All posts by slingshot

Good News, Bad News: coming of age in America’s Rape Culture

By Maria Siino

I recently started college in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and I have both good and bad news to report from my first year there.

When I first got here, I looked for activities I could be a part of, hopefully ones that were not simply clubs but organizations that felt meaningful to me. There weren’t a lot of clubs listed, but among them were the campus GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance) and the Feminist Collective. I resolved to go to both. I have since become the president of the Feminist Collective and a casual member of the GSA.

The good news is that last year in particular, The Feminist Collective made some real strides in improving the campus’ attitude toward sexual assault. We established a better relationship with the local rape crisis center, we made zines, we held a successful gallery show on the topics of Sex, Kink, and Consent, and we held a successful Take Back the Night event. This year, we are hoping to get the official sexual assault policy changed and have the Residence Assistants be trained in matters of crises and sexual assault. We may be changing things for the better in our tiny community.

The bad news? Well the bad news…is that this isn’t really news. At least, the rampant sexual assault rate on campus is not news. It’s not scandalous or shocking, because colleges across the country face the same problem. The keynote speaker at our 2013 Take Back the Night said in her speech: “In the 11 years I have been teaching, I have never taught at a school where this process wasn’t happening.” The process that she was referring to is that of dealing with sexual assault on college campuses and learning how to counteract the rape apology that tends to exist within their administration. Rape apology is best defined as justification for rape or defense of rapists, which often includes blaming the victim, making excuses for rape in certain scenarios, and other ways of derailing the fight against sexual violence.

I remember feeling dismayed (to say the least) upon finding out how badly my school handles sexual assault. The only reason I became less alarmed was by realizing that any college I could have gone to would likely have the same problem. If I had gone to the Big Apple, it would have been an issue. Recently in New York City, a student at Columbia University named Emma Sulcowicz was assaulted by a fellow student and brought it to the attention of the staff. In spite of other survivors who made similar claims about the same perpetrator, the college has not brought him to justice. While other students have publicly come out in support of Sulcowicz, the offender has faced no charges. If I had gone to the University of California in my hometown of Berkeley, it definitely would have been a problem. Earlier in 2013, a U.S. federal sexual assault probe was sent to UC Berkeley along with 54 other colleges in the country. UC Berkeley was also among 30 schools that had been reported for mishandling cases of sexual assault in 2013 to the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education.

One might think that looking up sexual assault statistics would help a prospective student choose a college where they might be safest, but apparently this isn’t the case either. An article published in Al Jazeera earlier this summer discovered that colleges with ostensibly low rates of sexual assault are often misleading. These colleges frequently show low sexual assault rates because they have discouraged their students from reporting sexual assault, either actively or inadvertently. Surprisingly, the colleges with higher rates of reported sexual assault have actually encouraged their students to report their assaults and seek help, hence the statistics. Unfortunately, this information might only inform a prospective student as to how a college might handle sexual violence on campus, but holds no guarantee as to whether or not they will be safe at a particular school. No matter where I might have gone to college, rape apologism would be rampant in almost any campus I could have chosen. Even if I hadn’t gone to college, the issue would still be there. I would still face rape culture no matter where I went, and as a woman, this is the life I face.

One would think that in liberal havens like Berkeley and Santa Fe that there would be more precautions taken against these issues. Of course having lived in both of these places, I know that simply isn’t true. As Aaron Cometbus put it, Berkeley is a “failure” of sorts. Elements of counter-culture still exist here (though arguably in small quantities and quirky demeanors), but if an issue like rape can’t be quashed here, what good is it? I will always love the place where I grew up but I feel that as an adult I can see it more for what it really is. I’m beginning to feel a similar disenchantment about Santa Fe as well.

I wasn’t raised in a radical environment. My family is typical in most respects, and as such, I was raised to fear for my safety and follow arbitrary rules that don’t actually eliminate sexual assault. Time and time again my parents warned me against being out late. But what can they do? They live in this culture, too. They wanted to keep me safe, and even if it meant letting my brother ride the bus home at night and chewing me out for doing the same thing, I’m sure they don’t regret doing it. I can’t blame them for being pragmatic in a culture like this one.

Victim blaming wasn’t the reason they restricted my behavior, though. At least it never seemed that way to me, and they never said it would be my fault if something happened to me. They were just terrified of raising a 5’3” daughter in a world ostensibly different from the suburban environments that they grew up in. Even people who try to reject rape culture can sometimes become rape apologists because this whole culture is rape apologist. I often have trouble placing blame on these people, only because sexual assault is so ingrained in this culture. If we are lucky, we’re taught that rape is wrong, but not that it needs to be stopped. How fucked up is it that as a 15-year-old I was told to be careful absolutely everywhere I went so that I wouldn’t get jumped by someone twice my size? But I didn’t think much of it. I’ve only recently discovered how awful it is that we, as a culture, simply assume that rape will happen whether we like it or not.

Another issue is how counteractions of sexual assault are attempted. Currently, all responsibility to prevent sexual violence is placed upon the victims, who are usually women. Women, especially college students, often carry safety items such as pepper spray, stun guns, rape whistles, and sharp key chains. They also take self defense classes, carry weapons, and ask male friends to walk them to their cars. While these forms of protection are crucial and often empowering, they don’t always solve the problem at hand. Rapists need to be held accountable, severe punishment needs to be brought to students who commit sexual assault, and measures should be taken to keep these self defense measures from being necessary. Protection is only one part of eliminating sexual assault; the other is preventing the assaults from occurring in the first place. It’s like how I was told not to go out by myself as a teenager; while it was probably the most pragmatic way of keeping me safe, it didn’t uproot the problem at its source. On college campuses, women often keep items for protection on their key chains, but obviously the sexual violence hasn’t stopped because of it.

So the good news is that people all over the place, including myself and the other members of my school’s Feminist Collective, are taking measures to change the culture that we live in. Whether it’s teaching women how to defend themselves or educating people on the realities of sexual violence, efforts are being made to stop the secrecy and rape apology that permeates college campuses. The bad news is the fact that it has to be done at all, and that there is so much more work to be done. Rape apologists are everywhere, and some of them might say that we’re doing a good thing, idealistic as it may be, but wouldn’t question why we have to do this in the first place. They would probably say that the world is a bad place and rape is just a fact of life, even in a college environment that is supposed to be safe and educational. But I refuse to accept that. Until this rape culture is dismantled and my campus is safe, I will never accept a compromise.

Dirty kids done dirty

By Dumpsta Love

On August 22 2014 Andrew Kerezman of the “traveling community” — nomadic punks carrying large backpacks who trainhop and hitchhike across the land — was struck by a truck while crossing the street in Grand Junction, Colorado and mortally injured. Immediately, everything seemed wrong at the scene of the accident. Witnesses reported that the truck was going extremely fast when Andrew was hit, but the police at the scene acted as if they didn’t care at all. Andrew’s friends asked the cops to test the driver for alcohol, but the police refused. Instead, they screamed profanities at us because of our tattered clothes and non-mainstream appearance.

The police formed a physical barrier between us and the driver while the driver remained in his truck for a long while and wasn’t asked anything. Andrew lay dying in the street, his face covered in blood. Why weren’t the cops acting as if they cared at all? Andrew was a human being wasn’t he? His clothes and appearance indicated to the police that he was destitute, but money isn’t what gives a human life value.

Society looks at members of the traveling community like garbage because of the way we dress and because we sit in public places. But while we may not have a big car, a house, or an office job, we have freedom that mainstream people can only dream about. We’re not blinded by the illusion that money will bring us happiness. Many of us have endured hardships and lived as outcasts our whole lives, constantly profiled and treated poorly by those who conform to society’s norms. We travel as a means of knowing the world in which we live, meeting new people and visiting old friends, having unforeseen adventures and persevering the difficulties, spreading happiness and love, sharing art and music, being intimate with other cultures and spiritual beliefs, and sometimes just to escape. Though not all travelers are the same, there is an overarching community of compassion and caring. We all share the value of love over money.

We endure burning summers and frozen winters, holding cardboard signs and pointing thumbs. Dirt from the ground we sleep on sifts through everything and covers our skin, like the Earth itself is leaving her mark on us to wear everywhere we go. The natural smells of our bodies are not disdained in our culture. While many of us are reasonable with our hygiene, we don’t obey the standards of poison associated with deodorants, perfumes, soaps, etc. Everything we need is contained in the heavy packs we carry. Our clothes are few and thoroughly used. We lead a nomadic lifestyle. Travelers are not opposed to working, but we do not resign to a 9-5 mindset and deferred retirement as an acceptable lifestyle. Andrew was a member of this lifestyle –- this culture, our culture.

After he died, we had a sincere and heartfelt memorial for Andrew burning candles and throwing flowers in the river under the train track trestles. On the road you get to know people’s natures very quickly, but a lot of time you know little else. Life isn’t cheap on the road –- it’s priceless.

Mainstream society discriminates against many minority cultures — abuse by the police against people of color is in the news every day. Misinformation created by church, state, and media creates an atmosphere of aggression toward any belief that isn’t part of a system such as Anarchy, Atheism, or self sustained living, to name just a few. We are often treated as ‘lesser than’ by the majority of establishments we encounter, even those places we spend money. People assume we don’t matter and will yell profanities at us, attempt to cause us harm, and treat us with general indifference. We are people too and should be treated with basic human decency — home or no home, money or no money. Andrew Kerezman was a person, too.



Co-op(ted) What can we learn about threats to democracy from the closure of CLoyne student co-op at UC Berkeley?

By Three Former Clones

“You may have noticed some campus buildings with two adjacent doors only have one door handle,” the University of California Berkeley tour guide cooed through her strangely unsettling smile. Not until she mentioned it did I notice. “That’s to prevent people from blockading a door and taking over a building,” she explained. The crowd of new students nodded in unison, seemingly unfazed. In the 1960s protesters had chained themselves to the doors of the Chancellor’s office in protest of the Vietnam War. The response? No policy changes in regards to the war. But they did make sure to remove the knobs on the Chancellor’s door.

The tour ended in Cesar Chavez plaza. This space was designed in the wake of the 1964 Free Speech Movement, in such a way that it would concentrate protests and mass mobilizations, and facilitate a quick and efficient police response. Notice it or not, social spaces are often designed to isolate and separate people. Once I began to notice this architecture of separation at Berkeley, I couldn’t stop. The architecture of separation is not just a phenomenon found in design or city planning. It is deeply ingrained in our legal, justice and social system. It is everywhere, all the way from our zoning laws down to our door handles.

Which is why, when I encounter those rare but beautiful spaces that do not serve to isolate, but instead facilitate human interaction and transformation, I recognize them as spaces worth fighting for. Unfortunately, these spaces are often singled out and challenged, with some arbitrary justification or another, pulled into the mainstream or pushed out of existence.

I think this is what many people found in Occupy. Occupy was a reclamation of public space. Spaces where we normally hurried past one another were temporarily transformed into places where we slowed down, smiled, conversed, argued, debated, dreamed, and transformed strangers into friends, companions and comrades. What many found in Occupy, I found in Cloyne Court.

Cloyne Court, one block north of the Berkeley campus, was the largest student-housing cooperative in North America – housing 149 students – under the umbrella organization of the Berkeley Student Cooperatives (BSC). But it was much more than that. It was the place I came home to after getting beaten by police on the lawn next to the Mario Savio steps, and blinded by tear gas in Oakland. It was a music venue, a community center, and an art gallery. A yoga studio. A darkroom. A place where we ate meals together. It was a place to celebrate our friends’ victories, and in tragic times, a place to mourn those taken from us.

Through everything, it was always my home, my sanctuary and my rock. It gave me hope in the power of humanity as I watched Occupy lose steam and the world around me seemingly dig deeper its trenches of social stratification, environmental degradation, hopelessness and despair.

Perhaps it should have come as no surprise that Cloyne was a contested space that was destroyed purposefully by those in positions of power. Cloyne was shut down allegedly because of “liability” stemming from “a culture perceived to be tolerant of drugs.” Contrary to popular belief, you can polish bullshit. But whatever pretty excuses you may have, at the end of the day, what happened to Occupy, Albany Bulb, and Cloyne – while each unique and distinct – was eviction.

The BSC which operated Cloyne was founded in 1933 to provide cooperative student housing. It operates 17 coop houses and 3 apartments which house 1,300 students. Residents elect a board of directors and although individual houses have some autonomy, the board with heavy influence from paid professional management staff ultimately calls the shots.

The details of our ordeal are convoluted; our story is only one of many radical organizations that are bent into conformity by scare tactics. The impetus behind the ultimate decision to prevent all Cloyne residents from renewing their contracts, forcing all of us to move at the end of the spring 2014 semester, was the out-of-court settlement of a lawsuit regarding the drug overdose of John Gibson, a Cloyne resident in 2010. Gibson’s mother sued the BSC, claiming the BSC was aware of a drug tolerant culture in Cloyne and had done nothing to stop it. In December 2013, the BSC’s insurance carrier settled the lawsuit, and with the start of Spring semester, the BSC Cabinet (a sub-set of the Board of Directors) entered into weeks of closed executive sessions, crafting their “Cloyne Plan.” Cloyne was targeted as a space that fostered substance abuse, with the “solution” being the destruction of a community, rather than any attempt to address the mental health issues that plague, and are systematically ignored by, society at large.

Those weeks Cabinet spent in private executive sessions were weeks the entire community of BSC could have spent having a discussion about the future of Cloyne and the BSC as a whole. Members of Cloyne, and the other student members of BSC, were only given the opportunity to discuss the situation once Cabinet had already decided on a plan. By identifying us as the problem – rather than the solution we could have been – they disenfranchised us as members and ignored the transformation that had already been happening in the house for years.

It’s easy for co-ops to be co-opted. People get tired of the structure and the decision-making process. They forget that the structure and process are the foundation of what is distinct about a cooperative. It is, after all, what defines a co-op. Power structures are created to help the organization grow, or be more efficient, but if they are not consistently critiqued and put under scrutiny, they may co-opt the very democratic process they were supposed to support. Often, when decision-making is opened up to a larger group, while it may be less efficient, the airing of many ideas in an open, collaborative environment can allow the best ideas to float to the top.

BSC Board members, Cabinet and the paid executive staff resisted and ignored bylaws. While the BSC technically has direct democratic safeguards – an annual General Membership Meeting (GMM), a referendum process, and the ability to pull votes from your Board representative – each of these processes were made ineffectual. The GMM was cancelled just before the Cloyne Plan was announced, a petition for a referendum signed by the required number of members was rejected due to “timeline issues” as well as the membership being “ill-informed,” and in order for members to pull their vote from the Cloyne Plan, they had to stay at the Board meeting until five o’clock in the morning, when votes were cast.

Supporters of the “Cloyne Plan” repeatedly emphasized that in order to defend themselves in court and limit their liability, they needed to prove that there had been a genuine cultural shift. They argued that it was necessary for all members to be kicked out in order for a culture shift to occur. They ignored the fact that there was an influx of new membership all the time, and that none of the current membership had lived in the house at the time of the overdose. As an alternative, members of Cloyne proposed a plan that aimed to create a space that would promote healthy living, allowing for open dialogue about substance-use, instead of one that pretended, unrealistically, that all members would commit to the substance-free lifestyle.

When we realized that our community was in jeopardy, we reached out to professionals and organizations with decades of experience in substance-use problems, specifically those aimed towards restorative justice practices. Weeks after Cabinet presented their plan, they still had no comment to how restorative justice practices would be implemented in the New Cloyne Court. In the end, we were the doorknob that got removed, and the issue of substance abuse and mental health was left untouched.

Radical spaces and cooperative organizations stay radical only when people are willing to commit wholeheartedly to things that are not easy. These spaces have helped us grow as individuals, and have facilitated communities that embrace the innumerable potentialities of humanity. Their structures must constantly be questioned, critiqued, and challenged in order to ensure that the membership retains complete autonomy over decision-making processes. Without this dedication, these beautiful, transformative, autonomous spaces will be gone and forgotten.


Who is the heterosexual queer?

By Otto Destruct

Queer theory liberates by exploding the bounds of gender and making everything possible — bodies and identities that had existed all along now have the opportunity to be recognized and acknowledged, to be “real”. At the heart of queer theory is the presumption that all identities are legitimate, that a person’s gender is as idiosyncratic and specific as they are, that they are sovereign in their right to determine what that gender is, and that gender expressions can be described as occupying points (sometimes multiple points) on a spectrum, from femme to butch to androgyne, with all kinds of interests in all kinds of bodies, in all kinds of combinations. Queer theory can be seen, then, as a kind of gender existentialism, in the sense that its up to each of us to really look at ourselves, be honest, be brave, and decide for ourselves who and what we are — and nobody has the right to tell us we aren’t, or that what we are is wrong or ugly. We have a right and a responsibility to be honest with ourselves!

Suppose this soul-searching yields surprising results. Suppose the queer (we are all queer now) discovers what they really want and who they really are looks a lot like what we might call a traditional gender and sex role — that despite some variation and some play with image, they are essentially heterosexual. This can be uncomfortable for a lot of people. Are they a “real” queer now? By acknowledging, even to themselves, that they are more-or-less hetero, do they become part of a structure of oppression? Some parts of our scene use words like “cis” as derogatory terms, as if systematic oppression were a product of our bodies instead of our culture. Nobody wants to be identified with the enemy, so sometimes the heterosexual queer opts out of expressing themselves as they really are.

This is a drag for at least two reasons. By escaping to an identification and appearance that looks more “queer” than people feel or in ways that they don’t really identify with is contrary to the spirit of queer theory itself. It contradicts the wide-open, liberatory aspect of queer theory by enforcing a new orthodoxy — this time an orthodoxy of glitter instead of grey flannel. It also gives people a way to avoid thinking about their heterosexuality and whatever privilege that might entail.

Creating a new, queered heterosexuality is a way to create a world that is much more free of oppression. Some people imagine a world where there are no heterosexuals but this would take severe repression of peoples’ desires and probably organized violence. It’s more practical and certainly more in line with Anarchist and queer values to promote the development of a new, queered heterosexuality than it is to exterminate heterosexuals from the face of the earth. Queering ourselves is a lot more honest, more comfortable, and ultimately less oppressive, than it is for any of us to feel like we have to pretend to be something other than what we are.

I am often mistaken for more queer than I “really” am. My gender presentation takes many cues from a familiar kind of hyper-masculine camp style — the leather daddy. I am often mistaken for a gay man, although one does not necessarily have to be gay to use the fantastic backdoor to masculinity (if you’ll pardon the expression) that gay men’s culture built. Butch leather daddy style is an over-representation of masculinity — it reduces (or elevates) signifiers of traditional manhood, at times to the point of satire. By displaying this over-identified style I can indicate that I am male and masculine while simultaneously indicating that I know (and I assume you know) that all masculinity is a kind of put-on, a Halloween costume. It is a lie that tells the truth.

I had always wanted to be masculine — that’s just how I feel inside. At the same time, I grew up reacting to the disgusting excesses of traditional men and manhood that I saw around me, and wanted to distance myself from what masculinity means culturally. It wasn’t until very recently that I could accept, thanks to the popular ascent of queer theory, that all gender is a kind of game of signs and that I could actually be as male as I wanted to be.

Sometimes the leather jacket leads people to think I’ll be a clueless, crude bore. I have the pleasure of surprising people by being a real human being who is interested in relating. Having an identifiable, even stable gender, and simultaneously defying gender expectations is part of what it means to be a heterosexual queer.

Accepting the prospect of a queered heterosexuality will allow us to recognize that the heterosexual queer is already here. I call myself “traditionally masculine” and in a lot of ways that’s true, but what’s traditionally masculine about my desire to place mine and others’ emotional experience in the fore of how I understand us and our choices? What’s traditionally masculine about valorizing communication and understanding above action? What’s traditionally masculine about admitting I’m often wrong and hoping to learn from others? These are traits that are often described as “feminine.” Is there really such a contradiction that I should display these too?

And what about heterosexual desire for non-traditional gender expressions of the “opposite” gender? Or for hyper-expressions? What about people who are open to all kinds of new experiences? In a queer world, does anyone really have to be thought of in essentialist terms?

The heterosexual queer should be permitted to be who they are because the heterosexual queer has really important work to do toward the liberation of all people. The normative standards of traditional heterosexuality are so enmeshed with patriarchy, homophobia, transphobia and other kinds of cultural and literal violence that we must queer, question, critique and reinvent it. To accept one’s queer heterosexuality, to be heterosexual but to understand that position as an open prospect, subject to changes from within, rather than a fact of God or Nature — provides the opportunity for us to change what being “heterosexual” means.


Creative maladjustment: Challenging confromity with self-education

By Matti Salminen

At the age of 22, I began to take self-education seriously and I ventured far from my psychological center. This venture took the shape of seclusion—of emotional exile. It was at this time that I also began to believe I had a rat in my brain. My life was broken. And slowly the pieces of what I had left were lost in madness.

For 10 years, in addition to believing I had a rat in my brain, I also believed that if I didn’t spend the rest of my life in jail I’d be the most tortured man in history.

Beginning at age 14, I frequently broke the law but caused no real harm to anyone. I was trying to prove my worth by stepping out into the world facing the wrong direction. When I was seventeen, I was arrested and charged with burglary, possession of stolen goods, and driving under the influence.

Knowing what I do now, I see how my recklessness and mischief precipitated the emotional exile, which led to my “madness.” But madness is defined by an oppressive socio-political construct known as the mental health system. Our mental health system is part of a larger network of social institutions, which divest too many capable citizens of freedom and equality.

All societal constructs serve a paradigm, which has aligned itself with the needs of the wealthiest and most powerful.

This society has shown itself to be oppressive towards human difference in all forms. Great suffering and injustice are prevalent due to the narrow perspective of what is a healthy, happy, or productive human being. Many people in our society are poor and homeless because they don’t work. And this goes on because social injustice is big business—there is no other reason.

One population which society is especially misaligned towards is those suffering from mental illness. It might be better to say “suffering from a mental health system which was created out of social control.”

Madness is not organic, even if there are biological markers, which indicate it to be of natural origin. Suffering is not genetic. What is natural is an alternative experience and perception of the world; however, what is unnatural and prohibitive is for those alternate expressions of character to be a source of depravity.

My intention in writing this essay isn’t to denounce our system of psychiatric care or other socio-political institutions. I wish to share something that I understood deep down, even as an adolescent. That is creative maladjustment.

Creative maladjustment is resistance to societal standards. These standards breed hostility, segregation, poverty, homelessness, and overall inequality. We are taught early in school that if we work hard we will get ahead. But we are, as a society, working hard so that the wealthiest and the most powerful may exploit the most vulnerable.

Living in an unjust society means that we—as citizens—must venture off the beaten path. We all must find a way to survive in this world without serving indignity or injustice. To do so is to be creatively maladjusted.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke on the subject of creative maladjustment to a crowd at Western Michigan University, on December 18, 1963. In this speech, Dr. King spoke of the sacrifice necessary to move society towards a state, which would allow dignity and freedom for all. Dr. King believed, then, that a new order was emerging—one in which the creatively maladjusted would rise up for equality.

Looking back, I believe I saw something in human potential, which incited me to venture far from the norm. School did not provide the resources I needed to probe the depths of my psyche or my soul. Pursuing a misspent youth and self-education put me on a path towards intellectual freedom.

Many of my heroes growing up were creatively maladjusted people—some were people of color, some suffered through poverty for their art, and others pursued self-education. These heroes showed me that we are not, as individuals, predestined for anything.

Years have gone by now since I began cultivating my mind without indoctrination into any formal institution. Those years have allowed me to free myself and to live an existence that promotes inner peace and human compassion.

No individual can ever truly compensate to lead a sane life while living in an insane world. And thus, creatively misaligning yourself with the world you live in is to exhort personal truth throughout your life, your work, and your spirituality. This is the only natural response to the unnatural disorder of our modern world.

Our society will only right itself when conformity is wholly invalidated.


Dirtbag Kingdom

By Johnny Sunset

There are no kings in the dirtbag kingdom. Here at the bottom of the barrel, as construction workers and cooks and dump truck drivers and parking meter change collectors, we see clearly. Our exchanges are exchanges of skills, not currency. Our promises are made and fulfilled in moments shared between free individuals. Theirs is a bloodless justice. Our justice is spontaneous will.

My neighbor helps me move my bed two houses down and up the stairs. I cook him sausage biscuits. We get whisky drunk and hop the fence to his yard. We dig holes for pylons in ground riddled with bottle glass and bullet casings to build half a shed in the empty lot owned by the city, well past midnight by headlamp light.

Down here on the lower rungs, if we sustain the health of our minds and bodies, the weight of oppression reveals the potential for freedom. By the very definition of who and where we are, we are made to imagine the possibility of a lawless world.

The construction worker shares his drugs with me. We talk conspiracy and chain smoke on the balcony. He shows me the inner machinations of an exacto knife. The intricate simplicity. The spring steel. The blade carriage. The rails of the knife train. In return I unsheathe my saxophone and we examine the tiny cylinders of yes is it really again the spring steel, and the octave key, and the way each orifice farther from the origin of vibration must be larger to shift the frequency within Pythagorean musical ratio. He tells me the gun oil for the rifle would keep the leather pads from sticking. And he gifts me a breechloader shotgun registered to someone we both despise, as a token of friendship.

We are dirtbags, which is to say we are human beings, which is to say we are terrible and beautiful. And if to be terrible is to have the strength of will to reject the system which might coddle us if we subjugated ourselves to it, we must be terrible. And if to be beautiful is to imagine the ideal beyond that subjugation, we must be beautiful.

I call up my friend in Tennessee to discuss the blueprint for a cheaply reproducible backyard stream hydroelectric generator.

They will know the dirtbags by our inventions. By our circumventions of what is believed to be possible. Problems are obstacles. Obstacles are challenges. Challenges are to be overcome. Our anthem is the rusty banjo and the voice that skips into falsetto. Our dialogue is thick with profane slang. Our hands are the hands that build and demolish. Our world is the real world, and here at the bottom we can see the foundation of the whole rickety garbage heap. We can see how a single match, careless or placed with the greatest of care, could bring the whole structure to ash.

I bring my new friend figs stolen from a tree in someone’s backyard, french bread and gouda cheese filched from a restaurant where I work to pay rent. I make her a sandwich on a small cutting board in the saloon of a sailboat. She tells me weeks later in a drunken stupor that she has celiac disease and that goddamn sandwich made her shit every hour for the better part of a week but she ate it anyway.

They will know us by our generosity. Because we dirtbags are generous with our pleasure, and generous with our pain. They will know us by our honor. Our honor will shame them.

Three of us go to the lake after a long shift and drink beer until three in the morning. One brags about hand-to-hand combat skills. I challenge him to a wrestling match, hop off the tree branch, chide him. He has me over his shoulder then down and pinned in twenty seconds but I dance around him every moment, up until the end when I can’t move or breathe. I tap out. He asks if I’m satisfied. I say one more. The third still up in the tree branch high as a kite, laughing like a maniac. As my opponent takes me down again. We rise from the ground together, and shake hands.

Dirtbags do not shrink from confrontation. We accept it and love it as an exchange of ability, as a psychological exercise, as an intimate exchange.

After the wrestling match I’m driven home to find my whole block roped off by the police. Another homicide, the fifth in a year. I am drunk and I talk shit to the police officer who won’t tell me a damn thing or let me through the line. I’ve lived here a long time, I know everyone, what the fuck happened. I can’t tell you that. What the fuck happened, who was it. I can’t tell you anything. Well fuck you I’m going home I live here.

And the next night, after another long shift, across the street from my house at the place where he was shot. Lit and wavering, winking out as the wax gathers, the candles spelling out a name I recognize. Of a seventeen year old boy. Who had no choice but to sell. Who owed someone something, maybe, that was worth, at that moment in time, to the man with the gun, more than his life.

The candles, and the poster paper ramshackle taped to the fence, and the signatures and good byes of those who loved or knew or cared or heard or thought to sketch a figment of love in pen or pencil or chalk or blood or whatever, whatever the fuck was available.

Siege the Second

By Kyle Merrit Ludowitz *The Syrian Border -*

Bassam Abadi survived the military siege and bombing campaigns of his home city of Aleppo, Syria for three years. Yet after finally escaping and illegally smuggling himself to safety in neighboring Turkey, Bassam began experiencing the severe hardships of living as a refugee in a foreign country without housing, employment, or a familiar language—a desperate situation known by many Syrian refugees as ‘the Second Siege’. Now, after a full year of scraping by in Turkey, the difficulties of being a refugee are driving Bassam to return home, where he will opt to live in the midst of the civil war rather than continue to struggle to make a new life for himself in an unfamiliar land.

Unlike the military siege occurring within Syria, the Second Siege is not an assault of artillery and airstrikes, but of culture and economics. The past four years of civil war have devastated the value of Syria’s currency, at a time when the Turkish economy has seen a steady rise in its national industries. This rapidly expanding gap in currency values adds an almost insurmountable level of difficulty for Syrian refugees trying to adapt to a new life outside their own country. A Syrian family’s weekly budget for food and public transportation before the civil war can easily be spent in a day or two when living in Turkey, due to the widening exchange rate between the two nations. This weakened purchasing power forces families to choose between rent or food, between medicines or clothing, or between school supplies for the children or bus fare for a father to look for employment or to travel to work.

Syrian refugees living in Turkey also face the barriers of navigating a country with a wholly unfamiliar language and culture. Once outside the Arabic-speaking border communities, Syrian refugees generally find themselves unable to communicate with local Turks. This language barrier can make critical tasks such as finding employment, asking for directions, or seeking medical assistance acutely difficult, encouraging Syrian refugees to clump together with other Arabic speakers in overcrowded, economically depressed neighborhoods. These desperate living conditions and lack of assimilation in turn exacerbate existing Turkish animosity toward Arabs, dating back to historical resentments over Arab complicity in the fall of the Ottoman Empire. This anti-Arab hostility has only intensified as the Syrian civil war grinds on and more and more Arab refugees are permanently settling in Turkey.

“[The Syrian refugees] come to Turkey illegally and take our jobs for a lower wage,” Garip Batur, a Turkish bus driver from the city of Gaziantep expresses as we sit in the lounge of a transit depot. “Unemployment is already a large problem here in Turkey, and Syrian people are taking jobs away from Turkish citizens. Arabs don’t bother to learn Turkish, and they open shops with only Arabic writing. Housing prices and rents have doubled or tripled in the area because there are so many Syrian people arriving, and even then, families sleep on the ground in our parks because there are too many of them. Turkish culture is being replaced by a more conservative Arabic culture. How can young Turkish people manage to make a life with these problems? Arabs are changing everything here and I don’t feel safe in my own city anymore.”

Under such devastating economic challenges and with so much animosity from the Turkish populace, many Syrians surpass their own personal limits and can no longer bear to live as displaced refugees in an unfamiliar and unwelcoming society. The return to Syria—the return to life in a war zone—is one of the only remaining options open to them. Riding with Bassam in a bus full of refugees returning to Syria, the mingled emotions of desperation, frustration and uncertainty hang heavy in the hot summer air. A somber silence falls over everyone as passengers anxiously text on their phones to friends and family in Syria awaiting their return. The dejected expressions of those peering out the bus windows grow more distraught as the barbed wire fences defining the border come into view.

“What am I going to do now?” Bassam exclaims, unable to suppress his desperation any longer. “How can I go back to Syria and try to live in war? But I have no other option. I can’t afford to be a refugee. Everything is so expensive here [in Turkey] and all my savings were used in the first month. I can’t afford to live as a refugee in this country anymore. I have to go back now and live with the bombs.” Another long silence takes hold as the border fence grows closer. Staring out of the window, he shakes his head in defeat, muttering almost under his breath. “This isn’t fair. This isn’t right. What am I going to do?” Finally the bus comes to a halt, and the doors draw open. Disembarking, Bassam and his fellow refugees begin walking through the barred, metal gates that will usher them across the border and back to their home country—back to a life amidst what may well be the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

It is unclear what will happen to Bassam and the others like him who have given up on building a new life and are returning home to Syria. Some will likely be killed by the bombings, while others may starve to death. Those who make it through the war will be witnesses to the horrors of combat, the destruction of their country, and the mass slaughter of their neighbors and countrymen. There was a moment of hope for these civilians—a chance to start a new, safer life in Turkey—but that moment is gone for them now. For countless Syrians who once fled to Turkey hoping for a better future, the burdens of the Second Siege have simply proven too great to bear.

– Humanitarian Photojournalist & War Photographer


The Public Square


By Jen

While traveling in Latin America I discovered an incredible tool for community building. A place where people of all ages come to hang out, share ideas, play chess and soccer, drink beer, boom music, tell jokes, run and flirt and dance and sing and sit quietly and let time pass. Where no one has to buy anything, there’s no bouncer, no opening time or closing time, and no dress code. Where nothing is provided for other than space. And in this space, life happens.

To me, this was a phenomenon. Growing up in a country where loitering, in many places, is illegal, I struggled as a teenager to find places where I was allowed to hang out with friends and not spend money that I didn’t have. There was the beach, but even this brought its own sense of bikini-clad body attention and physical prowess competitions of volleyball and body surfing. The park closed at dark and, at some point, started charging a fee to enter. Because of this, I spent the majority of my time in private spaces, with people who were like me; people of a similar class, race, and age. As such, rather than my views of the world expanding, the company that I kept continued to reinforce my viewpoints. It is easy to be dismissive and say “well, that’s just how things are.” A truly liberation education, however, seeks to be inclusive. Rather than narrowing lenses through which to see the world, and narrowing experiences through which to understand it, a liberating education (and by education I am referring to the education we all receive daily through our millions of interactions with the world

around us) is one which expands our experiences and offers new possibilities with which to understand the world. It’s not something that comes easy, but one which must be sought after, created, and actualized. One in which we seek people that are different from us, where we step out of our habits and patterns, consider other ways of being and doing, and expand our definition of “we.”

To be effective in this world, to be vibrant and alive, is to allow the world in and to interact with it. This, however, requires interactions that challenge us, that offer new ideas, that help us to see our common humanity, that offer different views of our own convictions and interpretations. If we look throughout history, we will see that every innovation, every movement or action that is oriented towards justice and towards true community, involved bringing people together, across lines of disconnect and difference. I do not mean to imply that we should never take individual stands, but rather that in the positions to which we hold true, we must consistently be willing to adjust and revise our ideas and ideals based on a constant stream of incoming information. Otherwise we become fossils, relics of previous thoughts, prepared to be memorialized in museums of history.

The realm of public space in this country is diminishing rapidly and with it is a potential collaboration hub for brewing ideas on how to be Subjects upon the world, rather than Objects that the world works upon. This slow encroachment of control over public spaces seems almost inconsequential; we all have places to be, whether it is in playgrounds or theaters, grocery stores or our own backyards. But where are the places where we can just be, without paying a fee, engaging in a preplanned activity, or getting kicked out at closing time? I was exhilarated when I first discovered the allure of the public square but it wasn’t until the Occupy movement began that I discovered its power.

If the structure does not permit dialogue the structure must be changed” –Paulo Freire

Whatever you’ve heard in the news or media about Occupy Wall Street might be true. It attracted the fringes of society. There was violence and apathy. There was disorganization. People were dirty and unkempt. There were drugs and disagreements, infighting and a lack of clear direction.

There was also, however, mainstream moms, teachers, lawyers, theater directors, students, tourists, shopkeepers, tech geeks, artists, and custodians. They were interacting, having conversations, learning about one another, and breaking bread. There was healing and medicine, therapeutics circles, meditation sits, yoga classes, chess games, lively debates, theater games, art stations, and public radio broadcasts. There were people trying out new (and old) systems of organizations, and as the crowds grew, those systems were fine-tuned until, I witnessed, crowds of over a thousand were making unanimous decisions with talking space available for everyone. Unanimous decisions. With space for everyone, if they chose to speak, to be heard. And for those that preferred not to speak in front of a crowd, there were small committee meetings and spokes-councils where spokespersons were chosen to represent those present at the small group meetings to the larger group. Networks were organized and maps were written, where people could find indoor places to sleep and bathe. And as much as there were drugs and disagreements, infighting and a lack of clear direction, there was an overwhelming majority of sober, lively and inspired interactions, people who might never have met coming to find common ground on their disparate interests and endeavors. Most strikingly, the more people talked and interacted, ate together and prayed together, argued and listened to each other, made music and art, sang songs, and just spent time together, they closer they came to developing common understandings, clear goals, and effective action strategies.

In this day and age where we are all looking for the next quick fix, when we want our desires satiated and our national issues simplified into quick and witty internet memes, it’s no wonder that the act of being, without intentionally doing, might seem wasteful and useless. But it is precisely this act that is truly revolutionary.

The strategy of divide and conquer is an age-old effective tool that continues to work upon us today across every sector of our lives. From the separation of ages in public schools to the history of racialized housing in this country, from demonizing people based on their religious or political affiliations to gender discrimination and objectification, the media attempts to bombards us with divide and conquer rhetoric until we are either left defending oppressive actions, or feeling too disconnected from our fellow human beings to act. It is in this vein that rape victims are questioned about their instigation of the crimes rendered against them and black youths are suspects because of the clothes that they wear. It is this tool that was used to attempt to disassemble and destroy the workers rights movement, the civil rights movement, and every social movement in modern history.

Because love is an act of courage, not of fear, love is a commitment to others.” –Paolo Freire

The Public Square is a weapon and a tool to fight the divide-and-conquer strategy and create sustainable, equitable community. It’s simple. The more we know each other, the less we fear each other. The less we fear each other, the more we interact with each other. The more we interact, the more we understand each other. The more we understand each other, listen to each other, make music together, and watch our children play together, the more we begin to care for each other. And in caring for each other, we see that each of our struggles and triumphs are connected. So that when the kid down the street gets harassed, that’s our kid, and when an elderly couple loses their electricity, we see them as our parents, our grandparents. Truly revolutionary action must be built on this foundation, a foundation where we see that we are all in this together. Because we are all in this together.

This, my dear fellow loving, striving, struggling, understanding friends is the key. In order to care for each other we must get to know each other. There must be a space for this. Where all people are welcome, regardless of their income or social status. Where all people feel welcome, regardless of their age, race, ability, or gender. A truly public square.

Freedom is acquired by conquest, not by gift. It must be pursued constantly and responsibly. Freedom is not an ideal located outside of man; nor is it an idea which becomes myth. It is rather the indispensable condition for the quest for human completion.” -Paolo Freire

This is my question and my inspiration. How do we create these spaces, in our day-to-day lives as well as on a larger scale? How can we reach beyond our habits and routines to include more of the world into our lives, our minds, and our hearts?

Money Sucks, Poverty’s Worse: Join the fight for a $15 an hour Minimum Wage

By Helena Bla-Latchkey

Minimum wage struggle is something that most people can agree on. It is a populist class struggle. Not only do many workers have minimum wage jobs — most of us know somebody who does. We know that they don’t get paid less because they are somehow lesser. The inequity and tragedy of poverty is structural. Raising the minimum wage is something straightforward to ask for, and feasible to accomplish.

Many organizations and unions throughout the US are working with minimum wage workers to make a $15 an hour minimum wage a reality. Fast Food Forward has organized strikes throughout the country, demanding $15 per hour for fast food workers. Fight For 15 has helped organize throughout Chicago. Protest groups across the country gathered at Wal-Marts with the same straightforward slogan. 15 Now has been highly active in Seattle. All of these organizations are backed by unions, and focus on the unionization of workers, as well as the minimum wage struggle.

Predictably, fast food giants have responded to strikes by saying these are impossible demands that would only result in mass layoffs, despite the fact that these companies are highly profitable. The Employment Policies Institute, a restaurant industry lobbying front, stated that if minimum wages were to increase so much, they would simply recommend employees be replaced with Apple technology. McD’s has already installed thousands of iServers in Europe. If this system were implemented in the US, it’s estimated that McD’s could layoff at least 14,000 people immediately. Although this is a small fraction of McD’s workers, it is a disturbing direction to take and I shudder to imagine how it might progress. McD’s has often been the trend-setter of its industry, and it seems likely that if iServers are shown to be a viable alternative to hiring employees then Wendy’s, Jack in the Box and the rest may also jump on the iWagon.

The city of Seatac, a small suburb south of Seattle centered around the SeaTac International Airport with 27,000 residents, recently won a union-backed campaign known as Proposition 1, for a $15 an hour minimum wage. In November 2013, it passed by a margin of just 77 votes, directly benefiting about 1,600 workers. The measure also forces companies to give workers paid sick days, retain workers for at least 90 days after any change in ownership and promote part-time workers to full-time before hiring new workers. Washington already had the highest state minimum wage in the country, at $9.32 per hour; however, until this measure passed, one in six Seatac residents lived below the poverty line.

Local unions were integral in organizing Proposition 1, which only affects businesses which employ 30 or more non-managerial employees. An interesting exemption is that companies which hire union workers can continue to pay the previous minimum of $9.32. This gives big business a tough choice — hire union or give everybody a raise. SeaTac International found its own exemption which was settled in court. The airport is technically a division of the Port of Seattle. Judge Andrea Darvas ruled that its employees are therefore not considered Seatac workers, despite working in Seatac.

Hopefully, this may not be the case for long. Seattle has a strong campaign of its own to increase minimum wage to $15 per hour, which is not only backed by city council person Kshama Sawant, the first Socialist elected in Seattle for nearly 100 years — but also the mayor, Ed Murray. The excitement surrounding these campaigns however surely has little to do with the elected officials that endorse them. It is my impression that the momentum has largely been driven by profound need that is obvious and important to many. I talked to organizer Jess Spear who explained that 15 Now was formed initially by facilitating neighborhood groups. This allowed diverse people from unions, community groups and leftist organizations, as well as individuals, to come together and campaign. Jess pointed out that such a victory in a major metropolitan center would inspire demoralized working class people everywhere and that this could be the beginning of something much larger. She urged anybody able to come to Seattle on April 26th to attend the conference they are holding.

The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. For salaried workers, the minimum salary is $455 per week. Five southern states have no minimum wage laws and thus pay the federal amount. Several states including Arkansas, Minnesota and Wyoming have subminimum wage laws— stipulations allowing for exemptions to the federal minimum. Persons with disabilities, young people or employees of small local businesses may be paid as low as $4.25 an hour. Tipped employees can make as little as $2.13 an hour. Prisoner-workers are not eligible for minimum wage, and make as little as $0.23 an hour.

66% of minimum wage workers in the US are employed by large corporations. In a sample of some of the largest employers in the country (including Wal-Mart, Target, IBM, HP and General Electric), 92% were profitable this year and considered recovered from economic recession. Most minimum wage jobs are in service, food, leisure and hospitality — some of the fastest growing industries in our increasingly urban culture. In growing and profitable industries, the workers are seeing little of the fruits of their labor.

Historically, the federal government has generally stayed away from minimum wage. The US has had a minimum wage since 1938; however, it has only increased 22 times since then. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics inflation calculator, the minimum wage held the most purchasing power in 1968, equivalent to approximately $10.55 currently. After that, it slowly declined during the 70s, then sharply during the 80s, before more or less plateauing to its present buying power.

Living wage is a difficult thing to calculate, since it relies on making assumptions based on needs and lifestyle, as well as highly variable factors such as location. That said, if we take into account not only inflation, but also increases in work output and average consumption, a wage equivalent to 1968 today would be in the range of $22 – $25 per hour. This does not take into increases in rent, no doubt the largest expense for most working class people.

States and cities are largely responsible for determining wages, and they vary wildly throughout the country. In California, minimum wage is currently $8.00 — set to increase to $9.00 on July 1 and $10.00 in 2016. This pittance is one of the higher state minimum wages in the US. If a person making the California minimum was paying 30% of the their income towards rent for a two bedroom apartment at fair market rate, they would have to work 130 hours a week. There are 168 hours in a week. Even if this labor were split between two people, this would necessitate both working eleven hour days, six days a week.

In 2012, minimum wage workers comprised 59% of our labor force. Most recipients of minimum wage are women. Over 66% of people receiving the sub-minimum wage of $2.13 per hour are women. However, two-thirds of mothers work to support their families, and about a third of mothers are sole breadwinners. The majority of these women are over the age of 20, and 40% are over 30, contrary to the common argument that minimum wage workers are all kids fresh out of high school. Proportional to women working, far more black and hispanic women receive minimum wage than other women. Poverty in general effects black and hispanic people dramatically more than other people.

Determining social class in the US is a controversial endeavor amongst sociologists. Statistics vary greatly between models, but the poor comprise around 12 – 40% of the US population, and the working class comprises 30-45%. All models seem to agree that the majority of people are below the middle class line. 22% of children live below the poverty line — $23,550 for a family of four. 45% of children live in low-income families. How many of these children will turn to military enlistment as their ticket out of poverty? How many will become slaves within the prison-industrial complex?

Certainly, fighting for an increase in minimum wages is important, but will never be enough to insure human dignity and end poverty. However, it is a step towards a dramatically better life for many people who, as it is, are understandably weary and in dire need of change. We need to help empower one another to take human rights into our own hands, by sharing information and aiding one another’s struggles, whether or not we are perfectly aligned on every ideological point. We need to take the shame and alienation out of poverty, viewing ourselves and one another not as victims in isolation — but participants in a struggle for a life we share together.

About Slingshot

Slingshot is an independent radical newspaper published in Berkeley since 1988.

The first meeting for this issue a lot of new people showed up to check us out. It was an impressive turnout – in fact it was the first time in about 20 years where there were more new people than experienced Slingshot people. A two to one ration. There was some old fashioned outreach before the meeting using fliers and social media informing people that this project is a “Do-ocracy”. This idea (borrowed from our neighbors at the Sudo Room) seeks to inspire participation in a community resource by encouraging people to show up when decisions are made. Unfortunately the numbers did not persist and a bare bones work crew continued to carry the project to completion. On one hand this is a bummer for we simply need more people to engage with the work load. On the other hand any effort that people contributes greatly help s to create this reality. All projects thrive by the people putting life into.

Most of our paper publishes struggles that isn’t actually primary to the survival of one newspaper. Which is why we often utilize the space on this page to catalog the heartache and growing pains experienced to get us here. This issue we returned to doing the “All Nite Meeting” the same weekend as layout. A few blurry eyed collective members were left after picking articles for 6 hours. Then before going away from work for a few hours we had to look at the question of what font to present this issue in. Ya see last issue we made a move and bought a new computer thinking that by upgrading technology it would alleviate unnecessary anguish. Turns out this new computer didn’t have our standard Ariel Narrow font. We were pretty split on this minor issue with newer collective members really wanting to change to Garamond. It was conceded to them. It is such a small fringe who obsesses about how a letter strikes the eye – about the same kind of lunatic fringe that cares about politics….. well that is until disaster befalls the normies…

We would love for you to get back to us — send an email telling which way to present our words…oh wait come Saturday morning and we attempt to work on articles our new computer can’t access the internet. We spend money on a new computer or router to make the work load less daunting and it turns out we have to stare failure and confusion in the face – um I mean a glowing screen. Slingshot is pigeon holed as being anti technology its more subtle than that. Most new technologies are best as supplements to time tested ways of getting the word out and creating change. And time is the real element. The time invested to crate change is slow and often without rewards. In this case take your time reading these issues.

Slingshot is always looking for new writers, artists, editors, photographers, translators, distributors, etc. to make this paper. If you send something written, please be open to editing.

Editorial decisions are made by the Slingshot Collective but not all the articles reflect the opinions of all collectives members. We welcome debate and constructive criticism.

Thanks to the people who made this: Aaron, Andrew, Darin, Eggplant, Finn, Glenn, Hayley, Heather, Kelly, Lydia, Jesse, Josh, Joey, J-tron, Soren, Stephski, Xander, Zoe and all the authors and artists.

Slingshot New Volunteer Meeting

Volunteers interested in getting involved with Slingshot can come to the new volunteer meeting on August 17, 2014 at 4 pm at the Long Haul in Berkeley (see below.)

Article Deadline & Next Issue Date

Submit your articles for issue 117 on September 13 2014 at 3 p.m.

Volume 1, Number 116, Circulation 20,000

Printed April 11, 2014

Slingshot Newspaper

A publication of Long Haul

Office: 3124 Shattuck Avenue

Mailing: PO Box 3051, Berkeley, CA 94703

Phone (510) 540-0751 • • fucking twitter @slingshotnews

Circulation Information

Subscriptions to Slingshot are free to prisoners, low income and anyone in the USA with a Slingshot Organizer, or $1 per issue or back issue. International $3 per issue. Outside the Bay Area we’ll mail you a free stack of copies if you give them out for free. Each envelope is one lb. (8 copies) — let us know how many envelopes you want. In the Bay Area, pick up copies at Long Haul or Bound Together Books in SF.

Slingshot Free stuff

We’ll send you a random assortment of back issues of Slingshot for the cost of postage: Send $3 for 2 lbs. Free if you’re an infoshop or library. Also, our full-color coffee table book about People’s Park is free or by sliding scale donation: send $1 – $25 for a copy. We also have surplus copies of the 2014 Organizer available free in bulk for distro to people who wouldn’t otherwise purchase one such as prisoners, youth and the oppressed. Email or call us: / Box 3051 Berkeley, 94703.


the 2015 Organizer wants YOU

Slingshot collective will make the 2015 organizer this summer. Drop by or contact us to help. We are a tiny collective so we’re relying on the Slingshot miracle to make the organizer. That’s when a variety of folks we’ve never met before show up during the two weekends we make the organizer to sit in the Slingshot loft making art, listening to music, eating food and making decisions at meetings. The Organizer layout party creates a temporary community sort of like an occupation except with pens and glue rather than tents and bongo drums. Sound like fun? Join us.

In May and June, we’ll edit, correct and improve the list of historical dates. Send us ideas for stuff to add that happened since last year. The deadline for finishing is June 27. If you want to design a section of the calendar, let us know or send us random art by June 28. The deadline to finish calendar pages or give us suggestions for 2015 is July 25. We need all new radical contact listings and cover art submissions by July 25. If you have ideas for the short features we publish in the back, let us know by July 25. We try to print different features every year. If you’re in the Bay Area July 26/27 or August 2/3, we’ll put it all together by hand those weekends so plan your visit. . .