Skip to main content

here be pirates

several years back, i can't remember how, i happened upon a web site for "pirate cat radio". it's entirely possible that i was just randomly googling things about pirates and cats and came to their site totally by accident, but considering my interest in small-scale media of various sorts, i think it's more likely that i was trawling the internet for upstarts in san francisco, a city i like and have visited on a few occasions. i suspect, however, that it's moniker, combining as it does, two things that i love, probably made me a little bit more prone to investigating what they had to offer.

i actually became somewhat of a regular listener to their feed, which i found refreshingly human and grounded, compared to the endless parade of faceless web radio shows that give you whatever kind of music you want, but lack any sense of connection to anything except the internet. don't get me wrong- i like places where i can discover music and not have someone yakking at me about the inherent awesomeness of everything i'm hearing, but i also like getting a sense of a community, not in the sense of a group of people congregating around a common interest, but in the actual, physical sense of community where people from a diversity of backgrounds, with different philosophies, goals and values try to make a go of living in the same geographical space.

pirate cat was the real deal, an actual unlicensed station using the public airwaves [and an internet stream] to play music, inform people about news and events in the community and beyond and quietly exploit a loophole in the laws regarding the right to broadcast. the station hung tough for years, despite regularly receiving ominous missives from the federal communications commission ordering them to cease and desist. eventually, they even opened a cafe in the same space as their on air studio, which gave them a visible presence in the community and even tempted the likes of anthony bourdain to come and try their strangely canadian-sounding "bacon maple latte".



unfortunately, good publicity brought bad attention, and the fcc went from threatening to outright bullying, slapping the tiny station with a $10,000 fine that forced them off the public airwaves and onto the internet alone. [and yes, it is damn well bullying even if that is part of their job. no one says that you have to selectively enforce the law by targeting those who are least able to defend themselves.]

i'd followed their story sporadically and hoped for the best [although my own experience has taught me that in the world of telecommunications, david generally gets stomped on by goliath], so i was surprised and saddened when, earlier this year, the station disappeared entirely, even from its online form.


there were stories floating around in its wake of lack of transparency, firings, a lockout and a flight from the country, but what happens remains, even under the scrutiny of the internet, quite unclear for those viewing it from a distance. it's a sad reality that many such well-intentioned organisations often collapse or come to the brink of disaster due to similar sorts of internal conflicts. apropos to their name, many such collectives do seem to exist like hakim bey's vision of "pirate utopias", temporarily coalescing and then dissolving under the strain of stability.

the station has been reborn as "mutiny radio", which maintains the cafe and live broadcast format [although not actually occupying public airwaves] and gives a nod to its previous life through it's formal name "pcr collective".

there are lots of places where we can turn on line to find entertainment that matches our interests, but in our rush to find things that are a good match for us, we forget that one of the things that makes media enjoyable is that, at its best, it can allow us to find something of ourselves within the diversity of a modern community. it's good to know that there are still places like that kicking around.

Comments

Hey there!
I am a member of Mutiny Radio and just found your post. Thanks for following us and writing this! It's very nice. Would you be into doing a little update with some newer info? Then we would love to repost to our site and FB.

Thanks,
Meg
Hey there!
I am a member of Mutiny Radio and just found your post. Thanks for following us and writing this! It's very nice. Would you be into doing a little update with some newer info? Then we would love to repost to our site and FB.

Thanks,
Meg
Kate MacDonald said…
I would absolutely be interested! Please feel free to drop me a line at info@fsquaredmedia.net

as long as you're here, why not read more?

losers?

just a short time ago, i waxed prosaic about trump supporters who felt betrayed by their candidate pursuing in office the exact things that he said he would. short version: i have no sympathy.

today is a bit different. in the wake of america's bombing of a syrian air strip, in response to a chemical weapons attack by the syrian government, my facebook and twitter feeds were peppered with plaintive shades of "we believed you". these are the people who heard trump say that he wanted the united states to step back and focus on defending its own. indeed, trump did say such things, over and over; america cannot be the policeman of the world. even arch-liberal cynics like me had to admit that this was a refreshing argument to hear from someone outside the paul family, and, could easily have been turned into trump's greatest argument against hillary clinton. [he chose to go another way, which also worked.]

trump also said, repeatedly, that america needed to invest heavily …

long division

after the united states election last year, there were the usual calls for the country to unite behind the new president. that never happens anymore, because, since george w. bush scored a victory in 2004, having launched the country into a war in iraq for no reason, the people on the losing side of a presidential election have been pretty bloody angry about it. democrats hated bush 43. republicans really hated obama. democrats really hate trump.

it didn't help that trump didn't make the typical conciliatory gestures like including a couple of members of the opposite party in his cabinet, or encouraging his party to proceed slowly with contentious legislation. barack obama arguably wasted at least two and as many as six years of his tenure as president trying to play peacemaker before he felt sufficiently safe to just say "screw you guys" and start governing around the ridiculous congress he was forced to deal with. not-giving-a-shit obama was the best president in …

don't speak

you might think that it sounds dramatic, but linguistic genocide is something that happens. people in power will go to great lengths to eradicate certain languages, not just for the sheer joy of making the world a lesser place, but as a way of beating down the culture that's associated with it. language has a unique reciprocal bond with culture, and every group that has attempted to break down another has recognised that forbidding a cultural group from communicating in their own language is an extremely effective way to tear apart their culture.

there are lots [and lots and lots and lots] of examples of this sort of thing, some successful, some not, but far too many to cover in one blog post. however, i thought it was worth looking at some languages that have been the subjects of active repression, and what the political consequences of that have been.

devastation :: the native north american languages :: it should come as no surprise that the largest genocide in history [by a ma…