people of frankfurt!
Tonight I will be doing a Click Clack Gorilla reading at Raumstation Rödelheim. Then Margaret Killjoy, the editor of Mythmakers and Lawbreakers will talk about Anarchism in Literature. There will be witty cartoon “slides.” (Fuck projectors. Long live hand written posters on the back of other, older posters.) I am too disorganized to be sure, but I think it will begin around 8 pm.
This is where I ask you for advice
I still haven’t decided what I will read tonight. (Probably two or three peices from the first paper issue of Click Clack Gorilla and/or the website.) So if you have a favorite bit (or subject), I’m taking requests. Leave them in the comments, even if you won’t be able to make it tonight.
we intend to live in peace
Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness is a little collective that distributes lots of zines for free on the internet. Including Steampunk Magazine, The Super Happy Anarcho Fun Pages, and the ominously bizarre Yuppies With Spears. Gift economy, stories, political theory, hilarious comics! Go to their website and start reading already.
For those too lazy to make the long trip to another website, I will re-post one article that I found on their blog this morning, a delightful “letter” written by an anonymous someone or other. So get yer toast and yer coffee ready for a Sunday morning read:
We Intend to Live in Peace
To The Governments & People of Earth:
We claim the right to exist, and we will defend it.
We do not seek to overthrow anything. We do not seek to control anything. We merely wish to be left alone.
All we ever wanted was to live in peace with our friends and neighbors. For a long, long time we bore insults to our liberty; we took blows, we did what we could to avoid injury and we worked through the system to get the offenses to stop. That has now changed.
We no longer see any benefit in working through the world’s systems. At some point, working within a system becomes cowardly and intolerable; for many of us, that point has arrived. Regardless of the parties in power, their governments have continued to restrict, restrain and punish us. We hereby reject them all. We hereby withdraw from them all. We hold the ruling states of this world and all that appertains to them to be self-serving and opposed to humanity and our living homeworld.
We now withdraw our obedience and reclaim the right to strike back when struck. We will not initiate force, but we do reserve the right to answer it. We did not choose this – it was forced upon us.
==== To The Governments of Earth: ====
You are building cages for all that is beautiful about being alive. In the name of protection, you have intruded into all areas of human life, far exceeding the reach of any Caesar. You claim ultimate control of our persons and our decisions, of our travels and even our identities. You claim ownership of humanity far beyond the dreams of any Emperor of any previous era.
Understand clearly: We reject authority and we reject your legitimacy. We do not believe that you have any right to do the things you do. You have massive power, but no right to impose it upon us and no legitimacy. We have forsaken you. We are no longer your citizens or your subjects. Your systems are inherently toxic to life on Earth, even if all their operators are not.
We are not merely angry young people. We are fathers and mothers; aunts, uncles and grandparents; we are business owners and trusted employees; we are mechanics and engineers and farmers. We are nurses and accountants and students and executives.
We are on every continent.
This is not a burst of outrage; this is a sober declaration that we no longer accept unearned suffering as our role in life.
For long decades we sat quietly, hoping that things would turn around. We took no actions; we suffered along with everyone else. But after having our limits pushed back again and again, we have given up on your systems. If our fellow inhabitants of this planet wish to accept your rule, they are free to do so. We will not try to stop them. We, however, will no longer accept your constraints upon us.
From now on, when you hurt us, we will bite back. If you leave us alone we will leave you alone and you can continue to rule your subjects. We are happy to live quietly.
But if you come after us, there will be consequences. You caused this because of your fetish for control and power. The chief men and women among you are pathologically driven to control everyone and everything that moves upon this planet. You have made yourselves the judge of every human activity. No god-king of the ancient world ever had the power that your systems do.
You have created a world where only the neutered are safe and where only outlaws are free.
==== To The People of Earth: ====
We seek nothing from you. We do not want to rule you and we do not want to control you.
All we wish is to live on Earth in peace. As always, we will be helpful neighbors and generous acquaintances. We will remain honest business partners and trustworthy employees. We will continue to be loving parents and respectful children.
We will not, however, be sacrificial animals. We reject the idea that others have a right to our lives. We will not demand anything from you, and we will no longer acquiesce to any demands upon us. We have left that game. We reject all obligations to any person or organization beyond honesty, fair dealing and a respect for life.
We are not demanding that you agree with us. All we ask is that you do not try to stop us. Continue to play the game if you wish; we will not try to disrupt it. We have merely walked away from it.
We wish you peace.
==== To Those Who Will Condemn Us: ====
We will ignore you.
We would stand openly before all mankind if it were not suicidal. Perhaps some day we will have to accept slaughter for our crime of independence, but not yet.
Your criticism and your malice are much deeper than mere disagreements of strategy or philosophy. You do not oppose our philosophy, you oppose our existence. Our presence in the world means that your precious ideals are false. Some of you would rather kill us than face the loss of your ideologies, just as those like you have either hated or killed every sufficiently independent human.
You present yourselves to the world as compassionate, tolerant and enlightened, but we know that your smooth words are costumes. Oh yes, we know you, servant of the state; don’t forget, we were raised with you. We played with you in the schoolyard, we sat next to you in the classroom. Some of us studied at the same elite universities. We watched as you had your first tastes of power. We were the boys and girls standing next to you.
Some of us were your first victims. We are not fooled by your carefully crafted public image.
==== What We Believe ====
#1: Many humans resent the responsibilities that are implied by consciousness. We accept those responsibilities and we embrace consciousness. Rather than letting things happen to us (avoiding consciousness), we accept consciousness and choose to act in our own interest. We do not seek the refuge of blaming others, neither do we take refuge in crowds. We are willing to act on our personal judgment, and we are willing to accept the consequences thereof.
#2: We believe in negative rights for all: That all humans should be free to do whatever they wish, as long as they do not intrude upon others; that no man has a right to the life, liberty or personal property of another; that we oppose aggression, fraud and coercion.
#3: We do not believe that our way of life, or any other, will make life perfect or trouble-free. We expect crime and disagreements and ugliness, and we are prepared to deal with them. We do not seek a strongman to step in and solve problems for us. We agree to see to them ourselves.
#4: We believe in free and unhindered interaction. So long as interactions are voluntary and honest, no other party has a right to intervene – before, during or after.
#5: We believe that all individuals should keep their agreements.
#6: We believe that some humans are dangerous dysfunctional and that they must be faced and dealt with. We accept the fact that this is a difficult area of life.
#7: We believe that humans can self-organize effectively. We expect them to cooperate. We reject impositions of hierarchy and organization.
#8: We believe that all humans are to be held as equals in all matters regarding justice.
#9: We believe that the more a person cares about right and wrong, the more of a threat that person is perceived to be by governments.
#10: We believe that there are only two true classes of human beings: Those who wish to exercise power upon others – either directly or through intermediaries – and those who have no such desires.
#11: Large organizations and centralization are inherently anti-human. They must rely upon rules rather than principles, treating humans within the organization as obedient tools.
#12: We believe that the continuation of this inhuman society can only result in the extinction of the human race. Our rejection of this society is therefor an act of self-preservation.
==== Our Plans: ====
We are building our own society. We will supplement traditional tools with networking, cryptography, and anonymous messaging.
Our society will not be centrally controlled. It will rely solely on voluntary arrangements. We welcome others to join us. We are looking for people who are independent creators of life-affirming values, people who act more than talk, and people who re-affirm their place in this world in nuturing, self-fulfilling ways.
We will develop our own methods of dealing with injustice, built on the principles of negative rights, restitution, integrity and equal justice.
We do not forbid anyone from having one foot in each realm – ours and the old realm – although we demand that they do no damage to our realm. We are fully opposed to any use of our realm to facilitate crime in the old realm, such as the hiding of criminal proceeds.
We expect to be loudly condemned, libeled and slandered by the authorities of the old regime. We expect them to defend their power and their image of legitimacy with all means available to them. We expect that many gullible and servile people will believe these lies, at least at first.
We will consider traps laid for us to be criminal offences.
Any who wish to join us are encouraged to distribute this declaration, to act in furtherance of our new society, to voluntarily expand activities which will open up space for others to step away from the control of the current regime and to communicate and cooperate with other members of the new society.
Free, unashamed people cannot be ruled.
come not between the nazgul and the photocopier
So last night I go to the copy shop down the street to make a few Click Clack Gorilla’s to bring along to the Lee Hollis reading we were planning on going to later that night. The shop is self-service, but the Copy Man was impatient, wanted to look through all my papers, didn’t want to let me touch the machines. “I’d rather do it myself,” I told him. “No no. These are my machines. I know them better than you do. Trust me, trust me,” he repeated over and over, until I finally gave up and handed him the originals. He made the copies and shooed me out of the store once I’d handed over my five euros.
I got home disgruntled; I’d stopped going to the copy shop across the street because that Copy Man had always insisted on looking through all my papers too. Friends had assured me that at this shop the owner would leave me alone, that I could copy all my zines without having to worry about Copy Man’s prying eyes. Strike two, I grumbled to myself as I biked home. I grabbed a beer from the house and sat down in the kitchen to collate the covers with the freshly copied innards. Which is when I noticed that he’d fucked them all up. Copied them all backwards and upside down. I let out a scream of rage, cursed his name, and gnashed my teeth at the thought of having to go back and talk to Mr I Can Make Better Photocopies Than You You Insolent Fool again the next day.
It took me all afternoon to work up the energy to bike back over, expecting, fearing a battle, but around 5 o’clock I forced myself onto my bike and over the bridge to the copy shop. I waited patiently in line while the Copy Man bound a book for another customer, sent a fax for another customer, waited until there was no one left in the shop except for me, Mr. Copy Man, and Copy Man’s Friend, who was sitting at a computer looking at flickr photos of Turkey. He shuffled a few papers around importantly before looking at me and asking how he could help me today.
I had decided to remain calm. To approach the situation calmly, rationally, politely, against every instinct, against the already angry pounding in my chest. I explained the mistake and requested my money back. He insisted he had done it correctly, that they should flip up and over, not open up like a book, “You never said this was supposed to be a book,” he insisted, “I’m not giving you your money back,” he brayed, “There is no mistake.”
“Well, if you had let me make the copies myself, I would take responsibility for the mistake. But if you recall you wouldn’t let me copy them myself, and you copied them wrong. I did tell you this was a book, and I want my money back.” His shoulder was a shut door, a brick wall, a dead end. And somehow, what I’d meant to, hoped to make into a short, polite business exchange was turning into the battle I’d feared.
“You’re not getting any money from me. Too bad for you!”
“You made the mistake, and I want a refund!”
“I’m not leaving until I get my money back!” We were screaming at each other now, cheeks glowing like hot coals.
“Then you can stay here all night,” he hissed. “There’s no money here for you.” He walked away from me and into another room, attempting to act casual, attempting to ignore me into leaving. Instead I stayed put and smsed Calamari for back up, the phone shaking in my hand. All the while Mr. Copy Man’s friend sat at the computer, looking at photos, ignoring us both.
After a few minutes the Copy Man came back into the shop, and I walked toward the shelves of fancy colored paper. Round two, ding! “Well, if you’re not going to give me the five euros in cash, I’ll just take five euros worth of paper then.” Another customer had entered the shop. He didn’t notice. His whole face was a bed of smoldering coals now.
“YOU’RE NOT TO TOUCH ANYTHING IN THIS SHOP.”
“Then give me my money back. I hardly have any money, and I give you my last five euros to make some copies, you fuck them up, and now you won’t even give me my money back so I can make new copies?” Go home and tell everyone you know about the evil copy man who takes advantage of poor students, I thought at the blonde now making copies by the window. “If you aren’t going to give me money, I want five euros worth of paper.”
His face was burning now, the coals had worried themselves into flame. “FINE!” he screamed, slamming open the paper drawer of the nearest machine. “Here, take some paper. I’m doing this of my own free will. Take the paper and leave or you get nothing!” I looked at the thin stack of white paper in his hand and laughed.
“That’s not five euros worth of paper. Five euros worth or I’m packing my bag full of the expensive colored stuff.”
He slammed half of the thin stack back on top of the copier, offering me the remaining sheets. “Take it and get out.”
I laughed again. “I’m not bargaining with you. Five euros, not some measly little pile of paper worth fifty cents.”
“Get out.” He pointed at the door, and my phone rang, Calamari, calling about the sms. I told him what was going on, while Copy Man got desperate. “…and now he has his hands on my shoulders and is trying to physically push me out the door,” I said into the phone. “I’m on my way,” the phone said back.
“Make your phone calls outside!” Copy Man screamed. His computer friend had finally gotten up and gave pushing me out the door a try as well.
“Don’t fucking touch me!”
“Please go, please just go outside,” Copy Man’s friend said softly. I went to the door and planted myself squarely in front of it, determined to block any arriving customers from entering and screaming my story at every passerby. “Here,” Copy Man’s friend said, opening his wallet, “I’ll give you the five euros, will you leave if I give you the five euros?”
“Yes of course I will. All I want is my god damned money back.”
He handed me a folded bill and as I biked off I could hear Copy Man screaming behind me, his friend the target now. “What the hell do you mean you gave her the five euros?!”
“Well she left didn’t she?” his friend replied. Copy Man screamed again. I couldn’t make out what he said, but it sounded like the angry, frustrated shriek of a Nazgul, short one ring.
I waited for Calamari on the corner, face still red, blood pounding like freight just under my skin. Haven’t been having much luck with copy shops lately, I thought, leaning forward on the handlebars. Maybe it’s payback for stiffing the copy shop in Mülheim–Karma, come to wag a pretty, slender finger in my face. Then I reconsidered. There’s no way that Karma is a capitalist.
going to mülheim (zinefest 2009) part the second
I couldn’t find my way out of the fucking shopping mall, the exits had been closed, there was no way out, any minute security guards would come up behind me to drag me away and I would die here, in a tiny windowless room in the basement of hell.
I like to delude myself into believing that malls are an American phenomenon, that they don’t exist in jolly old Europe. But just like McUgly and Starfucks, they are here, they are everywhere, they are even popular, with a distrurbing number of people. The smell of fast food, the crowds of people gathered here together to push each other out of the way of That Hot New Thing they want to buy, the stale hot air–it makes me nauseous. But there was the sign for the train station, there was the exit, the door, I went through it, there was air, sunlight, space, I was Out and Away.
I didn’t know where the Autonomes Zentrum actually was. Tallbike and I had meant to come together, but it hadn’t worked out and I hadn’t bothered with directions more detailed than “go to Mülheim.” Look left, look right, nothing but some trees, a post office, and some houses over a big road off over there. A guy sat on the sidewalk with piles of records beside him. He had a beard and round gold-rimmed glasses and looked like the kind of guy who would know where the AZ was. He did.
“Sure I can give you directions,” he told me, relaxed, “But why don’t you sit down first while I finish this cigarette.”
I didn’t want to sit down. I wanted to get away from the train station and the copy shop. I wanted to see the AZ. I wanted some water, some lunch, and some beer. But since I didn’t know how to get to the AZ I sat down anyway, and Bearded Record Guy gingerly took each record out of the canvas bags he had with him to show me. He was on his way to a friend’s house to make some mix tapes. “You ever heard of *insert band name here*?” Nope. No, haven’t heard of that one either. Nope, nope, nope, nope, not that one either. No, don’t roll your fucking eyes. What do I listen to? Oh I don’t know, umm, yeah, well, lots of stuff. Right now a lot of hardcore and some doom and old time country. Haven’t heard of the three bands I manage to remember that I like? Oh well, I guess you better keep name dropping then, nope, haven’t heard of that one either…
Why does almost every “we just met so let’s name drop bands we like” conversation end up feeling like a god damn pissing contest? Why does every “we just met so let’s name drop bands we like” conversation leave me feeling like a complete fucking idiot? Oh right, probably because quite often these conversations are pissing contests, probably because I am terrible at remembering names–band names and people names alike–and probably because the person I’m talking with always ends up saying something like “I can’t believe you haven’t heard of *insert random band name here*” and/or rolling their eyes and/or not understanding why when they ask me to list a few bands I like my mind goes completely blank and all I can manage are a hanful of stutters and shrugs. I used to do college radio. If there is one thing college radio is good for, it’s developing a fine-tuned hatred for music snobbery and band name dropping. Then again, snobbery is always fucking stupid, so there.
Finally Bearded Record Man gave up and gave me directions, and I walked off to the AZ and zinefest aka glory glory hallelujah just look at all these zines. (!!!)
The AZ Mülheim was a riding center once upon a time, the locals told me. People strutted around on their ponies in the hall where we moved the zine market when it started to rain, horses were bought and sold and combed and fed in the rooms where we ate breakfast and drank beer and learned how to bind books. From the outside the building is big and brick, graffiti- and ivy-covered and my-kind-of charming. From the inside it’s cozy as well, with lots of big spaces for concerts and pub nights, and even more little spaces for lectures and meetings and sleeping and cooking and freeboxes and an internet cafe.
There were ten, fifteen distros/stands/zine writers with boxes full of fresh-off-the-photocopier creations set up in the courtyard (pre-rain) trading and selling and chatting. The zine writers with music projects played, there was a lecture about the history of zines given by a man from the German Youth Archive (which I didn’t attend because it makes me feelpretty sad when living, breathing, beautiful things get intellectualized/lecturarized/power point presentationed before their Time). I missed the book binding workshop to man the distro (now featuring fancy cut up cardboard boxes and dumpster puke-green curtain/tablecloth!) but intend to kidnap someone from NC to teach me that this summer anyway. There was cheap vegan food (mmmm) and a table with typewriters and scissors and glue for creating a page for this year’s zinefest zine. There were people skateboarding around the hall, people dancing, people talking, and Bearded Record Guy even showed up to say hello and act kind of creepy.
By the end of the night I was burnt out, happy, over- whelmed, and in need of a long sleep and a long time for processing everything I’d seen and heard and read in the past six hours. I had a huge pile of traded zines to read and no ear-plugs to block out the techno/dance music thumping away at the bar downstairs. But I feel asleep all the same, visions of photocopied print and typewriter-witten pages whirling through my head.
Sunday was three servings of a delicious breakfast, was adding a page to the zinefest zine, was quiet and relaxed, and we dragged sofas into the courtyard for a reading, and, excepting the woman who arrived with an aloof hipster posse and read from an actually published book, got me interested in a few publications I had been too overwhelmed to notice the night before (Sofakartoffel, for one, if you ever see her stuff, it’s grand and in English and aestetically pleasing to boot). Panzer Fee (pictured) recited a few poems, two boys played accoustic guitars, I read nyc from my zine, and a handful of others read from theirs (whose names I can’t remember because my brain is made of Swiss cheese). Slowly groups of people trickled off to Home and Tallbike and I slung on our backpacks and headed for the train, a box full of photocopied treasure to page through on the way back to Mainz.
going to mülheim (zinefest 2009) part the first
“Excuse me, but do you happen to be going to Köln?”
“No, Mülheim. Why, you guys have a group ticket?”
“Yeah. But Mülheim shouldn’t be a problem, same direction.” I had just walked into the Koblenz train station, sheet wrinkles still printed on my face, disgruntled at my excess of luggage and lack of coffee.
“Well, I’d love to ride on your ticket, but I don’t have any money, I can’t pay you anything.”
“Isn’t there an ATM around here?”
“I don’t have an ATM card, and there’s no money in the bank anyway. See, I don’t have any money at all.”
“Well.” He turned his away. I looked at him, waiting for a more definite answer. He gazed pointedly off into the distance. “I guess that’s a no then?” He still wouldn’t look at me. Must have offended his fine capitalist sensibilites. I rolled my eyes, shook my head, and walked to the ticket machine to find out what train I needed to take. I typed in “Mühlheim” and got three different “Mühlheim (Main)”s, but no “Mühlheim (Rohr)”s. Crap. Had Mühlheim disapparated? Had I forgotten how to spell? (Yep.) Lame Miser Dude had said that the Köln train was the same direction, and so had my road atlas, so I went to the track, found some kind yuppie women with an extra spot on their group ticket and hoped that Lame Miser Dude would walk by so that I could give him a pointed, spiteful look that said “Look, there are lots of really nice people in this world and YOU ARE NOT ONE OF THEM.”
(Marauder’s Guide Note: See, there are these tickets in Germany called “Schöne Wochenende Tickets” that cost 35 euros for up to five people to anywhere (and back) on Saturdays and Sundays. So if you’re broke, you can walk through the train and ask people if they have a group ticket, and if they do, if you can ride along on their ticket. Train hopping of sorts, but less exciting, less dangerous, and 99% certain to get you excatly where you’re going exactly when you’re going there.)
The signs at each station said our train was heading to Dinslaken, Holland. “I could just keep on riding, and I’d end up in Holland,” I thought, grinning. Tempting. In Holland there were friends and beautiful squats and beaches and vegan pirates. But in Mülheim there was zinefest, and new friends, and vegan food, and maybe, just maybe, there would be a few pirates there too.
I got off in Düsselsdorf and, after 15 frustrating minutes, tricked the ticket computer into telling me how to get to Mülheim (by learning how to spell it correctly, oops). It was only 20 minutes away now, the computer said. There’s a big soccer match today, the crowds on the platform said. Sure you can ride with us, a balding, white-capped man and his two sons said. We crammed ourselves between the hoardes of soccer fans and empty beer cans and chugged off. (Marauder’s Guide Note: If you don’t like loud drunken holligans, I would recommend avoiding all trains and train stations near stadiums on game days. Then again, lots of people=lots of people with group tickets, even if most of them are drunk morons.)
“What is that wooden box for?” White-Capped Man couldn’t stop staring at it. “It’s just so strange to see someone carrying an old wooden box here on the train. I’m really curious.”
How to explain zines, zinefest, and the old wooden distro box I’d found in the trash to a person who’s probably never heard the words zine distro? Translate it into language he has heard, I thought. “Well, see, I’m a journalist, and I am going to a meeting of journalists. We all like to publish things independently, and I use the box to display my publications.” He nodded, genuine interest in his eyes as he spoke.
“So it’s like a filing system?”
“Yeah, sort of. A lot of people have been giving me strange looks today because of that stupid box. And then I went and leaned on it and the one end broke off. It’s kind of annoying to lug it around, but I think it’s kind of charming, so there it is.”
In Mülheim I took my box and my bags, thanked White-Capped Man, nodded at his kind-of-embarrassed-about-this-strange-beggar-person-riding-with-us, and fell out of the train and onto the platform. Hello, Mülheim. Hello, Nikki! Welcome to the Mülheim Hauptbahnhof, the attached American-style shopping mall, and the most expensive copy shop you’ve ever had the honor of copying your zines in because Local Copy Man won’t let you copy anything with “so much black” and because you are a chronic, incurable procrastinator.
I think what happened in the copy shop can best be described through the letter now serving as page one of my latest zine, Gefunden.
“Dear Readers. Once upon a time there was a page here. But on a last-minute copy-liberation mission I was forced to leave it behind as Pfand while I “went to the ATM to get some cash.” Rest in peace pages 1 and 42. If you would like to know what they said, you can probably find them (and a charming wooden box) in the Mülheim copy shop dumpster tonight. xxo ClickClackGorilla.”