Sunday, August 02, 2009

Politics and radio and jazz at night, or...My stream of consciousness leads to the Savage Nation

Forgive what might become one of those stream of consciousness posts that my high school English teacher told me would be an acceptable way to write when writing didn't come easily. Those were the days before blogs though so I don't think the word "post" was mentioned in his advice. I'm out of beer and am easing into sleep with Mountain Dew instead. Here's to the sleep challenge ahead.

A bit bored with Facebook and Twitter and caught up on reading local blogs, I looked through my history of checked out library items that the library keeps for me and that I imagine someone in government keeps an eye on just because he can. I recently checked out Socialism Is Great! on a whim and am possibly flagged for life for that one. I returned it unread as I never got around to cracking that one open.

Another recent get was Hendrik Hertzberg's Politics: Observations and Arguments, 1966-2004. I'm liking this one a lot more than the similarly titled Politics: A Novel by Adam Thirlwell that I checked out three weeks before. Thumbing through the essays of Hertzberg tonight, I saw a reference to Michael Savage, a talk radio host who was profiled in the current issue of The New Yorker magazine. The magazine piece does a fair job (maybe moreso than necessary) of holding back judgment of his political rants and focuses on what it is that makes his show tick. I've only ever voted Democrat and have no use for the likes of Rush, Hannity and the rest of those guys, but there's something about Savage that draws me in as many nights as my free time will allow.

Simply put, I think it's just that intangible intimacy of radio. Add in that it's a show that is broadcast locally after dark and my nocturnal mood relishes in hearing a good radio performer work his magic. Of course, when he amps it up and yells and screams about evil Muslims and socialist democrats, I find better things to do with my time. (It's more the yelling than anything else that turns me off.) I tune in mainly to hear his stories of growing up in New York, of how he related to his father, and to hear him change gears when he grows weary of talking politics. Savage seems to have a great love for jazz and poetry and will spend much time analyzing the artistry of certain people he admires. It's moments like that that take me back to when I first discovered Larry King's radio show.

I'd lie in bed late at night and listen to Larry take calls from across the country. "Where are you calling from and why are you up?" he'd ask. It makes me wish Savage would drop the politics altogether and just ruminate and ramble. In the book that I picked up from the library, Hertzberg is listing the big right wing radio guys and says this about Michael Savage:
The worst of them, probably, is a truly wicked and depraved creature who uses the nom de diffusion "Michael Savage" and is based in San Francisco, of all places.
At first read, I thought it was a bit harsh, but remembering his more hateful moments on the radio, I can't disagree too much. It's just that there's a lot more to him than that sentence might suggest. I recommend the current magazine piece for anyone who's a bit curious.

That's all I've got. It's an hour past midnight and the wonderful "Jazz with Bob Parlocha" radio show has me ready to call it a night.

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