (NPR | PRX). Produced by Joe Richman, edited by Debra George and Ben Shapiro; more of Thembi’s story, with an audio-visual gallery, is at AIDSdiary.org.
“Day without Art” (5:02) Barrett Golding
December 1st is World AIDS Day. In the arts community it also had this other name, DWA.
Poet Kwame Dawes travels his native Jamaica talking about HIV/AIDS. This is part of the hour-program “Live Hope Love: HIV/AIDS in Jamaica” (PRX) Support came from the MAC AIDS Fund, of MAC Cosmetics, and from and PRX, the Public Radio Exchange. Produced by Stephanie Guyer-Stevens and Jack Chance of Outer Voices, for the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. Their emmy-winning muchomedia website for the project Live Lope Love.
This former National Guard Specialist has “surrendered the force that I carry, the weapon to those elected officials chosen by the American people.” She hopes the people inform themselves and choose wisely.
“Arabic Interrogator” (1:30) Sergeant John McCary
A U.S. Army soldier reports: “When you speak Arabic, you become the interface with the local population — which is 99% of the work in a counter-insurgency.” (McCary is a Truman National Security Project fellow; his January 2009 article in the Washington Quarterly was “The Anbar Awakening: An Alliance of Incentives” –pdf.)
US and Iraqi Special Operations Forces conduct a combat operation inside Sadr city, Baghdad in order to capture known insurgents and terrorists. The operation was conducted on an undisclosed date/time in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. US Army video by: SSG Ryan C. Creel.
From an HV/NPR series: Retired Navy Captain Ed Nicholson is an avid fly-fishermen. He realized fishing would be good therapy for disabled veterans. So he hooked up with Trout Unlimited and the Federation of Fly Fishers, and with private donations and volunteer guides, they began teaching wounded vets, including many amputees, how to fly-fish. Project Healing Waters, now regularly takes vets on these therapeutic fishing outings. These interviews were recorded in 2007 on Virginia’s Rose River Farm.
“Operation Homecoming: Among These Ruins” (3:30) Sergeant Helen Gerhardt
From an HV/NPR series: A Specialist in the Missouri Army National Guard reads from her email to family and friends about her first few days in Iraq, part of the NEA book/writing project Operation Homecoming. Guitar by Jess Atkins. (Read Ms. Gerhardt’s NYTimes article “Modern Love; Back From the Front, With Honor, a Warrior’s Truth”.)
Based on a conversation with Edna Wofford about ESP, dreams and intuition. From the 2003 CD, Mayor of the Tennessee River. Artist David Greenberger of Duplex Planet has been collecting the thoughts, memories and stories from elderly Americans for more than a quarter century.
From birth, a young Native American has been bleeding from his chest. The government keeps him locked in a cell, refusing to heed his uncle’s warnings. A 3D ZBS adaptation of Cherokee writer Craig Strete’s short story from The Bleeding Man and Other Science Fiction Stories.
La Llorona — the weeping woman — is the Mexican equivalent of the bogeyman. The man she loved rejected her, in madness she drowned her children, then herself. Now she roams the night wailing “Aaay, Mis Hijos;” a scary story that keeps children from wandering at night: “La Llorona will get you.”
“I Want to Bite Your Hand” (2:03 excerpt) Gene Moss (MP3J mashup)
Gene Moss’s 1964 Beatles parody mixed w/ SFX by MP3J. Full vers at Mashuptown, “I Want to Bite Your Hand”” (2:50 mp3):
The sounds of a St. Louis Cardinals’ baseball game are combined with the echoes of Scott Joplin’s ragtime and the distinctive calls of Bushy Wushy the Beer Man. This 39-year veteran beer vendor at Busch Stadium, he shares his love for the game, the crowd, and the communal spirit of St. Louis. Commissioned by Continental Harmony, a partnership of America Composers Forum, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the White House Millennium Council. Performed by Equinox Chamber Players, who premiered the work in their hometown of St. Louis.
“National Anthem” (1990 5:01) Gwen Macsai of Re:sound
Our “Home Team” guest host goes to games at her local minor league stadium, in Prince William, Virginia. After hearing the a host of different folk try to sing the Star-Spangled Banner there, she figures she could do better. That’s where the trouble begins.
“Rookie League” (1989 9:41) Barrett Golding
At the Helena Brewers ballpark in Montana, teens and early twenty-somethings get their first, and for most their only, taste of playing of pro baseball.
“Dug-Out” (1993 27:15) Terry Allen
The fictionalized history of two people: a man born in the late 1800s who runs away from home to play baseball, and a woman born in the early 1900s in a half-dugout (a small house partially built into the side of a slope or hill), who grows up to be a piano player and a beautician. Told by Terry Allen, Jo Harvey Allen, and Katie Koontz, with music by Terry Allen. Commissioned in 1993 by New American Radio. (“Radio Memories” self-interview with Terry Allen.)
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.
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.
From Woodstock to Altamont, Washington to Vietnam, Chappaquidick to Chicago with stops at Stonewall, Hyde Park, Shea Stadium, The Super Bowl, Memphis, Times Square, Sesame Street, and the Moon. Featuring commentary from John Lennon & Yoko Ono, Iggy Pop, the Smothers Brothers, Richard Pryor, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Brian Jones, Roman Polanski, Richard Nixon, JFK, Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, Walter Cronkite, Ted Kennedy, Burgess Meredith, Donald Sutherland, Elliot Gould, Dennis Hopper, Jack Nicholson, Peter Fonda, Dustin Hoffman, Michael Lang, “Topaz Caucasion”, Chip Monck, Dave Marsh, Joe Boyd, Rob Kirkpatrick, Carl Capotorto, Arlo Guthrie, Hugh Romney, Harry Reasoner, Nile Rogers, various FBI and police agents, The Black Panthers, The Weather Underground, The Zodiac Killer, Apollo 11 astronauts and many others.
Music from Hair, Midnight Cowboy, Sly and the Family Stone, The 5th Dimension, Elvis Presley, The Rolling Stones, James Brown, David Bowie, The Who, Les McCann & Eddie Harris, The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Blind Faith, Roy Budd, The Plastic Ono Band, The Jefferson Airplane, Arlo Guthrie, Canned Heat, The Beach Boys, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Joni Mitchell, Beautiful People, Jimi Hendrix, Procol Harum, Henry Mancini and The Stooges! More…
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.
Jean Shepherd used words like a jazz musician uses notes, winding around a theme, playing with variations, sending fresh self-reflective storylines out into the night. Marshall McLuhan called Shepherd “the first radio novelist.” From 1956-1977 Shep spun his late night stories over WOR radio, New York City. PBS gave him a TV series, “Jean Shepherd’s America.” In 1983 he co-wrote and narrated the film version of his “A Christmas Story.”
Thanks to Mr. Shearer, KCRW– Santa Monica (and Sarah Spitz), NPR, and Art Silverman for production support, and for allowing us to re-air this two-hour tribute. This is part one; part two is next week.
One time I woke up at 3 o’clock in the morning. My radio was still on, and a man was talking about how you would try to explain the function of an amusement park to visitors from Venus. It was Jean Shepherd. He was on WOR from midnight to 5:30 every night, mixing childhood reminiscence with contemporary critiques, peppered with such characters as the man who could taste an ice cube and tell you the brand name of the refrigerator it came from and the year of manufacture. Shepherd would orchestrate his colorful tales with music ranging from “The Stars and Stripes Forever” to Bessie Smith singing “Empty Bed Blues.”
–Paul Krassner (from “How the Realist popped America’s cherry“)
The Quiet American (Aaron Ximm) sound-captures the forbidding warning signs rattling in a harsh wind and “Desert Sun” outside the nuclear Nevada Test Site north of Las Vegas.
Back in the early 1990s, SLC producer Scott Carrier found the Basin & Range, near Nevada”s “Battle Mountain,” beautiful, lonely, dreary, and full of sagebrush, solace and stories. And more Desert Solitudes.
Photos by David Matherly’s of deserts in the American West:
Along the way, Darsa digs into the the history of the “cowboy,” mixing in the experiences of Baylis John Fletcher on an 1879 cattle drive, herding 2000 longhorns from Texas to Wyoming (read by Paul Blakemore from the book Up the trail in ’79.
And underscoring it all is the wild-west symphonies of Aaron Copland.
Josh Darsa wrote and narrated. The technical director and recording engineer was John Widoff, assisted by Miles Smith, Dave Glasser and shop technician Bob Butcher.
“While we were at the rodeo, Josh Darsa wanted to record multiple vantage points of a single scene. For instance, I’d have a Nagra tape recorder on the roof of the grandstand and Miles Smith would have a Nagra in the chutes where the riders would bust out for their ride. Then we would have a free-running Nagra III on the rodeo announcer. We ran them in sync kinda like you would do in video with multiple cameras. This gave us three vantage points. During the show you hear the perspective change through cross fading which is a result of these different but simultaneous perspectives.
There must have been 70 hours or more of tape we shot out there in Cheyenne and every single thing got dubbed. What you heard in the halls of the old NPR were rodeo sounds coming from RC1. Constant horses, bulls, things crashing, just all kinds of things. I think it drove people nuts hearing this stuff up and down the halls.
This was the height of my career at NPR. It was a combination of everything… the music recording, the production sound recording, interviews… every single thing that I had ever done for this company all came together in this show. This was probably how Walt Disney felt when he made Mary Poppins. It was a dream come true for me to build something like this. ‘Cowboy’ is the kind of show you would listen to in a darkened movie theatre. The writing is spectacular.”
–John Widoff, “‘Cowboy,’ a Study in Radio Tale-Telling” Read the entire interview.
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…