Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Foxconn, manufacturer of consumer gizmos for Apple and HP, has promised to replace workers with 1 million robots within 3 years—that’ll sort out that suicide nonsense! The Obama administration would do well to follow their example, if indeed they weren’t the ones to suggest the idea. Indeed, since Jim Messina has come on board as Obama’s 2012 campaign manager, the corporate cash will be pouring in almost as fast as the grassroots volunteers of yester-campaign are flooding out. So if there was any doubt left about Obama’s Republicanness, maybe the onslaught of robocalls launching the campaign season will convince even the dimmest Probamas who their inscumbent really is.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Wag the Dog

Dear Reader, this blog is not dead. However, it is a dog that is now wagged by the tail that is my Twitter account. For some time new posts have been announced there, and in lieu of checking here at any intervals it's best to follow/check my Twitter feed (most recent items at right)—which, owing to its nature, daily provides eminently more consumable units of Fahrenheit Googolplex tone and timbre. 

Thursday, April 28, 2011


As a number of tornadoes ravage the South and a radio show I listen to broadcasts from Georgia, expressing fear that they will converge on it, I couldn’t help but think of Brecht’s Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny.

"Do as thou wilt, he still wasn't born in Mahagonny."Trump,
subject to a copycat tornado in New Hampshire. 
Yesterday President Obama released his long-form birth certificate to quell the birther typhoons. One wonders how that'll work given an earlier CBS News/New York Times poll concluding that 45% of Republicans believe the President was born outside of the U.S. Shortly after, to all appearances a typhoon struck Trump’s hair (above) while he reveled in his “victory” at having forced the President’s hand. Meanwhile the Fukushima Daiichi complex is more radioactive than at any time prior, Rep. Paul Ryan fled hostile protestors at a town hall meeting who oppose his scrap n’ salvage budget bill, and an executive VP of the US Chamber of Commerce said “to quote what they say every day in Libya, ‘all options are on the table’” if would-be federal contractors are forced to disclose political donations when they go a-begging in DC. And of course, there’s the ongoing Libyan war: Senators (Graham, McCain and Lieberman) are recommending “regime change” assassination, and the brass are using predator drones so they can almost kill civilians less often. There may be omissions because I gleaned all this on the fly, while working my three jobs from late morning til dawn. The very last moorings of Yanqui civility, indeed of civilization, seem to be straining. 

In the scene from Mahagonny where the typhoons approach, Jimmy (a lumberjack on holiday from his Alaska choppery) is getting restive because the town is too quiet – Mahagonny is founded on the business of drunken fun, whores, gambling, and loafing. It’s full of ne’er-do-wells, grifters and drifters, and the crooks who run it try to regulate everything with signposts and censure because they have a weird utopian streak. There isn’t enough tension there for the cadre running it to profit, so they’re panicking about finances and people leaving just when a drunken Jimmy makes his great speech that people should do as they please, not live under the gang’s laws. This speech takes place as a tornado threatens to strike the town, and people in desperation seem receptive to Jimmy’s theory that we should do our worst in this world, that nature can’t outstrip our violence as “the most frightening force is Man.”

The tornado/typhoon just misses Mahagonny, but strikes elsewhere and kills the federal agents looking for the gangsters who run the town. They, and the idlers being milked in Mahagonny, interpret this as the universe’s approval of their new “do as thou wilt” philosophy. All launch on a new and bloody course of open, unregulated self-satisfaction that’s ultimately disastrous for the whole provisional community, which is a smelting pot anyway – of fools’ gold.

In his last State of the Union address, President Obama spoke of our “Sputnik Moment.” I rather think this is our Mahagonny Moment, just before the final movement of the symphony our founders wrote – which opens with a haunting passage from the winds and brass.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Circus Minimus

The old canard about the U.S. falling as did Rome rings hollow whenever you turn on the television. The empire may be collapsing, but like a mushroom, as it shrivels it releases spores by the hundred thousand. U.S. culture is viral—surely our biggest export after weapons is "entertainment."

Rome's entertainment in its twilight included the famous "panem et circenses," or bread & circuses: free bread given to the populo barbaro while they enjoyed gladiatorial entertainments—it was thrown, like meat to dogs, in "Gladiator". One could argue that Ultimate Cage Fighting is the first step towards the Circus Maximus, but in fact we have used our privilege as stewards of the earth to leap straight to televised eviscerations and gore: with bugs.

This one's vegetarian, so its tough's all bluff.
Monster Bug Wars is the Science Channel's new series about life and death in the insect world. Each segment (as it were) exhibits a different "Vs." battle a la Mortal Kombat, wherein the loser is processed by both victor and zoom lenses, overdubbed with gnashing, roaring, or screeching. What strikes me after the first couple of entrail smoothies is that every battle is decontextualized. The narrator always tells you in a nature show in what country the scene is taking place; here, it is "in the rainforest/desert...". 

It turns out these ARE real arenas. The woodchips and plants appear to be from a box store; I didn't know WalMart sold hollow logs. It's all artfully done but the settings' repetitive artifice becomes clear over time. There is no natural foodchain being sustained. Therein lies what bugs me about the show.

It's not the "pain" or "cruelty," since the scientific consensus is that insects do not feel pain. It's not the gore; at least somebody's getting a survival meal out of it, unlike CSI or Fear Factor. Adding to the blood sport feel are the two charming entomologists who serve as sports commentators, though there's no banter between them.

Animals eating in zoos is boring television fodder. We've seen every kind of sport. Nature shows have a limited audience. Everyone hates bugs. Graphic death is entertaining, and eating gross stuff is neat. At the bizarre nexus of these focus-group suppositions is Monster Bug Wars, satisfying numerous spectator impulses for its own sake, but without the integrity to admit it's more cockfight than natural phenomenon. It's a paint-by-numbers of the perverse tastes television has fostered in us, and the smallest circus maximus about the smallest gladiators that everyone is glad to see dead.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

D'Elite Vol. 2: Big City Orchestra - 4 Cassettes of the Apocalypse

The "Saints" of this series are ambient noise compositions without abrasive or jarring frequencies/timbres, for the most part. My impressions are that Saint Noise is various layers of indistinct noise, Saint Fear involves mostly guitar hazes, Saint Plunder is composed primarily of saw and powertool sounds, and Saint Sleaze has a stilted metronomic beat, keys and some comical lounge-singing about it: "Easy you please, and he can ?????__??, to see you releaaaaasssed, of all theeeee Sleaaaaazzzze."  The Sound Effects Library tracks make great samples for similarly-inclined musicians.

As with most sound composition not driven by melody, rhythm or vocals, this benefits most from proper headphones.

Glad I dug this out of the attic, hope you enjoy.


1. Saint Noise
2. Saint Fear
3. Saint Plunder
4. Saint Sleaze
5-14. Big City Orchestra Sound Effects Library, Volume 1: Tracks 1-10.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


On three of this street’s four corners
Are banks.

The newest is shining and mint
Like coin.

And a river that has three banks
Is dead.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Shoulder to Shoulder: An Album of Industrial Action

FGPlex is always on the lookout for cultural documents that memorialize key historical moments. Such is the presently ongoing public workers’ strike in Wisconsin against Gov. Walker’s effort to deprive public workers’ unions of their collective bargaining rights. A great deal is at stake: the leverage of unions nationwide in a time of quasi-fascist (classical definition) ascendancy, the successfulness of Walker’s bait-and-sink budget strategy, even the Republican presidential candidacy for 2012. For if Walker pulls a PATCO on the unions, he’ll look more demoniacally conservative than any other current GOP candidate. He’ll be the Reagan Revanant.

Which reminds me of great union-busters gone by: Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. As I understand these, Reagan didn’t want to allow the federally-employed air traffic controllers a 32-hour workweek. He gave the striking 13,000 (of 17,000) 48 hours to return to work or get the sack. They didn’t, and he did—so we spent years training up new ones and there could have been monthly plane crashes, but luck held. This bold gelding set a precedent that continues to this day, of corporate revanche over FDR’s “welfare state.”

Thatcher did the same thing with striking coal miners, around the same time. Her government wanted to close coal pits all over the U.K., and laid up supplies in anticipation of a coal miners’ strike. The country did not go dark, the police stood firm with Thatcher, people were beaten and jailed (a few killed), the strike dragged on forever and lost momentum, finally crumbling.

Reagan had quoted Coolidge on public safety; Thatcher used military language and referenced her successful little dirty war: “We had to fight the enemy without in the Falklands. We always have to be aware of the enemy within, which is much more difficult to fight and more dangerous to liberty.” Welfare benefits were withheld from the families of striking miners, and they slowly starved despite the aid of NGOs.

During those benighted times, the socialist industrial band Test Dept. collaborated on an album with the South Wales Striking Miners’ Choir.  Some exhortatory standards (Comrades in Arms, Stout Hearted Men, Take Me Home) are delivered with bracing style:

“Give me some men who are stouted hearted men/Who will fight for the right they adore/Start me with ten, who are stout hearted men/And I'll soon give you ten thousand more” —Stout Hearted Men (a propos, considering WI’s demonstrators number in the tens of thousands)

…rounded out by a couple monologues by Welshmen about Welsh vs. English culture:

“[The English, on trains] will put up their newspapers as a fortification against familiarity.”

…and the strike (video above): “I’ve been arrested twice and now the bail conditions are that I can’t go out again to go picketing. There’s a conspiracy by the police and the magistrates to stop us from winning this strike…now they’ve come for the trade union movement! You’ve got to get off your ass to help us!”

All this is rounded off by some industrial percussion and effects work pieces...must be the only album of industrial action about industrial action (haha). The whole package is a time capsule, timely yet. Listen in the spirit of Wisconsin, birthplace of the first public workers’ union, for I suspect this is no less a rubicon than PATCO or the mine strike.

Download the album (out of print) HERE