Category Archives: Issue #113

In praise of beans and rice

*IN PRAISE OF RICE AND BEANS*
By Violet

For the past 5 years I’ve lived in radical community. I’ve lived on queer land projects, in squats and cabins in the woods. I’ve slept in tents, attics, couches and huts. I’ve been a resident, guest, and traveler. On the most intimate level, my involvement in radical community has come primarily through THE KITCHEN. I’ve cooked for hundreds, if not thousands, of people. I’ve cooked in chaotic communal cook spaces, on propane camping stoves in squats, cast-iron wood-stoves, and over an open fire.

Over time and with experience I’ve observed that liberated cooking spaces are remarkably consistent in many ways:

* They serve as an open kitchen and feeding ground for many

* they are mostly stocked with items that are either dumpstered or bought on food stamps

* they incorporate food from backyard gardens

* cheese, yogurt, peanut butter, nuts and meat are the first things to be eaten, often in a frenzy of scarcity mentality and greed
* there is usually an ample supply of condiments, notably Bragg’s liquid aminos and Sriracha pepper sauce and nutritional yeast

* people regularly don’t do their dishes much to collective chagrin

In other ways radical kitchens vary wildly. Land projects formed before the 1990′s are frequently vegetarian spaces. Squats NEVER are.
THE DANGERS OF DUMPSTERING

There are certain patterns with dumpstered food. The big “scores” of cheese and prepared health food are usually infrequent, at most periodic i.e. the second Sunday of the month. Produce can be secured almost everyday. Sometimes it’s only a few half rotted green bell peppers other times hundreds of bruised organic apples. Often there is both great abundance and variety of fruits and veggies.

Ungodly amounts of bread are always available somewhere close by. ALWAYS. And have you ever noticed how much dumpstered bread radicals eat? Bread with cheese. Bread with butter. Bread with peanut butter. Eggs and toast. Jam on toast. Toast by itself. Not that there’s anything wrong with bread or anything, in moderation. But have you ever noticed HOW MANY PUNKS HAVE GLUTEN ALLERGIES?? Allergies are caused BY OVEREXPOSURE. They grow worse over time. One of my uncles worked in a bakery. He developed gluten allergies after being around wheat flour every day. I’ve heard anecdotally that this is a fairly common experience. The dominant culture has a certain attitude towards health that is so ubiquitous it is almost invisible, even in radical community. The basic assumption goes something like this: “the primary importance in life is PRODUCTIVITY and INCOME. To achieve this end it is totally okay to sacrifice the health and well-being of your body. When the body starts to fail there are HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONALS that will take care of you making your PRODUCTIVITY AND INCOME absolutely necessary to pay for medical care.” This is of course ADDICT-LOGIC that doesn’t really make any sense. I’ve seen gluten-allergies play out in ways where people feel alienated within community. They need their own separate cast iron. They are frequently inadvertently poisoned by other people’s carelessness. THIS IS A SERIOUS ISSUE. On the same level as black mold in residential space, bike accidents and drug abuse.

BODY POLITIC

Diets are inherently political. “Apolitical” or “apathetic” is still a form of political engagement

What we choose to consume has long-term consequences, both for ourselves and for the larger social order. Boycotts have been an effective means to create change. Our food choices create a collective momentum. This collective momentum creates, in part, our reality. Freeganism is political. Veganism is political. Eating local is political. Likewise buying factory-farmed meat is political. Shopping at Walmart is political. Going deeper, how we care for our bodies is of the utmost political importance. Do we treat ourselves as THINGS to be USED and then DISCARDED? Do we lavish ourselves with love and treat our bodies as sacred objects, as universes onto themselves? Do we treat our bodies somewhere in between? If so, where on the spectrum? How do you treat your body? This question is of the UTMOST SIGNIFICANCE.

Your body is the fundamental unit of who you are. What is the point of radicalism that doesn’t incorporate self-care and love into its ideology?

RICE AND BEANS AND GREENS

Have you ever noticed how excited everyone gets about eating rice, beans, vegetables and tortillas for dinner? They are one of the easiest and cheapest meals to make. They are at the most basic vegan and gluten free. They meet almost everyone’s needs and are healthy and delicious to boot. Dry beans can be intimidating. To cook them well one needs either to plan well in advance or have a pressure cooker. This is a different rhythm than instant convenience, but is not without its charms. I’ve seen it as breakfast, lunch and dinner.

When mental health isn’t DIY

A month ago, a California criminal court sent my close friend Nick, who was one of the founders of Slingshot in 1988, to the state mental hospital where he will be involuntarily medicated with antipsychotic drugs. It hurts to write it — what could we, his friends and community, have done to avoid this? Sadly, I don’t know.

Nick is one of the most fearless, tireless, committed radicals I’ve ever known. He’s always been intense about fighting the system and injustice, but also funny, creative, modest, and caring. Nick designed the Slingshot logo by dripping ink out of a bottle. I met him a week or two after Slingshot started and he helped me develop a much more radical analysis of the system and inspired me with his militant street tactics. Back in the 1980s we lived together and worked on the paper and went to protests. At a riot on Telegraph Avenue in 1990, he was the only one with a protest sign, which read simply “no more liberalism.” He created funny graphics and articles for Slingshot that brilliantly mocked authority. In the early 90s, after traveling in Germany and seeing radical Germany calendar/organizers, he made a pocket calendar that inspired the first Slingshot organizer. Nick was always making a flier and organizing a protest.

Possibly after suffering a head injury during a police beating in 1998, Nick’s mental health began to gradually deteriorate. He got more and more isolated and began having wild delusions that he was being followed, that his family were mass murders, and that his friends had betrayed the radical movement and were part of a vast conspiracy. There was no way to talk him out of these delusions or convince him that he needed help. He made activist-style fliers and organized protests alleging misconduct against members of his family and a bunch of his closest friends, including me.

After his mother passed away he picketed his brother-in-law’s business for months accusing him of cutting his mother’s head off and keeping it alive to torture her. He sought a restraining order against a long-time local activist who Nick had been living with and circulated fliers accusing him of being a mafia leader and a child molester. At one point Nick thought all Latino men were part of the conspiracy — later it was all gay men.

For years, Nick’s friends would periodically exchange a flurry of emails to see if anyone could figure out what to do, usually triggered by a new shocking delusion Nick was having. But we were never able to come up with anything between do-it-yourself remedies, which weren’t working, or the heavy mainstream options that we found unacceptable: bringing in mental hospitals or the state.

I felt so frustrated and powerless for years because I wanted to help Nick, but he didn’t think he had a problem. So you couldn’t suggest that maybe he try acupuncture or herbs or meditation or talk therapy. Instead, Nick impulsively sold his possessions and jumped on airplanes to flee dangers he was perceiving but that none of the rest of us could detect, running to Europe, the East Coast, or up North. Nick has a ton of friends who gladly took him in and offered him space and time to relax and recover, but he just got worse.

By the time Nick finally landed in jail facing a felony battery charge for elbowing an 11 year old boy, his paranoid delusions were so deep that while many people loved Nick, his community was worn down, out of ideas, and scared to stick our necks out and argue with him anymore. Nick had turned on a lot of his closest friends who told him there was no conspiracy and that he needed help. I use the term “paranoid delusions” not to pathologize Nick or attack people who are not neurotypical, but merely because it is descriptive. Nick couldn’t function because he was terrified about things that were not really happening.

Nick is not a violent person, but when I would hear about mentally disturbed people who went on shooting rampages or killed themselves, I would pray Nick would never go off that edge. It felt irresponsible to not be doing anything.

I want more options for people who are experiencing serious mental illness. But as it stands, the decision Nick’s friends couldn’t bring ourselves to make is now out of our hands. Nick is locked up in a psych ward.

I don’t think this is the end of Nick’s story. I have to believe that some of the drugs or therapies available can bring Nick back. I’m hoping that Nick’s community can communicate with the state hospital, monitor his case, let them know they’re being watched, and advocate for Nick to receive meaningful care, rather than just being locked up. It’s a long shot at best.

If you’re a friend of Nick’s, have experience with this, or know about treatment options for people with paranoid delusions, please email Slingshot to share information. Have other radical communities figured out ways to help delusional comrades who didn’t think they had a problem without involving the police? I hope this is only the beginning of this discussion.

Adventures in Anarchy: Vol. 1: Proudhon

Who was the first anarchist? Nitpickers and academics will happily bicker over this question for hours at a time, but few would dispute the claim that Pierre-Joseph Proudhon was the first person to call themselves an anarchist. While working as an apprentice in a printing press, the mostly self-educated Proudhson encountered many ideas from the European enlightenment, which suggested that all people had the ability to use scientific reasoning, and that this ability to reason could and should be used to challenge conventional wisdom and advance human freedom (though for most Enlightenment writers, this admittedly only meant freedom for white middle class men). After several failed ventures in the printmaking business, Proudhon took the advice (and money) of his friend Gustave Fallot, and went to university to study philosophy. From this point on, he wrote prolifically and unrelentingly: he continued to publish books as he fought off various sedition charges, as he built barricades during the 1848 revolution in France (while he published newspapers with readerships in the tens of thousands), while he was imprisoned by Napoleon III (where he continued to write for two newspapers), as he fled France for Belgium to avoid further persecution, as he organized massive anti-voting campaigns, and even as he died: his final moments were spent dictating one last book.

The centerpiece of his philosophy is probably found in the answer to the title of the book that first launched him to fame, What is Property? (1840). He argues that property is despotic (tyrannical) and, more famously, that property is theft. This is more than a slogan to him, it’s a fundamental thesis in his vision of capitalism. The Enlightenment philosophers that Proudhon had grown up reading generally considered property a ‘natural right’, meaning that humans deserved access to property simply because they have the capacity for scientific reasoning. Proudhon pointed out that whether or not property (especially arable land for agriculture, and factories for industrial production) was a ‘right’, the institution of property itself was precisely what denied access to land or industrial production capacity to the vast majority of people (It’s worth noting here that there is an important distinction between personal possessions [i.e. your toothbrush] and property [i.e. a toothbrush factory]). Instead, owners force workers or peasants to grow food or labor in factories to survive, giving them wages or food worth far less than what they had actually created, and keeping the rest (called “surplus value”) to themselves – Thus, property is theft. The ability to hold the basic necessities of life hostage allows property owners to control nearly all aspects of the social and political existence of those without property – thus, property is despotism. But because of the human capacity to use science, “a system of knowledge in harmony with the reality of things, and inferred from observation”, those without property are able to recognize the farce of their condition, and champion the cause of scientific socialism for their release from their current state in society. All of these ideas will probably sound familiar to those familiar with Karl Marx, an early admirer and correspondent of Proudhon who decades later made scientific socialism and surplus value the basis of his theory of political economy. But not only did Marx go ahead and claim these ideas as his own, he went ahead and wrote an entire book primarily devoted to mischaractarizing Proudhon’s work, often brazenly misquoting the Frenchman to appear as though he were making the case for capitalism that he spent his entire life writing against. And it seems to have worked: few people read Proudhon nowadays, and Marxists have been feeling smug about their leader’s supposed ‘discovery’ of the pillars of capitalism for over a century and a half (although Marx’s theories were certainly built on more the Proudhon alone).

But if this is the case, why do we call Proudhon an anarchist, rather than simply a communist? Could Proudhon not only be the first person to identify themselves as an anarchist, but also the first person to mis-identify themselves as an anarchist? One could be forgiven for thinking so. (For that matter, most contemporary anarchists will probably also find it strange that the famous critic of parliamentarianism ran for and was elected to a term in the French National Assembly, or that the man who claimed to fight for “the absence of a master, of a sovereign” expressed virulent and even violent prejudice against women and Jewish people). But while Proudhon at times held equivocal views on the state, the failures of the French Revolution of 1848 convinced him that governments – even revolutionary governments that allegedly represented workers – were incapable of committing suicide (as Marx never fully understood). He insisted, as many continue to insist, that governments exist chiefly to violently enforce the capitalist class system, and that liberty is thus achieved not by “reducing big government” (as modern right-wing libertarians believe), but through the immediate abolition of government itself.

In it’s place, Proudhon advanced the cause of a pre-existing concept called ‘mutualism,’ which he had encountered during a visit to a silk-weaving cooperative in Lyon made up of workers who co-owned their operation, living as laborers but not serving bosses. Mutualists argue that if everyone has the means to their own production, without capitalist property-owners and tax collectors who claim any surplus value, goods could be exchanged to mutual benefit rather than through exploitation. Proudhon’s mutualist vision also involved (and here’s where most anarchists will turn up their noses) a Bank of the People, which would use an extremely small interest rate to cover basic administrative expenses (whereas typical interest rates basically amount to rent paid to banks on the money you use), and in return would assist in providing the cheap credit necessary to end capitalism. His attempts to make such a bank, however, were cut short when he was imprisoned for insulting Emperor Napoleon III, and the while the world has seen more than a few credit schemes orchestrated by nations to topple rival economies, and even the abandonment of the gold standards (which has led to widespread inflation), we haven’t seen a genuinely widespread execution of Proudhon’s specific plan to take down the financial system with the intention of ending capitalism forever, so it’s hard to measure how well it would work. Today, institutions like the FBI police financial crime not simply to stop fraud and traditional white-collar crime, but also to help shield the vulnerable financial organs of capitalism from would-be saboteurs like Proudhon.

For a forerunner to anarchist theorists who better understood the role of social revolution, rather than reform and financial tricks, Proudhon has an astounding level of understanding of the way that capitalism robs the working class, and he’s definitely worth a read, if you can stomach his sexist views on the importance of traditional family structures. Here are some suggestions for further reading, both big and small:

For light readers: Marx and Anarchism (1925), by Rudolf Rocker (free online)

For intermediate readers: What is Property?, by Proudhon (free online)

For advanced readers: Property Is Theft! A Pierre-Joseph Proudhon Anthology, ed. Iain McKay (AK Press, 2011). 823 pages,.

Working Class Hero: The Life and Times of Michael Delacour

~~ It is with Honor that Slingshot bestows upon Michael Delacour the 2013 Golden Wingnut Award for Lifetime Achievement.  ~~

by Samara Steele

They say that the term “Wingnut” comes from the Hell’s Angels of the 1960s, when the motorcycle gang started using the term “fuckin wingnut” to refer to any radical in the East Bay who spoke their mind too loudly. Since that time, radicals have worked to reclaim the term “wingnut,” to make it positive. “Berkeley would float off into space if there wasn’t a wingnut holding it down on every corner,” became a common saying in the 70s. In the 90s, punks around here started sewing wingnut patches to their jackets. During the WTO protests of 1999, the folks from the Long Haul Info Shop carried a giant wingnut flag through the throng in Seattle.

In 2005, Slingshot began to bestow the “Golden Wingnut Award for Lifetime Achievement” upon a local member of the activist community. The Gold Wingnut Award is our way of showing our gratitude to the folks who manage to stay true to themselves and inspire us, through it all.

This year’s Golden Wingnut Award for Lifetime Achievement goes to Michael Delacore.

*

There might not have been a “People’s Park” if Michael hadn’t shown up that day back in ’69 with a 2-ton-truck filled with shovels and sod. There had been a lot of talk about putting a park there, in the junked out vacant lot that the university created when it leveled a bunch of beautiful old houses, publicly claiming that there was a “desperate need for a soccer field” privately celebrating the destruction of houses that had been a notorious hangout for hippies, Yippies, beats, and flower children. They didn’t expect for the land to be reclaimed and turned into a park.

Everyone was behind the idea of making it a park, of turning it into a sort of user-cultivated autonomous space where people could have free concerts, meditate, plant vegetables, let their kids play, and do what they want.

Michael held the first planning meeting in a dress shop that he and his former partner were running, and on April 19th Michael gathered the sod and supplies, and about a hundred people showed up and made a park.

No one expected the fallout.

The city of Berkeley transformed into a military zone, police shooting people with birdshot and buckshot, leaving one man dead: a laborer from San Jose who was watching the riot from a roof–shot dead by police–another man blinded permanently, and dozens sustained wounds that would never heal.

Legend tells that the Berkeley Free Clinic was started that day–May 15th, 1969, also called “Bloody Thursday”–when they began dragging folks into the basement of that church on Channing to pull the buckshot and rock salt out of them. Hippies and shopkeepers alike were shot, tear-gassed, and forced to follow a curfew.

You might say People’s Park was the beginning of a movement. A war between private interests and the public desire for non-moneyed spaces where people could have real human interaction.

A lot of folks talk about People’s Park as the first Occupation: and it has been held for 44 years.

*

I meet Michael at his apartment near the intersection of Ashby and Telegraph, and we walk to a nearby Chinese Restaurant for lunch.

He tells me about his experience of Bloody Thursday:

“They came and fenced off the Park that morning, and so we all went out to the intersection of Haste and Telegraph.”

Michael’s daughter, Kathy, who was twelve at the time, used a wrench to open the fire-hydrant, creating a plume of water.

“The kids were like the black bloc back then,” Mike laughs. “Anyone under 18 could do what they wanted and not worry about it staying on their record. So the kids were the ones who broke the bank window that day, and tossed rocks and bricks at the cops.”

I ask Mike if he was worried about Kathy. He shakes his head. “I knew she could take care of herself–and I didn’t know how bad things were going to get. Just seemed like another protest march. Now the thing I was really worried about was my weed! Police were everywhere, and having weed was a felony at the time.”

So Mike ran back to his house on the north side of the UC Berkeley campus and promptly tossed his stash into a garbage can by his house before turning around and heading back down to the protest. As he was walking through the university campus, he noticed some people hiding in the bushes near Wheeler Hall and discovered what was going on:

“They’re shooting people!” a man said.

“No way,” Mike said. “It’s just rock salt.”

Just then, a couple folks covered in blood ran by, and Mike was like, “Whoa!” and jumped into the bushes to join the people hiding.

Mike would later learn that dozens of people were injured, one blinded, and James Rector was mortally wounded.

“You take responsibility for these things,” Michael says. “You don’t have a choice about that. I wanted a park. Now James Rector is dead.”

But there were other unforeseen consequences of People’s Park. Among them, The Long Haul Info Shop (which, arguably, was created in the wake of the energy generated during the People’s Park volleyball riots) and Slingshot!.

*

Michael lives with his foster son, Dusk, and his daughter, Vanessa, who experienced a stroke last year, leaving the right side of her body less mobile that it was before. Michael also has 2 surviving children, and 7 grandchildren.

“Family and activism,” Michael says, “That’s my life.”

Though he is in his 70s, Michael still works making boilers. His is active in his union, he explains he pays 6.2% of his wages to union dues, and they have done an excellent job keeping his pay rate at around $40 an hour. As a member of the so-called “Millennial Generation,” this is strange and interesting for me to hear: I’ve worked for over 15 years, but have never held a union job. My generation seems to think these things like good wages will simply be given to them, whereas Michael explains that “you have to keep pressure on the bosses, you can’t let up.”

Mike hosted a worker-themed radio show on Berkeley Liberation Radio. “At first, I just played jazz music, but I kept having guest speakers and they talked so much, there wasn’t much time for music.”

The radio show lasted several months, and had to end when Mike’s employer transferred him, forcing a longer commute. “When the master calls…” Mike says, shaking his head.

*

Michael’s daughter Kathy died in 1988.

Dusk, Mike’s foster son, tells me he found an old diary of Kathy’s and started typing it up. He prints a copy out for me, and a few days later, I curl up on the sofa in my living room, and read. On the ten year anniversary of Blood Thursday, she wrote:

May 15, 1979

“Ten years ago I was in one of the highlights of my so called life / 10 years ago. Bloody Thursday Peoples Park – it’s so weird when I try to imagine and life 10 years ago/ Need I go on? In the dark? Still at leslies – it’s late – stoned out typical!!! Tea is being made. I could have made a good speech at Sproul plaza today. Michael made one – I missed it. It was on the news though 5 & 7 – saw old faces.”

A few days later, I ask Mike how Kathy died. He explains that a bad batch of heroine went through town. “It was 400 times stronger than the old stuff. Kathy had no idea that’s what she had.”

Kathy went to the hospital, and was given a shot of “heroine antidote,” but the doctors didn’t know that it wouldn’t be strong enough. She went home, and fell asleep, and never woke up.

“A couple hundred people in the area died from that one batch,” Mike says.

*

Twenty months ago, Gina Sasso, Michael’s long-term partner, died of pneumonia.

Outside of Michael’s apartment building, there is a Coldwater Banker sign saying that the building is for sale.

“They killed her!” Michael says, gesturing towards the sign. “They killed Gina!”

Michael goes on to explain that new property owners bought the apartment building he lives in in order to sell it and turn a profit. Twenty months ago, they demanded that Mike and Gina clear out the whole back area of the building so they could replace the patio, in order to raise the property value. It was November, and Gina was sick. But she wanted to do right by them, so she pushed herself to clean, and before she could finish the task, she was dead.

Now the apartments are for sale again.

The property owners will surely get their profit.

*

On April 28th, I ride my bike to People’s Park for the 44th Anniversary Carnival. The park is alive with hundreds of people dancing, making music, blowing bubbles, and even feeding a pack of llamas that someone brought.

I search the park for over an hour before I finally find Mike. He’s patrolling the perimeter of the Park, copwatching.

“There’s three of them over there,” Mike says through gritted teeth, motioning towards 3 cops with gun belts lurking near the edge of the park. Mike’s 2-year-old granddaughter is balanced on his hip.

Suddenly, the three officers beeline for a man who is sunbathing naked in the middle of the park.

We watch as the cops begin to harass the naked guy, telling him “There are children present, you realize!”

Suddenly, a group of people–mostly women and children–form a circle around the naked guy. They hold hands, chanting, “Guns out of the park, nudity in the park!”

“Don’t you think it’s disgusting,” a cop says, “to have a naked guy in front of children?”

A woman responds, “I’d rather kids see him than your gun in the park!”

The police seem confused. They back away, and soon flee from the park entirely.

This is the space that Mike hoped to create when he hauled those shovels and sod here 44 years ago: a space where anything can happen. A space where we negotiate what it means to be among people.

Organizing the third sector

Nonprofits are the Third Sector because they are neither private for-profit corporations nor public agencies. Instead, nonprofits occupy the nebulous space of a private agency often operating with a large share of public funding in government grants and contracts. Many governments have followed suit with their corporate counterparts in decreasing payrolls, partially because of shrinking revenues and partially because of an unshakable faith in free markets being more efficient in delivering services.

This faith in the free market has given rise to the Third Sector and to large nonprofits such as Larkin Street Youth Services (LSYS) among many others. Many of the jobs in the nonprofit service sector used to be occupied by public sector employees. However, following the trend of trade union workers in the private sector having their jobs moved overseas, governments have found it increasingly more cost-effective to outsource the work of unionized public workers to privatized nonprofits, in which workers are often non-union with lower wages, less benefits, and more lax workplace regulations. The Third Sector has burgeoned in the shadow of retrenched governments, creating more incentive for governments to contract more social services out to this Third Sector.

If we are to stem the tide of ever-dwindling public resources in social services, public health, and education, then organizing the Third Sector is crucial to reversing the privatization of our service economy. If workers in the Third Sector have access to competitive wages, decent benefits, and better, more regulated working conditions, then governments would have less incentive to privatize those services in the first place, because they would not be considerably cheaper. Ultimately, organizing broadly across the Third Sector could create greater opportunities to demand more resources for all collectively. We could also forge strong alliances with our counterparts in the public sector who face severe pressures when there are at-will workers in the Third Sector “supposedly” able to do their jobs at a fraction of the cost. I say “supposedly” because it is ultimately our clients who get hurt by lack of resources, burnt out workers, and high turnover, all problems felt commonly throughout the Third Sector because a fraction of the cost often means a fraction of the care.

Unionization Efforts at LSYS

I have been a worker at Larkin Street Youth Services (LSYS) for two and a half years, originally as an Outreach Counselor and transferring later to the Education Department as a GED Instructor. When I started in fall 2010 at LSYS, I found myself embroiled in the tail-end of a failed unionization effort.

LSYS has greatly expanded in the last decade without much careful attention given to the wages, benefits, and working conditions of a growing workforce. For example, in 2011, despite multiple supplications to institute a Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) in response to years of stagnant wages and benefits, the agency ignored such requests and instead eliminated the best healthcare plan in terms of cost and coverage, only later increasing the base salary of all the counselors by $2,000, forcing workers to choose between more income or better health benefits. The pay increase did not affect education and employment specialists or case managers, and no plan has ever been detailed to raises the wages of all workers, let alone restore health benefits. Staffing ratios have also suffered severely as services have expanded. In the case of my old program, Outreach, as well as the Drop-In Center, both programs have actually had permanent staff positions cut in the past year alone, while a new Director position has been created. Perhaps most importantly, even though the legal rights of Third Sector workers are better protected in San Francisco than other parts of the country, being an at-will employee is still a highly vulnerable position. One can be disciplined or fired at almost any time for any reason with no due process. This is a grave concern of many workers, myself included, who have witnessed coworkers written up or fired for taking sick leave or not reporting even the most mundane details about clients. A union at LSYS would give us all a contract with due process protections, meaning management would have to establish just cause for terminations, and we would all be able to collectively bargain for better conditions for all of us and our clients.

Workers attempted to unionize at LSYS back in 2010. However, when I started working there, the unionizing attempt was already faltering. A coworker of mine put it best in describing our current efforts, “This time it really feels like we’re organizing. Last time, it just felt like protesting.” I would argue that this perception is largely due to the fact that this time around we built a strong foundation, whereas previously we were intently focused on forming a union, this time we have really focused on building worker power and solidarity, the union being the vehicle, not the driver, of change.

The following is a very broad roadmap toward building that solidarity with some specific examples ,where possible, from our campaign at LSYS.

“Learning” the Organization

The nice thing about nonprofits, even the larger ones like LSYS, is that these organizations still have a relatively small workforce. At LSYS, for example, at any given time, there are approximately 140 permanent staff and around 30-40 relief staff. The first and most essential step in organizing the Third Sector is to know everyone, front-line and management. Learn workers’ names and job titles, how long they have been with the agency, that which they like and do not like about their jobs, to whom they report and who reports to them, and whom they trust (more on this later).

On my very first day at LSYS, I asked for an Organizational Chart because I wanted to know how the hierarchy worked and who fell within which Divisions. The Employee Manual said that we would receive one in the New Hire Orientation, but it was not in my packet, so I requested one and had it sent via e-mail the next day. I read the full 30-page Employee Manual in the first week and the full 130-page Policies and Procedures Manual within the first six months. When our healthcare options were drastically cut in 2011, I pored over the premiums, deductibles, and coverage to contest the “sales pitch” made for our high-deductible HRA plan. When a new Employee Manual was issued in 2012, I read the whole thing in full while highlighting, compared it with the old manual, and then requested a meeting with our Chief Operations Officer to ask pointed questions about changes in language and omissions of certain sections. The new manual omitted any mention of the San Francisco Sunshine Ordinance, which allows members of the public to access and review much of our budget. I was later able to point out this omission to other workers and to back up the veracity of any budgetary claims I made with, “Well, go see for yourself, if you don’t believe me.”

“Learning the organization” is the groundwork for mobilizing the workers because, as an organizer, one needs to be fully conversant in all the roles and responsibilities, all the policies, and all the changes in the organization, especially in a volatile workplace where turnover is often high and policies are arbitrary and subject to change quickly. Eventually, one must also become conversant in explaining the unionizing process, but to lay the groundwork for organizing the workers, one must learn how the organization ticks and which people make its heart beat.

Establishing Trust

Furthermore, putting confidentiality and discretion at the center of every interaction is important in creating a culture of mutual aid and protection. In the beginning of the campaign, a lot of folks would ask me who else was involved, and I would say frankly that we want to protect people, so I cannot give out names without their permission, but I would be able to indicate in rough numbers how many workers were involved as organizers. This level of confidentiality was less for the protection of workers already joining the ranks of organizing but more for demonstrating to newcomers that we were doing everything that we could to protect each other and avoid unwanted scrutiny from management.

Build a Diverse Base

The Third Sector functions off the labor of people from a lot of mixed backgrounds. Since getting a job in the Third Sector is considerably easier than surmounting higher barriers to employment in the public sector with its more stringent regulations for civil service, nonprofit work tends to attract everyone from younger, white college graduates as a stepping stone to long-term careers, to single parents putting themselves through college or graduate school while supporting a family, to slightly older workers of color who wish to give back to their communities, and to LGBT workers who can be safely and comfortably out in the very socially liberal atmosphere of the Third Sector. The Third Sector is often a very diverse workforce, representing varied class, age, racial, and sexual interests.

When beginning to assess other workers and building an organizing committee, do your best to build a diverse base and speak to the diversity of interests among the staff. At a place like LSYS, which has so many jobsites, we were also particularly focused on getting a diversity of people from different sites who would have different contacts. Having so many sites is at once a curse and a blessing because it means that we had to build an organizing committee among folks who would not normally interact very frequently, but the result was that we began to work better with people whom we would rarely see or talk to, and we started to learned more about the issues confronting staff at different sites, sometimes staffing levels, other times, purely low pay, and often, disciplinary fears. In attempting to build a diverse committee within the agency, we were able as organizers to speak to the myriad concerns that workers from remote corners of the agency had.

One cannot just grab anybody indiscriminately as an organizer though. LSYS has a very high turnover rate, approximately 60% last year in recent estimates from our HR Director. Therefore, the workers who have been around a little longer and who have learned how to advocate for themselves and youth strongly are the ideal candidates as organizers. We attempted to pick leaders throughout the agency who are strong youth advocates, strong worker advocates, and who had worked in different departments throughout the agency, a common occurrence at LSYS for myself and others on the organizing committee.

After the Foundation is Set

The foundation outlined above is just a foundation. The tactics deployed in any campaign must be unique to the agency, but workers in the Third Sector often share these common themes above: a more highly diversified workforce, a service sector reliant on trust to operate effectively, and often-changing workers and policies, which need to be actively learned. The next step is to actually garner union representation, but in my opinion, unionization is the result of strong worker solidarity, never the cause.

We read it for you: Book review of Nine-tenth of the Law

Nine Tenths of the Law
by Hannah Dobbz
AK Press (2012)
$21 300 pgs.

The last several months have held many victories for the radical squatting movement in the United States: in Oakland, Steve DeCaprio gained legal ownership of his squatted house, in New York City the MUseum of Reclaimed Urban Space has become the first American squat that is also a museum of the Lower East Side’s squatting movement. In the literary world, Nine Tenths of the Law, the first history of squatting in America, has been released by AK press. The author, Hannah Dobbz is an Oakland-based squatter and filmmaker of the 2008 documentary Shelter: A Squatumentary. In NToTL, Dobbz chronicles the activity of squatting in America, retelling American history as a series of European squats made on Indian land, moving forward in time to the Occupy Movement, which, in many areas, did not vanish after it was forced out of public squares, but instead moved out of sight and into abandoned buildings.

NToTL is chock-full of excellent stories of police raids and the creation of new houses, as well as a smattering of legal tidbits and advice. Also, there is a hearty section on the co-op movement, detailing the dynamics of radical collectives who feel peevish about trespassing, and work to gain their houses through legal means. As we attempt to build amazing lives liberated from bosses and authorities, we need resources and space. Hannah’s book is a guiding light as we work towards housing this movement. It is also an excellent investigation of an underground cultural movement, and is great fodder for any US history nerd. (hayley)

Bay Area Buzz

Bay Area Buzz

Compiled by EagleEye Rye

The Battle for the Bulb: On May 6th, 2013, Albany City Council voted towards removing the humans and art that live on the capped landfill known as the Albany Bulb, a capped landfill that juts out into the Bay. The Albany Bulb has been a space of human wilderness for over a decade — with art, music, theatre, gardening, and creativity bursting from the seams. It is not always a “safe” place, but it is a free space, and it has become an international icon of autonomy. This summer, we are calling on artists, performers, builders, and creative people of all ilks to come make the Bulb your playground. Let’s show the world why autonomous space is more valuable than anything money can tame!

Pending Destruction of the Sacramento Delta Wetlands: A major industrial project is underway that will divert the Sacramento River away from the wetlands of the Delta into the unsustainable (but heavily lobbied) factory farms in the Central Valley. Also, according to the Daily Kos, the hidden agenda is to frack the Delta. A couple decades ago, voters turned down a similar proposal to divert the Sac River into a “peripheral canal,” but now, Gov. Jerry Brown has bypassed the will of the voters with the “Bay Delta Conversation Plan” (hella think-speaky name, yeah?). If the BDC Plan isn’t stopped, 35 miles of the Sacramento River will be diverted into underground tunnels, destroying vast ecosystems as well as the spawning grounds of endangered salmon and smelt. overtroubledwaters.org/

The Davis Dozen Walk Free! In early 2012, a group of students and teachers at UC Davis protested the presence of a corporate bank on their university by peacefully blockading the entrance. They did this for 2 straight months, until the bank closed up and left their campus forever. In April of 2012, twelve people who were associated with the blockade were charged with misdemeanors, and faced up to 11 years in prison and $1,000,000 in fines. On May 6th, 2013, the Davis Dozen settled on a plea bargain: 80 hours of community service. Pretty ironic seeing how they have already spent 2 straight months serving their community…but thank goodness they are free!

Court Victory for Hot Mess / RCA: Hot Mess is a reclaimed house near the MacArthur BART station with a free store, a huge vegetable garden, and a chicken coop. In recent months, residents have liberated the abandoned RCA store next door, turning the shop’s ground floor into a lecture hall & music venue. On March 14, Hot Mess / RCA won a major victory in court when a judge chose to throw out the lawsuit being pressed against the squatters by the property owner. This victory will be useful in the defense of future squats (to find it in the books: Alameda County Superior Court Case #: RG12638555, Rockridge Properties LLC, vs Carey et al.). Legal defense was provided by Land Action, an Oakland-based non-profit that assists environmental & social-justice organizers in establishing and defending occupations used for housing & advancing projects. www.land-action.org

Conscious Living Collective: Up on the UC Berkeley Campus, students have formed a group that is dissolving the boundaries between personal growth and social change. Come if you dare transform your bullshit into the fertilizer for a new era of awesome. CLC-Core@googlegroups.com / 30 Wheeler, Thursday 8-9:30 pm.

Tristan Anderson Case to be Brought before Israeli Courts: Tristan, a beloved member of the Bay Area activist community, received brain damage and permanent paralysis at the hands of Israel’s military police in 2009. Gabby Silverman will soon travel to Israel with Tristan’s parents to demand justice in Israel’s corrupt courts (It’s pretty hard to respect that judicial system after they threw out Rachel Corrie’s case last year. I mean, she was interacting with the driver of that Military Police bulldozer for 2 hours before it ran over her twice! Now these courts are claiming the cop-soldier didn’t see her? Yeah right, you cowards! If you’re going to murder foreigners, at least give us the same level of vague acknowledgement you do your Palestinian victims.). Tristan’s trial will start on June 10th. Gabby plans to post updates to IndyBay.org.

Drones Over the East Bay: Since 2005, Customs & Border Patrol (CBP) has used drones to scan the skies over the US-Mexico border. In December of 2011, CBP graciously allowed police departments nationwide to share in its bounty of drones — without so much as a smidgen of public consent! In December, it was announced that the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office would be receiving a drone, and since February, that drone has been sighted hovering over West Oakland. PRETTY. FUCKING. SCARY. Here’s the ACLU report on domestic droning: aclu.org/blog/tag/domestic-drones

Nudity Ban in SF Spawns Hella Nudity: On Nov 20, 2012, San Francisco City Council formally banned nudity, attempting to snuff out one of the city’s most treasured cultural traditions. In protest: monthly nude street parties! MyNakedTruth.TV

Re-Occupy the Farm: As these words are being hot-waxed into the Slingshot on May 11th 2013, the Gill Tract is being re-Occupied… and then busted by police at 4 am.

Radical Spaces: Hark! Change is afoot

Here’s a few radical spaces we’ve heard about since we published the 2013 Slingshot Organizer, as well as news about a bunch of spaces that have closed. Many radical collectives create spaces to host meetings, events and resources like tools, seed libraries and free stores. Like the occupations a couple of years ago that allowed isolated individuals to meet each other, these spaces provide a public place to create and expand community. This is important because without public places to connect with new people, a lot of radical scenes get very clique-like. Drop in and visit the space near you, or start your own. Check on-line for the latest updates: slingshot.tao.ca

The Artichoke – Springfield MO

An infoshop with a lending library, free store and skillshare space. 800 W Locust, Springfield, MO 65803, the-artichoke.weebly.com

SoapBox Books & Zines – Cincinnati, OH

A new infoshop with a library, book and zine shop, and space for meetings and events. Shares space with a bike coop and a gardening project. 1415 Knowlton St. Cincinnati, OH 45223 513-541-0252 soapboxbooks.org

Third Space – Toledo, OH

A radical community center with free coffee, a library and a record store that hosts shows and events. 137 N. Michigan St Toledo, OH 43604

Survival Center – Eugene, OR

An infoshop and community space located on the U of O campus but available to non-students and students alike. Suite 1, Erb Memorial Union, Eugene, OR 97403, 541-346-4356, survival@uoregon.edu

Rad-ish Collective – Boulder, CO

A housing collective with a community space/ zine library that hosts Food Not Bombs radical movie nights, meetings, and dance parties. They also have a slide out the 2nd story window. 710 31st St. Boulder, CO 80303. theradishcollective@googlegroups.com

Black Rabbit Hole – Helsinki, Finland

Infoshop and anarchist space – the name is Mustan Kanin Kolo in Finnish. They have a used bookshop as well as magazines, music and video, plus a meeting space. Hämeentie 28, Helsinki, FIN 00530. Ph 040-300-1909 www.mustankaninkolo.info, mustankaninkolo@gmail.com

Infocaf̩ Sal̩ РPrague, Czech Republic

An infoshop with a radical library that hosts workshops, films, meetings and meals. They are named after the Salé pirate colony in Morocco that served as a independent base for subversive activities. All food is vegan. Open Mon-Thurs 4-10. Address: Orebitská 194/14 PRAHA 3, sale.s.cz

Squat Cibulka – Prague, Czech Republic

An autonomous zone in Prague. Their website is in Czech (which I don’t read) but it seems like they host lots of radicals events. Address: U Cibulki, Praha Košíre, cibulka.squat.net

Black Rose Collective – Newtown, Australia

This 25 year-old collective had closed, but now they’ve re-opened. They are an infoshop with books, coffee, internet and they host events and shows. 22 Enmore Rd, Newtown NSW Australia 0452-481-696 blackrosebooks.org

Changes to the 2013 Organizer

• Left Hand Books in Boulder, CO closed its doors after 33 years.

• Toronto Women’s Books in Canada closed.

• The Earth House in Indianapolis, IN closed.

• Libertalia Autonomous Space in Providence, RI has closed.

• Unitea House in Durango, CO closed.

• Firehouse 51 in Modesto, CA closed.

• The 3rd Avenue Collective in Prince George, BC, Canada lost their space.

• Revolver Infoshop in Prague, Czech Republic doesn’t exist anymore.

• DisCentrum in Prague, Czech Republic got evicted.

• The Bicycle Kitchen in Los Angeles moved to a larger location: 4429 Fountain Ave. LA, CA 90029.

• The Sibley Bike Depot in St. Paul, MN has changed their name to Cycles for Change. The address is the same.

• The Bloom Collective in Grand Rapids, MI has moved. Their new address is 8 Jefferson SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503.

• The mailing address for the Durham Bike Coop is PO Box 1225 Durham, NC 27702

• We got envelopes back from the following places. We don’t know if they move or ceased to exist, so let us know if you know:

- Cream City, Milwaukee, WI

- Candlelight Collective, West Bend, WI

- EarthDiver Book Collective, Oshkosh, WI

- Casa Taller Aziz, Brownsville, TX

- Durham Bike Coop, Durham, NC

- Earth House Collective, Indianapolis, IN

- Rag and Bones Bike Coop, Richmond, VA

• Camas Infoshop in Victoria, BC Canada has moved. Their new address is 2620 Quadra St., Victoria, BC, V8T 4E4.

• An anonymous person emailed us to object to Centro Social CCC in San Juan, Puerto Rico being in the radical contact list and claiming that they are not radical. Our collective is in Berkeley so normally we can’t visit spaces on our list. When someone nominates a space, we do our best to look at materials they publish and if they look stimulating, we put them on the list. We know not everyone will agree with each listing. Generally, we think a bigger looser tent is better than a smaller stricter one, but who knows? We welcome your comments either way.

Zine Reviews: the splice of life

We Must Bleed: A Germs Pocket Reader

mcshamrock@gmail.com

$.50 – $1

All hail the mini zine and all hail Darby Crash!

This pocket reader is a tribute to the Germs’ front singer and tells the story of his final performance and his final moments before he overdosed and left this world forever. Although this zine is small, it is very well researched and very well written. A must have for any Germs fan! Carry this zine in your pocket and have a piece of Darby wherever you go. (vanessa)

Purple Haus Erotica Vol. 1

la.pequena.mort@gmail.com

Erotic but not smutty, Purple Haus Erotica is a collaborative zine that has short stories, poetry, and drawings about sex and sexuality. The introduction states that “this zine is an experiment in what sexuality is and can be.” I found the pieces to be tasteful and non offensive, but that doesn’t mean they are tame. The poems and short stories are very descriptive and imaginative and managed to turn me on, which is usually the goal of any erotic tale. The layout is very clean with cut and paste pictures of the human body and other clip art that fits with the text on each page. The cover and back cover are beautifully silk-screened and make it worth having in your zine library. (vanessa)

The Anvil Review #4

The Anvil Review

PO Box 3549

Berkeley, CA 94703

theanvilreview.org

The Situationists are at it again. The latest issue of the Anvil Review, the free twice yearly print edition of theanvilreview.org, features anarchist writing by old-school situationist Isaac Cronin, Wolfi Landstreicher, and newer anarchist theorists like Alejandro de Acosta and Critila. We should note that peeps mostly consider themselves “Post-Situationists” now, with good reason: the tactics of the early Situationists have become so thoroughly co-opted by the bourgeoisie that you practically have to be a Situationist to sell your abstracted labor these days. Fuck that shit. But yeah, the Anvil Review is worth checking out if you like critical essays tied to culture and informed by an anarchist sensibility. Issue #4 is focused on the idea of “the city” and includes 9 critical essays that attempt to expand the ways we think about the psychical, social, and mythical space of the city. (rye)

The Authoritarians

http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/~altemey/

Recently, I read Bob Altemeyer’s book and it made a lot of things make a lot more sense. Previously I had looked at certain segments of the voting population and went, “They can’t be serious, can they?” Sadly, they can. Many authoritarian people are raised in environments where they are told that something is true “because I said so,” and are surrounded by social groups who reinforce that view. The end result is adults who have heavily compartmentalized minds because they were never encouraged to reconcile all their ideas together into one unified mental model. Thus they tend to lack self-reflection, uncritically accept things told to them by authorities without examining them, believe contradictory things and hold double standards because those ideas are never brought into mental contact, and have a desperate need for continual validation of their beliefs both in official authority and by surrounding themselves only with other people who share those beliefs. This also allows prejudice to flourish because they avoid people who would call them out on it or force them to reexamine their generalization. (colin)

Les Carnets de Rastapopoulos #9

2-7 Larch St

Ottawa, Ontario

Canada K1R6W4

Les Carnets is French for The Notebooks. I’m not clear about the Rastapopoulos part. In this issue the author reflects on his pen pals from 20 years ago. On a whim he made an effort to find those from long ago and far away and documents those who wrote him back. The results are interesting if not a little heart breaking. It’s not very political, yet nor is it worthless. You can see ordinary people address an extraordinary facet of their lfe. It’s a fast read with each scenario written in eyeblinking vignettes. The whole thing reads like a Jr. College school assignment. The simplistic perspective cataloging many stories makes for an impressionistic 20 minute read. That leaves time to write a letter to an old friend afterwards. (aubergine)

Detained

eryon.franklin@gmail.com / eryonfranklin.org

What is it like to be in jail and not know if you will ever be released? This beautiful zine describes the indefinite detention faced by undocumented immigrants who have become immersed in the American legal system, and, the design of the zine itself attempts to physically demonstrate it. It is a 26-foot-long accordion book printed on a single sheet of paper — a long, continuous image of the

Shards of Glass in Your Eye #7,8,9

$2 +postage

PO box 7831

Beverly Hills, CA 90212

The L.A. Zine Fest this year boiled over with people not phased by the so-called “death of print.” I unearthed Kari Tervo’s publication there, and it’s evident that she seems to be in a state of Zine Fever. She started this title in the mid 90′s but has recently given it a kick in the ass with a renewed focus on humor. The main content seems to be observations of the life around Beverly Hills, which often includes the most recent celebrity sightings. It’s not very counter culture. In fact, it even has an icy hostility to current P.C. trends such as veganism or fix gear bikes. But it’s wicked intelligent. There seems to be an awareness of an actual audience reading it — and that there exists with them a reachable tickle spot. Kari touches that spot with reckless abandon. (eggplaid)

Moira Scar in the Parallel Universe Comic #3

http://moirascar.blogspot.com

A sci-fi comic recounting the adventures in dystopia with this hard to pigeon band. Oh wait the comic’s mutant clones does it for us “they always played lap tops in easy listening style”. A police state populated by robots and clones work to destroy the fun being sought by Moira Scar. Humor and a dedication to creating art boldly challenge the ugly world we inherited. (eggman)

Node Pajomo #13 $2+postage

PO Box 2632

Bellingham, WA 98227

Underground directory to trade anything from letters, zines, Cd’s, tapes, mail art, post cards, photos, collages. Running strong for 5 years now. This issue highlights include a guy in Pensacola calling himself The Masked Claw who wants photo copies of people’s feet so he can “see into your sole.” Also someone in the Netherlands is collecting To-Do lists and a vending machine in Iowa looking for zines. Each issue has attached mail art throughout it all. We got a stamp from Japan and some alternative currency with our copy. As headboggling and randomly fruitful as reading graffiti in a bathroom stall. (eggfad)

Hawai’i 510 (aka No Gods No Mattress 18)

PO Box 3936

Berkeley, CA 94703

$2+2 stamps

When I first read the “Haole Go Home” article by enola d in Slingshot #111, it brought up many memories for me. I had people in my life who had the means and time to spend time traveling around Hawai’i. These people were punx who I had loved and yet, after hearing that they were traveling/moving there, I always wished I could tell them to check their privilege and reconsider. I didn’t feel like it was my place (an excuse perhaps) and they went anyway and often came back with what I felt was disappointment and sorrow and possibly some positive experiences. enola helped me to remember the sobering reality vs. idealistic images of “paradise” in places that were once perhaps “paradise” before imperialism/capitalism swept through, salting the land. Resistance is fertile though, as many of enola’s encounters with native Hawai’ians seem to suggest. I remain more committed to staying the hell out of Hawai’i after this ish of NGNM. To paraphrase/borrow from enola, maybe I’m just getting older and being more of a jerk too. Whatevs. (j-tronn)

Stowaways#13 $2+postage

52 Windover Rd.

Yorba Linda, CA 92886

romancandlemusic@gmail.com

This large size zine is packed with a shit ton of info on the underground music scene around L.A. One person seems to be doing all the work. The editor Chris is tirelessly here logging dozens of shows, reviewing new releases and interviewing a couple bands. The writing quality is akin to radio news in that it gives just the barest details of an event then its off relating accounts of the next event. For someone not familiar with the region or the music scene it might hurt your head to read. This particular issue aids in that endeavor by displaying several obvious typos–but perhaps it was a rush job to have it in people’s hands by the recent L.A. zine fest. There’s not much in the way of graphics with just a few photos and lots of open space. But when I read Stowaway a little more closely I did appreciate the writer’s passion for his subject. Through his perspective one can start to see a community existing in a place where most radicals throw away as being populated by materialistic plastic people that is dominated by car culture.

The invisible war: a movie review

The Invisible War is a new film worth your attention. The premise is simple: The US Military has been opened up to include women soldiers and a serious epidemic of rape can be found there. Any complaints to officials in charge prove that the patriarchy doesn’t appreciate feedback.

This documentary by Amy Ziering and Kirby Dick plays well, and even has a narrative feature device in the opening twenty minutes. Slick television ads segue into glorious images of flags and military weaponry, that come across the screen as in a procession before top brass. In likewise pace the viewer is introduced to a half dozen women subjects (one male) and rough sketches of their biographies. Women Soldiers like Kori Cioca believed in the integrity of the military and sought to find there a life of duty and a future. Then suddenly their stories recount the transgression they received while in the hands of the various branches of the service. This is the first of a series of shocks to come for the 97 minute running time. There was even a couple sitting behind me that would occasionally go into vocal shock as the content gave the brutal truth in dismal details. I would guess we all knew what we were paying for. I for one follow activist news a lot and also study horror movies — deadening my vocal chords to atrocities reflected on a screen. Most mainstream people though will be like my friends in the theatre, and have a response that will resemble being slapped with cold water.

I had the occasion to absorb this new work at a benefit for Bay Area Women Against Rape at the Elmwood Theatre in a well to do part of Berkeley. Sadly the attendance was less than a dozen people — but the door price and the cost of resources to get us there was worth it. Seeing these ex-soldiers who were enticed, abused and thrown away on a screen twenty feet tall made for a brave show. It’s vital for the community to come together and give space to witness what is being hidden. The movie also briefly goes into the issue of man-on-man rape.

There are several scenes when the government takes the stage as it sings and dances around any accountability. Instead of punishing offenders with any kind of substance, such glib displays of reform can be seen with the info commercials the military has produced to silence complaints. The commercials are directed at potential victims (not potential perpetrators) to do shit like not walk alone at night, don’t get drunk and other such magic tricks.

I wish the film did more to indict the military, war culture, and the indoctrination that happens here in America into a competitive frame of life. Let’s face it — the American military encourages soldiers to kill, torture, abuse and rape. It actually does not matter if the target is a frail person with a foreign tongue and different tint of skin, or even a fellow soldier. In fact what is imperative to the Military mind is that the soldier follow instructions — to kill on command. This film’s distribution in places like NetFlix substantiates the feeling I get that it will play with less currency in radical spaces working to destroy the present system. Its greatest impact can be counted on in the quiet and clean living rooms of Middle America. Radicals can visit their parents and view it after a well-meaning (but heated) discussion on topics around the military during dinner. Then perhaps Americans can be persuaded to question the machine that we’ve been suckered into maintaining — to our own visible detriment.

Ex-Soldier Kori Cioca gets lots of screen time in physical pain left over from her assault. To add insult to injury she spends countless hours to get the coveted government assistance — only to be denied. The film did inspire some policy changes once it was screened to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. May be films like this is what’s needed to get more people angry to challenge the current practice of military affairs since real change happens in people’s hearts first. But I’m a little afraid of the blowback to this kind of public disclosure. The war pigs seem to like to employ intimidation and faceless harassment of dissidents. The film never names the names of offenders but the victims are open for scrutiny — or in our case hope.

Director Kirby Dick already did a great Doc exposing the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) with his This Film Is Not Yet Rated. This agency was created shortly after John F. Kennedy’s murder (headed by a man who’s in the photo with Johnson as he was being sworn in on the plane) with practices that make it resemble a cabal. That Doc goes into the make up of the MPAA and how they are a self-appointed unaccountable people with a Republican, Christian bent. It also catalogs their harsh ratings over sex in films (as opposed to violence) and a tendency to be favorable to major studios productions over independents. All of this ultimately affects where films are exhibited. Anyways my point is that one could make an argument that the MPAA acts as an arm of propaganda and censorship in this country. Squashing voices of dissent often gets credited to exist rampantly in dictatorships — except it’s being done here in a way that’s invisible to the people star gazing at the flag. But there is also a behavior being subtly promoted that is confusing sex for violence.

The news emerging as we go to print is of similar rape epidemics and cover-ups happening in the Peace Corps as well as at Occidental College in Southern California. Even the head of the Air Force’s sexual assault prevention unit, Lt. Col. Jeffrey Krusinski, was arrested for sexual assault of a civilian. For anyone really watching what’s going on they know that patriarchical organizations like the US military operate with as much as a put-on as a Hollywood movie. (robber eggplant)