‘Bookfairs’ Category Archives


How not to burn bridges

by aragorn in Bookfairs, LBC

At some point I became exhausted with the process of making new friends. This is perhaps telling sign of aging but I no longer feel like the honeymoon period of a relationship is the most important one anymore. It used to be that the first three hours, three weeks, three months of a new person, getting to know them, to love them, to obsess about them was the ultimate social experience. This corresponded nicely with the fact that I ended up making a new set of friends every three months, seemingly whether I wanted to or not.


The first sign of change was not, surprisingly, that it became more difficult for me to find new friends. Even after my decline from the cute plateau (age 16-24) I was still able to find new people. All of a sudden though I was no longer capable of being completely interested in all the things that people do. I blame radical politics for this, especially radical theory. I was so obsessed by my own self-education and the truth that I was finding the deeper I went down the rabbit hole theory that people who did not share my particular obsessions stopped being particularly interesting to me. You cannot balance a hunger for newness along with an obsession for depth.

I spend the next five years learning and relearning this lesson. Then I planted my feet and went deeper and deeper and deeper.

I recently had a recent post-cute plateau person, who I’ve known for at least five years, remind me that when I first met them I told them that they basically don’t exist for me until they’ve been around for years. Basically they asked me if they existed to me now, full well knowing that they had existed for some time. Although probably not the way that they wish that they had.

Lesson one: pick a piece of ground and stay there. It more or less goes without saying that if you come to the long haul in 10 years on a Tuesday evening I will be there also. Obviously I understand why people don’t like long haul, don’t like the ASG, or don’t like crowds but I’ve made a choice. Until something traumatic happens (which is obviously possible) I will be at this singular place having conversations about the things that I love with strangers and other people who at that point I will have known for two decades.

Lesson two: find some good people. Obviously I hate good people so here what I’m getting at is that I have spent way too much time having stupid conversations about bands, movies, and other people. Finding people who are interesting, compelling, interested is a serious fucking challenge. Don’t take it lightly. Don’t worry about the fact that it will not happen easily or quickly. Don’t take it too hard that you may not be as interesting as they are. That happens over time and will never happen if you surround yourself with the mundane.

Lesson three: find a mentor. Mentors are not elder wizards who are going to teach you alchemical wisd from a huge volume of recipes. One mentor might teach you to love better. Another by the martial art or an approach to martial arts. Another might just have a great attitude towards life. These people are your future comrades in arms. They are going to show you how to connect to others with the same interests as yourself. They are going to show you the extent of their abilities and vision which damn well better inform your own.

Lesson four: have patience.

This is a very busy time for us. In three weeks we will begin our annual eight days of anarchy celebration. This is our chance to spend a series of days and evenings together conspiring, gossiping, and decompressing. I have more to say but it is closer to the events but it goes without saying that I will be happy to see everyone come and happy to see everyone go.

The last few months have been filled with what I’m calling the 10 week death march. Eight projects in 10 weeks. We are just about done with all of the projects so I will list them.

  • Stirner’s critics
  • defacing the currency – new writings by Bob Black
  • between predicates, war: theses on contemporary struggle by the Institute for Experimental Freedom
  • anvil number four
  • The 2013 LBC catalog
  • Anarchism and violence – Severino Di Giovanni in Argentina
  • Feral Revolution
  • let’s destroy work. let’s destroy the economy

Fuck. The volume of content just in this list is enough for a year of reading and engagement. I’m going back to sleep.


and then a few months pass

by aragorn in Bookfairs, LBC

I would like to be updating this blog at least once a month (but preferably 2-4 times) but I haven’t for the past few. This is largely because I am about to announce the largest project I (by which I mean we since there are several other stakeholders) have ever undertaken and I would prefer to wrap up the announcement with a bow than be partial about it. I’ve already dropped a few hints so I’d rather stop doing that until we are ready.

I have been doing some other things that are probably “blog worthy” but up till now I’ve attempted to use my blog as a place for short essay type writing than what I guess is more “bloggy” kind of writing. I think quantity probably matters so I will do more bloggy shit even though it hurts my brain.

I do a monthly review of anarchist (mostly) print media

Here is October.

Here is November.

I did a few presentations over the past month while in Columbus OH and Chapel Hill NC. The topics were Illegalism & Social Media. I will be sharing writeups on both topics in the next year. There will be a new publication of my last few years of my presentations and follow ups to an old set of pamphlets called Attentat. Expect it around June.

My presentation in Columbus was particularly notable because it included like an hour discussion that was what I would call “high level.” It wasn’t stupid questions about a better world or silly hypotheticals but real discussion about the situation on the ground in town and how the presentation could relate to that. Afterwards it was pointed out to me that much of the room was in graduate school. I was sad.

Chapel Hill was a fast paced two day whirlwind. We arrived early for the bookfair and went to “the” eco-coop-natural fibers-bullshit store which gives anything on the West Coast a run for its money. The bookfair smelled like stale beer but was otherwise a fantastic time with a lot of good conversation, demonstrations of activism-without-the-word, and good energy. Even my frenemies couldn’t spoil the mood. I am really excited to go back to the area and check out Firestorm because those people were alarmingly nice and engaged.

grafitti from outside book fair

I spent some time in Michigan where I may end up spending a lot more time in the next few years. I love the spring and fall time there. I basically hate the summer and winter. I did get to meet some real life @ in Grand Rapids (just about the last town one would ever believe @ would live in) while I was there. That was awesome.

fucking trees

Now I am back in the Bay. Occupy Oakland (which I will write about substantially another time) is starting to fade as the holidays come and police war against tents heats up. I was away for the day of the General Strike but here is my favorite image from the day…

from Applied Nonexistence


On the seventh day of anarchy…

by aragorn in Bookfairs

The bulk of the socializing, selling, talking, and this-and-that is over. All that is left is a dinner and the last Anarchist Study Group. Before we finish up I’ll share with you some of my impressions of the past 7+ days and give some shout outs to people & projects I am happy about.

Obviously for me the two big projects for this week were the brand new issue of The Anvil (here is the editorial) and our brand new book Enemies of Society. We gave out over 500 copies of The Anvil over the course of Saturday alone (!!!) + sold enough copies of Enemies that I am not freaking out today. Whew…

Here are other notes from the 8 days of anarchy

  • Mental illness is serious business. We see shattered people all around us and I think it is evident that each and every one of them could be part of an amazing, vibrant, quilt-like world. Instead we live in a ticking terrifying landscape where we anticipate explosion and pain.
  • Attempting to have a conversation with 30+ people is ridiculous… and I love trying.
  • Bob is better when he drinks less
  • This movie wasn’t incredible but good for an introduction to the SI
  • This movie is now officially among my three most favorite SF movies ever (including Robocop and Starship Troopers)
  • Voyer didn’t stop writing… and his shit is very powerful
  • Techs deal with cognitive dissonance by filtering out any input they refuse to process
  • Station 40 is a monster
  • Logistics are a pain in the ass
  • Americans know how to shop
  • I really really really look forward to carrying manyCharles H Kerr and Black Swan
  • Occupied London are really nice and, while less showy than our other Greek friends, give good presentation
  • Drunk entitled POC’s are just about the worst people to have in a workshop
  • PNW participants in the anti-police activity are the best trolls EVAR!
  • My house is way to small for 50 plus people… which means there should have been 80!
  • Lorraine is a good one. Shocking but true!

If you live in the Southwest I will be near you soon.

Tucson AZ: April 14th & 15th

Phoenix AZ: April 16th – 18th

Austin TX: April 19th – 22nd

Houston TX: April 22nd – 24th

St Louis MO: April 25th – 26th

Milwaukee WI: April 27th

I hope to see you there!


Sewer rats & cockroaches – NYC at its best

by aragorn in Bookfairs

NYC is a lovable shithole that drives people crazy.

I just did a whirlwind tour of the town, from the best of it (the food!) to the worst (the wingnuts), all in the context of the NYC @ book fair. This year went by so fast that its hard to believe that I am already back with a day of work under my belt before another trip.

Here are some highlights…

  • NYC Bookfair: Probably the most intense bookfair with a very packed room and a very sophisticated audience. While our “west coast” vibe isn’t that popular over here it seems to finally be making some cracks in the autonomous-academic-leftoid axis.
  • Reverend Billy: I hear that one of the organizers of the NYC book fair invited this fool to the event but they were misguided. Anarchists don’t give a fuck about his “life after shopping” church and to the extent to which there is a postmodern tongue-in-cheek statement to be made about the book fair itself it is definitely lost in the one man megaphone show that is Reverend Billy. Chaos ensued and a drenched and battery-less RB left the event dejected and ejected.
  • APOC gone wild: I don’t know the context outside of seeing it happen a million times before but I saw this… philly APOC bullying the fuck out of some clueless white kid ending their articulate chest thumping (and jacket throwing) conversation with spittle in the poor kids face. Then they turned on anyone who would look at them cross-eyed… This shit is officially ridiculous
  • Non-violent children: The Greeks gave a presentation on much of the theoretical orientation of the Assemblies and the Greek Insurrection. They did it in front of a non-violent activist whose child more or less controlled the entire event. Quote from her “I can’t control him, but you are welcome to.” Pacifism for the WIN!
  • Autonomedia: I made my journey to the warehouse on Monday and like usual it was a pleasant and enjoyable time. I was there with people from all over the globe and was reminded of how much I want a space like this of my very own.
  • Curly’s: I am a simple person. I ate the vegan Cubano + mango shake twice. I am very lucky that I get to do such things.

Report back from 8 days of Anarchy

by aragorn in Bookfairs

The Good

The BASTARD Conference

Yes, the Greeks were inspiring and what I hoped for. Yes, the comedy was funny (Crudo was particularly good) & bizarre (I’ll upload a picture of McQuinn as robot later). Even my workshop went pretty well (I was really surprised how many people got up that early (10 am Daylight Savings) to see me), but I was right next to the entrance. I have a bothersome habit that I’d like to cure myself of. I over-prepare with too little time, don’t finish, and as a result have about the first 1/3 of what I’d like to do totally nailed. The rest I end up having to wing.

BASTARD can be a little surreal. We hold it at UCB for lack of a better (large & free) space but often times it means sharing space with the ISP (insane student posse). This year they were marching, waving colored flags, and singing the national anthem in an area where the reception was chillier than they are probably used to. I am still cursing the lack of total occupation on March 4th.

the minor 8 Days events

The big events during 8 days are always the ones that stick out in our memory but it is the smaller events; showing a film, the reading of the BASTARD surveys (which were particularly dull this year… since everyone said the same thing) that really make me glad that I live in the Bay Area. I am not alone. I might convince myself that I am from time to time, but I am not.

Spending time with the Greeks

We got to discuss exactly how different the social mores and attitudes are in Greece. I imagine many @ from the (identity) left would be uncomfortable there. I am not sure I have the energy myself for what seems like an intense place but the difference is exhilarating and I look forward to visiting one day.

A house full of guests

The house I live in is not designed for guests. We rarely have them and aren’t willing to make many accommodations for them. Over the weekend we had about 20 different people sleeping on our floors and couches. It was awesome. Even better were the hang out sessions and off-time with all these people. I like shooting the shit. I will not lie.

The political line of the PCWC

At the top of the pile of these off sessions was a breakdown of the Phoenix Class War Council political positions. That shit blew my mind.

Over the past decade they have been in a (hot but not humid) revolutionary laboratory distilling the good bits out of every tendency of the modern anarchist milieu into a extract that can only be called good old American eclecticism. Not wingnuts (although perhaps a little) the PCWC is totally passionate about the connections they have made between the different strands and their project of revolutionary change. In their words…

PHOENIX CLASS WAR COUNCIL is a fanatical, revolutionary anarchist group pressing the attack against capitalism, the state and all systems of hierarchy and oppression. We fight for a self-determined, projectual life for ourselves and all humanity. We oppose those who hinder working class self-organization. We are libertarian and libertine. We support movements but we don’t wait for them. We are in the thick of it.

The crazy thing for me is that they actually took a social situation, with a room of near-stranger anarchists, to make their case for what boils down to a program for anarchist revolution. I haven’t had someone try to actually win me over in years and I barely knew what to say. It didn’t help that they had knocked back a few before they came over but I really feel like I got the full monty on the PCWC and it was a blast. I’m not exactly applying for a membership card but I applaud their passion, the disparate sources that they draw their position from, and mostly… their passion.

The Bad:

Broken Windows

As many of you may have heard the vehicle that the Greeks were using for their tour was broken into. Fucking drag, mostly because they were told by their collective that bringing the projector to the States was a bad idea and they were feeling really bad about having it stolen. The response to this has been great though.

Tech incompetence & lack of planning

I dropped the ball in regards to recording all the presenters. I just didn’t leave enough time to test the new recorders I got for the event. Luckily the Greeks recording from BASTARD can be found on Indybay.

The Loot:

Every year I get far more literature than I have time to review. They are slowly piling up in my library to share (although no one every sticks around for long enough to really dig into it). This year I will share the list and take advice on which of these things you’d like to see me review first.

  • The Theory of Bloom (also found on Zine Library)
  • winding down of the clockwork lips (can be found on The Anarchist Library)
  • The Coming Community. (3) by Agamben
  • Blocs and Tactical Evolution
  • The Match #108
  • Rolling Thunder #8
  • the enemy of mankind speaks power
  • Din&#201. O’Odham. Anarchist. Reflections on the DOA Bloc
  • Kanellos: Athens riot dog
  • It’s easy to attack: A sharpening of the anarchist struggle in Barcelona
  • Rolling Thunder #9
  • Anarchist International Action Against Francoism From Genoa 1949 to The First of May Group
  • Anarchy: A Journal of Desire Armed #68/69
  • La Calle Desde el Tejado
  • We are an image from the future: The Greek Revolt of December 2008 (the first AK title I have purchased new in many years)
  • Used books: Pistoleros!, A Seasion in Hell by Rimbaud, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Carroll, Freakonomics by Levitt, Genius by Bloom

A short trip to Seattle

by aragorn in Bookfairs

I’ll try not to bore you with the retail realities of my recent trip up to the Seattle bookfair. Maybe I will dedicate a post later in the month on the oh-so-exciting topic of what ppl are interested in, commodity wise, but I will tell you that I just returned from the first annual Seattle anarchist bookfair. There are only a few months left in the year so if you want your city to have its very own Anarchist Retail Experience (ART ™) you better act fast. Do you hear me Chicago? Detroit? St. Louis? Florida?

Here are some impressions I had this weekend about the people of Seattle and the kind of anarchism that appears to be happening up there.

  1. The most exciting things happening in Seattle aren’t happening in Seattle. It is probably similar to the SF experience in that it is so fucking expensive to live in the city that it is hard to get something exciting going on there but there wasn’t much that popped out to me
  2. Identity still rules the airwaves – The workshops that had the most excited attendance were the ones around queer and poc identity
  3. Fashion – lots of leg warmers and layers for the rain. Not so many messenger bags but lots of overloaded backpacks (of the student not traveler variety). Lots of wool and REI-style gear (I was treated to several descriptions of which outrageously expensive gear company was the best).
  4. There were quite a few very young ppl at the event who appeared to drag their parents. They had lots of youthful, colorful tchotckas that made me feel like they would get caught on any branch around. Lucky for them there was nothing but concrete around.
  5. The space was nice (and I’m sure affordable) but too small for workshops plus tablers. I still believe strongly in the one day bookfair only (Montreal does this right!)
  6. Many of the traditional tablers seemed very unhappy and unfriendly
  7. Certain discussions are really exciting to a lot of people right now and they aren’t in the anarchist mainstream (state/capital/religion). What to do!

Enough with the bullets. I really hope some closer ties are built between the Bay and Seattle as there appear to be a lot of similar thinking happening in the short conversations I had between people. I am really bummed that I missed the Tacoma event last month as I think I would have had a better (intellectual) time at that event. Naturally I wasn’t invited to participate in any of the panels or workshops over the weekend. But at least they didn’t have a “future of radical print” without us this time around…

Other highlights

  1. Blue Moon Cafe – excellent Vietnamese food recommended by the kate from riseup
  2. long car drives are made much better if ppl actually talk
  3. I have been cured of junk food by watching ppl eat it instead of food
  4. solo tabling continues to be a drag
  5. Mighty O’s
  6. No one looks at our bright orange banner before asking who we are
  7. The rushed wheeling-and-dealing is more fun that I should let on

Till next year