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Category: Austin

The Street Is An Art Gallery: Behind The Scenes With Sleep Is Famous

Posted in Austin, Creative Commons, and Journalism

Austin has many street artists, but few of them are as ubiquitous as “Sleep.”

Sleep, also known as Sleep is Famous, appears everywhere you look on our streets. His iconic image, an old-fashioned TV with rabbit-ear antenna and tiny stick figure feet, clings onto road signs, subverts fossil fuel advertising, and escapes from fires on Walmart emergency exits.

The artist behind Sleep is Famous remains mysterious and anonymous by choice, but he was willing to answer a few questions by email after I approached him about my Gonzo Giveaway. Sleep moved a few years ago from Seattle, where the very first Sleep TVs were doodles he created while he struggled in an artistic rut.

#Catscult Talks Stickers, Cats & Street Art: ‘It’s Cool To Be A Cat Person’

Posted in Austin, and Journalism

Are you part of The Cats Cult?

If you pay attention, and you know how to look, you can almost see their feline mind control rays washing over us, embedded in the WiFi signals. Every time your friend shows you an adorable cat .gif, the cult sinks its tendrils a little more into your consciousness.

I discovered The Cats Cult the way I discover many of my favorite artists — while on a long walk around Austin, a city that is highly decorated with graffiti, wheatpastes, murals, stickers and all forms of street art. The bright colors and psychedelic style attracted me to the image: an orange tom cat, third eye open, apparently wearing a red t-shirt and taking a selfie, all framed by a mystical triangle and the hashtag #catscult.

Masked Up For Your Protection: In Praise Of Black Bloc Heroes (#GonzoNotes)

Posted in Austin, Creative Commons, Gonzo Notes, and Journalism

What do you feel when you see the black bloc?

I feel pride, solidarity, and hope.

Though their faces are masked, I see a group of beautiful humans willing to get injured or imprisoned in order to keep all of us safer.

What the mainstream media wants you to feel is fear. Strangely, they want you to feel the opposite around the police, who come out to the protest dressed for war, driving military vehicles and with a sniper team ready on the roof tops. In addition to bullets, they’ve got bean bag guns, pepper bombs, noise cannons, the whole array of nightmarish “less lethal” weaponry that late stage capitalism can bring to bear.

Meanwhile, the black bloc have just their bare hands and their bodies, or if they’re lucky, a handful of flags on sticks and some homemade shields.

Richard Spencer’s Ties To Violent Nazi Will Fears (Newsweek)

Posted in Austin, and Journalism

Last week, Texas neo-nazi Will Fears, along with his brother Colton and another local fascist, Tyler Tenebrink, were arrested after a speech by the notoriously punchable Richard Spencer at the University of Florida. 

Fears was, once again, working with Patriot Front, the neo-nazis who attacked the Houston Anarchist Bookfair and themselves a spin off of Vanguard America, the neo-nazi group that included Heather Heyer’s killer in Charlottesville. Patriot Front and other fascist groups like Anti-Com were working as security for Spencer’s event, according to a document leaked by Atlanta Antifascists that has since been verified by multiple sources including Spencer’s think tank.

The Fears brothers and Tenebrink were arrested after the speech when Tenebrink, under encouragement from Will Fears, opened fire on a group of antifascist activists.

I recently spoke with Newsweek reporter Michael Hayden about Fears’ long history of violence against antifa and the left in Texas, which includes his participation in the May Day fascist attack in downtown Austin and an assault on a clergywoman at Houston airport during the Muslim Ban protests.

Security Culture And Punching Nazis In Texas (Kit O’Connell On Radical Underground Podcast)

Posted in Act Out!, Audio, Austin, Creative Commons, Journalism, and Occupy Wall Street

I really enjoyed talking with the Radical Underground podcast and the episode turned out great, full of lively conversation and fab music.

In our conversation, we talked about security culture and the ways our smartphones turn us into snitches against ourselves — but also touched on the human element, which is just as vital as technology when it comes to staying secure.

We also talked at length about the Oh Shit What Now collective, the recent incident at my “Punching Nazis” class in Houston, and other fascist and antifascist activity in Austin, Texas (including copwatching).

Activists Beat Texas GOP With Social Media & Old-School Resistance Tactics

Posted in Austin, Creative Commons, Journalism, and Yes! Magazine

Who could resist images of smiling children gathered under an ancient oak tree on the grounds of the Texas Capitol, transfixed by Democrat and Republican lawmakers doing a tag-team recitation of Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax?

Apparently not the good folks of Texas.

A broad coalition of environmental activists employed just such a strategy during a special session of the Texas Legislature this summer as a way of stealing the spotlight and defeating a bill meant to strip municipalities of their power to protect historic trees.

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