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Home | Tag Archives: victor cruz

Tag Archives: victor cruz

Cruz’n The Borderland: An Expert’s Guide To Prince’s Music Catalog

EDITOR’S NOTE – While Victor would stop and correct me regarding his status and the title of this piece; never have I met an individual so perfectly qualified to speak and give advice on Prince and his body of work. To say that Vic is a ‘big fan’ of Prince would be akin to saying Leonardo DaVinci ‘sorta liked to draw.’  With that in mind, please enjoy the following tour through Prince’s Music.

The recent news of Prince’s entire Warner Bros discography finally being released to music streaming sites was huge to say the least. So many people can now go back and discover (and REdiscover) the musical genius of the iconic musician. But the next question to ask is…WHICH songs should I listen to?

Oh, sure…one can cheat and just log on and listen to any of the greatest hits compilations and hit repeat on ‘Kiss” “let’s Go Crazy” “Raspberry Beret” or even…dare I say it “Purple Rain?” And yes, they ARE probably his best known HITS. But I’ve often said, if you’re listening to only the hits, then you’re doing yourself an injustice.

Let me see if I can steer you in the direction of musical gems that you may NOT have heard, or at least give you a different perspective of listening to them. And of course we will start with the most obvious choice would be Purple Rain, but not just the song, the entire album.

While it may not be his “best” release in this reviewers opinion, it IS probably his best compiled.

The soundtrack to his debut semi-autographical movie flows along the path as the movie does. From the opening track of “Let’s Go Crazy’s” almost church-like feel…to closing strings of “Purple Rain,” it’s an emotional journey that places you (as best as he allows it) into the life of Prince, and his musical rise to super stardom.

Each track laid out masterfully. One doesn’t pick and choose the songs on this album…it’s worth starting from beginning and listening the whole way through, and then repeating the process.

One of Prince’s more underrated releases was another soundtrack, the alleged sequel to Purple Rain, called Graffiti Bridge. The movie was – to say the least – not very good. But the music is absolutely genius.

He performed half the songs on the album, and wrote songs from some of the co-stars that reads like a legendary concert in the making: Mavis Staples, The Time, Tevin Campbell and George Clinton.

The recommended track from this release are “The Question of U,”  a song that asks what is the answer to the question of you; a mix of blues and middle eastern accents in a slow, sexy burning tune. The other would be “Joy in Repetition,” a song that paints a picture of a lonely man, meeting his soul mate in a smoky jazz club, and the sublime ideal of finding something you were never even really looking for. Nirvana in a song.

We move on to Prince’s second release for Warner Brothers and add the tracks “Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad” and “ I Wanna Be Your Lover” to our playlist. Both songs are a mix of disco, rock, funk and souls, something we would hear a lot of from Prince thru out his career…and expect.

They sound as fresh today as they did back in 1978. Even more remarkable is the fact that, early on, Prince plays all his instruments. Just knowing this as you take a listen to these tracks (including the blistering solo at the end of “Why You Wanna treat Me So Bad”) is mind blowing in-and-of itself.

Now, lets journey to the year 1980 and Prince’s most “grown up” album at this point, Dirty Mind. Here we can see more adult themes emerging. Not adult in the sense of naught or dirty – although “Head” and “sister” have no problems claiming those labels – but more in the sense of grown up, with Prince exploring a new level of writing and presentation.

Recommended are “When you Were Mine” and “Uptown.” The first about a lover who misses a past romance, but realizing that things are better off, and he in fact loves her MORE now that she’s gone.

Cyndi Lauper cover this song on her debut album She’s So Unusual and did it much justice. The second song is a simple in-yer-face rock/funk track about growing up in Minneapolis and hanging out uptown. The night life, the music, the party scene…this is why Prince is who he is…

If you added any and all tracks from his 1985 release Around the World in a Day release, you would be giving yourself a treat. This is the follow up to Purple Rain and is so much more different in its musical style than the previous rock-styling.

In fact, most fan compare it to *gasp* the Beatles’ Sgt Pepper album. And to be fair, it is in a sense. Prince took a very experimental risk in releasing this immediately after “Purple Rain’s” success.

Each track different than the other…and the entire release so unique in its own right. “Pop Life” in its double echo effect, “Tambourine” an ode to a woman’s…musical instrument. “Paisley Park” an ode to finding happiness and joy from within.

To go further, with “Pop Life’s” double-time echo vocals and easy groove is achieved with a smooth bass guitar and piano embellishments. A drum machine provides handclaps to make the song danceable. The lyrics offering a a personal reflection for the listener as as to what exactly makes one happy.

If one feels the need to delve deep into true hidden gems on what’s available on the streaming sites, (Remember, most of what out now is roughly his Warner Brothers catalog and most of his later releases are NOT yet available…c’mon…Gold Experience!) then take a listen to The Hits and the B Sides and avoid the hits, and listen to the b-sides.

It’s hard to imagine why most of THESE tracks were never really given a proper release…the most highly agreed about song on the list is 17 DAYS. Many fans would argue it is quite possibly his best song ever written.

Other tracks worth a listen are “Hello” a sly response to critics of his NOT appearing on the “We Are The World” single, even though he DID give a song “For The Tears In UR Eyes”, which is also on this list. “Erotic City,” a P-Funk throwback, “She’s Always In My Hair”, an ode to the one that, no matter the situation Prince is in SHE is always there, in his hair as it would be.

One of the last suggestions would be, coincidentally enough, one of Prince’s last releases: Art Official Age. And here, I will offer that one should listen to the album in its entirety.

Because Prince passed shortly after its release, it almost seems prophetic in what he was saying…transcending into a new and different life, a higher level of existence. The stand out favorite here is a song called “This Could Be Us.”

In many ways finally having Prince’s music available online will spark new interest into the icon, and hopefully will make much of the rumored VAULT available, so new generations of fans can appreciate him, and his writing.

Cruz’n the Borderland: Thank you for being a friend!

I always knew how important “friends” were to me. The best memories I have from school are about my friends.

I cant tell you Ohm’s Law off the top of my head, or can I tell you, without looking it up, the checks and balances of our government. BUT I CAN tell you a play by play account of the night night me and my friends almost got arrested in Juarez the night before Christmas.

And I can specifically tell you about the lunches that were spent driving to Chico’s, and what was on the jukebox, and how we would ditch 4 th period so we could have a decent lunch break.

Because all these things involved the heroes of my childhood, my high school friends. Many of which I still talk to, hang out, tell the same old stories. The ones that make me laugh out loud, ( a feat in of itself!)

And if this journey has taught me anything, its to value the NEW friends I met everyday SINCE then. Sure, you can blame it on my “fame”…if it wasn’t for what I’ve done in my life as a career choice, ok…I probably never would have met a majority of the people I now know.

But I’ve never seen it that way. I’ve never considered myself “famous”…I’m just a guy on the radio. But all things considered, I have met some amazing people.

And the ones who have stuck around…the ones who make me laugh, and think, and raise me up to a level I’ve never experienced….these people’s stories are the ones who need to be told.

Comedians, musicians, athletes, radio/ TV personalities, military personnel, business managers, and ordinary citizens just trying to make it in life. These ae the people I surround myself with.

And not a one of them is more important than the next…each are as equal in mine eyes. But nonetheless, each story is unique and needs to be shared.

Meet my friend Erika. She’s an EMT I (emergency medical technician intermediate) whom I met via Facebook thru mutual friends. But she has proven to be a dear friend. In weird and surreal ways, she always manages to show up, quite literally, when I need her most.

Maybe its because of her calling in the medical field, but when I’ve been laid out, on my arse in the hospital, she’s managed to some how show up and spend a few moments with, lifting me up if only for a few moments.

And don’t let the fact that shes a female in “a man’s world” cement any kind of ideals you may have. She does her job, well. She is a single parent, simply trying to fit in AND break the mold!!

When I asked her to explain what the hardest thing about her job is, she hit me with this:

Well, what is it about a female that screams, “Easy target?”

Be it in the workplace or simply a social situation, it seems as though, we should not be able to speak and evoke any thought provoking conversation. Is it my groomed hair? The make up? My friendly demeanor or my batting eyelashes?

Maybe, it’s my small stature and frame which makes me appear defenseless? Last I checked I was a strong woman, able to form intelligent and coherent thoughts. I know far more than I should of life and it’s enjoyments.

Being a woman doesn’t mean I have to fit into this mold society has created. I say, to hell with the stereotypical pregnant, barefoot, baby-on-hip woman who does nothing more than what she is asked by her husband.

I work in a male dominated field and wear a man’s uniform to work. I do my job just as well as some and far better than others. I watch sports and enjoy them, and actually know what the hell is going on.

I can take care of myself and my kid without the help of a man, thankyouverymuch. I will never fit into any of society’s molds, because I am who I am and have not and will not make any apologies for the way I choose to live my life.

I simply consider myself, enlightened. My eyes are open and I like what I see.

Erika is a strong individual, possibly one of the strongest I know…literally and figuratively. She was there the night before my heart surgery, giving me advise and comfort. Even though she wasn’t *right* about some things. It was still great having her around that night.

Her strength is one of the reasons why I keep her around as a friend. I think you pull certain energies from people. I could only be as strong as she has become.

Thanx, friend.

I have finally seen the light, And I have finally realized what you mean.

Cruz’n the Borderland: A Column with Heart Part 3 – Now that’s a close shave!

It was the fourth full day in the hospital and the leads on my chest (those little round sticky things that monitor all your vitals) weren’t reading correctly due to the sweat and (lets be honest!) body hair. They just weren’t making a good connection.

I wasn’t dirty, per say…I mean, I DID get a chance everyday to wash myself down and even managed a shower on sat. its was a shower by definition…..I stood in a stall, and water came out from the shower head…but it was more like…a suggestion of a shower.

Even at that, it was the best I had had in a few days.

But now, its Sunday…and the lead just wont stay put. Which is ok, but the monitor its connected to starts to beep a warning and now its beeping all the time. I was fortunate to have many, many, MANY guest come and visit…but to be honest, I was worried that listeners would start showing up.

I mean, that’s nice and all, but I had to set aside a rule with the wife and hospital that only family and friends could come by…and even at that, I had many, MANY visitors. Sunday was the first day I had a break in the flood of friends coming to see me. So I told the day nurse, Missy about the lead.

“Well, there’s no one around…let me shave that area so it catches better!” Hey hey…alright…now we’re talking! Actually the idea was funny to me. I always threatened the wife that “one day….I’m gonna shave my chest hair…you’ll see!” And now at the age of 43, I had a nurse actually doing it for me!

Listen, friends its sounds a whole lot sexy on paper. Trust me, there was nothing “sexy” about it. Missy had me remove my gown from the chest down to the waist. She had thrown a few towels on the floor around the toilet in the room (remember the toilet? Refer to the 2nd article of this series for that gem!) and I had to lean over in hopes most of the hair would fall in.

Not sexy. Very clinical. And it doesn’t help that, I’m laughing thru whole procedure, uttering “Oh, Missy….you’re gonna get it. When the wife finds out..you’re in trouble!”

It was within the first 3 minutes (yes, it took THAT long!) that there’s was a jiggle-movement on the handle at my door! In an instant the door flung open, and there’s Michael, my brother in law walking in on our shave session.

I can only imagine what went thru his mind when he walked in, and saw his sister’s husband, half naked, leaning over the toilet, being shaved by a nurse. Lets just say we ALL were embarrassed…except for the nurse!

But, oh…that’s not the worst of it The surgery was Tuesday morning.

So Monday night Alice, the night time nurse came in and said, “It’s time to prep your for surgery!”

There’s that word again…PREP. I knew what that meant. And after the situation with Missy, I was NOT looking forward to it .

Alice recommended we go to the showers and she would shave me with an electric razor. I didn’t everything in my power to insist that I was able to do it myself, and if I needed any help I would for sure let her know. I got her to agree…and in hind sight I should have just let her, pride aside.

Here’s how I look at the time: tired, weakened from being in bed for over 4 days with little mobility. I have my left arm wrapped up (a bit more than needed to be, by the way ALICE!!) to keep the 3-5 heplocks in my arms dry. I’m half shaved and scared about the pending surgery in less than 12 hours.

Now, I need to totally shave myself…yes, totally because, according to Alice when it comes to surgery, “hair is dirty.” Good to know, thanks Alice…thanks. The razor she gave me was a razor by definition…it was electronic, its moved, had teeth that SHOULD have cut and that’s about it.

But here I was, 20 mins into shaving myself without really making any progress. I’m in the shower, Alice is is just on the other side of the curtain…oh and did I mention the wife is sitting a few feet away in the waiting area? A half hour later (yes its taking that long!) I’m gassed out. I had to finally swallow pride and let Alice do her job.

“Hey, Alice…I…I just cant anymore…” she agrees its best and takes over. Now…I’m still standing in the shower, naked. Alice has started shaving my legs and is in a baseball catcher’s position…shaving…me.

Parts of my body that should not be anywhere NEAR anyone’s face are seconds away from hers. And I’m am not comfortable about it.

Not. In. The. Least.

Alice, after a solid half hour of trying to shave me down, and uttering “there’s so much hair!” every few seconds, decides the best way to take care of this is to go back to the room, lay me down and shave me the ol’ fashioned way…Oh. Joy.

I’m back on my bed, laying on my back, nude, half-shaven, lower part of the body covered in shaving cream, with a young nurse a breath away from my privates.

I couldn’t NOT laugh. Alice asks me, “c’mon…is THIS the most awkward thing that has ever happened to you?”

I’m gonna say, YES, Alice. Most definitely yes.

PROLOGUE

Im able to laugh at the situation now, best rest assured, I was scared out of my mind that night. I guess it was best that I had that experience, to take my mind off of the pending bypass.

And I was blessed to have so many people come and visit, and well wish me back to health. The power of prayer and just being positive….i can swear to you today, it helped me. I FELT IT! I recognize what happened to me, and felt the positivity surrounded me. I honestly believe I would not have made it with out it!

You see, I always look for signs and symbols in life. Signs to comfort me in times of need.

The surgery was on June 7th, at 7 am. That date is Prince’s birthday; somehow, knew I would be ok.

To read Victor’s previous columns, click HERE

Cruz’n the Borderland: A Column with Heart: Part 2 – Plans and Preps

When I was approached a year ago to contribute to the Herald Post online, I was honored. I finally had a way to communicate the thoughts and ideas in my head and in my soul. Sure, radio gave me a voice, but I haven’t been able to truly express things properly.

Finally, I had plans. I had plans of what it was I wanted to say and share with the readers. I had plans to talk about how I got into radio, and more importantly the people I met and the friends I made.

I had plans to share their stories and lift them up so people could see the amazing people here in El Paso…the talent, the kind-hearts, the extraordinary souls that I’ve managed to surround myself with.

I had plans for that.

I also had plans for MY life in general…but to misquote John Lennon, “Life is what happens when you make plans.”

I was admitted into the hospital on a Wednesday night. Well, it was actually Thursday, early morning. My plan was to figure out what this pain was in my chest, maybe get a pill or two prescribed that I would have to take the rest of my life, check out by Saturday or Monday the latest, then get back to my plans.

So when the heart doctor came in and told me they needed to do an angiogram to see what and how much damage there was to the heart after the minor heart attack the night before, I knew “plans” were about to change. This would be my first procedure ever in a hospital. And im starting to worry about it.

The doctor tells me, “we insert a tube into you and then shoot dye and take X-rays to see if—-“ shoot dye? WHERE? By what means and/or orifice are we doing that, exactly?!? I know of the procedure and was well aware that it would go in thru the groin area, but the good Doctor looked at my left wrist and said, “hmmmmm, this seems strong enough…we can probably do it here!”

Well, that’s a bit of relief.

The angiogram is planned for the afternoon at 4:00 pm, and I won’t be unconscious, but I WILL be sedated and probably won’t remember anything…ok, more good news. 4:00 o’clock came and I was wheeled down to the procedure room, and waiting for the doctor to show up as the prepped me.

“Prepped”. Yeah, I now know what that means…strip down and shave all the places the doctor may need to go in order to get the dye in. Yup, even *there*…along with the wrist.

I was awake for that, and was able to ask the technician questions prior to it actually happening. Silly smartass questions, done more so to put me at ease over this. I had a few seconds as I waited for the doctor to get ready and I started thinking, so what’s next?

I mean, what if there’s damage?? What now? Pills? Do I need surgery? Do I WANT surgery? Will I even live thru the surgery? (Hey, these are the things you think about!) What other options do I have?

I’m not that old, do I go the rest of my life with the fear of a possible bigger heart attack? This one was minor and I didn’t even know it was happening as it was. I never felt the pains or signs that are associated with tradition heart attacks. What’s going to happen the next time?

Oh…hey…the sedative is starting to kick in…I guess its time.

Here comes the doctor. “how ya feeling??” …I don’t remember answering.

YOU WANNA HEAR THE UNIVERSE LAUGH? TELL HER YOUR PLANS

I didn’t sleep – I wasn’t unconscious – and to be honest, I don’t really remember what happened. But I’m starting to see things now.

And the first thing I see is the doctor, 3 inches from my face, talking very sternly thru his mask He’s saying something that sounds important but I can’t quite make it out…”damage”…””blockage”…”options”…

Doc, I hear ya but it’s just not making sense.

They wheel me, bed and all back to my room…my room!…I haven’t even told you about it yet.

It’s a private room of sorts. That is, no one else is there, its small and hot!

No windows, so you can’t tell what time of day it is so you really have to rely on the clock on the wall. Or the constant stream of nurses coming in and out, almost like clock work.

And then there’s a toilet. Like, RIGHT THERE!! Right by the door!! See it? No privacy…it’s just…there. It’s almost like a prison cell. That’s what I would tell family and friends that came and visited. “There’s not much room, but you’re more than welcome to have the Prison Seat!

It’s a bit comical, to be honest. But hey, I won’t be in it much longer , so no worries. So, they place me back in my “prison”.

I can see my wife waiting for me in my room, but she’s in tears…why? “Babe, what’s wrong with you?” “Do you understand what’s happening?” she sobbed. In this state of mind, to me, it looks like water is pouring from her eyes…. I shake my head…”No”… “You have severe blockage! They may have to operate”

“…hmmm…ok, let’s talk about it later.” And I fell asleep.

Alice was the night time nurse, and Monday night she came in the room to tell me “Surgery is tomorrow, I have to prep you now.”

Oh, great…..PREP…I know what that means…considering that Missy, the day nurse had already shaved my chest yesterday, THIS should be interesting.

Read Part One HERE

Cruz’n the Borderland: A Column with Heart – Part One

What I remember was I started to open my eyes, and everything was a blue/grey kinda bland color.

I saw these two females at the foot of my bed, that was about as far as I could see. The taller one, a blonde, spoke “Hey , he’s waking up”

*where WAS I?*

“how are you feeling”…

*who ARE these people*

…”uhhhm ok…where am i?”…”You don’t know…?”

…* honey, I have no idea whats going on!!*

“No, what’s happening? What happened?”…”

*I can see a little more passed them now, still no color……who’s THAT guy? Behind the computer monitor….?? Am I in a hotel lobby…? And now the tall blond turns to her partner, a short little brunette*

“He had a bad reaction to the Morphine, we had to counter act it with some…”

*MORPHINE??!??….what the fuu—-*  “I’m having a hard time remembering things right now, what happened to me?”

*The tall one looks concerned*

“you had a heart attack. You had surgery this morning….do you know what today’s date is??”

*man, what the hell happened?*

“Uhhhhmmmmm….no…”

“its June, 2016”

*…holy Hell…that’s the future!! So, these two….must be nurses….so THAT means…I’m in a hospital…???*

“Where’s my wife” *now, the little one speaks…* “She went home, she’s been here all day…do you want me to call her for you?”

* I need an anchor, I need to hear her voice…maybe that will bring back the memory*

…”Yes, please…”

*The tall blonde is calling her. There’s something about the little one, she looks familiar*…

”Excuse me, do I know you from somewhere??”

“I’m Alice, your nurse!! I prepped and shaved you last night!”

*Wow, you would think that would be something id remember…maybe if I held her hand some sort of energy will come to me….*

“Tell me…Tell me what happened??”

“You don’t remember? You were at home, a week ago…playing video games, and you came in complaining of chest pains. You had a heart attack…”

*Well, that SOUNDS like me…but….i just can’t remember…

***

For about a week, there was this pain right in middle of my chest that wouldn’t go away. It didn’t radiate or move or change, it just…sat there. Almost as soon as I would recognize it as being there, it would go away. So naturally I ignored it for the week.

Until Wednesday night.

The wife was in the bedroom, painting and coloring, I was in the living room on the Xbox, trying to make it to the next level in whatever game I was playing. But the pain…the pain wouldn’t let me concentrate on the game. It was frustrating to say the least, but it hurt. I put the controller down, and walked around the apartment.

Typical guy response, huh…”walk it off”….well, it wasn’t working. The wife knew something was up, almost like she sensed it right off the bat!

“Are you ok?” “yeah, yeah, its just this pain wont go away….I’ve tried walking and stretching but it wont stop…maybe if I go throw up I’ll feel better…”

At that moment, I knew that wasn’t the answer, but part of the problem. I wasn’t trying to be stubborn. I just hate the hospital. Well, truth be known, as a type one diabetic, I’ve spent more than my fair share of time in a hospital bed, and there is nothing fun about it you can try and make it fun, but I have the “3 day rule.”

After 3 days, your mind starts want to leave. Its not a resort or a hotel room, it’s a hospital. There’s no resting and very little sleeping. People constantly coming in and out, taking blood, giving medicine, running tests and never getting results.

And the smell….not the hospital clean and sterile smell mind you. There’s a certain smell of the beds. The vinyl, mixed with sweat…after 3 days you WILL sweat. It’s a very unique and unforgettable smell. It’s not a stench, but a smell nonetheless that you just cant forget.

Now, on the plus side, I LOVE hospital breakfasts. Specifically the eggs. I know, I know…Egg Beaters…but man, in the hospital they are sssooooo gooood! And so the decision was made to go to the hospital and see what this was all about.

“Besides, babe…” I told the wife, “ Ill be in 2-3 days tops. They will give me a pill that ill take the rest of my life, and ill be home Saturday… Monday the latest. Let’s just go.”

***

Thru the haze of the anesthesia I saw the angioplasty doctor 2 inches away from my face…I heard the words “ blockage” and “options.”

And now I’m back in my hospital room and the wife is in tears. Why is she crying?? “Do you understand whats happening?”

I shook my head no.

“ You have severe blockage and might need surgery” she half yelled and half cried. I think my response was, “ Well….we’ll talk about it later…”

I was admitted that Wednesday night. This was Thursday afternoon.

Yeah, we need to address my situation…SOON!

Cruz’n the Borderland: Spirit of Radio Part 3

After all the highs and lows of my career choice, I can say…radio broke me.   Ok, ok, maybe that’s a little dramatic.  But I CAN say it changed me,  dare I say it opened my eyes to things.  I learned from her.

Life isn’t always straight forward with bumps in the road, its more than that.   Its curves, and jumps and set backs and magicians doing tricks, and if you’re  lucky enough to watch from backstage, you get to see how  the tricks are done, and realize it all one big production that runs the same every show, in every town!

Now, I’m not saying I don’t believe in the magic of it anymore, I’ve just been exposed to SOME of the truths. (No, no…I’m not talking Illuminati/skull and crossbones things!)

Let me explain:  Radio was magical…in its very process.  From talking into a mic to thousands of people you could see, and they couldn’t see you!   Sending music and audio from the studio, to the antennae on  top of the mountain so that these invisible signals could reach these boxes that decode them and let the listener enjoy the audible nuggets in the privacy of their home, or car, or work…MAGIC!

The reactions of people when they found out that YOU were in fact the voice that came out of their radios…and if you could “say something you would say on the radio, but don’t change your voice!!”

And yet, somewhere, almost recently, the true magic is gone.  I COULD blame corporate suits and their homogenizing of radio, making one station sound like every other station across the country, sucking the fun and soul and – dare I say – the talent out of it.

It’s true…listen to any so-called “DJ” here in town.  Listen to their delivery…fast, monotone…almost as if they are trying to hurry to say what they have to say so that there’s time for the commercials to play!  Guess what?  That’s what they are doing.   No life behind what they are saying,  no conviction.

But not all of us….some of the best (yup, present company included…*giggles*) still try to give a bit of character and provenance to what we are telling you.   Makes it a bit more personable.  We try not to sound cookie cutter, and non-complacent.   That is, those of us who are STILL live on the air…*is that a behind the scenes factoid about how corporate makes DJs voice track, and record their shows, and maybe that’s ANOTHER reason why its become life-less??*

And because of radio, I’ve become a bit more jaded in life, a bit more bitter.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m still the same wise-cracking, lovable SOB you’ve grown to know and love, but I’m constantly looking for the man behind the curtain in the merry old land of Oz because I KNOW that’s  how it works…I’m the guy figuring out the movie’s plot-twist before it happens.

I’m the guy looking for the “plant” in a production where audience members are asked to go on stage…I’m the one looking for the string, or stagehand dressed in black, or hand signals that indicate something went wrong or right!    Oh, yeah…I’m A LOT of fun in public outings.

But that’s not to say I’ve given up on the magic.no, no…in fact far from it.  I’ve just happened to have found a new hiding place for the magic: It’s in the people I’ve met.

The friends I’ve made, the people who are on tv and movies that know me,  the family that has supported me over the years, the people who still get excited that I’m the guy from the radio, and want to talk musical opinions with me,  the local bands I’ve know,  it goes on and on.

And that’s the real magic.

Those people who have basically, in a sense made Victor Cruz who HE is.    Those are the stories that need to be told…because everyone has a story…and when you meet them, and find out about them, you absorb their energy, they life, their story.

It becomes a part of you, and THEN it needs to be released into the universe, so that they themselves live on.

Indulge me, for in the next few weeks I will be telling those stories…the stories of the people I’ve met, that have kept me going.   The stories of my friends and family.

Man, this would make for a wicked book…

Cruz’n the Borderland: The Spirit of Radio – Part Two

When we last left our intrepid radio personality-to-be, he had just missed his chance in the business…or did he…

I DID finally get my meeting with the program director of KROD  AM radio station, after he was done with production.

I didn’t know what that meant, but here we were a few weeks later, me sitting in the converted AM studio, making commercial tapes, adding  tones to the end of each break so the computer knew when to trip it back to the satellite so that the programming would start back up…yup, this was my job.

Wasn’t too glamorous, but dammit, I did it…I OWNED IT!!  It was my room for the 3-4 hours at a time that I had to do this.  I was even earning college credits for my practicum course!  I was doing what I went to school for!

Back then the AM station, Big 600 KROD, was on satellite programming, and we had these big reel-to-reel tapes that needed to be triggered so that the local commercials would play. Then audio tones were added afterwards, so it would trigger back to the satellite network.

Well, someone was responsible for “dubbing” the commercials down on the reels ever day, and this was my job!  Major responsibilities here…and I loved doing it.  I was finally “IN,”  rubbing elbows with the names and voices of my youth.   Being able to call them my contemporaries and dare I say, friends.

Weekends consisted of running the board for sports, and making sure the commercials scheduled would run.  This is pre-computer days. Someone had to babysit the board.  And it was  typically sports and talk radio at that time.  Its when I first met John Tiecher and Duke Keith, two of the BEST voices in radio, ever!

As I would dub theses commercials and tones in the AM production room, they would be hosting SportTalk.  I got to see first hand how a show is produced.  Then I got my chance to actually sit in the big boy chair and produce shows of my own.   Well, it was more like, sit there  and make sure  Imus In The Morning was still being fed from New York down to us here.

Sometimes in the afternoons, I’d roll out with by buddy  KC  and actually set up remotes and live broadcasts, which meant we would set up all the equipment for the live shows, then sit and eat and drink cranberry juice for 2-3 hours.    I got  to run sports games too, like baseball games…which was as boring as boring could be…baseball…on radio…pretty boring.

BUT  it was those hours I put in,  the hours of learning and observing,  that dedication that got me noticed by the “higher ups”  at the station!  The dedication I put in…the hard work, driving the van, setting remotes up, doing more volunteering than jobs that I got paid for…it all was about to pay off!!

Well, actually, one day,  the program director at the time asked me, in his lispy-high voice he had… “Hey, there’s an opening for a weekend overnite jock, you want it?”  Nothing ceremonial about it.  It was very matter-of-factly.   But my answer was,   “Do i?? YOU BET!!” What is that anyway…??

Back in the days before computers and automation, we ACTUALLY had live jocks  playing music on the radio….and the idea of cds were still pretty new at that time!!

Here’s what the typical overnight on-air shift consisted of:  coming in about an hour early, checking to see if there was any production you had due,  and pulling all the cds for the next 5 hours or so of your shift, meaning  going thru the music log, finding the song on the cd in the back rack  and literally having ready to play!

Then, you got the commercial log and pulled all the commercials for the hour!  Same concept  except for the fact the commercials were on these 8 track looking cartridges we simply called carts.  (clever, huh?)

Then,  you sat there, and did your best NOT to be bored for 5-6 hours from midnight til 5 or 5:30 am when the morning show guys would start to filter in.   And this is years before the internet!

Imagine…NOTHING to do to pass the time except *gasp*  pay attention to what was going on over the air and trying NOT to fall asleep!  I did a LOT of reading.  Read the trade magazines and music paper as I could get get myself familiar with the the format and industry.

 Interesting sidenote: we had these professional cd players that would countdown and at :30 seconds til the song was over, would make a “click” sound….man, how many times did I fall asleep  during a 3-4 minute long song only to be awakened by that click, wide-eyed and awake, ready to go into the next song.

At some point, the parent company purchased a rival radio station and that meant, I had a partner in crime at night.  And it was glorious!!   Now I had a new way to help stay awake and pass the time.

Paul and I would toss a Frisbee or football down the hallway, from studio to studio  just to stay awake.   We would even play UNO, and make movie bets:  winner had to buy the loser a movie. And by the way, UNO with two people is a bit difficult.  But we managed.

Needless to say, when a phone call would come in, you would take the time and talk to the listeners.  At that late at night/early in the morning  you got to talk to some pretty interesting people…and it wasn’t always drunks!   There are a lot of people awake late at night;  working or just plain insomniacs.

Legal assistants were my favorites…they were the more are I say  intelligent conversations you could have at 2 in the morning.   Oh sure, don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the  occasional  “partying, woooooo!!” call from time to time, or the “what caller am i?” when we weren’t even anywhere near a contest!

And I DID look forward to Blas from Vado to call.  He woke up at 3 to go check on the cows and chickens on the dairy and farm he worked at…there was Chris from La Luz  who loved talking music and Pink Floyd…there was “my good buddy Ken”  who worked at a plastics molding maquilador and even dropped of some hunks of plastic just cuz I asked him to once!

And then there were the drunk strippers who would start calling in at around 3 and 3:30…they were fun, ‘cuz they just wanted to hear their song. Nothing  more.   And sometimes, if you played their request…sometimes they would call back and thank you…and offer a dance for free if you ever would visit them.

I never did that…honest.  But I digress…

So my buddy Dave and I were sitting at Nero’s, waiting for the next girl to take the stage…uhmmmm, wait…better not tell that story, yet.  Save it for a different column.

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