Tuesday, May 15, 2007

It's a sound salvation

tuck jump on the trampoline

Mr. Librarian listens to me-yew-zik in the car. Music. On the radio! The college station! How the hell he stumbled upon that I have no idea.

Here it is: neither of our cars has a CD player, and I think the Civic doesn't even have a tape player, so on the road, if we want a little diversion,
it's either radio or the voices inside our heads.

The car I usually drive, a green Subaru (apparently the automobile of choice for middle-aged lesbians - this I've been told twice by two wildly different people, so either someone's made a joke about it on cable or it really is true), is tuned to NPR. I got it tuned in once and there it will stay 'til we crash that car. I don't know how to program the little buttons, and I don't remember the frequency of the station, even though, when it's on, I'm sure they remind me every 15 minutes. See, that's why I don't listen to the college station - I cannot retain the station ident for more than five minutes.

Today, however, I was driving the Civic. We switch off: whichever one of us is going to work has to do it in the weapon of the oppressor, 'cause the Subaru has the carseats - hey and let me tell you (warn you), dosing a burrito with hot sauce while piloting a manual-transmission vehicle is kind of something that I have lost my talent for. Whee!

The radio was on, and since it was the college station, Wilco was playing, and then something by that yodeler from the Cranberries (uck), and I guess I really don't listen to music radio much, because when the announcer cut in I fully expected the voice of a DJ from Oh My God the so distant past. It was such a funny feeling - like if you took a bite of ice cream and it turned out to be mayonnaise. Damien Einstein was the voice I was expecting, he was on WHFS, our "alternative" station in the 80's.

And it occurred to me, I can remember the frequency of WHFS: 99.1. "Niney-nine wuon" Damien would say. Guy had a bit of a speech delay: I was always impressed with the station for valuing his encyclopedic music knowledge and discernment over what you have to imagine was their desire to have non-garbled DJs.

I can also remember where my college station was on the dial: 91.1. "Dobleyuh Arr U dobleyuh," so said Prince, the reggae DJ to whom I was apprenticed when I started there. "You gonna be grreat reggae DJ!" he would pronounce, in his big dance-hall voice, and then, "Put on dese rekkids - I'm-a gwine out to de halll-way to smoke a liddle reefah." I was not ever a great reggae DJ, not even after he made me interview Third World on the air. In my memory, there were like 13 guys in that band, all reeking of dope and patchouli and stuffed in the air booth, and I couldn't understand a got-damn word they said. I was a teenager from the suburbs and they were genuine Rastafarians from Kingston. Prince was out in the halll-way. Smokin a liddle reefah.

Nothing goes together like radio and driving, though. Music someone else is choosing sometimes produces these moments of serendipity: the right song in the right landscape at the right speed. By the way, the proper soundtrack for trying to get Taco Bell hot sauce on a burrito while steering with your knee and downshifting is "Pop Song 89".