DISPATCHES OCTOBER 2010

11-02-10

10-03-10 Seoul South Korea: 0558 hrs. A seven hour stop over. This will be a test. I started hours ago from Ha Noi, Viet Nam. I will be here for an eternity and then onto Tokyo and from there, to Los Angeles. As I write this, it’s 1400 hrs. PST, Saturday. The radio show is four hours away. I am about twenty-one hours out from landing in Los Angeles.


So, from Bhutan, I went to Viet Nam and was there almost all this week. I have never been to the north of the country before. The weather was humid beyond belief. Even walking at night had me sweating through shirts easily.


The streets were full of people. The city is getting ready to celebrate 1000 years of Viet Nam. Stages are being built, there were floats on the street last night, it’s all very festive. I have been to Viet Nam twice now. Both times were great and I hope I get to go back again. I want to go to the central region next time. I think there could be a lot to learn there.


I went to a few museums and did a lot of walking around on my own, as I like to do and all of that was cool but the most impactful thing I did was visit the Vietnam Friendship Village. You can read about it here: http://www.vietnamfriendship.org/. The place treats people who are suffering the effects of the defoliants dropped on the country by America in the last centuries. You have heard the term Agent Orange. Basically, it’s Tetrachlorodibenzodioxin. I can’t believe I just spelled that correctly from memory. There are some who will tell you that no one suffered from contact with the millions of gallons of this stuff that was dropped on Viet Nam, that the Vietnamese blame all their malformed children on the deployment of the defoliant in order to get aid. You can believe anything you want, I guess.


One of the ironies of the defoliant is that the people who came into contact with it initially had some bad reactions but it’s the children of these people who often get it much worse. When you see the images of children horribly twisted, that’s the next generation.


All this is now in the grandchildren. I met some of them at the Village. I was allowed to visit a few classrooms with children of varying abilities. American and European youth were there as volunteers, helping out with the kids, completely impressive. The kids were so great, happy to have someone come in to visit them.


Eventually, I met up with a small group of men who fought in the war, all of them are suffering from dioxin contamination. They were there for a multi-week treatment program. When they heard that someone wanted to hear their stories, they gathered around me and one by one, with the help of a translator, Mr. Kha, we talked to everyone there. All of them had children, between one and I think nine each. Many of the children were dead, brain damaged, missing limbs, eyes, etc. They were so friendly to me, so happy that someone wanted to know them and hear what they had to say.


I was there for quite a long time and then left and went back to my room to try and start processing it all.


I know that many of you have been to Viet Nam. I have never been anywhere like it and miss it already. The spirit of the people is incredible. Mr. Kha told me some stories of his experiences of the war that were mind blowing. He talked about how little all of them had to eat for so long that it made them strong in their minds. To hear him tell it was funny, inspiring and sad all at the same time. At one point, he motioned out of the window at all the people on the street and said they have no knowledge of what fighting spirit is all about. It’s that whole, “Back in my day . . . “ but he’s talking about a war that destroyed his country. Again, this is why you have to get a passport and go as far and as wide as you can. You’ll never see it all, hear it all, etc.


I was sitting in the airport back in Ha Noi hours ago and read a lame article on the West Memphis Three. The same stupid, poorly researched bilge. I got the same depressed feeling that often assaults me when I think of that case. It’s been with me for so long now. I felt so bad about it that I wrote Lorri Davis, wife of Damien Echols, one of the WM3. I told her how sick I was of this bullshit. She was in quite a different mood and said that things are looking very good and that she and her team are very excited. That makes me feel better. I wish I could have been around for the rally a few weeks ago.


So, what else. I will be leaving for New York City on Monday for a thing at Carnegie Hall on Tuesday. I will be moderating a panel including, Ricki Lee Jones, Daryll McDaniels of Run-D.M.C, Steven Adler, drummer of Guns N’ Roses and Ace Frehley of Kiss. All of them have been very successful and all of them have had chemical dependencies. I was asked to host the thing several weeks ago and said I would do it. I have only met Daryll, it should be an interesting evening. After that, one last talking show for the year in Milwaukee on Friday night and then back to LA to drop my gear and head to Tha K to do the radio show. I am hoping there will be some sleep in there somewhere.


The radio show is a loud one, the streets I did all the voice stuff on was filled with motorbikes. That should be on in a few hours. This is a pretty early posting, so be it. Until next week, thanks for reading this. Henry

 


10-10-10 LA CA: 1334 hrs. Back in the office. I got here yesterday, about twenty six hours ago. There’s always a momentary flush upon walking into the place. A feeling of having completed something. It’s over quickly.


Every single day since I last wrote you was busy. Last Monday, I got up very early and flew to New York City. Tuesday was studio work, voice overs for an upcoming UFC fight and then to the Zankel Hall for the Hall to moderate that panel that you perhaps saw promoted on the site. The four panelists were Ricki Lee Jones, Ace Frehley, Steven Adler and Darryl McDaniels of Run-DMC. It was my job to keep the conversation moving. The topic was addiction and what comes with it, what comes after and how they all dealt with their dependencies. The place was pretty full as I could tell and people were very interested in what the panelists had to say. It was interesting and all of the panelists, while different, were all compelling in their own way. They all performed, Ace and Ricki did music and Steven read from his autobiography and Darryl spoke briefly. They were all good but it was Ricki Lee Jones who was the standout performer. What a voice, what a talent. I would go see her live any time I could. There’s not a lot about the event that I can tell you that would make it remotely as interesting as actually being there. All of them spoke very honestly and with a healthy sense of humor. It was a good night. It was hard to hang in there at points with all the different time zones I was on but I was ok.


I went from NYC down to DC via train and met up with Ian. He had to move some furniture, so I came along for the ride and to help. It gave us a chance to catch up on things, always interesting to hear what’s happening with Ian. After picking up the furniture and dropping it off, we went to his place and hung out there for a little while and then he dropped me off at my hotel. I had meetings in the morning but caught up with Ian later in the day. We hung out until late and then he dropped me back at the hotel.

I went to Milwaukee the next day for the last show of the year. I spoke at the university. It was a good time and all but it was frustrating because it was only one show. I wish there was a tour bus outside of the venue and I was on my way to the next show later that night. The students were great to me and I am glad I had the chance to do the show but it made me miss tour quite a bit.


It was good top be back on the radio live, again another two hours that feel like one. I was jet lagging, having been up since 0300 hrs. PST but I thought the show went pretty well. It’s hard for me to read copy very well when I am tired, I can’t focus on the writing but at least the music was good.


I have been up since about 0400 hrs. I went to the office and started work on next week’s show and got it finished. It’s going to be a great one. I will work around here for awhile longer and then get some studying done. I am working on educating myself on a few things and want to put quite a bit of effort into it and have to start getting used to allotting more time to it.


I have been out and doing things for the last fifty-one weeks without much of a break and must admit now that it’s over for a little while, I am suffering from a bit of confusion as to what to do with myself. It’s not that there’s not plenty to do but all that movement and then stopping is always difficult for me.


I think I told you briefly about an old pal of mine who killed himself several days ago. While in DC, I went to the place he did it. I wanted to see what he was seeing and try to understand it all a little better. It didn’t help. I dedicated a few songs to him last night. I wish he could have figured out some other way to deal with things.


I try to get to Washington DC for at least a day every October. It was a great visit but it was over too fast and I wish I had another day or two there to walk around some. The weather was great and I wouldn’t mind a little more of it. LA is hot and dry, you would never know it’s October here. I have been listening to music all day. New Marnie Stern album is great. I had a large box of sonic hell from American Tapes waiting for me when I got to the office and am well into that now. Listening to Spykes at the moment. Jet lag makes things sound strange, not always in a good way. For me, it makes music sound pinched in the midrange. I was feeling it last night at KCRW. It’s a little better today.


Well, I can’t say that it’s great to be back but it is interesting to be back on earth, so to speak. Thanks for the kind letters about the radio show and otherwise. Next week’s radio show is going to be a great one, please tune in if you can. Thanks for reading this. Henry

 

 


10-17-10 LA CA: 0728 hrs. The darkness has faded into gray dawn outside my window. I am listening to an American Tapes release by Dead Machines called Life Recording 1. Usually, Sundays are a bit of a noise marathon at the office. I don’t know, it just makes sense.


Last night’s radio show was a good one musically. I was a little choppy in my delivery, I make it up as I go along in an attempt to keep it interesting. It was one of the faster shows we have ever done. All of a sudden, Liza had come in and was setting up to start her show and we were heading towards the door.


I have been back here for a week and a day now. I am starting to get some regular sleep. Can’t seem to stay down longer than five hours but that will even out at some point. It’s always a strange experience to be back from traveling. I tried to approximate what landing back on earth and finding myself in Los Angeles is like in the column I wrote for LA Weekly, you can find that in the news section of the site, titled LA Weekly Column #09.


Last week was meetings, a photo session for next year’s shows, voice over work, a lot of writing and work on future radio shows and the KCRW Halloween get down on the 30th. Engineer X is coming over this week to help me pro tool some parts together for the set at the Park Plaza.


The events in America over the last several days, campaigns, debates and advertisements on television has urged me to go back into Howard Zinn’s book The People’s History Of The United States. If you go to Amazon and read the reviews, it’s the one star opinions that are the most telling. They complain that the book is nothing but a long winded apology for American achievement and that it whines with anti-American sentiment. I don’t know if these people really read the book as I have and perhaps some of you. It does lay out some of America’s less than honorable moments in a very cogent and plainly stated manner. If some people can’t take the truth about Americans bashing in the skulls of other Americans over unions and slavery, then that’s for them to struggle with. I am quite happy to learn from mistakes, mine and anyone else’s. The reason I have been going back to certain chapters of the book and I have been doing this with some frequency over the last several weeks, is to look at class and race issues in America, labor issues and Civil Rights issues in the last century and the one before it. It wasn’t all that long ago that women were not allowed to vote in America. Not until 1920. There’s a lot to consider just from that. The role of women in American society has changed radically since Susan B. Anthony and Helen Keller so bravely and articulately stood up for the emancipation of women. I guess the thing that has been bugging me is that some candidates running in the November elections are against the minimum wage and against the idea of the government having any say in what a boss can pay an employee. I can understand someone being unhappy with their government having a say in what they can do in their own shop. On the other hand, there are some really greedy bustards out there who, without some rules, would treat their workers in a manner that is unacceptable. The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, one of my favorite New Deal era reforms, stopped child labor and instituted the minimum wage. When you read about the working conditions in some American factories at that time and the children with missing fingers and hands, you might think that bosses needed some rules and America needed to reconsider a few things about labor. Obviously, to the one star reviewers on Amazon’s site, this history is either untrue or unimportant. It is important to me, however. To think that America could backslide into an environment so dire, so miserable and unchecked is a less than joyful proposition. Some people who advocate for this free market ease of movement might not be happy with what they get, as good as it looks on paper. We’ll see what America sees fit to do in November.


Later in the week, I will be getting my left eye operated on. Old lens out, new lens in. Strange when you have to take your body to the shop. Should be an interesting day. I hope the doctor’s not high when it’s go time.

Next year, I will be turning fifty. Starting in February, I will be doing some shows to commemorate this occasion. So far, it looks like there will be five shows in New York City, one in Washington DC and five in Los Angeles. When we get the dates set, we will post venues and ticket availability. I am hoping to do about fifty shows in North America in the late winter and early spring but have to wait for some other things to slot in before I can go forward on that. I might not be able to get them done if other things present themselves. I am hoping to do it all, of course. 2012 will hopefully be the endless tour from the beginning of the year all the way through election day and hopefully beyond.


Yesterday, we did photos for the upcoming dates. I think you will find them funny. We will try to post something soon.


I will end this for now but will perhaps add something here later in the day, six or seven hours from now. Thanks for reading this. Henry

 

 

10-24-10 LA CA: 1619 hrs. Another week grinds to an end. Usually, Sunday . So far, I have listened to two American Tapes releases, AM 784 Residual Waste by Hatred and AM 770 Live Frying Various vol. 02. I am now checking out an Excepter CD called Steps: Live At La Sala Rosa. I listen to this band a lot. They have many streams on the internet for free download. There’s a ton of them. I was listening to #70 earlier today. The streams are cool, especially for the price but it’s their albums that I listen to the most. On the trip I just came back from, I was checking them out a lot. I don’t know if it’s everybody’s thing.


I did the lens switch out a few days ago. Left eye much clearer and getting better as the days go on. I thought the doctor was just getting his settings where he wanted them and all of a sudden, he said he was done.


I was reading Frank Rich’s column earlier http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/24/opinion/24rich.html where he made reference to a new documentary called Inside Job. It seemed interesting so I went to the site for the film and checked out the trailer. http://www.sonyclassics.com/insidejob/. Definitely going to see this one.


A few days ago, I went to the Drop In The Bucket Fundraiser. http://www.dropinthebucket.org/. I like this organization. They do amazing work in Africa, drilling wells for water and building septic systems in remote villages in Uganda and Sudan. It was the second fundraiser of theirs I have been to so far. Alyssa Milano was the keynote speaker this year. Also, Benson Deng spoke. Deng is the co-author of a book called They Poured Fire On Us From The Sky. http://www.amazon.com/They-Poured-Fire-Us-Sky/dp/1586483889. It was incredible to hear him speak about his life and some of what he has been through. Seeing how many people showed up and how into it they were was great. It makes you think that perhaps some good things can happen in the world. Of course they can, they do all the time but it’s sometimes hard to see the good stuff when there is so much bad stuff happening.


Last night’s radio show went off without too many hitches. The show will be archived on KCRW.com for a week if you want to check it out. It was one of my more favorite mixes of the last few weeks. I like them all but some seem to click more than others. I have been working on the one for next week today but so far, it’s not talking to me yet.


I read a lot of opinion on the firing of Juan Williams from NPR a few days ago. It’s not all that interesting a topic for me. NPR can fire who it wants. The thing that is interesting to me is the sideshow. What Fox News, who just signed Williams to a multi-year deal will do with Williams to further their own ends, what the GOP will make of NPR this coming week as America ramps up to an election. This is the stuff that will make for some interesting reading in the days upcoming. The Virginia Thomas thing has a lot more to reveal in my opinion. There has to be an element of timing to her phone call to Anita Hill. Could it be to head off potential turbulence when ex-Clarence Thomas girlfriend Lillian McEwen’s book comes out? There has to be something to it all. It’s not like Clarence Thomas is going to lose his job or anything and ultimately, it’s just distraction. I remember the Anita Hill hearings, that was some intense stuff. Interesting that all these years later, it’s back with us. Lots of things to check out as always.


Much later. I delayed sending this until I came back from the 2150 hrs. showing of Inside Job at the Landmark Theaters. I’m no critic but damn, that was an amazing piece of work. I was going to wait until later in the week to see this until I found out that Charles Ferguson, the same guy who made this, made No End In Sight. I don’t know how many times I watched that one. That being the case, I went to see it immediately. It was me and about six other people. What a great piece of work it was. I will be back to see it soon as I can, perhaps later in the week.


Next Saturday I will be doing the normal shift at KCRW and then heading down to the Park Plaza for my late night set. Engineer X and I put that one together a few days ago, I think it sounds great. Thanks for reading this. Henry

 

 

10-31-10 LA CA: 1258 hrs. Interesting week. Last night first. We did the radio show, which was a lot of fun. Nice calls and e-mails throughout, balancing all the hate mail that comes in. I went from the station back to the pad for a little while and then to the Park Plaza Hotel for the KCRW Halloween Masquerade thing. I was on at 0015 hrs. to 0115 hrs. I guess it went ok, people seemed to be having a good time with the songs I brought with me. I thought some of the sound byte stuff I put in between some of the songs were going to go over bigger but all the clips from Animal House, Caddy Shack and Life Of Brian seemed to be lost upon the majority of the celebrants. No one attacked me and only one guy threw something, so I will count it as a good night. I left through the throngs of costumed revelers and made it back here. There were a lot of very cool people at the event, it’s great to see that the station has so many good people checking it out. It sounds corny but I think it’s true, there is a real community spirit amongst the listeners at KCRW. It’s great to be a part of it.


Speaking of community spirit, the Sanity Rally in DC yesterday seemed like it would have been a lot of fun to be at. I didn’t think it would have been as populated as it was. I thought it would have been about what half the manbitch Glenn Beck was able to summon, with the millions of dollars it took to bus all those real Americans to the nation’s capital to take their country back. How ironic that the people who are taking their America away from them are the ones who gave them the ride to DC. The Stewart / Colbert was quite different and didn’t have to rely on all the posturing and histrionics of the manbitch honor rally. That the number of people at the Sanity Rally far outdrew the manbitch honor rally showed how small the tea party really is. What this will mean at the polls this Tuesday is to be seen.


Depending on what you read or hear at any given time of the day, predictions as to results seesaw back and forth. The results could very well could be what they call a “teaching moment” for the DNC. Perhaps it will make them see that they have to make some changes. Perhaps they will listen. It might actually prove to be a good thing for them up the road. If the Dems lose the House and John Boehner becomes majority speaker, it will be a very interesting two years indeed. Dems most certainly won’t like what they get but I wonder if some of Republicans might not be all that happy with things and if they are not, will they be able to admit it and seek to make changes. Sitting here two days out before the election, it’s all speculation. No matter what happens, Americans will wake up on Wednesday, still living in America and will have to collectively deal with what will be.


It all sounds pretty dire, right? That’s how the political landscape has fashioned itself in the last decade. Quite often, rational disagreements and discussion can only be found on the newly vilified NPR. It’s hilarious to me to hear people like Bill O’Reilly shriek about the evils of National Public Radio and then to actually listen to National Public Radio and quickly conclude that O’Reilly and his ilk don’t listen to National Public Radio.


It is the end of October and technically Halloween. I reckon all the big parties were last night. It’s strange to consider Halloween on a Sunday for some reason. Last night, I drove from downtown LA back up into Hollywood. All of the major streets were littered with people in costumes. Under the streetlights, it looked really intense at times. There was one man on Wilshire, right near the Wiltern Theater, trying to find a taxi. Every time a taxi with people in it would pass him, he would scream and hit his head with his fists. I guess he really needed that taxi. Even at 0200 hrs., people were all over the sidewalks.


Every Halloween, I always think of Halloween 1980 and 1981. The first one, I was at a Teen Idles show at the Chancery, I think it was and the next one, I was in Black Flag and we were playing at the Fillmore in San Francisco. It was quite a change on every level you can imagine.


This coming Tuesday is a big deal. If you can, vote. Who you vote for is none of my business. That you vote is my great concern. Democracy needs you. Until next week, thanks for reading this.

 

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