All posts by slingshot

Zine Reviews

Zines are given special consideration here because we encourage people to make a tangible document over thought explored only online. One way to view a zine maker is as a guerilla fighter. If we had more time and energy, we could also write about the more organized magazines & newspapers such as Fifth Estate, Earth First, Black Seed etc. that we are inspired by and want to see more widely read.

No Gods, No Mattress 23

$3-4.00 enola d P.O. Box 3936 Berkeley, CA 94703

No Gods, No Mattress 23 is Enola’s latest very personal perzine. It’s the sex issue. It’s done in an aesthetically pleasing cut-and-paste typewriter style and is thick at 68 pages. My favorite thing about it is the beautiful voice it’s written in. Language is playful and fresh. Content covers childhood sexual abuse, a failed attempt at riding freight to Portland, travel, staying in a shack, health, getting older, personal style, crying, queerness, dating, feelings about sex. I found myself relating. Vulnerable yet fun, this is a zine the world needs. (Nest)

(Piltdown) Behind the Wheel #1&2

Kellydessiant.com/piltdown PO Box 22974 Oakland CA 94609

This personal zine captures the collected thoughts and experiences of a low wage ride share driver. He interprets the invasion of high tech “Jerks” that he services and also spells out the destruction of the local counter culture. War stories abound. But this zine humanizes the aggressors revealing that they are actually fallible people who are struggling — a few of them are even well intentioned. Much of the money floating around is unsustainable and this zine reveals that the techies are a door knock away from shitting in the streets themselves. What was most alarming about reading this was the subtle admissions by the author of the wreck of a life that’s to be squeezed from driving a ride share — one in which his body is being worn down. All this hustling just to get by with no security for getting old or having any money at the end of the road. A document of the rotting corpse of capitalism. (egg)

The Political Pre-History of Love and Rage: Anarchist Struggle in the 1980s and 1990s

by the Anarchist History Nerd Brigade anarchisthistory.noblogs.org

The text of this ‘zine was largely adopted from the article After Winter Must Come Spring: A Self-Critical Analysis of the Love & Rage Revolutionary Anarchist Federation and The 1997 Love and Rage Members Handbook. For anyone interested in how a serious attempt at organizing first a North American wide Anarchist newspaper then a continent wide revolutionary Anarchist organization in the 1990s was able to form groups and co-ordinate the efforts of already existing organizations in the U$, Mexico and Canada, please check this ‘zine out. What I found most fascinating, was how many of the protests and anti-authoritarian movements in the 2000s were clearly descendents from happenings in the 1980s, such as protests against the major political parties’ conventions in the U$ in 1988. I also was excited to read of how Neither East Nor West had emerged as an Anarchist response to a Revolutionary Communist Party U$A (RCP) front group, No Business As Usual. For all the debate that goes on about how to try to maneuver as anti-authoritarians in or out of such organizing in the U$, when it does at least sometimes manage to bring great numbers of people out in to the streets around just causes, it added another perspective I hadn’t seen or heard before and would be interesting to learn more about. (By A. Iwasa)

Cometbus #56

It has been well over a year since Cometbus #55 but this was well worth the wait! This issue is 112 pages of an aging punk’s perspectives on being a book dealer in New York City in an A to Z format. This issue has all the usual witty and curmudgeonly comments that make Cometbus fun and worth reading no matter what the topics covered are. Once a friend who saw me reading Cometbus said “I can’t tell if you’re laughing or crying when you’re reading that,” to which I replied, “Neither can I.” This applied to #56 just as much as previous editions. (By A. Iwasa)

Rabbit Rabbit Rasbbit #3

colinquackpack@live.com

A zine can resemble anything from a pamphlet to a magazine. The number of variations is part of the medium’s charm. This work has pages that look like assembled collage. The photocopier is used to capture animal bones, novelty buttons and sewing supplies to decorate the written word. The ideas that are captured can be confused with poetry at times and is condensed with revolutionary euphoria. The largest body of writing is a tour diary that will speak to people who are immersed in the punk music scene. Overall this issue is a powerful directory of the underground in cities across America. (egg)

Functionally Ill #18

$2 + shipping, 4 1/4” x 5 1/2”, 20 pgs. robotmad@gmail.com www.etsy.com/shop/robotmad

It’s tricky to write about the topics which Laura Marie covers in Functionally Ill. It’s tricky because depression is boring. All emo teenage posturing to the contrary, it is boring to struggle to get out of bed every day, or to be able to think of nothing but killing yourself. So how do you write about those things in a way that anyone would want to read? I think the tendency is to go too far away from realism; to romanticize it. But there is nothing romantic about these topics, and the danger in romanticizing them is that it might make some people less likely to get help, thinking that their suffering is some glamorous badge of honor. So, again, how do you write about them in a way that’s readable but not romantic? Laura-Marie seems to have achieved it. This short zine is broken up into bite-sized chunks. It includes excerpts from letters to friends, and stories about attending a support group, about feeling suicidal, and about the fear of moving to a new place and leaving her favorite therapist behind. Her writing style is succinct and sharp. Each section is like a tiny arrow that makes you wince in recognition or think: “Damn, it would be awful to go through that.” One thing I like about the way Laura-Marie addresses mental illness is that she does not push the medical model, but she doesn’t flat-out reject it, either. She takes the viewpoint that medication can be helpful, but that are many other factors involved in mental illness, and only community and therapy can help with those. My favorite sections of the zine come at the end – “visualization for the suicidal me or you” and “affirmations for the suicidal me or you.” Thanks, Laura-Marie. (Rust Belt Jessie)

Fixer Eraser #s 1-4

2 3/4” x 4 1/4”, between 8-16 pgs. (Jonas, PO Box 633, Chicago, IL, 60690)

I was so bummed when I found out that Jonas would no longer be writing Cheer the Eff Up. The six issues of that zine put him way up on my list of favorite ‘personal’ zinesters, right alongside Cometbus and Crabb and Miller. But, I am happy to say, Jonas is not done with zines. He is now publishing Fixer Eraser. Each issue, from 1-4, is 1/8 sized, and either 8 or 16 pages long. Though they’re tiny, they pack a punch. They feature the kind of writing I’ve come to expect from Jonas — bitter, no hard truths held back, yet not completely despairing. One thing that impresses me most about Jonas’ writing is that he doesn’t pretty things up. He digs right into the dark heart of life, and does not try and turn that darkness into beauty.

Still, while they don’t spare any sorrow, they each offer something to hold on to. Each issue of Fixer Eraser is based around some sort of story or theme. #1 is about how broken robots keep moving. #2 is about love and good pairs of boots. #3 is about identity and ally-ship and houses on fire. And #4 – the most recent and by far the most poignant of the four — is about art and death, and it leaves you with this: you are not alone. (Rust Belt Jessie)

Passionate and Dangerous: Conversations with Midwestern Anti-Authoritarians and Anarchists

edited by Mark Bohnert, distributed by AK Press.

Comprised mostly of interviews done in 1998 and ‘99 with radicals from Chicago and Springfield, IL; St. Louis and Columbia, MO; Detroit, Bloomington, rural and urban Tennessee, and one undisclosed location; there are also a couple interviews with national and international activists Peter Schumann of Bread and Puppet Theater and Food Not Bombs co-founder Keith McHenry, and an excerpt from ex-Black Panther Lorenzo Kom’boa Ervin’s Anarchism and the Black Revolution. Projects range from making art, media, cooperative living, workers’ collectives and running an Infoshop.  This is an amazing snapshot of late ’90s heartland radicalism in an area way too many people consider flyover country.  Bohnert also obviously made a point of including the voices of women, people of color and queers in a non-tokenizing fashion.  A couple of historical pieces show how these movements were grounded in longstanding traditions. (A. Iwasa)

SF Resistor #1&2

sfresistor@riseup.net resistor.spaz.org

This features reporting and storytelling from a squatter’s perspective that documents the last 4 years of the shifting terrain in San Francisco and is an example of someone who has given themselves up totally with the economic struggles in one of the world’s most expensive cities. He now lives free and writes with the conviction that this is the future we must consider. Proof that the counter culture may win people over with rad art – a zine like this could knock someone over whose on the fence to our side. The politics and prose have heart and are very coherent – a rare blend. . (egg)

Bacon in the Beans #4

PO Box 4912 Thousand Oaks CA 91359 $3 U.S. $6 Global

A hodge podge of humor and storytelling with a punk attitude and inclination to the music scene. A couple of prisoners are given space – as well as a degenerate thug who use the “B” word to painful degrees. Another strike is the horrible font used on some pages that is too small to read or is just badly scribbled. Enough variety here with comics, reportage and delivery for it not to be a waste of your attention span. (egg)

Fix My Head #4-7

$4.50 US per copy fixmyhead.storenvy.com blog: annaxvo.tumblr.com

A radical Person Of Color publication, this covers a dynamic range of activists, punks and really smart people who are overlooked. Largely presented in interview format, issue #7 breaks routine and is all articles. The content is confrontational with the issues that are suppressed or maligned in mainstream discourse. More than anything I get the feeling that there is a lot of zeal in the production of this without being zealot. It is this kind of concerted effort as seen on the page here that does a lot to make for real social change. By highlighting marginalized people and their work it should make it more inviting for you to participate in radical politics. (egg)

P.U. #1

Free in Portland $2 in the mail portlandundergroundpaz@gmail.org

Talented artists are assembled together here on large pages of newsprint. Hardly any articles, just visuals to wow you. The art is similar to their neighbor publication Pork but without the lame regressive anti-PC front — and way more space to appreciate the pictures. This publication may be born out of dissatisfaction with Pork and the other sorry ass things to look at which often have more ads than organic ideas. Various styles of art are represented that resemble everything from comic books to galleries. The subject matter includes the bizarre, spiritual, impressionistic and political. The paper is funded by the artists who are in it. The next issue is due out in June so move to the City of Roses, save some money for a page and get to work making it come alive. (egg)

gardening is for eaters

Laura-Marie, robotmad at gmail dot com

This so far is a stand alone ‘zine by one of my favorite ‘zinesters whose other work primarily focuses on mental illness and relationships, frequently expressed in poetry. As usual this one is thought provoking and well written. It includes interviews with three different gardeners with practices ranging from Permaculture and Guerrilla Gardening to Grow Biointensive. Books and the names of organic gardening and farming rock stars are cited for those interested in further research. Laura-Marie weaves her own experiences and feelings about agriculture through the text. Unfortunately, I think she put the cart before the horse by making a comprehensive list with brief descriptions of the things she was growing at the time with one of the interviewees after the intro and before the interviews. This was a bit tedious and would have made more sense as an appendix. In the middle of this, she also offers a recipe which includes one of the plants, which I think probably should have just been printed since I think brief and easy tutorials are one of the best potential components of ‘zines, and a lot of people could have missed the offer being buried in a list. (A. Iwasa)

Book Review! James Tracy’s “Dispatches Against Displacement: Field Notes from San Francisco’s Housing Wars” (2014 AK PRESS)

Review by Kathy Labriola

When I mention James Tracy’s name to anyone anywhere in the San Francisco Bay Area, they invariably respond enthusiastically about how they worked closely with James on a specific housing or tenant-related struggle or in a particular progressive organization. They go on and on about what a fantastic organizer he is and “such a great guy, too!” He apparently has been involved in every affordable housing or tenants’ rights struggle in San Francisco over the past quarter century. I’m even more amazed that he seems universally loved and respected by every activist left of center, which doesn’t seem possible in the fractious housing wars that have continuously rocked the City in recent decades.

Since he was directly involved in nearly every struggle covered in his book, he is not a dispassionate scholar. But he pulls off the feat of being “objective,” as much as anyone who hates capitalism and landlord and developer greed could be. He places each organization and each fight against displacement in a historical context, and describes the myriad strategies, tactics, goals, and outcomes of each specific struggle. He has some sound hypotheses about why some tactics worked better than others in certain situations or at a particular historical moment. He acknowledges the euphoric successes as well as the spectacular failures, and, more often, the limited gains that were so hard-won but later swept away by yet another wave of gentrification a few years later. Applauding the many dedicated and brilliant activists and groups, he also criticizes strategic errors and his own perceived deficiencies. For instance, “One of the biggest ironies about our organizing is that we could be so ecumenical and so sectarian at the same time!”

Tracy (and the reader) remain painfully aware that the cards are stacked very heavily against low-income and working-class tenants in San Francisco. The law and the political power is always on the side of developers and landlords, who will always throw us under the bus because the obscene profits are just too irresistible. Starting with the displacement of African-Americans from the Western Addition in the 1950’s through “Redevelopment,” he then chronicles the 1990’s “dot-com boom” forcing Latinos out of the Mission, to the current wave of mass evictions fueled by the new tech companies. In many housing struggles, the City government as well as Federal housing policy colluded with property owners to evict low-income residents to make way for luxury condos, upscale restaurants and stores, tech office buildings, or other more “profitable” uses.

Among the most current bad news Tracy delivers: the 2013 numbers show that a resident would have to make at least $37.62 an hour, nearly 4 times the city’s current minimum wage, in order to pay the average rent in San Francisco.

At every step of the way, diverse coalitions of activists and organizations have waged pitched battles against being forced out of their homes and neighborhoods. This book is a real page-turner! Despite some heavy losses, the courage, hard work, and dizzying array of organizing strategies are inspiring and eye-opening. Ever present is the debate and tension between “direct action” approaches such as squatting buildings, taking over City offices, and camping out on the lawns of developers’ mansions, or “working through the system” strategies of testifying at public hearings, lobbying elected officials, lining up support from churches and unions, or writing ballot measures and campaigning for electoral change.

He also discusses some solutions, including Community Land Trusts. Tracy co-founded the San Francisco Community Land Trust (SFCLT) in 2001, and I am involved in the Bay Area Community Land Trust, so neither of us can claim to be neutral. Tracy says SFCLT was founded on the question, “What if we could win the housing war?” If tenants controlled their own buildings, they could not be evicted and communities could not be displaced, so SFCLT has spent nearly 15 years procuring funds to buy buildings and training the tenants to take over self-management. He cautions against seeing this as a substitute for a larger movement against capitalist property relations. “It is important that land trusts be viewed as a sneak preview of a better world, instead of a utopia on a single city block.”

Despite the subject, this book is very upbeat and often laugh-out-loud funny. My only complaint is that it is too short and each chapter left me wanting much more information, as he is really trying to cover the waterfront in a brisk 119 pages (scrupulously footnoted).

 

 

Avent Calendar

March 20 – 22

North American Anarchist Studies Network Conference Calif. Institute for Integral Studies San Francisco naasn.org

 

March 21

Railroad Workers United (RWU)Conference Seattle WA railroadworkersunited.org

March 21

First Toledo Free School Festival toledofreeschool.org

 

March 28th-April 3

Nevada Desert Experience’s anti-nuke & anti-drone peace walk nevadadesertexperience.org

 

April 12 – 11 – 5 pm

Long Beach Zine Fest Museum of Latin America 628 Alamitos Ave Long Beach CA lbzinefest.com

 

April 17-19

All Power to the Imagination Conference Presentations, workshops, and group discussions New College of Florida

allpowertotheimagination.com

 

April 18 – 10 – 4

10th Annual Walk Against Rape The Women’s Building 3543 18th St. San Francisco, CA 94110 sfwar.org/walk/

 

April 18 – 11am – 6pm

NYC Anarchist Bookfair. Judson Memorial Church 55 Washington Square S, NY, NY 10012 anarchistbookfair.net

 

April 22-25

School of Americas Watch Spring Days of Action! soaw.org

 

April 24

San Francisco Critical Mass bike ride – Justin Herman Plaza www.sfcriticalmass.org

 

April 25 – 10 – 6

SF Bay Area anarchist book fair 1260 Seventh Street bayareaanarchistbookfair.com

 

April 25 – 26

2015 Brooklyn Zine Fest @ The Brooklyn Historical Society 128 Pierrepont St. NY brooklynzinefest.com/

 

April 26 – 10 – 5

Berkeley Anarchist Students of Theory & Research & Development conference UC Berkeley sfbay-anarchists.org

 

May 30- June 7

11th Annual Mountain Justice Summit Kanawha State Forest, West Virginia kanawhaforestcoalition.org/

 

June 4-5

Protest the G7 Summit @ Castle of Elmau Bavarian Alps, Germany stop-g7-elmau.info

 

June 11

“Day Of Solidarity with Marius Mason and all Eco-Prisoners” june11.org

 

July 18-19

Portland Zine Symposium Ambridge Event Center Portland, OR www.portlandzinesymposium.org

 

July 24

National Day of Action to Lift the Blockade on Gaza war-times.org/action

 

July 25

Deadline for art and radical historical dates for 2016 Slingshot Organizer – drop in & help us make the organizer.

 

August 8

Slut Walk D.C.slutwalkdc.com

 

August 23 – 4pm

New volunteer meeting for Slingshot issue #119 – 3124 Shattuck Ave. Berkeley

 

September 12 – 3 pm

Article deadline for issue #119

 

Table of Contents: Issue #116

Issue #117: Table of Contents

Existential Compost: Staying inspired in spite of pain

By Finn

A few years ago, I was helping a friend with an understaffed bike cooperative that provided composting services in a city that lacked a municipal green waste system. The co-op, which was based out of an anarchist community center, was run by a small handful of self-identified radicals. While showing me my bike route, one of the co-op’s founding members explained to me why he was quitting. He had very strong feelings about insurrectionary anarchism and had decided that more structural projects — such as worker-owned cooperatives — were pointless if we weren’t actively engaged in armed revolution. His views had become so strong in this respect that he had decided to “wash his hands” not only of activism, but of composting, bicycling, and the other “trappings of radical lifestyles”.

More recently, Slingshot received a letter from a person who was struggling with feelings of self-hatred and inadequacy around being an anarchist. The writer was grappling with what it meant to engage in radical politics — if it was arrogant to fight for something so massive and complex as a stateless society, and if there was a way to let go of worrying whether The Revolution was ever going to happen. Notably, they were wondering if it was possible to detach oneself from the concept of a “final goal” in radical activism without losing passion.

These two anecdotes speak to a type of burnout that has less to do with overcommitment and more to do with existential pain. Unlike others I know who have taken extended breaks from activism because they exhausted themselves with over extension, these are examples of folks who got so caught up in anger, hopelessness, and a desire for immediate large-scale change that they began to question the value of their efforts.

I hit the existential wall 10 years ago, when I was cutting my teeth at an anti-Monsanto protest. Temperatures were nearing triple digits, a cop who’d dropped to the ground after beating a preteen with a billy club lay dying from a heart attack, several of my friends were bleeding and being dragged off to the Philadelphia Roundhouse, and the living cops were beating folks at random with (maybe this is ironic?) bicycles. While debriefing with what remained of my affinity group and preparing to do jail support, I felt pretty shaken by the amount of violence that had gone down so quickly and was wondering whether we’d accomplished anything positive. I got pretty bitter and jaded about direct action when the protest barely showed up on the news. Awareness hadn’t been raised, other actions hadn’t followed, and whatever sense of temporary autonomy we’d felt had been rapidly beaten down.

Engaging in radical politics means being aware of intensely pervasive structures of hierarchy and oppression. It means having dreams of a better world that are complex and idealistic, and it is easy to feel that those dreams may never come to fruition. As activists, we often hold ourselves to unrealistic standards of being the Perfect Revolutionary, a person who feels confident in their knowledge of how to dismantle hierarchy and restructure a new world, who speaks in the right lexicon and groks the right theories. Faced with such standards and an immense sense of powerful opposition, feelings of despair, alienation, and burnout are common.

There are numerous schools of thought within anarchism. Some — such as anarcho-syndicalism — place great emphasis on coherent theory and organized collective effort. Others, especially those influenced by situationism, are more focused on deconstructing organization and engaging in acts of social disruption — these schools of thought are often called “post-left” anarchism. Regardless of the details of theory and preferred tools for enacting change, the idea of a functional stateless society is very broad and complex. Getting to a point where such a world is feasible requires massive change in social infrastructure, and while I’m certainly not in opposition to idealistic end goals, I do support framing one’s personal politics in a way that encourages practical action without leading to “I want The Revolution or no change at all” burnout. Because we as anarchists advocate for dismantling structures that are mind blowingly powerful and pervasive, what can we do to stay inspired when we feel unsure if the world we want will ever exist?

There is no single correct answer to this question, but I can speak to my own experiences. I dropped out of radicalism for a few years — not because I was tired or didn’t have enough time, but because I felt powerless. I came back into the scene after joining up with some anti-prison organizers at a transgender health conference. They were part of a collective that believed in the eventual abolition of the prison industrial complex, but in the meanwhile, had concrete ideas for improving the lives of incarcerated folks. I realized it was possible to hold to ideals I believed in but had little hope of seeing – like the abolition of prisons — without falling into an existential rut. That sense of hopelessness was tempered by a sense of empowerment at being able to do something — like hooking up reentering prisoners with healthcare, or running copy scams, or sneaking AIDS resource guides into prisons where they were banned. Tangible work that felt effective and meaningful, especially within the context of a tight-knit collective, is what brought me back into the fold.

Housing co-ops, worker owned collectives, and community gardens may not be The Revolution, but they’re valuable in that they create alternatives that make tangibly positive differences in people’s lives. I’ve heard people dismiss these kinds of projects — “Why spend so much time on gardens when we ought to be rioting?” — but this sort of work builds the foundation of the world we want (and you know, it isn’t mutually exclusive with rioting anyway). Endeavors such as free clinics, infoshops, and community gardens are radical in that they aim to transform the way basic human needs are met. Each project is a tiny pocket of transformation that may one day swell and synthesize with others to form a new world. Even if they don’t, those projects make concrete improvements in our lives in the present moment, giving us the hope and energy to move forward.

Rise up, Speak Out, Fight Back: Stop sexual violence

By Alexa

All but one of my closest friends is a survivor of sexual assault. My mother and my best friend, the two women on this earth who are most important to me, are survivors. Some of these people experienced these atrocities before I knew them, and others confided in me shortly after their escape. Their stories came out slowly and sometimes shamefully, through a fog of confusion about what too many people will never mention. All of these people whom I hold closest to my heart have cried over a bodily invasion, a choice stolen, and a betrayal.

Subsequently, they have been forced to fight a culture which not only condones rape, but will not let them mourn. They have been exploited and abused by their perpetrators and by a society that invalidates and silences their experiences. FUCK THAT.

I have tipped past the point of sadness and into a realm of rage and indignation. No, this is not blind rage — it is a rage well educated and experienced — one which I know I do not bear alone. It is a rage towards the patriarchal culture which we all live in, a culture whose media and values accept rape. Once a pacifist, I no longer feel the staunch aversion to violent intervention. I would never raise a fist without a survivor’s consent, but as my knowledge and growth builds, so does my vehement thirst for retaliation.

In writing this, I am not trying to convince anyone of the validity of my words, of the truth. Fuck that. Here is not the place to fight that uphill battle. Rather, I am clutching to my rage and passion to urge survivors and allies: RISE UP, SPEAK OUT & FIGHT BACK

Fight back:

We need to fight back against anyone under notion that another’s body is their property. We are taught this myth that our partners are entitled to our bodies, and that sexual accommodation is part of the relationship experience. No matter how long folks have been in a relationship, or how positive an experience it has been, under no circumstances are their bodies each other’s property.

If you see this gross expectation in someone’s actions or language, you can take that opportunity to educate that person, or point them in the direction of an awesome zine (like Cindy Crabb’s Learning Good Consent Zine or Support Zine), if you feel comfortable doing so. We need to fight back against the co­worker/peer/acquaintance/friend whose daily interactions clearly show their disregard for other’s boundaries. “Sexual Harassment” workshops in the workplace and in schools are not enough. Folks who are sexually harassing others and not respecting their spaces need to promptly and earnestly check themselves, or folks with privilege who witness these acts need to call them out! Calling someone out may look like a holding a forum for community discussion, telling the aggressor what is on your mind in a confrontational way, giving them a rad zine on boundaries, also forms of retaliation with direct action can be a fun alternative. One instance of boundary violation in our social spaces is one too much and perpetuates a culture that condones sexual violence.

We need to fight back against anyone who attempts to invalidate and negate another’s experience of sexual assault. If someone says they have been sexually assaulted, they have been sexually assaulted–only they can name their experience and no one else. If you hear someone negating or minimizing the experience of sexual assault, it is totally appropriate (if you feel comfortable) to call them out. As aforementioned, community discussions, offering educational resources, individually confronting their ignorance, or engaging in forms of direct action, can all be tools in effectively calling someone on their bullshit.

We need to fight back against an education that teaches people how to avoid rape rather than teaching others not to rape. It is ineffective and victim-blaming to teach people that they need to carry whistles and pepper spray, and that they should not wear certain clothing. When society asserts that attitudes of fear and oppression will lead to safety, it invalidates a survivor’s experience AND does not hold aggressors accountable. This type of “safety” education is unacceptable and cries out for reform. It would be awesome if consent workshops could be regularly held in community spaces and in schools. These consent workshops could focus on offering tools to explore and talk about boundaries, and on educating people about rape culture and how to resist the manifestations against this cultural norm!

Speak out:

We need to speak out against the myth of stranger danger. 2/3 of sexual assaults are committed by someone known to the survivors, not an anonymous stranger hiding in the bushes. Someone can be sexually assaulted by their friend, acquaintance, or their partner.

It is time that this reality is asserted into community consciousness, and that people question their oppressive assumptions. We need to speak out against slut shaming and victim blaming. No matter the multitude of sexual encounters someones experiences, each one deserves to be consensual. Also, folks should wear what the fuck they want and go where the fuck they want– sexual assault is never the survivor’s fault, no one is ever “asking for it”. There is NO behavior or appearance that conveys a desire to be violated.

We need to speak out against imposed gender roles and their intersection with sexual violence.

No sex assignment is indicative of sexual expectations and obligations. Alongside this concept, it’s important to combat the myth that men do not experience sexual violence. Men of all ages can experience sexual violence and it is asinine and invalidating that sexual violence has been labeled as strictly a “women’s issue.”

Rise up:

We need to rise up and form community support groups. These can look like safe spaces where boundaries, experiences, education, and healing are discussed. Holding a space of support and validation creates a stronger community, sheds light on the prevalence of sexual violence, and can be powerfully validating for a survivor. Explore spaces in your community that you can reserve for a day! Invite members of the community to create and attend consent workshops, or facilitate a community discussion about sexual violence and survivorship. A note of caution, sometimes it is helpful to conceal the location of the event until someone contacts you with an interest to attend, it is ultimately important to work towards creating a safe space for this event

We need to rise up and get together to discuss what community perpetrator accountability looks like. There are a million reasons why a survivor may not want to get the cops involved in their experience. Unfortunately, there is not enough discussion of what aggressor accountability looks like as an alternative to law enforcement. Restorative justice, which focuses on the needs of the survivor and their community instead of satisfying punitive avenues of “justice”, is not a common enough word in the current paradigm of aggressor accountability. Organize community forums to discuss what aggressor accountability and restoration looks like in your community! Our current culture uses patriarchal tools of oppression to condone sexual violence. Destroy what destroys you.

The Darkness Before the Dawn: resist inertia, embrace collapse

By Jesse D. Palmer

We’re living in a frustrating time of political and cultural stagnation — both in terms of the collapsing corporate monster and our (currently feeble) resistance to it. The horrors of the system keep piling up and trying to drag us down: another open-ended US war in Iraq and Syria, gentrification, evictions and economic stratification licking at our heels, and what’s left of the oceans and wilderness teetering on the brink of extinction while fracking and industrialization pour more CO2 into the air. . . .

Even more concerning is the relative calm and silence in the streets in the face of all of this. Where are the strikes, the riots, the active resistance and refusal? It doesn’t have to be like this — with the system’s internal contradictions so extreme, the veneer of resignation and apathy is unlikely to endure much longer.

We all sense the system is unsustainable — environmentally and economically. What that means is that the system as it is currently organized is on the verge of being swept away. The system wants everyone to think that if it collapses, this will bring a period of famine, epidemic, destruction and suffering — and too many of us willingly buy into this narrative. Doomthink is fashionable, accompanied by resignation and a reorientation to purely personal concerns since “we can’t do anything anyway . . .” Naturally, the system seeks to preserve itself by psychologically and culturally promoting fear of its own collapse in such a way that people feel powerless, resigned and isolated so they’ll passively accept business as usual.

But another way to approach the system’s unsustainability is to rejoice, because this means that our current hassles are near an end. Part of the unsustainability of the system is us. Our role — if we’re willing to step up — can be to rise up against the system and its meaningless jobs, its production for profit not use, its ugly industrial machines, its police and endless wars, and its isolation, selfishness and loneliness.

Environmental collapse isn’t the only option and the question now is whether we can shake off our collective pessimism and see that the kind of collapse we’re about to be part of is really up to us. Sure, if nothing happens soon industrial capitalism will run up against natural limitations, killing us and itself. But we’re not dead yet — why the mournful sad faces when there’s still time to fight back against the coal mines, the oil trains, the fracking, and the greed, shortsightedness and corporate and governmental structures that are killing the planet?

There’s at least two ways we can choose collapse of the system over collapse of our ecological life support systems.

First, we can fight the system politically, economically and culturally — in the streets, in our communities, and in long-term and short-term ways. This is about more than fighting each new pipeline, or the huge 350.org rally in September, but that may be part of it. It is about more than fighting the 1%, the corporations, the WTO and the police, but that all may be part of it. It is about much more than the same old single issue politics, boring political meetings, and alphabet soup of activist groups, although all of these things may still be part of it.

An activist who cut her teeth during Occupy recently told me that direct action and protests were passé and ineffective now because things have changed and the system has figured out ways to co-opt and divert us, but I think that’s wrong. Resistance to power and injustice has always been essential to social change throughout history. Powerful structures won’t give up their power or fall apart on their own — they need our help. The fact that things may seem bleak at the moment, or that a lot of people spend all day glued to a computer, doesn’t change these historical dynamics. If you understand history, then you notice how economic structures, those in power and their police and prisons always seem invincible . . . right before they are wiped out. And when these structures suddenly change, it’s because people got together and made it so.

It is impossible to know what issue, what tactic, what slogan or what moment might provide the spark for fundamental shifts in social organization, but when that moment comes we need to be there and ready. For each such moment, there are a hundred defeats and forgettable rallies. That means that successful prolonged resistance requires self-care and community so we don’t get tired, lonely and bitter while the struggle unfolds. Resistance needs to give us more in meaning, excitement, connection, fun, music, beauty and love than it takes from us so we can endure.

A new social order requires resistance to the old order, but it also needs new ideas and examples of alternatives to the status quo, which is the the second way we can struggle for collapse of the system on our own terms.

Understanding and critiquing the current system is essential, but not enough. The current system is based on hierarchy, violence, competition, loneliness and technological and economic systems disconnected from the pursuit of happiness, freedom or beauty. The better we understand these dynamics, the better we can wrap our brains around how to reorganize the world on counter-goals and counter-values. An ecologically sustainable and just world needs to be based on cooperation, not competition. On diversity, community, and connection, not violence, power, isolation and loneliness. Such a world will understand that happiness and freedom aren’t based on material wealth, but rather on engagement with the beauty of and love for other people and the earth.

Theoretical alternatives can be powerful and inspiring, but they’re more culturally contagious when they’re expressed in the real world. At least a part of the process of social transformation is millions of people collectively concluding that living in new ways is easier and more enjoyable than plodding along under the current system. We need to build demonstration projects to give some feeling of how amazing life is without capitalism and the system. These may include building worker cooperatives, communal housing, volunteer collectives and local economies, but these structures have their own frustrations, and retreating to lifestyle politics is not enough.

Our demonstration projects need to be less about structure and more about ecstatic, underground pleasure — people offering free, decentralized gifts to their neighbors. Guerrilla sculpture gardens filled with chickens and vegetables and bees. Community hot tubs under a house on a quiet street where naked bodies drift through the steam into a redwood grove. A basement full of free pinball machines open every Friday night where radical debate, laughter and pot smoking continue until the wee hours. These all exist a few blocks from me in Berkeley right now but you would never know it from the media or the grim “be realistic” culture of the American Dream built on everyone mowing their own fucking lawn. The political and economic foundations of the system — privatization, competition, consumerism, efficiency — should make our counter-culture / alternative / radical community impossible, and yet we’re thriving. Our friends are named Bananas and Booze.

Along with building community gardens and bike co-ops, we need to build lived experiences of solidarity, mutual aid and sharing. The system loves selfishness and hyper-individualism, and promotes a hip cynicism in which when one worker hears another worker is earning more because they’re in a union, the reaction is to complain about the union, rather than your own boss for not paying you more, too. This lack of solidarity between workers and failure of workers to see themselves as a class is currently a glaring roadblock to social transformation.

Both types of struggle — resistance and building alternatives — crucially depend on millions of us first changing our own psychological outlook so we can pull ourselves and our friends and neighbors out of the current rut of powerlessness and resignation. The system is limping along, drifting rudderless from crisis to crisis. As such, it’s fragile and vulnerable. The meaninglessness, boredom and social alienation of life in a self-destructing system with no goal greater than making more and more stuff faster and faster is increasingly driving people mad. This helps explain the seemingly random school shootings and the fundamentalist beheadings carried out by alienated youth from western countries.

Ultimately, only a very thin line separates the system’s dull days from the world that will emerge in its ruins. The process of collapse and transition is inevitable, but passivity and resignation are not the inevitable or exclusive response. Rather, we can be part of the process if we stay engaged with others, ourselves and the world around us.

Issue #117 Introduction

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

If it seems like an inordinate amount of time has passed between issues of Slingshot, your intuition is right. The structures that we’ve relied on to make the paper the last couple of decades broke down this time. Normally, we publish an article deadline and articles show up. We publish the date for a new volunteer meeting, and new and old members of the collective show up. This time at the deadline we mostly got poorly written articles. A bunch of people came to the new volunteer meeting but never came back, while longer-term members of the collective were absent. We had to extend the deadline twice and had small, sad meetings.

Little by little some momentum returned. Some articles came in that we really liked. Beautiful cover art appeared. We called each other and left late-night collective voicemails on speaker phone. We exchanged historic office supplies. We ate bananas. We sent birthday cards. Some of us even drank a little wine. In the end, we had so many good articles that we consulted a magick 8-ball to decide what to put on the first page.

So now we’re finally pushing this late issue out into the world with a Question: How can we re-imagine and revive the Slingshot collective so the paper can continue more smoothly? This project — 27 years old now — has a lot going for it. Unlike most radical projects, we are blessed with sufficient funding, provided by the Slingshot organizer calendar. Because of the network we’ve built around the Organizer, we have an excellent community of distributors all over the country who hand out the papers we publish. We have a unique voice and style that offers opportunities for artistic, political and literary expression.

The weak spots are that we need more article submissions and more help with editing. In the age of the internet with instant gratification and computerized-publishing, more people are writers than ever before and there is a lot of good material out there. We urge you to send some of it our way. Paper distribution provides opportunities to reach out to people who wouldn’t otherwise stumble onto radical ideas and this helps radicals break out of our self-created intellectual/cultural/social bubble.

Our other big problem is a 6-month backlog processing mail from prisoners. We are getting thousands of letters from prisoners and we’re overwhelmed. We need help typing addresses into our mailing list and responding to the letters. If Slingshot can’t find volunteers to process the prison mail, the only fair alternative is to warn prisoners not to write us anymore, because we don’t have the infrastructure to handle their letters.

In other news, because Slingshot is an open-collective that welcomes whoever shows up, we’ve been struggling with how to deal with the rare situations where we can’t work with people who show up to our meetings. In one instance, a tall white man named Darin made comments at meetings that were so disruptive that we finally asked him to stop coming to meetings. We also understand that he acted inappropriately towards a number of women by refusing to respect their requests that he leave them alone. These situations are hard on all-volunteer collectives and we delayed dealing with this situation for a long time because it was uncomfortable. This delay and avoidance didn’t make the problem go away — it just made it last longer and contributed to the feeling that our collective might be okay with his actions.

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: Eggplant, Finn, Gina, Glenn, Hayley, Heather, Isabel, Jesse, Judy, Kit, Robin, Soren, William, Xander, 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 January 25, 2015 at 4 pm at the Long Haul in Berkeley (see below.)

Article Deadline & Next Issue Date

Submit your articles for issue 118 on February 14, 2015 at 3 p.m.

 

Volume 1, Number 117, Circulation 20,000

Printed November 14, 2014

 

Slingshot Newspaper

A publication of Long Haul

Office: 3124 Shattuck Avenue

Mailing: PO Box 3051, Berkeley, CA 94703

 

Phone (510) 540-0751 • slingshot@tao.ca slingshot.tao.ca • 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: slingshot@tao.ca / Box 3051 Berkeley, 94703.

 

 

 

 

Fertile soils: radical spaces spread like weeds

Compiled by Jesse D. Palmer

The radical contact list published in the 2015 Slingshot Organizer that came out October 1 is the best contact list we’ve published in years reflecting hundreds of phone calls and emails we made over the summer to update and expand the list. But the very day we took the organizer to the printing press, we started learning about other spaces we left out and folks contacted us with corrections. So here are some updates.

Opening and maintaining radical spaces is a crucial part of the struggle for a new world based on cooperation, pleasure and love, not power, profit and greed. These spaces are fertile ground where seeds of thought and action can grow. You can help plant and nurture the seeds by plugging into your local radical spaces or starting one. To connect even more people to radical alternatives, we’re hoping folks who read this will help us add contacts in Russia, Africa, the Middle East and a handful of US states where we don’t currently have contacts. For the most updated information check slingshot.tao.ca/contacts

The Base – Brooklyn, NY

A space “committed to the dissemination of revolutionary left and anarchist ideas and organizing” that hosts events, study groups, meetings, a number of groups and an anarchist library. 1302 Myrtle Ave Brooklyn, NY 11221 thebasebk.org

Mutiny Information Cafe – Denver, CO

A bookstore, record store and cafe that hosts shows and events. 2 S. Broadway, Denver, CO 80209 303-778-7579 mutinyinfocafe.com

May Day Bar and Community Space – Brooklyn, NY

A community center “for social justice organizing, community empowerment and creative expression” with a bar, cafe, two events spaces, and a co-working space. 214 Starr Street in Brooklyn, N Y11237 maydayspace.org

Denver Zine Library – Denver, CO

They’ve been open since 2003 and have 15,000 zines from all over the world. You can borrow the zines and they hold workshops. Open Sat/Sun 11-3. New location. 2400 Curtis St., Denver, CO 80205 denverzinelibrary.org

Antioch Alternative Library – Yellow Springs, OH

An alternative library at the college that is nevertheless open to the public. Sontag Fels Building 800 Livermore Street Yellow Springs, OH 45387

George Wiley Center – Pawtucket, RI

A community organizing non-profit. 32 East Ave. Pawtucket, RI 02860 401-338-1665 georgewileycenter.org

IWW New York City General Member-ship Branch – Long Island City, NY

Someone recommended this as a contact but we’re not sure what happens here other than IWW stuff. Clue us in if you visit. 45-02 23rd St, 2nd Fl, Long Island City, NY 11101 www.wobblycity.org

Pineapple Arts Center – Duluth, MN

A cooperatively-run fine art supply store, staffed by volunteers that offers classes and studio space. 124 W. 1st St. Duluth, MN 55812 218-722-2919 pineapplearts@gmail.com

Revolutionary Autonomous Communities – Los Angeles, CA

They meet every Sunday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm at MacArthur Park in Downtown LA to distribute salvaged produce received from groceries and through mutual aid with farmers. Not a space but a solid long-running project. revolutionaryautonomouscommunities.blogspot.com

MoKaBe’s Coffeehouse – St. Louis, MO

A private business that hosts radical meetings and events. 3606 Arsenal St. St. Louis, MO 63116 314-865-2009 facebook.com/mokabes

Mercury Cafe – Denver, CO

An organic restaurant that hosts artistic and cultural events. Not sure they are really a radical space but someone suggested we list them so perhaps some of our friends in Denver will give us feedback on this. 2199 California Street Denver, CO 80205 303-294-9258 mercurycafe.com

Inkstorm + SadRad = RADSTORM – Halifax, NS, Canada

Inkstorm is a collectively run screenprinting studio with free access hours and classes. SadRad is an all-ages collectively operated show venue and jam space. They share space at 6050 Almon Street, 2nd Floor, Halifax, NS (mail: PO Box 33129 Halifax, NS B3L 4T6) sadrad.h-a-z.org and robertsstreet.org

Ateneu Anarquista del Poble Sec – Barcelona, Spain

An anarchist space that hosted the 2014 Barcelona Anarchist Book fair. c/ Creu dels Molers 86, Barcelona, Spain ateneuanarquistapoblesec.noblogs.org

Nosotros – Athens, Greece

A free social center with a library and meeting space that hosts a free skool and other projects. Themistokleous 66, Exarchia, Athens, Greece nosotros.gr

Ülase12 – Tallinn, Estonia

A volunteer run social center that features a library, free store, meetings, films, punk shows, vegan dinner and events. Tallinn, Kristiine district at Ülase street 12, Estonia. www.ylase12.org

Corrections to the 2015 Organizer

• The Black Coffee Coop in Seattle, WA is moving October 31 so they won’t be at the address we published in 2015. We’ll put their new address on our website once we know it.

• Internationalist Books moved from Chapel Hill to 101 Lloyd St, Carrboro NC 27510 on October 1.

• The day we went to the printer, Solidarity Houston (Texas) told us they won’t be at the address we listed for them in 2015 (2805 Wichita). They don’t have a new address yet but they still exist. Check their website for a new location once they know it. solidarityhouston.org

• The listing for Bad Egg Books in Eugene, OR has the wrong name. Their correct name is the Eugene Infoshop.

• We listed a space called the LA Infoshop at 176 W. Sunset Blvd. based on an email from them, but when someone went to visit, there was just a private business there, not an infoshop. Say it ain’t so!

• We left out the phone number for the Collective for Arts, Freedom and Ecology in Fresno, CA. It is is 559 237-0922.

• The Denver Community Health Collective (Colorado) is only at the address we published once a month on the 4th Wednesday from 5-7 pm. They may eventually add hours. Check their website: denverhealthcollective.com

• We left off the phone number for The Feminist Library in London. It is 020 7261 0879.

• We forgot to include the postal code for the House of Freedom in Brisbane, Australia – it is 4101. They also would have preferred we list the name as Brisbane Anarchist Library.

• Pogo Cafe in Hackney, UK no longer exists.

• The A-raamatukogu (A-library) in Tartu, Estonia is no longer at the address listed but there is still a punk squat there.

• Here’s a list of infoshops in Spain, but we haven’t had time to confirm them by press time: alasbarricadas.org/noticias/node/19036

Radical center seeking support

The Southern Woman’s Bookstore is raising money to open a non-profit feminist bookstore and community center in Denton, TX. Check SouthernWomansBookstore.com for info.

Che Cafe in San Diego under attack

Che Cafe is an all-ages music venue and 35 year-old student cooperative at University of California San Diego that has been a cornerstone of radical thought and action for students and the community. After years of rocky relations with campus authorities, they got an eviction notice in June and a judge ruled in favor of a UCSD eviction lawsuit in October. They may appeal the lawsuit and need political, financial and social support. 9500 Gilman Dr. La Jolla, CA 92093. thechecafe.blogspot.com