Friday, June 3, 2011

7 Minutes to Hell - Part 1

"When you cut into the present, the future leaks out."
--William S. Burroughs, on the cut-up technique

Andy Warhol promised we'd be famous for 15 minutes. Kracker promised to make us famouse. William S. Burroughs warned us it would be the weirdest 23 minutes of our lives. They weren't wrong.

If you've followed Tales of Radio Paranoia thus far and read the blog header, you may have wondered "Okay, Guise Faux is an asshole iconoclast with no respect for the traditions and conventions of pirate radio, Brown Nose the Pirate is a drunken Hunter S. Thompson wannabe, and I want the delicious golden-tressed Dea Fauxnette's phone number because I, too, have a face made for radio, a personality made for evil IRC, and she's a woman on the internets and I want to believe she's real because it's far too disturbing to consider the possibility that Dea is merely a fiction and that Guise Faux can write like a gossip columnist, especially one who sounds gayer than Perez Hilton," you're thinking to yourself, your face now reddening with the realization that we know exactly what you're thinking and oh by the way get your left hand out of your crotch. "But," you say, quickly changing the topic whilst placing your left hand very conspicuously on the keyboard, "what about these reckless audio collages, cut-ups, mashups and deconstructions thingies?"

Therein, dear readers, lies the origins of Tales of Radio Paranoia. And a couple of Radio Paranoia programmes that you probably didn't hear because with sunspots playing hard to get our wee signal is but a mouse fart in a hurricane.

And considering our recent and unanticipated confession that I/we/he perhaps am/are CB himself, this tale takes on whole new subversive twists.

A few years ago I was prowling through a family member's air check tapes from his radio days and thinking it might be fun to give that a shot. His demo reel probably took days to put together using tape - it was that elaborate. "Self," I figured, "how hard could it be with the advantage of digital audio editing?"

That - figuring for myself without adult supervision - was my first mistake, of many more to come.

My next mistake was going from outraged over the summer 2008 pirate radio war to amused when, by 2009, I remembered it was just another manifestation a perennial event, the Annual Pirate Radio Feud Lovefest. If only I had remained properly blinded by a perpetual state of high dudgeon and not peeked behind that curtain, the Wizard of Odd might have been able to restage his civil war reenactments indefinitely. And, my, didn't we fly on command so well...?

In 2009 I mentioned to a friend that I had some ideas for pirate radio programmes that might be amusing. He encouraged me to give it a try. That was my next mistake. Because providing fertile soil for the spores that litter my brain can only lead to the growth of hallucinogenic shroomage subversivus, which mutates when kept in the dark and fed bullshit for too long.

Whilst cobbling together a couple of programmes in time for Halloween 2009 I was undecided about the order of the songs and audio bits. Whilst listening to the segments in Winamp I inadvertently pressed the randomization option. At that moment it meant nothing to me but later it came in handy. That last sentence is called foreshadowing. It means eventually I'll remember I actually had a point when I started writing this blog entry, before I was distracted by what appears to be a woman on the internets. Oh, wait, no, dammit, wrong again.

Coincidentally, in early autumn 2009 Commander Bunny launched his International Relay Service and offered relays to anyone who wished to submit a programme. I took advantage of his generous offer - quite gratefully, I might add, and I remain grateful for that favour, inconceivable as that may seem to some now. We received a few signal reports but not nearly as many, or as accurately detailed, as those from our friend who provided 99.99% of our relays.

A curious incident in late 2009 prompted me to reconsider any further association with WBNY's relay service. For who-knows-what reason, Beans - at the time unknown to most of us as merely another CB sockpuppet - took offence at Radio Ga-Ga and Outhouse Radio. Beans began spooning up the usual flavourful medley of bunny puke: inconsiderate newbies ruining things for the "good pirates"; hurting the rabbit ears with SSTV noise (curious, as the lagomorph apparently has also transmitted SSTV); barf-barf-barf. And the usual supporting cast of support hose joined in to give the illusion of consensus. Most operators and listeners didn't seem to give a fig one way or another.

Apparently satisfied that the consensus of his own sock drawer (Beans, Mosby, Thumper, ad hareseum) gave him the desired mandate to act, Commander Bunny baited Radio Ga-Ga into a trap that ended up with Ga-Ga banned from the FRN.

Throughout 2009 Radio Ga-Ga had done brief early morning broadcasts on most weekday mornings, usually for around 15 minutes between 1200-1300 UTC. Most broadcasts began and ended with SSTV, which helped with station IDs. And even though WBNY often did early morning broadcasts, CB had repeatedly complained about traffic jams on 6925 kHz and swore he wouldn't stoop to using a frequency haunted by riff-raff (reaffirmed in a January 2011 FRN thread).

But in early November 2009 CB, masquerading as his known alter ego "Official Pus Press Release" and supported by his favourite sock-thug Beans, accused Radio Ga-Ga of QRMing WBNY. Using the FRN's indefinite edit window which doesn't track how often a post is edited or precisely when (other than the date - a boon to devoted flamers and troll's), Beans and Pus Release baited Ga-Ga into swapping insults. RGG lobbed out "chobster!" Officious Pus Release banned Ga-Ga and posted RGG's city (which was still visible more than a year later). This should have tipped us that the bunny mafia had access to member IPs, despite not being listed as admin, mods or cat herders. But we are a reticent and forgiving lot and the gaffe went unrecognized by most. The bunnyman also tried to bait Outhouse Radio into a spat but the affable fellow didn't bite.

Umbrage is always free for the taking and His Hareness is not one to pass up an opportunity. Around that time, 13 November 2009, CB announced an all-new pirate feud show, implying the "stars" would be Radio Ga-Ga and Outhouse Radio. (If I correctly recall that programme, it was rather tame and nowhere near as abrasive as the earlier feud shows.)

That reminded me of an earlier classic WBNY pirate feud show, the 2006 programme aimed at the hapless Mike Gaukin, Sierra Papa and some other fellow. Toward the 21 minute mark of that programme ComBun challenged listeners to decode a secret message and post it to the FRN. The message was just a backward recording of CB giving his special blessings to the trio. Apparently Alfred (Alfa Lima) took the challenge rather more literally than the hare intended. He corrected both the backward recording and pitch shift and posted the audio clip online.

And all hare broke loose.

Alfred and all who partook of the lair of the demon spawn across the Atlantic - aka, those Euro pirates and their trance music and their wooden shoes and their legal hashish - were forever cast out of the bunny's Garden. Well, with the exception, perhaps, of Dave Martin and his mesmerizing Corsair which tempted His Hareness to cheat on his faithful Grenade.

So much for the tedious background history leading into the actual point of this blog entry.

On the eve of the 2009 WBNY pirate feud programme, I recalled that prescient Burroughs quote about the audio cut-up technique he and Brion Gysin had popularized:

"When you cut into the present, the future leaks out."

I wondered what might leak out of the 2006 episode.

Apparently, warning signs of impending disaster either did not leak out, or did not soak into my thick skull. Nor did the lessons of Negativland's infamy with Helter Stupid and U2. Not that RP's feeble efforts are anywhere near the godly troll status of Negativland's late 1980s media pwnage.

The 2006 WBNY feud show lent itself well to cut-ups. Commander Bunny's narrative consisted of many short, snappy quotes with generous pauses, interspersed amongst pre-recorded audio bits from cartoons and other sources. The clear, declarative phrases were well suited to editing to isolate only CB's comments. The only problem was a persistent hum in the bunnyman's on-mic audio, presumably a ground loop problem he didn't notice. Not to worry, thought I, this was only an experiment, not intended to be broadcast. After isolating the phrases, making duplicates of each and loading dozens of short phrases into Winamp, I hit the randomize option and listened, whilst recording the playback. Each playback session lasted around 5-10 minutes.

The initial results produced some startling juxtapositions. In some instances the phrase "When the listeners feel they can threaten and cause problems for the pirates" was morphed into "When the pirates feel they can threaten and cause problems for the listeners" and, perhaps more presciently...

"When the pirates feel they can threaten and cause problems for the pirates"

Another phrase - "If you want to find a way to drive the pirates away" - transmogrified into...

"If you want to find a way to drive the listeners away"

Most of those compilations of 5-10 minute segments were only moderately listenable utter crap. Even to a fan of cut-ups, audio anarchy and randomness, most were tedious. Compared with the more deliberate selection and assembly process of the mashup, the cut-up process is very hit-or-miss. I pared away the most redundant bits, added a few audio segments from other sources, including the Pixies classic "Monkey Gone to Heaven" because, well... you know why... loaded them up into Winamp and hit randomize again.

And that's how "7 Minutes to Hell" was birthed. Or aborted, depending on your point of view.

Without further prejudicing our readers' opinions, attached below you'll find streaming audio for "7 Minutes to Hell", along with a related commentary from Cosmikdebris during a December 2009 Lumpy Gravy Radio Show segment (probably the only time this cut-up was ever actually heard clearly, thanks due to WBCQ's signal!).

And the bottom two audio bits are examples of some more deliberately edited audio collages I've put together, to differentiate them from the haphazard approach of the randomized cut-up technique. At least one of those has actually been included in an earlier broadcast.

Your frank opinions are absolutely welcome here. Love it? Hate it? Find the technique to be intriguing or incredibly boring? Pretentious beatnik bullshit? Is the cut-up version even more offensive than CB's original programme? Is it heresy or fair game to remix another pirate's programming, same as any pop culture icon?

As a fan of audio collages, mashups and deconstructions (no surprise, if you've peeked at the sidebar links), naturally I'm biased. I was also a big fan of Sycko Radio's aural oddities. But I'm more interested in what other fans of pirate radio and pirate radio operators themselves have to say.

"7 Minutes to Hell" - Randomized cut-ups of WBNY pirate feud show and Pixies Monkey Gone to Heaven. Semi-NSFW, comparable to South Park humour. (7 minutes)

"Lumpy Gravy Radio Show, December 2009" - Cosmikdebris sez "Fucking thing sucks!" And goshdarnit, he's right. Semi-NSFW, just a wee bit o' cussin' towards the finale.

And if you have too much time on your hands, as Guise Faux apparently does, here are a couple other audio collages you may have already heard on the funny bands in our previous programmes (not giving any other hints):

Obligatory remix of infamous Bill O'Reilly tantrum from his "Inside Edition" days. (3 min 21 sec) By cracky, this Billo may have a temper but at least he doesn't call remix artists child molesters just because we have a little fun at his expense. Unlike some temperamental wild hares we know. Warning: Loads o' cussin'. NSFW.

And our personal favourite, Salad Fingers stumbles upon cannibal hamsters whilst DXing. (10 min 14 sec) Caution: Some barely intelligible fussin'-'n'-cussin' from N9OGL mixed into background. Semi-NSFW.

In the next Tale of Radio Paranoia, assuming I'm still alive to tell the tale, the aftermath of "7 Minutes to Hell," and how a whim snowballed weeks later into a FUBAR of epic proportions.


  1. Thanks a HEAP, Guise, Now I have "I know all there is to know about the crying game..." as my earworm for the day...

  2. Oh, well, try dealing with "attention whore"!


  3. The snapshot of RGG’s treatment from CB (OPR&B) pretty much says it all. Even if you hate this website and it’s blog content, you can’t ignore the facts that these screen captures display.

  4. Where every tongue is wagging
    When every back is turned
    Their telling secrets that should never be revealed
    There's nothing to be gained from this
    But disaster..
    Here's a good one..
    Did you hear about my friend
    He's embarrassed to be seen now
    because we all know his sins

  5. Excellent post Paranoia! Love the Burroughs pic and the cut-ups!

  6. So now we're to believe that CB relay YOU? Next thing you'll be telling us you are really NRS. Sorry, fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me. Sorry but the joke isn't funny anymore.

  7. Little did CB know that the station he relayed would go on to create the 'Radio Paranoia' blog years later. Yes, quite plausible, all nay-saying aside.

  8. And, the joke really IS still funny! Unless, of course, you are the butt of it...

  9. from Bunny's latest email update:
    "I've had enough ... I went into the rabbit hole in the 90's ... I'm going back in" "I hope, when I come back up, that these [free radio lovers], have gone on to something else ... If not, I'll just go back underground"

    Not going anywhere Bunny. But tonight I am celebrating with the good scotch and the really good kush. Good riddance!

  10. Brion Gysin....... I once had a long phone conversation w/ a certain pirate regarding Gysin and Burroughs,Jajouka,and using Gysin's cut-up techniques in pirating.

    Burroughs,Gysin,the House of 1001 Assholes (dancing boys galore!!!),the Beat Hotel......

    Those were the days of civilized butt-pirating for artistically inclined dopefiends.

    Take me to The Chelsea,Cassidy. And step on it.

  11. Jajouka! Now I'll have to YouTube for that pan pipes album Brian Jones produced. Maybe it'll clear my head of the techno and trance stuff I've been listening to.

    How would you like to write up some of those anecdotes for the blog? Or e-mail us, or forward it via an anonymous yousendit link, whatever you prefer. It'd be interesting to hear what others have done with cut-ups and remixes in general.

  12. Yes you must be very proud of yourselves. Bunny relays your programs, and you stab him in the back like this. And anonymously yet! What goes around, comes around. May it catch you full force. Which by the way it will. No one relaying with a signal you can hear in N.A., and you drive the only regular relay away. FUBAR is the only appropriate phrase for you morons.

  13. Mr. Anonymous FUBAR,

    Bunny originally reneged his offer to relay when Bram Stoker, in his inimitable style, made a joke about being cautious for the soon-to-be relays (the original thread is of course now deleted). Bunny had a meltdown cancelling the relay offer and raised the issue that Bram must be cozy with the FCC to have known there was a threat to begin with. Bram Stoker an FCC spy? Really?? At least Bram still has a sense of humor to make jest of this in the “Inconsiderate Bastard’ thread.

    I absolutely agree with you Mr. FURBAL, when you manipulate & screw others for as long as you have (see screencaps) eventually it will come back to haunt YOU!

    Don’t worry about relays, signal levels & whatnot, the hobby is more robust than you think and will continue on after you’re gone.….don’t go away mad Bunny, just go away.

  14. So, does that mean that the "Bunny/Kracker 2012" campaign is off?

    President Obama, and listservs the world over, must be breathing a huge sigh of relief!

  15. Oh, lawlz... not sure if 6/8/11 5:54 AM comment really CB or a clever imposter. Either way, I lol'd.

    @8:09 AM Anon: Funny you mention that Bram Stoker incident. I still have a draft blog entry about that in the holding bin. That Halloween 2009 funnybunny rant claiming Bram might tattle to the FCC was one of those signposts that scream "Crazytown, Dead Ahead! Turn Back NOW!!!"

    BTW, Bram, I'm still waiting for my QSL rejection card.

  16. Wow, what a great idea for a contest. Who can post the comment that best sounds like a "rodent rant". The prize could be, say, a box of malted milk balls!


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