ichael . benson on Wed, 17 Nov 1999 19:57:47 +0000

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Syndicate: public loudspeaker systems

Dear Andreas & other public address system aficianados:

A scene right out of a film. Split, late summer, 1996. The entire 
waterfront prominade in front of Diocletian's Palace is carpeted 
with sound -- a single voice issuing from multiple waterfront public 
loudspeakers. That voice is unavoidable; the entire neighborhood is 
carpeted by it. The pedestrians seem inured to the sound, like 
it's coming from inside their own heads. It's in the unmistakable 
rising, falling, emphatic, insistant, wheedling tones of fascism, or 
some other dead-similar 20th century totalitarian movement. A 
color xerox of a black and white xerox -- you get the picture. What's 
the voice saying? Well, it's a kind of sermon, though not in the 
Andreas Broeckman meaning of the term exactly (though, as with AB's 
pulpet-pounding Balkania monologue, you're not supposed to answer 
back here either). No, this one's by some higher-up in the Split 
Catholic hierarchy; in other words, it's an overtly political speech, 
a bishop's speech. It's also endless, and it's about Croatian youth: 
Croatian youth are the backbone of our nation, our wellspring, the 
rejuvinators of our country, our great hope. It is important that 
Croatian youth be strong, faithful, and clear-thinking. Yes, you are 
our future, the future of the great Croatian nation! Croatian youth, 
you must not use drugs! The is particularily important! (Only one 
sentence in ten didn't have the words "Croatia" or "Croatian" in it.) 
And so on and so forth; it went on like this for a very long time -- 
I didn't have a notebook, and anyway, my main thought was to get 
about as far away from that rising, falling, emphatic, insistant, 
wheedling, fascist voice as possible.  

Another image from that Split visit: the huge billboard ad for HVO, 
the Croatian nationalist paramilitary organization. A giant 
Rambo-style soldier, looming over the ships of the port, his finger 
on the trigger of an AK-47. A gold earring, a perfect haircut, a 
hardened Road Warrior smile. Hollywood aesthetics weaning 
the kids from simulated ultra-violence to the ultimate thing, 
meaning the real thing, you know, right over that mountain over 

Let's turn off that pervasive sound and vision, go for a walk in the 
snow (it's snowing in Ljubljana tonight). Cheers folks.


Michael Benson  <michael.benson@pristop.si>
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