Monday, January 12, 2009

Oral history

Eastside Road, Healdsburg, January 12, 2009

JOHN WHITING'S COMMENT to the previous post here sent me an an egosurf to his My KPFA - an Historical Footnote , a repository of “Conversations, Coast to Coast" with a number of the workers in that vineyard we know as KPFA, the non-commercial radio station located in Berkeley, California.I was there as Music Director from 1964 to 1967 and stayed on a couple of years to work part-time. Since many of us tended to cover extra assignments, I was also the Folio Editor for a stretch, editing the program guide.

John has placed on his Historical Footnote interviews with Chris Koch, Phil Elwood, Robin Blaser, Henry Jacobs, Al Silbowitz, Richard Moore, Scott Keech, David Salniker, Marci Lockwood, Dick Bunce, Pat Scott, Larry Bensky, William Mandel, Erik Bauersfeld, Ernest Lowe, Peter Frank, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Maria Gallardin, Charles Amirkhanian, Loren Rush, Alan Rich, Steve Bell, Ned Paynter, Wil Ogdon, Jack Nessel, Frank Sherman and me. Next time your’e laid up and want to listen to a few yours of intelligent conversation about an amazing institution, give this a try!

Two points here: First, on KPFA: SInce I was in the middle of it when I was there, I couldn't really see it from the outside; but I have the idea it was an extremely influential and instrumental agent in the formation of the uniquely energetic cultural atmosphere of the San Francisco Bay Area of those days, and what days they were.

Second, Whiting's work strikes me as an approach to a problem I've been noticing lately: lots of us oldtimers are dying off, and not much about our various work is on the record. We need a series of good, professional oral histories, but the big boys are out of cash and pick and choose very carefully their subjects. We should all begin to carry pocket recorders around with us at all times — I suspect many of us do — and make our own damn oral histories. I think I'll start doing this.


John Whiting said...

I sometimes fantasize that, as culture deconstructs, a few privately maintained websites will serve the same purpose as those renegades at the end of Fahrenheit 481 who took it upon themselves to memorize forbidden books. Until, of course, those who maintain the internet figure out how to make it both expensive and inaccessible.

Charles Shere said...

Yes, I thought of that a few years back, driving home from Shakespeare performances in Ashland, and wrote a sort of time-travel thing about such a private Net-Site; I resurrect it as my next blog. Hope you like it.