I took these yesterday at dawn as I rode west on the Amtrak. (yeah, yeah, there go my crust points. the few I had left for traveling with a laptop or driving a minivan.)
I’m really happy with this set, and the next two I’m going to post after this (probably in the next day or two, though you can see them all on my Flickr already). Some of these are more processed than what I usually do, but I don’t really mind. It’s funny… in photo class I was always the brat who insisted that dodging and burning was stupid, and that it was best to just shoot the photo perfectly in the first place. Here I am, suddenly in love with gradient filters and split-toning.
Several years ago, I lived in Amsterdam for awhile. And I lived at the Amstel, a huge old historic building that had been squatted by some people that I came to know. A really magnificent place. Anyhow, I returned this summer after so many years away to find out that an eviction was immanent. I borrowed a key to the now-empty building and went through to photograph what was left of the place. The last two of these shots are panoramas, and really need to be seen a bit larger to be truly appreciated.
At long last, And Into Autumn… is online for free download. Soon, issues #3 and #4 of my seasonal photobook zines will be out as well. Issue #2 has got the g20 protests in Pittsburgh, my travels through the south, office chair racing, goats, and lots of nature being awesome (in the literal sense as well as the modern sense).
I started as columnist or guest-blogger or whatever over at Squat The Planet. The first piece is a slightly longer version of something I wrote about here, entitled Anarchy in Finland: Musta Pispala. I think I’ll be writing there approximately weekly. I might crosspost for awhile, as well. Expect to find me writing more about the personal side of squatting and traveling.
I spent this past weekend at the Musta Pispala festival in Pispala, a suburb of Tampere, Finland. I don’t know… this might have been the best anarchist gathering I’ve ever been to. A few hundred people came over the course of the weekend, mostly anarchists from all over Finland. I was immediately struck by how welcoming the atmosphere was, by how friendly people were, how engaged and unpretentious the scene here seems to be. I sat in a meeting in which green and red anarchists listened respectfully to each other… hell they even work with each other here. I led my usual anarchism and fiction workshop, and a really interesting anarchism in the USA workshop in which tons of people had insightful comments and questions. I attended workshops on the anarchist prisoners of spain and on the anti-fascist scene and struggle in Russia.
The festival opened with a few hundred people marching without incident from the city center out to a complex of three abandoned factories in the suburbs, where a squatted party was thrown. The sun went down sometime after eleven and the twilight lasts until 1am before starting again sometime around 3am. I never got over this.
The second night I went to the beach on a lake. The third night, a crowded punk show at a collective-run bar and venue, where I watched an amazing doom/stoner/hardcore/crust band that refuses to record, I think named Ward. The fourth night, after the festival was over, I watched the world cup championship. Something I never would have dreamed of doing had I been in the states. It’s bizarre and beautiful to be places where my cultural conceptions and stereotypes simply do not apply.
36 images below, most of abandoned factories and sunsets and all of that lovely stuff.
I spent an enjoyable few days in Naples, one of the more lawless places I’ve been. Unfortunately, the city is run by the Mafia instead of the cops, which doesn’t really make it much better, but it’s still fascinating. Once while we were walking, two cops told a man on a scooter that he couldn’t drive his scooter where he was. “I don’t care,” he said, and kept going.
I heard stories about how, if the police try to chase someone, the general populace throws debris or soapy water and the like into the street to prevent the police from their pursuit.
The city is absolutely the most cyberpunk place I’ve ever seen, and unfortunately these photos don’t capture that. The buildings are old and cracked from a decades-old earthquake and left with scaffolding to hold them together. Immigrant children play with LED lit mini-drones in the middle of medieval squares, and what would be pristine, tourist architecture and monuments are covered with graffiti and youth. People play football in the streets, ignoring passerby and plants grow wildly out the side of the walls of buildings. It’s fascinating.
I went on a tourist tour of the aqueduct beneath the city, and our tour guide was trying to explain to a typical american tourist that he thought that bank-robbery was awesome when no one got hurt, that catholicism was worse than useless, all kinds of fun things. Anyhow, while down there I saw people growing plants underground, fascist graffiti from WWII (hitler on the left, Mussolini on the right, “we will win” carved below, fortunately incorrect), strange artistic testimonials to the war, and the recreated conditions of the original aqueduct. I also saw the Mediterranean Sea for the first time.
Before we left the city we went to see sulphur fields in the suburbs, with boiling mud and constant steam, part of an active volcano and apparently where the Romans believed the entrance of hell to be situated. I’m fascinated by the idea of old ruins and strange things that are situated in the suburbs (like the sunken market that looks like a temple)… I heard from my friend in Sweden that he took public transit out to the pyramids in Egypt, because they are basically now in the suburbs of Cairo.
This following photo is of a statue of King Umberto I, killed by an anarchist. Nya nya.
I’m in Finland!
Finland is one of my favorite places. This is my third time here… I guess I come here every five years. Anyhow, the reason Finland is great is because Finnish has no gendered pronouns! For awhile I was advocating its use as the universal language, but I never got past cursing, ordering beer, and thanking people. Also, Finnish doesn’t have the word “please,” near as I can tell. Which is also somehow kind of cool.
Right, anyway, I went for a walk in the woods about five minutes from the house I’m staying at. I took pictures:
I couldn’t help but think that whole “when in Rome, do as Romans do” cliche the whole time I was in the car on the way to Rome. I, of course, didn’t know what it is that Romans do. I still don’t. So instead I guess I did what tourists do. I went around the center of the city, I went to the Colosseum and I went to the Forum. I thought about how the Goths sacked Rome and about how lovely it will be when the Goths get their shit together and sack the rest of civilization.
I took a lot of photos of the gladiator stuff, because its fascinating to me. It’s sort of the root of civilization: you take people, make them put on ridiculous costumes, and then make them kill each other. All the while the rest of the civilization cheers them on. It really gets right down to the root of it. I probably also took lots of photos of the various helmets and such because I’m a geek and grew up playing dungeons and dragons. There was also an old-school multitool on display, which is cool.
And there was the best human statue I’ve ever seen.
We also went to a squatted 19th century castle (it had a moat! it counts as a castle). Most of what I did in Rome, which was sit around a hacker conference, I didn’t take photos of.
This video is really black metal. I keep expect the hobo or mark twain to try to sacrifice Diamond Bessie. They are The Unseen Ghosts Brigade.
Some of my friends are joining in the fine anarcho tradition of building giant strange rafts out of dumpstered materials and floating them down the Mississippi to New Orleans. In this case, they’ve put together an ecological road show of music and puppets and all the finest in zaniness, but are of course reacting to rather serious circumstances.
From their press release:
The Mississippi River has been controlled, restricted, and polluted by the forces of industry. This has caused the cultures along the riverbanks to die and the River to become mostly a highway for barges, making it deadly to drink its waters or eat the fish and swim in its depths.
As the regulation of the Army Corps of Engineers has become more intense and increasingly prevalent, it becomes less and less possible for the average person to travel the River. With this focus comes a cost of a way of life: pollution has increased dramatically with industrialization, and whole communities have ceased to exist because life has become just another highway. Attempts to harness and control the power of the Mississippi have resulted and continue to result in decrease of wild flora and fauna, the relocation of numerous indigenous communities, and the loss of innumerable lives due to flooding and the failing of infrastructure.
We are taking a stand. Since 2009, the Unseen Ghost Brigade has been working to resurrect the ghosts of the past; they have come back to haunt the living with laughter, storytelling, and clown. We come to share a dream that things have not always been the way they are now, and that the present does not need to be the future.
What I like about this is the earnest nature with which they tackle the realization that our lives can be a fucking hell of a lot more interesting than they are now, if only we actually recraft reality to suit us by fighting against the monstrous, droll world that is killing the shit out of the planet.
They’ll be stopping in a ridiculously ambitious number of cities along the way, just check out their website.
In my next life, I’m going to be more than one person so I could have gone with them.
(click on pictures for larger versions)
I’ve spent most of the past two weeks or so at a Wagenplatz (link is to a google-translated German wikipedia article) in Mainz. A Wagenplatz, in short, is a squatted trailer part. They’ve got them all over germany, and the two I’ve stayed at thus far are really amazing places. (I’m waiting on permission to publish photos of a different one). This one is behind Haus Mainusch, a venue/socialcenter here.
People here chop firewood, play music, cook communal meals for the residents and at a vokü (people’s kitchen), and drive a tractor to move the wagons or pick up trash to re-purpose. Rent is almost nothing, and large decisions are communal but everyone seems to have a great deal of autonomy.
At looking at these photos, they seem to be mostly of one of my friends being domestic: picking salad from the garden, cleaning, and cooking. I also continue with my strange interest in photographing bathrooms: the red trailer with two doors is the toilet trailer. The photo after it, of the graffiti, is actually of the wall of the garage where shows happen, not of the bathroom wall.
In the panorama, note the awesome pirate fort in the center.