Alt Comedy or Aspie Comedy?

A feature on the sketch group Asperger’s Are Us in this week’s Philadelphia Weekly:

The concept of “as­pie humor” was ac­tu­ally dis­covered in the 1940’s by pe­di­at­ri­cian Hans As­per­ger him­self. In his pa­per, “Aut­ist­ic Psy­cho­pathy in Child­hood,” he ar­gued that while aut­ist­ic people “do not un­der­stand jokes….” (es­pe­cially when the joke is “on them”). This can lead neur­o­typ­ic­als to won­der wheth­er the sub­jects are hu­mor­less or just re­pulsed by verbal cruelty. Far from hu­mor­less ar­gues As­per­ger that, due to their lit­er­al-minded­ness, “when mak­ing puns… aut­ist­ic people some­times shine… this can range from simple word­play and sound as­so­ci­ations to pre­cisely for­mu­lated, truly witty re­marks.”

“The main thing unit­ing most As­pies’ sense of hu­mor is our word­play,” the group says, “Be­cause we’re not that in­ter­ested in si­lent plays.” Per­haps in the jovi­al at­mo­sphere of 1940’s Aus­tria this sort of hu­mor may have been con­sidered hack, but in an era when irony and parapros­doki­ans (look it up!) are all the rage, aut­ist­ic hu­mor may at last have its chance “to shine.”

More at PhillyWeekly.com

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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