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Archive for Paul Z. Simons

My Date With Sam Dolgoff

My Date With Sam Dolgoff

(a shared memory)

( Note: the “My Date…” series of articles stretches back as far as the mid 1980’s and was begun by an article written by a woman attendee at anarchist functions in NYC. Her article, My Date with Holly Near, is a brief fluffy piece about an outing she and the singer had which evidently ended in some very earnest and breathy sex play. At that time Holly Near had dated (and fucked) almost every identifiable female anarchist in NYC, and the article may have been an attempt to record this historic campaign for posterity. Shortly thereafter Bob McGlynn wrote his “My Date with Holly Near,” which is a fantasy piece in which he and the singer drink beer, go bowling, and then stomp the lungs out of a bunch of malicious bikers. By far the most famous entry is Bob Black’s My Date with Jim Hogshire, which is an account of the notorious evening of February 10/11, 1996, where Black, who was to stay at Hogshire’s place, had a falling out with his host, allegedly groped Hogshire’s wife, was threatened with an M1 rifle and then was shown the door. This resulting article is classic Bob Black, and the vengeful aftermath includes a court case that stemmed from an issue Hogshire had with the local constabulary regarding the legality of making opium tea out of dried poppies purchased at florist shops. Hogshire unfortunately still has not written what he may have been put into this world to write, the response titled My Date with Bob Black.)

 

Suffice it to say that by 1985 or so I had become an anarchist with all the attendant vices and virtues, I hated the state, I lived on the Lower East Side, I attended interminable meetings; I read much and worked little. The city had two operating anarchist groups that I knew of, and I was a part of both, the Libertarian Book Club, and the Anarchist Switchboard. There were a lot of folks through each of these, but mainly a hardcore group of about 20 souls maintained the beating heart of anarchy in those foul years of Reagan and his ilk, which proved the truism that in any society the scum eventually rises to the surface to be drained off by history. I had been friends with Lauren for several months and she had called, said she was on her way to see Sam Dolgoff and invited me along. I met her at the Anarchist Switchboard that March afternoon in a cold, pouring rain. She said that we should just walk to his apartment as, other than busses, no trains would put us anywhere near his place. I asked where that was and she said that he lived in a building for retired members of the NY painters union. There are dozens of these union administered retirement buildings throughout New York, and though they resemble housing projects, the insides are better kept, and they have built-in meeting rooms and offices, some for the unions, some for rent. The Libertarian Book Club’s monthly events were held at a large meeting room in a union retirement home a few blocks down Seventh Avenue from Madison Square Garden. Even then, and in spite of the prevailing political climate, the unions would let the anarchists use the room—it was pretty cheap too. Lauren had made it her business, at the young age of 20, of bouncing around New York and introducing herself to as many of the old time anarchists, the Dolgoffs, the staff of the then recently defunct Freie Arbeiter Stimme (The Free Voice of Labor)—the Yiddish anarchist newspaper that had been going since the twenties, Vilario—an old Italian gentleman who at one time was involved both with the Galleanist’s and (it was rumoured) also Malatesta. Finally she had met Mel Most, who it was believed was related to Johann Most—a cousin or nephew—who for years had been running an outreach and service agency for prostitutes working on the Lower East Side. So this trip to the Dolgoffs was just her doing her best to string these old time anarchists to the younger punk anarchist scene—I guess to maintain some semblance of continuity.

All Aid, Comfort and Protection

It had to happen, was only a question of time really, that somewhere some unlucky police/espionage/or military agency would inadvertently recruit and train an individual with a conscience of sufficient substance such that you can’t pass your hand through it.

It makes perfect sense that the Los Angeles Police Department drew the unlucky number. Without rehashing the history of this sorry-ass agency, the beatings of black motorists, with supervisors watching and applauding, the false testimony that convicted hundreds sending these poor folks to prison, and finally like a phoenix rising from the ashes leaving behind the entire sordid mess to once again come crashing down into the shit that these officers wallow in and call a career. Two steps forward, six steps back…

Enter Chris Dorner, trained killer, Navy man, and ex-LA cop who during a training run witnessed a training officer assault, kick and beat a homeless, helpless mentally ill man just for the fun of it–I guess. I mean I believe the LAPD thinks its fun because they sure as hell do enough of it. Dorner was thrown off the force and has now turned on his previous oppressor/employer in what can only be called a wage slave revolt of furious intensity, and deadly precision.

Therefore, I ask– I implore all anarchists who may find themselves in a position to assist Dorner to reach a country without extradition to do so, and to provide to him with all aid, comfort, and protection possible–before the law and order bloodhounds shoot him down in his tracks. And in the unlikely chance Chris Dorner reads this, your heart beats with mine and many others. If you can–stay alive to tell your story, either with words or bullets–Stay Alive!

Ain’t that Snuff Enough?

It’s been a while and I thought I’d throw a few ideas out there and see if anything sticks. Sometime in 2007 while watching a CNN report on Afghanistan or Iraq or wherever there was a visual image of several burned bodies, evidently the aftermath of a drone strike and then it hit me, hard and real, that what I was watching was not the news but some great national, ongoing snuff film.

Rumours of snuff films, that is a movie where a real murder is filmed and marketed to interested parties for the express purpose of commercial gain, have been rife since the 70’s. Low budget filmmakers in the US of course noticed the  interest and the movie Snuff was released in 1976. Originally titled Slaughter and filmed in Argentina by Michael and Roberta Findlay it was based loosely on the Manson Family murders but unable to find distribution it sat in a can for several years. Enter Allen Shackleton from Monarch Distribution, a master at marketing bad films who shot a short 10 minute ending to the film purporting to show the film crew kill and dismember a woman on the set. He then distributed the film to all the negative publicity he could garner including the tag line, “Shot in South America where Life is CHEAP!” He also paid women to picket the theaters where the film played to whip up interest and community standard fury. It all worked of course and the film raked in the cash. But that’s the phony snuff story, the cheap Hollywood version…what about the real thing?

So what about war coverage as snuff? Is there any resonance between CNN’s reportage on Afghanistan and Iraq and snuff film. Of course there is–both are grounded in a desire to generate profits, in one case theater receipts and the other is about making sure that the US military get the hundreds of billions of dollars that their budgets seem to demand. Is there any difference in shamelessness between the two? Damned little. We know that while the Findlay/Shackleton axis was

 

God. Damn. It. One Post-Leftist Supports the Rojava Social Revolution.

So after sitting on the fence for the better part of a year, I have to commit to support for and defense of the Rojava experiment, and particularly our comrades in the DAF (Revolutionary Anarchist Action) and the two militias the YPG (People’s Protection Units, in Kurdish: Yekîneyên Parastina Gel) and the women’s militia component the YPJ (Women’s Protection Units, in Kurdish: Yekîneyên Parastina Jinê). Though inspired, at least according to most reports by Bookchin and specifically calling their current political status libertarian municipalism, they seem to have moved very far toward an insurrectionary society indeed. In fact the central government is essentially a husk and currently necessary only to interact with other sovereigns, without coercive elements (army and police) and with real power residing in local assemblies (which are guaranteed effective parity between Muslims and Christians and men and women). Further the addressing of police functions is outstanding. The Kurds are training all adults in how to be effective stewards of their neighborhoods and have abolished the police, or are in the process of doing so. Brilliant, when everyone is a master, there are no slaves.

So Bookchin? Who the fuck cares? A state? Yes, but moving in the opposite direction. Do all reports concur with the above enumeration? Yes, incredibly, yes. So what to do? Write, speak and support this tiny anarchist experiment in the same way one would the various social experiments in Greece or Spain. Hope that this fertile garden overgrows its boundaries, and spreads like the Black Death. And what of their opponent ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant)? I am as opposed to them as I would be any fundamentalist lunatic, Christian, Buddhist, Stalinist or Muslim; in this case more so, because ISIL threaten anarchists, my family. In fact ISIL has been explicit in their threats to “enslave” the entire civilian population. The sole good use of the trillions wasted on US military hardware is to unleash it all on this militarized fundamentalist scum. Kill them all. Let Allah sort them out.

And that doesn’t begin to enumerate all the enemies of Rojava, including other Kurds, Syria (Assad’s rump regime) and the largest danger, Turkey and her control of the borders and the flow of arms to both ISIL, and the revolutionaries. And sitting behind these players is the United States, the EU, and of course the Russians, always interested in playing vicariously in the Middle East. Finally, the Kurds have oil, not lots, but they have been steady suppliers to world markets since the Second Iraqi War, a fact not lost to bond traders on either Wall Street or the City of London. Grim tidings, but not insuperable.

It has been hard to arrive at the place I am right now, and it has taken much reading and thought. This is the shortest blog post I’ve ever written, and the most painful. I have had to eat a lot of very humble pie to get here. Do I still think the Left is a ridiculous and vestigial organ on the body of Society? Yes, and I disdain class theory as pseudo-science and am an individualist to the bone. I also realize that the species-goal of utopia is nowhere near being reached in Kurdistan. Rather, they have moved further and faster than any other insurrection to date. In fact the current stability, of roughly two years, makes it the longest running anarchist experiment during the triumph of civilization. Then hopefully, one day the Revolution will slip beyond all control, then we will be where we need to be to finish the anarchist project; utopia. Long Live the Rojava Social Revolution! No Peace, Without Victory!

“A shot over the bow….”

It’s not that I’ve been bereft of ideas. One thing I try not to do is sit about the house watching movies, eating anything, and basically being four blockheads at once. Rather my curiosity has been drawn in a number of different directions, the ebb and flow of street based actions, the ennui of empire imploding, the gentle crumbling of the assumptions. From very small institutions like the Mormon church (which I fled at 19) to the stomp of millions of feet down the Champs-Elysee. Crisis, collapse, and calumny seems a fitting chorus to the Song of Capital and Nation-State. I would ask, Where to start, but a more accurate inquiry would be,”Where to finish?”

So, consider this sliver of verbiage a shot over the bow, a stab in the dark, a baby-step, a New Years Irresolution. One blog entry a month for 2015, and not like this one, but with the firmness, the clarity of cold, stiff, jell-o. See ya soon.

The Skin Deep

So as a quick justification for this post I want to state that I come from a long line of proudly alcoholic lawyers centered primarily in Wyoming and Utah–so while not a lawyer, I am occasionally fascinated by all things legal and criminal–depending on one’s definition. That said I can’t help but notice two recent news items that have struck a chord with the lawyerly part of my genome, and a twinge of deja vu–having been married/divorced several times; the tales of Shannon Rogers Richardson and Jodi Arias.
We’ll start with Jodi Arias whose story involves anal sex, Mormonism and murder most foul. Jodi met and fell in love with Travis Alexander, devout Mormon, motivational speaker and salesman at a business conference in Vegas September 2006. He converted her to Mormonism and subsequently baptized her in November of 2006, according to her they had anal sex the same day…whew, now there’s a way to celebrate a religious milestone. They became a couple–whatever that means–in February of 2007. The relationship, like most, was great in the beginning but eventually become purely sexual–a big no-no for devout Mormons, and it eventually forced their break up in June 2007. Suffice it to say, Arias hadn’t had enough and would occasionally venture to Mesa AZ from Yreka CA for some lubricated cuddling. » Read more..

Death of a Pirate

I wouldn’t usually eulogize the recently dead for fear that upon investigation they might turn out to be less than what appeared at the moment. But in the instance of Aaron Swartz I feel moved to put a few lines down.

First I should note that as a ’60s baby I am only moderately computer literate, and that other than ranting, watching movies, and enjoying porn my skills at the machine are limited. That said, Aaron Swartz was clearly one of the folks who put their money where their mouth was to maintain the internet as it is, a Wild West show of all possible opinion available to almost anyone (almost anywhere) in an instant. This guy, who in spite of wealth and fame, would sneak into an MIT basement to pry loose academic journal articles, and just about anything else not nailed down to be posted, free of charge, on the internet must have rattled the dogs of law. So much so that they saw fit to arrest him and prosecute him. The punishments proposed for Swartz were daunting, 35 to 50 years behind bars and from 1 to 4 million dollars fine.

Some of the liberal media have bemoaned the “obviously” depressed state that led to his suicide which I take as pure CNN psycho-bullshit. When someone does something honorable make it psychotic — its the only way to have it make sense in these the waning days of Babylon. He saw where he was, the fines, the bilge rat prosecutor, and took his life back by taking his life. Never, ever relinquish freedom to the state, if you must kill to keep it kill. Swartz lived the same truth, his solution was the taking of his own life. I honor this internet pirate, this reboot buccaneer, as cunning and freedom loving as any of the marine version, and hope that the prosecutor who is responsible finds himself in hell, where there’s a special circle reserved for his ilk. Thanks Aaron for the example of your life and of your death — who will stand next in the breach you have left? And who will avenge this tragedy?

 

I am a Timebomb: Severino DiGiovanni

Spending monotonous hours among the common people, the resigned ones, the collaborators, the conformists – isn’t living; it’s a vegetative existence, simply the transport, in ambulatory form, of a mass of flesh and bones. Life needs the exquisite and sublime experience of rebellion in action as well as thought. –Severino DiGiovanni


Every once in a while I stumble on a quote, or a photo, or a piece of music that grabs me and shakes me furiously, reminds me who the hell I am, what I believe and why I believe it — and then pushes me on. The quote by DiGiovanni above is one such artifact, there are many others. Sometimes holding on to simple, evocative imagery, quotation, memory is as important to me as the more turbulent climate of debate and theory. As if everything I’ve ever read, or written, or thought, can be distilled down to momentary sensation. The feel of a plastic tie handcuff on the wrist, pulling a combatant away from a cop and releasing him — then blocking the cop with my body to stop him from the chase, or the image of lowering halogen street lights on a humid summer night in Tompkins Square. Whatever it is in each moment that keeps one oriented towards the final goal of a life that is lived and not endured is the most valuable thing one can claim. And whether held closely by the individual or shared in song, image, or word these artifacts hold me fascinated, hold me engaged in this work that must be done, and that will be completed.

 

 

Death of Science: The Moon Question

Nineteenth century anarchist thinkers were all about elevating science to a place where it would strip the masses of superstition, the sacred, the seeming inevitability of the system of State and Capital. Suffice it to say, science has drawn up short on all these promises. In fact as the lapdog of technology, science has done more in the past hundred years to further enslave the species than virtually any other social component. I loathe the arrogance of science and scientists, and so like Charles Fort I love it when observed phenomena occur far outside the safe, rational, reproducible boundaries of any scientific field. To begin this series on the Death of Science let’s start with the moon, one of the great enigmas, that has astronomers still spinning and looking for explanations.

The biggest mystery of the moon is the most obvious, as any child knows one side of the moon faces the earth all the time, and the other side, the dark side, does not. Clear enough, but that also makes the moon the only known heavenly body that does not spin on it axis. The moon, based on mineral tests is about the same age as the solar system, 4.5 million years. Meaning it was formed separately from the solar system and in some fashion got trapped in the earth’s gravitational field (“capture”), or did somebody put it there? The “capture theory” fell apart quickly as the earth doesn’t have enough mass to redirect the moon into orbit from any trajectory. After the Apollo program a number of startling discoveries about the moon were made and one speculation, voiced by MIT scientist Sean C. Solomon, “The Lunar Orbiter experiments vastly improved our knowledge of the Moon’s gravitational field … indicating the frightening possibility that the Moon might be hollow.” Frightening? You bet, because as astronomers know, and as voiced by Carl “Billions and Billions” Sagan in 1966,” “A natural satellite cannot be a hollow object.” Hmmmm. Finally the moon does an interesting thing when you hit it—it resonates, like a bell or a gong. NASA has, on occasion, hurtled space junk at the moon to see what kind of seismic activity occurs. Apollo 12 radio controlled the Lunar Module stage to crash onto the moon, and the surface reverberated for about an hour.  The ill-fated Apollo 13 went one better and crashed the entire third stage thruster into the moon and set reverberations off that lasted over three hours. Totally unconvinced of anything, the NASA guys really wanted to see what would happen when a large, natural object struck the moon, and they got their chance on May 13, 1972 when a large meteor struck the surface with the force of 200 tons of TNT. Ideally, the shock waves should have traveled to the moons center and the bounced back to the surface. What happened was that the shock waves never came back, indicating some type of damping material near the core, or possibly, once again, a hollow space that swallowed the shock waves whole. So there it is, what is up with the moon? And to our intrepid, arrogant priests of astrophysics and planetology–how about an explanation?

Thermopylae: the Second Day

So to continue on in a military vein for another entry, I ask you to consider the Battle of Thermopylae, not its import or impact, not the proto-fascist interpretations in recent graphic novels and films (“300”), but the real deal. There on the ground, shoulder to shoulder with 10,000 other Greeks staring off at the hordes assembled by Xerxes for the sole purpose of enslaving you, raping the wife and kids, and carrying off the livestock. I am always drawn to the second day of the three day battle, the 24 hours sandwiched between the first day and the hope of success and possibly relief from other Greeks, and the grim destiny of the third day when the progress of the elite Persian Immortals down from behind the battle front means that death is only hours away. What of the second day? Where a combatant has lost hope for both victory and defeat, when the only thing that occupies the mind is the battle itself. Who is fighting, the vast historical and spiritual forces behind the conflict, the political ramifications pale into nothingness on this day. The Mediterranean sun booms out overhead, the armor and greaves become leaden and burn in the heat, sweat pours down the neck and a wound scabs with dust as the battle roars on and the dead of Persia pile high. Is the only real thing in those hours a sip of water, perhaps some bread and cheese, the taste of hot wine? What happens when the fighting and dying become a meaningless never ending round of toil, when spear and sword have been broken and discarded and one is left with nothing but the will with which to continue to do battle? And the day ends in the twilight reflected off the sea, the sounds of gulls and the cries of the wounded and dying echo in the ears, the helmet is laid aside and sleep and weariness overtake mind and body. Is there a grim satisfaction that one is still alive, still able to fight one’s foe and to stop this madness from invading the homes of those one loves. Or is there a final thought — I did all I could to protect my freedom today, tomorrow, tomorrow I will fight harder.