Category Archives: Personal

The debate about police

Shane Shane and Nomadic War Machine

A photo of myself posing with Shane Shane, who played the same show as I did last night. I was wearing that shirt when Shane Shane, from the audience, suggested that he had a different opinion on the matter. Fortunately, I had come prepared with the second shirt. Never let it be said I’m not open to both sides of such a fierce and important debate.

New theme

I started Birds Before the Storm about two years ago now, and I’ve had the same theme the whole time. When I first started it, I was obsessed with airships and had been doing a lot of research into the world of DIY aeronautics. But despite the old subheading “Airships, anarchism, etc.”, I never posted about anything lighter than air.

I think I’m going to start posting more about my sustained interests and activities: writing, book design, the making of electronic music, and travel.

The US. woo.

Well, I’m back in the States. Usually I’m so excited about leaving wherever it is I am to go somewhere else, but I didn’t really want to leave this time. Two days ago I woke up in a sailboat docked in a small town in Finland where the sky looked fake it was so pretty. Now I’m in NYC. No offense to NYC. It’s nice enough, I suppose.

Hopefully in the coming weeks I’ll be sifting through even more of my photos from this summer and posting more. And hopefully I’ll figure out some good reasons to be excited about being here.

Life Under The Jolly Roger

I do a little bit of the social networking thing. I’m not on Facebook, but I’m on Goodreads, under the name Margaret Killjoy. I post reviews of the books that I read. Short reviews, mostly. I guess this is my “be my friend on a social networking site!” plea.

But I just finished reading this book, Life Under The Jolly Roger by Gabriel Kuhn, released by PM Press (which, honestly, is too expensive. Not because it’s not a good book, but because it’s a $20 paperback that is only around 170 pages of content). It’s a really, really interesting book:

I first got obsessed with pirates when I was 19 and let myself be swept up a crusty crew rolling 7 deep called the Anarcho Pirate Brigade from Baltimore. We had a lot of the right ideas and a lot of wrong ideas about pirates.

I’m astounded by how clearly this book cuts into the mythos of the golden age pirates and immediately shows you what is fucked up and what is interesting.

It’s also the first book I’ve read that has explained philosophical concepts, Deleuze etc., through the lens of, you know, pirates.

The best visual overview of contemporary punk, period.

Hands down, the best visual overview of what punks look like, at least in the US right now, is a tumblr called Punks I’d Like To Fuck. I think the tumblr started as a “look at the hot punk boy” photo blog, but it’s become basically a celebration of everyone’s beauty. And it shows us as we really are: we wear color sometimes, we wear spikes sometimes. We don’t honestly have mohawks that often. We’ve got crass symbols on the backs of our flannels.

My friend here in Italy told me yesterday that punk wasn’t a subculture. Steampunk, gothpunk, anarchopunk, cyberpunk, folkpunk… these are subcultures. But punk is a way of living and a way of looking at the world. You don’t gotta listen to crust to be a crusty, you don’t gotta listen to punk to be a punk.

I remember walking with a friend of mine on a mountain in Tucson, a reasonably clean-cut anarchist more interested in Terry Pratchett books and ukuleles than kropotkin or Distopia. In a perfect world, we discussed, we wouldn’t look out of place being friends. And in our culture, the whatever-the-fuck-you-want-to-call-it culture that I call punk, we didn’t and don’t.

Another friend of mine told me once: “you know what I love about punks? Let’s say you decided you wanted to wear a lion suit every day. The first day you come hang out, everyone is going to make fun of you. After that, you’re just the kid who wears a lion suit.”

I get culture shock sometimes. It’s as likely to be around goths as it is around clean-cut folks. Sometimes I realize, after a few hours or a few weeks, that even if I hung out with some group all the time, I’d clearly be different. That I smell funny, or that the way I dress makes them uncomfortable. That my goth clothes aren’t black enough or my fancy words ain’t fancy enough.

We’re the proudly rejected. Punks are the kids who decided that they were cool even if no one else did.

Hell yeah, up the fucking punks.

Wave Gotik Treffen

tonight was the last night of Wave Gotik Treffen. certainly, like nothing i’ve seen before. rather than holding the festival on a single fairground, they turn the entire city of leipzig into the festival. goths wander everywhere, their armbands being a free ticket for the city’s public transit. in fact, they set up an extra tram line, number 31, just to accommodate our late night habits.

easily the finest thing for me was to see Jarboe, of Swans, perform. punks sing angrily about what we’re doing to the earth, hippies sing love songs to the earth. goths sing mournful songs about what we’ve done, the seeds we’ve sewn. definitely more my style. and then William Faith, of faith and the muse, joined her on stage and they played Swans songs. imagine me swooning. only instead of swooning i was looking all surly and cool or something.

tonight i went to a rowhome owned or squatted, it’s hard to tell which, and there i witnessed the finest gothic party i could imagine, full of costumed people dancing, torches and candles, but all set in a house that is entirely diy. extravagant needs to be tempered with decay, if you ask me.

and the most frustrating thing of all is that i can’t post the stupid pictures because i shoot in RAW and need to process my images with a computer, a computer that i left in the states.

Wave Gotik Treffen – woo! going to giant goth festival

This weekend I’ll be headed to Leipzig Germany, not to do any talks about anarchism, but to go to a goth festival called Wave Gotik Treffen. I’m working (so far, in my head) on a photo series related to guttergoth/crudgoth, and I’m hoping to meet folks there. And to listen to Legendary Pink Dots, see Faith & The Muse again, and finally be somewhere where I can dance.

Anyhow, I’m also going alone because all my friends are stupid punks who don’t go to giant goth festivals in Germany. So if anyone out there in internets land is also going to WGT, please let me know!

Anarchapistemology

I don’t actually really know what epistomology means (and I have no idea if I’m spelling it right, cause this computer is spellchecking thinking I’m writing in Dutch), but today I ran across anarchapistemology. It’s a rather interesting anarcha-feminist blog. They’ve got a really solid analysis… almost non-analysis, of what happened in Pittsburgh at the g-20 (parts two and three are worth reading as well.) From the last post:

I wanted to write about the street medics who had created a clinic with skilled medical volunteers, anarchist staff, massage, acupuncture, herbalists. The street medics who stayed behind in Schenley Park to treat college students while all the activists got the hell out, and who got arrested mid-treatments, prevented from helping, held chained on buses for hours and hours in the cold, came out with handcuff injuries and tears. The injuries and the emotional trauma. The fear, the helplessness felt by unprepared victims of completely arbitrary police violence. The helplessness felt by the medics and friends trying to support a crowd of people who they couldn’t get to. Medic work is hard and important, and shouldn’t ever be overlooked or thankless. It is one of the greatest contributions to the new world that we are actively building right there, right there within the act of destroying the old!

The thing I love about this is that it sidesteps a false dichotomy. There are people who say “protests are traumatic, therefore we shouldn’t go to protests, and anyone who says we should is practically responsible for causing the trauma themselves.” and this irritates the piss out of me. And there are people who say “who cares about sissy stuff like trauma? we’ve got cops to fight! er, I mean, summits to counter-demonstrate!” who, clearly from my sardonic tone, I have no time for either. Instead, the author goes about describing how we can learn to be powerful, how we can address the mental wounds we will be taking as we confront state power.

I just came from a memorial for an israeli anarchist friend of mine, Tal, who died this past winter of cancer. She was one of the most powerful and vibrant and stern people I’ve known. It’s always the case that when people die, we use hyperboles to describe them, but Tal really was one of the most bad-ass folks I’d met. I, of course, wish I’d known her better. But when I came back to Amsterdam the second time, in 2006, she let me stay at her place. I was worrying about this or that emotional thing. She looked at me sternly: “You american anarchists. You’re all too sensitive.” Sometimes, I think she’s right. I’m a bit fond of cold, emotionless cultures myself. But we can’t just “toughen up” all the time, not internally, not within our own discourse among people who should be our allies.