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SANCTUARY by Brian Francis Slattery from WELCOME TO DYSTOPIA

Thursday, July 9th, 2020

SANCTUARY

Brian Francis Slattery

 

 

Dear Mari,

First: Jess, Efraín, Pete, Lucretia, Carlos, and Serena are all dead. I haven’t found Mya, Hugh, Will, Beth, Dolores, Tom, or Anabel yet, but I think they’re dead, too. I’m so sorry.

We were on stage when the first bomb went off. It was down the street and we were playing too loud to hear it. Efraín and Jess were playing so well, better than ever. You should have heard them. Efraín was breaking in a new kit. Jess had the same shitty guitar she’s always had, the one she’s made sound great. It was a big night, crowded from the stage to the back door. I remember someone screaming from the back. Then the second bomb went off, right outside.

There was a flash and the windows blew in, and the flames shot in right after them. The people near the windows were shredded and set on fire. The whole building shook and the ceiling above the bar collapsed. The power went out and the room filled with smoke. I grabbed Jess’s hand—I was standing next to her—and started to drag her toward the front door. You know it’s only five feet from the edge of the stage, but somehow in those five feet I lost her. I spilled out on the street with a pile of people. My bass was still strapped to me, but the neck had snapped. There was a scrap of bloody cloth hanging from the broken place. Maybe a dozen other people were on the street with me. We scrambled away from the heat and waited. No one else came out.

I read somewhere that there are people who don’t panic, and I guess I’m one of them. I watched Eight State burn. It scares me now what I felt then. I wish I could say I cried, or that all my sadness turned to rage. Instead I felt my blood pressure drop. The sound in the world got a little quieter. I looked down the street and saw a row of fires, bomb after bomb. I heard tires screeching and machine gun fire, and I knew—just knew—that there was nothing I could do for anyone at Eight State, and half my friends had been in there. But maybe if I got to Temple in time, I could save the other half.

You know on the news they said it was a paramilitary outfit. I say it was a bunch of assholes who decided to get a lot of guns, make a lot of bombs, buy up some Army surplus vehicles and make their own uniforms. The news said they came at our city because we said we were a sanctuary, because our mayor spoke out, because we marched. They said they did it in the name of law and order. But I didn’t see any order that night. I saw burning buildings, shat­tered glass, flames, and rising smoke. I heard people screaming and shooting, shooting that wouldn’t stop. I heard sirens everywhere. Police cruisers racing from block to block. An ambulance on its side, on fire, in an intersection. And body after body, ruined and run over, or smoldering, or just full of holes. The couple the police captured said they just attacked wherever the people were. It was a Friday night, so that meant clubs and restaurants, downtown streets. It meant us.

Everyone was on the street in front of Temple. They hadn’t hit the place yet. I found Jacob there. He still had his guitar. We stood there and wondered what we were supposed to do. Nowhere felt safe.

Then we all saw it, a tan Humvee barreling down the street toward us. It ran over a dozen people and looked like it would plow through the rest of us, except that another car, racing in from a side street, crashed into it and knocked it on its side. 

This is our city. You understand what it’s like. As soon as the Humvee stopped, we were all over it. We got two of the tires off. They’d locked the doors, so we broke the glass, dragged three of those motherfuckers out, and threw them in the street. They got shoved around a lot. One of them shouted at all of us: We’re the New Patriotic Army of the East and we are coming for you. 

[to be continued in the book]

“The poems collected in Women of Resistance: Poems for a New Feminism pack a serious punch. Which is fitting for a project designed to hit back against U.S. President Donald Trump and the blows his government has dealt to women….” —Herizons

Thursday, May 9th, 2019

“The poems collected in Women of Resistance: Poems for a New Feminism pack a serious punch. Which is fitting for
a project designed to hit back against U.S. President Donald Trump and the blows his government has dealt to women….Edited by Danielle Barnhart and Iris Mahan, the collection brings together 50 diverse feminist poets and activists in a fierce, exuberant, tender, gorgeous choir of voices.”

The full review will be online soon. Check out the magazine here.

“ I doubt there’s another journalist quite like her. Even the valiant Marie Colvin had a fixed address in London. Not only that, but Fernández’s prose is so incisive, pithy, powerful, and often funny, I feel like an interloper when trying to convey her words using my own.”—Counterpunch on BELÉN FERNÁNDEZ’s EXILE

Friday, April 26th, 2019

“I doubt there’s another journalist quite like her. Even the valiant Marie Colvin had a fixed address in London. Not only that, but Fernández’s prose is so incisive, pithy, powerful, and often funny, I feel like an interloper when trying to convey her words using my own. …This is the grandeur of Fernández’s book: the humanity of others and (not that she would say it) her own….. Belén Fernández travels and writes but she isn’t a travel writer…She finds the injustice and provides the context that explains it. Which means that, thanks to her ‘grotesque’ passport and what her sharp eye lights upon, although she escaped from her homeland she’s constantly lugging its baggage.”

Read the full review here.

“This is hardcore, down-dirty travel and travel writing. A personal  Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism. A new and powerful form of nonfiction, a primer.” —The Eurasia Review on BELÉN FERNÁNDEZ’ EXILE

Thursday, April 18th, 2019

“This is not a travel book for the faint-hearted, or even a guidebook for where to go, what to do. This is hardcore, down-dirty travel and travel writing. A personal Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism. A new and powerful form of nonfiction, a primer….Belén is one of a new breed of travel writers, documenting the crumbling of empire in all its savagery, and our struggle against it.”

Read the full article here.

“Now, the feisty New York-based imprint OR Books has released HOW TO READ DONALD DUCK in America.” —Ben Terrall reviews HOW TO READ DONALD DUCK in January Magazine

Monday, March 25th, 2019

Of Imperialists, Bigots and Cartoon Waterfowl

When How to Read Donald Duck: Imperialist Ideology in the Disney Comic was first published in Chile in 1971, the book’s authors, Ariel Dorfman and Armand Mattelart, were leftist academics committed to supporting Salvador Allende’s project of advancing democratic socialism in Chile. After Allende won a free and fair election to Chile’s presidency, the country’s military and other right-wing elements stepped up their assault on the new government with key backing from the Unites States. The Nixon administration exulted when Allende’s Popular Unity government was overthrown in a military coup on September 11, 1973.

While in hiding from the military, Dorfman watched on television as copies of How to Read Donald Duck were burned in bonfires along with hundreds of other allegedly subversive volumes. The Chilean Navy dumped the entire third printing into the ocean. The book had been a target of the Chilean right-wing since its release: Dorfman had been attacked by an anti-Semitic mob, and a deranged motorist shouted “Viva el Pato Donald!” while trying to run him down.

Unlike many of their comrades, Dorfman and Mattelart (a Belgian sociologist who had been living in Chile) made it out of General Augusto Pinochet’s Chile alive, and Dorfman eventually settled in the States, becoming an American citizen in 2004.

How to Read Donald Duck didn’t fare so well stateside, either. An entire consignment of 4,000 copies was seized by U.S. customs agents acting at the behest of lawyers for the Walt Disney Company. And no U.S. publisher would touch the book, given the Disney empire’s notoriously litigious ways. But away from the grip of Disney, the book sold more than a million copies worldwide and was translated into 17 languages.

Now, the feisty New York-based imprint OR Books has released How to Read Donald Duck in America. The book is a bit of a time capsule, written as it was when Third World leftist hopes were high for movements and governments that could throw off the yoke of U.S. cultural and political hegemony. In a 2008 interview, Arnold Mattelart explained that the book’s title refers to Marxist philosopher Louis Althusser’s Reading Capital(1965), and said that How to Read Donald Duck can be read as an extension of Roland Barthes’ Mythologies (1957).

Dorman and Mattelart examined 100 Disney comics featuring Donald and his fine-feathered family, from which they display panels throughout the book (Donald has nephews and an uncle, but no parents, which in the view of the authors enhances the sexlessness of the comics). Dorfman later commented, “We had intended to roast Disney and the Duck.”

Dorfman and Mattelart did a good job of following through on that intention. They argue that “The world of Disney is a nineteenth century orphanage … The mere fact of being older or richer or more beautiful in this world confers authority. The less fortunate regard their subjection as natural. They spend all day complaining about the slavemaster, but they would rather obey his craziest order than challenge him.” Women play the roles of “humble servant or constantly courted beauty queen; in either case, constantly subservient to the male.” The exceptions to those prescribed female roles are the occasional witches.

How to Read Donald Duck still has useful things to say about life in the United States. In 2017, Dorfman wrote:

Certainly, many of the values we impaled in that book – greed, ultra-competitiveness, the subjection of the darker races, a deep-seated suspicion of foreigners (Mexicans, Arabs, Asians), all enwreathed in a credo of unattainable happiness – animate Trump’s enthusiasts (and not merely them). But such targets are now the obvious ones. Perhaps more crucial today is the cardinal, still largely unexamined, all-American sin at the heart of those Disney comics: a belief in an essential American innocence, in the utter exceptionality, the ethical singularity and manifest destiny of the United States.

Read the full article here

“The US government deliberately made the desert deadly for migrants…” – NATASCHA UHLMANN, author of our forthcoming Blood in Our Name: The Case for Abolishing ICE, in The Guardian

Monday, January 14th, 2019

This month, Jakelin Caal Maquin, a seven-year-old Guatemalan girl, died less than 48 hours after being detained at a remote New Mexico border crossing. Felipe Gómez Alonzo, an eight-year old Guatemalan boy, spent his final days in custody before tragically passing on Christmas Eve. Both were brought to the United States by families seeking a better life for their children. In the United States, all they found was death.

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials have been quick to deflect the blame. “[Jakelin’s] family chose to cross illegally,” Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen asserted. In the case of Felipe, the DHS pointed to migrant shelters in Mexico as possible sources of disease. These desperate attempts do little to obscure the full weight of US culpability.

Read the full article here.

“Dispelling Myths About Iran, Trump’s Bogeyman.” – MEDEA BENJAMIN on the The Real News

Tuesday, December 18th, 2018

One of the key elements of the Trump administration’s foreign policy has been increasing aggression against Iran. Trump has cozied up with the Saudi regime, but at the same time, has repeatedly called for the overthrow of Iran’s government. Well, joining us to discuss this is a leading figure in the U.S. peace movement who has been helping to lead the fight to save the Iran Nuclear Deal. I’m speaking with Medea Benjamin, who is a co-founder of the women-led peace movement, Code Pink, and also the author of a book on Iran that expels many of the myths about the country, called Inside Iran: The Real History and Politics of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Read the full article here.

“He’s going to certainly cross swords with Washington, D.C. Now, whether he wants to hit the sword very hard, that’s another issue.” – VIJAY PRASHAD on Mexico’s new president at the The Real News

Thursday, December 13th, 2018

A bold transformation of Mexico’s economy is one of the many promises the newly inaugurated President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, known as AMLO, is promising his people. Some have deemed this the fourth transformation of Mexico. But that won’t be easy for the newly elected president. Joining me now to discuss the challenge is Vijay Prashad. He is the executive director of the Tricontinental Institute for Social Research. Vijay, good to have you back.

Read the full article here.

“George H.W. Bush Is Alive in His Many Victims Across the Globe, Including Me.” – ARIEL DORFMAN interviewed on Democracy Now

Monday, December 10th, 2018

George H.W. Bush was the only president in U.S. history to serve as CIA director, a role that would come to define his career and politics. He once described the intelligence agency as “part of my heartbeat.” Bush Sr. was at the helm of the CIA from January 1976 to January 1977. We speak with Ariel Dorfman, best-selling author, playwright, poet and activist, who teaches at Duke University. In 1973, he served as a cultural adviser to Chilean President Salvador Allende’s chief of staff. He says George H.W. Bush was “presiding over the CIA when Pinochet, the dictator of Chile, had concentration camps open. They were torturing people. They were executing people. They were persecuting people. And they were killing people overseas.” We also speak with Greg Grandin, prize-winning author and professor of Latin American history at New York University, and José Luis Morín, professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

Read the full article here.

GREG SHUPAK discusses THE WRONG STORY: PALESTINE, ISRAEL, AND THE MEDIA at Unauthorized Disclosure

Thursday, December 6th, 2018

Greg Shupak, author of “The Wrong Story: Palestine, Israel, and the Media,” joins the show to discuss his book that sharply critiques how establishment and left-of-center media cover the Israeli military occupation.

Listen to the full interview here.

“George HW Bush thought the world belonged to his family. How wrong he was.” – ARIEL DORFMAN in The Guardian

Monday, December 3rd, 2018

As the world says goodbye to George HW Bush, I am tempted to add my own personal memories to the mix, and illuminate perhaps his legacy by recounting the two intense nights that my wife and I spent in close proximity to the former president at the end of October 2001.

It was at the Park Hyatt hotel in Sydney, where I had been invited to deliver the Centennial Lecture celebrating the Federation of Australia. The day after our arrival, the hotel manager – a corpulent, affable man of Spanish extraction – asked us if we wouldn’t mind exchanging our suite, only for the next two days, he said, for another one, just as nice, he promised, elsewhere on the premises.

Read the full article here.

“Privatization is Theft” – Read an excerpt from A NEW HOPE FOR MEXICO in Jacobin

Monday, December 3rd, 2018

In terms of our collective wellbeing, the politics of pillage has been an unmitigated disaster. In economic and social affairs, we’ve been regressing instead of moving forward. But this is hardly surprising: the model itself is designed to favor a small minority of corrupt politicians and white-collar criminals. The model does not seek to meet the needs of the people, or to avoid violence and conflict; it seeks neither to govern openly nor honestly. It seeks to monopolize the bureaucratic apparatus and transfer public goods to private hands, making claims that this will somehow bring about prosperity.

Read the full article here.

“The wittiest response I’ve seen to Amazon’s plans to build one of its two new headquarters in Queens comes from OR Books.” – OR Books and A NEW HOPE FOR MEXICO in the Washington Post Book Club

Thursday, November 29th, 2018

The wittiest response I’ve seen to Amazon’s plans to build one of its two new headquarters in Queens comes from a small independent publisher named OR Books. A faux press release sent out earlier this week stated: “Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo today announced a $3 billion subsidy to persuade feisty independent OR Books to remain in New York.”

Read the full article here.

JOE LAURIA speaks to CHRIS HEDGES about the plight of Julian Assange on RT’s On Contact

Wednesday, November 28th, 2018

LIZA FEATHERSTONE on the birth of the focus group at Citations Needed

Monday, November 26th, 2018

Focus groups have long-been derided by the left, right, and center for watering down culture and reducing creative and political endeavors to dull, show-of-hand reductionism.

But what if focus groups – which first arose from socialist experiments in 1920s Vienna – are not inherently bad? What if they’ve simply been exploited by the capitalist class and could, potentially, have much to offer a left-wing, democratic vision of the world?.

Listen to the full interview here.

“Airbnb likes to say, ‘Come and live like a local.’ But if they’re driving out locals while they’re doing that, that is a problem.” – TOM SLEE interviewed in The Coast

Monday, November 26th, 2018

Airbnb likes to position its hosts as everyday people offering up their homes for a little cash when they take a vacation or leave on a work trip. But new data assembled for The Coast shows the exact opposite.

Over half of the Airbnb listings in the urban core seemingly belong to property owners with multiple listings. The exact figures, however, are difficult to pin down.

Read the full article here.

VIJAY PRASHAD on the return of the IMF to Latin America at the Real News

Monday, November 26th, 2018

Argentina’s legislature approved a drastic austerity budget for fiscal year 2019 on Thursday which will cut social spending by as much as 35 percent and increase debt service payments by 50 percent. The budget is expected to cause a further contraction of Argentina’s economy. The austerity budget is being implemented to a large extent. At the urging of the International Monetary Fund, the IMF, which has given Argentina alone a $56 billion dollars, one of its largest loans ever.

Read the full interview here.

“The clarity of this book nearly five decades on might stun you.” – HOW TO READ DONALD DUCK recommended by the editor of Reader

Monday, November 26th, 2018

Earlier this summer, OR Books rereleased one of the most influential books I have ever read: How to Read Donald Duck: Imperialist Ideology in the Disney Comic by Ariel Dorfman and Armand Matellart, which was originally published in Chile in 1971.

Read the full review here.

“Delivered with rigor and irreverence… A lot has changed since 1973. How to Read Donald Duck reminds us of what hasn’t.” – HOW TO READ DONALD DUCK reviewed in the Baffler

Wednesday, November 14th, 2018

IN THE EARLY 1970s, the United States engineered an economic crisis in Chile to destabilize Salvador Allende’s Popular Unity government. Allende had nationalized the copper industry and was steering the country toward socialism. Washington’s plan, in the words of President Nixon, was to “make the economy scream.” Loans from the Inter-American Development Bank stalled, spare parts for industrial machinery from U.S. companies did not arrive, and the CIA financed a huge strike of truck drivers. During this “invisible blockade,” some foreign commodities did continue to enter Chile: materiel for the golpistas in the army, of course, but also mass culture—TV shows, advertisements, and magazines, including the comic book adventures of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck.

Read the full review here.

“This compact volume offers an unusual perspective juxtaposing present-day Russian activities with the US operations in the Cold War era.” – CREATING CHAOS reviewed in the Journal of Peace Research

Monday, November 12th, 2018

The intensity of application of various clandestine and unsavory means – from propaganda to corruption to cyber-attacks – in the escalating confrontation between Russia and the West has reached such alarming levels that demand for systematic analysis of this phenomenon stimulates policy research. This compact volume offers an unusual perspective juxtaposing present-day Russian activities with the US operations in the Cold War era.

Read the full review here.

LIZA FEATHERSTONE on how focus groups are ruining politics on the Katie Halper Show

Monday, November 12th, 2018

Liza Featherstone talks to me and Gabe about focus groups and how they’re ruining politics. We discuss her latest book “Divining Desire: the Culture of Consultation,” her latest piece in The Baffler “Sorry to Bother You,” and the midterms.

Listen to the full interview here.

LIZA FEATHERSTONE on the culture of consultancy in the Baffler

Monday, November 12th, 2018

THE APARTMENT WAS in one of those large luxury apartment buildings, like dorms for young New Yorkers lucky enough to have the money to buy a real home but still lacking the inclination to do so. The property had several sprawling lounges, a weight room, and a doorman. A pets-inclusive happy hour was advertised in the elevator.

Read the full article here.

“More books like Strongmen are needed… Strongmen part two, please.” – STRONGMEN reviewed at Asian Affairs

Friday, November 9th, 2018

Until recently, progressives believed the retreat of liberal democracy after the end of the Cold War would be like water running uphill. ‘There is no coherent alternative to liberal democracy,’ wrote Francis Fukuyama, author of The End of History (1992).

But the Marxist historian Vijay Prashad, who edited Strongmen, a timely book about a handful of the world’s top-dog, so-called ‘strongmen’, counters with a verbal punch from Antonio Gramsci who said in his Prison Notebooks, ‘The crisis consists in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born. In this interregnum, a great deal of morbid symptoms appear.’.

Read the full review here.

“To be contributing to writing, contributing to language — I consider those to be political acts.” – KAREN FINLEY interviewed in The Villager

Friday, November 9th, 2018

At 62 years old, artistic provocateur Karen Finley has worn many outfits over her storied lifetime. Most recently she’s donned a red Make America Great Again baseball cap, as well as a frumpy, untailored blue suit, a billowy blue cotton dress with a headscarf, and a white power suit topped with a blond wig, variously impersonating Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump and Monica Lewinsky’s blue dress.

Read the full interview here.

MEDEA BENJAMIN on Donald Trump’s imposition of new sanctions on Iran at Loud & Clear

Thursday, November 8th, 2018

On today’s episode of Loud & Clear, Brian Becker and John Kiriakou are joined by economist and political analyst Shabbir Razvi; Medea Benjamin, co-founder of Code Pink, and the author of “Inside Iran: The Real History and Politics of the Islamic Republic of Iran;” and University of Tehran Professor Mohammad Marandi.

Listen to the full interview here.

“CBN is the most influential evangelical Christian organization in the world – without a doubt.” – TERRY HEATON discusses Trump and the Christian Broadcasting Network on Al Jazeera’s The Listening Post

Monday, November 5th, 2018

US President Donald Trump has repeatedly labelled much of mainstream American media “fake news” and the “enemy of the people”. But there are a few outlets that are in Trump’s good books.

It’s common knowledge that Fox News is a soft landing spot for the president, but what’s less well known is the wide-ranging access he, and many members of his administration, offer to the much smaller Christian Broadcasting Network, or CBN.

Watch the full program here.

“The record will show the game securely rigged in favor of the rich.” – Read an excerpt from MONEY AND CLASS IN AMERICA at Literary Hub

Monday, November 5th, 2018

At the higher elevations of informed American opinion in the spring of 2018 the voices of reason stand united in their fear and loathing of Donald J. Trump, real estate mogul, reality TV star, 45th president of the United States. Their viewing with alarm is bipartisan and heartfelt, but the dumbfounded question, “How can such things be?” is well behind the times. Trump is undoubtedly a menace, but he isn’t a surprise. His smug and self-satisfied face is the face of the way things are and have been in Washington and Wall Street for the last quarter of a century.

Read the full excerpt here.

“We have a history within our families, our country, about resistance, and we know what to do.” – read an interview with KAREN FINLEY in Paper

Thursday, November 1st, 2018

No one knows provocative quite like Karen Finley. The artist’s politically charged writing and performances have brought her both admiration and notoriety since the early 1980s. Her ninth and most recent book, Grabbing Pussy, is an outrage-driven, anger-filled, yet often satirical examination of the psychosexual obsessions of men in power. Bill Clinton, Anthony Weiner, Harvey Weinstein and, of course, President Donald Trump all get the Finley treatment.

Read the full interview here.

VIJAY PRASHAD on fascism in the age of digital reproduction in the Daily Hampshire Gazette

Thursday, November 1st, 2018

You blame Trump for everything. I admit: It is hard to disagree with you. He is a disagreeable person. There is the sexism and the predatory behavior. There is also the racism and the transphobia. Add to that his acidic rhetoric, the grisly way in which he dismisses all that he dislikes. But then again, there is more to Trump than meets the bile duct. He’s so ordinary these days. So unoriginal.

Read the full article here.

This Halloween, treat yourself to a ghoulish delight by the master of horror himself: ED WOOD

Wednesday, October 31st, 2018

read on if you dare

dracula revisited

 

DRACULA REVISITED

 

Time stood still! Fright kept the eyes behind drawn shades fastened over the windows. The wheels crunched into the ruts and the horses’ hooves beating rhythmically against the ground were never lost to the other sounds of the more powerful elements. Blackness and total despair took its toll of mind-bursting horrors.

Then the wild, terrifying ride into darkness was over. There had never been a sign of the vintage vehicle slowing nor was there a change of pace from the horses. The coach simply was speeding into infinity one moment and the next it had come to a complete stop. Then there was only complete and total silence. There was not even the sound of the thunder or the heavy breathing which should have been audible form the horses after their long run. It was as if one had entered completely into another world… a foreboding void where neither sound nor light existed. This is an experience only the deaf and blind could fully comprehend… or the dead!

The silence was not to last long. It was an eternity in one’s anxious mind, but only moments in reality. The first sound was the opening of the carriage door from the outside. And the remaining sense speedily returned into their proper place with the human sphere. It was a beastly cold wind which poured through the door… bitter, mountain cold and it was not soundless. There was an eerie quality which could only have accompanied the wind when it had crossed through the tombs and markers of some ancient, musty cemetery. It was the crying of lost and damned souls. The screams for release from their everlasting pits of hell.

………

And the hour of midnight silently overcame me. The coffin lid had a strange sound as it opened… a sound like the beating of my own heart back in the black carriage. It was all together yet separated… both were there… and the fingers came out of the slight opening.

The last of the twelfth minute enveloped me as I hynpotically held my gaze on the raising coffin lid.

The legend had been dispelled as a legend. The realness of reality had to leave my mind. There was no longer any reason for being. The dead arose from his coffin. His funeral suit was as it had always been described. His lips were red. His fangs were those of the wolf. His blue eyes were mirrors…