Monday, April 26, 2010
Falling in Spring
The 4th Anarchist Book Fair at Judson Memorial Church was a bucket of fun. All the oldtime radical geeks from NYC were there, and scads of anarchist travelers crouched on the sidewalks outside, dressed in colorful shades of black. The “House Magic” wallpaper went up in the hallways, and after the fair it was rolled up and taken away to the offices of Picture the Homeless. We even had a little Keystone Kops action, as local police with federal handlers raided a center in Brooklyn at 13 Thames Street, arresting members of the Independent Anarchist Media (I AM) collective as they were preparing to decamp to Manhattan to mount the film screenings for the book fair. This bit of foolishness was blasted all over the web – the blog Animal pegged it: “Anarchist Film Fest Gets Free Promo from NYPD.” It seems the police walked in without a warrant to enter, the probable cause being that the door of the place was open, and they thought it was a squat. A couple were arrested; judges the next morning dismissed all charges. The place is Surreal Estate, which I gotta visit, since it’s an active little joint. I don’t get over to Brooklyn much… But, as the U.S. Social Forum approaches in late June, I want to chat with local folks who are going. And they are.
At the ABF I flogged the “House Magic” zine. The proof of number two is finally at Bluestockings (still not on the web, sorry!). I’ve been striving to get HM#2 online, but at the fair I found out many people don’t really see online zines. The Affinities journal issue from Canada, the Monster Institutions issue of Transversal, and the fabulous UK compendium of social centres called What's This Place don’t seem to be as well known as they deserve. At ABC No Rio, the House Magic display featured a number of photocopied tape-bound copies of these online texts, and they sold (for copying costs). At the NYC ABF, I traded some of these for books I wanted. I saw a lot of retro stuff at the ABF – manuals of Zerzanesque neoprimitivism, of course, which appeal to my love of Ovidian Golden Age nostalgia (the New Suburbanism), and a charming richly made zine from Portland “Communicating Vessels” which proudly announces “no website”: CV, P.O. Box 83408, Portland OR 97283. Illustrations by Valloton, texts about Rexroth and Surrealism in the Arab world? This is modernist anarchism in the sense that Allan Antliff means it. Also out of Portland, “At Daggers Drawn,” a translation of a dark and brilliant Italian text of romantic incitement printed in silver ink on black paper (so it can’t be photocopied) in 500 copies. The IWW had lots of new merch and an online store! Zapatista merch was also on display. I have a doll, so I bought a scarf. There were lots more booths and texts of interest, like the Aftershock Action Alliance, taking off on Naomi Klein’s notions of solidarity in the face of crisis capitalism; prole.info’s lovely zine on food service shitwork (also a download) “Abolish Restaurants”; and an important tip to the South African zabalaza.net, which is dizzyingly international. I also traded for the chubby 2007 centennial edition of “Solidaridad Obrera,” the voice of the Spanish CNT.
So it was inspiring… Like that oh-so-68 picture up top. It's from an especially fetching collection, the newsprinted “After the Fall, Communiqués from Occupied California,” which collects “the major statements from the recent wave of occupations” in the public universities of California in advance of the March 4th mobilization. This mobe was more effective against the Bologna Process in Europe, I believe, than here in the U.S.. The full impact hasn’t really registered on U.S. students, or, rather, it is doing so unevenly. A key point in the “After” text is how the the growth and even continuance of the California public higher education system is collateralized against the fees students pay. A burden of crushing debt on students is thus augmented by the state’s incentive to constantly raise those fees… It’s a subtle point, but it is of such oppressive taxes, no matter how cleverly they made be hidden, that revolutions are made.
Photo: Students occupying Wheeler Hall, University of California Berkeley, from the “After the Fall” book.
NYC Anarchist Book Fair
Police raid on Anarchist Film Festival group
Promo for the film fest
Affinities: A Journal of Radical Theory, Culture, and Action
Monster Institutions issue of Transversal
What's This Place
IWW online merch store
“After the Fall” download