1a – Fear Not

Courage is just as contagious as fear

The system wants you to be afraid, and that fear is bad for your mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional health. We need to be able to talk about fear, because it is a major force driving history in a myriad of important ways. Fear is a primal human emotion and one can’t develop an understanding of individual or group psychology without meditating deeply upon how fear influences human behavior. 

If people start thinking and talking more about fear, many people will realize that there are strategies that people can employ to disarm their fear, or to work with it in a better way. People will become freer when they are honest with themselves, and fear is one of main things that people lie to themselves about. Truth is the source of wisdom, and wisdom is the source of true strength. Strength is what we need if we’re going to be able to mount an effective resistance against the insane debacle of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. 

Courage is just as contagious as fear, and once we free ourselves from the grips of fear-consciousness, we can become the virus of revolutionary spirit spreading throughout the population and incinerating the deceitful lies of Babylon in the furnace of Eternal Love that is always present in every moment, available always to those who simply reach out, or reach in, rather, for the truth within you, for the truth that you carry inside, that you brought with you into the world, because it is the essence of who you are. 

Reality is an illusion, and our lives are the sparkling of the moonlight upon dark water at night, appearing and disappearing in an instant, to be replaced with others in a dance that has occurred since time immemorial. Many flames have been extinguished, but as surely as the sun will rise again tomorrow, the fire will be rekindled, for so long as human beings live and breathe some of us will desire to be free. No doubt this is the reason our rulers wish to replace us with machines.

But have no fear. Evil has not triumphed, nor will evil triumph. Evil is an imbalance within the cosmic organism that we are all a part of. The universe will resolve the imbalance in the same way in which your body will repair damaged cells, that is to say as a matter of course, automatically and without conscious intent. In this sense, there is no crisis. We are not as important as we think we are, in the grand scheme of things. The wheel is going to keep turning. What we are really suffering from is a spiritual crisis, and a large part of the problem is simply a lack of appreciation of the beauty of everything. If we truly understood nature as beautiful, as magnificent and as wondrous as it is, we would neither desire to control and dominate it nor be so foolish as to think that we were capable of doing such a thing. We would revere it.  We badly need to reinterpret the bad dream that our culture is currently living.

If you only remember one thing from this, remember this: no one is in control. Not the World Economic Forum, not the Pentagon, not the Chinese Communist Party or the Illuminati or whatever. The world is a chaos and the Gods will never cease rolling the dice. Right now there are major changes taking place in the world, but don’t think for a second that the future is written. They might want you to think it is, but it’s not. It’s anyone’s guess what the future holds. And we must realize that we have agency in the matter, that our actions shape reality. If you choose compliance with increasingly insane authoritarianism, that’s your bed to lie in, and you deserve what happens to you. If you choose non-compliance, you might burn some bridges with some people, but outside the walls of the prison that you call Safety, there are wild parties taking place: people are living their lives, dancing, making music, making love, sharing food, getting high and passionately pursuing their dreams and searching for the meaning hidden in the dancing of the sparkling moonlight on still water at night. 

Fear not. The world is yours, a would-be lover, ready and willing, only waiting for you to make your move. It is not important what you do, only that what you do is in accordance with the yearning of your soul for its destiny.

a15 – Book Review –

The Right to Maim by Jasbir K. Puar (Duke University Press)

If you read just one book about Palestine, read this one. Yes, it can be exhausting to discuss or even think about what is going on there. Yet, if you live in the United States, your tax money is going towards creating this situation. A great deal of disinformation has been spread about what is happening in Palestine, at a level even worse than the disinformation campaigns about climate change. Since the creation of the Israeli state in 1948, a regime of extreme colonial violence has taken place, turning Palestine into an open-air prison. This book explores the violence that roughly 6.8 million Palestinians live with every day. This includes what the author calls “the right to maim,” in which Palestinians are intentionally harmed with devices that remove their mobility, rendering them disabled. The author also explores the way Palestinian medical services are targeted, with occupying forces intentionally murdering Palestinian doctors and paramedics, systematically removing the means of healing the debilitating harm they cause. Because she is an academic based in the United States, the author writes about these things with great risk, as there has been a systemic silencing/blacklisting of academics who attempt to discuss the conditions in Palestine. 

Perhaps the most shocking details of this book include its exploration of the way Israel enacts literal apartheid, with the state banning marriages between citizens and Palestinians, while state-sponsored youth groups in Israeli are tasked with defending “racial purity.” While it is rarely discussed on the news, the white supremacy in Israel has been known to activists for a long time—in Oakland we have older Jewish people with darker skin who fled Israel after mistakenly moving there from North Africa when the Israel state was first being created, only to learn that the promise of freedom for Jewish people was a lie: darker skinned Jewish folks weren’t (and still aren’t) welcome in Israel. It is a white supremacist ethno-state. 

This book explores many ways that white supremacy continues in Israel today, with legal practices that would make even Americans blush, such as the practice in Israel to require Chinese laborers who enter the country to sign a contract that they will not have sex with Israeli women, a practice stemming from paranoia about creating mixed-race babies. Israel’s racist regime that resembles the types of things other countries wish weren’t part of their history… If we are truly ashamed of white supremacy, colonialism, and genocide, why are the United States, are we funding Israel? If we care about disabled people, why are we funding a regime that intentionally renders people disabled? 

This book is like reading a hundred newspaper articles—it is packed with stories that would be in the news if not for the present regime of censorship. The book’s chapters are somewhat out of order (perhaps a symptom of having to sneak this information through). Ignore the dense academic jargon in the beginning. For best results, read this book’s chapters backwards, starting with the postscript. (Review by Leaf) 

a15 – echoes from our golden age of Radical Podcasts

By Sam Ka Blam

In this these times of general whatthefuckery, it’s a lot harder to access zines than it used to be. Many of us are trapped inside sheltering from wildfire smoke, deadly pandemics, and freaky-ass cops. It’s hard to get down to the local anarchist library or zine fest midst all this dystopian reality. 

Recently, some comrades heard I’d be been listening to NPR (out of sheer boredom), and they were like, “What the fuck are you doing listening to the corporate goo? — We’re in a golden age of radical podcasts!” 

Podcasts are totally free, and you can download apps to listen on your phone or other devices (all of which spy on us but at this point I guess we don’t care anymore?)

Here are some radical podcasts worth checking out:

Srsly Wrong – Leftist Utopia Comedy Podcast

srslywrong.com

Between lighthearted discussions of theory, they’ve got comedy sketches that will make even the most hardened doom punk giggle. Their sketch about trying to administer first aid via consensus had me LMFAOing while also processing some deep-held anarchist meeting trauma… Laughing at ourselves can be healthy, actually. And SRSLY Wrong hits the sweet spot of being funny while also caring about the community and bringing thoughtful tactical critique to the table. 

The show is also mirthfully anti-vanguardist, poking fun at anyone who would try to centralize power within our movements with recuring sketches like “Revolutionary Vanguardist Country Club.” The subtle Bookchin references are also great — they make a good case for why we need to all be talking about Bookchin’s philosophy of social ecology, as practiced in Rajova and Cooperation Jackson. This show is like having a box of anarchist cheerleaders in your pocket, saying, “Let’s have fun while organizing with our neighbors and building local community — yay!” Maybe comedy is the way anarchists needed to be doing discourse all along? 

A good starter episode is “Revolutionary Prefiguration w/Anark” (11/04/21) and also “Reading Black Anarchists w/St. Andrew” (10/01/21). 

Solidarity House Cooperative

https://solidarityhouse.podbean.com/

Imagine if anarcho-communists had their own reality show? That’s kind of what’s trying to happen here — it’s a charming attempt to invite you into the daily lives and conversation of an actual worker co-op / commune community they are building in Wyoming. 

Segments undulate between home improvement discussions and movement discourse based in anti-capitalist, anti-imperial, anti-racist, anti-authoritarian analyses. The show kinda reminds me of the Hellarity House dinner table: You never know who’s going to show up and start eating your potatoes and then blow your mind with a reportback from some corner of the empire before inviting you out back to help them fix their hippy bus.

Break Dances with Wolves – Indigenous Pirate Radio 

soundcloud.com/breakdanceswithwolves

Breakdances With Wolves is a podcast by three Indigenous folks from different tribes — Gyasi Ross (Blackfoot/Suquamish), (Lakota Sioux), and Minty LongEarth (Santee/Creek/ Choctaw) — under the byline “a few Natives with opinions and a platform.” They explore every topic you can think of, from hiphop to environmental law to pronouns. Very pirate radio vibes. 

Sometimes their politics aren’t perfect, but the hosts work to explore and expand on ideas outside of their experiences, so listeners can grow and work through stuff with them. There’s a great discourse about the tension between Indigenous sovereignty and anti-imperialism — the hosts don’t try to resolve this tension with easy answers. Sometimes the movement is a work in progress, and this show embodies that. 

BDW has been taking a break since the start of COVID (hopefully they will be back soon), but the back-episodes are really worth checking out. Two nice episodes to start with are “Ep. 123: Native Rights, Fish, Water & Lawsuits: A Roundtable Discussion” or maybe “Ep. 130: Media, Storytelling & Owning The Narrative.”

The Plague Podcast by LM Bogad

https://rss.com/podcasts/theplague/

Here’s a podcast by anarchist author and guerilla theatre performer LM Bogad — you might know him from work with the Yes Men, CIRCA, #OilyWellsFargo, and The SF Mime Troupe. When the pandemic hit, street theatre suddenly got a lot more dangerous, so LM made a podcast as a way to signal-boost important voices and ideas in the movement.

Each episode discusses a different aspect of the true plague (spoiler alert: it’s capitalism), and includes a dinner table conversation with folks who are working on creative solutions to systemic problems. The worker co-op episode is a fun place to start: “Episode 7: The Plague of Worker Expendability with Sabiha Basrai and Ricardo Nuñez.” Also the interview with a mime is pretty good in “Episode 5: The Plague of Orwellian Fear, Division, and Denial of Data and Science, with Michael Gene Sullivan.”

Next Economy Now – LIFT Economy

https://www.lifteconomy.com/podcast

Ready to yeet capitalism and create a new economy? This podcast is full of radical tactics for how to get from here to there — at scale. Each week, they interview folks enacting better worlds through a variety of tactics, from designing post-capitalist currencies to writing utopian fiction to creating networks of worker co-ops. Recent interviews have included awesome conversations with adrienne maree brown, Autumn Brown, and Resmaa Menakem. This is the kind of stuff that will get you fired up and excited to try out some of these new ideas. Also, the Kevin Bayuk episode (“Is Cryptocurrency “Good” For The Next Economy?”) should be required listening for any anarchist who still thinks Bitcoin is a good idea (spoiler alert: it’s not). 

Yeet the corporate voices from your earbuds! Check out a radical podcast today!

If there is a radical podcast you think we should review, email us at slingshotcollective@protonmail.com.

a14 – Inside Fluke – a zine

By Carrion Baggage

In an interview in Sluice zine Matt Thompson is being given space to celebrate his own zine. Zines interviewing zines seems like a setup to a joke. But Matt is old and accomplished — he’s not taking his time here frivolously.

He describes making the first issue of Fluke with his friends as well as the second issue a year later. “1992 saw a huge influx of zines.” And for sure, the whole decade was like a wildfire cutting across the land. Thousands of people were motivated to get out their ideas, stories, personality and anything else they could onto paper. This spark reached Matt and Co. all the way to the remote flatlands & hills of Arkansas. The fact that numerous grassroots spaces like info shops self-identify as “zine libraries/making space” hints at the force at play. Given that was 30 years ago, there’s always an excuse why it’s not the same today. The internet. Deforestation. Ego Trips Are Bad for Children (and other living Beings too)

Fluke made only five issues during the ‘90s, when it seemed like everyone made a zine. It was later, when most people ran to video and web design, that he came back and intensified his efforts in publishing. Matt’s life was in disarray; a failed love relationship, struggles with addiction, becoming a parent and the general problems of life made him double down on what inspired him to act. The return to Fluke helped to signify the music he loved, the diaspora of Little Rock freaks and the uplifting of other creative projects from graffiti to underground film.

Matt recently came to the East Bay upon the release of Fluke #19 which is a beast of a new issue. It shows how sustained effort makes results. “I started this issue in December 2018. I did two issues since then as well as starting a publishing company where I published ten other zines. (Which includes works from Phoenix artist NXOEED, Hawaiian punker New Wave Chicken and fallen wild man Matt Limo Zine). “This has been something I’ve been working on in the background (the whole time).”

Matt is a tall guy with a large frame. Almost a mini giant. His speech is languid with hints of a Southern twang but not quite with the generic flourish you get with a speaker from the Mississippi or Texas. It’s a voice of a laborer who plows through tasks. His words are measured. “And then dealing with self doubt…dealing with any type of personal issues I may have had at the time. Those always come into play.”

Issue #19 has none of the dear diary personal demons of its maker often associated with ‘90s zines. The new issue is interviews with people who make Mail Art — that is art sent through the post office. A niche scene of creators not too far from the punk scene that he dedicated the previous eighteen issues. He describes the commonality being “People sharing ideas and art.” Many of those he interviewed first heard about Mail Art in the early 1970s in an article in Rolling Stone Magazine. It is an underground art movement that has slowly attracted new practitioners over time & space.

“They are strangers at first but become friends and form common bonds. They share couch space. They travel and do events across the country…and in the world.” This issue talks to people in San Francisco, Vancouver, Sweden & Japan. Some felt their work at the time was outside the mainstream definition of “Fine Art” but are also content to be where they are.

“People tell me I have no audience for Mail Art — its not really gonna work out. There have been times I wanted to throw it in the trash and not even do it.”

Zines often cover “who cares” type of things and attempts to get the rest of us to. Fluke is one of the many publications taking cue from the zine Cometbus in content as well as form. The first issues of that zine championed local Berkeley bands. It quickly led to pages magnifying the hangouts, personalities and lifestyle of punks as well as the freaks around town. Cometbus came from & covered one of America’s most offbeat grassroots communities that was transformed by the 1960’s — as it went through a slow boil into a yuppie MK Ultra soup of today. It took the Bay Area funk, style and intelligence outside the imaginary bubble. It helped popularize exploring new cities, dumpster diving and overdosing on coffee. It’s one thing to proclaim “revolution” and a whole ‘nother thing to demonstrate it. Cometbus turned forty in 2021, yet it continues to be in production. This whole time shifting focus and approach, yet keeping punk and a community freak vibe as foundation. It has inspired thousands of zine-writers to get to work. Often the zines are pale imitators, making the same things Cometbus writes about seem lifeless, dull and self indulgent. Ah ‘90s zines. Fluke started off looking like Cometbus but with issue #19 it is making a firm step up. The new issue shows how good it is to bust out of a niche scene playing with mirrors. It’s not just a zine interviewing zines or punks doing secret handshakes to other punks. 

“Gathering all the information, piecing it all together…It’s been a labor of love for me. I love to persevere and see it come to fruition. I love to prove my own self-doubt wrong. It came out way better than I imagined.”

The new issue is surprisingly handsome. Many pages are full color and on glossy paper. None of the interviews are overly long or repetitive. And the whole thing is priced in the $5 range — to counter the trend of everyone raising prices and lowering quality. A path that new zines seem to follow to only end up having their hard work be ignored.

In the tradition of the subject matter of Mail Art, each issue has a cool old stamp posted inside. But the fun of making a zine doesn’t end so easily. “This is just half-way through the process.” Meaning sending out orders, visiting stores that carry zines and other such tasks. At one point Matt endeavored to send out a piece of mail each day. Not just zines but letters, postcards — you know the things people do with their phones these days. This eventually lead to Matt’s adventure to find caches of unused stamps in the numerous estate sales on hand. An activity necessitated by the outrageous fee increases forwarded by the Trump-appointed Postmaster General Louis DeJoy (everyone hiss). It’s a lot of work that only a few people appreciate.

Matt’s visit to the Bay Area brings to mind the historic visit of first wave English punk band The Clash. In between shows they were taken to Mt. Tamalpais. It is one of the Bay Area’s most distinctive landmarks whose shape is said to be that of a woman reclining. A Native American princess. Man what a way of first meeting California. In busted-ass homage Matt was taken to Indian Rock — a place he had never seen despite his love for the area. Outside of the North Berkeley Pegasus Books (where they refused to carry his or any zine on their shelf) — with it’s small town sleepy suburb thing going on it is a short but steep climb to reach. Another world is there above the trees and roofs. Line of sight to the Golden Gate Bridge, “the City”, Oakland…Richmond, Marin and the aforementioned Mt. Tam. It’s good to get a little high after a bunch of long days laboring over these art projects. And what a spot to contemplate this “civilization” that we fight for AND against everyday. It’s daunting to think sometimes where it’s all going — but a whole ‘nother thing to think how short of a time it’s been this way. All this human development….-barely 150 years. Often we hope for change to make improvements on our condition only to be met with the joke being on those who care.

With the advent of access to the cheaper technology of the last twenty five years, we had a short run where activist organizations were in full bloom against the big corporations (Anyone remember Indy Media?). Only in these last few years to see an explosion of small time thugs doing startup media and pushing the right wing opinion forever and ever Amen. The new indy media of today is funded by the Koch Brothers, Raytheon and Bayer.

The Clash made it to Mt. Tam from the dire conditions of 1970s England. Poverty. Racism. War. Perhaps society was really gonna collapse at the time. A toxic cocktail that a small group of friends transformed into something that helped them get out of the prison of their world and to the other side of the planet. In the process they reach millions of dissatisfied people who were ready to give up. Their music and the movement of the moment gave them a way outta no way. Though Fluke zine started as a small group like a band, it says much how one person continues to do it. Much like how Slingshot as one person (because let’s be real, presently it’s not really a collective) is able to make things happen and open doors for other people struggling. The threat of collapse is very much on people’s mind today.

-“Its funny doing a magazine-a publication..it always seems to drive itself. It directs me where it wants to go and I listen to it. It’s good to build something from the ground up. And now that it’s out it is half-way through the lifespan.”

Back home where he lives now in Phoenix, Arizona— it is a life without much fanfare for the maker of a fanzine. Day job, kids, and, at best, trips to the post office downtown where he can then celebrate the day at his favorite cafe. As Matt is filling orders for zines he dreams out loud about future issues of Fluke. Is anyone else thinking positively about the future?
…Um, show not tell

Matthew Thompson 
Fluke Fanzine
PO Box 1547
Phoenix, AZ 85001

a12 – Don’t be a zine-o-phobe

How did we end up having a page regularly dedicated to an archaic way of communicating? Well, in some ways Slingshot started off as a zine. These are a sample of the things you can read at our space Long Haul. Get us while we’re hot. Otherwise you can reach out to these publishers and get a copy sent to your squat. For best results make your own publication and send it in for trade. I’m pretty sure we would like to carry a copy at Long Haul as well.

Turning the Tide January-March 2021

$20 per year – 4 issues

PO Box 1055

Culver City, CA 90232

The articles in this 30-year old quarterly are a mixed bag of academic writings, news, and a little history. Despite the mixed quality of the reprinted material, the hard news here is rock solid, making it a worthwhile read. The cover article, written by Mumia Abu-Jamal, is a poetic reflection from December regarding the literal and metaphorical coldness of death row. It comes paired with a more dense piece by Dave Lindorff from Counterpunch.org with a synopsis of Mumia’s most recent appeals. The article on conditions at a Connecticut Women’s Prison was short but even more powerful. The piece on Assange is also reprinted from Counterpunch.org but we can forgive this, as the paper is distributed free to more than a thousand prisoners, who generally lack access to this material.

The Spring issue feature is ‘United Snakkkes in Africa’. It revisits history over 2-full newsprint pages to explain the persistent problem of making the U.S.A. adhere to treaties. It’s not an academic debate. The president of Ghana, Akufo-Addo is allowing the US to operate a military base within its borders, and simultaneously making a semantic argument that he isn’t. The abstract will be enough for some, but quoting 1960s Al Wilson lyrics warrant a deeper dive. 

‘Trump’s Big Lie’ was a genuinely strong analysis written before the attempted putsch and with great foresight. But the article ‘Was 9/11 An Inside Job?’ kind of drags down the mood in the room. I appreciate that Turning the Tide has the chutzpah to publish a rebuttal article, but a full page on this tired conspiracy is overmuch. Like Sasquatch and trickle-down economics, that mythology has had more than enough airtime. The Betteridge law applies here: Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word “No.” 

(Jose Fritz)

Razorcake February-March 2021

$23 per year – 6 issues

PO Box 42129

Los Angeles, CA 90042

It’s a beautiful thing when an utterly obscure indie rock band from Minneapolis lands on the glossy cover of a magazine. As a writer, it makes you feel like all things are possible: that art can elevate the artist, acceptance can cure broken hearts, that wars can end and that even exiled poets can, one day, return to their homelands. But it’s exactly the kind of hopefulness we’ve all come to expect from Razorcake.

The columnists this time around cover buying LPs on Discogs, writing autobiographical suicide novels, and the struggle to achieve normalcy in sex work. These writers are peeling off their skin and pointing out the holes inside. To quote Lorde Jayne “Sometimes accepting that you are worth something is fucking hard… Love hurts not because of the possibility of being rejected, but because of the mindfuck that is unconditional acceptance.” 

There is this vague idea that punk rock is about freedom of expression and personal autonomy and that the validity of art is inherent in its creation and not contingent on its acceptance by any broader consumer audience. To that I say— amen brothers and sisters. Twenty years ago they dedicated themselves to DIY Punk, and to unheard voices. Then they double down with over 20 pages of record reviews. Will the cover of Razorcake propel your band to superstardom —the land of good blow, leather pants and self-indulgence? No. But that’s never been the idea.

The writing here is often insightful, relevant, and sometimes even existential. But I gravitate more toward the visceral moments: like when Angus Wonder Of It All describes an incident on stage in ‘One Punk’s Guide to Sludge Metal’ with the Maileresque phrase “No reverberberberberberb …turnnn offff the fuckingggg reverberberberberberb…”

(Jose Fritz)

Fifth Estate Fall 2020

$15 per year – 4 issues

PO Box 201016

Ferndale, MI 48220

Published political writing always strikes me as implicitly hopeful. Hope is a complicated human phenomenon. The hopeful all believe that that the human capacity for change is real and that their cause is just and can prevail. So where cynics and misanthropes alternately see anger and disappointment, Fifth Estate beams a gritty brand of optimism by virtue of merely existing. 

By extension, Rui Preti and Stephen Cline don’t examine Minneapolis street protests for purely detached academic reasons. This is live from the trenches. They’re advocating for meaningful reforms. [Cline for his part writes like a poet, which is apropos as he also co-edits the very artful journal Peculiar Mormyrid.]

Frank Joyce explores The 1619 Project. Bruce Trigg discusses the success and failure of the U.S. public health system in its mixed Covid-19 response. Fran Shor hits the same topic in great depth, drawing strength in the metaphors from the book The Plague by Albert Camus. While they all condemn institutional failures, they praise civic solidarity in equal measure. Shor wasn’t alone in realizing the parallels there, but he had a more didactic and constructive vision than Vox and the Boston Review. Bill Weinberg’s ‘Two Faces of Fascism’ was just potent and insightful. You can lose a whole afternoon reading this way.

But by comparison, derisive anti-civ articles like Steve Kirk’s ‘Life and Rewilding in the Pandemic’ strike a dissonant chord. Hyperbole is inherently ironic and therefore cynical. However unpleasant cubicles may be, referring to them as “foam-insulated death-boxes of efficiency” are difficult to take seriously. 

The emotional value of celebrating civil disobedience, or an alternative lifestyle is very different from wallowing in being disaffected and/or marginalized. Sure, obstacles and opposition are very real, and so is the sense of loss. But the other side of the equation is far more potent in effecting change. Fifth Estate is at its very best when it plays to that strength. On a good day it’s a testament to hope, resistance, and humanity. Thank you for coming to my TED talk.

(Jose Fritz)

New Wave Chicken #9 – $4

PO Box 880081 

Pukalani, HI 96788

I do remember the 80s. But now, decades later, the images now seem dim; like that single yellow bulb on the bathroom ceiling at CBGBs. Next door there used to be an art gallery, CB’s 313 Gallery. There it was, art and punk side by side at 313 and 315 Bowery. Yes, I was there, and I met Joey Ramone too, but it was a long time ago, and despite that, what I remember most are Hammer pants and Max Headroom.

Steve Hart remembers the 1980s with an insight and a gravitas that I do not. Where other zinesters recall kitschy toys, and Saturday morning cartoons, Hart drags out the punk and hardcore flyers from a milk crate in the basement. It’s a bit incongruous with his modern life as a Hawaiian chicken farmer; but so be it. It’s his own life narrative that connects all the stories. To that extent New Wave Chicken might technically be called a perzine.

We all have our strong suits. Not every painter is a writer and vice versa. But still, an artist’s perspective on their own work is usually interesting. Both Michael Banks and Michael Peoples commented on the self-expressive purpose of art in general. Peoples displayed an amazing level of self-awareness, spelling out that he felt “…artists in the social justice genre are saying more in the moment than my own work.” Travis D. Simmons waxed philosophical and talked shop about mixed media and materials. (As you might expect, he turned out to be a Skinny Puppy fan.) Still there were some duds. Hudley Flipside shared some less than notable poetry. 

The best pieces here are the interviews that dig into the connection between music and visual art. Al Garr, Ross Sewage, and Mark Ottens each spoke at length on the bands that inspire them and the art they made for those bands. Ottens stands out even among that lot; an artist, writer and musician. A man with tales of cancer, boys with rabies in Bangladesh, the bird of paradise, and the strangely universal experience of listening to punk cassettes in a car, with the windows down, in a Grand Rapids Walgreens parking lot. 

So what’s the answer? What drives these artists to create art? Is the urge to create just innate, like breathing,? Mark Otten came the closest to answering it. He said “Perhaps we end up doing what we do because of all the things we cannot do… We have to do something, and maybe then, I do just what I can.” 

(Jose Fritz)

Razorcake

Issue 123, August/September 2021

$23 per year – 6 issues

PO Box 42129

Los Angeles, CA 90042

This month Razorcake has the Mummies proudly on the cover. You probably first head of the Mummies from their Shitsville 7-Inch in 1990, or that Fuck the Mummiesbootleg in 1991. Perhaps, it’s that image on the cover of Never been Caught of 4 men wrapped head to toe in rags with the drummer and bassist atop a 1963 Bonneville Ambulance with the band name emblazoned along the side door. They never suffered from an excess of subtlety. It’s inevitable that some people will first encounter The Mummies that time they were on the cover of Razorcake way back in the Summer of 2021. Garage rock has been with us for over 50 years but the good stuff never dies. It just gets wrapped in rags to shamble across the stage with a couple cheap Fender guitars and a rented 50 watt PA. 

The pinnacle of the issue is a picture of Karoline and Robert Collins posed like Grant Wood’s American Gothic painting. Instead of symbolizing rural austerity, they both wear black face masks, and Karoline is in a “Hell is Here” T-shirt. They stand in Wonder Valley, in the Mojave desert. The mood is post-apocalyptic. You know her by her legendary photography. But her first words in the interview are “I like to shoot people.” 

The interviews in this issue were really strong. Jon Moritsugu and Amy Davis show us how to build an indie film career with a $300 camcorder. Then we have 5 pages of Q& A with Milky Wimpshake, who turn out to be collectively pretty quotable. But it’s Pete that goes straight for the cults and politics. Ironically, it was the young ingenue Emily Timm who had the more insightful comments on ageism. The piece dovetails nicely with the Sized Up interview, an exchange wholly predicated on the 40+ contingent having the enduring ability to perform and tour like they are still young and immortal. 

As you may have noticed, the ontology of the gracefully aging punk has become a running theme in Razorcake. They tread carefully on the topic, avoiding any mawkish preening or overt pandering. I find their expeditions into punk nostalgia simultaneously ironic and engaging. But I may be biased; I resemble that remark. 

(Jose Fritz)

No Touching $4

antiquatedfuture.com

I think I don’t like poetry. The Slingshot collective has a lame policy of not liking poetry. But for different reasons. I find it hard to invest in re-reading books and shit. Re-reading is the secret sauce to unraveling delight and awe from poetry. My problem is I’m this consuming machine — always going forward. But perhaps if I lived in Slab City or some place more sparse on info and stimuli I could invest the time needed to appreciate the art form. Thankfully this zine is very brief so in some ways it’s like a Zen koan or a set from a rockin’ band that is on stage just long enough to make you want more. Also the unusual shape makes it stand out. One of the three pieces here is heavy with grief. Oh man no wonder why poetry is hard to read. Proceeds of this goes to the Berkeley Free Clinic. When people go there to check for STDs they should be given a copy of No Touching. OK Bad Joke.

(eggplant)

Node Pajomo # 2.6

Attn: Box Holder

PO Box 2632

Bellingham, WA 98227-2632

Most people will pick this up and be pretty confused. 36 pages filled only with reviews of things with funny names. Well some of the pages of text are interrupted by old photos captioned with bits of dadaistic writing. Total confusion. This is a functional document for a particular segment of freakiness. It’s a directory of outsider art, underground pamphleteers, zines, tape traders, mail art. It’s where you go when you got some stamps and a desire to see something unusual come to your address.

It’s a one-man operation here. We don’t know who it is but they sign off as “PJM”. And the guy is losing steam. For good reason. It’s an exhaustive effort. Every item is given consideration. Even if the music makes his ears ring or if the zine written in French just passes through his eyes and skips his brain. Passages from this issue skipped my brain a few times and I had to reread some parts. It got better the 2nd time. 

If I could suggest to the editor two ways to entice people more: one would be to reprint the covers or some piece of notable artwork from these items. You know, the whole show not tell. I have often read a review of something in other zines then looked at the cover they reprinted and wanted to read about the thing. The other thing to do is more ambitious. Every issue he could stretch out a review or general write-up, highlighting who makes a thing and where it’s from. A short interview, a still life drawing of the author, etc. Whet our interests even more of these outsiders, and what they make.

(eggplant)

Papercore #5

c/o CIRA

50 rue Consolat

13001 Marseille France

It’s worth being excited to see a new issue. It has a punk edge. Consistent. Large format so lots of space. The cover is always silk screened, this time with 3 colors. Always seems to be international. This one has voices from Burma, Spain, France & England — probably more. All written in English. Some of it is translated so goofy words & sentences surface at times. The zine is open to contributors but not to being reprinted on the internet. The fighting spirit put on paper that’s worth upholding.

I found this issue disappointing though. It starts with a lashing of a punk scene celebrity for being abusive, then you get a report on bands playing around France with everything just listed off with no illumination of what their sounds evoke or who is moved by it. Then questions to punks in Burma of what its like being punk under military oppression, and then perspectives of a sketch artist filling up time during social distancing lockdown. Vegan recipes and zine reviews wrap up the last pages. Nothing outstanding this time but…maybe you have something for it next issue. The writing this time around made me think that its by people who came to punk from some pre-fabricated place. It didn’t come across wild. Free. It’s been awhile since zines and newsspapers were made by such people. Those people are usually out getting into trouble to bother with the hardships that come with projects like this. I’m still eager to see the next issue.

(eggplant)

Nevermore! V. 1 March 2021

nevermorezine@riseup.net

What does it mean…anarchism? It’s one of the great boogeymen of the modern era. Reviled by the Trump regime and those who wish to protect the statues of the war state. There must be something about anarchist thought or action that is really really dangerous. Well, you won’t find it in this issue. No, the purpose of the 28 pages here is in contemplating Covid 19 and how governments worldwide use similar measures to curtail our freedom in the name of the dreaded virus. There is a lot of opposition here to lockdowns, social distancing, surveillance and screen time. There’s also plenty of energy eviscerating governments but very little in the way of figuring what the world will look like without them or how to get there. An age old problem, but given the latest untenable crisis everyone is up against, pretty essential.

The eleven articles are mixed in quality. Made up of international communiques (Chile, Canada, Greece, USA) so at least two of them have the excuse of being translated into English. In many spots, the writing is generic radical jargon. Be prepared to labor through fistwaving at “technocrats,’ “corporate executives,” “bureaucrats,” the media and sold-out scientists. It’s the language of alienation. There’s one argument questioning scientists and some study. If this makes you yawn like it does me, hang in there — at times there is some good ideas. Like simple observations how fear and shame are ruling the day in everyone’s obedience to power.

Most of the writing doesn’t have a name attached to it, what is referred to with the phrase “by-line”. Maybe not a problem for some readers…but man, that one article completely written in the first person; GET OUT OF MY HEAD WILL YOU

The first person form of writing isn’t so great, especially when an article dwells on ideas that are disagreeable or badly organized. Having no one attached to a piece of writing really conveys that no one is in fact writing it. Isn’t there some AI program that ghost writes anarchist rants by now? Having a name to a piece of writing gives some sense of where it is coming from in much the same way when publications puts a date and address to their work. Perhaps by subverting this, it is an attempt to seem universal. The whole thing feels like it came from the universe. Man.

The other wasted space here is two pieces of what some people would call poems. One resembles a series of slogans and the other resembles the time that crazy person unloaded their anxiety by ranting at me nonstop. Not the poetry of symbols and decorated communication, of meaning that can reach people across time and country and  compel them into contemplation. Here is the poetry of a busted ass cafe open mic.

That’s the worst of it. Some people will eat it up. Those who hunger for Crimethinc-like grand statements into vagueness, the quasi academic flag burning and killing of inner cops, the sort of anonymous zines you see at the free table at the fringes of fringe book fairs will be at home here. And hey!! it looks good. The pages are large with ample room for big words that you don’t have to squint to read. Its tastefully balanced with lots of graphics– some of which are original and in full color. Oh yeah, it’s glossy. Full-color Glossy. So kinda like a museum catalog more than the work made from a speed-freak pirating copies from a corporation xerox machine. If they keep the presentation up and their fight-the-system thrust….and maybe work on the writing and ideas some…this may become essential reading.

The March issue arrived right when Slingshot and the rest of the Bay Area entered into the vaccination phase of the pandemic. A complete shift went across the land at this time, taking us from house arrest to curtailed freedoms. This publication was immediately hard to read for it spoke of a world people were trying quick to forget. The No Hugs Goodbye, No Bars or Sport Events World. People having to cut their own fucking hair or have their fucking kids sleep in on a Monday. That world was expected to go away with the Orange Menace. But this folly is what comes with doing print projects in the age of constant instant news. It’s old before you write it.

Another failed aspect is how it fails to peer into the paradox of the pandemic. Dare I say it….shit like how in 2019 wearing a mask at protests was edging closer to being an act of terror…then after the great world-wide lockdown…and still to this day…it’s the norm for normies to mask up at protests — or otherwise. And I think they’re starting to like it. Could it be that common people are coming closer to anarchist practices? That’s why this review opens with asking “what is anarchism?” Is it just disguising your face from cops, Proud Boys and the Whole Foods theft management? Is it graffiti? Is it free mass transit? Is it publishing something only a dozen people can understand?

 How are we just repeating what somebody else said was the way to go?

Does this anarchism that we are celebrating transgress outside the borders of its cage in Wikipedia? The subtitle of Nevermore! is it’s a “Journal of Heresy and Thoughtcrime.” This issue didn’t have much of either. But if we keep watching it, perhaps we will be outraged out of inaction by their pages to come.

(eggplant)

Shades of Glass In Your Eye #16 $3

PO Box 7831 Beverly Hills, CA. 90212

A couple decades ago, a Midwest absurdist moved to Los Angeles and started this zine, blending journal-like observations, jokes and activities. She throws everything at the wall, endeavoring to delight readers and cause a giggle. A lot of it is quite silly given its highlight here in an activist paper. But as the man says, “Warriors….Come out and play-yay!”

(eggplant)

Taco Rat #1

po box 790728

San Antonio, TX 78279

TacoRatSAtX@gmail.com

In my day when the world was going to hell and everyone in power was corrupt we would turn to weird art. Appreciate it or make it. This is in that tradition. From San Antonio Texas which apparently is a land of tacos. Friends of mine say we should boycott everything from thsi place given the rabid Republican agenda coming form there. Well Taco Rat has none of that shit instead there are pages dedicated to a public sculptor artist, music, underground movie makers and the ancient history of cable TV.

A good balance of words and art, computer graphics and hand made images all of done in classic cut & paste technique. Its hard to tell if more issues of this will come out. It’s maker Mike Scholarry is also running a record label, constantly making music and probing the wasteland. I’m surprised he has time to read the books or watch the movies he reviews here. I think the 20th Century phrase is that Mike is firing on all cylinders. The door is open for to jump on his ride…though you will likely end up on a musical collaboration with Mike and have your blood sweat and tears saluted in the next Taco Rat.

(eggplant)

Letterfounder #202 & 203

PO Box 392

Lewiston, Maine 04243

Each issue of this zine use various styles of texts to…essentially..help you play with your head. Sometimes there is alittle art. Mostly you will find rants, reprints from old books, dreams, poems. Brain farts. Apparently it comes out every month. These issues are part of a spirit zine addendum. Here is historical accounts of tracking time, fortune cookie wisdom,history, science…you know all that shit.

(eggplant)

Aysmmetrical Anti-Media #13 $1

PO Box 10894

Albany NY 12201

This one is filled with reviews — much like Node Pajomo but with not as many things to read. Less to clutter your head. Compiled by Jason Rodgers who is also a critical theorist that bends towards surrealism. He usually channels this in manifestos and collage art — though this time around the pages are just processing zines, tapes, mail art, CD’s & books. Some titles include: French Werewolves, Cryptic Stench, Wite Out, Synapse,: a zine about Mental Health, Catharsis, The Secret of the Moon’s Rotation, Communicating Vessels, Forgotten Memories.

(eggplant)

How did we end up having a page regularly dedicated to an archaic way of communicating? Well, in some ways Slingshot started off as a zine. These are a sample of the things you can read at our space Long Haul. Get us while we’re hot. Otherwise you can reach out to these publishers and get a copy sent to your squat. For best results make your own publication and send it in for trade. I’m pretty sure we would like to carry a copy at Long Haul as well.

The Clash made it to Mt. Tam from the dire conditions of 1970s England. Poverty. Racism. War. Perhaps society was really gonna collapse at the time. A toxic cocktail that a small group of friends transformed into something that helped them get out of the prison of their world and to the other side of the planet. In the process they reach millions of dissatisfied people who were ready to give up. Their music and the movement of the moment gave them a way outta no way. Though Fluke zine started as a small group like a band it says much how one person continues to do it. Much like how Slingshot as one person (because lets be real presently its not a collective) is able to make things happen and open doors for other people struggling. The threat of collapse is very much on people’s mind today.

a10 – Patriarchy is Cute! Culture of domination marketed as endearing timeless fantasies

By Steve Brady

As ugly as a teenage millionaire, pretending it’s a whiz kid world …”

-David Bowie, “Teenage Wildlife”

Trying to be a palatable dude, I was reading bell hooks’s The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love. I came across this fascinating bit:

“While feminism may ignore boys and young males, capitalist, patriarchal men do not. It was adult, wealthy white males in this country who first read and fell in love with the Harry Potter books … J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books are clever modern reworkings of the English schoolboy novel. Harry as our modern day hero is the super smart, gifted, blessed white boy genius (a mini patriarch) … the Harry Potter movies glorify the use of violence to maintain control over others … “

From someone who writes a lot about love, that’s some beautiful hate! I never found the franchise that interesting: I read a chapter or two of the first book then it wandered off into the recesses of the punk house, and someone took me to the first movie but I don’t remember the story. All too bland to even dislike. But in 2004, long before Rowling became notorious for public transphobia, bell hooks saw the looming patriarchal potential there. She continues:

Of course American children were bombarded with an advertising blitz telling them they should read these books. Harry Potter began as national news sanctioned by mass media. Books that do not re-inscribe patriarchal masculinity do not get the approval the Harry Potter books have received … The phenomenal financial success of Harry Potter means that boys will henceforth have an array of literary clones to choose from.” 

At this I realized two other very successful books I hate, Ready Player One and The Road, convey the same brand of isn’t-that-cute patriarchy—why do people I respect see visions of a better, more beautiful world in these things? Something strange is going on.

Marketing a game novel myself, I heard I should cite Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One as a comparable title. There’s some superficial similarities—find an artifact in a game to control the real world—and the movie was tolerable by Hollywood standards. So I got Ready Player One from the local library … and I was like OMG, it just replaced The Road as the most overrated book in English. 

Disturbingly and offensively bad, it’s a sorta Game-Lit Fifty Shades of Grey, but while the latter was a guilty pleasure, people actually claim this blockbuster debut novel is good. I looked up some articles by people who hated it, and none of them touched on what was horrible to me: 

It starts with fifty pages of sheer backstory tell. Common advice to beginners: your world isn’t as original as you think, and you need an actual story. Or at least throw in an active sentence every page or so. It’s already risky to depend on pure world-building, but Cline doesn’t have a particularly good world. Nor protagonist: it takes me fifty pages to even dislike the guy. 

Yet what most offends me is that the boy supposedly lost his useless parents young, has maybe one friend and no early positive attachment, and while a damaged person can have a good heart, this guy is eager, chipper and industrious. Research since the Vietnam War has shown that trauma resilience comes from human connection. Instead he’s pulling himself up by his bootstraps in the style of Horatio Alger—oh, that’s why those other critics attack him on class, gender and race stuff. Did y’all ever have to write an autobiographical essay in high school? This reads like a privileged twit turning in a hastily written Prank essay. 

Yet as bell hooks might predict: 

Ernest Cline, a self proclaimed Star Wars fan, writer of the film Fanboys, has nabbed a six-figure upfront deal for his first novel Ready Player One. Warner Bros. in conjunction with De Line Pictures won the bidding war for rights to the sci-fi adventure book shortly after Cline just secured publishing rights with Random House.” (fusedfilm.com)

#

The Road isn’t a whiz kid novel, but some of the same issues continue. Cormac McCarthy, from movie adaptations I’ve seen, writes Modern Westerns. Let’s just say he centers the experience of white people. The Road is a bit different: a father leads his male child through a post-cataclysmic wasteland where the only other people are bands of unfriendly cannibals. Kinda a white-male-individualist version of the second half of Parable of the Sower.

The first thing I noticed was that not only was the book fairly thin, there was a severe excess of white space on the pages. At 59K words, he’s marketed a novella as a novel, which he can do because of his previous successes. Add the non-use of quotation marks and other annoyances. 

In a world of total evil and chaos, one relationship is the only source of goodness and meaning: a father protecting his son. Isn’t that adorable? From a more thoughtful writer perhaps it could be, but here, we remember that “patriarchy” comes from “patri”: it means that government, religion and business should be modeled on an authoritarian fatherhood. Thus this shining surviving example of fatherhood is the grain of sand from which proper reality can be restored. 

Although the text does not explicitly mention climate change, The Guardian listed it as one of the five best climate change novels[20] and George Monbiot has called it “the most important environmental book ever written” for depicting a world without a biosphere. (Wikipedia)

Well Cline’s sure pulled off something clever here. He repackaged the most tired cliches of the post-apocalyptic genre for the literary fiction crown, and they’ve eaten it up, even while they still claim science fiction is shallow pulp (see Kurt Vonnegut’s essay “Science Fiction”). And no it doesn’t mention or relate to climate change: the cause of the disaster is unspecified to cowardly attempt to avoid “politics,” not realizing that patriarchy is political. 

#

Hey, I’m not that woke. I’ve enjoyed Hemingway, Robert E. Howard, and Heinlein; I appreciate a well-written thoughtful book written by someone with very different values than me. These don’t make the cut. Why are they ultra-successful? Was bell hooks not far off the mark when she stopped just short of claiming a conspiracy to shove this stuff down our kids’ throats?

We want fantasy and sci-fi to inspire us with visions of a better world. One way to co-opt that is to pull the same liberal trick: not only a privileged elite living in a fantasy world, but the rest us aspiring to be like them, thinking that’s what it is to be “truly human.”

So the running theme is that, to the surprise of many of us, the epitome of toxic masculinity isn’t James Bond or Rambo, it’s a smug and annoying male child or teenage boy. Is it that old idea that traditional boys don’t have to grow up? Some boys: you may have noted how the media portrays a Black boy as a criminal adult and a white teen as a confused and misguided child. Something like that, but even with men who manage themselves well, every empire, whether military or corporate, is built around protecting a damaged boy from reality and intimacy.

They’ll spend a lot of money getting us to adore that cute boy. But when we expose him as the Man Behind the Curtain, we can bring anarchy to Oz. 

a10 – Another Option – radical space tour

Compiled by Jesse D. Palmer

The 2022 Slingshot organizer Radical Contact List was printed in June, 2021, and since then we’ve uncovered the following additions and corrections.  Community spaces and the radical social networks they represent are some of the only threads pushing back against a suicidal system bend on gobbling up the world’s resources and sucking our lives dry with its soulless jobs.  The apocalypse is not yet inevitable, but we’re running out of time to organize and fight back. 

Radical spaces offer another option – a creative place where we can hatch plans and nurture each other. The pandemic has been hard on counter-cultural projects grounded in un-mediated human contact. A lot of the projects in the Radical Contact List depend on a trickle of new folks constantly joining up — and this pipe has run dry the last 2 years. So if you’re near one of these projects, by all means introduce yourself, volunteer for a shift, drop off some cash and schedule an event. (Hint hint – if you’re in the East Bay, Long Haul and Omni Commons want to meet you.) 

If you know of a new space opening up or you catch an error in the contact list, email slignshotcollective@protonmail.com  The most updated Radical Contact List information is at slingshotcollective.org/contacts. 

Sperryville ARTist Cooperative – Sperryville, VA 

An artist gallery coop that hosts events and resident driven community art projects and causes. 3 River Lane, Studio 1a, Sperryville, VA 22740 540-987-9288 livingsky.org 

Radical Mental Health Collective – Rhode Island

Mental health providers & educators “who radically believe in a free world & alternative space to the oppressive healthcare system.” They have a post-demo arrest, jail and court mental health support line. 1155 Westminster St Ste 205 Providence, RI 02909 401-484-7885 rmhrci.org

Lions Tooth – Milwaukee, WI

Bookstore / cafe that hosts events. Features small press books and graphic novels.  Open Mon-Sat 11-7 Sun 11-5 2421 S Kinnickinnic Ave. Milwaukee, WI 53207 414-455.3498 lionstoothmke.com

F12 Infoshop – Charlottesville, VA

Self-described leftist, anarchist, antifascist shop selling books, zines, records, stickers and other sources of radical information. 1740 Broadway St. Studio West, Suite 12 Charlottesville, VA 22902 f12infoshop@ gmail.com

Thatsocialcentre collective – Dublin, Ireland

A library / infoshop space: “We have occupied an empty corner … houses, warehouses, caravans and wide open space. What more could you want? Its time once again to take a space that has been left to rot by profiteers and turn it into a place of energy, community and resistance!” They seek to host events and resist eviction. 57 Aughrim St, Stoneybatter, Dublin 7, Ireland Thatsocialcentre @protonmail.com.

Grassroots Al-Quds – Jerusalem, Palestine

A non-profit that supports Palestinian sumoud (steadfastness and resilience) in Al-Quds (Jerusalem) that makes maps, sponsors tours and creates educational media. 9 Harun Al-Rashid St. Jerusalem, Palestine +972-2-966-5655 grassrootsalquds.net

BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency & Refugee Rights – Bethlehem, West Bank, Palestine

An independent, human rights non-profit organization committed to protect and promote the rights of Palestinian refugees and internally displaced persons. Karkafa St. (down from Bethlehem Hotel) Bethlehem, West Bank, Palestine badil.org

A.M. Qattan Foundation – Ramallah, Palestine

An independent, not-for-profit developmental organization with a social center working in the fields of culture and education, with a particular focus on children, teachers and young artists. 27 An-Nahda Women Association St. Al-Tira- Ramallah, Palestine qattanfoundation.org

Okupa El Banco – Mexico City

A squatted bank that hosts tons of events. Av. Lourdes 176 55130 Ecatapec de Morelos CDMX el.banco.sanagus@gmail.com

Corrections to the 2022 Organizer

• Oops – the Las Vegas Zine Library was left out of organizer – The address is 4505 S Maryland Pkwy Las Vegas, Nevada 89119.

• Little Read Book lost their space – their new mailing address is PO Box 18997 Denver, CO 80218. They can mail free books to prisoners and ask that inmates tell them: 1.) type of books allowed at your facility (new/used, hardcover/softcover), 2.) how many they can send at once in a package, 3.) what authors or genres you like, 4.) if you are interested in books on radical politics.

• Revolutionary Grounds Books and Coffee is now at 4675 E Speedway Blvd, Tucson, AZ 85712 520-838-0533. 

• We left out South Bend Commons at 1799 Lakewood Terrace SE, Atlanta, GA 30315. 

• Backspace in Fayetteville, AR has closed. 

• The correct phone number for Old Capitol Books in Monterey, CA is 831-747-1322.

• The Matchbox in Minneapolis was left off the contact list by mistake. They are at 1306 2ns St. NE. Minneapolis, MN. 

• Mutiny Info Cafe has opened a second location in Trinidad, Colorado – on I-25 near the border with New Mexico. The space is a coffee shop / book & comic shop / record store and event space.  135 E. Main St Trinidad, CO 

• Rincon Zapatista in Mexico city is no longer a cafe you can go to. It is just a place you can go on Sundays to buy Zapatista products. 

NOTE TO INMATES: The addresses listed are not necessarily able to send you materials unless otherwise noted. 

9 – Blowing in the Wind – considering offshore wind power

By Jesse D. Palmer

Perhaps during scary times like these, our best hope is to focus on love and caring to give us the superpowers we need to avert apocalypse. Corporations, computers and oppressive power structures cannot experience or comprehend love — and therefore it is one of the last things we still have that is beyond their control. Love is the basis for solidarity and community — kryptonite against capitalism’s mindless expansion that threatens to kill us unless we can rise up and stop it in time.

A better world starts with giving a shit — which is really an expression of love for yourself, those around you, and the earth itself. Love isn’t weak or passive or boring — it is fierce, it’s active and requires constant effort, and it’s full of risk and yet exhilaration when it works out. 

All our efforts to defend the earth from climate suicide and to struggle for justice and a better world ultimately start not with a focus on what we’re against — problems and complaints — but rather what we’re for. Life and the world are filled with pleasure, beauty and wonder when they aren’t spoiled by greed, power and inhumane systems. 

I’m writing this not because I’m super optimistic and fired up. No — the last few months I’ve been deeply discouraged and beaten down by so much bad news that it’s hard to see any alternative to doom. I could barely write this article, really. I feel like I’ve been writing the same things for 30 years, and the world keeps getting worse. It seems like we’re all stunned and stuck — incapable of creating a massive uprising at precisely the moment we need it the most. How can we flip the mood so that dread and desperation make us fearless, wild and unburdened — with nothing to lose but our chains?

Mainstream electoral political action, individual lifestyle changes and protest-as-usual feel ridiculous compared to the task of averting climate/ecological collapse and the descent into white supremacist fascism. Climate chaos, economic inequality, racism, disinformation, fascism — each make the other worse and all require dramatic social shifts, not just tinkering. 

A lot of people are ready to do something — but what will work? The problem isn’t mostly political — its social-psychological. We need magic and miracles for a broad-based popular uprising that shifts the structures holding back change. 

While popular movements have been stalled, capitalism is dynamic — every year chewing up more land, emitting more CO2, displacing more people, concentrating more wealth, and placing greater power into fewer hands. The system’s status quo doesn’t mean there’s no change in our lives. Rather, allowing the status quo to remain guarantees rapid harmful change that are out of our hands. 

I find it terrifying and infuriating. The billionaires and their corporations are toying with the future of millions of species — life in the ocean — great cities that will go underwater — a future where we cannot grow enough food. They are playing like a few billions of dollars in shareholder pockets are worth more than redwood trees and whales and bears.

But beyond all these emotions tearing me this way and that way, I sometimes come to a quiet place of determination and certainty. It is up to us. Relying on the system or trying to ignore what is going on is suicide for ourselves and negligent homicide for the species with whom we share this planet. Birds and plants have no way to stop human emissions, but each of us human beings does — in small ways and larger ways. 

We’re in an emergency, which means we have to stop worrying so much about whether our contributions will make a difference and focus on doing anything and everything we can, in every realm, all that the same time. Specifically, this means reversing economic systems and technologies that pollute the earth locally, globally, personally — corporations, plastics, CO2 — all of it. It’s time to stop hoping someone else will do something or blaming this on someone else as an excuse to do nothing. Saving ourselves will require seizing and sharing concentrated wealth and power and addressing historical injustice — lest dictators harness racism and nationalism to turn powerless people against each other. 

We need to aim for solutions that scale and play to win. Putting our energy into projects that are just nibbling at the corners of the system’s power is an admission that we’ve already lost. Those in power don’t play that way – they exaggerate their skills and capacity and then turn in disappointing results. Our side — maybe we think we’re being realistic — too frequently assumes we cannot do anything that matters very much.

The economic and political system has proved that it cannot stop climate change.  More than half of the emissions since 1791 have been over the last 30 years, despite all the climate studies and international meetings during the last 3 decades.

We need to stop letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. We know that capitalism and hierarchy are the problem, but that isn’t an excuse to sit off to the side keeping our consciences and hands clean praying it will all collapse and refusing to participate until it does. Systems don’t topple on their own — they need our help — and it takes persistent work that may not bear fruit right away or be very sexy. 

While capitalism still exists, we have to be pragmatic and do whatever we can within it — while still articulating and promoting a totally different post-capitalist world. We don’t have to choose — we can do both. We no longer have the time or luxury to live in a fantasy theoretical world that only exists in books. Life’s very messy — mostly shades of grey, not black and white — and so if we can cut emissions and fight wealth consolidation by acting now within today’s fundamentally corrupt systems, we have to hold our nose and do what we can.  In some situations it may be possible to promote non-reformist reforms.

About a quarter of US and global emissions are from electrical generation — more than any other single sector globally and second only to transportation in the US. Solar and wind power are finally cheaper than fossil fueled electricity, so a transition is technically and economically feasible, but it’s happening too slowly to avert climate catastrophe. Public pressure and mobilization to support solar and wind and oppose natural gas and coal power plants can make a meaningful difference and are a good place to focus energy. This is especially because power infrastructure is located close to every city and town — these are local struggles. 

As important as opposing pipelines, mines, coal terminals, and fracking is supporting wind and solar installations — and even better to organize with the workers who build them. There is a lot of opposition to anything new — it’s human nature to dislike change and giant industrial developments are often harmful. But we can no longer afford the intellectual laziness of being knee-jerk against every new thing. We have to be open to change when the harms caused by the new technology are clearly less than the harms of existing systems. One needs to carefully study technology to separate greenwashing and false solutions — nuclear power, blue hydrogen, clean coal, carbon capture, natural gas as a bridge fuel — from better technologies like solar and wind. 

A tangible example of a technology with promise is offshore wind. The US currently only has 42 megawatts of installed offshore wind. Meanwhile, the UK has 10,206 megawatts. To decarbonize US electricity, offshore wind has big advantages over land-based windmills since the wind is stronger and blows more consistently at sea. Offshore wind is closer to major population centers on the coasts. It is now possible to install windmills on floating platforms so they can be farther out to sea and located in deeper water, such as off the coast of California, Oregon and Washington. 

It is easy to imagine a lot of people saying “Aw let’s keep the coasts wild, let’s put those windmills somewhere else” but the problem is that if everyone says not in my backyard everywhere, how are we going to ditch fossil fuels? Should windmills only be built near more politically powerless people? Fossil fuel installations mess up the oceans, too — an oil spill is worse than any windmill’s impacts. It’s only fair to compare the real local ecological impacts windmills will have against the global, long-term damage CO2 emissions have on the oceans and all other ecosystems on earth. 

While working on this article I looked at plans under consideration to install floating windmills off the California coast near San Luis Obispo. They would feed power ashore to the current site of the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant, which is scheduled to close in 2025.  Many power lines converge at Diablo Canyon, so putting windmills offshore nearby would avoid the need to build new transmission lines. The floating windmills can be located 17-40 miles offshore, so although they would be visible from shore, they’ll be hard to see. During construction the project would require new port facilities in Morro Bay, and once operational, the windmills will kill some birds and can impact marine life. There’s a good 2021 article from EcoWatch about how offshore wind construction and operation can be done moreecologically that points out that climate change threatens 2/3 of bird species — far away from windmill sites — if windmills are not built. 

This may sound boring, reformist or actually worse than doing nothing — not Slingshot-ty or revolutionary — but I’m tired of limiting myself to symbolism, generalities and always saying “no” to everything. We need to be specific about what we want and realistic that nothing in the real world is going to be perfect. Humans have ecological impacts — no one who has electricity is willing to give it up and those who don’t have it yet want it. There are better and worse choices, and doing nothing is certain doom. 

Grief has five stages — denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance — and we’re going through that now about the need to change how we’re living. When you suggest specific ways of decarbonizing, you hear a lot of denial and bargaining. “The US uses twice as much electricity as other countries — people should conserve first.” “The windmills will be built by corporations — they should be owned publicly.” Fine points —but not valid excuses for delaying construction of windmills and solar to replace fossil fueled electricity. 

It is time to focus on struggles close to home. If you go to a climate protest in San Francisco, you’ll see a lot of signs about Line 3 far away in the midwest — but there’s pipelines and fracking and struggles right here in California. We need to stop protesting just for symbolic value and yet avoid getting too bogged down in the specifics of any particular project — losing sight of the big picture.  Stopping a single pipeline isn’t enough. The fossil fools have figured out they can throw us a few crumbs by stopping a particular pipeline to dissipate public pressure so they can keep their overall system going. 

When I was a teenage radical we protested apartheid in South Africa but couldn’t grapple so well with the racism right in our midst.  A particularly strong part of the Occupy movement 10 years ago was that every town had its own occupation — we didn’t all have to go to Wall Street. That local focus allowed our movement to be much more broad-based, diverse, and at least potentially related to local conditions. Where Occupy stumbled was that we weren’t able to turn popular momentum into tangible economic or political improvements. 

It’s time to ditch protest rituals that depend on shaming and pressuring leaders. If we’ve learned anything, it’s that those in charge have no shame. 

We’re in an emergency — so it’s appropriate to bring up climate, fascism and inequality in all our conversations and social contexts. My friends and I carried climate change protest signs while trick-or-treating with our kids. William Shatner — by far the least socially aware Star Trek actor — made a powerful appeal after going into space on the Amazon space penis: “[We’re] ruining this planet … we’re at the tipping point. We haven’t got time to wait 30 years and argue about a few billion dollars.” We all know this — it’s time to say it out loud and build an uprising stronger than oil companies and inertia. I want every B-grade celebrity to say this stuff. When will climate change be on the front page every day rather than on page A14 just during global summit meetings? 

The seemingly impossible can and must happen now — we’ve gotta get together and overthrow the 1%, share the wealth in fair and lovely ways, and build a new sustainable world. The illogic of endless growth is a cancer that will kill us — but our collective shared passion for life can save us if we can summon the courage.

8 – It’s your call – Phone banking as an organizing tool

By Yvonne Su

While the pandemic and algorithms force organizers to get more creative, there are some tools that don’t go out of style. Organizing begins with talking to people one on one. That hasn’t changed. Electoral campaigns (for candidates and issues) still spend huge amounts of money and people power to knock on doors and make calls. While these campaign goals are mainstream, the conversations from canvassing apply to organizers working toward liberation. My experience calling voters about the California Governor recall gave me a broader perspective on where people are at and how we might move them to join us in the good fight.

Before I began phone banking, I questioned how effective calls would be when so few people now pick up their phones, let alone talk to a stranger. As discouraging as the experience sometimes was, it affirmed the tedious work of making progress. Hearing hundreds of refusals from real people does change you. It also really drives home the idea that moving the needle happens one person, one supporter at a time — tough, but definitely doable.

Between August and September, I made thousands of dials that resulted in hangups and refusals, and talked to about 600 voters. There is nothing at all radical about keeping Governor Gavin Newsom in office, but seeing the amount of work, people and money it takes to keep an elected Democrat in office opened my eyes to how difficult making actual change in this state and country is. The kind of sea change we’d like to see is unlikely to happen electorally, but that doesn’t mean we give up and cede ground to conservatives.

Here are some of my findings from talking to voters:

  • The idea of the next generation being more engaged is appealing, but the truth is they are no less capitalist and selfish than previous generations. Youth still need to be organized, and they can’t be counted as automatic allies. 
  • Your most enthusiastic allies may not be in the constituencies you expect. I found really enthusiastic Asian, Latinx, and older white voters voting NO on the recall, and in some cases, getting their whole family to vote no. This is really the beauty of canvassing: talking to individuals and breaking through the narratives about who your supporters and opponents are. 
  • Even in such an unradical campaign like Stop the Recall, there is still a lot of organizing muscle to exercise, like asking for commitment, staying upbeat and being personable as best as you can.
  • People express their pain points in many different ways. For example, claiming to “do [their] own research” is an expression of distrust in the media. Voting YES on the recall is a way to voice displeasure at how life has been during COVID. Seeing people’s choices as an expression of what hurts them makes the refusals a little easier to take.
  • For a large number of voters, not wanting a Republican governor is a valid reason to vote. What does all this mean for us as organizers? How can we leverage this in our struggle for liberation?

It’s sobering to find out that even within the realm of your supporters, people are lukewarm. My success rate with making volunteer recruitment calls is similar to that with voters, which is that having two or three solid, affirmative conversations per shift is a win. The best thing about recruitment calls is finding out what other supporters are working on. It makes you feel less alone in the change that you are trying to make. On the other hand, trying to get people to make calls can be a hard ask for that exact reason: It’s hard to feel hugely successful as a canvasser. Nonetheless, contact is best made one person at a time, and being honest and direct about what you are asking people to do is best.

Do not sugarcoat the canvassing experience for volunteers! The right people will join you. Even if we are small in numbers, we can build winning margins by ones, tens and hundreds at a time. 

For people who are invested and have the kind of temperament (aka thick skin and short memories) for canvassing, deep canvassing is a great option. Deep canvassing is a technique that grew out of the fight for marriage equality. In the aftermath of Prop 8 in 2008, the Los Angeles LGBT Center talked to voters who were against same sex marriage. They began by asking the voter an open-ended question, then connecting the voter’s story to the cause. It’s the most involved kind of canvassing, but also the most effective at shifting people, because the organizer’s job is to meet people where they are at. 

One of the deep canvassing campaigns I worked on was for the charter amendment in Minneapolis to replace the Police Department with a Department of Public Safety. I talked to two social workers who shared their uncertainty about the amendment and stories of working with the police. 

On the Stop the Recall campaign, I talked to a young voter who identified as apolitical and whose partner was undocumented. Helping him make a plan to vote and talking about what’s at stake for his family was very rewarding — the kind of one-in-hundreds conversations that justifies why we call at all. 

That said, phone banking is not for everyone. Getting refusals and aggression on the phone is hard. People tend to not see callers as real human beings because there’s no face to attach to the voice. It takes a kind of stamina to phonebank because you don’t get the kind of regenerative energy from an in-person action with a group of people.

As much as it can feel like pulling teeth, I will continue to make calls to the extent that I can. The fact is, politicians and elections are not going away anytime soon. And politicians are going to do the rewarding thing instead of the risky and right thing. To enact the change we want to see, we need to move people before or at the same time as we move politicians. 

From talking to people, I found that most are not nearly as radical as we would like them to be. This presents an opportunity for radical organizers to practice speaking plainly about the world we envision and what it would mean for people. For example, many people can’t picture what it would look like to take away power from the police, but they can describe the times they feel safe in their communities. A canvasser can start the conversation from there and plant a seed for abolition, even if it takes thirty conversations to get the person on our side. (Each canvasser is warming up a person for the next canvasser, who might then have more success.)

Once I got over my initial discomfort of cold-calling people, the applications of phone banking became vast. We don’t all have the funds for auto-dialing software or contact lists, but we do have phones and our voices. In a more radical version of the world, I would love to make calls to invite people to pop-up clinics and groceries in our neighborhoods, turn out people for a vigil, or talk to people who’ve been isolated. The most powerful thing about phone banking is cutting through mass media and helping people see that a real, living and breathing person supports this outcome and is investing time and risking rejection to talk to them about it. Most people respect that dedication, whether they are on board with us or not. 

In conclusion, phone banking is hard. It’s also a practice in persistence and invitation. It’s a great way to practice agitating and gently bugging people, one at a time, to join us.

7 – Peoples Park not going anywhere – BULLDOZER ALERT!

By Rosebud Van People

It’s official: People’s Park in Berkeley is condemned land. The University of California (UC) regents have approved destruction of the park to build high-rise dormitories. Or, that’s what it says on paper anyway! For 50 years now, every time they’ve put up fences, people have torn them down. (The university and the city council last ordered in the bulldozers in 1992. How’s that going?) All this latest decision means is UC has committed to stick their fingers into the hornets’ nest. Maybe we should send them a good luck charm, because as the phrase goes: “They try it, we riot!” And we win. Why would this coming year be any different?

People’s Park, located between Haste and Dwight Streets east of Telegraph Avenue, was constructed without permission in 1969 to create a beautiful community on vacant UC land.  UC’s first attempt to seize back and destroy the park led to rioting, police shootings that left bystander James Rector dead and dozens wounded, and a week-long National Guard occupation of Berkeley. UC has always claimed to own the park, but since 1969 they have never been able to control it. Over the years, park users have practiced “user development” by building and tending gardens, trees and landscaping as determined by users, not government managers. It is a rare place in the city open to everyone, hosting a free speech stage and daily free food servings.

There will be a mass mobilization to defend the Park in Berkeley, probably in 2022. Get ready! People’s Park isn’t going anywhere. 

There are several groups working on various fronts to save the park. Each is doing important work, and each has flaws. Organizing at the park has been pretty toxic this year. Be wary of cult-like thinking (the park is considered the last bastion of the 60s, after all). Bring visions of what land and community could be without state interference. The university has a lot of money, so we have to be out in numbers in order to fend them off.

Get all the info at DefendThePark.org Bookmark it! And you can text “SAVETHEPARK” to 74121 to get notified when shit hits the fan. See you there! 

Have comments? Send them to:

• UC Chancellor Carol Christ (510) 642-7464 chancellor@berkeley.edu

• Mayor Jesse Arreguín (510) 981-7100 mayor@CityofBerkeley.info

• Rigel Robinson, City Council, District 7: (510) 981-7170 rrobinson@CityofBerkeley.info

• Housing developer Resources for Community Development: (510)841-4410 rcdhousing.org