There is some vague irony about finding a Chumbawamba CD in a dumpster 1,000s of miles from England in Columbus, Ohio. Maybe all the darlings of DIY punk turned bad will one day find their greatest hits resting between discarded bibles and broken sewing machines at the bottom of the trash. File under worthless.
The Zion mountains turn into the Rockies, the world rotates back on us and somewhere along the highway we loose an hour. Life has become a blur at this point.
Denver is a happy sight. Or as happy a sight as a huge culmination of metal, brick and glass dropped some place after a mountain range can be. We had finished our journey, for today day at least.
We ate vegan ice-cream sandwiches in the hot afternoon sun and browsed the shelves of Denver’s second hand bookshops. We wandered the streets stopping for burritos drowned in green chili and drank our body weight in high fructose corn syrup.
The venue in Denver was in a huge warehouse called the 27 Social Centre. The space houses a functioning print business that pays the rent for the whole set-up. The rest of the vast building houses IWW offices, performance space, an infoshop, gallery and meeting space and the Denver Zine Library.
Thanks to Kelly (check out his zine) and Mary for showing us support and kindness in titanic proportions.
We stayed with friends in North Oakland, ate Ethiopian food and hung out in their garden watching the bees from their beehive meander through tall plots of tomato plants.
We talked about a local campaign organising against injunctions that local police had placed on supposed Oakland gang members. There are plans to broaden the injunction and police have already been using it to justify racial profiling. The injunction is splitting a community by force and the campaign argues for a productive community response to violence in the area. Oakland also witnessed the killing of Oscar Grant by BART police last year, which sparked several riots in the area. You can find more information about the injunction at http://stoptheinjunction.wordpress.com
We had scheduled a visit to AK press to pick up some copies of Isy’s cookbook ‘Another Dinner is Possible‘. When we got there we spent some time looking through their vast warehouse full of books. AK press is a worker-run publishing collective with a huge back catalog of anti-authoritarian titles. The magnitude of the project is outstanding, a truly inspiring undertaking.
Next door to AK press live 1984 Printers. A radical and environmentally friendly printers that printed some of Edd’s comic here in the USA. They where kind enough to give us a tour around the print shop and even gave us free samples of some of the titles they have printed.
We have been short on time and wifi access to keep the blog up to date the last few days. Hopefully we will get a chance to catch up some point soon. But I wanted to say thanks to all the amazing people we have met over the time we have been here. The spaces we have visited are truly inspirational and we have talked to folks about some amazing projects, which hopefully we will get time to share here at some point.
In the mean time I got this photo of this great mural in San Fransisco. Unfortunately it was behind a fence.
Yesterday we visited the Redwood National and State Parks. This area of California features 133,000 acres of some of the worlds tallest trees. It’s unique eco-system homes endangered species like the Bald Eagle and Chinook Salmon.
Tonight’s event was hosted by Zapp. The venue (The Hugo House) contained a fairly extensive zine library which Zapp are allowed to keep without paying any rent! The talk was fairly well attended and Graham (the host) was an awesome guy who had spent some time in New Port so we chatted about Welsh punk bands like The Arteries.
Afterward we walked the streets looking for a bar. The first we passed was full of trendy hipsters with expensive haircuts and fancy looking drinks. We walked on… Time moved slow under the Seattle skyline and we were all exhausted after a days travel but the promise of a cold beer kept us going. A dank sports bar with an endless supply of free peanuts and cheap pinball seemed like a worthy place to rest our feet before we headed back to Graham’s place for the night.
The next morning we woke early and somehow managed to eat breakfast and squabble over what order things should be packed into the minivan and still leave only half an hour after our decided departure time.
We headed into the city centre to visit Leftbank Books, a worker owned, radical bookshop. The space is run by a collective of 20 people with seven paid staff. The shop floor extends over three floors with a huge selection of anarchist and radical literature. I picked up the new Peter Gelderloos book ‘Anarchy Work’ published by Ardent Press.
Finally we maded a stop at Buttonmakers.net an vegan run button shop. The space was packed full of box after box of button backs waiting to be mailed out. Next stop Olympia.
Today we went on a bike tour around the city and visited some of the community projects, co-ops and resources the city has to offer. The sun was shining as we cycled past Portland’s beautifully constructed wooden houses, painted an array of wonderful colours.
I found a copy of ‘Anarchy after Leftism’ by Bob Black in a second hand bookshop. The worn and battered cover looks great.
At the end of the day we went to a open mic zine reading at Portland’s Independent Publishing Resource Center, a community project running workshops in letterpress, screen printing , desktop publishing etc. They also have a zine library. I spent an hour exploring the pages of anarchist zines from the 90’s even discovering an old copy of Class War from 1995. I also found a interesting pamphlet by Voltairine de Cleyre titled ‘Anarchism + American Traditions’ that had a relevant quote about free speech “Make no laws whatever concerning speech and speech will be free”.
We arrived jet-lagged and bleary eyed in Portland late last night. Tonight we’re talking at Reading Frenzy, a bookshop/gallery/event space devoted to supporting independent and alternative culture.
We spent the day visiting some of the city’s radical spaces including the Black Rose infoshop and Red and Black cafe. The Red and Black cafe recently came under attack from national media after asking a cop to leave under their safer space policy. The incident happened soon after the death of a local homeless man at hands of a Portland police officer. Local anarchists responded to the killing accordingly.
Some pages from the visual diary I’m keeping (apologies for poor image quality. I’ll try and work out a better way to photograph the pages tomorrow)