Friday, November 30, 2012

Old Jocks Never Die

"I'm 97, I don't take no stinking requests!"
The headline was: "Radio Personality In Peru Still Broadcasting at Age 97".  My reaction was: "What the…?"  Nobody lasts that long in radio.  Heck, I only count two pals over 50 who still show up and get paid to blab on the radio right here in the good ol'  US of A.  What's going on in Peru?!

After further investigation I found that Maruja Venegas actually no longer shows up at a station to do her show and, in fact, her show is only a half- hour long and is on at 6PM on Sunday night.  Oh, and  she also works for NO dough.  That explains it.  In fact once they find out about her lack of a compensation package  every major broadcast group in America will be calling her agent. Wait, she probably doesn't have an agent; that's ten percent MORE for the company!  That's the kind of "bottom line thinking" that will endear you to management every time.

This story got me thinking about the business of radio and how weird it has always been.  Some wag, I forget who, once opined that running a radio station was like trying to manage both a dinner theater  and a used car dealership under the same roof.  On one side of the building you had sales people interested in making money and screwing clients while at the same time a stable of mentally unhinged ego maniacal degenerates with only the next cocktail, cocktail waitress and record company freebie on their "to do" list.  In other words, a task not unlike herding cats.  Ferrel cats.

In radio's second Golden Age, the one where disc jockeys and powerful stations ruled the world of popular culture and music, the business was made for guys--and some gals--who loved to continue their  class clown existence via an exciting yet extremely insecure profession.  People job hopped, got fired frequently and were pretty much paid well to show up for four hours of so called work  dressed just as they had in high school.  It was high school with money, booze and a bad attitude.  A job not conducive to steady employment until age 97.

One station on my resume, which shall remain nameless--KCBQ, was located near a large field that was home to the six tall towers needed for its 50-thousand watts of power.  Licensed to serve San Diego, the blow torch blasted an East/West signal that could be heard as far away as Oklahoma and Hawaii.  It was a fun place to hold forth.  In the neighborhood nearby there were several retail outlets including more than a couple of cocktail lounges within walking distance of the studios.  Often times jocks would finish a show and repair to one of these liquor dispensing emporiums. On at least one occasion, after becoming "over served" an announcer decided to take a shortcut from the bar to the station by perambulating through the field of towers.  In broad daylight this was a fairly easy task, but after dark and a meeting with old pal Jack Daniels it was more like Columbus setting out for the new world.  Fortunately the night was warm and, after catching a couple of winks in the weeds, the sun came up and our hero was able to make it to the parking lot, find his car and prepare to travel safely home.

Returning to the almost always adversarial dynamic between sales and talent at most stations I am reminded of an incident that occurred during my time in Tampa.  Most station managers come from the sales department and have a built-in animosity toward anybody on the air.  Shortly after I started hosting the morning show at WDAE in 1975 a memo was issued by the general manager that stated:  "All disc jockeys are full-time employees and as such will put in an eight hour day at the station…blah blah blah."  This memo was followed, less than a week later, by another which said: "All disc jockeys should leave the premises within one half-hour of the completion of their show…blah blah blah."   Apparently this stooge had received so much grief about guys harassing secretaries, messing with the sales department, insulting clients, practicing their golf game in the hallways and just plain wrecking havoc throughout the station that he knew it was time to cut his losses.  The four hour workday lived on!  The bar around the corner was very appreciative.  Their business had taken quite a hit because of his misguided philosophy.

I have more, but think I'll save them for the book.  Some folks are going to have to die first.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Where Shrinkage Is Never A Problem

A city in need of a cover-up.
So, I guess it's settled.  The San Francisco Board of Supervisors, by a vote of six to five, voted in favor of a public safety ordinance that prohibits public nakedness in spite of the fact that such a measure will do much to undermine "Baghdad by the Bay" and its reputation for…..uh, free expression.  This will, of course, bitterly disappoint those of you planning a trip to the Bay Area for the express purpose of seeing a bunch of overweight old guys with their clam hammer hangin'.

And that's the problem.  Why is it that wherever there is public nakedness and a yen for debauchery  only saggy, decidedly unattractive,  blubbery MALES are the troopers who are down to party?   It's uncanny.  You would surmise that in an "anything goes" metro like SF the supervisors would get to work on a plan to actually PAY dudes inclined to disrobe to cover up and to do whatever it takes to get at least a few good looking females to explore the freedom of a life lived without inhibition in the fresh air.  Think of the tourist bucks dumped into a town promoting that kind of untrammeled expression!

Seriously, it's hard to understand why the city even bothered with this silly ordinance proposed by, as God is my witness, a guy named Scott Wiener.  (insert dick joke here)  Nobody will pay any attention to it anyway.  The entire essence of San Francisco is: "Laws?  We don't need no stinking laws!"  It may be an outrageous philosophy but it's what The City is all about.

When I worked in San Francisco in the early 80's it was nearly impossible to go more than a day or two without seeing something you knew you'd lay eyes on nowhere else.  I saw guys in the financial district  styling with the crotch cut out of an expensive pair of pants, men in women's clothing, plushies, people on stilts,  and, on my second day in town, a fellow sporting a leather jacket inscribed with "Floyd The Golden Shower King of San Francisco".  (music cue: "I Left My Heart In San Francisco" up, under and fade.)

I loved the place!  It's expensive, decadent and unforgettable.  Just ignore the naked fat guys and you'll have a good time.  If that's more than you can handle, I have a one word mantra for you:


Friday, November 16, 2012

Always Save Room For NUTS

Lately I have been trying to remind myself that America has often been able to endure wingnut leaders.  There is a certain amount of pride we can all take in the fact that Nixon, Carter, and that Texas clodhopper LBJ all have come and gone yet the nation survives.

Take a couple of minutes to listen to old Lyndon B. Johnson order up a few pairs of pants from the head of the Haggar company.  This was a man who understood the importance of an adequate ballroom.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Sunset In America

When I was in high school Soviet goon Nikita Khrushchev was fond of telling Americans "We will bury you".  Little did he know that JFK's "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country" would give way to just doing the burying ourselves and sparing the rest of the world the trouble.  American values like hard work and living within our means has given way to "Where's mine?"

The fat, dumb, and lazy have foisted another four years of vapid and terminally clueless leadership upon the land and I'm wondering if we have it in us to persevere.  Our children and grandchildren are on the hook for nearly insurmountable debt and we don't seem to care.  It's immoral.  Food stamps, free phones, breakfasts and lunches provided by schools, student loans at below market rates are just a few of the myriad "freebies" politicians throw at the electorate to buy their votes.   Nobody seems to care that it's our own money and, by the way, WE DON'T HAVE IT.

Ben Franklin said, "When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic."  Old Ben was a pretty sharp guy, invented a couple of things I believe.  George Bernard Shaw said pretty much the same thing when he opined "Robbing Peter to pay Paul will always insure the support of Paul."  The problem with this philosophy is that Peter--if he isn't already tapped out--has left town.  Hell, he's left THE COUNTRY!

So here is where we are:  BROKE!  Yet this past Tuesday we collectively decided to double down on the leadership of a man who has never run so much as a bake sale and can produce no plan beyond "tax the rich" who already pay the majority of our taxes.  Anyone proficient in elementary math can take about five minutes to conclude that confiscating the entire net worth of the wealthiest citizens of our republic would keep Washington's wheels turning for about two weeks.  This is no way to run a country.  Try navigating your household this way and get your ticket punched for the hotel with bars.

I take comfort in the fact that roughly half the population knows all of this and are as concerned as I am.  We have made it half way through this horrible wrong turn of an administration and can remain hopeful that new dynamic leadership will emerge.  Cerebral rectosis can be overcome.  After all, Jimmy Carter gave us Ronald Reagan.

"The pessimist complains about the wind, the optimist expects it to change and the REALIST adjusts his sails."  anonymous   

Friday, November 2, 2012

Something Fishy

The sign would read:  "In memory of hundreds of fish who suffered and died at this spot."

Beaufort T. Sea Bass, D.O.A.  in Irvine without tartar sauce
Well, that's what Dana Kourda, on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, wanted the city of Irvine, California to say on the sign she wanted placed at the site of a truck accident that killed 1600 pounds of fish a couple of weeks ago.  In a letter to the city, Ms. Kourda went on to say that "Research tells us that fish use tools, tell time, sing, and have impressive long-term memories and complex social structure, yet fish used for food are routinely crushed, impaled, cut open, and gutted, all while still conscious."  She neglected to mention that they are also damn good eatin'.

Saying you're a member of PETA and from California is like saying you're an alcoholic and an addict.  It is sort of implied.  This place has all the essential ingredients needed to support any full-tilt Bozo philosophy you espouse.  We even have a crankwank governor to make you feel right at home and he comes complete with a state assembly consisting of democrats with a fiscal bent just to the left of "Whoopee!".  There is NO idea or project too stupid to be considered here in the land of dependably entertaining loons.

To the surprise of many, "Shut up!" was essentially the response Ms. Kourda received from the city of Irvine.  No doubt they have explained to her that had the good Lord not wanted us to eat fish he certainly wouldn't have made them so gosh darn tasty.  After all, even Jesus knew that there was nothing like a few fishes to pass around with the loaves whenever unexpected company dropped by.

It's not that those of us who enjoy eating fish don't have second thoughts about it.  Who among us is comfortable with those limbless, vertebrate, cold-blooded eyes looking up at you as you roll them in cracker crumb?  That's why we lop off those cute fish heads and give them to the cat.  (How's that for animal love PETA?)
Having said this I should confess to once having had a close relationship with a beautiful oyster I'll call "Bernice". Granted, she was invertebrate but she was wonderful slice of sea life.  Oh, there had been others before her but Bernice was special.  She was plump and juicy with a delightfully salty personality.  An oyster babe of the first water and I adored her.

The affair had a rather bad end that was entirely my fault.  Bernice and I were spending a memorable evening at Davy's Locker, a little bistro just off the Strip in Las Vegas, when she blurted out what I thought was "Eat me". I was drinking in those days--we both were--and had undoubtedly become "over served".  Perhaps I did not hear her correctly.  We'll never know.  The little squeeze of lemon that she had splashed on and the dollop of horseradish were too much to resist.
I still feel bad about my behavior but, in my defense, she was DELICIOUS!  As a memorial, I have kept her empty shell for use as an ashtray.

I don't smoke but could start again if it would make the PETA people feel better.  Oh, wait…we shoot smokers in California.  Never mind.  

Bernice sports some bling.

I can resist everything, except temptation.