Sunday, August 29, 2004


For someone like me who cut his teeth on the FM radio of the late 1960’s and early 1970’s – the heyday of what they call “album-oriented rock” today – the modern radio dial is a vast wasteland. On the AM dial you have Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and the rest of their pea-brained wingnut brethren. On FM, you have NPR.

NPR is OK as far as it goes. Here in Atlanta, we get to hear the Democrat-friendly, tofu- and granola-eating, Starbucks™ cappuccino-drinking, no animal testing version of the news up until 9 am, at which time the classical music jocks take over until three in the afternoon. Then you get the parade of All Things Considered, et alia. And this is fine. My main gripe with NPR is that their bias with respect to the Middle East (i.e., Israel vs. the rest of the entire known universe) is painfully evident. That pisses me off – but I still listen to them sometimes. The alternative is a steady diet of sports radio, Jeebus radio, and ranting Swift Boat Veterans, and that is just too much for me to handle and keep the car on the road at the same time.

What I like about NPR is the occasional little nugget o’ goodness that just floats in out of nowhere. The musical transitions (some call ’em “bumpers,” NPR calls ’em “buttons”) between program segments are sometimes intriguing. There have been times that that little ten-second slice of music was interesting enough for me to track it down on the ’net and learn more about the artist. Maybe even buy a CD or two. That’s how I discovered Natraj, a group that plays Indian-flavored jazz. And that’s how I learned about Don Julin, a mandolin player with a Zappa fixation.

I mean, how often do you hear Zappa’s “Orange County Lumber Truck” from the 1968 album Lumpy Gravy…played by some dude with a mandolin?

The fun is not limited to the bumpers, or buttons, or whatever the hell you want to call them. Last week there was a segment on how the name “Abu Ghraib” is actually pronounced. They started with some sound bites from various members of our ruling elite. Based on the way these clowns mangled the name, it’s amazing that anyone even found the place, never mind figured out how to turn it into “Humiliation and Abuse Central.” Chimpy’s version, as expected, was especially amusing.

Then came the sound bites from Arabic speakers, who pronounced the “gh” with a guttural “h” sound that is familiar to any speaker of Scottish or Hebrew. The “r” was rolled at the back of the throat and at the tip of the tongue – piece of gâteau to any Francophone – and the “ai” was something between the “e” in “Jeb” and the “u” in “much.” Overall, not too hard to reproduce after having come up through several years of Hebrew school.

But we need to find a way to make Abu Ghraib pronounceable by our nation’s leaders. And the media, for that matter... the idiots who still haven’t figured out how to pronounce “negotiate.” (The “ti” is pronounced “she,” not “see” – this ain’t France, dammit!)

So here’s my modest proposal. Let’s just call the damn place “Abu Shrub.”

That’s right. Abu Shrub. The word “shrub” is about as close as most English speakers are gonna get to reproducing the authentic Iraqi pronunciation of “Ghraib.” And it reminds us of Chimpy, who helped make the name so very familiar.

Abu Shrub. Yeah.

1 comment:

Cowtown Pattie said...

NPR is all I listen to, other than CD's. Makes me smart. No small feat!

The sound bites are great! Last week, NPR introduced me to a new album of reggae music produced by Dr. Dre (?sp) that plays tribute to Bob Dylan. Now, I can't say that I love the combination of Jamaican music with Dylan, but it had its moments.

I love Garrison Keillor on Sunday mornings, and Click & Clack, the Car Talk boys.

AS to the pronounciations... I took French in high school. Such a necessary language here in Tejas. LOL The "r" gurgle was a little bit of a challenge!