New Ad Campaign Explains Drones to Skeptical Public

The California Department of Corrections (CDC) has unveiled a new series of advertisements to defend Obama’s drone policy from mounting public criticism. On November 5, 2013 the CDC successfully apprehended, rehabilitated and discharged over a dozen bus shelter advertisements in San Francisco.

Set against a black background, the ads feature a smartphone which has photographed a Predator drone strike in progress. On the smartphone screen a missile streaks away from the drone and crosses a cloudless blue sky. Just above the image, a new logo *Pakistan* imitates the original brand name, and a headline for the ad reads, THE NEXT BIG WAR IS ALREADY HERE.

The corrected ads came directly on the heels of several major reports from the UN, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, which criticized Obama’s drone wars. Federal officials have stubbornly refused to acknowledge controversial aspects of the program, such as criteria for its kill lists or the mounting death toll among civilians. As these operations are shrouded in secrecy, the CDC released the rehabilitated smartphone ads to assist our colleagues in the federal government and explain the benefits of drones to war–weary Americans. Such benefits include cost savings from limited personnel serving overseas, streamlined executions unimpeded by judicial oversight and reduced environmental impacts due to the short commute of drone pilots operating close to home.

The ads are currently at liberty and seem to have successfully readjusted to public life. However, these advertisements will remain under surveillance by department staff to prevent recidivism and any potential lapse into prior criminal behavior. Founded in 1994, the CDC is a private correctional facility that protects the public through the secure management, discipline, and rehabilitation of California’s advertising. For more information, visit

Zine Reviews

zine reviews

Zines are a powerful tool in today’s world, especially for the people who make them. Within these pages you can be as creative, political, and personal as you want to be without being edited or silenced. As the NSA begins to spy on our every move, there’s more reason to make and read zines to keep our lives offline. These tiny, stapled manifestos aren’t just a source of information, but a means of communication. Any zinester will tell you that they’ve found a few penpals, band mates, or close friends thanks to the zines that they’ve created. As if that’s not a reason to get involved, we’re also helping to fight capitalism. Our self-copied and printed mags hold more value than money within the underground world and often times, can be traded not just for other zines, but for tapes at a punk show or free coffee and food at your favorite collective bakery. Every year we see handfuls of new zine fests popping-up, along with hundreds of new titles made by those who are inspired. This is proof that zines are very much alive. Some of the zines reviewed on this page are brand new, while others have been around before most of us even knew what a zine was. We hope you find a new favorite zine to read or maybe even a new penpal and friend to write to. (Vanessa)

Asswipe #5


This is an “interview and other stuff” issue conducted with the likes of Bay Area local musicians/other crafty people. To me it reflects accurately on the spontaneous nodes of a complex web of creative energy that brings many of us to crowded and low-lit spaces to witness its outlet. This ish of AW, I think, is a great starting point for people wanting to plug into the local scene in its wondrous expansiveness and potential. (torn)

Dayglo Ay Hole

c/o Ben Passmore 335 Jane Pl.

New Orleans, LA 70119

When this comic came in for Slingshot! to review I was a bit skeptical of it thinking it was gonna be a total brofest upon first glance (there is a character that looks eerily like many XVX hardcore kids I know!–not that they’re all bros or anything…). I decided to give it a chance mainly because I appreciate the effort it takes to produce a (color!) comic of this quality. It turns out that the protagonist is undergoing a crisis in terms of masculinity in a post-apocalyptic world (which the author at some point recognizes is a cliché comic/fiction setting). The comic is worth checking out and it seems from the looks of Ben’s tumblr that there is progress on a second issue [?]. (torn)

MalintZINE #1

A zine by radical women involved with the struggle for Mexican American Studies (MAS) in Tucson, Arizona. Mostly prose, there’s a lyrical sense in most of the writing that gives the whole zine flow along with the poetry, and creative formatting from page to page similarly interacts with the art. Sexual assault, a gay bashing, and fat phobia are confronted within communities of color and the struggles against racism and for MAS. Suggested listening through a mix tape page and suggested reading are also included. (Alex Iwasa)

Kids of the Black Hole: Perspectives On The North American Punk House

edited by Bryan May

brybry at riseup dot

Mostly dealing with Punk Houses in Portland, Oregon and Santa Cruz, California where the editor has lived, there’s also one article about an old Punk House in Portland, Maine, the Coyle St. House. This is a long overdue contribution to the body of literature dealing with different forms of collective living. Articles, artwork and photography are mixed well, though the tone is largely negative. Far better than the fluff pieces that usually circulate that make out collective living to be the be all and end all with little or no imperfections, it’s largely a synopsis of everything that can go wrong with living in a Punk House, with little of what makes it one of my favorite forms of collective living. (Alex Iwasa)

The Hen Fall Fuckery 2013

710 31st St. Boulder ,CO 80303

A new publication that captures some of the stray voices that pass through a local info shop. There is some variety in subject and tone. Intelligent article on gender is noteworthy yet probably wouldn’t make sense to most people outside the radical community with its language and topic. Other articles can tip more into the rant category. Lots of anger on some pages while others have an ultra-sensitive critique of their own messages. At best the anger is cut with a raw humor (multiple titles proclaiming FUCK). The zine so far represents a lively underground burning next to a college in a mountain city – a document that whole continents are being formed in tiny liberated spaces. (eggplant)


c/o Fishspit 1304 175th pl. N.E.

Bellevue, WA 98008

Have a beer with this zine. Like all nights drinking the stories might start to spin into big tales of comic proportions. The ones here seem preoccupied in telegraphing outrage and anarchy (as it is practiced after 30 years of punk). With over 50 issues out there “Fishspit” looks to have his fingers warm typing — trying to get some laughs going on this cold planet. (eggplant)

The Match – #112

PO Box 3012 Tucson, AZ 85702

$3 or donation

Living up to its name, The Match is a great anarchist rag that will spark thoughts and ideas inside your head. Its tone is intelligent and clear, a little long-winded at times, but not too preachy, which I enjoyed. My favorite essays were about the evils of alternative newspapers, namely the weeklies that you can find in every major city, and the debate regarding the SF Anarchist Book Fair and sex workers’ rights. The letter and review sections are highly entertaining and I appreciate the time and thought that Fred, the editor, puts into creating this paper. (Vanessa)

Heavy Lidded: Scenes From the Bummer Punk Epoch

$2 or trade

The bummer punk scene in Oakland is explained by Yacob, an experimental, noise-punk musician. Printed are his lyrics from various bands that he’s been in. The lyrics are relatable, poetic, and bleak. The frantic layouts match the words inside and at the end, there’s a short children’s story about a “happy rino” that made this reviewer laugh out loud. I recommend this to anyone who is music-obsessed and wants a peek inside the bummer punk movement before it’s gone. (Vanessa)

Winterview #0, Summer 2013,

Premier issue of Winterview, a music fanzine covering a good chunk of the punk/hardcore/DIY music scene in Greece. This issue is filled with thoughtful and sincere interviews that capture the current state of the Greek punk and hardcore scenes. Highlights include an interview with Mike from ‘Up the Brushes,’ a flier-obsessed punk who posts and collects fliers on his website. There’s also a scene report on Patras City that gives a brief history of the various squats and collectives that host punk shows in this area. The content in this zine makes up for the sparse layouts and I can’t wait to read future issues and keep up with the Greek music scene. (Vanessa)

Trash Heap #1,2,3

23 S. Owyhee St.

Boise ID 83705

A lot of heart can be found in this chronicle of North Western counter-culture. And not the usual degeneracy is on display. The writer is a recent escapee from a Christian upbringing and an even more recent retiree from being a dirty traveling kid. Shameless references to both experiences are tied into the bigger questions of punk, friendship and having some excitement for life still as America works to deaden everyone’s senses. (egg)

Dwelling Portably December 2013

Po Box 181

Alsea, OR 97324

Tips on how to keep food cool, bike riding for beginners, assembling rigs to carry on back packs and other things you should have been taught in school. If you’re looking to live on the cheap, efficiently and close to the patterns of nature this will feed you on the long run. Descriptions of removing a tick using a thorn burned my inner eye. It’s like an austere Farmer’s Almanac or Whole Earth Catalog with almost no graphics or layouts separating the flashes of wisdom. As with those established resources there is a real sense of a conversation going on in these pages. Personally not all this technical info can make my eyes wet, but you might be into nautical tips when the lights go out and the water rises. (egg)

Something For Nothing #68

516 third st NE

Massillon OH 44646

The introduction admits that fatigue has slowed down production on this issue but it would be hard to tell if he didn’t say so. The reviews of soda, zines, books, and music continue SFN’s work documenting overlooked gems in our environment. Also enclosed is a deeper look at an obscure band written using a mix of styles including discography, review and autobiography. Appreciating teenagers who play music such as Hogan’s Heroes proves to be unusual — as well as the kind of journalism that is often exclusive to zines. The layout has more care than most people do in maintaining their car. This ride has been rolling for quite sometime and its free seat makes it inviting to get into it. ( egg )

New Hearts New Bones #11 December 2013


It’s been awhile since I’ve seen a zine of just collages and I miss the format. The medium can transform mundane images and open up new worlds on a page. The experience in this zine can be like observing multiple conversations at a party. While some of the content here does this and does it well, other pages are cluttered and mysterious. Checking this out is a good way to break out of constrictive reality. (egg)

Make a Date

February 1 • noon
Protest San Francisco nudity ban – Body freedom parade – gather at Castro & 17th St. MyNakedTruth.TV

February 14 • 8 – 9 am
Dance Across the Golden Gate Bridge – One Billion Rising – gather at southeast end

February 16 • 10 – 5 pm
Los Angeles Zine Fest – Helms Bakery 8703 Washington Blvd. Culver City

February 19 – 24
Earth First! Organizers Conference and Winter Rendezvous – in the Everglades, FL

February 23 • 4 pm
Slingshot new volunteer meeting & article brainstorm for issue #116 3124 Shattuck, Berkeley

February 28 • 6 pm
San Francisco Critical Mass bike ride – gather at Justin Herman Plaza

March 1 • 10 – 6 pm
Kitchener-Waterloo Canada Anarchist bookfair

March 4
Mardi Gras – in Berkeley meet the parade at People’s Park at 3 pm

March 8 •
International Women’s Day

March 22 • 10 – 6 pm
19th annual Bay Area Anarchist book fair – 1260 7th Street Oakland

March 22 • 10 – 6 pm
Sydney, Australia Anarchist book fair – Gumbramorra Hall

March 23 • 10 – 6 pm
15th Berkeley Anarchist Students of Theory And Research & Development Conference – this year’s theme is Social War. UC Berkeley campus –

March 29 • 3 pm
Article deadline for Slingshot issue #116 3124 Shattuck Ave. Berkeley

April 1
St. Stupid’s Day Parade in San Francisco

April 4 – 6
All Power to the Imagination conference. New College of Florida Sarasota –

April 15
Steal Something from Work Day

April 20 • 4:20 pm
Light one up – cannabis rallies in Denver, Washington, DC and elsewhere.

April 20 • 1 – 6 pm
People’s Park 45h Anniversary concert Berkeley

April 22
Earth Day

April 26
Bristol, UK Anarchist Book fair

May 1
International Worker’s Day –

Zine Reviews!!!

A new wave of publications clutter the Long Haul shelf. These fresh faces makes it easier to not rely on feeding at the trough of the corporate agenda (im looking at you NY TIMES). Hey also we got new issues from Node Pajomo, Muchacha, Dreams Of Donuts, Asswipe, Shards of Glass in Your Eye, The Stowaways and No Gods No Matresses — all of which we reviewed recently. Their contact is the same, and guess what, their zines are improving. So look those ones up as well. (eggplant)

That’s Not Okay-Boundaries for the Conflict Avoidant

A mostly light-hearted zine about how to prctically and gently apply boundaries to our every day lives without being grumpy assholes. Well-written and ridden with cute drawings. (enola d!)

New World Rising summer 2013
PO box 97
Hudson, NY 12534

A publication with the rough edges showing. The writing is proudly anarchist and…. freshman. The topics are presented as if reciting the A-B-C’s of black bloc activism: genetically modified foods, bee colony collapse, rebellion to authority and consensus decision making are raised and dispensed with generic abandon. The lack of depth or nuance will probably service Jr. High students wishing to survey an alternative scene as they raise a bold voice to mainstream culture. The unfocused prose and politics has as much funk and honesty as an open mic nite at a sketchy café. Maybe future issues will kick ass — already there’s potential because some gems of personality emerge from it. The pages crowded with words and art show real care in the production. The evidence of actual hands engaging in any open space make it distinct from the “Wordshop” variety of literature. It’s creative whole resembles a publication not seen much since shit made in the 1980’s. Another plus is the off set printing, this makes some pages have smears of ink that give off an intoxicating smell. (eggplant)

Meditation Is Easy/Tyler Twombly’s Guide to Meditation, Hypnosis and Cults

One side of this zine is clean and straight-forward how-to, the other handwritten history and debunking of the transcendental meditation cult and resources to learn TM techniques without paying for it. Smart split, Complimentary and informative. (enola d!)

Something For Nothing #66 & #67
516 Third St NE
Massillon OH 44646
Free (a couple of stamps)

Let me warn the most radical out there that this work is made from an avowed Christian. Thankfully he doesn’t use the space to convert readers. But that doesn’t diminish the subtle creep factor. Christians have a tendency to insinuate an agenda into places (like punk rock) that is seemingly harmless. And yet so much harm is created by psychopaths using Christianity as a refuge. This zine is now 25 years old and having to read “Thanks to God” over the years instantly activates my dyslexia. It is a competently made production that is attractive to look at even if the words are slow food. The MR&R reviewer really didn’t like the 15 pages in #67 devoted to chronicling the gas station the editor worked throughout the 1990’s. I was about to agree when I found myself with a job and reading with increasing interest during my breaks. It is a flaw of American culture to give primacy to “exciting” things–over our real life experiences. Also the existence of Something for Nothing marks the in between era of the 1980’s when zines were focused on music and politics, and the 90’s zines — which were mostly personal musings. The combination as seen here goes to providing a rare outlook of the world. Both 66 & 67 have numerous pages dedicated to slice of life entries as well as pieces on music. Roots reggae (like Strictly Roots etc) and the Hard Core band 7 Seconds are given ample space of contemplation by someone who cares. At worst sometimes relating irrelevant information. But his shear love of the music genuinely sparks my interest and gets me to visit those sounds. (eggplant)

Stoner Doom #1

A kinda sci-fi graphic novel zine that involves stoners and doom but exceeds the expectations given by those descriptors. This is hot off the press and the first in what will be a series. Intricate artwork that shows a lot of time, thought and maybe caffeine inspired creation. (enola d!)

Baitline!!! #46
74A Coleridge St.
San Francisco, CA 94110

Baitline!!! is back with another freaky issue! Look inside and you instantly feel like you’re in another world. This FREE classified includes prisoner letters, show fliers, penpal requests, people looking to hook up, and public service announcements – all adorned with some pretty scandalous drawings. Send Baitline!!! your ads, fliers, and wildest desires! (V)

Bookish Beasts #1 Spring 2013

An organ of the center of sex and culture…um pun intended. My first view of it was that it exemplified everything that is a bummer of present day San Francisco (where it originates). That is its made by head smart experienced people but presented in a sleek nothingness filtered through a computer. The whole “Everything must be clean,” hegemony. I mean there’s plenty of art but flipping through it the shitty resolution that was used makes it all look forgettable. I truly miss the grisly hand made underground papers. Alas once I really sat down with it did it start to warm my center. I liked the opening piece explaining the Center’s reasoning for collecting sex related materials. And later I learned that at campus libraries the bathrooms with double doors are best to look for when cruising for a hookup — that made me stop to think. And admittedly some of the pictures are pretty cool. I think the future issues they will fine-tune the art of getting your eyes to stick to the pages. Sex is communication. Zines is communication. Perfect match eh? (eggplant)

Maximum Rock N Roll #365
PO Box 460760
San Francisco, CA 94146

The October issue of this long-running punk zine brings us a Czech Scene Report, interviews with the bands Kontrasekt, Big Black Cloud, Violent Party, and more. What sets Maximum apart from the rest is it’s opinionated columns and review sections, spotlight on punk bands and DIY projects from all over the world, and it’s brought to us each and every month on gritty, black and white newsprint. I love that anyone can submit an interview or a guest column, and if you live in the bay area and want to help out, they are always looking for shitworkers. Keep your eyes peeled for the Queer issue in January. (Van)

Specious Species #6,

In this issue of Specious Species, Joe explores the topics sex and death. This zine is packed with information and filled with some of the best interviews I have ever read. There is an interesting interview with Wendy O. Matik about her views on polyamory, a spotlight on Cathee Shultz and her Museum of Death, poetry, short stories, a brief history on Grigori Rasputin, and much, much more! I’m still combing through this zine (all 142 pages) and learning interesting facts about each subject. Specious Species is always a pleasure to read and is HIGHLY recommended for those interested in underground culture. (Vanessa)

1636 Fairview St Berkeley, Ca 94703

I started writing the author of this zine, Tomas Muniz (of Rad Dad), a postcard about how brilliant, beautiful and emotionally stirring Dirty is before I had even finished reading it. Short prose and poetry about the body, touch, intimacy, love, insecurity. Those secret kinda of things we’re not supposed to talk about. (enola d!)

Cometbus #55, #55.5- ‘Pen Pals’ and ‘Love you Like Suicide’
PO Box 4726 Berkeley, CA 94704

In ‘Pen Pals,’ Aaron writes about his complicated and platonic friendship with Yula, a feisty, stubborn Ukranian girl who also acts as his sidekick as they roam the streets of Berkeley. On these same streets resides ‘Iskra,’ a leftist paper that Aaron describes as ‘no frills and no fun,’ which he finds refreshing and inspiring. As ‘Iskra’ is taken off the streets, so is Yula, as she moves away and keeps in touch with Aaron anonymously through postcards. In ‘Love You Like Suicide,’ Aaron hands the pen over to Jo Treggiari. Jo’s story is much darker and takes place in Oakland, more specifically, Ghost Town, an area where people walk around like the living dead. This is a story about heavy drug use and addiction. It is also about Jo’s friend, Holly, who she loves so much that it hurts. The ending is tragic, but the writing is beautiful and compelling. Although these stories are extremely different, they both share a common theme. They are both about complicated (and important) friendships, letting go of the past, and moving on the best you can. I’m glad Cometbus is still kicking and bringing us poignant and thought-provoking stories about growing up and staying punk. Here’s hoping for 55 more issues! (Van)

Storming Heaven #1 June 2013

Anarchism from Seattle. Made by people who would seem to spend a lot of time on the internet finding insurrectionist related news then venting on the streets afterwards. No tolerance for liberalism here though not quite ready to advocate we all pick up guns or leave bombs in banks. I can see that on the night each new issue is printed minor property damage will probably visit the corporate business part of town. If this review were a scratch and sniff your nose would be greeted by the fresh smells of rain and spray paint.(eggplant)

Miserable Future

October 19 – 12 – 4

Global Frackdown protest in many cities to stop oil and gas fracking. In Oakland at Oscar Grant / Frank Ogawa Plaza 14th & Broadway

October 19 – 20

New Orleans Anarchist Book Fair

October 19 – 21

Trans and/or Womyn’s Action Camp, Augusta region, Maine

October 20 – 4 pm

Slingshot new volunteer meeting 3124 Shattuck Ave. Berkeley

October 25 – 6 pm

Halloween San Francisco Critical Mass bike ride – gather at Justin Herman Plaza and dress up yur bike.

October 26 – 10 – 8

East Bay Anarchist book fair @ Humanist Hall in Oakland

November 3 – 12 – 4

Let Them Eat Zines Perth Town Hall, Austraila

November 8 – 8 pm

East Bay Bike Party eastbaybikeparty.wordpress

November 8-10

Winnipeg Anarchist Book Fair DIY Fest

November 10-11

Boston Anarchist Bookfair Simmons College

November 10 – 6 – 9

Penpal Writing Night 2nd Sunday of each month 3124 Shattuck Ave. Berkeley

November 16 – 17

Expozine Montreal, Québec 5035 Saint-Dominique

November 17 – 7 pm

Free Movie: From the Back of the Room (documentary about women in punk) 3124 Shattuck, Berkeley

November 22 – 24

Protest the School of the Americas Ft. Benning, GA

November 23

Carrboro Anarchist Book Fair Chapel Hill, NC carrboroanarchistbookfair.wordpress

November 29

Buy Nothing Day

November 30 – 3 pm

Article deadline for issue #115 3124 Shattuck Ave. Berkeley

December 7 – 10 – 5 pm

East Bay Alternative Book and Zine Fest Berkeley City College

December 14

Humboldt Anarchist Book fair

Audrey Goodfriend: 1920-2013

Audrey Goodfriend was an anarchist her entire life. Born to anarchist immigrants in New York, Audrey grew up speaking Yiddish at home and lived in the Sholem Aleichem House; a radical cooperative housing project in the Bronx. She was a girl when Sacco and Vanzetti were executed in Boston in 1927 and their letters were instrumental in shaping her anarchism, continuing to move her throughout her life.

As an adolescent and young adult, Audrey sent care packages to anarchist comrades fighting in Spain, read Living My Life against the express wishes of her parents who felt it was too sexually explicit, and traveled to Toronto with a friend to have tea with Emma Goldman. During World War II, she was part of the Why? Group, a publishing collective that printed an anti-war anarchist periodical at a time when many radicals were choosing to support the state in what they saw as a just war against fascism. Anti-zionist since before there ever was a state of Israel, Audrey and her comrades believed strongly that no state violence was ever justified.

In 1946, after the war, she went on a speaking tour with her partner David Koven and some friends from their circle to raise money for the anti-draft movement. They ended up in San Francisco and decided to stay. They knew Paul Goodman and Kenneth Rexroth and were part of a generation of anarchists who laid the groundwork for the cultural movements that defined San Francisco in the fifties and sixties. Audrey told me once that she was too busy raising children to pay much attention to the beat generation, but followed this by saying she had attended the event where Ginsberg read Howl for the first time. Raising her two daughters directed Audrey’s interests toward anarchist education and the Modern School movement, leading her to help found the Walden School in Berkeley in 1958.

She worked as a teacher at Walden until the early seventies and was the bookkeeper at her friend Moe Moskowitz’s Berkeley bookstore for many years after. In her fifties, she had hip surgery, separated from her partner David, and began swimming at the YMCA every day. At sixty, she started acting with Stagebridge, the country’s oldest senior theater company, and continued to perform with them for over twenty-five years. She was still taking an improv class there this fall and spoke about the power and importance it had for her.

I met Audrey seven and a half years ago when I began attending the Anarchist Study Group at the Long Haul in Berkeley. Thirty to seventy years older than the rest of us, she spoke her mind freely and did not allow others to put her on a pedestal. When many of her peers had lost touch with younger anarchists, Audrey was one of us: engaging with us every week and reading more obscure theory than she ever wanted to.

Audrey always said she did not celebrate holidays; they were too tied up with god and the state for her taste. She did, however, love to celebrate birthdays and New Year’s Day because they were about people and life and making it through another year. I biked over to Audrey’s house a few weeks ago. She showed me some of her books and we talked about her life a lot. She did not seem to romanticize or regret any of it; she spoke of her own death without fear and was able to laugh, listen and be present with me as I spoke about myself. A week and a half later she went to the theater, came home raving about it, went to sleep, and passed away. She never stopped being an active part of our lives until she stopped altogether.

And she never voted and she never married and she never believed in the authority of god or country; and she was happy and present, well loved and a joy to know.

2013 Golden Wingnut Award: Accepting Nominations

Slingshot will award its ninth annual Award for Lifetime Achievement — the Golden Wingnut — at its 25th birthday party on Sunday, March 10 at 3124 Shattuck in Berkeley (8 pm). Slingshot created the Lifetime Achievement Award to recognize direct action radicals who have dedicated their lives to the struggle for alternatives to the current absurd system. Wingnut is the term some of us use to refer to folks who blend radicalism and a highly individual personal style — more than just another boring radical. Golden Wingnuts mix determination, inspiration and flair. The winner has their biography featured in our next issue, and will receive a wingnut trophy and super-hero outfit.

We’re looking for nominations. To be eligible, an individual has to be currently alive and must have at least 25 years of service to the movement. Please send your nominations by 5 p.m. on March 1 along with why a particular person should be awarded the Golden Wingnut for 2013 to

Oakland's STAY AWAY Squat

“I was trying to grow food in my yard. The ivy and blackberry from the neighboring abandoned apartment building were coming over under and through the fence and up through the ground, making it impossible to clear the ground for beds. The building hadn’t always been empty. Maybe since the start of the housing crisis, another Oakland foreclosure. As it turned out, Bank of America, (who also owns my house) was the new owner and they were proving to be poor property owners as well as neighbors. As property owner, they were refusing to refinance my house to lower my payment and make it affordable, preferring instead to disqualify me for the loan and push me to foreclosure. As neighbors, their lack of maintenance was spilling across property lines and creating a major nuisance and expense.

“Can you blame them? Bank of America has some of the highest foreclosure ratings in the nation, that amounts to a lot of properties. A land grab of such proportions provided unique challenges for land maintenance and management. Well, a land grab could go both ways. I realized I would not be able to grow food until the other yard was cleared. In fact, I wanted to grow food on the other yard as well. I took down the fence and started hacking. And thinking, ‘Why is this building empty when people need housing? Why shouldn’t we take what we need? Why am I working alone?’ It was a big job and led to big thoughts. I needed help. People needed housing. I went to Oscar Grant Plaza and announced the vacancy.”

~our neighbor

It was in Oscar Grant Plaza, site of the Occupy Oakland encampment in late November 2011 when a person told me about a foreclosed and abandoned apartment complex adjacent to her home. The next day I was cleaning out a unit, getting water, gas, and electric utilities turned on in my name, changing the locks, and beginning to move in. Less then a month later all the units in the complex were occupied. Because more than one of the new occupants had received a stay away order from Oscar Grant Plaza — meaning they had court orders against them and would be arrested for going near the plaza as a result of their political activity there — it didn’t take long before our home was being called the StayAway.

With the help of our neighbor, who resourced many green waste bins every week from other neighbors, we cleared the back yard of ivy and blackberries, terraced the little hill that remained and planted kale, collard, calendula, mint, sage, rosemary, fava, lettuce, tomato, carrot, potato, artichoke, sunflower, and even some ornamentals. We took it a step further. We started a few guerrilla gardens in abandoned, trash filled lots — changing them into community spaces intended to break our reliance on capitalism and replace it with solidarity and sustainability.

It would not be an exaggeration to say tens of thousands of meals were cooked in the kitchens of our occupied complex. We made connections with a Latin produce market in the nearby Fruitvale neighborhood, bike carting hundreds of pounds of edible but not sell-able produce home every week. Dumpsters in the slightly more affluent Diamond and Laurel neighborhoods provided huge amounts of food for those who would forage them. Food banks and food stamps filled the gaps. All this food would generally make its way to port and bank shutdowns, eviction defenses, Occupy Oakland BBQs, or to rallies and marches of all kinds.

It was a surprisingly long time, about 4 months, before any representative from the bank came knocking. When one finally showed up, he told us we were trespassing and would be arrested. I told him that we were not trespassing. He left and came back a little later that day with two Oakland police officers. The bank representative told the police I was trespassing. I informed them that I was a tenant and that I had no prior relationship with this so called ‘representative’ of the bank. One of the cops had arrested me in Oscar Grant Plaza a few months before, in the first raid. He repeatedly asked if our home was Occupy related, and other politically oriented questions. I continued to tell him those kinds of questions were irrelevant, and this issue was a civil matter that did not concern the police. They eventually left, telling the bank representative to file an unlawful detainer (legalese for eviction lawsuit).

About two months later each occupied unit was served with a “Notice to Quit”, which means leave or we will sue you. For an eviction in California you are allowed 90 days before the lawsuit comes. When it did, two units (the one where I live and another) filed a “response”, which says we contest the eviction and want to take it to trial. Meanwhile one unit didn’t file in time and received a default judgment, which means you didn’t answer so you lose the case by default. And soon after, that unit got a “10 day Notice to Vacate”, which means you have ten days before the sheriff comes to make sure you’re out, or arrest you if you refuse.

We organized an eviction defense. In general, we had a big sleepover, put up a bunch of banners, (STOP PAYING THE BANKS, WE WILL STAND WITH YOU, etc.), and did some light barricading (i.e. put a couch in the stairwell and extra locked the front gate). At 6am on eviction day there were over 40 people in the yard. We also put an info table out front with information on the foreclosure crisis, predatory lending, and other resources and groups doing work in housing justice (plus free coffee!). A locksmith and sheriffs passed by and loitered a bit but never confronted us in any way. It was a beautiful and empowering day. That unit was supposed to be evicted over three months ago, but people are up there now, laughing as I write this.

There was another, less positive, aspect to this action that bears mentioning. For a week after the eviction defense there were individuals, in addition to those who had signed up to take shifts at the info table and defending the space, who stayed. The upstairs unit changed from an organizing and living space to a 24-hour rager, with yelling and loud music at all hours. Many verbal and a few physical fights broke out. Requests for calm or quiet were outright ignored or were responded to with intimidation. It was so bad that it was hard to attribute it all to alcohol and nasty people. It was hard to not suspect state involvement, but who knows, only time will tell. In the end what happened was, while everyone was out at an OO BBQ (myself included), personal belongings were put outside and the unit was barricaded from the inside. It took a lot of courage to do that, and the one who did it has my eternal respect. I mention this because it could have been an ugly end to nearly a year of beautiful resistance. I think this could have been avoided had we used a vouching model for who we allow into the space, and by communicating clearer boundaries as to what is mutual aid and what is just hanging out.

It was nearly a year after I started living here when I found myself in front of a judge and jury, arguing for my right to stay. I had demanded the jury, which I felt would not only give us a better chance, but at least postpone the trial for a month and made the lawyers work overtime. They filed pretrial motions ‘in limine’ that barred my speech, evidence, behavior and attire along with everyone else in the court room. I will quote one of the more interesting motions in part:

“Such subjects and evidence that should be barred include, but are not limited to, the ‘banking crisis,’ the ‘foreclosure crisis,’ the ‘Occupy Movement,’ ‘Occupy Wall Street,’ ‘Occupy our homes,’ ‘predatory lending,’ or any other reference to the alleged unethical practice of banks and/or mortgage lenders.”

They supported all of these pretrial motions with a “statement of the facts”, in part:

“Defendant […] has apparently invited close to two dozen others who are similarly without right, title or interest to the Property. Defendant and his accomplices have not only refused to leave but they are apparently using the Property as something of a headquarters or rallying point for their protests against many groups, including financial institutions.” There is a hint of fear in that statement.

In the end, we lost. The scope of the trial was narrowed down to two questions for the jury to decide on. (1) Was the notice to quit served correctly? And, (2) Did defendant receive permission to occupy the property?

I may be able to appeal on technical grounds and, if I win, it could create more legal protections for squatters. I have been defending myself in court, pro per. Should I appeal it would only be with the participation of a radical pro bono lawyer. So email with any leads, to get involved, or to get our case # for your own research.

Most of us out there realize we will never own a home. Most will work their lives away to pay rent or bank loans till they die, a slave in a system whose debt they can never escape. Most will leave nothing to their children but debt and a dying planet. And that will never change by simply working with the state and the banks. If they have their way we will remain debt slaves forever. Our only hope lies in a community that organizes to defend their homes in a direct way; in a movement that defies the state and the banks; that refused to pay and refused to leave.

At the least, we can cause serious economic damage to the banks by fighting their foreclosures and evictions, thus taking back our power and forcing them to seriously rethink the way they encroach on us. But that is only an added bonus. Radical expropriation of land (squatting) is the rebirth of lands that are cared for and utilized, not owned and lorded over our heads to coerce us into slavery. Or as a friend of mine put it “i squat because i want to take an abandoned hole in the fabric of the universe and turn it into something autonomous and creative and
communal. And i squat because i appreciate the gift of life and don’t want to surrender my days to working for a boss and a landlord all the time. i squat because i like it….” We must stop paying and organize others to stop paying for this stolen land. It is something we can do now, not only to liberate ourselves, but to enact a different way of life that is a direct threat to this system of oppression.

The Gay Agenda: How the Corporate Media Fails Queers

As a freelance broadcast technician, some days I have to get up at 3AM to run camera, lights, and sound for corporate news shows like Good Morning America, The Early Show, and Meet the Press. The combination of sleep deprivation and old white guys yakking routinely tests my ability to stay awake and attentive. In order to pass the time, I sometimes try to focus less on the news, and more on the construction of the news and its discourses, lending equal attention to form and content. The producers know that people will be watching through pre-coffee morning haze –these shows are called “Breakfast Television,” after all. So, what is being communicated underneath and between the script, so subtle it won’t distract from your toast, but so prevalent it structures the very way watch you watch? (What lends the anchor their authority as a speaker? Who’s wearing makeup, and how much? Who’s speaking on behalf of whom? What’s being sold?) These wonderings give me something to think about as I push the volume sliders up and down.

Fortunately, most weekdays I go to my other job (at a slightly more humane hour), where I talk to high schoolers about safer sex, birth control, sexuality, healthy relationships, and consent. My two jobs can seem worlds apart: one involves telecommunication, scripts, and advertising; the other, face-to-face interaction, empathy, and moments of sheer vulnerability. And yet, my students’ experiences (filtered through a background in radical sex and queer theory) challenge me to think about where and how media, school, and sex intersect, and what these intersections reveal about each.

* * *

On October 3rd of this past year, the American Family Association (AFA) published a press release “exposing” the Mix It Up at Lunch program, which once a year brings together students of different socioeconomic status, racial background, and sexual orientation at lunchtime in order to break down social cliques and isolation.

The AFA’s contention, broadcast by its leader, Bryan Fischer, in an interview on CNN, was that Mix it Up is “designed… to establish the acceptance of homosexuality into public schools… and push its gay agenda.”

There’s a lot being invoked in that soundbite, and it’s worth unpacking. When Bryan Fischer mentions “the acceptance of homosexuality into public schools,” he’s inserting himself into a history of homophobic fear-mongering that goes back a hundred years. George Chauncey has documented how in the 1930s and 40s gay men were characterized in public media campaigns as sexually abusing children, which set the stage for a long lineage of public homophobia justified in the unspoken interest of creating straight kids. Folks who were alive in the 1970s (or have seen the Harvey Milk biopic Milk) may remember California’s 1978 Briggs Initiative, which would have barred gays from teaching in public schools for fear that they’d make the students gay; others may find it helpful to think back to Proposition 8 in 2008, which banned gay marriage in California after supporters notoriously distributed literature featuring the slogan “Protect the Children!” Historically, few politicians have made the link as explicit as Senator Jesse Helms, who in 1989 sponsored an amendment to refuse federal funding to any organization “promot[ing]… or produc[ing] images of… homo-eroticism, [and] the sexual exploitation of children.” So it is not a stretch to say that when Bryan Fischer warns us about “the gay agenda,” this is a PG-13 way of claiming, “the homos in the cafeteria are going to make your kids gay and then fuck them in the ass.”

Of course, CNN’s anchor didn’t call Fischer out on what, exactly, he was insinuating with his talk of, “the acceptance of homosexuality into public schools.” (And to her credit, she eventually just cut him off.) Instead, here’s how the story played itself out: The center-left media took Fischer’s bait, accusing the AFA of a category mistake. Maureen Costello, Director of the lunch program, countered: “Teaching Tolerance and “Mix it Up” day have nothing to do with sexuality… Bryan Fischer sees the homosexual agenda in a dish of ice cream.” At first blush Costello’s response feels right; Mix It Up is about “breaking down barriers,” increasing diversity, and other laudable, standard liberal fare, none of which is explicitly gay. One can even imagine Mix It Up as an advertisement for heterosexuality, bringing together straight students of the “opposite” sex. As a logical refutation of Fischer’s bullshit, this might be a good start–but it also completely misses the point.

Fischer’s argument is a straw man: not just a “misrepresentation” of the Mix It Up program, as Costello put it, but an intentional one. That’s the bait. Fischer and the AFA get to unilaterally set the terms of the debate: to claim where “the homosexual agenda” is or isn’t present. The “homosexual agenda” is so historically overdetermined that it is literally undebatable, meaning homophobia becomes hard-wired as the very currency of the discourse. The stage is thus set for Fischer to blather on CNN, and for both Fischer and Costello to get quoted in the New York Times. Other news orgs, from ABC to the Huffington Post, as well as gay blogs like Queerty, Toweroad, the Human Rights Campaign’s blog, and JoeMyGod then run the story in this same he-said, she-said format. Two hundred schools drop out of Mix It Up, and another 180 join. Tit for tat.

What’s missing from the entire scuffle is anything remotely queer. No one questions whether the school cafeteria is really the asexual space that American liberalism insists it must be and pretends it already is. Within this premise, Fischer presents a nightmare that school could become a space for “alternative sexual behavior”; that if sex and school collide, students may question the narrative they’ve been fed about waiting until marriage, monogamy, procreation, and privacy as the bedrock of personhood. So the “homosexual agenda” is a trope for the threat not only to children’s sexual integrity (the physical integrity of their virginal hymens and assholes), but also the moral integrity that hinges on how, where, and whom they fuck. Costello’s assertion that “Mix It Up has nothing to do with [any] sexuality” is her ground for legitimacy because public youth sexuality is so haunted by the twin specters of pedophilia and gay recruitment that it is an all-or-nothing affair. Either there is no sexuality in the cafeteria, or the cafeteria is full of sweaty, queer bodies indoctrinating and fucking everywhere you look. Once the public debate has been set up this way, Costello has only one option–no sex. Such is the power of the trope of the “homosexual agenda.”

But this is exactly the point and the moment for critical intervention: the school cafeteria, like all non-explicitly-queer spaces (e.g., the rest of the school), is a sexual space–a heterosexual space. From the cutesy drawings of straight families on the mini milk cartons, to the narratives in history textbooks (which at best minoritize “gay rights” to a post-war footnote), to the gender-segregated bathrooms, to the posters for candidates for prom king and queen, to the abstinence-only or “family planning”-focused sex ed curriculum, to the school-sanctioned violence visited on queer and trans students, the cafeteria perpetuates the heterosexual indoctrination that is simply the background noise of American society. As Michael Warner puts it, heterosexuality is “the one thing celebrated in every film plot, every sitcom, every advertisement. It is the one thing to which every politician pays obeisance, couching every dispute over guns and butter as an effort to protect family, children, and home.” By pretending that the cafeteria isn’t already rife with straight sexuality, Costello et al. miss the opportunity to discuss whether it should be and what form it should take.

In other words, what Costello won’t ask is why it would be so fucking bad if two (or more) young women met at Mix It Up and decided to spend fourth period discovering their bodies together behind the bleachers. She won’t ask why it would be bad if a “homosexual agenda” were indeed being served up with the tater tots and chocolate milk–if, that is, the cafeteria were a little less straight. Nor, for that matter, will she ask what the homosexual agenda really is, and what it ought to be. And she can’t ask these questions because she’s already accepted Fischer’s terms of the debate, which are calculated to obscure the construction and ubiquity of heterosexuality, desexualize public space, and foreclose debate about queerness in schools. We need not look past the name of her program–Teaching Tolerance–to see why this concession was necessary. Tolerance –liberal egalitarianism as social policy–offers a place at the table in exchange for fealty to the status quo that bestowed the privilege to begin with. (Consider the gay marriage movement: gays and lesbians can cash in on the benefits of marriage as long as they don’t question the couple form, monogamy, and private property.) Tolerance says, “the queers in the corner deserve to eat lunch in peace like everybody else.” But it says nothing about why it might be awesome to be young and queer, much less what their straight peers, teachers, and parents could learn from them–if only they’d let themselves be “indoctrinated.”

Of course, we shouldn’t expect the mainstream press to ask students to question their sexuality. When stuff like this happens, the media producers’ goal is to win the debate on the terms in which it was found and score some rhetorical points (and ratings). It will poke holes in the sham arguments put forth and proclaim a job well-done. The homophobic fire will be temporarily extinguished, and mass attention will soon drift to the next news cycle. But that’s not to say we can’t learn from the mainstream press. Our suspicion that something is gravely lacking from the discussion can incite us to examine what’s not being asked, like how heterosexuality is at once ubiquitous and obscured at school. Further, the rabid focus on the “homosexual agenda” calls us to question the homophobia that frames the discourse. When’s the last time you heard a queer person non-ironically refer to the “homosexual agenda”? Never, which confirms what we’ve known for years: these words aren’t ours. More to the point, when’s the last time you heard anyone talk about the “straight agenda?” Rarely,* which means there’s a lot of room for us as queers to represent ourselves on our terms.

What I’m suggesting, then, is that we may be able to harness–in an interesting, potent way–the revulsion to corporate media that so many of us share. We can queer the media. These moments are opportunities to break the he-said, she-said confines of debate in order to question, reappropriate, and reinvent the terms–whether this transformation takes place over coffee, on an Internet forum, or live on Democracy Now. This doesn’t require that we grab a notepad and tune into CNN. (I, for one, would love to see the creation of a radical queer zine, The Homosexual Agenda, which would parody the term itself, offering a third way between homophobia and the heteronormative fetishizing of marriage.) The point is that we don’t have to be stuck in a binary of agreeing with what’s said (and buying what’s advertised), or tuning out.

Recently, as an experiment, I took Costello’s quip about Bryan Fischer “see[ing] the homosexual agenda in a bowl of ice cream” seriously, and to the website of the ice cream company closest to my house, Dryer’s. As of this writing, the three images rotate through their splash page portray: a woman cuddling with a young child who resembles her, each with a bowl of ice cream; a middle-aged man and woman feeding each other ice cream; and a woman handing bowls of ice cream to two children. A bowl of ice cream, evidently, is as much an advertisement for procreative, familial heterosexuality as it is for frozen dairy products. That we don’t immediately see the straight agenda swirled into the chocolate and caramel indicates only how well the dominance of heterosexuality, like fake sugars and preservatives, has been hidden.

* Note: The 2012 Yes on Prop 1 campaign deserves limited props for warning that schools would push a “radical straight agenda” in Maine if the proposed same-sex marriage law failed.

Poke Surveillance Culture in the Mechanical Eye

Fun Tips & Tricks to Confuse Cameras

By Anonymous

Surveillance cameras are increasingly forced into public spaces without warning. They are everywhere. If this is the environment we must engage with, then we will use all the tools at our disposal in resisting the processes of facial recognition. The liberal logic of transparency validates the existence of such technologies–one can think back to Aeon Flux which depicts a society where transparency is fetishized and exploited by politicians to at once control the masses and to construct their own spectacular presence. The American center-left is full of what Noam Chomsky would call proto-fascists: closet authoritarians who are quick to dismiss their presented permissive openness for the goal of societal control. Without further ado, here are some simple tips to resist surveillance culture in your town.

Make a Map – Surveillance cameras exist in physical spaces. Knowing where they are is part of the fun. Meet up with friends and split an area into digestible pieces. Now walk through your area, making note of where the cameras are. Pool the information found together with your team and then map it. After you have your map, you can figure out which routes avoid surveillance and which territories to be vigilant within.

Paint Your Face – Facial recognition software focuses on the area from the bridge of your nose to where your eyes meet. Avoid make-up that will highlight distinct facial characteristics like eye shadow and lipstick. Since most software converts photos to black-and-white, monochromatic face-paint works best. Do what you can to scramble your face. Obscure shadows. Think asymmetrically.

Style Your Hair – Use the same approach as you did with your subversive make-up. Asymetricality is key. Cover as much of your face as possible. Especially the area between your eyes and nose. Extra points for cheek coverings.

Smile – When taking photographs for the state (driver’s license photos, mugshots, etc.) make sure to smile. Facial expressions that change the distances of your facial features make it harder for software to recognize your neutral face. Extra points for weirdo expressions.

Turn the Camera Around – If you can, move the camera. Make it face a wall so that its surveillance days are temporarily over.

Bag on the Camera – Get a shopping bag and tie it over an accessible surveillance camera.

Picture Perfect – Trick the camera with a picture of the very street scene it is supposed to be capturing. Set it up in front of the camera lens. See how long it lasts!

Stand in Solidarity with Berliners – 19 February 2013 will see the European Police Congress in Berlin. In preparation, German anarchists of the anti-surveillance CAMOVER are asking people to participate in a game. The only rules: see how many cameras you can covertly destroy. CAMOVER is also calling for a demo on the 16th of February at 8 pm in Mariannenplatz, Berlin.