04-30-02 dean: rachel on fashion
just wanted to add another link, rachel's article about anti-capitalist fashion from the zine i mentioned below.
get excited, because here is a new article by our seattle correspondent, boots, previously known as chris hanssmann, about the monstrosity of trans identity. definitely something to give your family members when you come out to them as a tranny.
I'm still in SF, and I just had to let you all know about an excellent little event that happened here on Friday. "Template" was an art show that included performances by Corner Tour and the Quails (doing the adorable musical 'Bon Soir' about a little known revolutionary movement for a pantsless society in 1960's France), dancing by DJ Nervous and Juanita Moore, and a fabulous anti-capitalist fashion show. It was just the kind of event I'd like to see us all organizing more. Free food, free zines, and overt political messages in a sexy silly environment. The fashion show featured designs by Zee, Jen Smith, and Sahar that focused on US Aid to various military campaigns, and resistant disruptive aethetics. Colby wore a hot plaid combo that read "Fuck this, Let's Organize." The focus of the fashions was on making things ourselves out of recycled clothes, wearing our politics overtly, and fashioning lives of resistance and communication. I'm attaching the article I wrote for the zine, and I'll post other people's articles and photos from the event as I get them (and as I learn how to post photos??).
Below are two reports on the Israeli destruction of Palestinian libraries and cultural centers. It amounts, I think, to not much less than the systematic obliteration of historical memory--a technique that has always worked to the advantage of various oppressive and occupying regimes, which is why they always try it. They come not only for the bodies; they also come for the memory.
Fossilized in once-wet cement on a sidewalk between my brother's house and the 7-11: "Sheena Easton."
Las Vegas is sick and surreal. My brothers and sister and I toured wedding chapels, played dollar blackjack, dropped jaws at the spectacle of fountains exploding to recorded music in front of the Bellagio.
We escaped the confines of the town for a day of climbing through red rock trails in the desert. My brother the geologist explained the maps of terrestrial history recorded in the striated hills built up out of dust over millions of years. The few cirrus clouds overhead seemed not to move at all, seemed fixed in the enormous sky
Flying home, I spent a brief layover in the Minneapolis airport, eating pizza and watching all the white, blonde kids annoy parents my age. We arrived into JFK at night, flying long and low over Queens so the orange lights below blinked seductively up at us, drawing me home.
The following is an email I just got that confirms rumors I've been hearing about activists getting shut out of their email accounts, and completely freaks me out. I don't know what else to say.
"I keep hearing more stories of activists whose email accounts have been confiscated, deleted, and suspended. So far aol, hotmail, and yahoo have all been named. Individuals have lost their email addresses, all of the messages still stored on their account, and their address lists. In each case, the ISP has used frightening McCarthy-esque rhetoric. The message is clear--these companies (often part of the largest multinational media corporations) are hightening their American news blackout about the massacre in Palestine with an additional email blackout. They are systematically working to silence voices of dissent, and they are assisted by the unconstitutional Patriot Act. These companies are breaching civil rights.
Below is an account written by Laurie King-Irani on electronicintifada.net:
29 March 2002: It's very clear, from watching BBC this morning, that something wicked this way comes in the West Bank. Adding to the general fear and foreboding that this realization brings, I open my email and learn the following from a friend with whom I and others launched, in early 2001, an internet petition campaign to indict Ariel Sharon for war crimes:
One creepy thing after another has happened. In the morning, I tried to log on to AOL and found my account "suspended" and the dialog box gave me a number to call. I didn't get around to that until the afternoon and had a bizarre conversation with AOL. You will go nuts. The short version is that AOL has literally "confiscated" both of the Sharon accounts--Indict Sharon and Arrest Sharon (the latter was the one created first, and then we converted to the Indict). Seems there was some type of a campaign against the two screen names, and AOL "suspended" my entire account in order to accomplish their goals with the Sharon accounts.
Here is the story: AOL's "Community Action Team" decided, on the basis of "information brought to its attention," that the two screen names represented "a political statement." Moreover, I should understand that the "political climate in the USA has changed since September 11th," and that "a lot of people feel that targeting one person [Sharon] is targeting the whole group." The screen names are a violation of AOL policy "because they target an individual and by extension a group."
Because of the "volatile nature" of the screen names, "they are now locked and any information in the accounts" cannot be retrieved. Basically what has happened it that AOL overrode the existing passwords for the two Sharon accounts, as well as for my other accounts that I need desperately for my work. While a representative gave me a temporary password to get into this account, she would not/could not give me passwords for the Sharon accounts, meaning that everything inside these two accounts (our mail) is irretrievably lost. AOL has confiscated our mail. As the representative said, I can have "absolutely no access" to the accounts of these two screen names, and "there is no way we can release a password for these two accounts."
Then it got really bizarre. I was told that I had to "agree to delete both accounts immediately." I asked for them to put this, and the other part of the story, in writing, and I was told that they could not do this. So AOL basically was asking that I delete my own accounts, at their request, but they would not confirm that the request came from them, giving them possible deniability in case of a lawsuit. A solid argument can be made, obviously, that the Sharon screen names do not violate the guidelines, particularly as he is a very controversial public official, and these accounts were established before he became prime minister.
I am so incredibly swamped that the last thing I want to do it fight this battle.The issue for me is bowing to pressure after the accounts have been in existence for over one year, and the most important issue is the confiscation of the accounts and their contents (the mail) without warning or any opportunity to appeal. Very scary stuff. Cyberspace is not immune from manipulation by organized forces protecting butchers.
Two quick things:
1. Been reading for my final project, a book list on 'trauma,' has a good essay about Benjamin on the impossibility of remembering/the mandate of forgetting in industrial modernism, so overwhelmed by sensation that experience is reduced to defending ourselves. The article speaks to the inability to connect with lyric poetry, with Rimbaud cast as the final voice to breach the void (or whatever). So the lyric poetry bit might not be relevant, but I think his notions of forgetting might be, and would likely be usefully skewed into a discussion of 'space,' as it were. Maybe not. Dunno. Have you read him (benjamin)? I'll confess that I haven't....
2. Re: Tourist New York. I think that's why I'm so happy at the library, just giddy happy. Extremely real public space, with extremely real public interactions between approximately every kind of person that lives in this city. (of course, that's not true--as per usual, certain kinds of people are made to feel more welcome, and certainly come more often, and it isn't perfect, but it at least makes stabs at an 'ideal,' which i am liking these days, and so many library folk are committed to good stuff, kind of because you have to be to even work there, kind of.) Deeply local space. Lots to think about re: the geography of the library. We're watching Salt of the Earth next Monday at 6pm, about a mine strike in New Mexico, made by a whole passel of blacklisted folk (everything old is new again?). Think it should be a good one, and I think you'd like the 'feeling.' If you're around.
Hope you pull in a fucking BUNDLE in vegas,
Yesterday I had the exciting experience of being interviewed by the smart people who run Gender Talk Radio out of Cambridge, Mass. Their show is available on-line, and you can listen to shows from their archive or listen live. They were really a pleasure to talk to, totally connecting the experience of our bathroom arrests with post-9/11 security capitalism and the war on dissent tactics demonstrated by cops at the WEF protests. I've definitely felt like a lot of people who have approached me about the arrest have wanted me to behave like a trans victim during interviews, focusing on my "feelings" and not too interested in my politics or how I connect the arrest experience to systemic police violence against more vulnerable trans people (low-income people, people of color, youth) or to anti-capitalism. These folks were interested in an interview where I got to be a subject of my own politics, not just an object of someone else's narrow political conception of my experience. It was cool.
Other than that, SF is treating me pretty well. I've been having great chats with people here, and NY friends by phone, about how we make our sex practices line up with our politics. There seems to be a groundswell of nonmonogamy going on, which is exciting to me, because it requires us to push outside of love/romance myths that cause us all a lot of pain and dissapointment, and it results in all of us having a more varied, pervy, diverse sexuality (hopefully). I feel like I'm constantly being reminded about how much better things feel when you invent them yourself, even though unlearning what you've been fed your whole life is difficult. To do all this in a community of people who are thinking about these ideas together, and to celebrate the accomplishment of the oppositional cultural moments and spaces we create, is rocking my world.
These fucking days: We had a really excellent lawyer for our pee crimes arrests, and I called her today to talk about a legal problem a friend of mine is having. And she was like, sorry I can't talk right now, an attorney from my office was arrested this morning for allegedly aiding a terrorist and the FBI is here searching the place. As the Times article mentions, this is the first instance of the Justice Department utilizing its authority to monitor communication between lawyers and clients. Certainly not the last. I can't help but understand this as a warning for people representing and advocating on behalf of Arab people, and for Arab people who would seek assistance through legal channels. Jesus.
The recent inspiring protests at the Woomera detention camp in Australia, in which people protesting on the outside spontaneously tore down a fence and assisted in the escape of at least fifty migrant prisoners, has me thinking once again about the limits of symbolic action and the the real possibilities and risks of direct, confrontational uprisings. I thought of this, also, at a rally and march in Midtown on Friday, standing in the bitter cold (or was it under-dressed me that was bitter?) chanting with determination, nonetheless, with thousands of others for an end to the Israeli war against Palestine. What potential energy at that rally could be unleashed, to what ends? The protest itself may have been largely symoblic (though also, I hope, actual in its moment of education and organizing for the city's people), but it is incredible to think of the relatively small scope of the new intifada, and then recognize its uncontainable force, felt across the globe, sparking the mobilization of thousands (millions?) in outrage and mourning. Friday, the speakers initiated a chant of "We are all Palestinian," which I understood as a riff on Subcommodante Marcos' writings on solidarity, identification and coalition, and I thought how awe-inspiring to experience this global formation of a culture of resistance: people in New York City, refugees of the Zionist war and others, taking cues from Zapatista activists to confront the genocidal terror of the Israeli government. My hope in this instance folds over, of course, into anxiety: how far can this be taken, how can this momentum sustain itself?
A group has called for an international boycott of both Israeli goods and the u.s. companies that invest in Israel's market. Visit their site to learn more.
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I've been kinda on a productive kick lately, finally finishing (sort of) my life's work on former media monster Andrew Cunanan as well as an interview with Mimi for Maximum Rock-n-Roll about the arrests. Now on to a piece about the construction of tourist space in New York, for which I'm digging through Paul Virilio's Open Sky and trying to absorb his mad-scientist's critique of real time, telepresence, citizen-terminals and the urbanization of the body. In Virilio's analysis, technologies of the instantaneous (video conferencing, etc.), offer not a utopic tomorrow but instead threaten to deeply a-historicize our every day through
I'm interested in trying to get at the intentional production of a New York City that can be tele-experienced in such a way that averts an understanding/ experience of the material conditions of poverty and racism that make tourist-friendly New York possible. How is New York produced as a movie, or better yet, as one of those virtual-reality roller coasters at theme parks--a sedate, managed encounter with an urbanity that gestures mildly at a memory of itself? And tourist New York is not only for tourists: yuppie professionals looking to sample the Big City Experience can buy million-dollar loft "style" condominiums, just like those funky artists live in (only nicer: more stainless steel, less evictions). It's about the unreality of simulated urban living in a civilization of forgetting.
My feelings about the political economy of cities is colored, no doubt, by my recent reading of Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler whose dystopic vision smartly illustrates a probable future with a quick squint at our contemporary conditions. The romantacization of heterosexual reproduction didn't quite do it for me, but the book offered occassion to talk with L. at work about asian fetishes in white science fiction and also a brief chat with a guy on the train who, spying Parable in my hands said, "I've read that book," thereby interrupting the alienation of our commute, and promising me something about live reality that felt good.
For some more information on the ongoing siege in Palestine, please also visit The Electronic Intifada as well as the homepage for Al-Awda which offers updates on solidarity actions in the u.s., including protests against Sharon's scheduled visit to D.C. later this month.
Yes, the rumors are true: makezine is chock full of bicoastals. While Dean makes some trouble on the west coast for awhile, those of us holding down the fort in New York are enjoying some warmer, California-esque weather. Hesitant spring seems finally upon us.
Please be sure to check in regularly with Jerusalem Indymedia for updates on the Israel government's heightened terror campaign against the Palestinian people. The situation there is mind-numbing and overwhelming. The site also provides an activist packet with contact info for doing outreach to u.s. government and media. The indymedia folks ask you to please be aware that right-wing hackers have been uploading anti-Jewish propaganda and various disinformation in an attempt to discredit the site and the Palestinian struggle.