Monday, April 6, 2015

I hate reunions, while I love how a little application called Adobe Premiere changed AFOS forever in 1999

Jack's is as awesome as One-Eyed Jacks from Twin Peaks, except nobody there looks as hot as early '90s Sherilyn Fenn and nobody talks like David Lynch characters.
(Photo source: A Burger a Day)

I don't like looking back at the past. I'd rather think about the present and the future, which is why a recent subject in this blog's Throwback Thursday series, The World's End--a cautionary film about the dangers of nostalgia and remaining in the past--resonates so much with me. Edgar Wright's film agrees a lot with me about staying focused on the future and never looking back. If I look at the blog archive at the bottom of my blog and the last few posts I wrote are all about subjects that took place before the '00s, I get really worried. "Uh-oh, I better not spend too much time in the past. Stay in the now," I think to myself. That's why I did for a couple of years a weekly series of posts about new TV (but focused on animation). Newer TV is always more fascinating to me than older TV. I don't even like film or TV blogs where the authors write only about old films or old TV, a.k.a. what Arthur Chu would call the pre-Selfie, pre-Fresh Off the Boat world. It's like those authors are basically saying, "Film and TV were better when it was all white folks." Uh, no, it wasn't, Teabagger.

This year, UC Santa Cruz--the university whose alums include Maya Rudolph, Cary Fukunaga and more recently, DJ Dahi--is celebrating its 50th anniversary. As part of the festivities, UCSC's campus radio station is inviting all former DJs, from Bullseye host Jesse Thorn to a classmate who occasionally keeps in touch with me, Yukiya Jerry Waki, to return to the station later this month and reminisce about their time there. I hate reunions and prefer to avoid them like the plague. So on some mornings in the past few weeks, I'll wake up thinking to myself, "Nah, I'll skip this Santa Cruz one." But then on other mornings, I'll wake up thinking, "Okay, maybe I'll drop by, probably tell someone a wacky story about that terrible time I did my radio show immediately after a sweaty, all-white drum circle performed live at the studio--so the studio smelled like the inside of an outhouse at a summer music festival for the rest of that afternoon--and after only a couple of hours of reminiscing, I bounce, and then it's straight to grabbing both a burger at Jack's and the next bus back north."

I'll always be grateful for what the station taught me about radio, broadcasting, chart reporting, interacting with the labels and so on--it was where AFOS began, as a two-hour show where I got the chance to interview on the phone Mark Hamill, '60s Star Trek composer Gerald Fried and my personal favorite interviewee on the phone during those UCSC years, a now-retired TV critic named Joyce Millman--but my time at the station also consisted of a few things I'm not proud of or that were just plain stupid. A reunion will just make me relive those cringeworthy moments I'd rather not revisit.

For example, out of the 200-something episodes I hosted on KZSC and the 100 hour-long episodes I did strictly for Internet radio, only 10 of those episodes are ones I'm satisfied with today, and most of those 10 were recorded at Studio Paradiso inside the Mosser Hotel in San Francisco. The original one-or-two-hour incarnation of AFOS, before it morphed into a 24-hour Internet radio station, didn't really gel and become a different kind of film music radio show--very modern-sounding, as well as not too dry or boring regarding the subject of film and TV score music and extremely silly and goofy during Halloween and Christmastime--until a high school classmate named Necip, who re-encountered my voice while driving around the Central Coast with the stereo on one day, gave me video editing software and taught me how to use it for producing my radio show.

Oh, so that's where Kanye got his idea for all that corny-ass slow-motion horse footage in the 'Bound 2' video.

The Windows version of Adobe Premiere improved the sound quality and pacing of the AFOS show and made it possible to both do a bunch of things that couldn't be done on live radio--I never liked doing AFOS live anyway--and keep archives of episodes that, thanks to digital advances and the addition of a CD burner to my PC at the time in the year 2000, will never shrivel up or break like cassette tapes of old radio material likely would. I wish I had learned how to use Premiere sooner (another KZSC DJ previously introduced me to editing software, but I never took the time to sit down and learn how to master using that software). Premiere made me say goodbye to cassette tapes, which was how I would piece together the show before 2000, and never look back.

Had I used Premiere before 1999, I wouldn't have been as embarrassed as I am about how AFOS sounded during the first half of its five-year run on KZSC, and I would have been able to digitally create radio edits--like DJ Hyphen would do when he hosted Sunday Night Sound Session on KUBE, before his recent move from Seattle to England--of profane hip-hop or stand-up comedy tracks I wanted to play while hosting other KZSC shows, but I was unable to because I didn't have the software for editing them or I just didn't want to bother with censoring them live on the air. As a show of gratitude for introducing me to Premiere, I often gave Necip the funniest lines to say during the sketches I wrote for the AFOS Halloween and Christmas specials on KZSC ("Bea Arthur, get down!"). Most of my favorite memories of pre-2010 AFOS actually have little to do with Santa Cruz and involved either recording at Studio Paradiso or Necip's skills with both finding sound FX to slip into Premiere and doing celebrity impressions (I learned how to imitate Schwarzenegger's voice by listening to Necip's Schwarzenegger impression and then reciting Kindergarten Cop lines rather than Terminator lines, simply because Kindergarten Cop has Schwarzenegger saying, "Who ees your daddy?").

I don't use Premiere as much anymore--I currently prefer Audacity for Mac for whenever I take audio clips from movie trailers or TV promos and edit them into intros to the film and TV score tracks I put into rotation on the AFOS channel--but the software forever changed AFOS. Sure, I'm satisfied with only 10 of the episodes I pieced together on Premiere, but a shitload of enjoyable one-to-six-minute audio memories resulted from Premiere, and as I vacillate between deciding to visit and deciding not to visit the station reunion, I present the most enjoyable of those memories, via my SoundCloud page, to you now.

Okay, maybe some of the past isn't so bad.

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