And I feel like a kid again!
Just another random transmission
And I feel like a kid again!
When great trees fall When great souls die, Great souls die and And when great souls die,
When Great Trees Fall
When great trees fall,
rocks on distant hills shudder,
lions hunker down
in tall grasses,
and even elephants
lumber after safety.
small things recoil into silence,
eroded beyond fear.
the air around us becomes
light, rare, sterile.
We breathe, briefly.
Our eyes, briefly,
a hurtful clarity.
Our memory, suddenly sharpened,
gnaws on kind words
our reality, bound to
them, takes leave of us.
dependent upon their
now shrink, wizened.
Our minds, formed
and informed by their
We are not so much maddened
as reduced to the unutterable ignorance
of dark, cold
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always
irregularly. Spaces fill
with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed. They existed.
We can be. Be and be
better. For they existed.
When great trees fall
When great souls die,
Great souls die and
And when great souls die,
Frances Densmore recording Blackfoot Mountain Chief on a cylinder phonograph for the Bureau of American Ethnology (1916). Frances Densmore was a Minnesota anthropologist who specialized in Native American music and also recorded and transcribed a great deal of Native music. Her recordings now reside in the Library of Congress.
Charlatans rejoice! Your mindreading app has been delivered, compliments of Apple.
You can now bend spoons, put out fires and run labyrinths with your mind. Just like you always knew you could.
However, don’t mistake this app for being completely useless – you can also upload avatar versions of your arch-enemies and have them hurl insults at you. If you remain calm and cool you win the game.
Think about the implications. Soon we could be transmitting our thought patterns to robots in remote locations via headset. No more going into the office, taking out the trash and hugging your kids. You can do it all via remote control!
As usual, I’m ahead of the curve on this one – last weekend I went to Naples, Italy on Google Earth and had a cappuccino in my mind. For all you technology skeptics out there, I can attest that it was just as good as “real life”, all the way down to the caffeine buzz.
Perhaps you are a fan of mind-control but prefer doing it without a smartphone. Try Mattel’s Mindflex game, which allows users to perform obstacle courses using a brainwave headset. Consider it basic training for the upcoming battle to preserve our psychic privacy.
Telekinesis – it’s not just a fantasy anymore kids!
Special thanks to the Avalon Arcade for recently introducing me to a chivalrous young bard who honored us with a juggling demonstration and 824 free winning tickets.
1. The need for laughs: this is the root of of the bard complex and goes deep into their formative years when their talents went unrecognized as a child. Somewhere around 10 years old, they realized the best way to get attention was to perform outlandish acts of poetry, magic and cleverness. Various renaissance festivals and school plays reinforced this over the years.
2. Unnecessary Talent: Not every bard is a juggler, minstrel, stilt-walking magician or loud poet. But many of them are. Others express themselves through freestyle rap, playing obscure instruments or by performing absurd acts of physical comedy.
3. Long hair: this is a necessity for every bard. Unless the culture they live in does not permit it – every bard should have long hair. There is nothing romantic or frivolous about short hair, and those defining characteristics give the bard their charm. Long hair is also particularly good for various trans-gender character transformations.
4. All the world is a stage: the bard is funny, endearing, often hilarious. But they don’t know when to stop. Like a train wreck of tragic comedy they will continue juggling the torches until they’ve burned the whole place down. They don’t just want your laughter; they crave your tears.
5. They are indispensable: despite their frivolity, bards make excellent friends. They will entertain you when you are down; reading you sappy poetry and quoting the ancients. They will outwit your enemies with one cunning remark. They will charm their way into all sorts of unusual places. And at the end of your epic journey, after the last battle has been won and you are on the brink of claiming your treasure: a bard will always, always know the magic password.
Addendum: Some bards are not happy. They no longer have the will to live or perform. They live in disguise as retail specialists and hipster baristas or, god forbid, corporate artists. They see the world as a gray and cruel place. They are sad sad clowns who need nurturing from someone like you. Just remember: bards are not usually motivated by normal things like food, booze and money. They embody the journey of The Fool and seek the realm of magic only. So brush up on your Aleister Crowley and bring it to them. Help a sad clown today.
In light of all the recent Planned Parenthood controversy, it seems fitting to highlight another top rebel bastard from the Shortwave hall of fame: Margaret Sanger. Witnessing her mother die after 18 childbirths was enough to turn young Margaret into a nurse and woman’s health advocate for the rest of her life. She had 3 children herself then began her activist work in Greenwich Village circa 1910 where she started launching pamphlets with intriguing titles such as “Family Limitation” and “What every girl should know”.
After founding the flagrantly feminist paper “Woman Rebel” she subsequently went back and forth between the US and Europe dodging obscenity laws. After controversy had died down, she decided to reignite it by opening the first birth control clinic in the United States. She continued to open clinics and lecture widely for the rest of her life.
Reading her biographical information, it’s clear that Sanger’s views have been widely twisted and misconstrued in the past few decades since Roe v. Wade’s contentious aftermath. Sanger’s core belief was that every woman regardless of race or class has the right and the responsibility of complete control over the circumstances of conception. She condemned abortion and euthanasia outright, and while she did advocate for the improvement of the human race through better breeding, she opposed the brand of eugenics that promotes ethnic cleansing. A woman’s individual choice, she believed, was the only solution.
However there are many examples of her falling short of modernity. She believed, for example, that only “[the] feeble-minded, idiots and morons” should be forcibly prevented from reproducing or immigrating to the US. This was actually not so controversial for the times. Mostly people were just concerned she was talking to women about ”hoo-has and caterpillars” . Because once the word got out, thousands of women were clamoring for Sanger to provide information on how to prevent unwanted pregnancy; posing a clear threat to the male control over medical information access. We all know that women talking in secret about their hoo-has has more than once been the harbinger of a revolution. But in reality this threat was minimal. The Victorian cultural hangover didn’t stop with Margaret Sanger, she was still doing her part to keep it alive and well.
“In my experience as a trained nurse while attending persons afflicted with various and often revolting diseases, no matter what their ailments, I have never found any one so repulsive as the chronic masturbator…In the boy or girl past puberty, we find one of the most dangerous forms of masturbation, i.e., mental masturbation, which consists of forming mental pictures, or thinking obscene or voluptuous pictures.This form is considered especially harmful to the brain, for the habit becomes so fixed that it is almost impossible to free the thoughts from lustful pictures”
Truly, there are few things more horrifying than the never-ending picture show of exciting lustful images that infect the brain and paralyze the nervous system. The author of this post herself had, at one time, such a terrible affliction which left her deaf and dumb after perpetually picturing people engaged in fornication. Her system was in such a state of shock she was unable to even blink or swallow her own saliva. However after a thorough exorcism by a local papal official – and being educated by Pearl Jam’s Vitalogy album -I’m proud to say I was back to normal, thinking only of ponies, rainbows, and how to make the best four-layer cake in the girlscout troop.
But while I was busy dreaming of ponies and rainbows, the boys were busy trying to impregnate me, and that’s where Sanger came in again. Planned Parenthood continues to be a source of education and medical access to women and families all over the country from a wide variety of backgrounds. Nobody has done more than Planned Parenthood to educate and serve the public on these matters.
It was only the turn of the century when Sanger was daring to talk openly about rubbing one out, why having 10+ babies is irrational and stupid, and why the pull-out method is for suckers. That makes her unequivocally “Top Rebel Bastard of the Year”. The fact that her legacy continues to allow millions of people to take control of their reproductive future is a testament to the strength of her core message. As Planned Parenthood is currently battling access to federal funding for their services, please take the opportunity to support Planned Parenthood in any way that you can, even if it’s just giving props to Mag-Sang on your next status update.
LAS VEGAS, it is said, is like Hollywood except no movies get made and you end up with gambling debt and an addiction to hookers.
At least that’s what I said, when I spent New Years Day on the strip during a long layover on my route back home. I had been to Las Vegas before, but not for 10+ years. It was a real treat. There’s no “shame” in Las Vegas – it’s like being Catholic never happened. The indulgence starts the minute you step off the plane, where you are greeted by slot machines and a large billboard that says “What happens here stays here (just a reminder)”. Thank you, Nevada Tourism Bureau. Let the debauchery begin.
Due to time constraints, I opted out of the wide availability of sex workers and went straight to the gambling. Drinking tequilla, eating tacos and playing slots at the Luxor, to be precise. It was the perfect way to bring in the New Year. The Luxor hotel – featuring a gigantic pyramid and sphinx – had all the glorious fake trappings of Egypt that I fondly remember it having. Plus it was a good reminder that I too am living in a dying empire of imperial wealth and opulent greed.
I didn’t do much beyond that – I wanted my wallet to remain fat with christmas cash after all. But the sights were cartoonishly stimulating, and the people watching was top-notch. Dubai – clearly the Vegas of the Middle East – may have taller buildings and more outlandish theme parks, but it still has nothing on Vegas. There’s no pretense of higher culture here, no underlying disapproval of moral permissiveness.
The broad-shouldered Italian fellow I talked to at the Info desk summed it up pretty well. When posed the question – “What’s the difference between old Vegas and new Vegas?” He answered thoughtfully. “Well, old Vegas was run by the East Coast mob…and the new strip was built to celebrate the West Coast mob taking over”.
Vegas, where shame goes to die.
I’m the kind of creature who would play air-hockey and buck-hunt every day of the week, if possible. Yes, I also like killing zombies, but what I really want to do is get my hands on a convertible and cruise through the arctic tundras and tunnels of Moscow. I even like the claw game because I often win and get to watch the tickets roll out, like a big long tongue wagging as the machine gets pet by its’ master. Yes, playing games at the arcade lights up my brain’s reward centers like a pinball machine. And the Avalon Arcade has got to be the best and last bastion of nickel arcades around.
My plan consisted of buying a bag of nickels and burning through them as fast as possible. I didn’t know this was my plan, but my destiny unfolded quickly as I found myself pumping 20+ nickels into the Skeeball game. Skeeball is one of those worthless games that we can’t stop playing. It’s a cultural relic and thus cannot be passed over, but the quality is inconsistent and it doesn’t even pack a punch as far as tickets. After playing far too many games of this, I looked for the “shoot the clown with a cannon ball” game which is always nearby – however it was nowhere to be found. It’s a shame, I like me a clown with a cannon to the face.
Instead I found a mini bowling game that made an uninspiring visual first impression. However the game was redeemed as I quickly mastered it and then repeated ad infinitum until I had about 150 tickets. All around me there were 11 year olds swarming in herds, enjoying their one night of weekly independence. Meanwhile the ticket wads were coming out of my pockets like stuffing and this suddenly made me nervous as I suspected the hooligans were out to lift my stash. Yes, you read that right. I was worried the tweens were going to steal my tickets. Instead of fighting this irrational fear, I casually drifted into the next room.
There I burned through the usual games- drove some cars, added some coins to the ‘nickel mountain’ that never quite gets pushed off the cliff, and shot some hammerhead sharks with underwater artillery.
Following this, I played a game of air hockey with a friend. This is where it got interesting. I happen to be fairly good at air hockey. It’s a fast moving game that requires total concentration. A high speed cat and mouse chase to see who can get the cheese. When I play it, I go deep into my reptillian brain and engage in the tactics that I believe are fundamental to my survival. As I saw my opponent – calm, controlling the puck with certitude, sometimes slowly - I saw myself in comparison. Frenetic, sloppy, warp-speed and brutal. “That’s my style” I thought to myself, “Sloppy and brutal. Total disorientation and chaos which leads to the weakening of my opponent. Then when they get dizzy enough, I slam them so hard they go unconscious…That’s my style”. Under the neon lights, this style seemed suddenly so obtuse, the certain harbinger of my general personal demise. Even though I’m proud to say that in life I’ll always take fight over flight, the darwinian implications of my battle tactics did not escape me. As I was pondering this, my opponent scored on me again. And again. And again.
As I drifted away from the air-hockey game my brain was buzzing, still hot and smoldering in the iron forge of reward circuit stimulation. I found my way back to the bowling game where I mindlessly knocked down spares to watch the tickets zip out from the slot for awhile. It was a comfort to me that reward could be this simple, after the disheartening reality of my animal nature during air hockey.
Approaching the ticket counter ready to cash-in, it occurred to me that I hadn’t even looked at the prizes. Perhaps next time it would be prudent to look at the end-goal and work towards it, you know have a strategy. Because now, with the better part of the night waning, the inflatable baseball bats and sneaker keychains didn’t look so appealing. I came out with 340 tickets; just 40 away from the mini alarm clock. But I settled for a black light, a “cool ” pen and 20 tootsie rolls. I got a skull keychain too (with diamond eyes!) just to remind me of the ideals of human evolution. I couldn’t tell you why, but it all seemed worth it.
“Guess what season it is? Fucking Fall. There’s a nip in the air and my house is full of mutant fucking squash.” – McSweenys
Dear A Shortwave Reader,
Have you taken a hayride or picked a pumpkin this Autumn? If not, I implore you: please do not bypass this important American Ritual this Fall.
To paraphrase the eloquent McSweeney’s “It’s Autumn motherfuckers, so lets get seasonal”. The harvest is here, and we have work to do. There is decorative corn and lumpy gourds to arrange, while the hot whiskey cider is brewing on the stove. Forget all the Halloween stuff that comes at the end of the month – there’s plenty of advice on how to bob for apples and do your make-up like a sexy kitten. What we should really be focusing on is the soul-enriching harvest rituals of our forefathers and mothers.
This weekend I participated in aforementioned rituals. We drove out in bumper to bumper traffic to the nearest rural island just to participate in America’s finest rural mythology. We rode an exhaust-puffing tractor between a parking lot and corn “maize” in order to pick our pumpkins on the far lot. Side Note: Does it occur to anyone else that the REAL corn maze is America’s monolithic agribusiness policies that happen to be dominated by the production and distribution of corn, making it difficult for farmers to thrive on growing any other product? Kind of makes the corn maize feel like a cruel joke, doesn’t it?
Anyway we came back, pumpkins in lap, to sit on hay barrels while we watched the children ride sad little ponies in a circle next to the corn maize. We also spent about a half an hour in line waiting for hot cider that was probably pressed somewhere in Washington. Why was this so satisfying? For me, it undoubtedly filled a gap in my hedonistic fast-paced urban lifestyle.
The collective genius of OK Cupid suggests my pastoral pangs are not uncommon. They did a recent trend report on the users of their dating site and found that the vast majority of white users (particularly women) identified with the hallmarks of America’s heartland:
“[It's] amazing the extent to which their list shows a pastoral or rural self-mythology: bonfires, boating, horseback riding, thunderstorms. I remind you that OkCupid’s user base is almost all in large cities, where to one degree or another, if you find yourself doing much of any of these things, civilization has come to an end.”
200 years after settlement and white Americans are still convinced they are homesteading cowboys and country girls. We carry these identities around in our pockets while we ride the subways and sit in cubicles all day long listening to Keith Urban on the ipod. Side note: Keith Urban? Also cruel irony??
Other cultures must have their own parallel cultural mythologies, ideals about the characteristics of an upstanding countryman. American Rituals may not be as deep-rooted but they still have their charms – growing pumpkins so big they explode, for example, is one emerging harvest-time ritual that seems to embody a uniquely American philosophy. We also do this with pigs at the State Fair, which seems more untoward. I can’t explain it all, but I do hope that years from now my future ducklings will be as excited as I was as a grown adult to ride en-masse on tractors to the nearest pumpkin patch.