Friday, 25 October 2013

Radio Straka - Transmission 1

It started with a tweet from @Bad_Robot

Radio Straka is on the air !

The broadcasts have begun, Click here to listen to them

I am going to try and get a synopsis here of what is said in the broadcast and any additional reading so bear with me while I do that.

The small amount of text on the NTSLive site says - "A series of five remote broadcasts in homage to a towering figure of 20th century literature and culture. Featuring music from the earliest wax cylinder recordings to modern times, from all corners of the globe, the sea, space and beyond. "

In the meantime why not follow a new twitter account that has been set up - @RadioStraka They may have some more answers for us and they certainly have a new website for us -

On this site you can listen to the first broadcast, and if the markings on the compass are anything to go by there will be 4 more, the final one being on the 29th of October the date of the book launch.

If you scroll to the bottom of this new site you will see this helpful (?) hint

This has a HTML link associated with it and this takes you to the Soon You Will Know website.


The transcript appears below and now includes a few photographs referenced in the transmission, and while it is a good resource to use the original transmission should be listened to for the intonation and cadence of what is being said.

Radio Straka Show 1

Sounds of birds warbling

Hello. Hello. Ah, yes, welcome, welcome to this Radio Straka. I’d like to welcome you. Ah, my name… is not important.

I would like to begin at the water with this broadcast. So, this show is about the oceans, with what we find in them, on them, over them. (bird warbling)

I start with a photograph.  A photograph by Herbert List. (birds warbling, typewriter key stroke). It is unusual to use the radio to discuss a photograph. Soon you will know why. But first some music.

(theme song)

List. Now, he was a well known photographer whose life matched with Straka’s, in well, ah, in a number of ways and he produced a photograph in 1937 that provides a reference to the great unsolved death of the Santorini Man. This is a death, perhaps a murder, a murder perhaps that has, well, never been solved, never. So, ah, to begin with, questions about the connection between this drowning and work of Straka are obvious. So today, ah, we will consider another set of questions between Straka himself and another great figure of the earliest, 20th century art and culture photographer, Herbert List. 

Songs of the Auvergne Bailero, Natania Davrath Orchestra, Joseph Canteloube

(more to follow as I transcribe.. MJ,, Herbert List

(accordion music)
Herbert List's "The Drowning Island" - Magnum Photos
(image link sent by Just Thinking)
Now, ah, Herbert List, eh, he is famous, as I’m sure you know, a fashion photograph who’s style has influenced contemporary fashion photographers, like, ah, for example, Rittz, Herbert Rittz, R I T T zed, Now List, ah Herbert Rittz, List, ah, influenced Rittz and he produced these, ah, austere sort of classically posed black and white compositions, but he also produced surrealist works, you know, like well, ah “The Drowning Man” ah, I apologize, “The Drowning Island.” Now, ah, he was a gay man, Jewish German man, and his life as such really moved from, ah, quiet a conventional beginning to a influential position in art and fashion photograph.  Ah, now, List was born in Hamburg to a wealthy family and he studied literature at Heidelburg University.

Now it is almost certain, no, no, it is certain, that he would have first read Straka’s early works there, while he was there. Now, um, after his graduation this young literature student became apprenticed to his father’s company. Now his father had a coffee company and he went to become apprenticed to this company. Ah, this early career would within this trade of coffee, of course, took him to many locations because it is a global trade - coffee, you know. And he went to many locations in South America between 1924 and 1928. Now these are the years, of course, during which Straka published, ah, “The Spotted Cat” and the “Black 19.” So, let us, ah, let’s make a note of that. So, ah, from Hamburg to Heidleburg, Guatamala, Costa Rica, Brazil, and then to France, Italy, Greece, Germany, Norway.

Now question. Could List have met F X Caledero? Caledero, of course, is Straka’s translator and collaborator. Could List have met him? Possibly. Could List even have met Straka himself? These are all questions, questions. Now, um, it is certain that he was on Santorini in 1937 and he must have heard of The Santorini Man. He was a photographer during his travels, but only after 1930 when he met Andreas Feininger did List begin working with the Rolleiflex camera, the famous camera, taking portraits of his friends and, ah, shooting still lifes. Ah, early influenced by Bauhaus and the Surrealist movements. Now, by this time Straka had published “Hundrerd Aprils in Abrisa”(?), the “Viper’s Humor” and “Washington and Green.”

Now back to List. Back to Herb List. He said that his photos were "composed visions where [my] arrangements try to capture the magical essence inhabiting and animating the world of appearances.”

“Choral” by Erik Satie

Now, OK, so I’m going to repeat, List quoted that his photos were "composed visions where [my] arrangements try to capture the magical essence inhabiting and animating the world of appearances.” Now, when List left Germany to become a professional photographer, in 1936, Straka had published three more books by these time, we have Hanging the Dead, LePavi, and the Night  Palisades. OK? Ah, the surrealist styling of List’s fotografia metafisica allowed him to express hidden truths. He used a lot of mirrors and double exposures to picture dream states and fantastic imagery like we find in “The Drowning Island.” Ah, now, in the late 1930 List was traveling to Greece and, well in Greece, and his photographs were being published in magazine and books and during this same period Straka published, “The Brigade” and “A Wineblood's Mine” was published also, this is in 1939. 

Ah, now, the “The Drowning Island” by Herbert List, in 1937 is, to me, an obvious Straka reference, well to anyone really, it is a link to the Santorini man, drowning, the drowning of the Santorini man. Now, the, these floating islands, are they floating instead of drowning, I mean with in the photo itself? The buildings, it is not clear whether they are below of above the water. So, again, we begin the water is this a clue, this whole photograph could be a clue. So looking into List personal and professional history, it’s fairly clear to me, he developed a passion for Straka’s work while studying literature at the University of Heidelburg, of course. So, questions, more questions. Was the Santorini man one of List’s hidden truths. We have mentioned the hidden truths. Could his be one? Was there a message within “The Drowning Island” or was “The Drowning island” itself a message. The Santorini man is unsolved, is an unsolved case from 1937. That is the year of Herbert List’s photograph, “The Drowning Island.”

The body of a young man is found washed up on a beach in Santorini in 1937 with a page from Straka’s first novel, the 1911 satire, “Miracle at Blaxenholme(?)” in his pocket. So, a drown man found on Santorini with a page from a 26 year old Straka novel within his pocket. What is the connection or what was the connection?

Music: Tommy’s fallen in the pond, did you hear him smashing, when at last he gets back home won’t he get a thrashing? Tommy’s fallen in the pone, did you hear him smashing, when at last he gets back home won’t he get a thrashing? Ha ha serves him right, repeated, echoing…

Welcome back again, (creaking chair) so, when List returned to Germany during the War, ah, Herbert List we are talking about, the photographer, when he returned to Germany during the War he found his professional career was blocked by the Nazi Party because one of his grandparents was Jewish. So this means that he was not allowed to work when “The Winged Shoes of Amedo Elvis” was released in 1942. And yet, in 1944 when Straka published his last book, “Corelosis” through Carston Books, List was drafted into the German army and served actually in Norway as a cartographer.  So later, in Paris, during the War, he photographed people such as, Picasso, Cocteau, Berard, Braque, Arp, and Miro and he also photographed the ruins of Munich itself, after the War, the ruined city, of course. Now, his history, Herbert List’s history, his travels, his connections, circles and courses were, in certain ways, aligned with Straka’s and throughout those years he must have been reading Straka’s books. Was he part of Straka’s circle? This is another question. Was he, Herbert List, actually a part of Straka’s circle, and was this, if so, why, was this why the “The Drowning Island” photograph exists?

We’ll take an interlude.

Music: "Je Cherche un Millionaire" Mistinguett

I welcome you back again. Now let’s talk about the Magnum Agency. They formed the year after Straka disappeared and the year before “Ship of Thesus” was published by Winged Shoe Press by Straka’s long term translator and editor, of course, F X Caldera. And, wow, what an Agency it was. It was a cooperative really of photographers each working in a particular part of the world. It twas a great artistic collaboration with a reach and a remit that spanned the globe. You have Robert Capa, David “Chim” Seymour, Henri Cartier-Bresson, George Rodger, and Willem Vandivert. All five of them, of course afterwards. Maria Isner and Rita Vandivert were the founding members of Magnum of Paris in 1947 which was actually was based on an idea of Capa’s, Robert Capa’s. Which is funny, isn’t it? A halcion idea. A photographic cooperative of artist who owned their own work. Now, this is an idea that Straka would have been proud of. He, he, was so adamant that the work should stand for itself, so he would have approved very much. He was so dismissed of those who sought to unraveled the mystery of his identity. He was purposeful, is the right work, purposeful, in his treatment of the themes of life, of writing, creation and destruction. And yet, the Magnum Agency, which was supposedly named as the founding members always drank a bottle of champagne during their first meetings, they had these decadent capitalistic associations and an aura which would have placed them at home in the ballrooms of the the Ari Agnu,  the ship at the heart of Straka’s first novel “Miracle at Blaxenholme(?). Ah, which of course, was the novel of which a page was found in the pocket of the young man who was found drowned in Santorini in 1937.

Music piece (can anyone identify it ?)

So the Magnum agency,  a revolutionary cooperative of artists. And who joined them in 1951 five years after Straka's disappearance? Yes, of course, Herbert List, that's right. Now the question is who's side were they on?

Now, List was in Santorini when the famous body was washed ashore and then he joined the Magnum Agency. So my question now is this. To what was List alluding when he wrote, in 1943, "A camera lens is not objective, otherwise as a medium it would be worthless, the lens and our eyes see differently. It is precisely these differences that make the lens a valuable means of artistic expression."?

Music piece (can anyone identify it ?)

As the editor of "Ship of Theseus" suggests, the mystery of Straka's identity has puzzled people since it's first publication, "Miracle at Blaxenholme(?)" in 1911. It's odd that just a hodge-podge of writers, intellectuals and historical characters have been associated with Straka over the years. Isn't it? Isn't it? Isn't it? Swedish, French, German, Scottish, Scottish? (laughs), American, Spanish, an author of children's stories, an archaeologist, an anarchist, I mean, a philosopher, of course, and adventurer, a novelist. Who was V M Straka?  Should we even be asking this question? I don't know. People have said the same things about Shakespeare, of course, that he was not one man, not one author, that he was someone else, or a group of someones. Straka's editor of course does not think so. Straka's editor does not care. He doesn't care at all. So should we? Should we care? Do we care? And, well, I leave that question with you now.

Music: "The Sailor's Alphabet" by Clifford Jenkins, echo's out

You can, like the sparrows, you can tweet to me at @RadioStraka.

Music: "Year of the Dog" by Sufjan Stevens

(viola background) I have looked deeply into the history of the ocean trade of the 17th century, the birth of the modern era. Just as sailors referred to ships with feminine pronouns, so too would Straka use them when referring to the principles of political and economic reform that were the foundations of his writing, his acts of resistance and his revolutionary spirit.

Now during the age of exploration, ocean currents made some islands the natural starting and finishing points of any vessel of trade and adventure. This was a dangerous trade with colonists, pirates, sea men, and traders crossing the ocean at the mercy of wind and currents of course.

Now Bermuda was only settled in 1609, by English colonists. It was an island notorious for being the eventual destination of shipwrecked sailors from the Virginia Colony's third supply missions flagship Seaventure.

Now Shakespeare, Shakespeare, Shakespeare's "The Tempest" was first performed on November the 1st in 1611 for King James the 6th of Scotland, and 1st of England was based on true accounts of the accidental discovery and residence on the island of Bermuda by ?  historian and lawyer, William Strachley and of Sylvester Jordan who were both with Admiral Sir George Summers when the Seaventure was shipwrecked off Bermuda.

Now on the other side of the great ocean, the Azores in the age of exploration were the crossroads of the Atlantic, an obligatory last stop for ships returning to Europe with the wealth of the Americas and the Orient, full of gold and silver, silks and spices, gems, diamonds, porcelains and fine steels. And over the century's thousands of galleons and other ships stopped at this lush volcanic isles for rest and refreshment, bracing before he final push home often to no avail. Now you have heard of the wreck of the Mary Rose, Britain's, King Henry the Eighth's great warship. Well there are many similar vessels under the Atlantic seas, attacked by pirates, destroyed in battle, ravaged by storms, many hundreds of these vessels sank to form a hidden museum, off limits to even the deepest, bravest of divers until now. Until now. The doors are opening for the first time, exciting salvos? and archaeologists alike around the world as they jostle for position in line.

Now by some estimates the Azores deep waters hold not only the worlds greatest concentration of treasure wrecks but countless warships and artifacts that offer an unusual window on western history and development.

Music: "BusyPort" by Les Baxter

This was Les Baxter, Busy Port.

I can reveal my research has identified a shipwreck described in "Ship of Theseus" as a sabotaged vessel. Ok, so in the Bermuda records of 1st December, 1612, an unidentified vessel is listed as pulling into port. Now less than a month later this ship was wrecked off the coast of the Ashores, Azores, forgive me. Now was this due to a fire set by the ambushing crew of the last Spanish pirate (Jaun B ? name) and what was this connection between this act of piracy and the mysterious hanging of the ships steward before they left Bermuda. Questions, questions again. Who can say? Who can say?

So the following year 1613, in March of that year 1613, the first guvnor of Bermuda who's name is Richard Moore, was very much occupied in raising a watch tower on a hill over topping the town of St Geroges, now this was to seve to keep an eye on the shipping on the coast. Now in June Smith's fort on Governors Island in Bermuda was completed it was intended to repel Spanish and other enemy ships. Now were these outposts built to keep watch for the ship of (?) hmm.

Music: Sailor Home from the Sea (Cock of the North) by Martyn Wyndham-Read and poetDorothy Hewitts (possibly Linda Adams or Margaret Walters singing)

Oh Cock of the North with a dream in his hand
My love has come home to this beautiful land
He bursts through the door with his eyes like the sun
And his kitbag crammed full of the treasures he's won
A coral from Broome and a tall Darwin tale
A pearl and a clam and the jaws of a whale
My kitchen is filled with the smell of the sea
And the leaping green fishes my love brings to me
Oh tumble your treasures from Darwin and Broome
And fill with their glory this straight little room
With the sun of the morning ablaze on his chest
My love has come home from the north of north-west
And deep in our bed we'll lie and we'll be
We'll kiss and we'll listen to the rain on the sea
Warm as the summer, we've lived winter long
My love has come home like King Solomon's song

Music: "Stormy Weather" by Bob Roberts,  interrupted by storm weather sounds, seagulls

So, ah, the Azores today are an underwater battleground between treasure seekers, eager to raise from the murky depths the gold and silver from these wrecks, and marine archaeologists, eager to discover and preserve the cultural treasure of these historic vessels. Straka himself spoke of ? name of ship? hidden gold. Are there clues on the ocean bed of the Azores. We ask again, are there clues on the ocean bed of the Azores? Well, soon we may know. We think maybe soon we will know. Let us hope.

Music: Can anyone identify?
Music: Theme music

Thank you for listening to this remote broadcast from

Indistinct voice, needs audio manipulation ? It's backwards?


  1. Excellent, I was hoping for something soon, and this is just what I would expect i.e. I didn't expect it !

    If this makes any sense by the end I'll be amazed

  2. This is really cool! The voice sounds similar to the voice from the teasers.

  3. Jeepers! Great job on transcribing it all. Hard to see what is most important here. Drowned man seems to be in the video-though he looks alive there. Clues mentioned lots of times. I can't find a real Santorini drowned man- but the Greek island of Santorini seems to be connected to the drowned island of Atlantis.

  4. So- the photo-The Drowning Island- is real, Hebert List is real- Island (image # 17). List was German I think- and lots of Germans ended up in Brazil after WWII. Then there's the Magnum photo co-op. Also real- maybe imagined in the book as a secret society? They did have three levels to get in and become a member.

    1. Nice, I've added the picture to the transcription part of the post.

  5. Trying to get a hold of the forces in play. There seem to be "sides" as in "Whose side where they on?" Per haps List was on Straka's and tried to find out what happened to him by infiltrating the opposing Magnum group. But then story goes way back to the mysterious ship from 1613 that the Governor of Bermuda was looking out for, that a traitor on board was hanged from, and that was sunk by (perhaps hired?) pirates before it got to Europe, and that now may be discovered in the Azores. So whatever the struggle is - it is very old.

  6. Well- see what is on the flag of the Azores- bird

  7. If there are any real world clues related to this- is there one "Ashore" on the "Azores"? Not a mistake by the narrator?

    1. We'll get this post updated with photo, etc. The numbers are important. Also, in transcribing, you can feel the forced repeating of words, three times, or versed backwards. We need the final audio, maybe backwards, determined. Birds are everywhere. Maybe when all the broadcasts are done we'll find our directions.

      I mostly felt that we were being told that there is a treasure to be found and they we will have to chart a course, so to speak. ??? - questions, questions questions.

  8. Yes the bird certainly looks like the same type, but not the same pose / position, also the website has a star as the tab icon.

  9. I did a search for Spotted Cat and Straka and Google came up with a Birders ! website -

    1. Zort, I have 3 connections for you.
      1.The Vastra twitter account tweeted an oblique tweet about the constellation l-749a-79-46 crash in the Azores. The date is the same as one of the Saturday Reviews where I found one of the reference ads.
      2. Robert Ludlum originally worked in film, but refused in later life to write scripts saying something to the effect of not wanting to go back and work for or with those "ocelots" (spotted cats).
      3. Another New Orleans link here in regards to B. Traven:

  10. This is crazy..I am just now discovering all of this extra stuff..I am about halfway through the book and I was blown away even before I found all this stuff..and now my mind is reeling haha. What in the world..makes it all seem real.

    1. Hello Barry, welcome to the world of the extra stuff :-)

      We had no idea this would be available, but as this is partly a J J project we suspected there would be something like this.

      If you get a chance listen to the transmissions rather than read the transcripts as they are an audio treat.

  11. It is interesting that the radio presenter speaks with a Swedish accent (an Ekstrom link?). I'm a Swedish speaker myself (and coincidentally used to work with forensic dialect identification).

  12. Pretty sure the ship in Miracle is the Ariadne, not the Ari Agnu

    1. If it IS the Ari Agnu, then we have an anagram that points to the Guarani people, who live in small tribes in South America, including in Brazil.

      Alarming statistics on the suicide rates of the Guarani people in Brazil:

      And their being moved off their land:

    2. I'm going to posit this theory. In the book, Eric says it's the Ariadne. So that's true. However, Radio Straka calls it Ari Agnu. I don't think S Files mistyped. It's what they heard. It's just pointing something out to us in Brazil. A theme from S in the real world of this event. I remember reading that in the news. Ever read Gaiman's American Gods? It's about how the old gods are fading away because fewer and fewer believe in them. There is this strange flavor I get from S. sometimes that co-relates to that. Of course, that's just my own crazy point of view...

  13. Hi all, I'm very new to this--still in the early chapters of the book--but already in the deep. Trying to avoid too much internet snooping before my first full pass but Radio Straka fell under my radar. If anyone is interested (I guess all of you will be), I have tried to do some cleaning up in the final voice heard in transmission #1 in the hopes of deciphering it... I can't say it helped much but perhaps someone who knows what to look for might be able to hear something I can't.

    The recording/transmission is in stereo and I noticed that either channel had a slightly different(-ly treated) audio in it so I took the liberty of splitting them up. To me, right channel (file marked "R") seems to be the one that is "less" manipulated. They both have a bit of slapback echo which is very hard to remove so you will have to make due (unless someone has better audio tools than I).

    links to the files:
    Right channel:
    Left channel:

    Perhaps someone will be able to make sense of this. Do let us know if that's the case!

    PS. Since it's mentioned in the post, I did try reversing the audio. Didn't help. In fact, I'm almost certain this is not such a case because the usual artifacts of a reversed voice become apparent once you actually play this audio backwards (if you're used to hearing them they're hard to miss). You're free to give it a spin of course ;)


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