Radio Activity Kills
Sometimes on the way up into the Silo on the split landing of the curving, swaying staircase we’d ﬁnd the ashy remains of unexplained ritualistic purgings by Polish DJs who torched stacks of vinyl selected by anti‐Christian bands to demonstrate their new-found Christianity, in the hope that if there is a god, he or she will notice this show of devotion – mound of melted vinyl as devotional. One piece of vinyl papa managed to rescue from the ashes was Antidote/Destroy Fascism by The Ex + Chumbawumba, two activist/ anarcho bands, rowdy, yet tender, deﬁant and not about to go up in the smoke of cynicism, maintaining an equation that something like sound + action = hope. The album had luckily slid oﬀ the funeral pyre and only the cover suﬀered some burnt edges, the deep scent of smoke and a slight warp of the vinyl that did not eﬀect its playability. Papa holds the record triumphantly over his head, looking for a second like a painting by Delacroix or maybe Courbet he was always pointing out to me in books as an example of how the act of painting can aid resistance to oppression and mediocrity and conformity. As Bart NoSchuld [No Guilt] described it: “Muziek kan worden omgezet tegen de krachten die proberen het te misbruiken.” [Music can be turned against the very forces that try to prostitute it.]
“Courbet believed with all of his heart that the artist played a role in leading the people into a more free and equal future.” But it was never really clear to me whether these marginal DJ types, who wrapped their eccentricities around themselves like a balaclava to protect themselves from the self-doubt that they might not be as important as they had once thought, believed this or whether they hoped that by repeating it often they could continue to hope it into belief and believe it into reality.
It was on this ﬁne day – just us two, a spring evening, sun just setting – that he taught me how to quick cue vinyl using a one-‐ear-‐working headphone and then eyeballing the vinyl, pointing to areas on the spinning vinyl that looked diﬀerent, broader. These were distinct grooves that for him showed the way to weirder sounds. Since the 1960s, he lectured, these extra sounds were reserved for the end of Side B to ﬁll up the record with sounds, recycled experiments tossed on as a one-‐oﬀ joke or secret track that sometimes contained novelty…
-An excerpt from RADIO ACTIVITY KILLS, illegal radio in the [Gran] Silo
bart plantenga is the author of the novel Beer Mystic, short story collection, Wiggling
Wishbone, novella, Spermatagonia: The Isle of Man & the wander memoirs: Paris Scratch and NY Sin Phoney in Face Flat Minor. His books Yodel-Ay-Ee-Oooo: The Secret History of Yodeling Around the World & Yodel in HiFi plus the CD, Rough Guide to Yodel have created the misunderstanding that he’s one of the world’s foremost yodel experts. He’s probably the only person in the world to have ever published [literary] porn, produced a Korean postage stamp, win the David Tudor Memorial 4’33” Competition for his version of Cage’s composition 4’33”, had a piece in MoMA, had a NY Times crossword puzzle dedicated to a book of his produced a global 6-hour live telematic radio webcast for the Deep Wireless Festival, written for both anarchist magazine, The Yipster Times AND Esquire, for American Lawyer & Exquisite Corpse, deconstructed the garden gnome myth for The Journal of Irreproducible Results, co-produced a reading spanning the length of the Brooklyn Bridge with 43 other writers, & published 3 articles on the Dutch Mennonite utopian, Pieter Corneliszoon Plockhoy, in both Dutch & English, has written for magazines with names like Just Another Asshole, Smegma, Screw, Eraserhead Press & Great in Bed. He recently finished the Amsterdam/Brooklyn novel Radio Activity Kills about squatting & illegal broadcasts. He is also a DJ & has produced Wreck This Mess in NYC, Paris & now Amsterdam since 1986. He lives in Amsterdam.
You can find Writerly etc. with his books, films, and podcasts here