…in which we bid farewell to the former WNIU transmitter tower.
Well, it happened just a few months after we captured it. Northern Illinois University’s Kishwaukee Hall was demolished in the early fall, and with it the old WNIU tower whose singing cables we mic’ed on July 20, 2009.
Had I been less intent on getting the Schertler connected to the cables without being apprehended by campus police — unlikely, sure, but hark back to younger days and imagine the state my friends and I might have been in when we first listened to those cables with naked ears — I might have paid a bit more attention to the yellow Caution signs warning people away from Kish Hall itself. They foretold a nearer doom than I imagined; given that the building had been pretty much of a hand-me-down shoe already by the 1980’s, I might be forgiven for not taking the signs too seriously.
Had I been a bit more prescient — or stayed better connected with my former college pals, some of whom reside in DeKalb to this day — I might have thought to take a copyright-free photo of the tower while it still stood. A pic of the Schertler’s first field test would have been great, too. But I didn’t think to solicit any help — I have since determined assays really do gain a dimension or two with just one additional participant — because I was focused solely on the audio component, and thought a one-man operation appropriate to the scale of the exercise.
And had I been in town for another reason — a less sombre occasion or one that led less toward introspection — some fewer ephemera might have slipped away. But on July 20 we were gathered in DeKalb to pay respects to our dear friend Harry Castle — composer, teacher, provocateur, co-conspirator and boon companion — and I just didn’t think to ask anyone I knew at the reception to run find a snaphot to email to me afterwards. It just didn’t seem important at the time.
That said, I owe Harry a debt for exhorting us all to get off our collective ass and do something. News of his death in June catalyzed my determination to get wikiGong up and running. And it suggests another criterion towards the definition of a gong: like all real things, it has one underlying pulse, one great “beat” that encompasses all the others: it has duration, a life, a span. It passes.