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Radio, Rebellion and Music Addiction

One day I was cruising around some computer bulletin boards searching for music tidbits and I came upon a new music board where people were introducing themselves. Most of them were rather perfunctory. Name, rank, serial number--that kind of stuff. Out of this boring haze came the following introduction. I hope you enjoy it half as much as I did. -burma

[Note: This is printed with the authors consent, however, he doesn't wish to be identified.]

I sprang to life from a long line of Republicans near the beginning of the 60s. Richard Nixon is my 8th cousin (through the Milhous family) and my uncle used to write speeches for him. He also put words in the mouths of Ford, Reagan, and probably Bush. My other uncle used to work with Agnew. I decided to start rebelling at an early age and was quickly branded as hyperactive and perhaps schizophrenic, two traits which might actually be considered assets in these days of multitasking. At an early age I grew disillusioned with pop radio after calling in a request one day and being asked "Do you want to be on the radio?" I said yes. They told me to pretend I had just called and to request some song by Supertramp. I wasn't calling to request Supertramp, but I went along with it anyway so I could hear my voice on the air. 5 minutes later, they had somebody else on the radio requesting the same Supertramp tune. They never used my voice. I felt used, manipulated and discarded. They never even played the song I requested either. I came to a sudden illumination that radio was corrupt, that these scum were pushing music on us in a worse way than drug dealers.

I took piano lessons at an early age until I was allowed to quit. I hated the bitch who taught me because she was obsessive about throwing away my chewing gum every time I arrived. I tried drums a little later but never got off the practice pads. I did get to play an alarm clock in a school play once.

I was too much for my family to handle, and the family was dissolving anyway, so I got sent off to boarding school at age 12. Later I continued my break from the footsteps of my forefathers by getting thrown out of the school that my great-grandfather, grandfather, and father had all graduated from. I was well on my way to becoming the black sheep of the family. I ended up in an "alternative school" and there found myself introduced to some alternate radio. I began exploring everything from old jazz to Varese, Glass, Riech, Riley, Cage, Tangerine Dream, Henry Cow, Gong, and whatever else I could find.

The turning point came one weekend when I ate some acid and went to see the film ALIEN on opening night, not having any idea what to expect. After crawling home from that mindfuck, I got to watch some friend of my sister eating fried chicken, which further solidified the vegetarian tendencies that I'd started leaning to after working at McDonalds. Around 2:00 AM I stumbled onto a radio show of punk stuff. It changed my life. It was all war songs, with a DJ shouting during every break, playing the Clash, Cabaret Voltaire, Pere Ubu and more. I was truly enlightened when I thought the radio tuning was bad and started trying to adjust the antenna during the guitar solo of Pere Ubu's "30 Seconds Over Tokyo." I finally realized it wasn't the acid or the antenna, it was PERE UBU that was scrambling my brains. From then on there was no turning back. I started going to sleazy Philly punk clubs and saw Siouxsie, Pere Ubu, Ultravox, The Cure, Tuxedomoon, The Cramps, Nina Hagen, Nash The Slash, The Dead Boys, and all kinds of other stuff between 79-82. I knew that seeing bands like the Stones and Floyd in huge stadiums was a joke and wanted to catch what was happening then close up. I got as close as I wanted. Stiv Bators puked on my shoe one night. I also saw stuff like Iggy, John Cale, Fred Frith, Etron Fou, National Health, The Muffins and Sun Ra to balance my diet a bit.

I don't recall exactly when I realized I had become addicted to music, but by 1980 I needed regular fixes to survive. I took a year off after high school to be a music junkie and then left for college, mostly as an excuse to move out of my dad's house. I was going to major in film but then went for Broadcasting, and later dropped out when I realized I didn't want to work in an industry dominated by commercial advertising. Most of the time I should have spent in classes and studying was spent as a DJ and being production manager and later program director of Penn State's radio station from 1980-83. The station was lost to a coup by a bunch of jocks and I got into doing electronic music and playing bass in my band, The Virgin Ears. I started my own production company, Auricle Productions, to record demo tapes of local bands and my own projects. I became a crackhead and dropped out of school. Moved to San Francisco on a whim and an empty wallet. Played briefly with PGR and did some solo gigs sharing the bill with friends at the LAB in SF. Worked my butt off with some A/V slime company and got into multimedia slide and projection work. Applied for a grant or two I never got. My music making is pretty irregular now, mostly just occasional weekend binges. Still struggling to remix and master some of my musical explorations of the last decade into some package I can thrust upon the world, but my anal rententive perfectionistic tendencies and lack of postive cashflow have nearly crippled me. Someday this project will reach fruition and then start to slowly putrefy. Working name of this epic is currently "Memory Overflow Occured," inspired by my laser printer's occasional attempts at amnesia.

I bluffed my way into the computer industry, despite taking an F in Computer Science 101 earlier in the 80's. Now I'm working on bluffing my way into programming. Since I'm a prankster at heart, it was easy for me to see that programming is a true prankster's craft. I plan to learn just enough to be dangerous, before moving on to further exploit my lack of useful skills in some other arena. Meanwhile I read new music bulletin board to remind myself of how little attention I've paid to any music made in the last 8 years and so I can assure myself that the growing bald spot on my dome isn't the only sign that I've grown old and out of touch with anything outside my peripheral vision.

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