Options Aerial View: Playlist from September 23, 2014 Options

Aerial View was WFMU’s first regularly-scheduled phone-in talk show. Hosted by Chris T. and on the air since 1989, the show features topical conversation, interviews and many trips down the rabbit hole. Until further notice, Aerial View is only available as a podcast, available every Tuesday morning. Subscribe to the newsletter “See You Next Tuesday!” and find tons of archives at aerialview.me. (Visit homepage.)

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Options September 23, 2014: Long-lost Friend Found At Last!

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Tonight: Long-lost friend FOUND at last!
We live in an age when - if you want - every second of your life can be documented. All smartphones shoot high-quality pictures and video. Social media provides constant updates on the lives of our friends and allows us to delve into our own history, if we choose. It wasn't that way when I was growing up. I have precious few pictures (and even fewer moving images) from my younger days. Unless your family included a shutterbug, pictures were only taken during significant events, holidays and vacation. I went looking for snaps of me from the age of thirteen to seventeen to accompany this newsletter and found just one I actually own, which I've used here before as the Obligatory Throwback Pic (it makes a return appearance in that spot, below).

Said picture of me with my Ibanez Les Paul copy (the big Christmas 1976 gift from my grandmother) was taken the year after I met Glenn Katz, my best friend in those undocumented years. Actually, those years weren't entirely undocumented. One of my other constant companions from those days was a Panasonic cassette recorder. Glenn and I used it constantly. Fans of Mad magazine, Monty Python, Saturday Night Live and comedy albums by Bill Cosby, Cheech & Chong, George Carlin and Pat Cooper, we'd write and perform our own skits into the Panasonic's crummy little condenser microphone. Getting together after school and on weekends, always at each other's houses, Glenn and I were thick as thieves. Then a scandal rocked his family and he moved to Florida in the late 70's. We lost track of each other. In the years since I've tried to find him on the internet but got nowhere. 

Then, a few weeks ago, Glenn's brother heard me on the radio during a rare moment when I used my full name. Glenn reached out via Facebook and we've been talking since. Tonight, Glenn joins me in the studio for an on-air reunion. We'll talk about the kids we were and the adults we became. Join in and tell us about the friends with whom you reunited after many years apart. Did it go well? Or horribly? Are you happy you did so? Or wishing you hadn't? What did you learn about your younger self? Was there anything you didn't remember? Call 201-209-WFMU, my long-lost friend!
Last Tuesday: Beat Your Children Well
My brothers and sisters and I, Oct. 1967.
Oct. 1967. L - R: Mario (RIP), Me, Diana, Joanie (RIP), Marc
Last week's show was about child abuse and child discipline. I asked "Do you hit your kids? Were you hit as a kid? Did you 'break the chain'? Did you 'turn out fine'?" As always, I was amazed at some of the calls that came in, especially one near the end from a woman who had been lashed nearly to death by her mother. Some playlist remarks:
  • Very strange because I had a dream last night that my father (who is no longer with us) raised his hand to me....which he never did in real life. May have something to do with the talk on the news and also the WTF interview with Dax Shepherd that I just listened to (he talks about his step father being abusive). 
    Anyway, I'm quite thankful that I was never hit, and would never hit my kids. Maybe it would get them to stop misbehaving in the short term, but the term consequences aren't worth it.
  • In the newsletter you asked if we had broken the cycle of beatings. i did - by not having children. my mother broke a broomstick over my brothers back and beat the crap out of the rest of us and i didn't want to go down that road, even if i thought i would be different.
  • I got hit just like u did Chris n it gave me PTSD. It is the worst corporal punishment. I DIDNT TURN OUT WELL. 3 suicide attemps etc. I swore then that I would never hit my kids no matter what and to this day 19 years later I haven't hit my kid.
  • I've had so many conversations with people who think that hitting is the only way you can discipline a child. If you don't hit you're kids you're negotiating with them. I find talking to children to be a lot more effective. Of course you have to talk to them before you're ticked off with them.
  • The only valid time to smack a kid is when they come within a centimeter of doing something REALLY dangerous. If they associate that sting w/ refrain BEFORE they burn their hand, it'll likely prevent that horrifying outcome from happening a week later, when you're not looking.
  • I wasn't hit as a child, but I was neglected and told over and over by my father that I was nothing but a waste of space, and that when I turn 18 I'm legally an adult and I'm on my own. Now I'm 36 and have little motivation or drive or interest in life. Just a black hole inside.
Next Tuesday: Lindenhurst in the rear view.
When my mother passed away in 2012 it was time to put her house (pictured above) on the market. Due to Hurricane Sandy and its location south of Montauk Highway, the house's value took a serious hit. Though it didn't suffer the damage houses even one block closer to the Great South Bay did, no serious offers came our way. With a reverse mortgage deadline breathing down our necks, my brother and sister and I grew increasingly worried we wouldn't find a buyer and the house would revert to whichever mortgage company held the paper (we lost track at the fifth such transaction) that week.

Good news: after lowering the price several times the house has finally sold. Closing day is this Thursday. My last trip out there took place yesterday. I wasn't prepared for the finality of it all and how it hit me. I brought my recorder to document the drive out there and my goodbye to 680 South 5th Street. Listen for it on next week's Aerial View and look for pictures in this newsletter.

Meanwhile, below is a story about one of my many visits home to Long Island.
(Yet Another) Trip To Long Island
Me, at Adventureland, Oct. 6, 1963.
This is from my journal and dated August 21, 1995.

I went out to Long Island this weekend, ostensibly to put the soft-top on the jeep (can't let the whole summer go by without one top-down ride), but also to see Mom and my sisters. Got up around 11:30 Saturday morning, much later than I wanted, and didn't get to Lindenhurst until 1 PM. Christ, I hate the Long Island Expressway.
Made it to Diana's house in time to get in the pool - one of those monster above-ground things. Swam around with my nieces and nephew. Kristen keeps splashing me, calling me names. Amanda is adorable and very polite. Matthew hates my guts, calling me "Poopy-head" and punching and kicking me. Joanie is in from Connecticut with her husband, Lee, and her son, my nephew Alex. The kid is very cute, lots of hair, repeats everything you say. They took him in the pool for his first time, put him in a miniature inner tube. He looked very curious.
Then it was time for spaghetti dinner and catching up. Joanie's making potpourri baskets to supplement her book-keeping job. Lee is a hot-shot computer programmer. Diana is an accountant with a Nature non-profit. Mom is going in for an angiogram next Friday and is very worried - there is blockage. I missed Kristen's birthday, back on August 4th. I told her I'd send her a tape, asked what kind of music she likes. She reels off TLC, Green Day, Weezer, etc., says she also reads alot, likes books by a certain author whose name I never did understand.
After dinner we take the kids to Adventureland, a tiny little amusement park in Farmingdale that opened the year I was born. On the way we pass landmarks from my early life: the Woolco (now a Key Food) where I had my first job, a nightclub (now a florist/headstone gallery) where I met the first women I ever slept with, the location of the last job I held before moving to NJ and too much more to list. So many ghosts.
Finally, Adventureland - which was my all-time favorite place to go as a kid. It used to be so quaint, so cool, a bunch of significant rides, an excellent merry-go-round, a train that ran around the periphery and a big restaurant. I can't tell you how much time I spent there, glad to be in a place devoted to fun and not much else. The new Adventureland is a little snazzier, better landscaping, more polished appearance, different rides, except for one or two hold-outs, but otherwise feels the same. My nieces and nephews go ballistic, head for the kiddie rides, spend the next hour and a half ringing the bell on the miniature boat ride, making the helicopters go up and down, riding the dragon's back, etc. I go on the rollercoaster with Lee. It's not bad, some cool twists and turns, then we try something called the "Surf Rider" and it's not bad either. Then we drop some serious coin in the arcade. Then we head home.
Mom is waiting at Diana's house, wants to play cards. She's eager to go, pissed off we took so long. We have seven or eight people around the big table, including two neighborhood friends of Diana's. We start playing three-card monte, which is not the three-card monte you're thinking of, but a cool game nonetheless. Everyone's having a good time, trading gossip, cracking jokes and so on. Except mom. She's getting angrier and angrier until you'd think you could boil a pot on her head. She wants to play cards and isn't interested in all the other bullshit going on.

My mother, simply put, comes off as the most angry woman that has ever existed. It's because she's an absolute control freak. She needs to rule her world and if she can't, she loses it completely. Which is what she did at the card table. She started yelling at my sister Joanie, telling her to shut the fuck up and play cards. Joanie sat and took it for a few minutes then told my mother to run her wrist under cold water and calm down or something. That was all my mother needed to hear. She got up from the table and delivered a few more choice expletives, then went into the bathroom and slammed the door. Joanie got up and stormed out, too. I said something about it being so good to be in the bosom of my family but it may have been ill-timed. Mom came back eventually but Joanie never did. We played for another hour then everyone went home. Before I left for my mother's house I called home for my messages. My ex has called, wanting to know if I'd like to go to a movie. What the fuck?
I slept in my old room. The sleep was fitful, uneven, haunted. I tossed and turned and in the morning was halfway on the floor. I had eggs at 11 AM, read the paper and tried to get Lee on the phone to help me with the Jeep soft-top. He'd gone to the beach with everyone else. I waited and waited and waited some more. I paced around the house, investigated the basement to see if anything from my childhood was still around. Nothing. Just must and dust. My Mom was in the living room reading, listening to the big band music station. I felt so sad to be in that house again and stuck. The car couldn't be moved because the top was half off in preparation for its complete removal. Lee and everyone else finally got back from the beach at 4:30. He came over right away and we had the job done by 6. I thanked him and went inside for a nice steak dinner.
Mom and Aunt Iz regaled me with the recent plots of Murder, She Wrote (she's extremely pissed they're moving the show to Thursday nights, thinks it's a conspiracy) and The Nanny and something called Pointman. I also discovered my mother and I can bond over The SImpsons, Roseanne and Seinfeld.

I finished the steak and was headed home by 7 pm. The LIE crawled at 20 MPH all the way. I wasn't back in Hoboken until 8:30. Maybe it's exhaustion from the long day and being with family but "They're all insane" is all I can think. I must lessen the already infrequent visits or lose my mind.
Chris T. News
Tammy Faye Starlite is NICO: UNDERGROUND.

Model, Actress, Musician, Muse, Warhol Superstar… Nico the legend returns for one night only to WFMU. Fresh from its triumphant month-long run at Theater For The New City, NICO: UNDERGROUND -  “The World’s First and Only Sturm und Drang Jukebox Musical”  - comes to Monty Hall Friday, October 17, at 8 PM. In his New York Times review, Charles Isherwood said, "In her remarkable — and howlingly funny — portrayal of Nico, the 1960s chanteuse and muse to musical greats of the time, the singer and performance artist Tammy Faye Starlite is both vividly present and somehow barely there. The loving resurrection of her peculiar personality alone makes for a funny, morbidly fascinating night of theater.” Join Chris T. of Aerial View as he interviews “Nico”… and hear songs from before, during and after her time with the Velvet Underground. Tickets are available now for $10 with all proceeds going to WFMU. It was a pleasure then.
Artist Track Year
Chris T. Mussorgsky   Waltz Of The Hours   Options 2010 

Listener comments!

Avatar Swag For Life Member Tue. 9/23/14 6:10pm dale:

my best friend ed and i used to sleep out in the tent most summer nights (and in the colony park wagon when it was raining) and used the radio shack cassette recorder mostly for belching contests.
  Tue. 9/23/14 6:17pm Listener 102365:

Hooked up with a buddy from 5th -6th grade via FB.
It went well, we were both going through scheiss zeiten & comiserated for a few months before he died in a car wreck.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Tue. 9/23/14 6:26pm dale:

i like the small talk up front - 'how was your trip? how is the weather down there?'
  Tue. 9/23/14 6:27pm Bella:

This is brave Chris. Glenn is even braver. I think most men are too proud to reconnect and it is scary for them to try. Doing it on air will help some guys get in touch again. I think it is easier for women.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Tue. 9/23/14 6:28pm Mike East:

the kids these days can make all kinds of cool audio/video stuff with the ipods and whatnot, but they're not gonna find that stuff in the attic in 20 years...more than likely it will all be lost.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Tue. 9/23/14 6:31pm dale:

HA! great sh*t!
Avatar Swag For Life Member Tue. 9/23/14 6:41pm dale:

  Tue. 9/23/14 6:43pm Bella:

Honesty=great radio. I love this.
  Tue. 9/23/14 6:47pm pilot:

good show chris t
Avatar Swag For Life Member Tue. 9/23/14 6:50pm dale:

i loved that kenny rogers commercial.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Tue. 9/23/14 6:51pm dale:

what was that folk song? - 'sing cockles and frockles, a-lai-a lai-oh.'
  Tue. 9/23/14 6:57pm Bella:

It is Molly Malone Dale. My kids always sing it in the car. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Molly_Malone
  Tue. 9/23/14 6:58pm Bella:

This was so good Chris!
Avatar Swag For Life Member Tue. 9/23/14 7:01pm cosmic matrix:

that was the best show ever. thanks guys!!!
Avatar Swag For Life Member Tue. 9/23/14 7:30pm dale:

thanx bella!
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