(...after watching "The Sixth Sense")

15 Jan 2001

I've gotten my latest goth fix here in this somewhat free but not overly imaginative city. (Let's face it, Victorian London and even Baltimore got more atmosphere from brick than Amsterdam did.) Once a month, if a venue is available, De Inrichting is held.

This month (and maybe the next) it's in Amsterdam's former Film Academy, abandoned by the school and squatted a year later. It's a large, three story building whose ground floor includes a cavernous (by Dutch standards) soundstage with adjoining prop storage room, a bar, and a "people's kitchen." Upstairs are darkrooms, editing rooms and a screening room. This squat, like most others, is threatened with eviction, but has a legal process going.

The place was packed Saturday night with wall to wall decaying, pallid flesh and rotting lace. The Goth Damage Index approached unity, at least after the guy wearing a Yankees jacket left. For undead, they sure emit a lot of heat.

I met my friends, who'd spent October goth clubbing in the U.S. from coast to coast (including '80s & Goth nights at the Shim Sham Club in New Orleans, haunted sardonically and with much quippage by the crew of Suffering Is Hip. We grooved to old standards and the latest, though I'd be hard pressed to tell you what they were. Standouts were a remix of "No Tears," by Tuxedomoon, and "Tribal Warning Shot," the Mau Mau blood oath set to music by Hunting Lodge, one of my faves. If I saw no real dead people there, I did see a dead ringer, for someone who'd died almost 20 years ago. Same hound-dog face, curly hair, even same fedora. The resemblance wasn't exact, but what you'd expect from a 20-year old memory.

Last night I saw "The Sixth Sense" on tape. Amsterdam gets U.S. movies late and with less fanfare, so I didn't accidentally learn about the ending. The director, Shyalaman (sp?), plays up the creepiness well, especially from a kid's point of view. What really got me, though, was the "Yo no quiero mourir" voice on the tape Bruce Willis replays from one of his sessions with the kid. I'm unfazed by a horrorshow, at least on the screen, but ghostly voices are really disturbing. Maybe they seem more real on tape. How's that for hyperreal?

In the 1950s, a Latvian psychology professor named Konstantin Raudive discovered them on supposedly blank audiotape. He spent the rest of his life researching the phenomenon. There's a CD called Ghost Orchid, of recordings made by him and others. I'm sure it's all electromagnetic chatter aided by the human tendency to impose patterns on the noise, but, as with the mysterious number-reciting shortwave operators, it's handy material for homegrown ghost stories on a dark night. And remember the hectoring voice on the shortwave in The Shining (book version)?

Http://parc.web.fm has mp3s of some of these. The accompanying commentary is a bit labored, but worth wading through for the acoustic treats.

I think I'll do as the above website suggests and slip some choice bits to a local gothic dj who's a friend of a friend. A media-saturated world needs electronic ghosts.

Thank you sir, may I have another?
Or not