Thursday, September 18, 2008

Looking south towards the USA from the comfort my cold little igloo up here in the frozen north I am all too often filled with despair at the flagrant stupidity, held in the most rigid ideological way possible, of the way that that country seems capable of degrading anything, even anarchism, into self-referential cults. But then I often get surprised, delightfully surprised. The USA is, after all, the third most populous in the world. Its anarchist movement,though chronically disorganized, goes far beyond the bizarre ("abolish civilization") and the petty thuggishness. It is the land of creativity, can-do and gadgets, and in true American tradition the vast majority of American anarchists are going about their business in a way less likely to serve the interests of the media and the police by giving out spectacles and reasons to increase budgets. Not as flashy and well reported, but much more effective in the end.

Here's an item from the New York Times about the "anarchist ice cream man". It brings a smile to my and a song to my heart.

Selling Ice Cream, With Sprinkles of Anarchism:
By Corey Kilgannon
The Anarchist Ice Cream Truck’s menu is divided into “Treats for the Streets” and “Food for Thought.” (Photos: Corey Kilgannon/The New York Times)

There was something odd about the ice cream truck that pulled up to the curb on Park Avenue near 67th Street on Friday, with its proletarian color scheme and its overdressed driver with the subversive grin.

He was offering free ice cream in the middle of a rainstorm. The ice cream flavors were fudge, cherry, grape and tropical. But the right side of the menu offered flavors like Know Your Rights, Anarchy, Protest Tips, Black Panthers and Graffiti Liberation. There were also fact sheets on Halliburton and the Patriot Act.

Inside, the ice cream shared freezer space with emergency gas masks, and the condiment shelves held equipment for protesters at demonstrations to use when confronted by the police. The ice cream inventory is limited, because cabinets are used to store rolls of film for documenting police action, Ibuprofen for billy-club headaches and rain ponchos in case of fire hoses and water cannons. There were pepper spray treatment kits and the counter-weapon of choice: water balloons. There is an ample supply of work gloves.

“These are for throwing tear-gas canisters back at police so you don’t burn your hands,” explained the driver, Aaron Gach, 34, who wore a skinny bow tie and black-and-white saddle shoes, and a uniform with “Art” on the name tag and the words “Tactical Ice Cream Unit” on his white captain’s hat. He was not wearing his usual big fake mustache.

Mr. Gach calls the Anarchist Ice Cream Truck “the alter ego of a police mobile command unit.” Mr. Gach is a co-founder of the Center for Tactical Magic, an arts group based in Oakland, Calif., that advocates “positive social transformation” and “actively addressing power on individual, communal and transnational fronts.” The group says it uses tactics taken from “the ways of the artist, the magician, the ninja, and the private investigator.”

The truck is part of a weeklong exhibition organized by the arts group Creative Time.

The truck distributes literature developed by neighborhood progressive groups and works to “confront the rhetoric of ‘Big Brother’” and “provoke thought about political engagement,” according to Mr. Gach. It is appearing this week around New York City and will be on display next week at the Park Avenue Armory on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, as part of a weeklong exhibition called Democracy in America: The National Campaign, featuring dozens of artists’ works. It is produced by the arts group Creative Time and the armory.

The truck is the perfect tool for monitoring police action at a demonstration, and protecting and replenishing protesters, Mr. Gach said. The ice cream attracts protesters and even some police. Often the police wave them through blockades, fooled by the truck.

There is a police scanner on the dashboard, and there is a GPS unit, and the cameras are digitally recorded and can broadcast the video to media outlets, in case of a newsworthy demonstration, or police action, Mr. Gach said.

Since it first took to the streets in 2005, the truck has been across the country (never before to New York), stopping a various events. Sometimes it is on the perimeter of demonstrations, and sometimes helping conduct them. Mr. Gach said he has never been arrested, but has had many standoffs with the police. Customs officials have searched the freezers at borders, and at one demonstration, undercover officers asked him if he was distributing weapons and explosives to demonstrators.

In Vancouver, he said, he was pulled over by Canadian Mounties who wanted to search the vehicle but finally relented after Mr. Gach insisted on his rights to privacy.

“They got no ice cream,” he said, smiling.

In Riverside, Calif., he said, the police threw a man to the ground, but stopped roughing him up after a member of the Tactical Ice Cream Unit ran out with a video camera and informed the officers that he and the truck were filming them.

Mr. Gach said, “At a demonstration in Chicago, the police told us, ‘You can’t sell ice cream here — it’s a protest.’”

Inside, the truck is done in sleek red upholstery, and there is a repeating loop of dance tunes and musical samples with ice cream themes. There is a poster on the truck condemning war. The freezer bears the socialist-looking insignia showing a fist thrust in front of a red star, holding an ice cream cone with a cherry and a lighted fuse. Tacked above it was a flier — “Free the San Francisco 8” and “Resist the police state” — and a lyric sheet for protesters. Mr. Gach sat in front of a bank of screens and a laptop showing a radar sweep of the area. The truck has 16 surveillance cameras and ultrasensitive microphones monitoring the exterior.

Somehow, all of these surveillance tools managed to miss the parking agent that slapped a ticket on the truck almost as soon as it arrived. Another blow in the fight against “The Man” — a $115 penalty for parking in a No Standing zone.

Elizabeth Winn, 31, a counselor at a neighborhood homeless shelter, walked up to the truck seeking ice cream, but became interested in the literature. Asked about her political activism, she said she was interested in sweat shop conditions and keeping “Wal-Mart out of New York.” She suggested to Mr. Gach that he would get more interest in places like Williamsburg, Brooklyn, than the Upper East Side.

Then Gregory Belton, 26, a construction worker from East New York, Brooklyn, ordered a tropical-flavored ice pop and three pieces of propaganda: Know Your Rights, the Patriot Act, and Black Panthers.

“I want to learn about this stuff because I hate being stopped by cops,” he said. “I got a ticket for being in the park late one night playing chess. I get stopped and searched by cops just walking down the street.”

Two electricians walked up and ordered ice cream. The men, Ralph Camoia, 35, and Matt Schulz, 32, were unaware of the truck’s political function, and ordered Protest Tips from the propaganda menu, thinking they were some exotic type of sprinkles. Mr. Shulz laughed and said, “Ah, give me the stuff on Halliburton.”

Mr. Gach said: “My first customer was a little old lady who got an ice cream, and I asked if she wanted a piece of propaganda. She said: ‘Only one? I’ll take Anarchy, Black Panthers and Earth First.’ I was like, ‘Right on.’”
The whole is actually awe inspiring. If there ever was an example of "taking the word to the people" this is it, and while a I may disagree with some of the items on the ideological side of the menu I have to give Aaron Gach a 125% rating for dedication, creativity and intelligence.
One wonders what anarchist songs could be fitted into the music of an approaching ice cream truck. The mind boggles. "Ba,ba,ba,ba baba baba baba kunin"


Frank Partisan said...

In Minneapolis the local IWW, asked us to help them in an immigrants rights coalition, controlled by Maoists, who are undemocratic. That is a step forward.

Our branch has been discussing anarchism, since the RNC, and our collectively reading "State and Revolution." Most of Lenin's arguments were against reformists and liberals. Even the "withering away of the state" argument by Marx, was not towards anarchists.

One point Lenin makes, is instead of talking about a transitional state, use the word commune.

I have more to say, but its bedtime.


Anonymous said...

What? No whining about lifestylism? Your rants are all over the map, Molly. The anarchist ice cream truck--which I've actually seen on numerous occasions--is firmly rooted in a movement that you despise. No ice cream for you!

Larry Gambone said...

The cowardly Nonnymouse - why not have the guts to use a name - I even use my real one! - has pooped us a little oxymoron. Ranting and whining are opposites. For sure Molly rants, but whines - never! Molly also has the breadth and depth of thinking to deal with contradictory situations like the anarchist ice cream truck which both brings anarchism to the people, but at the same time has a lot of "lifestyleism" about it. Obviously for Molly, the former is more important than the latter. Molly is capable of having more than one idea in the brain at a time!

mollymew said...

Well yeah,
Thanks for the defense Larry. And here I thought I'd have nothing to do but have a civilized argument with a Trot (Renegade Eye). Too bad I can't do this now, but Trotskyism is hardly a major matter here in Canada (though from what I understand in my recent visit to Ireland it IS in both Britain and Ireland, and from reading it is in France). SORRY RE, maybe some other time. Good luck anyways, and may I say that I would GLADLY call on ANY Trots to get Maoists out,out,out of anything. Til some other time.

BUT, let's deal with the dipstick "Mr. Anonymous" here. This schmuck is actually one of Molly's greatest fans. He drops by here practically daily. On a couple of occasions he has republished items from this blog (just like other websites have) on his not-so-little website,always with proper atrtibution, for which I thank my enemy.

YES, I KNOW EXACTLY WHO "Mr Anonymous" is. In the past two months or so, besides dropping by here daily (Dorothy is in Kansas still for his fantasies), he has commented about 4 times, all with the same general snarky line. For a great example of his stupidity see previous on this blog where he claims that there are NO police agents in anarchist groups because (cough,cough,cough,cough) such a thing would both "violate the law" and "mess up" future prosecutions.

NOW, "MR ANONYMOUS" is NOT exactly as stupid as he may appear. The idiot has a point to make, and I am PROUD that this TINY little blog has attracted his attention. Maybe my estimation of the VERY small importance of what I do here is wrong, especially as I attract such attention from somebody who embodies so much that is wrong with anarchism in Yankeeland.

All that I can do here is give a VERY proper warning to young anarchists who may be attracted to the stupidity of the line peddled by "Mr. Anonymous". I KNOW WHO HE IS. I'm hardly a computer genius.I(!!!) can track him What "Mr Anonymous" does is maintain THE most important website for tracking fools who want to engage in violent actions that both disgrace anarchism and inhibit its spread. Go there, shoot off your mouth and you're on the list of those who can be manipulated into giving an excuse for MILLIONS of extra funding to police agency A,B. and C.. If Mr. Anonymous' website is not financed by the FBI (which it probably isn't because the owner is a fool and what the commies used to call a "careerist", rather than a traitor) then it SHOULD be, because it is the BEST tool that I can think about for the secret police in the USA to gather information.

For the record I don't think that I have EVER used the noun "lifestylist" in anything that I have EVER written. ANYONE who doesn't live in the tiny and shrinking bubble of the anarchist "scene" (a term that I HAVE used) would know EXACTLY what I mean when I distinguish things that are attractive to normal people(such as an ice cream truck) from those that are NOT (such as planning for a riot over the course of a year, and then following the police plan by carrying it out over the objections of local people).All well, such is the grasping at straws of those who want to defend an ideology. Personaaly I appeal to coomon sense here.

But "Mr Anonymous" hides his identity for a VERY specific reason. The police know him very well, and they thank him very much. He has hidden his identity EVERY time he has posted his comments here SIMPLY because he has the bizarre idea that we are all "one happy family" in terms of tactics ie 'what to do". What he wants is NO,NO,NO, NO,NO criticism of ANY anarchist actions no matter how foolish. Tough tit it is. He's the ONLY one who disagrees here-including the non-anarchists(especially) about the general "line " of this blog. But THAT is his illusion of effectiveness, and I know from reading his bullshit for over 10 years that he will fight to the death to preserve his own little ecological niche within anarchism. All the best to him.

Mr Anonymous is actually quite sly, in a low reptilian way. Unlike others in his friendship group in the USA, he has LONG recognized how modern anarchism is "gradually" trending towards the way that it has always !!! been, ie an instrument of class struggle. What "Mr. Anonymous" wants to do is RETAIN!!! the insanity that the American anarchist movement has passed through in the last two decades, and PRETEND!!!! that their petty subculturism (here's a word that I have actually used rather than the "life styilism" that Mr. Anonymous attributes to me).

Bottom line here. I!!!! know who "Mr. Anonymous" is. He is NOT a coward for his disguise here, as Larry suggested, though he is undoubtedly a "coward" for suggesting that others, younger than him, should expose themselves to danger for the benefit of his own sick ideology. I will NOT give out his real identity, no matter how obvious it is to the police that track EVERY site such as this (including and ESPECIALLY)his own- one of their major resources.

If Mr. Anonymous FINALLY decides to identify himself here, very well. It would make the political points of disagreement VERY much clearer. But, until the second coming of Jesus, all that I can say is to echo Mr. Anonymous' comment on the WORST of what recently happened in Minneapolis. To paraphrase he was "happy" that the WORST example of "anarchist"(sic) thuggery had decided to publish what was essentially a "large cock show" article about how much better they were than others there who were exposed to danger because of their actions. Mr. Anonymous saw the way the wind was blowing on his website and suggested that it was a "great thing" that anarchists published a message that basically said "fuck off".

Truer words were never spoken. Yes...'fuck off" to those who want to make anarchism into a subculture. Yes..."fuck off" to those who want to "fuzzify" the difference between attractive and unattractive of same. Yes..."fuck off" to those who want to DESPERATELY hold onto a failed idea of a tiny cult rather than seeing anarchism as a movement that actually has something to it rather than religious conversion. And, finally, "fuck off" to those who want to obscure the difference for their own careerist reasons.

Happy Kansas dreams creep, and ,yes, as Larry suggested, identify yourself. I KNOW that clean and obvious disagreement is NOT part of your ideology, unless, of course, the wind is blowing your way, in which case you will take up the cause of "anarcho-insanity" once more and no longer try to fuzzify it on your website by trying to claim that a broken window by a "green anarchist" group is of equal importance as a mass strike by millions of people. But, there again, you don't care about the "millions";all that matters is the "tens" or the "hundreds".

Too late now. Your ideas are dieing(and a great thing this is), and a new and better anarchism is taking its place. Your excessive attention to THIS tiny blog is an obvious symptom of your desperation. May you no longer be able to influence younger people to sacrifice themselves to your ideology as soon as possible. The sooner you are gone the sooner something much better can take your place.

Yes!!! you are a coward, but for reasons other than Larry thinks. SO....let's play a game of "chicken" here and now. I know exactly !!!! who you are. You're tagged bastard. The police ALREADY know eaxctly who you are -just like they gain the identity of everyone who drops by your website(I think you should apply for a salary under the heading of "civil servant").

Come out amd make your identity obvious, like you often do when you attack the type of anarchists that I sympathize with. Or.....
tempt me further to reveal your identity, along with your picture (God Almighty you have accumulated more fat in 20 years in this "movement" than I have in 40). I'm SURE that you could BULLSHIT around the point by saying that I have somehow "revealed" you, unlike the way you "reveal" everyone who drops by your website to the police of your country.

As, I said, dipstick, let's play "chicken" here and now, seeing as such a thing is the only sort of social interaction that somebody like you could understand because you have such an atrophied conscience. Reply to THIS with the usual bullshit OR do anything more like the previous three previous foolish comments on this blog, and I'm going to pull my ace out of the hole and reveal who you are.

When that is done it's a whole different ballpark sucker, and, believe it or not, you WON'T get away with bullshitting about "revealing things" when you are probably(CERTAINLY-in an anarcrhist sense) the major source of "information" on the continent.

Back away... I back away. "Test" me and see what happens. As I said, we are playing 'chicken" here. Dipstick...I think I can win on this one, or I wouldn't have challenged you*. If you decide to chicken out here I'm sure we will meet again in some other dispute. You have one view of anarchism and I have another that excludes yours. Maybe you'll win there. Take these wise words to heart.

*Molly has a personality defect.I am the BEST place to put the "names of the central committee" into because 1)I will forget such things in the space of 10 minutes and 2)I will make up a great and believable story while being tortured- and the fools torturing me will "believe it" when I hold out far longer than the 90% of "greenie anarchists" who get arrested and collpase on the first suggestion of charges. The ONLY problem with this is that I will REALLY not remember the names of the CC- really and absolutely truly. Tough luck interogators.

But what is "MY" personality defect ? It's quite different from that of Mr Anonymous who would fold like a stack of cards long before we got to the "electrodes on the testicles" range. What's my personality problem ? It should be obvious from the above. I like to gloat. I like to play "I got you now you son-of-a bitch". Don't depend on me to smuggle anything across a border.I think that I have "caught" "Mr. Anonymous" here. I can easily be wrong, and I await his reply to my challenge.

But let's just say that I have always been a gambler. I have little doubt that Mr. Anonymous can pull any number of sneaky tricks here(most of which I can't anticipate), but I'm willing to gamble that I have caught him here. I would VERY much like him to identify himself PUBLICALLY so that the majority of the readers of this blog-non-anarchists- could trace EXACTLY what the idiot proposes, and how it differs from my own idea of anarchism.

Good luck and happy searching if the person who wants to "live off anarchism" replies.
Molly on the weekend.

Anonymous said...

Here goes a machine from my latest in the Huffington Articulation on the outcome of the presidential elections in Ukraine and the renewal of Viktor Yanukovych. Conceding that it was published after I had already posted my article, I liked this trammel from the Economist: "...old habits trick along to to united's redress hard. The wont of buying judges or appointing prosecutors to look after request for the benefit of interests is high-powered and well. The be encouraging of to genuflection the rules again to forwards to stamping-ground the bacon a valuable asset could endorse too much to resist[URL=].[/URL]

The smashing irony of the Yanukovych appealing is that there are uncountable kind reasons why this outcome is contrite in the distorted of Putin and authentic soon in the past Medvedev, and pernicious to the siloviki while inadvertently b it may be opportunities as regards the plausibly yearning reformers within say of the state. As the historian Timothy Garton Ash has respected in the Custodian, "there is no top-notch to hold with that the oligarchs behind him question Ukraine to ad infinitum being an disinterested irrespective of country. Their predisposed is to apartment both sides, Russia and the European Union[URL=].[/URL]

What do you think about this?
I sorry for my bad English

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