“Our Economic Model is at War with Earth”

Original notes posted here: http://ivcaminos.blogspot.com/2014/04/naomi-klein-revolution-of-climate-change.html.

During a Hobo Residency this spring semester at Northern Arizona University I was able to hear Naomi Klein give a talk, (R)evolution of Climate Change:  How the Climate Crisis Can Spur Economic & Political Transformation.  Having gotten involved with radical politics in 2001, I feel like I’ve grown up reading her work from No Logo and Fences and Windows, through many articles especially in The Nation, to The Shock DoctrineThe Rise of Disaster Capitalism, which I actually picked up from the Iron Rail Infoshop the second time I was in New Orleans volunteering after Hurricane Katrina making it particularly relevant, and watching The Take and a handful of other videos.  On reflection, the fact that the climate crisis was being framed in a context that could spur economic transformation, should have made me apprehensive going into the talk, but I wasn’t thinking too deeply about the name of the talk at that point.

Klein started off speaking about how she hasn’t given many public talks over the last four years because she has been working on a new book which is currently in the final edits called This Changes Everything, the “This” being climate change.

She talked about how long she was in soft denial of climate change, and systematically about the various ways people try to ignore it including personal struggles, but how Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy showed this is a struggle people cannot ignore.

Next Klein addressed the predictions for the rise of temperatures on our current trajectory as an example of what will happen if we do nothing, and why we need to change how we think, relate to each other, even govern, everything needs to change.  I feel like such implications can’t be downplayed in their radical potential, but it seemed like most times this sort of rhetoric was used, it wasn’t expanded on much.  There are all sorts of ways we can change how we think, relate to each other and govern that would not make things better for many or most people even if they dealt with climate change.

Klein backtracked to 1988 as being the starting point for the emergence of the science behind climate change being connected to greenhouse gases.  She contextualized this by talking about how the Berlin Wall came down the next year and then began the era of global market fundamentalism that we are in, and has led to a 60% rise in emissions.

Klein considers it the fundamental problem that people consider the economic change we need, to be scarier than climate change.  She said many of the necessary changes are exciting, and solve other problems we have anyways.  She compared the transformation to the abolition of slavery and the New Deal.  When talking about abolitionism, Klein stressed its initial grassroots nature and how it eventually came to totally change society in the U$.  Talking about the era after the New Deal, she said she recently found out that in 1946 40% of the fresh produce consumed in the U$ was still being grown in the backyard Victory Gardens that had been a big part of the domestic side of the recently ended war drive, but what we need now will be bottom up.

The Ontario Green Energy plan to get off coal by 2015 was discussed next, and how they’ve been able to get down to just one coal burning plant when they used to be very dependent on it.  This plan was a response to the high point of the current economic crisis which saw many plant closures from the Big Three U$ auto-manufacturers in that province.  The Ontario government tried to offset these plant closures by creating Green jobs.  30,000 were created, and many ex-autoworkers started to make solar panels and wind turbines for local use.  She emphasized how many of the workers and their families were proud of the work they did for the first time.

Because of protectionist, local sourcing written into the plan, Japan and the European Union took Canada to the World Trade Organization (WTO) and won, Ontario promptly shutting down its program.  But this has caused many people to realize the need to change the laws that govern global trade.  Similarly in Quebec, a fracking ban has been challenged by a U$ corporation under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Next Klein talked at length about how a grassroots movement emerged in Boulder, Colorado initially to Green the coal powered grid, but moved to re-municipalize the energy system since the private company that ran it refused to get off coal.  This has been happening on a large scale in Germany where in Hamburg, the second largest city, a ballot initiative for re-municipalization of electricity has won.  In Berlin a similar vote got a majority, but voter turn out was too low to make the super majority needed to win.  Then the small scale, decentralized Green energy being used in Germany was described.
The brutal flooding this winter in the UK was talked about, and how Cameron’s austerity measures effected this through massive funding cuts to the organizations that should have been dealing with the flooding.  Klein compared this in detail to Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy.
Tar Sands and fracking projects came up next, and how they have created the movements that oppose extraction.  Klein talked about how one of the most exciting aspects of this resistance is the indigenous leadership in North America.
This was followed by campaigns for fossil fuel divestment such as the Do the Math Tour, and how schools, cities, churches and foundations are divesting from fossil fuels, and some in turn are investing in Green energy.
For particularly local relevance she talked about the Black Mesa Water Coalition, and the struggle against coal mining and burning for power on Dine land.

Then Klein backtracked to how her views on global warming started to change when she met with a Bolivian governmental representative who talked about the need for Green development, speaking to the UN in 2009.  She advocated a Green Marshal Plan for development in the Third World.  The contextualization of how this fit into the history of colonialism and the current crises of economics and the environment was a moment of clarity for Klein.
Klein ended her talk by reiterating the need for a movement similar to that of the abolitionists, and expanded this to how the women’s movement has helped bring attention to the ongoing crises women face, and how we need to stop looking away from climate change.
During questions and answers, Klein was asked about China’s rise to prominence in the global economy.  She said China is opening a coal burning plant a week, but Third World development has been used as an excuse to not cut First World emissions for far too long and this needs to stop, we need to get beyond this and “our economic model is at war with Earth and we need to change.”  We can’t pretend that colonization and the Industrial Revolution didn’t happen, we can’t ignore our history.  Confronting our history can be liberatory.  She also talked about how the anti-China messaging of many big Green groups in the U$ drives her crazy and how we go nowhere with this sort of hyper-patriotism.  This is something that has also been bugging me for a while, so I was glad to hear a white person say it.  It has been reminding me for years about how bad it sucked to be half Japanese and moving to the Rust Belt in 1989 when the Japanese-U$ trade deficit was being blamed for all our economic problems and all the racism and xenophobia that came with that.  Klein talked about how we need to foster internationalism and humanism.  “If we are going to win this, we need to have a values change.”
Klein was asked about the negative industrial aspects of Green energy, and she admitted it’s an important thing to examine, but talked about how complicated this is.  We need to consume less, and the transition will include urban planning adding more public transit and designing cities away from car culture in general.  She also talked about cleaner ways to recycle.
The topic of re-municipalization was returned to, trying to fight against urban sprawl, and how the leaders globally in Green energy are generally places where there is more public ownership.

Then the Transition Town Movement was discussed.  When visiting its birthplace in the UK, Klein stressed how one of its major components isn’t just giving people bad news, but hanging out with people and creating the space to process the information and make plans for the change we need.  She also emphasized how many of the participants in the Transition Town Movement had come out of other struggles such as the Women’s Movement.  I think this was one of her most well articulated points when it came to exactly how a grassroots response to climate change will look from Klein’s perspective.

When asked about Green Washing, Klein responded with how it creates an illusion of the scale of the problem.  It makes the threat seem small.  She said in the 1980s many environmentalists decided to not go directly after polluters, and how carbon offsetting and many other bad ideas that won’t work came out of this and she thinks it’s “scandalous.”  The emerging, grassroots climate movement will either turn to these groups to proper solutions or make them irrelevant.  “We’re actually acting like this is a war ’cause it is.”  The need to protect water is the driving force behind the movement against fossil fuels and it’s a largely women led movement all over the world, that’s exciting, and it starts with water and goes up.

As long as I’ve been reading her work I’ve felt like Klein dwells in a gray area between radical and liberal, and this talk seemed to bring that out in a more contradictory sense than anything else I’ve read or heard by her.  Though she consistently emphasized grassroots and radical change on every level of society, when it came to actual examples of change she came back overwhelmingly to the state and corporations again and again.  I caught myself wondering if she has taken a turn to the right or if she was playing down some of her more radical ideas since she was speaking in front of a big state school audience?  I’m still very excited about her next book, though I’m a bit apprehensive now too.

 

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The Luddite Worker

An oldie but goodie I forgot about, this is a Travel story I originally printed in The Luddite Worker #3.  I’ve lost most of that material since zinelibrary.info went down for what seems like the count at this point.  Luckily I posted this on Squat the Planet when I was briefly addicted to that website.

Courtship Luddite-Hobo Style

In the fall of 2008 I was smitten by a crush I had on a Fellow Traveler I met while WWOOFing on a seed farm in Virginia.

One night she was spinning yarn with short fibered, colored cotton we were removing seeds from, with a drop spindle she had made with a potato and a chopstick. Need I write more?

Being mostly a hobo from the midwest, I started talking with her about wool and flax, the two locally produced fibers I had experience with. I lent her a ‘zine on growing flax and processing it into linen, and offered to send her a sheep’s fleece next time I was back in the midwest.

Fast forward about a month and a half. While taking a break from husteling up a grub steak in Des Moines, I went to a New Years Eve party in the southern part of Iowa. There I met up with a friend from the Little Farm, and swapped To Inherit the Earth, a book about Brazil’s Landless Workers’ Movement and some packets of seeds for a sheep’s fleece. The only problem now was that it was filthy! I liked my crush enough to send her the fleece without asking for anything in return, but I didn’t like her enough to clean it myself.

I took my chances and went to a UPS store back in Des Moines with the fleece in a garbage bag. As my luck would turn out, I was stuck in line behind an atractive female, and the smell of wool and sheep crap coming from the fleece was punishing! I was worried she might think the smell was coming from my body, but she never even made eye contact with me, so it didn’t really matter, I guess.

I finally got up to the counter, and started lazily chewing the fat with the worker as they struggled to get the garbage bag into a box. After a few tries, what I was worried about happened. The worker started screaming, “What is this!?” as clumps of wool, sheep crap, dirt and straw literally poured out of the bag and all over the counter. Having been worried this would happen, I was prepared to act like I thought what I was doing was some how normal and/or okay.

“Wool! I told you it’s a sheep’s fleece!” I yelled back, motioning with my right hand like it was a pair of sheep shears. “It’s wool right off of the sheep!”

The worker regained their composure, and after helping clean up the mess, it was shipped off to Indiana, where my crush was staying with her sister. Later she sent me a thank you e-mail, while taking a break from cooking a pig’s head. The next time I had a steady mailing address, she followed up by sending my a bottle of ginseng tincture she had made, from the root of a plant she had grown while I was lumberjacking in the Missouri Ozarks, and she was working on a sheep dairy in Washington. She included a thank you note that said the fleece was beautiful, after it was washed.

Other things of interest:  cover art, and The Chiapas Project from The Luddite Worker #2worm bin composting tutorial from The Luddite Worker #3 Carlos Cortez reproductions silk screened from The Luddite Worker #4.

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.  This version was written for The Inner Condition.

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.

‘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 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.

kids

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

edited by Bryan May

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.  It’s 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.

Copies can be ordered at http://blackmold.storenvy.com/products/1524502-kids-of-the-black-hole-perspectives-on-the-north-american-punk-house-zine or write brybry at riseup dot net to see about ordering with cash.

Interview with Bernardine Dohrn and Bill Ayers

After hearing Bernardine Dohrn and Bill Ayers speak, I was able to ask them a few questions. In front of me in line to speak with Dohrn was Boots Riley from The Coup’s father! Later I remembered Boots wrote the introduction to ex-Weather Underground Organization cadre David Gilbert’s memoirs, but I didn’t remember him talking about his father being a radical also! He was already personally familiar with Dohrn, and they greeted each other warmly. It was cool to meet him and he gladly accepted a copy of Slingshot.

I introduced myself to Dohrn by giving her a copy of Slingshot which she was happy to get and telling her about the talk at Knox College in Illinois where we met and I heard her talk in 2010. She said she remembered the talk and would answer a couple questions.

AI: I read that Shin’ya Ono who had wrote You Do Need a Weatherman to Know Which Way the Wind Blows [a weather faction of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) position statement re-printed in the Weatherman reader, available to borrow from the Long Haul Infoshop] was Japanese, I’m half Japanese, so I find that interesting. I tried to do some research about what he’s doing now and all that came up was about a prominent Japanese politician with the same name and I had no idea, like I never read anything that he did, like if he even went underground or anything, so I was wondering if you could tell me what became of him after that.

BD: I don’t know. That’s not trivia and I don’t know the answer. Shin’ya Ono was a really brilliant historian and activist and he played you know I think a very important role once we went underground because he wasn’t partisan and he wasn’t part of those wars. But also he loved the fire and the spirit that we represented and yet he thought we were foolish in a lot of ways, and I think he played a very important role but I don’t know if he’s still alive. He was a terrific, independent intellectual which we need more of.

AI: I also 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: Thank you very much.

BD: It’s a pleasure!

Afterwords I gave Bill Ayers a copy of Slingshot which he was also already familiar with and excited to get.

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 (the local Pacifica station which this event was a benefit for), could you expand a bit about the importance of controlling our own media?

BA: When you say that I talk a lot about the mainstream media, what do you mean?

AI: [Tonight] you talked about how the mainstream media made a cartoon of you.

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.

By the time Ayers finished answering we were outside of the hall.  I thanked him and remarked I was in the A-Zone Collective when he spoke at one of our events at the New World Resource Center when it was in Humboldt Park, Chi back in ’04.  He said he remembered the event and asked how could I leave town.  I told him the neighborhoods I spent the most time in were being gentrifucked out of existence (namely Uptown and Pilsen) to which he replied, Yeah, but you’ve got to stop and fight sometime.  I didn’t want to get into this discussion since it was pretty late and I regrettably had turned out Slingshot’s recorder, so I replied with the quick answer, But I’m from the South Bay, which received a round of Ohs including from Ayers as someone remarked He’s a homeboy!