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PM Hits 100

Publishers Weekly
By Judith Rosen
Volume 257 Issue 40
Oct 11, 2010

Despite a rather inauspicious start—right at the beginning of the Great Recession in late 2007—less than three years later PM Press, in Oakland, Calif., has published more than 110 items, including 80 books, and pamphlets, CDs, DVDs, digital downloads, and other merchandise. The indie press also paid off the $50,000 in credit card charges it racked up in startup and printing costs.

True, the warehouse is still in shipper Dan Fedorenko’s apartment, but founders Ramsey Kanaan, who founded AK Press (named for his mother, Ann Kanaan) 25 years ago, and Craig O’Hara, who worked with Kanaan at AK, are now getting paid. Most of the staff is volunteer. Not bad for a press that relies on setting up tables and booths at the West Virginia Book Festival in Charleston; the Green Festival in Washington, D.C.; and the Teachers for Social Justice Conference in San Francisco, as well as selling print and audio/visual PM memberships, and nontrade distribution by AK for more than half its income. Two-thirds of PM’s unit sales and 40% of its income come via Independent Publishers Group, which represents the press—which took its name from the fact that its founders worked on it at night as their second job—to the trade.

To grow its list, PM forged strong relationships with bookstores early on and created imprints for a few, including Busboys and Poets in the Greater Washington, D.C., area; the Green Arcade Bookstore in San Francisco; and Reach & Teach, which opened a retail outlet, the Dove & Olive Works, in San Mateo, Calif., at the end of September. The press also has copublishing arrangements with micropresses like vegan publisher Tofu Hound Press and Derek Jensen’s Flashpoint Press.

“Our strategy is to do enough books that sell between 1,000 and 3,000 copies,” says O’Hara, adding that the press does both print and e-books. “My opinion has long been, if there’s a format to make it available in, we’ll do it.” He also attributes PM’s fast start to a willingness to take the time to make consumers aware of each book. “We constantly do events,” he says. “I have to be out there tabling, from the Brooklyn Book Fair to social forums. There’s no substitute. You can see a direct result when you’re interacting with the world. All the e-mails in the world can’t elaborate the status of PM Press.” Last year alone PM did 400 events and is on track for several hundred again this year.

While PM has almost no returns on its direct to consumer sales, it has relatively few in the trade either, approximately 14%. In this economy, neither O’Hara nor Kanaan is inclined to overprint or have IPG oversell. It launched its biggest book this fall, Teun Voeten’s Tunnel People (Oct.), about homeless New Yorkers who live in the city’s tunnel system, with a 5,000-copy first printing. The photo-journalist author will tour both coasts and Europe, where photo exhibits will run in Amsterdam and London.

Given the economy, O’Hara prefers to keep print runs low and is just as happy that mega-retailers like Barnes & Noble don’t want to order PM’s books in large quantities. Independent booksellers who support PM’s strong left-leaning political and economic lists have been equally realistic when it comes to ordering.

As far as IPG trade sales manager Jeff Palicki is concerned, “PM’s books fit really well with some of the books we do with Chicago Review Press. It’s certainly been a lot of fun to sell their books. They seem to be perfect for the independent market.” IPG has done especially well with PM’s vegan titles like Tofu Hound founders Bob Torres and Jenna Torres’s Vegan Freak (Jan. 2010), as well as its opposite, ex-vegan Lierre Keith’s The Vegetarian Myth (2009), which questions whether a vegan diet can save the planet. The latter is PM’s bestseller, with more than 10,000 copies sold.

By splitting off from AK, which publishes only anarchist books and is run as a true collective, PM has a lot more flexibility with the quantity and range of what it publishes, says O’Hara. PM’s niche may be radical politics, radical music, and radical cookbooks, but the publisher has also developed a strong fiction list, which ranges from Jensen’s Songs of the Dead (2009) to works in translation like Paco Ignacio Taibo II’s Calling All Heroes (July). Currently, PM publishes 25 books a season, including e-book–only releases like a compilation of Al Burian’s zine, Burn Collector (Oct.). “We get a lot of submissions,” says O’Hara. “There’s no substitute for that. I encourage a lot of people to submit.”

However, with all the books PM has published, Fedorenko’s apartment is starting to run out of space. On PM’s agenda for 2011 is raising funds for a real warehouse.

Help us hit our next 100 | Back to homepage

Hardboiled for Hard Times Tour Listings

Hardboiled for Hard Times: four authors from PM's Switchblade series--Summer Brenner, Benjamin Whitmer, Gary Phillips, and Michael Harris--for readings and discussion of crime fiction today.




Tour Dates Below:

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010:

Kim Stanley Robinson
Terry Bisson
Gary Phillips

Thursday, October 14th, 2010:
Gary Phillips
Summer Brenner
Benjamin Whitmer
Michael Harris
The Green Arcade

Friday, October 15th, 2010:
Lars Mars and His Men
Jim Nisbet
Sin Soracco
The Green Arcade

Saturday, October 16th, 2010:
Gary Phillips
Summer Brenner
Benjamin Whitmer
Michael Harris
Kenneth Wishnia
Pegasus Books Downtown

Monday, October 18th, 2010:
Benjamin Whitmer
Michael Harris
Jim Nisbet
Owen Hill
Summer Brenner
Moe's Books

Tuesday October 19th, 2010:
Benjamin Whitmer
Michael Harris
Summer Brenner
Owen Hill
Pegasus Books Downtown

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010:
Barry Eisler
Owen Hill
Benjamin Whitmer
Michael Harris

Check out other PM events here

Listen to the Community and Resistance Tour

The COMMUNITY AND RESISTANCE TOUR seeks to communicate about current struggles for justice and liberation, from nooses hung in the northern Louisiana town of Jena to women organizing inside prisons, from resistance to school privatization to post-Katrina community organizing and cultural resistance. The tour also seeks to connect communities of liberation, and to build relationships between grassroots activists and independent media.

This tour is for anyone interested in issues of health care, education, criminal justice, housing, or the ways in which systems of racism, patriarchy and other forms of oppression intersect with these struggles.

Sponsored by Left Turn Magazine, Haymarket Books, PM Press, and other radical and independent media projects from around the US, the COMMUNITY AND RESISTANCE TOUR is an exciting movement-building opportunity. Beginning August, 2010, the tour will bring performances, workshops, and inspiration to towns and cities in across the US.

Featured Speakers include Jordan Flaherty, Jesse Muhammad and Victoria Law.

For more information, click here.
To bring Community & Resistance to your town, click here. 

September 11th

September 13th

September 14th

Upcoming Tour Dates are below and also listed on our events calender:

NOTE: Schedule subject to changes and additions

Tuesday, October 5: Montreal, Canada
6:00pm: Chancellor Day Hall, 3644 Peel Street, Moot Court (Metro Peel)
Featuring: Jesse Muhammad, Victoria Law and Jordan Flaherty

Wednesday, October 6: Montreal, Canada
Doors: 7:30pm: Il Motore, 179 Jean Talon West, Metro Parc
Featuring: Jordan Flaherty, The Fat Tuesday Jazz Band and members of Kalmunity Vibe Collective

Thursday, October 7: Toronto, Canada
6:30pm: OISE, Room 2211, 252 Bloor Street W
Featuring: Jesse Muhammad, Victoria Law and Jordan Flaherty

Tuesday, October 12: San Francisco, CA
7:00pm: Modern Times Bookstore
888 Valencia Street
Featuring: Dave Eggers and Jordan Flaherty

Wednesday, October 13: San Francisco, CA
7:00 pm: Station 40
3030B 16th Street (at Mission)

Saturday, October 16: San Rafael, CA
7:00pm: The Marin Youth Center (MYC)
1115 3rd Street

Sunday, October 17: Portland, OR
7:00pm: Red and Black Cafe
400 Southeast 12th Avenue
Featuring: Jordan Flaherty and TBA

Tuesday, October 19: Olympia, WA
6:00pm: Orca Books
509 E. 4th Ave
Featuring: Jordan Flaherty, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha

Wednesday, October 20: Bellingham, WA
Noon: World Issues Forum
Fairhaven College Auditorium, Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies
516 High St.
7:00pm: Village Books
1200 11th Street
Featuring: Jordan Flaherty, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha

Thursday, October 21: Vancouver, Canada
7:00pm: Rhizome Cafe
317 East Broadway
Featuring: Jordan Flaherty, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha



Punk for the People

The Story of Crass
By Stefan Christoff
September 30th, 2010

The Story of Crass traces the creative history and social-activist roots of the U.K. punk rockers

Punk rock culture is diverse, from frontline anarchist squatters to candy-coded punk-pop radio hits, yet across the spectrum it is without question that legendary U.K. collective Crass carved into the rough edges of punk-rock history.

Crass burst onto the U.K. punk scene in the late '70s, delivering a sound and political practice that challenged and reshaped the genre. Spitfire lyrics aiming at state and religious authorities rode over more vague artistic renditions on the punk sound, while Crass collective members actively joined grassroots campaigns of the era, putting lyrics into practice as social activists.

The Story of Crass, by George Berger, offers a striking and deeply reflective account on the formation and trajectory of Crass. Beyond punk, the book offers key insights into the political context in Britain during the post-hippie, economic-depression era of the late '70s that fostered the emergence of punk culture in the U.K.

Iconic playwright Bertolt Brecht's famous meditation "Art is not a mirror to reflect reality, but a hammer with which to shape it," aptly begins a key chapter: art for the band is vividly described in the biography's pages as a creative process directly tied to confronting perceived social injustices of the time.

Crass' unique take on punk culture has earned the group an enduring status in contemporary punk history, yet The Story of Crass points out the anti-stardom of the group, especially at their height, as well as delving into the origins of publicity-shy practices of celebrated revolutionary music collectives like Montreal's own Godspeed You! Black Emperor, who continue to baffle mainstream music press even today.

"Perhaps unbeknown to the members of Crass, their deliberate policy of anonymity, mixed with tales of their remote farmhouse in the country, lent them a certain mystique in punk circles," writes Berger. "Everyone wants to know the answer to a secret, as any stage magician or amateur-physiologist will testify."

In fact, one of the many open secrets to Crass, as the books tells, is their expression of an honest grassroots rage at the social injustices of the Margret Thatcher era. In weaving together music, political activism and artistic experimentation during a period rife with social unrest, Crass made their mark on contemporary cultural history.

The book goes beyond slogans to detail the multiple artistic influences on the band, which famously combined sound collage, live projections, noise guitars, punk rock vocalizations and sampling at a time before computer-made music. It is certain that the resonance of Crass is also linked to their groundbreaking artistic experimentation, as the collective orchestrated not only a unique sound but some of the first national graffiti projects in the U.K.

"Another thread of Crass' multimedia assault on conformity came in the forum of the stencil graffiti campaign," outlines Berger. "The stencil graffiti craze became a minor revolution in the U.K. for a while as people the length and breadth of the country followed Crass' lead and took up political sloganeering, subverting adverts ('sub-vertising') and society throughout the land." The Story of Crass also points to the lasting cultural influence of Crass graffiti on street art culture, citing globally celebrated artists such as Banksy.

The Story of Crass goes on to trace the punk culture scene that gave birth to Crass via subcultures of the late '60s, breaking a punk subculture taboo in highlighting a historical trajectory between the hippie era and punk rock that would make Sid Vicious roll over in his grave. But Crass' attempt to articulate revolutionary dreams, in action and sound, reaches beyond cultural labels like punk rock. Key to understanding the continuing relevance of Crass today is the universal nature to the anarchist ideas that fuelled the group.

Buy book now | Buy e-Book now | Back to the Author's page

Video of discussion on Wobblies and Zapatistas at Bluestockings Books

Bluestockings Books parts 1-9


52 Releases in 2010, Join the Friends of PM Press for 2011!

News > Additional Stories

52 Releases in 2010, Join the Friends of PM Press for 2011!

In December we celebrated our 52nd PM Press release of 2010 (that's one per week!), and we are inviting you to join the Friends of PM to help us usher in the 2011 releases.

We launched PM Press as a means to impact, amplify, and revitalize the discourse and actions of radical writers, filmmakers, and artists. The Friends of PM program provides us with a stable foundation from which we can build upon our early successes and provides a much-needed subsidy for the materials that can't necessarily pay their own way. You can help make that happen -- and receive every new title automatically delivered to your door once a month-by joining as a Friend of PM Press.

Read more

Classic Rock Mag likes Sober Living

Review: Sober Living For The Revolution: Hardcore Punk, Straight Edge And Radical Politics
Classic Rock Magazine
By Jo Kendall

SXe: what political punk rock did next.

If rock'n'roll is your business - and business has tended to be pretty good for the past 40 years or so - there's little chance you will have examined punk rock in all its angry, mutating glory. But if you're curious about the post- Pistols scene that drop-kicked punk into hardcore, straight edge and the oft-perceived po-faced social activism behind them, this book is for you.

It's not a promising start; the preface reads like an Open University textbook. But as soon the progenitors of the new noise get their say the study comes into its own. Through the manifestos of Minor Threat's Ian Mackaye - patron saint of straight - Refused's Denis Lyxzen and even Fall Out Boy's Andy Hurley, the layers surrounding the movement and its faithful start to unfurl. It's still confusing, filled with socialist, anarchist, puritan, feminist, vegan and radical queer ethics (sometimes all at once), and it won't be turning, say, Tommy Lee's head any time soon, but Kuhn's quest to probe every niche to define the puzzling whole is a brave try. Less 'get pissed, destroy', more 'use your brain, change the world'. And it's for all ages, too.

Buy book now | Download e-book now | Back to author page

Calling All Heroes in UK Peace News

By Gabriel Carlyle
UK Peace News
September 2010

If you could choose any of the characters from your childhood reading, who would you invite to help you spark a revolution? James Bond? Harry Potter? Badger from The Wind and the Willows?

If you're the central character in Paco Ignacio Taibo's tricksy novella - one of PM Press's new "Found in Translation" series - you choose Sherlock Holmes, Doc Holliday, D'Artagnan, Dick Turpin, the Light Brigade, and then throw in some Mau Mau fighters for good measure.

Set in the wake of the infamous October 1968 Tlatelolco massacre (in which Mexican troops opened fire on student demonstrators, killing some 200 people just ten days before the country staged the Summer Olympics), activist-turned-journalist Nestor lies delirious in a hospital bed, recovering from a stab wound.

Unable to broaden its base, the movement - one of the best organised and moderate of the student movements of '68 - was crushed, and Calling All Heroes vividly captures both of the horror of the repression and the "painful regression" of those activists "who had known moments of euphoria and freedom - back to classes at an oppressive, defeated university in whose yards discouragement was eaten by the mouthful".

Nestor finds his escape in his fanciful - and extremely bloody - insurrection. In his fantasy the people rise and victory is achieved. All of which left me musing, who would you invite to help you spark the nonviolent revolution?

Buy this book now | Download e-Book now | Back to author homepage

FAME Reviews The Liberty Tree

by Mark S. Tucker
written for Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange

In my secret closeted life as a one-man-anarchist (well, 'social autarchist' actually, but ask me about that when we meet, and I'll explain the traditionally misdefined 'autarchy' as what the misfortunately named 'anarchy' really was meant to be) and one-horse-publisher who's issued 500+ newsletters of his Left of the Left private e-zine, Veritas Vampirus, I've long held that there was really only one true founder of America, and that man is none other than the subject of this long overdue tribute: Thomas Paine. Too, I've on-air successfully argued Los Angeles radio talk show hosts (Larry Elder, Doug McIntyre, Lee Klein, etc.) to a standstill on the subject, so nothing pleased me more than to discover this 2-CD set from a label refreshingly like Jello Biafra's Alternative Tentacles: PM Press.

The imprint also purveys at least three other inimitables—Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, and Derrick Jensen (not to mention Chumbawamba, who shared a CD with Chomsky in '97), so Leon Rosselson & Robb Johnson, obviously uber-committed politically and quite Left of Center, are well companioned.

Liberty Tree is a much needed set along the lines of Michael Johnathon's earlier CD/DVD release on Henry David Thoreau. Rosselson & Johnson as a duo are unaccompanied and very much follow the troubadour / minstrel tradition. You'll detect traces of Ralph McTell, Gordon Giltrap, John Fahey, Jansch & Renbourn, and other modern composers who favor elder airs while well imagining yourself to be gathered at the crossroads to hear these two play and speak. Many of the twin CDs' 36 tracks are either publican-style song agitations, reminiscences, or the reading of print by or about The Great Tom.

The bourgeois/royalist slant in the read sentiments regarding Paine are amusing as hell, perfectly reflecting the standard outraged indignation of the Right wing that occurs whenever place and privilege are questioned, regardless of age and epoch. Our two agitators deliver short speeches and song in grassroots style while mocking by inflection and praising through admiration. I guarantee you'll hear historic materials you've never run across otherwise unless you're an academic, and you'll also receive an authentic period flavor in all the bardic sonorities. Leon Rosselson has been lauded by the N.Y. Times for his literate topicality and Robb Johnson has been called one for the finest songwriters since Richard Thompson. This is not light praise. Trust me, listening to this collection of songs and words, you'll rapidly feel the heat of political ire rise while reaching for a tankard, bending the elbow to assuage indignation until the time is propitious for more decisive mindsets.

Sooooooo, what say, lads and lassies…overthrow the king shall we? Tom Paine would approve. So, I don't think I have to over-emphasize, would these two gents.

Track List:


    •    The Morning Star of the Revolution
    •    The Roots of the Liberty Tree
    •    The Idle Talker & Drinker at the White Hart Social Club, Lewes
    •    The Editor of the Pennsylvania Magazine
    •    Rosa's Lovely Daughters (Robb Johnson)
    •    Reflections on Unhappy Marriages
    •    Don't Get Married, Girls (Leon Rosselson)
    •    Independency
    •    Common Sense
    •    The Wall that Stands Between (Leon Rosselson)
    •    The Times that Try Men's Souls
    •    3 Minutes' Silence (Robb Johnson)
    •    The Rights of Man, Pt. 1
    •    Remembrance Day (Leon Rosselson)
    •    The Old Construction
    •    We All said Stop the War (Robb Johnson)


    •    The Rights of Man. Pt. 2
    •    Monarchy
    •    On her Silver Jubilee (Leon Rosselson)
    •    Riots & Tumults
    •    Picking Up the Pieces (Robb Johnson)
    •    Wages & Rights
    •    Oliver Twist (Robb Johnson)
    •    Countries that are called Civilised
    •    Palaces of Gold (Leon Rosselson)
    •    High Treason
    •    The Defect Lies in the System
    •    Changing the Guard (Robb Johnson)
    •    Execution & War
    •    The Terror
    •    The Age of Reason
    •    Stand Up for Judas (Leon Rosselson)
    •    Applause & Abuse
    •    The Life of a Libeller
    •    Red & Green (Robb Johnson) / The World turned Upside Down (Leon Rosselson)

All songs written as noted; the other cuts are spoken Paine quotes or from sundry other source, though some tracks are mixes of song and spoken word, with musical and chirographic authorship uncredited.
Edited by: David N. Pyles

Buy CD now  | Back to Robb Johnson's Page | Back to Leon Rosselson's Page

Sober Living on Trust Fanzine

Sober Living for the Revolution – Hardcore Punk, Straight Edge and Radical Politics – Gabriel Kuhn
Trust Fanzine
Posted in bücher by Dolf
August 2010

I’m sure this will not be the last book about “Straight Edge” – but at least this one is broaden its horizont… not only about SxE but also about Hardcore Punk and Radical Politics. Lets see. It is seperated in 5 chapters: Bands, Scenes, Manifestos, Reflections and Perspectives. The “Timeline” given is helpful to understand when it all started and how it developed. The introduction by the author makes also sense.

The first interview is with Ian MacKaye, not sure why other had to follow, but they do… some of them are interesting. I kinda like the Refused interview, because he (Dennis) gets away with what he is doing (or not) cuz none of the “wrong” questions have been asked. Other bands featured ManLiftingBanner, Point of No Return and New Winds. Featured scenes are Israel, Sweden, Poland, Usa – talks to several people about how strong the movement is/was and such. The “Manifestos” are more interesting as one can tell from the titles alone: “Antifa Straight Edge”, “Anarchy and Alcohol”, “Sobriety and Anarchist Struggle”, on with the “Reflections” from Nick Riotfag, Jenni Ramme (Emancypunx), Kelly (xsisterhood) and Andy Hurley on Anarcho-Primitivism and the Collapse and some more “Perspectives” by some people where Mark Andersen should be mentioned. I could comment almost all of these authors/activists, some of them have very good and true things to say and it is good that all the bad aspcets of Straight Edge (wrong reasons, macho/jock attitude, conservative, etc.) are also mentioned.

But I will not use up too much space/time… so all you get to hear is that Nick Riotfag is hilarious in his thinking and his demands (sober spaces for anarchist queers – if he gets them, he complains they are too boring), that Jonathan Pollack is not afraid of saying things some people will call anti-zionist. And Andy Hurley (Fall Out Boy) should not appear in MTVs Cribs and show off his house, cars, golden records, etc. when he thinks about radical politics, less thinking and more action could help ( I have to mention that he did also say he is vegan and showed some processed vegan food – yeah right….). Otherwise you hear all about hardline and christian edge and all that other blablabla one can talk or think about.

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against people who stay sober and healty but a lot of times that alone is not enough, or does not necessarly have something to do with “radical politics” nor are “radical politics” in general good – or bad. People can talk about all these subjects forever, if they like, I would people much rather see and stick to their words. It does not matter so much what you think, do, write, sing about – what matters is what one DOES.
 Some good reading, if you are into this and/or want some brainfood, go for it. 352 pages, paperback.


Buy book now | Download e-Book now | Back to Gabriel Kuhn's Page


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