Center of Moscow seen through the axis of Lenin Prospect, from the Kosygin Street overpass, southwest quarter of city. September 2010.
Center of Moscow seen through the axis of Lenin Prospect, from the Kosygin Street overpass, southwest quarter of city. May 2000.

*apologies to David Bowie

Slap the Stax of Wax!

Korat RTAFB, AFTN Central, 1974 B.D. (before dyssentary)
Korat RTAFB, AFTN Central
1974 B.D. (before dyssentary).  And, yes, the mandatory, “Angry Young Man” face. 

Recently, an acquaintance remarked with amazement at the great wit, depth, and ingenuity of those producing fresh art daily  Those who choose to toss themselves into the highly-demanding regimen of daily art– column, political cartoon, “funnies-page” cartoon, TV host, radio host, blogger and more– are models of courage and presence of mind.

For some, the spring runs dry or simple fatigue sets in.   When that happens, the best– like Bill Watterson (Calvin & Hobbes), and Gary Larson (The Far Side) have the integrity to quit, rather than produce pablum for a paycheck with disregard for the audience.

Yes, daily creators are in my pantheon.  That’s because I experienced the demands of their regimen and could not handle those demands even when young.

In retrospect, one of my early episodes of OCD and depression (though of course in those days I had no way of recognizing them) was caused by this regimen.

While serving in Thailand as an American Forces Network announcer, the format I chose for my radio time was esoteric and eclectic.  That is, the format comprised what then was called variously “Progressive Rock” (beware different contemporary meaning), “AOR, (album-oriented rock), or simply “FM”.  It demanded fresh material daily.

There were deepening anxiety, daily dread of going on duty.  This largely was because of the oppression of the daily, demanding quest for fresh material.  Then– if the quest was successful– there was the anxious burden of obsessively-seeking the perfect arrangement of the material.  And all this activity was time-consuming, extending my duty-day, cascading into more dread and anxiety.

Comrades with arched eyebrows, I learned to tell them, “Every moment of my air-time is scripted”  Their quizzical and bemused expressions in response, only in retrospect make sense.

That air-time, its length, also was a big (pardon the pun) part of the problem.  My air-spot was midnight-fifteen until three a.m.  This was, by far, the lengthiest block of “live” airtime on the network’s clock.  Of course, this length just increasingly drained me.

However, “The Customer Is Always Right!” rescued me.  Word came down from command my show was unpopular.

Notwithstanding a full-colonel, a night owl, had complimented me on my show.  We had been face-to-face in his office.  He had smiled as he expressed his enjoyment.

Nevertheless, Befehl ist Befehl.  A broader, more-accessible format (read, “Top 40”, “pop-music”) was imperative.

After that, every night, it was simply stroll into the station just minutes before air-time, glance at the latest “Hot 100” from Billboard, pull from the library enough of that material to fill two and three-quarters hours (a relatively quick-and-easy task), march into the studio, reach for the turntables, slap the stax of wax, and away we go!  My duty day relatively a brief breeze of ease!

“Relax, no worries, Bro’!”