Category Archives: Issue #123: spring to action 2017

Collective Living Astrology

By Ashlee Wednesday

Astrology is a lot like gender, a system that also assigns life-long roles to people based on Barnum Statements. I prefer astrology to gender because it gives us 12 roles instead of 2, and is assigned in a way that is a lot more fair. I mean, sure, dividing the year into 12 equal parts and assigning roles based on which one you were born in isn’t always going to accurately reflect the being that you are, but at least if your assignment doesn’t’ fit you, it’s easy to say, “I’m not going to tell you my sun sign because it’s totally muted out by all the [x] in my chart.” And what’s nice is, after someone learns your sign, the next moment isn’t going to be the person awkwardly trying not to oogle your chest or crotch to see what’s there. Like, hella ew. Astrology such a better identity system than the bio-essentialized bullshit!

Astrology lets us make a type of statement about ourselves that weaves our lives into a cosmic story. A type of story we can return to when we want to, or ditch if it’s not working out for us. Astrology is just one way of creating meaning in day-to-day life in a very D.I.Y. sort of way. A lot like television, but that we create the story ourselves just by doing our thing. And since no one is forcing it on us (at least in this culture), it’s not oppressive (here).

If astrology is too traditional for you, or if someone ruined it for you by pushing it too hard. try making up your own system. Likewise, if Astrology is your jam, don’t force it on people. Some people aren’t going to be in the astrology groove at the same time you are, and that’s OK. Just let them do their thing, man.

Horoscopes for

Jan-Apr 2017

Aries (b. Spring Equinox – April 19ish)

You’ve been rocking it, Aries, teaching everyone how to farm like a pro, showing the new co-op members how consensus works, organizing hella alliances between projects for environmental and social justice. Now comes the moment of truth: are the duckling punks ready to swim jam without so much guidance? Time to take a step back from “being the one with all the answers” and see what happens. Don’t be too far away though, just in case folks need a hand!

Taurus (b. April 20ish – May 20ish)

You’ve been doing some great systems work, Taurus, helping people around you translate good ideas into routines—whether it’s that new feeding rotation for the free-range chickens, or fine-tuning the consent-based safe space policy at the commons, or that super efficient redesign of the co-op kitchen you pushed through. Just don’t forget to pull your head out of all these micro-detail systems and really smell the quinoa sometimes, okay?

Gemini (b. May 21ish-June 20ish)

This has been a weirdly quiet period for you, Gemini. A lot of people who think they have “important stuff” to say have been elbowing into your scene, and what’s up with this vibe now? There’s like, no good flow to any conversation anymore. Ugh! You’re going to have to get creative, Gemini, to create the space that lets you express yourself. Pull out that art/music project you’ve been putting off, whether it’s making a zine, cutting an album, building a giraffe bicycle, or designing some fabulous upcycled bling. Book that house show or booth at the Saturday Market. Get your jam in front of people!

Cancer (b. Summer Solstice-July 19ish)

Take a deep breath Cancer. Now is the time for emotional boundary-setting. It is okay to say, “I really can’t have that conversation right now.” It is okay to tell someone, “I need you to step back and lower your voice.” It is always okay to set the emotional boundaries you need to feel a sense of control over your body and emotions. This isn’t about making the other person feel guilty, or punishing them. This is about you. This is about protecting your emotional sovereignty, holding space for the inner sanctity of your emotional being.

Leo (b. July 20ish-August 22ish)

So, while you’re dashing from protest to protest—from the anti-Trump rally to Standing Rock to the freeway shut down to the farm protection rally, don’t forget to take a minute and really look around you and like, feel it, you know, like really feel it. Like, Yeah! This is happening! Holy shit! I’m waving a black flag and standing on a police bulldozer! I’m dancing alongside the warm crispiness of a burning corporate bank! Yeah!

Virgo (b. August 23ish-Sept 22ish)

You gotta lay off, Virgo. Like, your suburban moms really doesn’t need you to lecture them on gentrification right now. And your siblings who work at the failing corporations don’t need you to rub it in their faces how wonderful things are going at your worker-co-op where you’ve solved patriarchy, sexism, and you have medical AND dental. Sure, you’ve figured out the best ways to do everything, but you don’t need to rub it in the normies’ faces, okay? Just…let them figure it out for themselves. You can bask in your contentment with others who are there with ya.

Libra (Autumn Equinox-Oct 22ish)

In these strange times, Libra, you will find others more eager than usual to listen to you. Sure, the Owner of Record has shown up and is trying to take your squat, but they still have to give you a formal eviction notice, and you know that. You’re the one who helps us keep our cool, reminding us that we have this space for at least 30 more fucking days—unless we win more in court!—and in the meantime, we are going to keep building this amazing community. Thank you Libra, for helping us count our blessings. We’re grateful whenever you’re next on stack.

Scorpio (Oct 23ish-Nov 21ish)

You’ve poured a lot of work into building community and spaces, and your persistence has paid off. You’ve really started something! Like, it’s a thing now—Not just an idea in your head, but a thing. Sure, there’s more work to come. And there will be more interpersonal fallout and hard decisions to make, for sure. But for now, it’s worth it just to feel content in how far everything has come. Breathe it in. Treat yourself to a weekend at the organic farm. Take a soak at the community hot tub. Spend the day just making chocolate. This is the time to reap the bounty of your hard work.

Sagittarius (Nov 22ish-Dec 21ish)

Bad news, Sag: that monster you’ve been running from for the last 9 years, there’s no place to run anymore. It’s going devour you—or you it! Either way, only one will be left standing. Of course, we both know there is no monster, it’s just a part of your personality that got away from itself, also known as a Jungian Archetype. …Or is it? In the mean time, don’t forget to drink enough water, feed yourself properly, take care of your teeth, and bathe once in a while. Your future post-monster-battle/fully-integrated self will thank you for it.

Ophinuchus (Nov 34ish-Dec 43ish)

You’ve been feeling super isolated, Ophinuchus, ever since you found yourself in this ridiculous situation where you don’t get to control your diet, have to do everything on someone else’s schedule, and follow all these damn lines on the floor. Incarceration’s no joke! Help nurture your sense of self, through these ridiculous time by writing letters to the outside [org name], and also finding solidarity with others like you [info to connect with RABICO (sp?) and that org for transfolk in their shoes]. And don’t forget zen can happen anywhere!

Capricorn (Winter Solstice-Jan 19ish)

Fuck you, Capricorn! No, just kidding. But seriously, fuck you. The rest of us are stressing out and loosing our shit over here, and somehow you’re all just like, “la di da.” What do you mean, “I don’t have time for strife in my life?” That’s a really privileged thing to say! Don’t walk away from me! Fine, keep going to music festivals, and perfecting that D.I.Y. skill of yours, and doing stuff that makes you incredibly happy. Sure, ignore the haters. Whatever, asshole!

Aquarius (Jan 20ish-Feb 18ish)

Damn, Aquarius, I really don’t know what to say. It’s like you’re on a raft floating through the middle of the ocean, and you have one flare, and you’ve been waiting to use that flare for a long, long time, and now you’re getting ready… Or maybe it’s more like you’re a clown in a creepy dark circus routine, and you’ve been messing things up on purpose, doing things imperfectly, almost as if you’re testing the waters, seeing how much you can get away with, pushing the boundaries, so that when the time is ripe…?

Pisces (Feb 19ish-March 20ish)

That vice-like pressure you’ve been feeling? That’s about to come off. Prepare to find your way into a rad new community that allows the real you to come out. Maybe it’s a fancier side of yourself, or maybe your real self is just a whole lot grumpier than the way you’ve been acting and it’s time to stop pretending to be happy all the time. At first, the people who connected with you about fake shit are going to be confused. But that’s okay. Remember the words of the great Doctor Seuss: “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter won’t mind.”

Book Review – Burning Country

Burning Country: Syrians in Revolution and War by Robin Yassin-Kassab and Leila Al-Shami, Pluto Press

University of Chicago Press

1427 E 60th St.

Chicago, IL 60637 USA

Review by A. Iwasa

I consider myself a news junkie, and have through this era and still couldn’t help but take note of the authors’ scholarship. The book is an appeal for broad support of Syrian grassroots opposition, which the book is a solid argument for.

Personally, I’m impressed by the authors’ job chronicling the specifics on the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS, AKA Daesh). They refer to ISIS’s work as “unsustainable.” In a technical sense I agree, but very few societies aren’t now. I wouldn’t hold my breath for the collapse of the US considering “its project is unsustainable.” Similarly, the Afghan Taliban appears to be stronger now than anytime since its overthrow by the US led coalition in 2001, even as I write this in the fall of 2016! To make matters more perplexing, the authors go on to end chapter 6 of the book writing that Assad will most likely fall, but “Building a free and socially just society out of Syria’s wreckage, however, will be an almost impossible task.”

Refugee life is also chronicled in this book, both for those who are able to leave Syria, and those internally displaced.

For more information on Syria, please check the independent website: syriasources.org

Or for a book specifically on Rojava, A Small Key Can Open A Large Door by Strangers In A Tangled Wilderness, from Combustion Books.

Book review – “To Our Friends” – by The invisible Committee

MIT Press

One Rogers St.

Cambridge MA 02142-1209

Reviewed by dj dio

The Invisible Committee made a name for itself with it’s 2007 “The Coming Insurrection” and is something akin to a wordsmith’s Banksy…. faceless yet familiar and often suggesting what is on the tip of our collective tongues. This followup effort is less predictive and more prescriptive, offering a friendly hand and headlamp to radicals and activists attempting to wade thru the sad morass that is the post-modern capitalist landscape.

It opens with a quote from Jacques Mesrine “There is no other world. There’s just another way to live.” before jumping in with it’s first chapter entitled “Crisis is a mode of Government”. The invisible committee offers an analysis of how our modern societies function, the relationship of revolt/insurrection to institutional power structures and a compass of sorts for those interested in serious, wholesale social change. Adventuresome, intellectually complex and courageously skeptical of left/right sacred cows and stagnant ideologies: this writing suggests that it is every one of us that needs to change… not just “them”.

Primarily addressing the state of political/economic relations in the developed world, the writing leaps and soars, lands for some nifty bulldozing work, sneaks around the corner with a gasmask and a molotov cocktail and finally concludes with a “to-be list that is childishly straight forward…and therefore maybe even be-able!

Mixing french style standup comedy with occasionally ridiculous polemical excursion (and contradictory statements aplenty), it serves up an invigorating deep tissue massage to your radical brain structure. You don’t have to agree/disagree with it’s many insights and speculations because it’ll get your own thinking juices flowing and that is clearly the underlying raison d’être of this project. This is not a recipe book.

Anticipating the retreat and accompanying loss of vitality that a life of contemplation can bring and offering a friendly kick in the pants to get off the couch and into the soup pot, it boldly claims that we cannot lose unless we choose to. If you want a sky-is-falling bummer-athon, look elsewhere!

Read this book if you’ve tired of DOA leftist tropes, competitive victim posturing or the droning techno-chatter of the new world order.

It will put a smile on your face.

Book Review – Breaking Loose

Mutual Acquiescence or Mutual Aid? by Ron Sakolsky

LBC Books, PO Box 3920, Berkeley, CA 94703

Review by A. Iwasa

Radio Tree Frog’s Ron Sakolsky coined the term “mutual acquiescence” in 2006 and its evolution from his article “Why Misery Loves Company” in Green Anarchy to this book. In this lengthy essay, he states “What I call mutual acquiescence is the polar opposite of the anarchist concept of mutual aid in that it paralyzes revolt rather than facilitating it.” Sakolsky rapidly expands on this in the main body of the text.

The essay moves through past eras of Anarchist thought and action with a refreshingly non-sectarian perspective. He also goes about connecting the concept of mutual acquiescence to past Anarchists’ and others’ ideas of voluntary servitude or similar schools of thought such as the Surrealists’ miserabilism. There is a brief but blanketing denunciation of “identity politics” as a form of mutual acquiescence that I suppose shouldn’t be a surprise. But I never agree with anyone 100% of the time, so it’s a bitter pill but easy enough to swallow.

Contrary to the title, Sakolsky goes on to point out how there are more ways to think and live outside of a mutual aid or acquiescence binary, such as Desert’s “active disillusionment,” still arguably a form of mutual aid. He also acknowledges that we can find wisdom in Marxism, specifically within the work of Antonio Gramsci. But make no mistake; Sakolsky is no friend of state Communism. For example, Poland’s 1980s oppositional Socialist Surrealist Orange Alternative is described a length.

Essentially there’s something in here for everyone with an open mind but especially for Anarchists and Fellow Travelers. It’s very philosophical, but grounded solidly in practice. The book is all over the place, but never loses focus. If you’re Anarcho-curious, this would be a great place to start. If you’re a long-time Anarcho-committed whatever, it’s a great refresher.

Book Review – Serve the People

Making Asian America in the Long Sixties by Karen L. Ishizuka

Verso, 20 Jay St., Suite 1010, Brooklyn, NY 11201

Review by A. Iwasa

Jeff Chang starts off Serve the People with a strong foreword, immediately challenging the Model Minority Myth and connecting it with the era many of us who rally around the slogan, Yellow Peril Supports Black Lives Matter, trace much of our politics to.

But Chang doesn’t dwell on or lionize the 1960s very long. Chang moves quickly and critically through the “five decades of reactionary backlash” both slamming the questionable and giving props to those who have continued the struggle.

Ishizuka follows a similar trajectory in the Introduction, before writing up a comprehensive list of books about Asian America (in the United States) with descriptions ranging from middle class and reformist to revolutionary in their outlook, then describing her entrance into the Movement in 1969. This flows into her explanations of the interviews she carried out for the book, “believing that the makers of history are often the best historians.”

Act I, entitled American Chop Suey, plays on the explicitly US American roots of Chop Suey. Like Fortune Cookies, it’s something completely Asian American, though thought of as Asian.  Thus the liminal space we are also assigned:  neither white nor Black in a racist society dominated by binary thought.

Ishizuka does an excellent job alternating between the larger political stories such as those of migration and racism and the personal accounts of people both positive and negative trying to navigate these circumstances.

Ishizuka goes on to write about the origins of the Model Minority Myth, which turns out to be classic race baiting of the divide and conquer variety. Emerging just “six months after the Watts uprising—with the article ‘Success Story, Japanese-American Style’ by sociologist William Peterson in the New York Times Magazine.”

Like most myths, this one has a lengthy historical trajectory from which it sprang, that Ishizuka methodically wades through. Working her way back to the early 1970s, she goes on to write how Frank Chin and Jeffrey Paul Chen had theorized the formation of the Model Minority Myth as an example of racist love, as opposed to racist hate!

Although my POC credentials come from being half Japanese, I never understood the Model Minority Myth, though never wondered where it came from either. Similarly, I never understood and have always been uncomfortable with Occidental fetishization of my father’s culture, so it was refreshing to read how Ishizuka could contextualize all this historically and theoretically, citing sources to boot.

I understand rebellion against linear stories, but was exhausted by the frantic, whirlwind like, historical time and place jumping of the book. I think the various stories and concepts are really treated too briefly before the author moves on.

Though in defense of Ishizuka’s rapid subject changing, especially by the 1960s and ‘70s there was so much happening all over the place, the nature of the topics covered easily gives way to a manic style of writing not unique to her coverage of the New Left.

Possibly the highlight of the book for me was when Ishizuka wrote about the Asian American movement’s 1950s and ‘60s predecessors in the form of “’social bandits’–prepolitical insurgents who flouted authority and championed the masses against oppression a la Robin Hood and Pancho Villa.”  I found this particularly interesting since much of the New Left had this sort of focus, such as the Young Lords and the Young Patriots in Chicago.

In the final chapter, Ishizuka uses her own generation’s examples of disconnection with the Old Left, and the possibility of lessons lost by what Diane Fujino calls “intergenerational discontinuity.” It’s a fair warning, and a good note to end on.

Book Review – Dispatches from Syria

Bloomsbury Publishing Inc.

1385 Broadway, 5th Floor

New York, NY 10018

Reviewed by Leonie Sherman

What does an anti-Assad activist do after she receives the coded phone call that means the police are coming for her? How does a mother determine whether her son is alive after more than 300 people are killed in a single day in their hometown? Dispatches From Syria: the Morning They Came For Us, by Janine Di Giovanni, illuminates the causes and consequences of the Syrian conflict through the stories of people who live there.

The book details Di Giovanni’s experiences traveling around the country between June and December 2012, when the civil war was barely a year old. Each chapter bears the name of a Syrian city or region. The author makes each location the gateway to a geographical, cultural and religious history that adds depth to the searing stories she collects from the individuals who call the place home.

Though Di Giovanni includes a thorough and concise chronology, dating back to the 3rd millennium BC (over three quarters of the events detailed take place between 2011-2015) the book itself is not in chronological order. This can be confusing for a reader, but also helps them empathize with the disorientation of Syrian citizens.

As an award winning foreign journalist, Di Giovanni had access to the Syrian elite. She records the voices of the wealthy and powerful, some of whom are vigorous Assad supporters, or in outright denial about the crimes perpetrated by their government. Their accounts are jarring, but ultimately help Di Giovanni provide a richer portrait of the Syrian revolution than many of her contemporaries.

The Morning They Came For Us is a compelling account of critical current events. Readers will learn about the Syrian Civil War, but more importantly they will feel some of the intimate pain that every military conflict generates. I couldn’t put this book down, but now that I’ve finished and reflected on it, I can’t wait to pick it up again.

A note on the Ghost ship Fire

We’re publishing two obituaries of people close to Slingshot collective who died in the Ghost Ship artist warehouse fire in Oakland Dec. 3 in which 36 people died. The fire had a profound impact on the underground scene in the East Bay — it felt like everyone knew someone who died and many of us knew a number of people. Such a great loss leaves a terrible void. It isn’t feasible for Slingshot to publish 36 obituaries but we’re sorry to leave people out.

 

Ara Jo 1987-2016

By Hayley

It is with a heavy heart that we share that Ara Jo, who drew some of the pages for the 2013 Organizer, perished in the fire at the Ghost Ship art collective in Oakland on December 3.

I met Ara Jo at the Paco Dog Collar shop in 2012. I was handing out Slingshots. I had no idea if she worked there or was just hanging out or what. When she saw the Slingshot, she got super excited and mentioned she’d always wanted to draw pages for the Organizer, and it so happened there were some pages left, so she was able to join in. She was so flattered and tickled to have her work in Slingshot, it helped me feel excited about the project.

Ara Jo was a key figure at Oakland’s Rock, Paper, Scissors Collective and a prolific zinester. She was one of the main organizers of the East Bay Zine Fest. The numerous memorials that spanned the weeks after the fire were touching testaments to Ara Jo’s impact in several communities. Over and over at these memorials, friends described how infectious Ara Jo’s excitement was and how strongly she believed in the inner worth and creative projects of her friends. Although her passing leaves gaps in the lives of all who knew her, her presence imbued those around her with the courage of self-expression. Her bubbly enthusiasm about all things creative was contagious. It was great to have her at creative jam sessions. Her well-wrought line-art defiantly challenged social norms.

Now is the time to make art like our lives depend on it. For Ara’s memory, and for all the great artists we’ve just lost.

Denalda Nicole Rene 1987-2016

Today and everyday we want celebrate the badass no-apologizes life of Denalda (who the newspapers are calling “Nicole Siegrist” for some reason), who lost her life in the fire at the Oakland Ghost Ship. She was formerly based out of the Sketch Pad, an Oakland dream squat circa 2014. You could usually find her around at the women-only squats, Fern and Eris, and pretty much anywhere underground worth being. She was in this band, Introflirt, with Charlie Prowler (who the normies labeled as “Ben Runnels”) who died in the fire as well. Their dark synthpop music was the backdrop for many a good house show.

Denalda fucking knew what it was to be a squatter; to be in it for real. To fucking take that time and space you need to have your real self emerge. To take it from the city and state, yeah! Everything Denalda did, she meant. Nothing she did was fake. It was terrifying when she got mad at you, because you knew she meant it. But her smile was everything. Her emotions were just out there, for all of us. She showed us what it means to take emotional space. To become real. To give others the privilege of getting to know her, of pissing her off.

Hayley: Once I had to ask her to leave an art show due to reports of unruly behavior. I remember her standing there on the sidewalk, her eyes tearing up. She was pissed about having to miss the show, but super forgiving. Like she was hugging me with her eyes. Like, even while getting thrown out of a show, Denalda was willing to hold space for me as a complex being. I’m really sad and angry we never got to resolve things. Fuck.

Another collective member:

The city coroner tells us that everyone in the Ghost Ship died of smoke inhalation before the fire got them, so they didn’t suffer too much. Is that supposed to make us happy? She’s still gone. What hurts is to still feel a lot of love for her. Like she’s not here any more, and there’s this love. What do we do with this love?

Fuck ideas of “the afterlife.” Thank you, Denalda, for showing us what it means to live.

 

Organizer Update

Thanks if you purchased a 2017 Slingshot Organizer – they are how we pay to print and distribute this newspaper for free. We still have copies available if you want to order some.

And . . . we’re already starting work on the 2018 organizer. If you’re an artist who can draw calendar pages or a cover, we need you — contact us. We’re also looking for:

• Help, during May and June, editing the historical dates

• Additions to and corrections of the radical contact list, in June and July.

• We’ll make the organizer the weekends of July 29/30 and August 5/6, so anything you send us is due July 28. Take your vacation in Berkeley those weekends to help make the organizer.