Pledge Drive Special
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This is Marc Porter Zasada, host of the Urban Man, heard here on KCRW each Monday evening.
Again tonight, I'm driving down an endless L.A. boulevard right at the golden hour -- you know, just as the sun begins to leave the city and the city begins to heat the night. I pass car washes and Taco Bells, mega-malls and mini-mansions -- all lit up in those last rays. As usual, the Urban Man is searching for the through-line: You know, that underlying beat that holds together a song or a story. The thing that makes it make some sense.
So I switch on the radio, and I begin at the far end of the dial -- oldies and newbies, shock jocks, Jack radio, and eager chatter. I tune in a snatch of happy Top 40 here and 10 seconds on a distant car bombing there, along with ads for yes, Taco Bells, mega-malls and mini-mansions.
But at last I get to 89.9 where Which Way L.A. is wrapping up and Jason Bentley begins to spin some mesmerizing rhythm, some insistent through-line for the city I've never heard before. I relax, and pretty soon, I find my freeway entrance, where I lift off like a Piper Cub above this unlimited town. For the first time I notice the sky is clear, right out across the grid.
What would you do without KCRW and its great mothership, NPR, hovering overhead to broadcast that through-line for the megalopolis? Without Nic or Garth or Jason picking some undeniable music and Warren asking the right questions? What would you do without This American Life and To the Point? Where would you find any sense to things? From Network News? From the blogosphere? From the partisans on the AM dial?
The Urban Man always gets a warm feeling when he drops back down off a roaring freeway, late at night. I like the deceleration of the car as I touch down in my little neighborhood, with its familiar confusion of shuttered shops and filling stations. I feel like a pilot who has found his small island in a great cosmopolitan ocean. In fact, tonight, just above my off-ramp, a full moon hangs among the telephone poles and palm trees like a homing beacon, ready to take me down the runway. Jason has switched to something vaguely Caribbean with steel drums, and suddenly, it all seems to fit.
How could I not pledge under circumstances like that? How could I not immediately call 800-600-KCRW? But the Urban Man never interrupts a good through-line. No, I sit in my driveway and wait for the song to end in a satisfying storm of guitar and mandolin before I pick up the phone and dial.
Copyright - 2005 Marc Porter Zasada. All rights reserved.
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