Juggernaut, harvest king

Soundscaping the ERO Grapeliner SF200 self-propelled grape-harvesting machine.

Out walking last week somewhere in Catalonia, I called on a farm which I used to visit with punters in order to taste wine with the mistress, while the master was off amusing himself in town. To my infinite regret she had recently sped along the way generally taken sooner rather than later by conscientious wine tasters, but one of the lads asked me if I’d like to have a go on a new grape-harvesting machine, and I have rarely been happier in the midst of death.

The tractor I best remember is the first one I saw, a grey 1960s double-digit Massey Ferguson in a County Tyrone cornfield, and I only know grape-picking from eight-hour days at 40 degrees with secateurs in one’s hands and one’s head in a bush, while several rows along the gypsies fanny around in their cutis-sparing white Michael Jackson gloves.

But the ERO Grapeline SF200 is a long way from such technology and working practices. And after a couple of glasses I think you will agree that, along with Spanish Easter penance processions and northeast Twente’s carnival wagons:

, it is actually closer to the cult of the god Jagannath. Here’s “Klutz” in 1861 in the Southern Literary Messenger:

“Make way for Juggernaut!”
Towering hideously above his ponderous car, behold the god! What crowds meet, accompany, and pursue.
He moves, he comes, he goes. Right on. Remorseless. Relentless. Inexorable! How shriek his heavy wheels!
“Way for the god!”
O, too devout, ye worshippers. Your thousands throng too close. Ye press too fondly forward-too near those wheels that stop not for bodies nor souls, still revolving mercilessly on. Back! ye multitude, blindly cruel. See ye not that your resistless swerve and sway push many victims to their doom? What matter? Here in frenzy most extreme is one—and another—and yet another—O who shall keep this tally of death! rushing madly beneath the crushing roll of the deity, gladly to awful torture and extinction. The hot blood spouts and flows around. Hear the feet plashing through it. See the car, sanguine to the throne—the god himself a red and reeking monster. Unspeakable agonies. The crack of bones and the grinding thereof. Screamings frightful, heard above shouts of triumph. Horror!
“Make way for Juggernaut! make way!”
No need—is there? Juggernaut makes way for himself. Why should you stand aside? Truly, you are the slightest of obstacles. On, god! On, conqueror—stopless, retardless! The men who make you mighty, fall exhausted in your path. Tread on! Fresh recruits assume the yoke. They fall wearily in their turn. Tramp on them—forward! Make red your road of ruin. En avant, à la mort!
Pass on, Juggernaut—pass on.

Let us ignore the fact that Klutz is actually coining a metaphor for demon drink (Jägerbomb < Jagannath?) and note that, while the SF200 is fitted with:

  • Comfort Cabin with transparent floor panels for free view of grape zone and front wheels
  • Joystick operation
  • Flat screen display
  • freely adaptable harvesting programs, up to five can be saved
  • intended washing program.
  • Double shaking system, 14 shaker inserted
  • Three independent leaf separation systems
  • Ground sensing
  • Conveyor stoppage indicator
  • Hydraulic conveyor reverse
  • Meter counter, stopwatch and hectar counter
  • Twin-Lock Hydrostat system (Poclain)
  • DEUTZ-6-cylinder-motor, type 2012, 116 kw, water-cooled

, and while my model even had the Reichhardt “electrohydraulic drive mode with an automatic steering system via ultrasonic sensors and a tactile sensor,” which appears to work like lane departure warning systems in cars, there is however no attempt to create for a broader public an aural sensation of the grinding, shrieking, grapemonium underway. 1

At the very least we need some (Boudiccan) scythe-chariot sound effects:

… but I’d prefer amplification (at least calliope strength) and modification of the sounds of the massacre, perhaps run by these people, using the best equipment feasible within Common Agricultural Policy aesthetic budget constraints:

This guy could run the testing programme:

Harvest king? Like the dying-reviving priest-king-gods in Frazer’s The Golden Bough, drivers tend to get slaughtered at the end of the harvest, but have usually recovered from their hangovers in time for the next one. Sitting on a tractor all week is still a hard, because lonely, business.


  1. The foliage protection features are cosmetic and designed purely to avoid problems with the European Court of Hortal Rights.

Stalin’s organ works

But all its pipes are the same length, so it only plays one note. Plus totalitarian musical dogs and terror management studies.

I think from his paintings and writings it’s safe to say that Yefim Ladyzhensky was into street organs:

Performances requiring an entrance fee are almost beyond my means. But street shows – these are our abode. “Katarinka” (this was the popular nickname for a street-organ) was a frequent visitor at our yard, where the respectable front of our three-story building alleged well-being and therefore the ability of our tenants to spare a donation…

Another form of Little Catherine is also the nickname given to another type of organ – Stalin’s – though the camel-tached Georgian instrument builder’s Katyusha was less a barrow organ or street organ than a juggernorgan in the Krishnan sense:

The rockets all make the same sound (looped here) because the instrument was designed to accompany the equally monotonous bala-Laika, an orbiting dog piano modelled on the Katzenklavier – here’s Henry Dagg’s:

The CIA tried to discredit this great progressive project using agent Ray Anderson (more Yankee space-race songs):

Sputniks and mutniks, flying through the air,
Sputniks and mutniks, flying everywhere,
It’s so ironic. Are they atomic?
Those funny missiles have got me scared.

Were the rockets longitudinally heterogeneous, they could have been used for non-sustainable change-ringing:

…or to play the Stalinist fakesong, “Katyusha”, after which the BM-8, BM-13, and BM-31 “Katyusha” rocket launchers were named:

Apple and pear trees were a-blooming,
Mist creeping on the river.
Katyusha set out on the banks,
On the steep and lofty bank.

If you, dear reader, sample the rocket (one, two other potential WAV/MP3/OGG sources) and record your own version, I’ll post it here.

That ↑ is a nice arrangement (¿who has all the best tunes?), but Bindi singing along with the Wehrmacht’s “Schwarzbraun ist die Haselnuss” is the best totalitarian-dogs-of-war track I know (empathic translation):

Schwarzbraun ist die Haselnuss,
schwarzbraun bin auch ich, bin auch ich.
Schwarzbraun muss mein Mädel sein,
gerade so wie ich!

Dark brown is the hazelnut,
dark brown am I too, am I too.
Dark brown must my girlfriend be,
the one with the waggly tail.

Cressida Connolly says that in The Worm at the Core: On the Role of Death in Life, Sheldon Solomon, Jeff Greenberg and Tom Pyszczynski say that we go to war to escape death, not patriotic kitsch.