Banksy’s back, and this time he’s traveled to Gaza to get the world’s attention. Never one to shy from controversy, the artist’s website was recently updated to show 4 new pieces that he spray-painted in bomb-ruined Gaza, along with a tourism-style video purportedly shot by the man himself. The 2-minute short, aimed at making a big statement about the grim situation there, is mockingly titled Make this the year YOU discover a new destination.
Here’s a look at the new stenciled art with descriptions, if given:
This one is called “Bomb Damage” and appears to be inspired by Rodin’s famous bronze sculpture, “The Thinker.”
Gaza is often described as ‘the world’s largest open air prison’ because no-one is allowed to enter or leave. But that seems a bit unfair to prisons - they don’t have their electricity and drinking water cut off randomly almost every day.
A local man came up and said ‘Please - what does this mean?’ I explained I wanted to highlight the destruction in Gaza by posting photos on my website – but on the internet people only look at pictures of kittens.
If we wash our hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless we side with the powerful—we don’t remain neutral.
To give you a feel for it, here’s a couple stills from Make this the year YOU discover a new destination:
Caligula actually had a lot going for it, at least on paper, but it was a doomed film from the start. The original screenplay was by Gore Vidal, but then he disowned it after director Tinto Brass made substantial changes (Brass maintains Vidal’s script was terrible, but it’s entirely possible that it was just too gay for his likings). Brass still could have made a good film though—at this point in his career he was known for groundbreaking experimental cinema (like the notorious “high class” Nazi sexploitation film Salon Kitty)—but producer Bob Guccione (of Penthouse magazine fame) wanted to film actual hardcore (rather than simulated) sex. Brass refused, so Guccione had someone else film the scenes, adding to the disjointed insanity of the whole production. Even the fantastic casting—Malcolm McDowell, Peter O’Toole, Helen Mirren, John Gielgud—was tempered by Brass casting his own bohemian friends as Roman elites, and Guccione throwing numerous Penthouse Pets into the sex scenes.
The result was worse than cheesy pornography—it’s confusing, pretentious, cheesy pornography—a $17.5 million Penthouse magazine-funded boondoggle, and an absolute camp classic that everyone should see… once.
This is why Protest, a 1981 mini-documentary on Canadian decency activists is such a charming relic. On the one hand, it’s always unpleasant to see any impulse to curtail free speech. On the other hand, these dowdy conservative Canucks seem so darn sweet and reasonable compared to their American counterparts. If this protest was in middle America, it would have been a spectacle of hellfire sermons and open hostility! The only altercation you even see is a light slap coming from an irate secularist!The rest is just hilariously polite Canadians campaignin’ for decency.
Why can’t our bluenose Christian pearl-clutchers be this considerate? I know it’s a stereotype, but they really do seem nicer up north!
Much to my conservative, very Lutheran parents’ chagrin I’m sure, the image above hung prominently over the headboard of my bed when I was 16 years old. It was a grainy copy that my friend and I made secretly in my high school graphic arts class. I liked it for its shock value and because I was just starting to learn about radical groups like the Yippies and the Weather Underground thanks to another friend’s cool older brother who played in a grind-core band called Hell Nation and who collected tons of weird-ass countercultural stuff. That was around 1990. There was obviously no draft going on, further confusing my parents and making me feel pretty edgy and weird. I was far too naïve to think too deeply about the backstory of the cool piece of radical ephemera with the image of the guy burning his ticket to the Viet Nam War.
Recently though, I came across the image again while doing research for another DM piece and decided to try to learn a little more about origins of the iconic image of 60’s radicalism. It turns out that the poster has a cool pedigree, and the piece’s creator, Kiyoshi Kuromiya, born in a Japanese American internment camp in 1943 in Heart Mountain, Wyoming, was a prominent underground civil rights figure and gay rights activist. Kuromiya worked closely with Martin Luther King Jr. in the mid-sixties and tending to King’s children in the aftermath of his assassination. He was a founder of Gay Liberation Front –Philadelphia, worked with the Black Panther Party to advocate for gay rights, co-authored a book on a utopian future through technology with Buckminster Fuller, and was a leading pioneer in the fight to promote AIDS awareness after his own diagnosis later in life.
Kuromiya made a name for himself in radical protest circles at the University of Pennsylvania where he went to school to study architecture by pulling stunts like this bait-and-switch, anti-napalm demonstration in 1968 which he discusses in a great, hugely comprehensive 1997 interview:
A notice showed up, a leaflet showed up, signed by the “Americong” that, in protest of the horrors of using napalm on humans, there was going to be a demonstration in front of the library at Penn. An innocent dog would be burned with napalm, showing what an awful thing napalm was, O.K.? So, of course, the mayor, the police chief, everybody said whoever was perpetrating this would spend a long time in jail, etcetera. The day showed up and at noontime there were four ambulances from four different veterinary schools there. People, as a lark, brought their pet dogs. There were a lot of dogs. There were 2000 people. It was the largest antiwar demonstration in the history of the University of Pennsylvania. I had four friends of mine. I had a printing press in my basement and I was a publisher at the time. So out of the crowd, leaflets showed up. And I handed out these leaflets, Americong, you know, was a fiction. There was no group. But the leaflets showed up at this big rally and it said, “Congratulations, you’ve saved the life of an innocent dog. How about the hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese that have been burned alive? What are you going to do about it?”
Later in the same interview Kuromiya talks about the Fuck the Draft poster. Along with placing the image in an ad (and act that he claims got him arrested by federal marshals) he handed several copies of it out during the chaos of the riots surrounding 1968 Democratic Convention:
And then a couple years later, I published, under the name Dirty Linen Corporation, these Fuck the Draft posters with a guy burning a draft card and it said in huge letters, “Fuck the draft.” The guy was someone from Detroit who was doing prison time for burning his draft card. I was arrested at home by federal marshals and the Secret Service for using U.S. mails for a crime of inciting with lewd and indecent materials. I had run an ad that said, “Buy five and we’ll send a sixth one to the mother of your choice.” And I listed a number of places, including the White House. So I was kept at the FBI headquarters here. They couldn’t hold people overnight so they took me in chains down Chestnut Street with four guys watching me, down to the Round House and I was held there. Anyway, I took these posters to the Democratic Convention in Chicago. And everybody was told to stay away. This was going to be very dangerous. But I went anyway. I rented a car to haul these posters around. And I had a coat and tie on so I could move easily in and out of the hotels and the various delegations and caucus meetings at the convention. So I was the only one in Yippie Park, Lincoln Park, in a coat and tie. But I handed out the posters, 2000 of them, at the amphitheater just minutes before the riot where someone tried to lower the American flag.
1968 Fuck the Draft poster ad from the Berkley Barb
As Kuromiya mentions, you could send five dollars to get five “Fuck the Draft” posters for yourself and sixth would be sent to the “mother” of your choice. You could take your pick amongst Mrs. Lady Bird Johnson, Mrs. Shirley Temple Black, Lieutenant General Lewis B. Hershey, General William Westmoreland, Madame Ngo Dinh Nhu, Mr. J. Edgar Hoover, Mrs. Richard Hughes, or “other.” One presumes that the “mother” in some of these cases was of the “fucker” variety.
Here’s an image of the full page on which the ad appeared:
In the 1997 interview mentioned above, Kuromiya discusses his political activism at length. He was a prominent early gay rights advocate working in and around Philadelphia to bravely advance the cause at time when the issue was still somewhat taboo, even among many in the anti-war community. In 1970, Kuromiya and the Gay Liberation Front of Philadelphia published the Gay Dealer, only one issue of which was ever released. After being denied funding by a Philadelphia community organization, the Gay Liberation Front got the money they needed for the issue by selling MMDA capsules according to Kuromiya.
Cover of The Gay Dealer, October 1970
Kuromiya and an unidentified friend from Gay Dealer, 1970
In 1977, during a long recovery from metastatic lung cancer, Kuromiya became enamored of the works of Buckminster Fuller. He began working with the futurist legend of geodesic design and Kuromiya is credited as “adjuvant” on Fuller’s book, Critical Path. From Kuromyia’s New York Times obituary:
In 1981, he assisted R. Buckminster Fuller, the architect and thinker, in writing Critical Path (St. Martin’s Press). The book sketched a vision of a bountiful future created by technological advances. In what James Traub in The New York Times Book Review called ‘‘a bizarre and often revelatory volume,’’ the authors suggested that the blossoming of technology had the potential to end war.
Buckminster Fuller and Kiyoshi Kuromiya with a copy of Critical Path
Kuromiya was diagnosed with AIDS in the late 1980’s and, according to the LGBT archives of Philadelphia:
In 1988/1989 he founded the Critical Path AIDS Project, which applied ideas and strategies from Buckminster Fuller’s 1981 book to the AIDS crisis. The project began as a newsletter about AIDS treatment that Kuromiya researched, wrote, edited, and distributed himself. The Critical Path AIDS Project grew to offer a 24-hour AIDS treatment hotline, a web hosting service for AIDS-related websites and listservs, and computer access for individuals in the Philadelphia area.
Kuromiya’s activism seems to have known no bounds. He was a founding member of ACT UP/Philadelphia, he was a participant an early successful lawsuit against Internet censorship surrounding the Communications Decency Act and was the leading plaintiff in the Supreme Court case, Kuromiya vs. The United States of America, calling for the legalization of medical marijuana.
Kuromiya died of AIDS related complications in 2000.
The video below features footage of William Burroughs, Jean Genet, Ed Sanders, Allen Ginsberg and Dick Gregory at the 1968 Democratic Convention protest where Kuromiya handed out 2000 Fuck the Draft posters. At around 6:38 you can see the crowd in front of the “band shell” in Grant Park and the moment that someone pulls down the American flag causing all hell to break loose. Kuromiya says that he was handing out “Fuck the Draft” posters in the crowd right around this location just minutes before the incident.
How can we stop racism? By better education? By enforcing laws? By outing racists on the Internet and then campaigning to have them fired from their jobs? This is how one group of activists have gone about the problem with their Tumblr site Getting Racists Fired.
Getting Racists Fired is where oeople can out racists by submitting their toxic and dumbass Facebook posts, tweets, comments and images to the site, where they are shared in a bid to shame the individual. The site then urges its followers to write and phone the individual’s employer to have them fired for clowning themselves in public with their racist social media pollution…
To this end, they have posted details of what to say when phoning a company about a racist employee:
Here’s a script of what you can say while calling employers
“Hello can I speak to a manager on duty? I have a complaint to make about one of your employees”
“Yes hello, my name is ______ and I’ve been seeing some very disturbing and disgusting racist comments coming from one of your works. Their name is ____”
” I know that your business is not one that would condone such behaviour. Considering that this person has your company listed as their workplace, they represent it and the ideals your company was built on. I would like to think that your company isn’t one that supports these vile comments and actions, and that’s the purpose of my call today”
“I was also wondering if there is an email address I can send the proof of these comments too, just to solidify these claims, if you find it necessary”
IF THEY SAY THEIR “Hands are tied” say this: “Well if you are not willing to take care of this issue at your level I will be forced to take it to your supervisor and go from there” that usually gets them. And if not ask for their supervisor’s number and call them.
It is absolutely vital that you CALL BACK to check on the status of the issue. Make sure you hold them to their word and that something is being done. Stay calm and cordial. Channel your inner slightly annoyed PTA soccer mom and you’ll be fine.
As a response to the tragic events in Ferguson the site also posted a template for “messaging/emailing businesses about their racist employees.”
___(place of business)___,
In light of recent events in Ferguson, MO, and the resulting protests that have spread out across the country and beyond (of which I’m sure management is aware), just as many people have come to light with violent words as there have those been with support.
I am writing to respectfully request that you do firm checks into the racist behaviors and words of your employees, who post their hate publicly on social media accounts that are tied with your place of business. For both moral and business reputation reasons, other businesses have begun to terminate and/or warn employees who exhibit racist behavior online.
Your employee, ___________, is seen to have posted racial slurs and racially charged discriminatory claims on their facebook wall. I’ve attached a screenshot that contains the posts in question. Warnings for racial slurs and racist language
Now some may think this all sounds like bullying, but when queried about this, and why they were seemingly “not even going after racists,” but “going after people who make so called ‘racist’ jokes or comments,” the moderators replied:
Unfortunately, this blog or the actions of its users, which amount to sharing their opinions about whether or not a racist or bigot should continue to be employed, don’t account to ‘ruining lives’. The majority of these individuals will resume employment without much to impede them since they’re white.
The thing about white sociopathy is that only a racist would find such statements to be ‘funny’ or amount to jokes. So your excuse that these are just innocuous comments or jokes are simply not the case, especially since these same individuals are ones that hold jobs and positions with which they can wield institutional power.
You deeply misunderstand the purpose of this blog. By holding individuals accountable to their actions in public, we force change and remove dangerous individuals from positions of power from which they could do harm. The nature of this blog makes it so that as moderators we exist solely in anonymity, such that it is impossible for us to be motivated by personal satisfaction. This is about how People of Color, together, are indeed powerful.
Spoiler alert: the vast majority of the world is not white. It is the tens of thousands of users here, following this blog, that are reading your inane message with varying mixtures of disgust, humor, and pity. Anyway, I’m going to go back to hopefully getting your ass fired.
There have also been questions raised over privacy and possible “stalking” one moderator replied:
First off what a submitter does is not stalking. Stalking is a very serious issue and shouldn’t be equated to this or thrown around lightly. Checking a couple public sources to get information freely given to report racist public behavior to an employer is nowhere near the sort of criminal behavior of stalking. Demanding accountability for racist actions and words is not stalking.
In the US people may have freedom of speech, but so do we and employers have every right to terminate an employee based on what they choose to say publicly. This isn’t “gettingracistsarrested” it’s “racistsgettingfired”
Getting Racists Fired does have one caveat:
Do not message, contact, threaten, harangue, or harass the individual, their family, friends, or acquaintances; only contact their place of work or study.
And one moderator has further clarified the intention of the blog:
We do not condone sending messages to the accounts of racist people submitted to this blog and suggesting to send messages to a family member was completely uncalled for. Neither me nor Mod N would ever want anyone to harass a family member or to harass or threaten the people in these submissions.
If you are looking for people to message and threaten then this is the wrong place to look. Harassing and threatening a person to the point of them deleting their page is not the intent of this blog and can very well be illegal. It also breaks links to public posts that are sent to employers and schools which is completely counterproductive to the intent of this blog.
We are looking for public accountability not for people to delete and remake their social networking pages.
Three hours after setting up the blog, Getting Racists Fired had 4,000 followers. Now they have more than 40,000.
Racism is a learned behavior. It can be unlearned too.
Below: some examples from the site of the kind of racism they are outing
I am not up on what is supposedly cool or uncool these days in regards to acceptable Americana, but I have always held a deep and totally unironic love for Tom Petty. In addition to his later work, which I think does amazing stuff with folk, jangle, country and rock sounds, I’d argue he’s the only artist that really successfully integrated twang into proto-punk. As far as I’m concerned, “Anything That’s Rock ‘n’ Roll” has all the great elements of a good Dictators or New York Dolls song—but with this lovely Southern flair. Tom Petty is cool.
Like almost every artist though, I cannot defend his entire canon. “Peace in L.A.” was Petty’s 1992 comment on the events that unfolded after the Rodney King verdict, a weird miss for a relatively socially conscious guy known for lambasting record companies and playing Farm Aid. Part of it is that the song is just really bad (the dated production is even forgivable), but it’s also that this particular incident simply did not require Tom Petty’s musical commentary.
Cringe-along with the lyrics:
We need peace in L.A., what happened was wrong
We all feel betrayed, but we got to be strong
If the powers that be let evil go free
You must understand, don’t play into their hand
We need peace in L.A., peace in L.A.
Don’t need beating and shouting, don’t need burning and looting
Tonight we all pray, that our children are safe
There’s hurt and frustration, there’s a hard realization
But how can we help if we steal from ourselves?
We need peace in L.A., peace in L.A.
We need peace in L.A., peace in L.A.
Stay cool, don’t be a fool
Stay cool, don’t be a fool
The song was apparently written and recorded in one day, and then rush-released to radio stations the very next day. Its effect on the rioters has never been quantified (for some reason!). Oh Tom, I still love you, but I’m so glad you didn’t try and write a song about Ferguson! Take a listen below, if you dare—it gets really bad around the bridge… I mean spoken-word bad.
A series of posters questioning the London Metropolitan Police’s record on racism, violence and corruption have appeared on advertising hoardings across London. The billposters are the idea of STRIKE! Magazine, which produced them in response to the Metropolitan Police’s own promotional campaign—as the magazine explains:
The Metropolitan Police Force spend ridiculous sums of our money trying to convince us – and themselves – that they’re not violent, racist and corrupt. In 2012 it was £12.6m and in 2013 it was £9.3 – in two weeks alone last year they wasted nearly half a million pounds of public money on pointless poster campaigns. This is from the webpage promoting the local policing pilot scheme:
“Evidence tells us that giving people very local information about police action in their area may increase the confidence they have in police. These boroughs were chosen as places where confidence in policing is lower than average.”
STRIKE! Magazine is a bi-monthly anti-profit, advertisement free newspaper covering politics, philosophy, art, subversion and sedition. The magazine launched the campaign two months ago, but claim they do not know who is behind printing the posters and putting them in bus shelter advertising hoardings.
However, one designer from STRIKE! told Vice UK that he had seen about twenty posters since they first appeared on Saturday December 13th, and was “[e]normously pleased” with them. Photographs of the posters have been shared by many users on Twitter.
Positive Force is a Washington DC-based activist collective that’s been around since 1985. The documentary, Positive Force: More Than A Witness; 30 Years Of Punk Politics In Action, explores the history of this organization, which often stages benefits with like-minded bands to promote various causes. There’s a wealth of archival performances in the film—including footage of Fugazi playing in front of the White House on the eve of the Gulf War—and this updated edition of the DVD has another 30+ minutes of rare live clips. The documentary also features interviews with such notables as Ian MacKaye, Kathleen Hanna, Jello Biafra, and Dave Grohl, who talks about his first-ever live gig, drumming for the band Scream at a Positive Force benefit.
One of the highlights of Positive Force is the interview with Penny Rimbaud, drummer and co-founder of the UK group Crass. Rimbaud’s band, which existed from 1977-1984, very much influenced the principles of Positive Force. Crass not only put out their own records and were critical of the mainstream, but they were also activists, believing that it wasn’t enough to just sing about social justice, you had to practice what you preached. In the clip, Rimbaud accuses the members of the Clash and the Sex Pistols of not meaning it, man, as he feels their drive to make it as rock stars came before all else.
If you have any interest at all in the history of American punk and/or activism, Positive Force is definitely worth your time. Pick up the new edition of the DVD via PM Press or Amazon.
As facial recognition technology makes the transition from dystopic science fiction boogie-man to modern Big Brother reality, folks are becoming understandably concerned about being tracked and recorded without their permission. In many cities, including New York, it is at least unwise if illegal to wear a mask in public, so completely obscuring your face is out of the question. As an alternative, artist and designer Adam Harvey has developed a make-up technique—CV Dazzle—that hides from facial recognition software but falls well within the parameters of legal fashion. Confusing the machines is surprisingly simple:
The name is derived from a type of World War I naval camouflage called Dazzle, which used cubist-inspired designs to break apart the visual continuity of a battleship and conceal its orientation and size. Likewise, CV Dazzle uses avant-garde hairstyling and makeup designs to break apart the continuity of a face. Since facial-recognition algorithms rely on the identification and spatial relationship of key facial features, like symmetry and tonal contours, one can block detection by creating an “anti-face”.
“Anti-Surveillance Makeup Parties” have made waves with a subset of young feminists, but I don’t see CV Dazzle actually catching on in our highly aesthetically-minded urban centers. The source pattern, “Dazzle” is most relevant in today’s culture as the inspiration for an ugly-ass, Jeff Koons-designed yacht. The look is bad enough on a boat, but it certainly runs counter to what most people consider attractive on a female face. Meanwhile most men stubbornly refuse to even try mascara (even though you’d look so pretty!)
Still, while the practical applications of CV Dazzle may be limited, especially as facial recognition becomes more and more accurate, as an art project this dystopic raver of an “anti-face” is a fascinating take on privacy. Check out the makeup tutorial from artist Jillian Mayer below to get the basics—your life may depend on it, enemy of the state!
If you haven’t already, do yourself a favor and check out the hashtag #pornprotest on Twitter, it’s the best thing on the Internet right now. It seems that Parliament has recently been messing with what you can and can’t do in adult videos, and right-thinking individuals on the scepter’d isle came out in numbers today to protest the legislation.
A new entry of the annals of monumentally missing the point…
“I Can’t Breathe” may be the sentence of 2014. They are, of course, the last words, uttered many times, of Eric Garner, the 43-year-old NYC Department of Parks horticulturist and occasional loose cigarette salesman whose inexplicable death by police chokehold in the Tompkinsville neighborhood (where I lived until quite recently) last July has led to a great deal of outcry.
The sentence has achieved the ultimate that can happen in our society—it has become a free-floating signifier in social media, just like Paula Deen’s supposedly homophobic fried chicken recipes or something. This past week several prominent athletes in the predominantly African-American NBA, including the Bulls’ Derrick Rose, the Cavaliers’ LeBron James, the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant, and the Nets’ Deron Williams, have warmed up wearing T-shirts heartbreakingly emblazoned with that simple message of solidarity with a blameless victim of police brutality: “I CAN’T BREATHE.”
All across America, a small minority of observers reacted in the expected way: they tut-tutted the shirts’ choice of font. The shirts, while admittedly embodying a courageous stand against the combined forces of intolerance, had committed the unpardonable sin of violating a bit of design etiquette.
Among people who take design very seriously, the Comic Sans typeface has been a bête noire for at least a decade, because it is often used by “design-blind” “normals” outside of its optimal range of uses, frequently lending an unserious air to messages of stern import. Designed by Vincent Connare, Comic Sans was released by Microsoft in 1994, which surely contributed to its popularity.
Eventually, on the McSweeney’s website, Mike Lacher defended the honor of the typeface with “I’m Comic Sans, Asshole,” which contained the immortal line “I’m the best thing to happen to typography since Johannes fucking Gutenberg.” The piece simultaneously seemed to agree with the design critics’ peeve while putting them in their place.
On the T-shirts, for instance, Caroline Fredericks, of “California/Alabama,” tweeted, “how many people will be able to look past the choice of comic sans?” Ryan Hubbard, of Kansas City, tweeted, “Who’s giving all of these NBA players “I can’t breathe” shirts set in Comic Sans? I love that they’re wearing them, but come on, man.”
The New York Times report on the shirts emphasizes the outsize efforts of Jay-Z and others to replicate the gesture made by Derrick Rose of the Bulls and makes no mention of Comic Sans or any other aspect of the shirts’ design, except to note that “Rameen Aminzadeh, a member of Justice League NYC, drafted a simple design for the text of the T-shirt, which other members of the group approved sometime after 1 a.m. [referring to late Sunday night/early Monday morning].”
Here are a few of the tweets—there’s plenty more where these came from.
I'm all for the "I Can't Breathe" shirts, but some of those New York cops had to be behind them using Comic Sans as the font. #Fail