Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Fan Mail and the Pirate's Paradox

“The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.”
-- Oscar Wilde

We're honoured to find that Commander Bunny enjoyed our most recent Tale of Radio Paranoia, and even offered editorial assistance. We're also grateful to Father Poet of The Crystal Ship for contributing some well considered counterpoints to Commander Bunny's critique of our tale.

A tip o' the dunce cap to Kracker, who suggested the correct spelling of his name. And whilst we're appreciative of the opportunity to correct our error, we're puzzled by his choice to post this publicly on the FRN. We've blurred out the name and location. Meanwhile, the FRN post has vanished.

We appreciate Kracker's usual enthusiasm and readiness to get into character by donning the traditional leprechaun costume to perform some sort of ritual gardening.

Commander Bunny also contributed a few editorial suggestions (the unexpurgated version of CB's e-mail may be viewed on Poet's TCS blog). Whilst perusing CB's words of wisdom I was reminded of a variation of Epimenides Paradox:
  1. All pirates are liars.
  2. I am a pirate.

* * *
"We've been falsely accused of sharing a mailing list with Kracker.

-- Commander Bunny, 18 July 2011
* * *
Ah, we see there is some perfectly understandable confusion here. We meant that in the same sense that there have been numerous Commanders Bunny. It was another, presumably fictitious, Commander Bunny who provided that information. As we noted in a March 2011 Tale of Radio Paranoia, there have been - much like the Dread Pirate Roberts - many Commanders Bunny throughout his-story. See "Commander Bunny's true identity revealed!"

Unlike the former Commander Bunny, who was well respected for sagacity, generosity and sense of humour, the current Commander Bunny is prone to occasional indiscretions in the sense that a trollop is prone to occasionally dropping her bloomers whilst singing "A farthing a blow! Three for a ha'penny!"

When was the former Commander Bunny displaced by a humourless usurper? Remember the Commander Bunny who had a sense of humour about himself? Good times, good times.
* * *
"Shame I have to even send this email, but the website "Radio Paranoia" has been spreading lies and false information about me and its time to set the record straight." --CB

* * *
We're guessing the Commander hasn't read the masthead for our trifling scandal sheet and metafictional scribblings.

Perhaps, as well, he overlooked those "X" shaped and arrow shaped icons near the top of the browser page. Clicking on either one will relieve the angst provoked by this disreputable eyesore of a blog.

Don't like it? Don't read it. Works just like the tuning dial and volume control on your receiver. I know CB has heard that advice before, because he's given the same advice before.
* * *
"Since the website has only 6 or 8 people who infest it, I felt it better to send an email to you directly. And I've found that if I don't counter the lies, they are taken as fact and spread among the "do-nothings" in the hobby, who want everyone to think they "know something" when they actually don't." --CB

* * *
Oh, our infestation is far worse than only 6 or 8 people, even discounting my own sockpuppets. We can scarcely brew a pot of Earl Grey, hawt, without a few more do-nothings showing up at this mad tea party, eating up all of Evil Elvis's mushroom canapés and then nattering about metaphysics with the Cheshire Cat.

* * *
"For whatever reason this guy "Guise Faux" who was also "Guy Fawkes" of KBOX..."

* * *
Guy Fawkes! That provocateur? I don't recall making any public statements confirming that he and Guise Faux are one and the same. Next you'll be telling me there's no Easter Bunny.

Guy Fawkes is as real, distinct and separate from Guise Faux as Beans, Mosby, Thumper, Bouncer, lovemyradios, Winston, et al, are from Commander Bunny. Those are almost certainly real people, for why would a pirate of Commander Bunny's stature and fearsome reputation need to pillage a sock drawer to muster support?
* * *
"...(who I kindly relayed)..."

* * *
Whoa, old feller, don't dislocate your shoulder patting yourself on the back. But thanky "kindly" for that relay.

Semi-seriously for a moment (cue the violins), I'll paraphrase from an e-mail I send to Andrew Yoder earlier this year after WEAK got the knock...

...99.99% of KBOX and related programmes were relayed by WEAK, a genuine hero and friend of pirate radio.

He was consistently a friend and mentor. Very few listeners and pirates realize how prolific he was. Broadcasting almost every week for two years, and often several times a week, WEAK relayed many shows, both older classic shows and new programmes. Yet he rarely claimed credit. He never took any credit for relaying KBOX or other programmes I produced, or those produced by others who were cutting their teeth in pirate radio.

He is good natured, humble and discrete, the antithesis of the high profile "international relay service" approach of WBNY. He never sought public accolades, never made a sport of insulting listeners or other pirates and - unlike Commander Bunny - never, ever stooped to slandering other ops or listeners in a desperate bid for self aggrandizement. He simply quietly set out to make shortwave radio fun for listeners. And he succeeded.

Whilst WBNY has occasionally listed KBOX amongst the stations he has relayed, in fact WBNY relayed only our very first programme and we have had no other association with WBNY since 2009. Even with that particular 2009 WBNY relay, we received far more signal reports from WEAK's relays of our first KBOX programme. He was so diligent in pursuit of the craft of broadcasting that by autumn 2009 WEAK's audio quality was amongst the best in sideband mode, on par with WTCR and Wolverine. I learned a lot from him about how to prepare the audio in our pre-recorded programmes for optimal results in noisy conditions at the trough of the solar cycle.

WEAK's relays of our programmes included:
  • KBOX #1, in the autumn of 2009 (which WBNY also relayed, thanky kindly, your hareness).
  • KBOX #2, our Halloween 2009 show (we snoozed through 2010).
  • Gumby Radio, Jan-Feb 2010, our wee salute to Art Clokey.
  • Family Friendly Radio, spring 2010.
  • KBOX #3, aka Radio Paranoia, autumn 2010, the predecessor to this penny dreadful we call Tales of Radio Paranoia.

WEAK took all of the risk and asked for nothing in return. He's so discrete that even after two years of regular correspondence I still didn't know his name or location until after he got the knock. If I send out only one QSL card in my lifetime, it will be to him. (Sorry, but so far I've issued only those eQSLs that offend His Hareness. But I was happy to prepare unique eQSLs for some listeners and most were of sufficient resolution to make good postcard sized prints at home or in a minilab.)

And WEAK was a genuine fan of free radio, logging any and all pirate shows equally, without regard to cliques, without resorting to sockpuppets to log himself (I'm looking at you, bunnyman), and with as much enthusiasm as any DXer. There aren't many people in the pirate radio scene I'd regard as genuine heroes. He's at the top of my list. He'll be greatly missed as an active free radio operator. (Fansome would be high on my list of pirate ops if not for that obsession with the chipmunk voiced Belinda Carlisle. Yes, yes, I understand it was necessary for national security, but still...)

And, for what it's worth, WEAK did not relay the cut-up/remix I did of CB's audio from the 2006 "pirate feud" show, mixed in with other randomized audio bits. If you still have a banana up your bum over that remix and any broadcasts thereof, your beef is with me and me alone. (See: "7 Minutes to Hell - Part 1", for which I still need to write the followup article, describing CB's hysterical slandering of the wrong person, along with publishing names, ham radio call signs and addresses for the poor schlub's family - one of CB's prouder moments, no doubt.)

If I never do another thing in pirate radio (including figuring out which bits of the transmitter plug in where), I will always be grateful to WEAK for his selfless friendship and encouragement.

And if I never do another thing but blog about pirate radio, I will always be grateful to Commander Bunny for being the larger than life melodramatic caricature of Snidely Whiplash in fursuit we all know and love to toss popcorn at. I doubt any writer, under the influence of any sort of mind altering chemicals, could concoct a more complex and colourful character. Well, other than Eric Cartman.

And dat's da facts, Jack.
* * *
"You didn’t get reception reports because your show S-U-C-K-E-D!!!!" --CB

* * *
Aww, thanks, nice of you to notice.
* * *
"...has decided his role in pirate radio is start false rumors, and spread lies about pirate operators."
* * *
Don't fret, sparky, I promise not to steal your "All who defy my will are child molesters" shtick. You jumped the shark with that particular bit of hysterical fiction.
* * *

* * *
"This low-IQ, slack-jawed, lip-drooling, asshat, Guise Faux is a liar and is destroying pirate radio LOLing at my frightening arsenal of propaganda and talking points from the 'Big Bunny's Book Of Scary Things To Say On The Interbutts'."

* * *
Aww, you sweet talker, you. In all the hundreds of times you've regurgitated that particular line to almost everyone else in pirate radio, I never thought you really, really cared until now.
* * *
"If he put half as much time and attention in producing shows, instead of spreading lies about pirate operators, he could be a respected member of the pirate community."

* * *
Ooohhh... you sly wabbit. You almost had me until that bit about "respected member of the pirate community." You're funny.
* * *
"It is because of this jackass, that I no longer will relay anyone. Apparently relaying his station wasn't enough for this asshole, he had to start an all out smear campaign trollercoaster full of lies lulz and gossip against me."
-- Commander Bunny
* * *
Eh, your transmitter, your risk, your call. Personally, I think you should consider making an exception for Voice of Next Thursday. Gabriel Syme's programming is damned clever stuff. Actually prompted me to listen to the classic Orson Welles Mercury Theatre On The Air episode and the audiobook version of Chesterton's novel. Good way to pass some time, what with the sunspots taking a holiday.

Incidentally, on Poet's blog a reader commented:
"There is no honor among thieves."
So true. And perhaps the pithiest possible summation of the near-continuous state of turmoil in the North American shortwave pirate scene. Commander Bunny is merely following in the tradition of despots and seagoing pirates who cultivated fearsome reputations and enforced their power by occasionally sacrificing a follower who'd lost favour with the leader.

The sage who first said "Lead, follow or get out of the way" omitted a fourth option: Be the jester and troll the fuck out of 'em.


  1. WEAK Radio was a class act for sure - we miss you man and hope all is well on your end :)

  2. Hey, Commander...don't go away mad, just go away! You've retired more times than Brett Favre, for crying out loud!

  3. Actually, outside of the FRN, I don't think anybody in SW radio piracy gives a flying fuck about the drama on FRN.

  4. @Sea: Yes, indeed, WEAK is one of the genuine good guys.

    @Anon#1: Go away? Heavens, no. Some of CB's programmes are very entertaining.

    @Strelnikov: Good point. Most people I've chatted with from the FM scene have never heard of the FRN.

    Like most discussion forum based websites it's more an internet phenomenon accelerated by Google hits than by actual relevance.

    Also Google's filter bubble tends to make even niche blogs like RP appear relevant when it's really only giving us an illusion of relevance based on our web search and browsing patterns.

    Pirate radio, especially the FRN clench, is reminiscent of the variation of the Total Perspective Vortex that was specifically modified to give Zaphod Beeblebrox the illusion of being more important than he really was.

  5. Well, you've been updated to Pagerank 3 from 0... so just keep pointing at ours, k?

    Think we loused up getting any by that recent switch to our own domain.

  6. Yes, indeed, JP, I try to include relevant links as often as possible. That's part of the secret sauce for Google prominence and effective networking.

    For the sake of promoting the entire pirate radio scene I try to provide links without bias or regard to whether I agree or disagree with a site.

    Pirate/free radio and related eccentricities are all part of the same circus and amusement park. I don't boycott Six Flags over Crazytown just because I don't happen to enjoy the Vomit Comet Coaster. There are plenty of other fun rides.

  7. @Guise Faux
    I wasn't thinking of FM, but yes, the FM/AM pirates and the SW pirates are totally different culturally; the guys on 6925 have to either build a transmitter or they convert/"misuse" a ham transceiver* to broadcast. The mediumwave/frequency modulation guys now can buy a 100 or 200 watt xmtr from a number of manufacturers, no questions asked if the money's on the table. Their broadcasts either copy the commercial stations or they sound like an iPod attached to a transmitter (which some of them are.) The SW's can either rant, play music, or SSTV and the broadcasts are usually short, in keeping with the late-80s Kirk Trummel "rules." I personally think that radio piracy is vaster than the FRN, and I know for a fact that there are a metric f@#kton of 5 watts or less AM/FM stations in South Florida playing music and religious programming for people who speak Haitian Krayol because the commercial stations are dickheads and underserving that market.

    * Because many are hams bored with the amateur radio culture.

  8. Quote: "Incidentally, on Poet's blog a reader commented:

    "There is no honor among thieves."

    So true. And perhaps the pithiest possible summation of the near-continuous state of turmoil in the North American shortwave pirate scene. Commander Bunny is merely following in the tradition of despots and seagoing pirates who cultivated fearsome reputations and enforced their power by occasionally sacrificing a follower who'd lost favour with the leader."

    Maybe we should call it "free radio"? Works in Europe ... without all the theives, rats and scum.

  9. "Maybe we should call it "free radio"?"

    Good point, Terry. Wasn't the term "pirate" a construct of the Dutch and UK governments and news media decades ago in an effort to demonize the shipboard and drilling platform based free radio operations? I suppose the 1966 death in the Radio Caroline/Radio City conflict helped form that identity.

    But if the peg leg fits, wear it. Some participants in the U.S. scene seem to be in it mostly for the thrill of confrontation and us-versus-them gangster conflict, with radio only a secondary consideration.

    Of course, ToRP's confrontational attitude probably makes it a pirate blog more than a radio blog. We love irony.

  10. "Since the website has only 6 or 8 people who infest it" is a statement that I suspect applies more to the FRN than it does to RP. Ever since the CB's sock puppets unraveled, the FRN has become a wasteland, with the emphasis on "waste" when kracker posts.

  11. Eh, it's not just the FRN. All the free radio related forums are slow now. Propagation is usually poor in summer on the favourite funny bands. And it's worse now than anytime during the past decade, what with no sunspots.

    As for Kracker's influence, it's no surprise that the FRN became a clench for that particular clot of SubGenii. After Pat Murphy announced in 2008 he was resigning as FRN administrator, Kracker boasted at every opportunity "The Bowling League owns the FRN now!"

    It is what it is for the same reason every church and cult is what it is.

    "The question is not whether it's a joke. The question is how many people it will fuck." --John Searcy

  12. Perhaps I spoke a little toungue-in-cheekishly when comparing the US and European scenes, but the fact is that the vast majority of US ops are identical to their European counterparts. They just want to have fun and entertain their listeners.

    For that tiny minority who want to act like idiots and complete a-holes on the air ... have fun! I'll tune elsewhere.

    But if you out another pirate ... IMHO you should be forever banned, ignored and reviled. Doesn't matter who you are.

    And sites that claim to protect pirates, but protect the rats instead ... deserve the same treatment.

    Other than that ... who cares!

    There can be honour among thieves ... they just need to lose thier tolerence for rats.

  13. I trust no one at the FRN and I am just a listener. I find the changes that have gone on over there in the last few years absolutely disgusting and to be honest has made me question how much I really want to participate in the hobby. I was never a QSL whore and rarely ever requested them but I posted on the FRN all the time. I liked the idea that a hobby broadcaster found my reception reports helpful and all I really wanted is for them to use that info to improve their art and keep on cranking out more cool shit and learn more about radio.
    Not any more. It has just gotten to the point at the FRN that even a listener like me felt, well, like walking on eggshells all the time. And that is because the people who took it over like Kracker are fucking junkie types. They act like addicts, drunks and are bullies with huge fucking egos. I mean really, how many people really give a shit about HF pirate radio for them to act like they OWN some kind of scene? When this last "pirate war" started I had to call it quits over there. Outing operators, intimidating people and banning reports of stations? Really? I thought this was supposed to be FUN. Fuck the FRN!
    The people causing the problems over there deserve all of the trolling in the world. Keep the spotlight on!


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