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Garbage in, garbage out: Portugal’s dirty protest against the banks
01.01.2014
08:05 am

Topics:
Activism
Amusing
Politics

Tags:
protests
banks

portbinrub.jpg
 
In Portugal the refuse collectors are on strike, so people are leaving their garbage outside the banks.

According to Euro News, the garbage has been “piling up on some of the streets of the Portuguese capital Lisbon – where refuse collectors have been on strike for three days over plans to privatise the sector.”

Unions representing the refuse collectors estimate 85% of the workers support the strike, which is due to end on 5th January.
 

 
Via Matt Bloom, H/T Trevor Ward

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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John Heartfield, the original culture jammer
12.26.2013
07:09 am

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Activism
Art
Politics

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John Heartfield

John Heartfield
 
I recently stumbled upon some images by John Heartfield, and I haven’t been able to get them out of my head. I had never heard of Heartfield before, but the more I look into him, the more central and essential his work seems.

Despite the WASP-y name, Heartfield was German, and although he lived until 1968 his best-known work was during the Weimar era and also the years preceding World War II. He was born Helmut Herzfeld in 1891 and, in a detail that tells you everything you need to know about him, he adopted the English name John Heartfield (“Herzfeld”) in 1917 to protest the anti-British sentiment that was engulfing Germany at the time. His brother was born Wieland Herzfeld and for reasons I don’t fully understand decided to add an “e” to his name, making him Wieland Herzfelde. Heartfield and Herzfelde (along with the expressionist painter George Grosz) started an influential publishing company called the Malik Verlag—that also happened in 1917, the same year Helmut became Heartfield.
 
Adolf der Übermensch
“Adolf, der Übermensch: Schluckt Gold und redet Blech,” 1932 (“Adolf the Superman: Swallows Gold and Spouts Tin”)
 
Heartfield designed book covers for Upton Sinclair and many other authors and also designed stage sets for Bertolt Brecht. As with his anti-nationalist protest, Heartfield’s connection to the names “Sinclair” and “Brecht” indicates much about his artistic and political sensibility. He was part of the Dada scene as well (check out the “Soeben erschienen” cover below). One thing I didn’t realize until I began researching Heartfield was how much more politicized the German Dada scene was, as opposed to the French variety. If Heartfield’s work is anything to go by (it may not be), the German Dadaists were far more engaged with political struggle.

The man led an interesting life. As a child he and his siblings were abandoned in the woods by their parents—eventually an uncle consented to raise them. In the spring of 1933, the Nazis raided his apartment, but he escaped through the window. Eventually he emigrated to Czechoslovakia on foot—that is, he walked to Czechoslovakia in order to escape the Nazis.
 
This is the cure
“Das ist das Heil, das sie bringen!” 1938 (“This is the cure that they bring!”)
 
That’s enough about Heartfield’s life—let’s talk about the work. I’m hesitant to say that Heartfield “invented” photomontage or anything like that, there were certainly people doing that sort of thing before World War I. But there is surely a case to be made that Heartfield was one of the pioneers of photomontage and arguably one of the very first to use it to such powerful effect. In many ways Heartfield might be the first photomontage artist to influence directly a lot of the counterculture movements of the Sixties and beyond. It’s pretty clear he occupies a very special position, and many of his images are decades ahead of their time. You can see Heartfield’s influence in culture jammers of all kinds, from Plunderphonics to every kind of sampleriffic noise collage and beyond.

If you look around the world today, especially on the Internet, you’re sure to see a Heartfield heir somewhere in the mix. Every time you see the head of Obama or George W. Bush pasted onto something else as a political comment, you’re seeing the Heartfield ethic in action. Adbusters has been doing Heartfield-type stuff for years now.

The question arises, Why does Heartfield’s work seem so rich and penetrating whereas (as an example) the Adbusters approach tends to pall after a while? It’s tempting to say that it’s because Heartfield was so willing to go for the jugular in his images, but I actually think it’s something like the opposite. Adbusters isn’t exactly known for pulling its punches either, you know? No, I think what makes Heartfield’s images work so well is actually a kind of delicacy, a perhaps-Continental sensibility that avoids hyperbole in favor of nuanced depth—even the crazy images of Hitler and Goering aren’t all that hyperbolic, they’re witty and they have one foot grounded in the regular world somehow. In a way there’s a lesson there. It doesn’t take artistry of craftsmanship to come up with a visual pun, the craft comes in the execution, the ability to create an image that may have blood, skeletons, misery, and suffering in it and yet not make you turn away.
 
Hurrah, the Butter is Gone!
 
Siouxsie and the Banshees, Mittageisen
 
Siouxsie and the Banshees appropriated one of Heartfield’s most famous images when they released a German translation of their song “Metal Postcard”—you can compare the two images above. The name of the Siouxsie single is “Mittageisen,” which is a pun. The German word Mittagessen means “lunch”—Mittageisen would translate as “midday iron.” The original Heartfield print is called “Hurrah, die Butter ist alle!” which means, “Hurrah, the butter is gone!”—it’s a reference to Hermann Goering’s famous 1936 speech in which he said, “Guns will make us powerful; butter will only make us fat.” Heartfield’s ingenious answer is to make a typical Aryan household in which there is only iron on the dinner table.
 
Here’s Siouxsie and the Banshees playing “Mittageisen” in 1979:

 
Here’s a playful documentary about Heartfield’s work:

 
After the jump, several more examples of Heartfield’s searing and sarcastic imagery….

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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‘Beastie Boys Square’: Petition aims to give NYC’s Ludlow/Rivington intersection a new name
12.20.2013
06:12 am

Topics:
Activism
Music

Tags:
Beastie Boys

Paul's Boutique
 
An energetic New Yorker wants to have the intersection of Ludlow and Rivington streets in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, where the remarkable 360-degree album art for the Beastie Boys’ classic 1989 album Paul’s Boutique was photographed, renamed “Beastie Boys Square.”

Here’s some of the news report, from DNAInfo’s Serena Solomon:
 

A Brooklyn resident wants to name the intersection of Ludlow and Rivington streets after the hip-hop trio, marking the corner shown on the cover of their groundbreaking 1989 album “Paul’s Boutique.”

“I think the Beastie Boys represent New York in a certain way,” said LeRoy McCarthy, 46, who earlier this year proposed a street co-naming for rapper Biggie Smalls in Clinton Hill.

“They grew up here. They are New Yorkers.”

McCarthy, a film location scout who previously worked for a record label in Atlanta, has gathered nearly 20 signatures so far on a petition for the Beastie Boys co-naming, including eight of the nine businesses on Rivington Street between Ludlow and Essex streets and many of the apartments on the block, he said.

He hopes to present his proposal to Community Board 3 soon.

-snip-

“I think that the Lower East Side, what it used to be, is a good place to honor the Beastie Boys,” said McCarthy, who fell in love with hip-hop as a child.

“It represents New York. New York is always changing, New York is always on the move, New York is dirty [and] it is beautiful.”

 
Here’s the petition. Do sign it!

As it happens, I’m moving from New York to Cleveland in a couple of days, and completely coincidentally I held my farewell party about a block away from that Ludlow/Rivington intersection.

Here is that intersection as it looked in June 2011, according to Google Maps.
 
Ludlow & Rivington, June 2011
 
In May of this year Palmetto Playground in Brooklyn Heights was renamed Adam Yauch Park.

McCarthy is also looking to do something similar for Wu-Tang Clan “in the Park Hill neighborhood of the hip-hop group’s native Staten Island.” I definitely support this idea, but (speaking as a resident of Staten Island, even if only for another forty-eight hours) I propose renaming the “Spirit of America,” the only Staten Island Ferry boat currently in service that is not named for a human being, after the obvious choice: RZA. I would certainly sign a petition to that effect, and in fact I think if you jump ahead 25 years or so, it’s almost inevitable. Because RZA rules.

Here’s a very good interview from the AV Club with Jeremy Shatan, who took the original 360-degree photo. The interview is very informative, I’m a Paul’s Boutique nut but there were things in here I didn’t know.
 

 
via Brooklyn Vegan

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Mother Jones speaks: The only known voice recording of ‘the most dangerous woman in America’
12.13.2013
06:51 am

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Activism
Class War

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Mother Jones

Mother Jones
 
In times like these, a voice like that of Mary Harris “Mother” Jones grows more and more needed with every passing day.

If you’ve never heard it before, take the time to listen to that voice. It’s the only recording we have of it. The occasion was May 1, 1930, the 100th birthday of Mother Jones.

If only we had a nationally famous person who would ever dare to say the kinds of things Mother Jones used to say. I can’t think of one.
 
Mother Jones
Mother Jones marching to give Theodore Roosevelt what-for about children spending their days in coal mines instead of schools.

Here are some other pithy things the microphone might have recorded if it had been available on other days in Mother Jones’ life:

I’m not a humanitarian, I’m a hell-raiser.

No matter what the fight, don’t be ladylike! God almighty made women and the Rockefeller gang of thieves made the ladies.

I asked a man in prison once how he happened to be there and he said he had stolen a pair of shoes. I told him if he had stolen a railroad he would be a United States Senator.

If they want to hang me, let them. And on the scaffold I will shout Freedom for the working class!

By the bye, Mother Jones was capable of stretching the truth every now and then. This recording was supposedly made on Mother Jones’ 100th birthday, but the evidence shows that when she died later on in 1930, she was actually only 93 years old.

Politifact has called this “the lie of the last 100 years.”
 

 
via Lawyers Guns & Money

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Shell Oil gets more than they bargained for when slick pranksters invade their ‘Science Slam’
12.12.2013
07:26 pm

Topics:
Activism
Environment
Heroes

Tags:
Peng Collective


 
The Burson-Marsteller public relations firm held a “Science Slam” event in Berlin yesterday to try to burnish the reputation of their client—I believe the industry term is “greenwash”—the Shell oil company. A “Science Slam” is like a rap battle or poetry slam meets a TED talk. Presenters make—or try to make—entertaining oral presentations of their scientific concepts, inventions or advocacy, and then the audience chooses the winner. Shell can do things like this or sponsor an “Eco Race” with all electric cars or some bullshit like that and then pretend like they give a fuck about the environment.

Several of the presenters directly challenged Shell’s ethics in their presentations and a freestyle rapper offered up a spontaneous rhyming diss of the Dutch oil giant. Environmental disasters and climate change were apparently the main topics, but at the end, two “young scientists” brought out a machine they informed the audience was a CO2 recovery experiment. Once fired up, the machine sprayed black oil sludge all over the stage.

No word what the half trillion dollar oil company made of this debacle, but the audience members voted these oily pranksters—two members of the subversive activist group the Peng! Collective—as the winners. Then the contest was promplty cancelled!
 

 
Via Nerdcore

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Now might be a good time to talk about Gloria Steinem’s time as a CIA asset…
11.25.2013
07:28 am

Topics:
Activism
Feminism

Tags:
CIA
Gloria Steinem


By the way, the other woman in this photo is Dorothy Pitman Hughes, an amazing activist who has received neither the press nor the institutional acceptance of Steinem
 
Last week, 79-year-old feminist icon Gloria Steinem was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. During her acceptance speech, she graciously declared,“I’d be crazy if I didn’t understand that this was a medal for the entire women’s movement.”  Should you be under the impression that this award is indicative of a tacit endorsement of feminism by either the the Obama administration or even the U.S. Government, allow me to brush you up on a little feminist history.

In 1959, Gloria Steinem attended the communist-sponsored World Youth Festival in Vienna as the head of the Independent Service for Information, a CIA front. The ISI had been set up at Harvard to send young anti-communist Americans to attend the World Youth Festival, where they could defend the US against communist critics and report back on their Marxist counterparts. Steinem was in charge of recruiting those young anti-communists.

Currently, Steinem is an honorary chair of Democratic Socialists of America (my comrades and former employers). The primary initiator of DSA, Michael Harrington (then of the Young People’s Socialist League), was also offered a free trip, but declined. Though he was a socialist, and critical of communism, Harrington refused to go unless he was also given license to criticize capitalism. Apparently Ms. Steinem felt no such moral conflict.

Before I’m dismissed as the Alex Jones of feminism, Steinem’s time with the CIA is public record. In the video below (yes, I know it’s from a conspiracy theory nut), she discusses her time as an employee. Now, I’m not accusing Gloria Steinem of being some sort of secret government fake feminist spy, but I do think it’s important to remember that we boner-killing, man-hating witches are not a united front, and we certainly aren’t all working towards the same goals. Some of us worked for the CIA for four years, others of us want to smash capitalism, and guess which ones get medals from the President?

Steinem may think she’s accepting an award “for the entire women’s movement,” but she sure as hell isn’t accepting it on my behalf.

Bonus: Gloria Steinem poses with Terry Richardson...
 

 
Special thanks to Phoenix on this one!

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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This could suck: Kathleen Hanna on public speaking
11.13.2013
01:31 pm

Topics:
Activism
Feminism

Tags:
Kathleen Hanna


 
Feminist performer, punk icon, writer and frontwoman for Bikini Kill, Le Tigre and The Julie Ruin, Kathleen Hanna’s talents also include being an engaging public speaker. Thanks to her experience talking in front of journalists, unruly crowds at concerts, tamer audiences in university classrooms, libraries and lecture halls, she knows what she’s doing. Here she explains how to get up in front of a group of people, who may or may not be throwing things and yelling sexist insults at you from the mosh pit, and get your point across without undue worry about whether you suck at public oratory.
 

Posted by Kimberly J. Bright | Discussion
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Help stop the trade of live animals as keychain / lucky charms in China
10.16.2013
09:50 am

Topics:
Activism
Animals

Tags:
China
Petition

0000bantrade.jpg
 

AVAAZ.org have a petition to stop the sale of living animals as keychain/lucky charm.

The petition calls on the United Nations to:

...demand the Chinese government to ban the manufacture and sale of amulets and jewelry containing live animals.

As the petition explains, this “new fashion” jewelry in China has:

...animals living under plastic containing a liquid nutrient and oxygen that allows them to live up to 2 months.

This is cruel and should be condemned by the international community.

Though it has been claimed that the animals can live up to two months in the “nutrient” environment, this is not true, as the animals die within days through a lack of oxygen.

This story has been featured in the news since 2008, but nothing has been done to stop this horrific trade.

Please sign the petition to help highlight and stop the sale of amulets and jewelry containing live animals. Thank you.
 

 

 
With thanks to Lindsay Reid.
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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Billy Bragg makes surprise visit to union rally in Minnesota
09.28.2013
04:32 pm

Topics:
Activism
Class War

Tags:
unions
Billy Bragg

billyatuminn
 
Activist and singer-songwriter Billy Bragg showed up at the University of Minnesota’s American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees union’s Rally for Affordable & Accessible Healthcare for All this week, spoke about his support for the workers, and played “There is Power in a Union” and “Keep the Faith.” The AFSCME is the union for the university’s clerical, technical and health care workers. The are fighting for a simple sliding-scale health care model, but the university’s administrators – at an institution that is supposedly so very progressive – won’t even discuss it. Bragg happened to be in Minneapolis to play a gig last night at the Cedar, but still took the time to get to the noon rally. 

He was interviewed by Margaret Cho on the Monsters of Talk podcast in May, when he talked about the need for universal health care in the U.S. and Breaking Bad. And some of Cho’s tattoos. Their point is similar to the recent Breaking Bad, Anywhere But America Edition comic strip.
 

 
Bragg tweeted this pointed comment at Senator Ted Cruz on Wednesday:
 

.
 
Animated excerpt from Monsters of Talk podcast with Margaret Cho interviewing Billy Bragg:

Posted by Kimberly J. Bright | Discussion
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Ai Weiwei skateboard decks: ‘As Graceful as Throwing Stones at a Dictatorship’
09.27.2013
05:01 pm

Topics:
Activism
Art
Sports

Tags:
Ai Weiwei

Ai Weiwei skateboard decks
 
The well-known Chinese artist and dissident Ai Weiwei has just released three gorgeous skateboard decks in association with the Dutch skateboard company The Sk8room. Each of the models is a limited edition of 150, is hand-numbered and signed, and costs 300 Euros (about $400). Proceeds from the sale of the decks will go to Skateistan, a nonprofit NGO that promotes skateboarding and educational activities.

The slogans directly reference Weiwei’s ongoing struggles against the Chinese government, which has repeatedly harassed the whimsical and outspoken artist and even arrested him for “economic crimes” in 2001. The three slogans are: “There Are No Outdoor Sports as Graceful as Throwing Stones at a Dictatorship in the World,” “Maybe Being Powerful Means to Be Fragile,” “The World Is Not Changing If You Don’t Shoulder the Burden of Responsibility.”

Weiwei paid homage to his own artworks for the decks. One of them uses an image from his installation Sunflower Seeds, which was shown at London’s Tate Modern in 2010, and another borrows from his work He Xie, which featured a group of ceramic crabs and was displayed at Washington D.C.‘s Hirshhorn Museum.
 
After the jump, some close-up views of the three Ai Weiwei decks….

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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