Notes From The Den 5-5-08

Hey Den-ziens,

I love Chrysler's new ad campaign, "if you can dream it, we can build it". How about building the electric car then. I can dream it...I've even seen the reality of it (see my Pissed Off! commentary from two weeks ago).



My birthday show is this Saturday at Buddie's Tavern (277 Johnsons Ln., Parlin (Sayreville), NJ)!

That's right folks I am getting another year older, one year closer to my death (which is hopefully still many, MANY years away).

As always, the show is FREE, and we're starting early (the first act goes on at 8:30pm sharp), because this show is overloaded with rock and roll goodness.

Jim Testa will start the evening, and then be followed by Echofission, The Successful Failures, Mod Fun, and the Heshers.

So come on out and help me celebrate!


This week on New Music Tuesday I will be playing new music from Alexa Wilkinson, Spin, Portishead, Marina V, Nine Inch Nails, Jupiter Watts, Parlour Steps, HTR, Five A.M., aqnd at least one song from a new Helping Hands CD put out by Bootleg Magazine (full of local Wilimington, NC bands).


And speaking of Wilmington, NC, WE Fest is coming there memorial day weekend as it does every year. On May 22nd, I'll be broadcasting the WE Fest pre-show, spotlighting some of the many bands playing the 5 day festival. More info on WE Fest is at


And now it's time for this week's Pissed Off!

I just started reading a book about the early days of FM radio ("Radio Waves", by: Jim Ladd). it speaks of how free form radio started in the late 60's...and sadly ended in the 80's with the wider use of focus groups and format trends.

Reading about those early days, when DJs would play whatever they wanted and said whatever they wanted (well whatever they wanted to within the realm of FCC regulations, but they learned to bend those a little by using code for different words you otherwise couldn't say). A time when DJs were in control and were more then just disembodied voices telling you what you heard and why you should stick around for what is coming up on the other side of this break. There was social commentary, and a real feeling of community and bonding between audience and the DJ.

These days there is very little of that on the radio. On the rare occasions that I do listen to radio (the amount of CDs I get lately keeps me pretty busy, and I'm thankful for that), I find that even NPR music stations and college stations are becoming less about free format and free ideas, and more about just playing random songs with no rhyme or reason that they were probably told to play by a computer that spit out the playlist for them. I myself have been guilty at times with my show of just being the disembodied voice surrounded by arbitrary songs. I call those my bad days. Hopefully when you tune in though you hear me on a good day, discussing the songs and the artists I'm playing, talking about things going on in the world, and all the while having fun while hopefully bonding with you.

I spent years working as a part-time DJ for a commercial radio station, told what to play and what to say. I tried to bend the rules a bit and say things that weren't on the cue-cards, or play a song that I wasn't supposed to (is it so bad to want to play a different Led Zeppelin song than "Stairway to heaven"?), usually getting a phone call the next day from a disgruntled program director.

I finally threw in the towel at commercial radio when I got a phone call complaining a day after I changed a cue-card which falsely referred to Five For Fighting's album, "America town" (you know, the one with the mega hit, "superman"), as their debut album. It may have been their Aware/Columbia debut, but three years prior to it they (and yes I know FFF is just one person and therefore not really "they"), put out an album called "...message for Albert...", on EMI. So I modified the cue card to say their Aware/Columbia debut album, and instead of being told I did the right thing by showing that we as a station know enough about music to know that the band had more than one album, I got yelled at for modifying the cue card. That was when I realized I needed to be anywhere but a station that would rather knowingly pass on misinformation to it's listeners.

So this book I am reading reminded me of that and many other instances while I worked it commercial radio where I felt stifled and suffocated by the rules and restrictions. I spent over 5 years being a part-time DJ there, and while it wasn't all bad, I remember by my last year there feeling miserable driving up there, like I was going to the worst job on the planet. Here I was going somewhere to play music, the one thing I wanted to do with my life from the time I was very young, and I hated it. I've met a lot of commercial radio DJs over the years, and most of them are jaded, cynical, and hate their job. It shouldn't be that way.

I remember those 5 years, and how it slowly sucked my passion for music out of me...and now the 7 and a half years since that I've been doing (and just slightly less with Lazlo's Den), and how every day my fire burns anew. I hear a good album and I want the world to hear the music I love. I see a news story that I feel the need to talk about and I do on Lazlo's Den (and sometimes right here in the Pissed Off! column).

Here I am about to celebrate another birthday and I have the greatest gift of all...ok, the greatest gift of all is that my wife loves me and puts up with my hobby here...but right behind that, the greatest gift is the hobby itself and all of you who enjoy what I enjoy doing. After working a regular day job, I get to come home and play music and hopefully expose all of you to the music I love. Helping to create a little community, our own little "fuck you" to mainstream radio, because we know there is better music out there that mainstream radio won't play. Why? Because they're scarred that it doesn't fit into their market research and that unfamiliar music won't resonate with their target audience. Music that is different from whatever the current trend is is bad. Music that doesn't come out on a major label or with a built in audience isn't worth being played. That's bullshit. We know better.

Internet radio has become the new FM radio. Freedom to play what you want to play, and say what you want to say. Let's make sure it doesn't become corrupted and become what FM radio is now.

That's all for this week.

Thanks for reading.