One of the basic situationist practices is the dérive [literally: “drifting”], a technique of rapid passage through varied ambiances. Dérives involve playful-constructive behavior and awareness of psychogeographical effects, and are thus quite different from the classic notions of journey or stroll.
In a dérive one or more persons during a certain period drop their relations, their work and leisure activities, and all their other usual motives for movement and action, and let themselves be drawn by the attractions of the terrain and the encounters they find there. Chance is a less important factor in this activity than one might think: from a dérive point of view cities have psychogeographical contours, with constant currents, fixed points and vortexes that strongly discourage entry into or exit from certain zones.
But the dérive includes both this letting-go and its necessary contradiction: the domination of psychogeographical variations by the knowledge and calculation of their possibilities. In this latter regard, ecological science — despite the narrow social space to which it limits itself — provides psychogeography with abundant data.
Giacomo Moro was minding his own business in the elevator, hanging fliers for an LGBT rights organization. Out of the blue, an unnamed man insulted Moro, calling him “human feces,” before threatening to take his life. Moro, a student at the University of Milan, decided to use the incident as impetus to create the first accredited gay studies courseat an Italian university. “This person’s hatred was born of ignorance. This class is something of a response,” said Moro. The 23-year-old biology major transformed the hate and anger directed toward him into a chance to educate his peers.
Although pegged as a “gay studies” course, gay men will not be the only subject of the class. The school’s LGBT rights organization, Gay Statale, released the syllabus. Don’t worry - the L’s, B’s and T’s of LGBT won’t be forgotten. For many students, this might their first time learning about queer theory so basics such as gender identity, politics and the media will be discussed.
The first day of the course saw a room filled to the brim with interested students. Fabio Galantucci, another student who helped launch the course, said, “People are responding very positively to the [class], to get the chance to see the world in a way different than presented by the media.”
Although these college students are on top of the times, Italy has a love/hate relationship with the LGBT community. Nationally, gender identity is not a protected class under employment non-discrimination laws. Marriage equality is nonexistent. However, the country seems to be moving in a steadily more progressive direction as the Roman Catholic Church loses its iron grip on Italian politics.
As it currently stands, the Gay Studies class is a one-time deal only. Fortunately, there is always the possibility that it will be offered again next year if there is enough interest. With 200 open-minded people showing up the first day, that is more than a distant possibility.
JD Samson's MEN: Shooting from the Hips, and Shaking Them Too
Dancing and thinking may be mutually exclusive to some. Not to JD Samson. The queer activist and musician’s sadly departed dance-punk trio Le Tigre proved that a bumping, humping good time might be married to politics and thoughtful provocation.
Since 2006, when Le Tigre went on a seemingly open-ended hiatus, Samson’s been a DJ, performance artist, actress (she cameo-ed in Shortbus), and calendar creator (her road trip catalogue, “JD’s Lesbian Utopia,” is a collector’s item). But MEN carried the Le Tigre torch: It’s Samson’s most musically club-friendly project to date, and one that wears politics resolutely on its lyrical and visual sleeves.
MEN’s debut album, Talk About Body, out February 1, is one shimmering, bass-thumping slice of synthpop after another, with incisive lyrics tht even take on the challenges of family planning for queers (“Credit Card Babie$”). None is more brain-burrowing than the recent single, “Off Our Backs,” about flipping the script in the bedroom and the board room. Its bears-and-chicks tug-of-war video, with Samson in a tank top throwing down for all she’s worth, is sexy, smart, subversive, and hilarious fun.
“Like most others, I was a seeker, a mover, a malcontent, and at times a stupid hell-raiser. I was never idle long enough to do much thinking, but I felt somehow that some of us were making real progress, that we had taken an honest road, and that the best of us would inevitably make it over the top. At the same time, I shared a dark suspicion that the life we were leading was a lost cause, that we were all actors, kidding ourselves along on a senseless odyssey. It was the tension between these two poles – a restless idealism on one hand and a sense of impending doom on the other – that kept me going.”—Hunter S. Thompson, The Rum Diary. (via ataboothinthisdive)
“Similarly, only the powerful decide whose values and beliefs will be deemed worth adopting by the group, which historical events are worth commemorating, which future is worth imagining. Cultures, and especially national cultures, resonate with the voices of the powerful, and are filled with the silences of the powerless. Both words and their silences contribute to shaping one’s own and others’ culture. […] Ultimately, taking culture seriously means questioning the very base of one’s own intellectual inquiry, and accepting the fact that knowledge itself is colored by the social and historical context in which it is acquired and disseminated. In this respect, language study is an eminently cultural activity.”—Language and Culture, Claire Kramsch, Oxford University Press, 1998 (via mysoultokeep)
(Andy’s note: This may well be the first in a series of guest pieces on the topic of sexism and misogyny within punk and hardcore. Whether this is the start of a series or not, I think this piece stands very well on it’s own. Now read on.)
(photo by Chris Grivet)
I’ll start off by saying that I’m a white cis-female in her late 20’s who identifies as queer, feminist, radical and punk. I’m speaking from my experiences being a part of a largely DIY poppunk scene for the majority of my life and in a touring band for over six years. A large part of the time, I feel welcomed, supported and accepted within the “punk” circles that I’m a part of. However, nothing makes me more angry then hearing someone, men specifically, say that the scene isn’t sexist, “because we’re all punks and obviously that’s not cool.” I am far from the only woman-identified person in the room who would like to call bullshit on that statement. While yes, most of my friends and the spaces I go to do not tolerate obviously sexist, homophobic, racist, able-ist, etc. speech, saying those concepts do not exist in our community is just flat out wrong. What offends me is not always just the action itself, but the excuse that if you wear the “punk” label that you’re absolved of having done anything wrong because you “didn’t mean it that way.” I can’t think of a rationale so unproductive.
When talking about the particular aesthetic of her films, Campbell understands the effect her perspective can have. “My films challenge minority communities out of their comfort zone,” she says. “Usually people get angry with me when they see my work or they cry. I always try to give visual pleasure through the use of colour and I steal from fashion, pop promos and old movies. I try to create a Black queer aesthetic which means I reject the white LGBT way of looking at Black LGBT culture in particular and Black culture in general. And that is a challenge because I am going against the grain in many ways.”
Her unique view of race and gender populates all of her work, and Stud Life is no different. The film’s logo — a stiletto high heel paired with high top sneaker — features the tag line “Who did you wake up with today? Your lover or your best friend?” Campbell explains her desire to illustrate the otherwise absent representation of lesbians and gay men as friends: “LGBT films tend to be mono-sexual … Boys with boys, girls with girls. It is not real life. Well, not my life anyway. I live and love in a mixed world of gender and race … Stud Life stars a dark-skinned stud and her white gay boyfriend who is comfortable with raw urban Black culture. These are two types of people one never sees in LGBT movies.”
Kansas Republicans Propose New Abortion Restrictions
My dear friend and feminist superhero Sarah is quoted in this article. She’s badass and is out there in the real world doing some of the most difficult work I can imagine.
Following a request from Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R), conservatives in the state’s House of Representatives introduced legislation Wednesday that would impose new restrictions on abortion.
The bill would require parental consent — in some cases, that of two parents — for teenagers seeking such a procedure. The proposal also includes language that would allow law enforcement to access state health records regarding abortions performed in the state.
As The Associated Press points out, legislation of this type has particular significance in Kansas, the state where abortion doctor George Tiller was murdered by an anti-abortion activist in 2009.
[Republican state Rep. Lance Kinzer] said the legislation was aimed at preventing another doctor from coming to Kansas to begin providing late-term abortions following the May 2009 killing of Wichita’s Dr. George Tiller. Kinzer also said the law would bring Kansas in line with the federal ban on a procedure opponents call partial-birth abortion.
According to the Kansas Reporter, Kinzer’s bill has been cosigned by a bipartisan group of 63 state lawmakers, in what they described as a measure to close “loopholes and lack of enforcement that allowed Kansas to become a late-term abortion destination spot.”
Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Sarah Gillooly, however, says the proposal is an unnecessary restriction on abortions, especially considering the state’s past with Tiller.
"I think it’s totally unfounded fear. What physician would want to provide that care in the state?" Gillooly told the Associated Press, referring to the climate in Kansas following Tiller’s slaying. "I think if the legislators were interested in reducing the number of abortions in the state of Kansas, they would stop mandating intrusion into the lives of Kansas families and start focusing on reducing the number of unintended pregnancies through affordable birth control and sex ed."
“When you watch television, the experience is that of never getting down to organic natural time. That is to say, you’re moving inside a perceptual universe which is hyperactivated—you’re watching an informational field that is very very speedy. This means that while your nervous system has to go…
A lot of hay has been made about how Jared Lee Loughner would have been already shipped off to Guantanamo if he were Muslim and the right wouldn’t be arguing as forcefully as possible that he was “insane” and therefore acted in complete isolation (all one billion Muslims are at fault when someone includes Islam in their ravings before an act of violence and it’s political correctness to deny it; no one else is responsible when someone includes rightwing dogma in their ravings before an act of violence and it’s political profiteering to point it out).
But we don’t even have to look at the big events to see that sort of discrepency. I can only find one mainstream publication covering this story, but imagine if it were a Christian church that found seemingly pro-gay graffiti on it (replace “Pakistan” with, say, “Serbia”). Something tells me it’d be plastered on the front page of every major paper:
Pollpeter said he contacted the Springfield police, as well as the FBI. He believes the messages constitute a hate crime.
He described graffiti left on the building at 2151 East Division St. as including: a phallic symbol near the door where women enter; phrases saying “gay insurrection,” “gay is ok” and a reference to Allah being gay; profane four-letter words; and the words “You bash us in Pakistan we bash you here;” a pentangle; and a Star of David.
Who knows if this person was queer or straight. There’s no way to tell unless they catch the person, but I wouldn’t put it past someone who’s queer to be incredibly misguided in their quest to end homophobia they’re on the receiving end of, nor would I put it past a Christian conservative acting on that article of faith that says that Christian homophobia is good for gays while Islamic homophobia is bad for gays.
And it really shouldn’t be all that important, since what the person was concerned with is making Muslim people in Missouri feel unwelcome and scared. And, of course, that will never be labeled an act of terror.
On a personal level I don’t take this sort of thing too seriously. Like, that is how culture as a whole evolves. Via appropriation and usurpation. Yes, I’m sure it is most assuredly imperialist and racist and patriarchal and all of those sociologisty things. Except not always, I don’t think. My thrill for studying Hebrew and by extension Jewishness—is that inherently wrong simply because I am not nor have I ever been Jewish? Is it any different from me studying, say, French and Frenchness? I mean, at what point does it break from genuine intense intellectual curiosity to appropriation? Like all the kids who become almost creepily obsessed with Japan, that’s an extreme example. Yet in order to study something closely you should probably participate in it to a certain extent, yes? When does it turn into something more insidious?
What I wrote today in between ecstatically studying up on the history of the Hebrew language and reading Alison Bechdel comics. I am actually rather concerned that I’m somehow doing something unsavory by being so interested in studying Hebrew and Jewish culture. I’m still coming to conclusions as to what my motivations are.
“The whole educational and professional training system is a very elaborate filter, which just weeds out people who are too independent, and who think for themselves, and who don’t know how to be submissive, and so on — because they’re dysfunctional to the institutions.”—Noam Chomsky (via mohandasgandhi)
“I love the late Japanese psychotherapist Shoma Morita’s advice to stop trying to fix yourself and start living instead: “Give up on yourself. Begin taking action now, while being neurotic or imperfect, or a procrastinator, or unhealthy, or lazy, or any other label by which you inaccurately describe yourself. Go ahead and be the best imperfect person you can be and get started on those things you want to accomplish before you die.” To some people this sounds depressing, but to me it’s the exact opposite: utterly freeing.”—Interview with Oliver Burkeman at the Happiness Project blog. (via careoftheself)