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YOWN!
Is it about d.i.y. culture,
or d.i.y. cultures?
Oof Confusion
A Manifesto
to Make War on Nonsense!

DO-IT-YOURSELF CIVILIZATION
A journal celebrating the decentralized, radically par-
Can you write ticipatory do-it-yourself underground, mass-produced and
about the former distributed by a vanguard elite? A broadside emphasizing
without examples your capabilities by glorifying the adventures and achieve-
of the latter? ments of a privileged few? A fable chronicling traditions of
revolt, a pioneer expedition into the past, a retelling of time
to rescue the future? History or story, legend or legerde-
main, anthropology or propaganda?
But aren’t those
examples just These are tensions we cannot resolve here, tensions
distractions from we care not to resolve. Consistency is the hobgoblin of History is not something Liberty = Autonomy + Culture
what people can do Individuals cannot be autonomous—we are formed by relationships:
that happens to people—
little minds, paradox the dynamo of evolution1. Where the
themselves? Think of contradictions are sharpest, the soil is the most fertile; and without them, we do not exist. One cannot create meaning in a vacuum—but
punk rock, anarchism,
and so on—don’t they Or do they give
people a voice to try
fertility is what we seek above all. Work out for yourself
which of these roads you want to follow, if any—they all
it is the activity of people. neither can one be anything but at the mercy of and alienated by a meaning
that arrives from on high. One must make meaning with others, cooperatively,
trap people in “doing
themselves” what out on their tongues
until they can develop
lead into terra incognita, and it’s trailblazing you’re after,
right? Certainly nothing less will serve to make this enemy
Culture does not dictate for it to be meaning-ful. Likewise, freedom is not standing alone, “man ver-
sus humanity”—those who set out to “pursue their desires” as individualists
others have done,
instead of coming voices of their own?
Isn’t that the role
soil into the no-man’s land we long to call home. human behavior— neglect to consider that even those desires are socially constructed. Neither
up with their own is freedom to be found in unquestioning “obedience to the law”: we do that
answers, their own of ritual and myth?
Shouldn’t we be
Burn every toy store and replace them with playgrounds, it is the sum of human social constructing ourselves—those are our laws, whether we take credit for
questions?
looking to learn from
our ancestors, even the Editors/Gatherers behavior. Technological them or not. A free human being is not a law-follower or a law-breaker, but a
law-maker and re-maker, a part of a tribe. “Ideology” is what we call a culture
as we destroy and
create everything
progress is not a force when we want to rebel against the limits it imposes; but escaping culture is
equivalent to escaping existence, not becoming free in it.

But don’t
anew? Don’t you think
someone has done
of nature, either. There is So here it is in one sentence: When we speak of liberty, we mean the cre-
ation of our own cultural context for life, which is necessarily collective; when
the little
subcultures
that before, too? no civilization without us we speak of autonomy, we mean the opportunity to do that creating without
interference.
people create
today just act
civilizing, no capitalism Culture is made up of languages2: languages of words, of numbers, of
as diversions
from the
without us capitalizing and concepts, of musical conventions, of aesthetic expectations, of solutions for
problems, of answers to questions. Languages write our lives: they set the
important
project of
capitulating. These are options whenever we make a choice, however free we may be in the selec-
tion. At the same time, it is our use of them that reproduces them, keeps them
hard things to remember in

O
undoing and alive, makes them what they are, as they make us. Terms in languages work
rebuilding our ne hundred thousand years ago, the storyteller begins, your only because we hold them in common; language-writing is the ultimate col-
entire society?
ancestors lived much as the folk you will read about in this journal the boss’s office, let alone lective activity, is the common denominator of all social activity. To be free of
Or do they give us
the practice we need do. They created and solved their problems together, in the process working the checkout line language is impossible in human relations—that universe as we know it is not
only described by language, but exists as language. [*]
for such a task? And
for that matter—
not only arranging for survival but also fashioning their world by at Wal-Mart. The mass Yes, languages enforce their constraints upon us—or, more to the point,
those constraints are us—but if we are the ones making those languages, we
who says we want to attributing meaning to an overwhelming and alien cosmos. media encourages us to make ourselves: every time we alter or subvert a concept or expectation, we win
rebuild a mass-based
Under capitalism, you too live in that alien, overwhelming cosmos, she our freedom, we make our freedom. Liberty is not a condition of being undeter-
society, or that real
life only takes place feel sentimental and proud mined—that’s impossible—but of doing the determining, or at least sharing it with Foraging versus agriculture,
continues, just as your ancestors did so long ago—but because you are inundated your comrades3 and a trusted universe. It is in this constant redefining of terms, the primitive versus civilized, culture versus nature,
in the context of
one? What if real constantly with culture that is mass-produced for you, you forget that this
of “our” achievements: the ongoing creation and negation of forms and assumptions that freedom becomes underground versus mainstream, avant-garde
versus institution . . . these questions are not
life, for some of
us, is what we make creation and attribution of meaning is the central question of human life. Self- space shuttle soars, the possible—for those, at least, who take part. Therefore, if we’re looking for liberty,
we do best to take our stand with the ones challenging the languages that exist the point here. It is too easy to divide the
ourselves in our
small groups, today determination, let alone self-realization, is impossible without addressing this. disease is cured, the star today,4 and with the parts of our lives in which we currently join in interactive
culture.5
world into rigid oppositions and take sides,
as if no other approach were possible; the
While the world
as well as after your
revolution? Find your way back to the wilderness, she urges, back to wildness—or rather, gets the girl at the end of A cancer of mass-produced, impersonal, prefabricated culture threatens one who does this unquestioningly is truly the
pawn of a language that sees only in binary.
our species. A creature does not die “of” cancer—a creature dies by becom-
around us is
governed by
recognize that this is the Wilderness, this is not your “natural environment,” this the movie. But sitting in ing cancer, when its cells begin reproducing sameness at the expense of These terms function best in metaphors to get
at what is free and unfree in human life, what
forces beyond is the forbidding, inhuman, senseless dystopia your philosophers, unable to theater or classroom seats, diversity. A culture that sets up a million franchises with workers in matching
is liberating and inhibiting in the possibilities
our control, is it uniforms executing identical tasks is a cancer out of control, a monster riding
see beyond the insides of their own heads, have projected onto the Wild. Once
possible to say
you are free in in front of the television the humanity that gave birth to it into an untimely grave. We need a culture
that is a dialogue, an interplay between us and the languages we think and
before us; let’s not trap ourselves in debating
the particulars of any metaphor, but pursue the
you recognize that the important question for you is the same as it was for your
any context?
Is freedom ancestors millennia ago—how to impart meaning to such a place—you can begin to
or computer screen, speak and live in—not a monologue arriving out of a loudspeaker. traces of poetry that, as in any language, exist
between the lines: the truths hidden between
Fighting for this, we attack the average, deny the universal, and
something you
can experience in do so, and catch up to where they were. alienated, exploited, nurture the anomalous. the lies that words and all concepts, by their
very nature as abstractions, necessarily are.
fragments?
How can we speak The tale-spinner concludes her tale: When you set out on this journey, bored, and disappointed Here, unconcerned for a precious
about freedom instant with truth and falsehood alike (let alone
at all, whether in do not reckon yourselves modern primitives, but primitive post-moderns: the by this self-destructing with being proved “wrong”!), against the
the future or the
present, without first of an ancient order. Imagine that you sow the seeds of a long-deferred society, between calls for 2
For an advanced exercise and an alternate account, reread this passage
protection racket of non-participatory culture
and the mythology of fear and powerlessness
referring to the future, seeds hundreds of thousands of years old.
moments of it we resistance, we begin to replacing “languages” with “stories.”
3
In former times, culture was developed in tribal groups, on a small enough scale
that sustains it, let us create a counter-
mythology of possibility. After all, the chief
do experience?
Aren’t those pose ourselves the next that everyone could participate.
4
Not with the artists or “postmodernists” who retain their modern roles as
significance of any story is how it enables—or
moments, and the disables—the ones who tell and hear it.
initiatives that question: when our lives experts, nor with the radicals who play their predictable part as the loyal
opposition of the established order—but with those who refuse and transform
create them,
always the most are in our hands, what do their social roles.
5
So yes, by all means, form another basement punk band—but do it in a way that
important part of
And how do you
propose to make life, on whatever we do with them instead? challenges punk rock, or you’ll be killing it, not keeping it alive!
a journal about scale they occur?

insists all life will be a paradise


[*] Some have argued—in
lovely and moving prose, no
less—that language itself is
the absence of freedom. They
would oppose nature to culture

former alone; we should be as


and locate freedom in the

anyone who professes to speak


for or about Nature, as it is the
modern equivalent of the God
would-be masters once spoke
for. “Nature” and “culture” are

terpretations made of language),


and form a dichotomy which—

over time, have culture, or just


nature? Just like us, the bees

shock in effect! What is natural

after the revolution and can only


be a hell before it is speechless in
themselves abstractions, anyway
(that is—terms in a language, in-

like all dichotomies—breaks


down under enough scrutiny. Do
bees in a hive, who communicate

Rather than ascribe super-natu-

language, it makes more sense


to consider nature and culture
two faces of the same dynamic

These maniacs, in their


declarations that freedom existed

common than they would care

millennial moment of revolution:


suspicious of them as we are of

with a language which evolves

are their culture—this culture is

be something static and dictated


by an autocratic deity (“Mother
their nature!—it only appears to

Nature”) because we view it from


such a distance: that’s culture

is what we imagine and create:


nature has no laws, only habits
that change and can be broken.

ral origins and characteristics to

force, and to see language as a

before civilization and vanished


with its arrival, have more in

to admit with the other maniacs


who insist that freedom, impos-
sible today, waits ahead for
us around the bend of some

both of them situate everything


that is precious in life over some
ultimate horizon, whether before

conceive of that perfection with-


or behind us, without troubling to

The old-line revolutionary who

the face of the paradise discov-


ered by a lovemaking couple; the
hard-line primitivist who writes of
how magical everything was be-
fore our “fall from grace” is simi-
larly disoriented when it comes

right now. We would do better


to orient our values around the
contents of our own lives, what is

begin our project of liberation

all. To measure the value of any

in total world transformation is

to reject everything that exists in

the point is always what is hap-


pening—the process, not the
product, the means, not the ends
explain how we are even able to

out an example of it on hand.

to the question of what matters

possible in them: for if we can’t

from what we know, we can’t


start or steer such a project at

undertaking by whether it results

craziness, just as it is craziness

favor of everything that doesn’t;

at which we never do arrive, nor


the beginnings we never knew.
Freedom is made up of moments
in the present or else it is indeed
an abstraction, a mere ghost of
them, to celebrate
the world of d.i.y.
without making
it something

manifestation of this.
external to what
real people do?

language.
1
Che Guevara had been declared completely unfit for military service by the Argentine army. Don Quixote, the most errant of knights, was conceived in the confines
of prison. The first anarchists were aristocrats. “All power to the Workers’ Councils!” demanded the famous advocates of the abolition of work. “I hate you,” the lover
swears. Solipsist artists speak to all, for all. Feminists fight to put an end to gender. Barricades which close streets simultaneously clear the way, as the vandal smashes
glass out of tenderness—to make love is to make war. As Nietzsche wrote, you must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star.
When the question of human nature comes up,
We Are Continuously Giving
the programmed always point us to their history
books to show that all human beings ever do is fight,
command, obey. Before we look at those books, let’s
Birth To Our Ancestors
look a little closer at history itself: when they say his-
tory, which history do they mean? Time and space
I began to stay up later and later to find time and
space for myself. At four in the morning, the city was
difference than we can imagine, great multitudes of
Atlantises, each with currencies and cosmologies un-
““Tool-using primitive peoples were actually
more accustomed to exercising their intelligence
are both so vast that one could not hope to begin to deserted; at a quarter past five, birds strutted on the imaginable from this vantage point. Write your own than we are—they were used to inventing their tools
record either in full: any record is inevitably selec- streets cars would monopolize two hours later. I stories of what our ancestors did—they’re probably and solutions,
tive in the extreme. Could one write a history of walked there, too—it was a fairyland, an alternate true—and use them to kindle the courage you’ll need while
heartbeats, of kisses, of picnics? And yet aren’t universe in which this crowded, heavily policed dis- to live the stories you want. Tell those fables around
these, proportionately speaking, a much greater trict was my own domain, a measureless paradise the fire before the next great adventure your clan
part of human history than anything in the his- such as Adam and Eve might have awoken in. My undertakes, be it transcontinental migration or

History
tory books? joy in it was so profound I almost wanted to rush out anti-imperialist demonstration; whisper
Today we are in the belly of a hier- and populate it again with a new race of offspring. them into your lover’s ear when he
archical leviathan, which naturally After months of enjoying this solitude, I was needs reassurance that he is not
tells the stories of other hierarchical joined by first one, then a few friends, who started crazy for breaking ranks with
empires as “the” history of the to stay up and walk with me. Surprisingly, this did this “global village” of can-
human race: contests for eco- not spoil the pleasure, but increased it: now I had a nibals. If anything is
nomic and political power, people with whom to share my world! for sure, it is that
books of laws and philo- So late at night, we walked the streets of our your predeces-
sophical rationalizing, Greensboro, North Carolina, across the asphalt on sors did the

As We Live It
the trivia of the lives which automobiles drove by day. We didn’t speak it same!
of “great men.” aloud, but we knew that one day, when there were
But the ma- no more cars, all the inhabitants of this land would
jority of follow in our footsteps. This was our universe, ex-
human tending before and behind us through eternity,
and its past and future were as real to us as
the industrial revolution was to the mo-
torists. It occurred to me then that ev-
ery people exists in a unique time
continuum, planning for the
future and interpreting
the past in its light;
and perhaps
time itself
is

No
deep and broad and full enough to
have room in it for all of these disparate histories.
Perhaps we need not judge which one is “true” of the
Future In Nostalgia
we, for
world, but instead admit them all as real for the ones What the pundits say:
com- the most part,
who travel in them.
munities; simply receive them.
but we can tell by
The war to define the past is indeed a war to claim
“ “In addition to shorter and more flexible hours
and the more reliable safety net afforded by food
Similarly, they were more
the very rarity of such practiced in the arts of enjoying life,
the soul of humanity. Old demagogues brandished sharing, foragers’ labor was more satisfying than
records that they are not repre- as they weren’t busy constantly struggling
the Will of God at us, new ones brandish Nature and most modern work is. We awaken to the alarm
sentative of what all human beings were to catch up to the progress of their civilization.
History. When we want to prove another world is clock—they slept a lot, night and day. We are sed-
doing in those days, let alone before—or today. Joy, and wonder, and friendship were the centers of
possible, we instinctively fight them for these—but entary in our buildings in our polluted cities; they
Let’s speak of proportions again. The human life, not survival—or else they would have developed
let’s be careful not to win a Pyrrhic victory by recon- moved about freely, breathing the fresh air of the
race has been around for over one million years, but their technological means more rapidly! Only today,
structing a past that outshines any possible present country. We have bosses—they had companions.
the kind agriculture, let alone centralized culture, has only ex- in our world of enforced artificial scarcities and un-
or future. It couldn’t hurt to remember that, as the Our work typically involves one, or, at most, a
of centralized isted for about ten thousand: before that, we were all bridled social change, are the nuts-and-bolts issues
history bare remains must be interpreted to be read at all, the few hyperspecialized skills, if any; theirs combined
has not been spent at power and social con- hunters/gatherers who let everything run wild, our-
selves included. Even inside of the last ten thousand
chief activity of any people looking the past is always handwork and brainwork in a versatile variety of
of mere survival the main focus.” ”
the Battle of Hastings or the cross- trol we see today is only a few projection—historians tend to see what they are look- activities, exactly as the great utopians called for.
thousand years old—and only became globalized in years, only a small minority of human communities
ing of the Rubicon; most of the time, human beings ing for, not what they are looking at. People always Our commute is dead time, and unpaid, to boot—
were—and are, today, any time the boss has his back the last few hundred. have been as bellicose and coercive as this one—and
even today, only a small part of human interactions
cast behind themselves whatever past they need to they could scarcely leave their campsites without “ “In that Golden Age, they lived as if they were
gods, their hearts free from all sorrow. When they
turned—just preparing food, flirting, daydreaming, If some of the earliest historical records are of believe that what they want is possible: fine then! experiencing an adventure of some kind. Life, for
wars and conquests, it is because the first ones to actually express that violence and subservience. Thus died, it was as if they simply fell asleep. The fruit-
playing or working on projects cooperatively. The We’ll do the same! us, is chiefly a source of anxiety, and a source of
catch the disease of so-called civilization were the first we can see that, on every level, fighting, command- ful grainland yielded its harvest to them of its own
times when slavemasters seized power and coerced So let’s not argue that things were better once, retinue for insurance companies; for them, it was a
to feel compelled to conquer and keep tally. Unbeliev- ing, obeying comprise about one percent of human accord—while they, at their pleasure, quietly looked
masses of people have been exceptions—though West- but that they were different—as different as they are feast—or perhaps, at times, a famine, but a famine
ern civilization has seen a disproportionate number ably, these records are the only ones taken seriously history. What about heartbeats, kissing, and picnics,
then? Aren’t those the heritage of our species?
now6. The past behind us is so vast it must hold more nobler and more sensible than our greatest suffer-
after their works, in the midst of good things.””
of these, to its discredit. Remember, our species has by our tunnel-visionary historians, who discount the ings and achievements here in the condominium and
6
The politician says “today things are more the way they are than
been around for hundreds of thousands of years, but oral traditions and folklore common to healthy human ever before,” and the media agrees with him—don’t fall for it! ”
the cubicle.”
people
really spent the ( a n d ,
first nine hundred and probably,
ninety millennia huddled in economic sys-
caves, motionless and terrified—is tem!), into contact
that how human beings reached Green- with unfamiliar cul-
land and Hawaii from the forests of Africa? tures and creatures—a far
Imagine all the wondrous journeys we undertook cry from the identical airports
in the past million years—expeditions and escapades and hotels those unfortunate
to that would be unbelievable to our historians even if businessmen deem their natural
hon- they weren’t invisible to their instruments. Remnants environment. We still set out on such
or what is of these linger in our fairytales still. journeys today, wherever one of us goes
free, creative, In prehistoric times, energy not expended off the map; hitchhiking for the first time
independent on survival must have been employed as children from Amsterdam to Stockholm, exploring
about all human be- camping still utilize it today: to devise and narrate the disused train tunnel that runs through the
ings, especially those stories, explore untrodden spaces, plot impossible darkness under Providence, Rhode Island, we
living now? Why celebrate voyages—and sometimes carry them out. Surely, cross paths with that woman who first ascended
only the foragers of the distant unconstrained by apartment leases, border guards, Mount Everest so long ago.
past when people are foraging in or ticket prices, people traveled more than frequent-
the suburbs at this very moment? The flier businessmen do nowadays; adventure
everyday human still invents. Engage
One million years of anarcha-feminism!
was the order of the day, not something It’s common knowledge that matriarchal soci-
the trainhopper in all of us! imitated annually on eties preceded patriarchal ones—but “matriarchy”
tourist vacations. is simply an abstraction coined by unimaginative

One Million Years Of And just imag-


ine what they
men to describe what they can only picture as the
scav-

D.i.y. Culture!
reverse of today’s gender relations. Those were days
encountered when women knew themselves, days when they enged
as they were known by all as creators, conceivers of life, food like
traveled! A bearers of the spirit world. The Amazons were only modern
Thus The Dreamtime, according to the Aborigines, is trashpickers
week’s trek one of hundreds of tribes of powerful women who
the an- a time that runs concurrent with mortal time, as do, traveled
brought kept these mysteries alive by courage, cunning, and
thropologist, well as having taken place at the inception of the like hitchhik-
them into compassion. The Great Wall of China was built by
the sociologist, cosmos. It is the world in which people dream new ers riding rivers
another patriarchal empires as a desperate defense against
and the Greek poet worlds into being—and in which worlds dream and hopping ocean
ecosystem the Samartians, a nation of horsewomen who lived
(Hesiod, in 700 B.C., themselves into being, through people. currents around the
to be exact) celebrated without masters and were buried in their armor; ac-
cording the (male!) historian Herodotus, a woman of world, celebrated life
the lifestyles of human be- That Dreamtime is perhaps the best model with folk music made by
ings immeasurably removed their tribe would not take a lover for herself until she
for our new mythology: a heritage as old as our their friends, passed down
from them by time and space— had slain a man in battle. The witches who followed
species that can become new in an instant, an folk culture they devised. You
but you could as easily replace them eighteen centuries later were keepers of the
ongoing history we participate in by conjur- can bet some of them had dread-
the foragers, primitive peoples, and same secrets, as we are today when we share herbal
ing it, a time and space in which it is always locks, some homemade tattoos and
golden gods with, say, “trainhoppers” alternatives to doctoral dogma or fill the streets on
the first day of Creation. Invoking this scarification, some patches proclaim-
to make the passages refer to the present the 8th of March. We gather in woman-only spaces as
story, any time, any place, we reenter the ing their allegiances.
day. After all, why let dead people have all the our ancestors did at the dawn of humanity and redis-
Garden of Eden to invent our universe There used to be as many human be-
fun? It does little good to glorify the past at the cover our powers as they discovered theirs, guided by
from scratch. So—to orient ourselves ings in the world as there are punk rockers,
expense of the possibilities of the present, even goddesses who have lost their names only to receive
for looking ahead, let’s look back, and now. When you consider our situation in that
though some do take a perverse pleasure in mourn- new ones. We still refuse any attempts to define or
thus around: light, it’s easier to trace the parallels between their
ing their own lives before they are dead. There are silence us, still devise and revise our own genders
One million years of explo- lives and ours: where once there were saber-toothed
people today living the lives these passages lionize, in just as pre-historic transsexuals and transvestites
ration and discovery! did, still take each other fiercely and fearlessly in tigers, there now are security guards; where later we
cities and distant deserts alike! The first human being to climb fought Sumerian mercenaries, Pharaohs’ armies, Ro- fore the radiowaves
And why stop at that change? Laud “trainhop- strong arms and gentle hands. As Sappho declared,
Mount Everest reached its peak in the words of Rita Mae Brown, an army of lovers man legions to assert and protect our liberty, today were invaded—we met to reach consensus
pers” as a class, and anyone who has hopped a train will 20,000 years ago. What, you don’t we contest corporate conglomerates and so-called long before the first ballot was tampered with! When
instinctively assume you’re speaking about everybody shall not fail.
believe it? Do you think Columbus, democratic governments. We were squatting caves a few of us come together in any liberated, communal
but them. Deep down, no one ever feels included in or Leif Ericsson, or the Phoenicians, before they erected buildings—we painted graffiti space to share those songs and stories and strategies,
any abstraction, in any genera(liza)tion. Praising one One million years of d.i.y. punk!
for that matter, were the first to dis- on those walls before sandblasting was invented—we we are participating in the same tradition our ances-
demographic implies a standard where there should For over 50,000 generations, our ancestors didn’t
cover America, too? Do you think were composing and passing on our own songs be- tors practiced with their neighbors one thousand
be none, anyway. Why not rewrite all these passages shave their legs or armpits or wear deodorant. They
generations ago. We can claim one million years
of d.i.y. culture and resistance for our heritage; the
tyrants have to their credit only a few senseless wars
man institutions are made up of human lives, there
will be resistance, and afterwards there will be cel-
ebrations just as there are today. Our war can never
strated, several thousand years before the Roman
Empire, human beings were able to circumnavigate
the globe in wash-through bottom boats many hun-
Correspondences:
Thor Heyerdahl and other Folk Scientists, Folk Sing-
“At night, when the tropical stars twinkled
from the black sky and a myriad of phospho-
rescent plankton twinkled back from the sea,
and asinine inventions, the self-important treatises be entirely lost; theirs can never be won. dreds of feet long; since solid-hulled boats became ers, Folk Warriors we too felt like gods on a flying carpet in the
of a few rockstar ideologists, a handful of short-lived common, the expertise to fashion such crafts has
universe. There was nothing but us on the
empires—which we’ve always eventually razed to the One million years of folk science, folk been lost to all but a few isolated groups, but evidence When his colleagues insisted, on account of the place. The other ninety nine percent consists of the
ground! The ruins of their failed nations, wrecked suggests that the wash-through model was actually
raft, surrounded by darkness and stars. We
medicine, folk everything! vast distances involved, that similarities between the kind of life held in common by all human beings.
temples on hills where metropolises stood mere cen- better adapted to ocean travel than its successor. could well understand the pre-Incan artists
Did you know—people two thousand years ago technologies and folklore of the ancient peoples of Such correspondences between human activities
turies ago, foreshadow the end they know awaits— took birth control pills? They made them by boiling Proof remains at Stonehenge and o n Easter Island the Mediterranean, the Americas, and the Polyne- past and present exist everywhere: A woman adjusts
who depicted Kon Tiki and other bearded and
our way stretches ahead of us infinitely, through the down the urine of female pigs. The early Egyptians, that technology is not a singular force that develops in sian islands must be coincidental, Norwegian Thor a recipe her mother passed down to her, as her pre- hook-nosed deities as traveling on serpents
entire future of our species: and those earlier than them in China and the Middle a straight line, that different technologies are always Heyerdahl left the specialists’ ivory tower to test their decessors did ten millennia before. German squatters undulating among the stars, symbolically
for as long as East, having not invented a process for making iron, evolving and disappearing—the ones who insist that theory. He contracted reed boat builders from Lake decorate and defend their walls with fragments of bro- pulled along by bird-headed men while they
inhu- fashioned iron tools from fragments of iron that ar- such marvels must be the work of aliens just reveal how Titicaca in Peru, among the only people in the world ken glass, as their forerunners would have prepared themselves enjoyed pulling in fishlines that
rived in meteors fallen from the sky (an Egyptian hi- colonized their imaginations are by modernist indoc- who still understand the complexities of such design, for Roman attacks. Nomadic volunteers till organic had hooked rays, sharks, or sea monsters.
eroglyph represented “heavenly iron”); the peoples trination. The folk-scientific method, as it is practiced to fashion the kind of vessel those ancient peoples farms as Celtic peoples did before them. An adoles- We too pulled in giant fishes. Aboard our
of northwestern Greenland were still doing today by every adolescent astronomer with a cheap tele- used, and set out with an international crew (“a Rus- cent runaway beholds Paris with the same wide eyes balsa raft, real life became like a fairy
this less than two centuries ago—polar scope and a notebook of personal discoveries, has more sian, an African, a Mexican, an Egyptian, an Ameri- Rimbaud did over a century earlier, perhaps as the
in common with science as most human beings have
tale. After all, this real life was a
explorer R.E. Peary was shown three can, an Italian, and a monkey”) to find out just how first human beings to reach that site did at the dawn
practiced it than anything the books tell us about Archi- fairy tale. How else could one de-
enormous meteorites which they far they could sail in one. In this boat, the Ra II, they of time. A singer-songwriter discovers she can make
had been visiting in yearly medes or Einstein. Omnipresent cultural propaganda sailed almost effortlessly from Morocco to Barbados her language her own, just as Percy Shelley did; both
scribe the fact that the twinkling
pilgrimages for centu- insists that the present is utterly unlike the past, glorify- in only fifty seven days. experience the same sense of wonder shared by the plankton in the sea around us
ries to obtain tips for ing the “unprecedented progress” of the present day as were the ancestors of the
their harpoons. it simultaneously portrays that past as a golden age to six of us who sat above
And!—as Thor which there is no return—but the technologies, medi- water and looked
Heyerdahl cines, arts of today have analogues dating back perhaps down upon them?”
dem- to the very beginnings of our species. No need to cling in -Thor Heyerdahl in
on- fear to “modern technology” and the scant comforts it Green Was the
provides—this is the dark age, if there ever was one! Earth on the
And again, the only question to ask is—what to do Seventh
to make our own Enlightenment? How do we fol- Day
low in the footsteps of those from the last one
hundred generations who defected to make
their own way through the world, leav-
ing only cryptic messages scratched
into trees behind them: Gone
to Croatan . . .

“Since the time of his youth, Crazy Horse


had known that the world men [sic] lived in
was only a shadow of the real world. To get
into the real world, he had to dream, and One can in-
when he was in the real world everything terpret Heyerdahl’s
project in the framework
seemed to float or dance. In this real world of Western civilization’s suppos-
his horse danced as if it were wild or crazy, edly linear development of knowledge
and this was why he called himself Crazy and technology—he was simply adding to “the”
Horse. He had learned that if he dreamed store of human knowledge, albeit by returning to
himself into the real world before going into the lost lore of the past. But Heyerdahl himself tells
it differently: in rediscovering the prehistoric lore of
a fight, he could endure anything. ocean travel, he felt a close kinship with the human
human beings
On this day, June 17, 1876, Crazy Horse who invented the
beings who had made this same journey before, in
first words. Knowing he
dreamed himself into the real world, and he a similar craft. Outside the linear timeline, men on
would be denied at the border, an an-
showed the Sioux how to do many things Heyerdahl’s ship and women on ships perhaps four
archist with full facial tattoos hops a freight train
they had never done before while fighting thousand years earlier stood beside each other by
into Quebec to fight in the streets with his slingshot
night, gazing upon the same stars. Speaking propor-
the white man’s soldiers.” tionately, once more: even on excursions that end up
against the enemies of his community as they meet
to discuss the “Free Trade Area of the Americas”:
in the history books like this one, what gets recorded
–from Dee Brown’s Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee this is tribal war.
is only one percent of the actual experience taking
Bicycle mechanics and folk scientists Wilbur and Orville Wright test one of their A whole herd of crash test dummies aboard a modern jumbo jet flight with no idea
inventions, with assistance from Dan Tate how the damn thing works

It is important for the We in the West face two dilemmas: one in the problems we must solve to lead meaningful lives, and another in our doubt
reader to understand that contemporary problems are as serious and as worthy as the ones faced by our ancestors. But one can be bored to death. We
that the examples of folk jump off bridges just to have a taste of irrefutable meaning. We have been convinced that our depression, distraction, boredom,
science our laboratories and frustration are adversaries less real, less honorable than hungry black bears or bubonic black plagues; but I declare that
have produced are not these things are mighty enemies.
just homemade tools with Even outfitted with the most advanced apparatus of our age, especially outfitted with it, we are destitute. Poverty—this
“practical” functions— is very important—is not a material but cultural condition: that’s why a hobo or unvanquished aborigine can be richer than a
they are chiefly about factory worker with full benefits. Poverty of goods doesn’t trouble anyone rich in more important things; poverty of self and
troubleshooting in the family, that’s serious. This is serious! The background music in the shopping malls, even blasting out of our own car stereos, self-
realm of wasted time and medicated, drowns out the songs in our heads, and we wonder why on earth we have tongues in our throats. They’re for singing
creativity. The Sub-Sub- hymns, not “can I take your order please”! And the priests our muteness keeps in business, they are idiots—they know nothing
Contra-Bass Blaster is a about religion7. We must teach them about it!
hand-crafted machine for We demand a Saint Kathryn who slipped from the jaws of school with desire afire in her arms, we search for Saint Kids
creating inaudible bass hanging upside down from the overpass to decorate grey concrete, Saint Etta who ate the cake and loved it, loved it! Fuck you Kate
tones, yes, but it is also a Moss, fuck you Twiggy and Tommy Hilfiger. We pray to young Saint Aaron who risked everything, holding hands and dancing with
machine for snatching its Saint Paul. We wait for you, Saint You, reading this passage we compose in these moments of clarity, these stolen moments. May
maker from the jaws of you find us when they have passed and we are in despair—and will you pluck us from the jaws of that beast? It is no less murderous
boredom with a process of than the Nature they say would starve us to death or the dragons of legend. The demons that we face are real, they are real.
production that requires so There was a moment in our lives when no object or space or time suggested one use over another. As we grew up, we
much time and focus that discovered that the sofa is not for building forts, the mall is not for skipping and singing; but that moment sometimes flickers
there is nothing left for back. It happens in times of disorientation and abandon. Believe it or not, you can get lost in a 17’ by 26’ room. You can unlearn
the usual suicidal fare of a car with wrenches and saws.
There is an invisible world connected at the handle to every tool—use the tool as it is intended, and it fits you to the mold
the Silence

sleeping, eating, working,


and being entertained. of all who do the same; disconnect the tool from that world, and you can set out to chart others. Every time we turn a tool back
Resisting that predatory into an object, every time we turn a word back into a sound, we are unwriting the cosmos. We do not do this because we hate
Laughing and crying there in her office at the Academy,
Zoltan said to his brilliant but anxious wife: “It used to be

his life that he had been handed his head on a platter. We


said of a man who had suffered a catastrophic setback in

cycle is one of the greatest language, nor because we think we could or should be free of it, but because we love to invent it—for it is in the inventing that
because it’s never too late to reinvent the wheel challenges facing human our freedom takes place. For tales of invention, read on.
reports and field notes from the Collaboratories
with Folk
Breaking

beings today, and it is no less -CrimethInc. Ohm Canon


Science!
are being handed our heads with tweezers now.”

formidable than being chased


He was speaking, of course, of microchips.

by wolves or gathering 7
To refer back to the Neech again: “You say you believe in the necessity of religion [/technology/the arts/academia/etc.]—
enough food to eat. be honest! You only believe in the necessity of police!”
so just in time, it’s . . .

One day, a group of vil-


lagers paid a visit to her
hut. They sat down on the

and one of them addressed


her: “Ever since you came
here, you have been ask-
ing us a lot of questions.
Now we would like to ask

drinking glass, one of the


few relics of her civiliza-

her. “Please,” he began,

lect the right words in


their dialect to explain the
process, “it’s quite simple,

“Ah ha!” the villagers


enthusiasti-
cally nodding their heads
as they passed the glass
around their circle. “To-
morrow, after breakfast,
we will meet on the beach
after breakfast, and you
can show us how to do

Her hosts understood


none of the jumbled, inco-
herent protestations that
followed. They did, howev-
er, understand her refusal.
Thereafter, they let it be
known throughout the vil-
lage that the real reason
anthropologist’s
them
grass mats on the floor,

The speaker picked up a

tion she had brought with

politely, “how do you make

she
stumbled, trying to col-

really. You take sand and


you heat it with fire, and

had been revealed: she


had been sent because
she was an incompetent,
incapable of the simplest
then you mold the glass.”
well,”

crafts of her culture.


among
you a question.”

this ourselves.”
yes,

responded,

presence
the
“Oh
this?”

for
Report #1:
#17. 6:15pm Thursday, 8-24-00: play roof tag. Daurghty was my first
I wandered into a tidy encamp- idea but it looked too easy. The UC? sidewalks posed no threat; people
don’t look up. Wholly unchallenged, My little cousin asked me why the sun doesn’t fall down: we looked at a picture of the solar system and asked which
ment under the East side of the I found a window open on the third

One Prehistory of
I found my spot right along the ridge way was down. Here is a myth that rearranged my approach to the universe and made new things possible.
Schenley Bridge. It featured a sofa, an floor, but new buildings don’t have
easy chair, a coffee table and a moun- good roofs—so I was off to claim the of the roof and, in full view of an un-
tain of soda bottles. It was where I CFA. I squeezed out of an attic story suspecting city, claimed the CFA. Appendix:
Auto Re-Vision The Myths of Compression and Tension
had seen the man pissing on Tuesday window and plopped onto the wood
afternoon moments after I arrived of the scaffolding. I was just in time
and marked my first territory. I delib- to catch the tail end of sunset; a sooty Cutup Two: “You Gotta Eat”
erately set out to piss on his spot out orange nebula was fading to steel There once was a time when people sensibly assumed Flat ear th mind vs. Round ear th mind
I gave this truism my best shot, but
“Incredulous, we set off to see if the earth was round of an (unrequited) sense of camarade- gray. Steel gray is the darkest it ever
after three days of not eating there wasn’t that Universe was flat. By every indication Universe con-
rie, but when I saw the living room I gets in Pittsburgh.
and found that it was not.” had to reconsider. As territory mark- Tonight much left in life. So the question changed: sisted of layers: Sky on top, Earth on bottom. Furthermore, Universality - A flat earth has a local sense of up and down
“If I must eat (find shelter, wear clothes, everything that rose above the surface of Earth did so in that is perfectly consistent with a universal up and down. On
-Pippi Longstocking ers, sofas and coffee tables trump piss. the form of a stack. Mountains, animals and pillars alike flat earth, you could say that the sun is “going down” in the
The spot is his. Grasping at straws, I get from place to place), how can it be-
come interesting? How can I attach cun- were all piles of material ultimately resting on founda- exact same way that you could say you are going down into
skulked further down the hill tion Earth. These were compression structures: one part the cellar.
and, in a quixotic but ning, possibility, and magic to my
pressed on another part until the pressure reached the A round earth maintains a local sense of what is up and
H ere are a few details of a particular folk Yoga. It would be a practice of creating satisfying ges- shameless addictions?”
For month two in Pittsburgh I would earth. Compression guided our design of structures. Com- what is down but these terms are meaningless as universals.
scientific method as it evolved over the contacts, interactions and flows between ture, claimed the
not pay for food. This prompted a new pression structured our thoughts, as well. “Up” in Pittsburgh is 90 degrees away from “up” in Zagreb.
last six years. Folk scientists keep track of clues, myself and a social body. Machines, experi- railroad tracks.
orientation. I mapped the rhythmic cycles Gradually humans learned more about Universe and Furthermore, the terms up and down are worthless in the
stories. We’ve all been told that patterns will ments, toys and musical instruments began
of my area’s wasted resources. My nose decided that the world was not a flat slab. It was a round solar system. This allows us to tell different stories about life
arise; I look for a moment when they don’t. to emerge from my shop: and they did new #27. 7:45pm Saturday,
became keener . . . literally. I spent a lot planet that orbited the Sun. If Earth was orbiting the Sun, in the universe. Universal truths and absolutes become sus-
These moments (failures, incongruencies, prob- things that my solitude never had. 8-26-00:
of time walking. Gradually I got used to it certainly wasn’t sitting on anything. And so the idea of pect. Objects take on meaning based on their relationships
lematics) are the hot spots—signposts that sug- I passed a feral cat
picking trash in public and eating after compression structure, the stack, was supplemented by not something fundamental within them.
gest the next turn. and a fat woodchuck
Social Yoga: Behavioral cutups people. the idea of tension structure, gravity. Gravity was an invis-
In a surrealist cutup, written text is on the way into a little ible and ubiquitous set of “cables” tying objects to one an- Connection - In a compression universe, structures can be
I try to express my process in stories. thicket on the embank- I never considered myself a very in-
randomly cut and recombined in search of tuitive person, but I developed a certain other. The tension of gravity ties Moon to Earth and Earth independent from one another. A column on one end of
Here is a story now. It is a setting for what ment across the road and
new meaning. The resulting randomness intuition about what food was safe and to Sun. the temple can be removed without effecting the column
will come next. It starts in North Carolina, over the rail off the North
exposes the perverse structure of rationality what was not. Every so often food that Compression suffered another blow when it was de- on the other.
USA, my birthplace, in the squalid shack West corner of Ween Hall.
and habit that governs creativity. seemed fine would creep me out so I’d cided that everything in Universe was composed of tiny In a tension universe, every object is tied in some large
I rented from the owner of a Christmas I found an entrance to the
Behavioral cutups use the same method throw it back with no questions asked. particles called atoms. Atoms are not unlike planets and or small way to every other object. You can’t do something
tree farm in rural McLeansville, population steam tunnels, a thick metal
on personal or social text. A favorite method This strategy worked: I never got sick. stars: none of these particles actually touch one other. Like to the moon without effecting the earth and sun as well. This
1,100. door left open in the side
for integrating such a practice is to choose Which of the “five senses” is that? At the planets and stars, atoms are held together (and apart) by allows us to tell different stories about life in the universe.
Each time he visited my house, the of the hill. I pissed there so I the sky is trimmed
a mundane part of life and attach some end of that month, I was able to calm my invisible tension. We rely less on well-defined categories, and gain a sense of
propane man would survey the mess and could remember to come back at rust red where it touch-
stipulation to it. This brings awareness to parents by reporting a weight gain of four These discoveries changed Universe from a place complex relationships in which nothing can be changed
tell me sternly, “I’m not supposed to fill night es the city; a galvanic reaction
the action and makes it a fertile ground for pounds, good health and a sense of intu- of compression to a place of tension. Stone pillars and without changing everything.
tanks in houses like this without an inspec- between dissimilar worlds.
new experiences. If you have ever chosen a ition where before there had been none. pyramids became minority structures occurring in a small
tion. They’d condemn it you know.” Then #66. 9:01pm Sunday, 9-3-00: I climbed from the scaffolding
dietary restriction, this may sound famil- And of course, I haven’t paid for food zone of the vast range of scale between micro and macro. Space - A flat/compression earth is composed of discontinu-
he’d grin and top off my tank as if he was I was pacing back and forth, anx- onto the pitched metal roof and be-
iar—food cutups can raise consciousness much since. This paradigm shift is only just taking hold in struc- ous objects with “voids” or “negative space.”
enjoying the secret we kept, as if his house ious and irritated from the day-long gan crawling up on my belly. I imag-
about source and content of food, as well as tures of our thought. But this shift does not occur in the A round/tension earth is composed of one continuous
would not pass inspection either. drive back from a wedding in Ashe- ined that the two helicopters roving
tamper with the social institution of eating matter of the universe, it occurs in the way we describe space (energy, aether) connecting all objects. This allows us
ville. It was strange and liberating not around the city were patrolling for Behavioral Cutups became a method
and thus put you in new situations. This is our experience of it. It is a shift in language, but the lan- to tell different stories about life in the universe. Space is
Making Visible the Invisible to have anyone expecting me. All the me. But there was no such sport: it for uncovering the adventure, unexpected
just a whiff of what is possible. guage we use to describe the universe goes on to serve synonymous with flexibility and possibility, movement and
Mystics have employed behavioral repressed energy from the long sit was was just me and the building versus potential and possibility hidden within as a model for what is possible within it. The flat earth is connection. The production of objects (art and otherwise)
Noone visits when you live that far out, awakening fast. I had to climb. gravity, a worthy but predictable op- activities that are normally shrouded in
cutups for thousands of years. In addition just as present today as the round earth. Few people think stops being the primary tool for understanding. Intangible
and my housemates worked full time; so I unloaded my stuff and ran off to ponent. Even the people walking on habit. I began to extend this idea about
to dietary regimens, they have practiced the earth is flat, but many think from a flat earth notion of things become important: invisible connections, relation-
mostly I spent my days alone. This solitude
mimicry of animals, rituals of exhaustion, transforming banal activities to the structure, both physical and conceptual. ships, the white space behind the text.
fit well with my main activities: sculpture
deprivation and pain, the use of intoxi- transformation of common objects.
and yoga. The word yoga can be translated
cants, ecstatic dancing, public nudity and
“yoke,” as in to yoke or connect the micro-
cosmic self (the individual, the body) and
other taboo acts, years of ceaseless standing Project: Bi-Cycle Re-Mix Flat Earth Terms
followed by similar years of sitting. These
the macrocosmic self (the spirit, the divine).
are time-honored techniques for indepen- Chris and I made a bicycle into a Matter - Universe is defined
My practices of yoga and of art often
dent learning. record player by locking ourselves into a by discontinuous particles:
traded thoughts. One of the (many) things
room with a bunch of ingredients: tools, atoms, planets, gold coins,
yoga offered was a different language for
fasteners, a bicycle, records, scraps from etc.
the structure of my body; a language of Cutup One: “Claiming Pittsburgh”
around the building, food and water. We
tension and energy rather than compres-
found that our little room quickly became Materialism - Because
sion and objects (see footnote: The Myth of Finished with my days as a hermit,
organized around our processes: food and objects are held as the
Compression and Tension). I decided to move to a place I had never
water in one corner, trash and the shit essence of Universe, they
In my sculpture I tried to make vis- been before, and not just geographically:
bucket in the opposite one. It was enlight- are viewed as the dwelling
ible the esoteric structures I was discover- my whole life was to change. As I drove to
ening to live with all of our byproducts for place of meaning.
ing on my yoga mat. The sculptures were Pennsylvania, I decided I needed a plan for
a few days: we felt like yeast.
large steel and concrete abstractions full of precipitating and observing these changes.
It was also important how this seclu- Separation – Because of
high-stakes balance and potential energy. Thirty miles outside of Pittsburgh, I ar-
sion limited our choices. The sealed room the focus on particles and
I would work on these pieces three and rived at a solution. For my first month in
prevented us from running to the hard- objects rather than the
four hundred hours each. When I showed this new city I would not urinate indoors.
ware store to solve a problem. We were “negative space” around
my friends who were not “artists” what I I called the game “Claiming Pitts-
forced to switch from the consumptive them, flat universe is
had done, they would look long and be burgh,” referring to the way animals mark
mode, in which solutions are selected, to viewed and handled as if
impressed, perhaps they would see beauty, and claim territory. Ironically, in the con-
an inventive mode in which solutions are it were many separate bits
but they never had much to say. I began to temporary urban setting one who must
produced. rather than a continuous
think that the sculptures, having been made piss outside lays claim to nothing and
It took us fifty hours before we played whole.
in solitude and inspired by solitary prac- risks punishment to boot. This situation
our first record. By this time, the realities
tices, were for me alone. forced me to constantly observe my new
of the world had started to look pretty Aesthetics - A connoisseur-
After three years of this isolation and world with an eye for private spaces, hiding
negotiable. If there is adventure hidden ship of objects that focuses
a lot of satisfying work, I felt the need places. I became oriented in a special way
in habit and a record player hidden in a on nuances of appearance.
to connect my practice to other people. I because of this.
bicycle . . .
imagined a new yoga, a yoke still but this For this cutup I recorded the time,
time between myself and others: Social place and circumstances of each piss:
Report #2: Report #3:
the new world we had claimed. They would corrugated steel architecture, pavement, phone scenario that had become clogged and brought to a lecture in an auditorium
be inconceivable in the terms of the outside poles and litter all followed. A huge hospital dysfunctional, a scenario that kept us all or a protest in a city square had clogged
world . . . building with emergency room dock was snoozing dangerously in our comfort zones. the arteries of possibility, dulled my

Automobile Re-Vision Bear Shaped Kisses:


Yet, inevitably, we made drums, basses, inertia-free and hot on our tail. Ambulances We had begun to question the academic connection to life’s potential.
didjeridoos, thumb pianos, slide whistles and screamed and ran hot just to catch up and context in which we were operating, where But there was no way out: in a matter of
little percussion tools. Even deliver their goods. specialists lectured to a snoozing and passive days we were to take the stage and deliver a

Cutting Up the Road Trip:


the mechanical drum
machine was derivative
Even the inside of our
We rearranged the building transformed: one Civic Angioplasty for audience about facts or performed music
that the audience could not understand.
lecture on contemporary art. A lecture. We
were haunted by this image: 500 students
world like a DJ cuts moment a living room with
Heart Broken Towns
of instruments we had What do you do in an auditorium equipped sitting in an auditorium maintaining the
Epic Travels in a Tiny Brick Room. seen. But didn’t we
and mixes recordings to stories in the air, the next a with heavy maroon curtains and rows of trip school had put on them. And wouldn’t
use the instruments deafening garage, a dining folding chairs? For that matter—what do we, “the experts,” be just as responsible for
to make music that make them live again. room, a studio . . . seconds later you do at a demonstration in a city square, this distance and complicit participation?
Angioplasty - A medical procedure for treatment of a heart attack. A
under the repression of the church.
was a pure expression The recordings, realities we stumbled into a house of where everyone carries signs communicating The whole scenario would be
tube is fed intravenously into a blocked artery. A tiny balloon at the
H ere is the procedure for an of a hermetic society? worship with high walls and a political jargon and recites confined to the nowhere-land
Alchemical references to the elements lead
As it turns out, no, and habits that seem ceiling fresco of living green.” end of the tube is inflated to open the artery. When the balloon is chants? between real learning on one hand
experiment we organized and gold are coded speech referring to
involving a 1985 Saab 900 turbo that esoteric transformations of a magical and
the music we made predetermined and removed blood can flow freely. and total rejection on the other
could only be a strange Necessities: Of all the (wild children playing soccer in
had belonged to a friend. The car had spiritual nature. Today alchemy continues
hybrid between the
non-negotiable, become things that were going on
been pronounced terminally ill by its the rows, taking the stage and
to develop under the repression of the
circumstances we subject to manipulation in the room, people liked to Civic Angioplasty - A treatment for urban ennui. A space, empty drowning out our words). It
long-time mechanic and given three limited sense of possibility bestowed
weeks to live. That is—she decided choose and the music and change when we come to our window and ask of desire or creativity, is suddenly filled with these and more. The seemed that we already knew
upon us by science and culture. Our
she’d rather dance to it than drive it. we had heard and made us the simplest question of space is just as suddenly emptied leaving a (more) conspicuous the ending if we were to deliver
misconception of the true nature of
all our lives . . .” remix our world. all: “If you’re locked in where a “lecture” within the context
alchemy well serves modern specialist absence, a kind of newness, a sense of possibility.
Procedure: do you go the bathroom?” of the auditorium. We had
science, the purposes of which are quite
For the two weeks starting May Another Kind of Road Trip: When we We immediately recognized this coded to do something to reinvent
limited to (the object) gold.
26 and ending June 8, 2001, five travel are we in search of the unfamiliar? Is speech and would give them a coded spontaneity: for we knew the
So we locked ourselves into a room
collaborators will be confined to a
26’ by 20’ [squatted] room with an
“to turn a car into musical instruments
and instruments into music.” But this too
it the unfamiliar in our surroundings or in
ourselves? What happens when traditional
modes of travel no longer provide us with
answer.

“. . . We use a bucket. The system is called


W e can disrupt our existence in
the world by deliberately placing
ourselves in physical or emotional jeopardy.
with man-made obstacle courses], to lure
and coerce their middle management into
trusting one another and the company
Why can’t the
demonstration in the city square
world only becomes ours when we can
never know or predict the ending.
Of course, it was the only possible
automobile, food, water, fasteners, was coded speech for the myriad of subtle
adhesives, tools, makeshift sanitation the unfamiliar? One thing we can do is Humanure. We shit and piss in a five gallon Disruption reminds us that we need the through a single moment of disruption. become a place where kite-flying gives solution. We made a fifty-foot-long
transformations we sought. expression to the ideas on the picket signs?
and documentation equipment. travel in place by making the familiar bucket. After each use we add a layer of elements of surprise and risk to drag us But what does risking failure and inflatable teddy bear and hid it in a
Everything that begins in the room will unfamiliar. sawdust. So, by an act of renaming,‘waste’ from the comfort and complacence of our embracing permanent disruption have to As “lecturers,” how could we initiate a custom-made collapsible podium. We
“. . . The steel door slammed and was barred game of soccer in the auditorium, instead
end in the room with the exception of: becomes wealth: after we leave the room, Etta living room couches. Even corporations do with pharmaceutical research? began lecturing and showing slides like the
shut; there was a moment of silence as each of of lecturing ourselves? I realized that had
“. . . Our building never stood still. In it we will compost it and use it in her garden. Not use such tactics, in the form of and Here is a ropes course we designed. specialists on art we were pretending to be,
us stared at the four strangers we would live acquired many conditioned expectations
-Heat, light and air - flowing in and out roamed through the rain of one region into only does it not stink, it barely has an odor at creative leadership seminars and ropes It began with thousands of feet of then, at the shivering climax of boredom, at
with for two weeks. An instant later, a rush for the formats and codes we use to
-Electricity - flowing in the cold of another. Through the open roof and all. It’s going to seem wrong to get out of here course retreats [on which strangers set out painters’ plastic and packing tape and a the height of passivity, of non-participation,
of excitement spread over the room: there was communicate. The expectations I
-Web-cam data - flowing out our one window we met a world increasingly and shit into clean tap water . . .” together in a fabricated wilderness stocked desperate desire to transcend an education we flipped the switch.
spontaneous clapping laughing and shouting—
foreign as we became a world of our own.
then another silence. We looked around the
• While in the room, the group will Our open roof would seem
dismantle the car and make its parts into
musical instruments; music will be written
room, and then at the car—and saw that it
had been a musical instrument all along. We
drove here in that car, but in this room, by an
to show us the same
sky through the leaves
of the same six trees.
Inflatable Bombs You Can Blow Up Again and Again!
You’ll Need: Instructions:
and rehearsed on the new instruments; act of declaration, it had became nothing less
But as we traveled, 1.) Plastic painter’s tarp. This is available at any hard- For our demonstration, we will be using a teddy 9.) Unroll and unfold your plastic; if you want to be then folds the other 50% over onto the other side.
video footage will be shot and edited into than a limitless material . . .” ware store. Rolls of plastic should indicate bear, because of its availability. There are plenty
Pittsburgh’s black- especially careful in your craft, you may make a grid While Person 1 is tearing off more tape, Person 2
a documentary video; words and images the weight (2 mil, 4 mil, 6 mil, etc.) on of simpler shapes to make, for which all these of 1 foot marks along all four sides of squeezes
will be collected for a ‘zine. orange midnight was the package. 2 mil is lightest and most instructions still apply. your floor so that you can easily align
So We’ve Heard: “The beauty, nature, the seam to
• On June 8 the collaborators will left behind for the compact, 4 mil is bulkier but more 1.) Begin by making a small drawing the uncut plastic. Make sure the grid make sure
truths and laws of the world are imparted durable. You should never go heavier of your teddy bear. It doesn’t have
emerge to perform music, show the ultraviolet glow of you lay out is square (90 degrees). it is tight.
upon it, not inherent within it.” Fine, but than 4 mil. Plastic tarps vary in the size; to be spectacular; you’ll just need 10.) Armed with your blueprint, 14.) When
video, and distribute the publication in a late morning that
what can we do with this information? I for we suggest acquiring the largest a picture for reference after you cut permanent marker, and tape mea- assembling
as many venues as possible. promised to soak us all day. rolls possible (20’ x 200’ is good): up the bear. sure, transfer your small plans onto
one find that my aesthetic programming the inflatable,
• On June 11 the group will empty and And it did. The next day we that way you will have less piecing 2.) Measure the length, width, and the plastic. With care you should end leave a space in
is unbelievably tenacious. The social ideal together to do when making the height of the stuffed animal. Write
clean the room, then disband. drifted under a sunny gap in up with a very close (scaled up) the bottom of one of the feet so a fan tube can be
of beauty was installed from day one and largest panels of your inflatable. the measurements down on duplication of the shapes on your built. This hole will also allow you to go inside the
the clouds. We climbed up to
meticulously maintained thereafter—and 2.) Clear 2” packing tape. Don’t your drawing. graph paper. inflatable to finish the final seams.
the old I-beam structure go budget on this, get the name 3.) Carefully cut off all the ap-
Journal entries: for my first years as an artist, I cultivated 11.) Label the pieces as you cut them out so you can 15.) Tape the fan to the designated hole, or to an
to be closer to the sun. brand stuff—Scotch, 3M, etc. Start pendages right along the seams and remember how they fit together and to which parts extension tube if you wish to make one. Be extra
and developed that ideal actively. Just with around 4 rolls. Avoid anything put them in a safe place.
On the West they belong. thorough with your taping; this will be a high-
“. . . We all met at my place at 7:00 this because my thoughts have moved away that says—“EasyTear”—that means 4.) Pull the stuffing out of the torso and cut 12.) When all of your pieces are cut out, tape them to- stress connection.
side of the building a plate
morning, packed up the car and (thank god from an exclusive (scarce) notion of beauty Suffering for Art: Visitors sometimes
it is weak. each seam so that the pieces lay gether. I suggest doing the parts (torso, arm 1, arm 2, 16.) Inflate your teddy bear by turning the fan on
door with an expanded steel window was 3.) 1 box fan. Any 2-speed box fan flat like pieces of a puzzle. etc.) separately. When you have completed all of the
it started!) shoved off for a two week road does not mean my gut has followed—yet. misunderstood our circumstances as hard
high. IMPORTANT: once it is fully inflated, turn the
our only outside human contact. Through will do the job. Don’t think that 5.) Label each piece so that pieces, assemble them into your final shape. fan to LOW. When your bear inflates for the first
trip. By 7:30 am we had traveled eight and a Addressing this dissonance is part of my or painful! Some of this came from the fact you’re going to need an industrial you know exactly how they
our window we saw blazing hot streets, Taping: The most labor intensive part of the project. time, seams will pop open—this is normal. Leave
half miles, more than enough driving for one practice now as an “artist.” that we didn’t “get to” take showers for two fan to inflate a huge sculpture, the fit together. Indicate on your 13.) We have developed a system of taping in pairs the bear inflated and, with one person inside and
pedestrians sweating in shorts, motorists with
day. We idled briefly in front of a small brick only requirement is constant air flow. drawing where each piece goes. while seated on the floor. Person 1 tears pieces of the other outside, add patches that are the shape
windows rolled down and windy dogs sticking weeks. Part of it came from the idea that it (I once saw a table top fan inflate a 50’ Do not skip this step: when all tape into 6 to 12 inch pieces (12 for seams that are
building before driving through its double “. . . We began by locking ourselves in, but it is human nature not to get along with one
of each hole. Remember, holes are not necessarily
out all over. All of this while our massive sculpture.) The advantage of using your pieces are cut apart, they straight, 6 for seams that are curved). Person 2 holds a problem; the fan will constantly be pumping in
doors. With a turn of the key, the car’s engine was just as much a lock-out. We locked out as another. Folks would often ask through a bigger fan is faster inflation time. will be very hard to recognize
brick walls kept us cold and our flywheel the two pieces flat together like two pages in a closed air, and that air has to go somewhere. If you want
went quiet for the last time and our travels much of the world as we could, in an attempt our window: “Aren’t you all going crazy in Because we needed our teddy bear and easy to mix up, lose, etc. book. Person 1 applies the tape lengthwise onto one to leave some holes, just reinforce them with tape.
trees made the long-gone rain coast on for
began . . .” to find modes of collaboration and production there?”
to inflate in around 2 minutes, we 6.) Repeat this labeling process piece of plastic, so that 50% of the width hangs over, We found that the older our bear got, the better her
hours. The incongruity between out and in used something slightly beefier than with all the appendages. seams became: maybe tape gets stickier with age.
that had been inconceivable in our day-to-
proved our suspicions and confirmed the gap a box fan. 7.) On 1 inch graph paper (you 17.) Your giant inflatable sculpture can roll up to
Don’t be fooled: Alchemists were— day experience. We locked-out to make new “. . . We had put out word that on the morning 4.) A large flat space, preferably inside. may have to make this grid your-
between worlds. Nevertheless, we dragged the an amazingly small size, and weighs very little. Re-
and are—mystics unconcerned with the instruments and new music. These would be of the 8th, people were invited to come help us This is the most difficult thing to come self with a pencil and ruler) trace cruit help for this step: the more people you have
whole scene with us as we went: windowless
economic value of lead and gold. The exclusive products of celebrate our exodus. But after falling in love
by. It is helpful if one of your collabora- the individual labeled pieces of the tighter your inflatable will pack.
science of Alchemy was first developed tors is connected with a school, because the bear. These tracings will serve 18.) Your final instructions: become a secret agent,
with our circumstances, leaving didn’t seem a gym or auditorium stage is ideal. as your blueprint when you lay stalk your city in disguise looking for lifeless spaces
like such a cause for celebrating. Moments 5.) A pattern. The most readily available out the shapes on the plastic. (they’re everywhere): public parks, street corners,
before we were to emerge, we changed our patterns are found in stuffed animals. 8.) Now decide how large you town squares, corporate campuses, municipal lob-
Every orifice of the world explodes want to make your inflatable bies, children’s play grounds . . . Now pack up your
minds. We began to play our instruments, with unwanted stuffed animals, so that and compute the relative propor- giant teddy bear with a fan and extension cord,
building from a whisper up to out and out shouldn’t be a problem. You may want tion between the length of your take it to your spot, and blow it up. Blow it up as if it
chaos, then threw open our doors and let our to create your own pattern, but this re- small teddy bear and the length were a bomb. Make it an occasion. Dress up. Claim
friends come in because . . . ‘Aren’t you all going quires extra skills. If you are excellent at that you want your inflatable. For credit under a false name. Be legendary.
sewing, you’ll know what I mean. If you example, the teddy bear we used Make art that is an event, then steal away in
crazy out there?’” chose this route, make a model first. was about 8 inches long; to enlarge it to 40 feet, we the confusion. Hammer out reports, dispatch bul-
6.) Tape measure. 7.) Permanent marker. 8.) Scissors. made each square inch of our blue print grid equal to letins: you are a phantom, a heroine, a soldier, a
9.) Utility knives, x-acto knives, or razor blades. five square feet of plastic. pillar of your community.
Report #4:
We flipped the switch and, like the 5:00AM, Greensboro, North Carolina, USA
fiery oration we wished we had the power The horizon was just beginning to bruise
to deliver, our bear erupted through the to a blackish purple in anticipation of a new

Okupa Tu Tambien
panels of the podium and spilled over the day. All over Greensboro fast food dives and
invisible wall of the stage. Like no lecture greasy spoons were rolling out the morning’s
the dismal auditorium had ever seen, it ration of buttermilk biscuits.
washed over the audience, touched their Our hearts were with you as our red pickup
bodies and displaced them bodily. Did truck sputtered to a nervous halt in front of
sheer displacement drive the students Greensboro’s downtown courthouse and police Where there is a ruin there is hope for a treasure . . .
onto the stage, or did the chaos make department complex.
them desire that position? Was it their Adrenaline grabbed the wheel. Supplies
first taste of unpredictable possibility, in were ferried through a gauntlet of fierce

T
a space that had always worn the same mercury-vapor lights. Within seconds a power raveling through the underbelly of all just a little differently: there were herbs
mask yet revealed a different face when outlet was located and tapped. Blades began Barcelona, I saw the same graffiti already growing in the garden, the roof
they commanded it to do so? Perhaps to churn the air. Gradually, for the witness of everywhere: Okupa tu tambien! I learned wasn’t in bad shape, and in summer the
one and then the next. One way or the believers and non-believers alike, a fifty-foot it meant, roughly, “You can squat, too.” I trees would be full of birds. If you looked,
other, they came. When they came, they long teddy bear was deployed and abandoned wanted to believe it—but it’s one thing you could already see everything the place
came as participants: they interacted with by your faithful CrimethInc. Operatives D’Arc to squat in a city already full of squat- could be, instead of just what it was. That
You can blow up a social relationship!
our bear, peered through her translucent and Galston. ters, and with a long history of successful was the view we decided to take, and we
walls into her body, the chambers and occupations to boot. Could it happen just started renovating.
tunnels forming fat teddy bear legs and anywhere, even in the small town I came We roamed the street on foot, by bike,
arms as big as a house. There was a roar of
conversation, speculation, questions. Could
they have ever have been that involved with
Appendix: paraSITE home to?
In the end, it was a combination of
longing, exuberance, bravado and sheer
in borrowed and stolen vehicles, gather-
ing what we needed, scavenging supplies
from other abandoned buildings and did, in deed if not in law; we knew that property in exchange for his payment of
our words and paragraphs? had made a series of vents in Harvard Square The connection of the inflatable structure necessity that led us to the door of our own unsuspecting corporations. We found
An example of another application of the we belonged there, and we hoped our water bills and property taxes.
For the rest of the summer, the bear “homeless-proof” by tilting the metal grates, to the building becomes the critical moment ruin, a shaky-looking little house in a quiet that paint stores and building suppliers
inflatables idea, as formulated by a New Eng- certainty would communicate itself to Of course it didn’t last forever. These
became the totem and tool of our class, an making them virtually impossible to sleep on. of this project. residential neighborhood. For weeks we’d were delighted to support our low-income
land folk scientist. everyone else. Rather than trying to hide things never do. But what matters isn’t the
extension of our bodies. With her, we could In his book, City of Quartz, Mike Davis describes been looking for a place to live, rent-free; housing rehab project once we gave them the fact that we were there illegally, we start and the finish—the house used to
become small enough to fit in a suitcase, a similar war on homelessness in Los Angeles. we’d already sent out lines of inquiry in an official-sounding name, and thrift stores
parasitism is described as a relationship in which a
He lists a series of these hindrances throughout let the neighbors know what we were up be empty and still is, I started out home-
then, without warning, expand to fifty parasite temporarily or permanently exploits the every conceivable direction, and we were would happily make donations to youth-led
energy of a host. the city: From February 1998 until April 1998, to, and tried to make friends as fast as less and ended up the same way. It’s what
times our size. Like expert cardiologists, we beginning to exhaust the supply of friendly social projects. Meanwhile we got rid of all
I built seven prototypes of the paraSITE possible. Our house-cleaning and renova- happened in between. In those four short
examined the city looking for constricted couches. So when we found the cottage— the ballast that anchored the house to its
paraSITE proposes the appropriation of “One of the most common, but mind-numbing, shelter and distributed them to several tions spoke volumes about our intentions, months, we changed as much as the house
spaces where life did not flow. We made of these deterrents is the Rapid Transit District’s empty except for a mountain of discarded former life as a delapidated rental property;
the exterior ventilation systems on existing homeless people in Cambridge, among but we also went out of the way to get to did. Very quickly, our hard work became
surprise attacks in these places: “like new barrel-shaped bus bench that offers a clothes, a room full of smashed electronics, we tore out a shuddering old electric heater
architecture as a means for providing tem-
minimal surface for uncomfortable sitting, while them Bill Stone, George Livingston and know people and integrate ourselves into play—shared between us, the lifting and
angioplasty!” we decided, the medical porary shelter for homeless people. one hungry cat, and manic graffiti scrawled and replaced it with a woodstove somebody
making sleeping utterly impossible. Such bum- Freddie Flynn, who worked closely with hauling and scrubbing that
procedure for opening a clogged artery using floor to ceiling across every wall of the was giving away, and built a new compost-
proof benches are being widely introduced on me on the design and production of should have been exhausting
an intravenous balloon. By the time we left parasites live on the outer surface of a host or inside the periphery of Skid Row. Another invention, house—we didn’t stop to ask questions, we ing toilet out of five-gallon buckets and
its body in respiratory organs, digestive organs, ve- these units. Most were built using tem- labor was transformed into a
a street corner, the heart-attack site of legal worthy of the Grand Guignol, is the aggressive just moved in. sawdust. We hauled mountains of trash
nous systems, as well as other organs and tissues.
deployment of outdoor sprinklers. Several years porary materials that were readily avail- raucous game, and we were
restriction and social congestion had been Our house didn’t look all that stable back to the bins behind the strip mall,
ago the city opened a ‘Skid Row Park’ along able on the streets (plastic bags, tape). transformed along with it.
transformed. Now one could go back and from the outside, or the inside. The where most of it probably came from in the
The paraSITE units in their idle state exist lower Fifth Street, on a corner of Hell. To ensure While these shelters were being used, We became house-painters,
taste the absence of a big ridiculous bear: as small, collapsible packages with handles that the park was not used for sleeping—that is foundation appeared to be made from first place, and filled up the local free boxes
they functioned not only as a temporary electricians, gardeners, and
it had become an empty place, a space of for transport by hand or on one’s back. In em- to say, to guarantee that it was mainly utilized concrete poured into plastic buckets; mold with useful junk. We asked our friends for
for drug dealing and prostitution—the city in- place of retreat, but also as a station of tool-acquisition specialists;
possibility, of potential where once clogged ploying this device, the user must locate the was creeping over every porous surface, and a thousand favors, which everyone knew
stalled an elaborate overhead sprinkler system dissent and empowerment; many of the as word spread about the
arteries now flowed with life’s blood. outtake ducts of a building’s HVAC (Heating, the toilet had been thrown out the front were gifts to a very uncertain potential
programmed to drench unsuspecting sleepers homeless users regarded their shelters place and people came by
We listened to the wild children Ventilation, Air-Conditioning) system. at random during the night. The system was door, where it lay leaking shit onto the reality, and enlisted as much help as we
as a protest device, and would even to see what was happening,
rumbling in our guts. We found our equal immediately copied by some local businessmen bricks. But if you squinted up your eyes possibly could. When we didn’t know how
frequently a host provides a parasite not only with in order to drive the homeless away from adja- shout slogans like “We beat you Uncle we became amateur folk-
ownership of the world together. We took and looked a certain way, you could see it to install the chimney, we traded a home-
food, but also with enzymes and oxygen, and offers cent public sidewalks. Meanwhile restaurants Sam!” The shelters communicated a lorists and tour guides as
the world as our own by entering into cooked meal and
favourable temperature conditions. and markets have responded to the homeless refusal to surrender, and made more vis- well. We became ourselves,
it knowing we could never predict the by building ornate enclosures to protect their two bottles of wine
ible the unacceptable circumstances of hard at play, and we were
ending. We took risks, and failed—but The intake tube of the collapsed structure is refuse. Although no one in Los Angeles has yet to some construc-
proposed adding cyanide to the garbage, as hap- homeless life within the city. drunk on all of it, on sheer
found that failure had become something then attached to the vent. The warm air leav- tion-worker friends
pened in Phoenix a few years back, one popular For the pedestrian, paraSITE func- stubborn insistence that it
very different, and we embraced it. We ing the building simultaneously inflates and who were passing
seafood restaurant has spent $12,000 to build tioned as an agitational device. The could be done, even though
learned to manipulate our conditioning with heats the double-membrane structure. the ultimate bag-lady-proof trash cage: made of through town; our
visibly parasitic relationship of these we knew that we could
elaborate schemes. We learned that we could three-quarter inch steel rod with alloy locks and neighbor, a carpen-
but a host is certainly not inactive against a parasite, vicious out-turned spikes to safeguard priceless devices to the buildings, appropriating potentially lose it all any
manipulate everyone else’s conditioning, too, ter, brought over his
and it hinders the development and population
moldering fishheads and stale french fries.” a readily available situation with readily day. Legally, we didn’t have
and that we could offer these manipulations growth of parasites with different defense mecha- tools and helped us
nisms, such as the cleaning of skin, peristaltic contrac- available materials, elicited immediate a leg to stand on; we were
as a gift to the world. We were on a crusade hang weight-bear-
tion of the digestive aparatus, and the development parasites respond to this defense by anchoring them- speculation as to the future of the city: squatters, the lowest of the
asking others to own the city with us. We selves with hooks and suckers onto skin, or digestive ing shelves on our
of antibodies.
mucous membrane, and by developing protective de- would these things completely take low, and while we liked to
learned to see things we had not seen before: paper-thin walls.
vices and substances which lessen defensive capabilities over, given the enormous number of think of ourselves as healthy,
for example, the town had supplied hundreds In April of 1997, I proposed my concept and When we didn’t
of their host.
homeless in our society? Could we wake useful bacteria digesting
of outdoor outlets without us ever asking! We first prototype to a homeless man named Bill know what to do,
up one morning to find these encamp- societal waste, in the eyes
discovered that extension cords came in black, Stone, who regarded the project as a tactical The system by which the device attaches or we asked somebody
response. At the time, the city of Cambridge ments engulfing buildings like ivy? of the law—in spite of our
and so our semi-permanent installations of is anchored to the building who did, and when
This project does not present itself as success—we were parasitic
power were hidden and ready for use. is designed to allow the we couldn’t find
structure to be adaptable. a solution. It is not a proposal for afford- the neighborhood—we were quick to lend leeches. But this house didn’t exist in the
After gifting our bear too many times anybody who knew,
The intake tube can be able housing. Its point of departure is to or borrow tools, to share our (dumpstered) realm of laws and practicalities, or at least
to tell, we decided to offer her services once we made it up.
expanded or tightened to present a symbolic strategy of survival bread or ask questions about their gardens not only there. Invested with our the en-
more for good. We searched the city for its Once we
fit the aperture of the vent for homeless existence within the city, or cats or kids. By the time the absentee ergy of our dreaming and the sweat of our
most hopeless place, and found desperate decided to move
through an adjustable lip, amplifying the problematic relationship property-owner came around, most of the hard work, it began to live another, secret
need in the center courtyard of the downtown made possible by elastic in, we didn’t bother
between those who have homes and neighbors were on our side. Instead of life, a life of potential realized.
Municipal Complex. Are cops and draw-strings. Hooks are sneaking around;
those who do not have homes. This is a shouting through a locked door, we had I ride my bike past that place now and
magistrates not the most needy of citizens? attached to the metal lou- in that neighbor-
project that was shaped by my interac- him in for tea and scones and explained see the sagging roof and weedy garden and
Wrapped tightly with her fan and vers for reinforcement. hood, we knew we
tion as a citizen and artist with those all the reasons our occupation benefitted boarded up windows.But sometimes when
packed in her suitcase, our bear arrived just were going to be
who live on the streets. him (maintaining the property, deterring I tilt my head I can see what it was, with-
before sunrise that Friday morning so that there is tension between a host
seen, sooner rather
and its parasite, since the host vandalism) as well as our politics behind candlelight seeping out under the curtains,
the changing shifts could feel her blessings than later, so we
endeavours to get rid of the (For assistance in building your own squatting (why rent is exploitative, why smoke trailing from the chimney and the
and grace. Hours later we would dispatch foreign body, while the parasite just acted as though
employs new ways to maintain parasitic guerrilla housing device, contact land should belong to the folks who use sound of a guitar—and I know that place
the following message from the public Mjrakowitz@aol.com) the house belonged
the connection with the host. it.) Surprisingly, he agreed with us, and didn’t go anywhere except underground,
library four blocks away: to us. Which it we struck a deal to keep maintaining the under my skin. It’s still there, waiting.
Report #5:
one man lying down, both in suits, each the tree is in the seed is in the fruit is on
pointing a shiny gun at the other/A the tree. It was beautiful, the gold frames
railroad car stopped on a siding, its porch looking sober and important against the

The Mendenhall
cushioned with scraps of foam rubber/A black wall, the pictures themselves detailed
shady little hollow beside a small stream, all and various. I didn’t doubt for a moment
carpeted with new grass and yellow police that it would happen. And it did.

Guerilla Art Strike


tape snared in the bushes/Long clumps of When I was in college I had three good
hair falling out of a burst garbage bag/A friends. We ate
baby pacifier, blue and white checks on breakfast together
the mouthguard/An every morning,
angry woman we took walks

G lass flows. In window panes and


watch crystals and paperweights and
perfume bottles it is forever shifting, gently,
The first building I passed was the
lumber company with its long black cinder
block wall. The wall hadn’t always been
in a black
wig. “Watch
out, they’ll
together in
the twilight
and broke
slowly, imperceptibly, obeying the memory black—it used to be a graffiti wall, a kind of take your social off branches
of its liquid state or perhaps listening to the people’s art gallery where some of the most security number of weeping
deep majestic rumble of the lava rivers that beautiful graffiti in town was layered on. and keep all your cherry to
cooled four billion years ago into the rock Sometime last year our local police began money. That’s take back to
that became the sand that became the lump cracking down on graffiti, and for some what she did. our rooms,
of hot glowing glass than became the bottle reason that particular wall became their Bitch.” we shared
in your hand. When I was a little girl, target. The owner of the lumber company I kept bottles of
no more than three or four, I discovered had given permission for the painting, but walking. I walked shampoo
a corner of my bedroom window where instead of letting it be the police threatened out of the outskirts and
the glass had pooled like that against the the owner with a fine; in the end the artists of town, into the sweaters
frame. If I pushed my toybox across the themselves brought buckets of black paint country where flocks and
room and climbed up on it I could rest my and brushes down to the railroad tracks of birds pecked at books.
forehead on the glass and look out through and painted the whole wall black, which is the bare fields and We It was dinnertime and we put down our birds beyond the dark porch screen. We, We spoke very little, just picked a spot down the wall other people were stepping
that one wavery spot in the window at a how it remained. I kept walking. Walking laundry flapped on talked books and pencils and went downstairs. the second team, went down at 2 :45. and went to work. Among all the people backwards into the dark, looking at what
back yard and fence and trees that never on railroad tracks on a December morning the line. I began to Now we’re in our 50s, or at least three of We were met at the end of the street by there—more than two dozen now—I they had done. How can I describe it? In
existed any other way. Where the everyday two days before the turn of the new year is wonder how I would us are. Two years ago Alice took her little one of our number, posted there with was the only one who had forgotten to two hours we had made something where
yard lay still and flat, this yard—this yard— an act of meditation. It takes concentration get home, wondered seriously about silly sailboat out into Duxbury Harbor on a a walkie-talkie to sound a warning if plan what I would paint on the wall: my there was nothing. But it didn’t feel as
heaved up and down, trees bending and to find the right stride, but when you how long I had been things and made silly jokes about serious windy October morning and shot herself trouble came. All was clear; she spoke imagination had taken me only up to the though we had made it, exactly. It was
shimmering, fences sawing like accordions, do it’s as though your legs have become walking, wondered where I was. things. One afternoon in late spring near in the head, leaning far over the edge so quietly into the walkie talkie and waved moment when I stopped on the darkened almost as though we were archaeologists
clouds rocking back and forth on invisible independent engines, have become wheels And all the time I kept thinking about the end of our sophomore year we were her body would fall into the sea. Pei Loh us on. I passed around the corner of the bank and realized that it was really digging down the seven layers of Troy—no,
runners, high peaks and deep shadowless or churns or pistons carrying you forward the wall. It made me angry. In my mind’s sitting in my room together reading and lives in Minnesota with her husband and warehouse and paused at the top of the happening. Now I was in new territory, in past Troy, past the black paint, past the
hollows appearing all around the swing without any intercession from the rest of eye I saw a very different kind of wall, a sewing and drawing, no one saying much, her son, who has something like cerebral bank, looking east. The silhouette of the the part of the map where the edges of the graffiti, past the cinderblock, into the
set like miniature Himalayas. I wanted to you. I walked through downtown, past the wall with pictures on it surrounded by gold when someone started to sing. The window palsy, although no doctor has ever been highway bridge in the distance and the continents take on speculative uncertain heart of the wall itself, into the heart of
be there. I imagined what it would be like backs of buildings, across familiar streets at picture frames like a proper art gallery. And was open and the air smelled of new grass able to make a diagnosis. Mara lives in dark bulk of buildings framed the denser shapes and curlicue monsters plow perfect the earth, into the dreaming molecules
to roll down the slopes, to lie on my back unfamiliar angles. I have lived in my town then I didn’t just imagine it, I saw it—I and wet earth and when we grew quiet we New Jersey with her third husband and blackness of the tracks; peering into the pen-and-ink waves. before the earth, into the generous void of
in the hollows, to ride the trees, to float for 22 years but I was walking through could almost feel the wall shift from the could hear the soft descending notes of a her heartbreakingly beautiful daughter, darkness I could just see the intermittent I had brought some tubes of acrylic the universe. We had simply dreamed into
on the top of the billowing grass. I was a town I had never seen before. I began thinking part of my brain to the deeper, mourning dove. Our song didn’t have any just coming into adolescence herself. I live flicker of flashlights and in that second I paint and a tinfoil pie plate, and in the being something that was there all along.
heartbroken with nostalgia for a place I keeping an inventory in my little notebook believing part of my brain where things words, just four voices that wound in and down the street from the train tracks and knew that everything was going to be all chancy beam of my small flashlight I Oh reader, it was lovely.
had never been. Even though I was already of the things I passed: that haven’t happened yet already feel like out of each other and caught each other up think about walls. Each of us is, I suppose, right. As we scrambled down the bank, laid out a perfect art class colorwheel of Don’t go looking for the wall. It didn’t
learning a little bit about despair, I would A black and white movie poster on the memories. The wall that I saw didn’t exist and climbed over each other like stairsteps outwalking time and regret. the first team passed us going up to the paint. As I picked up my brush the night last more than a week: it’s black again,
still run out of the room across the kitchen ground, torn and dirty—one man standing, yet, but it did, in Dreamtime, the way and sank to a vibration and then died away. But reclaiming the wall was like that street get the paints out of the van. We condensed into a tight knot of solitude black and blank, and really, that’s exactly
and out the back door as fast as I could in afternoon singing in my room. Everyone had spent the previous afternoon dividing around me; to either side of me I could how this story should end. The art on the
hopes that this time, this one time, I could I talked to about it in the next weeks up the supplies into four milk crates, each hear the deep silence of people working wall was too lovely to last, too precious
get there before that lovely other back yard understood it right away. Everyone saw with jars of white and red and yellow and in their own solitudes. I painted almost to simply grow tattered and weather-
hid itself again in the sober motionless it. We picked a night in early February green and blue paint, brushes, rags, and at random, inscribing a face, a neck, stained, to disappear in plain sight into the
contours of the everyday world. and once we had the time set it seemed as water. Some people had brought pictures eyes, nose, mouth, hair, dabbing colors in everyday background of the railroad tracks.
One Sunday morning not long ago though whatever we needed came to us. already prepared for wheatpasting inside long brushy streaks. I stepped away for The wall has returned to Dreamtime,
I decided to take a walk. It was a day or We had no picture frames, and then we the frames. One person brought his spray a moment and was startled to discover has floated away into the past and lies
two before the end of the year, a bright had dozens. We didn’t have any paint and paints and nozzles, neatly packed in a little that I had painted a self-portrait of sorts. shimmering in the future. And there will
late December day, warm enough for just then we had stacks of half-used cans of black bag like a salesman’s sample case. Abashed, I stopped. Looking up and always be other walls.
a sweater and a scarf. For some reason I house paint, rifled out of friends’ basements
walked away from the direction of the and garages. We needed brushes; we had
park where I usually walk; I walked up the brushes. We needed Liquid Nails to attach
street to the train tracks. When I came to the frames to the wall; we had Liquid
the end of the street I kept going, around Nails. People we didn’t even know came
the corner of the warehouse and down the up to us and said they had planned the art
weedy bank to the double tracks that run they were going to put on the wall. We
into infinity in either direction. I sat down met at my house late at night and made
on the bank and took out my little black our plan. At 1:00 in the morning I had
notebook. “I feel like Ulysses,” I wrote. nearly two dozen people in my yard and
“The old thought: I could just get up and in my kitchen and on my porch, sitting
walk out. Now I’m sitting with my back to on the living room sofa flipping through
the known universe, sun falling through magazines, synchronizing watches in
the weeds, and in front of me someone has the half light of the back yard, shaking
lettered in black paint on a junction box: flashlights to see if the batteries were good,
THE THINGS YOU’LL NEVER GET hunching into coats and scarves against the
BACK 1) TIME 2) REGRET. What late winter nighttime chill.
will I know when I am done with this The first team went down at 2:00.
walk, whenever that turns out to be? One The things we had worried about—
thing I already know—every other time getting caught, running out of paint,
I’ve sat here I’ve been filled with longing some overlooked technical snag—began
and restlessness. Now I’m simply here. I’m to dissipate. I sat on the porch quietly
going to walk east now, out of time, out of talking to a few friends, watching the
regret and into whatever I find.” time, listening to the sleepy rustle of
Report #6:
was dancing up a storm. They absolutely cover of the commotion outside, they
refused to allow us to remain mere sent their children through the back door
spectators, grabbing us hand in hand until of the longhouse. Inside, Ray and the

Dancing With Ghosts


we were all dancing side by side, some of us world he represents found themselves an
with considerably less skill than others. emperor without clothes, as little children
When the dance came to an end, an ran around in the meeting openly defying
old man with white hair pulled two of him and giggling at his self-important
A Memoir of Tribal War our band off to the side. “Did you bring madness. Soon, the commotion got so
baseball bats?” he asked. We weren’t sure out of hand that the local city police
what he meant, so we said that we were showed up, along with reporters—an
“ready for whatever it took,” an equally unheard of event in Ray’s territory. The
If we are to stand a ghost of a chance God, and State wrapped up in one man:
coded answer. He then started telling us traditional Oneida took the police and
of surviving the increasingly imminent Ray Halbritter.
stories, about bingo parlors burning and reporters aside, showing them their home
catastrophe our culture is hurtling toward, Known among the locals as “No-Face
Mohawk revolts, about the first winter videos of Ray’s police beating women and
we must learn to adapt to new habitats. We Ray” for cursing the ways of the Oneida
snow and about Ray’s mother’s facelifts. destroying their homes. Smiles broke out Art Exhibition: Graffiti Art Exposition at Sofia Bergrum, person to dream of going to art school and becoming an artist; remarkable here, might as well skate down to Deluxe, buy
must be able to migrate with the seasons, to and declaring himself against all sanity
After considerable mystery, he left us with on all our faces when Ray turned tail and Stockholm, Winter 2002 but in the rest of the world, only the independently wealthy can that new pair of Vans.
intermingle with unlikely allies and long lost and tradition “Chief for Life,” Ray is
a simple message: “Gringo Windshield.” fled. The ice that separated us from the consider this as a realistic career path. As the demands of the “free But Polaroid says, “It’s what you don’t see that always
cousins, to hunt for opportunities to gather attempting to develop this pocket of market” bend all societies to the model pioneered by the United eludes you.”
Ray Halbritter was going to enter Oneida began to break. This is the notorious exhibition that was closed down by
momentum as if our lives depended on it. This land, the thirty acres of the traditional the city after one day for the debatable offense of giving space States, even Sweden is bound to become inhospitable for would- Huh? You snap back, “Who do you think you are with
the thirty acres to hold a meeting of his There we stood, two tribes—one
is a true story about a time when we did some Oneida, the last remaining sovereign to artists working in a style developed by vandals. Public outcry be artists from outside the privileged class. Legal “graffiti” walls this inscrutable fortune cookie shit?”
cronies in an ancient longhouse that he ancient and the other new—united against
of these things with a measure of success. Oneida land. Women have forced the city to recant and allow it to proceed as planned, can only be a superficial concession to quiet the radical demands But you might as well take a second look, right? Pictures
We received a spectral smoke signal been evicted by Ray’s private and consequently “Legalize Art,” the organization backing the of the masses (“we don’t want one wall, we want the whole hardly give up the truth—just another image without a story?
of nybbles and bytes requesting our “Housing Inspectors,” and show, was able to collect quite a bit of political capital for their bloody city”)—and, worse, a step towards the institutionalization, Sucks to think, maybe one day you’ll be one of them. So
presence in the cold plains of Oneida, campaign to persuade Stockholm to open walls for legal graffiti specialization, and commodification of a folk art form. The time is you give it a second chance. But this time it’s not what you
seen their houses bulldozed
art. Members of the organization, such as one spokesperson who ripe for a culture offensive extolling insurgent, participatory forms see, but what the photographer saw. Or, rather, it’s what the
New York. Not knowing what to expect, before their children’s very
describes himself as a one-time tagger turned art-school hopeful, of art such as illegal graffiti. blindfolded photographer didn’t see.
our hearty band of improbable and eyes. Shopping malls will And so I put forth my own proposal for a graffiti exhibition A blind guy took this?
insist that graffiti is a serious art form, one of the “fine arts.” All
impermissible white wanderers from soon rise up, following this, of course, begs the question of what graffiti actually is. that will truly celebrate what is vibrant and vital about the “No,” says the Polaroid, “he wasn’t blind . . . not
the flatlands of the South journeyed to the pattern of twisted and It felt strange—but perhaps it was not so strange—to medium. It will be called the Graffiti Expedition, and it will normally.”
the snowy plains of Oneida. Following terrible progress familiar hear people who attended the exhibition assessing and be open to all applicants. The event will be promoted in and Our Polaroid tells a story of her siblings in that litter of
directions hastily and poorly translated to any denizen of Western sometimes disparaging the artwork on purely aesthetic outside graffiti bomber circles a few months in advance; on the ten exposures:
over an obscure pay phone, we came capitalism and civilization. If grounds. Were this artwork viewed on the streets where it was preceding night, submissions will be received through email in “More than a year ago, we were together in the dark
onto a stone longhouse, the home of the you stand on the edge of the developed, aesthetics would probably take a back seat to other the form of anonymous communiqués announcing where pieces warmth of a blindfolded guy’s pocket trying to piece it all
Onyota’a:ka, the traditional Oneida of considerations. After all, graffiti art has always been separated have been put up, according to the method already perfected together. Each of us contributed a story while we waited for
thirty acres, you can already
from other visual arts by a gulf of context; it is that context by the Environmental Liberation Front. The next day, the legal the next exposure. The eldest shot (of a face being bandaged
the Standing Stone. We pried open the see the future—a giant casino,
which differentiates it. One can take aesthetic ideas developed representatives of the exhibition will lead all the patrons on an at a kitchen table) said something about a completely
heavy wooden doors, and peered inside. sprawling across the land like expedition around the city, to ooh and aah over the courage blindfolded trip to Washington DC. The younger ones,
by graffiti artists and introduce them to the world of state-
A mighty elder, Clanmother Maisie a bloated carcass. A call to sanctioned fine arts, but in doing so one has not made graffiti immor(t)alized in acrylic on the highway sign by the overpass, always the radicals, had protest images. They recounted
Shenandoah of the Oneida, greeted us with arms. Soon. legal, but rather simply made legal art imitating graffiti. In the the witty addition to the billboard advertising malt liquor, the scene’s of George W.’s inauguration: streets full of anonymous
open arms and a broad smile. A powerful Ray’s private army was graffiti world proper, on the other hand, which will exist as one hundred matching tags recklessly bringing Main Street to multitudes, uniformed police, frosty weather, the blindfolded
woman, she had seen generations come and patrolling the thirty acres, and long as there is private property, aesthetics are inextricably tied life. Next time Legalize Art or an organization like them sponsors guy on the street passing flyers out for a pirate radio station.
go, and she feared that this would be the we were told that the official to context, and often subordinate to it. an exhibition or political campaign, such a counter-event could “Being blindfolded can mean getting away with a lot,” she
last to live in freedom. She explained that explanation for our presence Graffiti itself is as old and varied as walls; this exhibition provide the perfect complement: it would stress the subversive supposes.
this thirty acres land we were now on—and simply drew upon its most recent incarnation in the arena of heritage and power of graffiti, while simultaneously offering the “Then there were the monument shots: pictures of the
was an invitation to a tribal
pop culture. Like booming sound systems, graffiti as we know it city an alternative that would make the reformists’ proposal blindfolded guy in front of the Lincoln memorial, ambling
the homes upon it—were the last of the dance. Dancing it was. One
emerged as a means for the dispossessed to assert themselves in seem more palatable—pressuring the city to heed their demands, along on the national mall, with the Ken Snelson sculpture
sovereign nation of the Oneida people, by one, all the Oneida families just as Malcolm X’s uncompromising stance reinforced Martin in front of the Hirschorn Museum, in each image with the
an environment in which everything from rented tenements to
subject to no law except their own. This of the thirty acres piled into the billboarded streets ostensibly belongs to another class. The Luther King’s non-violent activism, just as, generations ago, the same Mona Lisa smile. The youngest shot had the advantage
proud people and their land were under the little longhouse, and with them they had closed to the community long ago. a common enemy. The ancient tribe was tagger reclaims this environment by proclaiming her defiant extreme demands of anarchists forced governments to parley with of being around for bandage removal back at the same
assault from without and within (as they brought a never-ending procession of all His private army of goons was to be there fighting for survival, and, unlike our existence—legal or not, desirable or not—on every unguarded reformists fighting for the forty hour work week. kitchen table.
still are8). One of their own had gone to sorts of food and drink. After a rousing to strike fear into the locals’ hearts. In the ancestors at Wounded Knee, we turned surface; the appearance of the tags themselves matters less In the meantime, let’s hope the money made from this “They argued a bit about the why of the whole thing. The
Harvard, gotten himself a business degree, meal, one of the older men stood in the morning the old man’s words rang true. A our backs on allegiance to race, nation, or than the sheer fact that they appear. Over time, graffiti artists exhibition—for by its end half of the pieces had been sold, at radicals explained some Marxist theory, the artists copped it
and incorporated the tribe as a corporation, middle of the room and began chanting in small line of us in full black bloc regalia any other fiction, to join them in arms. have improved and explored their craft, flaunting skills as a prices ranging from 400 to 10,000 kronor—will be put towards as a performance . . .”
building a financial empire spanning mid- surrounded the larger crowd of traditional This alchemy released magic—police way to celebrate their indomitable existence. White kids from more spray cans and ski masks, not art school tuition, so our new But the puddle Polaroid had her take. She overheard it
a tongue my ears could not comprehend, a
Oneida, who were for the first time in years the cultural desert of the suburbs, who gather like vultures generation of artists can practice and present on the streets where while developing on the coffee table of that regulation living
state New York. Oneida Nation Inc.—an sound rich with dignity beyond compare. unable to police, children ridiculing kings.
around every expression that still holds life, have taken note, they belong. Viva graffiti! Illegalize art! room:
independent fiefdom with its own laws, its Children lined up behind his booming bass going to contest Ray openly. We prayed The Oneida’s struggle against extinction
and modern graffiti culture and aesthetics have become widely “A handful of people were watching a skate video: Big
own taxes, its own courts, its own (mostly voice, providing a brilliant treble. Soon that our threadbare patches of anarchy and goes on, as does ours. Let us hope it goes known; but all along, it has been the social context that gave Skate Video: “Boob,” by Big Brother Brother’s “Boob.” As a service, Blind Guy’s pal was describing
white) police, with Judge, Jury, Executioner, the entire room, except for us white folk, punk would protect us from bullets. Ray on together, as we realize the possibilities graffiti its identity, not aesthetics. the scenes to him out loud. There’d be a few minutes of
scurried into the longhouse at our of tribal alliances that can overcome our This context of transgression and affirmation also makes So much depends on a red painted curb. And in a puddle skating followed by fifteen minutes of adolescent stunts (dude
approach, and his goons tried loneliest moments and the impossible graffiti precious to people outside both the underclass and the next to it, a washed out Polaroid of a regulation living room dressed up in a gold jumpsuit running around Hollywood
to arrest one of our burly black- odds. In the end, we are not ghosts from graffiti anti-/establishment. If you venture into the unused scene: TV, VCR, coffee table, Ché poster, bookcase. Nothing Boulevard, etc.) Why so little skating in a skate flick? But
masked friends. I screamed “Let the past, but ghosts of the future. Let us stairwells, maintenance closets, and elevator operating rooms
him go!” dance—together. of some the buildings of Muir College at the University
Magic. of California at San Diego, you will find walls thick with
scribbled stories and pictures. For over three decades, lone
Ray’s police did let him “Here we are, the dead of all time, dying once
students and vagabonds have gone there to write out diary
go. We were shocked. Since we again, only now with the object of living. You entries and poetry they would never share in person; there
weren’t Oneida, Ray’s police had have to get out of yourself to save yourself.” are cartoons, confessions, lengthy exchanges spanning years,
no legal right to arrest or even -masked spokesperson of the black bloc, even love affairs carried out between writers who never met.
touch us. Bristling with badges, Chiapas, Mexico Gathered in an exhibition or displayed on a legal wall, these
guns and clubs, they just told us obscene limericks, clumsy proclamations, and naive meditations
to leave. We began laughing in would elicit impatient groans at best; experienced on location
their faces and mocking them. by a participant, this secret world can be breathtaking.
8 Their struggle continues today. To get in Unlike participation in the “fine arts” as defined by capitalist
“Police? You aren’t even real
touch with the Oneida, contact: society, the role of graffiti artist is readily accessible to anyone
police! Come on, just touch me!”
who can get away with it. The illegal nature of the medium
“So how does it feel to beat up
ONYOTA’A:KA PEOPLE OF THE makes fame and status undesirable outside of small circles of
women in front of their children enthusiasts, and the artwork is made in defiance of commercial
STANDING STONE
for a living?” “Don’t feel so high concerns rather than in service to them—in contrast to the
PO Box 450
and mighty now, do you, boy?” elite few—“professional artists” who are able to make a living
Oneida, NY 13421
The traditional Oneida by outselling their competition into waitressing jobs. Perhaps in
315-363-2304 (ask for Maisie)
were delighted, and began Sweden, which still retains some vestiges of the social support
www.oneidasfordemocracy.org system governments of wealthier nations developed in the 1960’s
joining in the taunts. Under
to offset popular unrest, it is not absurd for the average young
Call for Submissions
We are composing an anarchist cookbook of recipes for
actions, situations, tools, and adventures. Please contact
us to contribute your own knowledge and experience.
PENULTIMATUM:
For more information, and examples of the format, visit
www.crimethinc.com/cookbook. Publish the next issue of Hunter/Gatherer!
An open letter to the reader, a challenge, a double- ously for thirty minutes: say it fast, say it slow, spell it out, sing
dog-dare: it to the tune of your favorite childhood song. Now take it with
To publish the next issue of this journal, you will you to the bank. Wear it as a shoe. Run a mile in it. Exhausted,
not need permission, but you will need initiative and curl up with it for a long nap. Remove one of its shiny panels
ideas. You will not need a degree or a license, but you and write a letter upon it to a friend with whom you have lost
must grant yourself a certain degree of artistic license. touch. Invent a dozen other uses for it, and utilize it thus until
You wonʼt need an apartment or a car, but it might these are habitual. Now toast seems so strange.
help to borrow a semi-permanent address for receiv- -Squat one of those vast 24-hour supermarts for a few days. Con-
ing mailorders and feedback. You wonʼt need to know duct experiments, play games, graze on food in your “pantry,”
blindfolded guy, sipping on a bowl of vegan chili, turn out to be “Street skating spread all over the world; more skaters “So now here’s a video of people joking around, pulling off anyone who was involved in making this issue, but it find a quiet corner to sleep. Consider who organized this place
quite the thinker. He got all animated at the description of the were experimenting, contributing—even as companies were crazy stunts and taking unimaginable risks in solemn public will help to have your creative friends offer perspectives and to what purpose. Pick a neglected category of items
video. Like a blind oracle he told a tale: profiting. Nothing was impossible: vertical walls, handrails, spaces—and there’s no skateboards involved! You don’t need a and inspiration. Contrary to superstition, you need not (green plastic things, paraphernalia of insecurity, materials
“A philosopher had this theory: art realized itself in 1963. But the ollies higher and farther than anyone could imagine. skateboard to skate, just like you don’t need a canvas to make be independently wealthy, but you will need to be rich not produced by slave labor, etc.) and, cartload by cartload,
process started a century before with the proliferation of the camera. The skateboarding industry fed off of it and encouraged art—now you can do anything, challenge yourself in any way you in time and patience to raise money for printing and establish a new section for it. Use stationary to write letters
Painting wasn’t the same after photography. Pulling off a faithful it. Three companies made millions. Even when they desire or imagine, even visit a strange city blindfolded.” postage (assuming you cannot arrange for these by to friends, use the phone to invite them over. Throw a party
rendition of a bowl of fruit or a portrait of some rich fuck didn’t collapsed, things went on: the dinosaurs died and others You take a look at the Polaroid again, stick it in your pocket. other means) by selling advertising or organizing fund- (guests need not bring food or gifts). Take a disposable cam-
mean so much if a camera could do the same. So painting had to just took their place. Maybe you won’t go to Deluxe after all. Instead, you want to raising events or robbing gas stations. If you want to era off the shelf; after taking some unusual photos, repackage
find its own meaning. “But skating hasn’t changed much over the last seven go to the beach to stare at the sea—because you know the use the printing company we used for this issue, call it as a gift to its future owner. Add to this list of things to do as
“In 1963 Warhol made something identical to the thing it years. Look at a deck from ’95 and one from today—what’s possibilities are as real and mysterious as that water. them at 800.800.7980; they charged us $3,000, which the days go by and your derangement intensifies.
stood for: his ‘art’ Brillo box was just a Brillo box. So then, since the difference? Compare two videos from then and now. The we raised by selling punk records and collecting dona- -Go to a public place where you can set up camp and establish
a certain tiresome perfection had been tricks aren’t that different. Compact Disc: “Insurgent Selections for Battery and Voice,” by tions, to make 35,000 of these. If you have any ques- yourself there, be present. Bring a project. It will have to be
achieved, perfection could be laid aside. In the ‘80’s and ’90’s decks the Infernal Noise Brigade (Post World Industries, 1122 E. Pike, Dept. tions, or need the addresses of distributors and so on,
The distinguishing went from flared tails and 949, Seattle, WA 98122, U.S.A.)
a project that creates ripples of notoriety—rumors should
Art was obligated to nothing. After that it write us at the address on the back. spread about your presence. People will approach with stories
just blew up. In the 70’s people did all sorts characteristic of a traditional small noses to the standard To get in the spirit of the thing and be sure you have for you: give them time, listen. You, above close friends, will be
of crazy shit. You could nail yourself to a double kick-pill shape with This is a particularly clear-cut example of the tensions
folk game is that although it something to offer others, it might also help to devise told of injuries, secrets, dilemmas, desires. Do not try to solve
Volkswagen, can your own shit, walk the variations. Street skating was between immediate and mediated musical experience. As
and undertake a vision quest. Perhaps you could: problems or offer advice: your role is to hold the stories as if
great wall of china, all with no obligation to has rules, they are not written. well on its way to becoming I understand it, the Infernal Noise Brigade includes some
-Cross a vast body of water in a vessel of your own making. you were a hiding place. Your visitors will return to sort through
the traditional forms. As you can see in this what it is now—technical, musicians who had been in more conventional bands
Nobody knows exactly what polished. We’ve reached -Carry with you all the trash that you produce over a period them, to make amendments and new deposits, to revisit old
video, today skating is no different. before—bands that wrote songs, recorded albums, performed

necessarily include different particulars and

perspectives does not necessarily constitute


of months. ones. They will offer you food. Occasionally they will ask about

vary in proportion to the air and light pollution obscuring


the stars of the night sky. The more diversity, the less
10 The diversity of d.i.y. cultures does indeed appear to

industrialized monoculture, the more stars visible, the


more different stories about where those stars came
already exist—the sooner, the better! That
conventionally, as artists for spectators—and in this experiment,

reason for others to make and share their


hail. There are as many of these contexts
they are. The players have a the end of history, but skate

derived from one specific context of d.i.y.

prioritize different questions. All the more


“A long time ago a bunch of surf rats,

an abuse of whatever privileges we may


-Teach yourself to navigate your neighborhood with your eyes

doing-it-themselves referenced here are


your life—but remember, they do this only out of politeness

culture, the one from which the authors

paper from any other community would

own, and for you to seek out those that


they presumably wanted to break out of that model and make

said, relating our own experiences and


wanting some action during downtimes, companies don’t want you

Obviously, the instances of individuals


shut. Make a map of that neighborhood.

as there are stars in the sky10. A d.i.y.


tradition to guide them, but to know. You’re feeding the music that could confront listeners more directly, that could and habit, for they know that you are a magic person, you
took roller skates, you know with metal -Punch a hole in a can of paint and take a walk around town
be an unanticipated and uncategorizable disruption of their have a project. As your relationships grow your needs will be
wheels, ripped them apart and screwed must settle among themselves machine, see—they churn out
new products and pros every environment. They have performed primarily at massive protests drizzling a record of your path. Use this method to chart increasingly met by the offerings of your visitors. These gifts
them on planks of wood. In the 60’s your movements on foot over a period of weeks.
the details of how to play a year, cheap decks that break, (in Seattle, during the 1999 W.T.O. meetings, for example), carry with them the power to cast spells on their behalf. Heal
everything blew up: clay wheels, the first

from and what they mean to us . . .


or in surprise marches, and resisted the commodification of -Learn to recognize all the edible and medicinal plants that them, make them well.
mass-produced decks, the first skate contest
was in ’63! In ‘65 it all collapsed due to
particular game. cruddy wheels that get flat
spots. Some kid turns pro and their music and the social role of musicians/specialists as best grow in your region. Try surviving on them alone for a -Concoct and carry out your own rites of passage. Invent a series
they could. That this CD, a mummified relic of the immediate month. of games to play with your friends, and announce a month dur-
shitty mass-produced products and paranoid becomes another cash cow. If
I’ve seen somebody do a phat kickflip to 5-0 handrail grind experience of a few of their performances, has been released, -Find an old typewriter. Spend an entire day copying down ing which you will change your own lives in preparation for the
parents. It didn’t catch on again until urethane wheels and sealed
your thoughts as continuously as they appear, without

have—does it?
to 360 kickflip down a flight of 100 steps about, oh, let’s say attests to the persistent seductiveness of the social “default following year of changing the world. Examples could begin
bearings in the 70’s.
500 times, what’s next? Well, when skating left the parks setting” of musical production, if to anything. looking back. Spend another day reading everything you with elaborate scavenger hunts and conclude with a sequence
“Skating mixed its surfing roots with concrete, and viola!
and came into the streets, it started us down a path that’s So yes, these percussion pieces, with scattered vocals and thought. of challenges: Starting at noon Friday at Danielleʼs house in the
the skatepark was born—a multi-million dollar business. All was
carried us to the logical conclusion: we can do whatever we samples, make for good listening, in the confines of a domestic -Ask your grandmother (or oldest living female relative or role placid suburbs, who can get arrested first? [This particular ex-
groovy . . . well, at least until the early eighties, when the parks
want. Do a technical trick or an old school trick, or just carve setting—but that’s as far removed from the adrenaline-pumping model) to teach you her favorite song from her youth; ample is tailored for the privileged children of the bourgeoisie;
closed and skaters were thrown out to the streets. Suddenly you
around . . . or not, it doesn’t matter. adventure of a street confrontation between pigs and a guerrilla design and construct an instrument perfectly suited to there are other equivalents.] Who can write the most fantastic
had to redefine yourself. Street skating (you know, what you did
“But, even better, we don’t have to limit our creativity marching unit as the sky is from the sea. You can’t expect simply playing this song. novel? [This is how Mary Shelleyʼs Frankenstein was written—
in the parking lot before the park opened) was all you had. So
listening intellectually (or, worse, absent-mindedly) to these or any -Expand and refine the private vernacular you have already it was her first.] If the world were to end tomorrow, what would

Expeditions, Joe Kaneʼs Savages, Cracking the

downtown San Francisco for four months of the


ADILKNO, ʻzine entitled 949 Market chronicling
to when we’re on our decks. Skating opened our eyes

Montanoʼs Art in Everyday Life, Teching “Sam”

People, Carl Sandburgʼs Rootabaga Stories, a


Synergetic Geometry of R. Buckminster Fuller
we atomized into secret pool societies and gangs at backyard half-

#79, San Francisco, CA 94110, U.S.A.), Linda

Poetry of the Indian North Americans, and . . .


Hsiehʼs How to Turn a Sewing Machine Into a
(Design Science Collection), Fredy Perlmanʼs
Against His-story, Against Leviathan!, several

book called Shaking the Pumpkin: Traditional


begun developing with your friends. Write a story or poem

an incomplete reading list could include Amy

Sound Recording Device (and One Hundred


rhythms to carry you away—at the very least you have to dance to you do today? OK, on the count of three, go do it. What do you

the life cycle of a public squat established in

year 2000 (contact Zara, 3288 21 St. P.M.B.


of Thor Heyerdahlʼs books including The Ra
pipes. We scattered into the streets, changing them. Where they to possibilities—now the streets have a secret meaning:

Movement: Squatting Beyond the Media by


C. Edmondsonʼs A Fuller Explanation: The

Rebecca Schneiderʼs The Explicit Body in


them, improvise your own motions to fill them out in space. for them utilizing and demonstrating its fullest potential. fear most of all? For the final exam, confront it, live through it.

Performance, Colin Turnbullʼs The Forest


nothing is forbidden, everything is permitted! We hit those

Other Pre-Apocalyptic Leisure Activities),


saw dull functionality, we saw infinite possibility: a parking lot,
bad corporate art, hand rails, a red-painted curb—the city was streets again like we did when the parks closed, and this Better yet—if you do indeed desire a purely receptive yet -Compile a list of axioms from your own experience: It is good The ones who survive will be ready for anything.
never the same. time we don’t even need the equipment. profound listening experience, try this: Go to the nearest luck to toss garbage over the fences of the wealthy. If your -Donʼt just talk about those crazy ideas you have. Carry them
trainyard, and hop on the back end of a grainer car on a leaving van breaks down in South Carolina, expect seven months out. Live like fire so the ones who come after can model the
train—one of the ones with the little hole for trainhoppers to of misfortune. When you see a police officer struck by his mythologies theyʼll need out of the smoke you left hanging
Appendix: Skateboarding and the New Games hide and ride in9. Climb in this hole, and listen: as the train
picks up speed, wheels pounding over the tracks, near-deafening
own tear gas canister, make a wish.
-With your itinerant friends and pen pals, establish an alter-
in the air.
These are all projects which have been and can still
My friend teaches preschool and I was harassing him a little 2. New games – players are sacred, rules are rhythms will fill your ears. Listen into that quickening pulse: nate postal underground. Send parcels from hand to hand be successfully undertaken. You donʼt want to leave all the
about the way children’s games and eventually sports should be called subject to selection or rejection. Rules that you’ll hear a thousand drummers beating great casks and metal across continents. excitement to professional archeologists, aborigines, van-
“Ideological State Apparatus for Beginners.” He said I was paranoid. privilege certain players throw the game off barrels, each with a unique cadence, swiftly accelerating to -Enter an abandoned building with only food and water. Spend ished ancient peoples, and other inventors/explorers, do
Our conversation ended in a messy chart which is re-presented balance and make it no fun. The rules are velocities impossible for any human arms. Pick out the layers a week there composing an on-site puppet show extrava- you? Oh, and—if you feel guilty about “wasting” so much
here in its edited form. adjusted. The game is a close match. of wild rhythms laid over each other, the sudden accents, ganza using only materials found on-location. Leave to time when you “should be” fighting capitalism, community
the changes; take them to heart, make a music for yourself flier. Return to perform. organizing, etc., donʼt fret—your capabilities in everything
Games For Beginners, That They May Never Stop Beginning— Example: Take basketball. Imagine an especially out of the parts that at first sound overwhelming and -Comb the environment you live in for places from succoring to streetfighting are increased
or, Making the Rules is Part of the Game. uncoordinated but poetic new basketball unintelligible. Then—hit the streets, whether in the thick of the which have natural musical potential: exponentially every time you step outside
player asking the ref. if she could improvise next mass demonstration or in the dead of a hot August night, the rail on the bridge that rings the circuit your life has become. Try it,
Limits: This chart rests on the assumption that competition is rhymes instead of dribbling while moving with a percussion device, and, with your life on the line, play when pounded, the train tunnel youʼll see!
something salvageable. This comes from our experiences both with the ball. While that would be really back to the world what it taught you. with the perfect echo acoustics. If our crackpot scheme suc-

for this experiment, the CrimethInc.

described herein may beggar belief.

the CrimethInc. Atlanta address for


the incredulous, or for those giving
have been documented on video:
It’s a safe bet that at least some of the players in the Infernal

to-record-player and automobile-


inventing new games and attempting to play established ones.

solidarity action, and the bicycle-


fucking cool, in the sports establishment she Compose a symphony from ceeds, there will be 35,000 copies

exploration and experimentation

presentations on the theory and


documentaries are available for

practice of folk science; contact


Tak, Liz, Mark, Asi, Scott, Kate,

At least four of them, however,


That most games focus on competition is certainly worth some can just plain forget about it. Noise Brigade followed this prescription—but that alone will do these sounds, in a series of of this first issue of Hunter/Gatherer,

guerrilla art strike, the Oneida


Brian, Hib, Harry, Stef, Darby
Workersʼ Collective included:

tanks. Copies of these video


the Mendenhall/Mendenwall

to-musical-instruments think
attention too—but that’s another chart entirely. you as much good as Chet Baker’s tribulations and transgressions movements. One evening, take and 35,000 versions of the second.

Some of the true stories of


Assumption: Whether watching or playing, even uncle Ike prefers Application: Right fork—get rid of player-selecting did his polite, bourgeois audiences. Music, like everything else, your friends from site to site If we make a version of that second
a game that is an even match. A blowout is no fun for the games like hockey, protest at sports events, get has to be lived, not consumed, to be magical. to perform the symphony in issue ourselves, weʼll be happy to
winners, the losers, or those watching. beat up by jocks. Left fork—get on with game- sequence. share it with any of you—but only in

more information.
Thesis: Games go about trying to be even in different ways. making where players select the rules. Let that -Take a well-known tool—for this trade for your own versions.
process teach and reinforce the idea that rules example weʼll use a toaster— For a readership of authors, an
1. Old games (“sports”) – the rules are sacred, the players are subject are only worth a damn if they serve the players and turn it back into an object. audience of performers, a constitu-
to selection or rejection. Players that are best suited to the rules well. Make that double for laws, traditions, 9 To do this safely, order the second D.I.Y. Guide from the Fucken
Take it far from the kitchen, per- ency of anarchists,
(erroneously called “the best players”) are the ones who get to dances, recipes, music, language and science Urban Pirates department of CrimethInc. (cash or stamps postage haps to a mountaintop or an aban- -C.W.C. Central Committee for
play. The game is a close match. and culture. donation to P.O. Box 2133, Greensboro, NC 27402, U.S.A.), and read
doned grain silo. Say its name continu- Decentralization (Local 252)
Isabell’s excellent introduction to the subject.
What didn’t get said:

An aging automechanic lovingly strokes his sleeping wife’s hair.


A boy fits a razor blade to the vein in his wrist.
A naked girl touches one toe to a freezing river, and laughs.
A dancer collects herself to give the final performance of her career.
A silver crescent, worn on a necklace, passed down through the generations
to a grandmother who now has no heirs.
The wonder of it—the moon in eclipse—the fugitive squats on the cliff at
dawn, pissing into the mist, counting blessings mathematics cannot.

And you want to say that everything is politics?

CrimethInc. Journey of Folklore and Folkwar

c/o General Delivery


PO Box 1963
Olympia WA 98507
U.S.A.

www.crimethinc.com
www.crimethinc.net