a11- Reviews – zines, books, radio

Radio Ava


Since 2016, Radio Ava has been broadcasting from East London, giving us the world’s only radio show for and by sex workers and their allies. The quirky team of anonymous DJs are both sex workers and activists, and offer reportbacks from sex work rights scenes all over the world, interspersed with music, interviews, and advice segments. Each episode is totally different—one episode might be a discussion between academics about the history of sex work unionization, and the next episode might be folks spilling about wanker clients. My favorite segments are when sex workers call in and tell their stories—they are all so unique, and it really blows away any stereotypes you might have about sex work. I’m not a sex worker, but I consider myself an ally, and was excited when someone who works on the show reached out to me and said “Hey! Listen to this!” Listening to Radio Ava has helped me be a better ally, and helped me understand the struggle on the ground. Sex work is an art form, and it is also a way for many to stay afloat who wouldn’t otherwise be able to.  Right now, as legislators actively strip the rights from sex workers, Radio Ava stands in defiance and refuses to let sex work be invisibilized. (Teresa)

Making Spaces Safer:

A Guide to Giving Harassment the Boot Wherever You Work, Play, and Gather

by Shawna Potter (AK Press, 2019)

Shawna Potter is the lead singer of War On Women, and for the last few years, this Baltimore-based punk has been touring venues and community spaces to offer workshops on how to combat harassment. Topics she covers in this book include how to avoid harassing others, what to do if you’re being harassed, what to do if someone else is being harassed in front of you, and how to create solid safer space policies. She is victim-centered in her approach, and encourages us to do the right thing while understanding the trauma that victims of harassment go through, recounting some stories from her own life. Working to remove harassment from our spaces and to hold harassers accountable is a huge step towards helping members of marginalized groups feel safe and welcome. This is a great book to read as a group, and I highly recommend it for anyone who runs a venue, community space, or workplace. Time to give harassment the boot! (Teresa)

Carceral Capitalism

by Jackie Wang (Semiotext(e), 2018)

Jackie Wang is no stranger to the prison system. The Harvard PhD student is the sister to someone suffering incarceration, and she thinks deeply and passionately through the topic in this text that merges economic theory, poetry, and cultural analysis.

As Wang shows us, a horrible transition occurred in the United States in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, as public debt increasingly came into the ownership of the financial sector. In order to pay off this debt, the state has transitioned towards extracting money from the populace via policing and incarceration, and we now find ourselves in a situation in which the government that is more accountable to its creditors than to the public. As Wang explains, “this has a de-democratizing effect.”

Wang ends this revolutionary book on a high note, evoking speculative futures beyond the prison system. Abolish debt and smash the prison state! (Teresa)

“how [and] where to live better for less.”

AB #22, AUG 2018

PO BOX 181 Alsea, OR 97324

This zine and its cryptographic content drew me in and pushed me out in waves. Close jumbles of mostly incoherent text compelled my eyes to scan over them, and an attention-grabbing format or word would pull me back in. It irked me that these choppy semantic waters made AB very hard to engage with, because part of me wanted to crack its “code” by persevering thru the text and reading every last character. AB stands out to me above all as a pristine Dadaist publication. Sometimes you might not care about actually reading the whole text, but are intrigued and amused by its seeming unpredictability and ingenuity. But AB pushes beyond the meaninglessness of its Dadaist ties by conveying important information about things such as dietary requirements, carcinogens, the benefits of different fruits/vegetables, and the overall logic of eating raw vegan. This issue of AB goes from a very well-researched nutritional health journal in support of veganism, to an examination of toxins and carcinogens in daily life, and to the grim reality of humanity’s destruction. It simply cannot be defined. (Rachelle)



PO BOX 181 Alsea, OR 97324

Continues to tell us the important stuff coming up on the cutting edge of experimental portable living spaces! A diagram of a large underwater structure kicks this issue off and it then dives straight into examining the miserable lives of Google employees dwelling portably in the Mountain View dormitories while critiquing the company itself. DP then touched on the life of Linda, a 64-yr-old grandma with basal-cell carcinoma who works as a campground host and dwells portably in her Jeep with a “tiny fiberglass trailer.” A review of CheapRVLiving.com and anecdotes of living and improvising on the road. DP shares a similar format with AB, a heavily abbreviated collection of summarized and analyzed sources loosely joined around a theme. The summaries proved informative and the analyses were vivid and incisive. These two zines could teach people a hell of a lot, they’re just pretty dang hard to read. Maybe the author added so many abbreviations to slow the reader’s eye down–force them to really look at and process the text….If that’s true, I don’t think they succeeded because I had a lot of trouble comprehending it due to those abbreviations.

Overall, AB/DP was a very refreshing and unique reading experience, and I will definitely be rereading these snippets of VERY USEFUL information to fully absorb it all. (Rachelle)


[Supplementary inserts]:

At first I approached these passage like computer code. Words seemed to be mere jumbles of characters and special symbols were abound. After taking ten minutes to read though the same number of sentences, AB/DP language started to make sense, and took form as a stream-of-consciousness interspersed with new information…like a very discombobulated yet passionate newscaster who covers everything from police corruption to debates on veganism. The inserts were designed as supplements to the longer printed zines, to update them with new, pertinent information. (Rachelle)

Fifth Estate

PO BOX 201016 Ferndale, MI 48220

Long running, the Fifth Estate offers updates and stories from radical voices in our movements. In these pages we read about celebratory and commemorative anarchist ice cream socials to an article about Z (anarchist radio berlin) to words about the privatization of the welfare state. Clearly written, compelling voices draw us into global struggles as well as ones closer to home. Featuring lots of important information to digest, for 50+ years Fifth Estate has been an important piece of keeping us in the know (a kind antidote the head-in-the-sand approach so many favor). May this publication live on for another 50! (IMP)