Thursday, November 27, 2008

Rock N Roll McDonalds


You can look forward to The Story of Thanksgiving, Canyon Explorers, Merit Badgering, A Corgi, New Live Show?, Appalachian Mountains, The Clairmont Lounge, Mulch, and much, much more....

Also, go here to read the review of Alter Der Ruine + Nachtmahr I did.


Saturday, November 22, 2008

Looks like

Looks like myself and a passenger will be driving to Atlanta and Back for thanks giving. The selected route should take us through NE New Mexico to Palo Duro Canyon State Park near Amarillo, then to Little Rock, and through Tupelo and Alabama to ATL. We should have a camera so expect cool pictures :)

Until we meet again, I must leave you with these words.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Millions More Given to Criminal Bankers

This came to my attention so I am sharing it with you. I believe it is written in a tone of righteous indignation which I feel for this subject is entirely appropriate.

On November 19th, at the bottom of an article about the economy, Yahoo News Reported ( ) that,

"Elsewhere, the governors of Connecticut, New York and New Jersey asked the federal government for a $48 million emergency grant to help thousands of financial industry workers who are losing their jobs.

The governors say preliminary estimates show that 82,000 financial services jobs in the New York City metro area will be lost by the end of next year because of the global economic downturn.

The governors say the emergency grant would allow the states to give each laid-off worker $12,500 to help them find jobs and relocate, and provide them with other services."

I guess the billions already given out wasn't enough? Now $48 million more?

I recognize that financial workers are by and large technically "proletarians", and it may be against the broad solidarity of working people in an abstract sense to say this, but I have absolutely no sympathy for anyone who lost their job in the New York financial sector.

The first reason is that these people are generally well paid to begin with and are going to be hurting a lot less than a lot of people who are getting no special handout from the government.

The second reason is that in a more or less direct way, these people played a role in facilitating the crisis. Every day they obediently followed orders, pushed papers, said "yes, please, and thank you" to executives who ought now to be in prison, and for years they drew their daily bread off the wildest, unregulated, and even criminal speculation.

The failed experiment in Free-Market Capitalism, which they most intimately and directly facilitated the downfall of, has at this point so screwed up the entire global economy that Wall Street financiers have manged to speculate themselves out of their own jobs. They are now to be rewarded with $12,500 of taxpayer money, why?

All I got was a check for $600, back in June... and that was mostly spent before it got here. I guess the food I'd like to buy to eat, and the apartment I live in, and the places I'd like to relocate to are all just supposed to be of "lower" quality because I work in a different industry than finance?

And what about those "other services"? Wasn't it the influential, capitalistic, Wall Street types who during my entire life have been convincing world governments to privatize every social service they can, and who lecture from every pulpit that "government handouts" for various "social services" just lead to waste and abuse and are really better off done away with? Oh, well, I guess that was just a lot of made up crap then, wasn't it?

$12,500 is well over half to 75% of what a lot of folks make in an entire year. Folks like those who were laid off at Bennigians' when they had to shut down every restaurant nationally, or baristas at the 600 Starbucks that closed. Yet should I or anyone else propose in a legislative body that service workers be given at taxpayer expense over half of their annual wages to "ease their transition" into joblessness they'd probably call in strong men in white uniforms to put me away for lunancy.

This might sound like an angry rant, and if you think so, you are right. It is. At this point in time I wholeheartedly endorse the angry ranting of anyone who must choose between which bill they can't afford to pay, and who is scratching their heads every time they fill up the tank, trying to figure out exactly for *what pressing reason* was gasoline $2 a gallon more just three months ago.

The worst part about it all is that I generally like Yahoo news. But it's an article like this which confirms that even they may exhibit that troubling characteristic of the American corporate press whereby the most revealing and important facts can be quickest obtained by starting at the end and reading articles backwards.

Lets hear it for ending the war, and using that money to give *everyone* a $12,500 stimulus check!


EDIT, Nov 20, 2008:

Damn, Yahoo edited the actual statistic I used out of that link. It was an associated press article though, and is also viewable elsewhere:

crazy, huh?

Saturday, November 15, 2008


Best Halloween Costume:


Sweet Political event:

Boots of the Coup and Camilo Mejia speaking at CU in Boulder, brought there by Haymarket Books and Students for Peace and Justice

After the talks, Q&A, and Camilo signing his book, the sfpj brought us out to eat at a really good restaurant in boulder. We ate buffalo! I got to meet some of the sfpj people and they seemed to be a pretty nice and smart bunch.

Then we found ourselves getting into the Tom Morello show. Tom Morello's solo stuff isn't the kind of thing I'd usually go see on my own, but it was good to see. He does a mix of very, very, crazy electric guitar stuff, and folksy acoustic stuff, sometimes with a band backing him up, and sometimes not.

Even cooler, boots performed on a few songs, and Tom has IVAW doing security for the tour. He brought them on stage and introduced them which I think is a great way to get them some publicity.

Here's Tom, Boots, and IVAW (including camilo):

All in all a pretty sweet evening of activism & music.

Meanwhile in Denver, this squirrel is eating a pumpkin

I somehow snuck into the offical democratic party election night party at the sheraton in downtown. They had free food(!) and I smuggled in beer. The crowd was pretty excited when obama won

Here's me scandelously infiltrating this rather official political event

Across town a heavy set, middle aged man with glasses, receding hairline, and a saddam hussien mustache viciously "reserves" a seat at the Bar of a rather busy Pete's Kitchen at approximately 2 am.

I almost instigate a fight when I tell the third person he's shooed off while I was sitting there that he probably has no right to "reserve" a seat at a bar that long and if he complains to management he can probably take over the seat.

The sun sets purple on Colfax

And I've gotta go, as there's a protest against the gay marriage bans about to happen. This site talks about it but they just re-designed their site to look worse and be harder to navigate. You may also be interested in reading this interview that SW did with Oskar Vidaurre, an organizer of one of the first major post election pro-gay marriage demos in SF.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Musician- Writer Interviewed for Project on Fetish Ethnography

Dj Panic got to do a project on Fetish Ethnography. I was rather flattered to be included in it, during which I was asked to respond to a series of questions about goth-industrial music and the fetish scene. It's not really an official 'interview', but it's close enough, so here you go:

"for informational purposes only"

----------------- Original Message -----------------
From: DJ Panic
Date: Nov 4, 2008 12:07 AM

Hey everyone
I'm currently taking a music Ethnology class. I have decided to make my life easier (or more difficult) by becoming research team leader on the final project and doing our presentation on Fetish culture within the Gothic industrial scene. Please look over these questions and answer if you can. Thank you

Ethnography Questions
Fetish Culture and the Gothic industrial scene



Christian Wright


Production, drums, synthesizers, guitar, vj, and occasional singing for bands Bajskorv and Savage Ideal, also, staff writer for Wounds of the Earth magazine.


Making art out of newspaper cut outs, watching strange movies and old tv shows and sampling them. Political activism, social history, socialist politics, fishing, hunting, climbing mountains, road trips, campfires, national forests, seldom traveled state highways, deserts, and of course, industrial music.

History (of self, band, event etc.)

Here is a promotional bio I made.

Something more origional:

I grew up in Atlanta, was part of a punk rock gang there, liked industrial music and made friends at shows like Ohgr in 2001 and Vevlet Acid Christ in 2000 (when I was 17 and 16, respectively), who introduced me to more older bands. Also, at Fantesyland Records in Atlanta they had a good CD and vinyl selection of old wax trax stuff, which I purchased all of. Later I moved to DC to go to GWU, where I spent at least as much time doing political stuff, learning to make music, and working to save up to buy gear, as I ever spent studying. Bajskorv happened...

Then I got really tired of DC and I made plans to save up and travel around and learn about different places. Also a close friend killed himself in june 07 which really hit home the point that it is stupid to stay somewhere you are unhappy. The song 'No Escape' came out of this experiance.

From August 2007-May 2008 was probably the best time of my life... I got to see my family in Sweden, I got to drive across the US four times coast to coast, and I got to meet awesome people and see beautiful mountains and forests and deserts... I stayed in New Orleans for a month and worked there and dated someone I liked, but the town wasn't for me. At the end of Bajskorv tour I was going to move either to Denver or Portland, which I think are the two best places to live in the US, but I settled on Dever, because it is more sunny, the mountains are taller, and it's closer to a lot of really cool desert states, and it has the biggest goth-industrial scene of any city I've ever seen.

What is your experience within the Gothic/Industrial Culture?

Seeing touring national acts play shows in Atlanta in venues like the Masquerade, meeting goths and rivetheads there, hearing their stories, getting to know them, trespassing on railyards in Atlanta at night, hanging out there under a bridge with campfires and punk rockers and cheap horrible Big K Red Cream Soda from Kroger we smashed with golf clubs, making independent films about strange Atlanta phenomena and music videos on high school editing equipment...

Spendings lots of time and money in dc at goth nights like alchemy, midian, midnight... forming bands buried electric cable and bajskorv there, self producing albums, hanging out with Kelly and Juan and Gerald from Commander Salamander, playing live shows around the mid Atlantic, later around the country...

Traveling around the country and stopping at goth nights in different cities. In Portland I invented the trick where during the day I'd make free demo cd's at an internet cafe of music I wrote, and then I'd go to goth clubs at night and walk up to strangers, and give them out. That was a great way to make friends. I can't remember all the clubs, but the Fez and Mt Tabor Legacy in Portland were good, Sadisco in Phoenix was good, NOLA had very little (left) to go to, but Denver rocked. The Milk Bar on wed and sat are really big nights, and Sunday at The Church is bigger than Alchemy in DC usually was. The Church in Dallas is also ok.

Lately I've been doing writing more, for Wounds of the Earth, Laughing Fish, and a local Denver paper called Insight has exposed me to more music and people, and has, in reviewing live shows and albums, gotten me to meet a lot of interesting people and feel a more relevant part of this scene. It's also great because instead of just feeling a certain way about a certain album or band, I can ask them about it, get them to respond, and share that back and forth with the whole scene, or at least as much of it that shows up to read. I think that such music writing is a really important, democratizing force that every scene needs. And if music writing is done by actual musicians, it tends to be a lot smarter.

What attracted (or brought you in to) this scene?

I learned to play guitar at a young age but by middle school I was like, "wait, there's only so many strings and so many frets, so pretty soon every song you could make with one of these will already be written and copywritten and for sale". I liked the idea of synthesizers, multi f/x, and samplers, which I felt opened up a lot more creativity to people. Also, before I was even really into punk rock, my favorite band was Pink Floyd. I bought all their albums before I ever bought another bands', and I think the synth work they did was really innovative and attractive. A Momentary Lapse of reason is still one of my favorite albums.

Later, I supposed, as I got more angrier and depressed about the world, goth and goth-industrial was more attractive to me, and the sound I liked more than punk, too much of which I felt all sounded the same. I also really liked the fashion aesthetic- not necessarily the 'club clothes' that get sold, but I like how it was all very dark, but like punk, industrial to me had more of an edge to it. Gas Masks, tall boots, leather jackets, torn jeans, and dark coats, are just cool!

Moping around and being depressed and crying about yourself or the world is fine for goths. But for rivetheads it was about going out into the fucked up world, sneaking about and fighting it, and making good art out of it all to deal. Luckily when I was 14 they were playing VAC on the Georgia State University's 88.5 radio in Atlanta that I'd listen to while playing computer games at home, and I really loved it. That was probably my first real industrial band. Afterwards I got really into puppy, controlled bleeding, 242, fla, and the wax trax stuff.

At the VAC show apparently a girl who likes other girls named Christin saw me and thought I was a hot girl (I was pretty goth then), and began fantesizing about me. Later we randomly met at a Dennys at about 4 am and she found out I was a guy, but we became friends out of that weird experiance. She was living with some older guys who were all about "Skinny Puppy back in the day", and I think she owns every puppy release on vinyl and CD as well as most bootleg videos... so that was a great person to meet, and learn about music from. I also met some cool folks from Pensacola, FL who had driven up for that show. I'd hang out with them now and then and visited them once and picked up a little more. Somone named Tainya in Penscacola introduced me to funker vogt. Two albums of funker vogt is awesome, cause you don't really know how repetative theY are yet :)

What appeals to you about this scene over more conventional lifestyles?

When you meet a goth-industrial person you already can tell a bit about them and know that you have a lot in common. I don't know any other scene you can do that with. Hip hop is rotten with sexism and the glorification of money and violence... good political hip hop tends to be confined to obscure margins. A lot of 'punks' also have terrible attitudes... I can't really stand guilty rich kids who think that sleeping in the street, dumpster diving, and sleeping on my couch, eating my food, and enjoying the central heating I work for while they don't have a job makes them anything other than a leech. Of course that's not all punks, but there are quite a few sexist punks, or punks who just want to fight, or punks who in a few years abandon the politics with the fashion and grow corporate. A lot of them are so busy trying to be 'extreme' they don't know how to incorporate politics, art, and creativity with an ordinary life in a way that is sustainable...

And of course I'm a bit weird, and attracted to the darker sides of things... so for my money goth-industrial folks have been among the nicest and most intelligent people I've ever met.

What keeps you involved?

I like the music, and I like the people, and I like to write the music. I'm also pretty shy usually around people, but around goth industrial folks I'm a lot more comfortable. I did become rather confused during a recent spate of poverty when I got laid off, checks I'd write would bounce, yet I have thousands of dollars in gear in my apartment. It's like, "fuck, why not sell all this and give it up?" I don't really have an answer. I just sort of accept now that it is my fate to write music few people will hear, and spend years and thousands of dollars perfecting it, and then just live broke. If I became a father that would change my perspective a lot, but for now, that's sort of what I am resigned to. As long as I can get out of the city in the mountains now and then, and PBR is still cheap and clubs are free before 10 pm, I don't really mind too much.

What is your experience within the fetish culture?

Some of it is cool, some of it I just don't get. I went to bound in DC because they played better music than any of the other clubs around. Obviously attractive people wearing skimpy clothes and spanking each other is pretty hot, but I never really got into that side of things too much at clubs because I figured if you couldn't go all the way what's the point?

Fetish sex and bdsm and bondage and wild sex are all fun and good, and I enjoy them as much as the next person when they are available, but for me it's more of a personal thing than something I need to be out in public with. Also, regarding fashion, I don't usually wear 'fetish clothes'... usually my fashion these days is somewhere between punk and normal, but then again what is normal these days would have been looked at rather oddly 20 years ago. I guess a lot of it is because I am a political activist, and if I'm trying to build events, groups, and movements, and if I want people to take me and my ideas seriously, I think that dressing in the most outlandish way possible will just push people away before they even get to hear what I say. I think being able to make friends and have intelligent conversations with ALL types of people is way more important than just looking particularly weird.

What (if anything) do you feel ties these three seemingly unrelated elements together (Goth industrial fetish)?

Well there are clubs that do it... but then you have to ask why do people go to those clubs? I guess a lot of it has to do with the fact that people who like goth and industrial- they're very interested in what is dark, or forbidden, or what we're told is bad or sinful. A lot of such people are also rather progressive/left/libertarian, and many of them are bisexual, so I think that combined with an interest in going beyond mainstream music, art, and mortality, makes an interest in "deviant" sex natural.

Of course calling fetishes, or anything sexual that "fetish-goth-industrial" people do "deviant" is really messed up, because people who give into and explore their fetishes and make them part of their sex lives have freer, happier sex than most people who accept getting berated constantly by society to repress what they really want. Closeted homosexuality is an extreme case, but more likely are the far more common examples of people who really want to try something sexually with their partner but are afraid to ask them about it because they don't want to come off as a "freak". This of course is another great reason with rivetheads and goths date each other- they generally have very little to fear about this... I mean, if you met someone at a club where people wear electric tape over their nipples and spank each other, it becomes a heck of a lot easier to, say, suggest to your girlfriend that you try something new and interesting.

Do you feel fashion plays a significant role in this culture?

It can, and it can be helpful because if someone's wearing a Bauhaus t shirt or spikes or has weird hair it's a lot easier to go up and talk to them, ask them where the cool clubs are, and if you think they're cute you can ask them on a date and know that for starters you've already got a lot in common. So that's pretty cool. Some people get really obsessed with fashion though and I think that can be sad and a bit shallow, though some of it I guess is just a matter of what your hobby is. If your favorite thing to do is to look 100% goth industrial and go out to the club, I guess I should appreciate that. For me though, I always used to tell more fashionable goths that, "Unfortunately I can't afford too much nice clothes to look like I listen to goth-industrial music because I spend all my money on things like keyboards to actually *make* goth-industrial music." That usually works. But in other matters I'd rather have, say, 1,000 miles worth of gas money to go on some cool adventure than I would have a shiny new pair of vinyl pants.

How important do you believe community is within the G/I/F culture?

It could be better... you have to understand though that a lot of people attracted to that world are hyper-individualistic, and 'community' isn't something they really consciously prioritize. In Denver for example there are A LOT of people who are friendly as you've ever seen. People here actually talk to strangers at bars, or when a stranger on the street passes you they look you in the eye and ask how you are doing. Even stranger, they expect and wait for an answer! Oddly though, in the goth industrial scene, where there are a lot of nice people, such random acts of friendless that makes people feel included and valuable are a lot more sparse. People just tend to be more gloomy or depressed, and are naturally more introverted. On the worse side of things there are some big egos, and cliquishness, and a lot of stupid gossip that goes on... Promoters, DJs, and Bands do this a lot, and often only talk to each other, and make newer or younger people who patrionize their clubs feel inferior somehow. Of course that's terrible and destroys a scene. Nothings more sad than a bunch of mis-understood "freaks" from all across a city who all like the same music and art that almost no one else knows about, and they all come to the same club on the same night, and none of them talk to each other.

Of course not everyone is like that. There are good promoters out there who not only like having people show up with money in their pockets but who actually like and care about and want to get to know these people. Todd of Bound in DC and Mark aka Dragzilla in Dallas are probably the friendliest goth-industrial promoters in the United States, who actually hang out with people who show up, get to know them, and drink with them, etc...

What do you feel the future holds for this subculture?

It's challenging... Things like the internet and free downloading have made labels more confused than they have even hurt sales. Some people, like TommyT from DSBP, have good rants about how the internet was bad for music. Yet that guy can be really elitist. He didn't sign my band when I approached him about it because he said he wasn't signing "new bands", yet he bashes people who give away free downloads. A recent myspace bulliten of his literally started out, "Ever notice how bands with free downloads have more spam?" and then went on to list the DSBP catalog and encouraged you to buy from it... I see that and I'm like, "fuck, well if you're not signing me, I have to get exposure some how, and giving out free songs is a pretty effective way to do that if you are on your own." The bit about spam of course is ridiculous. I know bands on that label who have had more spam and obnoxious daily self promotional myspace bullitens. I won't name them though out of respect for their music, some of which is nonetheless quite good.

In a similar vein the "new school" of industrial I think sucks in most cases. Most newer artists on Metropolis suck, and are boring, repetitive, and predictable... If you ever go to someone's house who says they are really into "industrial", and their itunes is there playing on random and it's all just the same thing you heard at the club, it's usually a pretty sad experiance that doesn't really impress... Of course that goes over well on the dance floor, as bands understand that if a song is easy to dance to and not too hard to think about, more people will dance to it. Then the DJ is happy to keep playing such songs over and over because it keeps him in a job, and the label keeps pumping out such artists... But the net result is that music gets worse. Nothing like old controlled bleeding, or skinny puppy, or YelworC, would have much chance of getting signed or played by DJs if those bands were starting out today, in my opinion.

There's also an alternative, musically... Go to (the Bugs Crawling Out of People label's list of other goth industrial and ambient labels). Many are small, some are only on the internet, and they don't have the distribution networks or promotional captial that something like Metropolis has. But they do have way better music. Obviously the nature of capitalism tells us that some of them might consolidate and eventually repeat the same downward spiral that metropolis did, but for now that is where the best new music is.

A lot more people are able to start making this music than ever before... it's easier to get started producing at home, and synthesizers, including vintage ones, are way more affordable now than when they came out. Cynics only see that now there's a lot of poorly produced, 'clutter' on the internet, which is true, but it's only half the story. If there's 1,000 mediocre myspace bands now where kids in their dorms or mom's basement use fruitiloops and soft synths to produce, in five or ten years that might translate into 25-50 pretty good bands with some awesome records, and maybe like 5 or 10 bands that are GREAT. Even 10 years ago you had a much narrower pool to start out with, so there was a lot less that was possible.

If that trend continues I think it will make local scenes, and live shows, a lot bigger and a lot more important than they are now. That's a struggle that plays out at the local level though, as a lot of club goers might dance to a band but be upset if the same band is booked for a live set at the same club. In most towns there are ONE to FIVE people who have the final word on whether or not there will be a venue for live, goth-industrial music. Even more scary is the prospect of promoters giving bands their first few shows, because the odds are there will be more technical problems and people won't just dance right away.

More reasons Denver is cool: We have our share of "dance club nights", but one thing I really like is the Backwards Records' night at the Cosmos lounge, where it's pretty much always a local band playing. Sometimes it's good, sometimes they suck, but it's always interesting, and it's a great starting point. Other cities have similar minded people, like the part of Denver Backwards' Records that moved to Seattle, and is doing the same sorts of nights there. We're also lucky enough to have Vendetta music here, which is a very small store, but they have great music, and Dave Vendetta and his people do a good job of having shows that bring in good national acts, but they also have smaller local bands playing. The recent two day "Vendetta Festival" had *a lot* of local acts on it... some for better and some for worse... but I think events like that really show a lot of what the future could look like.

Can you share any other experience that might be of interest?

If I answered that right you'd have a book and I don't think that's really the point of this questionnaire ;) Maybe the last thing is just about live shows. There will always been dark and angry and sad people who look at fashion and music for ways to express themselves, be heard, and meet cool people. Sadly, goth industrial is such a hole in the wall genre in this country, you pretty much have to trip up over it or have some one hand you a mixed tape to find out about it. Thus we have emo.... which is bad music for sad people... and it's really a shame.

Anyways, I think promoters should re-think they way they promote. If they want the scene to grow, putting flyers for your events at clubs already very similar to your event, isn't going to cut it. There needs to be more all ages shows so kids can find out about this stuff before they've already bought in to some other genre. Young people should feel welcome; and not be looked down on because they're not generating enough booze revenue. When it becomes more about liquor sales, and dumb laws where club owners and promoters can be sued if kids do something foolish or tragic and get hurt while at a show, the scene starts to die because promoters feel paranoid and impotent to stand up to the booze pushers and the legislators. The scene started with music and needs to prioritize it. If you have good music, and outreach, and people are generally friendly and respectful to each other, the rest will follow.

The one other thing is that bands really need to work on their live shows. Live shows are becoming more important, but goth industrial "live shows" are some of the worst of any genre I've ever scene. By now everyone who books clubs probably knows and needs to admit that NO ONE WANTS TO SEE ONE PERSON BY THEM SELF ON STAGE BEHIND A LAP TOP. Even worse is having your backing tracks on itunes on a laptop, singing over them, and calling that a band (see my review of the Unter Null show on WOTE for more on this). Just one keyboardist helps, but if they're not playing melodies or different, harder parts, you can't tell if they're even playing at all. Also, without live drummers there's about 70% less energy than with one. Guitars used too much can drown out the interesting synth stuff but used a little they can add a lot of energy and really broaden a band's appeal.

Another musician who also lived in a car in a parking lot for a while after his first tour was Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins. For that and other reasons I think he's an interesting person and there's a lot of lessons you can take from his career. One of the best is the story about him trying to get a show, and him not getting one unless he replaces his drum machine (the laptop of his day) with a live drummer. It took a promoter actually confronting him about what he's doing live to make that happen. We need more people like that promoter, to push bands to be interesting. Of course, for individuals who write all their music themselves at home, it doesn't come naturally for them to find other people to work with musically, and of course it's harder to find other people to coordinate practice times and all the rest of it with. But I really do feel that if there's not more interesting stuff going on on stage than one person singing, itunes playing, and someone else that no one can tell whether or not they are actually playing a keyboard, shows will continue to suck.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Pilgrimage to see Ohgr

12.18.2008 — Dallas, TX / Granada Theatre
12.21.2008 — Albuquerque, NM / Launchpad
12.22.2008 — Tempe, AZ / The Marquee

Sucks that Ohgr will be in Denver on thanksgiving when I'm not here, however, I will be making a vehicular pilgrimage to one of the following places (most likely Albuquerque, because I've never really hung out there, and it is pretty). However all these drives are nice, though the drive to Tempe would be way cooler than the drive to Dallas because we could drive through Monument Valley to get there.

If you'd like to come, let me know :) Company and gas money would be great. Also if you can get a day before or after off from work that might allow us to climb that big mountain in Albuquerque, look around, and then climb back down.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Colorado in the Great Depression

There is a very good book in the Central Denver Public Library called "Colorado in the Great Depression" by James F Wickens (1979).

To my knowledge there are at least 2 copies that library has. One copy is located in the Western History Reading room on the 5th floor, which can there be photo copied but cannot be removed from the library. The other copy is in general circulation and has a call number of


It is currently checked out by me and in my possession.

I'm finding it very interesting because I think it is very important in a general way for radicals and activists to know their local political history (see my article on this subject here: ), and specifically in our present position, of activists, with an incoming liberal president (though he is rather bad on foreign policy), and a very bad economy, I think we need to know that story and have it as a frame of reference as we approach local organizing today.

This specific book does a good job of combining a survey of economic conditions, official political responses, yet taking a great deal of time to point out "ordinary citizens'" own responses. Mentioned in just the bits I've read have been the formation of unemployed councils around the state who provided work for their members (often on a barter basis), community gardening programs, rather angry demonstrations at the capitol, including one which stormed it in 1933 and drove out the representatives for a day, generally futile illusions in a revival of a gold mining past, among others.

I also think it's very interesting to know the different proposed solutions from various sections of the establishment, whether they be calls for tax cuts or increased highway constructions, to see how well they worked, and to compare them against those calls the establishment is suggesting today.

Anyways, if any of you are interested in such things, swing by the Western History Reading room and you'll find their copy over on the left on one of the shelves that you face north to look at. The staff there can of course help you find it better. There are photocopiers at the library, or, if anyone would like, this thing is 448 pages including the index, and for kinko's $.09 a page I could make anyone a copy for $20.16. The price of course would be different if you know a cheaper printer.

Alternately, there are 4 copies currently on Amazon, but they're starting at 100 bucks a pop ( ) I assume this thing is rather rare and long out of print.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Music Lessons

The apartment can be very nice
But it can also be quite not.
Like in a prison... walls close in
The neighbors bang up from the floor
As I mix this album.
Thin walls so I'm courteous enough
To use extra light
Target loads.
At close range
It makes no difference...

Or settle back down into this oppression,
Of neighbors who think I am too loud
And cool neighbors I thought
Who didn't bother to say goodbye
When they moved out.

Pay the rent
Pay electric
Pay the overdraft
Pay the bounced check
For real this time...
Parking tickets
Auto Repair
Get another job...

One that will make me tired,
And that no one will understand,
And that I will want to leave...

Now the phone doesn't work right
Because it slipped out of my hand
And landed funny on the table.
The screen flickers on and off
But I can still make calls
Though my background image
Is a terrible, once beautiful mess
Of pixilated distortion
Where snowy mountains
And golden sunsets
Had stood.

I am not in the proper frame of mind
To call you about the press conference
Or the new demonstrations
Or chairing the meeting
Because everyone I meet
Seems to end in something bad
Or at least
Those are the only ones I can remember.

Memorable, inspiring collective action
Alone in my head
With no one else to bring it up
Is pushed out
By more pressing matters.
All of them bad.

All of them that seem to be
In cahoots with one another.
So that even the smallest positive change
Would seem a waste of time
When the odds against it
And the cards
Are stacked so high
And held so firm
By some snickering
Son of a bitch.

Apartment walls and doors and blinds
Seem to keep out all the people
I'd like to see...
And it keeps them
From seeing me...
But not so strong
To keep my sounds
While those people
I despise
Are the only ones who bang on them

Trying to get in?
Enemies of musicians...

Today I'll wash the dishes
In the bathroom sink
And do without the broken oven
Because I think
Getting things fixed
Just ain't in the stars
No more.

Know Your Social History

This is not a perspectives document in which I am advocating we all degenerate into armchair bookishness. But as a former student activist with a hectic schedule, who has learned to slow down a bit and approach problems at a more manageable, and informed pace, I am concerned about what other leftists are reading; and what frame of reference they have for understanding their own activity. I think most socialists, anarchists, and other radicals in the United States have a general sympathy and an interest for the bodies of literature, memoirs, non-fiction, and research generally known as ‘social history’. But I do not think that most such people always have a theoretical framework to understand why taking the time to learn it, especially as it applies to the specific locality in which one is operating, is so important. This document attempts to outline such a framework, and it sets out to make the case that what you know about your own historical record is at least if not more important- in the long term- than what you know about any specific ideology you may be affiliated with.

There are people who read constantly, and for whom ideas themselves are convincing enough to motivate them to take some kind of action, even if the experience upon which the logic of such an action is based has not been part of their own life[1]. Then there are those for whom only one book is enough to reveal all the truths worth learning, and of course some folks never read, some of whom by their own accord "don't need to." Luckily, most tend to fall somewhere in between…

But just because you can't read (or write) as fast or as well as you would like, or don't have as much time to, does not mean you are not intelligent, and do not have interesting stories, knowledge and experience that others can benefit from learning about. That might be considered the motivational bedrock of social history, which seeks to develop a real, people’s history. Generally this is written by people who wish to bring back to life the activism and the passion that is so often a part of what human beings are and which sadly is just as often written out of official histories (wherein the great mass is generally portrayed as the passive recipient and follower of whatever ideas, policies, and events that others who are smarter, richer, or more powerful than them invent).

Social History breaks down the myths that books just exist as some kind of entertainment for people who read a lot anyway, or that there's some kind of vulgar mathematical formula between how many books you've read and how valuable your thoughts are (at this point you may recall that George Bush has a degree from Yale). The world certainly has more than enough "well educated idiots" out there making all the wrong decisions. What diplomas, and all other trappings of educational officialdom conceal is that how much you read is not nearly as important as what you read; and least of all, who is doing the reading in the first place, or even what your life inspires you to do with what knowledge you have.

Social History is a liberating phenomena in that it does practically and through literature, although in a limited way, what adult education and various revolutionary movements have attempted to do with "throwing open the doors" of the universities. It does this not simply in the sense that, thanks to a few autobiographies and research grants, high school and college students have more interesting course material... Social history is a methodological approach to education which goes both ways. You do not need a degree to participate in, write, or to learn history. Neither do you need to be enrolled in any particular institution to self-educate, or to study something alongside others.

Good historical writing gives us inspiration- by reading about people like ourselves, who may have been faced with similar problems, and who have approached them with varying success in ways we might consider. There are many practical lessons we can draw and apply in obvious ways, and perhaps even more importantly there is a sense of pride and self confidence that one only gets from knowing one's self, one's own people, and one's own history.

Myths of Great Men

Perhaps the greatest service I feel rendered by this body of work are the blows it deals against the myths of "great men"- myths that lord over and tyrannize us all.

Great men (and women!) are of course great. But time, hype, and writers looking to sell books and articles focusing on iconic celebrity tend to elevate their stature to super-human proportions. Take Martin Luther King Jr. for example. Certainly a great activist, he genuinely sought to empower ordinary people to develop skills and form organizations that would enable them to control more of their own lives. Yet the idea of who he was, so many years later, appears impossible to live up to. No one, least of all probably a young Martin Luther King Jr. himself, would ever have stood up one day and say, "I'm going to become Martin Luther King Jr., articulate, dedicated, leader-martyr of the civil rights movement, with a street named after me in every moderate to large sized city in America."

Far more likely people these days will mourn the absence of a "great leader" like King to lead them out of darkness. "If only we had another Martin Luther King!" is a far more likely refrain, coupled perhaps with, "Oh man... I can't do that..."

Even left wing histories can play into these myths, at times focusing too much on one or two great leaders or thinkers. Tony Cliff, for example, did this with Lenin and Trotsky. His biographies are very useful, give you a lot of information about the lives and ideas of those two people, and they do a good job of defending them against their detractors. But reading them without a broader sense of the Russian Revolutionary movement can be ultimately disempowering, because the reader-activist can feel rather inadequate trying to measure up, in these "ordinary" times, to the legacy of those who through chance as well as their own merit came to lead the greatest upsurge of working class struggle in world history.

The Cliff biographies should definitely be read, but read them with Deutscher, Serge, and the memoirs of whatever activists of the period you can get your hands on. Almost as exciting and equally valuable are new research focused works, such as Kevin Murphy's recent Revolution and Counterrevolution: Class Struggle in a Moscow Metal Factory, which takes advantage of archives that have not previously been accessible to western historians to undertake a systematic study of, "not a monolithic working class of revolutionary heroes or atomized victims, but a politically and ideologically diverse and contradictory group [with] daily struggles and internal battles." [2]

The millions of ordinary people who are not "swept up in events", but who make conscious decisions, here and there, to commit themselves to some form of day to day activism are the people who make a revolution possible. Their contributions may be strictly local, and perhaps away from the main conflagrations. Perhaps they are episodic, or they act as individuals without a group to publicize their struggle. Their cases may not have been a cause celebre, or if they were there may be no one left alive who still remembers what an impact it had on them. They may have been... like you and me?

The names and faces that come alive in good writing, when it's honest and done right, are not idealized and 100% heroic, as some character in a film. They are, like all of us, ridden with doubts, fears, vices, and shortcomings. They are human. Take for instance one passing moment out of The Narrative of the Life of Hosea Hudson.... Hudson, an African-American steelworker joined the Communist Party (operating underground) in Alabama in the early 1930s. He had been an activist for a little while but had felt let down by a few people and was definitely frightened by the intensity of official repression. He and a friend of his are not sure whether or not they want to continue to be Communist activists, given all the risks. He meets with this friend by a bridge and they discuss their doubts... at the end of their conversation they decide to give it another shot. In the course of the next several years, they went on to pioneer efforts to organize blacks to vote, successfully lead a protracted legal fight against the framing and persecution of the "Scottsboro Boys" , and helped to unionize thousands of miners, steelworkers, and sharecroppers.[3]

Yet even then it was not all up and away. Shortly after World War II Hudson found himself red-baited out of a union local that he had helped to organize, and years after the famous Khrushchev speech denouncing Stalin's crimes he continued to praise Stalin and credit him personally with the CP's turn to prioritize the fight against racism in the late 1920s. Hudson eventually wound up in New York, a lifelong CP member, campaigning for the first black woman representative (on the Democratic Party ticket) of a local electoral district.

A reader of his story is at times taken in with sympathy and identification. At others one can now from a well-informed perspective recoil at what candidly were the political pitfalls of membership in a Western, Stalinist political party. Hudson was a local leader, but in the broader scheme of things he was one radical activist among thousands. He was right on some things and wrong on others. But if you had lived then, how much different could you really have been sure your own political life would have been?

Of course you'll never know, and that's not really the point. But if you're able to take away from that a bit of appreciation for the fact that some people you will be working with today might be pulled by different pressures into different political directions; may harbor "mixed" political consciousness; and might not even be as well informed about world events as they think they are; you'll have moved that much closer to becoming an attentive, patient activist, which in my opinion is a far more useful thing that someone who sees everything- people included- in only black or white.

Each of us who goes on to do some kind of good, or even great activism in their lives, would never get there without plenty of moments like Hudson's moments of doubt, which are generally totally absent from the "Great Men" myths of fearless leaders. Yet they are crucial to understand. Without them we have little frame of reference save the default ideas, whether hostile or fawning, that "activists and leaders are born with all their ideas fully formed in their heads and proceed mechanically to implement them with no other interests or personal lives at all."

The Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s is hard for a lot of us today to understand, because so many of its leaders and images have been tokenized, and so many of the movers and shakers have been forgotten by the wayside. Reading most mainstream accounts, perhaps having seen a documentary on TV or talked about it in class during black history month; you might have the impression that the Civil Rights Movement was all run by professionals who know what they're doing- sort of like we're supposed to think things are being run today. You might have thought Martin Luther King, Jr. had got a PHD in "NGO Management", and had it all planned out by 1955, rather than having attended a seminary and then gone to preach at a church in Montgomery not expecting but later playing a leading role in the boycott.

Or one of the worst myths, and perhaps the hardest to die, that Rosa Parks was (just) a tired Old Seamstress...

If you've heard about the Freedom rides in 1964, you might not have heard about the nameless few who years before tried similar tactics, with mixed and less well publicized results. You might have heard about Brown vs. Board of Education, but you probably didn't hear about the difficult stand against local prejudice and in favor of fairness and principle that a Federal Judge in Charleston, SC took in his ruling in favor of one of the plaintiffs in a case that led to Brown. If you're lucky you might have heard that Rosa Parks had been an activist before she refused to give up her seat, but you probably didn't hear about the Highlander Folk School, the "Communist" controversy in which it, Parks, and King were involved, or the role it played pioneering local literacy classes to challenge voting restrictions on the islands of South Carolina- a model that was then replicated across the South. You might have heard that Martin was for non-violence and Malcolm believed in armed self defense... but what about the Deacons for Defense? Or how many SNCC workers actually carried pistols across those lonely Southern highways? Could it be the reality was a lot more complicated, and nuanced, that we're casually taught?

Taking in a whole period such as those years, you begin to appreciate the highs as well as the lows, the confusion and demoralization as well as the clarity. Without that understanding all you get are a few dates to memorize, with bigger and bigger demos, until eventually, we're told segregation was ended. It would thus appear that social movements, like cicadas or some kind of dormant seed, just come and go in an automatic, cyclical fashion, perhaps sort of like the Flu.

* * *

Understanding social history means coming to grips with a totality. It's not to understand the history of any one ideological or personal lineage, any succession of presidents, industrial innovations, political parties, or cultural manifestations. It's about learning to understand the integration of ideas and people in a changing world, and the different responses to adversity and prosperity that people have at times taken up. A social history of, say, working class response to the economic depression of the 1890s would have to include an understanding of xenophobia and the rise of Jim crow just as it would be able to understand the rise and fall of the People's Party. Racism and class struggle are of course not equally legitimate nor useful responses to injustice amid the tightening of belts... but they are pulls in different directions that generations past and present have experienced. Understanding that people could hold contradictory ideas, or be pulled in different directions, and at times, even fail in their aims, is crucial to be able to develop realistic expectations.

The co-option and disorganization of the People’s Party was demoralizing to many who had been part of it. Some, such as the fiery Populist leader Tom Watson of Georgia, abandoned his earlier radicalism and shifted rather hard to the right. Others, perhaps drawing better lessons out of their experience, when on to build important radical organizations, such as the Socialist Party or the IWW, in the years that followed.

The August Spies quote about "A Subterranean Fire" that cannot be stamped out is a useful starting point. But when you not only intuit, but really know the history of that fire, in a local and in a personal context, you become a stronger person. McCarthyism had its heyday 50 years ago.... but still socialist ideas are rather marginalized in the United States. The impressions that they are somehow "foreign" or "inapplicable" to this country are still held by many, though increasingly this does seem to be on the wane. Yet the dichotomy is there, and socialists in the United States are still quite often obliged to "prove" their "authenticity", and their right to participate in coalitions as equal members.

It's my opinion after some years of mulling over that question that the most common affect of this onus is to pressure radicals to self-censor and hold back what might be quite useful contributions. The "Red Fear", as Hosea Hudson referred to it, seems at least today to be stronger in the minds of actual, self-conscious socialists than it is in the minds of radicalizing allies, coalition partners, and the fellow workers and students they find themselves working alongside. Knowing your past, and the tested, historical relevance and value of your ideas, won't change that dynamic. But it will take the onus off you, and free your mind up to focus on more practical matters.

A broad understanding of one's own social history is one of the most useful educational initiatives anyone- activist or not- can undertake. If you live in the hills of North Georgia, or the slums of New York, the forests of East Texas, the rustbelt steel towns of the Midwest, the scattered cities of the Rockies, or really, anywhere… there is a radical history beneath your feet of people like you with ideas like yours who took their shot at putting them into practice years before.

Socialists talk, and for the right reasons, a good deal about not "re-inventing the wheel". But the idea of preserving and extending "the historical memory of the working class" isn't just accomplished by you signing a card or being able to recite a certain theory. It's about an honest effort, both collaborative and personal, to understand yourself.

Read, write, and live your social history. America needs new folk heroes.

[1] Such people are quite useful, and often form the backbone of social movements, keeping things together when the chips are down and a short term payoff seems unlikely. But they are generally a minority. More interesting things happen when their thoughts and actions are integrated into the rest of society.

[2] Murphy, Kevin. Revolution and Counterrevolution: Class Struggle in a Moscow Metal Factory. Haymarket Books, Chicago. 2007. Quote from back cover's abridged review by Donald Fitzer.

[3] The "Scottsboro Boys" were nine young black men falsely accused of raping two white women while riding a train in northern Alabama. All were eventually acquitted, though due to a controversial, last minute legal deal, several were not released from prison for many years. Dan T Carter's book on the subject is perhaps the most accurate and enjoyable to read.

Monday, November 3, 2008

TommyT (of DSBP) Breaks it Down

So not getting signed on DSBP can at first feel like a bit of a set back for aspiring noise/industrial artists. On the brighter note, unlike some other labels who keep their email response rather short should they even bother to send them at all, or (heaven forbid) the owners of the Corporate labels who never even talk to their artists, TOMMYT is a man with a passion for music, musicians, and who in these dark times for the independent Record Industry, will take the time out of his day he needs to not only tell you that although he's not signing your "new band", but he's quite willing to share an "insiders' perspective" from a label's point of view with all who are willing to listen.

Here below, are the recent utterances of TOMMYT upon these subjects, sent to myself via email and reprinted here with his permission. Incidentally, if you like the way this is starting to get your mind working about these questions, you should definitely pop over to the label's site to check out the Rants section.

Thanks for your info and stuff....we get bombarded by bands/solo artists, electronic artists all day and night here, and I don't mind, but the problem is... the fans...!!!

People don't care about buying music these days, and they definately could give a fuck about new bands as time has shown me... They only want the bands they know and that are big and that are doing the same old trendy stuff...

I like to hear new bands and to spin them on Cyberage Radio (, and its always cool to check them out and hope that people will like them, if they are good, and we spin em, but I don't get people wanting to buy or support new bands anymore...

The "download society" fucked everything up, as did Itunes and Napster and everyone, all music is to people is a "happy meal" download ora free download, and thats it...They don't care about new albums or labels or anything...

So, for us to even bother putting out new bands, spending tons of cash to do so, just to get dissed, and not sell anything, and just to be blamed for the music scene by these spoiled little miserable kids is too much of a headache and a loss all the experiences with new bands are not good... If they dont sell alot and get big they kinda blame the label and then don't even do shows, which are way important these days, and they just sit around thinking they will be stars... its all bullshit..

The whole scene has been damaged by the "new ways" and has disenchanted myself and so many other labels from even bothering anymore with signing and releasing new bands...

So, blame the youth, blame the downloads,and blame the trends...

The labels are just here to try to help bands and to keep our heads above water and that doesn't seem to be working much anymore..

* * *

We'll be here in a year still..... We been doing it for 13 years... All underground and all independent...We will only be releasing a few bands though. The ones that done good for us already... I signed on so many "new bands" that just disappointed me... Its not nearly as easy as "everyone thinks" to sell, and to be successful... Now, everyone with a computer makes music and "has a band" and it just makes it all the more cluttered and sad...

I'm not trying to be elitest...I am doing what 99.9% of the other labels won't do...

1) Answer mail from bands not on their label or that they don't know of...

2) Telling it like it is, because someone has to... So many lies from lame bands
and other sheeple always blaming the labels what should be blamed on all of them
and the "so called fans" who don't buy music anymore, or just do everything
download, just like the TV, and corporates tell them too...obedient little
slaves....slaves to APPLE!!!

Artists/bands who just think that if they get signed on a label they don't have to do anything but sit back and collect cash... NO!! Thats not the way it is.. bands gotta play LIVE, promote their bands, and be all over it, and all over the place... There's millions of electronic bands/projects now... The competition has never even been close to this fierce, and now with the economic disaster cause of this stupid war in Iraq, and because of downloads, no one supports or buys music anymore...

As a distributor of over 800 titles I can seriously say this with confidence... it's not that all 800 titles suck... it's that the fans don't care about music anymore, or good music, at least...

We'll keep on truckin like we always do, mowin down the posers and sheep that get in our way...


Cyberrage Radio

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Spark Analogy is Rather Misleading

A view that is at once too broad as well as too telescoped, is the one many on the American left (and probably the right as well) have of social movements. We know there were strikes in the 1930s and sit-ins in the 1960s, and that in between and before it was "bad" for radicals, and that eventually after each period of upsurge things fizzled out. That might be a fine approach for understanding the fireworks at a fourth of July celebration but it's a rather condensed and impressionistic view of historical events as they actually unfolded. Furthermore if that's all the time you're going to spend thinking about such things you are ultimately going to be left with all the wrong conclusions. If upturns just "come", then can't we just sort of hang out eventually they'll come again?

Said the anarchist worker to the Communist organizer; "We don't need a party, but call us when the revolution comes..."

If you are angry at the status quo, and perhaps feeling a bit radical, it may be hard for you to understand that no fire was started by a spark. A fire is started with kindling, tinder, and eventually bigger logs. It takes a while to gather up all the pieces. The materials available may be more or less flammable, wetter or more dry. Sometimes the sparks fizzle. Sometimes it lights and then it goes out. Sometimes you run out of wood. Other times a whole forest may burn down. And how long did it take for the forest to grow in the first place?

But in any case, if you are cold and in a forest, it is particularly important for you to understand that fires don't build themselves; it actually takes people working for a while, consciously and unconsciously, to get one started. From then on it is a process to see it through. The analogy as applied to social movements has been beaten to death. There's some merit to it but it's not the most helpful conceptual framework.

The "spark" analogy may describe the actions of a certain individual or a particularly crowd on a specific day, but the simplified analogy has never really applied to movements as a whole. Even at "defining moments", like when the police line broke at the demonstration in Petrograd, in February 1917, and the Russian Revolution began; there was a rather long period that proceeded it in which masses of people became fed up with the status quo, radicalized, and began to take action. Much of this had been actively repressed early on, but later, revolutionary sentiment was widespread that authorities were simply afraid to repress it.

Neither does the analogy really apply to the United States in the 1930s. It took until 1935 for the CIO to split from the AFL and begin to build itself as a mass union federation representing millions of workers. Prior to that period, while there were major, victorious strikes in Toledo, Minneapolis, and the Western Seaboard in 1934, there were also many defeats before and during that time that don't get talked about as much, such as among agricultural workers in California's Imperial Valley, or among Textile Workers in the national strike of that year. Yet even in defeat the participants were able to learn, to organize, to build organizations, and later as conditions were more favorable, the tide did start to turn. Yet the advance was never monolithic. Textile workers for instance never recovered from 1934, and post war organizing campaigns were ultimately ineffective. Enduring local bitterness, and the eventual off shoring of nigh that entire industry, was its ultimate fate.

A lot of people "radicalized" in the months after the stock market collapsed in 1929, but for a long time many of them were also quite demoralized. Much radical activism in the early period of the depression didn't take the form of leading big strikes of strong, inspiring, well informed workers, but of organizing to stop evictions, or to demand food relief. "Communism in America" in the early 1930s for many people simply meant your friends or neighbors that helped you move your furniture back into the apartment after the landlord had it dumped on the street. In the Midwest it meant the organized physical intimidation by radicals of anyone who would bid over a penny for the sale at auction of foreclosed property (as pre-arranged, the title was then transferred back over to the original, dispossessed owner).

Before the CP led the United Electrical Workers, Communist electricians would more commonly be found illegally running wires from the city's power lines back into your house after the lights had been cut off. Not surprisingly party activists involved with leadership in local "Unemployment Councils" experienced higher rates of depression and burnout. Working day in and day out with people who have not had work for several months to a year or longer is simply an emotionally draining process. This is something we have to understand, and can't overlook, or pretend burnout is some kind of personal shortcoming than cannot be anticipated.

The Civil Rights Movement too is another struggle that really had no beginning. Resistance to racism and slavery had occurred, through ups and downs, from the very start of the Slave Trade. Brown vs. Board of Education was not so much the beginning of the struggle for Martin Luther King, H Rap Brown, Malcolm X, Tom Hayden, or any other big name of the sixties as it was the closing chapter on a whole era of turbulent racial struggle that occurred in the 1930s and 1940s. A Philip Randolph's threatened marches on Washington, Truman's desegregation of the armed forces and the Democrat's Civil Rights platform in 1948, postwar racial violence, black veterans, McCarthyism, the Communist Party, and the NAACP all played different roles to create the environment in which the five cases in that decision were brought to trial and eventually heard. Furthermore, it wasn't Brown that coaxed a movement into being from nothing. The case was important and had major national implications, there was at first a cautious period of “wait and see”, followed by a violent racist reaction. The Montgomery Bus boycott and the Little Rock High desegregation were important, but a lot else happened in the six years between Brown and the Greensboro sit ins that, while much of it was small, made latter, more well known events possible.

When a political history of the period we are living in today is later written, do you think the cases of the Jena 6, the Freightliner 5, the Charleston 6, or even the Smithfield workers, will be quoted as the “start” of some new “epoch” of upsurge? Probably not, and even these were fairly significant radical developments involving large numbers of people. Seattle in 1999 might be, but even that is misleading, because the organizers who planned that protest did not manifest out of thin air: they and the groups they brought with them were formed over years of struggle, often taking place well under the national radar.

But the point is that for each of those cases locally, and to a somewhat lesser extent, regionally and nationally, they did mark important starting points, where “ordinary people” that no one expected to probably ever do anything at all radical on a large scale took a stand against the status quo, endured great difficulties for it, and to a greater or lesser extent came out ahead of where they were before.

The long awaited “new period of upsurge” will develop precisely out of hundreds of such events, many of which we won’t even hear about, and some of which we may play a role in initiating. Entering such a period isn’t like sleeping in, and waiting for the church bells to ring letting you know it’s time to go somewhere. It’s about being awake, alert, and politically active social person before things happen, so that when they start to, you are able to play a role.