A Magpie’s Guide to Busking

[Busking is street performing]

I first busked about seven years ago, in NYC subways with my friends. But I’ve only been busking with any real frequency for about the last four years. From time to time, it’s been my main or only source of income.

Of course, since I was usually living in squats and eating out of dumpsters, I didn’t need much money. Regardless, these are some of the things I’ve learned. Nothing particularly groundbreaking, but this is my advice:

Continue reading A Magpie’s Guide to Busking

Ah, the elections.

It’s like a car wreck: anarchist or no, you can’t help but pay attention to some degree to the upcoming election. But what I like to hear is anarchist strategy in regards to the election, and the good old Center For Strategic Anarchy has offered up an analysis of the election from an anarchist point of view.

we are far better equipped to take advantage of liberal disillusionment than liberal outrage. The last four years have been a testament to this, with the clearest beneficiaries of outrage being the Democratic party and the authoritarian Left (see: the anti-war movement.) Liberal disillusionment has been far kinder to anarchists. The C.S.A. is of the opinion that it is no accident that the surge of anarchist activity in the late ’90s overlapped with a Democratic administration in the process of moving to the right.

Four years ago, I put it to my uncle, a concerned and politically aware liberal. I asked him how he would convince me, an anarchist, to vote for president. And his primary response was that while yes, the president has little power to change things for the better, the tone they set “trickles down” (yes, my uncle intended that irony) to all levels of the system.

I’m certainly not of the opinion that anarchists need to rush off and go vote (except for in local elections… Oregon has got some seriously racist and classist initiatives that need shooting down), but there’s no denying that what happens in a couple weeks is going to affect everyone, probably everyone in the world.

What anarchists actually want, and our problems with the “democratic” system as stands, are pretty well summed up in this new zine by crimethInc: The Party Is Over.

And, of course, Bill Hick’s little speech still rings true:

Ah, insurgents. The PKK

This video is really interesting. It’s about the Kurdistan Worker’s Party, an insurgent army in Turkey that’s been fighting since the 70s. In this video, a CNN reporter is hanging out at one of their camps that reminds me quite a bit of a forest defense camp. There’ve been a few articles in the news recently about clashes with turkey, and more interestingly about the important role of women in the PKK [infoshop.org discussion].

Are these people freedom fighters or terrorists? The age-old question, right? They formed under marxist and maoist ideology, fighting for the freedom of kurdistan, hoping to form a socialist republic. Later, they stepped back a bit from communism and adopted more nationalistic and, it is argued, islamic beliefs. However, these days it looks like their main stance is actually a fight against the patriarchal world. Really quite interesting. Historically, however, they’ve been kidnapping tourists, utilizing suicide bombers on non-military targets, and generally being the kind of bastards that so many guerrilla groups are. If the wikipedia article is to be believed, a large number of their militants were given false promises of having their families taken care of. It’s harder to get a grasp on their modern ideology (at least for me, thousands of miles away and just looking at the internet as of this morning).

I always get my hopes up when I see videos like these. Here’s a guerrilla group that is dedicated to fighting for cultural independence, social reform, and gender equality. I want to like them, I really do. Turkey has pretty much wholesale banned speaking in kurdish, singing kurdish songs, really having any kurdish identity, despite 20% of their population being kurdish. But apparently there are reformist kurds attempting to work for greater kurdish representation in turkey’s government, and the PKK have assassinated a few of those people. The comparison in my mind would be if the ELF burned down the house of the president of Sierra Club.

And the PKK have apparently bombed shopping centers and other civilian targets, something which there is really no excuse for. There’s a 1998 documentary about the PKK and their old leader on youtube, 19 minutes long.

Every time I get my hopes up about a group like the PKK just to have them shattered I remember how much I love the EZLN.

New Zine at Strangers

The anarchist publishers I work with, Strangers In A Tangled Wilderness, just finished work on their latest theory zine. Written by a certain ms/mr Usul of the Blackfoot, this zine is wonderful. Post-Civ!, a deeper exploration. It’s a nearly 40 page exploration of why civilization is terrible and why primitive societies weren’t usually that much better (despite the claims of primitivists) and it lays out a great framework for building towards a post-civilized society. Really, I can’t recommend it enough.

I Hate Green Capitalism (first of a series)

I had never really looked at Treehugger.com, but today I did, finding a neat article there I just blogged below. Then I, just now, looked at the main site. Top post? Did you know that you can save money with an electric blanket?

This is my problem with green capitalism. It says: gee, if people turned down their thermostat they save energy and money. So far so good (I’m willing to admit saving money can be useful). But then, the solution. Get an electric blanket? How about insulating your damn house?

Green capitalism assumes that the solutions are found in products. That we just need more solar panels, not to use less energy. It’s insane. It’s not a solution. It’s just a smokescreen, to get everyone to think that the world can be saved if we just bought different things. The world cannot be fixed by buying new things! That’s the whole problem! Gah. I figure most of you know all of this anyhow.


Container Living

I think the first time I ran across the idea of living in a shipping container was the film Mies vailla menneisyyttä [The Man Without A Past], a finnish movie about a man who gets mugged, loses his memory, and has to start over from scratch. It’s a pretty good movie, too. Poor guy has to actually rent a plain, boring shipping container.

Then the latest Rolling Thunder (crimethInc’s magazine) came out, and they had an article devoted to clever swedish radicals who got together and built their own autonomous space, Kulturkampanjen. Pictured above, it uses four cargo containers as the basic structural support to build off of. Pretty neat.

Then today I ran across Treehugger.com’s exposition of container houses, and it’s pretty amazing, with a lot of different approaches introduced.

I love the re-use and recycling of industrial byproduct. I do wonder, though, how terribly hard these things would be to insulate. Perhaps the coldest night I’ve ever spent was in an empty gondola making its way from Milwaukee to Minneapolis, cause that thick steel just sucked the heat right out of us. Summer must be even worse. Still, a cheap, neat house is a pretty awesome thing.

Anarcho-Flarf Vandalism! (or, 3k+ pages of false poetry!)

He loses the fingers, sudden as
Sarah Gridley

That poem is on page 3076 of Issue 1, a wonderful jab at culture by forgodot.com (and possibly Steve McLaughlin), an experimental poetry group.

Why is it interesting? Because Sarah Gridley, whoever she is, didn’t write that poem. In fact, none of the 3,000+ authors listed wrote the pieces that are attributed to them. It’s a 3785 page PDF file poetry anthology of beautiful lies and blasphemy!

One of the most fun parts is reading all of the writers respond in the comments. Tons of them are hopping mad. Others get it.

Silliman (whoever that is), is worried about his good name and makes vague threats about suing the editors. He also calls it “anarcho-flarf vandalism”. And all I gotta say is, go anarcho-flarf vandalism! I wonder what the anarcho-flarf flag would be. Maybe black and newspaper print? I could get down with that.

Honestly, I haven’t been excited about poetry in years. Or art, really, though I have to pretend like I am. Dada and surrealism got sucked into mainstream art, what’s left? Well, for starters, 3,000 poem anthologies of god-knows-what.

One poet that took it well and spoke reasonably on the subject is Sharanya Manivannan, who explains a bit more about the nature of the project and also the root of the word “anarcho-flarf”.

1925 Steamroller

There are some fun pictures of a 1925 steamroller over on Shorpy [1, 2, and 3]. Today’s fun steamroller fact: steamrollers were still in use until the 1960s, making them one of the longest lasting steam machines I can think of. (Turns out the modern ones are called “road rollers” which is a much worse name. Though I could imagine being a “road punk” would be kind of cool. And it would fit on your knuckles. But I digress.)

Abney Park To (possibly) Hijack A Zeppelin In Less Than A Month

I first heard that Abney Park (steampunk electronic rock band) was going to play on a zeppelin by way of their Official Page. I grew jealous. Then I discovered more details about it from Boing Boing and I was jealous of Boing Boing, for blogging about it first when I hadn’t gotten around to it yet. But then I realized that being jealous is useless. So I tried to sign up as a lackey for the flight, but that didn’t happen either.

So, like you do, I began to plot to kidnap/murder one of the members of the band to replace him or her for the duration of the flight. Naturally, I figured I should chose someone who it would be easy to disguise myself as.

But then I realized… Abney Park is a band of airship pirates. They will be stealing the zeppelin and either making use of it to harass British royal air freight or turning it into a populist form of travel.

Janis Zhaklis – The Real Peter The Painter

Thanks to a comment from Ben, I’ve come to learn the real identity of Peter the Painter. He was a latvian named Janis Zhaklis. Ian Bone has covered the story and has an audio interview with Philip Ruff, who traveled to Latvia numerous times to uncover the story. (You can also watch the interview on youtube).

And there’s also an interesting bit about the story of uncovering the truth from the kate sharpley library (pdf).

The short of it is that Peter the Painter was not a damned bolshevik, and he most certainly wasn’t the bolshevik responsible for the literal eradication of the anarchists in soviet russia. That’s a relief. We get to keep our folk hero.