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The never before told story of the man in the infamous ‘FUCK THE DRAFT’ posters


 
Of the many stories of official government suppression that came out of the Vietnam War era protest movements, one of the most compelling is the saga of Kiyoshi Kuromiya’s indelible “Fuck the Draft” poster. Kuromiya procured—how is unclear—a photo of a hippie burning his draft card, looking almost religiously captivated by the flame, and set his slogan in the plainest possible type. It was a hit, but his mail order sales gave feds seeking to suppress its message a strong angle of attack—using the mails to send obscene materials over state lines. The designer spent three years fighting those obscenity charges, and my Dangerous Minds colleague Jason Schafer crafted a fascinating deep-dive of that story about two and a half years ago. I unconditionally recommend reading it before proceeding here.

A crucial part of that story has gone untold until now—the perspective of Bill Greenshields, the man in the photograph. He’s only ever been publicly identified as the face of “Fuck the Draft” once before, practically in passing in a 1968 issue of an underground magazine. He’s agreed to tell his story for the first time to Dangerous Minds, to mark the 50th anniversary of his immortal rebellious action—the photo was taken on October 21, 1967, at the notorious war protest at the Pentagon, the one during which Abbie Hoffman famously attempted to levitate the building.

Dangerous Minds was put in contact with Greenshields by longtime Detroit art/punk provocateur Tim Caldwell (we’ve told you about him before.) Caldwell has known Greenshields for decades, but only just found out about his friend’s connection to the poster. It’s a story best told in Caldwell’s words:

Tim Caldwell: I was at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit for this exhibit called “Sonic Rebellion,” for the 50th anniversary of the Detroit riots in July of 1967. There are all these artifacts, like magazines, protest posters, books, and photographs, and people’s interpretations of all that in their artwork. And also there’s this idea of music as a force of expressive resistance. And there was this poster of my friend Bill. It was really weird, because he’d always told me he’d had a very different life before we met, and I didn’t really know what he looked like as a teenager—he’s almost 70 and I met him about 30 years ago, doing films and things like that. But so I saw this poster, in a case, and I was like “WOW, that’s him!” He looks kind of goofy and crazed in it, because that’s just the moment they caught him, he wasn’t posing or anything. I hadn’t seen him in about five or seven years, so I called a mutual friend who’s a musician who he knew Bill from film societies going back to the ‘80s. And he confirmed that it was Bill in the poster, and I asked if he was OK with talking about it, since he’d never mentioned it. So finally I called Bill and, yeah, it’s him! And every time we talked after that he’d have more and more crazy stories about stuff he did in the protest era that I’d never heard about before, he had this whole secret life before I met him—I started to wonder how well I’d really known him for those 30 years!
 

Bill Greenshields reliving a key moment from his past

Greenshields broke his decades-long silence on his experience in a phone conversation last weekend.

DM: So let’s start at the beginning—the protest itself. What were the circumstances, and do you know who shot the picture?

Bill Greenshield: I have no idea who took the picture or how I was selected to be on a poster. There were some people around with cameras, some of whom I thought were probably government spooks.

DM: Some of them probably were!

BG: There were friendlies too, with cameras, though. This occurred at the Pentagon on October 21, 1967, and it was part of the march on the Pentagon.

DM: This was the day that Yippies tried to levitate the Pentagon?

BG: Yeah, that occurred at the same time, you might say, around sundown. The march started at the Lincoln Memorial. People were bussed in from all over the country, and it was kind of a virgin thing, the first really big national march. If you’ve been to the Lincoln Memorial, you know there’s a giant long reflecting pool between that and the Washington Monument obelisk. At that particular time, I was part of a group of draft resistors in the Detroit area, and one of us had made a mock-up of a sign, a really large draft card. The name on it was “Loony Bird Johnson,” since LBJ was president at the time. Another fellow and I took off our shoes and sock and walked into the reflecting pool, which was slippery as hell. So we’re slipping and sliding, trying to be really careful, taking this gigantic draft card out into the middle of it, and suddenly everyone looked a lot smaller, except Lincoln, who was still very imposing. We got out a butane lighter and tried to light it, and it took a while, because there was a breeze and it was poster board. But we got it lit and immolated the whole thing. Then slid all the way back and put our shoes on to go hear all the speeches.

Then there was a march across the Potomac to the Pentagon. I don’t know how many miles it was, but it was slow going. I don’t know how many people were there but it was a long line of them, and the first people there went to where the public entrance was, that large staircase, and they went up there and got stuck up there, surrounded by Federal Marshals, who were not very nice [laughs], with billy clubs and whatnot, and Federal troops, who were our age, and were very nice. They were armed, but you could talk with them. It was starting to get dark, and like I said, they were stuck up there. Then some of the Yippies were doing like an invocation to levitate the Pentagon…

DM: So did it go up?

BG: Well, WE levitated! [laughs] Anyway, what happened was someone threw a rope up to the next level, because the stairs were blocked, and nobody was grabbing it to climb it, and I thought “what the hell,” and I started to go up. And as I’m going up I’m thinking various things, like “I hope someone up there keeps holding the other end of this,” and “A sniper could pick me off pretty good right now.” And when I got all the way up some people saw me and helped me over the ledge. People were pretty crammed together, and about 50 of them had put their draft cards in a soldier’s helmet and burned them all, and I had just missed it. So I took mine out and lit it up individually, and it lit a lot better than the big cardboard one. That was when someone took my picture. And that picture somehow got to Kiyoshi Kuromiya who made the poster.

I had no knowledge of the poster until an article in May of 1968, in The Fifth Estate, an underground paper that still exists, by the way, Harvey Ovshinsky was the editor. I was a childhood friend of his, all the way through junior high school, and he recognized me on the poster right away, and even named me in the article.
 

click to spawn a more readable enlargement

DM: The look on your face in that poster is a little demented, like you’re some kind of twisted fire-worshipper.

BG: Yeah, like there’s this GLEE of some kind! That’s probably why it was selected, but you gotta remember, I had just climbed this rope after walking from the Lincoln Monument to the Pentagon, and so I probably WAS really enjoying burning that card at the time. [laughs]

DM: So after the poster came out, the Federal obscenity charges came up against Kuromiya. Did the feds try finding you, too?

BG: Yes, they did.

Continues after the jump…

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Posted by Ron Kretsch
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10.20.2017
09:58 am
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That time 100,000 Iranian women protested against mandatory wearing of the hijab, 1979.

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There was once a strong belief among many Iranians that if they wanted something, then they just had to go out onto the street and demand it. This idea was fostered by the role many Iranians had in deposing Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and bringing back the radical Muslim cleric Ayatollah Khomeini from exile in France in 1979. This ended 2,500 years of Persian monarchy, replacing it with an Islamic Republic.

The Shah was seen as an autocratic, brutal, and oppressive dictator, who was attempting to westernize the country against the will of the people. The opposition to the Shah and his alleged evil western ways brought together an odd mix of Marxists, socialists, Islamic fundamentalists, and even the misguided media outlet the BBC. Together this unlikely coalition succeeded by demonstrations, strikes, marches, and news propaganda in forcing the Shah (and his supporters) to flee Iran and to bring in the Ayatollah and his Islamic revolution.

Many Iranians thought they were taking back control of their country for themselves. It wasn’t quite so simple. Political coalitions, no matter how well-meaning, only ever work in favor of those who appear to have the most power. The Ayatollah Khomeini was a figurehead around whom the country could unite. Therefore, Khomeini appeared to have the most power. Rather than working together to curtail the Khomeini’s influence, the socialists and the Marxists and the liberals all tried to win his support. This only confirmed to the Ayatollah Khomeini (and the Muslims who supported him) that he was in control.

An estimated one million people greeted the Ayatollah Khomeini’s arrival in Iran by Air France jet, in February 1979. By the end of March, the people had voted by an overwhelming margin of 99% to make Iran an Islamic Republic.

Though women were credited by the Ayatollah Khomeini for their essential role in bringing about the Iranian revolution, in early March 1979, he paid back their actions by implementing an edict that made it compulsory for all women to wear the hijab (veil) in public. Suddenly, any promise the Ayatollah offered of a new, better, fairer Iran was revealed as nothing more than a chimera. Khomeini was a hardline fundamentalist and he had no time for individual freedom—not when he knew what his invisible friend wanted. And Allah apparently wanted women covered up.

On March 8th, 1979, 100,000 women marched on the streets of Tehran against the mandatory wearing for all women of the hijab. Photographer Hengameh Golestan was present that day and believed it was her responsibility to document the demonstration as she was witnessing “something historic.”

It was a huge demonstration with women – and men – from all professions there, students, doctors, lawyers. We were fighting for freedom: political and religious, but also individual.

~Snip~

“They were demanding the freedom of choice. It wasn’t a protest against religion or beliefs, in fact many religious women joined the protest, this was strictly about women’s rights, it was all about having the option.”

~Snip~

I was walking beside this group of women, who were talking and joking. Everyone was happy for me to take their picture. You can see in their faces they felt joyful and powerful. The Iranian revolution had taught us that if we wanted something, we should go out into the street and demand it. People were so happy – I remember a group of nurses stopping some men in a car and telling them: “We want equality, so put on some scarves, too!” Everyone laughed.

I wanted to join in all the protests during the revolution, but I knew I had to go as a photographer. My first thought was: “It’s my responsibility to document this.” I’m rather small, so I was ducking in and out of the crowd, constantly taking photos. I took about 20 rolls of film. When the day was over, I ran home to develop them in my darkroom. I knew I had witnessed something historic. I was so proud of all the women. I wanted to show the best of us.

This turned out to be the last day women walked the streets of Tehran uncovered. It was our first disappointment with the new post-revolution rulers of Iran. We didn’t get the effect we had wanted. But when I look at this photo, I don’t just see the hijab looming over it. I see the women, the solidarity, the joy – and the strength we felt.

The women lost. The demonstration ended with the women being attacked and some even stabbed on the streets of Tehran. The men and their sexist, superstitious beliefs won. It’s a way of having power over women that continues to this day in many different forms.

Pioneering photographer Hengameh Golestan has been documenting life in Iran for 28 years, see more of her work here.
 
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See more photos, after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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10.17.2017
09:40 am
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Swallow the Leader: Amusingly titled, tawdry gay pulp novels of the 50s & 60s
10.04.2017
09:34 am
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‘Rally Round the Fag’ one of ten vintage gay pulp novels starring the popular character “Jackie Holmes” from ‘The Man from C.A.M.P.’ series. Artwork by the great Robert Bonfils,1967.
 
Gay pulp novels have been around since the 1930s when the sale of paperback books proliferated. Historically, lesbian pulp was much more popular than novels featuring the exploits of gay men—and that is, of course, because the lesbian pulp was widely purchased by straight dudes. The popularity of the novels continued to rise during 1940s though, as noted in the book Where Thy Dark Eye Glances: Queering Edgar Allan Poe edited by pulp historian Steve Berman, the very first true “gay pulp” novel was published in 1952 by author George Viereck. Viereck, a former propaganda tool of the Nazis during WWII authored the 195 page Men into Beasts that used homosexual prison culture as a part of its storyline—something Viereck had observed first hand while he was locked up.

The 50s was not a good time for the gay community, much in part to the gay-hating U.S. senator Joseph McCarthy who in addition to his suspicions that commies, pinkos and reds had managed to weasel their way into government positions, was also convinced that it was swarming with homosexuals, probably commie, pinko homosexuals, too. Known as the “Lavender Scare,” the State Department fired back at McCarthy’s delusional accusations saying that there were no communists on the government payroll. McCarthy sent his right-wing buddies to turn up the heat on the State Department claims which would result in the acknowledgment that 91 employees had been identified as “gay” and were fired under the guise that they were a huge “security risk.” When the news hit the papers and television, the public, as well as Congress, demanded a full investigation.

During this hysteria, a committee of the U.S. Senate launched the ridiculous sounding investigation “Employment of Homosexuals and Other Sex Perverts in the Government”.
Upon the conclusion of what is best described as a gay witch hunt, the committee was unable to identify any American citizen who might have sold out the good-old U.S. of A. This didn’t stop the committee from publishing a post-operative paper which “conclusively” established that a gay man or a lesbian possessed “weak moral character” and that the inclusion of only one homosexual can “pollute a government office.” After Dwight D. Eisenhower was elected he signed the executive order 10450 which added “sexual perversion” to a long list of personality traits that could prevent a person from holding a job with the federal government which led to thousands of people losing their livelihoods.

Once the swinging 60s rolled around the U.S. post office could no longer refuse to deliver books that featured homosexuality, which, according to research conducted by the University of Massachusetts Press led to a veritable “explosion” of gay pulp novels.

Now that I’ve shared a bit of the rich history surrounding gay pulp fiction, let’s take a look at some of the more hysterical, tongue-in-cheek covers that created such a stir back in the 50s and 60s, shall we? Yes, we shall. Some are pretty NSFW.
 

1968.
 

1967.
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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10.04.2017
09:34 am
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Jean-Luc Godard and the catchiest song ever written about a brutal dictator
10.03.2017
08:02 am
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A few weeks ago I signed up for a new membership at the Cinematheque in Cleveland, and I’ve been attending movies there at a far higher rate than I was before. One of the previews I ended up seeing several times was the utterly infectious trailer for Jean-Luc Godard‘s La Chinoise, which was until very recently unavailable on DVD and a new digital restoration of which has been making the rounds of the art-house circuit this year.

A bizarre adaptation of Dostoevsky’s novel The Demons, La Chinoise puts five French-speaking radicals in a tidy Paris apartment decked out in appealing primary colors and festooned with slogans, as they push forward their Maoist agenda. This movie came out a year before the widespread unrest in Paris 1968, and not unusually Godard had his finger on the pulse of something. Godard’s wife, Anne Wiazemsky, plays the most radical (i.e. most bomb-throwing) character, and the final act of the movie centers around a lengthy debate on a moving train about the utility of political violence with an actual professor named Francis Jeanson who had been tried for treason for his radical activities in connection with the Algerian War. Jeanson argues against political violence in La Chinoise, while Godard piped in his own retorts into Wiazemsky’s earpiece during the take.
 

 
The movie La Chinoise is diverting, but in all honesty it tested my ability to stay out of REM state. The movie poses the as-yet-unasked question of what would happen if Wes Anderson directed a script by Yvonne Rainer, whose movies (I find them compulsively watchable) sometimes include characters reading political tracts aloud as dialogue. (To be fair, it’s a testament to Godard’s prodigious gifts that he could plausibly anticipate both Anderson and Rainer.)

I saw that preview probably five times and as a result, the featured song, “Mao Mao,” sung by Claude Channes and written by Channes, Gérard Guégan, and Gérard Hugé, would always get relentlessly lodged in my head for days afterward. Part of the song’s charm is the French pronunciation of “Mao”—at least in this song—with two strong syllables, “Ma-Oh,” whereas in English it’s a one-syllable word. The decision to end every line in the verse with “MA OH MA OH” and the infectious chorus apparently sung by children (or at least recorded to give that effect) makes this one hell of a song.
 

 
Not surprisingly, the song is about .... uh, Chairman Mao, supreme leader of China for a generation, known then in English as Mao Tse-Tung and today universally as Mao Zedong. It’s tempting to try to figure out whether the song is pro- or anti-Mao….. it’s a fool’s errand. The lyrics make references to both “renouncing” and “following” Mao and the song should most clearly be seen as the taking up of Mao as a pop subject. One might say that it’s postmodern in the sense that the status of Mao’s pluses and minuses take a back seat to his incomparable there-ness—as the leader of Communist China during the Vietnam War and having recently overseen the Cultural Revolution, Mao was there to be discussed, debated, apprehended no matter what.

La Chinoise is worth a look but what remains is the song (which does appear in the movie). I’ve seldom found a ditty about a brutal dictator as engaging as Channes’ masterpiece, and I had to pass it on to the faithful Dangerous Minds readership. Here are the lyrics in French and an English translation, followed by the trailer, which is a must-see for those who like odd, catchy songs.
 

Le Vietnam brûle et moi je hurle Mao Mao
Johnson rigole et moi je vole Mao Mao
Le napalm coule et moi je roule Mao Mao
Les villes crèvent et moi je rêve Mao Mao
Les putains crient et moi je ris Mao Mao
Le riz est fou et moi je joue Mao Mao

C’est le petit livre rouge
Qui fait que tout enfin bouge

L’impérialisme dicte partout sa loi
La révolution n’est pas un dîner
La bombe A est un tigre en papier
Les masses sont les véritables héros
Les Ricains tuent et moi je mue Mao Mao
Les fous sont rois et moi je bois Mao Mao
Les bombes tonnent et moi je sonne Mao Mao
Les bébés fuient et moi je fuis Mao Mao
Les Russes mangent et moi je danse Mao Mao
Giap dénonce, je renonce Mao Mao

C’est le petit livre rouge
Qui fait que tout enfin bouge

La base de l’armée, c’est le soldat
Le vrai pouvoir est au bout du fusil
Les monstres seront tous anéantis
L’ennemi ne périt pas de lui-même
Mao Mao
Mao Mao
Mao Mao

========

Vietnam burns and me I spurn Mao Mao
Johnson giggles and me I wiggle Mao Mao
Napalm runs and me I gun Mao Mao
Cities die and me I cry Mao Mao
Whores cry and me I sigh Mao Mao
The rice is mad and me a cad

It’s the Little Red Book
That makes it all move

Imperialism lays down the law
Revolution is not a party
The A-bomb is a paper tiger
The masses are the real heroes
The Yanks kill and me I read Mao Mao
The jester is king and me I sing Mao Mao
The bombs go off and me I scoff Mao Mao
Girls run and me I follow Mao Mao
The Russians eat and me I dance Mao Mao
I denounce and I renounce Mao Mao

It’s the Little Red Book
That makes it all move

 

 

Posted by Martin Schneider
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10.03.2017
08:02 am
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Powerful anti-racist miniature dioramas created inside jewelry boxes
09.27.2017
09:37 am
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‘Deluge’ (2015).
 
Maybe it was the miniature world of The Sims or the illustrations in Where’s Waldo? with its crammed panoramic scenes filled with chaos and action that first suggested the possibility to Canadian artist Curtis “Talwst” Santiago of producing tiny dioramas inside jewelry boxes. Or, maybe it was the Parisian dude living in Vancouver, from whom Talwst bought old magazines and posters to make his collages, who one day tossed him an engagement ring box and said, “I want to see what you can do with this.”

It didn’t take long. Talwst’s turned the box into a diorama of a beach scene with his girlfriend coming out of the water like Botticelli’s Venus. It was the start of a process with which Talwst creates astonishing works of power and beauty.

Talwst—pronounced “Tall Waist” a reference to his Caribbean grandfather’s and his father’s nickname—was born and raised in Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada. His father emigrated from Trinidad to Fort McMurray in 1969. The experience of growing up in Canada was different to the life Talwst discovered when he moved to New York. As a Black man then living in Brooklyn, he found himself stopped and frisked by cops for no other reason than the color of his skin.

When I came to the States, there was some difference between me and the young man here that I see. But the minute I put on that big black hoodie, my black sweatpants, and I’m standing outside having a smoke outside of my studio, I’m immediately viewed as ‘nobody,’ and they know nothing about me. I realized that could happen to anyone, at any time. How many young men, that are loved by their families and are good people, were being killed? That resonated with me. It was the start of looking at Black identity in America because it’s significantly different than Canada.

The state-sanctioned racism and violence against the Black community made Talwst understand that Black lives have less value in America, and that at any moment his own “life could be taken or seen as having no value.”

Watching news reports of Black men being murdered on the streets for no reason led Talwst to produce dioramas on the shooting by police of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014, and the strangulation by police of Eric Garner on Staten Island in 2014.

[W]ith Michael Brown, it’s almost like a Goya painting [The Third of May]. Where we have images of this person beforehand and then we have images of him dead.

It’s a plethora of feelings. It’s frustration, it’s feeling thankful that I’m standing in a position where I’m able to observe and look at it, and not feel lost, locked in it, trapped by it. With the Eric Garner tape, you watch the whole thing happen in front of you. Working on that piece was so sad for me. I felt so much sorrow for his family. You hear him beg for his life.

Just before Garner’s murder, Talwst had seen Goya’s Disasters of War etching Por Qué? of “this guy being choked against a tree by three soldiers.”

A few days later, it’s 4 AM in the morning and I’m watching the YouTube video [of Garner being choked by police officers], and it draws to mind the etchings. I started crying, working and crying and feeling so sad and hurt. But I learned so much from that. I learned that I had the ability to channel my emotions into the work, if it’s honest work. But I held in the back of mind, this is not a monument to death. This is the spark to thinking and looking differently for a lot of people that are going to view this and see the video. It had to be a catalyst, mainly for his family. They’ve seen the moment of his death so much, but they never saw a moment of his ascension, his soul moving. And that’s what I wanted to create.

Talwst has also produced dioramas on the plight of Syrian refugees (Deluge) and the rape of indigenous people (The Rape). He also has produced work on environmentalism, gender and identity. His dioramas have been featured in art galleries and museums across America and Canada, and in Paris, Johannesburg, South Africa, and Geneva, Switzerland. And you can see more of Curtis Talwst Santiago’s work here. Click images to see larger picture.
 
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‘Execution of Unarmed Black Men’ aka ’ Execution of Michael Brown’ (2014).
 
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‘Por qué?’ (2014).
 
More of Talwst’s astonishing dioramas, after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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09.27.2017
09:37 am
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Running Gun Blues: Arms dealer uses David Bowie’s image to sell bullets?
09.18.2017
11:24 am
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The Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) conference took place last week in the Docklands in eastern London, and the event featured a creepy, unauthorized cameo by an unexpected star from the world of music. The event draws roughly 1,500 exhibitors from the world representing the world of, ahem, “global defence and security”—in other words, it’s the world’s biggest arms fair, and military delegations from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Pakistan showed up to do a little window-shopping for rocket launchers and the like. While the DSEI tries to keep a low profile in the media, it did not succeed in that goal, as more than 100 people were arrested for protesting the event.

An artist named Darren Cullen spotted the jarring visage of Aladdin Sane-era David Bowie peeking out from one of the displays and posted a picture to Twitter:
 

 
It’s a little bit hard to make out; here’s a blown-up version of the image:
 

 
The company that decided to incorporate Aladdin Sane into its display is the Cheshire-based firm Edgar Brothers, which has been in business for 70 years (note the 70th anniversary logo in the stand, at upper left). It touts itself as “one of the oldest, most well established importers and wholesalers of firearms, ammunition and associated products in the UK and Northern Ireland.” The photographer of the original image was Brian Duffy, who passed away in 2010. According to the Newham Recorder, “A spokeswoman for the Duffy Archive confirmed the photo had not been approved and that the stand had been removed on their request.”

Cullen has artwork on display at an art exhibition protesting the arms convention. Here’s Cullen’s account of spotting the image:
 

I was checking Instagram to see if any of the DSEI contractors were posting about being behind schedule due to the Stop the Arms Fair blockades and I saw this photo of the UK arms trade pavilion with a giant picture of David Bowie. It really stuck out to have someone like Bowie featured among this festival of violence, and just in really bad taste considering his own recent death.

[...]

I got in touch with the rights-holder of the photograph, the estate of the photographer Duffy, and just hoped to hell they hadn’t given permission for these bastards to use his image. They got back to me the next morning thanking me for bringing it to their attention and saying they had definitely not given permission and they’d been frantically trying to have the photo removed. The Duffy Archive were really on top of it, full credit to them. They finally got hold of a director at Edgar Brothers and the display was taken down straight away due to their complaint. As far as I know, they’re still in discussions as to what the next steps are. I hope the Duffy Archive hammer them for it.

 
One endeavors to imagine the conversation that preceded the construction of the stand:
 

Arms Dealer A: This display is a little bleak. We should make it more about “hope” somehow.
Arms Dealer B: I know! Let’s put in John Lennon! Everybody loves him.
Arms Dealer A: Eeesh, I don’t know. The “Imagine” guy? That might be a little much with him getting shot and all…
Arms Dealer B: How about ... David Bowie then? He died… normal.
Arms Dealer A: I like it. Let’s dance!

 
Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade amusingly reminded Bowie fans that the rock star would not have endorsed the activities of Edgar Brothers:
 

DSEI and the UK government may be experts at pushing arms exports, but when it comes to David Bowie they are absolute beginners. The real heroes were protesting outside DSEI, while the scary monsters and super creeps were inside. We need to do all we can to keep the arms fair under pressure.

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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09.18.2017
11:24 am
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Test Dept to mark centenary of Russian Revolution with ‘Assembly of Disturbance’ festival
09.08.2017
07:53 am
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Test Dept, the industrial group that invented the “Stakhanovite Sound,” will mark the 100th anniversary of October 1917 with a festival at London’s Red Gallery. Along with the live premiere of material from Test Dept’s new album Disturbance, the lineup includes live performances by Puce Mary, Hannah Sawtell, Kris Canavan, Disinformation, Prolekult, and Fuckhead, and DJ sets by Trevor Jackson and Nina. There will also be installations, film screenings, talks, and an exhibition of Test Dept artifacts called Culture Is Not A Luxury!

The only industrial outfit explicitly committed to socialism—at least, none of the others worked with the South Wales Striking Miners Choir or wrote about Comrade Enver Hoxha—Test Dept promises to bring historical perspective to the nightmare we are living through. From the press release:

[T]he festival explores how one hundred years on from the Russian Revolution, which unleashed radical artistic forces that sought to build an idealistic new society, the current socio-political climate is also engendering a need for a profound shift in governance. As such, Assembly of Disturbance invites you to join an assemblage of artists to consider the prevalent and pressing intersection of art and activism, challenging and disrupting the current state of affairs in Britain, and beyond.

More after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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09.08.2017
07:53 am
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Sexuality and politics signaled through ‘coded clothing’


BDSM emblem dress shirt from ThirdHex Coded Clothing.
 
ThirdHex Coded Clothing, a small fashion startup selling through Etsy, produces snazzy black dress shirts with small embroidered logos, not of its own brand, but of icons representing concepts such as anti-fascism, polyamory, BDSM, and vegetarianism.

Currently, the shop offers only eight designs, which are mostly geared toward the fetish community, left-wing politicos, and gamers. What originally fascinated me about the shop was the concept of “coding” through clothing. American consumers are used to seeing brand logos stitched onto dress shirts, but logos for concepts and fandoms communicate so much more than “I can afford a Chemise Lacoste.”

As a teenager when I was dressing in the absolute punkest way possible, I don’t know if it ever occurred to me that one of the reasons was to signal to other “punks” that I was one of them. It’s remarkable to think back about how I could go to a new town and instantly figure out who was “cool” (or “not cool”) just based on what kinds of t-shirts or shoes they wore. For better or for worse, the t-shirt has become the most common identifier people use to signal “where their heads are at.”

ThirdHex Coded Clothing owner, Christopher Kaminski’s seller-statement on his Etsy page resonated with me as an adult who doesn’t find band t-shirts appropriate wear for every occasion:

At the age of 18, I joined the Air Force and found myself without friends that shared interests. I quickly realized the value of having t-shirts that expressed my interests in topics like 80s goth bands to find like minded friends. Since then I’ve strongly used t-shirts to socially code through every major move but as I entered my 30’s I found my style to be incompatible with t-shirts.

When I moved again in my mid 40’s I found myself completely uninterested in t-shirts but wanted some way to still socially code. ThirdHex Coded Clothing was born out of that need.

I ordered a ThirdHex shirt with the “Antifascist Circle,” based on the symbol of the Iron Front, a few weeks ago. I found the product to be high quality and spiffy-looking when worn.

I talked briefly to ThirdHex owner, Christopher Kaminski about the concept of coded clothing.

Aside from appreciating the crisp aesthetic simplicity of the shirts and logos, what really struck me about your shop was your mission statement, in particular, the use of the word “coding” which really breaks down the intent behind a lot of folks’ fashion choices.

ThirdHex: Look at the people around you, really look. They’re all using accessories, grooming styles, colors, body language and more to passively communicate with you, some do it with more intent than others. This is social coding.  Ever drive behind a car with cool bumper stickers and think that they would be cool people to know? I know I have.

How did you first hatch the concept for the store?

TH: The concept didn’t hatch as a store, it started with personal use. I have a closet of t-shirts that I think I look sloppy in. I wanted to communicate with others in a more fashionable way. After I modified a couple of pieces for myself, I realized I was not the only one that would want this.

My favorites of your designs are the ones related to sexuality and politics, but my guess would be that the “nerdier” gamer designs are a hit. There’s something appealing about being an adult and dressing like an adult but still being able to signal in that way. I like the idea of a 40-year-old wearing a dress shirt with a D20 on it over a tacky XXXL all-over-print t-shirt made for teenagers. 

TH: The wives and partners of men that wear t-shirts all the time seem to agree with your statement. My customers aren’t always the end users of the shirts! More nerdy designs are on their way!

When you came up with this concept, did you envision these shirts being “daily wear” or more for conventions, events, and rallies?

TH: Daily wear, but both of course. It’s easy to find people with similar tastes or ideas at conventions. My designs are intended to help you find your community of people outside of those spaces.

Have you taken any inspiration from “hanky codes”?

TH: Not really, although the ideas are similar. I mostly took inspiration from brand advertising. Brands themselves are coded through advertisements. Advertisements sell an experience and attach a brand to it. Wearing that brand tells other people you like that advertised experience. I am simplifying the communication process and targeting peoples passions.

Finally, are there any plans to add women’s styles or (though I personally have no problem with all black everything) alternate shirt colors? Also, any thoughts on future designs?

TH: I do have a business plan that includes both eventually but add sizes to that mix and you end up with a crazy amount of inventory. It’s going to take some time and a big investment to get there. However, new stitch designs will roll out every month. 

ThirdHex Coded Clothing’s website is at Thirdhex.com.


Anti-fascist circle emblem
 

D20 gamer shirt
 
More after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Christopher Bickel
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07.28.2017
09:54 am
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How Trump is using LGBTQ people as pawns in a numbers game to consolidate power
07.27.2017
12:44 pm
Topics:
Tags:


 
So this week, the Trump administration, already in the midst of an ongoing assault on the horrific-to-Republicans spectre of normal people getting to go to see doctors AND an effort to turn the Boy Scouts into the Trumpenjugend, staged a two-pronged official offensive against sexual and gender minorities.

Our tweet-happy president, all by himself, without alerting the Pentagon to the policy change or offering the Department of Defense anything resembling an implementation plan, informed the world that transgender soldiers would no longer be permitted to serve in the US armed forces. Then, hours later, the Department of Justice, directed by the increasingly beleaguered Attorney General/fucking evil elf Jeff Sessions, submitted a brief to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit stating that the Civil Rights Act did not apply to LGBTQ Americans.

That’s right—at a time when we’re supposedly locked into an epochal clash of civilizations against brown foreigners, people SO INCREDIBLY DANGEROUS that society must protect itself at all costs from letting them take a shit at the department store evidently aren’t fit to be trained to kill brown foreigners.

You KNOW what they’re doing, right? I mean aside from being toxic, spiteful, nasty, bigoted, chauvinistic pigfuckers who wield social privilege as a weapon; we’re used to them doing all that. This is different. This isn’t just hateful, this is tactical. They’re prepping to turn the midterms into an equality showdown so it won’t be a referendum on Trump. GOP mouthbreathers will be out in force telling voters “Look, those out-of-touch elitist Democrats are letting our fine fighting forces be overrun by trannies! They care more about protecting fags’ jobs than they care about protecting YOUR jobs!”

This is almost certain to work. It already happened in recent memory, when they used a handful of statewide marriage equality initiatives to mobilize a national troglodyte voter base against John Kerry. Just wait and see if I’m wrong. Hell, someone in the know already admitted it. Click for a more readable enlargement:
 

 
These scumbags are 100% on-script right now, and the Dems are fucked: if they do the right thing and stand for equality, they’re taking the bait. If they recognize this as bait and join the GOP in throwing sexual and gender minorities under the bus to keep the focus on Trump’s unyielding streak of outrages, then they will have not just thrown vulnerable sexual and gender minorities under the bus, but done so for electoral reasons, which DUH is fucking double-evil, AND they will have depressed their own voter turnout due to being no different than the Republicans on an issue as existentially significant as human rights.

Gerrymandering and racist voter ID laws that are definitely going to go national ASAFuckingP (the architect of Kansas’ SAFE Act has been appointed to Mike Pence’s farcical Commission on Election Integrity) will take care of the rest, and boom, midterm sweep, the Republicans retain or increase their majority in both houses, and the fascist takeover of the USA has an electoral “mandate.”

THIS is why they have governed and will continue to govern from a national electoral minority for decades to come: they know how to play these numbers games and they’re Machiavellian enough to handwave any pearl-clutching about “democracy” or “norms.” And the milquetoast DNC centrists who inexplicably STILL run the show in that utterly debased excuse for a national political party still think there’s intrinsic value in “taking the high road” and in playing the legislative chambers’ ineffectual rules-of-order parlor games. There is not. The vaunted “high road” has all too often been their road to defeat. The intrinsic value in being in government is in being the people who actually get to make the laws. The DNC’s failure to see the reality that’s repeatedly smacked them in the face has ceded those privileges to authoritarian monsters for the foreseeable future, while the people they’ve failed are left to gaze upon Trump’s works and despair.

I don’t pretend to know what needs to be done, but doing what we’re used to doing won’t accomplish shit while the corridors of power are overrun, and I sure don’t expect institutions to help. The idea that Speaker of the House/other evil elf Paul Ryan will move to impeach before mid-terms (if at all, ever) is laughable, and forget about treason charges. Horseshoe theory-poisoned major media have already been dutifully demonizing Antifa—what do you expect happens when the people who put their personal safety on the line to oppose fascism are summarily demonized while actual genocide fanboys are greeted with “let’s hear what they have to say before we go condemning them?” What gets normalized, then?

At anti-Trump demonstrations, police conspicuously opt to protect racists and fascists over the assembled masses of protesters who’re demonstrating precisely because they’re terrified of racist and fascist encroachment. The barbarians are at the gates not because they’re preparing to crash them but because they’re the gatekeepers. Something to think about while you’re making your 10,000th phone call to a disinterested Republican Senator to express your strongly-worded displeasure into the voicemail s/he doesn’t listen to. Vive la resistance.
 

 

Posted by Ron Kretsch
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07.27.2017
12:44 pm
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She f*cking deserved this! Onion devastatingly calls out Senator on healthcare vote AND SAYS IT ALL


 
Like many of you reading this sentence, I have spent nearly 100% of my waking hours so far this year feeling like I wanted to run out into the middle of a cornfield and scream my fucking head off as loudly as possible until I passed out from exhaustion or simply got bored of this activity and decided to stop. (Never underestimate the cathartic value of DIY primal scream therapy in Donald Trump’s America. If it worked for John and Yoko and it can work for you, too.)

But yesterday and today, the Senate votes on repealing the ACA has left me feeling especially sickened, angry and utterly drained. My hatred for “them” has grown by leaps and bounds. From Donald Shit’s remarkably idiotic “Obamacare is death” rant to watching John McCain vote, not once but twice, to revoke poor people’s ability to fight back against cancer, it’s all just gotten so goddamned nauseating. So grotesque. A brain-addled billionaire bully who doesn’t even know the difference between health insurance and life insurance who wants to upend 20% of the American economy and mess with people’s lives because he hates the superior black man who preceded him in office. Trump doesn’t even know what health insurance IS. Not even in the most general sense. But it’s named after the black guy, so… Sorry sick people!
 

#donaldshit

I mean my Twitter feed zaps me of much of my will to carry on. I’m glad I don’t bother much with Facebook, I’d have given up a long time ago.

But having said all that, I read something on The Onion just now that made me LOL and smile again in my heart. I didn’t think that was possible anymore.

An item, appearing sans the byline of the satirical genius who wrote it, takes aim at West Virginia’s GOP Senator Shelley Moore Capito who only a week ago forcefully rebuked her party’s plans to repeal the ACA without a backup plan:

“As I have said before, I did not come to Washington to hurt people. For months, I have expressed reservations about the direction of the bill to repeal and replace Obamacare. My position on this issue is driven by its impact on West Virginians. With that in mind, I cannot vote to repeal Obamacare without a replacement plan that addresses my concerns and the needs of West Virginians.”

Despite this “brave” statement—some Republicans just LOVE to get brave before they cave—we all know how she actually voted. Which is why this Onion item is such a perfectly cut diamond of truly incendiary political satire served with such a heaping helping of “fuck you, lady”:

WASHINGTON—As legislators gathered Tuesday for a critical vote that would go a long way toward finally repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) was reportedly struggling to weigh the interests of her entire constituency against absolutely nothing. “Honestly, it’s a tough call—on one hand, you have opposition to the repeal from a majority of Republicans, virtually all Democrats, and the entire healthcare industry, while on the other, you have not one sound argument or credible opinion,” said Capito, admitting she was, even now, having difficulty balancing her desire to keep as many West Virginians insured as possible with there being no reason whatsoever to do otherwise. “This is an agonizing decision. Sure, there are sound justifications for voting no on ‘repeal and replace,’ but then there’s emptiness, literal emptiness, when you look for reasons to vote yes. All I know is, I have to get this right somehow.” At press time, Senator Capito had resigned herself to the fact that both sides had valid points and she would just have to go with her gut when the time came.

Standing ovation to the uncredited author of this, one of the single most impressive paragraphs ever composed in the English language, I reckon.

If you know someone from West Virginia, be sure to send this to them or post it on their Facebook wall (especially the Republicans, it will go right over their pointed lil’ heads). And if you feel like tweeting it at Shelley Moore Capito just to make triple sure that she’s seen it, have at it, her Twitter handle is @SenCapito

Posted by Richard Metzger
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07.26.2017
02:18 pm
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