16 Days with No Music

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Sixteen days to go, that is — out of a total of 21. During the Three Weeks, we’re not supposed to listen to music…leading people like me to drive ourselves insane. This is about when I usually reach my breaking point. For a perpetual headphone-head like me, who likes to walk around with a soundtrack to everything, it’s hard to just give up my iTunes — let alone, the 15 CDs that I always carry around, because I am Old School like that.

sayid tries to find some talk radio

Finding something good to listen to during
the Three Weeks:
How not to get ‘Lost’

Here’s a few of the tricks I’ve worked up.

* The Lost Rewatch.
Listening to TV shows is fun! Especially when you’re in a forlorn cubicle and the only other sounds would be Manhattan commuters damning each other to eternal purgatory with their horns. Nothing beats a fight scene with no words — where, for 5 entire minutes, you hear a whiz, then a boom, then the sounds of someone clubbing someone else’s brains in. How do you know who won? If they’re still speaking at the end. The first four seasons are free to watch (or listen to) on the Lost website.

* Archive.org.
We can’t stop praising this site. Books, old radio shows, and even TV and Smashing Pumpkins concerts are all up here, for free. But we’re not concerned with any of that — not for another 16 days, anyway. The Naropa Poetry Institute just provided a massive portion of their archives, which includes Allen Ginsberg and Lawrence Ferlinghetti lecturing and reading poetry. And there’s also (ahem) a few Jewish spoken-word shows by me.

* Y-Love and Yuri Lane: Count It!
A couple years ago, the Orthodox hip-hop phenomenon Y-Love got together with beatboxer Yuri Lane to record an a capella album of hip-hop songs for Sefirah, the other period of time when Jews don’t listen to music. Who cares about the subject material? And who cares whether it’s totally, utterly straddling a halakhic line? It sounds great.

* Authors Talk about Cool Stuff
I can’t tell you why, but Neil Gaiman’s 7-minute speech from the PEN World Voices convention is really, really beautiful. Something to do with talking about the Chronicles of Narnia and not being able to go home again, I guess.

* AM Radio
I used to hate listening to talk radio. Everyone was either rabid right wing or rabid left wing. Even supposedly funny people like Rush Limbaugh, whose views I couldn’t take seriously from the start, stopped being funny when you started realizing how many people were listening to him, regarding him with UTTER SERIOUSNESS AND DEVOTION. I had a friend (uh, acquaintance) (actually, we almost got suspended for beating each other’s lights out) who literally took notes during Michael Savage.

It wasn’t until much later that I discovered the joy of AM radio. By far, my favorite was Coast to Coast with Art Bell, who invited every manner of supernatural nut, and a bunch of people who actually did know things, onto the show. He’d talk for hours about UFO abductions, telekinesis, paranormal phenomena and the Yeti — and every moment was a window into the life of someone I’d never have otherwise known about.

There are several other worthwhile non-musical radio shows that you have to check out — the two essentials are Car Talk and, of course, A Prairie Home Companion — both available free online, both new episodes and a 14-year archive.

Posted on July 13, 2009

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