A re-working, captured

As far as we know, this is the only surviving audio recording of Frank Cole, a biloquist whose sudden appearance in the rural American south in the late 1930s coincided with a rash of disappearances that have remained largely uncatalogued. The acetate disk recording came to us in 1971, but it was only recently that we got around to digitizing and archiving it here. The “Betsy” voice–a folksy farm woman–was apparently the most dangerous of the voices, indicating that Frank was about to set in motion the machinery of the listener’s disappearance, or “re-working” as Frank referred to it in his diary, which we have seen a copy of but would be grateful to hear from any reader who might have information about its existence, if it still exists at all.

So here is the short recording, Frank as “Betsy.”

The Miss Killer Audio

Often we receive an object through the mail that is not what it seems, case in point being a Lentar f=105 mm 1:4.5 enlarging lens, which arrived sometime in 1989. In our random sampling of the over 10,000 objects and files in the archives, we selected this lens last week for deeper inspection, 20170619_094707only to discover a 1/8 inch microcassette audio tape carefully spooled around one of the lens’s inner mechanisms. After extraction and rough remastering we can present it here now, still uncertain not only about its meaning, but its very reason for being. The tape seems to be a very short mix-tape which we have dubbed “Miss Killer” for the sequence between 00:26 and 00:33. The entire contents are listed below.

00:00 – 00:08 — wind
00:08 – 00:20 — “Miss Lynch”
00:20 – 00:26 — police scanner chatter
00:26 – 00:33 — “Miss Killer”
00:33 – 00:35 — international airport terminal?
00:35 – 00:40 — helicopter
00:40 – 01:02 — silence
01:02 – end — helicopter

What is the relationship between Miss Killer, Miss Lynch, and the other audio samples? Who is being asked questions, and by whom? Why the 22 seconds of silence? Our only clue is that Miss Killer shows up in several other Lost Signal items which have yet to be publicly catalogued here, including a yellowed newspaper clipping a child’s lullaby that references a “Miss Kill’re” and a torn piece of white linen stained with what appears to be a copious amount of blood.

*Note: Orders for the Bulletin of Lost Signals #1 remain open, as do submissions for recipes.



Of the 11,336 audio files archived at Lost Signals, several dozen are from the Appalachia region, field recorded in the 1930s, and of those several dozen, a handful are recollections (often secondhand) of an explosion in the wilderness, followed by “something” flying through the air, followed by a figure apparently clad in uniform whose eyes “roll around” in his head “like balls of fire” before the person takes off through the air again. This recording–tape #9,045a–is the most complete, uninterrupted version. Dubbed “firehead” by the original Lost Signals archivist, the recording was misfiled (purposely, it seems) for years under “forest fires” and only recently rediscovered and correctly filed. Listening notes:

  • 0:40 / “something coming across in the air”
  • 2:18 / “his eyes began to roll over and over”
  • part 2 of the recording–#9,045b–is just hissing static
  • part 3 of the recording–#9,045c–is a recantation, or disavowal, of the contents of part 1

“Has the Government Ever Done This to a Paper Before?” (R. Nixon)

1970. Nixon. Mitchell. Kissinger. And the obscured presence of a fourth person, a listener, a faint audio artifact that appears only as metadata, a sonic artifact that suggests Kissinger’s secret taping of the taping. The “orderly government” of which he speaks–something far beyond the so-called deep state–could only exist, of course, against a backdrop of disorder. Although this audio exists in various iterations, Lost Signals is in possession of the only known 0001 copy, the one that preserves the tonal erasures original to the recording.–E. Edgewood


The “Marseille” audio is vexing, more for what it obscures than for what it reveals. The facts, such as they are, are simple and direct, and require little commentary. The audio was made in 2007. It’s sourced from Marseille (misspelled Marseilles on the file name) France. The voice is female. There is something suggestive of either a private conversation or a very subtle announcement. Likely neither, however, as the file is sub-tagged WARNING and TOXIC, as if words themselves could communicate a virus. In fact, that’s just what they are doing, which is why we have spliced-out the phrase that occurs between :06 and :07, so that the curse, such as it is (and not to be melodramatic) is rendered useless, or “infertile,” in keeping with the linguistic turns-of-phrase that accompany this particular audio file. All of which is to say: no fear. You have not been infected.

Willing to Do Anything

Recorded in a tavern in remote and sparsely populated Diablock, Kentucky, this audio is labelled murder planning, #6 of 6, db ky – 8-08 / Pete’s Tvrn. Were it not for the label, the audio would seem innocuous enough: shooting pool, the easy, back-and-forth flow of conversation. The sort of thing you’ve heard a version of a hundred times before. But with the title, certain phrases take on potential new meaning. At around ten seconds, for instance, the casual phrase “you’re willing to do anything” shades darker in the context of murder planning. In fact, it brings to mind Francis Ford Coppola’s 1974 film The Conversation, and the overheard “He’d kill us if he got the chance” line, a phrase which reveals itself to mean something completely different by the end of the film than it does when we first hear it spoken near the beginning. Still, it’s hard to imagine that anything murder-related is being discussed in this Diablock audio, and we await usable audio of clips #1 – #5 to provide fuller context to address the question: is what’s being discussed the possibility of recruiting a person “willing to do anything,” and if so, what is the nature of “anything?”



Bear 51

We were on our way from Palm Springs out to Salvation Mountain. We wanted to baptize our one and a half year old son with some of that real American Spirit, that do-it-yourself religion that only the Americans really know how to do. We stopped off at Bombay Beach on the Salton Sea, essentially the middle of nowhere, to pick up some more water and some potato chips before heading further into the desert, and further beyond the outskirts of nowhere. At the Bombay Beach Market, a half-gutted, sparsely-stocked convenience store, the older lady was friendly and chatty. She had desert-worn skin and silver hair and wore jeans and a faded t-shirt from the old marina which now sat on dry land. She asked me where we were headed and I explained that we were headed out to the Mountain. She kindly pointed out the right way and circled our turn-offs on a little tourist map of the region. She made sure I had enough gas.

“I used to live out there,” she said. “Out at the City. Before I got out.”
Slab City, she meant, out beyond Salvation Mountain. “Oh yeah?” I replied. “What’d you do out there?”

“Oh you know. Helped out around the place. Assisted the Reverend, for many years.”
“Oh, wow. How was it?”
“Well. It is what it is. There ain’t nothin out there. But the Reverend made it happen. He’s gone now.”
“What do you think of us taking the boy out there? Think it’s alright?” I asked.
“The little guy? He’ll be alright. Just take ye some water. There ain’t nothin out there.”
“Anything to worry about over there? Other than water, I mean?” I could tell that Claudia was a bit nervous.
“You’ll be fine. Just pay attention to where you are. Everybody wants something.”
“Okay, yeah sure. Thanks. But, uh… so you wouldn’t discourage it.”
“Nah. They’re all nice people. But everybody wants something. You know what I mean.”
“Yeah, I guess so.” But I didn’t really. “Well thanks for the advice,” I said. “I’m sure you get these questions a thousand times a year.”

“Oh yeah, it’s alright. I’m here. You have a good visit.”

I paid for the water and potato chips and she handed me my change and then suddenly as if she’d forgotten something important she said, “Oh! Wait.” She turned back toward the shelves behind the register. “Here. Something for the little guy.” She handed me a small brown stuffed bear. It looked like a friendly campground bear from a gift shop, or the kind of stuffed animal you might win out of a county fair arcade game, those tall plexiglass cubes where you try to manipulate a mechanical metal  grabber to pick up trinkets and toys and send them down the exit chute. The game with the metal grabber is almost impossible, so the few times that I had given one a go I always got a funny feeling that the odd little toys and stuffed animals were going to be in there forever. It was a sensation that made me really nervous as a kid, and still does. My uneasiness with the whole thing was also connected to the uncertainty of where they’d come from to begin with. I couldn’t imagine how they’d gotten inside the cube in the first place. I couldn’t tell whether those trinkets had ever not been inside there, waiting to be grabbed by the mechanical grabber, and It seemed cruel that the machine would invite me to bring one of the toys home to live with me and to be played with, as was their only purpose for all I knew, and that it would never happen.

The odds were plain. A stuffed bear like this one was never getting out of that goddamn cube in the musty tent on the country fairgrounds, and that gave me an acute sense of foreboding which is hard to describe. It caused a panic in me that they were never getting out of there. They were lost in time, piled up just out of reach, right on the other side of the plexiglass. And now here one was, smiling innocuously, as if he had never been wronged. Or if he had, it had left no scar. But the math of it was all off somehow, if there was any. Loopy. Emanating from somewhere within the Deep State of county fair amusement mechanics, if there is such a thing. The little brown campground bear gave me the impression that he was one of thousands, a legion of soft little bears grinning permanently. So it seemed odd that he was out here all by himself, out in the middle of the desert, uniquely exactly like all the others, wherever they were.
“Oh… that’s really sweet of you,” I said. “Thank you so much. He will love it.” I looked out the door toward the car outside where Claudia was waiting with the boy and I saw the heat blasting brightly up off the tar in a yellow array.
“Listen,” she said. She leaned over the counter like a little girl and reached out and pressed the bear’s little round belly. “Listen…” she said again softly and she withdrew gracefully back across the countertop. “Can you hear it?”

I could.

The signal is exactly 51 seconds long. At 36 seconds in (32nd second of the actual signal) there is a significant wave modulation that bothers me. I don’t know why it bothers me now. But it does. —J. Wood