Zine Week Day 5: The Art of Demonstration by Cultural Correspondence, 1985

Final zine, y'all! This one arrived to me in the mail as a gift (among many!), along with the usual scholarly correspondence, from my amazingly heartful, talented, and fly poet / professor / academic advisor / friend, Gale P. Jackson.

I love it because

  • Its content is both instructive and creative, showing “Techniques, materials, How to / Where to [of] Banners, Signs, Floats, theater, Music, songs, chants, puppets, etc.”
  • It was published in 1985, making it one year older than me
  • The illustrations and layout are incredible
  • Some content is time-specific and local, making it political propaganda as well as a DIY manual.

I’ll try to let this one speak for itself. With deep gratitude and appreciation to Gale! Hopefully some of the specific contents will infuse themselves into my organizing, and be reflected there.

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Zine Week Day 4: New Thoughts On Animal Liberation

What, you thought Zine Week would adhere to linear time?

Just kidding; sorry for the lapse! Today’s zine, from a member of Austin-based group ¡ella pelea!, is especially exciting for its application of class consciousness theory from Advance the Struggle’s Oscar Grant pamphlet (featured on Zine Week Day 2) to the Animal Rights Movement (ARM) in the U.S.

in Buena Vista Park, SF

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Zine Week Day 3: A Stand Up Start-Up: Confronting Sexual Assault with Transformative Justice by Philly Stands Up

Last month I talked a little bit about transformative justice and the dope workshop that folks from the Philly Stands UP collective offered here in Oakland. This zine is one I picked up at that workshop: kind of like a primer for the PSU model.

There’s a lot I like about this zine.  Its unpretentious candor.  The ways it contextualizes itself, pointing to overlapping work that others are doing. (The final chapter is an excerpt from Color of Violence: the INCITE! Anthology.) The way it foregrounds survivor support in its Points of Unity:

We are a group that survivors can come to for help and support.  We will always support survivors and ensure survivor autonomy, where they will always be in control of how a situation is dealt with.

. . .

We do not support the prison system as a viable means of rehabilitation for perpetrators, but we will always support a survivor’s wishes and engage the legal system on any level necessary.

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Zine Week Day 2: Justice For Oscar Grant by Advance the Struggle

Sorry for the late post again! Today’s zine is already a Bay Area radical classic, examining the politics around the recent wave of struggle following a caught-on-tape police murder. A white cop shot a young Black Oakland resident in the back, while the young man was lying face-down on a subway platform. (This officer, by the way, may be released from prison next month, having served less than a year of his 2-year sentence.)

Published in its original version back in mid-July of 2009, the new updated edition contains the same dope analysis of the role of nonprofits, histories of rioting, racist policing and more, plus a new preface, more art, and a supplementary article: “Moving Beyond Violence vs. Nonviolence.”

In my forthcoming guest column in make / shift magazine, I draw on A/S’s analysis of the Oscar Grant movement to illustrate my own alternatives to liberal, relativist interpretations of Buddhist teachings. You’ll have to wait til the magazine comes out to read my application of their deft explications, but in the meantime why not throw down a few dollars for a copy (just click the Donate button on the Advance the Struggle blog) and print the primary source material yourself? :)

Ink drought in your printer? No worries; you can read the web version, too. Still donate, though!

Zine Week, Day 1: A Rejected Summation by brownfemipower

I’m not really sure why it took me so long to get into zines. Even now I’m not particularly ‘into’ them, to tell the truth — which is strange, considering that I love handmade objects, and I obviously love informal self-publishing. True zine-ophiles (ha! xenophiles!) might cringe at overly broad definitions of the form, but to a layperson like me, the essence of zines seems to be (a) self-manufacture and (b) text and images. Why wouldn’t a blog count? (Unless, of course, you’re a stickler about the handmade-object thing, which, really, I wouldn’t blame you, because as I said, I have a crush on handmade objects.)

Today’s zine captured my heart immediately, not only because it was made by one of my all-time favorite bloggers / writers, who goes by brownfemipower (or bfp for short), but also because it arrived at my home in the mail as a gift, all the way from Ypsilanti, Michigan, accompanied by a beautiful note in sky-blue ink.

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Today We Made Omelets and Diagrams

Some days all I can really manage to do is make an omelet. Not that I'm fishing for compliments — I'm aware and confident that this was a fucking phenomenal omelet, filled with beet greens sautéed with garlic, lemon zest, great-tasting olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and just a touch of brown sugar, then rounded out with grape tomatoes and goat milk blue cheese, and finished with cilantro. Tremendous. One for me, one for Ryan. And our kitchen conversation during the omelet forging somehow led to me drawing the following charts about the Cycle of Productive Capital:

Both of these charts represent my still-dim comprehension of the concept, and if someone else has better charts or corrections to add, please share! Minimally, this illustration should probably be in the shape of a spiral to show how M'>M, and the extra (profit) gets re-invested? I dunno.

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California Nurses Assoc. Goes on Strike Down the Street

Some images from a 5-day strike at the Children’s Hospital just a few blocks from where Ryan, Mai and I live. The contracts that the bosses are trying to push would include so many “takeaways” (cuts to previously held benefits) that nurses who work in the hospital would no longer be able to afford to bring their own children there for treatment.

Ryan and I chatted up a lot of the workers for a while, and thanked them for setting an inspiring example by actually going out on strike and fighting back. Lots of positive energy, aided, I think by the freshness of the action (it was the first of the 5 days) and a steady stream of honks of encouragement from folks driving down Martin Luther King Jr Way.

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Hella Marxist Buddhism

Loving the first reading from a new Socially Engaged Buddhist study group that’s getting started this month: chapter 11 of Nalin Swaris’ book The Buddha’s Way To Human Liberation: A socio-historical approach. Swaris argues that karma is not properly understood (either in terms of actual functioning, or in terms of how the historical Buddha explained it) as an individual inheritance of bad or good deeds committed in past lives that determines one’s social station in this birth. Such commonplace/hegemonic conservative interpretations are basically ruling-class ideology, serving to legitimize the group(s) in power. “You were born a brahmin/king/rich light-skinned dude? You must’ve accumulated lots of merit in past lives. You were born ugly/a woman/poor/Black? You must’ve done some bad shit in a past life.”

Instead, Swaris defines karma as the inherited social and material conditions fashioned by previous generations of humans as a group, which then delimit but do not determine individual and collective actions in the present. Essentially, he locates Marxist historical materialism and dialectics within the original teachings of the Buddha. Dope! And kind of hilarious, in a makes-me-giddy-but-I-take-it-seriously sort of way.

Human Agency – A Species Potential

To understand what is meant by the ‘species nature’ of humans, one must turn to Karl Marx who introduced the concept. This recourse to Marx may seem like an attempt to read into the Buddha’s teaching on interpretation of kamma which has no basis in the canonical scriptures. I ask the reader to bear with me, follow the theoretical clarification and see its relevance to understand the Buddha’s extraordinary elucidations of human nature and human agency.

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Otsu Night

ahhhhhhh bowl o' otsu
Ryan's perfectly pan-fried tofu
Ryan's lovely diced cucumbers

Celebrating our usable kitchen, now that the water’s back on in the building, Ryan and I busted out a batch of otsu. With practice, we’ve refined our skills: his tofu frying is money, I’ve learned not to toss the cucumbers in with the soba noodle salad (to keep them bright green: they turn a murky brown when coated with the red cayenne) and my ginger-lemon-cayenne-honey-sesame dressing is extra-fly these days thanks to improved emulsifying techniques. Grateful to keep cooking and learning.

¡Bon probecho!