Last Friday I hosted my final Aerial View show, wrapping up with an excellent Marathon haul (I should leave more often!) thanks to the fine MC work of Ken Freedman and a multitude of generous listeners. For a moment - toward the end - I got real choked up and thought I might break down on the air, actually start sobbing like a kid watching his ice cream cone drop onto a hot July sidewalk. It didn't happen. I was able to maintain my composure and go out on a high note. Since then it's occurred to me that I probably won't feel the loss until Friday, 6 PM rolls around. Then I'll have to contend with the withdrawal pains...
Aerial View went on the air: July, 6, 1989. I don't have a tape of that first show - if I ever did it's been lost to time. Somewhere in my apartment I DO have the second-ever Aerial View, titled “Is the American Dream Dead?” and it'll eventually be archived and available as a podcast. How do I know what my second show was titled if I don't have the aircheck at hand? It's because of a man named Jim Teemer, Aerial View's first and only archivist.
Jim Teemer was the alter-ego of my friend Victor Lovera, whom I met when I still lived on Long Island. We were working as telemarketers at an office supply firm and before long I came to rely on Vic's brilliant sense of humor to make the day go faster. I'd drive him home and he'd reward me with cassettes of “radio shows” he'd done with his wife. Full of bizarre skits and fake news and weather reports, it was some of the funniest stuff I'd ever heard. Vic was also a great songwriter and - as it turns out - a good friend of R. Stevie Moore's, something I didn't find out until years later.
Vic and I lost touch when I moved to New Jersey and got involved with WFMU. Years went by without contact. During one holiday visit to my mother's house, desperately seeking respite from my family, I called and he invited me out to his house in Bay Shore. Even though they never had much money, Vic, his wife and two kids opened their home to me and were always genuinely in the holiday spirit. Their good cheer stood in such stark contrast to the black clouds hanging over my family that I made a tradition of visiting every Christmas.
After everyone else had gone to bed, Vic and I would stay up late, talking about music, art, guitars, women, politics - and Aerial View. I'd begun giving him aircheck tapes and he'd grill me about what I said on a particular show, referring to a three-ring binder stuffed with handwritten notes. He was so meticulous in his breakdown of each program - how many male callers; how many female; the percentage of crank callers; whether or not Mr. Chin called - that I eventually suggested he come on the air with me as a character - Jim Teemer - who could relay all this info. Vic actually created a complete backstory for the man and was so convincing that to this day people ask, “What ever became of that guy, the one who archived your show?” For all I know, Jim Teemer is still alive. Unfortunately, Vic is no longer with us. He died of Crohn's Disease some years back. After the funeral, I went and gathered up the airchecks he still had - and stumbled across the notebook. When I got home, I put everything away in a filing cabinet and promptly forgot about it all.
This past Saturday I was discussing the end of Aerial View with a friend when he asked about “..that guy, the one who kept your archives.” I pulled out the binder out and took another look at Vic's notes. The material is astounding. Vic documented 208 Aerial View shows, from 1989 to 1995, and iIt's shocking to see just how much work he put into the whole endeavor. My hope is to create a special Aerial View webpage for the Teemer Notes, with links to the programs discussed. The first Aerial View “Teemer” archive will be podcast this Friday, March 25. It's a Marathon show from March 26, 1993, with Glen Jones as my MC. Listening to it while reading Vic's notes is like stepping into the past with Jim Teemer at your elbow.