Friday, May 1, 2015

Idiot's Goodnight

Tomorrow is a black day for radio.

What's radio?
It's like a way to listen to music.
Like the internet.
Yes, except that it's not interactive.
No.  But it's wireless.  And that's something.
Are there pictures?
No.  That's television.

I used the term broadcast television the other day and the person I was talking to didn't understand the term until I explained it to her. My friend Eric and I once made a pact that we'd never date women who couldn't name all four Beatles.

Growing old is hell.

Anyway, tomorrow night will be the last radio program of the famous free-form radio pioneer Vin Scelsa.  47 years of playing what he felt like on the radio.  Which, if you know anything about radio these days, is saying something.  The man's claim to fame, in counterpoint to everything else he did that was wonderful and lovely, was also a black day for radio.  Likewise the world.  Vin was on the air on WNEW, one of the great New York FM rock stations, the night John Lennon was shot and had the sad task of reporting it to the world.  Imagine.

The only time I ever won anything on the radio was on Scelsa's show Idiot's Delight. I don't remember what the question was, but the answer was Don Was, the music producer.  I got a ticket to a private screening of Backbeat, which was about the Beatles in Hamburg.  It sucked, but I got to meet Vin.

Tune in to tomorrow night at 8pm and listen for two hours.  I think he is the best thing that was ever on the radio.  He announced his impending retirement a month or so ago and for a while I was hoping his last song would be "4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)," because it's the best Bruce Springsteen song ever (Vin was a big Springsteen fan) and because it seemed to fit the occasion.  But he played it on his show two weeks ago and then, later in the show, when talking about the set, expressed some melancholy that he'd never play that song on the radio again.

At which point I got a massive lump in my throat.

Yoko takes a lot of shit, but I always thought she was a trip.  In the good sense of the world.  And John and Yoko really loved each other, which is its own thing.

Here's a live version of the same song.  You have to click through for some reason, but it's worth taking a quick peek to see John sing the song live, in a fuschia jumpsuit, in front of a bunch of rich people.  It's a bit alarming how much he looks like Bono.

The video reminds me of two things:  First, the famous Lennon quote about rattling your jewelry, which you can see here at the 1:00 mark ...

And second, for reasons I can't quite put my finger on, the whole business of Mark Rothko giving his commission back to the Four Seasons when he realized that the people who'd be sitting there eating their Dover sole and staring at his work would also be rich people.  That's a story for another day, but if you simply can't wait, there's a great piece in The Guardian about Rothko's Seagram paintings here.

Back to Vin:  Live long and prosper, old friend.  And thanks for the gift.

For me this boardwalk life's through, babe.
You ought to quit this scene too.
--Bruce Springsteen

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