By Jesse D. Palmer
The Long Haul Infoshop in Berkeley will celebrate its 25th birthday Sunday, August 12 7-9 pm at 3124 Shattuck in Berkeley — it opened August 13, 1993. Slingshot has had an office at Long Haul the whole 25 years. The mission in 1993 was to provide a public space for radical events, projects and community building, and the goals remain the same, but what a long strange trip the last 25 years have been.
The Long Haul is simultaneously an inspiring rebellion/escape from the soulless mainstream capitalist nightmare — and a creepy crusty-punk zombie that refuses to die — depending on when you happen to stumble in. Like any loosely-organized, all-volunteer collective project, it has always fallen tragically short from its potential. Along with the mountains of library books, zines and historical archives are piles of dust and a filthy bathroom. Along with a rotating crew of interesting radicals and long-running events like the Anarchist Study Group and Slingshot, there’s always plenty of annoying and dysfunctional people demanding your attention when you’re just trying to mind your own damn business or get something done.
It can be hard to tell who is who — sometimes the same person is both amazing and fundamentally frustrating. An event may start well, and then suddenly erupt into a screaming match or a fist-fight. People talk during the fucking movies, or the power fails during a concert!
The Long Haul has a 99-year lease, so the nightmare doesn’t look like its going to end anytime soon — we’ll have to make the best of it and create as many good events, projects and moments as possible to make up for all the bullshit.
Abusive and sexist people have over and over ruined the space before being banned, burning out and frustrating successive crews of volunteers and allies. But the funny thing is that new people and projects keep wandering in to build the next phase and face the next round of drain-bows.
So while the space has possibly the worst reputation of any radical space in the Bay Area — if not the entire universe — against all odds it is still fresh and new after 25 long years. The name “Long Haul” is no joke.
There’s real possibility within these walls — a big meeting room, relatively affordable rent, an established non-profit structure, lots of supplies and resources right on the Berkeley / Oakland border, towns that still have a lot of fight left in ’em despite so much gentrification.
What the Long Haul needs — which is what it has needed for the whole 25 years — is people to create events, start projects, do stuff, and bring people in to use the space. If you have ideas or energy, the Long Haul wants you.
For the 25th birthday the Infoshop is gonna publish a 25th anniversary zine. If you’ve ever come through or been a volunteer, send your memories, comments, stories, complaints, photos or art to slingshotcollective@ protonmail.com. There might also be a crowdfunding campaign because the Infoshop runs about $1000 a year short on funds. Long live Long Haul! … Oh and did I forget to mention that everyone is welcome to use the toilet?