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for March 10, 2005

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[Inscrutable Links: John Peel Says "Hi". FM106.3 Staff List. FM106.3's 1988 playlist.]

Alternative or not Alternative: This is the Question.
by Stiffy Biceptz

Stiffy Biceptz has recently received a slew of emails from a number of members regarding the recent demise of Y100, some local alternative station that was just put to sleep by one of the giant radio hydras that owned it. Within these emails swirls a debate about what is Alternative (capital A), in terms music and in regards to particular radio stations. I’d like to add my wisdom to this discussion.
Many ordinaries have asked me over the years about what being Alternative meant. My flip response was always,”If you have to ask me, then I shouldn’t tell you.” My karmic (?) answer was always, “If you have to ask, then you’ll never understand”. No one cared much for either answer, but I meant what I said. Both answers are correct. I had to learn the hard way, why should it be easy for them? No way baby.
Cover your ears, and you will hear.
Close your eyes and you will see.
The alternative experience is all around us, always hidden from casual, convenient view. That has never changed, whether it was 1968, 1986 or right now. You must look for it, and filter out all the noise from the overload of ordinary sensory stimulation. You must wish to find it, or you’ll never see beyond your nose. You must be willing to see it, to hear it, or you will experience only static. A coin has two sides, but you will never experience the other side unless YOU flip it over. Get it?
Will you be served, or will you serve yourself?
Are you an individual first, or part of a group first?
Are you a Mets fan or a Yankees fan?
FM 106.3 was a perfect example of what was alternative in music and in radio. There was no business plan, no play list, and no consultants. There were people at the station, NOT DJ’s, PD’s or MD’s, regardless of what they or anyone else thought. All there was was a lot of feeling, and some sensually driven human beings. Throw in a couple of crazy owners, a few cats, and a studio that was about the size of a closet. And did I mention the people who were there?
FM106.3 was pure ART. That’s it. No formula, no real strategy, no formal, linear constructs or boundaries. And no money. And it was perfect. And it changed many lives in a way only art can. Why else would all of you still be moaning and groaning about it, almost 15 years after it died? It was alive, had a SOUL, and it died. And we mourn it. Get it?
And like loved ones who have passed, THEY will never, ever return. But some new incarnation of that spirit is waiting to be found. You will have to look in a brand new place, one that you never considered. And it won’t look the same or sound the same, so don’t expect it to. Get it? Hint: It‘s not commercial radio...Maybe college radio, maybe satellite, I don’t know. By continuing to MEASURE radio and music against the physical shape and form of the now dead ART, all you come up with is empty corpses that fit into the old shirt and pants. If it were just a formula, then someone would be doing it, right? Guess it must be something else...
If you are looking for the truly Alternative then you are looking for art. Feel first, think second. Listen for music, and look for things that were created that way. We live in a think first world, so it’s an uphill battle for everyone. Turn off you right brain for a little while. Forget about your ordinary, physical existence, money, time, politics, and just be human, just feel. It was a hell of a lot easier when we were in our twenties, with no careers, no spouses, no kids, and far fewer physical constraints, which dominate our middle aged lives now. But if you want the “good old days” to come back, then you have to realize it wasn’t the days, it was the “good old feelings”, and you can have them again if you relearn what you unconsciously learned 20 years ago.
Let go of yesterdays’ alternative; it ain’t alternative anymore. Find today’s.
I, Stiffy Biceptz can’t tell you where to look or feel, but I’ll know it when I find it.

©2005 Stiffy Biceptz

All material ©2001-2014 Sean Carolan, except as noted.


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