I love getting stuff in the mail! Today I received a package from my old friend Jeff Chenault. I first made contact with Jeff through Chris Phinney of Harsh Reality Music who had collaborated with Jeff. Jeff recorded under the name Jeff Central in the 1980s and he operated a cassette label called International Terrorist Network (I.T.N.). These days I am not sure that anyone could get away with calling their label "terrorist" - hahahahaha. In the comments I hope that Jeff will comment on I.T.N. and how he came up with the name, and contrast what "terrorist" meant then with what it does now. In the package was this fantastic item, a print catalog listing cassettes on Jeff's label, and other offerings. I love old black print catalogs like this with their high contrast imagery.
In March 2017 I published the seventh issue of my personal print zine called HalZine, in an edition of 100. Today I mailed out the last of the original print run of 100 copies. HalZine 7 was a multiple collaboration project. I created collages consisting of art and printed materials that I received in the mail. HalZine 7 consisted of 16 digest-sized pages plus cover. The two pages of postal contact addresses are not offered here, and the Centerfold (pages 10 and 11) is presented as one collage, not separate pages. Check out the slideshow below. To view larger versions of the pages, go here.
I have known Wolfgang Dorninger since the Cassette Culture days of the mid 1980s. He operated a tape label called Die Ind, recorded with the groups Monochrome Bleu and Josef K. Noyce, and published the cassettezine Tape Report. He was one of the most avid networkers I knew in those days, and now he is organizing a Tape Culture exhibition, CASSETTE CULTURE NODE.LINZ, to take place in Linz, Austria for three weeks in spring 2018. Dorninger will make daily guided tours through the exhibition, and once a week there will be an evening of concerts, and lectures.
Detailed information on the exhibition and Wolfgang's cassette archives can be found here:
Berlin-based Lord Litter has been a friend of mine since the Cassette Culture Days of the late 1980s. A unique recording artist and ardent networker, he continues to the present day with his networking activities, including numerous radio shows featuring homemade audio art and music.
In recent days and weeks LL and I have been discussing via email many issues pertaining to the state of Tape Culture in the 21st Century. We both feel that instead of using large corporate Internet structures we need to re-focus our efforts toward personal decentralized grassroots efforts.
This blog was created because of my desire to rid myself of the toxic, addictive burden of Social Media (especially Facebook) and to focus on personal expressions of my life as an artist on my own personal, NON-TOXIC, advertisement-free and politics-free website.
In a recent email Lord Litter shared this quote by Edward Snowden:
Businesses that make money by collecting and selling detailed records of private lives were once plainly described as "surveillance companies." Their rebranding as "social media" is the most successful deception since the Department of War became the Department of Defense.
Edward Snowden (@Snowden) March 17, 2018
Cassette Culture NOW (2018)
Part 2 - a first analysis (feeding the money machine)
What the cassette culture of today totally lost is it's original anarchistic underground approach A article on todays cassette culture scene of America starts with this statement:"Cassettes are big business in the US of A."(1)
The original idea was this one: "Artists self-releasing would often copy their music in exchange for a blank tape plus self-addressed envelope...But there also existed many small 'tape labels' ... that operated in opposition to the capitalistic aim of maximizing profit".(2)
From the Bandcamp 2017 Year in Review: "2017 was another stellar year for Bandcamp, with double digit growth in every aspect of the business. Digital album sales were up 16%, tracks 33%, and merch 36%. Growth in physical sales was led by vinyl (up 54%), CDs (up 18%), and cassettes (up 41%)" Now have a guess who really earns by this development.
Many of todays aspects are almost only about slick business. All happening in sterile surroundings, that make all participants look the same. The *culture* here is defined by marketing structures owned by a few.
An important part of the original idea was this one: Darrell Draeger, member of original cassette culture band "Hermanos Guzanos" writes 2018: "Wow! It's truly amazing how much work it was. Some of the letters are two or three pages in teeny tiny writing, and a lot of these people were making this crazy ass music, and they were all nice and polite as can be most of the time.
The intercultural communication that happens with two or three pages was a driving force of the original scene Imagine the in-depth effect it had to receive such a letter with a cassette from South Africa in 1989! (Yes I received those!) Some may say that we have all this via Blogs today. Do you really think that a ongoing person to person communication can be surrogated by a Blog entry that gets replys by many like "Interesting" - "cool" - *I like*...??
The structures owned by a few took over and too much of todays *cassette culture* became a value for them. Facebook "talks" and bandcamp "sells"...and the *cassette culture* delivers according to rule.
I heard arguments like "We only use these structures, like in the original days we used the postal system to send our music into the world."
The postal system just was a tool that did'nt "dictate" anything. You could send any word and any individual created piece of art via this system - the system just transported. Facebook, Bandcamp etc define what we do, rules dictate how we look, talk, act ... and once you act according to rule they make money with you.
And above all too often there is of course the idea "Yeah I can *make it* - a million clicks are possible, if I act according to rule.
Today's cassette culture is just too much part of all that defines today's existance.
A solution? Well probably taking a giant step back is a beginning. Concentrating on producing 10 homemade copies of a cassette - each with an individual cover - and exchanging them with friends at concerts etc. - thinking in *individuality* as quality not longing for quantities.
Concentrating on a own individual homepage offering homeproducts.
Working on own networks outside the cooperation owned ones.
Well yes this is quite much work like the "two or three pages in teeny tiny writing" but Folks this is what once defined *Independence* ... and what about asking friends if they would like to take part in an exciting new adventure?! One makes the music, another one creates the website a third one corresponds - and thus becomming independent...
And then there is of course the opinion: We live today, we have to find our own way into the new reality, we have to use what we find, just ignoring reality is very unrealistic ... and I totally aggree. But why not being critical, aware and thinking - just don't say yes to anything they throw at you. I guaranteed creating an *own world* is much more exciting!
PS: All this sure also goes for all other formats, like vinyl, CD and whatever you may think of.
PPS: I just received a reminder on 20 years of CDBaby. CDBaby which was once a great idea of one Derek Sivers, who wanted to establish some independent CD selling via a new kind of internet shop. Now look what it became - Sivers sold it for millions and today's CDBaby became a money making machine juggling figures like Bandcamp. Again the question - have a guess who really makes the money here. 4$ dollars per CD - how much per Cassette?
(1) 10 Cassette Labels that Define America’s Tape Scene -
Darrell Draeger's Cassette Culture Blog
Next time I guess I'll have a thought about the "sound of 2018".
You may have heard me mention a middle-aged fellow who sings soul songs out loud in public on the Gainesville city bus. You have even heard him on my recent dictaphone assemblage albums.
At first, several months ago, I just thought he was charmingly eccentric and a "character".
Over time I noticed disturbing behaviors and acts. He would often sit next to or directly across from college-age women and try to make conversation with them in a flirting kind of way. At first I thought nothing of it. But I started noticing that some of the women were made to feel very uncomfortable and tried to avoid and evade him. About a month or so ago he started cursing under his breath at a woman who would not make eye contact with him. Again, I thought that he was just being "odd".
I think it's important to be tolerant and give people the benefit of the doubt because we can never be sure of what their mental states are or what disabilities they may be suffering from.
On Tuesday, though, things went too far and I spoke up and said something to him! He was loudly verbally harassing a young woman and her male friend because the woman would not stare back at him, I guess... Any way, I saw that the young lady and her friend were getting very upset and didn't know what to do or say, so I turned to the fellow and I said in a calm but forceful tone of voice "You need to stop harassing the other passengers on this bus!" He replied that it was none of my business. In response I said "I am a citizen just like you and everybody else on this bus, and if you don't stop harassing these people I am going to report you!" He mumbled some reply and I told him "Dude, don't push it!" The young lady and her friend seemed thankful for my intervention.
The next day a lady who rides the bus every day at the same time I do (she works at Wendy's at the hospital where I work) talked with me about that guy. I told here that I kond of felt sorry for him because he is obviously mentally ill. She told me that he is more than that, that the fellow is a registered sex offender! She also told me that me saying something to him had encouraged her and a few other regular passengers to file complaints with Regional Transit System about that fellow's behavior.
The Swami loaded sounds from those three cassette albums
onto a cassette in a 4-track tape recorder and created his own unique cassette megamix assemblage.
You can listen to the entire program in the streaming audio player
on the program's page at The Internet Archive for the full experience.
If you just want to listen to the Multivember megamix you can go to 35:30 in the program.
NOW AVAILABLE! MAG1CK M0MENTS by THE MUD$H1TS
Jiblit Dupree and The McGee Brothers bring you 10 Timeless Classics
- cover versions of songs originally made famous by Fr@nk $1n@tra, $@mmy D@v1s Jr., J0hnny C@$h, W00dy Guthr1e, De@n M@rt1n, B0b Dyl@n, Perry C0m0, Chubby P@rker, and B@rbara Lew1$.
Don't worry! These sound NOTHING like the originals! They sound like us.
Click on the photo below to view the info and stream the album.
The 12th issue of HalZine will be
a special issue about
You can view 85 photos by Jen Sandwich from Apartment Music 28 here
Click on each photo below to view larger versions of the photos.
You can view a special Apartment Music 28 information page that I created for the performers, including performance stipulations.