Sunday, November 29, 2015

Coast to Coast AM With George Noory or On Being a Night Owl

For night owls like myself staying up late instills some notion of freedom: everyone else is asleep, but I'm wide awake.  Lucky me.  Everything gets peaceful and quiet. The world slows down.  Thoughts find some lucidity.

Most people I know are morning people who enjoy getting up early and living a normal time span.  At times I envy those who wake up and go to bed with the sun.  Nothing like an even pitched flow to the day.

At other times I'm so glad to be a night person and feel sorry for those who miss out on the excitement of staying up late. 

Movies play differently late at night.

Same goes for music.

And youtube - go down the rabbit hole and see where it leads you.

Then there is Coast to Coast with George Noory, an AM radio show that airs from 1am-5am.  Started by the mysterious Art Bell in the 1990s, the long running show routinely discussed UFOs and other conspiracy theories, a sort of extension of pre-millennial X-Files paranoia.

George Noory took over in 2003 and expanded the audience of Coast to Coast. A native of Detroit, Noory brought years of experience in radio and TV to the show. Noory's topics are a dizzying variety ranging from witches and demons among us, earth changes, shadow governments, shadow people, secret moon bases, secret societies, historical mysteries, cyrpto-zoology, hollow earth, Illuminati . . . 

On Friday nights Noory still devotes 2-3 hours of "Open Lines" when he takes calls on any subject. Over the years some of the calls stand out: a man claiming his entire family were werewolves, a philosopher who specialized in mirrors, terrifying ghost stories, even some moving personal stories of redemption.  Stuff no one can make up.  For years a supposed Christian fundamentalist known as J.C. would sometimes call in and go on hilarious rants on America's moral decay (I always figured J.C. was a fictional character).

I don't tune in as much as I did back in the mid 2000s.  Maybe the show's lost some luster. Conspiracy theories and the paranormal are cliche in the even more absurd world of social media where everyone can take part in the insanity.

So if you ever have some insomnia and tune in and join the party . . .

Late Night Radio Play List

"Chase" by  Giorgio Moroder
"Escape from New York" by John Carpenter
"Gimme Shelter" by The Rolling Stones
"Roadrunner" by The Modern Lovers
"96 Tears" by ? and the Mysterians
"The Party" by St. Vincent
"Subterranean Homesick Alien"  by Radiohead
"The Midnight Special"  by Creedence Clearwater Revival
"People Are Strange" by The Doors
"Nobody Told Me" by John Lennon
"Hangin' Party" by The Replacements
"Wish You Were Here" by Pink Floyd
"Shouldn't Be Ashamed" by Wilco
"Late Night Radio" by David Gray

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Book Review: Purity by Jonathan Franzen

Sometimes reading a novel is not unlike getting a root canal. You know when the dentist comes in and provides the Novocaine and makes idle chit chat and you start to feel relaxed. The same with Purity, the first 80 pages are tolerable, I came to like Pip and her squatter mates. Then all the drilling starts, the pressure and loud noises start to irritate, and you would do anything to get the hell out of that chair. Once the scene shifts to East Germany and the dreadful Mr. Wolf shows up we are suddenly in a third rate Bergman film. And it goes downhill from there. It's like being trapped on an elevator with the most dreadful people on the planet. In Franzen's universe Mommies are the root cause of all evil. Franzen writes nice prose and does have his moments, but I don't get all the hype. Many modern writers are engaging with history, gender, economics, and class in more interesting ways than Franzen, Marlon James being one example. Let's be honest, he writes for the New Yorker crowd. Nuff Said.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Concert Review: Dead & Company at The Nationwide Arena 11-13-15

After their triumphant final concerts at Soldier Field over the summer, three original members of the Grateful Dead have teamed up with John Mayer for a late autumn tour. Last Saturday they performed for over three hours before a capacity crowd at the Nationwide Center in Columbus - putting out good vibes for everyone involved.

Saturday night was my first experience with The Dead.  While I've come to respect their music and especially enjoyed their two epochal albums from the early 70s, American Beauty and Workingman's Dead, I never got the live experience.  

Grateful Dead concerts consist of extended jam sessions spanning a wide array of genres ranging from jazz, blues, country, and many more.

With Bob Weir and John Mayer on guitars and lead vocals, the night opened with Weir briefly acknowledging the tragic events that took place in Paris. 

The show began with a rollicking version of "Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo."  The first set emphasized the blues, including a cover of the Willie Dixon classic, "Little Red Rooster."

Seated way at the top of the venue I got a panorama of the crowd jubilantly grooving to the music.  The spirit of the 60s made its presence known. I write that with no irony, the notion that music can bring community and transcendence was evident throughout.

After an intermission, the second set featured extended jams with "China Cut Sunflower" and "Eyes of the World." The most poignant moment for myself was a beautiful version of "Black Peter" from Workingman's Dead.

After an exuberant cover of "Good Lovin" by The Young Rascals, the band capped the evening with "Touch of Grey", a surprise hit for The Grateful Dead back in the 80s.

I found the concert exhilarating, relentless, uplifting. A truly unique experience. All the musicians were clearly having fun and playing in perfect harmony. Mayer's excellent guitar playing skills and Weir's passionate vocals made for a great combination.  

These shows are a must see for any devotee of rock and roll or for anyone looking for an introduction to discover what it's all about.