Forgive me a brief lapse into the poetic, but it's ever so hard being avant garde. Imagine the scenario: you spend most of your time being pilloried for your outrageous behaviour and then, when everybody else finally catches up with you, you have to suffer the indignity of watching them pat one another on the back for doing all the things they used to pillory you for. Doing. No wonder Yoko 'Bloody' Ono was always screeching like a crazed, pre-menstrual ban-shee on a hot plate.
Bogarde: "I'm not avant garde"
And such has been the predicament of your humble scribe. So many of the daring innovations pioneered on these pages - the one post blog, posts made up entirely of other people's comments, shifting personae, extensive real-time narrative structures, self-referential subject matter, wigs made from synthetic blue rope (to name but a few) - are now so widespread as to be bordering on the cliched. It's hard to recall the time when these creative strategies were not just novel but, to some, highly outrageous. How quickly the shock of the new becomes just another old titfer.
Still, I suppose that one has to accept one's lot. I've always been of the view that the only real significance of having an audience in the first place is that it enables you to make every effort to lose that audience. In that, if nothing else, I have been singularly successful. It may be personally distressing to be, as I have become, all-but universally despised, but it's probably a healthier place to be creatively than being lauded to the rooftops for one's every bowel movement. I'm sure Duchamp wouldn't have won many popularity contests down at the salon (although he does look particularly fetching in a soap-sculpted D.A.) but the work endures.
But it was not always thus. There was a brief time - long passed, for better or worse - when this site managed to marry the twin imperatives of popularity and staggering creative originality. And probably the single most important contribution to that happy state of affairs was made by the original Bobcasts. Poorly recorded and - unbelievably, it seems to me now - solely available in the i-Tunes only AAC format, these embryonic efforts probably best capture the charm and lo-fi/indie approach that characterised the best of the Robert Swipe Show in its pomp.
Now, long overdue, they've been spruced up and overhauled in MP3 format so that the world and his wife can finally enjoy these seminal forays into the realm of digital broadcasting. That's right, I've decided to re-post all of the Bobcasts originally hosted on Switchpod* in gleaming, 128kbps remastered audio so that the full family of casts will finally be available in one place in their entirety. Listening back to them as we painstakingly tidied up the often barely audible and muddy-sounding tapes, I was struck by what a genuine community of listeners I seemed to be delivering them to. There's a lovely listening-under-the-duvet quality to the best of them that, notwithstanding the slightly clique-ey name-checking of members of my long-vanished audience, will I hope remain fresh to any new ears discovering them. We've been able to vastly improve the sound quality without, hopefully, losing the lo-fi, broadcast-and-be-damned spontaneity of the original shows. It's nice for me personally to be reminded of a time when all of this effort wasn't completely unrewarded.
I'll be posting Bobcast #2 up some time over the weekend, and then one a week after that. I hope you enjoy hearing the newly presented shows as much as I have rediscovering them.
* With the exception of the original, spoken-word only Bobcast #1 which is not only exceptionally boring but barely audible.