Evicted Utopias review in New Inquiry

Review of Erick Lyle’s new book Streetopia, full of essays and full color photos from a May 2012 art show of the same name, a kind of anti-Art Basel, about the history and future of Bay Area utopianism.

The urbanization of capital is such a gigantic enemy that well-meaning politicians and radical visionaries like Lyle are practically reduced to the same slingshot-wielding rank. Tech and real estate have been given free reign to radically remap society, economy, and territory. Dissidents of gentrification will have to do the same without the venture capital resources, so Lyle finds some comfort in preferring a utopianism consistent with the spontaneous and fleeting historical moments of rebellion like the White Night riots In 1979, and the Kronstadt rebellion. The latter was depicted in the 2009 film Maggots and Men, shown and discussed at Streetopia. The insurrectionary sailors were played by a queer and trans cast, partially a criticism of the radicalism of the White Night rioters’ slide into liberal gay politics and middle-class identity. It is not enough, radicals argue, to merely protest the injustices of heteronormative violence, bad court rulings, and shady landlords. We need to reorganize ourselves socially and theoretically, producing art and revolution simultaneously, never content with just one or the other.

Read the rest at the New Inquiry

Meet Brooklyn’s Fearless Hasidic Dog Walker

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Recently Gottdenger has expanded the business by walking more dogs each day and offering to watch pets while their owners are on vacation, promoting himself with business cards and social media as “The Hasidic Dog Walker.” His card shows a traditionally dressed Hasidic man looking down, perhaps with trepidation at a dog with a leash in its mouth. Above that, his email: “notafraidofdogs@gmail.com”.

“I love that as a business mantra,” says Erin Mathieu of Bed-Stuy, whose self-described “jerk chihuahua” Reno was the first dog Gottdenger walked. “It’s a wonderfully snarky response to the pigeonholing that New Yorkers tend to participate in when it comes to the Ultra Orthodox.”

Read the rest on Gothamist

New zine now available in NYC and by mail

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My new zine, RUIN VALUE is now available! Three travel essays about squatting and leftist nostalgia, all wrapped in all-too-professional looking letter-pressed cover thanks to help from Wasp Poster & Print.

$4 at BookThugNation, Human Relations Topos Bookstore Cafe Desert Island Bluestockings Bookstore, Café, & Activist Center Sunview Lunchnet, better read than dead, or whatever you want to pay if you find me in person. Out-of-towners email agittlitz @ gmail . com with mailing address for a copy.

 

Progressives and Rioters united by de Blasio

An opinion piece about Freddie Gray, the Democrat establishment, the NYPD, and solidarity protests in New York published by Truth-Out

We wanted to feel a sense of power in the city where police constantly wield violence, usually against people of color suspected of non-violent infractions. For about a week in December, there was a sense that de Blasio and Police Commissioner Bratton would allow us these moments of public autonomy so we could go home feeling like we’d participated in a movement for justice without risking our bodies or freedom, but on 17th Street that illusion ended.

Born to Die in Berlin

An essay about the Berlin’s hipsters, aging squatters, refugees, and ducks in Mask Magazine‘s Crossing Paths issue, which can be read behind a very inexpensive paywall.

Why had I put my life on hold to experiment with burning out? My low budget was supplemented by returning red bulls cans and picking through free-boxes. During the day I read  crumbling English-language pulp in parks. At night there was always a selection of film screenings, community dinners, solipartys, and punk shows. A month into the stint I made some friends, or more accurately, attached myself to a few other expat circles that I could individually visit once a week to avoid the despair of having no social life. The other half of the time I was content to continue my daytime activity of sitting on the curb of Oranienstrasse and watching the beautiful people dance and the businessmen hustle from place to place. Breathing in the solipsistic atmosphere, breathing out miserable leftist metaphysics, I easily dissolved into this cosmopolitan New World Order.

Read the rest here

Defending Rojava

A review of Combustion Books’ A Small Key Can Open a Large Door: The Rojava Revolution and critique of the Western left’s debate between cheerleading and ruthless criticism for national liberation movements.

Often equally instrumentalizing, the Western left has taken a newfound interest in the allegedly revolutionary situation in the Kurdish-majority region of Rojava in northern Syria. There, a new system of stateless governance has formed and their rhetoric against patriarchy, neo-liberalism, and the nation-state quickly lead to both enthusiasm from those who see the embattled Kobane as the new Catalonia, and scorn from those who see it breeding short-sighted and faux-revolutionary nationalism.

In both cases, the voices of revolutionary Kurds are seldom heard, and Combustion Books’ collection of essays, A Small Key Can Open a Large Door: The Rojava Revolution, tries to fix this lack. Perhaps the first English language book on the subject, it includes an eclectic assortment of first hand accounts, including a letter from a 19 year old woman sent to her mother from the Kobane frontlines, a description of the situation on the border of Turkey by activists facing down Erdogan’s military police and newly translated essays from Turkish anarchist groups. Other selections compile a series of letters sent between Syrian and Iraqi Kurds and analyze the importance and mechanics of Kobane’s successful defense against ISIS.

Read the rest at The New Inquiry

Reactionary Cosmology

gittlitz-socialA contribution to the The New Inquiry’s January Issue Stars:

Shortly after the National Socialist party consolidated their power, a writer named Peter Bender convinced some Nazi brass to attempt an experiment that, if successful, would send a rocket from Magdenburg to New Zealand. The intercontinental ballistic missile was still decades away from completion, but Bender believed he had figured out how to attack the other side of the Earth—by firing directly into the sky.

He had come under the influence of an American occult group that believed in a particularly bizarre variation on the Hollow Earth theory. While the concept of habitable layers beneath the Earth’s crust had been popular for centuries amongst occultists, Bender’s Hohlwelt-theorie argued that the Earth was a vault within an endless field of matter. The sun was somewhere in the middle of this vault, and the stars in the sky were the lights of cities from the other side.

“An infinite universe is a Jewish abstraction,” wrote Bender. “A finite, rounded universe is a thoroughly Aryan conception.” The anti-Semitic aspect of the theory attracted the attention of Herman Göring but was quickly dismissed in favor of Hanns Hörbiger’s slightly less fanciful World Ice Theory. The idea nonetheless remained compelling to some, and the German Navy attempted to locate British fleets using astronomical instruments.

Read the rest