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Category: Gonzo Notes

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.

Stay And Fight Where You Are (Gonzo Notes)

Posted in Creative Commons, Gonzo Notes, Journalism, MintPress News, and Occupy Wall Street

I wrote the last issue of Gonzo Notes, about creating resilience to both man-made and natural disasters, with a specific comrade in mind.

Just hours after the newsletter hit inboxes, I found out my comrade Liam Shea had died.

His death was devastating and unexpected to all his friends and allies, but most of all to his partner Luna. His loss robbed the world of a powerful activist; an old-school nazi-punching punk; someone who had, time and again, put himself at risk for the needs of others, to the point that he tattooed his knuckles with Y.N.W.A. (You’ll Never Walk Alone).

How To Survive Hurricane Donald (Gonzo Notes 05)

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

Resilient communities are more resistant.

Strong communities survive and strong communities resist.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, radical activists and community organizers created Common Ground Relief to step in where the government and traditional NGOs like the Red Cross failed. They organized both the immediate needs of the community, like food and rebuilding, while also enabling long term political organizing. Today, the Common Ground Health Clinic still remains in New Orleans, offering “solidarity not charity.”

Occupy Sandy was a more recent, well known response to disaster. With their skills honed by Occupy Wall Street, activists created an ambitious network of neighborhood relief centers offering supplies of all kinds and connecting people with builders and other volunteers after Hurricane Sandy.

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