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Half of Thunk Tank almost died last week, which made us realize that we owe it to you, the WFMU Listener, to alert you to the Five Most Likely Things That Will Kill You (this week). Consider it a public service. (You’re welcome.)
1. All-Drug-Resistant TB. Okay, it’s not bad enough that you keep taking antibiotics for your headcold (Das viral!) and using antibiotic soap to wash your crusty dishes, which caused multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis even in a young female ginger who is also a lawyer and lives in London (much to the surprise of the BBC). No, now your stupid antibiotic lip gloss has caused ALL-Drug Resistant Tuberculosis, which is just in India now, but will be killing you sometime next month.
Nearly two years ago, I posted an album featuring C. Northcote Parkinson speaking on the subject of Democracy. I mentioned that, when I had picked up that album, I also got two more albums in what was a ten part series of interviews with Parkinson, regarding various political systems. Since then, I've had a couple of requests to feature the other two albums, and so that's what I'm doing today. Album seven in the series covered "Dictatorship", and album eight covered "The Russian Communist Theocracy"
Like the Democracy album, both of the other album covers were badly damaged in a flood, so I can't offer up scans of those covers (all of which were identical, except for the volume and title), but I will share this quote from the back:
"Dr. Parkinson adheres to the pessimistic belief that democracy died a long time ago as a creed and an inspiration and while he feels that dictatorship is the characteristic 20th Century form of government, he believes that all systems end to bear the seeds of their own destruction...that no one system is best for all countries and for all times".
C. Northcote Parkinson - Dictatorship, Part One (MP3) | C. Northcote Parkinson - Dictatorship, Part Two (MP3) | C. Northcote Parkinson - The Russian Communist Theocracy, Part One (MP3) | C. Northcote Parkinson - The Russian Communist Theocracy, Part Two (MP3)
Today's tape was intriguing enough when I heard the first six minutes of it. When I heard the remainder of the tape (which also indicated what that six minutes had been recorded over, I was even more fascinated.
Recorded over the initial third of the tape, at 15 IPS (the speed often used at recording studios), in whole track mono, after some initial setting up sounds, were versions of two Rockabilly classics, the first being "Heartless Woman" (most often associated with Terry Noland) and the second being "The Fool" (Sanford Clark's huge hit from 1956). There is no indication anywhere on the tape or box as to who is performing on these tracks, or even that they exist on the tape.
Well, as soon as these recordings end, the rest of what they were erasing shows up, at 7 1/2 IPS and again in whole track mono. And it is just as fascinating as that Rockabilly session, and yet couldn't be more different than it. What remains are three full episodes (and a fragment of a fourth) of a show hosted by Edwin Randall, short radio shows he hosted for The American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker organization, and on which he was joined by Harry P. Cain.
A quick internet search - and I don't for a moment claim to be an expert on any of this - shows that Harry P. Cain was a senator from Washington, and that he served in that position just long enough to develop strong ties to Joseph McCarthy, and join him in the legendary crusade against Communists. This has tended to paint him with the same brush with which history has painted McCarthy. However, once relieved of his seat in Congress, Cain was appointed to the Subversive Activities Control Board, where he began to question some of decisions being made in the name of protecting the nation from Communists, particularly in the area of violations of civil liberties. After making a point of raising these concerns in a variety of ways, he alienated those with whom he had previously worked, including President Eisenhower, and he resigned from the Control Board.
It would appear that these radio shows date from near the end of Cain's time on the Subversive Activities Control Board. They mention his three years on the Board, a time frame he never actually reached - he resigned after 2 1/2 years! The interviews are primarily focused on his concerns about civil liberties, and he brings up several examples of questionable use of Government power, as well as how difficult it was for the little guy to fight back. With one of ideals of The American Friends Service Committee being social justice, a radio show produced by that organization would have been a good fit for Cain to express his views, as they were near the end of his tenure on the Control Board.
(The very last bit is a very brief fragment of yet another show hosted by Edwin Randell, which itself was mostly erased by the show featuring Harry P. Cain. It was on the tape, so I included it.)
4.) Edwin Randall and Harry P Cain (For the American Friends Service Committee) - Fragment and Full Episode 1 (MP3) | 5.) Edwin Randall and Harry P Cain (For the American Friends Service Committee) - Full Episode 2 (MP3) | 6.) Edwin Randall and Harry P Cain (For the American Friends Service Committee) - Full Episode 3 (MP3) | 7.) Edwin Randall and Bill Hoisel - Fragment (MP3) | Tape (JPG)
Last week the web was wriggling with outrage over The Disney Store Corporation offering for sale a Mickey Mouse™ T-shirt in the graphic style of Joy Division's Unknown Pleasures albumcover -- not that the iconic white-on-black waveform image (plucked from the Cambidge Encyclopedia of Astronomy by drummer Stephen Morris) was any stranger to absurd marketing schemes.
By Gabriella Arrigoni - Collection: TV Party
Not always, actually quite seldom, is the distinction between art and absurdity a relevant one. And it certainly doesn’t matter when in a TV show you combine live music, in-studio party, fancy dress, videotapes, punk, disco, anarchism, new wave, visual arts, rap, interviews, phone-in sessions, shaky camera angles, crude advertising and live drug taking. All this featuring guests such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, John Lurie, David Byrne, George Clinton, Fab Five Freddy, Tuxedo Moon, Debbie Harry, Maripol, Iggy Pop, Chris Burden, John Feckner just to name a few. The uniqueness of TV Party, however, was not as a celebration of the apotheosis of the underground, but that this played out on the mass media it rebelled against.
Technorati Tags: Blondie, Chris Burden, David Byrne, Debbie Harry, Fab Five Freddy, George Clinton, Glenn O’Brien, Iggy Pop, Jean-Michel Basquiat, John Feckner, John Lurie, Maripol, Network Awesome, Tuxedo Moon, TV Party
By Chris Cantino
Marianne Trench’s 1990 documentary on the world of cyberpunk observes digital outlaws on the forefront of new technologies, fighting for freedom of information. Founded upon the spirit of the first cyberpunk novels by William Gibson, the movement is a networking hub for politically-concerned technophiles who poke around inside protected digital databases and occasionally wreak mayhem by inducing malicious software. Sometimes for fun, and sometimes to extract information, the hackers are concerned with increasing access to knowledge and generally throwing a wrench into the system. Often set in dystopic near-futures in which the lower class is dramatically underrepresented, cyberpunk (and sci-fi literature in general) helped develop the context in which we discuss the arrival of new technologies: with a guarded interest, and sometimes fear that they might eventually wreak similarly undesirable results.
Unfortunately, this cyberpunk prescience is starting to look less and less like fantasy. Gibson once described his fictional futures as “social Darwinism designed by a bored researcher who kept one thumb permanently on the fast-forward button,” where the ones calling the shots cut corners at the expense of the
May you live in meme-ingful times.
Gallery: "Casually Pepper-Spray Everything Cop" meme. Endless pics. (Well, as of last count, 502.)
This collection of images is noteworthy for a number of reasons. Let's get the obvious ones out of the way first — sort of clear the quad of the passive resisters, as it were:
1. Holy Hell! There must be a LOTTA people out of work, or slagging off while AT work! (Duh.)
2. Humans are creative things, once given a fun theme to riff on.
3. Humans demonstrate a persistent need to distance themselves from the heinous.
4. Gee, that cop's had his share of donuts.
5. Lotta art majors among the out-of-work creatives mashing photos up...
Back in 2010 I posted the video for the Best Party's campaign song here on Beware of the Blog. The Party—which was started as a satire of regular Icelandic politics—actually won a majority in their local election, and their founder and chairman, Jon Gnarr, became mayor of Reykjavik. Now, through the magic of Benjamin Walker, and due to some mistake that no one can explain, I am to meet His Honorableness, Mayor Gnarr, and his chief strategist and campaign manager, Heida K. Helgadottir, when I introduce their keynote address on Saturday at the WFMU Radiovision Festival.
I became an Icelandophile when I worked at the dog magazine, whose offices were two blocks from Scandinavia House. I often went there for lunch at the AQ Café, and would check out their art exhibits and excellent film series. It was at Scandinavia House a few years ago that I saw the documentary Kurekar Nordursins, and became a huge fan of the great Icelandic radio DJ, the Cowboy of the North, Hallbjorn Hjartarson. The film records (in what feels like real time) the 1984 Icelandic Cowboy Festival, which took place in a tiny northern fishing village and seemed to consist of a lot of drinking, some music, and occasional attempts to ride shaggy little Icelandic ponies while drinking or singing, but mostly drinking. I was so inspired by it that I tracked down Cowboy DJ Hallbjorn and wrote to him, hoping I could get him as a guest on WFMU. I imagined gathering up donations of moldy country vinyl at the Record Fair and shipping it off to Skagastrond, Iceland, and becoming radio friends with this international superstar.
But then months passed, and I had given up before I finally got a reply. DJ Hallbjorn had to go to a great deal of trouble to find someone who could translate my email into Icelandic and then translate his reply into English to send to me. Of course, I had no idea he didn’t speak English. He plays all these American country-western songs on his radio station, so I just assumed … Plus, I’m American, which is also why I just assumed… Anyway, I felt bad for putting him to so much trouble, so I didn’t write again. But now, every year when the Record Fair comes around, I think of Hallbjorn Hjartarson and wish I could send him some Little Jimmy Dickens records.
And this year, tomorrow, I will get to meet real Icelandic People and ask them if they know Cowboy DJ Hallbjorn—it’s a very small country, plus he is extremely famous, so they might! I just hope Jon Gnarr and Heida K. Helgadottir speak English.
I skipped all the coverage of the 9/11 commemorations today. The message seems to be “Never forget,” but what is it that we’re supposed to remember?
I remember 9/11 very well: the immediate realization, when the second plane hit, that this was no accident, the WTF moment when we heard the Pentagon was burning. I remember trying to get to WFMU to do my first show afterwards, and being turned back by NJ State Patrol officers until I figured out an alternate way into Jersey City. I remember insisting that Sluggo and Dog Baxter go with me to the station, because I did not want to be separated from them again … just in case. I don’t remember exactly what I said on that first show, but I know that one longtime Listener was so upset by it that I had the archive deleted. So now I never will know for sure, but I can’t imagine I expressed anything except bewilderment and deep anxiety.
I remember seeing TV news reports—with video—of the small plane coming from the west, hitting the west side of the second tower, the man with the British accent describing it to the female reporter as a small plane, like a Piper Cherokee or Dakota. I haven’t looked for that footage on the 9/11 Television News Archive because I suspect it’s not there.
Like the TV archive, lots of information is suddenly appearing on this 10th Anniversary: the Marine Major who was in the command bunker under the White House when Robotic Lord Vice-President Cheney gave the order to shoot down Flight 93. (But then the passengers crashed the plane, so they didn’t have to shoot it down after all. >Whew!<) The “eyewitness video of the Flight 93 crash site,” released only now that the anonymous videographer has died—shot from a hilltop 15 miles away and showing some smoke on the other side of faraway trees. The audio of all but a big missing 30-minute chunk of FAA and NORAD recordings made that morning. The FBI explaining that they simply forgot to tell anyone about the wealthy Saudi family who, shortly before 9/11, disappeared without a trace, leaving their luxury home and all their luxury belongings—except for a computer and the contents of a safe— after meetings with Mohammad Atta. Do you remember how no airplanes were allowed to fly for days after the attacks? Do you remember reports that President Bush made an exception for a planeload of wealthy Saudis who wanted to return home? Because I do. I remember that.
We are supposed to Never Forget, but there are also things we are never supposed to remember. The former “Freedom Tower” is now “One World Trade Center” because, says Chris Ward, director of the Port Authority, the name Freedom Tower would be likely to recall “painful memories of the 9/11 attacks.” So, never forget that we were attacked, but just make sure you remember those events in a way that’s not, you know, in any way uncomfortable for you. The Port Authority and Mayor Bloomberg are working hard to “rebrand” Ground Zero. It’s the World Trade Center now—and don’t you forget it.
Thanks for reading my blogpost this time, and may God bless.
By Scott Tienken
Watch more on Network Awesome (Plus the other 3 parts of this doc!)
Adam Curtis’ 2003 Documentary The Century of the Self gets right to the business of reminding us what a mass of consumeristic sheep we have been molded into.
He provides us with the story of Edward Bernays(1), the nephew of Freud who adapted his uncle’s theories concerning animalistic drives and deeply-sunken baser motives for the purposes of propaganda and, far more pervasively, advertising and politics. We are relentlessly reminded of our tendency toward self-interest, vile competitiveness, shallowness, and weak-minded caprice.
This is not unfamiliar territory in that we’ve been reminded of our tendencies towards conformity, self-gratification, and egoistic drives well before Freudianism put the whammy on our way of thinking about ourselves. What makes this a very valuable document is that the level of conversation is a bit more
By Tom Keiser
“It makes no sense. I mean, how can people just vanish off the face of the Earth in this day and age?”
In 1977, a conspiracy was hatched involving writers, actors, politicians, scientists, and Brian Eno. The British television series Science Report was about to be cancelled, and its scheduled April 1 finale gave the creators an opportunity to prank those who believed everything they saw on television, and those so skeptical of everything as to see conspiracies all over the place. The resulting program, Alternative 3, is a classic in fake news programming; The War Of The Worlds by way of the BBC’s 1957 spaghetti harvest hoax.
Alternative 3 is presented as an investigation, with an aborted episode of Science Report as the frame. Twenty-four people interviewed for a Science Report episode on Britain’s “brain drain” have gone missing, including three profiled before the introduction. Over the next hour, further pieces of the puzzle are put into place, connecting the disappearances to the death of a prestigious astronomer, the drunk ravings of a former astronaut, and the theories of an early proponent of the climate change hypothesis, Dr. Carl Gerstein. Contemporary news events, such as the Tangshan earthquake and United Kingdom heatwave and drought in 1976, and the North American mega-blizzard of early 1977, hint at a more destructive event than even the producers of The Day After Tomorrow could have imagined.
HUO: Do you have dreams for the future?
JA: Yes, many. I’ll tell you about one, which is interesting. Orwell’s dictum, “He who controls the present controls the past, and he who controls the past controls the future,” was never truer than it is now. With digital archives, with these digital repositories of our intellectual record, control over the present allows one to perform an absolutely untraceable removal of the past. More than ever before, the past can be made to completely, utterly, and irrevocably disappear in an undetectable way. Orwell’s dictum came about as result of what happened in 1953 to the Great Soviet Encyclopedia. That year, Stalin died and Beria fell out of favor. The Great Soviet Encyclopedia had a page and a half on Beria from before he fell out of favor, and it was decided that the positive description of Beria had to go. So, an addendum page was made and sent to all registered holders of this encyclopedia with instructions specifying that the previous page should be pasted over with the new page, which was an expanded section on the Bering Straight. However, users of the encyclopedia would later see that the page had been pasted over or ripped out—everyone became aware of the replacement or omission, and so we know about it today. That’s what Orwell was getting at. In 2008, one of the richest men in the UK, Nadhmi Auchi—an Iraqi who grew rich under one of Saddam Husain’s oil ministries and left to settle in the UK in the early 1980s—engaged in a series of libel threats against newspapers and blogs. He had been convicted of corruption in France in 2003 by the then magistrate Eva Joly in relation to the Elf Aquitaine scandal.
(read the rest...)
These are strange times, indeed, friends... WFMU's Kenny G. (aka Kenneth Goldsmith) has been invited to do a reading at the White House next week, as part of the nation's "Evening of Poetry." Congrats, Kenny!
For those who may only know of Kenny G. for his on-air antics, he is an esteemed writer and artist, and also teaches at the University of Pennsylvania.
The White House's "Evening of Poetry" will be hosted by the President and First Lady, and throws down at 7pm ET on Tuesday (d'oh!) Wednesday, May 11th; the event will be streamed live at whitehouse.gov. Other poets and songwriters who will also take part in the event include Elizabeth Alexander, Billy Collins, Common, Rita Dove, Alison Knowles, Jill Scott, and WFMU pal (!) Aimee Mann.
Earlier that day, Kenny will participate in a workshop for students hosted by Mrs. Obama. This workshop will also be streamed live, starting at 2pm ET.
Woof Moo representing at the White House!
We knew from the beginning that the marketing campaign was really going to make or break the whole project, so we had to choose our language very carefully. That meant “serf” and “indentured servant” were out immediately—too much historical baggage—and "licensee" and "lessee" were too legalistic, not enough implied fun. So we performed the Thunk Tank mind meld, and came up with the answer almost immediately: “Contestant!”
The word implied a sense of promise and great potential, but with no guarantees. Winners would succeed in a great meritocracy, while losers had no one to blame but themselves. “Citizen,” I mean, what a burden, what a dull stink of responsibility that has, but “contestant”… well, hot damn, a contestant gets a moment in the spotlight, the opportunity to vie for greatness. “Contestant” rhymes with “celebrity” and celebrities are sexy. “Congratulations! You’ve been selected to be a contestant on the town formerly known as Munising!” It was brilliant.
Rick Snyder has the name of a game show host and the face of a traveling vacuum cleaner salesman. He’s a businessman, a venture capitalist, and a self-described nerd. I actually don’t think he pushed through the Local Government and School District Fiscal Accountability Act as a salvo against Working Class America, or as a nefarious power grab for the oligarchy. I think he truly believes the gospel of corporate efficiency and—as nerds often do—confused a “rational” choice for a “good” choice, without really comprehending the inevitable consequences of his plan. Like many nerds, he’s also a sucker for flashy PowerPoint presentations, and like many corporate executives he’s a sucker for jargon-riddled, buzzword-referencing executive summaries, and this is where we saw our opening.
Michigan had budget problems, and thanks to the LGaSDFA Act, if the governor thought a town was almost broke, and local officials weren’t cooperating with the state to resolve the problems, good ol’ Rick could appoint a Financial Manager to step in and play Sim City with real people. Managers could default on bonds, ignore union demands, rearrange schools … hell, they could disincorporate and merge whole towns if they wanted! For obvious reasons, becoming Financial Managers seemed like a highly desirable position for us, and so we used some of Bronwyn’s connections to certain Olds to get an audience with the Rickster and explain how he was looking at a real crisitunity here.
Last year, I purchased a large stack of interesting looking reel to reel tapes - interesting in that the writing on the boxes indicated that they contained all manner of original source media recordings, mostly (if not all) recordings from television studios - possibly all connected to CBS - in the 1950's and 1960's. I've only begun to truly dig into this collection. When I first bought it, I posted a brief CBS sound effects reel here, nearly a year ago. For a variety of reasons, I've barely delved into this collection yet, as much as the writings on them fascinate me, and I suspect there will be several that will be appropriate to share here.
Today, in light of tax time, I thought I'd share one of the few tapes from this set that I've perused. This one features the raw tapes of an interview session between newsman Howard K. Smith and Senator Albert Gore, Sr. There is no date on the tape (it only states "7/27"), but if these are in fact CBS tapes, this would put the interview some time prior to Smith's exit from CBS in 1962.
The tapes indicate that the final broadcast interview was likely spliced together from multiple takes, since the same questions are asked multiple times during the first three takes. My guess is that the last take, in which Smith is fed questions which he then repeats, was necessary because the interview was done using only one camera, resulting in the need to get Smith on camera, reading the questions, a second time, perhaps even after Sen. Gore was gone. The entire recording runs just under fifteen minutes.
It's interesting to compare the issues raised in this tax interview with some of the issues people have about taxes today.
I felt like Ernie Anastos after he told the weatherman to "Keep fucking that chicken" during a live broadcast. Externally I had to just keep smiling through, while inside my mind was screaming that whatever madness had just passed my lips had the potential to devastate all that I held dear. And all I had said was, “Yes, sir.”
Rather than further contemplate this horror, however, I snapped a salute to Lt. Gen. William Caldwell, spun on my heels, and exited his tent into the smothering Afghani heat. Until now, I had barely seen the general, let alone spoken with him. All orders passed from Caldwell to Lt. Colonel Michael Holmes, my CO, and then down to me. But it seemed that the general and the colonel weren’t seeing eye to eye lately, so Caldwell had sought me out as a potential ally in his private campaign.
"Operation Four Star," Holmes had derisively nicknamed it. Caldwell wanted to use our psyops team against visiting Congress members to prop up flagging support for the war. There was no threat Congress would move to actually end the occupation, but attention would shift back to Iraq, the boys in Baghdad would start getting all the headlines and funding increases, and the next thing you know our $20 billion-a-year air-conditioning budget would be slashed.
It'd take three or four years before Iraq would start feeling hopeless again, the press would start screaming about the great Taliban threat, and we would get our AC back. Nope, that wouldn't do at all; the generals, with their promotions depending on AfPak s continued prominence, were not going to lose this pissing contest, even if it meant some Senators needed a little light brainwashing. And I'd just agreed to help with the scrubbing.
Many Listener Blog Readers are familiar with Bronwyn C.’s longstanding fascination with numismaticism, especially the Ron Paul Dollar—the second most popular currency in the United States! But many don’t realize that the number one most popular currency, Federal Reserve notes, aren’t the only option.
Briefly, the U.S. government does not issue money, the Federal Reserve Bank issues money, and the money is a “fiat currency,” which means it’s not backed by silver or gold, it’s backed by your delusional belief that it’s worth something. Section 411 of Title 12 of the United States Code provides that Federal Reserve notes “shall be redeemed in lawful money on demand at the Treasury Department of the United States, in the city of Washington, District of Columbia, or at any Federal Reserve bank”—but what is “lawful money”? Well, in this case, it’s debt.
But you don’t have to use Federal Reserve notes if you don’t want to! You can use any of a number of alternative currencies, all of which are perfectly legal. If you’re in the Berkshires in Massachusetts, you can use the widely accepted local currency called BerkShares. Just look up “alternative currency” and you’ll find a lot of them, all perfectly legal—except, ha ha, the Ron Paul dollar, which was backed with actual precious metals and so the FBI raided the issuers’ office and everyone got indicted and now there has to be trial.
NEVERTHELESS, in our quest to boldly violate the false dichotomy between jokes and serious shit, Thunk Tank is issuing Thunk Tank Notes just in time for the WFMU Marathon! Listeners will be able to exchange Federal Reserve notes for Thunk Tank notes 1:1. We intend to make the Bieb the second-most popular currency among WFMU Listeners, and we figure as long as we don’t issue coinage or claim to be legal tender, we probably won’t get indicted.