Category Archives: Summer 1999 (6/10/99)

Microradio Comments Due Aug. 2

Write the FCC – they do not want to hear from you.

In the last issue of Slingshot, we reported extensively on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proposal to 65legalize65 forms of micro-powered radio broadcasting. The FCC action came after 10 years of civil disobedience by thousands of micro-powered broadcasters around the country, who started free radio stations to protest the FCC’s current ban on accessible community radio access. The FCC’s deadline for public comment has now been extended to August 2, so there is still time for your or your organization to file a comment!

Public comment on the FCC proposal is essential since the proposal is a series of questions about how the 65legalized65 radio service should be organized. One set of answers to these questions would make the new Low Power FM service an extension of corporate control, and another set of answers could make low power FM available to communities and individuals who are currently excluded from the public airwaves.

Powerful corporate radio stations, represented by their trade group the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) and other entrenched powers like the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, have been working hard to make sure that the FCC’s proposal is either an impotent failure or unavailable to excluded people. The NAB requested, and was granted by the FCC, two extensions of the deadline to file comments, so the NAB could rally corporate support for the status quo and finish their 65scientific65 research on how LPFM would cause chaos on the airwaves. While these extensions are a dangerous opportunity for the powers of corporate control, they also give free radio supporters and all those who favor democratic communication additional time to file comments with the FCC.

A full description of the FCC’s proposal (known as the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM)) and an analysis of the points to include in comments you might file is far beyond the scope of this update. For details, write Slingshot (see page 2 for address) for a copy of issue #64 and a copy of the National Lawyer’s Guild’s Committee for Democratic Communications (CDC) newsletter on the subject. Last issues article is at our website too, www.tao.ca/~slingshot. Or, check out the materials at the CDC’s website: www.nlgcdc.org. The CDC has a detailed response to the FCC’s proposal, and you and/or any organization you are associated with can sign on in support of the CDC’s detailed comments, while adding your own supplemental comments. The CDC is actively working to get unions, churches, and other civic groups to file comments. Contact them if you have access to any union, church etc. decision making bodies: Committee on Democratic Communications, 558 Capp Street, San Francisco, CA 94110 (415) 522-9814.

To file a comment directly, do it by computer at www.fcc.gov. Head for the Electronic Comment Filing System where you can make your comment in only a few minutes. The number of the proceeding is MM Docket No. 99-25. Electronic filing is almost required. You can also see the hundreds of the pro and con comments already filed at the FCC’s website (Some of the comments already filed, by the way, recite word by word the 10 points for comment printed in the last issue of Slingshot!)

The groundswell of support for democratic access to the radio dial is growing, and a number of important groups, including numerous unions and churches, have already signed on in support the CDC comments. Check this stuff out!

Epicenter Closes

Punk lives elsewhere

That’s right. It wasn’t a rumor. Epicenter Zone is going under at the end of June. Hats off to all the volunteers who kept it sailin’ for nine years. Thanks to Tim Yohannan and Maximum Rock n’ Roll (MRR) radio show and magazine staff for starting the much needed space which served the community of punx, activists, artists, pirates, bikers, losers, vagrants, and outcasts.

Epicenter Zone was more than just an all-volunteer collective record store. It was the closest we had to an infoshop in this windy city by the bay. It also housed many projects, such as a community switchboard, a Food Not Bombs meeting place, Prisoner Literature Project meeting and library space, a punk zine library, artist studios and displays, musical performances, zine fests, a free box, community bulletin boards, Black-list punk record distribution mail order (which also folded a few years ago) and a general gathering space.

I last saw co-founder Tim YoMama at Epicenter Zone, with his usual smile and greetings, before his death by cancer over a year ago. He and the MRR staff put money down to help the space get started, after also helping start the Gilman Street Project in 1987 ” a much needed all ages venue in Berkeley (which is also threatened and needs our support).


Why the Ship Sank

Basically, we were in a big hole and couldn’t pay rent anymore. Why we got to that point has many reasons, but one thing is certain it is a great loss to the community (or what is left of the community since rents are now so high in central locations close to subway and bus lines).

Although I’d been involved with the Prisoner Literature Project for a while, I only got involved with the record store the past year. As with many collectives, there were a few people doing most of the work. There was a new wave of volunteers, but we weren’t being trained too well and tasks were not being distributed. A lot of the people who had run the store burnt out and left without spreading that knowledge. The few who had it running, were too busy, really, to train others.

New volunteers seemed too overwhelmed, apathetic, or nervous to always seek out answers. If you wanted to know how to do something you had to ask around. We weren’t being spoon-fed, and that was good, but there was definitely a lack of communication even though we were trying to have regular monthly meetings. Most volunteers knew we were in trouble, for example, but not how deep. The few dedicated volunteers who knew the seriousness of the situation decided to fold so they could go out with some respect and try to pay people back, because that’s how Epicenter started ” with dignity.

A lot of people had been expressing the need to reach out beyond the punk ghetto. Many feel that punk ideology has become stagnant and narrow-minded, contradicting what it originally stood for, and bringing only a limited sector of society into the store (those with the right patches and tattoos). That, coupled with competition in the record business and higher bills, were also reasons for folding.

So go out there before it goes under and buy some cheap records and CDs at 475 Valencia (at 16th), 2nd floor. Hours are 3-8 p.m. weekdays and noon-8 p.m. on weekends.

Mission Records, on Mission between 19th and 20th, is still around for shows and benefits. Cell-Space is also a huge community-oriented center, with many projx going on, and is worth checking out. (On Bryant St., between 18th and 19th.)


For years we have been talking amongst friends about the need for a new infoshop/venue/ community space. So one good thing coming out of Epicenter’s closing is that we’re forced to look.

Running a collective smoothly can be very difficult. My suggestion is to work in a small tight-knit cohesive group of friends and remember, as always, that communication is the key. It would be wise to start by talking about the meaning of a collective, how it should be run, and arrive at a common vision.

Nothing is perfect, but it is worth striving for. From my experience with collectives, it is difficult to work or live with everyone or just whoever. Some Epicenter members have started a temporary office drop-in info-center garage nearby, at the former Starcleaners on Sycamore alley (between 18th and 19th), until a new space is found.

Stay tuned. For more info, you can contact Janice Flux at PO Box 16651 S.F., CA 94116-0651, magdalene@jesusshaves.com, or call Todd at 415-776-4654. Let’s hope the new space learns from past experiences.

Another good idea is to follow the example of our European comrades by occupying an abandoned building and turning it into a social center/infoshop. SQUAT DA CASTLE!

Homogenization and It’s Discontents: Southside’s New Era

Despite the coming and going of the People’s Park 30th Anniversary celebration, the situation on Southside and in the park remains dubious at best. Changes are taking place at a rapid rate and neither the park activists nor the street community seem adequately prepared to deal on the altering political landscape that is emerging. We are entering a new era.

The one-year campaign of police repression on Telegraph that has gone largely unchecked by Berkeley’s activist community has taken its toll and has recently moved into the park where it seems posed to tilt the balance of power in a fragile peace that has held since the Volleyball Wars. For the past five years or so the park has stood at a stalemate with power wielded through an amorphous triad of City, University, and activists, with the People’s Park Community Advisory Board more or less calling the shots.

While the authorities still tread lightly around the park–lest the serpent rise again–they have been bolstered in the past year by their gains on the Avenue and in the area. They may also draw confidence from the hefty coalition of reactionary forces they have built up in the last several years, largely in the form of the Telegraph Area Association but, more recently, around the formation of the up and coming Southside Plan.

Nevertheless, Southside is long known to be unpredictable waters for the powers that be to navigate, and the war and recent troubles on campus suggest a future still up for grabs. One thing’s for sure: socially conscious people need to organize anew around the area if they want the historic gains of the past to be preserved and built upon.


The Avenue

The front-line battle of by whom and for what purpose Telegraph Avenue can be used is the still contested right of people to sit on the sidewalk. Though technically legal, it has been made increasingly difficult, and, at times, for all intents and purposes illegal due to the intensity of police harassment that befalls anyone gutsy enough to drop their bag and kick it. Police will do what it takes to make people not want to be there through intimidation, “hanging out” with them, or finding excuses to run warrant checks on people, hoping to get them on something else. Some people just don’t like to be around cops all the time, and who can blame them. The police’s mere presence is a violation of a person’s basic right to a stress-free and pleasant environment.

The biggest supporters of the ongoing high police presence on Southside are merchants looking to make a bigger buck, as well as UC administrators who hope to comfort university student’s parents by making the area look more like a suburb. However, let us not forget that more than a majority of the “progressive” city council supports the current level of policing, including local council member, Kriss Worthington, who last month told the Daily Californian that the city has “made significant progress” in dealing with Telegraph’s “public safety problems.”

A new group on the scene, the Southside Freedom Network, held two pickets of Telegraph businesses in April and May, targeting Cody’s, Amoebas, and Blake’s, but called for a more general boycott of Avenue businesses until the police state is lifted. In an interesting aside,

…During a Telegraph Area Association sponsored street fair to promote shopping in the area, several stands were permitted to sell beer to event goers on Durant near Telegraph, despite the fact that in the same area poor people are cited by the police on a daily basis and given $130 fines for trying to enjoy their “open container.”


The Southside Plan

Sure to push the boundaries of the current political configuration on Southside is the up and coming Southside Plan. With a draft of the plan due out in September, the Plan is an all-encompassing piece (and process) of social engineering, dominated by UC Berkeley’s Planning Department, but with a considerable and politically astute parceling out of interests to key constituencies. Both a master plan for gentrification and a UC land grab, the plan aims to totally marginalize the poor, the street community, and those who come to Telegraph for reasons other than spending money.

In less words, the plan calls for an increased privatization of the Avenue to merchant money-making interests and a greater shift in the geo-politics of the terrain away from its traditional role as a social arena for a liberatory counter-culture. Free spirits are written out of the Southside Plan entirely–apparently slated to be taken away by the police, as is already happening, for being “quality of life” criminals if they persist with their desire to inhabit public space as non-consumers.

The Plan rather ominously calls for an improvement in the “perception” of public safety in the area. An objective worded as such seems open for abuse and this is likely no accident. For what better an excuse to remove people from the area who are “perceived” to be dangerous. A special topic area on public safety is going to be included in the draft plan, though discussion topics dealing with public safety have been suspiciously absent from the many public workshops that have been held for the plan so far. Is public safety too controversial a subject for the public to discuss?

Another main feature of the Southside Plan is–surprise, surprise–development. Almost every empty lot and surface parking lot is slated for 4-plus story housing with or without commercial space at its base. Furthermore, one and two-story buildings are targeted to be replaced with taller ones and the over-all height zoning limit for the commercial area is expected to rise from 3-4 stories at present to 5-6 stories. This part of the plan has been referred to as a “Manhattanization” of the area.

While there is a need for more housing, taller, more imposing building structures–in combination with the other aspects of the plan–do not bode well for those out to enjoy the streets. Like the fact that there are no benches on the Avenue, and none included in the plan, no plans for additional open space, and coupled with the already increased levels of policing, a Manhattanization will surely contribute to the enclosure of the street community, to a psychologically more hostile urban environment, and for new restrictions on the use of sidewalks as fastlanes for getting to and from places–particularly into shops and spending money. Such a scenario, the “rat-maze effect”, would detract from the streets as places of enjoyment in and of themselves and transform them into mere corridors for shuffling a psychically dismembered populace to its next economic transaction.


The Park

In People’s Park a seemingly benign effort of late by city, university, and the more conciliatory of the park activists to make “improvements” in the park showed its true colors in recent months as the police swept in to do a little weeding and seeding of their own. Chancellor Berdahl’s timely comment about building a dorm on the park, while discounted as not a serious threat and more an effort to get students off his back, did also serve as an effective smoke screen to allow the area-wide increase in police patrols to enter the park–a university offensive, as it were, to neutralize any 30th anniversary rejuvenation. When the dust cleared, the free box had been moved, the free speech bulletin board vanished, the curb where people drop off free clothes was painted red, and cops galore.

In response, a few park activists built a new bulletin board and bench during the 30th anniversary concert. UC cops tore the bulletin board out the next morning, and when people showed up a week later to replace it, the police arrived immediately and cited People’s Park founder, Mike Delacour, for building without a permit. Even the bench was removed two weeks later, apparently suggesting UC thinks the days of user-development are over. Not so say park activists who have been organizing in recent weeks for a Day of User-Development set for Sunday, June 27.

One step in the wrong direction that the Park has been going of late is towards becoming just another park, like every other park. While such a notion rests well with those who fear someday losing the park altogether and would be a historic improvement over long-standing denial by UC of its status as anything more than a future UC development site, it is not the desired outcome. It would not be People’s Park.

People’s Park is something far grander. People’s Park, as envisioned by it’s founders, was (is?) a liberated piece of land. It is not merely a park, it’s a people’s park–a park that is of the people, that is not controlled by any outside entity, and that is based on the principles of user-development. At the same time, the people in the Park are not subjects of any governing body, of any entity–are not subjects. They are free people. The land and its people are not under the United States, the State of California, the City, the University, the County, the UN, or the People’s Park Advisory Board. People’s Park was ripped-off and never given back. It was reclaimed for the people, by the people, and for the earth. It is an autonomous zone, self-determined and self-determining. That said, People’s Park cannot be a normal park.


Not-So-Hidden Agenda

It would be one thing if the police were out actually only dealing with true problematic street behavior and legitimate threats to the public’s safety. In such a case we would be talking about a handful of individuals and relatively isolated incidents that happen usually late at night and on a dark side street.

What we are seeing carried out on Telegraph proper and in the vicinity on a daily basis is something quite different. The propaganda about crime and “perceived” threats to public safety are nothing more than that, propaganda and perceptions. It is extremely rare that a person walking on Telegraph Avenue or in People’s Park in the daytime, or even at night is going to be harmed in any way. Most fights that occur in the area are between people who know each other or drug dealers. Incidences in which complete strangers are attacked are almost non-existent.

What the police do, and the campaign they are currently carrying out, is really in an entirely different arena. It is a class-cleansing, a relocation program for poor people.

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Carpenters Stage Wildcat Strike

Members of Carpenters Union Local 713 conducted a wildcat strike May 15 to attack a new labor contract that contained pay and benefit givebacks in a time of full employment which the union bureaucrats pushed through without a vote.

The union’s regional council was hoping to rush through the unsatisfactory contract and prevent the workers from voting on it for the first time in the union’s 110 year history. 150 rank and filers invaded the hall where this vote was to take place, chanting “No! No! No!” Days later, 150 more workers voted to go on strike and vowed to pack upcoming union meetings.

The strike lasted four work days, but it had significant impacts. The San Francisco Airport – the largest construction job in California – was shut down. Construction at Pacific Bell Park, Kaiser Hospital in San Francisco, and Microsoft was also slowed down.

“Full time union officials used to be elected and accountable. Now, decisions are increasingly made at the top and the international leadership is sending the message to members that they’ll take care of business. For the rank and file, there is a very real danger that the union will turn into an employment agency to provide labor for the contractors,” said one leaflet.

Unions are extremely important for the working class. Without them, we wouldn’t have the weekend, the 8 hour day, or OSHA standards. Union jobs pay more, are more secure, and have more benefits than non-union jobs. However, it is also important that unions remain true to their ultimate purpose – to protect the interests of the rank and file. This can only happen if unions are run democratically based on one member, one vote with bureaucrats serving the members, not vice versa. The rank and file should rise and ensure that “company unions” are quashed.

1999 Summer Gatherings Listing

 

June 21-28

Earth First! Round River Rendezvous, San Juan Nat’l Forest Spend the week of the Summer Solstice at the Nat’l EF! Gathering. Includes opportunities to help local anti-logging campaign and threatened farming communities. Workshops including Y2K preparedness, getting back to basics and action how-tos. contact Tucson EF! pob 3412 Tucson, AZ 85722 (520)620-1839, EF! Journal for map and more info

July 1-7

National Rainbow Gathering Allegheny Nat’l Forest, PA No money allowed, free food kitchens, trade circles, music, and kind vibes. Not just for hippies, hook up with Allegheny Defense Project while you’re there. (814)764-5763 adp@envirolink.org www.enviroweb.org/adp/.

July 30-Aug 1

Southern Girls Convention Memphis, TN Workshops, performances and booths because the south is a region stifled by religious piety, radical tension, and violence and because women are still expected to be Southern Belles-quiet beauties. We believe a real change comes through a revolution of mind, body and soul. suzukibeane@hotmail.com 787 Ellsworth Memphis, TN 38111

June 25-27

Leonard Peltier Organizing Conference Lawrence, Kansas Workshops and presentations on future actions, legal strategies, support groups, network building, prison issues w/ Pam Africa, Dave Delinger and Jennifer Harbury. contact (785)842-5774 lpdc@idir.net

July 23-Aug 8

Int’l Food Not Bombs Gathering Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

 

June 28-July 11

Philly Freedom Summer for Mumia Philadelphia, PA contact Int’l Concerned Friends for Mumia Abu-Jamal (215)476-8812

July/August

Bike Summer! San Francisco Bike Summer will be a month of celebration and activism featuring bike events every day starting with the July 30 Critical Mass including politics, bike culture, rides, street theater, art, music, films, critical masses and midnight masses. The revolution will not be motorized! (415)431-2453 http://www.bikesummer.org

 

Slingshot Organizer Memories Ad

Hey kids! Have you had any special experiences with your Slingshot brand Organizer? Has it fallen out of your pocket and embarrassed you in front of your friends and relatives? Have you thrown it through a cop’s window in some act of ill-planned revenge? Or has it reunited you with your long lost sweetheart? Well, we at Slingshot want to hear about it! Just send us your best Slingshot Organizer stories–something memorable, salacious, or just plain stupid. We’ll print the best ones in a special section in next year’s Y2K Organizer!

Hurry, now! The deadline is August 2, 1999.

Calendar

JUNE
     
June 11-13 Zine Conference Bowling Green, OH Call 419-373-6502 ciara@bgnet.bgsu.edu July 4, noon Nude Freedom Day, B aker Beach, SF Look for rainbow flag. Bring ideas, drums, etc. to share. Free.    
June 12-13 21st Annual Health and Harmony Music and Arts Festival ’99. Sonoma County Fairgrounds. Call 707-575-9355 www.wishwell.com      
Friday, June 18, 11am Reclaim the Streets! Justin Herman Plaza. www.gn.apc.org/june18/ or call 820-3226      
Sunday, June 20, 7pm Summer Solstice Poets’ Gathering Open Reading Ecology Center Bookstore 2530 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley