Good news for my fellow Angelenos and rockers of goodwill everywhere with access to its web feed: despite idiotic Federal Communications Commission regs that counted Clear Channel's ad sales responsibilities for the station as tantamount to ownership, pushing Clear Channel over its legal ownership limit for L.A., and thus almost killing it, it appears that L.A.'s Indie 103.1, the best commercial radio station I've heard in all my born days, won't be going away at the end of the month.
This happy news reminded me of one of my happiest moments of many listening to the station (random sampling of stuff heard in the past week from DJs ranging from Dickie Barrett to Rob Zombie to Steve Jones: Ray Stevens' "The Streak," John Cale's "Mr. Wilson," Mott the Hoople's "Drivin Sister," the Cramps' "Route 66," Dionne Warwick's "Say a Little Prayer," The Cure's "Jumping Someone Else's Train," Beach Boys' "You're So Good to Me," Jimmy Buffett's "Pirate Looks at Forty," Buzzcocks' "I Believe," Replacements' "Kiss Me on The Bus," Stooges' "Raw Power," and that's not to mention any of the at least twice daily doses of X, Ramones, the Clash, and all the mostly great new stuff in medium rotation from The Gorillaz, Stereophonics, Ben Lee, Kings of Leon, Arcade Fire, Social Distortion, Kaiser Chiefs, Futureheads, fresh mash-ups daily, and lots more–even as I type, a "Whole Lotta Love"/"Drop It's Like It's Hot" amalgam is amusing me), when former Sex Pistol Steve Jones had as a guest for a full hour on his show none other than Peter Frampton.
Were one to try to make pop music history into a war–as many critics like to do–one could not come up with a more perfect and total Enemy for the Pistols than Peter Frampton, who dominated 1976 (the year the Pistols recorded and released their first single) with his, so the story goes, teeny-bopper poster-hanging wimpy overly polished forgettable crap, the epitome of the spavined, weak pop the Pistols were supposed to be in ideological and sonic revolt against.
As an enthusiastic fan of music from the Cowsills to the Swans, from Bob Dylan to Public Enemy, I've never liked narratives that tried to limit the range of popular music that was considered acceptable, respectable, canonical, worthwhile. I like amusing and crazy and catchy and warming and heated and smart and stupid tunes of all varieties, and it made me smile to hear the punker and the teen idol hanging out like a pair of daft old friendly British blokes who liked playing the guitar and loved pop music (as evidenced by his DJ choices, Jonesy the Pistol still loves the ska, bubblegum, glam, and pub rock he grew up on more than the punk rock that followed in his wake) singing together on an impromptu strummed "Show Me the Way" cover and laughing at Jonesy's suggestion that he could have used one of Frampton's talk boxes in the Pistols day to vomit into, and then hit a big chord and propel the vomit into the crowd.
It was fun, and funny, and unwittingly ecumenical and open-hearted and reminded me of the sportsmanlike way simply human enthusiasms and affections can outweigh the most fervant us v. them ideological warfare that it amuses people to generate out of any old thing. I got a similar reaction that same week seeing a screening of Return Engagement, a documentary from 1983 about a dual debate/lecture tour by Timothy Leary and Gordon Liddy, a man who once arrested him.
Something sweet there is about seeing people not let themselves be trapped into enmity by social game rules and expectations, and the lure of watching an amusing and warm chumminess grow and dissolve the barriers between the two men, on opposite sides of a moment in history, but united by wide libertarian streaks (yes, even in the sometimes authority- and duty-worshipping Liddy), the bond of understanding and character between ex-jailbirds, and a winning cussedness and independence.