As an artist the multi-talented Prince has always marched to his own beat. Of the many unique and unprecedented things he has done in his long and illustrious career was two decades ago when he changed his name a newly created symbol. 1993 was when he officially changed his name to that unpronounceable symbol that was dubbed "Love Symbol #2" since it coincided with the copyrighted title/symbol of the Prince and The New Power Generation's 1992 album of the same name/symbol (the symbol was engraved into the actual CD case in gold on the outside and silver on the inside of case cover).
As well as being the work of a tirelessly creative mind it was also Prince's way of getting a dig in at his record label (Warner Brothers) who he made it well known he was quite unhappy with. Disgruntled with his contract and wanting to get out of it, he was further aggravated when he discovered that he could not do so. However when he realized he could contractually change his name, this he did as a sort of revenge act. Prince used that symbol, which was a combination the symbols for female (♀) and for male (♂), up until he finally got out of his Warner contract seven years later.
However the change from word to unheard of (and unpronounceable) symbol presented a headache for his label and a problem for many at the time including radio DJs, record store clerks, and journalists who did not have this unique character on their keyboard in their computer. Hence his label's publicity department sent out floppy disks (like the one pictured below) with a custom font of the unique symbol attached. However most journalists ignored using it altogether as it was troublesome for use in most computers at the time. Instead they called it "Love Symbol" or "Love Symbol #2" - as in the 1992 album that the symbol first appeared on.
As New York City slowly pulls itself up by its bootstraps in the wake of Hurricane Sandy and the swath of devastation it spread all over the five boroughs, bringing this normally bustling city "that never sleeps" to a grinding halt for an unprecedented period, it is difficult to report on fun, happy events in the Big Apple. Most New York City venues are still closed (or just now today, Wednesday, reopening) and a large percentage of scheduled NY concerts and events for this week have been canceled. For example, the big NYC Halloween Parade in the Village scheduled for this evening that I wrote about here last week. This is unheard of in the parade's four decade history. Similarly, this weekend's WFMU Record Fair (which happens in that same vicinity of downtown Manhattan) was also canceled (details below). Indeed it will take some time before the effects of the “storm of the century” that claimed lives, caused major destruction including destroying homes and businesses, shut down the subway, JFK and LaGuardiaairports, and the NY Stock Exchange (until this morning), and left millions without power, are behind us. Hence for this New York State of Mind Amoeblog I am going to do an overview of some of the impact of Sandy on NYC and a run down of some of the events that have been canceled or postponed as well as ones that are going ahead, along with some ways you can help (scroll down to end of text) plus some basic post Hurricane info and links related to NYC.
First up, check the YouTube clip below video-taped and uploaded Tuesday afternoon by the NY MTA (New York's Mass Transit Authority). It shows the devastation caused to two of the downtown Manhattan subway stations (Ferry Plaza and Whitehall Street - two of the seven subway stations with severe flooding) and will give you an idea of the intensity of the flooding caused by Sandy. While the NYC buses are back in service today, the subway system remains down and may not be back and running in full service for several days due to the damage caused by the salt water to the electrical system on the tracks. Additionally, all the water has to be pumped out of flooded stations like the ones in the video. However the MTA did announce that limited subway service would resume on November 1st at 6am but not below 34th Street or from Manhattan to Brooklyn.
Upon hearing the news earlier this week of the recent passing in Finland of Kim Brown of the incredibly talented and way underrated Birmingham, England formed garage rock or "freakbeat punk" rock band The Renegades (as seen in video above doing their raw & inspired version of Bill Haley & The Comets' "Thirteen Women" - which has long been a favorite of my man Evan "Funk" Davies on WFMU) I've been going back and listening to that wonderful 1960's North American rock subegenre, that borrowed from the British blues rock bands who ironically in turn had borrowed from American blues artists, of garage rock which at the time wasn't even considered a separate form of rock. That happened after the fact in the seventies when it got dubbed "garage rock" or "60s garage" as well as such later tags as "beat," "psychedelic" or "psych," and "freakbeat" or "freakbeat punk" as in the above Renegades clip.
It was also in retrospect that I first came upon this wonderful music that many consider a precursor to punk because of its raw amateurish, albeit impassioned, adrenaline fueled basic rock energy/presentation with lots of distorted sounds and typically screamed, aggressive lyrics - just like punk rock. Like many other music fans, I first got introduced to garage rock courtesy of the wonderful Nuggets compilation (available at Amoeba) and the series it spawned (over a dozen Nuggets collections in all). Over the years there have been countless other garage compilations released such as the recent year release Who Needs Tomorrow? American 60s Garage Bands: 20 Rare Gems Compiled by The Bevis Frond which has a lot of unheard of under the radar gems from the 60's. Like rap or soul or punk of bygone decades, garage rock was a prolific sub-genre that featured more talented bands that never made the charts than ones who did get some type of mainstream attention - if only fleetingly. Hence a lot of the music fell way under the radar (good because it never got watered down for mainstream acceptance) which is why there are not too many film/video clips available of most of this music.
Joni Mitchell's "Big Yellow Taxi" summed up the KUSF FM situation
I always appreciate when people utilize relevant song lyrics to reinforce a point they are making. Hence I enjoyed, during Saturday's heated Saving College Stations panel discussion on the last day of the NFCB's (National Federation of Community Broadcasters) 36th Annual Community Radio Conference in the Fillmore suite of the Parc 55 hotel in downtown San Francisco, when panelist Dorothy Kidd, quoted and gave props to Joni Mithcell's 1970 song "Big Yellow Taxi." "You don't know what you got til its gone," said the Save KUSF advocate & University of San Francisco (USF) media studies professor quoting the song's famous lyrics in reference to how she, as a listener/fan of the beloved SF college radio station, felt in the weeks and months since January 18th when 90.3FM got the plug pulled on it by her bosses at USF.
"We don't need technocrats to come in and control our station," continued the articulate and ever vigilant Kidd, who as a panelist at last month's SF Music Tech Summit similarly spoke out against the actions of the USF administrators. At Saturday's panel however she was directing her comments at fellow panelist (and seeming target of the entire discussion) Marc Hand of PRC (Public Radio Capital) out of Denver, CO whose company was instrumental in brokering the deal that paved the way for KUSF FM's demise.
Another panelist was WFMU New Jersey station manager Ken Freedman, one of the Save KUSF organization's biggest allies, who point blankly asked Hand how he could broker such a deal which he knew in his heart was just plain wrong and detrimental to the community's needs. Freedman was referring to the demise of KUSF and such other stations as KTRUFM - the Rice University radio station in Houston, TX that two months ago similarly had the plug pulled on it following a PRC brokered deal. Panelist Duane Bradley, of Pacifica station KPFT, Houston, spoke on behalf of KTRU and noted that how Rice University's lame excuse for getting rid of the popular Houston college station after 40 years on the air was that they "needed the space to build a new cafeteria." Bradley also made the excellent point of how, when a volunteer run college or community radio station like KTRU or KUSF goes away for good, so too does the combined pool of irreplaceable resources of music programmers who are extremely knowledgeable of and passionate for the music they specialize in - so much so that they do it all for free.
While the tireless members of the Save KUSF organization are realistic enough not to expect any miracles to come out of the NFCB's (National Federation of Community Broadcasters) 36th Annual Community Radio Conference at the Parc 55 hotel in downtown San Francisco this week, which features the pertinent panel discussion Saving College Stations on Saturday (June 4th) morning at 9am, there is an underlying hope that with this national gathering of like minded individuals - equally passionate about the importance
of local, community radio - that some new pointers on how to get KUSF back on the FM dial might arise. Or at the very least that there will be a show of solidarity towards the unfairly ousted KUSF programmers from their fellow left of the dial broadcasters of the NFCB whose tag is, "We are local. We are global. We are independent, connected, and engaged."
Since KUSF was abruptly pulled off the FM dial on January 18th, when the University of San Francisco(USF) management secretly worked out a deal with Public Radio Capital (PRC) replacing 90.3FM with an out of town programmed classical station, the ripples have been felt across the country by other college & small non-commercial radio stations who, particularly in this time of federal & state funding cutbacks and universities clamoring for ways to generate money, wonder if they might be next to get the plug pulled on them. The move by USF was not an isolated one but rather part of an increasing trend by budget challenged colleges across the country. While tomorrow's panel will focus on the events that went down at KUSF and KTRU (another radio station that got kicked off the air) its message of what to do when your station faces the chopping block is as much, if not more so, directed at those college/student stations that are still on air but could soon face a similar fate.