|A Piece Of CROOKED LITTLE VEIN
||[Jun. 20th, 2007|05:39 pm]
I found that I had to kind of limbo into my car, leaning back and almost heaving my hideous genital weight in ahead of me.
With the car door shut and my scrotum on my lap, I sighed, switched the car radio on, and settled down to wait for Trix. Looking at my watch. Looking out the window. Wondering exactly how long it took to inflate a woman’s labia until they passed as gonads. Minutes crawled.
Pressing buttons at random found me something that sweetly declared itself to be “Ohio’s Liberal Voice,” but what followed appeared to be nothing but a recording of someone screaming at a very high pitch for a very long time.
I stabbed the deck some more, cycling through a soft-rock station, some weird broadcast of a woman doing nothing but reading numbers very slowly, and what I guessed was a local church channel. A man was explaining in a very loud voice, as if speaking to a child, that everyone in California likes anal sex. “I like churches. They like anal sex. I like families and children. They like having abortions. No, it’s true. They are all secular Jews who hate Jesus and America. And they call me a Nazi when I say this. But let me say this. Hitler was always very respectful of the church. And he hated cigarettes.”
A presenter’s voice came in to tell me that I’d been listening to Proinsias Kernahan, president of the Catholic League, and to ask me to wait until after these messages to hear the rest of the evening news. Dear God, but it was time for a cigarette. I punched the search button again, fished out a half-crushed pack of Dunhills and lit up with relief. The radio scanned around a bit and landed on something that sounded oddly amateur. Listening and smoking, I came to understand it was a micropower radio station. A couple of kids broadcasting out of a back room somewhere. And somewhere close by, too. The kids, only one of whom sounded hopelessly stoned, explained that their signal didn’t reach more than a couple of miles, and only that if the wind was behind it and you were standing downhill with your arms out and a wire coathanger stuck on top of your head.
The unstoned one was pretty smart. In between the music – which apparently was all by local unsigned bands, and some of it wasn’t bad – he talked about what they were doing and why. By playing local indie music, they were both supporting his community and broadcasting donated content that didn’t require a royalty payment. They weren’t, they insisted, pirates. They were even observing band adjacency, he said – this one, the guy who hadn’t smoked a field of weed, was obviously the Head Geek – broadcasting on 94.2, clear space between two “lite”/soft rock channels. And that was the point, he figured – most of Columbus’ dial was all eaten up by soft rock, country and Christian radio. All the major monolithic radio entities ran stations in Colombus, but they all broadcast exactly the same kind of material. They all had a Christian station, they all had anaesthetic adult easy-listening rock stations playing the kinds of records we used to lift out of our parents’ collections and use as ashtrays when I was a kid.
It suddenly occurred to me: I didn’t remember the last time I went to a gig. Couldn’t remember the last time I heard live music. Or went to a club to hear a DJ.
They played something by another local group, that had the real thump and clang of live music. The drummer started up on the toms, and collapsed into a glorious mess that sounded like he'd kicked the drumkit down a flight of stairs. The bass walked in and made the back of the car rattle. The lead guitarist went screaming down the strings and I laughed out loud, it sounded so good. And then there was a fuckload of static, ten seconds of silence, and a fight. Someone had entered their makeshift recording studio, and one of the kids, probably the smart one, had put the microphone back on.
"We are the FCC," a loud voice proclaimed. "Take off your clothes and put these orange jumpsuits on."
"The fuck?" said Herb Boy.
"Pirate radio operations have been reclassified as Broadcast Terrorism. You're going to be wearing dogs in your asses at Abu Ghraib for the next five years, you dirty bastards."
"This is community radio!"
"If we wanted communities, we'd make Clear Channel pay us to run them. Put on the hoods too. No more devil music for you, radio bin Laden."
(c) Warren Ellis 2007 All Rights Reserved. This is a chapter from CROOKED LITTLE VEIN, published in hardback by William Morrow in the United States July 24 2007.