Wednesday, July 8, 2009

House updates

The thesis has stopped me from writing on this much, or rather its sucked the life out of anything I do, and hence no need for updates. The house is coming along well, though no name yet. Welcome the new addition of the pool and multiple bike storage racks:

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Some small house updates...

The veggie patch now has some plants, and is fenced due to the imminent threat of Task Force Chicken, due to the work of Sasha and Max

The hallway now has a completed map of the earth, 'sin fronteras', and with the black abyss that is Antarctica taking up much of the lower portions of the staircase. Morgan's Phd has clearly not gone to waste, as demonstrated by his technical mapping skills.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Earth First! Roadshow in L.A., Sunday February 22nd

Please spread the word and come out to hear a presentation by Earth First! at KIWA in Koreatown, Sunday 22nd at 2pm!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Recommended Radical Readings on Los Angeles

One of my advisors was interviewed by AK Press this week to give a list of radical readings on Los Angeles...

By AK Press | January 21, 2009

Editor’s note: As part of our ongoing “Recommended Reading” series, we asked Laura Pulido, an activist scholar and geographer at the University of Southern California, to share her thoughts with us about the best books on Los Angeles from a radical perspective. Pulido authored the very excellent Black, Brown, Yellow and Left: Radical activism in Los Angeles and co-authored the forthcoming A Guide to the People’s History of LA (which you can get a taste of here).

This is what she told us:

* * *

While Los Angeles has always attracted a good deal of attention, it wasn’t until the 1980s that it actually became a focus of serious study. While writers and scholars from many quarters began publishing on Los Angeles, several academics dubbed this growing body of work, “The LA School.” Although the title “the LA School” has generated plenty of debate, one of the indisputable central texts of this era is Mike Davis’s City of Quartz: excavating the future in Los Angeles (1991). This was one of the first books to offer a dramatically different historical perspective on Los Angeles. Not only does Davis attempt to tell history from the bottom-up, but he directly takes on the dominant economic, political, and cultural players in the city, writing very much within a noir tradition. Not since Carey McWilliams has Los Angeles received this kind of treatment. Another wonderful book is Gerald Horne’s The Fire This Time: The Watts Uprising and the 1960s (1995). Horne is a committed historian who leaves no stone unturned in his detailed exploration of the Watts uprising. In addition, Horne provides a larger picture of the national and regional social forces that were impacting South LA, and a scathing critique of the Los Angeles Police Department and the City’s response to the civil unrest.

More recently, there have been a series of books which expand on this tradition. Perhaps not too surprisingly, some of the most radical scholarship continues to be focused on South Central. Joao Costa Vargas’s Catching Hell in the City of Angels: Life and Meanings of Blackness in South Central Los Angeles (2006) examines different facets of African American life in South LA. Costa Vargas is an anthropologist who does an amazing job of treating his subjects with great respect and dignity. He doesn’t gloss over the ugly stuff, but manages to convey the deep humanity of all the people he writes about. Ruth Wilson Gilmore’s Golden Gulag: Prisons, Surplus, Crisis and Opposition in Globalizing Galifornia (2007) offers a different perspective by focusing on the macro-level economic and political forces shaping California (including Los Angeles) which have led to the development of the world’s largest prison system. Finally, if I may be so bold, I would like to include my own book, Black, Brown, Yellow and Left: Radical activism in Los Angeles (2006). In this book I examines the Third World Left in Los Angeles in the 1960s and 70s by comparing radical activism among Japanese Americans, African Americans, and Chicanas/os. Besides the focus on radical political activism among people of color, I also think its worthwhile for its comparative angle.

Scholars have continued generating a wealth of scholarship about Los Angeles - but these books are an excellent starting point for anyone interested in a critical take on the City of Angels.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Are you living in a 'constitution free zone'?

The ACLU's report on the 'constitution free zone' - within 100 miles of land and sea borders you can be stopped and searched. More internal checkpoints, more racial profiling, and the continued expansion of the police-state

Friday, January 16, 2009

Feel My Legs, I'm a Racer 2009

Feel My Legs, I'm a Racer
Sat March 14, 2009
10 hills, 10 stages, 1 morning
A race for some, an epic adventure for others

A tour of the less traveled streets and neighborhoods in Los Angeles.
There is no entry fee and limited support. No cars please, spectators welcome on bikes (you won't have to ride all the hills).
Just riding up any one of these hills is an accomplishment. Ten in one day is seriously hard. Come prepared.

Sunset Blvd and EdgeCliffe Dr.
(Silver Lake Farmers Market)
Sign-up at 745am, leave at 815

A Swarm! event. Tell others.
(This race is based on Danny Chew's Dirty Dozen. Thanks to Swarm!, Danny Chew, Steevo, Chris Moeller and Dave Clymer)

Hills? Los Angeles? How hard could it be?
Fargo St, one of the steepest paved roads in the world, is only one of ten. Yearly the LA Wheelmen do a hill climb here with lots of hoopla for just riding up this one hill. For you it will only be hill number five. Are the others equally hard? No, but they will feel like it.

Do I have to race?
No. Only a few of the people out there are racing for points. Most are there just to attempt every hill.

I want to race and am totally going to win. How does it work?
Each place, five deep, is worth points starting with 1st place and five points. Each new hill is treated as a separate stage with a group ride between hills.

What does the winner get?
Recognition and bragging rights.

How should I prepare?
Climbing is a unique cycling skill. You may be fast and strong, but being both on these steep climbs requires a lot of training in the hills. This year I want to have a few training rides leading up to the 14th and will post them at

Why so early?
If you can ride these 10 hills in one morning then you can be out of bed and at the market by 745am. If you show up without having slept I'll buy you a cup of Coffee Cellar coffee at the market. Most of these hills are in quiet neighborhoods with narrow streets. I want us to be in and out with as little impact as possible. The earlier the better.

What should I bring?
Water, some snacks, a tube, the ability to fix minor mechanicals and rain gear. It's rained all three years so far.

How long will this take?
Expect to be out well past noon. We only do about 30 miles, but getting to the hills, getting set up, etc takes longer than you would think.

Do I get a t-shirt and brunch?
In the past we've had one or both, but I can't promise either for 2009. Hopefully we'll have a 'Bryan Farhy Commemorative' vegan brunch somewhere.

Who puts on Feel My Legs?
"A bunch of fucking boring semi-employed geeks" also known as Swarm! Hit us up via bikeswarm at gmail.

Will this be more fun than being stuck in an elevator in Newark?


Monday, January 12, 2009

Oakland on Fire Anarchists, Solidarity, and New Possibilities in the Oakland Rebellion


originally published on

By Kara N. Tina

"I'm sorry my car was burned but the issue is very upsetting."
-Ken Epstein, assistant editor of the Oakland Post, who was finishing an article about Grant's death, watched from the 12th story of his office at 14th and Franklin streets as his 2002 Honda CR-V disintegrated in a roar of flames (Oakland Tribune)

The murder of Oscar Grant by Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) police officer Johannes Mehserle early New Year's morning sent a wave of grief throughout the Bay Area and reminded all that racism and police violence continue to be endemic components of US society. During the following days, that pain transformed into overflowing anger as multiple videos of the execution recorded by witnesses emerged on the internet and in the media. One week later on January 7, over a thousand people from diverse communities across Oakland and the Bay Area gathered to show their anger and be in the presence of others feeling similar grief. This hastily planned rally shut down the Fruitvale BART station where the shooting took place as speaker after speaker addressed the crowd. Without any plan or organization, the vast majority of those who patiently listened to speakers for over two hours took the demonstration into the streets with a spirited march that made its way towards downtown as the sun set.

As the march reached the Lake Merritt BART station and headquarters of BART police downtown, clashes immediately broke out leaving one police cruiser destroyed alongside a burning dumpster. Marchers dispersed down side streets to the sounds of police weapons discharging and the sting of tear gas in the air. The following hours witnessed waves of rioting and demonstrations throughout downtown Oakland that even forced Mayor Ron Dellums to come out into the streets and promise the opening of a homicide investigation in a failed attempt to subdue the angry crowds. Hundreds of businesses and cars were damaged or destroyed and dumpsters were left burning. The next day, a BART board of directors meeting was filled beyond capacity and overwhelmed with community members expressing indignant rage, clearly feeling validated and empowered to speak up by the previous night's rebellion.

In the days since the unrest, rumors have begun to circulate that anarchists hijacked the otherwise peaceful event and were responsible for unleashing the 'violence'. A cover story in the San Francisco Chronicle two days after the rioting quoted an organizer of the Fruitvale rally as saying that he was led to tears when his work was "destroyed by a group of anarchists." This dangerous and misleading narrative obscures what actually transpired and why, on that evening, the streets of Oakland unleashed such a powerful show of resistance and solidarity that gave many an empowered glimpse of radical new possibilities.

It is true that anarchists were present from start to finish on Wednesday. Counter to some generalizations that assume all anarchists are white, those who were there on Wednesday come from diverse backgrounds. They participated in a wide variety of ways; from spreading the word about the rally beforehand in order to have a large turnout, to spending hours painting banners and signs, to engaging in militant street actions, to being rounded up and at times beaten and arrested. Anarchists are among the over 100 community members who now face charges ranging from misdemeanor rioting to different felonies.

African-American youth made up the majority of those involved in the actions along with sizable numbers of anarchists as well as other youth of color and activist folk who were all there side by side. During the rioting, there was a sense of unity in the air and a defiant mood of solidarity among all who faced off against the police. Anarchists tend to show up at all demonstrations prepared to act should the situation escalate, and this case was no different. Yet it is simply incorrect to suggest that there was some conspiracy of anarchists from the 'outside' who were able to manipulate the helpless youth of Oakland as part of their sinister agenda. This is a paternalistic and disempowering misreading of what was unquestionably a spontaneous outpouring of rage, led by youth of color, creating an extremely empowering moment for participants in the streets. There, temporary alliances were made as those who were motivated to act in the moment experienced a unique cross-pollination that cut across the inhibiting social boundaries of everyday life.

The allegations of an anarchist takeover are destructively misleading. At best they come from ignorance and at worse they represent a flawed and divisive ideology of social change which embodies paternalistic and racist assumptions about those involved in the actions. To scapegoat anarchists for what transpired, robs from marginalized and oppressed youth of color the agency they possess and the power to resist which they demonstrated that evening. It also ignores the remarkable diversity and unique solidarity in the streets that created an liberating experience far beyond any rally or march.

There were some moments during which individual anarchists attempted to influence the course of events, but these instances still do not fit into the narrative that the corporate media and some organizers have tried to tell. At one point a group of black youth smashing the windows of a locally owned business were encouraged to target large corporations and banks instead of 'mom and pop' shops. They proceeded to do just that. Anarchists also un-arrested youth, and encouraged people to push dumpsters and other objects into the streets to prevent the police from advancing, a tactic that was quickly picked up and utilized. Other examples of this type of interchange involved anarchists encouraging youth participating in the riots to wear bandanas over their faces, change clothes during calm moments and other tactics to help avoid arrest or identification. Without question, the exchange went both ways as anarchists took away valuable lessons in mobility, evasion, and more as they worked together with the youth throughout the night.

None of this, however, suggests that anarchists had some sort of control or single handedly determined the events that transpired. The rage and energy that transformed downtown Oakland into a momentary battlefield came from those who are most directly affected by the racist police state regime. No one group had any control over what unfolded. It was a spontaneous rebellion that sprang organically from the streets of Oakland and in retrospect anarchists played an important yet relatively minor role.

The property destruction and rage that burned throughout downtown Oakland was at times undirected and ended up damaging many small businesses and cars along with corporate targets such as Sears and McDonald's. However, some of the most powerful moments that parralled the destruction were confrontations with police and sponatenous high energy gatherings of people in the street who refused to be dispersed. It was during these moments that chanting would again erupt from the crowd reminding all who were present that the direct political demands of justice for Oscar Grant and active resistance to the racist police state system in the United States were the motivations of all who took to the streets that evening.

It's important to also remember that not one person was assaulted during the actions and there were no reports of fights or scuffles amongst the groups of youth who resisted police and destroyed property into the night. In this sense, the rebellion was not violent. It is disturbing to watch as fellow organizers and members of our communities have uncritically adopted the rhetoric of the right in their confused denunciation of mass property destruction as 'violence'.

On the other hand the Oakland Police Department, who everyday harass, intimidate and beat Oakland's youth, was unleashing its very real violence that night. Police opened fire on crowds with different types of less lethal projectiles and in some cases shot tear gas canisters directly into people's bodies. A Berkeley High teacher had his face bashed during arrest and spent the night in the hospital before being taken back downtown for booking. A man taking pictures was attacked by police and his bike helmet was cracked as he was beaten. During the mass arrest at the end of the night, 80 people were forced by police to lay on their stomachs at 20th and Broadway, including a very pregnant woman who was screaming in pain.

What manifested during the Oakland rebellion was a moment of interchange and revolutionary transformation that rarely happens within the rituals of left organizing in the Bay Area. Between white "community organizers" overtaken by guilt into an impotent politics of servitude, professional activists worried about annual reports and grant cycles, and vanguardist marxist sects continually looking to use the next demonstration as a recruiting drive, many radicals find themselves in a desert devoid of revolutionary activity and thought. Within this barren landscape, it is rare to find new possibilities for radical social change while combatting racism and the constant oppression of capitalism. Resisting the police shoulder to shoulder, destroying property (albeit with different emphasis), helping one another evade arrest, exchanging tactics and gestures of solidarity across racial barriers pushes the desire for a multi-racial revolutionary movement years ahead, more than any speaker at a rally ever could.

Anarchists are very accustomed to accusations of spoiling carefully managed demonstrations, and in some cases this is true and necessary. The Oakland rebellion was a different story. Those who are truly committed to revolutionary change in this country need to appreciate the significance of what unfolded in the streets that night and move forward without falling into the usual sectarian traps.

This analysis was written collaboratively by a group of anarchists based out of Oakland who together were present at all moments during the rebellion.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Video and interview of Oscar Grant shooting

...taken from AK Press 'Revolution by the Book':

On December 6, an Athens cop shot and killed a young unarmed anarchist, Alexis Grigoropoulos. In a matter of hours, Athens exploded in a mass uprising of anarchists, students, migrant workers, and the unemployed. For over two weeks, in their anger and frustration, they attacked not just the police themselves but the oppressive institutions cops are armed to defend: banks, government buildings, multi-national corporate interests. Not since 1968 had Europe seen such militant and targeted mass direct action, and actions around the world echoed the heroic actions of our comrades in Greece. Not far from where I am writing, in San Francisco, solidarity actions were held and moving speeches given decrying police violence and the state capitalist hierarchies such violence is inevitably in service of, and vowing to “bring the fight home.”

Sadly, the fight has, once again, come home. On New Years Day in Oakland, an unarmed butcher and father from Hayward, Oscar Grant, was shot in the back at point blank range by a transit cop after being pinned face-down on the ground. There can be absolutely no justification for this cold-blooded police murder. As was the case in the murder of Alexis, there are several witnesses who have come forward stating the officer was in no danger, some even with video recordings of the atrocity. Predictably, though, the cop who fired the shot, Johannes Mehserle, has not been arrested or even officially interrogated about the incident. This is no surprise; we know how the authorities will respond (or fail to), given their total disregard for the lives and humanity of working and poor people of color.

But how will we respond?

We are loudly indignant when police kill a militant in Athens, and applaud the just and outraged response of his comrades. We are furious when state violence kills oppressed people in Gaza, as is horrifically happening at this moment. But what do we do when a working class black man is murdered in cold blood by the cops in our own community? Do we value the lives and well being of Palestinians and Greeks and Oaxacans and adventurous middle-class white radicals more than those of working people we see every day in our own neighborhoods?

It has been five days and counting since Oscar was killed. What have we—supposed radicals and would-be revolutionaries—actually done?

Perhaps a better question is, how should we combat police violence in our own communities?

* * *

Note: There is a demo tomorrow (Wednesday, 1/07) at the Fruitvale BART station to protest Oscar’s murder starting at 3pm. For more info go here:

Below is a video of the killing (the woman who filmed it eventually comes onscreen to explain what you’re seeing…about halfway through). You can also check out the Indymedia story for more details.