Sunday, February 27, 2005

Radio Days

I would estimate that, over the years, I've driven in excess of a million miles - easily. My work (and a high degree of stupidity) had me driving once from Louisville to Chicago to Omaha to Chicago to Louisville. In three days. Out of love for one of my offspring, I drove just a few years ago a U-haul truck from the western slope of the Rockies (Rifle, CO) to Bland, VA in two days. 1700 miles as I recall. I say this just to firm up the understanding that I have spent much of my life behind the wheel.

In the course of driving hither and yon, I have learned, as most road warriors do, to appreciate a good program on the radio. My interests generally run to talk shows; Rush Limbaugh - of course - Glenn Beck - when I can find him on the dial - Laura Ingraham - because I like her spirit. Michael Medved. Dennis Prager.

In the late afternoon, I prefer to listen to music. Sometimes classical. Sometimes jazz. I find myself listening less these days to country music. Most of it is a bit too overproduced - too Hollywood - for my down-home tastes. Shania? Give it a rest, Babe. You have nice boobs. But keep them harnessed. If I want porn, I'll subscribe to the Playboy channel. Lee Ann Womack? You win an award and I don't recognize you, what with the makeover and the California look. Kenny Chesney singing the praises of his boat in the Caribbean. (?) Tim McGraw dressing like a gay prostitute. And who allowed Australians and Canadians to be a part of country music anyway? Where's Lefty Frizzell when we need him? As for Rock and Roll, I gave it up the day the Beatles landed in New York for their first US tour. That would have been back in the 60's.

On the weekend everything changes. Around these parts, if you're not turning on your radio to find the Lord or to listen to the latest news from Bristol or Darlington or Daytona, you don't want to be listening. Because that's all that's on.

Each has a dialect that accompanies the broadcasts. NASCAR fans seem to - I guess - be captivated by the guttural sounds of engines roaring past the microphones situated strategically at every turn of the (fill in the blank) track, with excited "play-by-play" announcers telling us in breathless fashion who is in the lead, who is trailing, who belongs to the blue smoke emanating from an exhaust system over on turn three, who's made an adjustment to their front suspension in order to keep it tight in the turns, who's getting a divorce, and - the most exciting moment - who is up against the wall.

I've been to three racetracks, including Bristol, and as much as I find racing to be entertaining - in first person - I can't, for the life of me, understand why anyone listens to this stuff on the radio. But apparently a whole lot of southerners do. It's all over the radio on a Sunday afternoon. If they're not broadcasting a race, they're talking about races, past and future. Or they're interviewing drivers and owners. Mechanics. Sponsors. Analysts. Groupies. Station after bloody station.

And if it's not NASCAR (it's never Indycar, by the way), it's Come To Jesus. And a whole different dialect ensues.
And the Lord spake unto Matthew, praise God, "Go unto the multitudes and take with thee," praise Jesus, "the blood of the lamb," praise be to the Lord, "so that whosoever be of sin today, " oh God, "be cleansed by the Almighty!" Listen to me! It is only in His righteousness that ye shall be redeemed. Thank ya, Jesus. The Bible says, "he shall see the fruit of the travail of his soul and be satisfied." Praise God. In His holy name we pray. Unto You, oh Lord, sing we Your praises.
I have to tell you; I have difficulty with this. I find it fascinating. For a time. Radio preachers seem to have the uncanny ability to preach the gospel and never come up for air. But, except for the strange dialect that seems to be prescribed for the occasion - all the praisings and annointings and bloods of lambs - which I am fascinated by, my attention span is rather short. I find myself flipping through channels, looking for something that doesn't remind me how much of a sinner I am.

May God have mercy on me.

But on Sunday, there are not many choices. It's NASCAR or Jesus. Jesus or NASCAR. I will find the occasional car repair show, my interest in which is virtually nonexistent. But I find myself listening to two clowns on NPR talking about overhauling a carburetor on a 1973 Plymouth Satellite.

May Jesus truly have mercy on me.