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Category: Gonzo Notes

Diversity Of Tactics Keeps Your Enemies Off Balance (Gonzo Notes)

Posted in Creative Commons, Gonzo Notes, and Occupy Wall Street

September 17, 2012: the financial district was in chaos.

On the morning of the one year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement, marking the day that tents first went up in Zuccotti Park, activists flooded Wall Street for hours.

Some held birthday parties in bank lobbies until the police came. Others took the furniture out of buildings and threw it in the street. One group I knew blocked traffic with a makeshift donut stand, offering dumpster-dived pastries and coffee to the NYPD.

You’re Never ‘Just’ A Journalist: Reporting From The Left & The Far Right (Gonzo Notes)

Posted in Creative Commons, Gonzo Notes, and Journalism

It’s a gift to be a journalist in this moment.

Or at least that’s what we tell ourselves. It’s the only way to get through.

Freelancers (like I am right now) spend every month counting our pennies, making sure we’ll make rent and have a little left over for food and coffee and the other vices of our profession. For those lucky few with a steady job, they’re wondering how long until downsizing and budget cuts will put them out on the street.

In addition to journalism’s grim financial picture, we’re finding ourselves targeted by the government and by far-right fascists for violence and repression in a way we haven’t faced in decades.

Laughing Ourselves To Hell: Trolling As A Lifestyle (Gonzo Notes)

Posted in Austin, Creative Commons, and Gonzo Notes

I was a teenage (and young adult) troll.

In my early 20s especially, I hung out on SomethingAwful, a website with a lively associated forum that would often target groups we perceived to be low hanging fruit (furries, goths, and so on) for online attacks.

Our viciousness never rose to the level of today’s super-trolls, who send SWAT teams to their enemies’ houses or wage ongoing campaigns that drive vulnerable people to suicide, but I can see how I took part in the early days of this trend, and I’m not proud of it.

Part of maturing for me has been recognizing that I can’t eradicate this prankster side of myself, so I’ve instead learned to direct it against the corrupt systems that promote inequality and the powerful people who profit off modern day, extractive capitalism.

Pranking up, not punching down.

Life On The Precipice (Gonzo Notes)

Posted in Creative Commons, and Gonzo Notes

Here I am, writing to you from the edge. From many edges, really.

By the time you read this, I’ll have turned 39 years old. I’m on the edge of 40, on the edge, I guess, of middle age.

I recently found out that I have glaucoma in my right eye, meaning that I’ll spend the rest of my life on the verge of losing my vision, as long as the eyedrops keep working.

Right now, it also feels like the country and the world are on the precipice, too. The Oval Office is occupied by a giant crybaby seemingly intent on baiting foreign powers into nuclear war via Twitter.

Fascism & The Harsh Lessons Of Failure (Gonzo Notes)

Posted in Austin, Creative Commons, and Gonzo Notes

I’m in a strange position this month as a gonzo journalist, because I can’t really write about the major action I attended last month.

The short version is that I attended a counterprotest against the Austin version of the national “March 4 Trump.” We were badly outnumbered, surrounded and attacked by fascist Trump supporters. I survived a serious assault and was hospitalized overnight. I now face a misdemeanor assault charge even though I was the victim, along with hospital bills, and this charge prevents me from writing much more.

Still, here’s the main lesson I learned — at least the one that’s safe to share:

We are not ready.

Resistance, Self-Care And Threat Modeling After Vault 7 With Katie Klabusich

Posted in Act Out!, Audio, Gonzo Notes, and Journalism

Katie and I talked about the difficulty of building a resistance against odds that can seem insurmountable using “How to survive Hurricane Donald,” the February 10 issue of Gonzo Notes, as a jumping off point. I also mentioned activist Liam Shea, the community activist who inspired me to write both “Hurricane Donald” and the following issue of Gonzo Notes, “Stay and fight fascism where you are.” Shea died tragically and unexpectedly in early February.

Local organizing is a theme I’ve been returning to frequently recently, and will probably keep talking about, because it seems so vital. Until there is another Occupy-style moment of national “rupture” — which, so far, hasn’t materialized via the Trump regime — the best we can do is strengthen our local communities and share the skills we have with each other.

Inspired by my script on “Vault 7” for Act Out! we closed with a discussion of what WikiLeaks’ latest release means for activists, and I explained why threat modeling means we can still fight back even when the government has access to terrifying mass surveillance tools.

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