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Beautiful Trash

By Jedidiah Ayres
Hardboiled Wonderland
Thursday, December 7th, 2017

Just picked up my own copy of Girl Gangs, Biker Boys, and Real Cool Cats, the latest lingering, loving look at 'the pulps,' edited by Ian McIntyre and Andrew Nette. I love this kind of thing - in depth looks at the lurid, mass-market yet still underground, arts of yesteryear, presented as scholarly social study, but in place of a dry monotone it's clearly a labor of love and an endeavor of enthusiasm.

Because... all the thoughtfulness is appreciated and engaging, but the real value of these type of books is in collecting all the great artwork (poster art - cover art) in one place. If you don't have your own library of pulp novels or VHS/16mm grindhouse movies, you can still lose yourself in the garish garbage of the artwork and re-live your first awakening and attraction to working out anxieties via engaging narrative.

For me these books recall my favorite part of weekly trips to the grocery store with my mom - I'd get a nickel and walk by the newsstand taking in the western, fantasy, romance, crime and science fiction paperbacks with my tiny peepers on the way to the gumball machine, or visits to out of town cousins discovering the closet full of Robert E. Howard books, or countless hours spent wandering the aisles of video stores imagining the stories the pictures represented (because I was not going to be allowed to watch them).

And that's... an important thing to note.

Often the jacket art is more important in the long run than the books/films themselves. It's the cover design that sells us, grabs our attention and infects us with an itch, or rather enflames the itch we didn't know was already within... Regardless of how satisfying said book or film actually turned out to be, the awakening, the realization that we have an appetite is what inspires us to become active agents in our own evolution.

If we have a hunger... there must be a satisfaction out there somewhere.

If you visit my home you'll be able to browse my physical media - books, films, albums - but these types of books - these collections of artworks are among the most valuable objects I own.

A few favorites from my shelves...

The Art of Noir by Eddie Muller

Cult Magazines A to Z by Earl Kemp, Luis Ortiz

Dames, Dolls and Delinquents by Gary Lovisi


Dope Menace by Stephen J. Gertz


Film Posters: Exploitation by Tony Nourmand, Graham Marsh

Men's Adventure Magazines by Max Allan Collins, George Hagenauer


Pulp Art by Robert Lesser

Science Fiction of the 20th Century by Frank M. Robinson, Ann G. Bennett


Teenage Confidential by Michael Barson, Steven Heller


Trash by Jacques Boyreau


Furthering the argument that the advertising's importance often trumps the actual product's check out Stephen Romano's Shock Festival - a collection of poster art, lobby cards and memorabilia for non-existent horror films. Beautiful.

Scott Adlerberg has a nice piece on Girl Gangs, Biker Boys, and Real Cool Cats at Lithub and if you're inclined to digitally ingest pulp art you'd do well to follow Christa Faust's or Will Viharo's social media platforms.

Buy book now | Buy e-Book now | Back to Iain McIntyre's Author Page | Back to Andrew Nette's Author Page




The Power of Pulp Fiction: Girl Gangs, Biker Boys and More On the Counterculture Politics of Trashy 1950s Novels


Buy book now | Buy e-Book now | Back to Iain McIntyre's Author Page | Back to Andrew Nette's Author Page




Barred for Life on #VansBookClub

 

Wenceslas Bruciaga
#VansBookClub
Originally posted in Spanish
September 11th, 2017


Q: Henry, your tattoos are famous around here.
I've seen a number of people with Black Flag tattoos ... What if like a fifteen-year-old girl got (The Bars) tattooed on forehead? How would you feel about that?

 

A: Cool. Give her a knife, giver her some acid, point her westawrd and say "Kill, kill !!!"

In the firmament of the punk, very probably only a design has managed to surpass the delivery and devotion of the famous A of anarchy inside a circle with satanic stroke, to such a degree to become one of the most popular tattoos: the four vertical bars and black, dazed and untidy, logo logo of the parents of hardcore punk in its most salty and painful version, Black Flag.

 

Yes, again, Black Flag. Because it is the band that most embodies what punk should always be. Because his ideology is more than music and moshpit.

And because yes and simply: we love it.

A logo that was born almost at the same time that the band changed its name from Panic to Black Flag:

"... (Greg) Ginn asked his little brother, a certain Raymond Pettibon, to make the cover, a disturbing ink illustration of a teacher driving away a student with a chair, as if he were a lion tamer. A few months before, they had discovered that another group was also called Panic. Pettibon suggested Black Flag and designed a logo for the band, a stylized waving flag composed of four vertical black rectangles. If a white flag means surrender, it was evident that it meant a black flag; the black flag is also the recognized symbol of anarchy, not to mention the traditional emblem of pirates; He also reminisced a little about his heroes, Black Sabbath. Logically, the fact that Black Flag was also a popular insecticide did not hurt either, " says Michael Azerrad in his book Our band could be your life .

As Black Flag became a living legend, and unlike many of the bands that shaped the punk, they led the radicality of their ideology to the limits of self-terrorism and incomprehension almost inadmissible, absurd, as when they let their hair grow to the hippie or metalhead just to annoy the skinheads and racist faces that began to attend their plays, the famous bars of Black Flag were transformed from a simple graphic record to an effigy that represents a turning point in the private ideologies of many people who see in Black Flag a hotbed of honesty and their own thoughts, an angry clap on the back that encourages them not to be afraid of dissidence, defects, contradictions, whatever the cost.

"When you see that someone has the same Black Flag bars as you, you know you're not alone in this world, despite the differences" Brian Sokel, pornographer.

The mentioned originality is an overvalued longing. A few are tattooed the singo of infinity, a diamond, a Virgin of Guadalupe or a SpongeBob. Then, hundreds follow that route: the camouflage becomes condemnation. They have taught us that when certain tastes, things or fetishes become popular, their aesthetic and ideological surplus value simply points to a devaluation, to a mortal devaluation, it becomes rabble and the rabble takes away any spark of feeling exclusive. Exclusivity is the thirst for insecurity more clumsy according to any sucker.

"Having the Black Flag bars puts me in a tribe of people with a passion for music and a passion for non-conformity " Dan K, installer of solar panels.

How would you take a book with pictures of people with a Demon of Tazmania tattooed in some corner of their extremities? Would it generate empathy or feel like a fraud, like when you see someone put on the same thing as you at a concert or a party?

"If I see someone in the street, a complete stranger, but with the four bars of Black Flag, the same ones that I have, the most likely is that I approach to talk to you" Danielle Lafore, social worker and waitress.

The more black bars are tattooed Black Flag, its meaning is strengthened and its ideological value and why not sentimental, it shoots to religious levels.

Why do people with the Black Flag tattoo increase without fear of getting lost in the rabble?

"Apart from being a Black Flag badge, I think these bars are a symbol of the idea that I try to live, go my own way and do what I want" Kevin Stewart, bicycle messenger.

 

A possible answer is found in the pages of Barred for life , a book of photographs of light heavyweight category that only captures tattoos of Black Flag bars as a starting point for hundreds of variables. It emerged as a joke, when its author, Stewart Dean Ebersole, a geologist, builder, designer and photographer, tattooed Black Flag bars in the vicinity of his ankle in a suburban studio in Columbus, Ohio. One of his friends said something like: "One more bastard who is tattooed Black Flag bars." It was true, as it was true that he never stopped to think that he would not be the first or the last to tattoo the Black Flag bars and that it did not matter to join the crowd that marks those four bars painfully and forever.

Barred for life is not only the photographic record of hundreds of people proudly showing off their Black Flag tattoo: "All the ideas and texts, except the long interviews and the photographic captures, are my interpretation of the myth about that band called Black Flag and that thing called punk rock, which conspired completely to change the way I understood the world, Black Flag changed the world enormously of many people, but at that point, I can not write a whole essay without starting from my own story and personal experiences "says Ebersole in the prologue.

Experience that becomes a lengthy essay on the impact of Black Flag through its discography, its iconic advertising, tours, attitude and accompanying the photographic catalog of people who proudly show off their bar tattoo.

The photographs, taken by Ebersole and the crowd that gave him a cheek in that Ohio studio (Jared Castaldi, Matt Smith and Todd Barmann) are cataloged by Name, Home of residence (which in turn trace a route that starts in NY passing through Canada and the center of the United States in the direction of the West Coast and ends in California with special stops in England, France and Italy), Occupation, favorite Singer and Favorite Song of Black Flag and a phrase that explains the reason why Those four bars were tattooed:

"The bars may look like a simple logo, but they also represent the idea that all you need to record a record and go on tour is the desire to do it" Steve Curtis, Musician.

 

In addition to the photographs, the book starts each chapter with extensive interviews with Dez Cadena, Glen E. Friedman, Ron Reyes, Keith Morris, Rick Spellman, Chuck Dukowski, Kira Roessler and Edward Colver. Henry Rollins is conspicuous by his absence.

 

This visual jewel combines the editorial design of the art books with the spirit of the fanzine in proud black and white and can be obtained for US $ 25 directly in the publishing house that was published by PM Press.

 

PS: Many of the participants, as well as proud Black Flag tattoo bearers, are proud carriers of Vans.

 

Buy book now | Buy e-Book now | Back to Stewart Dean Ebersole's Author Page




"(Black and White) is a book that should be in every home, school, community center and library."

By Karen Lee Wald
Cuba Inside Out
November 2017

A Review of BLACK AND WHITE --photos by Howard Epstein from the archives of Liberation News Service 1968-1974


The photos in this book are stunning, both for their quality and content. But as important as that is, there's more: the book tells a story of the times, of the people and institutions of those times. It reminds us of Liberation News Service, a collective of people in New York and writers (including myself) and photographers scattered around the country, committed to telling the world about the movement for peace and social justice. And not just individuals, but collectives who put out newspapers -- daily, weekly, monthly-- all around the country too. As Ken Light, a member of the LNS collective in NY comments in his foreword to the book, "If you weren't around in the '60s, you probably never heard of The Great Speckled Bird, The Old Mole, The Chicago Seed, The L.A. Free Press, The Berkeley Barb, The Guardian, The Austin Rag, Akwesasne Notes, Off Our Backs, Space City, and the Black Panther News, or maybe not even Liberation News Service".

And he's right, but that's not by accident. In a time before email and internet, mimeographed or printed packets of articles and photos were mailed out to these and other media in what was known as "the underground press". And the reason those who came later may not have heard of them (much less seen them) is that there was an organized (and sadly effective) effort on the part of the US government to wipe out what it saw as a very real threat to its control over what people read, knew and did in those turbulent times. It was, if I may, the COINTELPRO of the media. And just as surely as the FBI's Counter Intelligence Program decimated and eventually completely wiped out many of its targets of the Black, Brown and Native American Left, the program also succeeded, through many devious means, in wiping out most of the alternative press in this country. Until the internet, that is........


So it is more than just the very moving and revealing images in the black and white photos of this book that makes it important: it's a history lesson, both of the determined movements to oppose war and racism and so many other evils of an oppressive capitalist and imperialist system, and of the people who worked tirelessly to let the world know about them.

Having said that, the pictures themselves do tell a story --or many stories. The most obvious is that the violence (both threatened and real) is apparent when you see the heavily armed and aggressive stance of the repressive forces (police or military) arrayed against demonstrators who are asking for peace. And the photos don't leave you wondering whether their menacing stance was acted upon: you see in the photos that it was, as demonstrators are beaten bloody right in front of the camera.


Howard Epstein (or Howie as we always knew him then) gets up close and in their faces -- so that we see the facial expressions of both the demonstrators and the police/soldiers - expressions that each tell their own stories.  I found myself wondering how he got SO close -- and also, when looking at a photo of a policeman aiming his club menacingly at a photographer, I realized how really dangerous it was to be in that place, taking those pictures.....

While the pictures are all from the 60s and 70s, they do more than just remind us of a history which hopefully will be passed on to our grandchildren and future generations, although that in itself is important as our history is constantly being rewritten by those who control the media. They are also a reflection of what is going on today, sometimes over new issues and, more scarily, sometimes still over the same ones.

It's a book that should be in every home, school, community center and library.


Buy book now | Buy e-Book now | Back to Howard Epstein's Page | Back to Grendl Löfkvist's Page




New York's Black Panthers, a Legacy

By Ron Jacobs
CounterPunch
November 13th, 2017

Photo by joey zanotti | CC BY 2.0

The indictment and trial of the New York “Panther 21” was an attempt by several elements of the US police state apparatus to destroy the Black Panther Party.  Despite the fact that none of the charges stuck, one could argue that the attempt was successful.  By the time the trials were over, there was no Black Panther chapter in New York City and the national organization was in a downward spiral.  Of course, the New York 21 trial was only one aspect of the attack on the Party; others included police murders of party members, numerous other trials on fabricated charges, police infiltration of the party, and other forms of activity too numerous to recall.  All of this law enforcement action was part of the national operation coordinated by the FBI known as COINTELPRO.  The original indictments were handed down on April 2, 1969.  Police raids took place across Manhattan and Brooklyn.  Most of those on the indictments were arrested that day and the next.  Some members were able to disappear underground.  The trial ended on May 12, 1971.  All of those charged were acquitted on all 156 charges.  The jury only took a few hours to reject the prosecution’s charges.

A collective biography of the defendants in the case titled Look for Me in the Whirlwind was published in 1971.  Borrowing its title from a speech by the Pan-African nationalist Marcus Garvey, it was available for a short time during that period.  I recall seeing it for the first time in a bookstore in downtown Frankfurt am Main.  A friend who was recently discharged from the Army and in the Panthers lent me his copy so we could discuss it in the “study” sessions we had in a city park.  Read together with Huey Newton’s Revolutonary Suicide and Bobby Seale’s Seize the Time, the text rounded out a reading list that took books like Claude Brown’s Manchild in the Promised Land and Richard Wright’s Native Son and moved them into a hyperpolitical space.

Recently, PM Press took the original text of Look for Me in the Whirlwind and added some more recent articles, poems and reflections written by a few of the original defendants and their supporters.  Titled Look for Me in the Whirlwind: From the Panther 21 to 21st-Century Revolutions, this book is both an essential piece of history and a call to reinvigorate the movement for Black liberation and free those still imprisoned as part of the COINTELPRO operation four decades ago.  Perhaps the most striking (and distressing) aspect of the additions to the original text is the fact that the struggles of the late 1960s and early 1970s are so similar to the struggles of today.  Then again, given the history of the United States, maybe it isn’t so striking after all.

Essentially an oral history, the original text tells the story of a group of Black women and men in the United States and their struggle for freedom and justice for themselves and their people. As the stories progress, the reader is presented with police brutality, urban poverty, the life of struggle and the hustler’s life.  More importantly, though, is the stream of an expanding political consciousness experienced by all the Panthers involved.  This tale is testimony to the times, the work of the Black Panther Party and other revolutionaries and the audacious determination of the individuals to free themselves from their ecnomic and political oppression.

While I was reading this edition of Look For Me in the Whirlwind, a friend and I had a discussion about Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison and the question that some historians consider to be what placed them at odds.  This question revolved around whether the Constitution was a slaver document and therefore needed to be replaced, since the end of slavery was not possible as long as the Constitution was written the way it was.  In a rather synchronistic manner, Look For Me in the Whirlwind ends with a letter to the judge who presided over the trial of the 21 deatiling how the Constitution was not just a document that upheld slavery but that is designed to uphold the racist reality of the United States.

Graced with a cover that features the artwork of Black Panther artist Emory Douglas and a design by the modern day graphic artist Josh McPhee, this book is nicely edited by political activists déqui kioni-sadiki and Matt Meyer.  It includes writings by several Panther members and is by its very existence a reminder of the Black Panther Party’s continued relevance in a world where white supremacists still control much more than just the conversation.  It is also a call to work for the freedom of those Panthers and allied political prisoners still in prison.  Look for Me in the Whirlwind reminds the reader that in a racist nation, political action fighting that racism is often criminalized. Reading this book is one of the better written efforts in pointing out that it’s the system of white supremacy that is criminal, not the people fighting it.

Buy book now | Buy e-Book now | Back to Sekou Odinga's Page | Back to Dhoruba Bin Wahad's Page | Back to Jamal Joseph's Page | Back to Matt Meyer's Page | Back to déqui kioni-sadiki's Page




Get Your Gift in Time

2017 USPS Shipping Deadlines

:::Domestic U.S.::: 

To ensure package arrival within the continental U.S., please order by the following dates:

Standard Mail: December 10th
Priority Mail:
 December 19th

Priority Mail express service:
 December 20th



:::International:::

To ensure package arrival for International shipping please order by the below dates:

First-Class or Priority Mail International: 
December 1st
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December 6th 

Global Express Guaranteed Service:
 
December 18th





If you have any questions regarding these deadlines, email info@pmpress.org.




Against Doom: A Review in Friends Journal

by Steve Chase
Friends Journal
November 1st, 2017

...Another book that offers a positive and smart take on the challenges we face is Jeremy Brecher’s Against Doom: A Climate Insurgency Manual. It also argues that we can work with our neighbors and engage in effective and strategic action—in this case, to limit catastrophic climate change and transition to a just and climate-safe world.

Brecher starts his very first chapter, “This Is What Insurgency Looks Like,” by describing a church-based planning meeting for a nonviolent civil resistance action by residents and supporters of a predominantly low-income, African American neighborhood in Albany, N.Y. As Brecher writes, “They were organizing a protest against trains carrying potentially explosive oil—dubbed by the residents ‘bomb trains’—that were running through their neighborhood.” This action was part of 350.org’s May 2016 “Break Free from Fossil Fuels” civil disobedience campaign that involved hundreds of thousands of people on six continents nonviolently interfering with key elements of the fossil fuels industry in their communities in the space of one week.

The Albany action was not an ultra-leftist affair using a “diversity of tactics,” which is just a term used by self-righteous “radicals” to market feel-good but unstrategic violence. Instead, the action was populist, well-organized, and very disciplined. As Brecher notes, “Participants agreed ‘not to harm people or property;’ to be ‘dignified in dress, demeanor, and language;’ to attend action training; and to act ‘in accordance with the group’s agreed plan for action.’” Their particular action included 1,500 people marching to the train tracks for a spirited celebration of their democratic right to protect their community from harm. Then 500 of them put their bodies on the line to “illegally” blockade the train tracks so no “bomb trains” would pass through their community—or the communities of others.

I put “illegally” in quotes because the participants did not see themselves as criminals. They saw themselves as the people in their community who were willing to defend the law. As Brecher reports, many climate insurgents “have begun to define themselves—to the movement, the public, and the courts—not as criminals, but as law enforcers trying to protect legal rights and halt governments and corporations from committing the greatest crime in human history.”

This is an important reframing because one of the main barriers keeping many “climate worriers” from becoming bold and creative “climate warriors” is their deep-seated self-images as respectable, law abiding citizens who do not engage in improper behavior. If you are like me, you have probably heard many Quakers say, “I could never take part in civil disobedience or risk arrest.” You may have even said it yourself.

Yet what if this version of being “law abiding” is just an unfaithful, inaccurate, and unhelpful way to look at our situation? What if by not taking part in nonviolent civil resistance and just staying passive—or even staying completely locked into the domesticated and rigged “normal channels” of elections, lobbying, and litigation—we are aiding and abetting government and corporate crimes against humanity, the public trust, and the planet?

I wish I had the space to describe in much more depth Brecher’s thoughtful discussions. He describes his view of the public trust doctrine, his vision of a just transition, and the value of building alternative institutions. He spells out his theory of change for a nonviolent global climate insurgency, and how we can involve more people in extended climate insurgency campaigns and increase their effectiveness. He describes how an organized civil resistance movement can effectively undermine the pillars of support for government and corporate climate criminals over time. This occurs when more and more of us follow Gandhi’s path and collectively “withdraw our acquiescence and cooperation from those who are destroying our planet.”

As a Quaker activist and someone who works for the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict, which promotes the study and use of nonviolent civil resistance in social movements, I heartily recommend reading and discussing Brecher’s important new book. Both of these books remind us that there is a world to win and that what we choose to do matters.



Buy book now | Download e-book now | Back to Jeremy Brecher Author Page




A Review of Unfree Labour?: Struggles of Migrant and Immigrant Works in Canada

unfree

By Sarah Marsden
BC Studies


Canada has a long history of reliance on the labour of both permanent immigrants and migrant workers. In recent decades, the number of migrant workers entering Canada has increased significantly relative to permanent immigrants.

A core component of Canada's policy on migrant labour is to restrict the labour mobility of migrant workers; in many cases, they are only permitted to work for the employer who has obtained permission to hire them, and only in the specific job for which they were hired. Many migrant workers thus cannot circulate freely in the labour market as permanent residents and Canadian citizens can, which leads to a heightened power differential between migrant workers and their employers. These workers' vulnerability to abuse and exploitation at worksites is well-documented, as is their social and economic marginalization. Drawing on the Marxist concept of unfree labour, the collection in Unfree Labour offers analytical and practical responses to the subordination of immigrant and migrant workers in Canada in the context of domestic and globalized neoliberal policy. As a whole, the work acknowledges structural causes of these workers' subordination and emphasizes local sites of organization and resistance and their potential for material change in workers' conditions. The volume's contributors are scholars and/or frontline activists.

The collection emphasizes migrant workers, rather than immigrant workers, but many analytical components are applicable to immigrant workers as well; some, such as Polanco's chapter on fast food work, touch directly on the interests of immigrant workers.

Most of the essays in Unfree Labour consider specific labour segments in which migrant labour is prevalent. Mark Thomas demonstrates the role of the state in reproducing modern forms of unfree labour through the example of Canada's Seasonal Agricultural Worker program. Adriana Paz Ramirez and Jennifer Jihye Chun provide a historical perspective on migrant farmworker organizing and emphasize the need to call out migrant farmworker programs as a form of racial apartheid and to consider multi-faceted organizing approaches. Chris Ramsaroop critiques Canada's failure to provide Employment Insurance benefits to migrant farmworkers, and takes issue with organized labour’s advocacy in this area, arguing that transnationalism provides an alternative frame for the distribution of benefits. In the context of domestic workers, Jah-Hon Koo and Jill Hanley draw on empirical work to document workers' resistance strategies and to implicate the state's requirement of private sphere worksites as a barrier to effective labour organizing. Geraldina Polanco considers the use of migrant labour in fast food services, drawing on fieldwork to highlight the devaluing impact of foreign work programs on vulnerable domestic workers and emphasizing the need to organize domestic and migrant workers alongside each other.The remaining chapters deal with grassroots and policy responses to migrant worker struggles.

Calugay, Malhaire, and Shragge emphasize the importance of understanding structural factors in workers' countries of origin as well as developing trusting relationships and organizing across ethno-cultural lines. Calugay, et al., elaborate on the material and political challenges of organizing workers and the importance of organizing across cultural communities, building relationships, and utilizing both legal and extralegal strategies. In terms of more policy-based responses, Abigail Bakan offers a critique of federal employment equity law based on its ineffectiveness in dealing with embedded forms of systemic discrimination such as those inherent in the live-in caregiver program. Sedef Arat-Koç situates Canada's foreign work programs in the context of neoliberal policy and labour market restructuring, framing the migrant work program not only as a source of cheap labour, but as a subsidy for Canada's welfare state. She argues that to respond meaningfully to migrant workers' struggles, it is necessary to overcome romanticized nationalist narratives and make oppositional politics more explicit. Two chapters (Paz Ramirez and Chun, and Polanco) draw on fieldwork and organizing experience with migrant worker groups in British Columbia, specifically with regard to the agriculture and fast food industries. As a whole, this collection addresses the impact of national policy and organizing methods, which bear directly on the situation of migrant workers in British Columbia, whose labour market engagement and barriers to equality are closely analogous to those evident in Ontario and Quebec (the focus of several chapters).

This collection is significant in its contribution to labour migration studies. It includes multiple empirical pieces in which critiques of law and policy draw directly on interviews with migrant workers. It also contributes theoretically, elucidating critical relationships between Canada's labour migration policies and transnational relations, considering the potential of grassroots organizing, and problematizing the relationship between migrant workers' struggles and the “traditional” (white, union-based) labour movement, particularly in terms of its failure to adequately contest racism.  Its greatest strength, however, lies in the grounding of its analysis in the insights of organizers and activist-scholars directly involved with the material struggles of migrant workers. This work will be of interest to advocates, scholars, and activists involved with migrant workers. It will also appeal to those interested in critical perspectives on labour in the new economy, and to anyone who wishes to consider strategies to resist the subordination of migrant workers in Canada.


Buy book now | Buy e-Book now | Return to Aziz Choudry's Editor Page | Return to Adrian A. Smith's Editor Page




The Colorado River Has Its Own Lawyer Now

By Marian Conway
Non-Profit Quarterly
October 18th, 2017

October 16, 2017; Las Vegas Sun

The Colorado River, mighty enough to have helped carve the Grand Canyon, starts in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado and flows for 1,450 miles through Utah, Arizona, Nevada, California, and Baja California on its way south to Mexico. Advocates have now given the river voice and have asked the federal district court to designate the river as a person with legal standing.

Environmental advocates are speaking up for the Colorado River to protect it as a natural resource, giving it actual rights to “exist, flourish, regenerate, be restored, and naturally evolve.” A nonprofit, the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF), is the advisor on a lawsuit against Colorado’s governor. The organization, founded in 1995, has a working budget of about $800,000 and aims through legal processes to build sustainable communities recognizing “the rights of people, communities and nature.” CELDF worked on the successful policies in Ecuador, Tamaqua Borough, and others.

“Climate change is presenting itself in full force,” CELDF executive director Thomas Linzey says. “People are beginning to understand that environmental law is falling short. Something new is needed.…This emerging system is about recognizing that ecosystems need to be protected in the plenary sense—not just to benefit humans.”

The river is represented by Colorado civil rights lawyer Jason Flores-Williams, known for a class-action lawsuit for the homeless in Denver. The river also has a “next friend,” an advocate for a plaintiff who cannot speak for themselves, in the activist organization Deep Green Resistance.

Linzey says, “Ten years ago, when we talked about rights of nature, [people] used to laugh. Now, it’s not a funny concept. There is a shift happening.” There’s also precedent, Linzey adds.

Personhood for nonhuman entities already exists in the United States in the form of corporate personhood. At its most basic level, the designation is what allows a business (as opposed to its owners) to enter contracts or sue. On a larger scale, it’s what prohibits the government from taking goods produced by private businesses without just compensation, a right established for citizens by the Fifth Amendment. It was also the grounds for the landmark Citizens United case, which gave corporations, nonprofits, labor unions and other associations the right to make certain political expenditures. That right is protected for people through the freedom of speech clause within the First Amendment.

Will Falk, an attorney and the designated “next friend” from Deep Green Resistance, believes that ecological problems are overlooked in the fallout of the instituting of corporate personhood. “(These) need to be addressed for the natural world to have a chance,” he says.

Falk explains that if courts or lawmakers wanted to adopt significant environmental protections for the Colorado or adjust its water allocation to help revive a place currently struggling because it doesn’t receive enough water, a corporation could sue the government and cite lost profits as proof of suffering. Courts would consider the plaintiff’s argument as well as that of the government and affected third parties. But missing from that conversation would be what is best for the river.

“At the very least, if corporations have personhood, then the ecosystems that have sustained life deserve it,” Falk says. “It’s a way for American courts to respond to the urgency of the current environmental situation.” A commonality in the personhood for nature lawsuits is that any damages are returned to the environment for repair.

While the Colorado is the first river in the US to seek personhood rights, it’s not the first river in the world where advocates have made that claim. And advocates are starting to succeed. In India, the Ganga and Yamuna rivers were granted personhood rights earlier this year, and after fighting for 170 years, the Whanganui River (Te Awa Tupua) in New Zealand was also awarded the designation. Also, some regions have ordinances in place for nature as a whole. Tamaqua Borough in Pennsylvania’s coal region was the first US municipality to identify the environment’s legal rights in an effort to protect nature from coal sludge pollution. Since the 2006 ruling, Pittsburgh and almost 40 other municipalities have put similar decrees in place. Ecuador included rights for nature in their constitution when it was written in 2008, hoping to reverse damage done to the Amazon rainforest and its indigenous people by oil companies. In the nine years since, at least one Ecuadorian river has won a lawsuit.

The first hearing for the Colorado River is scheduled for November 14th. The river’s advocates will be present.—Marian Conway


Buy book now | Buy e-Book now | Back to Thomas Linzey's Editor Page


How Do We Make a Better World? A Q&A With 'The Future Generation' Author China Martens

By Victoria Law
Rewire
October 18th, 2017


The first to examine parenting in radical and punk subcultures, The Future Generation went on to become the longest-running parenting zine in the United States.

In 1990, China Martens was a young mother who felt the anarchist concepts of mutual aid and support weren’t being extended to her and other parents in punk and radical left subcultures. In an age before the internet, she began publishing The Future Generation: A Zine for Subculture Parents, Kids, Friends and Others to express herself, share ideas, and create community. The first to examine parenting in radical and punk subcultures, The Future Generation went on to become the longest-running parenting zine in the United States.

Her early issues were old-fashioned cut-and-paste, with typewritten and sometimes handwritten entries interspersed with collages, magazine cut-outs, photos, drawings, and photo-booth strips. Later issues reflected the graphic design skills she learned as part of her post-welfare employment plans. Martens chronicled the events of her daughter growing and their lives changing—such as dealing with infant colic, raising a toddler among punks, and the demoralizing experience of being pushed off her social safety net as part of welfare “reform.” While the zine was often centered on her own voice, she occasionally included reflection letters from other punk parents, excerpts from books and publications like On Our Backs, and even an unfinished ghost story by her fifth-grade neighbor.

In 2007, Martens published an anthology of The Future Generation, covering 16 years of her daughter’s life—from infancy to teens. Ten years later, Martens is out with the tenth-anniversary edition of the anthology with an afterword written by her daughter, now in her late 20s.

In between those two editions, she and I formulated a series of workshops titled “Don’t Leave Your Friends Behind”—practical discussions and workshops for activists and organizers about how to support parents and children in their movements. We presented these workshops at conferences and gatherings across the country; agitated for (and, in Martens’ case, organized) child care; and, in 2012, compiled the experiences of parents, children and caregivers into an anthology by that same name.

Rewire sat down with Martens to talk about parenting, children, and surviving the current political climate.

Rewire: It’s been 27 years since you first began putting out The Future Generation and ten years since you came out with the anthology. What’s changed since those years for radical families? Do you think there’s more support for parents and children now than there was in 1990 or even in 2007?

China Martens: Every person who becomes a parent gets hit with [the sense of being overwhelmed and isolated] fresh all over again. There’s somebody just starting, finding themselves totally isolated, and things aren’t working for them and they’re shocked. There’s a whole process that you go through anew. And the whole political climate—it’s getting harder than ever. Everything we feared and talked about could happen. In some ways, I feel like it’s the same thing, just magnified. There are more resources on the internet, but again, it depends on whether you have access. Conversations are expanding, but not everybody can get to the conversation.

Things that are discussed online—how we discuss rape culture, Black Lives Matter, uprising—in some ways, it’s like the ‘60s or the ‘70s. We’re getting back to having those really core conversations about racism and representation, but the physical realities of the time that we’re living in—your housing and your food and amount of safety that you feel and the amount of stress that you’re under just to survive—mean you don’t always have the head space to talk about these things.

The roots of my zine were me asking, “Would you like a better world? How is it you’re going to make a better world?” I was trying to carve out space for myself as a writer and a human being.  

Rewire: We started presenting “Don’t Leave Your Friends Behind” workshops in 2006, when you were just starting to put your book together. Looking back, how do you think going through your life—and raising a child—influenced how you shaped “Don’t Leave Your Friends Behind?”

CM: That influenced everything. I could remember the ways in which I had been left behind and the importance of support. Parenting as a revolutionary activity doesn’t happen in a vacuum. For me, as a single mom and as a low-income single mom, what I needed was more support like babysitting. For somebody else, they might want to have the support to be with their child. Maybe they couldn’t be with their child because they had to work or live in a different state away from their child. That’s what we learned with “Don’t Leave Your Friends Behind”—everybody needs support in different ways.

I wanted to help build support for caregivers and children—with the whole community, especially those without children of their own, and younger active energetic folks—seeing how important community support makes a difference in radical parents’ and children’s lives. Since I then had “free hands” because my daughter was grown, I wanted to contribute to others’ lives, in the ways I knew that were important from my own life.

We started by sharing our own stories and facilitating group discussions with others about their experiences: what they didn’t have, what they needed to build the support that we knew we needed. We learned a lot by listening and asking others for their input. And we thought of “Don’t Leave Your Friends Behind” as a continuing conversation that others can have in their own communities and movements.

I was involved with radical child care for a long time after that, trying to create an infrastructure so that we could take care of each other and create a supportive way so, whatever the situation was, that community could support the children and parents. Again, it’s not a model of one person, one overstressed babysitter.

Rewire: In an early issue of The Future Generation, you wrote, “There was a vacuum in the subculture where issues about children simply didn’t exist while The State was fully prepared—with its social workers, public indoctrination and other mechanisms—to take over.” Can you talk more about how this played out in your life? And how have you seen this change (or not change) over the past ten years?

CM: When I had my daughter in 1988, not many punks had kids. It was almost an oxymoron. A punk with a kid? An anarchist and a parent? You can exchange this with other categories as well I have seen others write about in the 1980s—having a mixed identity or being a mother and also a writer, or a revolutionary, a Chicana, and a lesbian. I do feel like we have more discussions these days about our identities and how different aspects of ourselves all make up the whole person. We are still having these conversations! After all, discovering yourself is always an ongoing process.

But even as the Insane Clown Posse protested last month, we have seen that parents have problems with having their children taken away from them for an affiliation with this band that’s been classified a gang—or what’s now being called [by some reproductive justice advocates] “The New Jane Crow,” which has been going on for some time, the criminalization of mothers of color.

When I was a young parent, there was less literature on the subject. Pop culture had different mothering tropes that set impossible standards on what a mother could be. Feminist publications at the time rarely included any issues about children, often coming from a middle-class, white, pro-choice standard where the problem [of how to care for children] could be solved with hiring a nanny and a housekeeper. In general, the perceived powerlessness, the overburdened and underrespected role of what it meant to be a “good” (and often white, middle class, heterosexual, Western, married) mother was something that young middle-class white feminist culture was rejecting. Those who addressed children’s issues or “family values” were often more conservative, punitive, or enforcing the status quo—such as the choice between public school or private school, Disneyland or happy meals.

Now there are more conversations [about how to both be radical and a mother]. But it would require a change in the system of power, to create the kind of equity we need, to actually respect mothers and other marginalized workers.

Rewire: In a later zine, you describe the experience of being pushed off welfare under President Bill Clinton’s “welfare reform.” The cover is a photo of you as a pin-up girl with the caption “Welfare mothers make better lovers.” We don’t often hear the voices of people who were on—or thrown off—welfare.

CM: I’m not trying to make a commentary on welfare. It was more like, “I am on welfare and I am talking about my life.” And you’re not supposed to be talking about your life. You’re supposed to be ashamed: Somehow your opinions aren’t valid.

You’d see it in the newspaper, like “welfare reform is doing great!” In my experience, at that point, I felt really frustrated in my life and I didn’t have job skills or ways to get money, and the only way I could do that was to go to college for something practical, like a trade. So I went to college to be a nurse. I had no interest in nursing, but it was a practical thing to get us out of poverty. That was when welfare reform came. My experience was getting a letter, coming into welfare—and you’d have to sign away different things like they could come to inspect your house or if you had another kid, you’d lose benefits. You’d wait in line for hours and hours and hours and look at all the people around you who really needed support, like grandparents or people with disabilities. Then you’d get to the top of the line and the person would tell you, “Well, welfare is gone. No more welfare.”

I told them, “I’m in school. I’m getting all A’s. I’m trying to get a job” and they’d say, “No, don’t do that. Drop out of school. Get a job. Welfare is over.”

Seeing the difference between what’s in your life and what’s being reported: that was the purpose of the zine.

Rewire: When your daughter was a preteen, you had to move in with your grandma in the suburbs because you weren’t getting the supports that you two needed. What did you need? How could the subculture and people around you have provided support?

CM: There was no place for us to grow. We needed jobs and learning spaces, community spaces, homes, and options that, as a bohemian low-income single mother, I was not finding. I started writing The Future Generation as a bold, fired-up radical. But by that time in my life—when my daughter was 10—I felt just like a regular poor person and very isolated. It sucked. And it happens. There will be times in life we need to reinvent ourselves and we need support, real-life support from others, whether they are ideologically aligned or not. Sometimes grandmothers can be our best support at these times if we are lucky.

I guess if there were places of employment for me, or more “alternative” parents, it would be better. At the same time, it seems these issues are timeless. Everyone starts over and encounters problems along the way in changing your parenting practices, outside of the ones you were brought up with, in trying to change the world, and keeping your own personality and desires as well as growing in your role as a parent. It’s going to be a struggle. Some have it better, some have it worse, but in this country right now, it’s a real struggle. Especially if you are poor, a single mother, a parent of color, or part of some other marginalized groups. Mothers are under attack.

Rewire: What are you hoping that people take away from your book?

CM: How do we make a better world? How do we do that with the choices we have today? I hope the book will inspire hope, and share some stories, and make people feel less alone and expand possibilities.

I’m still angry. I still want better. I’m not going to lie—things are hard. But we are here and looking for solutions and fighting for a future, part of a legacy, not alone. And that’s what The Future Generation was always about: expressing myself and trying to connect with others about real life issues as well as ideals and theories.

We need to be fighting for generations. I hope we get that chance, but, regardless, our lives are the good fight. We want beauty now. As far as how to make it better—change everything. You have to start somewhere. And that is always what the discussion is about …. to start, to continue, and to win.

This interview has been condensed and lightly edited for clarity.

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