Friday, June 2, 2017

Stepping Out In My Imagination

A look at the songs that have shaped
my life and ended up on my devices.
The year is approximately 1982. I have one my father's air-navigational maps spread out on my bed in the fading light of a winter day. Besides the orange sun, the only other light in the room is coming from the dial lamps on a Radio Shack Patrolman-9 radio, tuned to an FM station and playing Joe Jackson's "Steppin' Out."

While he sings about a night on the town, I'm taking an imaginary trip in the air over this map, perusing the lines and topography. I'm thinking of looking down from the plane to everything on the ground. I'm looking at the boxes indicating AM radio stations that can be used as navigational aides. I'm scanning the markings for obstructions -- some with high-intensity flashers. Then I look outside.

From the bedroom windows of home on East 77th Street in Kansas City, I can see at least five blinking TV or radio towers. It's hypnotizing and fascinating for a child interested in broadcasting. With the help of my father, I know who's transmitting from where. I imagine what it must be like to fly over those transmitters at night. I vaguely recall it on a plane coming back from Atlanta in 1978 -- those towers looked like push-pins to my young mind.

I wished I could've flown more places for vacation as a kid. It would've beat sitting in the back of a car for most of two days. The Royal Parents told your young servant that driving was a way to see more of the country -- the same explanation offered by Clark Griswald, by the way. In reality, I think it was code for saying, "Honey, for what it costs to fly, I would have to pawn you and your brother to afford a coach seat."

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