PPS

Let me say, at the risk of seeming ridiculous, that the true revolutionary is guided by great feelings of love”  –Che

The name of this blog came from two things.  The first and foremost being the Anarchist/Autonomist/Anti-Authoritarian People of Color (APOC) tendency with which I have been an adherent to since the 2009 midwestern U$ farm season after hearing Lorenzo Kom’boa Ervin talk and caucusing with him at the Anarchist Finding Our Roots Conference that spring, then reading his seminal Anarchism and the Black Revolution.  That fall, after the farm season ended for me, I became involved with the third Chicago APOC group.

The second part came from a discussion with two long time comrades and farm friends when I suggested perhaps Che was being ridiculous when he said “that the true revolutionary is guided by great feelings of love.”

I feel like I’ve been drifting away from the APOC tendency slowly but surely for a while.  As I did the research in an attempt to start  a writing project on Shin’ya Ono, one of the people I wrote, Fred Ho, introduced me to some other new ideas ranging from Revolutionary Luddism, to Eco-Socialism and suggested I check out the work of ex-Black Panther Russell Maroon Shoats.  Building ideology is always an ongoing process for me, but at this point I do feel like I should probably stop writing under the rubric of APOC and focus on the possibilities of different tendencies and an in depth study of where the last couple of decades of political struggle have brought us.

Book Review: A New World in Our Hearts

Eight Years of Writings from the Love and Rage Revolutionary Anarchist Federation edited by Roy San Filippo, AK Press, 2003.

This fall will mark the 25th anniversary of the founding of Love and Rage as a network of activists from the U$, Mexico and Canada, organized to produce a revolutionary newspaper, which by 1993 became a membership based federation.  That fall the editor, Roy San Filippo, joined and was in the paper’s production group for three years and served on Love and Rage’s coordinating committee for a term.

Filippo points out in the Introduction that many activists in the post-1999 Seattle World Trade Organization (WTO) protest upsurge began to ask many of the same questions Love and Rage had grappled with upwards of ten years earlier, calling this book “a first step in preserving the organizational legacy, ideas, debates, and history beyond the political life span of the individual members of Love and Rage.”

Filippo describes the editorial process for what was picked for the book, and addresses the accusations of Love and Rage’s crypto-Leninism before going into the first section, Anarchy.

The first article, Always More People Than Cops by Futura Demibold, starts of with the author’s description of a cop car getting bricked during the protests against the 1968 Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Chicago.  It’s used as a radicalizing example for the author, one of many from that week “about power, politics, and class.”

Futura goes on to juxtapose these actions to the Weatherman faction of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) National Action commonly remembered as the Days of Rage the following year, also in Chicago.

Futura returns to the 1968 DNC before starting to critique the then current call to protest the 1996 DNC which also took place in the Windy City.  Futura backtracks again to 1968, writing about participating in a city bus drivers’ strike during the DNC, comparing and contrasting it to the protests.  Futura describes the New Left’s Turn Towards Labor and advocates this as the organizational basis needed to make a revolution in the U$.

Next is a Draft Proposal on the State from Love and Rage’s internal Federation Bulletin.  It’s a pretty standard critique of the state from an anarchist perspective but also backtracks to also critique the rise of the state giving it a bit of a primitivist vibe.  Aside from when the mistaken attribution of Lenin’s concept of the withering away of the state to Marx, it seems pretty solid.  The main thing that it makes me wonder is, what were the other drafts like?  What were some of its critiques?  Forms of direct democracy and potential threats such as new forms of bureaucracy are also outlined.

The next article, Dual Power In the Selva Lacandon by Christopher Day is initially about the Zapatista’s organization and the Mexican government’s repression.  Other groups such as the National Indigenous Congress (CNI) and the Organization of Purhepecha Nation (ONP) are also discussed, before a description of dual power.  After describing a number of different forms and critiques of dual power, Day returns to the subject of the Zapatistas, and how they were able to build dual power in Chiapas.  The communist roots of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) are clearly addressed, as are its Catholic elements, two things many Anarchists in the U$ who claim to support or even emulate the Zapatistas in my experience have refused to acknowledge.  Day continues to alternate between a theoretical analysis of dual power and a chronicle of Zapatista practice.

This article is followed by another internal document, Some Thoughts About Anti-Authoritarianism dealing with the split in Love and Rage during its dieing days of 1998.  It seems to ask more questions than it answers, and mostly leaves me curious about the rest of the debate it was a part of.

The next article backtracks to 1992, and is on the emergence of Black Bloc tactics in North America which only happened the year before in the movement against Operation Desert Storm.

This is followed by The Revolutionary Anarchist Tradition, an explanation of the need to understand the topic followed by a brief history of it from the Russian Revolution through the Spanish Civil War.

Why the Anarchists Lost the Spanish Revolution Response to “The Revolutionary Anarchist Tradition” is printed next, finally giving the book a serious polemical flavor!

The next section, Organization, starts with Love and Rage in the New World Order, a Love and Rage Conference Paper from 1994.  Its firstly about how Love and Rage fit into the then current world happenings, and secondly about how they could move forward in that context.

This is followed by What Kind of Revolutionary Organization is Useful Today? a 1995 Love and Rage editorial.  Beginning with a bold denunciation of liberalism and capitalism, and asserting the need for revolution, the title’s question is quickly asked.  The Marxist-Leninist vanguard party is put forward and cut down just as quickly.  A second strategy of “counter-cultural outposts” such as Infoshops is also briefly examined and in a comradely manner disregarded.  A “third response, revolutionary pluralism, is the position Love and Rage has finally arrived at after six years of debate and struggle.”  A vision of revolutionary direct democracy is articulated, followed by prospects for movement building at a time when organizing was at a low point.

Another Love and Rage editorial, The Role of Structure and Organization in a Revolutionary Movement, is next.  This had also followed the previous article when printed in a successive issue of the paper, though it seems like it should have gone first being very basic and short.

The next article, Demise of the Beehive Collective:  Infoshops Ain’t the Revolution, was written by a co-founder of the Beehive Autonomous Collective, Brad Sigal, who was a member of the group for its whole, brief life.  Infoshops are defined, as what was the then current wave in the U$ which included the Long Haul and Autonomous Zone Infoshops.  The origins of the Beehive Community Space & Infoshop in Washington, DC and its crossover between activism and punk is outlined, followed by many of the issues that seem to plague Infoshops in the U$ such as isolation from the larger communities they are a part of, gentrification and some of the other big questions all too frequently avoided or only lazily addressed of race, class, gender and transience.  Other things such as lack of political direction and cohesion are written about, followed by a critique of the politics usually practiced by Infoshops at the time.  This is expanded on with a re-iteration of how Infoshops can be a part of larger struggles or drop the ball.  Coming chronologically after the two preceding articles all printed in Love and Rage you also get the sense of how these arguments fit into the ideological development of the Federation, though oddly these three articles all from 1995 are all that make up this section.

The next section is Race, starts with one of my all time favorites, To Advance the Class Struggle, Abolish the White Race by Noel Ignatiev.  A scathing advocacy of white people using their unearned privilege to destroy the illusion of white supremacy, I can only imagine the shit storm this started when it came off the presses!  You get an idea with a note from the Production Group taking Ignatiev to task for his apparent refusal to acknowledge the ways white women are still threatened by the state.  But otherwise it’s a fairly solid critique of the intersectionality of race and class and I frequently point to it as a blueprint for how “white ally” can be something other than an oxymoron.  It’s not just an attack on fringe white supremacists, but the entire white mainstream right down to the schools, unions and bosses alike, the so-called justice and welfare systems and even the family itself!

This is followed by an editorial, Building a Multi-Racial/Multi-National Revolutionary Anarchist Organization.  It’s a pretty good argument against narrow nationalism and race based solidarity organizations.  But next up is Response to Multi-Racial Organization Editorial by Joel Olson, a thought provoking article pointing out many errors with the preceding editorial’s line, and the process used to publish it.  Olson also articulates concerns of how organization building can be a distraction from actually taking action, and the need for revolutionary opposition to liberalism, the state and the right.

Next is Draft Resolution on White Supremacy, a 1997 Love and Rage Conference Paper.  Starting with white supremacy’s roots in colonization, slavery and genocide, going through the failure of Leftists in the U$ to acknowledge and confront that ongoing legacy in any real way, then advocating support for self-determination of people of color and reparations, and ending with a warning for Love and Rage to avoid the white Leftist practice of trying to lead communities of color; all of these writings leave me pretty appalled with the current discussions or lack there of on race in the U$.

The final section, Love and Rage, possibly should have gone first, starting with a brief history of the organization, Love and Rage Breaks Up.  This article is mostly about the organization’s downfall and the two groups that came out of it immediately, the Fire by Night Organizing Committee and a faction of signatories to a statement, What We Believe (WWB), which follows.

A response to WWB is next, What We Do by Christopher Day, which among other things is a deep analysis of the Federation’s failures.  Day is very self critical in this account, but also writes about hope for future revolutionary prospects and new ideas such as those of the Zapatistas.

This is followed by Struggle on Three Fronts by Joel Olson.  It’s a critique of the split over WWB’s deeper implication’s with the core politics of Love and Rage, namely debates over anti-statism, white supremacy and dual power.  Olson addressed intersections of oppression and exploitation as he moved through these issues, advocating a “vision of a completely new world in which one’s ‘standard of living’ is judged by the creative control they have over their own lives, not by how much stuff they have.”  Olson also addresses a plurality of articles from the Federation Bulletin (Fed Bull) aside from WWB and the various campaigns and working groups different Love and Rage locals were involved with showing the flurry of activity they were a part of even in the Federation’s dieing months, and this at a time known for its lack of radical goings on!

The book concludes with After Winter Must Come Spring:  a Self-Critical Evaluation of the Life and Death of the Love and Rage Revolutionary Anarchist Federation by the Fire by Night Organizing Committee.  It was a post-break up pamphlet, starting with an introduction moving quickly to a brief history beginning with Love and Rage’s founding “as a ‘continental revolutionary anarchist news monthly’” in Chicago, in November 1989.  Internal politics are interspersed with the major world happenings such as the Gulf War and the Zapatista Uprising, pegging the beginning of the end to be with the publication of The Historical Failure of Anarchism.  If this is accurate, why wasn’t it printed in this fairly short book?  The history ends with the founding of the Fire by Night Organizing Committee.

A Part 2 backtracks to emphasis Love and Rage’s accomplishments and mistakes, both in theory and practice.  A Part 3 outlines the potential and “need for a reinvigorated revolutionary left that is able to incorporate the lessons of the past century and respond creatively to the challenges of the next one.”

This is as true now as it was then.  Printed in 2002, if this book is “a first step in preserving the organizational legacy, ideas, debates, and history beyond the political life span of the individual members of Love and Rage.” a second step is long over due.  There is a Love and Rage archive available at loveandrage.org and a number of other websites contain articles by and about Love and Rage.  But an in depth, systematic study of the polemical debates and activism of Love and Rage, at least of a few core issues such as race and strategy would benefit comrades today greatly since we are facing too many of the same things, many of which are worse.  A look towards the work of directly related post Love and Rage groups  such as Bring the Ruckus would also be invaluable to people who continue to struggle for radical change today.  If you are interested in helping with this, please write alextheweaver at gmail dot com!

Post Script

I believe this is the last of the articles I originally wrote for POCO that I haven’t posted in at least one version or another.  The last couple posts I made weren’t to revive this blog but to tie off the loose ends.  This should be the final post.

Tucson Take Back The Night 2012 Report Back

On Tuesday April 10th, I went to the parking lot of Time Market in Tucson, Arizona for a community Take Back The Night march against sexual assault and violence.  When the first handful of people with signs and a banner gathered, I approached.  I was a little stressed out and disappointed that I was the only male bodied person present, but someone offered me a sign and assured me they were grateful I was there.  I took a sign that read “RAPE DESTROYS Communities” which though it was the first one I saw, really summed up what I had been thinking but couldn’t articulate on my own about why I was there.  I said I was disturbed that I was the only guy there, but took the sign and stood by University Ave. so people passing by could read it.

I had marched in a Take Back The Night demonstration in Madison, Wisconsin in April 2005, and though I thought the original Slut Walk was a righteous response to pig’s blaming survivors’ for their own abuse, I was disturbed by the phenomenon that followed, and never would have marched in one because I would feel sleazy, yet feel that it is incredibly important that male bodied people support and participate in such events against sexual assault and harrasment.
As our crowd grew to about two dozen people, finally a few other male bodied people showed up, and I felt a little better though I was disappointed by how small our crowd was.  We marched to Geronimo Plaza, and I was glad to see dozens of people already there, including many other males.  Another much larger march entered from the University of Arizona Campus, and there might have been upwards of two hundred people there, especially factoring in turn over.
Someone gave me a pamphlet titled “HOW TO HELP SOMEONE IN CRISIS” which I promptly took and read.  There were speak outs and performances including a ceremony and dancing by Danza AZTECA Xochipili Centeotl and the keynote speech was made by Chican@, trans Dr. Frank Galarte who spoke not only as a survivor of sexual assault, but also how we can’t talk about ending sexism with talking about racism.  This intersectionality had been in the forefront of my thoughts all evening, and I shouted “Right on!” and started clapping, unfortunately only one other person clapped then and a bunch of people turned around a smiled at me like it was funny or something.  They also talked about how 60-70% of the women walking into the United States illegally report being sexually assaulted, and emphasized those are just who report what happens to them, and doesn’t include who is sexually assaulted in detention.
People were available to offer support to survivors of sexual assault, and there were plenty of other resources for survivors and advocates on tables.  It was an overall good event, especially since it was the first time in years that the school and community decided to have a joint event.

Slingshot #115

The Long Haul Infoshop

The Long Haul Infoshop

The text to Slingshot #115 has been posted!  There was some editing done to my articles, but the collective worked with me on it and I’m pretty happy.  I hope to start working on some new material soon.

http://slingshot.tao.ca/issue.html?0115016

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

By Alex Iwasa

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.

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http://slingshot.tao.ca/issue.html?0115019

Zine Reviews

MalintZINE #1

malintzine.com

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)

http://slingshot.tao.ca/issue.html?0115022

Want to make Slingshot even better?

By Alex Iwasa

When I first read Slingshot around the turn of the century I wasn’t impressed at all. I can’t remember why, I just didn’t like it. Years later in either late 2005 or early ’06 I found myself at one of the worker–run cafes in Portland, Oregon at the time, the Red and Black, without reading material. I grabbed a recent copy of Slingshot and read it cover to cover, enjoying every article!

Knowing myself, I’m sure at least some of the change in perception was from my own personal growth — or the other way around depending on how you look at! I’m also sure at least some of my change in opinion came from what was possibly a whole different slew of contributors from the first couple issues I perused of Slingshot, and the first one I actually read and enjoyed all the way through. Since then, my readings of Slingshot have been mostly somewhere in the middle.

If I’m not mistaken, pretty much every issue includes a call for submissions in the introduction. Though I’ve been writing political material and trying to get my work published much longer than I’ve been reading Slingshot, this didn’t register with me for years. The first submission I made wasn’t accepted for publication, and I was asked to edit my second but didn’t. Some months later after writing another version of the second submission, an article about writing prisoners for the website People of Color Organize! I also sent it to Slingshot and it was accepted with a major addition from the collective which made it far better, and became a new draft which was published by both the journal and website People Not Profit.

In other words, I would recommend that radical writers and artists please consider submitting your work to Slingshot. Even if your first submission doesn’t get printed, please don’t be discouraged but think about trying to get something else of yours in.

Something else I’d really like to see in Slingshot are more stories written about the various projects in the Slingshot Radical Contact List written by the participants. I think it would also make Slingshot more of a newspaper, which I had pointed out to me in a critique of my original draft where I referred to Slingshot as a journal, it is the paper’s intention to carry news. All over the world people are facing similar struggles and the more news submitted to Slingshot about the ways people are resisting capitalism, hetero–patriarchy and white supremacy will benefit all of us greatly.

For non–writers and artists living in or visiting the San Francisco Bay Area, please consider volunteering for the collective. There are many ways to plug in and help from typing to folding and taping copies of the paper for mailing. It’s a truly collective process and a great deal of fun, for the most part. We critique the articles submitted as individuals, but then discuss and pick them for editing and or publication as a group. Individuals volunteer to do layout for specific pages, but again the whole group evaluates the final pages. Slingshot is also pretty generous with throwing down for food on the long workdays. Eating, listening to music and all the discussion both in regard to the paper and whatever else comes up are all a huge part of the process.

The Redemptive Power of Music (2014 Remix)

I’ve been thinking of digging this article up for some months now and editing and adding to it.  There’s a few things the editors changed that I was unhappy with back in the day that I’ve put back in.  At the end of the original I also wrote Amerika, meaning AmeriKKKa, which I guess because they were Canadian they changed to America… which is one of the reasons I pretty much always write U$ now instead.

Anyways, I finally dug this up after reading the Greyscale: A fanzine for POC in the Punk Scene call for submissions the other day.  I orignially wrote this after watching the Integrity video above with the token Latina at Twin Oaks, Diana, and she compared it to some sort of pentecostal church service.  It appeared in the Christian Radical 3.9, November 2008.

Upon reflection I got where she was coming from, and she inspired me to finally write about why I quit making music, and how I started listening to it again with at least some passion.  A great deal has happened since then, so I’ve got a lot to add about dropping out of the largely Latin Punk scene I was a part of in Chi, and becoming a part of largely indigenous and Latin scenes in Arizona.  I’m posting this here because it’s old material, though edited and added to.  I still consider myself to be in kind of a huge state of transition that I can’t really articulate now, but I will probably make one more post of here of an old article of mine I’ve been thinking of editing and adding to.

The Redemptive Power of Music
I am a recovering musician. I got my first guitar when I was 12, and played on and off until I was 17 and bought a four string electric bass. The failed guitarist turned bassist, I knew the vacuum all to well of that avoided position in a band, after singing for a metalcore and a death metal band.I first got into hardcore and metal as an outlet of frustrations. I was also initially mostly into bands from northeast Ohio where I lived at the time, such as the Spudmonsters, Ringworm and Integrity, excited by the fact that they were just as good if not better than the national and international acts that were so much more popular. Plus I had a step cousin who played guitar in Face Value.

My first metal show was Rollins Band, Helmet and Sausage, in Seattle, Washington in 1994. I was 14 years old, and pretty much sold on the genre by then. I went to my first local show in January the next year, at a bowling alley called the Redeye Rock Club, in North Royalton, Ohio. I went to see a hardcore band, Procrustus, and caught a death metal act, Infested. I actually had a foot print on me from falling in the pit during Infested, and this set the tone for years of dancing to vent frustrations at shows.

My first band was a metalcore band called Rancor. No, not the hardcore band from Pennsylvania nor the noise outfit from Germany. We started as a garage band in Parma, Ohio in 1995, cut two demos, only one of which was released, “No Time For Religion” in 1995, and played a couple Sweet 16 parties that year and one bar show in Cleveland’s Flats at the old Peabody’s Downunder in May 1996. We also appeared on a Gogmagod Records compilation, Gogmacomp II, under the name Baptized in Excrement, with a song from our second demo, “Evil Thoughts.”

My other bands were never much more successful, but I used to think if it wasn’t for having the hardcore, punk and metal scenes to vent my frustrations, I’m not exactly sure if I’d be alive right now.  Though on further reflection, participation in the scene caused me just us much pain as life did in general.  It was a very racist and xenophobic scene, and I am a person of color.  It was also a very homophobic scene and some people seemed to think I was gay as if there’s something wrong with that.  Interestingly at least three of them have come out since then, though they very much put my life at risk on occasion.  From January 1995-January 2000, for all intents and purposes, the scene was my life. Things came crashing to an end for me the day I quit my last metal band, Netherborn.  And I wouldn’t do any of it over again.

I’d reached a point in my life where I felt it was no longer acceptable to complain about alienation, misery and the state of the world, things had to change. I tried to shift the band’s message, making all of the songs I wrote lyrics for about things like how it can be fatal to drink and drive, and about how pollution was killing the earth. I started talking at our first show about the School of the Americas (SOA) and got into a shouting match with a number of people in the crowd. Later a band-mate and out guitar tech confronted me about it, and it was the beginning of the end. I started a ‘zine, “Outlet,” and instead of talking about the SOA, I distributed it at our next two shows.

I had actually been published in a poetry and artwork ‘zine during the beginning of my first freshman year of high school, over a year before I ever made my first recording with a band.  I have written almost continuously since then and wish I had kept that as my focus along with visual arts and crafts instead of pursuing music as I did for so long.

Anyways, it was too little too late. When a subculture does nothing but re-create the same forms of oppression and exploitation of the larger culture, it has negated its point. The fighting, racism, xenophobia, sexism, homophobia and elitism in the scene all became too much for me, and I dropped out of musicianship. I had also converted to Christianity, and no one I knew for the scene was supporting me in the ways I was trying to change personally, except some straight edge youth who supported my abstaining from drugs, alcohol and sex. But that was a tiny minority.  I started to have some peripheral involvement in music as a fan in Ohio since then, even briefly playing in a contemporary worship band at a pentecostal church in the summer and fall of 2000, but musicianship could never mean much to me personally again.  I supported the few friends’ bands I maintained relationships with, but haven’t been to any shows in that area since early 2003, shortly after I moved to Chicago.
Just as I was completely dropping out of the underground music scene in northeastern Ohio For The Last Time, I was starting to get involved with a largely Latin and Anarchist Hardcore Punk Scene in Chicago.  The first couple of shows I went to in Chi are only noteworthy to me because a kid from the South Side Punk House played at one, and another was in the basement of the Autonomous Zone Infoshop (A-Zone) when it was in Bucktown.
Perhaps three’s the charm, since the next one I went to was the first time I saw Tras De Nada, which was in the backyard of a house in La Villita in April 2003.  It was the first time I’d ever been to a Punk Show where roughly half the crowd and most of the musicians were people of color.  With all the anger I felt about our inability to stop the recent invasion of Iraq, and my lost faith in God, I raged harder than I had in years.  This show set the stage for my next seven years of involvement with music in town, to the month, which ended with a Sin Orden show, also in a backyard in La Villita.
Initially what came to be was what I used to call my Pilsen Hardcore Summer.  Most of the shows I went to were either at the Swayze Compound, or a storefront next door to Radio Arte, both in Pilsen.  I saw Tras De Nada two more times, and many other bands such as Non-Fiktion Nois, Reaccion, Human Order, and Los PKDores.  Usually after the shows a bunch of us would go back to the South Side Punk House in West Lawn, or the Anarchist Skins and Punx Unity Crew (ASAP) House which was also in Pilsen.  We’d joke around, listen to music, and talk politics.  Most of us were street level militants continuing to take part in actions against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and U$ support of Israel.  Many of us were also involved with the A-Zone and/or other radical projects in town such as the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW).  Up to that point, it was the best part of my life!
Tras De Nada, with songs such as Con Frente en Alto (With Head Held High) is a perfect example of how after being part of a scene in and around Clevo where I was considered only a good person in so far as I acted white, the Punk, Hardcore and Ska scene I got into in Chi was affirming and along with the radical politics I was involved with, especially the A-Zone then and much later the third Anarchist/Autonomist/Anti-Authoritarian People of Color (APOC) group, the scene gave me the confidence and self respect I was always denied living amongst white people.
As summer became fall and my living and work situations changed, I wasn’t able to go to many shows.  Eventually I began to see my membership in the IWW as pointless and the A-Zone closed both in December ’03.  I was asked to join the ASAP Crew and declined, then started to drift away from them after moving into the South Side Crew’s South Side Punk House.The South Side Punk House became one of my worst living situations ever, and I started to Travel around the Upper Midwest visiting a number of cooperatives and collectives in Minneapolis, Minnesota (MPLS) and and Anarchist Bookfair and Soccer Tournament called Pencils and Pandemonium in Madison, Wisconsin (Madcity).  I also started to do prairie restoration and organic farming.

I saw some great bands with right on politics such as Ass and Murder of Crows, but neither MPLS nor Madcity worked out for me, nor were any of the land projects an all year opportunity for me.
I started branching further and further out, checking out radical projects and bands as I went.  I visited some great spaces such as Laughing Horse Books in Portland, Oregon (PDX) where I saw Riot Cop a couple of times, and Millions of Dead Cops once.  Food Not Bombs was serving five days a week when I hit PDX in November of 2005, and I started cooking twice a week.  For the next year and a half that’s where I spent the most time.  But it never really clicked for me, and like many radicals roughly my age I went to New Orleans, Louisiana to volunteer a couple of times after Hurricane Katrina and continued to do seasonal farm labor in the midwest.
I had one last serious run with Punk in Chi which started with an Everything Is Ruined basement show at Ranchos Juevos in McKinley Park in the fall of ’09 and ended with the Sin Orden show already mentioned.  It was a very intense time in the radical community that largely revolved around the Lichen Lending Library/Biblioteca Popular, an Infoshop in Pilsen, and a number of collective houses largely in Pilsen and La Villita.  There was a lot of strife about the gentrification of those communities along with Logan Square, Humboldt Park and Bucktown, where there were a number of other collective houses and/or spaces.  There was also a lot of conflict around sexual assault and accountability, or lack there of.  Eventually I decided to leave since I felt like I had no real comrades in most of these situations.  Too much dishonesty, hypocrisy and entitlement and their natural outgrowths in misogyny, white supremacy, domestic violence , etc.I’ve only been back in the area once, though I was living and working in the southwest suburbs as part of a union organizing campaign only occasionally going to Chi.  I have kept in touch with a tiny handful of comrades and friends, but not many.  Again, when a subculture does nothing but re-create the same forms of oppression and exploitation of the larger culture, it has negated its point.

After farming for about five months in Iowa from April to September ’10 I came back to my home state of California.  I farmed, taught weaving workshops, gardened and connected with some radicals in the Bay Area that have gone on to become good comrades since then and started re-connecting with good comrades from Illinois.
I re-visited Tucson, Arizona in March and April 2011 for the first time in over five years and became in involved with No More Deaths doing food and water drops on the Migrants’ Trail from Mexico into the U$ and the Dry River Radical Resource Center, which was an Infoshop in the Dunbar Spring neighborhood.  Through Dry River I got re-involved with Punk Houses, my personal favorite having been the Vegan Straight Edge (XVX) Punk House.  I also started steadily writing political prisoners again, and caught some amazing shows.  The best of which was when I saw the indigenous metal bands Towardis and Let The World Die.  Marc from the Taala Hooghan Infoshop in Flagstaff is in both bands, and invited me to Flag to teach a weaving workshop!  I didn’t do it then, but after about another five months farming in Iowa I did.
Over my last farm season in Iowa, I steadily wrote political prisoners and prisoners of war, gaining new political insights and direction, and realized my bosses were terribly xenophobic from the their absolute refusal to allow me to invite Mexicans over to our city for a series of events we did about No More Deaths and immigration in general.  As soon as I could I left for Flagstaff and never looked back.

Since then I’ve been able to get very involved, not only attending Punk and Hardcore shows with many Latin and indigenous kids and musicians, I’ve been able to even book a couple shows and road trip to Prescott with Let the World Die for a house show with Windmill of Corpses and Requiem!  I’ve stayed in more Punk Houses, a couple squats, been involved with other land projects and struggles, participated in the Infoshop Movement, hitch hiked all over Arizona and the west coast, and hopped a couple freight trains.  I’ve continued to struggle against oppressive politics and exploitive economics, even participating in support work for a couple different tree sits and have continued to be a part of a number of street demonstrations and vigils.

Music has helped a great deal, though rather than being my life, it has improved it greatly and been a huge part of it.  The summer of 2012 which I spent in Flag was the first time since the summer of 2003 that I felt my life was getting consistently better, and as I write this in January 2014 at the Taala Hooghan Infoshop, I feel like my life in struggle for a better world, and to be a less fucked up person continues to improve because of the camaraderie in action, studies, reflection and art.

Applied APOC Love

I started this blog to help facilitate contributing articles to the now defunct People of Color Organize! (POCO) website.  I kept it going to contribute to the website and journal People Not Profit which I became involved with through my work with POCO.  Though I remain committed to the ongoing articulation of an Anarchist/Autonomist/Anti-Authoritarian People of Color (APOC) tendency and the formation of APOC groups, it makes little sense to me to keep writing as an individual.  I am leaving this blog up because I stand by everything I have written on here and am glad to see the ongoing traffic it attracts to old and new posts alike.  I plan on continuing to write but hopefully only as a part of collective projects that are more cohesive and longer lasting.

Until the victory, always,

A. Iwasa

I Feel Like Lee Ving!

This weekend Outta Your Backpack Media (OYBM) the main other project that shares the infoplex with the Taala Hooghan had another film making session, and I was able to help with two of them.  When first approached to be in a film as a scavenger hunting a cat, I knew I couldn’t pass it up.  An old part friend of mine started a rumor that my whole family ate cats when a couple kids asked him at a party if I knew karate, and he got annoyed because he knew the only reason they were asking that was because I’m half Japanese.  Hopefully the film will be posted soon.

The second film I helped with is Dumpster Divine and can be watched now!