I love this episode.
Over the past few years, I’ve poured my heart into various episodes and worked to make the ‘perfect score’ for numerous books and comics. I’ve had a moderate and small amount of success and people seem to dig what The Novel Sound sets out to do. But this one, as they say, is just for me, folks.
Brian K. Vaughn and Cliff Chiang have created some kind of wonderful with Paper Girls. Once upon a time in the mythical land known as the 1980’s, the suburbs were ruled by packs of seemingly feral children roving the streets on BMX bikes (ugh, who would dare ride a 10 speed) and armored in jean jackets and multi-colored Converse sneakers. Or Nike if you were of that persuasion. The point is that the youth ran wild. Most summers were spent traversing miles of pavement for Slurpees, slices of pizza, and coin operated video game machines. How I myself loved greasy pepperoni cups and pouring quarters into Gauntlet…I still hear the electric vibrato of “Warning: Don’t Shoot Food” while I, as an adult, grocery shop for organic free range Kale at Trader Joe’s. Times change.
And that is, in a weird way, exactly what Paper Girls plays with. Sure, its got time travel, its got giant microscopic monsters, its got witty banter, beautiful art, and bold colors, but its also got characters battling with who they are, who they were, and what they are going to become. It’s the struggle many of us face on daily basis complicated with actually walking around with those versions of ourselves and trusting that each one shares a similar desire to fix things. I mean, would a sixteen year old me work well with a 42 year old me and could I handle myself as a retiree? Frankly, I wouldn’t trust us to get out of a unlocked, unbuilt, garden shed without it coming to blows. If I had to escape homicidal future teens and time cops, I’d be quickly relegated to a foot note in history that got edited out for lack of anyone giving a shit.
But I digress.
Episode 92 is another great chance for me to play some tunes (popular and not) from the 1980’s. And, since technology plays such an important role in the book, I decided that I’d invent a radio station (WTNS – The Novel Sound) and put on another fake broadcast (you’ll remember I did it once before). This time I wanted to exorcise the zeitgeist and I, for better or worse, incorporate the voice of Mr. Mark Klee.
Mr. Mark was radio broadcast hero in Allentown, PA. He was irreverent, wild, and told rambling tales of such glorious nonsense, that his fans would sit through hours of Brian Eno, live Roxy Music, and John Cage, for a Terrible Parable or warped PSA warning listeners about dinosaurs, UFO’s, and police. For one semester at WMUH, Mr. Mark’s show came on immediately after mine and we would chat in short mumbled sentences. But I would sit in in the studio and listen to him twist, bend, and splice words into wonderful shapes. I’m sad that Mr. Mark is dead. As are those who knew him better and those who looked forward to his tales. It’s a terrible thing when our heroes pass.
I’d been playing with the idea of mashing in some Mr. Mark dialogue for ages, but never felt I had the right output and worried I’d be set on by people thinking I’d committed a great sacrilege. For this episode, I wanted to create an anachronism. I wanted this to be a 90 minute ‘lost recording’ from the spirit of a long extinct radio show. It needed to fit precisely on a 90 minute Maxell tape because that is what I have left of Mr. Mark…a few clips pulled off the radio in an effort to record him and not the sustained noise he loved to play. And the best way I could work with the present was to incorporate the past. I hope those who knew him forgive me for this.
Part of why I podcast is to share the music and books I love with people and bring a little bit of positive noise to the world. It’s how I chose to push back against the closed minds and daily barrage of negativity and sorrow. There are some who deal with hostility, shaming, and battles many of us can’t even begin to comprehend. To those people, each day is a struggle. And to those who need extra help or feel they may be losing that war…please take the time to reach out. Find a friend. Find a family member. And if you need more than they can provide, reach out to crisistextline.org or another such suicide prevention agency.
You are important.
Episode 92 is not only a homage to Paper Girls, but to the 1980’s as a whole and the radios that provided soundtracks for the kids who ran amok. The streets will never be the same.
Kim Wilde – Kids in America
Joe Jackson – Sunday Papers
The Clash – The Leader
The Go-Go’s – This Town
The B-52’s – Cosmic Thing
The Psychedelic Furs – Run and Run
Sonic Youth – Silver Rocket
Devo – Freedom of Choice
Concrete Blonde – God is a Bullet
Love and Rockets – Ball of Confusion
The Cure – A Strange Day
Husker Du – She Floated Away
The Lemonheads – Die Right Now
Cyndi Lauper – Money Changes Everything
Adam and the Ants – Friend or Foe
Morrissey – Suedehead
Siouxie and the Banshees – Peek A Boo
Joan Jett and the Blackhearts – Victim of Circumstance
Depeche Mode – Never Let Me Down Again
Elvis Costello – Waiting for the End of the World
Bauhaus – All We Ever Wanted Was Everything.