This Saturday, it’s three hours of vintage 45s. Plus, a question about our old-time radio theater on Sundays
I broke a mirror. After the last few years we’ve had, how will I know the difference when the bad luck starts?
That raises a couple of other questions. Does the seven years of bad luck run consecutively with other bad luck, or concurrently? Like, if I walk under a ladder, or spill a salt shaker, or get off on the 13th floor of a building, do each of those things then add more bad luck to the seven years I’ve already received for breaking the mirror, or does it just make the already existing bad luck worse?
Anyway, I blame Steve Allen. I’ve been reading a Steve Allen book and when I was getting ready for work, I bumped the book, it fell onto a mirror that was sitting on the floor, and broke it.
Some might say the mirror shouldn’t have been sitting on the floor. Well, thanks, but that would have been useful advice a couple of hours ago.
Speaking of bad luck: It’s my luck to be out of town two Saturdays in a row, which means I have a pre-recorded show again this week. But it’s a good one.
We’ve had a bunch of records donated to the Tube City Online Radio studio (most of them by me) and I’ve recently been going through them.
So this week’s show is three hours of vintage 45s, mostly from the 1960s, with a handful from the ’50s and ’70s.
In a Q&A with Melinda Newman of Billboard magazine, Brooks said his new bar, called Friends in Low Places, will be “a place you feel safe in. I want it to be a place that you feel like there are manners and people love one another … And yes, we’re going to serve every brand of beer. We just are.”
That’s a reference to an ongoing boycott by morons conservatives, who are angry that Bud Light produced a special one-off commemorative can featuring TikTok star Dylan Mulvaney, who is transgender.
Kid Rock, a vocal moron conservative, posted a video of himself shooting cases of Bud Light with an automatic rifle, and some bars that cater to bigots and rednecks Republicans have either stopped selling Bud Light, or held promotions where they’ve poured the beer down the drain.
To be clear, however, it’s still OK if you’re not buying Bud Light simply because it’s really crummy beer. As the Pythons said, “it’s like making love in a canoe.”
It turns out a Catholic school education was a dangerous thing. It taught me to think for myself.
I doubt David Zubik, Roman Catholic bishop of Pittsburgh, reads this blog. Or listens to the show. But I wrote him a letter anyway. And I’ll even play him a long-distance dedication:
Dear Bishop Zubik:
I was born and raised Roman Catholic, was baptized in the church, attended 13 years of Catholic school, and served faithfully as an altar boy throughout my teen years. I knew many kind and generous priests, deacons, friars and nuns.
They stood for social justice. A friend of mine points out that Joe Biden, for all of his flaws, has a classic mid-20th Century American Catholic outlook when it comes to justice and equality.
So it pains me to see what the bishops of the Catholic church in the United States now seem to stand for, which are performative culture-war stunts and gimmickry — like denying liberal Catholic politicians communion because they support birth control or abortion rights, or refusing to baptize the children of gay parents.
It’s the reason I left the church of my birth about 20 years ago, and never looked back.
This week, writer and Hollywood historian Mark Evanier drew attention to a video posted by the “Late Show With Stephen Colbert” that practically begs for an Emmy Award.
“I don’t take awards that seriously but when they’re meaningful, it’s when the voting public actually decides you deserve some honoring, not when you mount a successful ad campaign,” Evanier said. “It used to just be the shows taking ads out in the trade papers. Then it was fancy advertising mailers to all the voters. Then they started buying billboards all over Los Angeles asking for Emmy and Oscar votes.”
Evanier says “this seems like another step too far.”
It does seem a little desperate. But it also reminded me that voting has now begun for Pittsburgh City Paper‘s annual “Best of Pittsburgh” awards.
Those of you who have been around for a while know that I’ve been on the radio for 22 years in Pittsburgh, and during that time, I’ve had a perfect record: I have never once been nominated for anything.
Supposedly, someone asked Gandhi, ‘What do you think of Western civilization?’ He reportedly replied, ‘I think it would be a good idea.’
If a cluttered desk signifies a cluttered mind, what’s an empty desk signifying? Here are empty items from my cluttered mind:
News item: State Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-Inquisition) is planning a “special” announcement today, fueling speculation that he intends to run for the U.S. Senate in 2024. Mastriano, who ran for governor of Pennsylvania in 2022, lost in the general election to Josh Shapiro by approximately 800,000 votes.
If Mastriano makes it through a Republican primary for U.S. Senate, he would face incumbent U.S. Sen. Bob Casey Jr., a Democrat, who has said he intends to run for a fourth term in 2024.
Oh, Doug. Dan Hicks wrote a campaign song just for you:
How can I miss you when you won’t go away? Keep telling you day after day But you won’t listen, you always stay and stay How can I miss you when you won’t go away?
Doug is a certifiable crackpot, but he’s positively sane compared to Kandiss Taylor, who ran for governor of Georgia last year. (She lost in the Republican primary.)
Taylor has been elected a district chair of the Republican Party in Georgia, and on her podcast, “Jesus, Guns & Babies,” she spent time debunking the “conspiracy” that the world is round.
The world is flat, she explained. The Bible says so. “Globes” are part of a trick being played on young people by liberals, socialists and, I guess, airline pilots.
And she’s not the only Republican candidate to be part of the “flat-earth” movement. Lauren Witzke, who ran for the U.S. Senate from Delaware in 2020 and worked for the Trump campaign in Iowa, also describes herself as a “flat-earther.”
And — this will shock you, so I hope you’re sitting down — according to the survey, “Trump approvers are more likely … to agree with conspiracy claims that vaccinations implant tracking microchips, the Earth is flat, or NASA astronauts did not land on the Moon; but they are less likely to agree with scientists that the Earth is billions of years old.”
Golly. You don’t say.
The point, and I do have one, is that craziness is not the fringe of the Republican Party. It’s the center of the Republican Party.
And this is what CNN, the New York Times and other major media outlets are trying to normalize. “Let’s go to this diner in a rural small town and talk to the most extreme Trump supporters we can find in an attempt to sympathize with them” is equivalent to, “let’s find the craziest people we can, and make them seem normal.”
Then they expose the rest of us to the craziness over and over and over, until we get used to it: Well, maybe the flat-Earth people have a point.
The crazies are still a minority (for now). Most Americans want legal access to birth control. Most Americans want legal access to abortion. Most Americans want other adult Americans free to marry another adult person, regardless of their sex or gender identity. Most Americans want to be free to read what they want when they want. Most Americans want teachers and parents in charge of the education of our children — not religious kooks.
Why are we letting a tiny minority of fact-deniers dictate to the rest of us?
Because our supposedly “liberal” media insists on letting Republicans pee on our legs, and telling us it’s rain. Here’s the “liberal” MSNBC:
“Why is Ron DeSantis partnering with Elon Musk to launch his 2024 presidential campaign?”
Because they’re both white supremacist jagoffs. There, I saved you a click. It’s really that simple.
One last thing before I change the subject: For years, the media has referred to the Republican Party as the “GOP.” That’s an acronym for “Grand Old Party.”
The nickname began to be used widely after the Civil War, because the Republican Party was the party of Lincoln, and had fought to preserve the Union from segregationists and slave-holders. They were the “Grand Old Party that saved the country.”
Since then — after all, it’s been 150 years — the positions of the two parties have reversed. The Southern segregationists are all in the Republican Party, and the Democratic Party seems to be the one (albeit haphazardly) fighting to save America.
I know this is futile, but let’s knock off the “GOP” nonsense. There is nothing “Grand” about a party that wants to discriminate against women, Black people, immigrants, non-Christians and the LGBTQ community — let alone a party that can’t even agree that the world is round.
And finally: The state of Minnesota is planning to legalize recreational marijuana. I’m trying to imagine Garrison Keillor speaking even slower than he already does.
“Well, it’s been a quiet week in Lake Wobegon, my hometown.” (Inhales deeply, holds it.) “Down at the Sidetrack Tap, Ole Olson was … uh … was … wow, do you ever really look at your hands?”
I used to be a serious Keillor fan. In the era before the Internet and podcasts, I used to set a timer to record his Saturday show if I wasn’t able to listen live. But as he burned through marriages and mistresses, I began to suspect his nice-guy persona was all an act.
And then reports began to circulate through the public radio community that, indeed, indicated he wasn’t nice after all. His newspaper column also became increasingly nasty. The sexual harassment scandal that eventually got him cashiered from Minnesota Public Radio seemed pretty minor in isolation, but it fit a pattern of questionable (or at least arrogant) behavior.
Come to think of it, if anyone could use a little weed to mellow out and relax, maybe it’s him. Someone get a bag of weed to the Chatterbox Cafe and run down to Ralph’s Pretty Good Grocery for Doritos and Twinkies.
P.S.: The Gandhi quote is baloney. According to the Quote Investigator website, it can be traced to a 1967 documentary called “The Italians,” but that didn’t air until 29 years after Gandhi died, and there’s no evidence linking it to Gandhi before then.
On Saturday, I learned that something in Southwestern Ohio hates me (besides Trump voters, hey-yo!).
Dayton Hamvention is held at the Greene County Fair Grounds in Xenia, Ohio, and a windstorm came up Saturday afternoon. Suddenly my nose started running and I couldn’t stop sneezing. It’s been like that for about 48 hours, although over-the-counter antihistamines are helping. (I did test for COVID-19, just in case, but I’m negative.)
What else happened during the big weekend besides sneezing and wheezing? My big purchase was an Internet radio — meaning a radio set up specifically to easily tune in Internet streams.
I’ve been skeptical of stand-alone Internet radios. For one thing, I doubted they were easy to use. For another, I doubted they really had access to a wide range of stations. And finally, as someone who really loves AM and FM radio, it seemed like cheating.
It seems odd for me to have those prejudices, considering I help run an Internet radio station, but my feeling was, it was easy to tune in Internet radio on a phone or laptop — who needs a special device?
A reminder that due to a scheduled power outage on the Carnegie Mellon University campus, today’s show is only on Tube City Online Radio. If y0u have a smart device such as an Amazon Echo, say “Play Tube City Online Radio,” or point your browser to www.tubecityonline.com/radio.
Today’s show is coming to you from Dayton Hamvention in Xenia, Ohio. It’s one of the largest conventions in the world for radio hobbyists, and we’ll be talking to people from Texas, Germany, Canada … and one guy from Greensburg, Pa. (No phone calls, though. We’re transcribed for release at this more convenient time.)
It’s all of Pittsburgh’s favorite oldies, plus news, sports and weather.
The experience that turned me into a radio ne’er-do-well happened when I was about 7 years old. Sony Walkmans were the hottest electronics item anyone could have. For my birthday, my grandparents … didn’t get me one. (A real Walkman wouldn’t have been an appropriate gift for a 7 year old anyway.)
Instead, they got me a tiny AM radio disguised as a Walkman, complete with headphones. My grandmother probably got it from Murphy’s Mart or Woolworth for $10 or $15.
I say it was probably from one of those stores, because if I remember correctly, it didn’t even have a brand-name. If it did, it was something like “Randix” or “Yorx.” (Amazon didn’t invent the practice of making up brand names from random combination of letters.)
The first night I had the radio, I tuned around the dial and to my astonishment, picked up CKLW in Windsor, Ontario. A radio that could tune Canada! From Pittsburgh! Then, I picked up KMOX in St. Louis! Another miracle! And WLS in Chicago!
This week, I’ll be headed to Dayton, Ohio — actually, Xenia, a little bit to the southeast — for the annual Dayton Hamvention, billed as the world’s largest gathering of amateur radio operators, or “hams.”
(My show this Saturday will be produced and broadcast from Hamvention, and I’ll be talking to some people at the convention. However, this week’s show will only be on Tube City Online Radio, because WRCT will be off the air due to a scheduled power outage on the Carnegie Mellon University campus. Plan your Saturday afternoon accordingly, ha ha.)
A lot of people think that “amateur radio” is what I do on Saturdays, but “ham radio” is not broadcasting — it’s transmitting messages from point-to-point, or from one person (or group of people) to another.
In fact, there are special frequencies set aside for amateur radio, and a license is required to use them. People with an amateur radio license are specifically prohibited from using those frequencies for “broadcasting” to the general public. (There’s nothing to stop you from listening to those transmissions, of course, but the person sending messages on those frequencies is not supposed to be sending them primarily for amusement or entertainment.)
Beware of pink-slime news — it’s creeping into Pittsburgh and all over the country. (Spoiler alert: It’s probably already in your neighborhood)
A brief show note: This week’s show is live. Next week’s show will be partially pre-recorded from beautiful Dayton, Ohio, where I’ll be attending the annual Hamvention, one of the world’s largest amateur radio gatherings. (Or as my brother calls it, “the nerd convention.”)
I know a few people have been worried that the ongoing writers’ strike might affect my show, but if you’ve listened to my show even once, you know that no one is writing any of that crap.
As they used to say, “Check your local listings for times and stations.”
Or don’t. Try to find “local listings” any more. For that matter, try to find a newspaper. When the McKeesport Daily News closed at the end of 2015, it must have taken me two months before I no longer had the urge to stop at the store on the way home from work to buy a paper.
As you can see from the collection/archive/fire hazard above, although I worked for that newspaper for less than a year, it played a big role in my life.
I’ve had exchanges recently online with people who absolutely will not pay for news. They’re actually offended when someone posts a link to any publication that has a paywall: “Please don’t link to The Washington Post, I choose not to pay for content.”
It’s an odd flex. Try that with any other business and see how far you get. “I choose not to pay for plumbing repairs.” Well, enjoy wading neck-deep in feces.