The Singer in the Subway: Damon C. Scott and Storm Queen

The Singer in the Subway: Damon C. Scott and Storm Queen

In 2007, Wash­ing­ton Post colum­nist Gene Wein­garten and Gram­my Award-win­ning clas­si­cal vio­lin­ist Joshua Bell teamed up to play a prank on com­muters in Wash­ing­ton, DC’s pub­lic trans­porta­tion sys­tem. Weingarten’s account of what he called “an exper­i­ment in con­text, per­cep­tion and priorities—as well as an unblink­ing assess­ment of pub­lic taste” appeared in a Post arti­cle called “Pearls Before Break­fast.” It describes how Bell stood in the L’Enfant Plaza Sta­tion pos­ing as a sub­way busker, and per­formed a selec­tion of clas­si­cal pieces typ­i­cal of his con­certs. He played them on his Gib­son ex Huber­man Stradivarius—a 300-year-old piece of wood that is val­ued at $3.5 mil­lion.

Work

Work

Last Thurs­day night, work­ers for Seri­ous Mate­ri­als in Chica­go occu­pied their fac­to­ry. The night before, Occu­py Philly’s Edu­ca­tion and Train­ing Work­ing Group held a meet­ing of its ten-week “Dis­sect­ing Cap­i­tal­ism” work­shop, at the Lan­cast­er Avenue Autonomous Space. View­point edi­tor Salar Mohan­desi spoke on the top­ic “Con­tem­po­rary Labor and Work­place Strug­gles,” along with Sean West Wispy, an orga­niz­er at Occu­py Philly with expe­ri­ence in the labor move­ment.

Porkchops for All! The 100th Anniversary of the San Diego Free Speech Fights

Porkchops for All! The 100th Anniversary of the San Diego Free Speech Fights

On Jan­u­ary 8th, 1912, the busi­ness and prop­er­ty own­ers of the San Diego Com­mon Coun­cil passed Ordi­nance No. 4623. The func­tion of the ordi­nance: to crim­i­nal­ize free speech in a zone cen­tered around the inter­sec­tion of 5th and E streets, pop­u­lat­ed pri­mar­i­ly by work­ers. By Jan­u­ary 16th, the IWW had respond­ed by form­ing the “Cal­i­for­nia Free Speech League,” with the sup­port of social­ists, church­es, and oth­er union locals. The Wob­blies, with the ben­e­fit of sheer num­bers and lit­tle else, sought to test the ordi­nance and its enforce­ment with aggres­sive soap­box­ing and inces­sant speechi­fy­ing in the restrict­ed zone.

On the Black Bloc

On the Black Bloc

The “internecine ultra-left argu­ment of the moment,” says the Wall Street Jour­nal, is the debate over the “black bloc.” And if this debate has led the WSJ to talk about “ultra-left­ism,” it’s clear­ly a debate we have to address.

Santa Rita, I Hate Every Inch of You

Santa Rita, I Hate Every Inch of You

Twen­ty-four hours into my incar­cer­a­tion in San­ta Rita Jail, I found myself in yet anoth­er tac­ti­cal con­ver­sa­tion, dis­sect­ing the numer­ous fail­ures that had led to the ket­tling and mass arrests of about 400 Occu­py Oak­land demon­stra­tors. This is one of the few upsides of a mass arrest. After get­ting the row­dy activists off the streets, the police find them­selves host­ing a three-day strat­e­gy con­fer­ence inside the jail. When­ev­er a con­ver­sa­tion begins to get stale, the guards show up and shuf­fle peo­ple into new dis­cus­sion groups, and the debate begins afresh.

Building the Red Army: The Death and Forbidden Rebirth of the Oakland Commune

Building the Red Army: The Death and Forbidden Rebirth of the Oakland Commune

“Don’t fuck with the Oak­land Com­mune.” Words which will live for­ev­er in his­to­ry, to be remem­bered and repeat­ed at every glo­ri­ous defeat inflict­ed upon the heroes of the future by may­ors, police offi­cers, unions, church­es, and chil­dren. A let­ter, signed by the Occu­py Oak­land Move-In Assem­bly, promised to respond to the inevitable evic­tion of an ille­gal build­ing occu­pa­tion by “blockad­ing the air­port indef­i­nite­ly.” Tac­tics only dreamed of by al-Qae­da, with­in the reach of Occu­py Oak­land after just four months. Yes­ter­day these words were at the cen­ter of a mate­r­i­al prac­tice which brought our move­ment up against its lim­its.

Voices from the Rank and File: Remembering Marty Glaberman and Stan Weir

Voices from the Rank and File: Remembering Marty Glaberman and Stan Weir

I have been asked to say a few words about Mar­ty Glaber­man and Stan Weir. It may be that the request is prompt­ed in part by recent events on the West Coast water­front. I have fol­lowed those events with inter­est, but I am not there and I have not had an oppor­tu­ni­ty to talk with par­tic­i­pants. Accord­ing­ly, please con­sid­er my remarks about my depart­ed friends and com­rades on their own mer­its, such as they may be, and accept my assur­ance that no implic­it mes­sage about cur­rent events is intend­ed.

A Constituent Power Greater Than its Parts: Occupy and Workers from the Port Shutdown to the Primaries

A Constituent Power Greater Than its Parts: Occupy and Workers from the Port Shutdown to the Primaries

From its begin­nings in New York City to the recent West Coast Port Shut­down, the Occu­py move­ment has con­sis­tent­ly con­front­ed the issue of co-opta­tion. About a month and a half or so ago, many par­tic­i­pants voiced wor­ries about being co-opt­ed by MoveOn, the Democ­rats, unions (to a less­er extent, since they had shown up as allies with­out seem­ing to try to monop­o­lize the def­i­n­i­tion of actions and events), and oth­er groups affil­i­at­ed with the polit­i­cal par­ties.

"It is better to fight": On Martin and Malcolm

“It is better to fight”: On Martin and Malcolm

The effi­gy of a black man, a son of South­ern soil and descen­dant of slaves, now stands over the nation’s Mall among its found­ing fathers, noto­ri­ous slave own­er in front and the so-called Great Eman­ci­pa­tor to his back. Look­ing out over the placid Tidal Basin with a steely-eyed reserve and chis­eled deter­mi­na­tion, the Mar­tin Luther King, Jr. Nation­al Memo­r­i­al, the first mon­u­ment on the Mall ded­i­cat­ed to a man of col­or, has whipped up yet anoth­er tem­pest of protest. Besides the same types who did not and still do not com­mem­o­rate the life of this influ­en­tial Civ­il Rights leader on the third Mon­day of every Jan­u­ary, oth­er dis­senters have not­ed that the veined, con­fronta­tion­al depic­tion of the Broth­er Preach­er by the Chi­nese sculp­tor Lei Yix­in does not evoke the round docil­i­ty asso­ci­at­ed with the open-armed love of non­vi­o­lence. For them, the image goes against what they see as King’s true lega­cy, while oth­ers see the statute as an appro­pri­ate stance of well-ground­ed, stony defi­ance and pride.

Hostile and Notorious: The Conditions of Private Property

Hostile and Notorious: The Conditions of Private Property

Fol­low­ing the recent four-day occu­pa­tion of an emp­ty bank build­ing at 75 Riv­er Street in San­ta Cruz and the attempt­ed occu­pa­tion of an emp­ty ware­house in Seat­tle, the con­tro­ver­sial tac­tic of attempt­ing to seize and hold vacant pri­vate prop­er­ty has been tak­en up as a new front of a sprawl­ing social move­ment. These actions move beyond protest­ing the enclo­sure of pub­lic space and sti­fling of free speech; they aim to expand the scope of cri­tique to the role that pri­vate prop­er­ty plays in our cur­rent cri­sis. This change in scope has not been lost on the land­lords. “I’m def­i­nite­ly not in agree­ment with this group tak­ing over pri­vate prop­er­ty,” a local prop­er­ty own­er told the Mer­cury News.