If you think your world has gone crackers then listen to WRGO: What’s Really Going On, the first installment of my audio Theatre for the Perplexed.
Before you put on headphones or buds (highly recommended for the 360 sound mix), a few more words about the performance elements and how they fit within the general stream of the 20 minute-and-a-bit track (just ahead).
A long time ago, I was a rock & roll radio deejay. It was a low-power station in a tiny town on the Canadian prairie, but the signal was big and went just about everywhere at night. I got postcards from Finland saying as much — numerous requests too — my on-air persona attracting a community of listeners far and away. It was low rent schtick, but people liked it. They liked the character I made, and the audio image of me presiding over a Maple Leaf Ballroom spinning disco.
My first love.
AM radio waves skip best at night, and kids like me with transistor radios in the 1960s hunted endlessly for rock & roll from distant stations. There were ‘clear channels’ broadcasting from New York, Salt Lake, Denver, Nashville, San Francisco. But they were kind of boring and slow to play tunes teenagers might like. The best pop stations tended to fade in & out, but sometimes (especially on a cold, cold night in winter), they’d chime in clear as a bell. The magic really happened between the records. I listened for hours hoping to catch an episode of Chicken Man (he’s everywhere! he’s everywhere!) a lampoon of Batman, bundled with commercials for acne blight and things of concern to “teens like you.”
I also got hooked on the Theatre of the Absurd. If you think the world today is twisted, you’ll appreciate the mindset of the 1960s, a decade juiced by pop and experiments with non-ordinary states of awareness.
“Nothing is forbidden,” the writer William S. Burroughs said of the time. His accomplice Brion Gysin, the inventor of The Dream Machine agreed. “Everything is permitted.”
Ahhhh — it didn’t quite work out that way.
But there were certainly no limits on this kid’s imagination listening with a sturdy six transistor RCA radio.
By chance I tuned in X-Minus One, a speculative fiction anthology series.
It’s radio drama from the 1950s — extraordinary stories for the ear — stories written by Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, Philip K Dick. You get the picture. The potent audio images of a time and space “and a million would be worlds,” described by X-Minus One were superior to anything I had seen on television.
And then there was the CBS Radio Mystery Theatre revival in the 1970s. Killer stuff.
And while Blast Theory’s Nick Tandavanitj was listening in the late ’90s to Blue Jam & Chris Morris on BBC Radio One, earlier in the 1980s, there was a similar twisted mindscape conjured by Joe Frank, a brilliant broadcaster in California. With repetitive loops of his own making, and philosophical riffs that drifted into places you’d never thought you might end up in — hypnotic, addictive radio — that’s Joe Frank.
And again from California, I heard another surreal genius who spoofed a radio open line, doubling as the host and most of the callers to the show (all happening ‘live’ in real time). A monster hit in the ’90s, Phil Hendrie’s daily parody of ‘phone in’ radio was a must-tune in Los Angeles.
These imaginative, surreal, brilliant broadcasters, and the bizarre audio theatrics I’ve mentioned are mostly missing from today’s airwaves and from the sound of it, podcast playlists, as well.
And so it is from my recent impressions of Britain on the edge, I bring you prescriptive audio Theatre for the Perplexed >> WRGO: What’s Really Going On << chapter one >> Brexit, Brighton & Me.
Headphones are highly recommended.
WRGO: What’s Really Going On — UK anecdotes & anxiety antidotes — preferred futures made plaintive in twenty minutes.
I started in on creating the bits & audio pieces and how to represent emotional ideas in a 360 audio proscenium, late last spring, 2019. You’ll hear a kind of pattern & patter evolving in the pieces I made and tweaked right up until a few minutes ago (my previous posts document the work-in-progress with links to the audio).
Also for your listening and viewing pleasure, plug into Jack Bride’s vision for a Virtually Virtual Reality 2.0
And once you’re done give Jack’s Ballad of the Bull a twirl — you can hear me interacting with me, but it’s ummm…not me, but Dali, and, of course, a Bull…
I thank Jack Bride for his encouragement and collisions of conversation. The soundscapes are designed to complement his brilliant art and astute framing of the zeitgeist.
I also must thank the Edmonton Heritage Council for its contribution toward my residency with Blast Theory in the UK.
Please stay tuned to this space — share it with ten thousand of your closest, personal friends — yes, share, share, share...
And if there’s anything on your mind — no matter what pops into it — let me be the judge what’s bent out of shape or just circular thinking. Your suggestions and comments are most welcome!
Meantime: thank you for listening, watching, reading & riffing with the Theatre for the Perplexed.