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WRECK: Live Radio / Dead Father

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  • ninplant@xs4all.nl
    Live Radio / Dead Father 376 [973*] Music, uniquely among the arts, is both completely abstract and profoundly emotional. It has no power to represent
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 3, 2008
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      Live Radio / Dead Father 376 [973*]
      "Music, uniquely among the arts, is both completely abstract and
      profoundly emotional. It has no power to represent anything
      particular or external, but it has a unique power to express inner
      states or feelings. Music can pierce the heart directly; it needs no
      mediationŠ And there is, finally, a deep and mysterious paradox here,
      for while such music makes one experience pain and grief more
      intensely, it brings solace and consolation at the same time."
      o Oliver Sacks, Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain

      "It doesn't matter who my father was; it matters who I remember he was."
      o Anne Sexton

      The last time I saw my father was in June of 2002. Lying on a gurney
      in a kind of utility room/closet that my mother saw as a nice bed in
      a nice room in a nice hospital in Lancaster, PA. The hospital had
      been so nice as to "save" his body until I could fly over and join
      the mourners, which included my brother and his ex-wife, his kids and
      my partner and daughter.

      I had been DJing in an Amsterdam club when N. called to give word
      that he was dead, finally dead, no longer holding out for others,
      finally letting goŠ. I finished the song I was spinning and handed
      over the controls to Geert-Jan and in the next two days tried to
      affix significance to the songs I had playing just as the phone call
      came in to make something mystical out of coincidence so that
      synchronicity could pass for religion and offer consolation and
      exegesis [first time I heard that word I thought it had to do with
      Jesus as in ex-believer in Jesus or something like that - how
      creative of the misapprehending 15-year-old mind]. Lee Scratch Perry,
      Mossman, Twilight Circus. Seek and ye shall beŠ disappointed - there
      was none.

      The TV was already on when we entered the hospital "room". His head
      propped up so he could "watch" this new age [nondenominational? It
      actually looked like a moving picture version of a tasteful Hallmark
      card] video. His hand that did not look stiff near the buzzer in case
      he needed anything from the nursing staff - like a Benny Hill rerun
      or something. Your mind [well, mine at least] lost to the big stuff,
      indulging in the finer ironies and intricate incongruities. My
      partner bowing out quickly with daughter too young to understand. The
      rest of us, sagging shoulders, propped into this, this - OK, let's
      call it a room for the sake of my mom. We all gazed at him from head
      to toe and maybe back but then, as is human nature it seems, all eyes
      gravitated to the screen to watch - or not really - this
      new-age-meets-National-Geographic video with swooping, sweeping
      scenes of mountains, wind whooshing through meadows of poppies and
      fields of waving grain with music that made of the renovation of
      heaven a tasteful mall with decorous strains of buffered,
      easy-listening symphonies. My mind leaped from the stateroom scene in
      the Marx Brothers' Night at the Opera to wondering whether Muzak
      indeed caters to this market segment with limitless potential
      because, well, everyone's going to hear the piper some day, even if
      that means he'll be blowing "El Condor Pasa" on pan pipes in many
      cases. In any case, the more something like music is prepared to not
      offend anyone, the more precisely this very music will irritate and
      offend. [did I indeed write this down while sitting next to him?] Was
      it just me who was offended, irritated, who saw the irony of this
      situation? Had I had time to prepare I would have certainly had a
      more wake-like mix that would have no doubt included Herb Alpert's
      Whipped Cream and incidental music from the collected works of Benny
      Hill.

      How long had he been watching this video? When you think about it,
      not an inappropriate "final activity" for someone whose last years of
      a living death were consoled only by moving images on a TV screen and
      the control he had over those images - certainly more than his bowels
      - which in this life was pretty much limited to his thumb on the
      various zappers that controlled the TV, VCR and Betamax. For a moment
      I imagined we were entering a wax museum diorama - remembering him as
      we last saw him, watching Laugh-In reruns or English soccer on TV in
      a pale blue-striped shirt, grey sweatpants, beer mug on side table, a
      bit of the head clinging to the glass sides.

      Pretty absurd, this whole scenario or diorama if you think about it,
      but I didn't say so until later. I stayed behind after everyone had
      had enough and departed with gestures that were well-meaning but were
      perhaps more meant to "show" god that they really had done their best
      to take care of him (not)... Yea, well, in any case, he looked pretty
      peaceful for the first time in years. All that was missing there in
      that closet was a nice glass of generic whiskey or on-special wine in
      his stiffened hand and a laughtrack, that cackle he was capable of
      that expressed his utter bemusement [lostness in mirth serving as
      meditation for his kind] with the absurdities that he had encountered
      in the course of his life. Wasn't his only lesson really that life is
      laughable so you better laugh along with the joke or you will perish.

      I couldn't get over the fact-ness of his death, that last period at
      the end of the last sentence - who in this situation ever can? And I
      again glanced at the way the room had been arranged and despite
      whatever makeshift idyll the hospital staff had tried to create,
      there within easy reach for him or me was a broad selection of
      cleaning fluids and hospital equipment and just beyond his head,
      propped up in a corner, was a mop. I should have taken a picture of
      the scene, then you'd believe me.

      I didn't hang back, intending to talk to him like some scene out of
      Last Tango in Paris, when Marlon Brando breaks down over the body of
      his dead wife. Or apologize on my knees for ruining his middle years
      when I was a terror teen. No, I was there to allow my racing brain to
      adjust to the peace that I saw there. The guy seemed at peace. The
      staff had managed to sculpt a tenuous little smile like a knife slit
      across his face. Who did this? How did they get the smile this close
      to right? Did they use an old photo? Or did he just expire this way?
      A smile that always revealed volumes in how little it revealed and
      there he lay still not revealing all that much. A really smart guy, I
      guess, who just never got the hang of taking any advantage of the
      really dumb life situations we find ourselves in. And is that still
      considered smart. Or is it dumb to not be able to take advantage of
      your smartness? But maybe I had actually learned to read and
      comprehend his gestures of not revealing, after all, as the
      equivalent of an art student who learns from the erasure strategies
      of post-modern artists like Rauschenberg who erased a DeKooning
      drawing or some John Cage piece to do with silence that actually
      speaks volumes Š

      So, I didn't really talk to him in there but my mind just kept
      babbling away like there was no tomorrow - and indeed there wasn't -
      and was [see below]. Finally, after 11 years of pain, lost dignity,
      lost self-esteem and lost independence and whatever else - he had
      somehow ironically wrested back control at that final instant,
      deciding he was going to die and when - and then managing to pull it
      off. Oh yea, I was convinced of it, still am. And my conviction was
      only reinforced further by what we found at home later that day.
      Enough had been enough. I mean, to me it seemed obvious; he had been
      sending "signals" for years that this was what he wanted. Although it
      seems I was the only one getting those signals or at least admitting
      it - or worst case scenario, imagining it or just plainly inventing
      it to suit my own warped world view of how dignity needs to be
      expressed. Anyway, it is safe to trust my assessment that he had
      pulled one over on fate - and us. But, no, strangely enough, it is
      not something I would call a suicide. Closer to euthanasia and since
      it is illegal in the US [and coincidentally NOT in the Netherlands]
      and nobody would have assisted him anyway for whatever reasons
      ranging from cowardice to moral qualms to not taking his "signals"
      seriously.

      And then my eyes wandered, flitting around like butterflies upon his
      hand - his wedding ring still on his ring finger - the folds of the
      sheets, a mirror Š I looked away and then back to him and suddenly I
      thought I saw him move, make a gesture but I think it was only lack
      of sleep, jet lag, trailers, those psychologically induced
      hallucinations where you see dark little things moving in the corners
      of your eyes or think your train is moving when actually it is
      standing totally still. And my thoughts whipped and swirled about
      like bats at twilight.

      No one had every really understood him; he remained a closed book, a
      book that refused to open or we were afraid to open and that we never
      took the time to read him was something he never complained about or
      would even know how to. Humility and the general disappointment he
      had in other human beings eventually and invariably became difficult
      to separate. Despite his hearty laugh, he just seemed disappointed,
      disheartened, existentially downtrodden. [No matter how big or glossy
      or high-paying the publication, my writing did not seem to matter and
      that is why my book Yodel-Ay-Ee-Oooo would have been my present to
      him. Proof that I had overcome my shortcomings or whatever.] Maybe it
      was his lingering experiences of WWII as a forced laborer still
      wreaking their havoc on his psycheŠ Naa, everybody else was right on
      this one, couldn't be that. AlthoughŠ It could have been the car
      accident and the fact that he probably caused the accident, which he
      kept from us to protect us from this fact and protect himself from
      losing face. But everyday he did not lose face in our eyes, he lost
      stomach, guts, will, stamina, spirit.

      I did snicker a bit at one point, sitting there hardly breathing,
      because somehow I did have some kind of deeper or other kind of
      understanding [some would describe it as delusions] of him, and his
      ability to laugh at the absurdities of life were something we could
      share. Without ever coming on prescriptive or pedagogical he evoked
      from ephemeral signals given off by his laugh, and various tics and
      movements a kind of Tao approach to things [despite whatever burns,
      doubts, misgivings he may have carried about in his lonesome] which
      concisely described is "a particular way of appreciating, learning
      from, and working with whatever happens in everyday lifeŠ the natural
      result of this harmonious way of living is happiness" [Benjamin Hoff.
      The Tao of Pooh. London: Mandarin, 1982, p. 5]. He had been able to
      laugh at the fact that upon his entry into the US in late 1960,
      during the immigration entry process, in the big hall in NY, they
      suggested he change his name from "Foppe" - too close to "fop" which
      is too closely associated with a vain and/or silly dandy, which is
      code for homosexual - to something less suggestive and of the names
      suggested he chose "William," [English equivalent of "Willem," the
      name of many Dutch kings and princes] and "William" of course in a
      land obsessed with the strange formalities of informality, became
      "Bill" or - to me and my friends - "Wild Bill" because, despite his
      exterior calm and composure, that Frisian coldness and stiff upper
      lip, he had a real wild streak, which included - I'm only guessing
      here - gestures meant to recapture a carefree childhood stolen from
      him by the circumstances of WWII. A very askew and sometimes
      challenging sense of playfulness that was missing from the fathers of
      my closest friends. Which, of course, can be pretty cool except when
      you're a teen when none of that is very cool. Well, the punch line,
      in any case, isŠ

      He was able to do surprisingly fortuitous and wild things like kick a
      soccer ball over the roof of our house, like singing at the top of
      his lungs from inside a camping tent during a raging thunder storm as
      my mom gathered me and my brother to seek shelter in our 1965 Red
      Rambler Classic 550 station wagon [the details of which read as
      soothingly as a poem by William Carlos Williams] or do a screeching
      turn in a shopping center parking lot to the utter glee of me and my
      friends or say something obscene about an authority figure just under
      his breath in Dutch or throw our pet cat up in the air just like
      that, not concerned in the least with how the cat would land. I was
      not altogether uncomfortable with the fact that kids called my father
      "Wild Bill." My self-esteem or ragingly vague cultural identity at
      the time was probably a little more compromised by the fact that my
      mother was called "Crazy Tina" by some of the neighbors and their
      kids. They even taunted her from a safe distance down Winslow Road in
      Edison, NJ, site of our first suburban home, a split level with a
      fake electric fireplace.

      But that's an entirely different story that probably ends up getting
      backed into a spot right in the middle of Amsterdam's famous "Hunger
      Winter" of 1944, when houses in my mother's [and father's!]
      neighborhood in Amsterdam - the Legmeer Square area, coincidentally a
      mere three blocks from where we found an apartment in Amsterdam -
      were being bombed and Nazi-sympathizers were busy showing their
      cowardly loyalty to the occupiers by ratting on their fellow
      neighbors or getting extra rations for doing the Nazis' dirty
      business. And locals were reduced to burning furniture and
      floorboards for heat and eating tree roots and tulip bulbsŠ But
      that's another rotten story that older people hold onto for dear life
      nonetheless as if it were some key that might someday unlock some
      major secret, although that secret may long ago have been put away in
      some forgotten box, dumped as junk onto a street as we prepared to
      emigrate to the US.

      I always think [but never quite get around to saying] you can carry
      that key around your neck from now until you die, but if you don't
      use the key, you're not going to unlock anything. Oh, yes, the punch
      line to my father's name change: In Dutch the word "bil" [same
      pronunciation] means buttock cheek. So you see, had he ever returned
      he would have been called butt cheekŠ

      Whatever you find to respect in your father you should make a big
      deal out of: He was able to laugh at that piece of fateful irony. And
      hide all of the adult family troubles to do with money, taxes, broken
      down secondhand cars. Although as you get older, the more your father
      tried to protect you from life's annoyances the more you develop
      radar to sense exactly in the attempts to hide what you are looking
      for - the intriguing delicacies of human suffering. What comes round
      keeps coming round. Until you're dizzy and then you die. At some
      point after his accident, my mother no longer let him out of her
      sight for fear that he would abandon her just like that by dying. But
      sometimes he was allowed upon my negotiation, a small reprieve, where
      he could fiddle around in his lonesome, cobble together a few
      instants of privacy and return to one of his beloved hobbies:
      shortwave radio or cross-breeding roses and lilies or reading about
      WWII. There in his den one could read his calculations, his
      measurements, his systematic record-keeping of his flower breeding -
      it's like poetry, it really is.

      I noted that there were things like medical marihuana and yes, I was
      right, and he had over time softened his opinions about this drug.
      And, yes, if he had been younger, of another era, he would have tried
      it - maybe [his famous smirk at confession time]. But, in the end, he
      was Old World and he chose the easier more conventional and easily
      purchasable pain killer - alcohol. Alcohol was the central point of
      the many arguments between him and my mother - that and the dramatic
      mood swings no doubt exacerbated by my mom's suffocating concern. He
      just wanted his recreational drug, something he could begin with
      slowly, late afternoon and continue with until all pain was
      forgotten. In a funny instance of generational role reversal, because
      my mom refused to buy his "poison" any more, I once purchased some
      modestly priced bottles of hard liquor for him that he could stash
      away in his den. And beware of the wrath of my mother, when you
      betray her behind her back. If discovered - more like when - she
      would smash the bottles in a fashion reminiscent of some Temperance
      Union action from an earlier century and invoke the warnings of THE
      doctor who said it was dangerous for my father's health. My father's
      counterpoint being: who cares if he lived only 6 months drunk - it
      was preferable to 8 months sober, somber and in pain. That she could
      not understand this I could understand but I did find it a touch
      intolerant and - dare I say - selfish on her part. Prolonging a
      painful life to ensure he was there to keep her company for an extra
      couple of months was preferable to dulling his pain if it in anyway
      sped up his abandonment of her. All very understandable on all sides
      - really! - and so ultimately the only solution was makeshift ecstasy
      via collusion. I would also take him out alone in the car and turn
      him on to strange music on cassettes I thought he would like - and
      there sitting next to me in the passenger seat of the Toyota Corolla
      he seemed to come to life.

      There was something slightly off-kilter with them and this was
      evident from the moment we moved from outside Amsterdam to way
      outside NY, to Hawthorne and later Edison, in New Jersey. There were
      telltale, ever-so-slight details like the choice of pants for me
      [rust-colored fake corduroy], weird cuffs, non-sweatshirt tops with
      odd collars, just slightly different patterns or combinations of
      colors and then our accents and the way we were raised and the fact I
      had absolutely NO, as in not at ALL, knowledge of Christianity,
      Christ, praying, or anything remotely to do with religion - all of
      which seemed to stamp me as an alien [with an Alien Registration Card
      - remember the big-headed, googoo-eyed alien character used at alien
      registration time!?]. Some of this no doubt had to do with weird
      expressions of being foreign, alien and Dutch and being proud of that
      but not quite knowing how to express that priced andwhether that was
      OK and trying to fit in so amazingly earnestly - I knew everything
      about US prowess when it came to making, producing, inventing,
      singing, performing in the Olympics, crop production, you name it, I
      knew it because I wanted to be American and know exactly why America
      was great and my parents even greater for having picked such a great
      land. Meanwhile, my father held onto an Old World pre-rockabilly
      haircut, hair combed up and back in a time when most of my friends'
      fathers had crew cuts or these weird haircuts that seemed to go
      severely sideways. But, remember, my father was the weirdo, the
      alien, with a slight accent [the kind that makes you cringe when
      you're 13]Š

      Despite a modest salary - for a professional [engineer] - and because
      my mother sometimes worked as a cleaning lady, my parents were able
      to save up for a new split-level home in a period of less than 5
      years in Edison in the crux of Highways 1 and 9 and Interstate 287,
      near the then largest bowling alley in the world, the first shopping
      mall, a Ford assembly plant, Pittsburgh Paints, Allied Chemical, and
      several other chemical giants. After months of us going every weekend
      to monitor progress on the construction of our home, with weeks at a
      time going by when nothing was done on the house, we would wander
      around the frame of the home and I would sweep up all the sawdust and
      you can just imagine what the carpenters must have thought on Monday
      morning arriving on site, seeing a perfectly spic and span site -
      scraps of wood piled neatly and symmetrically, dropped nails in a
      neat pile, sawdust in a paper bag - what a weird family, they come
      here from across the ocean and clean up every weekendŠ

      A year later, my parents bought a shiny new fire-engine-red Rambler
      550 Classic station wagon [already no longer Rambler-Nash; it was now
      American Motors, although most Americans did not fall for this ploy
      and never bought one. My father, on the other hand, bought a total of
      five American Motors cars, which ironically enough, was just another
      indication of his not knowing how to be a real American], a car that
      was not like anything else in our neighborhood being just down the
      road from the Ford plant - no white walls, weird color, weird make,
      representing everything just a little weird and off kilter about my
      family - not that it pained me [yet!], although it did confuse me.
      Why not just buy a Ford Fairlane or a Chevy Chevelle - what's wrong
      with white-walls? - like everybody else. Didn't I in my bedroom pray
      to a god I was pretty sure did not exist for my father to see the
      light of day and actually buy a Chevy Impala? So much for prayer.

      Anyway, I wrote the obituary for my father for the Lancaster
      newspaper and did not include most of the above. The editors tore
      apart whatever inherent evanescent or hard-to-explain literary
      qualities it had as elegy and rearranged it into some kind of
      disjointed résumé instead. I wanted to emphasize the ephemeral light,
      almost imperceptible, aspects of him as a father. Recount those
      poetic instants and not just list his accomplishments, which, if
      listed, had mostly to do with his field of expertise: metallurgy -
      and gardening and his ability to fix just about anything.

      His chosen field of metallurgical engineer had been his choice
      alright, although throughout his life he made it clear to me on many
      occasions - and this was an unusual trait for a father for sure -
      that he had not chosen this career but that destiny [he was good in
      math and science], some vague circumstances around 1940-41 and pretty
      soon you're on a career path and getting jobs and building up a
      résumé and working in a foundry. Having myself worked in several iron
      foundries myself, I can honestly say it is like working in a coal
      mine without going underground.

      Anyway, this is how he portrayed the world of careers. This was his
      not-bleak but also not totally upbeat assessment of careers, never
      ever saying or even implying that there was some clichéd "more to
      life" thing somewhere out there. And yet somehow out of what he did
      not say I managed to harvest precisely that notion. He said simply:
      "after all this time, I'm still not sure what I want to be, so..." As
      if we spend our entire lives being in contrast to what we never end
      up knowing what we actually want to make of that being. I think it
      shows character and strength to admit doubt and not fake one's
      certitude, which is certainly a primary characteristic of macho. The
      last time he commented upon my perceived footloose womanizing
      lifestyle he complimented me in a way that probably surprised him as
      well: "If I was you I would do it the same way as you."

      When I switched majors in my junior year of high school from
      something like civil engineering he never showed any pain or anger -
      or bewilderment. The long hair or attempts at it, however, irritated
      my mother so much that it got to him as well as a sign of disrespect.
      I mean he even defended Nixon because I despised him so much. In a
      rare moment of outrage he even burst into my hippie-decorated room
      with protest collages, surfing and rock posters, Abbie Hoffman books,
      peace symbols, and one night just punched me in the arm real hard,
      broke, I believe, a Grand Funk Railroad Live album over his knee and
      tore down every bit of protest decoration I had hanging up in my
      room. The next day, a Saturday, he came into my room and sheepishly
      apologized and gave me $20, or something like that, so I could go out
      and buy some new hippie protest product.

      Beyond that, although he was known to seethe in a manner not unlike
      Archie Bunker, I can't remember another incident like it. It may have
      been cowardice or that he empathized, or that he just preferred a
      fragile peace held together by brittle misconceptions and half-truths
      that were only further exacerbated by the times to reveal how
      fortuitous and full of synchronicity and zeitgeist our decisions
      really are. I came of age in the bracing years of the
      paradigm-shifting and haircut-altering 1960s. I embraced the
      literature of protest and wonder if kids today have that same access
      to those ideas that I had. The 1960s probably had a certain patina of
      anti-science or healthy suspicion of exactitude [something that also
      characterized the Surrealists and Dadaists] and this was communicated
      to the black humorists who were able to convert cynicism and
      existential angst into a schtik, a trope, a large stick, a pointer
      that pointed to a world upside down where revered values had found
      their just disrepute. What you end up with is a career that is not
      quite a career because as a writer you spend most of your time
      barking at the very people who refuse to feed you because of your
      annoying barking. But I became a literature [poetry!] major and
      started to write in part as a reaction to these times and
      circumstances that were not altogether clear. In part, the exact
      science of metallurgy was just as big a betrayal as the insane logic
      as represented by the munitions industry for the Dadaists. Really.

      In the early evening of that day, over dinner at Lancaster Municipal
      Airport in the Airport Restaurant, which had no liquor license yet
      [oh dead man, I really, really needed a 6-pak of your favorite beer -
      Yuengling or Milwaukee's Best, whatever's on sale], I told everyone -
      I couldn't hold back any longer (idiot, I thought as soon as I
      blurted it out) - my theory about how he, "Wild Bill" to the very
      end, actually just wanted to die and did just that - he died.
      Dignified and consciously, by his own volition. This would later be
      corroborated by certain evidence - you'll see. "Enough's snuff," is
      how I encapsulated it. But I probably shouldn't have said that
      because it probably made both my brother and mother feel rejected,
      unloved by the man who wasn't busy dishing out any of that spiritual
      nutrition during any part of his life. No, you pretty much had to
      glean it or guess it from mysterious signs like trying to intercept a
      third-base coach's elaborate signals to his batter in a baseball game
      that no one every wins let alone finishes.

      The strange fact is that what both united us and tore us apart was
      our interest in music. I did not bring this up with those present in
      the restaurant. For one my mother had come to hate music as something
      that took my father away from her. Jealous of the Bangles or Al Hirt
      even if it was only for the length of a pop song, the audio
      equivalent of a premature ejaculation. But jealousy is jealousy. It
      is through hearing certain songs, more than looking at any particular
      photo, that I recall this fertile area of contention known as musical
      taste. For all of our passions in denouncing the musical taste of the
      other [especially during the wild and wooly days of my emerging
      hippie youthdom] when what I liked was what my father considered "not
      music" "dat is geen muziek," that's not music in Dutch, because Dutch
      was still a better language for him to deal with the nuances of this
      kind of investigative grievance. In fact, whenever my parents got
      really pissed off they would revert to Dutch. There were
      acts/groups/songs that he considered so confrontational as to be an
      assault to his every lifestyle choice. I liked the Lovin' Spoonful
      and the Animals and later Grand Funk Railroad and so he like Sinatra
      [both Nancy and Frank] or even more annoying, André Kostelanetz. I,
      in my turn, made a list of all the products I would later be loyal
      to: he smoked Camels and so I would smoke Winston; he bought Ramblers
      and I would later drive a Chevrolet, etc. But all of these
      denunciations, contrary consumerisms, twitches of honed
      contentiousness were all in part determined by the heat of the
      moment, by events external to the actual music itself.

      Funny thing is, the music he listened to say, Peggy Lee I now
      consider pretty cool. Whenever my mom, who felt tortured by all music
      [see above] - I can almost picture that pained grimace scrunching her
      persecuted face - as a distraction from her fragile thinking
      processes, and denounced it all equally as loud noise - lawaai, in
      Dutch; nearly rhymes with Hawaii - would allow that. And it is my
      father who, over a long learning curve of post-car-accident enforced
      music video watching, learned to like performers such as Blondie,
      Cyndi Lauper, the Bangles, Men With Hats, some new wave, even techno
      stuff, among others, especially if the videos had comely babes
      showing off whatever pumped up stuff they had to show.

      So, by the end of his life we had a lot of common musical ground but
      absolutely NO opportunity to share that unless I took him out of the
      house for a ride in the car, where I could play a tape of music I
      liked that I thought he might likeŠ It's not simple, this father-son
      thing. And to extend our time away from the total obsessive vigilance
      of my mother, we would just park somewhere and sometimes [very
      infrequently] just listen to a number, Miles Davis, Anita O'Day, This
      Mortal Coil, BjörkŠ but also wilder stuff I liked that I thought he
      might at least tolerate or find a way to really relate to. Sitting in
      a parking lot overlooking whatever sprawl was encroaching upon
      whatever empty pastures and corn fields were left. Or to a park to
      sit in the parking lot because he couldn't really hike any more. God,
      the bare wet dark bark trees looked gruesome, forlorn - and then I
      might serenade him with a story of adventurous amour, hoping that he
      could at least place himself in my shoes as I related these tales. A
      shared laugh, an insinuating song by Lydia Lunch or something
      eccentrically perky by, say, Lizzy Mercier Descloux [RIP!] and then
      lots of silence. That was as close to bonding as we got. Agreement on
      a tune, outside the house, divorced from circumstances and destiny.
      The song and then us just sitting there barely saying a word, just
      staring out into the space that seemed at once hopelessly limitless
      and hopelessly cramped and there came that little inexplicable moment
      of bonding without so much as a raised eyebrow or a nod. You didn't
      even really know it had happened.

      Part 2
      Quick cut: Campbell Foundry manhole covers and sewer grates -
      everytime you look down, my father said, you will see something I
      made. He worked for the Campbell Foundry in Harrison, NJ. When we
      lived in Hawthorne, he took the train to work and I would walk him to
      the station and we would sometimes put a penny on the track to. The
      flattened penny in my hand, still warm as I put it in my pocket.
      Remember a foundry is a place of heavy metal, an awful place to work
      even as a white collar professional. And it was in NYC, on one of our
      annual trips to the City to get me a new pair of glasses cheap at
      this huge mega-optical place down in the Wall Street area called
      Pildes. You go in, have your eyes checked, come back a couple of
      hours later and you could pick them up. Meanwhile, we'd take the
      subway to Rockefeller Center to see a show and a movie [The first
      time I remember seeing the Unsinkable Molly Brown] and then after
      wander around, have a lunch of toasted cheese and tomato soup in a
      cafeteria type place and then walk around and it was in this walking
      around that my father said that to me. So I'm working in Manhattan 20
      years later as a foot messenger [probably in the bottom five of worst
      (paying) jobs as far as prestige, status and conditions but somehow I
      liked it - I was on my own, discovered NYC while getting paid and I
      got lots of time to wander and while wandering write. But every time
      I crossed a street from then until I moved out of NY I would see
      those Cambel Foundry sewer grates and manhole covers and be reminded
      of my father. The transition here is that manholes are round and flat
      and in that way remind you visually of LPs.

      It is via my radio show, which being autonome and freeform allows me
      to indulge my whims to the extent that I did this show [PTP 376 /
      973] as a kind of séance, utilizing the mnemonic ["magical"] effects
      of music to shake loose many of the above memories. I play music on
      the radio, which makes me a radio DJ, I (sometimes) do clever things
      with this music - call it mixing, warping, recontextualizing or just
      shoving it up against the boundaries of other unlikely musical styles
      - so that I sometimes become a radiomaker, an artist of sorts. Dare I
      say. After I play music that becomes a radio show, I document what I
      have played. It is called a playlist and because I write about what I
      have played it becomes an annotated playlist. It's a format - call it
      a literary sub-genre if you want to give me the benefit of the doubt.
      I have become comfortable with this format as my preferred mode of
      transport from point back then to point now. After 20 years of radio,
      I have finally begun to understand what happens on a level beyond a
      mere aesthetic appreciation of music or of the nagging obsession to
      continue to do radio my own way and in that way offer a counterview
      to the overwhelming commercially preferred way of presenting music
      either via computer or demographics or tight playlists or ignoring
      about 99% of the world's music and sound.

      Point blank: I owe my interest in radio to my father. I would thank
      him but he is dead. Five years dead. That is why I did a radio show
      dedicated to him in June of 2007 [Yes, it is now February 2008]. To
      try to get a clearer picture of who he was. This is not easy in a
      stormy multi-tasking world called urban living, where at every turn,
      every corner, every word in the newspaper, one tends to be [mis]led
      astray to hyper-textual areas far from your original subject. It is
      not easy when you are busy with work and everyday living.

      My playlists - to be honest - evolved out of a need to hear new
      music. When I used to DJ at WFMU, you could afford to get lazy
      because the station did the work for you; hundreds of records came in
      per week, more than I could ever hope to listen to or absorb. But
      upon leaving WFMU for places like Radio Libertaire in Paris and then
      Radio 100 and Radio Patapoe in Amsterdam, where I still do radio, my
      radio show became increasingly dependent upon my own resources and
      resourcefulness. Since I had very little money [that is putting it
      mildly] I took out records from the public library and I started
      posting my radio show playlists as a way of proving that I was
      playing different people's work. This meant that many labels and
      musicians began sending me their CDs, giving me a needed source of
      new sounds and giving them a necessary outlet - the more you look
      around the more (despite global world musicisms) you realize more and
      more of the music/sound that comes out has NO place to get heard or
      read about (despite even the Internet). Eventually my radio shows
      took on other tasks which involved themes that got me playing music I
      would not necessarily have picked up on without the focus of a theme.
      This choice also further involved mnemonics, the art of giving shape
      to thoughts that help give shape to the present.

      The migration of my family has always been a mystery that has never
      bugged me, bothered me or even intrigued me greatly and now I wonder
      why it never interested me untilŠ now [almost too late]. My uncle
      here in Zaandam (suburb of Amsterdam) last year hinted that my
      father's desire to emigrate may have had something to do with
      paranoia about the Russians and the emerging Cold War. Yes, many
      Europeans were scared about the devolving details surrounding the
      Cold War but my father also witnessed the brutal liberation of Berlin
      by the Russians [grateful to some Russians, shocked by the "barbaric"
      behavior of others] who really took their revenge out on the
      survivors of German descent. I think that may have spooked my father,
      my uncle intimated. I think something in the German experience also
      may have left a sour air hanging over all of Europe, an air of
      reminder, a wretched smell of death. I can only guess that everyday
      life remained tainted by small uncontrollable reminders of the WWII
      period.

      A theory about of why he was never the same after the war involve
      more than the shocking war images and the fact that he was a forced
      laborer who survived - guilt, confusion, shock, muted angstŠ The
      other factor may have to do with the mysterious car crash in early
      1991 - pretty much a head-on collision with another car. Physical
      debilitation, the near-death experiences which he revealed to me [and
      no one else, especially not my mother] and the loss of
      self-esteem-pride-independence as a resultŠ The accident complicated
      living with dignity and I have this nagging feeling that one of the
      many reasons he did not want to talk about the accident was that he
      may have known more about what happened and that he may have been the
      cause may have left him spiritually debilitated. He had to live with
      that secret; he could never reveal that he - his negligence - was at
      fault and this began to eat away at his soul. I surmise. That plus
      the physical pain and decreased mobility and diminished reasons to
      live - well, ultimately he lost the will to live. "What am I living
      for?" "For us, for mom." But that wasn't enough.

      When we were clearing out his personal effects, his stuff, his
      accumulated collectibles, his papers, wires, cords, stuffŠ we found a
      drawer where he had a small container and in this container we found
      126 cumedin pills [blood thinner] and other pills to keep him going.
      These were a stash of pills not taken, spit out secretly, but rather
      than just flush them down the toilet or throw them away in the
      garbage he had consciously and conscientiously SAVED them! Why save
      them? Me and my mom wondered. I suppose this was his small way of
      telling us he had, despite everything, ultimately regained some
      control over his destiny, avenging his helplessness - you see, and,
      of course, there was also an element of humor (I guess). That he
      could withdraw from living, an assisted death with dignity.

      There was very little that gave him pleasure - some sherry, some
      whiskey, some wine, some beer [all against doctor's orders] and some
      TV music videos with scantily clad gals. And some ancient and quite
      timid pornography. I would say to my mom, he doesn't have much and if
      it means a difference of 3 months or so between living with and
      without drink, then why not go down drunk? Or at least smiling.
      Because when he got a few in him he was actually capable of reverting
      back to some glimmers of a former self. Singing warped lyrics to a
      popular tune, laughing at ridiculous comedies on TV, and that. Other
      than that, he liked to read history [WWII] books and watch lots of
      soccer and old BBC comedies and gardening programs and Benny Hill.
      All to mitigate the pain however temporarily.

      At times his absorption into escape seemed egotistical, mirroring the
      infantile preoccupation with the emerging self a child is capable ofŠ
      and in his wake he left plenty of unresolved mysteries and unfinished
      stories behind. Because for every moment he was killing pain or
      self-revulsion or whatever, he wasn't talking and actually turned up
      the volume on the TV [ Its amazing the secrets people leave behind]
      if you tried to broach a subject to do with him, his past or
      whateverŠ You sometimes got the feeling he might have considered his
      moving to the US a mistake after all, especially viewing the fact
      that he never really "made" it in the US, was forced to move like a
      white-shirt-wearing migrant worker, and in the era of Reagan and the
      Bushes that he may have had regrets. If he had them, maintained them,
      he never revealed them - until the last year or so - about the war
      and girl friends and naked photos he took of some. I also learned
      that he had been a slave laborer only two years before he died. Plus,
      his personal calculus was something like this: the more he tried to
      hide what you sensed he wasn't going to tell you because he didn't
      know how, the more he hid, the more his efforts revealed about what
      he was trying to hide. Or something like that.

      One thing that used to bug me as a hyper-sensitive to being
      alien-weird - or maybe it bothered my brother and mother too - was
      that when he laughed he shook the house and made you fear he was
      actually a bit insane. Like he was laughing at only slightly funny
      things in a way that made you think his life depended on insisting
      beyond doubt that things were funny, after all. Like if he didn't
      laugh hard enough, he might start to doubt the lightness of being and
      cave in. This laugh, a cackle like that of a hoarse crow, was
      embarrassing in those painful teen years when every parental tick
      and weird detail birthmarks, accents, whatever were cause of great
      painful cringing I-am-not-exactly-like-Americans shame. I must say
      that that shame is something I am ashamed of now. He could really
      laugh heartily like a mule on drugs. And it was later, way later,
      when I had adventures of an amorous kind that he could sit in his
      easy chair and just let go with huge room filling laughs and it was
      then that I realized that he was living through me and my stories of
      girl friends, the city, travel, hitchhiking and more. And that I
      actually now valued his "difference," coveted the fact that I had had
      unusual parentsŠ to some extent. How do you tell someone something
      like that? I never came up with the right answer and so he never
      heard that.

      My father had many secrets - the cigar box of war mementos [secret
      photos and ration coupons, his ID as a slave laborerŠ and a pair of
      panties he had kept that a strip-o-gram stripper had given him when
      the people at his work gave him a surprise 65th birthday party. I was
      not supposed to tell my mom. I'm not sure why. But I never did. Don't
      intend to.

      Over the years I have tried many genres and formats - poetry, plays,
      short stories, novels, diatribes disguised as essays but I never
      succeeded in finding the right genre that would dredge up deep family
      emotions. My fiction deals with everything BUT my past and family
      life. I have seldom written about my family, a few poems in honor of
      various anniversaries is about it. That is, until I stumbled upon the
      format of the annotated playlist. The following format is not what
      one would call a normal format that conforms to literary expectations.

      wReck thiS meSS ~ Radio Patapoe 88.3 ~ Amsterdam

      Ethno-Illogical Psycho-Radiographies: 376 [973*]: Wreck The Dead Father
      PTP in the ether: 88.3FM
      Where purity & puerility are synonymous
      streaming via internet:
      <http://freeteam.nl/patapoe/>

      11 Juni 2007 // 17.00-19.00

      "Wat Foppe niet repareren kan, geef dat maar aan de vuilnisman."
      [Whatever Foppe can't repair you can give to the garbage man]
      o Foppe [Wild Bill] Plantenga

      Paloma Wreck ID
      I'm Your DJ > Lil Wally [1]
      Que Sera Sera > Mantovani [2]
      Symphony no. 6: Pathetique, Adagio [Tchaikovsky] > Paul Kempen &
      Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam [3]
      + Parental Home PA [TVTime] > Field Recording B/art [4]
      Kosaken Müssen Reiten > Ivan Rebroff [5]
      Tchaikowsky [and Other Russians] > Danny Kaye [6]
      Geef Mij Maar Amsterdam > James Last [7]
      Lonely Bull > Herb Alpert & His Tijuana Brass [8]
      Tijuana Taxi > Herb Alpert & His Tijuana Brass [8]
      Tropical Cha Cha > Ruben Leon & his Orchestra [9]
      America > Herb Alpert & His Tijuana Brass [8]
      Ed Sullivan Self Taught > George Carlin [10]
      Love Potion #9 > Herb Alpert & His Tijuana Brass [8]
      Let's Spend the Night Together > Charo & the Salsoul Orchestra [11]
      Never on Sunday > Herb Alpert & His Tijuana Brass [8]
      Borriquito > Charo & the Salsoul Orchestra [11]
      Whipped Cream > Herb Alpert & His Tijuana Brass [8]
      I Get a Kick Out of You > Anita O'Day [12]
      Girl from Ipanema > Astrud Gilberto & Stan Getz [13]
      Un Pocito > Ruben Leon & his Orchestra [9]
      Corcovado > Astrud Gilberto & Stan Getz [13]
      Is That All There Is > Peggy Lee [14]
      This Guy's In Love With You > Burt Bacharach [15]
      Taste of Honey > Peggy Lee [14]
      On the Street / Synagogue > Shelley Hirsch [16]
      I'm a Woman > Peggy Lee [14]
      Whipped Cream > Herb Alpert & His Tijuana Brass [8]
      Muleskinner Blues > Dolly Parton [17]
      Harper Valley PTA > Cover Girl [18]
      Staats Bezoek aan de Verenigde StatenŠ > Koningin Juliana [19]
      Taste of Honey > Herb Alpert & His Tijuana Brass [8]
      Little Things Mean A Lot > Jayne Mansfield [20]
      Taste of Honey > Beatles [21]
      It's Not Unusual > Tom Jones [22]
      Trains and Boats and Planes > Billy J. Kramer & the Dakotas [23]
      I Like Beer > Tom T. Hall [24]
      Hippy Hippy Shake > Swingin' Blue Jeans [23]
      Ambulance Blues > Neil Young [25]
      Manger et Notre Pere in PA Family Home > Field Recording [26]
      Whiskey Lied > Olleke Bolleke [27]
      I Dig Chicks > Jonah Jones [28]

      * This big total is the TOTAL number of ca. Shows I have done since
      the beginning of time or 20 years ago at WFMU [NY], Radio Libertaire
      [Paris], and Radio 100 & Radio Patapoe [Amsterdam].

      [1] Lil Wally: This proto-polka-punk song serves as my informal
      signature song. DJ as a god who can make people happy by what he
      spins. "Walter Jagiello, better known as Li'l Wally, revolutionized
      Polish polka music with a driving stripped down, heartfelt sound that
      at once conjured old country villages and the experiences of
      America's working-class 'Hunkies'." [Jim Leary, Polkabilly. NY:
      Oxford University Press, 2006, 117.] Foppe liked corny songs like
      this but, upon further listening, I realize that Lil Wally really
      rocked like Tex-Mex, like a man inventing rock and roll, like a man
      onto something both sentimental and carnal. And sometimes a song
      would possess him and he would dance around in the den or garage like
      he had the willies or was possessed or something - and he probably
      was. He always liked a strange bi-polar blend of bad/good,
      saucy/corny, popular/strange, being especially enchanted by throaty
      come-on voices like that of Peggy Lee, was a further sucker for any
      buxom singer [as long as she was a she] on TV, barely clad babe
      singing, a gal showing some of her assets, just enough stuff to
      stimulate even the most tepid and flat of imaginationsŠ

      [2] "50 Onvergetelijke Melodieen" [50 Unforgettable Melodies] on
      Decca vinyl. Yes, he was a sucker for facile sentiment, sentiment
      that slithered in and about your growing doubts about what 'it' is
      all about. Like audio quicksand. In the years leading up to the
      acceptance of meditation, my father's generation had to opt for
      things like light popular versions of classical music and a cocktail
      before dinner.

      [3] "Tchaikovsky: Symphony no. 6 in B Minor" on Epic. Some call it
      melancholic, some have named it the "suicide symphony" because of its
      influence on the tender of constitution and hope. Plus he died 9
      days after its premiere, dying of cholera and some would even
      insinuate he drank unboiled water consciously to expire at his own
      hand. Why did I include this? He is prototypically Russian, grand and
      emotional and it was my father who found himself stuck in Berlin as a
      slave laborer, who witnessed the triumphant and yet amazingly brutal
      liberation of Berlin by the Russians, who had, after all, suffered
      immensely and lost more people than the rest of the warring nations
      put together. But what my father witnessed was - I guess - something
      that sat so embedded in his subconscious that it never emerged and it
      was only upon this last visit of my mother to Amsterdam that I
      learned from my uncle [his younger brother] that my father was
      mortally afraid of a Russian takeover of Europe in the fashion that
      they had liberated Berlin. And that is now posited as a reason why we
      emigrated in 1960.

      [4] field recording. I would periodically set up a tape recorder
      unbeknownst [or sometimes announced] to those family members being
      recorded. And somehow, no matter how conscious you were of your
      surroundings and no matter that the recorder was in full view, you
      eventually still ended up making incredibly in[s]ane comments about
      family, the world, music, sportsŠ This one was typical and involved
      the television as bone of contention, of the central raison d'etre.
      My father watching as was his right and my mom demanding a bit of
      family conversation, or a more inclusive TV program at least - which
      was her right. "Turn that fuggin' thing down," my mother would
      demand. Yes, even 40 years later, the "F" still sounded unconvincing,
      quaint evenŠ My father was no great heroic type, not bad, not
      something to rail against, build a grudge or a career out of, build a
      case against, based on the suffering he caused. No, he was much more
      subtle, absent but present in that absence. In retreat?

      [5] "Kosaken Müssen Reiten" on CBS vinyl. Amazingly weird record of
      Russian songs sung in German. World renowned pop star, a world music
      vocalist in 1970 who played major festivals like Newport Folk
      Festival and at Lincoln Center as a kind of menschliche interpreter
      of old Russian folk songs - in German. Lots of facial hair, mad
      Kossak eyes poppin' and buggin' with gusto. Taking the piss out of
      [folk] songs in a manner that Weird Al Yankovic could ever hope to.
      And there was plenty of this type of fake-folk or these tongue in
      cheek [fun] takes on classic and folk music. And, in a mood which
      could quite suddenly arise out of nowhere - it would make you stop
      whatever you were doing and take notice, look, papa is dancing crazy
      - and he would try to sing along, the color of his face becoming
      quickly livid, enflamed looking a little like the Mad RussianŠ

      [6] Danny Kaye was a suave and intelligent entertainer of the
      European variety - polite, witty, urbane, and an amazingly gifted
      dancer. My parents loved him. They also loved Victor Borge, the
      comedy-pianist.

      [7] "Tulpen Uit Amsterdam" on Polydor 1975. Last is one of those
      purveyors of music as mulch, as flavorless mush, who has put out so
      many records of easy listening renderings of almost every genre on
      hundreds of LPS he almost has to be considered a force because of the
      sheer numbers of them. Go to any used LP store in Holland, Germany,
      Belgium [and further!], any junk market, any garage sale and what you
      will find is his old records being sold for mere pennies. It is as if
      his records are a currency hit by hyper-inflation. Anyway, I remember
      my father humming or whistling songs that MUST have been local
      Amsterdam bar [kroeg] songs, rowdy sentimental songs which treat
      Amsterdam as a female lover that came from some barely accessible
      sector of his memory. But there it would be. Stupid and embarrassing
      when I was young, increasingly interesting and exotic as I get older.
      These are popular melodies that my father probably hummed without me
      ever knowing what they were. In his youth he probably hummed these as
      well. I have to come to terms with the fact that as a youth life and
      hope pretty much got squashed by WWII and although he spent about 1.5
      years as a forced laborer, he was quick to point out [being modest or
      not wanting to capitalize on acknowledged historic suffering] that
      there were many who had it much worse. At least it was not a
      concentration camp, for instance. At least he was fed well. That is
      putting a pretty pleasant spin on some heavy times. He, like my mom,
      had plenty of friends and neighbors and acquaintances who never
      returned, who died, disappeared in ways that were not altogether
      clear or talked about. There was emptiness and that got filled in,
      apartments got rented out again or were rebuilt. The empty seats in
      classrooms filled up again. That sort of thing. It's the kind of
      times people now rhapsodize over - people helping people, of
      togetherness, companionship, helping everyone out, camaraderie... Ah,
      the good old bad times. Caring for others was just a humane way of
      surviving. Amazing too how people who have been together 50 years,
      complement one another's weaknesses like puzzle pieces. That was my
      parents. One starts a sentence the other could finish it. Like an
      early rap style as popularized by Run DMC! One has a sharp memory for
      certain details, while the other for historical events or the
      sequence of events or how something looked and together they could
      tell a storyŠ

      [8] "Greatest Hits" on A&M Records. This is on cassette and it is not
      just the great [perhaps one of the greatest or most famous] album
      covers of all time, "Whipped Cream" but the seductive, suggestive and
      endowed woman covered only in whipped cream certainly must have
      convinced my father that Alpert was his man: up-tempo pseudo-exotica
      and easy listening world music versions with jazzy flourishes was - I
      now must admit - great fun. What precisely first drew my father to
      Herb Alpert is not clear to me. Probably seeing him on TV. Was it his
      slim-fitting Mexican-style costumes? Alpert's vague resemblance to a
      younger version of my father? The carefree lifestyle, the dapper
      performances or just the perky bouncy light Latin jazz itself, which
      could get you to dance, hum, and work on your hobbies whistling, and
      make you forget your caresŠ However, I suspect it had more to do with
      the cover - probably one of the most famous, memorable and innocently
      salacious. It wasn't real whipped cream but it looked real enough
      that 100 million men imagined licking her clean - and just about as
      many bought itŠ He had I believe the reel to reel version of this and
      this really said something because he NEVER purchased LPs, cassettes,
      reels or other pre-recorded music. He preferred to record and
      assemble his "own" music library. Preferring it because of the
      electronic aspect but probably as much with the fact that it was
      cheaper just to record things off TV or the radio. He could hum along
      to pretty much the entire record most of which were hits and could be
      heard constantly on the radio. Of course, this points to that weird
      phenomenon of the 1960s Top 40 lists that included music[s] from many
      genres as hits at the same time - surf and blues, soul and funk,
      gospel, folk, rock and roll, pop, bubblegum, psychedelia... But he
      liked this confection called light [quirky? bubbly?] jazz-tinged pop.
      There is a theory that the more technology evolves at an ever greater
      rate of [increased redundancy] speed the more the use of it actually
      regresses. People need time to overcome the awesome nature of new
      features and by the time that happens and they have a human grasp on
      its capacities and options it is time to move on to the next
      generation gadget. Somehow, I am reminded of my father when I think
      back about radio in the 1960s - that kaleidoscope so that "Pictures
      of Matchstick Men" or " Cold Turkey" could be in the same Top 40
      countdown as Herb Alpert or the Baja Marimba Band. And this genre
      bending in the charts is genetically and nostalgically being
      reproduced by people like Beck who can morph and travel through every
      popular genre almost seamlessly and thus embodying the charts of
      yore. And this kind of inclusiveness [yeah, OK, it was limited]
      allowed both of me and my father to be 'in the charts' and sometimes
      come up against stuff we hatedŠ

      [9] "Thinking Man's Cha Cha Cha" on Craftsmen vinyl. This is the
      perfect husband/father record. The man is flattered as a thinking man
      who knows how to have classy
      skinny-stem-of-cocktail-glass-gripped-in-pinch-fingers-fun. Move
      those hips and not spill a Manhattan drop. As the liner notes make
      perfectly clear: "And like the thinking man, decide for yourself just
      what kind of Cha Cha Cha mood best suits your mood. Here's an album
      which combines all the sophistication, all the impulsiveness, all the
      fascinating beat your heart and feet desire."

      [10] "FM/AM" on Atlantic 1972. Carlin is a great comedian who managed
      to bridge hip long hair with the TV set. He here does a great Ed
      Sullivan imitation or analysis. Sullivan was a family fixture, a
      straight guy willing to take chances on weird acts like Russian
      acrobats working with fire and corny animal acts and Š Topo Gigio and
      stand-up comedians like Carlin and the Beatles and Elvis when nobody
      else in TV entertainment was.

      [11] "Charo & the Salsoul Orchestra" on Salsoul vinyl 1977. Charo, an
      amazing aberration more entertaining than Samantha Fox and Pamela Lee
      Anderson who was a guest on the Merv Griffin Show regularly with her
      little chihuaha [a million men envious of the dog] and her husband
      [40 years her senior], Xavier Cugat. "Cuchi cuchi" she'd yell as she
      came out on stage in a shimmering skin-tight dress, shaking all of
      her endowments to the brooding amusement of all.

      [12] "The Big Band Sessions" on Verve vinyl. When I hear that classy
      jazz voice I think immediately of my father fiddling with the knobs
      of a radio in the basement - WNEW-AM, WOR, which played songs like
      this when I was growing up.

      [13] "This Guy's In Love With You" on Discofoon vinyl. Herb Alpert's
      version stimulated controversy about the lyrics in an age of hippie
      referentiality and "squares" looking for acid imagery to further
      resent the young. Was he really saying "this sky's in love with you?"

      [14] "Lover's Rendezvous" on K-tel vinyl. Lee was THE most popular
      for my father. She represented a lot of what my father admired in
      shimmering mirages of women. And her delivery was enough to send men
      like him into reveries verging on premature orgasm.

      [15] Burt Bacharach was actually the kind of guy/music both my
      parents could tolerate. I even bought my mom a music box that played
      "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head" for her birthday when I was 14.

      [16] Shelley Hirsch here represents my parents strong
      anti-anti-Semitic feelings. I grew up in a household free of racism
      and prejudice [except for the Germans (called Moffen)], which to my
      surprise was to rear up in later years in the late 1980s for some
      reasonŠ I think viewing the world through commercial American
      television probably had something to do with that.

      [17] Dolly Parton represented a shift in the 1980s away from pop
      music [Lee / Alpert] to country music. This was part of
      acculturation. Join the crowd in the outer burbs because that was
      what everyone was listening to. And so Parton was at least someone
      who seemed to transcend that. Plus, don't forget, she was a "huge"
      sex symbol and was feisty and able to appeal to women as well.
      Although my mom didn't particularly care for her "whoring" kind.

      [18] "Girls" on MFP vinyl. Who is singing? Who is cover girl? Whoever
      she is her ability to mimic for the aggrandizement of some shady
      businessmen gaining some cash flow from the confusion and vagueness
      of records that have all the famous stars on the cover: "Smash Hits
      Made Famous By: Cilla Black, Bobby Gentry, Sandie Shaw, Petula Clark,
      Shirley BasseyŠ" Yes, and she sounds so like each one of them you
      just think, maybe I just don't remember the original. Or, why, if she
      could replicate all of these, why couldn't she make it with her own
      voice as a valid singerŠ

      [19] "Juliana Regina: 1948-1980" Queen of the Netherlands for 22
      years. This is one of those nerdy historical collector's items. It
      has her addressing Congress in the US in flawless English and
      visiting Harlem and as one black leader noted: "She was gracious and
      interested and she's the first queen to ever come to our
      neighborhood."

      [20] Another large bosomed woman but also someone who claimed to have
      an IQ of 165. In any case, I now realize that the attractiveness, sex
      appeal of a singer also had a large influence on why my father
      listened. I think that when she [and her ilk] sang, he [like so many
      other men] became so enchanted that he actually believed she was
      singing to him. His tranquil smile with a slightly unhinged smirk
      tailing off of it, said that the liaison was fruitful and
      consummated. JM gave hope, singing insinuatingly about little things
      [men with their average penises?] stood as good a chance as any.
      Hence, the notion of the gracious and noble beauty who will
      generously accept all into her midstŠ

      [21] "Introducing the Beatles" on VeeJay vinyl. The trouble between
      my father and I began when I began to idolize the British invasion
      rockers and some American longhairs as well. One can only suspect
      that much of this generation gap was fueled by popular culture and
      that this divide led to anxiety, which in turn led to increased
      consumption. It all came down to the hair, the hair even more than
      the sound. And what has since become all too clear is that if only we
      had sat down and we had realized that the Beatles covered "Taste of
      Honey" like many of his faves such as Peggy Lee and Herb Alpert but
      also others he heard like Martin Denny and Tony Bennett. That music
      should have been a healer and not a divider was lost in those
      turbulent years.

      [22] "The Great Tom Jones" on Decca vinyl. He liked both Jones and
      Humperdinck and he might irritate my brother and I by playing his
      reel to reel versions of them [as recorded off some TV special] to
      serenade [read irritate] us. If he played it too loud he'd irritate
      my mother as well [I believe now she may have had a condition that
      has to do with being unable to withstand loud music. Maybe something
      from the war, loud bombs, whatever]. I realize this probably has not
      much to do with choice and taste after all. I suspect that part of
      why he liked them had to do with their looks - I never thought of
      that before! - but both in some ways [hair, face] resembled my
      father, or maybe he thought so. I can see it when I look at pix of
      when he was younger. There is probably something to this notion the
      same way there is definite evidence that people choose their pet dogs
      in part based on some deep-seated need to have a dog that in some way
      resembles them.

      [23] "Flashback Greats of the Sixties" on K-Tel vinyl. A collection
      of mostly British Invasion singles and this one by Kramer showed that
      for all their rockin' furor they were also into the gentle side and
      had I realized then that this was a Bacharach song there could have
      been a link to possible conversation, which basically did not exist
      in any coherent or amicable or civilized manner for some 12 years.

      [24] He indeed liked beer and began to like country music more after
      he gave up his Green Card to become an American citizen. You gonna be
      a citizen? Well, then you gonna like country music, boy. He loved
      "Hee Haw," a corny variety show in the style of the ever-more hip
      [and stupid] "Laugh-In", which combined elements of the swingin' 60s
      generation with middle-of-the-road fare. "Hee Haw" featured bad hick
      humor and country singers and lots of sexily clad women in pig tails
      - somewhere between "Beverly Hillbillies" which he liked because of
      the charmer, Ellie Mae and "The Benny Hill Show", which, of course,
      featured even racier and more tackily almost unclad babes who served
      as the brunt of many of the crude tits-n-ass humor. I remember these
      shows because of my father's loud laughter and his consumption of
      cheap cans of beer poured into a frosted beer mug, leaning back in
      his 3-position Castro convertible-style easy chair. If things got
      really out of hand, as a crude joke to get my mother's goat, he might
      crush a can and toss it onto the piss yellow shag carpet. And, as
      always, my mother would oblige his sophomoric humor, by acting
      appalled and annoyed especially in the presence of her two sons and
      their matesŠ

      [25] "On the Beach" on Reprise vinyl. The kind of record I listened
      to a lot in my bedroom to obliterate my parents' presence in another
      room. It was woe-is-me romantic isn't-life-tragic [it was for Young]
      stuff that fed my hormonally turbulent bellybutton-gazing soul. It
      was certainly one of a battalion of sounds that could irritate anyone
      among the parental forces. Young had a voice that could irritate
      friend and foe, most women and certainly the majority of my parents'
      generation raised on crooners. Thus VERY essential and cool.

      [26] Field recording. Long dinner table discussion highlighted by MB
      repeating and translating a French prayer that goes something like
      this: "Our father who art in heaven, please stay thereŠ" You can hear
      my father, an avowed atheist, laughing in the background. He was also
      easily entertained by pretty women [like MB], even if they were my
      girl friends or wives. What you also hear is a kind of strange tense
      level of bickering, of people interrupting one another...

      [27] "Olleke Bolleke" on Dureco. A great infectious rollicking
      drinking song. My father loved whiskey especially after his car
      accident when because of certain drugs including Cumedin, he was
      supposed to stop drinking. Which, my mother fearing losing him too
      early, prohibited him from drinking only somewhat effectively. She
      just didn't want to be left alone, but meanwhile, this active,
      healthy athletic man had been reduced to couch potato because of a
      car accident that almost killed him in 1990. Instead he led a 12-year
      existence of pain, incontinence, slow withering <br/><br/>(Message over 64 KB, truncated)
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