Showing posts with label Politics of Pizza. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Politics of Pizza. Show all posts

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Why I have chosen to discontinue distributing Slice Harvester Quarterly through Microcosm Publishing.

This post may not seem especially relevant to folks who are not involved in punk or activist communities, but it does address larger-scale issues of dealing with abuse and holding abusers accountable in any community, and what role individuals play in making that accountability happen.

Some years ago, Joe Biel, a co-founder of Microcosm, was publicly called out for being emotionally abusive in his relationship with his then-partner and Microcosm's other co-founder Alex Wrekk. He has also been called out as being manipulative in collective organizing with Microcosm. This whole time, the company maintained a degree of silence about this issue that I personally found totally odious and appalling.

Some time in 2009 or '10, (you can read an accurate timeline at ), Joe began engaging in a mediation/accountability process initiated by , publisher of Doris Zine and general rad ally and friend. I had already read Alex's zine about the abuse via , and was heartened to hear that Microcosm was perhaps finally taking accountability. In January of this year, Microcosm released , which has been far more succinctly than I feel capable of right now. In February, someone from Microcosm contacted me to order new zines and I wrote them the following email:
Hey J----,

I don't think we know each other. I have had lengthy discussions with S---- in the past about some misgivings I've had about distributing through Microcosm, which she more or less helped me to quell, but those misgivings have been given new breath as of late.

Aside from doing Slice Harvester, my main project for many years has been doing perpetrator accountability work [with] Support New York ( here in NYC. Much as I appreciate the income generated by, and reliability of, turning a bulk of my mail-order over to Microcosm, my allegiance lies first and foremost with my beliefs around those who perpetuate abuse and how they should be held accountable.

Before agreeing to distribute through Microcosm a year or so ago, I had a number of long and very involved conversations over the phone with S---- in which she assured me that Joe's process was making progress and that the collective was totally into keeping him accountable. In light of some recent updates from Cindy Crabb, I don't feel like I can continue to distribute Slice Harvester with you all in good conscience. Even though SH is totally separate and anonymous project and is absolutely distinct from my accountability work, my commitment is still to that work, and when I think about continuing any kind of relationship with Microcosm, I get a feeling in the pit of my stomach that I've learned to heed.

I wish Microcosm had been a little more transparent about acknowledging Joe's abusive behavior from the get go, and I really wish it seemed like you all were acknowledging it at all right now. I can't even find the public statement you guys made about Joe's behavior anywhere on the website. Is it available outside of, where I finally found it in google? It doesn't seem very transparent or accountable to leave something so crucial off the website.

Overall, I am really disheartened by all of this and as I said, I don't think I feel comfortable working with you guys any longer.

love, Colin
No one at Microcosm bothered to respond. Earlier this week I was shown , which was actually published on their website this time, at least. At the time I first saw this statement, there was a conversation going on in the comments section that seems to have disappeared now, but was luckily archived . If the comments had still been open on that blog post, I probably would've written to Microcosm there instead of writing this public letter, but since they seem determined to close down any actual dialogue, I feel like I have no choice but to write something here.

While I think that the new statement is far more heartening than the last, I still feel majorly let down by it's timing, it's vagueness, and the silencing of criticism Microcosm has engaged in by hiding the comments that were previously posted. At this point, Microcosm has a few copies of Slice Harvester Quarterly #2 left and when they sell out I don't think I'll be selling them any more any time soon. I would urge any other zine makers who consider themselves an ally to stop working with Microcosm until they get their shit together, and I would urge everyone else to hold off on ordering from them until they prove themselves to be willing to engage in actual accountability and dialogue.

There are standards we must set in our community. Abuse and abusive behavior happen in this sick fucking society, there is no avoiding that. We are socialized to harm one another, and men in particular are socialized to be so disconnected from our emotions that the harm we cause is oftentimes inadvertent. However, it is each person's responsibility to be open and honest with themselves and the people in their lives and foster an environment where abuse accusations can be taken seriously, and both survivor and perpetrator can be given access to the healing they need. Microcosm's actions have done the exact opposite of that. They've given an abuser a shield to hide behind and perpetuate his shitty behavior while publicly seeming accountable, and that is untenable. Microcosm needs to get their shit together ASAP. This stuff is hard to navigate but they are majorly fucking up.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

What does the racist legislation in Arizona have to do with pizza?

For anyone , you've already seen this old Public Enemy video I "tweeted" a couple days ago, but maybe you didn't necessarily get the cryptic meaning behind it. Anyway, here's Public Enemy's "By The Time I Get To Arizona":

My friend Mimi Nguyen over at , who wrote on the matter earlier in the week just posted a statement from Chuck D and his wife, Dr. Gaye Theresa Johnson that I'd like to repost as well:
Jan Brewer’s decision to sign the Arizona immigration bill into law is racist, deceitful, and reflects some of the most mean-spirited politics against immigrants that the country has ever seen. The power that this law gives to police, to detain people that they suspect to be undocumented, brings racial profiling to a new low. Brewer’s actions and those of Joe Arpaio, Russell Pearce, the Arizona State Senate are despicable, inexcusable, and endorse the all-out hate campaign that Joe Arpaio, Russell Pearce, and others have perpetrated upon immigrants for years. The people of Arizona who voted for this bill, as well as those who crafted it, demonstrate no regard for the humanity or contributions of Latino people. And for all of those who have chosen not to speak up, shame on you for silently endorsing this legislated hate.
In 1991 I wrote a song criticizing Arizona officials (including John McCain and Fife Symington) for rejecting the federal holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The same politics I wrote about in “By the Time I Get to Arizona” are alive and well in Arizona today, but this time the target is Brown people.
These actions must stop. I am issuing a call to action, urging my fellow musicians, artists, athletes, performers, and production companies to refuse to work in Arizona until officials not only overturn this bill, but recognize the human rights of immigrants. This should include the NBA playoffs, revisiting the actions of the NFL in 1993, when they moved the Superbowl to Pasadena in protest against Arizona’s refusal to recognize Dr. King. We all need to speak up in defense of our brothers and sisters being victimized in Arizona, because things are only getting worse. What they’re doing to immigrants is appalling, but it will be even more damning if we remain silent.”
There have been dozens of political occurrences since the inception of Slice Harvester that have literally made me feel like puking, but I've exercised some pretty difficult self-control in not making this website into a pulpit. That's not to say I don't sometimes sermonize, when it's relevant. I am an anarchist Jew from New York, we are an opinionated people. But I've refrained from posting things that don't somehow correlate to the pizza I'm reviewing. This is my first "purely political" post.

And I think that this disgusting legislation actually has serious bearing on the subject matter of Slice Harvester. My ethnic background is Jewish and Irish. As far as I know, none of my family was present in America earlier than about 100 years ago on the Irish side, and substantially less than that on the Jewish side. My father grew up in an immigrant neighborhood in Queens that my Jamaican best friend's mom currently lives in! This city and this country have a long history of being made more interesting, or at least kept in a state of constant growth and fluxuation, by the influx of new populations from new locales.

No matter how you slice it (ha!), the story of pizza is an immigrant tale, and continues to be. From 1895 when Gennaro Lombardi opened up his grocery store on Spring St, through the early 90s when Albanian immigrants fleeing the Kosovo War settled in New York and began opening pizzerias, to now, when many pizzerias are staffed almost entirely by folks from more Southern climes. Pizza is and always has been immigrant food. The strand of cheese between the native New Yorker's mouth and his slice of pizza can be thought of as a bridge connecting himself, and his family's history (seriously, who do you know from New York that's not like, third generation at most?) to that of the more recent immigrants making his food and to the entire history of New York City! Get with it, pizza is progressive.

And that's why any devotee to the Great Pizzaola or at least anyone with an affinity for a decent slice has an obligation to oppose this sort of racist legislation. It stands in the way of pizza progress, and it stands against every core value that every single slice upholds. Forget your obligation to your conscience, or your obligation to other human beings. Think of your obligation to pizza, and pizza's majestic history.

My friend recently twirted a link from her tworter to Arizona governor Jan Brewer's contact form. Go let her know that the pizza eaters of America will not stand for this sort of legislative intolerance.

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