When the gods dance...

Monday, April 30, 2012

Suicide surfers

Suicide surfers: Adrenaline junkies risk their lives trying to ride a wave perilously close to a pier off the Cornish south coast

By Phil Vinter


Surfers are known for going to extreme lengths in search of that perfect wave, but these adrenaline junkies really pushed things to the limit when they risked their lives off the south coast of Cornwall.

While many were bemoaning the heavy rainfalls and high winds this pair of daredevils took to the sea.

In flippers and a wetsuit the daring duo paddled their boogie boards to within just a few metres of a pier as high winds generated huge swells in the cold waters.

These pictures capture the moment a huge wave reminds the pair of the power of nature by throwing them up in the air as it sweeps through before hitting the pier.

The dramatic photos show just how lucky the pair were to avoid being smashed into the nearby wall.


Gnarly: A surfer is thrown into the air as he is hit by a wave dangerously close to the pier off the South Cornwall coast


Rough and tumble: As a wave crashes into the pier this boogie boarder risks his life. As he is thrown several metres into the air he loses control of the board before plummeting back down to the sea


Watch out: The crazy surfer is dwarfed by a huge wave as it batters against the pier. He was lucky to get away unscathed


Complete madness! The pair were prepared to paddle dangerously close to the sea wall as the waves took control yesterday

The Implosion of Capitalism

The Implosion of Capitalism

Monday, 30 April 2012 09:08 By Chris Hedges, Truthdig | Op-Ed

Picking through scraps in a Kolkata, India waste dump. (Photo: Sterneck)When civilizations start to die they go insane. Let the ice sheets in the Arctic melt. Let the temperatures rise. Let the air, soil and water be poisoned. Let the forests die. Let the seas be emptied of life. Let one useless war after another be waged. Let the masses be thrust into extreme poverty and left without jobs while the elites, drunk on hedonism, accumulate vast fortunes through exploitation, speculation, fraud and theft. Reality, at the end, gets unplugged. We live in an age when news consists of Snooki’s pregnancy, Hulk Hogan’s sex tape and Kim Kardashian’s denial that she is the naked woman cooking eggs in a photo circulating on the Internet. Politicians, including presidents, appear on late night comedy shows to do gags and they campaign on issues such as creating a moon colony. “[A]t times when the page is turning,” Louis-Ferdinand Celine wrote in “Castle to Castle,” “when History brings all the nuts together, opens its Epic Dance Halls! hats and heads in the whirlwind! Panties overboard!”

The quest by a bankrupt elite in the final days of empire to accumulate greater and greater wealth, as Karl Marx observed, is modern society’s version of primitive fetishism. This quest, as there is less and less to exploit, leads to mounting repression, increased human suffering, a collapse of infrastructure and, finally, collective death. It is the self-deluded, those on Wall Street or among the political elite, those who entertain and inform us, those who lack the capacity to question the lusts that will ensure our self-annihilation, who are held up as exemplars of intelligence, success and progress. The World Health Organization calculates that one in four people in the United States suffers from chronic anxiety, a mood disorder or depression—which seems to me to be a normal reaction to our march toward collective suicide. Welcome to the asylum.

When the most basic elements that sustain life are reduced to a cash product, life has no intrinsic value. The extinguishing of “primitive” societies, those that were defined by animism and mysticism, those that celebrated ambiguity and mystery, those that respected the centrality of the human imagination, removed the only ideological counterweight to a self-devouring capitalist ideology. Those who held on to pre-modern beliefs, such as Native Americans, who structured themselves around a communal life and self-sacrifice rather than hoarding and wage exploitation, could not be accommodated within the ethic of capitalist exploitation, the cult of the self and the lust for imperial expansion. The prosaic was pitted against the allegorical. And as we race toward the collapse of the planet’s ecosystem we must restore this older vision of life if we are to survive.

The war on the Native Americans, like the wars waged by colonialists around the globe, was waged to eradicate not only a people but a competing ethic. The older form of human community was antithetical and hostile to capitalism, the primacy of the technological state and the demands of empire. This struggle between belief systems was not lost on Marx. “The Ethnological Notebooks of Karl Marx” is a series of observations derived from Marx’s reading of works by historians and anthropologists. He took notes about the traditions, practices, social structure, economic systems and beliefs of numerous indigenous cultures targeted for destruction. Marx noted arcane details about the formation of Native American society, but also that “lands [were] owned by the tribes in common, while tenement-houses [were] owned jointly by their occupants.” He wrote of the Aztecs, “Commune tenure of lands; Life in large households composed of a number of related families.” He went on, “… reasons for believing they practiced communism in living in the household.” Native Americans, especially the Iroquois, provided the governing model for the union of the American colonies, and also proved vital to Marx and Engel’s vision of communism.

Marx, though he placed a naive faith in the power of the state to create his workers’ utopia and discounted important social and cultural forces outside of economics, was acutely aware that something essential to human dignity and independence had been lost with the destruction of pre-modern societies. The Iroquois Council of the Gens, where Indians came together to be heard as ancient Athenians did, was, Marx noted, a “democratic assembly where every adult male and female member had a voice upon all questions brought before it.” Marx lauded the active participation of women in tribal affairs, writing, “The women [were] allowed to express their wishes and opinions through an orator of their own election. Decision given by the Council. Unanimity was a fundamental law of its action among the Iroquois.” European women on the Continent and in the colonies had no equivalent power.

Rebuilding this older vision of community, one based on cooperation rather than exploitation, will be as important to our survival as changing our patterns of consumption, growing food locally and ending our dependence on fossil fuels. The pre-modern societies of Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse—although they were not always idyllic and performed acts of cruelty including the mutilation, torture and execution of captives—did not subordinate the sacred to the technical. The deities they worshipped were not outside of or separate from nature.

Seventeenth century European philosophy and the Enlightenment, meanwhile, exalted the separation of human beings from the natural world, a belief also embraced by the Bible. The natural world, along with those pre-modern cultures that lived in harmony with it, was seen by the industrial society of the Enlightenment as worthy only of exploitation. Descartes argued, for example, that the fullest exploitation of matter to any use was the duty of humankind. The wilderness became, in the religious language of the Puritans, satanic. It had to be Christianized and subdued. The implantation of the technical order resulted, as Richard Slotkin writes in “Regeneration Through Violence,” in the primacy of “the western man-on-the-make, the speculator, and the wildcat banker.” Davy Crockett and, later, George Armstrong Custer, Slotkin notes, became “national heroes by defining national aspiration in terms of so many bears destroyed, so much land preempted, so many trees hacked down, so many Indians and Mexicans dead in the dust.”

The demented project of endless capitalist expansion, profligate consumption, senseless exploitation and industrial growth is now imploding. Corporate hustlers are as blind to the ramifications of their self-destructive fury as were Custer, the gold speculators and the railroad magnates. They seized Indian land, killed off its inhabitants, slaughtered the buffalo herds and cut down the forests. Their heirs wage war throughout the Middle East, pollute the seas and water systems, foul the air and soil and gamble with commodities as half the globe sinks into abject poverty and misery. The Book of Revelation defines this single-minded drive for profit as handing over authority to the “beast.”

The conflation of technological advancement with human progress leads to self-worship. Reason makes possible the calculations, science and technological advances of industrial civilization, but reason does not connect us with the forces of life. A society that loses the capacity for the sacred, that lacks the power of human imagination, that cannot practice empathy, ultimately ensures its own destruction. The Native Americans understood there are powers and forces we can never control and must honor. They knew, as did the ancient Greeks, that hubris is the deadliest curse of the human race. This is a lesson that we will probably have to learn for ourselves at the cost of tremendous suffering.

In William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” Prospero is stranded on an island where he becomes the undisputed lord and master. He enslaves the primitive “monster” Caliban. He employs the magical sources of power embodied in the spirit Ariel, who is of fire and air. The forces unleashed in the island’s wilderness, Shakespeare knew, could prompt us to good if we had the capacity for self-control and reverence. But it also could push us toward monstrous evil since there are few constraints to thwart plunder, rape, murder, greed and power. Later, Joseph Conrad, in his portraits of the outposts of empire, also would expose the same intoxication with barbarity.

The anthropologist Lewis Henry Morgan, who in 1846 was “adopted” by the Seneca, one of the tribes belonging to the Iroquois confederation, wrote in “Ancient Society” about social evolution among American Indians. Marx noted approvingly, in his “Ethnological Notebooks,” Morgan’s insistence on the historical and social importance of “imagination, that great faculty so largely contributing to the elevation of mankind.” Imagination, as the Shakespearean scholar Harold C. Goddard pointed out, “is neither the language of nature nor the language of man, but both at once, the medium of communion between the two. ... Imagination is the elemental speech in all senses, the first and the last, of primitive man and of the poets.”

All that concerns itself with beauty and truth, with those forces that have the power to transform us, are being steadily extinguished by our corporate state. Art. Education. Literature. Music. Theater. Dance. Poetry. Philosophy. Religion. Journalism. None of these disciplines are worthy in the corporate state of support or compensation. These are pursuits that, even in our universities, are condemned as impractical. But it is only through the impractical, through that which can empower our imagination, that we will be rescued as a species. The prosaic world of news events, the collection of scientific and factual data, stock market statistics and the sterile recording of deeds as history do not permit us to understand the elemental speech of imagination. We will never penetrate the mystery of creation, or the meaning of existence, if we do not recover this older language. Poetry shows a man his soul, Goddard wrote, “as a looking glass does his face.” And it is our souls that the culture of imperialism, business and technology seeks to crush. Walter Benjamin argued that capitalism is not only a formation “conditioned by religion,” but is an “essentially religious phenomenon,” albeit one that no longer seeks to connect humans with the mysterious forces of life. Capitalism, as Benjamin observed, called on human societies to embark on a ceaseless and futile quest for money and goods. This quest, he warned, perpetuates a culture dominated by guilt, a sense of inadequacy and self-loathing. It enslaves nearly all its adherents through wages, subservience to the commodity culture and debt peonage. The suffering visited on Native Americans, once Western expansion was complete, was soon endured by others, in Cuba, the Philippines, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. The final chapter of this sad experiment in human history will see us sacrificed as those on the outer reaches of empire were sacrificed. There is a kind of justice to this. We profited as a nation from this demented vision, we remained passive and silent when we should have denounced the crimes committed in our name, and now that the game is up we all go down together.

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license.

Gadgets and Inequality


Earlier this year, the exceedingly wealthy Mitt Romney told an interviewer that “envy” was driving those poor misguided non-wealthy souls who rail against America’s ever more concentrated distribution of income and wealth.

Wealthy people like Mitt tend to whip out this “envy card” whenever Americans of modest means start opining about inequality. And the envy card usually works fairly well, so well, in fact, that some wealthy are now playing the envy card against their fellow rich. Last week, for instance, we saw that play just outside Washington, D.C., in an exclusive wooded enclave of five-acre estates.

The rich in that enclave are feuding. One couple wants to raze trees and build a massive $20-million mansion modeled after the Palace of Versailles. Neighbors are suing to stop the project. Retorts the lawyer for Versailles-by-the-Potomac: “I wonder whether it might be envy motivating the neighbors’ complaints.”

In this week’s Too Much, we have plenty more complaints about grand accumulations of private wealth. All driven by envy? You be the judge.



The top new frustration facing the world’s super rich? That may be, suggests the Wall Street Journal, “too many giant yachts and not enough places to park them.” In Asia, Reuters reported last week, “the region's nascent yachting class” is facing “trouble finding a berth in overcrowded marinas.” In Barcelona, a private investment fund has bought up dockside real estate in a working-class neighborhood and now wants a license to build a marina big enough to handle yachts that run up to nearly 200 yards long. Local residents are opposing the license bid. The proposed luxury marina, says 68-year-old pensioner Antonio Garcia “will price us out, turning the port into a place only for the very rich.”

In Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, lawmakers have just adopted a new 2 percent surtax on income over $500,000. The increase will bring the top combined federal and provincial tax rate on Ontario’s rich to 48.5 percent. In the United States, the top combined federal-state income tax rate runs as low as 35 percent. In Washington last week, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor came out in favor of considering a tax increase — on poor people. We’ve “got to discuss that issue,” the Virginia Republican told reporters. Cantor remains opposed to any tax hike on Americans of ample means. Explains the GOP leader: “I’ve never believed that you go raise taxes on those that have been successful.”

U.S. CEOs have a new headache: how to handle increasingly robust protests at corporate annual meetings. Thousands of activists last week descended on the shareholder meetings of General Electric and Wells Fargo. In San Francisco, protestors at the Wells Fargo session contrasted “the bank’s leading role in the loss of millions of American homes to foreclosure” with CEO John Stumpf’s $19.8 million in 2011 compensation. Wells Fargo and other big U.S. banks, the New York Times noted last Thursday, are now bombarding poor neighborhoods with “payday loans” and other new financial “services” that carry predatory loan-level fees and remain “largely untouched” by new federal regulations.





Quote of the Week

“I have clients who wake up in the morning and say, ‘Let’s go to Venice for lunch.’”
Jeremy Davidson, a London consultant serving a mega-millionaire clientele, Stateless and super-rich, Financial Times, April 28, 2012




Back in 2010, the CEO of Boston’s Liberty Mutual insurance company loudly complained that Massachusetts taxpayers “are paying excess taxes to support government workers who get high salaries and very rich benefits.’’ That chief exec, Ted Kelly, turns out to have been — at that very moment — halfway through a four-year stretch that had him taking home an average $50 million per year. In 2010, Liberty Mutual also pocketed a $46.5 million taxpayer subsidy to build a new office building in Boston while maintaining a private fleet of five corporate jets that, notes the Boston Globe’s Brian McGrory, made “an unusual number of stops at airports near Kelly’s vacation homes.” Liberty Mutual PR staff refused earlier this month to comment on Kelly’s travel. They cite “security reasons.”


Stat of the Week

Since 2000, 21 U.S. CEOs have walked off into the sunset with “golden parachutes” worth over $100 million, notes the GMI Ratings Report. Some 60 percent of U.S. workers 55 or older, the Employee Benefit Research Institute points out, now have less than $100,000 in their retirement accounts.


inequality by the numbers






Take Action
on Inequality

Join a local action planned to mark this May 1 as “A Day Without the 99%.”

Move your money to send a message against big bank CEO profiteering.

Urge the SEC to require companies to report their CEO-to-worker pay ratios.

Start a Resilience Circle
for economic security and community building.



Gadgetopia: Chasing After an Elusive Dream

Bits and bytes would be doing a lot more to help make our lives less nasty, brutish, and short if we shared wealth as routinely as bandwidth. From San Francisco, a new lesson in that reality.

Better living through chemistry. So promised the flacks for DuPont over a generation ago. Our corporate flacks today have a much jazzier message. Better living through gadgets — the smart phones and tablets and whatevers that almost all of us obsess over.

These gadgets certainly can perform wonders. In San Francisco, for instance, a small band of volunteers last summer created an Apple iPad app that can track the whereabouts of every city bus in “real time.”

Imagine that. No more wasted minutes waiting endlessly at bus stops. Smoother commutes for passengers, easier trouble-shooting for bus system managers. Better living indeed.

The folks at San Francisco’s Municipal Transportation Agency couldn't agree more. They can’t wait to put the new app into operation. Unfortunately, they can’t afford to put the new app into operation. The agency, an official explains, is running millions over budget and can’t come up with enough dollars “to buy the iPads required to run the software.”

Why the shortfall? The short answer you'll never hear a bureaucrat give: class war. The long answer: Our world’s incredibly unequal distribution of wealth and power is keeping us from enjoying better lives through gadgets, chemistry, and just about everything else that ought to be improving our human condition.

Let’s start our San Francisco transit backstory with that Apple iPad. At the end of last year, notes Economic Policy Institute analyst Ross Eisenbrey, Apple was selling the iPad to wireless carriers for an average $630 per unit.

What made the gadget so costly? Not labor costs. Apple’s Chinese manufacturing supplier, the notorious Foxconn high-tech factory colossus, was shelling out only $15 per unit to the workers who were actually making the iPads. An additional $296 per unit was going for components and other costs.

That left Apple, back in the United States, with a profit of $319 per every $630 iPad sold. Profits this ample have made Apple’s executive brass enormously rich.

Apple top dog Steve Jobs passed away last year with a fortune estimated at $8.3 billion. His successor, Timothy Cook, inked a pay deal last summer worth $378 million. Cook “makes in 2 hours and 12 minutes,” the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette noted last week, “what the president of the United States makes in a year.”

Apple, of course, hardly stands alone in the high-tech world. Most all America's high-tech giants are exploiting workers and fleecing consumers — and handsomely rewarding those execs who do the exploiting and fleecing.

We don’t have overall high-tech industry executive pay figures in yet for 2011. In 2010, Silicon Valley’s top execs pocketed paychecks up an average 37 percent.

But exploiting and fleecing, we need to keep in mind, haven’t just made high-tech execs exceedingly rich. The wealth this exploiting and fleecing have generated has left high-tech movers and shakers extraordinarily powerful in the political sphere as well, powerful enough to carve mammoth loopholes into the tax code.

How deep do those loopholes go? The California-based Greenlining Institute last week revealed that America’s top 30 tech companies paid on average only 16 percent of their 2011 profits in federal income tax, less than half the 35 percent tax rate that corporations are supposed to be paying.

Apple paid out even less. The company pulled in over $34 billion in 2011 profits and paid federal corporate income tax at just a 9.8 percent rate.

High-tech giants are doggedly dodging local taxes as well. In San Francisco last May, elected officials saw fit to exempt the city’s big high-tech players — Twitter and gaming giant Zynga among them — from the full bite of a 1.5 payroll tax supposed to apply to all income, windfall cashouts from stock options included.

Under the new tax exemption enacted in San Francisco last year, individual high-tech powerhouse corporations need not pay more than $750,000 in payroll tax on stock-based compensation.

The impact of that decision? Zynga’s initial public stock sale took place last December and made the company’s CEO a billionaire two times over. On the Zynga stock compensation windfall alone, the high-tech tax break adopted last year cost the San Francisco city treasury at least $6 million.

The revenue this tax break is costing San Francisco’s treasury will rise appreciably higher next year. Twitter, an online goliath that dwarfs Zynga in size, will likely start hawking shares on Wall Street in 2012. The resulting stock option windfalls will be immense.

And that brings us all the way back to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, the underfunded public transit operation that can’t afford to buy enough iPads to start using that nifty app that would make life so much easier for every city bus rider.

In our contemporary United States, these bus riders simply do not rate. Modern societies, their story reminds us, needs more than great gadgets. We need less inequality. Much less.




New Wisdom
on Wealth

Peter Diamond and Emmanuel Saez, High Tax Rates Won’t Slow Growth, Wall Street Journal, April 24, 2012. Two top economists make the case for doubling the top tax rate on U.S. income, from the current 35 percent to the 70 percent in effect as late as 1980.

Jim Hightower, Romney's Economic Fix and the Inequity of Private-Equity Hustlers, Common Dreams, April 25, 2012. A good primer on how private equity firms create wealth — for their partners.

Zachary Mider and Jeff Green, How to Get a Pay Raise (If You're a CEO), Bloomberg Businessweek, April 26, 2012. A delightful analysis that skewers the games corporate boards play to rig executive pay.

David Malone, The Midas Touch: Swiss style, Golem XIV, April 26, 2012. How playing to the super rich has undermined the quality of everyday life in Switzerland.







In Review

Why So Few Celebrate Our Rising Productivity

Lawrence Mishel, The wedges between productivity and median compensation growth, Economic Policy Institute Issue Brief, April 26, 2012.

A brick factory makes 10,000 bricks a day. But then the factory happens on a new brick-making technique, reorganizes production, and starts making 15,000 bricks a day, with the same workers working the same hours.

Those workers have, in economic terms, become more “productive.” Who should benefit from this increased productivity? Should the benefits flow to the factory owner, as higher profits, or to the workers themselves, as higher wages? Or should that increased productivity translate into lower prices for consumers?

Or should all of the above — owner, workers, and consumers — benefit?

America's answer in the decades right after World War II: all of the above.

Corporations did just fine in the immediate postwar decades as the nation’s productivity rose steadily. But so did average Americans, as both workers and consumers. Over the course of the postwar years, Americans shared the wealth that higher productivity created. The nation would experience the greatest epoch of middle class prosperity the world had ever seen.

What happened next? That’s the story that Lawrence Mishel, the president of the Washington, D.C.-based Economic Policy Institute, tells in his just-released preview on productivity from the upcoming new edition of EPI’s biannual economic factbook series, The State of Working America.

Mishel tells his story with lots of useful numbers. But we can sum up his data in just three quick words. The sharing stopped. Since 1973, average Americans have realized little benefit from rising U.S. economic productivity.

Between 1973 and 2011, that productivity most certainly did rise substantially, by 80.4 percent. That increase, EPI's Mishel notes, would have easily been “enough to generate large advances in living standards and wages if productivity gains were broadly shared.”

But those gains would not be shared. Average hourly compensation in the United States increased by just 39.2 percent between 1973 and 2011, less than half the increase in productivity.

This 39.2 percent figure actually overstates the increase in compensation average Americans realized — because this hourly compensation total includes the pay of all “employees,” from CEOs to day laborers.

Median U.S. workers — the nation's most typical workers — didn’t come close to that 39.2 percent. Their pay increased only 10.7 percent from 1973 to 2011.

We have, Mishel explains, two different dynamics at play here. That “wedge” between productivity (up 80.4 percent) and overall hourly compensation (up 39.2 percent) reflects “an overall shift in how much of the income in the economy is received in wages by workers and how much is received by owners of capital.”

Between 1973 and 2011, owners clearly won. Much more of the gains from productivity went to profits and dividends than to wages and salaries.

The second wedge — the gap between “average” hourly earnings (up 39.2 percent) and median hourly earnings (up 10.7 percent) — reflects the exploding gap between executive pay and typical worker pay. Between 1973 and 2011, CEOs clearly won. Their sky-high rewards jacked up our “average” pay figures.

And what about consumers? Average Americans as consumers, like average Americans as workers, haven’t done so well since 1973. Workers have suffered, Mishel relates, as “the prices of things they buy (i.e., consumer goods and services) have risen faster than the items they produce.”

What accounts for all these “wedges” since 1973? Average American working people simply no longer have the economic and political clout they held back in the middle of the 20th century. The shrinking percentage of Americans who belong to trade unions has left collective bargaining a rarity in the private sector.

And without strong unions on the nation’s political stage, basic labor standards — like the minimum wage — have lost much of their capacity to guarantee workers a fair share of the wealth that increasing productivity creates.

What does the future hold? Probably continued higher productivity. But that higher productivity will never translate into better lives for all Americans — unless we share the wealth that higher productivity creates.


Inequality Links


Common Security Clubs/Resilience Circles

99% Power

United for a Fair Economy

Wealth for the
Common Good


Occupy the Board Room

The Other 98%

US Uncut

The Equality Trust

New Economy
Working Group

Class Action

Mind the Gap

Tax Justice Network

The Robin Hood Tax

Us Against Greed

Make Wall Street Pay

Patriotic Millionaires
for Fiscal Strength

We Are the 99 Percent




What Occupy Is Fighting for This May 1st

May Day's Radical History: What Occupy Is Fighting for This May 1st

Occupy actions planned on May Day are tied to the generations-long movement for the eight-hour day, to immigrant workers, to police brutality and repression of the labor movement.

American general strikes—or rather, American calls for general strikes, like the one Occupy Los Angeles issued last December that has been endorsed by over 150 general assemblies—are tinged with nostalgia.

The last real general strike in this country, which is to say, the last general strike that shut down a city, was in Oakland, California in 1946—though journalist John Nichols has suggested that what we saw in Madison, Wisconsin last year was a sort of general strike. When we call a general strike, or talk of one, we refer not to a current mode of organizing; we refer back, implicitly or explicitly, to some of the most militant moments in American working-class history. People posting on the Occupy strike blog How I Strike have suggested that next week’s May Day is highly symbolic. As we think about and develop new ways of “general striking,” we also reconnect with a past we've mostly forgotten.

So it makes sense that this year’s call for an Occupy general strike—whatever ends up happening on Tuesday—falls on May 1. May Day is a beautifully American holiday, one created by American workers, crushed by the American government, incubated abroad, and returned to the United States by immigrant workers.

The history of May 1 as a workers’ holiday is intimately tied to the generations-long movement for the eight-hour day, to immigrant workers, to police brutality and repression of the labor movement, and to the long tradition of American anarchism.

Perhaps the first nation-wide labor movement in the United States started in 1864, when workers began to agitate for an eight-hour day. This was, in their understanding, a natural outgrowth of the abolition of slavery; a limited work day allowed workers to spend more time with their families, to pursue education, and to enjoy leisure time. In other words, a shorter work day meant freedom. It was not for nothing that in 1866, workers celebrated the Fourth of July by singing “John Brown’s Body” with new lyrics demanding an eight-hour day. Agitating for shorter hours became a broad-based mass movement, and skilled and unskilled workers organized together. The movement would allow no racial, national or even religious divisions. Workers built specific organizations—Eight Hour Leagues—but they also used that momentum to establish new unions and strengthen old ones. That year, the Eight Hour Movement gained its first legislative victory when Illinois passed a law limiting work hours.

The demand for an eight-hour day was about leisure, self-improvement and freedom, but it was also about power. When Eight Hour Leagues agitated for legislation requiring short hours, they were demanding what had never before happened: that the government regulate industry for the advantage of workers. And when workers sought to enforce the eight-hour day without the government—through declaring for themselves, through their unions, under what conditions they would work—they sought something still more radical: control over their own workplaces. It is telling that employers would often counter a demand for shorter hours with an offer of a wage increase. Wage increases could be given (and taken away) by employers without giving up their power; agreeing to shorter hours was, employers knew, the beginning of losing their arbitrary power over their workers.

The Illinois eight-hour law was to go into effect May 1, 1867. That day, tens of thousands of Chicago’s workers celebrated in what a newspaper called “the largest procession ever seen on the streets of Chicago.” But the day after, employers, en masse, ignored the law, ordering their workers to stay the customary 10 or 11 hours. The city erupted in a general strike--workers struck, and those who didn’t leave work were forced to by gangs of their colleagues roaming through the streets, armed with sticks, dragging out scabs. After several days of the strike, the state militia arrived and occupied working-class neighborhoods. By May 8, employers and the state they controlled had won, and workers went back to work with their long hours. The loss of the eight-hour-day movement led also to a massive decline in unions, and the labor movement would not pick up in such numbers for almost two decades.

The Illinois law and its defeat, however, were not forgotten. By the 1880s, a new labor movement had grown up in Chicago. This one was more radical and was dominated by immigrant workers from Germany. They remembered 1877, when a strike by railroad workers spread around the country. For a brief moment, as strikers took control of St. Louis and Pittsburgh, staring down the national guard and local police, nobody knew what would happen. But President Rutherford B. Hayes called out the army and brutally repressed the strike. They also remembered the state was rarely if ever on the side of the worker. Yet they also remembered the brief shining moment when it appeared that there might be an eight-hour day.

So in 1886, the Chicago Central Labor Union again demanded an eight-hour day. Led largely by anarchists like August Spies and Albert Parsons, this renewed movement demanded “eight for 10”--that is, eight hours’ work for 10 hours’ pay. Throughout the winter of 1886, they successfully organized and won a series of small victories, largely in German butchers’ shops, breweries and bakeries, where owners agreed to recognize unions and grant shorter hours. Then they issued a new demand: that again on May 1, Chicago would go on a general strike and not return to work unless employers agreed to an eight-hour workday.

The demands of the militant Chicago anarchists coincided with a massive upswing in other militant movements. Workers and Texas farmers were rebelling against a monopolistic railroad system. The Knights of Labor were rapidly organizing and spreading their vision of a cooperative, rather than capitalistic, society. “What happened on May 1, 1886,” writes James Green, the most recent and most accessible historian to have written about it, “was more than a general strike; it was a ‘populist moment’ when working people believed they could destroy plutocracy, redeem democracy and then create a new ‘cooperative commonwealth.’”

Four days later, it all came crashing down. On May 3, police had shot to death six strikers at the McCormick Works, where a long-standing labor dispute had turned the factory into an armed camp, and beaten dozens more. On May 4, anarchists held an outdoor indignation meeting at a square called the Haymarket to protest the police murders. Anarchist leader Samuel Fielden was wrapping up his speech when the police, led by the same inspector who had led the charge at McCormick the night before, moved in to disperse the crowd. “But we are peaceable!” Fielden cried, and just then somebody wasn’t. Somebody threw a bomb at the police, the police open fire, and the course of American history changed. 

To this day we do not know, nor will we likely ever know, who threw the bomb. Some say it was an agent provocateur. Some say it was an anarchist. If it wasn’t an anarchist, it surely could have been, since there were indeed anarchists who made bombs and would have thrown one given the opportunity. But we also know that many of those who died that night, including police, were felled by the police bullets.

We also know that the effect of the Haymarket bombing was far greater on the labor movement than it was on the police. Eight anarchist leaders were rounded up and put on trial for the murder of a police officer. No evidence was ever given that any of them threw the bomb, and only the flimsiest evidence was presented that any of them were remotely involved. All eight were convicted, and seven were sentenced to hang. Two of these had their sentences commuted, and a third—Louis Lingg, undoubtedly the most radical and militant of them—cheated the hangman by chewing a detonator cap and blowing off his jaw. The remaining four—August Spies, Albert Parsons, Samuel Fischer, and George Engel—were hanged on November 11, 1887. They went to their deaths singing the Marseillaise, then an anthem of the international revolutionary movement, and before he died, Spies shouted out his famous last words: “The time will come when our silence will be more powerful than the voices you strangle today.”

Before that happened, the state ensured more silence. The strike collapsed. Police around the country raided radicals’ homes and newspapers. The Knights of Labor never recovered. In the place of the radical industrial labor movement of the mid-1880s rose the American Federation of Labor, the much more exclusive and conservative organization that would dominate the labor movement until the 1930s. Meanwhile, it would take until the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to finally enshrine the eight-hour day into federal law.

May 1 would live on, mostly abroad. In 1889, French syndicalist Raymond Lavigne proposed to the Second International—the international and internationalist coalition of socialist parties—that May 1 be celebrated internationally the next year to honor the Haymarket Martyrs and demand the eight-hour day, and the year after that the International adopted the day as an international workers’ holiday. In countries with strong socialist and communist traditions, May 1 became the primary day to celebrate work, workers and their organizations, often with direct and explicit reference to the Haymarket Martyrs. May Day remains an official holiday in countries ranging from Argentina to India to Malaysia to Croatia—and dozens of countries in between.

Yet in the United States, with some exception, the workers’ tradition of May 1 died out. Partially this was because the Knights of Labor had already established a labor day in September. Opportunistic politicians, most notably Grover Cleveland, glommed onto the Knights’ holiday in order to diminish the symbolic power of May 1. In 1921, May Day was declared “Americanization Day,” and later “Loyalty Day” in a deliberately ironic attempt to co-opt the holiday. Even that was not enough, though, and in 1958 Dwight Eisenhower added “Law Day” to the mix, presumably a deliberate jibe at the Haymarket anarchists who declared, “All law is slavery.” Today, few if any Americans celebrate Loyalty Day or Law Day—although both are on the books—but the origins of May Day are largely forgotten. Like International Women’s Day (March 8), which also originated in the U.S., International Workers’ Day became a holiday the rest of the world celebrates while Americans look on in confusion, if they notice at all.

Yet May 1 lives on, and indeed has been rejuvenated in the United States in the past few years. In 2006, immigrant activists organized “a day without an immigrant,” a nationwide strike of immigrant workers and rallies. It was perhaps the largest demonstration of workers in United States history. These immigrants, mostly from Latin America, had brought May 1 back to its birthplace, and in so doing they resurrected its history as a day specifically for immigrant workers.

It is appropriate that when the Occupy L. A. first issued its call for a general strike this May 1, it said the strike was “for migrant rights, jobs for all, a moratorium on foreclosures, and peace.” The order was significant, for migrants in the United States have been the ones who have made sure that the voices the state strangled that November day have remained so powerful. And regardless of what happens on Tuesday—and of course an actual general strike, in which cities grind to a halt and workers control what activities occur, is unlikely—we can, through a national day of action for the working class, work toward a new cooperative commonweath. We have a opportunity now to create and renew the labor movement, through new tactics, but ones that pay homage to the generations that preceded us.


Jacob Remes teaches history and public affairs at Empire State College, SUNY’s college for adult learners.














The innovative programs that put Americans to work during the Depression.

NASA’s Psychedelic Concepts From The 1970s Are Still Inspiring Today

NASA’s Psychedelic Concepts From The 1970s Are Still Inspiring Today

Future Forward

A reminder that NASA needs to remember the powerful force of conceptual design.

Our excitement for space didn’t end when we put a man on the moon in the 1960s. In the late 1970s, we were still obsessed with the voids beyond our atmosphere. A little film called Star Wars came out, of course, but we also had the rise of Carl Sagan as a household name. He was producing a nonfiction series called Cosmos that would be seen by 500 million people worldwide and become the most successful series in PBS history.

Unsurprisingly, it was a time when NASA, too, dreamed on the epic scale.


Amongst their many projects at the time, NASA Ames proposed massive spaceships that would orbit communities of 10,000 people around the earth--planned communities in space--and they commissioned a series fantastical artistic renderings of the vision. “These orbital space settlements could be wonderful places to live; about the size of a California beach town and endowed with weightless recreation, fantastic views, freedom, elbow-room in spades, and great wealth,” describes Al Globus, Senior Research Associate for NASA Ames.

The concepts look like America’s post-WWII suburban settlements popped LSD, as if every manicured bush is humming the national anthem while it soars through the galaxy on a psychedelic rainbow. Today, we’re convincing millionaires to book a glorified bus trip into the closest edge of space. In the 1970s, the same efforts could have leased them a two-bed, two-bath condo in the stars, complete with integrated Hi-Fi.


As of late, NASA has lost something that’s a lot bigger than their funding--and a skeptic might say it’s the very reason they’ve lost their funding. Case in point: These jaw-dropping human colony concepts are now outsourced to students.

While our Mars rovers and the newly modified Hubble telescope have represented some of the greatest scientific accomplishments in human history, when is the last time that the common person was inspired by the vision and scope of the space program? When is the last time we got a wide-eyed, multicolor explosion of ideas from some of the greatest thinkers in the world pondering the largest problems in the universe? When is the last time physicists painted a picture of the future that they’d otherwise only glimpse in their mind’s eye?

Though they’re often silly in retrospect, concept designs are a powerful tool. They’re lucid dreaming that the public gets to share in. NASA, sometimes it’s worth coming down from orbit, just to remind us all how very, very high you’re trying to fly.


[Hat tip: It’s Nice That]


Mark Wilson

Mark Wilson is a writer who started Philanthroper.com, a simple way to give back every day. His work has also appeared at Gizmodo, Kotaku, PopMech, PopSci, ..

Mayhem 2012: gearing up for a global spring of discontent

Mayhem 2012: gearing up for a global spring of discontent

Posted: 29 Apr 2012 09:02 AM PDT

Post image for Mayhem 2012: gearing up for a global spring of discontent

In May, the 99 percent will open up new avenues of resistance as activists around the world gear up for the intensification of popular protest and direct action.

And we’re back! After months of relative quiet, interspersed with a handful of mass protests and radical events — like the general strike in Spain and the re-occupation of Wall Street — our movement is on course to escalate into a massive social orgasm of non-violent popular resistance against the diktat of finance capital and the military-industrial complex.

Long left for ‘dead‘ by the mainstream media and political institutions, we once again finds ourselves in the luxury position of the underdog — capable once more of harnessing the element of surprise to grab the system by its proverbial balls when it least expects it; twisting, twirling and turning right where it hurts.

Who knows what this spring will bring! Perhaps May 2012 will forever be remembered as the month in which the worldwide resistance against a defunct global capitalist system spiraled out into orbit? In its latest tactical briefing, Adbusters alluded to that legendary spring 44 years ago, urging us to be inspired by the revolutionary legacy of May ’68, while avoiding the failures and pitfalls that beset the social movements of the past.

With thousands of actions planned in cities all around the world, whatever may happen is bound to become massive and legendary. On May 1, International Workers Day, the Occupy movement in the US will kick off the global spring of discontent with a countrywide general strike. The event is remarkable because, in an attempt to dissociate the event from the international workers’ movement, the US traditionally celebrates Labor Day on September 3.

As Occupy Wall St. writes:

While American corporate media has focused on yet another stale election between Wall Street-financed candidates, Occupy has been organizing something extraordinary: the first truly nationwide General Strike in U.S. history. Building on the international celebration of May Day, past General Strikes in U.S. cities like Seattle and Oakland, the recent May 1st Day Without An Immigrant demonstrations, the national general strikes in Spain this year, and the on-going student strike in Quebec, the Occupy Movement has called for A Day Without the 99% on May 1st, 2012. This in and of itself is a tremendous victory. For the first time, workers, students, immigrants, and the unemployed from over 125 U.S. cities will stand together for economic justice.

Adbusters elaborates:

For thirty-one magical days beginning this Tuesday, May 1, we take the plunge and Strike! We block the Golden Gate Bridge; occupy a Manhattan-bound tunnel; seize the ports. In 115 cities, we march into banks, erect tents and refuse to leave. We disrupt financial institutions forcing thousands to preemptively close. Five thousand of us pray, dance, sleep on Wall Street and in front of the Fed and if the Bloombergs of the world bring out paramilitary police to intimidate us, we use our social media fire to call out 50,000 more occupiers and intimidate them right back.

On May 3, the governing council of the European Central Bank is due to meet in Barcelona. With Spain now the focal point in Europe’s protracted and deepening debt crisis, the Spanish and Catalan authorities have grown so paranoid of popular protest that they have decided to temporarily suspend the Schengen Treaty in order to be able to re-institute border controls in an attempt to block international activists from descending upon Barcelona.

Then, on May 12, the resistance will culminate into another global day of action, called for by the international wing of the Spanish 15-M movement (Real Democracy NOW! and Take the Square). With protests scheduled from Athens to Sao Paulo and from New York to Moscow, #12M will be the much anticipated follow-up to last year’s immensely successful transnational mobilization of October 15, which saw people taking to the streets of over 1,000 cities in 82 countries.

After this epic day of global protest, May 15 will mark the first anniversary of the Spanish real democracy movement. Exactly a year after the occupation of Puerta del Sol in Madrid, the indignados are now planning to re-occupy squares across the country, including the Placa de Catalunya in Barcelona. With the conservative government of Prime Minister Rajoy threatening not to tolerate the occupations, we might be up for some massive confrontations with police.

While the indignados defend their tents in Spain, our American brothers and sisters will descend upon Chicago for a massive mobilization against the G8 on May 18-19 and against NATO on May 20-21. Out of sheer fear for the movement, President Obama already decided to move the G8 meeting from Chicago to the heavily-guarded presidential compound at Camp David, but activists have pledged to bring downtown Chicago to a standstill regardless.

At the same time, on May 16-19, thousands will descend upon the eurozone’s financial headquarters in Frankfurt for what is set to become one of the largest and most radical street protests in Europe since the 2001 G8 protests in Genoa. Organizers have pledged to ‘blockupy‘ the city and bring all business activity to a complete halt. With activists bused in from Spain, Italy, France and even Greece, the European activist community is buzzing in anticipation.

This Spring, we will sweep through the streets and storm the squares, block, squat and occupy the public sphere, reclaim the commons, and reassert our resistance against the corruption of our democracy by the forces of finance capital. We will continue to envision a radically different society, and let it be born and grow in our assemblies and occupations. This Spring, we will unite, once more, to unleash our peaceful mayhem upon the world.

For the realization is slowly beginning to dawn upon the people that nothing less will do than a revolutionary break with the status quo. Don’t believe what the media say. We are stronger than ever before. And in this global spring of discontent, we will prove it once and for all.

During the month of May, ROAR will provide you with coverage from Amsterdam, Barcelona, Madrid, Frankfurt and several other European cities. We are still looking for contributors in the United States and elsewhere to provide us with the latest updates on developments there. Please contact us here if you are interested in contributing to our Mayhem 2012 coverage. We are especially looking for experienced writers in New York.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Takeover: Corruption, commerce, and the Bay Area Music scene.

Music scene.

Takeover: Corruption, commerce, and the Bay Area Music scene.

March 30, 2012



By Piero Amadeo Infante



The Christian right has for over 50 years attacked music, free speech, hippies, counter-culture, black music, Latinos, people of color, interracial relationships, and gay marriage.  They have made life a living hell for all freedom-loving people in general, and for liberals in particular. They have robbed the poor, using taxpayer money to make themselves and their friends in the military industrial complex very wealthy. They have passed laws to criminalize activity while at the same time profiting from the arrests through their privatized prisons.  The conservative elite in this country are the enemy of free artistic expression at all costs. And our little Northern California leftist protest culture has irked them for decades.

And they have made some notable moves on our Bay Area music scene and culture. Moves most of you probably haven’t heard about, because most of our so-called “Alternative press” like SF Weekly, Bay Guardian, and the East Bay Express, is sponsored by them and these papers won’t touch this subject, even while they pose themselves as “the people’s” news publications.

Shameful. And sad.

In the Bay Area these radical right wing evangelicals are operating freely in the entertainment industry with the support of hundreds of local musicians and workers, and taking money directly from our communities to use against us. Prop 8, the Criminalization of Marijuana, and the building of several private prisons are achieved, using the money that we spend with these secretive and clever organizations that have been here for years.

The Bay is just a small part of a sprawling network that now controls the American popular music market.  The people running it have plans for those of us who make a living from—and express ourselves politically and socially through music and the arts.

Those plans include ending the local music economy forever, and eliminating political, and social dissent in music, in live venues, in radio, and on the Internet.

As a musician and writer, I’ve been proud to come from here. The SF Bay Area. Oakland. Street music. Resistance music. Tower of Power, Santana, the psychedelic movement, Country Joe, Taj Mahal, Janis, places like the Avalon, Winterland, the Keystone, and the Fillmore.

One afternoon in 2008, I dropped by the venue one afternoon and noticed several displays advertising everything from Body wash, to Vodka.

Knowing the history of the place, and the non-corporate attitudes of some of its founders, I thought that strange, and called a friend who had worked there, and asked them why the displays were there.

A spacious and long hall, with an upper balcony on one side, somewhat ritzy with a great set of chandeliers, and hardwood floor, the Fillmore would come to be the desired place to play for my generation of musicians. It always seemed to sound great, and the food wasn’t bad either.

In 1965, impresario Bill Graham met with an artist named Paul Olsen. Their initial meetings were called “The Artist’s Liberation Front” Olsen had a poster company called Funky Features that would go on to make some of the most memorable and iconic art associated with SF’s new musical scene in the ’60s and early ’70s.  The Fillmore became the epicenter of counter culture, and the new left, as well as the aspirations of an entire generation of hippies, revolutionaries, free thinkers, and artists all over the world.

I was surprised to discover that the Fillmore now belonged to a company called Live Nation, and that they didn’t really book any local acts anymore and that they were headed by a corporate division out of Beverly Hills and run by a man named Michael Rapino.

Live Nation is a live event promotion company, formed in 2005, as a spin-off of a much larger company. In 2005, Live Nation promoted or produced over 28,500 events, including music concerts, theatrical shows, specialized motor sports and other events, with total attendance exceeding 61 million people. Live Nation owned or operated 117 venues, consisting of 75 US and 42 international venues. These venues include 39 amphitheaters, 58 theaters, 14 clubs, four arenas and two festival sites. In addition, through equity, booking or similar arrangements, Live Nation has the right to book events at 33 additional venues.

Live Nation was created as a separate entity, by this larger company, to offset some of the legal and anti-monopoly cases clear channel began to field, after FCC chairman Michael Powell, son of General Colin Powell, deregulated anti-monopoly laws in 2003, allowing for conglomerate companies to own as many companies as they could buy.

This trend began when Bill Clinton first signed into effect the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The deregulation in 2003 put nearly complete control of mainstream radio in the United States, into the hands of one company, headed by three families.

The name of that company is Clear Channel Communications. And the family in the driver’s seat is the Mays family, headed by Lowry Mays, a far-right Christian fundamentalist out of Texas.

A massive donor to right-wing republican conservative causes, Lowry Mays attended the A&M College of Texas and later earned an MBA from Harvard, and is a former Air Force Officer, from Harris County Texas. His Founded Clear Channel in 1972, buying a single radio station in Texas for $175k. He purchased it with his partner Red McCombs, another wealthy supporter of right wing Christian causes.

Along with Clear Channel’s “consolidation” came a lot of controversy. The Dixie Chicks were practically banned from all Clear Channel stations after their lead singer, Natalie Maines, said publicly that she was ashamed that George W. Bush was from her home state of Texas. Bad girl. Suddenly country’s number one act was pulled from country radio, despite the fact that they were then riding on the crest of a multi-million selling CD, and were the forward charge of the “new country” musical movement.

After September 11, a program director at the chain suggested that other songs, including Paul Simon’s “Bridge over Troubled Water” and the John Lennon anthem “Imagine,” not be played. And they practically vanished from the airwaves. Radio shock jock Howard Stern had several memorable clashes with Michael Powell in the press, and once on air, insinuated that his father had gotten him the job. Michael Powell had no broadcast experience whatsoever before Bush appointed him head of the FCC.  The FCC’s response was to fine him like crazy for each and any infraction of “decency” and language, and to make the operations of his radio show on broadcast radio nearly impossible. Stern eventually partnered with Sirius satellite radio, acquiring two stations as a result of these clashes, and remains to this day the most visible and vocal critic of Clear Channel and right wing media control.

These were in essence, both unprecedented examples of politically motivated full-scale American media power plays, by a group of far-right-wing Christian fundamentalists, with deep roots in Texas oil, the Skull and Bones, and the Council for National Policy, a secretive and powerful right-wing think tank and activist group with roots in the extremist Christian reconstructionist movement, started by Rousas John Rushdoony. While Clear Channel was sold to Bain Capital, the Mays family still sits on the board, with Lowry Mays and his sons running the day to day operations.

It gets even deeper here, as the CEO of Bain capital is none other than former Massachusetts governor, Mitt Romney. Romney, a Mormon, was also a candidate for the Republican nomination in the 2008 and 2012 United States presidential elections, and who spoke at a gathering held by the Council for National Policy at their private function held in Salt Lake City.  As of February 2007, the organization was planning involvement in the 2008 and 2012 presidential election campaigns.

This was not an isolated incident.  More than one group of  far-right, liberal-hating apocalyptos, were working freely here in the Bay Area with the help of people I have known and respected for years.

The offices of Goldenvoice lie somewhere near the War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco. Their actual addresses, like many things about their company, are something of a secret.

Goldenvoice was founded in the ’80s by Gary Tovar, who signed over control of Goldenvoice to partners, Paul Tollett and Rick Van Santen, in 1991, after Tovar was arrested on drug distribution charges. Originally conceived as a way for punk music to find bigger audiences, in the ’80s, when punk was regarded as a violent subculture by the mainstream media.

The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nirvana, Social Distortion, and Jane’s Addiction, as well as hundreds of popular alternative, hardcore and punk bands, all owe their beginning popularity in California to the upstart company whose co-founder Rick Van Santen died in 2004.

Goldenvoice was regarded as the jewel of indie promotion companies in California. Large-scale, non-corporate, edgy pop music and hard rock acts finally had venues to play at all up and down the California coast, and locals in most of their cities couldn’t have been happier. They quickly developed a reputation as a hands-on, personal company, with fair business practices, and Van Santen to this day, is thought of as a saint among California promoters.

Goldenvoice had a serious struggle on their hands, competing against much larger nationally known concert promotion companies, and large scale concert tours and sponsors. Their biggest victory was starting the now-annual Coachella Festival in 1999. Coachella has since become one of the biggest annual concerts in the United States, featuring Radiohead, Madonna, and other globally popular, platinum-selling artists, as well as hundreds of up and comers.

And out came the wolves.  In this case it was the radical, far-right, Christian theocratic billionaire Philip Frederick Anschutz.  With an estimated current net worth of $7.8 billion, he is ranked by Forbes as the 31st richest person in the USA.

Inexplicably, Tollett and Van Santen sold Goldenvoice to the Anschutz Entertainment Group in 2001 for a measly $7 million and continued to run the firm from within the corporation.

Anschutz’s personal friends and social circle reads like a Who’s Who of radical Christian theocracy. While being on the board American Petroleum Institute Board of Directors, he is also a donor, sponsor, board member, and investor for Americans for Truth in Politics, the America’s Foundation, the Discovery Institute, and many other conservative policy organizations.  He has been a major donor in every important republican campaign in the United States in the last 20 years. Goldenvoice also recently had themselves removed from Wikipedia, and try to distance themselves publicly from their parent company, Anschutz’s holding company, AEG (Anschutz Entertainment Group).

The fact that a man like this would come to own the Coachella musical festival, and that no one would be the wiser, or even care enough to so much as utter a word about it, is one of the worst signs for the future of music the industry has seen, since the initial rounds of deregulation in the ’90s

They had pulled it off. The conservative right had just taken over all the major live concert venues. They had taken nearly complete control of the airwaves, nearly all the billboards, and were essentially now holding the future of American pop music culture in their crafty hands, and an entire generation of musicians never saw it coming.

I marveled at what it meant for me and future generations of artists, fans, industry people, and activists. Millions of us have already, for years now decried the stupid, pop-slush, teen beat, boy-band, lip synching, garbage being constantly promoted to us on radio and TV. Corporate “consolidation” has assisted the right in totally closing down activist-aware hip hop in favor of commercial “bling” rap, and replaced political resistance rock with American Idol. This corporate consolidation has reduced Latin music to stereotypes, and there is simply no authentic representation of Asians, or Pacific Islander whatsoever, and the same can be said for Gays, Lesbians, Transgendered people and Bisexuals.

Now concerts are beginning to suck too, and anyone having a strong political bent towards the left will soon find themselves not on the lineup.  Men running television and movies like Sumner Redstone, and Rupert Murdoch, while both being in their ’80s crave the shares of the youth market and always hide in the shadows, and promote the faces of glowing youth in all their commercials, and ads.  At the same time they destroy any chance for that youth to have an actual chance to express itself artistically and the whole “youth” movement in music? Fake. The men in control love younger and more naive artists for one reason: they are easier to control, have less political awareness, and will do anything, no matter how degrading, for a taste of the fame that these men manufacture.

Young people in this country used to be politically far more aware and far more active, but where there was once an Angela Davis , or even Gandhi poster on the walls of many college aged teens, there is now a Paris Hilton or Lady gaga poster instead. Political opinion is a dangerous thing to have with these people owning the store, so shut up, and play.

I was most amazed by the fact that the Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender community in San Francisco somehow was in the dark about this, or worse, didn’t see its importance. How is it that these venues are allowed to operate without a massive, city-wide boycott? I have also been dismayed at a normally reactive, responsive community of people of color, Latino, Black, and Asian and indigenous peoples, in Oakland in particular, and the bay area in general, for the total lack of a unified response to this local media takeover, by people from Texas, Kansas, and Christian enclaves in the southern states, who have traditionally hated all people of color.

All the money made by Clear Channel and Goldenvoice, in terms of profits for their owners, goes directly into the war chests of the far right, and their massive, big-budget think tanks, and “policy councils” that attack American civil liberties in the media, federal courts, and from boardrooms of major corporations on a constant basis. The thought of doing a benefit against Prop 8—or for any socially progressive cause for that matter—at the Warfield, Fillmore, or the Shoreline Amphitheater is positively mind-boggling, since the people who own those venues are the people who wrote and sponsored Prop 8 in the first place. How will the LGBT community respond? Stay tuned. What are Clear Channel and Goldenvoice up to? More of the same. How will it affect us all here, if we don’t make ourselves aware of how we spend our time and money and with whom?

Vote with your wallets, and with your time, people. The enemy is here. They own San Francisco mainstream media, and they’re just getting started.

The following is a list of venues and businesses owned by both Clear Channel and Goldenvoice. If you support them, you support Prop 8. You support the end of free market competition, the demise of free speech, and the destruction of real musical and artistic culture in California, which means, the world. Don’t take my word for it. Do the research. And stay aware.





Clear Channel and GOLDENVOICE venues and radio stations in the Bay Area include:

( NOTE this list has not been updated from 2009, and both these corporations have acquired many more properties since then)

The Fillmore

Shoreline Amphitheatre at Mountain View

Punch Line Comedy Club – San Francisco

Sleep Train Pavilion

Punch Line Comedy Club – Sacramento

Sleep Train Amphitheatre

Cobb’s Comedy Club

Oracle Arena

Nob Hill Masonic Center

HP Pavilion

San Francisco Opera House

San Francisco Jazz Festival

The Concourse at San Francisco Design Center

Candlestick Park

Bill Graham Civic Auditorium

Golden Gate Theatre

Maritime Hall

Nob Hill Masonic Center

War Memorial Performing Arts Center

War Memorial Opera House

Grand Regency Center

The Warfield

San Jose State Event Center Arena


Wild 94.9 (urban contemporary)

KSJO 92.3 (spanish)

Star 101.3. (pop and rock)

KISS FM 98.1 (classic soul & R&B

KKSF 103.7 (smmoth jazz)

KMEL 106.1 (Urban and Hip hop/Rap)


Research links



When you get there click on ” L. Lowry Mays”















Clear Channel – Live Nation 1

Clear channel live nation 2

Clear Channel Live Nation overview



Warfield-goldenvoice AEG 1

Warfield- Goldenvoice AEG 2

Warfield- Goldenvoice AEG 3

Warfield- Goldenvoice AEG 4