Early on May Day, the FBI announced it had foiled a terrorist plot to blow up a bridge in Cleveland, Ohio – my hometown. Then days later, another “terrorist plot” was disrupted at the NATO protests in Chicago. (Arun Gupta has done some excellent on-the-ground reporting from both cities).
In the last few weeks, A lot of my emotional space has been taken up by these things. In both cases, an infiltrator or informant basically pushed people into doing (or talking about) something they in all likelihood would never have done, in the service of fear-mongering and justifying increased surveillance and targeting of protesters.
Will Potter, author of Green is the New Red: An Insider’s Account of a Social Movement Under Siege, has an excellent post on this topic summarizing the situation and reflecting on the overall shift it tactics by the state: “It’s nothing new to see widespread police misconduct and abuse in the days leading up to high-profile demonstrations… In the last several years, though, that decades-old model has been transforming. All the old tactics are still there. But now the message is being sent not just through arrests or police violence, but through the FBI working with local cops to infiltrate and disrupt protest groups, provoke and coordinate illegal activity, and then charge some activists with ‘terrorism.’”
It’s been a totally fun project but also really challenging in a lot of ways. To start with, there’s the sheer volume of music that I love and listen to – I don’t think she realized what an absurdly small number 12 is. So, I ended up making two CDs with a total of 24 songs, dividing them into punk/hardcore, and well, everything else.
I did my best to narrow it down by picking bands that have been important to me and then choosing one song from that band – which sometimes given five (or more) albums worth of material to choose from, was daunting. Literally every song I chose comes from an album that is on my list of all time favorite records. There are so many great bands that aren’t included here that pressing “publish” pains me a bit. Maybe that means there needs to be a part two (and three and four….).
I spent a lot of time thinking about what bands have been truly influential in my life. And though the second CD includes some really important ones (like Billy Bragg, Casey Neill, The Mountain Goats, and the Avett Brothers), it’s the punk/hardcore CD that I spent the most time on. All the songs I chose have been particularly meaningful because they define a certain formative period of my life, including where I developed many of my most important and lasting friendships and where from a young age I developed my politics and belief systems – that the capitalist system doesn’t work for everyone, that it can change, that we can make that change happen (as opposed to waiting for someone else to make improvements), and that there are better alternatives. Each song has a story (or many stories) associated with it, so you’ll have to forgive me a bit with the authobiographical stuff. So much of this is truly the story of my growing up.
I have a few more comments at the end, but here are the songs. Keep in mind that much of this commentary was written for someone outside of the punk scene. If you want me to make you a copy of this CD, just email me with your address and I’ll send it right out, or I’ll send you a download link. The CD mostly is album versions, and links here are also mostly to album versions, the video clips are just for fun.
These three bands represent a particular type of melodic hardcore that centers around Richmond, VA. There are loads of examples of the Richmond sound, but these three are the most important to me. Inquisition and Strike Anywhere in particular (those two bands have the same singer, Thomas), exemplify the kind of politically charged lyrics that I really go for. The Inquisition album is called “Revolution, I think it’s called inspiration” says it all – that we want/need change, that we can make a better life, and that we just need to be inspired to get there. Overwhelmingly I find their lyrics political yet very positive, which I love. I love that the music is really energetic and upbeat and makes me want to move.
It is a great regret for me that I never got to see Inquisition live, though I have seen Strike Anywhere a couple of times. I’ve always been inspired by Thomas’s dedication and humility, qualities I’ve come to recognize as essential in people I most admire. One of the first issues of Clamor had a quote from this Strike Anywhere song on the back (“I will do everything to kill the sleeping cop in me.”).
I remember being instantly attracted to Avail’s sound when I first heard them, and this is one of their early songs. I first saw them live at a YMCA on the west side (I’m thinking Brecksville but I could be wrong on that) and just fell in love with their sound and their energy, particularly live. One of their first recordings is the “Live At King’s Head Inn” 10″ that I really loved. I’ve probably seen them live more than another band aside from Hot Water Music. The singer, Tim Barry, does solo stuff now and one of their roadies I met during that era, AC Thompson, is an amazing investigative journalist now, and another is part of 1984 Printing. I just love it that people I met a long time ago have grown up to do really amazing things (and so many of them have – there’s something to think about there, probably.).
I have several quick thoughts about this.
1. Steve Jobs should not be held accountable for the faults of capitalism. Many of my friends are posting on Twitter and Facebook that iPhones are made in factories which have deplorable conditions, and they aren’t recyclable.
I don’t have the statistics on this, but I will bet you that most of the other electronics we use (as well as our cars, gasoline, and a lot of clothes and other things) are made in similar ways. Could Steve Jobs probably have done more to change it? Yes. Did he profit from it? Yes. Is this Steve Jobs’ fault? No.
I guess I am having a visceral reaction to some of my activist friends condemning Steve Jobs while at same time clutching laptops and cell phones. It is our entire global economic system that makes it possible for people to be poisoned in factories in Asia while Americans pretend it isn’t happening. Consumer demand – our own personal consumption, my consumption – drives this system and creates the need for poisonous factories.
Regardless of what you think about capitalism, Jobs (and the legions of people who work at Apple or influenced and helped him along the way) changed the way we interact with technology and each other, for for the better.
That is important. And good.
I’ve thought about this a lot – how to appreciate the good parts of a person while recognizing the bad parts exist? Very few people are saints. When I look at the people I know in my own life, which include well known punk rock scenesters or activist rockstars, very few of them are without fault. Some of them have big faults, like abusing their girlfriends or stealing money or otherwise being total shitheads – does this mean we should ignore their contributions that make the world a better place? I think we can accept the good and the bad. Acknowledging the good and the bad doesn’t mean that you’re erasing or ignoring the bad. I don’t think it’s asking too much for people to have a complex understanding of the way the world works, where things aren’t just “good” or “bad.”
2. Too bad that Steve Jobs died today because then the Occupy Wall Street protests wouldn’t get the coverage they deserved.
Sigh. First of all, the protests will never get the coverage they deserve.
Second, I would like to remind everyone of Manjula Martin’s excellent opinion piece last week on this very thing – the confluence of many things happening at the same time, especially on social media, and how it *is* actually possible to experience and understand and *feel* all of them. She was talking about how social media has turned into a space where we judge each other’s emotions.
In “The Week Social Media Broke My Heart,” she was talking about Troy Davis, the release of the hikers, and R.E.M. breaking up all happening at the same moment, but she could totally be talking about Steve Jobs dying and Occupy Wall Street.
I just re-read the piece looking for a part to quote, but the whole thing is just so good, I want you to read it for yourself. Here is just one small part:
Critics want it both ways: we want something to be pure and essential, but we also tend to retrospectively see events based solely on their context/reaction. Particularly in social media, context develops at an increasing pace: we condense the critical cycle into a series of quick “sharing” actions and move straight from “something happens” into criticizing ourselves and each other for liking things. In our rushed effort to provide the “essential” opinion, we forget the part about why we’re being critical in the first place: because the “something” happened made us feel something, and that made us want to contribute.
I totally want to quote the whole rest of the piece, but you should just read it yourself.
I first came across JJ Tiziou’s photography through his work with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (you can see some of the photos here). I found his style, and of course his subject matter, compelling.
Recently I was able to interview JJ for Shareable about how financing social justice work – particularly media work – is a challenge, despite how vital this work is. Telling our stories, celebrating our victories, and analyzing our defeats are some of the most important things we can do to strengthen social movements. We need people like JJ to continue doing this work, just like we need magazines and websites as vehicles to tell these stories.
Here’s an excerpt from the interview:
Jen: JJ, maybe you can start by talking about how digital technologies and online content sharing sites have changed photography?
JJ: The advent of digital photography opened up the possibility of a new practice of photography as public art. Digital makes it easier for photographers to invest in personal community projects, and easier to share images directly with the communities that are being photographed. And millions of hobbyists are now practicing photography as public art through Flickr, Facebook, etc.
This is great, but this practice of sharing images online is also directly at odds with the ways that photographers have traditionally earned a living. Photographers have been able to survive as professional imagemakers through strict enforcement of copyright, by licensing images on a pay-per-use model. In other words, to survive as a photographer, you’re supposed to practice the opposite of sharing.
On Friday, the world changed. Toronto artist and activist Will Munro lost his two-year battle with brain cancer.
There’s no two ways about it, Will was brilliant. If you ever question the impact one person can have, reading over the comments on this public Facebook page Dave created, called Honoring the Heart of Will Munro, will remind you how much is possible.
The National Post calls him an “artist and scene impresario,” NOW calls him an “icon,” and Eye Weekly sums it all up like this: “So much of the cultural currency that Toronto has accrued over the past 10 years — a thriving, west-end queer arts scene; the establishment of West Queen West as the city’s new nightlife hub; the mixed gay/straight crowds at local dance parties and the indie-rock/disco fusions that soundtrack so many of them — can be directly attributed to [Munro's] community-building efforts. Which is why his untimely passing this morning at the age of 35 from cancer represents more than just a sad case of a brilliant young man leaving us far too soon — it’s no understatement to say the city just won’t be the same without him.”
Thursday was the anniversary of my dad’s death. Last year, I wrote a post about it a few weeks after he died and always intended to write more, and though I’m not quite sure I’m ready, I don’t feel I can really let the anniversary go by without marking it.
So, on anniversaries. Taking time to do something special or to memorialize a person in some way seems important, but at the same time, it’s not as if I don’t think about him every day. What did happen was that as the day approached I started remembering everything that was going on last year and feeling a lot of anxiety – just remembering the events brought those emotions forward to the present. I think about how difficult his life was in the last few years, when he his body was working against him and he was struggling to find meaning in his life. I marvel at how strong my mom is. I also found it very difficult to talk about with people, but I miss him.
I guess that’s all I really have to say about it right now. The photo here is of my dad as a baby, with his parents, likely taken where they lived in Detroit, Michigan. This photo was probably taken around 1944. His parents were German immigrants who ran a grocery store. They both died before I was born. He had six older brothers and sisters, the youngest of which was 13 years older than him, and many of them have passed away.
* * *
Going to WAM 2009 usually inspires me to link to some of the great people I met and hung out with over the weekend. So here’s a few examples of the awesome people who were in Cambridge talking about women and media. I encourage you to check out all their projects!
- Doyle Canning, smartMeme Strategy and Training Collective
- Shana McDavis-Conway, Congressional Hunger Center
- Shira Tarrant, author of Men & Feminism
- Colleen Cronin, Rising Tide North America
- Brianna Cayo Cotter, Energy Action Coalition
- Deanna Zandt, technology consultant
- Andalusia Knoll and Sakura Saunders, Prometheus Radio Project
- Tara Bracco, Poetic People Power
- Lisa Jervis, author of the forthcoming cookbook, Cook Food
- Ben Mauer, Quilted
- Josh Breitbart, People’s Production House
Yep, I am winding down from my third (?) year attending the Women, Action, & the Media conference.
It’s difficult to know what to say about it. On one hand, I go to this conference for the same reason I go to every other conference – because of the people. Some of my friends from around the country are there, and there are usually some people I’d like to meet. But, as I’ve said in the past, I think the conference is a challenge because it appeals to several constituencies – women who make their own media, women who are employed (or want to be) by corporate media, bloggers and reporters, students and mavens, etc. In many ways, this diverse community is a benefit, I meet people I never would have otherwise, hear different perspectives, etc. But it’s also difficult for me to find people who I truly connect with politically, whose work closely aligns with mine. Tomorrow I’ll post some links to some of these great women.
I also have criticisms of the conference that are the same ones I have for every other conference. Read the rest of this entry »
So, my awesome roommate Max has been in Central America since December. I really miss him, but I’m happy that he’s having an amazing adventure through Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, and El Salvador. For the first month, Manjula was with him, and they took tons of awesome photos. I really enjoyed reading their blogs (here and here), and then one day there appeared a photo of Max wearing a Clamor t-shirt! It just felt so great, and it really made me smile.
Well, today I got this email:
this past week, i gave away the clamor shirt
to andres from the island of ustupo in kuna yala
kuna yala is an autonomous indigenous territory in panama on the caribbean coast
kuna yala is 49 communities throughout a group of 366 islands
the kuna won there territory through an armed revolt (la revolucion tuli) on february 21 – 25, 1925, in which they killed all the panamanian colonial police on the islands
andres is a friend of a union organizer friend of mine
he took me around to a bunch of the islands and we drank too much and talked about the revolution
andres has a large collection of che shirts
andres´s grandfather and great grandfather were the main leaders of the revolution
andres´s father is the oldest man alive on the island of ustupo and is a natural medicine healer
i thought this was a good place for the clamor shirt to live
Yes, I think that is a great place for a Clamor shirt to live. Thanks for being so awesome, Max. xo!