Ken was continually vexed by the twin frustrations of being confined in a wheelchair while still raging with an urgent need to dance; and of being a swinging hepcat surrounded by squares, fuddy-duddys and sticks-in-the-mud. His greatest joys came from the eclectic compilation tapes his friend, Duplex activities director David Greenberger, would play for him via an early-model Walkman, and even moreso from the live concerts Dave would occasionally present in the Duplex backyard. From music Ken sought, especially, rhythm, melody, swing, soul, and lyrics that spoke to him in one way or another. Among many favorites was Captain Beefheart -- pretty heavy chow for an old dude to be chompin' on.
Besides providing Ken with the steady input of fresh grooves his system craved, the Walkman sessions served as a sort of Jukebox Jury, with Dave recording Ken's reactions and publishing them under the title Ken's Corner in his splendid Dada geriatrics magazine, The Duplex Planet. The column eventually branched out into several other magazines. Dave's friends also got into the act by making mix tapes of their own for Ken to listen to and comment on. Tom Ardolino, one of the first such compilers, included two song-poem selections on his tape. We only wish there had been more.
Rod Rogers: "Little Rug Bug"
That was nice. I'm tryin' to think of the name of that. What was it? "Love Bug"? [Greenberger: "Little Rug Bug."] "Rug Bug," yeah. Pretty good -- strange, it's a strange song. The drummer I could hear very good. Heard the guitars, everything -- rhythm was alright. I'd buy it. Give it a chance, it'll go, it'll go places.
Music Magicians: "Convertibles and Headbands"
At the end there I thought he was gonna say, "I got you as my girl and that makes me a lucky man," but he didn't. Sometimes I get those frames in my head about lyrics in the song -- sometimes I'm right and sometimes I'm not.
Many thanks to Dave Greenberger for his help compiling this page, and for two decades (and counting) of the raucous, joyous Duplex Planet.
All design and uncredited content of this website ©2004 Phil Milstein