A repost originally written by Chris Mansour of Platypus, though The Charnel-House overall is quite a work.
“Already we can see how easy it is to create and instill wrong impressions about peoples and countries by slanted news and pictures and unbalanced presentation of facts.” —South African Prime Minister, BJ Vorster, 5th January 1976
Occasionally political messages sneak into art in the weirdest places. Polska, an Irish drum & bass producer, made this (and many other) stunning drumwork & atmospherics tunes years ago. Around 2008 I thought to look up the source of the sampled quote because I couldn’t recognize the accent.
The tone of tune seems sympathetic or thoughtful to me, but the statement was made by B.J. Vorster, Prime Minister of South Africa in 1976. A similar version of it is quoted on Google Books, but years ago, I found the entire quote attributed to him on a single weblink, now gone. I reproduce it here for posterity as I copied it back then, along with the work that samples it so pensively. If you listen, do so with headphones:
It’s been a tough year for me, and I know I’m not alone. But my main reason for staggered posts is that I’ve been very busy rephotographing and retouching all my work for my NDI Gallery store, which provides a venue for designs from multiple periods of studio development. I’ve also finished some pieces that have been lingering on the bench.
Besides that, I’ve been toiling in the fields, tilling in 100+ pounds of compost, planting and weeding, installing automatic watering, getting bitten to a moonscape by mosquitos (and then sweating in full long sleeves with mosquito net), and discovering surprises left by nature in forgotten corners of the victory garden. There should be a lot to share this year. I put unprecedented work and money into it, and the yields have been surprising and heartening—such that I can understand why large numbers of US folk are returning to the land. I’ve been documenting the development of my crops, and am confident that with a little more land and my hydroponic sprouter, I could produce most of the food that I eat. This would mean fresh things even in winter, with enough to give away for promotional purposes. Staples like grains and beans can’t be raised and processed practically on an suburban plot, but everything else is within reach.
So hang tight, phantasized persecutory reader. Art of OG is not dead (though it really needs to be rebranded). That will have to be for later.
“Smile. Look like you’re excited to be working.”
These are our stern instructions for the evening; no caveats, no exceptions. One should look perfect, but not ostentatiously so: hair scraped back and face pinched into a blandly ornamental femininity, malleable as a doll, and loaded up with crockery like a buckaroo; there should be no stray hairs, no stray tears. One should be gregarious, but not imposing: one should know when to shut up.
Some people, of course, are excited to be working. It’s an exciting opportunity to catch a glimpse of someone wealthy – the special treat of wiping up yuppies’ discarded slops as a mediocre boy band perform, or the rare chance to carry canapés around inside a Chelsea townhouse with impractically pale carpeting. These are quite the only perks of the job, but my God, what perks! The task of skulking in the dungeons of the…
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“One morning Socrates was thinking about something which he could not resolve; he would not give it up, but continued thinking from early dawn until noon – there he stood fixed in thought; and at noon attention was drawn to him, and the rumor ran through the wondering crowd that Socrates had been standing and thinking about something since the break of day. At last, in the evening after supper, some Ionians out of curiosity (I should explain that this was not in winter but in summer), brought out their mats and slept in the open air that they might watch him and see whether he would stand all night. There he stood until following morning; and with the return of light he offered up a prayer for the sun, and went his way.” —Plato, Symposium
I was thinking about Socrates at Potidaea and Nietzsche’s famous nervous breakdown while walking a Pomeranian today. In college I had been taught Nietzsche saw a carriage horse being brutally beaten in the street from his window, and rushed out to the carriage driver beating him. He’s said to have thrown his arms around the horse (to protect it? in sympathy?) before sinking to the ground, being led away and then institutionalized, dying years later.
I believed that story most of my adult life, but it appears it’s untrue. And who is to believe Plato’s account of Socrates? Most of what we know about Socrates, who philosophized en plein air, comes from Plato. Weak. We want to believe these things though, like (all?) religious stories, so they persist.
WARNING: See comments. The plastic parts of this espresso maker contain BPA. I am no longer using mine. H/t to Harry from Coffee Chap for getting the word directly from ROK.
Something a little more bobo than usual:
I was given a ROK manual espressomaker for Christmas, and have used it daily since to give an accurate characterization. One of the small amenities I sorely missed during the 13 days of cold blackout after Hurricane Sandy was morning espresso. (We made Turkish coffee on the gas stove.) With the ROK, as long as we still have natural gas and running municipal water, I will be able to drink espresso.
I have a solid background with consumer espresso machines. I broke a Saeco trying to clean the group head (the retaining screw stripped – the end) after 3 years; I burnt out the thermostat on a Francis! Francis! after 5 years and swapped its boiler parts into a 1980s Espresso Cialda after finding the latter in a basement with the filter basket missing. All those machines developed thermostat problems: after a couple of years they couldn’t regulate boiler temperature, overheating the water until the espresso was a thin, scorching brew.
Overall, the ROK makes an excellent espresso. It is a little more work than an electric pump-driven machine, but the quality and kinetic experience is worth it. But there are a couple of qualifications to my praise.
I used Doulton-filtered water and grounds from a Braun burr grinder. I had to use Starbucks espresso beans because that’s all I could get locally after trying illy (disgusting, thin, sour) and Gevalia (sour, thin, revolting) and Fairway’s bulk beans (artificial flavor fumes lingering). For years I bought the darkest roast I could get in bulk at Costco, but they stopped carrying anything above a medium Colombian Supremo. I must start ordering online.
Tamping the grounds
You will note that the included spoon has an ergonomic divot for pressing with your thumb while tamping the grounds. This is because a firmer pack than used with electric machines yields better taste and crema.
The ROK, into which you must pour boiling water and then press it out with an action like that of a wing corkscrew, won’t suffer thermostat failure. But its body is an alloy that loses heat quickly, and requires preheating of everything to get a passable brew. You must fill it to top with boiling water, let it sit a moment, then flush it through the empty basket, preheat the cup with kettle water (not the flush water which has already gotten much cooler), then half-fill the ROK with water for your espresso all in a short period of time. If you do that the espresso will come through warm, but never quite hot. Given the predictable failures of machines that cost up to twice as much, that’s not a big deal.
A review I found complained about the ROK’s crema, and it’s true: crema’s not easy to get. I found it works best when you make the cup, then add ~tablespoon more of boiling water from the kettle and press it through the grounds. The higher ratio of air to water in that second press almost always lends itself to a ready froth.
Generally, the construction of the ROK is solid and ingenious. But its finish will not stay perfect. This is because steam rises from the chamber where you pour the boiling water. The steam acts on the joint where the aluminum wings are pinned by a bolt that is probably stainless steel, causing galvanic corrosion. The finish of the ROK is highly polished and probably anodized, so where this corrosion happens the anodized layer cracks and aluminum oxidation (rust) happens in the cracks. It won’t affect its function but as you can see, aesthetic fetishists will be bummed.
Another flaw, this one more serious, is the choice of ridiculous rubber feet that stick to the bottom. As a metalworker, I can tell you that anodized aluminum is an amazing material. Almost anything (paint, adhesives etc.) will stick to it, much better than it would to raw aluminum. After anodizing and painting aluminum, it can be sealed to prevent anything sticking. So if the base were aluminum, I would have anodized it, stuck the feet on, then sealed it.
But the base must be corrosion-resistant because standing water and coffee residues will sit on it. You can see a seam where it is bolted to the main body. As such it is almost certainly a chrome-plated zinc alloy (which makes me wonder if the entire body is not that, maybe that zinc-aluminum-magnesium-copper alloy I’ve seen used in jewelry…but the finish-cracking around the joint mentioned above suggests aluminum). The very chroming that strengthened the base’s finish made it too sheer a surface for sticker-feet to cling to, and one popped off this morning. Since the user presses down with equal force on the two arms, effective use requires that the unit be skid-proof. Eventually all four feet will come off and you’ll need to apply a full-bottom adhesive rubber base, covering the “designed in London, made in P.R.C.” language—nothing lost.
Thanks to Tom Watson for helping to bring this to the world’s attention. He had this bad translation of an article about Croatia arming Syrian rebels up on his site. A friend of mine is Croatian, and she voluntarily re-translated his Google translation because, well, you know how those can be. I’ve been traveling in Turkey so it’s been generally tough to post, but I don’t want this to get stale. I’ll probably link it or post in comments on his site later.
Zagreb became an international center for arms shipments to the Syrian rebels
In the period from the beginning of November last year  until February of this year , a total of 75 civilian cargo planes took off from the Zagreb airport, carrying weapons to Syrian rebels, diplomatic sources told Jutarnji list. The planes were carrying, aside from Croatian weapons, weapons supplied by other European countries, the collection of which was organized by the United States.
According to our sources, the first two to three shipments had been carried out by a Turkish airline, Turkish Cargo, owned by Turkish Airlines, [the subsequent shipments] were then taken over by a Jordanian company, Jordanian International Air Cargo.
Until recently, it was believed—and The New York Times reported– that a Croatian high official had been negotiating, with his U.S. colleagues, to transport Croatia’s excess weapons and arms to the Syrian rebels. However, according to reliable diplomatic sources, the arming of Syrian rebels was part of a much broader plan.
[According to the same sources], the American officials enlisted their partners – Croatia, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Turkey, in the operation of arming the resistance of the Syrian regime. The United States organized the collection of arms, Saudi Arabia was financing it, and Jordan and Turkey were transporting arms from the Jordanian territory into Syria.
Croatia’s role was twofold. It collected the excess of its own weapons—M79 grenade launchers, RPG-22 grenade launchers, RBG-6 multiple grenade launchers and M-60 no-recoil canons– from [Croatian] army warehouses. An unknown quantity of those arms left from Zagreb airport Pleso for Syria, in Turkish A310 aircraft, in early November of last year. However, the United States also organized transport of arms to the Zagreb airport Pleso from several other European countries—Great Britain among them—which was then transported in Jordanian International Cargo planes first to Jordan and then to Syria.
We could say that Zagreb airport Pleso served as an international hub for transport of arms to Syrian rebels. The aircraft used for this transport were A310 and Iljušin 76MF, which leads us to conclude that the 75 flights transported about 3000 tons of various types of weapons and ammunition.
YouTube videos confirm that weapons are being delivered to the Syrian rebels in great quantities. In the videos, rebels show off the new types of weapons they now possess. According to Western media, the transport of those weapons [to Syria] was organized by the United States and Turkey.
Our sources claim that the security of the whole operation of weapons transport from Zagreb’s Pleso became compromised when the air traffic control of Bosnia and Herzegovina started inquiring about the sudden increase of Jordanian airline’s flights from Zagreb. The sudden increase in frequency of incoming Jordanian cargo planes did not go unnoticed in Pleso either. According to our sources, it is unknown how many of the weapons that were shipped ended up in the hands of the Free Syrian Army, backed by the West, and how many in the hands of various militant jihadist movements. According to some estimates, there are several dozen militant jihadist groups also fighting the Syrian regime.
Judging by the videos recently posted on YouTube, a portion of the arms, believed to have originated in Croatian army warehouses, ended up in the hands of the jihadist movement Ahram al-Sham. This was confirmed by their spokesperson when he said that they [Ahram al-Sham] share their weapons with the Free Syrian Army.
According to some information, the weapons that arrived to Syria through Zagreb, ended up in the hands of the Martyrs of Yarmouk, who, two days ago, kidnapped 20 Filipino members of the U.S. peacekeeping force in Golan Heights. The fact that weapons might end up in the hands of militant groups is what frightens Western politicians the most; which is why the majority of the countries insists that the weapons embargo on Syria remain in force. Croatia supported that embargo; and formally it never broke it by engaging in this operation, because it sold the weapons to Jordan.
Croatia proved itself a reliable partner of the U.S. in this whole story. Washington played a crucial role in Croatia’s accession, first to NATO, and now to the European Union. Furthermore, the U.S. Department of Defense has been greatly aiding the Croatian Army in Afghanistan and securing free transport of our soldiers to the ISAF mission. Therefore, it is perfectly clear that Croatia, as a faithful ally, accepted the American request to participate in the operation of weapons transport to Syria.
Waste is more often a market function than an absolute. Dirty motor oil is wasted unless you’re trying to heat a bus depot or melt metal, like I do. Taxpayers’ money is wasted on wars defending the interests of companies that pay no taxes, but which are bound not to waste a penny of shareholders’ investments. Up to half of the world’s food goes to waste, probably while the world’s other half is starving. Madness!
At the scrapyard today, I found probably the only Leica I will ever own. It’s tripod that can stand as high as 10’. Made in Switzerland with incredible precision, it’s in heavily-used but still very functional condition. I knew from the color and design that it’s a geosurvey tripod, and it has a shoulder strap so it’s easy to carry even if you are a sluggish government worker glutted on wasteful union wages.* Not that it’s very heavy—engineered in fiberglass with aluminum hardware, it’s lighter than my camera tripod despite being over twice its size.
I couldn’t figure out why it was in the dumpster, and the scaleman gave it to me because the materials have no resale value by weight. It made my day, but I spent the car ride home puzzling over why it was binned. When I was unloading it at home, I saw that it has a hairline crack spiraling around one of its supports.
It’s possible that such a crack would impact its precision, throwing it off by a nanounit of a degree so that a road surveyor would annotate a map directing an interstate to pass through a mall, costing taxpayers thousands of man hours to correct. Or maybe it was just cheaper to throw out, since it probably left the Swiss factory untouched by human hands but perfect. If anyone alive could fix it, they would cost more per year than the machine that replaced them fourscore quarters ago. In all events it’s cheaper to buy another one, but you’d think it could find an aftermarket among clowns photographing children at birthday parties.
*Not my actual opinion.
COUPTURE beats swords into ploughshares. The steel, brass and aluminum droppings from rifles, handguns and shotguns pile up worldwide: It must be every second that a gun is fired. The ejecta glint in the sun and rust in rains. Each cartridge a fallen kernel of grain, its germ discharged, run to seed.
Coupture exempts them from recycling and rebirth, offers them a conditional discharge or conscientious objectorship. Made into accessories (not to say “attackcessories”), perhaps they glorify revolution in the same way that Che Guevara does: in vain and emptily, and for the profit of the unlicensed that use them.
But no! Coupture will not be coopted by the market
, and as such is not for sale. It will not let the story of each cartridge be effaced. For better or worse (usually worse), each was made for a reason: this brass Egyptian cartridge stamped “Misr” made in 1958 by men knowing there would soon be war with Israel is TIG-welded to a bland Russian steel commercial round, made in a former Soviet factory for use from Afghanistan to Arkansas. Disjunctions abound, but such is the business of weaponry, and so it is with fashion—where a Stalinist guerrilla can become the denatured figurehead of change subverted, worn over imitation camouflage patterned into a garment too impractical for the military and too shoddy for service.
Coupture also adopts the smashed glass of broken windows, of civilization rent by gunfire. Melted and nestled into the primer cavities of a Tito-era casing is the glass of a school window, a car window, eyeglasses crushed in a fall. Perhaps the garnish is the stained glass blown out of a church, as in former Yugoslavia.
Coupture reminds the U.S. of its draft into ongoing sub rosa wars. We all continue to fight with every tax dollar spent, every penny (itself an amalgam of copper and zinc=brass) melted and extruded into a shell which is packed with gunpowder and crowned with a bullet. These in turn are the coin of a new realm, “Ammo: The Currency of the New Millennium,” and those restless for sharp change hoard brass if not gold—or both.
Coupture throws its arms up at the canard of world peace. But it can face the lie, literalize it, shove the Cross of Iron in the face of milquetoasted leftist pacifism. Passivism, et passim.
For the full gallery of Coupture photos, visit www.alexfethiere.com
In the United States, the right has talked about “culture wars” ever since we borrowed the word from the Germans. In Europe, the concept has come a long way from its 19th-c. roots of government vs. religion to suggest more of a guerrilla conflict of “folkish tradition” against an overweening liberal welfare state. The reactionary neoplasm loosely known as “neofolk” is the self-styled bard of this clash, obliquely nurturing the next generation of [color]-shirts.
Britisher Matt Howden’s one-man project, Sieben, has taken an unequivocal political stance within the European neofolk scene. Like the talented Karl Blake, he works as a hired strings (violin, whereas Blake is a bassist) beside musicians who flirt with the dangerous blood-and-soil aesthetics that were so seductive during the 20th century’s darkest hours. (Aesthetics the proponents of which, in our festering worldwide recession, are building their followings zealously in discontent as they did before, and always will.) Unlike Salvador Dalí, it seems unlikely that Howden will be seduced by the company he keeps.
In comments at the watchdog blog “Who Makes the Nazis”, the aforementioned Karl Blake speaks of his days touring with neofolk bands of questionable ethics. The information does not come out under interrogation, or “pulling worms out of the nose” (die Wurme auf die Nase ziehen) as Germans graphically put it. Ruing wilful blindness, Blake volunteered anecdotes over time which WMTN’s editor collected in the linked post:
“If I come out with “hate-speech against hate speech” it is my reactionary shift against all of that – I’ve got ‘Neo-poisoning’ if you like! I really am fed up with it and a lot of that is down to feeling thoroughly used and duped. I hold my hand up and say I enjoyed going abroad and playing all the time – and recording. Its my own fault that I took the path of least resistance and sat back and took the easy option of just turning up and playing bass and laughing at all the idiots with silly haircuts and anal-aryan uniforms.”
Howden won’t make that mistake. He’s an accomplished violinist who uses the instrument in much the “one man with processing” style ably practiced by Iceland’s Mugison or Finland’s Kimmo Pohjonen. His voice is finer and his lyrics more nuanced than many neofolkers bar Karl Blake himself (and Rome, about whom I wrote previously). And though Howden’s career took off through associations with Karl Blake and dicey Sol Invictus, he puts paid to any ambiguity in the song “Rite Against the Right” while acknowledging that musicality is an afterthought in much of the scene: “Licking the dregs of evil—it’s feeble…using symbols to shock because your music is cock.”
I’m not a fan of the purple cover featuring a prone naked dude and a big stick (erm), but it’s otherwise a fine album, like the rest of his releases: