Sunday, July 06, 2014

ghost in the machine

We finally got around to switching our Shaw cable service from analog to digital. I know, I know, it took a long time, but one of the reasons I procrastinated as long as I did was because of the FM radio stations that are bundled with the analog service, specifically KPLU, the NPR jazz station from Seattle hosted at Pacific Lutheran University.

Basically, our FM dial has been stuck on KPLU for the past 15 years. There's nothing else like it. This is the way a jazz station is supposed to be. I've grown accustomed to all the great programming over the years.

Marion McPartland's 'Piano Jazz' was a constant source of surprise and wonderment. I remember many times stopping in mid-stride in the kitchen as Marion and her guest went on another musical escapade. Think of it, what a great premise for a show: two musicians get together and talk and play live on the radio. Brilliant, and brilliant it was.

I must admit, Ken Wiley's Sunday afternoon 'The Art of Jazz' was lost on me until I visited New Orleans and saw the musical heritage of jazz for myself. From then on, I listened to it with a new ear and appreciation.

As well as: Saturday and Sunday nights All Blues, 'Stardate' updates, Car Talk-before they retired, great jazz programming anytime you turn on the radio - very seldom hearing a repeat, NPR news.

But, that's just the background: here's the real story.

After we had been successfully switched to analog to digital, I just thought I would try KPLU on the stereo. To my surprise it worked, and I went back into the kitchen listening to Joshua Redman. After a while I started to think the song was going on a bit long, so started listening a bit more closely. The song was in a loop, repeating itself about every 30 seconds.

I came back the next day to check, and we seemed to have regained KPLU. There was news on, but I didn't listen that closely. Next day and ever since, it's back to looping. It's now stuck on 30 seconds of the same song, don't know who (Not Joshua Redman and Shazam doesn't do well with jazz).

I'm calling this the KPLU 'Ghost in the Machine'; an echo of a time past. Snippets spinning out from the analog, bleeding inconsistently into the digital world. A shadow, an echo, no real explanation. I think all the William Gibson books I've read has helped in this interpretation...

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