Friday, June 03, 2022

LOC for The Drink Tank #438

The following is a letter of comment sent to Christopher J. Garcia, editor of The Drink Tank, commenting on #438.

Dear Mr. Garcia:

It feels a little lame to admit it, but I love music. I’ve played music: the alto, soprano, and tenor saxophones; and singing in a punk rock band called the Anchormen; we put out three CDs and were part of an arts collective in the Boston area. (I was also in another band called the Trylons, but we never got out of the rehearsal room.) I’ve volunteered as a DJ for WNUR-FM and WMFO-FM. I listen to music almost daily and make near-weekly playlists ( Sometimes it’s challenging to find dedicated listening time given my work and family responsibilities, but I gather every week with friends for a two-hour shared DJ session using JQBX (“Conference of the Birds”), and I just started hanging out with friends in (“WTAF”).

I’ve even published music fanzines—specifically, punk rock fanzines, dating back to 1988 when I first came across Maximum Rocknroll and published my first music zine, No Drama, while still in high school. I’ve reviewed records for Bad Transfer and Tail Spins. I reviewed shows for SonicNet back in the day. And I contribute book and magazine reviews to Ugly Things magazine. So I love it—adore it—when my interest and pleasure in music intersects with sf and other fandom activities. (Even though I’ve yet to dip toe into the filk scene yet.) Drink Tank #438 was a pleasant surprise. (Nic Farey’s “Radio Winston” pieces in This Here… are another welcome overlap, to be sure.)

All that to say, good work, you—and your contributors—on an issue that was surprisingly fun to read. Why surprisingly? I mean, I enjoy the Beatles. But I’m far from the biggest fan; they’re not even a band I’m that interested in. (Though I am more so now, thanks to you lot.) My folks, though they were in their 20s during the band’s heyday, largely missed the Beatles during college in the Midwest, believe it or not, so I grew up listening to Abba, bluegrass, and Frankie Laine.) Yet I found the appreciation, enthusiasm, and nostalgia for the Fab Four infectious and found myself reading with attention riveted. Not only is the ish rich fodder for playlist making (Your “My Top Nine Beatles Songs,” John Purcell’s “Playing Song Games with the Beatles,” and Julian West’s in-depth analysis “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away”), I thrilled to the memories contributors shared about how they first discovered and listened to the Beatles, be it on television, on the radio, or on Beatles 45s and albums themselves.

In Los Angeles alone, there are two weekly Beatles programs on the radio. Saturday with the Beatles airs Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. PT on KCSN-FM, and Breakfast with the Beatles airs Sunday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. PT on KLOS-FM. That’s at least five hours of Beatles music broadcast weekly! And if you throw in the Dylan Hours program Sundays from 9-11 a.m. PT on KCSN-FM, fen of that era of music can veritably plotz with listening pleasure.

The media geek in me also enjoyed your consideration of tape music in “‘Revolution 9’: The Best of the Beatles,” as well as Chuck Serface’s “Recent Comics Inspired by the Beatles.” But Tassoula Kokkoris’s “For the Benefit of Mr. Fanque” might be my favorite piece in the issue because of its historical exploration of what might have otherwise been lyrical minutiae.

The issue included plenty of fannish interest related to the band. If there was anything missing—which I’m not really daring to speculate—it would’ve been more close-knit parallels with sf fandom: science-fictional mentions of or references to the band; Beatles fanzines such as The 910, Beatles Unlimited, Good Day Sunshine, and The Write Thing; even Merseybeat fan fiction, if any such exists, similar to Haruki Murakami’s speculative jazz fiction “Charlie Parker Plays Bossa Nova,” which imagines the track list and personnel for a recording that doesn’t exist.

It was a rare fanzine that I finished reading with several article ideas that I would have liked to contribute to that very issue of the zine I just read. It was kind of a fun sensation, almost an incipient retroactive slush pile. Time travel of a sort while reading, with the music of the past asserting itself strongly in the present, and then me wanting to go back in time just a little bit so I could have been part of it. While listening to the Beatles, no less. And me saying I’m not much of a Beatles fan. 

I’ve been hypmotized.

Hope you and yours are doing well. Looking forward to future issues.

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