Interview with Raw Thought Artist Grumpy Green About Their Life, Love & Art

 

By Lisa Rein

As we begin the interview, Grumpy’s cat, “Freddie Mercury” knocks over some brushes in water in a water bottle all over a piece of beautiful artwork sitting on the living room table.

“It’s okay,” Grumpy says. “I’ve already scanned it.”

Aha! Great opportunity for me: “Hey if that’s garbage to you now would you please sign it and give it to me?” They promise to sign it and let me take it with me. It’s the creature in black, above, at the beginning of this article.)

Lisa Rein: So tell me about your radio show.

Grumpy Green: It’s on S.P.A.Z. radio.

LR: That’s an Internet Station?

GG: Yeah it’s on SPAZ.org, it’s an anarchist collective and they stream radio from Guadalajara, from Portland, from Amsterdam, and from all over the world. Every broadcast comes from a different location. It’s also available via pirate radio in San Francisco, but not yet in Oakland. (Coming soon.) In San Francisco it’s at 103.5.

LR: Awesome. And this will be your first show this Sunday?

GG: Yes! Our show is called #LiveAmmunition and it’s every Sunday from 2pm to 5pm.

LR: Are your shows recorded if folks miss the live ones?

GG: Yes. The next day, at 8am in the archives. (Link to Sunday, Jan 6, 2019 show)

LR: Great! I will link to it!

GG: It’s me (Grumpy) my other friend Traveiza and our other friend Chi Hai. They are all DJs and really incredible artists, and we all bring a little bit different flavor to club music.

We started recently, just in the underground music scene, playing shows together. And we started tag teaming DJ sets. Like we’ll do back to back and each do two songs. We started doing it just for fun a few months ago and we just all worked so well together. This opportunity came up to do the radio show and we decided to do it altogether, and bring on local queer and trans and really give a platform to the Oakland underground scene, specifically the queer underground scene.

 

LR: Is there an instagram just for the show?

GG: Yes. It’s just the name of our show is “@LiveAmmunition” We also do an advice segment for people that wanna call in.

LR: How did you come up with “Grumpy Green?”

GG: Well my last name is “Green.” And “Grumpy” is something that my ex-partner – I guess my first real relationship – they would always call me “Grumpy,” but as a way to kind of point out when my mental illness was acting up. Because I have Borderline Personality Disorder and I have really intense mood swings, which is why I smoke so much weed, because it really helps me stay like baseline. Otherwise I feel like 50 things a day and I’ll be like crying and then I’ll be like “ha ha ha ha” – just like really crazy. But we would fight a lot, and whenever I’d get upset he would try to be like “da da da, you’re being Grumpy.”

And a while after we broke up and decided I didn’t want to go by my birth name any more, and it started out just for my art. But I don’t go by my birth name ever ever now. Because I feel very dysphoric about it. So it started out as just like a pseudonym for my artwork, but it was sort of a reclamation and acknowledgement of my mood disorder and mental illness, but being like “I’m fucked up, but that is beautiful.”

From “Lucid Dreams”

Read more “Interview with Raw Thought Artist Grumpy Green About Their Life, Love & Art”

Cindy Cohn & Cory Doctorow & Annalee Newitz Discuss “The End of Trust”

(Left to Right) Annalee Newitz, Cory Doctorow, Cindy Cohn.

By Lisa Rein.

Video: YouTubeInternet Archive

Audio: Internet Archive

I was lucky enough to get a last minute ticket to see Annalee Newitz interview Cory Doctorow (Science Fiction Author, BoingBoing, Special Advisor for the EFF) and Cindy Cohn (Executive Director, Electronic Frontier Foundation) a few weeks ago in the SF mission to promote McSweeney’s new “The End of Trust” publication – which is now available for pre-order.

Annalee Newitz: “When discussing Social Justice Issues, Corporate Malfesence, The Government Breaking the Law to Look Into Our Private Lives, and I know that at EFF, one of the main responses to these kinds of problems has been litigation. It has been to go to the courts. And I’m curious to hear why you think that is a good tactic because we have many tactics at our disposal. There’s direct action. There’s calling our congress critters. There’s all sorts of ways that we can influence the political process. So, why the law. Why the courts? And how can ordinary people participate?”

Cindy Cohn: “The first reason is that there’s a fundamental constitutional question at the centerpiece regarding how we are going to interact with our technology, that can make all the other questions easier.

The second reason is that all of the direct actions that you might want to take in order to exercise your self-governance and have your voice heard, requires some kind of legal protection, right? And when we talk about “direct action,” the reason that you can do direct action and not end up with a very long jail sentence is because, in the United States, compared to other places around the world, is because the Constitution says you can. All the hackers who EFF represents, who tell us all the things about the security problems and the surveillance – if we don’t get the law right, they’re not going to be able to do that. So, I often say that about EFF that we’re kind of the plumbers of freedom. We’re trying to get the obstacles out of the way, so that all the other things you can do to exercise your rights in the digital world can really flow freely.

And so, I think for both of those reasons, EFF was grounded in the law. But also, at this point, we build technology. We have an action center. We support a lot of people that do a lot of direct action. We support a lot of people that need to protect themselves, that do direct action, and all sorts of other things. So although we are firmly grounded in the law, and that’s my background, the organization has really trying to grown to build a lot of different tools in our toolbox to deal with these problems.

Cory Doctorow: “Yeah. I think it’s easy to forget just how powerful states are. They have a lot of resources. And in a fight where you are trying to say, use cryptography to be free, in a state that is illegitimate. You have to use cryptography and the privacy tools associated with it absolutely perfectly, as do, everyone you communicate with, and never make a mistake.

And when you get tired or distracted, you don’t get to call in another you to spell you off and manage your operational security for you. While you’re distracted or taking care of your kids or dealing with the flu. And your adversary from the state, has three shifts of people that can watch you. Right? And when one of them gets a little tired, and gets screen burn and needs to take 15 minutes off to go to the bathroom, they can swap someone else in.

So in the long run, your ability to use cryptographic tools to defend yourself against an illegitimate state. You’ll always lose, right? Because you need to make one mistake. They have to find one mistake you made. They get to make lots of mistakes provided they can still catch that one mistake you made. And then they get to roll up you and all your friends and take you to jail and torture you and so on.

And so, without a legitimate state, the utility of cryptography is to allow you to just have a space in which you can organize to make your state legitimate. But unless you can attain that kind of democratic accountability. Unless you can attain that kind of legitimacy, you’re always gonna lose…

Larry Lessig, take a drink (audience laughs), is one of the great cyber lawyers, and he devised all the areas in which we can act to change the world into four categories. Four directions. We can do code. We can do law. We can do norms, and we can do markets. And they all feed back into each other. And EFF does all of these things. We sometimes advise businesses who are building up stakeholders for good policy. We sometimes do activist intervention where we try to convince people that they should expect more and demand better.

Link to the Book Excerpt in Wired by Bruce Schneier – “Surveillance Kills Freedom By Killing Experimentation” by Bruce Schneier. From the upcoming “The End of Trust” – now available for pre-order here.

Here is a complete list of authors:

Edward Snowden
Jenna Wortham
Cindy Cohn
Sara Wachter-Boettcher
Cory Doctorow
Reyhan Harmanci
Hamid Khan
Ken Montenegro
Myke Cole
Ethan Zuckerman
Elizabeth Stix
Ben Wizner
Malkia Cyril
Jennifer Kabat
Alvaro Bedoya
Gabriella Coleman
Camille Fassett
Virginia Eubanks
Jacob Silverman
Julia Angwin
Trevor Paglen
Soraya Okuda
Thenmozhi Soundararajan
Douglas Rushkoff
Bruce Schneier
Dave Maass
Madeline Ashby
Edward F. Loomis
Jenny Odell
Carson Mell
Chelsea Hogue
Joanna Howard

 

(Left to Right) Annalee Newitz, Cory Doctorow, Cindy Cohn.

 

A Conversation with DJ Cain MacWitish – Part One

You should read Aaron Swartz’s blog here.

Cain MacWitish is a member of the Aaron Swartz Day Raw Thought Crew. He will be performing at the next RAW THOUGHT (A Dance Night with a Psychedelic Chill Room). On January 11, 2019 at the DNA Lounge, – 10pm – 2am. See You There! TICKETS

Also, since this January 11 will be the sixth anniversary of Aaron’s death, and some folks have asked for a Q & A event, there will be a dinner & discussion event beforehand, at the DNA Lounge, from 7:30-9:30pm. Please RSVP to AaronSwartzDay@gmail.com. 

LR: So the November 9, 2018 show that you performed last month was your first show in three years. How did it feel to perform again?

CW: It was great. I worked on a whole new DJ set for four months straight leading up to the show. So playing that for the crowd and seeing how they reacted to what I put together was really awesome.

For each set I do, I have kind of a specific theme in mind usually. I put together a whole new theme for that performance. I hadn’t played it in a club yet, and when I put things together in my, mind it’s different from actually playing it for people out on the dance floor.

My most successful set I’ve ever put together was my Ibiza set. I did that for a club – it’s up on my mixcloud and it has almost 9,000 plays. So that’s very heavy minimal techno and house set. So that’s what this set will be: minimal techno and house. Mainly for me, Pig & Dan – every time I hear a new Pig & Dan track it’s like “oh that’s such a good song.” They hardly ever have a song I don’t like. They actually produce dance tracks; minimal techno. They would probably label themselves just as “techno” – that’s usually how they label themselves, but every time they put out a new track, it’s just awesome to me.

LR: Aha! I’ve been looking for a descriptive term for your music: “minimal techno.” It’s been killing me trying to describe it; but it was definitely a thing. I’ve been saying “it’s percussion heavy without heavy percussion.”

CW: I don’t even know how to classify what I produce. It’s all over the map. But as far as my DJ sets go – that’s minimal techno. And that one I did, my Ibiza set.

LR: At our show, your set will be “minimal techno?”

CW: Yes. Most of the dancier tracks on Kompakt Records – do you know that label? They are out of Cologne, Germany.

They’re actually the biggest label in Europe right now. They’re bigger than Warner Brothers or anything like that, out there. They have all sorts of genres – they got their start putting out these compilations of minimal techno and house. They called it “The Kompact Total Collection” – every year, starting in 1999, they put one out at the end of the year. So we’re up to Compact 17 or 18 or whatever it is now.

 

LR: Techno is a lot more popular in Europe generally. Wouldn’t you say? I remember hearing it on the AM radio when I was there.

CW: Oh yeah. If you are a techno and house DJ, you usually don’t work in the states. You work in Europe usually. One of my favorite DJs here, Loco Dice. He’s from New York City, but he works in Europe. He’s probably my favorite current American DJ.

Loco Dice

LR: So what does “minimal techno” really mean?

CW: Minimal techno and house. Most people are pretty familiar with how techno and house sounds, right? So you take the techo elements and just strip them way down, to like the rawest elements. And then you add in like an interesting sound here or interesting sound there, but it’s not like, super over done with the production. So it’s just like super stripped down to the beat, right? Like for dance music, the beat’s the main thing, right? And then, any element you put right on top of the beat, you really think long and hard about. How is this gonna sound? Is it too much? As little as you can put on top of the beat and still make it interesting to listen to. That’s basically how I would describe it.

LR: Aha! So my previous description still works: “it’s percussion heavy, without any heavy percussion.” — hehe. And you do everything with your computer — when you perform your show live. Are there any prerecorded elements. Are you playing along with prerecorded elements or is it all prerecorded.

CW: For a DJ set I am just mixing prerecorded songs. I’m not doing a live set of original material – that would be a whole other thing. It’s interesting to me that you picked up that my original stuff is very percussive because I’m trained as a drummer since I was 8.

LR: Aha! No coincidence. 🙂

How long would you say this “minimal techno” stuff has been around?

CW: Since the late 90s. Since about 1999. It really kind of peaked in Europe in 2010-2012

Here’s “Its” from Cain Macwitish:

LR: How ’bout a few more examples of this genre so I can link to them 🙂

CW: Yes it’s interesting how many producers might do a minimal techno track or two, even if it isn’t their main thing. Gui Perano. Pretty much everything that Kompact used to put out is minimal techo. Their big artists are Voight and Voight. They have some really good tracks. Rex the Dog.

LR: You said it has been three years since you performed because you were in a motorcycle accident?

Is this like a “lucky to be alive” kind of thing?

CW: Yes very “lucky to be alive.” I spent a month in the hospital after the accident. I was in a coma for two weeks. The whole right side of my body got trashed pretty much. My lungs were collapsed. They had to reconstruct my face. Just minor things… (Laughs.)

LR: (Laughs.) Just a few scratches.

CW: For me, it’s been about two years of physical therapy. To get back to as good as I’m going to be. So, it wasn’t till the beginning of this year that I really started to feel like I could go out and be a regular person again.

LR: Ok well let’s check out some stuff from your bandcamp page here’s a cover of ACDC’s Back in Black.

(Listen to Cain’s Ibiza set)

Mrs. Santa Claus is coming to town

by Destinyland

The problem isn’t “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” Holiday traditions age slowly — and poorly — and we find ourselves waking up to a whimsically wintry wonder world as we try to apply our new modern sensibilities to Christmas itself. The TV show Glee once famously bypassed all the tricky gender politics by simply having the song sung by two adorable men.



But here’s the bad news for feminists. For decades Christmas has been depicted as a male-centric holiday dominated by a man-giver and his man-elfs. (Even the reindeer all seem to be male.) And if you dig a little bit deeper, it just gets worse. In Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, the classic Christmas special, Burl Ives even tells youngsters how Donner the reindeer’s wife — Mrs. Donner — was forbidden from helping find Rudolph because “this is man’s work.” (Leaving Mrs. Donner in tears…)

“Are women bad at looking for things?” asks the Women’s Media Center (a group co-founded by Jane Fonda, Gloria Steinem, and Robin Morgan.) In a critique titled “Rudolph, the Sexist Reindeer,” they cite other complaints about the children’s special’s frequent bullying (and also it’s “sheer creepiness”), before noting that ultimately the special “is pretty clear that the boys join in the reindeer games while the girls stay off in the corner…swooning? Admiring?

“Life isn’t all that different for the female elves either.”

But now, the hopeful note. Throughout our history there’ve been inspiring attempts to fix the holiday’s one-sided gender balance. For example, back in 1953 Nat King Cole recorded a delightful tribute to the Christmas-y role played by Mrs. Santa Claus, who helps the couple eke out their North Pole subsistence by personally feeding hay to all of Santa’s flying reindeer. And apparently she’s also in charge of important Christmas-related responsibilities, including sleigh-packing, gift-wrapping, and a crucial advisory role for Santa’s whole toy-delivering operation.

Mrs. Santa Claus briefly turns up in the 1964 film Santa Claus Conquers the Martians — albeit for roughly 32 seconds. (The entire miserable film was once heckled by the robot hand puppets on Mystery Science Theatre 3000.)

But an important message was thus delivered to the next generation of film-makers. Yes, Virginia, there is a Mrs. Santa Claus. Back in 2013, Saturday Night Live delivered a brash skit in which Mrs. Santa Claus complains about the travails of a marriage where “your husband is unemployed for 364 days a year, and he’s a thousand years old,” calling Christmas Eve the day “when Santa finally gets his lazy ass out of the house.” And a later SNL skit even shows what happens when Mrs. Santa Claus gets sexually harassed by pervy elves.

Here’s my point. 2018 saw a growing push for more women in media and government, and a greater representation throughout society in general. So why isn’t there a movement to give a larger role to Mrs. Santa Claus? Why do we spend each Christmas focusing on an aging white guy who can see you when you’re sleeping?

Let me just put it this way. I know a lot of parents who’d feel much more comfortable if their children were sitting on Mrs. Santa Claus’s lap….

And to the end, one film was way ahead of its time.

In 1996, Broadway legend Jerry Herman was 65 years old. But 12 years after his hit La Cage Aux Folles, he took one more crack at skewering our society’s gender roles, writing the entire score for an original TV production titled Mrs. Santa Claus. Given a lavish Christmas production from Hallmark Home Entertainment, the film starred Angela Lansbury — the first person to sing “We Need a Little Christmas” (in Herman’s 1966 hit Broadway musical Mame.) Mrs. Santa Claus describes herself as “invincible,” singing that “the moment has come to beat my own drum because, I want the world to know there’s a Mrs. Santa Claus!”

It’s not to be confused with the 2018 horror film “Mrs. Claus”, in which she’s a serial killer rampaging through a snow-capped suburbs.

Instead, this film glows with a gentle holiday glow of feminine pride, as Lansbury croons that “I’m coming your way, keep an eye on my sleigh…” The critics called the film “endearing” and “sure to be an instant classic” — before it vanished into obscurity for the next 20 years. The DVD “has long been out of print,” warns Wikipedia — but the film has suddenly come back to life in the cloud, and Amazon Prime customers can now watch it free. (Or you can snag a used copy of the DVD for $4.13.)

So this Christmas all those male-centric grinches better watch out.

Because Mrs. Santa Claus is coming to town.

A Conversation with Tha Spyryt – A Raw Thought DJ Performing January 11 at the DNA Lounge

By Lisa Rein

Tha Spyryt is a member of Aaron Swartz Day’s Raw Thought Crew that performed for the first time together on November 9, 2018.

If “Raw Thought” sounds familiar, it should. It was the name of Aaron’s prolific blog – and one of the main goals of these events – besides providing a great place to meet people and dance – is to continue to spread Aaron’s knowledge and ideas to a larger audience.

Tha Spyryt will be performing at 11:30 pm, at the next RAW THOUGHT at the DNA Lounge (A Dance Night with a Psychedelic Chill Room) on January 11, 2019 at the DNA Lounge – 10pm – 2am. Also performing: Mochipet, Ozlo Glowing and Cain MacWitish.

Tha Spyryt has just released “Noble Noise”

Check out Tha Spyryt’s set from the premier “Raw Thought” opening night party, November 9, 2018.

We spoke to Tha Spyryt briefly, in between flights…

LR: So how long have you been creating music?

Tha Spyryt: Creating music? Music is more of a translation or interpretation of creation.

Four years off and on learning production seriously, my friend Moda Graphik taught me Ableton in 15 minutes which got me into it, however stopped for awhile and now refocused on it as a means to harness all mediums of art I work on, or “create” / translate. Before that spent many years in the underground, club, and festival scene performing live visuals with major headliners, participating in tour life, or creating new media content and being immersed in music production/event culture.

I have always been surrounded by music growing up since kindergarten in school, or private lessons, and made some beats on Fruity Loops or GarageBand (PC) (Mac) around high school but nothing really of interest.

From Tha Spyryt’s “My head” music video.

 

 

Watch the music video for: Tha Spyryt’s My head

LR: Are you from San Francisco? How long have you been here?

TS: Tha Spyryt is from San Francisco, or rather outer space. It is a city that welcomes fresh sounds. Bay Area born, and raised, though it has been about 10 years in SF, or a touching transit connect away.

LR: What’s your favorite new piece of equipment?

TS: My friends :). Making noise with people seems to be one of the best parts about performing or playing instruments music what have you. Lately I have been learning to understand that we are all the best machines we will ever need.

Technology is just an extension, but implementing our strengths can be a place that new possibilities arise. + Along with new friends is new studios, new instruments, and new spaces to travel to. Experience, vision, & inspiration: equipment that is intangible yet crucial to the construction of any piece. Bliss random answers always serve hot meals, though a miracle is often the luck of decisive reaction.

LR: Describe your music with words…

TS: Hazey, Muddy, and Weird. #notnormal

Our definitions of genre only seem to be a current understanding of what is possible and not its true potential. To describe what you are creating would be to write history. We are our own makers; only the reflections resonate the halls of heroes. With the music the intention is to bring some type of healing vibes and heavy bass where one can dance furiously into the oblivion of the moment.

LR: You’ve been in the studio recently, right? Is your new stuff taking on any new sounds you weren’t expecting?

TS: Insanely profound. Revelations FOR SURE. Going further than I understand and learning on the go. Scaring the experienced and welcoming the new babes. Every moment we set out on our next task it seems to become the best work ever because it is the one that has always been there; our constant learning… and remembering who we are.

Tha Spyryt spinning at the DNA Lounge.

Check out Tha Spyryt’s set from our premier show at the DNA Lounge on November 9, 2018.

Come to our next “Raw Thought” – a Dance Night with a Psychedelic Chill Room, on Friday night January 11, 2019, from 10pm-2am at the DNA Lounge in San Francisco. DJs include: Mochipet, Tha Spyryt, Ozlo Glowing and Cain MacWitish.

TICKETS

(From Left to Right) Madison, Tha Spyryt, Projekt Seahorse. Taken at the Sixth Annual Aaron Swartz Day Evening Event at the Internet Archive, November 10, 2018.

Tripulations 1968 – 1969: Excerpt from Timothy Leary’s Trip Thru Time

by R.U. Sirius

Tripulations 1968 – 1969

A Brief Return to Berkeley During “The Revolution”

Tim’s first impulse, upon being released from the Millbrook hive, was to take Rosemary and Susan (Jack had already left a year earlier, joining the great migration to the streets of the Haight Ashbury) back to his old stomping ground of Berkeley, California where he still owned the family home. By now, Berkeley was a buzzing center of the international counterculture. But Tim was not attuned to Berkeley’s late ‘60s culture of protests, riots and apocalyptic revolutionary rhetoric so his stay in Berkeley would be brief.   

The Brotherhood of Eternal Love

At the invitation of a group called The Brotherhood of Eternal Love, the small Leary family unit made its way south, to the sunny climes of Orange County, just outside of LA.  

In 1966, a notorious working class gang of tough marijuana dealers from Orange County invaded and ripped off a Hollywood party over a pot deal gone bad. Among the items they grabbed was a bunch of LSD.  They didn’t even know what it was — except that it was obviously a drug.  One day, the gang leader, John Griggs tried it. “This is it!” he told his followers. “A religious experience.” He threw his gun into the ocean. In nearly an instant, the Street Sweepers gang became a religious psychedelic commune. And the skills they’d learned smuggling marijuana from Mexico… well, that still fit the profile. They added acid and hashish to their sales repertoire and became such a successful underground operation that they would eventually get dubbed “the hippie mafia.”

Timothy Leary’s Psychedelic Prayers from the Tao te Ching became a sort of holy book for the Brothers and Leary a guru.  Being at loose ends anyway, the Leary family unit was happy to head to Laguna Beach and be glorified and feted by their high-flying friends.   

The Brothers were the ultimate ecstatic warriors of the psychedelic revolution.  They were following the logic (such as it was) of  ‘60s psychedelia — this was the idea or vibe that the more people consumed psychedelic substances, the closer we would get to an advanced enlightened society… even if there was some freaking out, fucking up and weirdness along the way.  What do you think? 

The legend of the Brotherhood and the Laguna Beach scene is the subject of numerous books and articles, the best one being Orange Sunshine by Nicholas Schau.

High Priest & Politics of Ecstasy

1968 saw the release of Timothy Leary’s first semi-autobiographical book, High PriestThis book bravely, poignantly, poetically and hilariously tells the stories of fifteen psychedelic trips taken during the Harvard years (plus the nervous breakdown/breakthrough in Spain in 1959)— the trips that turned Timothy Leary into the legend of a mind. Many of the adventures I’ve already described are included. If you’re going to read one Leary book about the psychedelic experience — with the emphasis on actual experience and not on the insights inspired by them — this is the one for you.

Later, 1968 saw the release of a collection of Leary essays under the title, The Politics of Ecstasy. Much more a product of its time than High Priest, Politics of Ecstasy crackles with its effervescent, confident and whip smart explication of how psychedelic experience intersected with generational politics and a demented war mongering repressive sociopolitical structure to create the mad countercultural explosion that was, in fact, peaking heavily that very year.  Read more “Tripulations 1968 – 1969: Excerpt from Timothy Leary’s Trip Thru Time”

The Story of the Famous “Keith Case” That Curtailed President Nixon’s Warrantless Wiretapping: An Excerpt from Cyrus Farivar’s “Habeas Data”

The below is an excerpt from Cyrus Farivar’s new book, Habeas Data.

Richard Nixon was voted into office in November 1968 by just half a million votes, just months after both Senator Robert Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., were assassinated. When he entered the White House in January 1969, President Nixon was met by a nation that was bitterly divided and viscerally hurting. By that point, the Vietnam War had been raging for nearly four years, with no end in sight. America had been paying the price in both treasure and blood: nearly 30,000 American lives had been lost from 1967 to 1968.

Cyrus Farivar

The dawn of the Nixon administration marked one of the high-water marks of mass surveillance in America. Even before Nixon, intelligence services were carrying out domestic surveillance operations dating back to the mid-1950s as a way to monitor and mitigate potential influence of communism or communist sympathizers. The intelligence community actively disrupted various civil rights groups through the Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO). Other snooping efforts with more colorful names, like Project Shamrock, were designed to indiscriminately capture postal mail and telegram traffic. Others, like Project Minaret, intercepted the electronic communications of thousands of Americans—initially it was limited to antiwar activists, but by the time Nixon entered the White House, the list had grown to include senators, journalists, and even Muhammad Ali.

Those lists—and the programs themselves—would expand tremendously under Nixon. On April 30, 1970, Nixon announced the Cambodian Campaign, a military effort to strengthen the position of the South Vietnamese and capture Viet Cong matériel. The following day, students began striking in protest of this new policy to ramp up the Vietnam War. On May 4, four students were killed by members of the Ohio National Guard while protesting at Kent State University. Suddenly, Nixon’s interest in what the various surveillance programs of the intelligence agencies were—and how they could be expanded for his use—became all the more urgent.

Not three months later, in July 1970, Nixon signed off on the Huston Plan, which formalized and legalized covert mail opening and increased electronic surveillance, among other tactics. The president quickly rescinded his approval, but that didn’t stop the intelligence agencies from continuing what they had already been doing.

President Nixon’s Attorney General, John Mitchell, who just loved to illegally wiretap those dissidents ^_^

One surveillance case that preceded Nixon, but was ultimately championed by his attorney general, involved the wiretapping of dissidents. In September 1968, just over three months after the Omnibus act was signed, a small bomb went off in the CIA recruitment office at 450 Main Street in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Overnight, someone had placed a few sticks of dynamite nearby, which blew a sizeable hole in the sidewalk and damaged furniture, but did little else. No one was injured. Eventually, three men affiliated with the White Panthers leftist group were arrested and prosecuted for the crime.

As the case moved ahead in 1969 and 1970, prosecutors disclosed during a hearing that a phone conversation involving one of the defendants and a California-based Black Panther had been captured over a warrantless wiretap. As a trial date approached, defense attorneys pushed the government to disclose any electronic surveillance that was used against their clients. In an affidavit, Attorney General John Mitchell (one of Nixon’s most trusted colleagues) wrote that one of the suspects, Robert “Pun” Plamondon, was overheard on a wiretap that was “employed to gather intelligence information deemed necessary to protect the nation from attempts of domestic organizations to attack and subvert the existing structure of government.”

In other words, while under normal circumstances law enforcement would have to present a super-warrant application for a judge to sign off on the wiretap, the attorney general claimed a power, under the presumed mandate of national security, to be able to wiretap anyone unilaterally based on the power that stemmed from the Title III law. Put another way, under this logic, if Charles Katz had been perceived as a threat to national security, the FBI could have wiretapped the phone booth’s line directly rather than going through all the gymnastics of rigging up a microphone atop the phone booth.

The Ann Arbor case ran right into a buzz saw, which came in the form of then US District Judge Damon Keith. By the time he had been randomly assigned the case, Judge Keith had been a judge for only a few years. In fact, when he was tapped for a judgeship by President Lyndon Johnson, he was just one of a handful of federal African-American judges nationwide. In January 1971, Judge Keith came out strongly against the government and Mitchell’s entire legal theory.

“The Fourth Amendment protects a defendant from the evil of the uninvited ear.” – US District Judge Damon Keith

“An idea which seems to permeate much of the Government’s argument is that a dissident domestic organization is akin to an unfriendly foreign power that must be dealt with in the same fashion,” Judge Keith wrote in his decision. “There is a great danger in an argument of this nature, for it strikes at the very constitutional privileges and immunities that are inherent in United States citizenship.”

Reminding everyone of the language of the Katz decision, the judge recalled that “the Fourth Amendment protects a defendant from the evil of the uninvited ear.”

The Department of Justice appealed the case to the 6th US Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld Judge Keith’s ruling. The appeals court famously found, in what came to be known as the Keith case (rather than its official and cumbersome name: United States v. United States District Court), that there was not “one written phrase” in the Constitution or statutes to support the Justice Department’s view. The government appealed up to the Supreme Court, which again, denied the government’s efforts.

“The price of lawful public dissent must not be a dread of subjection to an unchecked surveillance power,” Justice Lewis Powell wrote in the unanimous 8–0 opinion. One would think that would have closed the book on such wiretapping. But as we’ll see, the government continued to find innovative ways to circumvent the courts.

Learn more about Judge Damon Keith’s life story in a new, award winning documentary – Walk With Me: The Trials of Damon J. Keith, Directed and Produced by Jesse Nesser.

(Photo taken in 1965, Courtesy of WSU Press.) From Left: Michigan Supreme Court Justice Otis M. Smith, Damon J. Keith (who was a lawyer in private practice at the time of this photo, and did not become a District Court Judge until 1967), Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Michigan Secretary of State Richard Austin.

DJ Spooky Looks Deeper Into the Films of Cinema Pioneer Oscar Micheaux

DJ Spooky will be speaking and performing at the Aaron Swartz Day International Hackathon Evening Event, November 10, 2018, at the Internet Archive in San Francisco. TICKETS

The Sixth Annual Aaron Swartz Day and International Hackathon is going on all over the world, November 10-11, 2018.

DJ Spooky at SF MOMA, July 12, 2018.

 

 

In this weird Trump Dystopian Bizarre Feverish Lunatic Dream of White Supremacy that we’re kind of trying to deprogram out of, these kinds of films, and these kinds of gatherings, are where people from different perspectives, races, classes, come together and think: “How does cinema change our vision of things?”

 

Don’t forget, most people in the Trump administration were involved with film. Whether it be Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin or the Mootch guy (Anthony Scaramucci).

 

Steve Bannon was also a producer, and of course Trump comes out of reality TV. So, we can easily see how they try to apply cinematic narrative to this nightmarish shitstorm of an administration. And you can see we can use film to deprogram and decolonize people’s perspective.”

 

– DJ Spooky, during his introduction for “Body and Soul,” at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, July 12, 2018.

By Lisa Rein

I went to see Body and Soul at MOMA last July, as I was excited about DJ Spooky’s new score for this silent 1925 Paul Robeson movie directed by Oscar Micheaux. It is said to be Robeson’s first film.

Watching it was quite an experience. I have never had such a riveting time watching a silent film before. Not only was the acting was incredible, but DJ Spooky’s soundtrack was moving and suspenseful.

Even though “Body and Soul” was released in 1925, the subject matter is as timely as ever. 

Here’s a video clip.

 

This film is just one of many on the The Pioneers of African-American Cinema DVD box set. These landmarks of early African-American film have been remastered in HD from archive elements and digitally restored, and are available as a box set or for streaming on Netflix.

Here’s a complete listing of the films included in the collection

 

DJ Spooky spoke to the audience a bit before the MOMA showing. Below is a complete transcription.

 

Begin Transcription:

“Thanks to MOMA for putting together such a wonderful and hyper eclectic group of films.

It’s a roster that really goes all over the spectrum of African-American cinema, showing the last century as it sort of evolves into the 21st.

First, a little background. After reconstruction in the south, there was a tremendous amount of effort, systematically, to disenfranchise African-Americans. So, one of the more intriguing situations that ended up happening is that there was a huge migration. As a matter of fact, I’m working on another project, with Henry Louis Gates, of Harvard, based on this idea of the genetics of Reconstruction. I’m scoring that this summer, it’s called “Reconstruction.” It will be out soon. Read more “DJ Spooky Looks Deeper Into the Films of Cinema Pioneer Oscar Micheaux”

Changes, Postmodernism, Counterculture, Ego

Wilder Gonzales Agreda & R.U. Sirius

In 2015, Wilder Gonzales Agreda interviewed me for http://peruavantgarde.blogspot.com. I’m fond enough of the results to present some of the musings here with some updated annotations. Annotations in caps and blue

Why do you think people in general (not elite) tend to avoid changes even if they finally are going to benefit everyone? Why is to so hard to change mentalities? They seem to get frightened always.

Our minds are SEEM TO BE geared, evolutionarily, towards the recognition of patterns and its predictive mechanisms are most naturally geared towards the immediate near situation…  hunting food, avoiding things that might harm you immediately, maybe some gathering, getting shelter and so forth. It’s kind of amazing that we even got to consciously planned agriculture. Now we’re in societies and cultures of astounding complexity, but many of us are still geared towards our immediate comforts and securities. The simplest – or simple-mindedest way to attain those things is to go along with what everyone else is doing and find your place within it. You get a kind of security of the hive, the pack, the tribe. That security is challenged situationally from time to time but the pack basically likes to shoot the messenger. In apocalyptic situations, this tendency may only get worse.

Academics use to say that in current postmodernism people lose faith on ideals, and they live just for the moment, the ego and pleasure. How do you see this situation regarding counterculture ideals and utopias? Or you see we are living a new era?

I’ve never really thought about postmodernism in terms of faith, but I’m sure it would point to and also provoke a lack of it. And I don’t know that postmodernism is particularly a critique of hedonism or spontaneity IF THAT’S WHAT YOU’RE IMPLYING

Academic postmodernism, which has become TO A GENERALIST APPEARS mostly indistinguishable from poststructuralism, culture theory, critical theory, what have you… really, seems to be a dense thicket of illuminating perceptions, fecund horseshit and lots of tangled up nonsense. This is because academics have to produce a lot of words, and because academic postmodernism came out of the demise of the radical left of the 1960s and it’s splintering into oppressed identity formations. Academic pomo — from it’s roots in questioning the highly defined enlightenment paradigm of Western capitalism and it’s Leninist cousin — seems to have constructed some kind of a linguistic/memetic umbrella under which these various strains of obsession with gender, race and colonialism could still be interrelated. Unfortunately, these relations are constructed DESCRIBED through a peculiar elite specialized language that’s only accessible to other members of the academic tribe. Students get infected by it but usually drop it once they start dealing with the actuality of the world and their not-politically-correct sexual desires. IT SEEMS NOW TO BE CONTINUOUSLY UBIQUITOUS IN CERTAIN CIRCLES, ALBEIT IN A SIMPLE FORM OF TOTALISMS AND CERTAINTIES, SOME OF THEM MORE OR LESS ON TARGET. PROBABLY A REACTION TO THE REACTION AND SOMETHING TO DO WITH SOME KIND OF STASIS (ECONOMIC?) PEOPLE ARE EXPERIENCING POST-COLLEGE THAT KEEPS THEM IN THE SAME CONTEXT

If I could pick out two fundamental ideas from postmodernism that have meaning and appeal for me:

One: it would be the idea that the singular romanticized consistent western classical liberal individual is a limiting construct and not an actual thing. There are no “stand up guys.” Humans are a fluid changeable process and there are multiplicities of selves, particularly amongst people not enslaved by lives of full time labor –- who generally are the only ones that are privileged to have a self or a multiplicity of selves in the first place.

Two: The other appealing aspect of PoMo is the idea that truth is radically contingent. UNFORTUNATELY PICKED UP BY VARIOUS RIGHT WING THINKERS AS A WAY TO SEW CONFUSION IN DOMAINS WHERE FACTS — EVEN APPROXIMATE FACTS — MATTER TO MUCH TO TREAT AS CONTINGENT. That would not necessarily be hard physical truth (if I threatened an academic pomo with a baseball bat, he or she would recognize it’s absoluteness) but philosophical truth, political truth and even scientific truth (the latter is too long an explantion for this discussion). And with the possible exception of scientific proofs, this seems to be palpably (contingently) true. That is sort of the way things are, whether we like it or not. Read more “Changes, Postmodernism, Counterculture, Ego”

On The Road To Chaos In East Berlin (published MONDO 2000 1991)

by Morgan Russell

 

In honor of former MONDO editor and co-publisher Morgan Russell’s ashes finding their way back from Austria to his home state of Wisconsin, we present this marvelous unfinished piece he sent us about a Chaos Computer Club gathering in what was once East Berlin. The piece ended suddenly when Morgan didn’t send us the ending, but the fun is more in getting to the conference and getting in the conference than in the conference itself… or at least that’s what one would imagine.

 

“Chaos. It’s more than just a name. It’s our way of doing business!”

Germany’s Chaos Computer Club is known in the US primarily for its incursions into U.S. military and NASA computers (see Clifford Stoll’s The Cuckoo’s Egg). Then there was the well-publicized information-for-money deal with the KGB that got busted. The latter was perpetrated by persons who, while not official club members, are at least within the Chaos Computer Club’s ambit. Little more is known about the Chaos group outside Germany.

Chaos members who might enlighten the rest of the world as to the nature of their organization seem to be nonexportable. One of their better-known members, Steffen Wernery, was arrested on charges of computer vandalism on his arrival in Paris where he had a speaking engagement. He was imprisoned for months. Other well-known members are understandably loathe to leave Germany.

Contact between the Chaos Computer Club and the East Berlin Computer Club was established at the CCC’s Christmastime ’89 Kongress in Hamburg. When I received calls from Hamburg and Amsterdam alerting me that the next CCC Kongress was imminent and to be held in the “East Zone,” as the West German computer security journal Daterschutz-Berate quaintly termed it, I immediately left for Europe.

Arriving in Amsterdam, I learned that I was a full month early. I suspect my informant was a bit hazy on the exact dates simply because he wanted an Amerikan around to talk to. No matter. I purposefully occupied my time doing preliminary fieldwork in Amsterdam, checking out its hacker underground, squatters’ movement, pirate radio and TV, and the newly identified Anti- Media Movement

 

“Destroy Media!”

Battle-cry of the Anti-Media Movement

I got my first glimmer of the Anti-Media Movement talking to a member of a group known as ADILKNO (The Foundation for the Advancement of Illegal Knowledge). ADILKNO publishes manifestoes in a hyperintellectual art and media journal, Mediamatic. A magazine for the well-read polyglot, its matter is well-nigh impenetrable without a thorough knowledge of Baudrillard, Virilio, Bataille, and Eco, for starters. Its motto is, “We watch media like others watch TV.”

ADILKNO first proposed its attack on media in a Squatters’ Movement document: “By isolating the media, we will reach many more people! Within the movement, many feel we must give our opinions to the press.

The time in which we can reach our goals through public opinion has long been over!”

ADILKNO believes a “massive defection to reality” is occurring now that everything seems to be covered by the media. “The increasing need to make history in a hobby or tourist atmosphere, away from work, is consciously placing the media in the shadow of the event. For the moment, people have no more time for the media. . . Beyond the media traps, people clear the way tor themselves to do the right thing elsewhere. In Western museum cities, an avant-garde has formed the anti-media movement, which puts an end to all connections under the slogan, ‘Let’s pull down another media!’ With disappearing acts, it creates temporary and local media-free spaces. . . It is a pre-eminently secret movement because it carefully keeps itself out of the press and makes its existence known only through jamming and sabotage. All events that don’t appear in the media are claimed as a victory by the movement. . . The survival strategy of the media is to remain more interesting than reality.” Like that.

In the newly published Movement Teachings:Squatting Beyond the Media (as yet available only in Dutch), Geert Lovink and Arjen Mulder describe the “outer-medial experience” as “making history on the streets through ‘immediate’ (i.e. ‘media-free’) contact.”

The Anti-Media Movement is contentless. It can only be discerned, in Lovink and Mulder’s formulation, as “curious cuts in the data stream.” It is a question of “how we should read the gaps. Is it an accident or the Anti-Media Movement?” One needs “an eye for it.”

Hoping to catch traces of the meaningful gaps of the “AMM” at the CCC Kongress, I mobilize Special Forces: DFM Radio-Televisie.

Read more “On The Road To Chaos In East Berlin (published MONDO 2000 1991)”