Category Archives: Personal

Why I Love Finland


I always romanticized Finland when I was a teenager, and Helsinki was the first foreign city I ever visited by myself, and is one of only two that I’ve bothered to go to twice. In Finland, there are no gendered pronouns. And during midsummer, the sun doesn’t really go down so much and you can walk from bar to bar and sit in the sunshine (moving as the shadows move, you understand), while a middle-aged, wealthy, kinda depressed guy buys you and your even-more-depressed and not-wealthy friends beer. Then you can black out and pass out in a gutter and wake up with 40 American bucks in your pocket that you didn’t start out with, acquired by means of telling strange tourists a sob-story when they ask you why you were passed out in the above-mentioned gutter. As the night progresses towards 5am, you can declare your love and desire for marriage to someone you haven’t seen in 6 years, and then you can leave town like 2 days later heartbroken and happy, perhaps ne’er to return.

But I digress.

The reason that, today, I remember why I love Finland is for two of their marvelous inventions: the sauna and the molotov cocktail.

Words I Hate, #1

Veganarchist.

I hate the word veganarchist. It makes me want to go eat chicken or something. I’ve been vegan for 8 years now, an anarchist for 7. They are really different things. Vegan is a dietary choice. At best, it’s a tactic for reducing animal suffering. Anarchist reflects so much more. Sigh.

I figure most people already feel however it is they’re going to feel about the word veganarchist. It just… it just really gets under my skin. I’m often at odds with other vegans, because I’m sick of how people wield it like a big dogma club. I’m sick of vegans thinking they’re on to something pure and wonderful and beautiful. I mean, yeah. I’m glad I’m vegan. I don’t see myself stopping. We live in a world of factory farming, of domestication, of all sorts of horrors, and I’d like to avoid supporting that (though as far as food choices go, local/organic is probably more important than vegan). But for chrissake. Veganarchist? It’s insulting to anarchism.

The internet, full of snark and hate

I would apologize for the ranting I’m about to do, but fuck it, it’s my blog anyhow.

Ever since I started SteamPunk Magazine two years ago, the internet has been full of sharks, hungry to tear apart every single word we wrote. Before we went to print, when steampunk magazine was a splash page on a domain asking for contributors, there were posts across the web about it. As a random example, “You say you don’t want pro-colonial fiction. LOL, how can you be steampunk without being pro-colonial?”

It was a bit better once the magazine came out. The number of haters increased, to be sure, but we finally had appreciators. Still, in the end, the internet hate is a large part of what drove me away from steampunk. There are people out there who are very, very bitter about the idea that steampunk could have political and social meaning. And those people are very vocal. “OMG, we just want fiction. Stop talking about politics.”

But the political crowd is no better. It might be worse. Since many anarchists defend shittalk as being “critical thinking”, they go about it as self-righteously as they go about everything else they do. I’m frustrated, honestly. I’m tempted to give up on the internet. Could you imagine it in person?

Could you imagine walking up to a table at a bookfair, picking up a book, reading the back, and then attacking the author to their face? What if that was the norm? (Granted, people have actually done this to us at bookfairs before, but it is certainly the exception).

So this week I’ve had steampunks yell at me for being political, anarchists yell at me for watering-down their politics, red anarchists critique me for being too anti-civilization, green anarchists yell at me for being pro-civilization. I’ve been chastised for my choice in publisher (since, despite employing less than 10 people and being entirely anarchist run, they aren’t enough of a small press).

Yeah, I know. We all know the world is ruthless, and you’ve got to have thick skin to keep it up doing anything public. I’m not going to stop doing what I’m going to do. It just wears on you, that’s all.

*addendum* The thing is, posting comments rather than communicating directly with someone is saying “I’m saying this and I want everyone to see it.” When you see someone with food in their beard, do you say “hey everyone! that man has food in their beard!” or do you tell them directly? (As a side note, no longer metaphorical, don’t tell me I have food in my beard till I’m done eating. Thanks.)

2008

I didn’t realize that it’s obligatory to do a year-in-review post when you have a blog. My apologies. As you might have noticed, I don’t really talk about my personal life online, so that will more or less be left out of it.

  • I did a mini-tour as a drummer for Ego Likeness.
  • I published SteamPunk Magazine #4, which will be my last SteamPunk as primary editor.
  • I tabled anarchist bookfaires and the portland zine symposium, always fun.
  • I apprenticed as an offset printer with anarchist publishers Eberhardt Press.
  • I had my first art show as a photographer.
  • I traveled the southwest, saw the grand canyon and death valley. I visited Seattle for the first time, and then went back repeatedly, making awesome friends in the process. I ended a long relationship and moved from Portland to Baltimore.
  • I played my first (and second, third, fourth, and I think fifth) show as a solo accordion player.
  • I released two albums: We Are Not In The Least Afraid of Ruins, with my industrial band Attack Attack Attack, and Demo 08, a solo accordion thing.
  • I finished a comic book that will be coming out soon.
  • I wrote and published a number of small zines.
  • I found out that a project of mine on anarchist fiction writers will be published by AK Press: my first book deal.

Next year? I don’t really make resolutions, but I will say I will be disappointed if I haven’t finished a longer form fiction work by the end of it. But yeah, more shows, more zines, more photography, more books, more traveling.

I Will Marry You If We Can Honeymoon In Socotra*

(Photo by Jan Vandorpe)

So there’s this archipelago, Socotra, in the Indian Ocean. And near as I can figure out, everything there is amazing and beautiful and wonderful, at least visually. There are 40,000 people but they only put roads in two years ago. There aren’t any fancy oceanside resorts, though it caters to eco-tourism. And there are tons of species of plants and animals (like the trees above) that are only found on those four islands. I want to go there. That’s all.

*offer not valid unless I was going to marry you regardless, which is rather unlikely.

Murdered in Oaxaca *updated*


Sali, Marcella Sali Grace, was a young woman from Eugene that traveled the same circles I did. I’m not going to claim that I knew her well; we’d crossed paths, we’d spoken, and she’d been very dear to a number of my friends. She was found murdered, rather brutally, in Oaxaca, Mexico. The details aren’t pretty.

Sali was killed, at least in part, because she was a woman. I still to this day run across people who think that feminism is done, that women’s liberation has been won. But it’s not. And of course, liberty won’t come without a fight. I think most of you reading this blog already know this. But Sali’s bravery, her refusal to be cowed by a world that told women they shouldn’t travel alone, it’s important. Her living, her traveling, was an act of standing up for herself and for women everywhere. She, and so many traveler women I know, they forge ground.

*update* It looks like Sali’s friends and fellows in Oaxaca have worked to get the bastard responsible arrested. They put him under guard and traveled to mexico city to get an arrest warrant for him, it sounds like. Also, there are several more pictures of Sali now posted to the thread at Portland Indymedia.