the not-metal show: Cornelius A. Frankenstein / Megapolisomancy
Much theory and not much practice.
This is the playlist for an intersession pickup show broadcast on KZSU on March 30th, 2000 at 6pm, PST.
I started out with roughly three main ideas for this show:
This is the low droning tracks that were mixed in with the music on the main playlist above. I had some elaborate plans for multiple CDs that I might have used for this, but the third CD player spazzed out on me, and I resorted to my old reliable vinyl:
These are the tracks I used as raw material to make a DAT tape of high pitched, blippy snippets. Each snippet was typically less than a minute long. Most of them came from the beginning 'introductory' section of the track. I used each snippet three times in a row, with about a second of silence in between.
Mary Shelley's novel "Frankenstein", is haunted by the ghosts of many movies. Reading it gave me a renewed appreciation for the early 30s Frankenstein film. Everyone knows of course that the monster of the novel learns to speak eloquently, while the movie has him remain inarticulate. But it was a suprise to find that the stiched together body covered with scars, brought to life by a lightening bolt... all of that is entirely of the film. The film does not *directly* contradict Shelley's version, but it is certainly not supported by it.. Shelley seems to imagine Victor Frankenstein mixing up flesh out of raw chemicals. The phrase "spark of being" is used once, but there's no other allusion to electricity. And his trips to the graveyard are more a matter of anatomical studies, understanding death in order to tease out the secret of life. He explictly denies being able to revive the dead -- which would be an obvious spinoff app of the technology of the film. The monster is extremely tall -- seven feet tall -- and also strong, fast and agile, though not quite super-human. Here's Victor's first impression of his creation: His limbs were in proportion, and I had selected his features as beautiful. Beautiful! Great God! his yellow skin scarcely covered the work of muscles and arteries beneath; his hair was of a lustrous black, and flowing; his teeth of a pearly whiteness; but these luxuriances only formed a more horrid contrast with his watery eyes, that seemed almost of the same colour as the dun-white sockets in which they were set, his shriveled complexion and straight black lips. And that's about it for the physical description. There's no menion of scars or seams. And despite being told repeatedly how horrible he looks, he sounds more like a tall goth with a skin condition. === There are all sorts of possibilities in this material only hinted at by Shelley. For example, Frankenstein regards these creations as a new species, and worries about them breeding a new race that preys on humans. It's not clear if the monster could breed with a human female. (It also isn't clear how well Shelley, writing around 1818, understood these matters... But then, Edgar Rice Burroughs remained confused on through the 1940s. And we will not ask where Spock came from.) What if Frankenstein had created the bride, and sent the pair of them off to the new world? The mind reels at the thought of the new genre of cowboys, indians and monsters... (And suppose the monsters sided with the native americans?) Or maybe they would settle up North, in the French provinces (since they mind the cold, not at all). They could find themselves recruited to fight the English colonies down south, and re-make the map of America... But really it seems more likely to me that they'd just settle in Europe. How monstrous are they, after all? === What if Frankenstein were not quite such an irresponsible 'parent'? Charmed by the little smile with which the big lug first greets existance, Victor resolves to give him a solid classical education. The monster is a quick study, with maturity of an adult combined with the intellectual flexibility of a child. Victor settles down with Elizabeth, and she helps out with the lessons, glad to be let in on the project. They legally adopt the monster, formally giving him the name of Frankenstein (and unwittingly allaying confusion in the minds of millions everywhere). But everyone just calls him Cornelius. Cornelius A. Frankenstein. Victor publishes his results and they all become celebrities, invited to tour Europe. At first Cornelius often wears dark glasses to hide his watery eyes, but people seem to get used to them after awhile. And a young oculist makes a name for himself by coming up with a formula of eyedrops to treat the condition. Everyone is impressed with the monster's elegance, and the heavy make-up he uses to cover his yellow skin gives him a kind of foppish, ambiguous sexuality. All the women want to know if Frankenstein created *everything* about him in proportion. Elizabeth sucumbs to the temptation, but the divorce is relatively peaceful... Discretion being the better part of valor when contemplating a duel with a 7ft tall monster. Having pulled a Woody Allen, Elizabeth finds it advisable to move to France. The monster becomes a pianist, renown for his impressive reach. They hang out a lot with Chopin and Liszt, until George Sand writes a novel about them, using rather transparent pseuodnyms (there being few 7 foot tall artificial humans around). Resenting the unflattering portrait, the couple move back to Geneva. The trips to the South of France had been nice, but they were very hard on the monster's allergies. Victor Frankenstein himself retreats to Scottland and earns a fortune breeding a new line of pets with the worst features of cats, dogs and horses. They're like hissing Chihauhaus with little razor sharp hooves that chew up the hard wood floors. But people love them anyway. (total: 6:30) === The Church spent quite a lot of time debating the deep theological implications of these developments (Expressing an attitude summed up very well recently by an AM radio personality that asked "Do clones have *souls*?"). But the Church dithered around on this for a few years, and the obvious popularity that Cornelius enjoyed helped discourage any overt restrictions against creating new species. Pretty soon the economic importance of the new creations trumped the theological implications, which is perhaps not a great suprize. === Victor continues his researches, And realizes that it isn't quite so difficult to revive the recently dead. Medical science rejoices, and if a monster gets a little excited and crushes a few throats, well that's a fixable problem now. Things are threatening to get a little crowded with the expected lifespan of much of Europe shooting off to infinity, but in the time honored juggling act of technological advances, Victor gets to work on cranking out fixes for the inevitable problems of a new biological industrial revolution so close on the heels of the first. He comes up with a few good trys, notably a line of food animals that can live on almost anything... (rancid cooking oil; crab grass; wet newspapers... even Liverwurst). The scavengers turn out to be very good at cleaning up human messes and greatly simplify the sewage treatment problems of London and Paris. But it turns out that the cutting edge of science has passed Victor by. He's greatly respected as the founder of electro-orthogenesis, but once he opened the door, there was no stopping the young turks: They're a veritable fountain of alternate monster designs, and they hit on a very sucessful competitor that's less territorial, with strong herd instincts. It enjoys living together in tight quarters. They hardly mind being packed away into ghettos when they're not needed for anything. After awhile Victor is dismissed as a bitter cranky old man who hasn't had a good idea in years. And he just won't let go of that obsession with strangle-proof voiceboxes. (Additonal: 3 mins) === Closing reading: To examine the causes of life, we must first have recourse to death. I became acquainted with the science of anatomy, but this was not sufficient; I must also observe the natural decay and corruption of the human body. [...] I was forced to spend the days and nights in vaults and charnel-houses. I paused, examining and analyzing all the minutiae of causation, as exemplified in the change from life to death, and death to life, until from the midst of this darkness a sudden light broke in upon me - a light so brilliant and wondrous, yet so simple, that while I became dizzy with the immensity of the prospect which it illustrated, I was surprised that among so many men of genius who has directed their enquires towards the same science, that I alone should be reserved to discover so astonishing a secret. I succeeded in discovering the cause of generation and life; nay, more, I became myself capable of bestowing animation upon lifeless matter. (Additional: 3 mins)
KZSU is the Stanford radio station, heard in the Bay Area on 90.1 FM (if you're lucky), and over the internet at realaudio.stanford.edu (if you're really lucky).
For more info, see: the KZSU pages.
I used to do a regular radio show that I called "The Machine".
For more info about that show, you might look here: KZSU's doom pages
For way too much info about my thoughts about radio and so on, you might start here: The doomfiles: The Machine
What's the A-file? It's a pile of recently released music that we've decided is good stuff that deserves a push. DJ's are technically required to play something like ten tracks per show out of the A-file, though most play more than that. How does something get into the A-file? Well, hopeful labels & bands send us stuff, DJs volunteer to review it and paste short write-ups on the front, then it gets passed to the music directors, who look at the reviews, maybe give it another listen or two, and decide if it's "A-file" worthy (or if it merely gets sent to our main library... unlike some college radio stations, KZSU tries not to throw stuff away). There's a few other checks and balances in the system, but that's about it.
If you'd like to see what's currently in the a-file, you can view it on line: The Current A-File . If you're curious about something in the A-file, you can always try phoning in a request at (415) 723-9010. If it's half-ways appropriate for the current show, maybe they'll get it on the air (particularly if you can give them the A-file number with your request).
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