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Monday, March 31, 2014

It Was 30 Years Ago Today...

...well, not exactly 30...tomorrow (4/1) will somewhat, approximately, kinda-sorta my anniversary.

My 30th Anniversary in Broadcasting. Excuse me...

...30 Fucking Years.

I don't even feel that old anymore. I started thinking about this earlier today and realized that if I don't write this now, I'm not going to do it tomorrow on the day of this momentous (hah!) occasion.

So...let's see...where do I start? I've had people ask me a lot of questions about my chosen profession over the years, including the inevitable ones of, "How do you get started?", "Why do you work a job that doesn't pay anything?", "Why aren't you like Howard Stern?", "Why don't you want to host a talk show?", and fuck knows how many others.

I've had all of those...the one about the money was occasionally alluded to by my family. But more on that later.

I admit to having an interest and fascination with radio as a kid, but I also have to tell you I really didn't see myself as ever having an opportunity to do anything like that. Not that I didn't dream about it.

Growing up in near the Canadian border, I got the best of both worlds, both US and Canadian radio, and that included music as well as news and other stuff. I remember certain personalities, people, music, etc.

A lot of strange stuff returns to my brain right now...today, these things would never be done on commercial radio, and probably rarely on what is now called "Community Radio." Those low power FM's and the like that try to go as mini-NPR stations, doing their own thing, and relying on the kindliness of the public.

Anyway...the whole thing for me started here:


Michelle Hartley painted this mural in the basement of Saint Joseph's College (of Maine) back in the 80's. I went to St. Joe's in '83, with no idea of what I would do for a career. I had horrific grades in high school; I was at best a bored and uninterested student in just about everything. Lots of reasons for that, but that's how it is.

When I learned that we were getting ready to go on-air with an FM station whose signal in those days reached into Portland, I thought: "Oh...this might be interesting."

We did not get on air until the afternoon on 4/1/84. I pulled a one-hour shift late in the first day. 

My first song as a DJ? I honestly don't remember.

Well, fast forward to a month and a few days later back in Vermont. One day after going home for the break, I walked into the old WDOT-AM in Burlington, and by virtue of the world's shortest job interview, I had one.

OK...so I didn't look back. Much.

It has been one long and strange trip in so many ways. And the shit ain't over yet. I have passed through more stations (existing and not), more formats and more co-workers/colleagues than I can number or even remember. I've worked in the weirdest set-ups, the flashiest studios, and have dealt with the best...and not necessarily the worst characters, but some scary ones to be sure.

When I wasn't being weird one.

We constantly remake ourselves. Sometimes it works, but often it just does not. I have spent the majority if not all of my career not being known. And to be honest, I prefer it.

I am a worker. I am a "Service Machine." This is not a bad thing, you know. There came a time in my career when my ego had to get smacked down, and fucking hard. It happened two or three times, very early in my career. I won't name names, or situations, but the deal was this: 

"Kid, you're good, but you ain't that good. You got a long way to go."

And...I'll add this: "You must never stop learning."

What I mean by that is you must never stop learning what you are capable of doing. When you get to turn your hands to something you never thought you could do, you become surprised and even stunned to find out...that yes, you can do it. And do it well.

Yeah, I've had a few points in my life where I wondered why I got passed over for things. When I was younger, I irrationally and immaturely believed I was getting the shaft. 

Then...about ten years into my career a guy who came up behind me said the same damn things and an awful lot more. I suddenly realized he reminded me of me. Guess we all go through it.

The business has changed. We can go on and on about how bad things have gotten, how the jobs have dried up, how the revenue is gone, and how we are no longer valued.

I call bullshit.

You know, I have not had a full-time radio gig in five years. I'm still jobbing, getting hours when and where I can. 'Cause this is what I do.

I love the business, and the experience. Right now, I am part of a company that is headed into a new market and frontier...radio? Broadcasting? More the latter, but it's all part of the same damn thing.

It may also seem strange to you that I spend two hours on a Thursday evening, hosting a show on a small internet station. 

www.radio-airwaves.co.uk

I do it to keep myself sane at times. I can be like I was in college and play music I like, music that I think has value and play it for others. If you like it, great, if not, that's okay.

People ask me all the time if I like what I do. My response is always the same:

"BEATS WORKING!"

If I had to do it over, I'd do it again. I'd hope with benefit of hindsight I might not make some of those mistakes again, but you have to learn somehow.

Thing is: a lot of us do not learn. There are people in this biz who are one-trick ponies. They do one thing, and it may be good, but it doesn't always stand the test of time. You need to remake, like I said; adopt, adapt, improve. If you don't, you will be on the sidelines wondering why.

I've been a DJ for nearly every format. I've hosted shows, co-hosted shows, produced shows, been a journalist, a traffic reporter, a this, a that, a manager...we all do these things. We don't always have the titles before our names, but we do them.

I think at this point, my career went about the way it was meant to go. This is not just about money, but that's nice when you can get it. I've had other jobs, but this is not a job. This is what I DO.

I also write, I play music, I do the things I enjoy doing. Yeah...I could have gotten a desk job, or some kind of management job, or whatever...I could have made more money, been more stable financially, but I would not have been happy.

Rich People have Rich People Problems. If I was, I'd deal. I didn't do too badly, though. And I'm done.

I like where this thing is going, and it opened doors to everything else. It was not always smile-inducing, these past years, and it was not always fun. But it was different.

That makes it good.

You think this many years is something? One of my colleagues at the new job has been in this business, non-stop, 51 years.

That's right. Guy's a legend...and he's now a traffic reporter. 

He still loves it.

So do I.

Do what you love, life is too fucking short to be bored or killing yourself. Friend of mine once had that great job, but he said the stress got so bad, he was pounding a six-pack of Heineken every fucking night to get through it.

Not worth it.

For me, this is.

I have broadcasting to do, even in the shadows. I make a difference in a small way, but a good one.

I do everything else because I think it makes a fucking difference. Forgive my self-centered thought...even if it is just for me, in that moment.

Been fun...and I have more waiting for me.

Peace, Out.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Writer's Updates, and Other Random Things

Well, greetings once again...I'm sitting in the Office for the first time in several days, and I'm in one of those contemplative moods. This could be trouble...for a lot of folks other than me.

Here's a link to the new job:

http://widget.geotraffic.com/

You can install this useful little widget onto your own website, please do. I have yet to figure out how to incorporate the damn thing into this blog, but oh well...

Geo has given me lots of fill-in work, and I apparently am doing a decent job. I am thankful! Nice to work with old friends again, and to meet new ones. We've got a future, and it's nice to be part of it.

OK...company blather outta the way...yes, I'm feeling positive. It is a long drive on Route 30 to Paoli, and then the short drag down 252 to Newtown Square, but it's all good. Time to think, listen to obscure music on my iPod, and find out what else is happening.

I tend to listen to NPR (except when they are on yet another beg for money drive...a certain station seems to be doing it all day, all night, all the time), but I also listen to other stuff on occasion. This leads me to my first observation of things that make me want to do an obscenity-laden rip job on people who seem to think they know what's what in the news.

The vaunted KYW Newsradio 1060 (my friend David Payne went off about this on Facebook) last night, led with the Earth-shattering, End-of-the-World-As-We-Know-It headline...wait for it...

...DESEAN JACKSON WAS CUT BY THE PHILADELPHIA EAGLES! HOLY MOTHER(FUCKER) OF GOD & GODDESS! HOW WILL WE EVER RECOVER?????!!!!!?????

Yeah...WORLD WAR FUCKING 3 could be ready to break out in Europe (if certain politicians and the military-industrial complex have their way)...the futility of declaring war on Russia could come, 100 years after Germany proved its utter idiocy...we STILL don't know where that Malaysian airliner went down, and WTF happened there...the Taliban (read radical Islam's answer to fundamentalist Christianity) are again operating with impunity in Afghanistan...BUT OH MY GOD D-JAX GOT CUT FROM THE EAGLES!!!!!!

I never cared for the Eagles, never...the Andy Reid follies were amusing, and the Chip Kelly saga was good for a chuckle...but back to the news thing, and it's here that Jackson could have ground for a major fucking libel suit.

Basic points: Jackson came off a career year...true, a prickly personality, moments where he didn't seem to give a shit, then suddenly making an impact. Supposedly the Eagles tried to trade him, but couldn't.

Price tag? Yeah, he makes damned good money...and the Eagles are notorious for pinching millions. Thing is, there have been rumblings and mostly rumors and innuendo spread about the Philly area and beyond that Jackson was acquainted with LA gangs.

No one has accused him of being affiliated or a member, and Jackson flatly denies that. But the bigots around these parts and elsewhere have pushed that rumor without any proof for a long time. Now a New Jersey website is claiming it.

Jackson has not been accused of any crimes. Did the Eagles dump him because of the money? Or did the NFL tip them to something?

Either way, it's a smelly story...but does it rate being the top story on a supposed news leader? NO.

But then, I guess I'm an old guy who doesn't know much about today's media. Hell, I'm working in a company that's entered a new realm, so I'd like to think I'm seeing some new things.

###

Okay, I had to get that one off my chest.

Now...next up:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1494401975/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=1494401975&linkCode=as2&tag=coverscroll-20

Yes, a shameless plug for "Parasite Girls!" Getting ready to hopefully move on some more promotional readings, but that thing called work has been a matter I've had to take in hand.

Meanwhile, I'm sorting out ideas, and getting a plan in place for the future. I believe that a next step for my follow-up is a story I recently wrote, that is adult fiction with a serious crossover to the young adult world. Half-step, but a good one:

https://www.behance.net/gallery/A-Moment-in-the-Sun-Chapter-1-Rough-Draft/13569033

"A Moment in the Sun" I really feel is that step. This turned out to be a good story; it carries on with my ideas of handling certain concepts, and might work as the next step.

Then, we might be able to make a full step into the YA world with "The Drifters."

https://www.behance.net/torygates

See everything and more here.

So I have to try and focus what brain cells I have left to decide how to proceed with this. My thoughts are to release these next two into the wild over the next 12-18 months. I have to see if this will work.

Getting "Parasite Girls" in motion was a year-long operation. I have more to do with it. So much to think about, but then actually move on.

I really do need to get going...work, my brain, various thoughts on different stuff. For once, I've felt in a state of mind where I'm calm enough to actually sit here and write this, and get it into a form where I can look back at it.

This is what I do, folks...the writer writes, always. I did not like that movie, but a true thing. As someone else noted, even if you are just thinking about it in your head, that's writing. It counts.

See ya.


Monday, March 24, 2014

"A Moment in the Sun," and Where Do We Go from Here?

Greetings, one and all...I have returned to the blogosphere after hopefully catching my breath, and figuring out just where the hell I have been the past weeks.

I have never been much for diaries, though I do still have a leather-bound journal full of multi-colored scratchings from about ten years ago. Why I keep it, I have no idea. The things you find when you are digging around in the hoard/closet.

I don't know if this is counts as spring cleaning, but I decided to drag a pair of bookshelves from my closet into my bedroom. And no, I didn't remove the books. That's just how I am.

So anyway, I then spent the better part of the past two late nights re-sorting my books, as sort of a literary "High Fidelity" scene. I don't have enough space in the room to put all my books there. So I have to figure out what I don't need/want at hand, and put those back in the closet. Weird, I know.

Interesting to see a lot of these again...I do realize though, a bunch of these are headed for one of those big metal dumpster/dropoff things. I have to do it, not much choice in the matter.

So yeah...the past few weeks have found me busy here:

http://www.geotraffic.com/

This is my new company...I am back to being a traffic reporter, and we're on a new platform with a different target. This has a future, I feel and we're taking the small steps forward to get us where we need to go. I'm back in broadcasting of a sort, what can I say?

To use a MASH reference: this is "meatball surgery." There is no finesse in this art, it is grunt work, but it is work that requires some smarts, common sense, and an ability to think on your ass...because we're sitting.

I am also back to driving long distances. I've done this before...back in the starving, struggling days of the early 90's, I drove a Dodge Lancer to its death (at least three times) when going from Watertown to Hyannis to do a $5 an hour job, because...I wanted to be broadcaster.

The dream job of 2004-09, XM saw me drive from York, PA to Washington, DC and back, five days a week or more, for all that time. Now I'm driving a similar time frame but a few less miles.

Why?

I like where I live...I know, I swore up and down I was going to get the fuck out of York and never return. Then I realized where the new job was. I didn't like that area the first time I worked there...I still don't like it.

This is better, and so it is.

Now...about this:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1494401975/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=1494401975&linkCode=as2&tag=coverscroll-20

I know, I have to shamelessly plug. I am writing this just after making a sale to a friend of mine of "Parasite Girls." Sales are slloooooowwww...how it is. Also, had a long Facebook chat with a dear friend who told me what was "wrong" culturally with the book. And of course, she was right.

I do not think any of these things are terrible errors, but I understand them. I did my best to get it right...it's kind of like this: when I edited and edited, and did everything I thought I could possibly do to get it right, I finally had to say, "Enough!"

You can only do so much. I think it turned out well and I'm happy with it.

Here then, comes my dilemma: what do I do next?

Ihttp://www.wattpad.com/39695970-a-moment-in-the-sun

This is the first chapter (rough cut) of "A Moment in the Sun." Wattpad is a social media/writing site that is new to me, and I'm trying it out as a means to get some new audience in the mix.

You can also read this, and much more at www.behance.net/torygates

Anyway..."A Moment in the Sun" was written at the beginning of this year. It came quickly; this could be the step up I need.

Here's the deal..."Parasite Girls" became the test case for my writing. It is straight fiction; "Moment..." is fiction, but as the main characters are all teenagers, it can be considered a crossover to Young Adult, which is what I mostly write.

Half-step, maybe?

The story is fully set in Japan, and again I touch on a phenomena which is not unique to that part of the world, this time. Here is the story that inspired it:

http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-23182523

Now in this story is referenced a manga, "Welcome to the NHK." I got the first volume, and I was not terribly impressed by it. The storyline was too typical, and did not touch enough on why the main character was hikikomori. Didn't explain it well.

I had a couple of ideas on what to do with this, but then "Moment..." made its way into my brain and would not leave.

A close friend of mine read the first chapter aloud from my Behance site...her husband said that sounded good.

Hmmm...

Not long ago, I described the story aloud to another friend. She was busy clearing her desk and doing that kind of work, but her ears pricked up. She said, "That's the one."

I wonder...it is a specific story, a few more characters than "Parasite Girls," but easy enough to follow. 

I think this is the best step up. Then, following this I can again do a full-blooded YA story, which likely will be "The Drifters."

What is happening here is that I feel in a hurry. I feel like I have got to get these out, but I cannot throw money into the creation of a project, then jump to the next. It just does not work.

I am promoting "Parasite Girls," and once I get off weekends, then I can really do that. Each of these projects is time-consuming. I have talked about how "PG" took a full year to realize. Yes, it did. I'd already written it; but then what followed was every single thing you need to do to make it real.

I am also again trying to find a publisher/agent...it's worth trying now, because I have a book in hand. Here's the next one, and the next one, and the next one...better risk I'd say.

Staying the course, being patient, keeping myself somewhat together. Yeah, I have to do it. There's no time for worrying, I have to just keep on doing all these things.

The shit ain't over yet.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

"Parasite Girls," "The Drifters," and Where Now...?



Greetings, once more...I'm sitting here in the Office, and there is much to consider. Dick Gaughan's wondrous "Sail On" is running through my iTunes...above is a live version of a Brian McNeill song...

Let's see...much has occurred, and some of my pursuits remain off to the side, as I've been back to the dreaded work...

Tango Traffic is going well...weekends and fill-in work, and I'm positive that we're headed in a good direction. Patience, and a bit more, and I think we're going upwards.

It is a slow process. An old colleague of mine says a business is like a child, you must raise it and be patient with it. Especially when the child has a tantrum.

I decided against moving out to that part of the state. I know, I swore up and down I wanted out, but after a fashion I realize I have it good here. I can keep my hand in, and keep around those that matter in a lot of different ways.

So, where are we now? "Parasite Girls" is a slow growing deal, but I must bear in mind that it will be that way. I have to find ways to promote it, and hopefully stimulate some sales. I'll not deny it, I've given away more copies than I have sold. Part of promotion, but you hope something inspires folks to pick it up.

While I am at it, I have my eye on the next goal, which is a follow-up...and that's where I'm wondering. What do I do next?

I have three stories I'm looking at right now. All are good inroads to the Young Adult market, which is mostly what I write. A lot of this would be considered 'light novels'. I personally don't care what anyone calls them. I wrote them for my own peace of mind, and also because I feel there's some value to them or I'd never have done it.

So...what have I got? I am going to ask YOU what you think: which of these would you want to read?

"The Drifters" is a lighter, more adventurous story, that at least is entertaining:

https://www.behance.net/gallery/The-Drifters-Chapter-9-The-Lonely-Ocean/14840009

That is Chapter 9. More pieces are available on the Behance site.

Here is the darker one:

https://www.behance.net/gallery/Time-the-Healer-Chapter-6-(Draft)/14221477

"Time the Healer" has more timely elements, and I am talking with a friend about a possible graphic novel version, due to the length of this one.

Then we have a somewhere-between..."A Moment in the Sun."

https://www.behance.net/gallery/A-Moment-in-the-Sun-Chapter-1-Rough-Draft/13569033

So...which one should I do? The last of the three is the most recent, and would need the most work.

"Time" needs editing, and the graphic novel could be a separate project that would preclude it being a book, so to speak.

"Drifters" I just like. It's loose, kind of silly in parts, but pretty solid on a number of issues. I like them all, but I am aware one is not ready, and another I'm not sure of.

What has the most promise? I don't honestly know at this point.

I must know soon, because I must again move on getting a proof job, seeing my artist about a cover, all that fun stuff.

While I promote "Parasite Girls," haha! It's never ending, but I'm rather happy for it.

At the least, I got the first one done! Before I die, the rest will go, mark my bloody words.

Now I am also trying to find new social media areas to travel into...found this site:

http://www.wattpad.com/user/ToryGates

Now at the moment, Wattpad is using some of the same bits you find on Behance. Anything to open some doors, I hope.

We need to see what is next, and I'll do my best.

What I've done is not failure, it is a move up and it is a triumph in a small way. So many people say they'll do this and that, and don't.

There's reasons for that. Work, family, life...I have not given up much of anything, but time that I needed to put into something that I felt important, more than any other damned thing.

You know it's funny...people have been bitching left and right about Comcast, and the mergers, and their goddamned Netflix online streaming is slow, rar-fucking-rar.

Not to be an exclusivist, or a dick, or any of that: but I don't have cable. I don't fucking have time for it. I don't have time for Netflix. I don't have time to prostrate myself before a screen to watch stuff that I don't fucking care about.

If you have a guilty pleasure, you have the right and I would never say you couldn't watch it. If you like a certain show or shows, and you need a break, cool. Go for it.

This is my break. This is what I do. Call me fucking nuts, go right ahead. But this is what I do. I love to write. I love to create, to play music and to work in a dying industry that is finally letting me join the new wave that does make a fucking difference.

Okay, nuf of that. I would love to know what you think of the ideas I have written and worked on for a long time...do they work? Do they have meaning? They do to me, and I hope they do to you.

Outta here, Peace.