DJ Badger:  The News and the Journal

Entry Two Hundred Seventeen.
Saturday, 2018.12.29, 1:52 PM CST.

Connections with the fall of 1988.
Current Mood:  Slightly hollow.
Current Scent:  Memoirs of a Trespasser by Imaginary Authors.

Hi again, everyone.

Well, I haven't posted anything here since the "30 Years in the DJ Industry" party back in July.  That was extraordinary in SO many ways, and I want to thank everyone who came out to have fun - and especially to Dave French for taking the time to come up and join me.

I hope to post about that party in great detail someday, but the main thing that I want everyone to know was that while it was an incredible experience, it was truly saddening to know that that was going to be Dave's last DJ performance.  For those who don't remember (or just hadn't read/heard), Dave chose to come back to Tulsa for one more special performance before retiring from DJing completely.  He will still be doing audio and visual production in his studio down in Dallas; I'm super-proud of him, because he's one of the few people I know who truly followed his dreams and succeeded through hard work and perseverence.

But, knowing that I'll never again enjoy a party at which he's spinning records and having a blast... it saddens me.  A lot.

And that brings me to the main subject of today's post:


Nostalgia sometimes sucks... but 1988 was incredible.

The past is a lovely place to visit... but not a good place to live.  Regretfully, I have often found myself, mentally, attempting to do that.  If people knew how often my brain decides to shift from present day to earlier years, they'd probably advise me to seek help.

In February 1988, as I've posted countless times before, Dave introduced me to the DJ industry as I started assisting him with events for his company, Mirage Productions.  I don't really consider myself "becoming" a DJ until September 29th, 1989 - the night that I first DJed at my own homecoming dance at Sequoyah High School, out north of Claremore.

Of course, we can't go back.  Dave was one of my best friends (I still consider him as such).  We went to the same high school and had known each other since our early years in Cub Scouts.  He graduated in spring 1988, and then went on to attend Rogers State College in Claremore before moving to Norman to attend OU in 1989.  We often hung out at each other's houses; he knew my parents, and I knew his mom.

Over the course of the last eleven years, all three parents have passed on; my mom died in 2011, my dad died in 2010, and Dave's mom died in 2016.

We did have a period in the early 2000s when we didn't speak for about a decade, but that wasn't due to any animosity.  We were both busy with other things.


A few details about the fall of 1988.

I don't post much about the fall of '88; I usually post about those formative times around the first DJ event that I helped Dave with in February of that year, and about the times during which I prepared and started my first DJ company, EKG Mobile Music.

The fall of '88, however, was incredibly important, and as this year has been the thirtieth anniversary of that year... I have found myself remembering 1988 with great fondness.  It wasn't a great year all-around; I was a terribly awkward high-school student and painfully shy with most people.  (I did have pretty awesome hair.)

Once he started attending Rogers State in the fall of 1988, Dave joined the team for their television station as a master control operator.  This meant that he was responsible for recording certain critical feeds of programs and putting tapes in at their particular times to play on the air.  It was a demanding job (I tried my hand at it about four years later), but it did give him a good deal of "free time" when he wasn't changing tapes or transitioning from one program to the next.

So... I would go to the station and hang out.  He was the only person there during his shifts (usually) and often worked in the evenings, so I would drive up there, he'd let me in, and we would joke around, talk about girls, and, of course, play records in the station's sound room.

Our main sources for hearing new music were the radio and the clubs.  I had just started listening to KTOW Progressive Radio (1988-1991), but I wasn't yet clubbing.  As he was now over 18, he was now regularly going to Tulsa's clubs such as the Palladium, the Limelight, and Beat Club.  I was also reading about new club music in "Rolling Stone" magazine (they actually used to have a "dance chart" back then) and the music promo pamphlets that I would pick up at Buttons.  Neither of us had much money, so we both had to be very selective about the music that we purchased... even during a time when brand-new domestic 12" vinyl singles were under four dollars each.

I wasn't a DJ, but I was already buying "DJ music" that wasn't getting a lot of pop radio airplay.  Dave was the same way, and considering our tight budgets, we would try not to buy the same songs.  We didn't go record shopping together often; he would go when he was in Tulsa, and I would go whenever I could.  Then, we would either get together at his house or my house, or - often - we would play them during his shifts at RSC.  I wasn't buying anything from Mohawk Music yet; I mainly shopped at Buttons and (starting in the fall of 1988) Starship, with occasional stops at Tulsa's Sound Warehouse locations.  Of course, I was happy to bring my records to Dave's events so that he could use them, so together, we slowly built up a decent arsenal of great dance tracks.


Some of the songs that were most significant from fall of 1988:

Book of Love - "Pretty Boys and Pretty Girls."  We were both nuts about the song, as well as the cover version of Mike Oldfield's "Tubular Bells" that accompanied it as a B-side.

Paula Abdul - "Straight Up."  This was the song that REALLY brought her over the top as far as pop radio was concerned, and the remixes on the 12" were fantastic, especially the creatively-titled House Mix.

Kon Kan - "I Beg Your Pardon."  I remember reading about this one, and - without hearing it - running out to buy the 12" so that I could surprise Dave with this hot new dance song.  Unbeknownst to me, Dave had gone out during the same weekend and bought a copy of "I Beg Your Pardon," which he was looking forward to playing for me.  It was the only time that happened, surprisingly... and when we found out that we had bought the same 12", we had a lot of laughs about the coincidence.

MCL's "New York," Voyou's "Houseman/Germany Calling," and CCCP's "American-Soviets."  I often refer to these as the "holy trinity of Oak Lawn Records," because all three were released by the same company in Dallas in 1987 and 1988, they had definite similarities in production, and all three were massive club hits in 1988.

Paul Lekakis' "Boom Boom."  Of all of the songs that Dave was able to hunt down, he was unable to find one big track from 1986 that was still really popular - "Boom Boom."  This was back when we couldn't just purchase and download music online; we actually had to go out to the record stores and search for the tunes we wanted, and despite his attempts, he couldn't track it down.  One evening in late 1988, I was able to find a copy at Starship and I picked it up to give him as a gift.  It wasn't his birthday and we hadn't yet reached Christmastime, but I wrapped up this record and delivered it to him at the television station.  I think it was the most shocked and delighted that I ever saw him.

Pet Shop Boys' "Left To My Own Devices" and "Always on My Mind/in My House."  Dave was crazy about "Left to My Own Devices" and it was a mainstay at many of his events... and then he found their Introspective album, which had a nine-minute version of "Always on My Mind" with a weird little rap performed by the Pet Shop Boys' Neil Tennant.  Dave went nuts over that mix, and would play it IN ITS ENTIRETY at his mobile events.  Nobody complained about the length, because back in the day people on the dance floor didn't have the musical ADD that so many people seem to have these days... so they could enjoy a track for several minutes without getting bored and whiny.

Information Society's "Walking Away" and Ministry's "Everyday (Is Halloween)."  Even thought InSoc and Ministry are farrrrr different musical acts, I lump these two together for one very special reason:  I heard them for the first time when I went clubbing with Dave for the first time in December 1988.  I had just turned 17 (or I was about to), and I forget how Dave did it, but he was able to get me into Beat Club, which was meant for ages 18+.  I felt like such a rebel - and I was terrified about what would happen if anyone there found out.  Considering what an introvert I was at the time, it was fascinating and extremely, extremely awkward... but I remember hearing two very specific songs that I hadn't remembered hearing before:  "Everyday (Is Halloween)" and "Walking Away."  I immediately neeeeeeeeeded to get these songs on vinyl, and my mom and I soon went out to get them during a trip to Tulsa (during which, if memory serves, I also attended one of Pegasus Comics' "Conjuration" conventions for a while).

Depeche Mode's "Little 15," "Stripped," "It's Called a Heart," "Shake the Disease," "A Question of Time," "A Question of Lust," "Master & Servant," "People Are People..."  YES, I know that most of you already know that I'm a big Depeche Mode fan.  But imagine, if you will, that in the summer of 1988, after acquiring the 12" singles to "Behind the Wheel," "Never Let Me Down Again," and "Strangelove" (three different versions of that one), I ignorantly thought that I had every Depeche Mode 12" single ever released.  I didn't realize that they'd been producing 12" singles for the better part of a decade.  I think it was September of 1988 when I was looking around in the racks at Starship and I found a veritable treasure trove of Depeche Mode imports.  These records had remixes that I didn't know existed and a lot of B-sides that I had never heard!  Once I found out near the end of the year that Mohawk Music carried imported 12" vinyl as well, I then had two sources to supply my Depeche Mode addiction for years!  Once I knew about the imports at Starship, I let Dave know as soon as I got home, and I went to work making frequent trips to Tulsa to get more and more of these records.

(Right around that time, Dave got his first fog machine, and he brought it over to my house to show it off.  So, my brain usually tends to lump together the memories of discovering the new import DM vinyl, taking the PSATs for school... and having Dave shoot fog out of the front windows of my house, which made traffic on the adjacent highway slow down as drivers wondered what the hell was going on.)

Depeche Mode's "Route 66" (Beatmasters Mix).  I know I just mentioned Depeche Mode, but this one particular track is extra-special.  Around this time, I had a crush on a friend of mine at school - we'll call her Kathleen.  Earlier in 1988, she had started dating this real slimeball bleach-blond cretin a couple of years younger, and knowing that I was involved with DJing, he let me borrow a tape of tunes that he had recorded when he lived in California.  One of those was Depeche Mode's "Route 66," which had not been released by itself in the US; the domestic releases only featured megamixes of "Route 66" and "Behind the Wheel."  So, not only did this little jackass have the girl I had wanted to date for years, but he also had a DM song that I hadn't heard before.  Once I discovered the imports at Starship, I was able to obtain the "Behind the Wheel" single with the Beatmasters Mix of "Route 66" on the B-side, and I finalllllllly had that version of "Route 66."  I remember telling Dave, "I finally have that version of 'Behind the Wheel,' but I have a feeling that getting Kathleen will cost me more than $7.99."  Dave found this immensely funny.


It was a lifechanging year.

Obviously, as I've stated in the past, 1988 was a lifechanger for me.  I had started the year as a sixteen-year-old geekling, pretty much keeping to myself at home, programming on my Apple IIe and occasionally playing games on my Atari 2600.  My main aspirations in life were to go to college, get married, and become a famous writer of video games.

I ended the year as a seventeen-year-old with a pretty good foundational knowledge of club music, a rapidly-expanding Depeche Mode collection, and a slightly more solid idea of who I was and what I wanted to do with my life.  It was an incredible year... and I am still absolutely stunned that it was thirty full years ago.  It just doesn't make sense that I'm now forty-seven years old.


More soon... thanks as usual.


[Note:   I plan to add numerous photos to this post very soon, but wanted to make sure to get the text content up before the year was over.]