DJ Badger:  The News and the Journal

Entry Two Hundred Twenty-One.
Monday, 2019.09.16, 6:16 PM CST.

I'm not retiring... but I'm close.  Here's why.
Current Mood:  Pensive and introspective.
Current Scent:  To Sur with Love by Pheobe Peacock.


DISCLAIMER:   This one's going to contain more foul language than usual.  If you don't like the types of words that you'll hear in a lot of R-rated movies, you probably won't want to read all of this.


All right... time for some "real talk."  This won't be completely positive, and it won't be completely professional.  This is me, reaching out to you, on a very personal basis, about how I feel and some actions I'm taking.

I've been doing a LOT of thinking.  In fact, most of this post was originally written way back in MAY, but I kept wanting to make sure that I was ready to post it, and I suppose that I finally am.

I am not retiring.  However, it's time to apply the brakes and (yes, yet again) re-evaluate what I'm doing with my life.


Pop in a Blender - Done.

During my performance the last Pop in a Blender event - the sixteenth one held at Tulsa's Lot No. 6 Art Bar back in April - I picked up my phone and posted on the DJ Badger Facebook page that it was going to end up being the final Pop in a Blender... and that, furthermore, I was not going to take any further DJ bookings for a while.

I want you to imagine this:  You show up at a venue early in the day and spend about an hour and a half hauling in heavy sound and light gear and setting it all up.  You then drive back across town to your home, where you gulp down a bit of dinner, say hi to your family, and load your vehicle up with four heavy cases of vinyl and CDs, along with even more light equipment, and head back up to the venue to set that all up and start your performance for a party that you've told lots of people about.

The party is free to attend.  The venue is non-smoking.  It's just a laid-back, chilled-out party with fun pop music from eras from the 80s up to modern day.

And nobody shows up for it.  Not a single goddamned soul.

Yes, people end up coming into the venue, but for other reasons.  Just to drink, or perhaps to play shuffleboard.  Not one person that you know bothers to show up for the event that you've worked so hard to offer them for free.  At times, the venue is completely empty - except for you, playing music to an empty room.

Then, when it's over... you take about a half-hour after it's over to take part of the music and part of the gear home, and the next day, you come back for about another hour to tear the rest of it down and take it home.

Counting the equipment setup (about three and a half hours including driving), the equipment teardown (about an hour and forty minutes including driving), the performance itself (a bit over four hours considering that I was allowed to stop a little early), the prep work of initially loading gear into my car (about an hour), unloading the gear after getting home (about forty-five minutes total), and the work of preparing which vinyl and CD selections to take to the event beforehand (about an hour)... we're looking at about twelve hours of labor.

That twelve hours effectively ruins any other plans you have for the weekend.  It gouges into your family time; you can't play games with your kids or spend time with your spouse.  But, you're doing this for the passion of giving people something that they'll enjoy.

Twelve hours.  To play to a room where absolutely zero people bothered to show up for what you offered - again, as publically announced, for free.

How would that make you feel?

Do the words "fuck that" come to mind?

They do to mine.

So, Pop in a Blender is now finished.  Sixteen events over the course of three years was a good run.

Sadly, it's not the first series of my own events that I've had to kill due to low turnout.  Nitro/Gen retro night died after four events.  PROG51 - about which I was especially passionate - lasted two events, the second of which I had a total of four people show up for.


So, yeah...  I get it.

I can't say I'm not a little bitter about it, but I do "get it."

I know that DJ Afistaface was performing at the Starlite that same night.  The Starlite is a more popular venue for dance music - I respect that - and Afistaface is easily more popular than I am.  I respect her a great deal.  I'm not pissed at them.  It would be absurd to be.

But, that night did help to reinforce my understanding of my place in Tulsa.


I'm an outsider.  I always have been.

I've always been seen as somewhat of an "outsider" in the Tulsa DJ scene.  I didn't start DJing in the clubs; I started performing at school dances and weddings, running my own mobile DJ company from 1989 until the end of 2002.  I then had a few events at the Gypsy coffee house and I DJed at an underground fetish venue for a while.  I didn't DJ at a proper club event until 2009, when I'd already been DJing for twenty years.  I felt like I had paid my dues, but I was a "newbie" to club DJing, and a rather extreme newbie at organizing and promoting club events.

Over the years, I've stubbornly held on to the age-old process of playing music without a laptop, on real vinyl and CDs, a practice that fewer and fewer people respect.

I've believed in bringing intense, professional light gear when there hasn't been any at a venue, because it's important to provide an energetic visual experience along with the music.  Most DJs just don't care.

I've tended to play entire songs - not just a minute or so before hastily moving to the next one - because I don't believe in cutting things short to cater to the immediate-gratification ADHD mentality.  Musicians and producers haven't worked so hard on their songs in order for me to play you only a snippet.

I've been known as "the old-school specialist" for all those reasons and more.  I'm a dying breed.

Maybe that "dying breed" part is for the best.


In addition, I try to be super-friendly until I'm disrespected.  I don't mind taking requests in an orderly fashion, but I won't be your personal jukebox, I don't like being swarmed with people who are yelling at me, and I don't react well when a horde of self-entitled drunks yell demands at me like I'm the musical equivalent of a goddamned street whore.  (This was a huge part of the problem at my most recent New Year's Eve performance.)

The customer is not always right, and if you tell me to play something that I think is trash, I probably won't play it.  If you come up with an attitude and treat me like shit, odds are you won't like my reaction.


I often play remixes, which I've collected over the course of three decades and thousands upon thousands of dollars, instead of the same old radio/album versions that are easy to get.  Some people don't like remixes.  Those people are welcome to stay home and listen to their iTunes.

I am not the best at mixing, especially these days.  I don't practice as much as I used to.  I have a full-time "day job," a wife, and two great kids.  Because I eschew laptops for DJing, I don't get to use a magic "sync button" or line up waveforms during my performances to make things easy.  I don't want to.  Sorry, not sorry.

I still consider myself damn good at what I do.


At least I'm not the event promoter who [allegedly, from the accounts of numerous alleged witnesses] got liquored up a few years back and cracked one of his own DJs over the head with the back lid of a toilet.  Anyone remember that piece of shit?

On the contrary...  I'm known for being extremely kind to the DJs who appear at my events and paying them fairly - even if the event isn't successful and I have to pay them out of my own pocket in order to keep my word.  That integrity has always been important to me, because I've had a ton of respect for those DJs who were kind enough to perform alongside me.  I've worked hard to maintain a reputation as a solid event promoter with integrity.

But, yeah...  I'm the outsider.  I'm the weirdo.  No need to bother showing at my events anymore.  I get it.


Plus, too many current musicians... and not-so-current musicians... suck.

There are numerous artists that I just refuse to play because, by principle, I don't want to buy their music or promote their work.  These artists include Nicki Minaj, Marilyn Manson, Lil Wayne, Kid Rock, Kanye West, David Allan Coe*, NWA, Ted Nugent, Chris Brown (seriously, how does he still have a career?), Gary Glitter, Ozzy Osbourne, and pretty much any "mumble rapper."  In recent years, I've added R. Kelly to my list.

*(Yes, for several years in my early mobile DJ career, I agreed to play "You Never Even Called Me By My Name," before I found out that David Allan Coe was a racist piece of shit.  I don't play it anymore.)

I don't like disappointing clients, but I'm also not going to support artists that I oppose on an ethical basis.  I know what some of you might be thinking:  "You're a DJ; just shut up and do your job."  I've got a better deal for you:  I'll say whatever I damn well please, I'll do my job the way I want to, and if you don't like it, you can go piss up a rope.  Deal?  Deal.


I've got health issues.

I've been very open about my longtime battles with clinical depression, and I'm happy to report that thanks (primarily) to the efforts of the amazing Dr. Jeffrey Chasteen, I've been able to alleviate my depression a great deal.  I have respiratory flareups (asthma/bronchitis) at least once or twice per year.  Plus, as I mentioned in my last post here, I had a prostate cancer scare late last year, and then I had another one this year.  (Fortunately, both biopsies were negative.)  This year, I've also dealt with some major sleep apnea issues, currently being addressed with a CPAP machine.

When I started in the industry, I was only sixteen.  My parents helped me start my first DJ company when I was only seventeen.  I was young, and I had so much more energy then; now, I'm forty-seven.  I'm not completely broken down, but I definitely have more health issues than I used to, and for the love of God, I'm tired.

I think that it was Plato or perhaps Aristotle who once wrote, "Getting old sucks shit."  Indeed.

Hauling around all of the events takes A LOT out of me.  I get stressed out for days beforehand and I usually have to do some major catching up on sleep and get "back in sync" with the rest of my family afterward.  I'm not just showing up at a venue and popping open a laptop.  I'm busting my ass with some really big, heavy gear to present my crowds with some type of real DJ "experience..." and, in more and more cases, it's feeling like it's just not worth it anymore.

I've never "done this for the money."  I mean, yes, I require money for my services, but that was never the driving force for me behind DJing.  I wanted people to have a good time.  I wanted to entertain.  I wanted people to appreciate my work.  If my work isn't being appreciated... and people aren't showing up... then what am I even doing?


I have other passions.

I've got a lot of other things that take up chunks of what little spare time I have - not counting the obvious time I spend with my family.  I'm slowly working on writing a novel (okay, maybe two novels).  I produce electronic music.  I organize occasional game nights in Tulsa with friends.  I love movies and some very select TV/Netflix/Amazon series.  Finally, as many of you know, I collect a lot of stuff - like old video games and neckties.  Plus, I have a slew of books that I want to read before I die.  If I gave up DJing right now, I promise you that I would still have plenty of things to keep me occupied.


So, what to do?  Give up DJing entirely?  No.

I'm not retiring... but I'm cutting things down very, very drastically.

The details will be in my next blog post... which I will upload around the same time as this one.


More soon... and massive thanks to those of you who have bothered showing up to my events.  It has meant the world to me.