Thursday, March 23, 2023

I Was a DJ for a Day...

 Kuš! Radio

"I am a D.J., I am what I play..." 
(With respects to David Bowie)
I was a radio D.J. for one afternoon in February, in fact on Valentine's Day no less. How does one go from underworked and obscure comix art/writer/actor/whatever to rocking a live broadcast over the interwebs to an audience of dozen(s) with no training or experience? As it is so often in this world, you got to know somebody, and in this case, that somebody was Kuš! Komikss honcho David Schilter. He messaged with a question, "Hal, have you ever done Radio?" and the details were hashed out from there. Seems that one of the resident artists visiting in January, Anu Ambasna has a radio show on NTS Radio in Britain and needed access to a recording studio to produce her show while in Riga. This led to the idea of creating a pop-up studio, so why not get more comix artists to do some shows while all the equipment was set-up? And that is how Kuš! Radio was born!
Michael holding the tech together while I run my mouth
All of this was only possible because of the technical expertise of Michael Holland, who is also a radio DJ on a NTS show called "Onotelsa", also the name of his indie record label. Michael is one of those laid-back cats that just made everything so simple and easy, that even a completely clueless radio newbie like myself was able to produce something that sounded coherent even on a live broadcast. Michael's constant encouragement and steady streams of "yeah, yeah"s' put me in the right flow to chat in between blocks of music and my hour time slot flew by too quickly!

All of the Kuš! Radio shows have been archived on Sound Cloud and there is not a dud in the lot, so check them all out.
Here is my show and I'll put the playlist underneath with a few notes about my choices.

"On a Coconut Island" - Louis Armstrong

I named my show after this tune as it paints a lovely picture of a tranquil dream world of spiced winds and bottomless Tiki drinks. Plus it's Louis Armstrong which is always the correct choice.

"I Want You To Be My Baby" - The Royals
This was a Valentine's Day pick that I first heard on an overnight show off WWOZ the New Orleans public jazz station. I love the lyric, "If you're gonna be my baby, then act like my baby and do it now! UH!"

"Basic Hip" - Del Close & John Brent - The Beat Generation, Volume 1
Just a fun rap. I think the world is forgetting about being "hip" and this needs to be corrected.

"True Love Will Find In The End" - Daniel Johnston
I'm late to knowing about Daniel Johnston, but it only took one listen to this song for it to become an instant classic in my heart. This section always brings a tear to my eye when I think about all the lonely people who won't or can't step into the light.

"True love will find you in the end

This is a promise with a catch

Only if you're looking can it find you

'Cause true love is searching too

But how can it recognize you

If you don't step out into the light, the light"

"Garter Belt" - John Lurie - Down By Law Soundtrack
Love this soundtrack and movie and the world it portrays. Another V-day pick for the darker side of romance.

"1983... (A Merman I Should Turn to Be)" - Jimi Hendrix - Electric Ladyland
The centerpiece of my show. An epic psychedelic masterpiece that is like listening to a Heavy Metal (the French SF comics magazine) story of a dystopian future where humankind has to flee into the sea because the surface is destroyed from pollution and war. But that would never happen, right!? The song runs 13 minutes, 25 seconds and Michael encouraged me to talk over it or cut it short, but I think it's a song that doesn't get enough attention because it's too long, so I rolled it out in its entirety. Weirdly romantic enough to also fit the V-day vibe.

"We Want You To Click Play" - Uglyography
Uglyography is a Norfolk, Virginia based two-man band and one of my dear friends, Sam McDonald is one of those two guys. I picked this because of the "Surf's Up!" lyric which connected to Coconut Island in my mind and that it's a bouncy, poppy tune. Full disclosure, I created a music video for another cut off this album, "Evil Rays" and you can check that out on my Vimeo page.

"16:53 This World" - Neil Bruce (Light B4 Sound) - 11:53 Album
A bit of electronica to balance out the pop of the last tune and this one is also created by my pal Neil Bruce. Yes, I am dedicated to shamelessly promoting my friends creative projects and it's all the easier when they make such beautiful stuff as Neil does here. Check out the whole album on his Bandcamp page and buy it if you really dig it! Neil's website.

Deep in the heart of Kuš! Radio

"Yip Roc Heresy" - Slim Galliard
My old (as in, we have been friends for 40 years) amigo Michael "WingDing" Wingfield first hipped me to Slim Galliard and this tune when he put it on a mixtape, like physical cassette tape (you young folk will just have to google it) he made while DJ-ing at a Berlin radio station back in the 90s. I love this tune because it's so silly and DADA, which is where WingDing and I like to meet.

"Uncool" - Del Close & John Brent - The Beat Generation, Volume 1
For those folks who needed the "Basic Hip" lesson, more helpful advice to be less square...

"Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" - Cannonball Adderley Quintet
A song that warms my heart and is a hug for this old, tired, beat-up world and all the suffering people clinging to it. Put on repeat until the bad thoughts quiet down.

"All the World is Green" - Tom Waits
"I fell into the ocean and you became my wife." Is the opening line to this sleepy love ballad by my favorite singer-songwriter and man of mystery and old hats, Tom Waits. I dedicated this song to my wife Ieva during the show and explained that first lyric also can serve as a super mini-autobio for how I wound up living in Latvia. Good tune for a slow dance.

"California Dreaming" - Lee Moses
Best fucking version of this song that has ever or will ever be recorded. Period.

"Here at the End of the World" - Alex McMurray
Alex McMurray is a New Orleans fixture who first came to my attention when he was part of a band called Royal Fingerbowl about twenty odd years ago. It is easy to draw a direct line from the Beats, through Tom Waits to Alex McMurray and this is a very good thing. McMurray has IT whatever that special sauce is to stand in the light of the crack in the universe and share what he finds there with the rest of us and we are all better for his words and music. This song is a comfort on the bad news days and now it feels like they are all bad news days or maybe, "bad news" or "worse news" days. For my ear, he perfectly captures the mood of our time as we collectively "listen for the terror through the wall" as Allen Ginsberg presciently wrote decades ago in "HOWL". So let's...

take our shoes off and dance real slow
while we wait for the fireworks show

"People" - Lord Buckley
Lord Buckley because he is still cool, always will be cool and it is because of his eloquent and compassionate spirit for sharing his gift with us people. Blow Daddy, blow... 


  1. Awesome, thanks for the plug. When's the next show?

    1. You are welcome! No plans yet, but I enjoyed the process so much that I might roll one on my own. I will keep you posted!