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.
"A man may die, nations may rise and fall, but an idea lives on." - John F. Kennedy
Every August since 2006 I travel to Dallas for work. Dallas is not my short list of favorite American cities, especially not Dallas in August, when it feels like someone has trained a hair dryer on your face anytime you venture outside.
When I do brave the face-melting temperatures outdoors, Invariably - without trying, without meaning to - I find myself at the Grassy Knoll. There it all is: the spot where Abraham Zapruder stood (on that structure erected as part of the WPA) and shot the world's most famous 8mm footage; the triple overpass; the stockade fence; the knoll and the Texas School Book Depository Building, which now houses the Sixth Floor Museum. As many times as I've investigated all of the above, the chills never leave my spine, even in the ninety to one hundred degree Dallas summer.
I've been fascinated by John F. Kennedy and his assassination for years now and have devoted many past Aerial View shows to the topic:
Miriam Linna of Norton Records joined me in 2013 to spin "Tragic Songs From The Grassy Knoll".
The other place I invariably find myself is in the company of musican and writer Josh Alan Friedman. Josh (son of writer Bruce Jay Friedman, brother of cartoonist Drew Friedman and photographer Kipp Friedman and half-brother of writer Molly Friedman) has written extensively about the exquisite sleaze, the low life, American music and his own history in many books, including Tales Of Time Square, I, Goldstein, Tell The Truth Until They Bleed (recently rereleased) and Black Cracker.
Though he grew up on Long Island and considers Manhattan is native prowling grounds, Josh moved to Dallas in 1987 for love and now splits his time between there and New York.
On my most recent trip to Dallas I decided to combine my two invariables and visit the Grassy Knoll with Josh. This Aerial View is a document of that visit. The conversation covers JFK, Jack Ruby (whom Josh wrote about for Hustler, an article that got reprinted many places, including WFMU's now-defunct Program Guide Lowest Common Denominator), the 1980's Texas Blues Explosion, good food, bad real estate development and much more.
Josh is the man you want showing you around Dallas because of his outsider perspective and his appreciation of the things that actually matter (like the original Sonny Bryan's Barbecue location, pictured above).
My thanks to Josh Alan Friedman for joining me on this Aerial View. I'll see you next August, Josh - unless we get together next time your up north.
As always, please leave comments on the playlist or in the Aerial View Facebook Group See You Next Tuesday!
The spot where Abraham Zapruder stood to film JFK's motorcade.
Sacrilege on the Grassy Knoll fence.
What follows is a small sampling of my burgeoning JFK collection, most of which I've gathered on trips to the flea market. The only item I actually sought out was the Dealey Plaza penholder, which I had to have once I saw it in an article on bizarre commemoratives.
I found these in my mother's attic after she died.
Last week'sAerial View Pod(iatry)cast was the second chapter of the Microcassette Project and it was a tough one, even for me. I debated whether or not I was being self-indulgent and I still can't answer fully. But I am reassured by this e-mail I received:
Hey Chris T - Im a broke 29 yr old guitar playing virgo with two cats and a hefty dose of the lonely blues who hasnt seen a woman in a couple years.
I appreciate you posting those hate ur job/life recordings, found them during an especially tough time..its nice to get someone elses prespective on that kind of situation. Its helped me a bit over these last couple weeks, so just wanted to say thanks. Will keep listening to your shows, and best of luck on your recovery.
And actually, i can tell you from experience that skinny guys get hemroids too, haha.
I have a dozen or more tapes to dub, so look for more of the Microcassette Project in the future.
“Hi. Did I wake you?
“Yes, but that’s okay. How are you?
“I’m good... how are you?
“Good, good. My father died two weeks ago."
“Oh. I’m sorry to hear that. What happened?"
“Do you want the long story or the short one?"
“I’ll give you the short one. I went home two weeks ago to visit and I found him. He had been dead a few days."
"That’s too bad. I’m sorry for you."
“Yeah. It was pretty bad."
“I can imagine. What happened?"
“What do you mean?"
“How did he die?
“Heart attack. He drank."
“Oh. Where was your mother?"
"Are you okay?"
“I was pretty upset when it happened. But I’m better now. It freaked me out but I’m at peace with it now. I mean, my father and I were okay with each other, pretty much. It wasn’t like there was a lot of unresolved things."
“Yeah. I’m at peace with it. What about you? What’s new with you? I thought you moved into your friend's attic."
“No. I’m still in the same place. I’ve been working at CBS, making good money."
“That’s good. I’m glad for you."
“I got the phone turned back on. I’m paying bills."
“So, you’re still at the same address? That’s why I was calling. I have to mail you something."
“What is it?"
“The $40 you gave me before I got on the bus ride from hell."
“Oh, Christopher - you don’t have to do that. That money was a gift."
“I want do do it. It’s symbolic for me."
“Symbolic of what?"
“That I’m getting out of debt."
“But it wasn’t a loan. It was a gift."
“So you prefer your symbolism to mine?"
“What do you mean?"
“You prefer to see it as a gift?
“I guess so, yeah."
“Because that would make it a parting gift. Like they have on gameshows. ‘Here’s $40, thanks for playing our game. Have a nice bus ride home!’"
“Gee, I guess you could see it that way. Thanks for helping me re-align my thinking."
“But you don’t really have to mail the money."
“But I want to."
“Why don’t you give it to someone who really needs it?"
“You can do that."
“So - what else is new? I really thought I was going to call and it would be the dog who died."
“No! Actually, he's really good! I got another dog, back on the Fourth of July. The old dog loves her. He’s like a puppy again. He’s running and jumping and playing like a puppy. All it took is some companionship. I shouldn’t have done it but..."
“Where did you get the dog?
“Someone couldn’t keep her. She was going to be abandoned. But there’s always room for one more mouth at the table."
“Unless that mouth is on a bus heading south..."
“Ha ha! Well, I meant doggie mouth."
“How’s the new studios?"
“Okay. Not finished."
“I can’t get the station anymore."
“That’s okay. You haven’t missed much. You wouldn’t have liked the last two weeks."
“I talked about you."
“Well, I have a policy that I just shut you off when you talk about me."
“You shut me off?"
“Because you shouldn’t be talking about me, Christopher."
“Why not? You’re part of my life."
“The fact that you’re not part of my life is part of my life."
“Uh oh - here comes the guilt trip."
“No, no guilt trip. I didn’t call you up to lay a guilt trip on you. I just called to get your address."
“Why did you think I moved?"
“Because you were talking about it."
“I’m not moving until I can buy a house."
“Okay. Listen, I’ve written you plenty of letters, thirteen by now, and I haven’t mailed any. I’ve called you a few times. I just never know what to say so I hang up."
“Well, you’re talking to me now."
“I know. And I still don’t know what to say. That’s probably why I talk about it on the radio."
“I think you just like using the phrase “My current ex-girlfriend'."
“It is a pretty good phrase. I don’t know what else describes you."
“I think you’re in love with your own genius."
“Shouldn’t we all be in love with our own genius?"
“Well, if you want to see it that way..."
“I suppose you’re not?"
“What do you think?"
“You’re probably not."
“I’m glad to hear you’re doing well."
“I miss you. I wish we could talk."
“That sounds like a great job you have."
“Yeah. It’s good. I can finally get out of debt."
"So here’s my address..."
“So you’re at the same address?"
“Okay. I’ll pop this in the mail..."
“You really don’t have to..."
“No, no. I want to."
“It was nice to hear from you."
“It was nice to talk to you."
Dallas, 2011: Behind the wooden fence for the "Grassy Knoll" shot.
AUDIOBOOM: Hear Aerial View and easily share it on social media here. Mobile apps are here.
ON DEMAND ARCHIVES: The Aerial View Archive page features archives going back to nearly the beginning of the show in RealAudio and MP3 format.ON THE WEB:Listen from the playlist page aeriaview.me.OVER THE AIR: Aerial View is currently off the airwaves of WFMU until further notice.PODCAST: Aerial View is available on iTunes as a podcast.