“The land beneath Egypt and Gaza resembles a Swiss cheese,” reports the BBC, “full of holes and tunnels through which the Palestinians smuggle the everyday items they are denied by the blockade.”

Tunnels (and intertubes) perforate ‘national’ borders. Makeshift submarinesnarcosubs – circumvent them. Last I heard it cost Japanese kids $2000 to bribe a particular NYC visa worker for a ‘real’ student visa. Fake passports are much, much heavier. Wormholes fill our undocumented world. Money is always the best grease for movement, although people will never be a slippery as capital. But back to Gaza.

According to The Guardian, Hamas licenses, taxes, and provides electricity for these tunnels, while prohibiting drugs and booze and smokes from entering. Sober city. “Palestinian smugglers in Gaza have built dozens, perhaps hundreds, of underground tunnels through the sand to bring a wide range of goods into the small territory, from food to fuel to cattle, to skirt Israel’s economic blockade.”

Hence the U.S.-backed construction of a steel wall, which will stretch for several miles and go roughly 60 ft. underground, an anti-tunnel barrier which reportedly “cannot be cut or melted – in short it is impenetrable.”


“There are thought to be hundreds of tunnels along the border”

The dark osmosis of border smuggling is mostly – but not always – profit-oriented. But enough about walls, and tunnels and submarines which can transport drugs or people or anything, really; let’s talk about fishing. And food.

My friend Maggie Schmitt is working on a series of mini-documentaries about daily life in Gaza. Here is a recent piece of hers which was picked up by The Nation:

and here’s an excerpt from her Atlantic piece on eating under seige:

Once upon a time, Gaza was known for its citrus trees and its extraordinary seafood, the smell of jasmine in the evening. No longer: now it is hard to find any image of Gaza that does not reek of death, destruction and deprivation. And yet despite the siege, the bombings, and the political turmoil that surrounds them, the people of Gaza continue to live and to create their small share of beauty and grace wherever they can. One of these places is in the kitchen.

What I want to tell you about is the kitchen, with women’s bright eyes flashing as they roll out the dough, and the herb garden religiously tended, and the delicate meal eaten in the shade of a fig tree. But alas, we are in Gaza, and I can’t talk about the kitchen without talking about everything else.

06 beach slideshow

“Beachside cafés survive in the shadow of destruction. These residential buildings were leveled by F16s.”- photo by Amir Sadafi



Bad Santa cumbia villera from the one and only Damas Gratis. Pablo Lescano is the most famous person I know who semi-regularly sends me insane emails. Some, like this recent one, contain amazing music. Hilarious lyrics thick with double entrendres.


Damas Gratis – Papa Cruel

[Pablo Lescano of Damas Gratis]

Give music this holiday season. Pablito Lescano warmly wishes you a merry Christimas and this song is my gift.



Today we’ll be holding it down on WFMU from 6-8pm EST. I’ve got a lot of unreleased material from Night Slug’s Mosca, Toy Selectah, y más to shake over the NYC airwaves, Lamin gathered a heap of (cleaned-up) new rap, and since we heart old vinyl too, I’ll be unleashing super-rare vinyl rips courtesy of our man of the cumbias, Sonido Martines (who is currently wandering around the Peruvian Amazon in search of quasi-mythical LPs). Plus a bit of Slowdive shoegaze, to keep you on yr toes.

So tune in, stream via datatubes if you like. I’m sick so our goal is fight cold with heat, outsweat any fever.


Faramarz Payvar

[Faramarz Payvar]

An Iranian filmmaker friend tells me that one of her favorite santur players, Faramarz Payvar, has just passed away. He played the santur (le grand maître du santûr moderne!), a kind of Persian hammered dulcimer whose name means one hundred strains. Tiny hammers like the heart.



Faramarz Payvar – Dastgah E Nava XIII (from Improvisations on Santur)


A fitting companion to this song would be one from Ivan Tcherepnin’s Flores Musicales / Five Songs / Santur Live! album, which I like a lot but don’t have. (Do you?) On it the Russian-Chinese composer (another santur wizard) mixes the instrument with impressive live electronics from the Serge modular synthesizer, named after his brother, who built it.

For more experimentally-minded Persian music, try Dariush Dolat Shahi, two fantastic albums of his are hosted on UbuWeb.

And of course, my recent piece for The National on Ata Abtekar and Alireza Mashayekhi.


A little over a week ago I filed my first dispatch for WNYC’s new website. It’s a piece about the possibility of a multicultural thong swap. The essay includes the following four sentences:

You don’t need to be so precise with mythic time.

“I’d like them more if the white men were wearing the red thongs and bodypaint, and the black guys had on jeans and polo shirts,” I said.

World music festivals will pay good cash for groups from “remote” places whose presence reinforces the idea that our planet is still filled with the kind of mystery that allows indigenous traditions to continue without interference from cellphones or multinational corporations.

So you take off your sneakers and hoodie, and put on the facepaint.



On Monday December 14th, Geoff Manaugh, author of the BLDGBLOG book & blog, will be the special guest on my WFMU radio show! Geoff’s a consistently fascinating writer on architecture, contributing editor to Wired UK, and a former DJ. Expect discussion to range from architectural acoustics & unexpected sample-discovery to a selection of Geoff’s favorite techno.


A lot of people like to talk about the politics of sound / sonic weaponry (often with a technophilic edge), but Filastine is one of the few who regularly puts himself at physical and legal risk to engage in mobile audio activism – from his now-defunct Infernal Noise Brigade (a marching band created specifically to perform at street demonstrations) to the current project: Climate Chaos.

It’s basically a “HIGH VOLUME” multichannel bike-mounted soundsystem to be used inside the Bike Bloc during the Copenhagen Climate summit.

Says Filastine in his open call for sound:

From the 7-18th of December the world’s leaders will be in Copenhagen to decide the conditions of this planet’s future. Given the suspects & their financial backing, it’s nearly impossible we’ll be presented with solutions, far more likely we’ll see further privatization, enclosure, and commodification of the our atmosphere under the alias of carbon trading. This is your chance to put pressure, speak truth to power, or sonically disrupt, at HIGH VOLUME. Anything on-topic is welcome: remix the speeches of corporate & government leaders, environmental soundscapes, the sounds of nature or its undoing, appropriate collages, home-cooked theme songs, subliminal mob-inflaming drones, advertising.

& here is 16 seconds of Filastine recording with 16-year old gitana singer La Perla, inside a squatted cave on the hills of Granada overlooking Muslim palace La Alhambra… It’s a big world. And fighting for stuff you believe in is a fast & sure way of building communities within it.



Telepathe‘s Dance Mother album has been one of the year’s standouts for me; the instant I heard it I knew I wanted to incorporate some of the material in our Solar Life Raft‘s emergency toolkit. (Never face the end of the world without nice synths – solar-powered when possible – and singing).

Matt Shadetek and I did two totally different remixes of “In Your Line”. This version, where we excavated a drafty house with bass foundations and disappeared the original guitars & drums, won out.


Telepathe – In Your Line (DJ /rupture & Matt Shadetek remix) from Solar Life Raft: The Ingredients


Global Bass Underglaze


[blue and white ceramic tile from dramagirl’s flickr]

For centuries, Persian potters had been using cobalt to paint underglaze blue decorations. In the early fourteenth century, some bright entrepeneur had the idea of taking it to China. The Chinese potters tried out this ‘Muhammadan blue’ on their highly prized white porcelain, and in about 1325 started to export the barbarous results back to the Near East. The shapes were based on those of Islamic metalwork, the blue decorations incorporated jolly chinoiseries. Soon, imitations were being made in Persia, then in Egypt and Syria. Later on, the Ottomans took blue-and-white to heart and put tulips on their pots; the seventeenth-century Dutch then fell in love with it, putting windmills and armorials on their pots, and tulips in them. The bastard transfer-printed descendants of blue-and-white still leave Stoke-on-Trent in their willow-patterned millions.

-Tim Mackintosh-Smith, Travels with a Tangerine