Who plays Japan’s best music?

Opinions - October 4th, 2002
Robert J. Collins

by Robert J. Collins

Eagle 810? Not on your life. The shame of it all is that people putting together their “shows” out there at Yokota believe they are playing Japan’s best music. We’ve reached the lowest common denominator in the thumping juvenilia recognized by several generations now as “music.”

(Remember when musical instruments included things like horns? And reeds? And strings on devices other than guitars? A recent FEN “infomercial” touted some teacher on base who was offering lessons for all kinds of music. Sounded good, except it was further explained this included hard rock guitar, heavy metal guitar, blues gui­tar and walking guitar.)

By the way (and I don’t mean to harp on the music, ahem, harp on the music), but do you notice the local disk jockeys during their little two- or three-hour stints on the air think of their performances as being “shows.” (“The guy in charge of the Big Noise in the Morning Show is on leave, so I’m taking his show while Twit covers for my Traffic Jamz Show and Tinker Bell takes over the Going Home For Lunch Show.”) Eh what? There’s a difference?

I can’t really argue about the music—eye, or ear of the beholder sort of thing—but I can discuss the serious concerns I have about tech­nical skills those clowns in the broadcast booth seem not to pos­sess. (“He’s not on that extension? I can never remember which phone button to push, yuk, yuk”)

Screwing up tine call-in system, or slipping the wrong CD in the wrong slot is one thing—and it’s the kind of mistake I would make, faced with all that computer and electrical gear—but doing it correctly without mistakes is their job! I don’t even want to hear that someone forgot to record Paul Harvey. These folks are the military mission on display. (“I can never remember which rocket this button activates, yuk yuk.” ZOOOOM KABOOOM “I guess it was that one, giggle. I just hope the guidance CD was in the correct slot”)

We are advised to tune in to Eagle 810 in the event of an emer­gency. We will be given clear-cut instructions as to basic survival. The problem is that three inches of snow knocked them off the air two years ago. I guess I was just lucky to have already heard six days of announce­ments from them and “secured my quarters” before the storm.

I also took the toys from outside back into the house. Thanks be to God. They were not able to broad­cast an “All Clear” afterwards but, when all my neighbors went off to work the next morning at the nor­mal time, I decided to risk it and go with them. No problem.

Anyway, Eagle 810 is off the air and will be until mid-October. They are replacing their transmitter. It’s about time. Something had been going wrong with that thing, and the station has had to close down for hours at a time to fix it. Good.

The interesting thing is that I miss the station. Obviously I miss the NPR programs, the various dis­cussion shows and of course sports from the States. (We’re now in the midst of Major League Baseball playoffs, plus the NFL season is up and running. This is a crucial period for those two sports.) I also miss sev­eral of the music programs on Sun­day nights and the Tom Joyner show on Monday nights.

But I also miss the general back­ground noise and inanities uttered by the good troops on local assign­ment. If nothing else, the famed infomercials are great fun:

• Two guys whacking golf balls. Whack. Whack. One guy asks the other if he’s playing golf this week­end. Whack. “Can’t get on the course,” the other guy says. “Then you should play on my (heretofore secret) course.” The first guy is then heard phoning up for a reservation. “Right down the middle,” says the other guy, voice cracking on the last syllable of middle. Whack. Now, my question is, where are these guys right now? Driving golf balls in someone’s living room? On the flight line? In the lobby of the Benny Decker Theater?

• Guy calling his wife. “I’ll be a little late, honey.” He’s going to Narita. The next tiling we know is that he’s a dollar short on bus fare (from Tama, of all places). He calls his wife and says he’ll really be late. Now, wasn’t there anyone around willing to lend him a buck? You’d think so.

• Guy gets into a taxi, and the driver, a wise-guy straight from Brooklyn, lectures his passenger on the wisdom of going back to school to get a Master’s degree. He knows how to get there. Now…well, you know, a wise-guy taxi driver from Brooklyn.. .graduate school.

Incidentally, why do knowl­edgeable people in those infomer­cials have English accents? What are they doing in the American military? And why do the stupid people speak with rural, southern accents? I’d be upset if I was from the rural south.

Anyway, Eagle 810 is off the air, and for reasons I don’t even com­pletely understand, I miss them.

“Do you speak English?” (Southern accent)

“Yes I do.”

“Good. Where is the train sta­tion?”

“Yes I do.”