The Fade-Out

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(Pictured: Chip Monck in 1974. Not only is he cooler than you and has a better voice than you, he’s also better lookin’.)

It’s just seeds and stems today.

I’ve gotten some nice compliments recently on various blog posts and podcast episodes, and I appreciate each one of them greatly. When I started this blog in 2004 (!), I wondered whether it would be interesting to anyone other than me. The fact that other people like it still surprises me a little, even after 15 years.

Regarding the podcast, it’s on hiatus right now. The next episode will be posted sometime in the back half of October. The four episodes that have appeared so far are easily accessible right here. (They are also available at TuneIn and Stitcher; the first three are at Google Play but the latest one is not, but I have neither the time nor the inclination right now to pursue the reason why.)

Also going on hiatus until sometime in October is my radio career. I will be off the air because it’s travel time again, for my seasonal gig teaching SAT preparation classes. Barring an unexpected sending-up of the bat signal next Monday or Tuesday, my last day on Magic 98 is today from 3 til 7 Madison time. I don’t regularly write for the station’s website anymore, but I posted something there today about my weird-ass working life and my travel itinerary for the next month. Go and read it if you like.

Since there’s some of the customary word count left, on the flip are some links to stuff I can strongly recommend.

—If you are of a certain age, you probably remember the “Is it live or is it Memorex?” recording tape commercials starring Ella Fitzgerald. The fascinating story of how they came to be made and the different versions of them over a decade is here.

—The New Yorker profiled Linda Ronstadt in what is an enforced repose now: “Well, I lie down a lot because I’m disabled.” Rolling Stone interviewed her too, but all I could think as I read it was that they owe her an apology for the cringingly sexist pieces they published about her in the 70s.

—It’s been widely reported that the way songs are produced has changed because of the way people listen now. One of the production effects that’s vanishing is the fade-out.

—Every time I see the essence of Charles Schulz’ Peanuts stip boiled down to treacly motivational garbage (“happiness is a warm puppy”), I want to shout that Peanuts actually expresses a fairly grim view of life, leavening its essential darkness with as much humor as Charles Schulz could wring out of pain. For more about that, and to find out what the evolution of Peanuts has in common with the evolution of the Beatles, hit this.

—Something surprising about WXPN’s real-time rebroadcast of Woodstock last month was how compelling the stage announcements became after a while. I found myself wondering if the people looking for their companions in the crowd ever found them, if they got their medication or caught their ride or called their parents. Many of the announcements were delivered by Chip Monck, who was hired as the lighting designer for the show but was drafted to be stage announcer and became, 50 years later in a strange way, the show’s soul. His life story is wild, and even better if you imagine him telling it in that mellifluous voice.

—A lot of worthwhile Woodstock 50th anniversary stuff got lost because there was so much of it. This piece, on how the festival was reported at the time, was very good. I have dug into contemporary reports of a few rock festivals myself, and I have found similar patterns in reporting. Before the show: fear of what those damn hippies will do. During the show: oh the humanity, it’s a disaster. After the show: hey, it wasn’t so bad, and those kids were really nice.

—During the Woodstock observance, you may have come across mentions of Black Woodstock. Man, do we need the tapes of that.

—Recent podcast episodes I have enjoyed: Ken Levine with Jamie Farr of M*A*S*H; Leo Sidran with Donald Fagen and with his father, Ben Sidran, AKA the coolest man in Madison; and a 2018 edition of Gayest Episode Ever discussing a 1963 episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show that seems to contain a gay joke.

During my travels I will have plenty of downtime to write and post, although there won’t be much here for the next week. And now here I go.

2 responses

  1. Lots of great suggestions here, but…

    I tried reading that Chip Monck piece. It’s terrible. The guy deserves better. Whoever did the interview was embarrassingly ignorant. I made it past “Jimmy Hendrix” twice, but when I got to David (Stills), I had to give up.

    JB, you’re an excellent writer and know your history. Maybe YOU could write the Chip Monck book, or at least a much better article.

    1. Yeah, it had been a couple of weeks since I read the piece when I posted this, and I should have remembered that the kid who wrote it had done about five minutes of research (or his editor should be fired). The Monck story remains interesting, though.

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