So then there were "NO RULES"

**Warning, this is going to be another post potentially irrelevant to people outside of Champaign or Urbana Illinois**

-Sub-warning, I don't care.-

That said, down here in central Illinois we have a radio station 107.1 with the call WPGU. Having lived in this town for nearly 8 years now, I can say with near certainty that it spent the majority of its life sucking. I am not talking about your typical run of the mill sucking, I am referring to that rare and special, Dennis Miller trying to get the conservative viewers sucking.

We are talking about a radio station that would play whatever flaming pile of shit billboard had recently placed onto its top 40 list. Showing little regard for theme or continuity, the radio station resembled the musical equivilent of a portal to hell being cracked open on the Earth's surface spewing whatever minion of satan happened to be first in line.

So anyway…

You can imagine my surprise when sometime late last summer I tuned in to the station to find that they were playing music that I actually enjoyed. I thought that I had entered into some odd parallel universe. They were playing Elvis Costello, The Jam, The Dead Kennedys, and all sorts of other fantastic artists never before heard on 107.1 in its "The Planet" incarnation. I felt like the "Friends" on the episode with the free porn. I honestly believed that if I turned off the radio this magical dream would end and I would once again have to listen to Creed, or Hoobastank or whoever the hell it was that made 107.1 sound like a constipated old man after having eaten a Grande Meal from Taco Bell. However, I was thrilled to find out that this was not in fact a wonderful dream (the good music, not the constipated man) 107.1 had changed their format. The station actually had DJ's choosing music and talking about it instead of mindless computer generated shit.

Considering this, I was amazed to see that in the school newspaper today an opinion columnist was complaining about the new format and calling for a reversion to the "good old days" (yes, this time I am referring to the constipated man).

You can read the column here

This blew my mind. It is one of those revelations that force you to rethink the entire framework of how you view the world. While I have always known of the existence of bands like Incubus, I have never truly been able to figure out how someone can listen to them. Much like attempting to reconcile how light can simultaneously be a wave and a particle, I had to make some assumptions.

Postulate 1:
Whereas Incubus et al. suck the ass of various domesticated and wild animals.
and Such musical groups have fans.
Said fans must have such ambivalence toward their music that it is impossible for them to have any deeply felt opinions.

Now, much as Einstein's photoelectric theory paved the way in quantum mechanics for a substance to be both a wave and a particle, Chris Kozak (ckozak@uiuc.edu) has come along, revolutionized the field, and forced us to think about the possibility of people simultaneously enjoying shitty music, and having an opinion about it.

It would seem useless for me to, at this point, attempt to refute Mr. Kozak's theories music and the like. If you agree with him, I would wonder how you ended up on this site in the first place. If you don't, the reasons why his article is exceptionally ridiculous should be abundantly apparent.

However, it seems like I would be shirking my responsibility if I did not at least point out some highlights.



The winners of 1992 who are apparently all that college students should be listening to.

"How many students regularly listen to or have even heard of bands like Ambulance Ltd., Rilo Kiley and Of Montreal? I certainly have not."

A lot. It is mysterious that he knows their names yet has not heard of them. Perhaps this fellow should realize that it is actually A GOOD THING that the student radio station is introducing people to new music that they have not heard before.

"Another common theme in Indie music is band names beginning with the word "The." Gracing the WPGU play list are songs from bands named The Delays, The Faint, The Good Life, The Music, The Postal Service, The Stills – and don't get confused now – The Thrills. Do you know these juggernauts? Me neither."

Well played sir, making fun of the typical them of "The" and a plural noun. Really, no one had noticed that before. I hear that effects how their music sounds. (oh yes, Incubus- the evil spirit that has sex with women as they sleep- is a fantastic band name) Let me take this moment to point out that it was here in the article that it became abundantly obvious that Mr. Kozak had simply looked at the WPGU current music list from their website and made whatever joke immediately came to mind.

What really got me, was the fact that this fellow seemed offended that the local radio station played local music he hadn't heard of.

This honestly made me sick. We have a fantastic music scene in this town. How are these local musicians to be expected to get any sort of following if the college station in their town won't play their music because a few assholes don't think it is a good party mix to drink Busch Light to?

For Christ's fucking sake, here is a list of local bands who have release fantastic albums recently (mostly in the last year)

  • The Blackouts (now The Living Blue)

  • The Beauty Shop
  • Emotional Rec Club
  • Rob Mccolley
  • The Headlights
  • Terminus Victor
  • Poster Children

Yes, I know I probably forgot some, but I made the list quickly. Still a decent list. We have great live venues like The Highdive, and for fucks sake, lets be thrilled that we now have a radio station that actually promotes the bands playing there.

As a final note: Jesus Christ, Chris Kozak could you have any worse taste? Oh wait yes, you could, in your previous column you were lamenting the loss of R&R's and the Shark Bowl. Please just graduate quickly and leave this town as fast as you possibly can.

Letters in the Daily Illini today in response:
Erik Kraft- "Where's Hootie"
Jim Finnerty, program director at WPGU -"Letter: to WPGU listeners"

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22 Responses to “So then there were "NO RULES"”

  1. Ed Says:

    It's odd, but of all the bands that are currently popular I'm pretty sure I hate Incubus the least. Mind you – I would not pay for their albums, download their mp3s for free, pay to see them live, or do anything that would express support for their continued existence. But in relation to their cohort, I think they're much closer to actual music than most.

  2. Ed Says:

    Also, I have submitted the following letter to the Daily Illini opinion column. And Mr. Kozak.

    Distinguished residents of Urbana,

    I hope the Cham-bana area is aware of – and appropriate thankful for – the unique and brilliant mind that walks among you. Not only does he grace you with his presence but also with the written word. I speak, of course, of Chris Kozak.

    Most of the literate world never liked the Dave Matthews Band, seeing as how they are the aural equivalent of eating balls of white bread dipped in tap water. Almost everyone who did not fall into this category liked them briefly and then moved on to something equally saccharine. But not Chris Kozak. He not only took a liking to the band, he steadfastly refuses to let it go. Onward, tasteless soldier. March as to war.

    I can only hope that this genius – perhaps one of the few men left alive who realizes the fundamental truth that quality is defined by popularity – can
    write columns about other forms of media entertainment soon. I am dying to hear him so eloquently apply the force of his intellect to television and movies, reminding a wayward society that "Friends" or the Police Academy
    movies are true art. If people are dumb enough to like hearing music that isn't in the Billboard Top 40 or regularly blared from the $10,000 fraternity
    sound systems of America, then I bet they also like movies with plots and stuff.

    Chris will set them straight. Down with fancy book learnin'.

    Regards,
    Ed Burmila

  3. mike Says:

    kozak:
    "there are plenty of mainstream bands with talented musicians…Incubus, Live, Blues Traveler…Dave Matthews Band"

    Incubus aside, have these bands, even by their crappy standards, had a decent album since 1996? I'd prefer my radio music not to sound like 'Now That's What I call the mid-to-late 90s! Vol. 3."

    I also like how he read that one page on their webpage to name-drop enough bands to seem like he knows what the hell he's talking about.

    Why did 107.1 have to suck while I was down there? I've been streaming Jill's morning show from work the past couple of weeks – it's excellent enough to get me to put down the iPod. kudos.

  4. mike Says:

    Ed, that letter is wonderful. god bless.

  5. Erik Says:

    Oh, and I am pretty sure that I was part of some kind of joke around 12:30 when I was driving to get some coffee. I heard "Blues Traveler" on 107.1 and upon its completion was told: "that was Blues Traveler by request."

    I am glad to see that the station manager at 107.1 wrote in to the Daily Illini defending the format. I was almost… for a second… thinking that Mr. Kozak's column would be taken seriously.

  6. Ed Says:

    Is it just me or does Dave Matthews look incredibly fat and bloated?

  7. erik Says:

    No, its not just you. He is incredibly fat and bloated

  8. thenoiseboy Says:

    The sad fucking thing is that there are probably a good number of students that agree with Chrissy. Like Chrissy, they are so fucking far removed from any culture worth digesting (in their pursuit of ass, a diploma, and their parent's adoration) that they actually do not know that Modest Mouse, Franz Ferdinand, Phantom Planet, The Stills, The Thrills, The Music, Cake, etc. are all bands that are actually on a fucking major label. How and why minds like Chrissy's are allowed to put pen to paper and publish their thoughts is just beyond me. Then again, I guess that's why I do not read the Daily Illini.

  9. Ed Says:

    I do not know the individuals at the Daily Illini, but having had associations with two large campus newspapers in my life I am 99% certain that they allowed him to print that column as a passive-aggressive way to mock him.

    Like when CNN plays really long, uncut speeches from Republican senators. "We're going to pretend we're showing you this because of journalistic principles of fairness towards all opinions, but we're really just letting you see what an asshole this guy is".

  10. erik Says:

    There is also a distinct possibility that the Daily Illini is trying to get the fraternity party attending asshole opinion in the paper… you know, and attempt to be fair and balanced.

    That, and they were probably looking forward to the letters to the editor that would no doubt follow.

  11. jenn Says:

    Incubus and Blues Traveler are fun to listen to! Maybe that's why they're on the major labels!!

    Anyone who calls The Faint "juggernauts" sarcastically is sure to be shot by me.

  12. jenn Says:

    Wow, Erik's letter was really good!

    The program director's letter, however, made me unfathomably sad, somehow.

  13. wouldnt u like to know Says:

    do any of u realize what complete hypocrites u all are. You bash him for saying indie music sucks, and u sit here bashing mainstream music like its a curse on society. This was printed in "opinions" not "news" last time i checked. You can't hate on people for not liking what you like. And really do u even want to convince us that ur indie music is better, cause then it might just go mainstream and u wouldnt be able to liek it anymore. Also props to u for completely misrepresenting just about every excerpt you took from the article. Keep up the good work.

  14. Ed Says:

    Look, he has internet access!

  15. erik Says:

    Although I imagine there is little to no chance this fellow is ever going to return to our site, I would like to ask him some questions anyway.

    1. How did I misrepresent anything written?
    2. Why am I not allowed to defend music I like while trashing yours?…As I point of reference, I never referred to Mr. Kozak as closed minded but rather insinutated that he must have nearly the single worst taste in music in the Champaign/Urbana metro area.
    3. I think the great irony that seems to have been lost on you is that some of these indie bands that you think no one listens to are already mainstream. They already have major record deals and a huge fan base ect. This did not in fact cause us to stop liking them.

    I am sorry, thats all I've got. I don't seem to be able to muster the energy to insult you further.

  16. mike Says:

    I like it when drunk people leave incoherent and typoed messages on our board at 3:30am. Welcome Chris. Googling your own name?

    > u realize what complete hypocrites…You bash him for saying indie music sucks, and u sit here bashing mainstream music like its a curse on society.<

    Actually that's a remarkably consistent set of opinions to have, though I don't think it's accurate. We aren't hating on "mainsteam music" – we are saying that college radio can aspire to be something slightly better than crappy rock from 1996 – ie Chris Kosak reliving his High School Junior Prom, trying to get some girl to give it up to the tune of Seven Mary Three. What he wants sounds like a newer version of "classic rock" – "classic alternative rock."

    Which is great for people with bad tastes, but not so good for everyone else.

  17. Ed Says:

    It's really funny how he called himself "wouldn't u like to know" as though his IP address (not to mention the 3 AM posting time) were not recorded with his post.

    As though this is an episode of Scooby-Doo and we'd sit around wondering about who possibly could have left such a message.

    This is, however, perhaps the greatest instance of misusing an "out of context / misinterpretation" argument since Mark Furhman declared that the Rodney King beating video was all a matter of context.

  18. an old man Says:

    chris kozak's ideas remind me of the woman at bob's, the chicken-wire honky tonk in the blues brothers.

    elwood asked her what type of music they normally had there. she said "both kinds. country AND western."

    what chris is saying, i gathered, is that chocolate and vanilla are good enough; that butter pecan is a useless, superfluous, even anomalous option; and that cherry garcia is just stupid and doesn't bathe enough.

  19. David Obuchowski Says:

    I used to be a DI columnist. I wrote the following letter to the editor:

    To the Editor,

    Chris Kozak

  20. Ellen Says:

    Ha! David Obuchowski! I remember liking your column. I picked up the D.I. everyday (I was at the U of I 1997-2004), but at least on Thursdays I knew there'd be somethin' fun to read :)
    cheerio!

  21. Chris Kozak Says:

    Yes, I just googled my own name because I'm bored. I don't know who "wouldn't you like to know" is. Iif it was me, I would've left my name. I like the letters and remember reading them as they were forwarded to my UIUC inbox many months ago. Anyway, just wanted to say I like the site, and yes, I do enjoy vanilla ice cream.

  22. Chris Kozak Says:

    Yes, I just googled my own name because I'm bored. I don't know who "wouldn't you like to know" is. If it was me, I would've left my name. I like the letters and remember reading them as they were forwarded to my UIUC inbox many months ago. Anyway, just wanted to say I like the site, and yes, I do enjoy vanilla ice cream.