Hey, librarians!  I’m sitting high & dry here in Brooklyn, as all us folks here on the east coast wait out this hurricane.

Some of the occu-fam is out and about.  Our very own weatherman is tweeting from a boat off the Chelsea Piers at @Occuweather; he’s also occasionally streaming.  Other streamers are here and here.

In a day or two when we start to clean up, look to your local libraries — especially in New Jersey’s coastal towns, things are really getting torn up, and they might need some hands or some cash to help recover.

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Occupy Goldman Sachs: Night 8

An occupation outside of Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein’s house is in progress in New York City at 61st and Broadway. So, head on down and show your solidarity!

Join and support online as well here: Occupy Goldman Sachs.


From the Facebook page:

Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. is a multinational investment bank founded in 1869 and headquartered at 200 West Street in Lower Manhattan. Leading up to the 2008 financial crisis, Goldman Sachs engaged in some of the worse financial fraud the world has ever seen, including packaging and selling billions of dollars in subprime housing derivatives and other worthless securities to small and mid-level investors while hiding the fact that they were simultaneously betting against these same securities. Through such fraud Goldman Sachs decimated the 401(k)s, pensions and mutual funds of thousands of Americans.

Despite blatantly vilating the Securities Act of 1933, which “prohibits deceit, misrepresentation, and other fraud in the sale of securities,” and despite a 650-page Senate subcommittee investigation report accusing them of defrauding clients, not a single official of Goldman Sachs has been prosecuted. Rather, the corporation was rewarded, receiving more government bailout funds than any other investment bank. Goldman Sachs then used this taxpayer money to give its senior executives a staggering $44 billion in mega-bonuses between 2008 and 2011.

While Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein makes an estimated $250,000 a day, regular Americans are losing their jobs and homes at the highest rate since the 1930s. The real unemployment rate (in 2012) is almost twenty percent, far higher than the official number of nine percent, which intentionally factors out workers who have exhausted their unemployment benefits and those working temporary or part time jobs. The so-called “jobless recovery” means that speculators like Lloyd Blankfein can get richer even during a recession. As one private trader, Alessio Rastani, candidly told the BBC in Fall of 2011, “Most traders don’t really care about fixing the economy. If you know what to do, if you have the right plan set up, you can make a lot of money from this [recession].” He continued with another dose of frank cynicism, “This is not a time right now for wishful thinking that governments are going to sort things out. Governments don’t rule the world. Goldman Sachs rules the world.”


Filed under #OccupyGoldmanSachs, Direct Action, Michael, Solidarity

Neil Smith, NYC Occupy History and the Political Geography of Revolt

I’ve wanted to mark the recent sudden and tragic death of radical geographer Neil Smith, but wasn’t sure quite how. Just now, as I was re-reading his book “The New Urban Frontier: Gentrification and the Revanchist City” I realized that I could do this in two ways. First by sharing some passages from the first chapter, which contains an account of the eviction of the Tompkins Square Park occupation in 1988 (and again in 1991) echoing the eviction from Liberty Plaza of the Occupy Wall Street encampment, and second by sharing a link to the entire book in PDF form, which is available free online from the National Technical University (NTUA) in Athens.

Neil Smith’s account of the occupation and eviction, as well as his analysis of urban class struggle are vital texts for occupiers to understand the history of resistance in the city. For those who haven’t read them, or aren’t familiar with the occupation of Tompkins Square, they will be eye-opening:

On the evening of August 6, 1988, a riot erupted along the edges of  Tompkins Square Park, a small green in New York City’s Lower East Side. It raged through the night with police on one side and a diverse mix of anti-gentrification protesters, punks, housing activists, park inhabitants, artists, Saturday night revelers and Lower East Side residents on the other. The battle followed the city’s attempt to enforce a 1:00 A.M. curfew in the Park on the pretext of clearing out the growing numbers of homeless people living or sleeping there, kids playing boom boxes late into the night, buyers and sellers of drugs using it for business. But many local residents and park users saw the action differently. The City was seeking to tame and domesticate the park to facilitate the already rampant gentrification on the Lower East Side . . .”Whose fucking park? It’s our fucking park,” became the recurrent slogan . . .

. . . In fact it was a police riot that ignited the park on August 6, 1988. Clad in space-alien riot gear and concealing their badge numbers, the police forcibly evicted everyone from the park before midnight, then mounted repeated baton charges and “Cossacklike” rampages against demonstrators and locals along the park’s edge:

‘The cops seemed bizarrely out of control, levitating with some hatred I didn’t understand. They’d taken a relatively small protest and fanned it out over the neighborhood, inflaming hundreds of people who’d never gone near the park to begin with. They’d called in a chopper. And they would eventually call 450 officers… The policemen were radiating hysteria . . .’ (Carr 1988:10)

. . .In the days following the riot, the protesters quickly adopted a much more ambitious political geography of revolt. Their slogan became “Tompkins Square everywhere” as they taunted the police and celebrated their liberation of the park. Mayor Edward Koch, meanwhile, took to describing Tompkins Square Park as a “cesspool” and blamed the riot on “anarchists.” Defending his police clients, the president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association enthusiastically elaborated: “social parasites, druggies, skinheads and communists” –an “insipid conglomeration of human misfits” –were the cause of the riot, he said. . .

Smith, N. 1996. The New Urban Frontier: Gentrification and the Revanchist City. Routledge.

First photo from Ángel Franco of The New York Times. Additional images are from Q. Sakamaki‘s book Tompkins Square Park.

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Filed under 11/15 Eviction, Announcements, Michael, Privatization, Public/Private Parks, Reference, Scholarship

Grand Jury Resistance, Banned Books, and You

Listen up, kids, this is important!  Today we’re going to talk about grand juries.  With a side of intellectual freedom.

Look, we’ve got three people — Matt Duran, Kteeo (Katherine Olejnik), and Leah-Lynn Plante — locked up for contempt out in Seattle, WA.  They’ve all refused to testify before a grand jury.

Grand juries are one of the government’s shittiest tools for squishing dissent.  They were originally intended as a way for individual citizens to bring a matter before their peers to make the government do something about it.  Today, though, they are a way for the government to intimidate and punish people who make noise, without those people having any recourse.  Folks get hauled into court, without having been accused of anything, and are asked a bunch of questions.  They are not allowed to have an attorney with them, and the room is closed and what goes on is kept secret.  They must answer the questions — the 5th Amendment, which otherwise protects us from having to testify against ourselves, does not apply.  If they refuse to testify — a choice that is usually a good idea in cases of political repression — they may be jailed for up to six months for contempt, in order to coerce testimony.  If after six months a person has not spoken, they can be sent back for another six months, et cetera, et cetera, until someone gives up.  Remember, these folks have not even been accused, let alone convicted, of a crime in the first place.  The point of a grand jury is for the government to figure out if there’s anything floating around that they can prosecute someone for.

Back on July 25, if you’ll recall, Plante and Duran were a couple of the folks in Oregon and Washington states who woke up to the early morning sounds of their doors being smashed in by federal officers.  Their residences were searched by feds looking for, among other things, black clothes and anarchist literature.  Yesterday, before Plante went back before the grand jury and again refused to testify, she wrote:

On the morning of July 25th, 2012, my life was turned upside down in a matter of hours. FBI agents from around Washington and Oregon and Joint Terrorism Task Force agents from Washington busted down the front door of my house with a battering ram, handcuffed my house mates and me at gunpoint, and held us hostage in our backyard while they read us a search warrant and ransacked our home. They said it was in connection to May Day vandalism that occurred in Seattle, Washington earlier this year.

However, we suspected that this was not really about broken windows. As if they had taken pointers from Orwell’s 1984, they took books, artwork and other various literature as “evidence” as well as many other personal belongings even though they seemed to know that nobody there was even in Seattle on May Day. While we know that knowledge is powerful, we suspected that nobody used rolled up copies of the Stumptown Wobbly to commit property damage. We saw this for what it was. They are trying to investigate anarchists and persecute them for their beliefs. This is a fishing expedition. This is a witch hunt. Since then, thanks to a Freedom of Information Act request, we have learned that this Grand jury was convened on March 2nd, 2012, two months before the May Day vandalism even took place…

As predicted, she was locked up after yesterday’s grand jury session.  Matt has been imprisoned since September 13, including time in solitary confinement, and Kteeo since September 28.  So, shit’s scary.  But, we’re all in this together, and the best way to handle this is for us all to create and maintain a loving community and to take care of each other.  Which is what grand jury resisters are doing, by they way — they are taking a hit for the rest of us.  We should all be supporting these three, in word and deed, as much as we can, since they’re going so hard to protect our asses.  Here’s some stuff you can do for Matt and Kteeo, and I’m sure there’ll be a similar round up for Leah shortly.

So, this is the Library blog, right?  Let’s bring it back home.  See up there where Leah writes about her house being searched?  What did the feds take?  Books, art.  As many folks around the internet have noted, if the FBI came gunning into any of our houses they’d find black clothing and subversive literature.

Yo, feds, Senator McCarthy called, he wants his game plan back.

Aside from the 5th Amendment mentioned above, we are also supposed to be guaranteed rights of speech and press under the 1st Amendment, and the rights to free speech and assembly include freedom of association, as clarified by Supreme Court rulings.  Now, I know some of us don’t truck with the idea of rights (Utah says, “The state can’t give you freedom, and the state can’t take it away. You’re born with it, like your eyes, like your ears. Freedom is something you assume, then you wait for someone to try to take it away. The degree to which you resist is the degree to which you are free.”), but it’s what we’ve got to work with right now.

And yet we have doors being busted down over books, and the printed word being taken away as evidence of…  …something.  That our three grand jury resisters hold certain political opinions, and know others with similar opinions, is enough to have gotten them into this spot in the first place.  Librarians, our professional association has a lot to say about the 1st Amendment.

We’ve just come off of Banned Books Week.  I hope you read something subversive!  I always hope that, actually.  I also hope that I don’t need to be too heavy-handed in drawing the lines between the FBI searching someone’s house for radical literature and the stuff we usually talk about when we talk about banned books.  It is a matter of degree, rather than kind.


Filed under #OccupyPortland, #OccupySeattle, Free Speech, Jaime, Solidarity

What’s One of the Most Fucked Up Things Happening in Higher Ed This Month?



Hint, it’s right here, at CUNY.

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Filed under Education, Jaime, Solidarity

Recommended Reading

A few weeks ago we had an email come in from a Huffington Post writer, asking that we suggest some books on poverty in America for a slide show.  (I was a little confused by the slideshow part, and still am, even having seen the finished product.)  So, even though I’m a jerk and completely forgot about this thing I said I’d do until like the day before the writer’s deadline, I wrote a few words about some books.

According to their website, I’m an expert!  Anyway, it’s here.

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Filed under Announcements, Cyberspace, Jaime, Literature

JOIN US: Poets For Change Celebratory Reading At St. Marks Church!

Clear your calendar and join us Friday, 10pm, September 28, 2012 at St. Marks Church for the opening night of a weekend full of events on behalf of 100,000 Poets for Change! The Poetry Project is hosting an open reading commemorating the Occupy Wall Street and the 100,000 Poets for Change communities. For those unfamiliar with 100tpc, September 29, 2012 marks the second annual global event of 100tpc, a grassroots organization that brings poets, artists and musicians (new this year) together to call for environmental, social, and political change, within the framework of peace and sustainability. The local focus is key to this global event as communities around the world raise their voices through concerts, readings, workshops, flash mobs and demonstrations that speak to the heart of their specific area of concerns, such as homelessness, ecocide, racism and censorship. This past year the Occupy Wall Street movement has been a major force diligently working for a better, more sustainable, more imaginative world, so it’s only natural that 100tpc and the poets of Occupy Wall Street join forces for the opening night of a weekend of 100tpc inspired readings (link to all the 100tpc readings happening in NYC).

In honor of the inventive spirit and the continual striving for inclusivity conducted by Occupiers this past year, the open-to-all who wish to participate reading at St. Marks Church will be held in an experimental way. The intent of this experiment is to break from the confines of routinely structured open mic nights. Instead of focusing the night on individuals confined to a time limit, the night aims to bring everyone in attendance together to create one, fantastic, long, meandering poem which encompasses everyone in attendance and focuses on the collective experience.

Upon arrival at St. Marks, poets will choose a word they feel an attachment to or a word that represents them or that they’re particularly fond of or think funny, etc – just pick a word! One word per person and one person per word (first come/ first pick). When choosing a word, please be mindful that you’re in a room full of people that also want to have a chance to read. Volunteers will ensure no one picks the same word and will prod anyone (the less imaginative poets seeking the limelight) that wants to pick a highly used word, to come up with another choice. (example words not to pick: and, or, is, the, it, your, my, a, no, yes, etc).

Choose a word that you’re pretty sure will be called. Chances are good no one will read a poem with the word glossolalia (meaning: fluent nonsense) in it, unfortunately. The word a poet chooses will be their key to read for the evening. Every time a poets’ word is read by another poet, the poet whose word was read will stand up, display their word, (which will signal the poet that was reading to stop and sit down) and then begin reading. The reading poet will continue until one of their words signals for another to begin. Please bring a range of poems and stretch that vocabulary, as every time your word is said you can/should read from a different poem or a different section of a poem already read from… the goal of the night is to get everyone reading fragments and pieces of work, with everyone’s work bleeding and melding into each others…. that said, a poet may only get one word in before the next reader begins or a poet may read 2 – 3 – 4 – 5(doubtful) poems before the next poet is signaled to begin. The amount of times and the length of time will entirely depend on the size of the crowd and words people read and chose. Hopefully this will create space for us to ruminate (in a fun and playful manner) on our interconnectedness, while we simultaneously create a completely original-communal body of work.

If someones word is never said, the poet can read a poem at the end of the night for our livestream cameras (up to three minutes// also let us know if you wish to not be filmed as we’ll have a special section of the room for you). Livestream cameras will be filming the night so people around the world can tune in. Eventually the night will be transcribed (unless a poet wishes their work be withdrawn), and the results will be posted here. However, if it’s getting late into the night and your word hasn’t been read, I’d encourage letting your neighbors know and would encourage people to create new poems as the night goes on with the words of those around you. Everyone should invest their energies into getting everyone multiple chances to add to the collective poem.

Also, as part of the night, I’m working on creating an installation of sorts, so the space has a nice feel and some decor to go along with the communal spirit we’ll hopefully all be embracing. I sent out an email to the Occupy Wall Street Poetry Anthology list serv (if you didn’t get it and want to be on the list serv please let me know – stephenjboyer@gmail{dot}com), asking poets to email me one photo of themselves or a photo that they feel represents themselves– I might use them as part of the nights installation (technology provided). So if you want a photo of yourself or one that represents you to be included in the installation (as long as everything comes together), then please email me a photo as soon as possible… I’m still accepting and hoping to receive more photos. Also on display the night of the 28th, will be a copy of the final version of the Occupy Wall Street Poetry Anthology, as well as the original versions that were in the park. A table will be set up as a communal poetry library/bookstore. Poets should bring copies of their work to give away, sell or trade (zines, chapbooks, whatever)!!! It’s up to the poet as to whether or not they want their contribution sold, shared, or for display purposes… whatever items a poet brings the night of, if it’s not gone by the end of the night please be prepared to take it home with you.

And finally! Volunteers are needed to make this night happen! All volunteers will be loved forever. And don’t worry– volunteers will fully be able to participate in the reading, so volunteers don’t have to worry about missing out on any part of the night. In fact, volunteers will have the honor of knowing they’re essential to making the night run smoothly. If you’re interested in helping with setting up the space the night of the 28th, or helping with livestream, or helping people pick/assign words upon entry, or looking after the book table (sales/distribution/ensuring books that aren’t to leave remain at the table) or if you’re available to help paint a few things a few days before the 28th or if you want to send me some ideas or moral support –please email me at stephenjboyer@gmail{dot}com.

St. Marks Church is located at 131 East 10th Street between 2nd and 3rd avenue in the East Village (google map). The reading starts at 10pm on September 28th and (crowd permitted) will run till around midnight… Really hope to see you there! And remember to wear something fun ‘cuz the night is going to be viewed by people from all over the world! There is an $8 suggested donation (helps support the Poetry Project), but no one will be turned away for lack of funds! Invite your friends! All are welcome.

And in case my explanation of the night is really confusing, here’s a more visual example of the way the night will proceed:

The following text excerpts are from the OWS Poetry Anthology -except for the second Adrienne Rich poem, which is from an article in The Nation. This was put together for example purposes only and isn’t intended to be an actual representation of the poets whose work was used.

Poet A (Adrienne Rich / chosen word is mother):

Ankles shackled
metalled and islanded
holding aloft a mirror, feral
lipstick, eye-liner

Poet B (Stephen Boyer / chosen word is eye-liner):

gazing into my crystal ball

Poet C (Jeffrey Grunthaner – chosen word is ball):

ad execs of the busyness where L-U-C-K’
s godly, & death’s even possible
by imbibing kitty emetics. O, the miser-
able remnants left on the aortic sidewalk!

Poet D (Filip Marinovich – chosen word is sidewalk):

You lose everything except your S.U.V.
even your children all 8 of them murdered
8 infinity symbol stood up straight
8 double-headed lariat noose cut loose
I fit my Gemini heads through two yellow loops
flying through deep space to meet Mother

Poet A (Adrienne Rich – chosen word is mother):

Saw you walking barefoot
taking a long look
at the new moon’s

Poet E (Ama Birch – chosen word is moon):

Dear President,
Leader of the free world,
Remember who pays your rent
Is wisdom’s pearl.

White House
Turned Brown
Cherry blossom mouse
Cheering sound.

Chopper, Chopper.
Swirling winds.
Marker, Marker.
Light ray blends.

Eggs are laid on the lawns.
You must protect your pawns.

Ama Birch


Filed under Announcements, Free Speech, Party time!, Poetry, Stephen, Time Travel