when i last posted this monthly listing of events, it was the beginning of march, the ripples of the uprising in egypt were making themselves felt all the way to these shores, wisconsin was activated, and eric drooker was creating “general strike” artwork…
now here we are, more than 7 months later, with the fissures spreading through a crumbling structure, statements of solidarity with occupy wall street coming from cairo, and we are ACTUALLY gearing up for a general strike THIS WEDNESDAY, 2 NOVEMBER!! i can honestly say, that even with the events of this year, the spread of resistance, i didn’t really ever think i would experience a widespread american response to the oppression we are so good at pretending we don’t live under. i have so desperately wanted to see cracks shoot through the fragile transparent mess of corruption, scheming, impunity, and towers of wealth (and what makes that possible) that we continue to be on the beaten down end of as we also export the same jumble of wrong abroad again and again. it’s a relief to have people around me begin to acknowledge that it’s not just happening “over there” somewhere, that we too have a responsibility to rise up and demand accountability and our right to all that has been slowly sucked away from us. ever eloquent and practical, the folks at the free association in leeds take us one step past the simple excitement in saying: “a collapse of ideological faith in neoliberalism or even our narrative being proved right by history, just isn’t, on its own, enough to save us. … the task is to find the political forms that can take advantage of this ideological void by expressing the widespread discontent while at the same time overcoming the blockages to the circulation of struggle that come with our neoliberal inheritance.” i think it’s fair to say we’re working these out, city by city, each in our own “unfocused” and “unkempt” way.
since i’ve brought the word “neoliberalism” into play, i thought i’d quote a little more from the free association, from the piece Re:generation in their book published this year, moments of excess: movements, protest and everyday life. it’s an attempt to explain how we got here, and why we are suddenly taking notice. oh, and what to do about it, and since we’re IN one, a moment of excess, it’s very useful right now!
“How have we ended up in this position? In part it’s because neoliberalism has been extremely effective at decomposing society, particularly in the US and UK. One of its primary aims has been to change our common sense view of the world and remove the preconditions for collective action. Put slightly differently, neoliberal reforms of society are aimed at producing neoliberal subjectivities. Markets are imposed on on ever-wider areas of life, and participation in those markets trains people in a neoliberal world-view. …[W]hen you participate in a competitive market you are forced to act as a utility-maximising individual — you have to act in ruthless and heartless competition with others over scarce resources. The more we do this, the more we come to adopt this outlook as natural. This is what we mean by a neoliberal subjectivity, the possibilities that appear open to us are conditioned by these experiences. The difference now, however, is that those trained in this world-view are finding it increasingly hard to make sense of the world.
We can gain another angle on this by thinking about antagonism. You’d expect that the relentless transfer of social wealth into the hands of the very, very rich would provoke resistance from those whose wealth is being taken away. Neoliberalism deals with this problem by obscuring these antagonisms — partly by inculcating a world-view that can’t recognise them, but also through mechanisms that displace or defer them. Real wages in the West have stagnated or declined since the late 1970s. Yet access to cheap credit, coupled with rising property prices benefiting many, helped to maintain living standards in the present and so defer the consequences of neoliberalism. Antagonism over social resources was thus displaced into the future — a future that has now arrived.”
and what an opportunity in this “future” we have now, the future that has been “blown wide open,” with unprecedented coalition-building, the sharing of common stories in plazas and occupations everywhere, a general strike in oakland, to begin to stitch back a decomposed society, by working together against those forces of neoliberalism and capitalism that want to pit us against each other, and systematically manufacture ways for us to scramble for resources and work against our own interests. the show of defiance the oakland librarians demonstrated on tuesday, to not close the main library when asked to do so by the city of oakland because we would be gathering there; the unanimous endorsement by the oakland teachers union of wednesday’s strike; and the conversations of people wanting to plug in i hear in previously unpoliticized circles are examples which say to me: this is one of the moments we have been working and waiting for!
and of course, many of us have been not waiting, rather tirelessly working on our various talents whether creative or political or both, which challenge, or at least provide commentary on, the “way things are.” to find ways to participate or reflect every day, below is a listing of events that jump out at me for the month ahead.
see you in the streets!
i look forward to 2 november every year. this year it’s twice as electrifying, with oakland’s general strike and the mission district’s día de los muertos/day of the dead procession both planned for this day. before i dress in black/white/red and allow my inner skeleton to shine through for the evening, i will be heading over to occupy oakland in solidarity with the strike. (i will also be taking the day “off”). largely self-employed i find i have a complicated relationship to the idea of striking, and relate to the question rebecca solnit asks: “For those of us who work for ourselves at home, what is a general strike?” it definitely doesn’t have the implications for me that it does for folks who are obligated to be in their workplace. in envisioning what it will be like, i think back to the SF 1934 general strike which looms large as an influential piece of social relations here in the city. how will we make history this week? i plan to go to occupy oakland in the morning as it’s all beginning. meet ups at 9 AM, 12 NOON, 5 PM, 14th and broadway, oakland.
come wander the mission with all souls on wednesday, 2 november
the day of the dead acts as a day of renewal and it is my favorite gathering – joining with thousands of bay area folks at the dia de los muertos procession also on wednesday, 2 november in the mission to solemnly and ceremoniously and celebratorily walk together, drum together, and honor our paths and the paths of those who have gone before us. the altars created in garfield park are also extraordinary and worth spending some contemplative time at. 7 PM, 22nd and bryant st.
on thursday, 3 november i will be celebrating my friend mokai’s cd release for an album he’s been creating for and envisioning for a long time, “any distraction’ll do.” also my talented friend sean burns will also be performing, along with some others. it is in an intimate and inviting berkeley storefront space that i love and which is run by a couple dynamic women friends of mine, claire and nicole. should be a beautiful evening with great people. 7:30 PM, subterranean arthouse, 2179 bancroft way, berkeley, $10-$20 (or more if you wanna buy the cd too!).
i’ve been told by some cutting-edge and always in-the-know bay area dance and performance artists to not miss the robert steijn solo show on thursday, 3 november, “I am reborn a smoker / Allowing myself to get high in the clouds of imagination.” it is a performance in the form of a lecture/demonstration, where steijn, who works between amsterdam and vienna, mixes story telling, dancing, stand up comedy, and serious investigation to get obsessed with invisible energies and presences. i’m sorry to miss it… 8 PM, joe goode performance annex, 499 alabama at 17th, SF, $10-$20.
a fantastic artist and friend of mine you should become acquainted with soon, paz de la calzada (you may have seen her “hairscape” mural on market at street level of the strand theater), is presenting her work together with colombian artist claudia salamanca on thursday, 3 november as part of the mexican consulate’s current show, Numina Femenina, Latin Women in the Arts (through 13 december). 6:30 PM, consulate general of mexico, 532 folsom st. @ 2nd, FREE.
speaking of imagination, how about continuing to reimagine this urban landscape? the filmmaker who did helvetica, gary hustwit, has a new film out: urbanized, which is showing from friday, 4 november – thursday, 10 november. this piece is meant to approach the topic of the future of cities, but i think it will be just as much an exploration of how our present realities have been shaped through the not entirely powerless influences of architects, urban planners, builders, and policymakers. (there are also showings of helvetica and objectified on 9 and 10 november respectively…) 4 PM, 6 PM, 8 PM (also 2 PM on 5 & 6 nov.), yerba buena center for the arts screening room, $10.
looking to the shores of this urban peninsula, the rip curl pro tour at ocean beach begins this week, if pro surfing close to home rocks your world. scheduled for 4 – 11 november, it looks like it’s kicking off tuesday, 1 november already with surf and weather looking good. 8 AM, north end of ocean beach.
the first weekend of november is looking pretty full. at least the local credit unions are going to know what full feels like when people rush in droves to transfer their money out of commercial banks by saturday, 5 november. i highly recommend the sf fire credit union, but any other credit union, or local community bank will be good places to keep your money safe from bailouts and sketchy investment practices, not to mention horribly high fees.
a fun urban agriculture project, how to homestead, is hosting their tenth stop on the citywide “11 in 11 tour” on saturday, 5 november, crisscrossing each and every district of SF with how-to homestead movies and workshops at every stop, breathing life into the often overlooked and underutilized recreation centers in our neighborhoods. for this stop they will be in district 7, on the south slope of bernal hill, with an islais creek watershed walk, potluck, bbq, seed exchange, and live music. 11 AM – 3 PM, st. mary’s recreation center, 95 justin drive, SF, $5 suggested donation.
if you’re not finished with your day of alternatives, later on saturday, 5 november, critical resistance, an organization dedicated to abolishing the prison industrial complex, is putting on a fundraiser, envisioning abolition with angela davis, music from rupa and the april fishes, and many more, including tunes spun by the inspiringly named DJ, CLR Jamz! i hope you can support this organization which is taking a firm stand against the increasingly powerful and insidious industry. show at 8 PM, uptown body and fender, 401 26th street, oakland, $25-$75.
on sunday, 6 november, don’t forget we “fall back” an hour with our clocks, as daylight savings time ends…
you can go back in time with chris carlsson on sunday, 6 november on our shaping san francisco labor bicycle history tour. learn more about the 1934 general strike and various other ways workers have organized and asserted their rights over the course of the City’s development. it’s a four-hour tour revisiting the 8-hour day movement, and all the way back to the pre-urban history of indian slavery on this land. if you’ve been part of making strike history on the 2nd, this may be especially interesting to you to explore more deeply the stories that precede us. meet at 12 NOON, counterpulse, 1310 mission street at 9th, $15-$50.
for those of you with little ones, or maybe even for some of you older ones, you might be interested in checking out the bay area science discovery day at the giants ballpark on sunday, 6 november. think of it as a big science festival, in a baseball park! i find out about these things cuz we park bicycles at so many disparate events, and it’s a little worrying that chevron sponsors such things for impressionable and smart young folks… but science can be oh so useful, and fun. 11 AM – 4 PM, giants ballpark, FREE.
one of the many ways we can assert ourselves as citizens in this democratic society is to vote in elections. on tuesday, 8 november we in SF will be voting for our mayor and sheriff, and other city and county government positions. while i don’t think this should be the total sum of your efforts to exercise your democratic voice, and the jury’s still out on the ranked-choice voting we have recently adopted, i do encourage you to do this TOO. it IS also the 100th anniversary of women getting the right to vote, and i’m thinking a lot about what it means to be accepted as a political actor by society because i’m going to be talking about suffrage and the long struggle to get there on wednesday, 14 december as part of our shaping san francisco public talks series (save the date!), and i have never thought we should take this right for granted.
speaking of shaping san francisco public talks, on wednesday, 9 november, come out for an animated tour of san francisco before urbanization through the 3D computer rendering of old SF maps with glenn lym. ever wondered what those sand dunes must have looked like, towering over the landscape? this will be fun, especially if you like maps. 7:30 PM, counterpulse, 1310 mission street at 9th, FREE (donations appreciated).
if you’re looking to outfit your bicycle for the winter, or haven’t seen any good BMX bike stunts lately, or just haven’t been out to the cow palace in awhile, on saturday and sunday, 12 and 13 november the sf bike expo will be holding court at the southern reaches of SF. you can ride out there, or bike/bart, and park your two wheels with the bicycle coalition and yours truly (at least on saturday morning). it’s pretty entertaining, and there are some good deals to be had on bikes, components, and apparel before the rainy season begins. 10 AM – 5 PM, cow palace, 2600 geneva ave, $12 presale, $15 at the door (one day), $20 for a two-day pass. [one other thing of note for you bicyclists is the new raza bicycle collective i learned about at sunday streets last month. it's a new organization supporting latinos on bikes in SF with repairs and advice. get more information at firstname.lastname@example.org.]
though i’ll be otherwise engaged brainstorming how to make my breadmaking instruction endeavor mobile, on tuesday, 15 november you might want to get another dose of visuals analyzing how we use our urban environment, the social life of small urban spaces. this film is a study in NYC’s plazas, streets, and sidewalks and is presented as part of the studio’s “reclaim market street” exhibit and series of interventions (all in october, a few of which i also had the pleasure of helping plot and participating in). SPUR, 654 market st. at 3rd, 6 PM, FREE. [this one has sold out. but maybe you can find the film elsewhere...]
coming back around again on wednesday, 16 november, we at shaping san francisco bring you our public talks series. this particular wednesday will focus on the good, bad, & alternatives to mass education. a few fine, innovative, and critical local and international educator friends are presenting and moderating, and it will be a conversation for any aged person. 7:30 PM, counterpulse, 1310 mission street at 9th, FREE (donations appreciated).
thursday, 17 november there are two competing celebrations of local women that might be hard to choose from, since both are so worthy of support. first there’s the lyon-martin big bash celebrating phyllis lyon’s 87th birthday as well as the amazing fundraising campaign this inclusive clinic took on earlier this year as it faced closing its doors. it’s a bit pricey, but this clinic, begun specifically for lesbians 30 years ago, really needs your support to continue serving underserved women, queer, and trans folks. 6 PM, LGBT community center, 1800 market st., upwards of $87. the other event is also put on by a powerful grassroots organization. every year, flyaway productions (known for their breathtaking dance on the side of buildings, cranes, you name it) honors local urban activists who effect change through civic engagement, and through the arts in their 10 women campaign, this year entitled, “who is tending the city?” you should meet them! 7:30 PM, ODC Theater, 3153 17th street, $20 advance, $25 at the door.
if we’re on the subject of women, a captivating group of them will be performing in a 35-year retrospective celebration from wallflower order to dance brigade friday – sunday, 18 – 20 november. sword wielding, broom handling, tibetan book of the dead exploring, and taiko drumming are sure to be on hand. powerful, memorable, not to be missed! 8 PM (fri. and sat.) 2 PM (sun), novellus theater at yerba buena center for the arts, 700 howard at third st., FREE.
rolling through the streets again on saturday, 19 november, in the cycles of history bicycle tour on dissent chris carlsson will show you sites of everything from literary dissent to urban riots and protests. another four-hour tour to transform the way you see the City and the use of public space. meet at 12 NOON, counterpulse, 1310 mission street at 9th, $15-$50.
on saturday, 19 november, the luggage store gallery and my friend eliza barrios present a moving (by bicycle!) sound and projection project in conjunction with the 3 november – 3 december show “lost cities,” a psycho-geographical, mixed-media narrative that explores pre and post apocalyptic urban landscapes and architectural backdrops through imaginary characters named “the sub-colonials” who move, dance, and tread through these past, futurist, and surreal environments. with old and new TL imagery and sound, 5:30 PM – 6:30 PM, 6th and market, FREE.
how to homestead is finishing up their “11 in 11 tour” in the tenderloin, district 6, on saturday, 19 november, with a kids-only event (adults are allowed when accompanied by their child/ren) where they will make seed creatures, learn to screen print and sew with a hand crank sewing machine. TBD, tenderloin recreation center, 570 ellis street at hyde, $5 suggested donation.
another homesteading instruction locus, the institute of urban homesteading, a project of my friend ruby, is offering a class on how best to infuse vinegar, liqueur, and honey on sunday, 20 november. might be a fun way to impress the family around the holidaze!! 2 PM – 5 PM, north oakland, $40 – $65 plus some supplies, register online.
finally, at least for now, if we haven’t imagined the future enough, the shaping san francisco public talks series presents the history of the future, an opportunity to ponder utopias and dystopias, imagination and revolution, and the power of social movements and propaganda to shape different futures on wednesday, 30 november. with chris carlsson, starhawk, and megan prelinger. 7:30 PM, counterpulse, 1310 mission street at 9th, FREE (donations appreciated).
** i really want to get back to the kurt schwitters collage show BEFORE sunday, 27 november. i have only seen one or two of his pieces at a time on display, and getting to see so many side by side, AS WELL AS the merzbau is sooooo exciting, inspiring, awe-inducing. (can you tell collage is my main medium?) one might think schwitters has something to say to us in this time of creating new systems if you consider his words, “In the war, things were in terrible turmoil. What I had learned at the academy was of no use to me and the useful new ideas were still unready. . . . Everything had broken down and new things had to be made out of the fragments; and this is Merz.” come with me, let’s make a plan. 11 AM – 5 PM weds. – sun., berkeley art museum (BAM), $10.