friends

#780: Radio Friends & Exes

GETTING MORE TALE #780: Radio Friends & Exes

I’ll always be grateful to radio for giving me a start.  I won’t rehash the whole story but I used to be a call-in contest winner and then became a semi-regular guest.  Radio is a lot of fun, though I don’t really listen to commercial stations anymore like the one that got my name out there originally.  (I still appear on Rob Daniels’ Visions in Sound, and I’ll be back there in December at the latest to talk about new Star Wars music.)   One thing that hasn’t changed is that I have met so many solid people through radio.

There’s Jolene the Jays fan, always raising money for good causes.  Or Greg, the contest winner who seems to have free tickets to offer to me all the time.  I met one of my best friends, Jay, through the radio.  He noticed I was talking about Transformers one day and next thing you knew, we were buddies.  And let’s not forget about Jamie, an old-school rocker who was writing articles for Access magazine under the tutelage of Keith Sharp back when I used to read it!  It used to be that we listened to the same radio station, but in 2019 I was honoured to be a guest at Jamie’s wedding.

I’m very happy and proud to have met such good people thanks to radio.  I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that radio stations and their personalities are often very active in the community.  They bring people with similar interests together, while making the city a better place.

Of course, like any platform, it’s not exclusively good people.  There have been some seriously weird fucks that I’ve come into contact with thanks to the airwaves.  Like Dean, the conspiracy theorizing anti-vax, bike-riding vegan.  Or amateur wrestler turned far-right radio mogul Raymond.  A few Proud Boys.  The usual assholes.

I have fresh wounds from another radio listener.  I never met him.  He moved out to Alberta for work.  He was one of those guys who would periodically have serious life problems and post them all over social media.  Then he’d disappear a while and come back a few months later.  His latest problems involved a workplace injury.  He needed antibiotics and was short $28.  He sent me a private message.

I thought about what my old man has said in the past.  “If you loan somebody money, consider it a gift because you’ll never get it back.”  And my dad is right; I’ve helped people out in the past and don’t usually get repaid.  Sometimes it’s because I said “Don’t worry about it, you need this more than I do.”  But usually it was just people stiffing me.

For whatever sympathetic reason, I sent the guy $30.  He even sent me a picture back of the medication to prove that’s what he spent it on.  I have no reason to disbelieve any of his story.  He asked me for money again a few weeks later, promising to pay back the original $30.  I said no that time.  Then he asked for $20 for bus tickets.  He caught me on a good day that time.  A few days later he needed $25; I sent him a final $30 and said this would be the last time I could help him out.  I left it unambiguous:  this is the last time I can help you out.  “Man I love you!” he responded.

One weekend in late September I heard frantic messages on my phone.  I checked and it was him, needing $44 urgently.  He was being evicted and was short $44 to rent a U-Haul van to move his stuff.  He sent screenshots of landlords that owed him money.  He sent screenshots of his bank balance in single digits.  He showed an angry message from a landlord explaining that he already had three days’ court-ordered notice to pick up his stuff, and it would all be taken to the dump on the weekend.  I was getting all these messages while my wife was recovering from a humiliating public epileptic seizure.  I told him that I was very sorry, but I could not help him.  The messages continued through the night as I was dealing with my own shit.  He was promising me $88 in return for $44, within 24 hours.

I sat there, thinking to myself.  On one side, I felt for the guy.  Assuming he was being honest with me, he had only a few hours to raise $44 and move his stuff in a U-Haul.  He was going to lose all his possessions that day.  I felt terrible for him.  I was already down $80 so what’s another $44?  On the other hand…is there nobody else he can ask for help?  Somebody who lives in the same province as him?  Somebody who’s actually met him in person?  Friends?  Family?  Not a stranger that he used to listen to on the radio?

Sunday afternoon my wife had another seizure.  I heard my phone dinging but I didn’t answer it.  I had bigger things on my mind.  Later that evening, I checked my messages.  His belongings had been taken to the dump.

“This is the point I’m done with social media,” the message began.  From that I gather he’d been asking other Facebook “friends” for money.  “Needed $44 to save thousands, got zero. Will be lucky to maintain an empty apartment on my wife’s money, my tools are gone so I can’t contribute.”  Guilt trip time?  I couldn’t believe this guy.  Why should Facebook, or me for that matter, be responsible for you?

“Likely never hear from me again. I’m out.”

This one I responded to.

“Likely never hear from you again…even though you owe me money?”

I felt terrible the whole time I wrote this, but it had to be said.

“I told you last time, I would not be able to help you again. I don’t even know you. We have never met face to face. And now you are guilting me and threatening to rip me off?

“I am sorry but at this point I have no choice but to block you. I will never see my money again, I know that, but I refuse to be guilted when I have already been so generous.

“I hope whatever your problems are, you sort them out, but I cannot have this in my life.”

Alternating between feeling the guilt that I said I wasn’t going to let myself feel, and wondering what the fuck this guy expected of a total stranger, I went on with my night and worrying about my own wife. But what did he expect? I gave him money three times before. Small amounts, but I knew I wasn’t going to be paid back, and I told him on the third time that was it. Did he think we were…actual friends? Because he knew my voice on the radio, and because I write about my life in public, did he think we were…friends? He also wrote things about his life, but I tried to stay out of that. He seemed to be having problems with his job, his wife, and his sexual identity and I wanted nothing to do with a stranger’s problems. I have plenty of my own, believe me.

I tried to be a good person. I feel like I was a good person three times, but had to draw a line somewhere. The day that my wife was in the hospital having a seizure seemed like the right time to draw that line.

As for lines? The bottom line is that I have made some amazing friends through the radio, and I wouldn’t change that, ever. But you always have to have your guard up for the problems that come with it.

REVIEW: Led Zeppelin – “Rock and Roll” / “Friends” (2018 RSD remix single)

Unreleased Led Zeppelin?!  You don’t say!

LED ZEPPELIN – “Rock and Roll” / “Friends” (2018 Atlantic Record Store Day single)

The hype for Record Store Day exclusives is as strong as ever, but most of these releases are just empty cash grabs.  Coloured vinyl reissues of this, that or the other thing…nothing will compete with a mint original.  Sometimes you’ll see vinyl releases for albums that used to be exclusive to CD, but rarely will you be able to buy exclusive music.

Led Zeppelin saw to it that your Record Store Day dollars did not go to waste.

And as if you thought Led Zeppelin had “cleared the vaults” of unreleased material!  Here’s two more unheard mixes.  These cannot be found on the Zeppelin deluxe editions.  If you’ve collected all those already, then prepare to add two more tracks to your collection.  This is a pretty clear indication that Jimmy Page is not finished dusting off old tapes to sell.

There are no liner notes to explain when these mixes were done or by whom, but “Rock and Roll” was mixed at Sunset Sound.  Alternate mixes are fun for a fresh sound on an old favourite.  You can hear different nuances.  “Rock and Roll” has a nice clear heavy sound and maybe a little more echo.  “Friends” (from Olympic Studios) has a harsher sound, with the percussion part prominent in the mix.  The old intro is trimmed off in favour of a clean start with the acoustic guitar.

The yellow vinyl is a gorgeous bonus.  Add it to your Zep treasure chest.

4/5 stars

 

Thanks to Mr. James for picking this up for me.  You are a true gentleman, with a creepy Facebook avatar.

Part 275: Catharis (Second Anniversary special)

MIKELADANOMikeladano.com celebrates its second anniversary today!  It started with Record Store Tales Part 1, and here we are at Part 275!  (That’s one tale every 2.65 days for the numbers-oriented out there.)  A huge THANK-YOU to everyone who’ve read my stuff; as David Lee Roth says, “It ain’t no fuckin’ good without an audience.”  I also need to thank those friends that read this stuff years ago and told me to keep writing — they know who they are.   And my family, but especially the lovely Mrs. LeBrain who lets me rock and roll all nite and part of every day.  I love you sweety.

Enjoy this Record Store Tale!

RECORD STORE TALES Part 275:  Catharsis

Sometimes when I hit these milestones, I like to reflect on where I’ve been and where I’m headed.  Two years ago when I began publishing the Record Store Tales I didn’t know if anyone would read it.  I was pleased to find that enough people enjoyed reading these stories that it was worth continuing.

I knew when I started posting these that eventually, inevitably, somebody from the old record store would find them.  I made the decision to write under my real name, not a pseudonym.  I anticipated that while some of my old friends would be entertained by these stories, some would not.  I took efforts to protect the identities of the characters in the story that are not portrayed in a positive light.

I did a “soft” launch of the site.  That is, I began publishing the stories one chapter at a time, but I kept it to myself and a close circle of friends.  The response was very positive and constructive.  While some friends urged me to “keep it short”, one of the most popular earlier stories was one of the longest.  Part 16: Traveling Man was the story of a long misadventure in Oakville Ontario, climaxed by an encounter with an unpleasant lawyer customer.  One friend told me the story was “fucking hilarious” and that he anticipated from the start that the guy in the story was a lawyer.   This feedback encouraged me to keep going for it.  I was fired up.

Then once I had enough content up to give people something substantial to read, I did my “official” launch via Facebook, Twitter and email.  It didn’t take long for the rain to hit my parade.  As I anticipated some people from the store didn’t like my stories, but Spoogecakes was the only one to publicly voice her disgust, way back in Part 35.5.  The funny thing about this was that I hadn’t planned on even mentioning Spoogecakes in my story, but then she went and wrote herself in.  Oh well.

I never could have done a white-washed version of the Record Store Tales.  I tried.  Seven or eight years ago I tried something called “Record Store-ies” (lame title, I know).  Some of the “Record Store-ies” got recycled into the old Klassic Kwotes, but it wasn’t the satisfying, cathartic experience that my soul had been craving.  After the Spoogecakes shit-storm, I approached a mentor of mine about the situation.  I asked him if I had been too negative in the past, if I should have toned it down.  His response to me was something I have taken to heart ever since.

“If you compromise your art in order to please a small minority of people no matter how vocal, you will ultimately end up with a piece of art that you don’t like.”

That was great advice.  My bottom line is always, “Do I like it?”  I’ve tried to maintain a balance.  There are stories about people with whom I conflicted, but there are also stories about things like me shitting my pants in the store.   And I didn’t give myself an alias for these stories!

This isn’t just storytelling to me.  This is catharsis.  While I was experiencing everything I experienced in the record store, good or bad, I held tight to one thought.  That thought was, “When this is all over, at least I will have a bunch of great stories to share.  If I can entertain just a few people with these stories then it’s all been worth it.”   Spoogecakes commented that there are “two sides to every story”.

That’s right.  And this is mine.