Across the Transom: January 2023

Morgan Talty, Waldron, Choosing a Cassette Multitrack

Gahlord Dewald :: 01/31/23 :: Mānoa, O‘ahu, Hawai‘i


Capitalism thrives on sadness. It's used to make more money again and again and again. And so, to get to your question, confessionalism is important, but we have to know what we're doing it for. I'm open about most of my life—so many writers write from experience and wonder about how to make that work in a story—but you couldn't pay me to confess. You couldn't pay me to sensationalize. These two elements are not just prevalent in literature: they're literally the way our country works. It thrives on them.

Morgan Talty in "You Couldn’t Pay Me to Confess: Morgan Talty Interviewed by Cara Hoffman." Bomb Magazine (which also includes a short discussion about how to bring the living back to life)


i never said my goal was equality. for me black feminist praxis is not about ‘a seat at the table’ next to a white man; it’s another galaxy where there is no concept of a table and there are others forms of communing not based on exclusion, which is what the table metaphor is btw

Dr Tao Leigh Goffe in a post on Twitter


There is a modification, a little dance, and a promise. It is seductive, possibly, and a little nervous. What is the real agreement to which the reader is asked to subscribe? Maybe it is this: “This magazine will appear to report on events in the world of tennis but will in fact strive to make the reader envy and emulate a certain group of people, who will be made to appear at ease in the world of tennis.” Maybe it is even this: “This magazine will seek to make its readers uncomfortable by the calculated use of certain icons associated with tennis, so that the readers will turn, for comfort, to the products advertised in our pages and buy them.”

From “Magazines in the Age of Television,” an excerpt from G.W.S. Trow’s Within the Context of No Context, Little, Brown, 1981


Trying (unsuccessfully) to get a video synthesizer to talk to a video recorder. Along the way I reconfigured a power supply and watched obscure video demos until my brain hurt. Try again tomorrow and/or just buy an old TV and shoot video off the CRT.


Thinking about APIs & event-handlers. Call-and-response. Picking up leaves.


Fortunately, many institutional repositories provide routes for uploading files and metadata which allow for the process to be automated, as an alternative to the standard web browser user interface. Different repositories offer different routes, but a large proportion of them are based on the same technologies. By experimenting with a handful of repositories, we were therefore able to investigate workflows which should also be applicable to a much broader spread of institutions.

Ross Higman's "Experimenting with repository workflows for archiving: Automated ingest," COPIM


Many strands of contemporary activism risk emphasising the self over the collective. Yet organising is cooperative by definition: it aims to bring others into the fold, to build and exercise shared power. The sociologist Jonathan Smucker defines organising as turning ‘a social bloc into a political force’. Today anyone can be an activist, even someone who operates alone, accountable to no one. Raising awareness, a preferred aim of contemporary activism, can be extremely valuable. But education is not organising, which involves not just enlightening, but aggregating people around common interests so that they can strategically wield combined strength. Organising is long-term and often tedious work: creating infrastructure and institutions, finding vulnerabilities and leverage in the situation, and convincing scattered individuals to recognise that they are on the same team.

Astra Taylor's "Get out there and organise," Le Monde Diplomatique


This pattern was not only harmful to teachers and teacher assistants

From "A Beautiful School" written by Zainab Aliyu, Todd Anderson, American Artist, Neta Bomani, Melanie Hoff, Galen Macdonald, Celine Wong Katzman


The only way out of the morass is to wait for more earthquakes to happen.

Alexandra Witze in "Has Earth’s inner core stopped its strange spin?" Nature


Unknown to us, the case had been found by a patriotic citizen who opened it, discovered the code key, recognized that it must belong to a Japanese spy and turned it over to the FBI This was in 1943, just after citizens of Japanese descent had been forced off their property and taken away to concentration camps. I remember hearing that a local grocer was secretly a Colonel in the Japanese Army and had hidden his uniform in the back of his store. A lot of people actually believed these things.

Les Earnest in "e-t-a-o-n-r-i Spy and the FBI," Milk


A useful reference on achieving good mixes, from the perspective of a mastering engineer.


Finally, small amounts of randomness controlled by value and speed were essential to enhance the playability and the sonic results.

Leo Magnien's "8 micro-studies in mapping: a collection of single-fader instruments"


The real internet isn't gone. It's been marginalised and sidelined and it's likely going to stay that way forever now, but nobody can completely take it away from us as long as the TCP/IP bedrock is still there. The small internet movement is exactly this kind of DIY cyberspace colony,

Solderpunk in "Orphans of Netscape," ~solderpunk/gemlog


I had compiled a lot of information from studying the Schillinger system and other areas of study also. I had amassed all of this information about composing and it wasn't necessarily a mainstream approach, so I needed some apparatus in order to write this music and express it. So as a result, I organized the Experimental Band for that purpose, and also to attract other composers so they could develop their skills in writing for the group ensemble also.

Muhal Richard Abrams interviewed by Molly Murphy for the NEA, 2009


When I began this research as a graduate student, I told Abrams that I wanted to accurately represent him and his music in my writing, referencing white academics’ many years of misrepresenting Black musicians. He replied that it was not my job to represent him, that he and his work are their own representations. Rather, he suggested, I should discuss and analyze his music with integrity, and that what I find represents my engagement with his work.

Marc Hannaford's "Theory on the South Side: Muhal Richard Abrams's Engagement with Joseph Schillinger's System of Musical Composition," Journal of the Society for American Music


Personal computing got applianceified, consumption got prioritised over production, video and audio got prioritised over text, the internet became more centralised and more commercialised, and some parts of the end result honestly resemble nothing so much as all the worst parts of the previous century's broadcast media turned up to eleven. The internet gave us an amplified version of exactly what it was supposed to save us from! How could anybody not feel a sense of loss?

I forgot to save the reference for this one, but it was Gemini site.


We are the generation that see the rot under the surface. That see walled garden web silos and sideload-locked devices as steps backwards. We had it all and lost it.

"Talking about my generation," in Idiomrottning


How to setup an electric bass.


But that’s the thing about that whole dumb blonde trope, Ms. Anderson says wryly: “I can only surprise people.”

Jessica Bennet's "Pamela Anderson Doesn’t Need Redemption, She’s Just Fine," New York Times


Just found out that my childhood friend Steve Bakken (sometimes performing as Steve Bacon) passed away. Probably more than anyone he was responsible for introducing me to many interesting and experimental sounds in rock music and beyond, turning my ear more towards the nascent grunge/alternative and punk. In those pre-internet years he had a subscription to Rolling Stone and would buy a large number of any well-reviewed album, playing the best of them for his friends, making mixtapes that included the real gems.

He was the primary creative force in my first rock bands. I'd lost touch with him, would hear about his challenge from mutual friends on occasion. I regret not reaching out to him when I got sober. Or any time since I've been sober.

One of my favorite lyrics of his is "You'd better stay in the limelight, or you might get scurvy." His guitar tone was often a solid-sheet-of-frozen-rain, nearly entirely treble. He could get the most interesting recordings and mixes out of his Yamaha 4-track. He beat me in chess every single game we ever played.

For years when I'd run into my former bandmates, Tami (drums) and Luke (extremely tasteful guitar), we'd talk about getting the band back together. Or one of the dear friends of the band, Josh, would send us a bootleg from a show I didn't even know had a recording in the hopes of a 20th or 25th year reunion. Well friends, looks like the band isn't getting back together.


The crowd thinned out and the blockades ended, and we were met with a giant traffic sign illuminated with the words quiet please.

Xochitl Gonzalez, "The sound of gentrification is silence," The Atlantic


A man who has himself as a printer tech...

Steps to make the Versalink C7000 Xerox printer do one-sided (aka disable two-sided) printing on a Mac:

  1. Use the stripped down printer driver (not sure how I got that, but I did, it has an ethernet ID or something appended to it and lacks all of the customization stuff that Xerox has in their regular driver).
  2. Uncheck two-sided printing on the first page of the printer driver.
  3. Go to the Media & Quality setting and set that to high so that type looks good.
  4. If the document really is black and white, select the black and white checkbox on the first page of settings.
  5. Still having trouble? If the printer is throwing an error about print resources, turn the paper 90º in the print tray.


As you can tell from the above list, part of todays efforts involved making the printer work. It's a fabbo printer, which matters when it prints sheet music and scores and typography, all things that we do every day here. But holy smokes it's a nightmare when it comes to making it operate when something gets off the rails.


Quantum mechanical ideas can also be explored using granular synthesis. By correlating the bright lines appearing in atomic spectra to audible tones, individual atom notes can be identified. These notes then comprise musical tones that are unique to each element. Additionally, individual musical scales can be created that allow the students and musicians to compose music. This paper presents three methods to investigate the atomic world.

Jill Linz, "Atom music: an investigation into the atomic world through sound synthesis," 178th Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America


Fixing multitrack cassette machines

Speaking of cassette multitracks, here's a video on the basic maintenance/repair for a multitrack cassette machine. It has has 7 main parts:

  1. Power: make sure the wall wart is right polarity and voltage, make sure jacks are properly soldered, check the caps
  2. Visually inspect: are there obvious unplugged/broken things inside
  3. Clean & lubricate: get the pots and faders clean,
  4. Change all the rubber parts: belts, pinch rollers, etc
  5. Rebuild and test: take it apart and put it back together
  6. Use deduction: trace signal flow etc.
  7. Iterate: try it all again until you find what is broken

The "Deduction" section is good in particular, with a few tips on how to chase down problems in a machine.


They were simply obeying the rules of capitalism, the rules so many of us have internalised as though they are natural law, and were trying to maximise their economic return – which is a perfectly valid game to play.

Julian Gough's "I wrote a story for a friend," The Egg and the Rock Newsletter


On choosing a four track cassette recorder

I use all kinds of magnetic tape in my music. As a result, I spend too much time thinking about the various machines involved, especially for the consumer cassette format. Here are some thoughts on selecting a 4 track cassette machine for tape joy:

They’re all fun, whichever one you get is great so long as it’s running. Tascams tend to have per-channel EQ as 2 or 3 parametrics which is fun for tracking. Yamahas tend to have bus EQ as a graphic EQ which can be nice for the mix. Both are good machines though there’s more info and forum-love for the Portastudios.

On the Portastudio side the MKII is most common and very capable. The MKIII might be the best 4 track cassette machine Tascam ever made but the differences between them are truly small (I own and run both).

Since the Yamahas don’t have the same level of mystique you might bet a better price. Also, they are way way smaller because they don’t have XLR inputs. So if you don’t need the XLR input I’d recommend looking into them as well. They fit in a backpack.

I might avoid Fostex because they supposedly break down a little more–but I have no personal experience with them and they might be super rad for the price.

If you’re in the US you can get multi-track cassette decks repaired by Recursive Delete, takes time but does a fantastic job getting all the usual stuff worked out: fresh belts, lubrication, cleaning, etc. and the pricing is always very fair.


I feel like we're actors and the nice thing about actors is we don't leave anything behind. We don't leave shit behind, paintings, books, whatever. We're just here for a bit, then we die and we're gone.

So maybe the legacy is about making something that has had a healing effect. That's a very nice feeling. They're like little healing stitches where there were wounds, maybe something that we do as actors, where something that we're able to express can just stitch that little wound together. And if we leave a few stitches in the great tapestry, that's enough. Right?

Emma Thompson interviewed (alongside Colin Farrell) by Rebecca Ford in "Colin Farrell and Emma Thompson on Loneliness and Legacy," Vanity Fair


In the video, Penny adds some col­our to the story of the in­ter­ro­b­ang’s birth. Out to din­ner one night, she says, Mar­tin was fret­ting over the four pages left to fill in the latest is­sue of Type Talks, the pair’s magazine on ty­po­graphy in ad­vert­ising. Apro­pos of noth­ing at all, he an­nounced his idea for a new mark of punc­tu­ation and dashed off to call their agency’s favored art stu­dio. “Is there any­body there who can draw?” The Speck­ters made their way to the stu­dio and stayed for hours, hash­ing out what would be­come the in­ter­ro­b­ang’s earli­est visual forms.

Keith Houston in "Miscellany № 97: interrobang archaeology, part 2," Shady Characters


It’s important to note that the league only called the game after player reps from both teams contacted the union, the NFLPA, which informed the league that the game was done. This was a workplace action. Participants exercised their collective power and demanded that their trauma, their grief, their very humanity be recognized.

Dave Zirin in "The NFL Just Showed the World What It Thinks of Its Players," The Nation


If you read investor’s bulletins about the company, they take for granted that Spotify will never turn a profit from music. The question they ask is, can the company redirect the money it draws out of music into a more profitable pursuit.

Damon Krukowski in "2022: The Year Music Broke," Dada Drummer Almanach


There is motion, to be sure, but sometimes the forward thrust is so slow time almost seems to move backwards.

Kevin Whitehead in "Mal Waldron: My Minimalism," Point of Departure [note: reprint de Volkskrant interview from 1997]


That last part is the big one: they run because it’s important and meaningful to them. There are some beautiful passages in the article where the Tarahumara elders “likened the effort of guiding the unpredictable ball over the lengthy race to navigating the complex, chaotic journey of life.” It’s a form of prayer and of forging social ties within and among communities.

Alex Hutchinson in "Reexamining the Mythology of the Raràmuri Runners," Outside