Wednesday, December 15, 2010


I found the above in my tatty "must scan" file and thought I'd put it up before it gets any more disheveled. These are the instructions to a hand-pump flashlight (example below) which generates power from users flexing their fingers as if on a Gripmaster, those springloaded plastic petits-fours that strengthen spelunkers or perhaps self-abusers.

What's interesting is that my unit was made in Russia, and the instructions depict its use in finding a bag of cash (USD, no less) in a dark vault. The user is a white-collar criminal, or perhaps a quaint gangster or mafioso. Was this a class joke by an underpaid Russian illustrator? Ah, stereotypes.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Kahve Defteri: Vol. 2

Next installment in the coffee-grounds readings journal. Same project specs as VOLUME 1, but with cups of unknown make.

Two people are rejoicing, maybe they are dancing. (This could have something to do with my impending marriage.)

Two paths come after the rejoicing, and because they are fat and straight they mean easy, blessed roads.

Someone (presuming me) is on top of a pile of something, probably kismet – good fortune/positive destiny – or money. I am trying to balance myself and stand up because I’m on my hands and knees. There are two spots exactly on either side of me, standing for a piece of news each that will arrive before and after I find my equilibrium atop whatever this pile is.

A palm is turned towards me/the viewer, or they could be cupped palms raised to the sky, full of some benediction. This means someone is wishing me well or praying for me.

Looking at the fulfillment of my wish as the drop of coffee and grounds runs along the underside of the saucer, it seems I will get my wish. It won’t be quite what I had hoped at first, but towards the end it takes the shape of a heart, which has to portend well.

Once more, if you missed the inaugural post:


Tuesday, November 30, 2010


The Optimum Business ad that included this image was so disturbing that even on mute, it stopped a conversation.

The woman depicted stands with her arms at her sides, then raises them slowly as she speaks, as though urging her apostles to walk across the water. If she didn’t have a halo and long hair, and if she weren’t wearing white, one could argue this is just design sloth.

As it is, it is unmistakably Christian. Even non-Christians who have been to enough art museums can see it. Then there are the “commandments” that encircle her: “keep it simple,” “be honest.” What about “thou shalt worship no graven images”?

It’s hard to track down clear evidence that Optimum and its parent company, Cablevision, have any investments or interest in religious programming. This screaming conspiracy person thinks that they do. But this website of “Christian Communicators” laments that Cablevision has been so resistant to “must-carry” rules that would force more locally-produced (often Christian) programming onto the airwaves.

We should be more alert to this after the Bush years. Daily Pentagon briefings to Bush Jr. used to include Bible quotes. Bushling himself used to speak in stilted Biblical phrasing (“there will be a day of reckoning for the Iraqi regime, and that day is drawing near”) or quote it directly.

Residents of predominantly-Muslim countries can find cold comfort considering that when their secular governments and business are being swept by fundamentalists and Crypto-jihadis, they don’t have to suffer this kind of hackneyed advertising thanks to the Islamic prohibition on religious imagery.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Plastic is Rewards

Exhibit A: At the very least, cash teaches you to count.

And read.

Friday, September 10, 2010

{D'Elite} Vol. 1 -- Inanna -- ORDER OV FECUNDATION

To dispel any concern that I am exclusively a dour grump groaning about the political inevitable, I am introducing some new themes to the blog (HINT: the next serial will also be audial). This will make FGPlex more of an esoklektik -- Greek: esoterikos + eklektikos, both cognates -- clearinghouse and less a whizbang of writing, for which someone must be grateful.

I've enjoyed almost a year of trawling for deleted albums with the help of, Wikipedia and countless music blogs the breadth of which is encyclopedic. The internet has made possible the preservation of commercially-suicidal sound on a massive scale; blogs like Zero G Sounds, Sickness (Still) Abounds and Nostalgie de la Boue are lovingly maintained libraries of the vanished. I have some bits to pool in this collective curatorial effort, but not enough for my own dedicated blog.

{D'Elite} is my contribution of the best market-unviable, deleted sound art to the informal interarchive. I will chiefly present things I could not find elsewhere; on some occasions, they won't be the best albums, but I will provide links thereto.

This effort is also a paean to my salad days of going to record stores and buying whatever was used and looked interesting, then sharing as I could. That was how I found so much of the music I still treasure: brume, zoviet-france, Controlled Bleeding, and Clair Obscur are just a few examples -- not to mention U Lovemore Majaivana, the first Zimbabwean band I'd ever heard and my favorite choral popmusic.

I start with Inanna because ORDER OV FECUNDATION is the finest ambient industrial I've heard. I spent months dredging the digital seas for this recording on the web rather than master the very difficult levels that are so high on the tape, which required sensitive EQing in the transfer to digital.
 This was played from the source tape on an Onkyo deck @ DolbyC through an Allen&Heath Xone:32 mixer, balanced and leveled before the record out to a Cowon S9 at 256kbps (regrettably the Cowon only records in .wma), then re-encoded to .mp3 at 192kbps.

These recordings are provided for information when determined with reasonable effort to be unavailable elsewhere. If any artist wishes to have their work removed from this blog, please contact me directly. So without further dithering --


Mikael Stavöstrand is better known for his excellent minimal techno or his releases with (and as) Archon Satani. Inanna could have been just another casualty of the microlabel tape era, but hyperarchivers like Sickness Abounds have kept pieces like SODOM, limited to 200 copies, in circulation. Not.hing and Day ov Torment are still available on emusic, but those albums have more of a digital feel that doesn't seem sincere after the oft-muddy mastering of Sodom and Order.

Inanna is dark ambient industrial from Sweden, with a Satanic influence that is subtle enough to ignore on this release. The soundscapes on this album vary from subterranean sheetmetal banging to all kinds of tubing clangs, distorted strains of horns from Aida (Grand March, Act 2, Scene II), and treated tapeloops warbling over murmuring submerged chants. Occasionally it verges on abrasive but never distorts, even when the levels are red hot. It's not overtly dark or brooding, purple titles notwithstanding -- of Sodom, Not.hing and Day ov Torment, it's the least glowering and demonic by far. The feedback resonance narrative shot through "Tunrida", which sounds as though it's echoing around a sunlit canyon, is filmic in its vaulted beauty, and has been very moving to me for almost 20 years. I'm honored to present it, ripped from its Old Europa Cafe C60.
A1 Order Ov Fecundation. 1 11:03
A2 Annihilate Them 5:55
A3 God's Order 6:16
A4 Daughters Of The Mildewed Minds 8:29
B1 Order Of Fecundation. 2 11:03
B2 Tunrida 6:10
B3 Without Blemish 7:11
B4 Order Of Fecundation. 3 7:16


Wednesday, July 28, 2010


I’ve been waiting for something momentous to return to the Plex, and the recent news about the “historic financial reform bill” is as good as any for springing my new translation. After a thorough search of the Internet and our city’s incomparable public library, I believe I am offering the only idiomatic English translation of Jean-Baptiste Clément’s “Song of the Banks”, an 1884 French militant ditty translated to German by Walter Mehring (“Bankenlied”) and set to music by Hanns Eisler in 1931. How could such a perennial problem go begging for an anthem in the Anglophone world? (left: Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs.)

I’m not much of a political wonk; my interests are too broad to permit the penetrating study of Washington arcana necessary to an educated opinion. Anyway, everything our “representatives” do is truncheoned to hash or diluted to inefficacy now. What’s the incentive to scry over the bureaucracy when one can only vote, most often for local politicians, laws, referenda and initiatives? Besides, MY state is not the problem in Congress. Yet it seems dangerous to have no idea and no opinion of what’s afoot. In these times it seems tantamount to succumbing to Good German Syndrome.

I thought this bill might be exciting until I read a bit more about it. It wasn’t endorsed by the august Senator Russ Feingold, whose voice is one of the few on Capitol Hill that makes me tune in anymore. “As I have indicated for some time now, my test for the financial regulatory reform bill is whether it will prevent another crisis," Feingold said in a statement. "The conference committee's proposal fails that test and for that reason I will not vote to advance it."

Ben “‘Unusually Uncertain’ Economic Outlook” Bernanke defends the bill, but uses the usual tepid language of feds to describe it: we’ve “taken steps” to close “important gaps in our regulatory system.” Also hot to trot, Senator Bernie Sanders, the Vermont Independent and another name I trust (relatively speaking) said, “It by no means goes far enough, but on the other hand, I think it is a step forward.” To his credit, he had contributed a measure to the bill that “requires the Federal Reserve to disclose by Dec. 1 the identities of banks and financial institutions that received more than $2 trillion in taxpayer-backed loans and other assistance at the onset of the financial crisis,” writes

Oh good! Come December, maybe we can finally find out whether any taxpayer money was embroiled in Wachovia’s $378.4 billion worth of money-laundering for Mexican drug cartels, the most egregious violation of the Bank Secrecy Act since it was passed in 1970. Wachovia’s $110 million of laundered drug proceeds reported in March ’10 is peanuts in comparison, still more trifling the $50 million fine the Treasury levied for this skulduggery. The period covered by both investigations predates the bank bailouts, but recall the little matter of the bank mergers of ‘08/’09, when this blog was started (we come full circle!).

Breathless news outlets stumbled over themselves to report: Wells Fargo bought Wachovia for $12.7 billion! or $15.4 billion! Which finally ended up being $15.1 billion! after downing Citigroup who’d bid $2.2 billion! Wells Fargo said they didn’t use any bailout money to buy Wachovia, but check that last link to radical klaxon CBS News…I was too disheartened to dig further.

Want a laugh? Google “bankster+FDR.” The common denominator between then and now is the derelict financiers, on a frolic of their own from civil society.

The terms of “Bankenlied” are so simple that they resonate across the late modern period. Jean-Baptiste Clément was part of the Paris Commune (1871), the first exercise of power by a government of working people in Western industrial history. “Time of Cherries” and “The Bloody Week” are his most remembered tunes, of romance and repression respectively. clarifies the origins of “Bankenlied” without mentioning its original name in French. The German edition is one of the most rousing tunes on “Keine Oder Alle,” a compilation of Eisler’s more political works. Walter Mehring, an anarchist who fled the Nazis like Clément fled repression of the Communards in Paris, did the German verse translation, rendered into literal English on Eislermusic by Andy Lang. Eisler was one of Arthur Schoenberg’s prize pupils (before they split over Eisler’s politics) and a composer who left his mark equally on apolitical pieces, militant songs and Hollywood scores in his long course fleeing the Nazis to the U.S., where he was forced by McCarthy to return to the DDR when it was established. Regrettably, history has slighted his significance as a composer because of his politics. (Above: Hanns Eisler: any resemblance is purely coincidental.)
I stumbled on the song a few months ago and dusted off my old college German for it because it was so au courant. The whole album is on Amazon, but I’ve included “Bankenlied” here...just click the song title below for a link to YouTube. I hope that my translation is in the spirit of Eisler: meant to be sung in the streets.

Now they have canned us!
It’s gone too far.
Countrymen, countrymen!
Let’s withdraw from the banks, then
Audit their accounts, then
And close their accounts, men.

When you find there’s no work to do
You roam the city, poor and blue
Like an ex-con whose freedom stumbles.
No piece of bread, no sip of beer
And how our stomachs always rumble
Outside every bakery door!

It seems almost that the men in suits
The financiers and the factory groups
Only repeat the old clichés.
They drive the poor to bankruptcy
With ruthlessness so cold it makes you say
“When I can do that, wait and see.”

But when the day of reckoning comes
Make sure to see where they cut funds
And close their bankbooks like a door.
So you can see how it is done
How we let robberbarons take more and more
While they have got us by the short ones!

“A musician with integrity must be an activist in his or her society, and stand up and say loudly what is wrong in that society and try to fix it. It is not right to make pretty, docile music.” Hanns Eisler