I’m sitting on my bed listening to a recording of my old radio show. My main one. “Dancing Barefoot.” It aired once a week on KZSC Santa Cruz from 8:30PM to 10:30PM. It began in June 2008 and ended in June 2010. Sometimes it was on a Tuesday night and sometimes it was on a Wednesday night. For about 10 weeks, it was on Tuesdays from 6:00AM to 9:00AM. It wasn’t a dance music show. It wasn’t a Patti Smith show. It was both. And neither. But there was still a formula. There definitely was.
The recording I’m listening to right now is dated May 11, 2010. The disc says “Part One.”
I just heard my 23-year-old self say the following:
“You’re listening to KZSC Santa Cruz! Under the moonlight! THE SERIOUS MOONLIGHT! MY SHOES ARE OFF! TAKE YOUR SHOES OFF, DANGNABBIT, AND DANCE!“
Then I played “Walkin’ on Sunshine” by Katrina and the Waves.
That was actually pretty cool to hear. To hear me. Me, being loud and bold and silly. Good for you, 23-year-old Steff.
Yoga is great. Walking is great. Running is great. Meditation is great. Fine wine is great. Hot baths are great. Chocolate-dipped Animal Fries are great. (I assume.) But there is no stress relief in this world quite as affective as hosting a fucking radio show. It’s absolute catharsis. It’s romantic exorcism. It’s energizing. It’s soothing. It’s stressful. It’s a fucked up Zen garden riddled with nerves and noise.
(“Planet Claire.” Good for you, 23-year-old Steff.)
I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who would rather blow off steam by drinking and screwing, and those activities do have their place. For me, though, there’s nothing like talking into a massive microphone, addressing an attentive-yet-invisible audience and challenging yourself to play a series of three (or four…) songs in a row that flow together perfectly…and end right at the exact moment you have to go on the air and give the Bat Time and the Bat Station…
You can’t ignore things when you’re hosting a music program. You can’t force yourself to forget things when you’re hosting a music program. You can’t move on to the next thing when you’re hosting a music program. You can (and have to) put on your best “I’m chipper! Let’s rock!” voice, but after you’ve hit “Play” on a certain song and there’s nothing for you to do but listen and wait, you are gonna sit and think about exactly what’s inspired you to put on that certain song. And it will be loud.
The air room. The motherfuckin’ KZSC air room.
This recording. It’s killing me. In a good way.
“Just Like Heaven.” I played “Just Like Heaven” by The Cure after making a brief announcement.
I am now sitting on my bed, at age 26, singing “Just Like Heaven.” When I was 13 (unless I was 12), I sat up in my bed rather late listening to this song on repeat (on a Discman, no less), deliberately memorizing the lyrics. And on May 11th 2010, 23-year-old me felt it necessary to play this song on the air.
Wow. I must have been in a serious 80’s mood the night of May 11th, 2010. I followed “Just Like Heaven” with “Love My Way” by The Psychedelic Furs.
“Love My Way” is on the first volume of The Wedding Singer soundtrack. Adam Sandler was my first love. By listening to the soundtrack to The Wedding Singer, I felt like I was somehow close to my beloved Adam. I was 10.
And now I’m 26. And I am singing my heart out to these songs alone in my room while listening to a recording of my 23-year-old self spin these synthesized love ballads for an attentive-yet-invisible audience. I had a slew of problems back then. I have a slew of problems now. I guess I also had problems when I was 13 and 10. What’s nice, though, is that sitting here in my bedroom listening to this recording is helping me remember that Stephanie Callas, regardless of age and life experience and whatever bullshit gets played on KROQ, has always been the same damn person. Will always BE the same damn person.
“Age of Consent” by New Order.
I wonder what I was thinking about the night of May 11th, 2010. Well, lemme take that back: I know exactly what I was thinking about that night. For the sake of time and not turning this post into a total downer, I’m gonna keep the secret to myself. Still, as I said a moment ago, Stephanie Callas is still Stephanie Callas. Still sorting through the same stuff. Still reflecting on stuff and healing from stuff and listening to New Order when necessary.
“I had a Patti Smith request. Someone wants to hear something off ‘Easter.’ So, here’s the first track off of that album. It’s The Patti Smith Group with ‘Till Victory.'”
You either like Patti Smith or you don’t.
I saw Patti Smith in San Francisco when I was 21. I had been in L.A. that weekend. I had to make it to S.F. by a certain time. I was driving a minivan and I got a speeding ticket somewhere outside Montecito. I made it to S.F. in time. The show was incredible and I was standing right against the stage and at one point Patti Smith sat down and held my hand and looked straight into my eyes. I mouthed “I love you.” It was during the interlude of her song…called “Dancing Barefoot.”
Again. You either like Patti Smith or you don’t. Because Patti Smith is never going to be exactly what you want her to be. And nothing upsets shitty people like disobedient women.
The disc is over. Maybe “May 11th 2010 Part Two” is somewhere in this CD case. The recording ended with “(Sittin) on the Dock of the Bay” by Otis Redding followed by “Oh! Sweet Nuthin” by The Velvet Underground. I think that transition encapsulates what I was always tryin’ to go for — unlikely harmony.