Archive for the 'Teenagers' Category

When Young Was Young

Saturday, February 16th, 2008
There was a time when coming of age was a short intoxicating ride. Even in an otherwise mundane life, a window of recreational opportunity would open when you’d get your first taste of independence and grownup rights, only to slam shut forever when weighty duties and obligations set you on the treadmill of adulthood. Whether you had to fight a war, take up chores at the factory or farm, or were lucky enough to go to college– there wasn’t a lot of time to make all your youthful indiscretions come true before you had to settle down and work and breed and be responsible, until the end.

That’s how life was, in my parent’s era and before (perhaps your grandparents time). It ain’t like that anymore, unless you happened to grow up in an old world-type community (Amish, Hasidic, crazy home schooling, etc.), the world has changed. Thanks to lots of societal tweaking that’s occurred since of the 1960’s, adolescence often begins much earlier, and sometimes it never ends.

To blame? Well, there’s plenty to go around. The draft is gone. The many choices of birth control and “family planning” made a big difference. It brought more women in the workplace and kept a lot of folks footloose far past their twenties. People wait much longer to get married, and there’s really no big stigma about getting married at all. More people don’t have kids at all, or have them well into middle age. And then there’s the complete fetish of life-long adolescence– through regimens of supplements and hormones or the horrors of botox and plastic surgery.

Which brings us to the rhetorical question of the day– Why is so much youth wasted on old people? Who oughtta have something better to do.

So with this post let us hearken back to simpler times, when coming of age was still an event. When the onset of adulthood was arousing and revelatory. And what made it so spectacular was that it was so fleeting and temporary.

To actually hear these ripening juveniles in their heyday, you have to dig back a few decades. These two offerings were created with separate technologies. Two are homemade discs (or records) featuring a gathering of friends. The others are clandestine telephone recordings captured with a reel to reel deck. I don’t have dates on any of these artifacts, but I’d guess the discs are from the late 40’s or early 50’s. The tapes are probably from the mid-1950’s. At least that’s my guess. And beyond content, what I really appreciate about all of these recordings is the richness of the regional accents. Something else that’s also disappearing in this future we inhabit.

Let’s go there now, into the heart of the jungle…

Jolly Boy’s Necking Party 5:01
(download)

The natives are puckered up and restless in this mock radio drama, recorded as a memento of a weekend trip to Panther Lake, and the memorable necking party that ensued. As someone beats out a jungle rhythm on a cardboard box, exaggerated smooching sounds are heard as the narrator hints at the terrors of kissing in the dark. When the drums and lip smacking abates, the group improvises a dark farce based on the scary radio shows of the day.

Looking around online, I see there’s a Panther Lake resort with cabins up in northern New Jersey. I’d say there’s a good chance that this is where these funlovers made these recordings so many years ago.

Panther Lake Farewell  5:54
(download)

While the side one was entertaining, side two is a more factual account of the weekend. They all sound youn enough (except for Helen, who sounds like she’s already on a two pack a day habit). It’s Sunday night and I believe the big necking party must have occurred the night before. But at this point the festivities are winding down, and they’re discussing their disparate destinations and where they’ll be tomorrow. Some will go back to work. Another has exams. And one fellah is heading out to Indianapolis for the big race, which would put this soiree right before Memorial Day– the traditional yearly kick-off of vacation season.

This bunch is far from wild. You might say they were rather square. And there’s no mention of drinking (except for some hot cocoa). And having grown up a generation after these folks, the “necking parties” I remember were part of our social scene when we were more like fifteen or sixteen (and we were drinking). I’d guess the kinds on this recording were at least 19 and older. However, it sounds like a swell time was had by all.

The other two archives here are somewhat less innocent. The scamp protagonist of these recordings, Jerry is the proud owner of an early tape recorder as well as a phone pick up he employed to capture telephone conversations. And the first selection is a session of boy-talk between Jerry and his friend Herb. Apparently, they had recently been on a double date when Herb improvised some masterful fiction to impress his date. Jerry was inspired. “Teach me to lie,” he implores Herb.

The Art Of Lying  4:44
(download)

If there’s a pop culture cliche for a guy like Jerry, it would be Eddie Haskell from “Leave it to Beaver.” Not that sitcoms are all that lifelike, but I think that the prankster/rebel who has a believable “nice boy” act for the parents is an archetype that has stood the test of time. And in fact, Jerry’s idea for a “bit” here is practically worthy of a sitcom script.

While may have only been an aspiring liar at the time, Jerry reveals through these phone calls that his manipulative skills and sense of mischief were already well developed. After hearing these two recordings I’d have to say that if Jerry didn’t eventually go into a sales profession one day he probably missed his calling.

Betty and New Years Eve  6:17
(download)

I don’t know the name of this sweet-voiced young woman, but she’s a mutual friend of Jerry and a woman he’s casually dating– Betty. And he’s called to tell her that he’s come up with a great plan for New Years Eve. Or a lack of one. He’s not going to ask out Betty (or anyone) for New Years Eve. Instead, Jerry is just going to wait to be asked out.

According to Jerry, his brazen behavior is based on his ongoing lucky streak (he’s “scoring on everything” he tries). And for his next miracle, Betty will magically call him for a date (to a party) on New Year’s Eve. I’m sure there’s no need for me to mention that “good girls” would never do such a thing back then. And her friend is quite defensive of Betty on this point, and besides she has other beaus to tend to her dating needs. And after all, Betty is a good girl (unlike Helen…), too good for Jerry’s needs. And what he really wants to find out from Betty’s friend is when and if she might actually be bad enough to satisfy Jerry. She makes no promises, but does hint that Jerry might get lucky if he’s patient.

It’s certainly odd to me to hear a guy lobbying so hard for nookie by pumping a mutual friend for information like this. But in the end he does find out why he’s been stuck on third base with Betty for so long. “She likes you,” her friend admits. “She thinks you’re a nice guy. But she’s not in love with you.”

“Well, she should be by now,” he says in frustration. “Every other one was.” What? A quid pro quo of dating and dining for some hubba hubba "affection"? Yes, times have certainly changed. But guys? Not so much.

Chunky Homestyle Breakdown

Saturday, February 2nd, 2008
The web stream that accompanies the Audio Kitchen blog (“Chunky Homestyle Radio”) is down. My non-stop audio-stream of found and obscure recordings is on hiatus until I can resolve a technical problem here at the house. The other day I noticed that the cranky old Pentium II box that sends out the chunky sounds  had shut down. And then after rebooting the old boy a couple times and restarting the stream I’ve come to realize that the computer will only run for an hour or two before passing out again. My hardware guru tells me it’s probably the power supply or the processor fan. I have yet to actually open it up and learn more.

So, Chunky Homestyle Radio will be probably be down for over a week or two as I try to resolve this issue. I’m going to hold back on buying parts until I take a look at a newer machine (a Pentium 4, I believe) that a friend has promised me. If I see that it’s actually fit I may upgrade to the new computer, which will take at least a few more days or longer to set up.

However, I have to admit that I wish I could report that I’ve received numerous complaints about this outage. But sadly, nobody seems to have noticed but me. And frankly, I’ve been surprised and a little dismayed at) how few people have actually taken advantage of the Chunky Homestyle station I installed with this blog. Perhaps I haven’t promoted it very well, but since I opened this site for business there was only a smattering of interest in Chunky Homestyle Radio. And within a few weeks the listenership dropped down to little more than a handful of people tuning in at one time, and then often none at all.

While it takes me quite a bit of time to get the posts where organized and written, but the Chunky stream has always been a way I could easily and indiscriminately share my bulging collection of home recorded detritus. It’s no surprise to me that providing some context would drum up anticipation and curiosity and make the make listening to the blog post audio more popular than clicking on the Chunky Homestyle stream and its random deluge of found sound. There’s many hundreds of hours of conversations and performances and untold numbers of lost dispatches and messages in the Chunky Homestyle Radio library. I personally find it an intriuging stew of words, noise and situation. But there is no announcer or  blogger to guide your mind through the arbitrary blather. Maybe it’s too much for anybody to handle. I don’t know. Either way, the Chunky stream will be coming back sometime soon. At least for a while.

Also, sorry there hasn’t been a new post here in a little while. But the good news is that I’m taking a little break from working on a new Audio Kitchen post just to let you know why the Chunky Radio link is not operational right now. And to be honest, I’ve been posting more often over at my radio blog (The Radio Kitchen) just because I’ve been getting substantially more traffic and feedback over there so far. Which is kinda funny, because my original inspiration was to only create this blog. The Radio Kitchen site was sort of an afterthought.

And in the spirit of after-thinking, let me append this post with some mildly savage multimedia content out of the many hundreds of files that have been in rotation on Chunky Radio. This is some burnin’ some lo-fi tribal rock unearthed on a soiled cassette tape by the late and great “Georgia” Todd Butler. As I recall, this was the only audio recorded on this particular tape. The subject matter is ostensibly about a certain earring and a back door. The real meaning is anybody’s guess.

Wang-Q – Q-Shaped Earring  1:22

(download)

That’s it. Now I’ll get back to work on the next Audio Kitchen post, which should be up soon. Expect more tales of youth, desire and passion. And less.

For The Love Of Bob

Tuesday, November 6th, 2007
Okay here’s three short ones, all from found cassettes. I’ve grouped these all together in one post for a simple reason. They all express a mode of affection for a dude named named Bob (or Robert). And really, who hasn’t loved a Bob at one time or another? The name just has an affable buzz. Think about it. Sometime when you feel the need to reach out, you really just wanna grab a hold of some Bob out there and squeeze.

The first selection comes from an unmarked tape I found in a box in my room. I don’t really know how it came into my possession I suspect it might be from a junk store in the neighborhood, but I really have no idea. Sadly, this has become the case with too many tapes stashed away in bags and boxes around the house. Ever think about how cool it would be if you could afford to hire an assistant? Man, could I ever keep that person busy.

Anyway, this is a quirky tune. The band, such as it is, seems to be a few wholesome college types with a keyboard device. The cassette collection of songs I have from these folks is actually quite entertaining. Very earnest. A little odd and kinda kooky. Art school perhaps. I think these songs hail from the 1980’s. This particular number is a tight and out of tune plea for Bobby companionship. The vocals are fast paced and overlapping, and I suspect it might be a gay kind of thing. The Bobby protagonist of the song is referred to as “sugar,” “darling,” “honey,” and “angel” (and maybe “throbby” as well). And the crescendo at the end is a celebration of the “three of us.” Not quite like anything I’ve  ever heard before. And you? I think I need to make a point of sharing more of this tape in a future post. It’s a lot of fun. Musical nerds having a good time.

(download)

The next offering is a bit strange, which may have gay overtones as well. (Okay, there are girls named “Bobbi” out there, but it’s not that common.) It’s a unique item, recorded on a late-model audio cassette. I’d guess it’s from the 1990’s. The “creator” of this recording has foisted his microphone up to the speaker of his stereo while playing the opening of a soprano sax power ballad. And then, right before the female singer starts to warble on nostalgically about never ending love the guy holding the mic intones– “Bobby” in an urgent half spoken whisper. Then she sings for a minute about the wild and free days of yore. He then hits the pause button, restarts the song, and does the same urgent thing all over again– the sax intro, the “Bobby” whisper, and that pop diva chorus about wildness and freedom (and love). He does this several times.

The only editing you hear in this recording is via the miracle of the pause button. I didn’t change a thing. Following his series of passion loops, he ends this little drama with an instrumental Muzak version of “Leaving on a Jet Plane.” And you can hear him shuffle around in the room while the recording takes place.

Although it’s impossible to be sure, the cryptic presentation here doesn’t seem to hard to decode. It would seem that the fella misses his “Bobby,” and can’t stop thinking about all the wild and free fun they used to have. And perhaps he’s trying to reel him back in by repeating this bit of what might have been their special song. Just guesses of course. Somehow when I hear this tape, I see two slender preppie guys in cardigans walking along a beach, laughing and smiling as the waves crash and the sun sets. And I’ll bet if I mixed in some seagull noises you might see the same thing…

Anyway, here’s the tape. As I found it.

(download)

That little wonder was unearthed at a thrift store in Youngstown, Ohio. While I didn’t find much in the way of lost audio the last time I swung through there, Youngstown is one of those hardscrabble rust-belt cities where life is kinda cheap, and there’s some big thrift shops crammed with inexpensive goodies.

The final entree here also invokes “Bob love.” Actually the it’s the love of a Robert and his bride to be, Sandra. However, instead of idealized adoration or yearning for the return of a Bob, this is fully realized affection. No irony either. Not to reveal all the details in this rich two minutes of fun, but there’s some sweet singin’, a little Waffle House poetry, and a lusty invitation to wash up. From the sound of it, these folks aren’t so young and probably ain’t all that pretty either. But they sure are realistic! And they sure sound happy too. Brian Belott discovered this brief masterpiece at a thrift shop in Sarasota, Florida. Like the first two selections, I didn’t edit this in anyway.

(download)

That’s it for today’s post– three quickies that kinda show you how there’s more to found recordings than kiddie tapes, answering machine messages and audio letters. And there really are a lotta ways to love a Bob. But you probably already knew that. 

Whiplash!

Monday, October 29th, 2007

Whiplash!While I’m not the biggest fan of Halloween (I get enough vicarious dread and terror from a typical newscast), it’s certainly more entertaining than most holidays. And the festive music of the season is so much better than the true horror of Christmas carols. And speaking of that, don’tcha ever mourn how the true meaning of Halloween has been kind of been lost in all the crass commercialism and plastic pumpkin totes? I mean, if I was a religious person I could get all worked up over our pagan traditions reduced to silly parties and kids begging for candy.

But I’m not so religious, so let’s hear something ridiculous. After all, there’s only a few shopping days left. This beat up old cassette was re-discovered by Georgia Todd. There’s not much on this tape. Just one song really. But, it’s a powerful little tune full of testosterone and mischief. Here’s Todd’s description:

Short and sour amateur metal (or a joke?). Great. All the attitude, none of the skills. New distortion guitar song writing, and the lyrics match the playing level.

There ya go. Apparently somebody is going to die. Possibly in a car accident. And his name might be Alex. Quite a bit of guitar experimentation with monkey-like interludes. I guess you could call this a demo. If it is, I’d sure like to hear the complete version with the full band.

Have a safe holiday.

(download)

Yo Quiero Travis

Sunday, October 28th, 2007

What do you get when you take a corny shell of a man, and fill him up with meaty teen passion and lots of cheesy on-the-job behavior? You get a trashy little fast-food affair, documented in this found tape.

This is the tale of Travis the Taco Bell manager and his fiesta menu of uniformed young girls. Actually, we only hear one side of the story, from Christine, a teenage taco stuffer who offered him her virginity, along with some cologne and a funny sign for his parking spot.

In this audio letter to her friend Rachel, Christine wonders how she can ease the pain, and whether Travis will ever get his priorities straight. Will he finally leave his unhappy marriage (and baby on the way), and give her all the love she deserves?

Christine is 15 years old. The year is 1991– the dawn of the Breakfast Burrito. I think Travis had a couch in his office.

(download)

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In The Beginning There Was Angst (And It Was Good)

Friday, October 26th, 2007

found memorex cassette tape, recorded in 1975As this blog begins, I suppose it’s fitting to go back to the beginning of my fascination with found sound– a day of sorting through junk that launched what has become a large and disparate collection of amateur recordings over at my house.

Actually, I was looking for records down in the golden peninsula of discarded goods, Florida. The combination of northern pilgrims coming to retire (and all that follows) and the subtropical transient lifestyle of the state, provides for a constant flow of surrendered possessions filling the junk shops, thrift stores, pawn shops, and flea markets with SO much junk that some of it has to be good.

It all began on a hot dusty afternoon in 1996 as I was browsing through a squalid little booth at a Florida flea market. It wasn’t the tied-died shirts or patchouli oil that had kept bringing me back this particular dealer. No, it was his abundant selection of cheap and dirty albums. I’d often dug up gems out of those splintering crates, but not that day. I had been there a week or two before and wasn’t finding anything I hadn’t passed up on other trips. As the friend I came with was still elbow deep in the lp’s, I started prowling around under the tables. In the middle of a lot of useless crap I came across a little cardboard box filled with cassettes. The stout bearded guy in the psychedelic wifebeater told me they were ten cents a piece.

I snatched up a few, primarily because they’d looked to be good candidates for recording purposes. However, the ball point scrawl on one particular tape suggested something more. It was a 1970’s era Memorex cassette (one of the least dependable name brands out there), and carved into the silver label were the words (in cursive and in print): “Has my voice about saving the earth.” And above that on the same side: “Has our voice about talk & seating around on side 2.” It was cryptic, yet intriguing. On the way home, I cracked open the dusty case and popped it into the deck. Like uncorking a long lost message in a bottle, the car stereo conjured forth the voice of a desperate 70’s teenager in the middle of a strange and urgent secular prayer. I’ve never heard anything like it, before or since.

For those of you who weren’t around in the early mid-70’s, it was a rather messy and pessimistic time. While the political assassinations, urban riots and the Vietnam War (which we’d just gotten out of) had driven many to anger, isolation or a drug-addled haze. And then there was the Watergate scandal, runaway inflation, another Arab-Israeli war, and a worsening oil crisis. Like today, if you were paying attention to the news it could put you in a bad mood. “We can’t go on living like this,” the kid exclaims. But instead of seeking guidance from god, or religious or political figures, his entreaty is decidedly secular. Almost cynical.

No, he theorizes that the world could be saved by tracking down the world’s top scientists and asking some hard questions. Who else might have the answers? The generals. Some people "in the other worlds” (like Russia). And if the scientists and generals are less than helpful, he’s prepared to force their hand. His plan of action? Firearms (he yearns to become a hit man), or perhaps hypnosic persuasion. On the other hand, perhaps the release of a really meaningful movie might do the trick. He’s really all over the map. Then again, other things he says make a little more sense. Like taxing the rich, or working together to solve a common future crisis. And even his “Free to Be, You and Me” language about people “putting a garden in themselves” isn’t too off the wall. It’s as close as he gets to seeking a spiritual solution.

From the accent, I’d guess the kid grew up in or near Georgia. His family may have relocated somewhere down the line, as the tape bears evidence of being recorded in California (a military brat perhaps?). It’s easy to laugh at the cockeyed concepts and mangled syntax here, but this artifact reveals the inner struggles of an anxious baby boomer on the verge of adulthood. It’s a young confused guy wondering aloud about his purpose in his life, and how he can make a better world. I guess to me the most striking thing is how contradictory it all is. I mean, about three and a half minutes into this bit, he turns a corner and sounds strikingly similar to type of urgent bonehead you might hear call in to a contemporary right wing talk show: “No more people comes to the United States!" he insists. "The United States has got to start taking power. United States got it– They’re going to use it.”

Those might have been the most prescient words spoken on this tape. Here’s the audio:

(download)

Okay, while the screed above was certainly the main feature on this tape, the casette was filled leader to leader. Following the planet saving diatribe, the rest of side A is a parade of popular (and sensitive) 70’s ballads by Billy Joel, Simon & Garfunkle, Three Dog Night, etc. You get the idea. However, at the very end of side one is some slightly more interesting content, which puts a likely date and location for the recordings on the tape. It’s a radio ad for an upcoming Virgil Fox concert, at a concert hall in the San Francisco area in September 1975. At the time I recall hearing the radio ads for the grandiose Virgil Fox organ roadshow coming through town, not really understanding why bombastic classical music with laser beams was being marketed to rock and roll teenagers. But maybe this was the kind of guy who might go for that sort of thing. And then, before the spot is over our protagonist tape jumps in to remind himself or somebody about a Native-American themed novel: “Seven Arrows” (orginally published in 1973). From the reviews I looked at online, I can see how this book might have fit into his vision quest.

(download)

70's kid rockin' in the basementWhile he mentions regretting souping up his car against his parents wishes and generally goofing off in his supplication to science and warfare on side A, side B is the flip side to all the sober consternation. Here’s our hero at play. It’s a party. And a couple of guests have brought in a guitar and a banjo. And it’s a teenage “pot party” jam session, including "Proud Mary," “Stairway to Heaven,” and the theme to the “Beverly Hillbillies.” It’s not a great recording. The instruments sound out of tune, and there’s lots of chatter and party coughing. I’m including it to provide a more representational archive, and to give the fossil sounds of a forgotten gathering some online posterity. I almost feel like I was there.

(download)

This tape was quite a find, but there was another compelling series of recordings buried within that little batch of crusty cassettes I picked up that day– Not as profound, but certainly containing more complicated subject matter. A lot more. But that’s a topic for another post. Or maybe a few posts…

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