Holding the Line – Beyond the BART Strike: Land, Labor, and Wealth

In one of the highest profile labor struggles in the US this year, BART transit workers in the San Francisco Bay Area went on strike twice over wages, benefits, and working conditions. The issues behind the strikes and the impact on transportation highlight some labor and land use issues common to many urban societies.

A little background on the 2013 BART strike

In BART’s 2009–2013 contract negotiations, unions accepted over $100 million in cuts which expired in June 2013. Management’s proposal of additional cuts for 2013–2017 led to a strike in July 2013 and a second strike in October 2013 after management refused workers’ offer of binding arbitration. During this second strike, two people were killed by a train being run by management. This strike ended with both sides agreeing to a deal that kept worker compensation on par with inflation.

Inflation, the relentless wage cutter

Often in labor negotiations, management will frame labor’s demands as being huge raises, while labor will defend that they are just maintaining what they have. That’s because inflation requires labor to constantly fight for more money just to maintain a constant standard of living.

Inflation occurs when the amount of money increases faster than the production of goods and services. This is a deliberate policy on the part of the banks, as economic theory states that inflation is a useful tool for lowering wages, as wages tend to be “sticky” — in other words, hard to cut. Wages aren’t the only thing that matter – it’s also about dignified labor that treats workers as people with real human needs.

In good times, transportation workers fought at the front for better working conditions and pay. Now, with society running in reverse, they’re the rear guard against complete destruction of the middle class.

At BART, in addition to the issue of wages, two other issues were prominent – work rules that helped preserve predictable schedules, and paid leave that ensures that workers don’t have to choose between a paycheck and caring for sick family members.

As the service economy makes talent increasingly subjective, transit workers signal the importance of public sector jobs to the minority middle class. Private companies can hide discrimination in handshake hiring and secret salaries. The public sector guards equal opportunity with public compensation records.

It’s true the BART strike made life difficult for commuters and worsened air pollution. Unfortunately, victories don’t come from appealing to the ruling class’s morals. They come from having leverage over their economy.

The commuter system: a product of pollution, gentrification, and transit policy

In the beginning, people moved out of cities because of pollution: coal, chemicals, diseases from raw sewage. Even today, inner cities suffer the worst air pollution — now from ships and cars passing through.

Now the city is unaffordable. Extreme wealth inequality begets extreme hogging of housing. A three–apartment Victorian becomes a single–family house. Foreign wealth buys up empty U.S. apartments as revolution insurance. Whole buildings are used as vacation rentals, second homes, or speculative investments. New highrises often house fewer people than the modest buildings they replaced.

Waves of gentrification spill out from San Francisco to Oakland to the Central Valley and finally to Latin America, where displaced agriculture from the U.S. clearcuts rainforest and seizes indigenous land.

When someone takes up two seats on the BART, someone else has to stand, and if it gets crowded, another person gets left behind on the platform.

In today’s USA, with 5% of the people owning 62% of the wealth, the rich each ride their own private train car, everyone else stands, and billions get locked out on the other side of the border faregates.

Planning for BART began in the 1940s, with funding provided in 1959. The plan: make driving easier for the new suburbs. One year before, the Key System railway had closed, and its tracks on the Bay Bridge and East Bay streets were converted to car lanes.

Compared to the Key System, BART extended into then–rural Fremont and Walnut Creek, but had fewer stops in Berkeley and Oakland (10 versus 100s). Entire neighborhoods were bulldozed to create parking lots around stations. The amount of housing within a 1–hour ride of San Francisco actually decreased.

Going further up the line, why are so many people going to work at all? The workweek remains unchanged since 1937, and average hours have gone up as two incomes become necessary to stay middle class. Productivity is up 400% but wages have only doubled. Where did all the work go?

Given that 62% of the wealth is owned by 5% of the people and that labor creates all wealth, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday is just serving the rich.

Likewise, behind the “average” American’s ecological footprint is this: The majority is living sustainably, while the elite is entirely responsible for the excess. It’s that extra demand that drives the use of less efficient resources like tar sands. Renewable energy already powers half of all U.S. homes — the poorer half — and could power it all today if everyone was middle class.

Where do we go from here?

To end the race to the bottom, the bottom needs to be brought up — and a lid put on the top. It’ll take higher minimum wages, universal healthcare, women’s empowerment, ending discrimination, restoring taxes on high incomes and inheritances, and more. It begins with not asking why some workers have it so good, but rather, why don’t we all?

Adventures in Anarchy Volume 2: Lucy Parsons

While it’s true that anarchists are frequently ignored by labor historians, the lack of writing about Lucy Parsons is especially egregious, even among fellow anarchists. Her relative lack of recognition is hard to explain, given her tremendous contributions. She often spent more time organizing than writing theory, and perhaps contemporary anarchists privilege theorists in their histories. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that, unlike more well–known figures like Emma Goldman, her audience was almost exclusively poor and working class. Or maybe it’s simply because much of her history has been stolen from us: almost immediately after her death, the FBI raided her personal library (including her collection of private writings), and to this day refuses to release it to the public. Regardless of our excuses, she was, at one point, one of the most important anarchists in the American labor movement, and her story is worth knowing.

To be fair, there’s a lot we don’t know about Lucy Parsons. We don’t know where or when she was born (but it was probably around 1853 near Waco, Texas), how she met her future husband or when she married him (or whether she had been married before), or her race (she publicly maintained that she was Native American and chicana, not black, but most biographers claim that the evidence suggests that she was born into slavery with black parentage). We do, however, know that she left Texas for Chicago, Illinois with her husband, Albert Parsons, (a white, Confederate veteran, who became an advocate for racial equality after the civil war) in 1873 to evade legal and vigilante persecution (their marriage was an open defiance of the state’s anti–miscegation laws), and Albert had been shot the year before while registering black voters.

It was an especially difficult time to be poor in Chicago – two years after the Chicago fire, almost all of the money collected by the Relief and Aid Society had been funneled into the Society’s board members’ company accounts, leaving the city’s working class in a state of disaster long after the city had been rebuilt. To make matters worse, Wall Street’s feverish investment in railroad securities (along with other factors) culminated in a financial crisis called the Panic of 1873. The Panic plunged the United States and Europe into a massive depression that lasted until at least 1879, and the working class immigrants and emigrants who helped define the urban core of American cities like Chicago were condemned to a cycle of crippling semi–employment and confinement in almost–uninhabitable slums. When the Parsons arrived in one such Chicago slum (a ghetto of poor German immigrants within today’s Old Town), they were not only exposed to a kind of poverty they had never seen in the American South, but also to the emerging wealth of radical European literature imported by the neighborhood’s recent immigrants. They began attending labor meetings together, and even got involved with local socialist organizations, but the Parsons maintained their old Republican faith in law and peaceful voting as primary vehicles in social change.

All that changed in 1877, when a railway strike in West Virginia erupted into a nationwide wave of walkouts and sabotage, only to be beaten back by endless hoards of cops and corporate security thugs, leaving hundreds of workers dead, including dozens in Chicago. As Lucy later reflected in The Principles of Anarchism, “I then thought as many thousands of earnest, sincere people think, that …. government, could be made an instrument in the hands of the oppressed to alleviate their sufferings. But… this was a mistake. I came to understand that such concentrated power can be always wielded in the interest of the few and at the expense of the many. Government in its last analysis is this power reduced to a science.” So while she was not yet a full–fledged anarchist, her own anarchistic critique of hierarchy was already present in the aftermath of 1877.

Lucy began making and selling dresses to make ends meet after Albert was fired from his printing job and blacklisted from the publishing industry for strike agitation, but continued her work with the Socialist Labor Party (SLP). This work included writing for the party’s semi–official paper, the Socialist. During this period, she advocated for a broader labor movement, one that would encompass forms of unpaid labor frequently performed by women, such as housework and childcare. Lucy knew of this injustice all too well: she gave birth to her two children around this time, and became a prominent speaker for the Working Women’s Union. When the relatively center–left Knights of Labor began accepting women as members, she was among the first to join, but she remained a representative of the militant wing of the movement, advocating for a shorter work week and armed struggle against the police (she eventually left the Knights of Labor for their lack of support for a class basis in revolution. When the SLP split in 1881, she helped form the militant International Working People’s Association (IWPA), a group that saw unions as a potentially violent revolutionary force to destroy class rule, establish gender equality, and create a society organized by free contracts between autonomous communes. Such beliefs brought Parsons into personal contact with firebrands such as Johann Most, an orator who had been exiled from his native Germany for promoting violent political action acts (such as assassination of counter–revolutionary bosses or police) to promote a revolutionary idea. Along with her personal experiences with labor organizing, where striking laborers were openly murdered by police and company security whether or not the strike was a ‘violent’ one, new associates such as Most further radicalized Lucy Parsons’ approach to the labor question, and she soon began publicly identifying not only as an anarchist, but also as an advocate for dedicated sabotage and violence. In one 1884 pamphlet, she encouraged “tramps, the unemployed, the disinherited, and miserable” to “learn the use of explosives!” if they wanted to capture the attention of the upper class. Her radical attitudes extended to her racial politics: unlike most ‘black leaders’ who embraced the appeasement philosophy of Booker T. Washington, and white labor organizers who typically ignored racism and the nation’s wave of lynchings altogether, Lucy insisted that capitalism and racism were dual monsters that could not be fought independently, arguing for against assimilationist politics and racial hierarchies in the labor movement. In 1887, Albert was executed by the State of Illinois in a notorious case called the Haymarket Affair, in which seven anarchists were sentenced to death following a bombing that killed seven Chicago police officers, on the grounds that they may have inspired the unidentified bombing by espousing anarchist ideas. Her status as the case’s most prominent widow thrust Lucy into the international spotlight, where she refused to be the apolitical woman in mourning that the press seemed to hope she would be. Rather than attempting to appear more moderate to the public to help with her husband’s trial, she raised money for the legal team through an aggressive revolutionary speech tour (during which she incurred some legal fees of her own when she was arrested for her fiery invectives). After the execution, she kept the Haymarket affair from falling into obscurity by publishing the final speeches and biographies of the condemned anarchists.

As Chicago’s population swelled and changed, so did the Chicago anarchist movement. The failed attempts by a young anarchist named Alexander Berkman to assassinate a murderous strikebreaking industrialist had failed to incite much more than a stiff prison sentence, Johann Most recapitulated his political stance on terrorism and began to denounce violence, and Lucy increasingly stumbled into ideological squabbles with other leftists. By the time an anarchist finally managed to kill a major American head of state (President McKinley in 1901, by Leon Czolgosz), she had grown pessimistic about the power of sporadic acts of violence to mobilize class war, and was in search of an alternative. In 1905, she joined major organizers Eugene Debs, Mother Jones, Bill Hayward, and others in founding the International Workers of the World (IWW), which abandoned the ‘craft unionism’ typical of the time for ‘industrial unionism’ (meaning that they tried to organize all the workers of entire industries regardless of skill level, rather than simply organizing individual trade groups). The IWW organized African American, Asian, and white workers alike, valued rank–and–file organizing over strong leadership positions, and sought working class struggle through general strikes and direct action rather than through electoral politics. A series of successful campaigns sent the IWW’s membership rates soaring, bringing Lucy under even more scrutiny by the police: her travels were closely watched by coordinated police information networks, and she was often followed or arrested upon entering or leaving a new town or before giving a speech. She was seen as a magnet for uprisings, and not without good reason. During an impromptu 1914 visit to San Francisco, for example, a crowd from the city’s enormous unemployed and homeless population gathered in the hopes of hearing her speak. When the cops arrested Parsons to prevent her from appearing, a thousand people broke instantly into a riot; soon afterwards, the IWW set up shop in San Francisco, and terrified California politicians scrambled to fund employment–boosting public works projects in the hopes of forestalling future riots.

After the outbreak of World War I in 1917, however, an enormous wave of state repression all but decimated the IWW. Lucy had already begun grown suspicious of or exhausted with a number of IWW policies (and anarchism generally). By 1927 she was sitting on the executive council of the strictly–communist legal advocacy group (where she admittedly supported the anarchist political prisoners Sacco & Vanzetti) and publicly aligning herself with the soviet Communist Party (where she worked for fifteen years until her death), and trading jabs with more individualistic anarchists such as Emma Goldman over the repression of anarchists in the newly–formed USSR. She wasn’t shy about her reasons: she wrote that anarchists had fallen into a trap of going to conferences, talking, and going home instead of actually mobilizing, and that she joined the communists because “they are the only bunch making a vigorous protest against the present horrible conditions!” Parsons was less interested in any particular ideology or political philosophy as she was in organizing the working class. Her willingness to ‘switch sides’ probably had less to do with ideological changes as it had to do with changes in the size, composition, and activity of the anarchist movement generally.

On March 7, 1942, Lucy Parsons, nearly 90 years old, died in a house fire, leaving her anarchist friends to bicker with her communist friends over funeral arrangements while the pigs raided her charred home. There’s been a lot of embittered hand–wringing about Lucy’s apparent defection from anarchism, but I think it’s entirely possible to appreciate her contributions to anticapitalist and antistatist movements without agreeing with her later defenses of soviet terror (I sure as fuck don’t agree with her), especially when many of her frustrated criticisms of anarchists are being repeated earnestly within the anarchist tent nearly a century later. In the meantime, learning her life story is like reading the history of American anarchism itself, and while she always insisted that that stories of individuals were unimportant and unworthy of study, I think we can make an exception for her.

Here are some suggestions for further reading, both big and small:

For light readers: “Lucy Parsons: More Dangerous Than a Thousand Rioters”, by Keith Rosenthal. (available for free online)

For readers with intermediate interest: Lucy Parsons: American Revolutionary, by Carolyn Ashbaugh (~250 pages, Charles H. Kerr Publishing Co.)

5 Myths about Worker Cooperatives

The United Nations declared 2012 “the Year of the Cooperative,” and since then there has been an itchy rash of interest in the subject amongst the progressive media and internet. Many articles and documentaries uncritically espouse the supposed virtues of cooperatives without any real investigation into the problems which often arise. I have been a member at a successful cooperative for over a year and half now. When I first began, I was very idealistic. Experience has given me more perspective.

Worker–cooperative business models offer many economic advantages. They are more resistant to depression. Sometimes, they offer better wages and benefits to workers overall, depending on the industry and success of the business. They are often eligible for certain tax breaks thanks to The New Deal. Shared property and ownership is certainly different than private property and ownership; intra–cooperative cooperation is more comparable to the collusion between global corporations than the one–against–all competition most small businesses engage in, and often more profitable. Economic incentives aside, I would like to examine some popular myths about worker cooperatives. I am not seeking to write a scathing exposé, but merely to start a more realistic discussion about these unusual workplaces.

Myth #1: Worker Coops are Radical Spaces

This one came as something of a shock to me. In my experience, most people who work in coops are centrist, vaguely progressive or not politicized at all; many have absolutely no interest in discussing things on a historical scale. I had more political conversations at my previous jobs in kitchens with fellow workers, laughing over ovens with a boss in the office we all hated.

Many people are not trying to change anything by being a part of a worker coop — they are simply showing up to a job. Perhaps a more troubling pattern I have noticed is the de–radicalization that happens to worker owners who are politicized. One can easily pour all ones energy into a coop, to the exclusion of one’s outside life. Perhaps a certain complacency sets in. One wakes up and realizes that they’ve quietly joined the middle class through a back door, without ever having intended to.

Myth #2: Worker Coops are a Way out of Capitalism

Profit is the primary goal in business. Many customers assume that all worker cooperatives have their best interests at heart. I have heard people insist that cooperatives are inherently more inclusive, more “just” a way to “save the economy and save the Earth.” This is absurd. Worker coops are businesses and often function in the same ways that all businesses do — reinforcing privilege, cutting corners, producing excess waste and using disingenuous advertisement. At my workplace, we cut many corners simply because everybody is stretched thin and exhausted. Worker cooperatives are arguably a more “sustainable” version of capitalism — a model of private, group ownership rather than private, individual ownership. Coops do not pose any threat to the atrocities of capitalism and often engage in systemic exploitation as well.

This need not necessarily be the case. I do think there is potential for worker cooperatives to have a more aggressive stance that actively confronts capitalism. We certainly have the capabilities to re–write our bylaws as long as they adhere to certain legal standards, and experiment with entirely different ways of “doing business.” There are limitations, both legal and economic, however most of the limitations have more to do with how indoctrinated we all are into systems of oppression. Imagine a restaurant that had a permanent free item on its menu or a machining coop that refused to serve oil or natural gas companies. Worker coops do offer a direct way of confronting these issues and examining ones attitudes, desires and assumptions about what business is.

Myth #3: Coop Owners Share Fate, Equal Power and Equal Pay

Coop owners do not share fate if they are just showing up to a job which they have every intention of leaving within several years. Coop owners will never have equal power because all people have unequal faculties, capabilities, charisma and foresight. Larger coops generally do not have equal pay nor power; they simply use more “equitable” pay scales for executives and workers, all of which receive share of the corporation and the right to vote. I strongly recommend reading up on the Mondragon Corporation, self–proclaimed leader of the cooperative movement which employs over 83,000 people. That number does not include the multitude of Chinese factory workers that manufacture parts for them oversees.

On the other end of the spectrum, some cooperatives are beginning to pay based on need rather than work — perhaps a genuinely radical idea. Persons with dependents are automatically placed on a higher pay scale. How one perceives “need” could become a difficult determination to make, however I feel that need–based pay is an exciting idea worth exploring.

Myth #4: Individuals Cannot Control the Business to the Detriment of Other Members

Modified consensus may ensure that one person cannot make a large decision unilaterally. However, it does nothing to protect members from the inevitable and constant struggles, manipulation and almost Machiavellian power dynamics that can come into play. True, an individual does not have control, but they do have the power to coerce.

At best, coercion is the only way to get anything done at a coop. At worst, members seize and guard responsibility for administrative tasks that make others dependent upon them, i.e., payroll, then use their position as leverage by threatening to leave if something fails to go their way. Some coops have neatly defined political parties with a few strong leaders. Some are defined more by individual leaders which vie for favor using everything at their disposal. Some coops are small enough that these problems never really blossom into clear patterns; however, I would imagine that they do in any group over eight members.

At my coop, most work is accomplished through empowered committees. Perhaps because it is so impossible to get things done in a larger group, having small voluntary groups is absolutely necessary. Some committees are more effective than others but we all seem to have a lot of fun. All my favorite moments have been working closely with one to three other people. In these smaller groups, honest communication and transparency is easy. We support and know one another. We share a clear common aim and trust one another’s autonomy.

Myth #5: Democracy is Good

The best possible compromise leaves everybody slightly dissatisfied. Participatory democracy is often more swayed by social pressure than deliberate decision making or consent. Making decisions at a glacial pace, the modus operandi of coops, causes as many problems as it avoids. Often, by the time people are able to meet, the subject at hand has become irrelevant. When a decision is made, it is often never followed up on, enforced or even remembered. When consensus is reached, it is often simply half–hearted rubber stamping. At my coop, people tend to agree with anything, listlessly holding their thumbs up while glancing at the clock.

When people do act with agency, they may be punished by being socially ostracized and alienated from others regardless of outcome. More often than not, people desperately rely on precedent, perhaps out of fear, as if it were a law to rule our actions. We often say, “The more you stick your neck out, the more you get your head bit off.” It is something we accept about our situation like gravity. A poster we have on our office wall sums it up well.








Like the many crumbs left along the trails of institutional memory, nobody knows where this poster came from, how long it has been on our wall nor who put it up to begin with. The ink is red and it is stained a blotchy tea–brown color with age. Nobody likes it, yet nobody takes it down. Perhaps as much as we resent it, we also have a certain love for it.

As much as we all seem to dislike our coop, and often dislike one another, there is a current of “familial” affection that is undeniable. I think the only thing that prevents somebody from burning the place down and running off with the insurance money is that we actually do have genuine love for one another. I feel that this is rather unique in a workplace. Cooperativism has many problems, but it might create more space for fierce loyalties, close bonds and even begrudging acceptance of one another’s faults, by forcing us to take a little responsibility for one another’s well–being.

Blatz Reunites : the Cultural Earthquake Felt 'Round the Bay

Disclaimer: My intent for this piece was to give the readers a glimpse into the bay area punk scene, more specifically, the Blatz reunion show that I attended in December 2013. I felt it was important to include this in Slingshot as a reminder that our counter–culture and the music shows that we attend can be an escape from the struggles that we face in our daily lives. Unfortunately, my piece failed to mention providing a safe space for all. On the night of the show, a trans member in our community was violently assaulted outside the venue by a group of skinheads. I learned this from a member of the collective while writing this article. Trying to get the details of the attack was hard, as it seemed that no one could give me any information. My failure to include this topic upset many collective members and there were angry emails in our inbox regarding the issue. On the morning of the layout party, the collective had a heated discussion about the issue and resolved that I write a disclaimer, while another member would write a response. If you have any feedback or want to further the discussion, please email us at slingshot@tao.ca. We’d love to hear from you.

When Blatz formed in 1989, I was barely 2–years–old and so was the 924 Gilman Street Project. Any punk from the bay area can tell you that this venue, along with the bands that performed on it’s stage, had a huge part in creating the diverse and politically charged scene that we have today. An all–ages venue with an anything–goes–attitude was the perfect platform for a band like Blatz. This east bay band had 5, sometimes 6 members, who were mostly in their teens. Their performances were messy, chaotic, and fun, which helped them gain several fans from the bay area and beyond.

The legend that surrounded Blatz would make sure I would hear them as a teen. In high school, my friends and I would escape our lifeless, suburban hometown to the cool streets of Berkeley. Our favorite place to hangout was Telegraph Avenue, more specifically, Amoeba Records. As we cruised the aisles looking for new music to discover, I came across the ‘Shit Split’ by Blatz and Filth. I especially loved the Blatz side thanks to the shrieking female vocals and the anthemic songs about fucking shit up. When I got my drivers license, that specific cd ended up getting scratched up and lost inside my car forever.

Fast forward to December 2013, it was announced that Blatz would be reuniting to play a show at Gilman at the end of the month. Odd, since several of the members lived in different parts of the states and hadn’t played together as a band in 21 years. It turns out this was a benefit show for their friend, Mike–O the Psycho of Filth, who is fighting cancer. The buzz surrounding this show was huge and was

talked about through various circles in the punk community. People who hadn’t seen Blatz in decades and people who hadn’t even seen them at all would finally get their chance. I was stoked.

On the night of December 27th, 2013, I arrived at the venue with some friends and was surprised that the line wasn’t snaked around the block as previous reunion shows at Gilman have been (ie: FILTH). Several

people I know bought advance tickets online for $20, while others decided to stay home, thinking there was no chance they were getting in. At 7pm, the volunteers opened the doors and started letting everyone in.

The asking price for the show was a sliding scale of $5–$20, all proceeds going to Mike from Filth to help with his medical expenses. After paying my share, I checked out the merch tables where they were selling Blatz t–shirts, records, and even a few zines. Not wanting to spend my money on merch, I decided to walk across the street to Pyramid Brewery to drink with old and new friends. After hearing stories about “the good ol’ days of Gilman” and sharing several pitchers, we decided it was time to head back and see what was happening.

As we entered Gilman, the crowd had tripled in size. Trying to squeeze my way to the bathroom was a feat, but I made it to the graffiti drenched stall to empty my bladder before watching the main attraction. Special Forces was the last band to play before Blatz and I caught the tail–end of their set. The band was wearing ski masks and had a fog machine onstage. Nice try, but even dramatic stage theatrics didn’t phase the crowd who were waiting to see the headlining band. I had missed Aspergers, World of Shit, and Death March, but that was fine by me. As Special Forces closed their set and thanked the crowd, I made my way to the stage to secure a spot in the first few rows. As I looked around, I saw a lot of familiar faces and the energy in the room was mostly excitement. The excitement increased as the members took the stage to set–up their instruments. All original members of the band were there except John Santos, their sometimes bass player and co–founder. The nervous energy was heightened for the band as all eyes were on them as they fumbled onstage to get everything in place. Jesse Luscious and Robert Eggplant were yelling about something, Marshall Stax looked calm, Anna Joy Springer and Joey Perales looked excited, Annie Lalania looked nervous. At around 11pm, the band was ready to play. Springer asked the crowd to send good vibes to Mike Filth and then they jumped into ‘Homemade Speed.’ The crowd instantly started swaying back and forth and sang along to every word. After the first song, the crowd finally recovered and some

people from the audience tried to hop on stage but were shot down by Luscious, who waved a finger in their face and told them to get off the stage. It seemed both Luscious and Springer had control over the crowd, both of them charismatic and confident, while the other members held down their instruments. The band sounded great, transmitting all their punk energy into the crowd even though they had confessed to only practicing once before the show. A trash bag of shredded newspapers was revealed and members of the band and audience started throwing paper around the room. I’m just glad it wasn’t cat food, which I heard Blatz liked to throw at the audience back in the day.

When the band broke into their cover of ‘Nausea’ by X, all hell broke loose. The sea of bodies went from swaying back and forth, to full on storming the stage. After almost getting trampled, I had no choice but to hop onstage where I made my way near the drum kit. The view from up top was amazing. I looked into the crowd and felt like I knew everyone there, whether it was through zines, their bands, or going to shows. The entire place was packed and that’s when I realized how truly special this band was. Blatz still sounded fresh, still had chemistry, and still had the ability to bring so many people out to a place that they helped create. The band played almost all of their songs, and at the end of their set, Springer thanked everyone for coming out to help support Mike, telling the crowd that “we have to take care of each other.” Unfortunately not everyone was taken care of that night. The day after the show, it was revealed that a trans member of our community was violently assaulted outside the venue. Whether or not those people were held accountable, I’m not sure. After the band stopped playing, hundreds of sweaty punks exited the venue, everyone hung around outside looking energized and excited about what they had just experienced.

Most reunion shows leave me feeling depressed, wondering why I wasted
my time seeing a band that should have stayed in the past. Fortunately this was not the case with Blatz. As a bay area native, the energy I felt at this show was one I hadn’t experienced in a long time and I have to wonder if this is what it was like to be a part of the scene that Blatz was a part of in the early 90’s. This specific scene has a rich history that can be traced back to the late 70’s through fanzines like Maximum Rock N Roll and venues like the 924 Gilman Street Project, both originating in Berkeley and both affected by the recent economy. As we all continue the fight to survive, whether it’s combating the government, poverty, or sexist, racist, and classist assholes, Blatz reuniting was a reminder for all of us to get together and ‘fuk shit up.’

No Space for Silence in Safety

While we acknowledge the cultural relevance of the Blatz show at 924 Gilman, we do so only while simultaneously recognizing and honoring the violent reality present that evening in a space with an empty claim to safety. The music scenes that celebrated this concert sadly omitted key aspects of the night’s events. In covering this show, we refuse to replicate dominant culture by centralizing the voice of dominant culture; instead we centralize the experience of our trans sister. Instead, we offer a brutal examination of the normalization of the trans brutality of a member of our community who was attacked after the show and abandoned by the silence of her peers. The survivor, after befriending a cis female at the show who was clandestinely part of a group of nazi skins on the lookout for a person to complete a violent initiation ritual, was followed from the venue, choked, punched, held to the ground and threatened with being taken by force to be further injured in another location. The survivor blacked out and managed to escape. She was subsequently denied reentry into Gilman on the basis of her distress, a tragic lack of connection with Gilman’s desire to be a “safe” space for marginalized people.

What is the experience of this trauma within the experience of dominant culture, which perpetuates attitudes that normalize, excuse, tolerate, and condone violence to queers?

This situation is just one instance of violence that pervades capitalist realities, that spills over into so–called safe spaces, often ignored. The violence is complex and comes from many intersecting facets in our daily lives of who we are, our choices and our privilege that each of us have.

The discussion needs to expand. It is important to not invalidate people’s rage, pain, anger, etc. that result from traumatic events or people’s feelings of lack of concern by communities, collectives, or other projects that oppose capitalism. The necessity lies in aiding each other in our personal survival (by protecting and defending our hearts and our heartfolx, giving people space/time/ resources to heal or reflect) and the attempt to make radical spaces and projects sustainable and as safe as possible.

This is not the end of this conversation in Slingshot, but a beginning.

Bashback appears to be actively recruiting and cracking skulls again, and the radical community’s frequent inattention to violence against trans/queer people makes its revival more relevant than ever. Loved one, dear one, dear heart, you belong here. We will make sure of it. Next time we don’t bash back, we shoot first.

You Don't Need a Weatherman to Know Which Way the Wind Blows

On November 6 I was able to attend a speech given by ex–Weather Underground Organization (WUO) cadre and educator Bill Ayers in Berkeley. The WUO was one of many urban guerrilla groups that emerged from the New Left in the 1960s and ’70s, though one of the more prominent because of its membership’s leadership in the 100,000 strong Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and the length of it’s campaign against the U$ government and its racism both here, in Vietnam and elsewhere especially in Latin America. After getting on to the complimentary seats list on behalf of Slingshot, I grabbed a stack of 100 copies of the paper from the Long Haul Infoshop and meandered to the Hillside Club. The usual gauntlet of beady–eyed sectarians distributing pamphlets to the masses outside was sparse. A couple Spartacists who for a change didn’t hassle me for not taking up exactly their line and someone from KPFA, the local Pacifica station that this was a benefit for and I were it compared to the Commie alphabet soup I’m used to from places like Chicago and Cleveland.

After being introduced to a packed room, Ayers introduced his long time partner who was also in the WUO and an educator, Bernardine Dohrn. He started talking about the 2008 Presidential Campaign, and how Hillary Clinton was actually the first person to question Obama about his relationship with Ayers, before the McCain campaign really ran with it. I think this is relevant to radicals because she was also the one to start in on Obama about whether or not he is a birth right citizen; sometimes radicals do get caught up in Democratic politics and it might be a good idea as some radicals start to think about possible intervention in the 2016 elections that we not forget the not so subtle racism and, basically Red baiting in the Clinton campaign.

He went on to talk a great deal about his family, saying Dohrn used to joke that they only survived 11 years together on the run because she never told him they were underground.

Dohrn talked about resisting the Grand Jury invoked after the 1981 Brinks robbery which left three people dead and a number of radicals in prison including two ex–WUO cadre, Kathy Boudin and David Gilbert. She described Grand Juries, including how they started in England and how they along with prisons should be abolished. She described the prisoner support she received, and how she felt like she was supporting her visitors more than vice versa, a feeling I’ve gotten from pen palling with political prisoners and prisoners of war! She concluded with how her mother, who had voted for Sen. Joseph McCarthy three times, smuggled a homemade chocolate chip cookie into prison for her in her bra! Ayers went on to read from the part of his new memoirs that dealt with this time.

The host brought up a part of the book regarding talking with Tea Partiers, and Ayers responded giving examples of talking with all kinds of people and the meaninglessness of labels.

Ayers was asked about his stance on Obama and Arnie Duncan’s educational policies. He talked about how both of their educational policies have a corporate nature involving privatization and standardized tests. He went on to say all kids should have access to the education children of these politicians get. He told some illustrative stories then Dohrn talked about the Chicago teachers’ strike in 2012. Attacks on public education are an important part of the current capitalist/neo–liberal agenda. Resistance in places like Chicago are very important and potentially radical such as the occupation of the Whittier Field House in Pilsen, Chi back in ’10.

Ayers emphasized how Obama is an admittedly moderate politician, and then Dohrn pointed out how it’s irrelevant because “he sits in the throne of empire,” we live in an empire in decline and we need to acknowledge that and organize at the grassroots. Ayers expanded on the need for grassroots organizing.

They were asked if the WUO ruined the movement and what advice they have for young radicals. Dohrn replied she had no advice for young people, but plenty for old ones, follow the youth! She praised groups like the Immigrant Youth Justice League and the queer movement and the wide anti–war sentiment from when Obama proposed military action against Syria. She talked about harnessing that momentum and also praised Code Pink. If I’m not mistaken all references to the queer movement were monolithic.

Ayers followed advocating that we all think about what we can do for peace everyday and act on it, not just when there’s a war. He talked about how the G8 was prevented from meeting in Chi and described the NATO protests last year and how the Black Bloc’s slogan, “Shit’s fucked up!” was something we could all get behind. He also spoke highly of the Iraq and Afghan Veterans Against the War and was seconded by Dohrn.

Dohrn talked about how the WUO was only a small part of the New Left, and how people should research many other groups from the era such as the Black Panthers. She praised the women’s movement of the time and how many New Leftists participated in the turn towards labor, organizing in the factories and how that’s continued to effect the labor movement today.

Ayers pointed out that the movement wasn’t confined to the ’60s and paraphrased the Port Huron Statement saying we are all part of this generation, looking uncomfortably at the world we inherit. He talked about the changes in the citizens of the U$ becoming against the war in Vietnam and praised the Black Freedom Movement and its work against the war, desertion by troops and the Vietnam Veterans Against the War.

Dohrn talked about how the Vietnam War still affects people here, and the need for a Truth and Reconciliation Committee like in South Africa at the end of Apartheid. Ayers admitted the WUO made a thousand mistakes but opposing the war with every fiber of their bodies was not one of them. Dohrn brought up how they weren’t just an anti–war group, they were trying to make a revolution, and she wishes they hadn’t used the language of war in their rhetoric.

The last question they fielded was about how we can fight back against the attack on public education. Ayers talked about the need to re–frame the discussion. Every kid in public schools deserves a good education and this struggle is linked to environmentalism, poverty, women’s rights and Dohrn added racial justice.

After the talk, I was able to ask Dohrn and Ayers a few questions.

AI: I recently read in Jane Alpert’s memoirs (Growing Up Underground, also available to borrow from the Long Haul!) that the code name for the Weather Underground was the eggplant and I’ve got a comrade in town, that’s his street name so I thought it was kind of funny so I started calling him The Eggplant whenever I refer to him.

BD: laughs.

AI: I was just wondering why? Why the eggplant?

BD: The Eggplant That Ate Chicago. [A song by the Dr. West’s Medicine Show and Junk Band, which I think I remembered reading this in Fugitive Days by Bill Ayers years ago since I knew the song from Dr. Demento broadcasts.]

AI: Oh, okay, ’cause of the Days of Rage.

BD: Yes. Well just because SDS came out of the National Office, was in Chicago, and I was born there, some of us were from there. Just that was the connection.

AI: I came in on a press pass from Slingshot and you know from reading collections like Weatherman and seeing the old film Underground I realized the importance of controlling our own media. New Left Notes (SDS’s journal) and you even did a journal and a political statement (Osawatomie and Prairie Fire: The Politics of Revolutionary Anti–Imperialism, along with many communiques) while you were underground. You talked a lot about mainstream media but only a little about underground, not even underground but the DIY stuff like KPFA, could you expand a bit about the importance of controlling our own media?

BA: I spend very little time whining about the mainstream media. The reality is that every movement has and develops its own media, it’s part of building a movement, is develop your own media and your own means of communication. One of the things that I think is an indication of the weakness of the progressive movement now and then is that we get into these silly kind of arguments about how the press is reporting us as if that’s what makes a movement. That doesn’t make a movement. So if the New York Times says that there were 50,000 of us in Washington and really there were 100,000 a lot of progressives get very agitated and their nose out of joint about that I don’t. I don’t look to the New York Times for affirmation, I don’t look to the Washington Post to see if I’m a real person. As we build a movement we have to build our own ways to communicate. The wonderful thing, you can go through history, all social movements have done this, but the wonderful thing about this moment is that today, our generation, this generation has more access to more information, and to more different kinds of formats than we ever had in history. We have to use that as a tool to help us build a revolution. That’s what we have to do, so yes, independent media.

Is Love the Internet?

American interactions with online dating represent a compartmentalization of human social processes. It is either an answer for those who feel they do not have time to be present in the world or for those who have no desire for such engagement. The comfort of being matched with people labeled compatible on an essentially superficial basis outweighs the pleasures of spontaneity for users. More than 40 million Americans have used online dating platforms, yet people have not accepted the medium wholeheartedly.

A recent flurry of media coverage is either a cementing of the place of such sites or its death knell. Writing for New York Magazine, Maureen O’Connor makes the claim that “There is no difference between online and ‘real–life’ dating.” For O’Connor, not only is online dating not different from real–life, but its benefits outweigh the problems, placing it in a secure position. “It’s not an experiment we perform,” she writes, “but a behavior integral to the creation and maintenance of modern relationships.”

Friends who have used such sites have expressed concern over sexual predators who find their way onto a dating profile. Amanda Hess for Slate writes that the perceived desperateness of posting a dating profile may lead to its downfall. Arguably such perceptions, which polls show are common, already shape the nature of online dating. Are we falling in love with people or with constructed representations of what may or may not be? More than half of online daters have found a match they felt “seriously misrepresented themselves in their profile” (Hess). And there are actually services that are available for people in which professional writers will do all the work. This can include everything from profile management to writing the messages that form a connection. The hapless person would just need to show up to the date and perhaps give the occasional “okay.”

Online social processes create new forms of work for humans searching for friendship, intimacy, and love. Like O’Connor states, these are processes of maintenance – modern narratives of Late Capitalism, glimmerings of a future social order already predicted in whispers by tech grunts on break. With online dating, Jill Filipovic posits in her Guardian UK article, we are empowered to “reject someone politely and efficiently” (emphasis added). And like another online application for employment, we are put in the position to answer pages of questions that cannot ever truly reflect our desires. The answer shouldn’t be the regimentation of love with the proliferation of forms filled out during a lunch break or a commute. The time spent online would otherwise be spent on life–affirming activities (although obvious enough, a recently published study conducted by economist Scott Wallsten supports this notion). Paradoxically, many seek an escape from the flurry of web–mediated activity in online dating. The medium is the message. The forms that we use to connect change the nature of the connections made. An analogous situation can be found in the effects of texting on human conversation IRL. Yet advocates may stress that such results are negligible, given the overwhelming benefits.

“We all know that the Internet can be a powerful tool for connecting people,” Amanda Hess writes, “so why do these sites still carry some stigma?” Users of dating interfaces often feel as if there is something missing from such processes. Still, people are drawn to the sites, which are often disembodied from the social reality we find ourselves in. As resilient as humans appear to be, problems present themselves in Internet searches for human connection – these are problems of representation. Users construct their profiles, selecting answers to questions that might not otherwise be posed or prove relevant. People are nonetheless drawn to the sites, while at the same time holding their reservations. The quest is disjointed and, in many ways, never really integrated into our lives. Ideally, online dating should negate itself – provide its escape. Is this not a necessarily desperate act?

What new enemies of life are being born in the online dating boom? Given the speed of business decisions and successes, many in tech become frozen in a perpetual adolescence. People’s lives are less important than the chance to make money. This often involves the direct exploitation of people’s personal information.

There is an increased reliance on increasingly accessible devices for what might be considered administrative functions in our daily lives. The Internet has validated its importance in the eyes of many. What began as a government research project quickly drew the interest of hobbyists who treated the net as a new Citizens Band radio – connecting with interested individuals to exchange information. On the surface, this is all very benign. The threat is a fragmentation into a society of individuals that can more easily be consumed by capital. We become willing subjects, creating the consumable content, embracing our position as a complex statistic.

With a majority of Americans now on social networking sites, the decision to cease the process of identity creation online becomes more and more appealing. The challenge is how — and how quickly — this decision will constitute a new social consciousness. DeleteYourAccount.com provides a search service that allows you to find accounts connected to your name on thirty–six sites. From there, you’ll find instructions for account deletion.

Because of an increased complexity of the means of social control through various media, we have become increasingly conscious of the limitations imposed by newly embraced technologies. At times, our familiarity with the game of social engineering affords us some agency. We must commit to taking this further. Will we dare to stand apart? Will we, despite our world–weariness, choose to step outside?

How Afraid They Really Are: Resisting State Repression of Environmental and Animal Rights Activists

On October 30, 2013, I was arrested outside of Miami with eight others at a protest put on by the grassroots animal rights group Smash HLS. Though this was the first time I had attended a Smash HLS protest, I had been following their actions long before I came to Florida. They formed to protest Huntingdon Life Sciences, or HLS, one of the largest animal testing companies on the planet. HLS was made famous, and bankrupted, by Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC), an international grassroots group that used above–ground tactics, including home demonstrations, mass call–ins and email protests, to put pressure on HLS as well as anyone working with the company. Now Smash HLS uses similar tactics to target companies in South Florida, and they have had impressive victories, including stopping five airlines from transporting primates for animal testing, and recently helping to close down a lab owned by animal testing supplier Primate Products.

The October 30 protest was at a facility owned by a company that breeds and transports primates for animal testing and entertainment. When I arrived the protest seemed to be pretty uneventful—just a dozen or so people standing around holding signs. But that all changed when a van from inside the facility drove up to the gate where I was standing and drove the vehicle directly into the crowd of protesters. It was my impression that one of my friends in the crowd had been hit and was in danger of being run over by the vehicle. I was screaming at the van to stop, but it did not—rather, it swerved back and forth, nearly hitting, and apparently aiming for, other protesters. Finally, about a quarter mile later, the van stopped. Suddenly I was surrounded on all sides by unmarked cars and plain–clothes cops—Florida Department of Law Enforcement and Department of Homeland Security—aiming their hostility and weapons at me and the other protesters.

The officers bragged that they had been hiding and watching us, and had even videotaped the entire encounter. I don’t know whether this is true—I tend not to put much faith in the statements of cops. But, if I’m to believe what they shouted at me while I was being slammed to the ground, kneed in the back and handcuffed, then it would appear as if they secretly observed us in a very dangerous situation and did nothing to intervene. I’ve since found out that one of the men in the van was an undercover police officer, yet he was laughing and flipping us off as they endangered our lives. The police clearly escalated the event with purpose, instructing the company employee driving the van to put our lives at risk in hopes of getting a reaction out of us. The activists involved received charges ranging from disorderly conduct to assault. The police allege that the nine of us “attacked” the vehicle, and the prosecution claims we caused $4,600 in damage. While we were arrested, the driver of the van was allowed to go without question, and is facing no charges.

This is not an isolated incident, or an extreme case, but part of a pattern of growing federal and state repression of animal rights and environmental activists in this country. The government is hell–bent on squashing the people’s mounting concerns over rampant environmental destruction and animal exploitation, as well as the groups and individuals willing to fight back against it, regardless of how peaceful and legal the activities of such activists are. Hacker Jeremy Hammond was just sentenced to 10 years for leaking documents from the intelligence firm Stratfor, which gathers intelligence on activists and uses it to stop their free speech and civil disobedience activities. Internal documents from TransCanada concerning the activists fighting the Keystone XL pipeline, as well as the recent Snowden leak regarding NSA spying and PRISM, demonstrate that more than ever the government and corporations are working hand–in–hand to target and eliminate activists, while law enforcement officers protect the illegal and destructive practices of those corporations.

This relationship between law enforcement and corporations was demonstrated again four days before my arrest, when a group of activists from the Global Justice Ecology Project (GJEP) and Everglades Earth First! (EEF!) were giving presentations on the dangers of genetically engineered (GE) trees in Florida, for which they were banned from the University of Florida. They were not protesting, nor were they involved in any civil disobedience activities; they were simply informing those who wish to listen about this practice taking place in our own backyards, and the questionable science behind it.

This didn’t stop the state from intervening when the group arrived at the University of Florida on October 26, where they were scheduled to give a presentation. The University of Florida has received millions of dollars in grants from the government to conduct research into GE trees, and thus has a strong interest in silencing all opposition to such research. At the UF campus, presenters and others with them were met by a group of police who told them that the presentation had been canceled, threatened the presenters with arrests if they did not leave the property, and banned all the individuals in the group from UF campus for three years.

Four days later, the day of the Smash HLS protest, the GE Tree Roadshow was slated to give a presentation to students at Palm Beach State College in Boca Raton, Florida. That morning, Campus Provost Dr. Bernadette M. Russel received a phone call from the FBI warning her about the presentation and claiming that the presenters were known to be “disruptive.” Russel told the student who organized the event that she must get permission before inviting the presenters or their groups to the campus again, and posted a security guard outside the room during the presentation.

The police, FBI, and universities were trying to silence an educational roadshow practicing free speech activity at universities to which they were personally invited by students and professors. But that’s the pattern that the government is making very clear. They do not target groups or individuals because of what they do, but rather because of who they know and what they believe. The GE Tree Roadshow was targeted because they were spreading a message that runs counter to the researchers, corporations, universities and government agencies that stand to profit from genetic engineering. They simply do not want the public to hear both sides of the story.

I was attending that day’s Smash HLS demonstration in part so I could pass out fliers about Tyler Lang and Kevin Olliff, two animal rights activists from Los Angeles who were being held in Woodford County Jail in rural Illinois and charged with “possession of burglary tools.” The fliers encouraged people to spread the word about their mistreatment at the hands of the jail, which was not allowing them access to books, a move which Kevin had been protesting with a hunger strike for over a week. Police at the Smash HLS protest arrested me before I was able to pass out the fliers. When my bag was finally returned, the stack of fliers had been removed and replaced with a pair of latex gloves. Thankfully, the book ban at Woodford County Jail was finally lifted while I was being held in Miami–Dade County jail, and Kevin was able to end his hunger strike. On November 6, Tyler was offered a plea deal, and is now free. Kevin is still inside, as a plea deal of two years in prison was rejected by the judge.

The absurdity of complaining about my treatment at the hands of the police while attempting to pass out fliers for Kevin and Tyler never escaped me. While the bail for all nine of us arrested at the Smash HLS event totaled over $31,000, Tyler alone was slapped with a $100,000 bail, and Kevin’s was $200,000. The bails seem to be a reaction not to what Kevin and Tyler did—especially since every one of the “burglary tools” allegedly in their possession is legal to possess—but to who they know and what they believe.

This is made evident not just by the high bails, or by their inhumane treatment in the jail once it was discovered that they were animal rights activists (which included a refusal to provide medical consultations or adequate food, a removal of their access to email, the ban on books, and for Kevin, threats of forced feeding), but also by the FBI’s involvement in the case. Even though neither Tyler nor Kevin are charged with doing anything that had to do with their animal rights activities, it was reported on October 22 that the FBI has been questioning friends of Kevin and Tyler in Los Angeles, and even threatening some of these friends with prosecution for perjury. Clearly the state’s goal is not simply to punish Kevin and Tyler for supposedly breaking a law, but to fracture and intimidate activist communities in general.

All of the incidents I’ve mentioned occurred before anyone was convicted of a crime. The jail time, fines, interrogations and unjust treatment have taken place without anyone being found guilty of anything. And with good reason. The government knows that it is often very much full of shit. One of the activists arrested with me at the Smash HLS protest had already been arrested four times while demonstrating with the group, and charged with multiple crimes in most of the arrests, but in each case the charges were dropped. He has never been found guilty. Yet he has served jail time, been mistreated and threatened, and had to pay fines for bail as well as time spent in custody. Law enforcement does all it can to damage activist communities while it still has the upper hand—before the trial process, while it can punish without evidence. And so we spend our time and our few resources raising money to protect people that, for all we know, will soon be found innocent.

Of course, this doesn’t stop us. Tyler attended an anti–vivisection protest the day after he got back home to LA, and has been organizing non–stop since. “When I found out that I was going to be released I knew then and there that I had to get back to activism, I had to get back to speaking out for animals as soon as possible. I knew that if I didn’t I would be giving in to the state’s attempts to silence dissent and effectively allowing them to win. Because state repression only works when we let it, and they know that, when we refuse to hide in our houses because we don’t want to become their next victim, when we reject the fear they try and put in our hearts we show the state and the animal industries that they protect that our movement is strong and ready to do what it takes to protect the natural world and the animals that we share it with. To me, after I was released from jail, I could not think of anything more important than that.”

On November 1, the day that I got out of jail, I attended the last GE Tree Roadshow presentation in Florida. It was very good, and not quite what I would call disruptive. There was a slide show, a few short videos, zines passed out, and an engaging discussion afterward. Audience members were shocked when they were told that this presentation had been banned at UF. Keith Brunner from GJEP, one of the presenters in the GE Tree Roadshow, indicated that all this could be a sign that activists are making a real impact. “State surveillance and repression of resistance movements is nothing new, and I believe we can expect to see more of it as our movements against oppression and domination grow stronger and more effective.”

It isn’t anything new, just another incident. The Green Scare wasn’t very long ago. Jerry Koch is still incarcerated in New York in a Grand Jury investigation for refusing to talk about who he knows and what he believes. What happened at the Smash HLS protest is barely a blip on the radar. Despite how much I thought I knew about the subject, this was a reality check for me personally. No matter how safe and responsible I am myself, I cannot predict or control what the government will do when they feel their agenda is being threatened. But like Tyler said, fear tactics only work on us when we let them. Even though we’re the ones getting locked up, it’s the government and corporations that are showing how afraid they truly are.

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

winterviewpunk@gmail.com, winterviewpunk.wordpress.com

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)

The Art of Foraging

How can you increase your food security, help the environment and live a healthier life for free? Reclaim Foraging! Its like food just grows on trees! And in the San Francisco Bay Area it is insane how much of this food falls from the trees uneaten and unappreciated. Lemons, guavas, strawberry tree fruit, loquats, acorns, olives and plums litter sidewalks and parks. Chickweed, purslane and lambsquarters ubiquitously offer their succulent bodies for our dinner plates. Meanwhile folks are paying high prices in yuppie grocery stores for the same foods that have been shipped from far away. There is a toll on the environment from industrial agriculture, shipping and packaging. Wake up, learn the food around you, participate in your own sustenance and thrive.

When we forage, we eat what is offered to us, we participate in maintaining an ecological balance by eating what is in abundance. We learn the lay of the land and the seasonal changes. We begin to learn and follow the hoops of the ripening webs of life around us. We partake of food that is arguably more nutritionally rich than that grown in the sterile soil of mono–cropped and sprayed industrial farms.

Yes, harvesting and preparing our own food takes time and effort. But it is very tangible work and gathering is old in our bones; we were gatherers much longer than we have been farmers. Isn’t it better to gather your own food than to work a mindless job and pay someone else to provide it? And as we all begin to appreciate the possibilities of producing a substantial portion of our city food locally, we will value useful and edible plants and replace un–useful public and private landscaping with our newly found bounty.

You will expand your palate, impress strangers and be a hit at the potluck. How ’bout some cattail fritters? Chickweed salad? Roasted dandelion root tea? Rosehips and manzanita cider, nettle lasagna, acorn cookies, seaweed cheese puffs? Throw in some snails and roadkill and you have a feast. Bon appetite.