+quot;There is not too much information, there is too little cognitive ability to handle i
|"There is not too much information, there is
| too little cognitive ability to handle it."
| Walter Alter, "The List of Re-Calibrations",
| Spring 1992 issue of FAD, p. 44
BAB ABYBABYBABYBA BABYBABYBABYBABY
!!!!!! !!!!!! !!!!!! !! !! BAB ABYBABYBABYBA BABYBABYBABYBABY
!! !! !! !!! !!! BAB BAA BA YBA BA BABY
!!!!!! !! R !!!!!! @ !! ! ! !! BAB AB AB BA BA BA BA BA BABY
!! !! !! !! ! ! !! BAB BAB BA YBA BABY
!!!!!! !!!!!! !!!!!! !! !! !! BABYBABYBABYBABYBABYBABYBABYBA BABY
The September 26, 1992 Issue
What the hell did *YOU* do today?
Software Licensing Agreement
Tribute to Asimov
Tribute to Asimov, Part 2
*Cop Killer Controversy
Ok. Here's the scoop.
I'm over at Megan's house on Friday night. She is the latest-woman-
who-I-want-to-date-yet-she-doesnt-want-to-return-the-offer. Her roommate
Claudia underwent surgery on Thursday to have an ovary removed. Her parents
came to visit and provide support, even though they are in the process of
becoming divorced. Megan told me that during the entire time Claudia's
parents were there, neither one would be in the same room at the same time.
The entire time I was there all he did was watch tv, while Claudi and her
fiancee, Hans, stayed in their room.
Not until I had gone home did it hit me what had happened. There, in the
living room, was my future. Alienated from his wife, alienated from his
daughter, wanting only to be related to those who he loves, and powerless to
do anything, he is reduced to sitting in front of the television watching a
program about unsolved serial murders..................that's me at 50.
And me, so wrapped up in what my own personal concerns that I never really
noticed what was going on........that's you, today, yesterday, and tomorrow.
This issue of Scream Baby was written entirely on September 26, 1992 from
midnight to midnight. The sole exception is the quotes, which were culled
from an ongoing collection of quotes, snippets, and collages that I
This issue is dedicated to Claudia's father, though there is no other
connection other than the empty rage, anger, and sense of isolation sparked
by the encounter. Every editorial decision was made during this 24 hour
period, while strung out on caffeine and sugar and loud&aggressive music, so
please excuse any mis-spellings, grammatical lapses, or awkwardly-worked
During this period I almost collapsed because I hadn't eaten for an entire
day. Throughout the entire day a cockroach alternately crawled over my leg,
around my desk, and all over my papers. I didn't give him a name.
I don't recommend the process to anyone else.
Just the results.
I was using Cyberspace as a metaphor for the experience of living in the
media environment which we all do anyways...and [techies] came back to me
and said "Hi, you're giving us the blueprint for a new world".
William Gibson, interviewed in Spring 1992 issue of FAD, p.42
There's been some confusion lately about my e-zine, Scream N *me*me,
but I've decided that I don't want to talk about it as much as I thought I
did. For the last year or so I've been publishing an IBM hypertext
electronic zine, Scream N *me*me, which has focused on the social and
cultural aspects of cyberspace, the New Edge, music, and the burgeoning
Austin cyber-scene in general. "Stuff I Think is Cool" has been my main
editorial guideline; ignore me if I suggest anything else.
Scream N *me*me is not a mailing list, like the listing in Practical
Anarchy Online suggests. Scream N *me*me is not available at any ftp site,
though I've received several offers already, and will someday get around to
it, if bored enough. Scream N *me*me *is* available for download at the
Tejas BBS (512) 467-0663.
Getting to the point: I've now created Scream Baby a smaller, leaner,
meander, grind ya to the bone Internet format e-zine.
The same guidelines apply. Anyone can submit, anyone can contribute.
Except, now, anyone can be an editor. Jagwire X, co-founder of XNet, sysop
of the Cyberspace Institute, and all-around cyberpunk has already agreed to
edit at least one issue. Will you be next? is up to you to decide.
I don't have time to wait.
"Now, wide angle this, you just opened up your electronic mailbox for the
evening and there's over a hundred special delivery letters in there
addressed to the center of the universe, YOU. There's one from Vivian, a
transsexual composer down in San Diego who is suing a major record label
for copyright infringement. There's one from Rolf, an artist way over in
Amsterdam requesting tumors in specimen jars for a little project. There's
one from Lareen, a legal secretary in Reno wondering if its OK to stretch a
condom over the balls so it won't come off. There's an eloquent defense of
the neo-ether in high tension stationary waves by Prof. Wzxler, formerly
of Livermore. Varclav Vaclarv in Belgrade just lost his Walkman to a
nearby anti-tank mine. And on and on long into night."
Walter Alter, "Log On Modem Mania", p. 48, Spring 1992 issue of FAD.
"Hey! My e-mailbox doesn't look like *that*"
Listen up! To subscribe to Scream Baby, send e-mail to
Include the following information:
1. Who are you? [i.e. Tell me something about yourself]
2. Name one cultural artifact (book, movie, software, etc.) that you
think is worth my time to examine...
[Note: assume that I have already graduated from the standard
cyberpunk canon, i.e., I've already read Neuromancer, thanks]
3. Include the following statement : "I have read the software
licensing agreement and promise to abide by any restrictions on
distribution that may apply, as determined by the publisher"
All this must be included in one screen of text or less. Remember, the only
guidelines I use are "Stuff I Think is Cool", so if you provide clunky or
stupid answers, or fail to answer any question(s) fully, then you will not
be added to the mailing list. Any request for subscription that is not in
the form mentioned above will not be accepted. Sorry.
Hope you're not too upset.
SOFTWARE LICENSING AGREEMENT
This is not a standard licensing agreement, so please read carefully.
This premiere issue of Scream Baby may be freely reproduced in any
electronic storage or retrieval system. The user is denied the right to
"print out" or reproduce on a paper medium any portion of any issue of
Scream Baby, excepting when said reproduction is in accord with the Fair Use
Act and/or any copyright laws which may apply. This publication protected
by the copyright laws of the most powerful nation on the planet. (I mean
Any subsequent issue of Scream Baby will contain the following restrictions
which key in on BBS software/distribution networks:
Internet: Copies are for personal use only. You may not forward an issue
to another person, post to a newsgroup, archive on an ftp site, or in
any form, shape, or manner, make available for distribution to another
being. E-Mail subscriptions, as regulated by the publisher, are the
only acceptable methods for distribution.
WWIV : no non-standard restrictions on distribution apply. Permission
granted to archive and re-distribute, simply because the coolest people
hang out on WWIV anyway.
FIDOnet : Permission granted to archive and re-distribute, simply because
this network, as an amalgamation, is so dull that anything I do will
have no effect.
Really-Big-Commercial Systems : Permission granted to make this file
available for download and re-distribution, but a commercial licensing
agreement is required. A royalty rate of .002 cents per download (or
20 cents per 100 downloads) shall apply. Payment is on a semi-annual
basis, to the publisher's address. Really-Big-Commercial Systems is
defined as having 30 or more incoming lines and shall include, but not
be limited to, Compuserve, GEnie, Delphi, EXEC-PC BBS, and any others I
can think of. You think I'm joking?
"The Well" : Copies are for personal use only. This may not be made
available for download nor posted to any conference, simply because of
that stupid You Are Your Own Words slogan and all the energy wasted on
debating what it means. E-mail subscriptions, as regulated by the
publisher, are the only acceptable methods for distribution.
Telegard : It is illegal to archive or make available for distribution any
publication of Cyberlicious , simple because it's a hacked version
"Other" : This list is not meant to be comprehensive and may be amended by
the publisher at any time. If your BBS or distribution method is not
listed above, then use the least squares method to determine the
"closest fit". For example, BITNET would fall under the category of
"Internet". If none of the above closely fit your situation, then
either e-mail the publisher for clarification or simply blow it off and
do what ya like.
Again, these restrictions do not apply to this issue, but I wanted to point
out the situation with future issues. Consider this a warning.
In the 21st century, he who controls the screen controls consciousness,
information and thought. The screen is a mirror of your mind. If you're
passively watching screens, you're being programmed. If you're editing
your own screen, you're in control of your mind.
Americans voluntarily stick their amoeboid faces towards the screen seven
hours a day and suck up information that Big Brother is putting there.
Americans spend more time looking at monitors than they do gazing into the
eyes of family and friends.
-- Timothy Leary, found in The Immediast Underground _Seizing The Media_.
Original source uncited.
TRIBUTE TO ISAAC ASIMOV
Think of all that space opening up on publisher's book rack lists!
At least some percentage will be exciting, worth reading, and not garbage.
I had once intended to write an entire novel while having to urinate very
badly. I wanted to see how that need affected the style and tempo of my
work. I had found, for instance, that hwen I'm writing about a character
who's in a Ph.D. program and I don't have to urinate badly, I'll have him do
a regularl three- or four-year program. But if I'm writing a novel and I
have to urinate very very badly, then I'll push the character through an
accelerated Ph.D. program in perhaps only two years, maybe even a year.
-- Mark Leyner, "Et tu, Babe", p. 6
[This meme dedicated to Willard Uncaphur]
TRIBUTE TO ISAAC ASIMOV, PART 2
Ok, I've gone back and think maybe I should re:address the issue. I do not
want to appear as denying the validity of Asimov, the man. My respect for
his intellectual energy, his proliferation, his humanity, deserves that I be
I've ignored all the Asimov Tributes that I've seen in magazine racks
lately, and don't really care to know what anyone else thinks about the
subject. The man was the bedrock of science fiction. He's dead. If you
want to honor him, please stop trying to emulate him! is my greatest secret
Asimov was aware of people like me. In a preface to one of his Foundations
books (I forget which one), he gleefully writes about the criticism that his
characters are wooden stick figures, his plots dull and boring, his
adjectives stale and flat....and yet he sells so many copies that he must be
doing something right!
As long as hard science fiction remains unconcerned about characters, then I
shall remain unconcerned about hard science fiction. Perhaps the greatest
crime in fiction is to create characterizations, instead of characters, and
think it serves your purpose. For these, and other reasons, I haven't read
much of Asimov's works, and haven't particularly enjoyed much of what I have
Yet the only object I've ever stolen in my life was a book written by Isaac
The theft was inadvertent. Mostly because I wasn't paying attention, I
walked out of the University of Texas' Undergraduate Library with a copy of
one of his books. One has to walk past "Book Detectors" -- similar to metal
detecotrs used at airports -- in order to leave the library. Three blocks
away, I realize that the distant ringing sound heard on the way out was the
library's alarm! A guard usually sits *right* there, but no one was present
at the time, nor was anyone chasing me down, so I decided to simply return
the book when I was finished.
I couldn't bring myself to return the copy.
The book? "Azazel", a collection of satires exploring the foibles of
The original storyline for the series was fantastic: Azazel was a small 2
centimeter imp with magical powers. The editors at _Asimov's_ objected to
Isaac selling stories to rival magazines, and suggested that he retain all
the elements, but transform Azazel into an extra-dimensional creature with
advanced knowledge and abilities involving time, space, and physics.
Isaac even warns the reader in the preface that these are unlike anything
else he has written, and not to complain if they appear "unAsimovian".
These stories are satires, and not only are they satires but incredibly
funny satires. I enjoyed them tremendously, partially because Asimov wrote
these for fun, partially because he allowed himself to be free of the burden
of being one of the Big Three Science Fiction Authors of All Time.
The slip on the inside of the book is stamped April 24, 1989. I've been a
criminal, then, for the last three-and-a-half years, and have no intention
to return the book.
I have yet to figure why........
This is like going to an alternative club for the first time but borrowing
a painted-up leather jacket from a friend who's a local. No matter how
cool you look, everybody knows the jacket doesn't belong to you.
Chase, "Choking on Staples, Part I", Issue 5 of _Industrial Nation_, p. 52
"If stranded on a deserted island, what 10 records would you want with you?"
This common musical convention [i.e. hack] is the foundation of this next
section, except updated and adapted for the medium of cyberspace. Any
cultural artifact is an acceptable entry. [I'm not going to bother with
defining cultural artifact]. Second, there are no deserted islands of the
Net. We are all connected by the Web.
Here's my list for today, in no order :
"Power Shift" -- Alvin Toffler
Anything written by Harlan Ellison
Urban Dance Squad : "Life and Perspectives of a Genuine Cross-Over"
If any publication steps in to fill the role left vacant by the demise of
fact sheet five, then take it. I'm still looking.
"My Cousin, My Gastroenterologist" -- Mark Leyner
A telecommunications software package. Qmodem vs. Telemate? Who cares, as
long as you're plugged in.
"FutureCulture" -- as compiled by Andy Hawks
"Slacker" -- the movie. Not the book, not the cultural phenomenon, not the
thousands of pseudo-wanna-bes who walked out of the theaters across the
globe suddenly thinking they were slackers too......no, just the movie
gets my recommendation. No one chooses a slacker lifestyle.
"TAZ : The Temporary Autonomous Zone" -- Hakim Bey.
One of my friends, Iron Burl, just happened to stop by Saturday afternoon,
and we went out to eat. Good thing, too, since I nearly collapsed in the
shower for having not eaten anything but chocolate & coke in the previous
twenty four hours.
Iron Burl has written for Scream N *me*me, for his own comiczine publishing
empire Dr. Joe Guy Pan Presents, and did half of the work for his ACTV
program Scumbag's Place. I asked for his cultural artifacts, and here's
what he finally came up with:
Iron Burl's Lists:
Top 5 Comix to buy:
3. Yummy Fur
4. Trailer Trash
Top 5 Videos to Rent
1. GWAR: Phallus in Wonderland
2. Arise: The Subgenius Video
3. Rubin & Ed
4. Shakes the Clown
Top 5 Rudy Ray Moore Videos
1. Avenging Disco Godfather
2. The Devil's Son-in-Law
3. Dolomite 2: The Human Tornado
I had to ask who Rudy Ray Moore was: an early 70s genius who produced and
starred in his own low budget films with predomonately black casts, except
for the bad guys who are usually white. "Spike Lee of the 70s". Iron Burl
says check it out].
Some-what related newsflash:
Ice-T is set to start production on a "Mystery Science Theater 3000" for
African Americans. Black exploitation films will be showed with voice
overlays and comedic comments by prominent rappers and similar members of
the African-American community.
Since Ice-T calls himself a 1989-type-Dolomite on "The Iceberg: Freedom of
Speech....Just Watch What You Say" album, perhaps you will have Rudy Ray
Moore delivered to your cable television doorstep.
Are animals really more noble than people?
I wouldn't squash a spider, but I could kill a human being. A spider is
being the best spider he can be. He's fulfilling his purpose as a spider.
He meshes perfectly with nature's overall scheme. Nothing in nature is
wasted, and I can't say the same thing about people.
-- Anton LaVey, interviewed in Issue 2 of Answer Me!
Re:views on cultural artifacts
bOING-bOING Issue 9 ($4/issue $14/year for 4 issues from BB, 11288 Ventura
Blvd #818, Studio City CA 91604)
There's not much to say about this issue, except to "go get it." The last
seven pages of the issue are a parody of Mondo 2000, specifically skewering
it's commodification and commercialization, as well as the pseudo-
postmodernistic jargon that rarely makes any sense.
Ex: R. Seltzer interview with Elvis:
RS: Throught your career we find a softening of Tongue in your public
work, an almost explicit deTongueification, as you compartmentalize elements
of your sol, of your rhythmn and your blues, for your representation-as-
surface-commodity to various market segments, presumably defined by
corporate interests. To what extent did you coevolve strategies of your own
aligned with these interests?
EP : Huh? Could you flip your skinny ass around here a minute and
tell me what you just said?
Actually, just kidding. Everyone compares bb to Mondo, since they cover the
same New Edge Territory, though from only a slightly different angle. [Left
as an exercise for the reader]. It's simply closer to the underground, and
less "slick" for this self-described "swapmeet for Do-It-Yourself Cyborgs".
There is a long interview with Bruce Sterling mostly about his upcoming
book, _The Hacker Crackdown_, which is slated to be released October 15th,
1992. If you haven't heard about it, this is a journalistic treatment of
Operation Sun Devil and related events in cyberspace.
Here is what you don't know, however :
BS: ....I plan to distribute the text of the book...I plan to publish the
book to the Internet when it comes out in paperback, which will be about a
year and a half from now. I want this book to be given away free for
bb: Is this something you want to disclose publicly?
BS: Yeah, I don't mind talking about it now. At least I don't mind talking
about it bOING-bOING. I would point out to people who think, "Oh great, I
can wait for the disk," that it won't have the handy index, nor will ithave
the handsome author's photo on the back flyleaf. Plus, screens
are a bitch to read, let's face it. But I don't know, I might lose some
money from doing this, but I don't believe that everypixel in cyberspace
ought to be made into a sales opportunity. I really felt that this was
something I had to do in order to be a good citizen, something that I was
sort of uniquely qualified to do, and felt a moral obligation to do. I
would have done it, really, had no one paid me at all.
-- page 17, Issue 9 of bOING-bOING.
This interview took place in May of 1992, so the release of the text of _The
Hacker Crackdown_ should be around Christmas time of 1993. At that time,
*EVERYONE* will be talking about the pros and cons of Sterling's actions,
what he meant, whether it's a mistake, what it all means, blah blah
blah...but remember...*YOU* read it here first.
Only one person on the planet gets to write about the subject extensively
and Ha! it gets to be me.
And...because I'm either stupid or a masochist or a pure theorist, this is
the last article I wrote for this issue.....
* * *
In the early-to-mid 80s, Sterling published an online zine called "Cheap
Truth" under the pseudonym of Vincent Omniaveritas. Cutting edge commentary
and re:views released into the public domain.
The first issue starts with,
"EDITORIAL: Hi. You want to know the truth. We want to tell it to
you. Let's try to keep the ECONOMICS between us to a minimum, okay?
Right, let's do it."
Nearly a decade later, Sterling has returned to his grumblings about the
commodification of information, and the restraints imposed by a capitalistic
Take a look at his speech to the Library Information Technology Association,
June 1992, entitled "Free as Air, Free as Water, Free as Knowledge". In it
he discusses the relationship between capital and technology and his growing
horror over the commodification of information : "Every pixel in cyberspace
is a potential sales opportunity."
Take a look at the last paragraph of his "Statement of Principle" published
in the last SF Eye.
"And while I don't plan to give up making money for my ethically
dubious cyberpunk activities, I hope to temper my impropriety by
giving more work away for no money at all."
What does this mean in practical terms?
Bruce Sterling is releasing the full text to the Internet of his latest
book, _The Hacker Crackdown_, a journalistic treatment of the Operation Sun
Devil raids. Sometime around the fall of 1993 one will be able to ftp the
entire contents of the book.
Why is Sterling doing this?
Bruce will undoubtedly provide dozens of reasons himself when he's ready,
but here's my interpretation.
People who acquire a file-copy of the text, I've heard him say, will want to
go out and buy a copy of their own. Well.....Sterling has also admitted to
not being too familiar with Internet culture, and may underestimate how
cheap it's inhabitants actually are. Pay for information that's freely
available? Never! is their battle cry.
Why would Bantam Publishing agree? Perhaps they believe that any loss of
revenues will be insubstantial -- that the number of people who acquire a
copy of the text for free who would have otherwise purchased a copy is
outweighed by the waves of publicity generated by the release.
Economics, however, isn't the primary reason that Sterling cites. He is
doing this out of a sense of CIVIC DUTY.
It is important to him that the seventeen year old hackers taking on the
world from the bedrooms of their suburbia life understand what it is that
they are taking on.
It is important to him to make a stand against the consumer culture that
pervades every aspect of life.
It is important to him that he returns something to the community that has
supported and nurtured his career.
But, most importantly, he simply feels that it's something he should do.
In order to have enough money to pay the $5 cover for the Radiance Rave,
The Traveller in Black was forced to sell his hardcover copy of _The
Music in our Society has taken on a very generic/business style. Many
businesses now play music. What was once frowned upon because it distracted
the worker (Read this to mean a person LISTENED to the music) now is used as
adding a "comfortable" enviornment. Music has gotten to the point were we
do not THINK or actually LISTEN to it. It is just there as background.
"Classic Radio" drones on and on playing music that does not matter
anymore. After listening to the Doors, Zep, Who, etc. for tweny years one
does not consciously hear what is played. When a person goes to a party,
music is provided as "background" atmosphere. We play what is socially
acceptable. A person hardly will play something that is not heard of
because that would call attention to the music and not to the matters at
Joe Kelb, "Abbey Puts Industrial Sounds into the Ground -or- How to Listen
to Industrial Music Without Losing Your Date", Issue 5 of _Industrial
Nation_, p. 31
MUSICMEME DOUBLE SHOT!!!!
"The use of recording technology to express musical and sociopolitical
ideas does have its downside. Particularly when a free market economy
allows folks who would otherwise spend their free time watching Deputy Dawg
to save up on their income and release product into the market."
-- intro to a review by Bruce Adams in _Your Flesh_
Ministry : "Psalm 69: The Way to Succeed and the Way to Suck Eggs".
Al Jourgensen could have made this album in his sleep, so I say it sucks
eggs. For being 2/3rds of a year late, there is simply very little
expansion or experimentation from "The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste".
The sole exception is "Jesus Built My Hotrod" with Gibby Hayes on vocals, a
raucous hell-billy romp. I love this song, and can't get enough of it.
This is no coinkidinky, since it is the *ONLY* song on the album that
doesn't sound like outtakes from their previous effort. If you're a true
fan, you won't care, but I expected a lot more....
NIN -- "broken"
Man I tell you what's broken...it's this damn side B. What type of person
releases an EP with the second side blank? At least the Dead Kennedys
placed a message encouraging home taping, but this "nothing" side bites.
They can't even get the physical production right, since the "nothing" is
printed on both sides of the cassette, instead of side B, where it belongs.
The music is much more murkier and distorted than Pretty Hate Machine.
"broken" is much closer to the live band experience, which was simply the
best concert I've ever been to in my life. So what the hell am I supposed
to say here?
Malcolm X "Black Man's History Vol. 1"
Paul Winley Records (PO Box 1214, NYC, NY 10027) has recently released a
whole set of speeches given by Malcolm X. Since I'm a fan of spoken word
cassttes, I bought a copy, but need to buy no more.
For what it's worth, I can't put up with anymore of his religious bigotry.
Let's get some things straight: the cultural creation of Malcolm X spawned
in the 90s has very little to do with Malcom X the man, or his message
during the 60s. The only way to save the black man was through the
acceptance of a Muslim way of life. Period. There is no other way around
This being the 90s, this Muslim filter has been discarded and now we are
told that his true message was self-determination and the promotion of self-
esteem, etc. etc. So, in effect, Malcolm X's original message is besides
the point. There is no need to read Malcolm X, try to understand the
political context of the 90s instead. The two are wholly different spheres.
I can't wait for Spike Lee's movie.
Mark Leyner "Et tu, Babe" -- pages 1 - 100.
I haven't finished the book, ok? Here's how I discovered Leyner. Go
read the section that is excerpted in Storming The Reality Studio. Don't
have a personal copy? Go get one. If you like Leyner's excerpt, go read My
Cousin, My Gastroenterologist, which you should already have done,
considering I placed it on one of my Top 10 Cultural Artifacts.
My Cousin, My Gastroenterologist explored the way that humans
incorporate the burgeoning information flood...i.e., not very well. He
writes in short chunks of weirdness, that attempt to plant image after image
in the reader's mind, and nothing else. Plot? Who needs them.
Et tu babe is an exploration of the author's growing megalomania about
being the hottest buzz authors, touted as the most intense prose writer in
America today. When he may make fun of himself, it's still rather boring.
The best passages of this novel are when he talks about something other than
There are still the passages of brilliance that made My Cousin an
instant cult classic, but they are stuck inbetween *gasp* a story line that
doesn't appear to be heading anywhere overly spectacular.
Who knows? So far my reaction is only so-so. Perhaps my addressing
this cult phenomena, it will "clear the way" for future works. I hope so.
There are simply other artifacts worth discovering before reading this.
This is a limited release 4,000 booklet/cd set, but since I have one there
are only 3,999 remaining. Don't dawdle! If you haven't heard about the
scandal over U2 and Negativland by now, then this product will let you know
*everything* you ever wanted to know.
Negativland is an experiment tape collage "noise" band whose work is
*ESSENTIAL* to understanding the limits of copyright law and the conflict
with modern technology. Negativland is the battlefield where New Edge
technology meets Old World legality and deserves to sit at the core of any
canon of computer literacy.
In 1991, Negativland released U2, which is essentially a parody of "I Still
Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" combined with outtakes from Casey Kasem
who not only makes negative comments about U2 but also loses his temper
about having to play an upbeat song after doing a long distance dedication
to a dead puppy named Snuggles.
You can no longer buy this cassingle, however.
This document is a collection of faxes, press releases, and legal
injunctions. Island Records sued both Negativland and their record company,
SST, and as a result records stores and radio stations had to return their
copies to be destroyed.
There are only about 5,000 official releases still floating around the
globe, of which I have one. I bought mine off the rack at Sound Exchange,
before any of this controversy erupted, fully cognizant of this being a
[One of Island Records claims was that the cover was
misleading, and could have duped fans into believing
it to be U2's as yet-un-released Achtung Baby].
The only thing missing from this document is the vital information that *I*
need: I bought the album fresh off the rack. What the hell is my
predicament? Record stores, radios, etc. were required to return their
copies to be destroyed. Do I now own an illegal tape? Do I now own
Speaking of controversy, I also own a copy of Body Count. Again, bought
before any controversy erupts. Why do I own so many music-products that
later become so dang controversial? What's the deal? I very rarely buy new
cassettes, most of them are used, and when I do, look what happens!
Learned my lesson.
Before I start rolling with the Cop Killer controversy, let me point it out
that I stuck it at the end, and won't blame you for hitting the space bar or
exit characters now.
The only thing, is that I haven't seen *ANY* analysis that answers any of my
questions. Questions which I asked myself during the first week of the
announcement of the impending boycott. Mainstream media played the official
party line; nothing has showed up in any of my alternative media newsfeeds,
though I was flipping through a musiczine once that showed a photograph of
Ice-T with his pants around his ankles, holding his crotch.
If you know anything else, please let me know.
COP KILLER : BETTER YOU THAN ME
1. What decision process did CLEAT use to determine that they should
boycott Time-Warner? How was this song *specifically* singled out from
dozens of other potential controversial candidates?
There have been so many previous cases involving musical censorship that
follow this model that I can't believe no one investigated. Time and time
again, boycotts have been financed, organized, and motivated, by the work of
right wing and/or Christian fundamentalist groups. Is there anyone behind
the curtain pulling the strings? Did anyone look?
Especially for Ice-T, Body Count was not a very successful album. To put it
bluntly, the album sucked. All reviews were the same....the band that wowed
the crowd at Lollapalooza didn't show up on the album. The only song I
liked was "Body Count's in the House" because it included samples.
Everything else was stoooooooopid.
Except for this generated-controversy, no one would have heard this song.
Buried on the B side of a bad album, it could never have received any
airplay whatsoever because of the profane language. The single "There Goes
The Neighborhood" played on MTV was a cleaned-up version. The rest of the
album violated FCC standards for airplay.
So it's a bad album, a bad single, that never would have seen the light of
day. Why (and how) did the police select this single? Why did they
generate this controversy?
2. Did anyone actually *listen* to the album before spouting off about it?
_Smoked Pork_ is a much more offensive song which recreates a simulated cop
killing. Ice-T plots beforehand to lure officers into a trap by pretending
to be a stranded motorist, and when they refuse to assist him, shoots them.
No mention is made of this song in any of the original accounts.
The scary part is that, (and I would crib from the liner notes of
Negativland's Helter Stupid if Iron Burl would ever return my copy) the
source of media is other media. From the national television news to the
local tv news stations, from the Statesman to the Daily Texan, they all
quoted from the SAME TWO STANZAS!!!!
In addition, not a single media source quoted the spoken work introduction
to the song, which went,
"This next record is dedicated to some personal friends of mine....the
L.A.P.D. For every cop that has ever taken advantage of somebody,
beat them down or hurt them because they had long hair, listened to
the wrong kind of music, wrong color, whatever they thought was the
reason to do it. For everyone of those fucking police I'd like to
take a pig out here in this parking lot and shoot them in the mother
Interpretation : this song is a protest against police brutality. That the
siege warfare mentality used by the L.A.P.D. has harassed the African-
American community so much that they are willing to commit to violence to
3. How and why did Texas police become involved? [see question one]
Here is some background information that you need to know:
Several months before the announcement of the boycott, the Department of
Justice released statistics about the number of reported cases of police
brutality. Guess who was number one? Texas! Texas! Texas! We had cities
sprawling all over that list.
[I live in Austin, the 9th most violent city in the
United States, so I have the right to talk this way.]
Officials and experts trotted out various interpretations about how it
didn't really mean that Texas cops beat the shit out of people. I forget
what it was, exactly, but it had something to do with individuals feeling
secure about reporting such cases. Texans? Trusting the national
government? That's even harder to believe. Despite the spin control
attempts, police agencies were embarassed to have the eyes of Texas upon
The nation is in an uneasy mood about the Rodney King incident as well, this
being prior to the riots.
On the same day that CLEAT announces the proposed boycott, they also state
that they oppose the inclusion of citizens on police brutality review
Was this discussed much in the media?
No, it was largely swept aside in the wake of a debate concerning a proposed
boycott by a group of police agencies feeling threatened by accusations of
police brutality over a poor song on a poor-selling album protesting police
brutality in a climate of national fear and uneasiness over the Rodney King
WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON AROUND HERE?
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank