Video Mementos of the Black & White & Red All Over Coilhouse Ball

It’s a momentous week for Coilhouse Magazine and Blog. Please be sure to check in often, as we’ll be making a lot of important announcements over the next few days. The first of which iiiis…

THE NEW PRINT ISSUE. It’s so close. Eeeee! Better late than never, right? We couldn’t have pushed through and gotten it completed, paid for and printed without the tremendous support our readers, contributors and friends have given us. Once again, huge gratitude to every single person who has helped out.

Today, we want to extend a special thank you to two volunteer videographers who captured footage of our big fundraising birthday party in New York City last August: Keith Jenson and Abigail Amalton. Keith and Abi have shot and produced not one, but two gorgeous video mementos of the event. Here they are:

“On August 21, 2011 Coilhouse left the cozy comforts of their west coast catacombs to throw an epic fundraiser at the Red Lotus Room in Brooklyn, New York for the release of Issue 6 (of their oh-so-beautiful print magazine) and to celebrate their fourth birthday! Over 300 people turned up to the Gemini & Scorpio-presented event for a dancey, glittery, silk/fire/trapeze/music-infused evening full of wonder and awe and love.”

Keith and Abi are sweethearts with quite the squee-inducing origin story! At the Ball, they told Mer that Coilhouse actually played a substantial role in bringing them together; when they first met, Keith noticed some of Abi’s Coilhouse schwag, and they bonded over their mutual appreciation for the site and the mag. (SWOOOON.)

Thank you so much for coming out and documenting that wonderful night, you beauties.


Keith & Abi at the Ball. Photo by Steve Prue.

Also see:

Occupy Everywhere: Political Carnival

This installment of Kim Boekbinder’s ongoing Occupy Everywhere series is supplemented by our longtime chum, photographer Neil Girling. Neil recently traveled from California to New York to document various aspects of the Occupation there. Check out his Flickrstream for dozens more OWS/NYC pictures. ~Mer


All photos and photo captions for this post © Neil Girling.

I’m sitting on a wall in the South West corner of Liberty Plaza, across from a solar energy truck and a CNN van, listening to snippets of conversations as people pass me by.

“I’ve been waiting my whole life for something like this to happen” is the thing I hear the most.

“This is so much nicer than a protest.”

“This is the real America.”

“This is leverage.”

The weather is beautiful and the park is full of people, jam-packed today; it’s too many to be comfortable, but the growth of the movement is amazing. Tourists and hippies are all together: arguing, dancing, taking pictures of each other.


An estimated 3,000 showed up at Zuccotti Park at 6am Friday morning (10/14/2011) to defend the occupation against the intended eviction by NYPD.

Everybody is talking to everybody else here, and they are not always agreeing.

Next to me, a woman from Armenia explains that poverty is the fault of the people who are poor. Not only that, but people who are poor are poor by choice; they want to be poor. The man she is talking to has large hoops in his stretched ears, he holds a sign that says, “Fuck: money, war, police brutality…”


Protester, Times Square (10/15/2011).

The drum circle is jubilant and loud. Attractive and dirty young people lounge on plastic-wrapped mattresses, smoking hand rolled cigarettes. There are lots of funny haircuts and piercings. Some of the people sleeping here look like they’d be sleeping on the street anyway.

Occupy Wall Street is a political carnival, a free-for-all of information, misinformation, good times, protest, and personal political expression. The drum circle never stops, not even for the General Assembly. It’s annoying and frustrating to some organizers. But it’s not any louder than NYC is at any time – subways, hovering helicopters, sirens, jackhammers, traffic.


Guy Fawkes-masked protester. October 14, 2011.

There are people here trying to end capitalism, people who want to end Columbus Day, people who want to end meat-eating, war, or the war on drugs. There are artists and musicians, politicians and writers; there are mini-celebrities looking to enhance their image, activists looking to garner support for their own objectives, hippies just getting high on the revolutionary life. Everybody is trying to co-opt the movement, for fun or profit or cool factor or political gain.  But Occupy Wall Street shrugs them all off: all of the celebrities, all of the politicians, even the free-loving, drum-circling, dreadlocked occupiers.

While Occupy Wall Street embraces the spectacle it has become, it is also not letting the spectacle undermine its status as a powerful agent of change.

“Can We All Come Together?”

This week (in addition to other far less culturally sensitive holidays), National Coming Out Day is observed.


“Rainbow umbrella , Gay Pride 2007, Paris, France” photo © Olivier

Do you have an acquaintance who will occasionally say things like “I don’t have a problem with homosexuality, I just wish Teh Gheys weren’t, ya know, so… in my face about it“, presumably because they have mistaken your distraught Oh-God-I-Feel-So-Trapped-and-Small-Right-Now silence for tacit approval? Frightened into denying your sexuality or your gender identity when a gaggle of high school kids pull you into the bathroom to interrogate you? Tired of turning the other cheek when your church-bake-sale-organizing grandma makes decidedly unChristian comments about Chaz Bono during your dutiful seasonal phone calls back home?  Stung when someone rolls their eyes or accuses you of being hypersensitive after you voice disapproval of casual slurs? Tormented that you can’t be more forthcoming about your personal life at the office without it resulting in being ostracized from the unofficial-but-highly-influential social club that you know being a part of will ensure your career a more, well, straight-and-narrow ascending trajectory during these scary economic times? Heartbroken that your relatives require you to call your domestic partner your “roommate”, or to answer to an incorrect pronoun, when you’re around their Rotary Club friends?

Friggin’ sucks, doesn’t it?

No one should ever feel unduly pressured, strong-armed or bullied into coming out when they’re not ready, don’t feel like they have a safe environment in which to do so, or simply don’t wish to. But here’s a cheerful idea for everyone who’s feeling a bit stifled (whether out, closeted, or somewhere in-between): maybe, just maybe, today’s as great a day as any to randomly unleash some loving Kevin Aviance style glossolalia on the more backasswards, empathy-challenged weeniepoopers in our lives…

SRSLY. Even those of us who are not in a safe enough space to run our LGBTQA banner all the way up a social flagpole can observe today with more subtle gestures of acceptance, and honesty. Let us each consider bringing some bright “Din Da Da” DaDaism into the world!

Can’t say “I’m gay”? Say “DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN BRAAAAP. DOOKUH BRRAAP.” Can’t say “I’m bi”? Cry “BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM. BOW. BOW.” Trans and can’t say “c’est moi”? Just say “MMMWAH” and plant a big, warm, hella non-”heteronormative” smooch on those sourpusses, then walk away. Think about it: even if they have no idea what the heck just transpired, it’ll probably the most exciting thing to happen to them in ages! Maybe they’ll get the message. Maybe they’ll recalibrate a few things. Even if they don’t, chances are that a spontaneous “RRREEE BOBBA BREEEE BUUPPAH” tinged outburst of voguing will, at the very least, lighten the mood.

“Can we all come together?” Can we all come out, free of fear? Coilhouse hopes YES. Maybe today’s not that day for all of us. But someday. Let’s continue working toward it. In the meantime, we can keep visions of super-out, super strong, super-gorgeous Kevin Aviance dancing in our heads in that florescent pink top hat.

And may today be full of friggin’ rainbows, damn it.

Occupy Everywhere: The Language of the Occupation

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the second installment of musician, activist and citizen journalist Kim Boekbinder’s ongoing series for Coilhouse, “Occupy Everywhere”. Click here to read her introduction. Don’t miss Jeff Wengrofsky’s recent essay, “The Praise of Motherfuckers“, either.  The blog’s #OWS scrapbook post is also being updated periodically with new links and pertinent clippings.


All photos and video in this post provided by Kim Boekbinder.

On Speech

The participants of Occupy Wall Street have been denied the use of any amplification instruments – no microphones, no loudspeakers. So, to amplify a speech, they use “The People’s Mic”, a technique in which short sentences are repeated in waves (called “generations”) through the audience, sending the message further than the reach of one human voice.

It is quite powerful. It means the audience is listening carefully to learn what they will be repeating, then they repeat clearly what has been said. And because everything is repeated you hear each thing 2-4 times. Repetition has been a powerful pedagogical tool for a long time for a reason: our relationship to words changes when we use them ourselves.

The People’s Mic falls over sometimes, speech gets garbled, speakers get carried away and forget to wait for all the generations to iterate before starting their next line, but the mic is easily recalibrated when this happens.

The technique forces speeches to be made in short bursts which are easily articulated and quick to repeat. There is a rhythm, an art. It feels good to be part of the speech, to be repeating the sentences so that others can hear. We are all in this together. My favorite part is when the speaker introduces themselves.

“My name is Katie.” says the speaker.

“My name is Katie.” First generation of voices.

“My name is Katie.” Second generation of voices.

The weakness of The People’s Mic is that speeches are chopped up into bite size morsels which tend to sound extra “revolutionary.” Everything sounds like a big, epic, shouty thing. And the complex topics, the nuances of the Occupation, cannot be expressed easily in two to three word bursts. Taken as the sparks that are meant to begin conversations the speeches are wonderful: we all heard it, we all said it. Whether we agree or not we can now continue the discussion in smaller groups.

New amplification techniques will need to be found as the crowds grow and split, but for now it’s a great triumph over adversity. And it’s fun.

On Hand Signals

When the General Assembly meets the people use hand signals to convey how they feel about what is being said. The use of hand signals allows the speaker to continue talking without interruption, though the audience is still communicating their approval or disagreement.

Wiggling your fingers to display your agreement with a serious political issue feels silly, but this is a movement that is not afraid to be silly. Have you seen “Occupy Sesame Street”? It’s hilarious. Making fun of your own movement is an amazing tactic. Occupy Wall Street is very serious, but it also has a sense of humor. And who wants a revolution without laughter?

Occupy Everywhere: An Introduction

EDITOR’S NOTE– This is our friend Kim Boekbinder:


Photo by Marianne Bijou.

A musician, artist, and writer, Kim is currently venturing across the United States on her crowd-sourced, pre-sold Impossible Girl Tour. Over the next few weeks, Kim will also attend several Occupy Wall Street demonstrations taking place in various cities that she’s traveling to, and document her experiences on Coilhouse. What follows is her first installment: an introduction, and a call to join the conversation. Thank you, Kim.  ~Mer

_________________________________________________________

On the subway I saw a girl and boy, ages 13 or 14, talking about whether or not to go to the protest.

“It won’t make a difference.” The girl said, “We’ll never change anything.”

“I used to believe like you,” said the boy, “But you always gotta believe that you can make a difference in the world.”

They spoke about the movement and what it means, the First and Second Amendments, how many people lived in their homes, the color of different dog breeds, and dancing the Macarena, before getting off the subway at Fulton St – the stop closest to Liberty Square.

Occupy Wall Street has started a conversation. And right now a lot of that conversation is about the conversation itself.

While exploring the culture of Liberty Square today, I was randomly interviewed four times in the space of one hour, each time by a citizen journalist. One man wanted to make a video for his Facebook page to spread the word. Two young women were collecting interviews for their college newspaper; they weren’t working in any official capacity; they just knew that they needed to get this information back to their school and hoped the paper would publish it. These people came out with cameras, iPads, and pocket audio recorders, to learn why they were here and to share that with the world. And each time I was interviewed, I then interviewed them in return, and we would laugh together at the absurdity of this. We are all amateurs here. We are all experts.

People around America are confused, interested, annoyed, supportive, angry, joyous. But no one seems quite sure what Occupy Wall Street is.

“It’s like the 1960s.”

“It’s the democratic answer to the Tea Party.”

“It’s just dirty hippies.”

There are as many explanations for what Occupy Wall Street is as there are people involved in it.

The energy here is electrifying. We can all feel that something important is happening. And we’re all looking for why or how or who or what it is exactly. But the movement is young, and plastic, it is changing and growing quickly. Politicians who want to co-opt it are not sure what that means. Seasoned journalists are confounded as to how to report this to the world. The minute you think you have it figured out, it slips away and changes, reconfigures itself into something exactly like, but also exactly unlike what you were just looking at.

The power of this movement right now is its openness, its caring organization. There is information everywhere. People who are unsure of whether or not they support the movement are openly invited to engage in the conversation at the info booth. There is a feeling of immediate inclusion, if you want it. Passive observation is also welcomed. Tourists wave as their tour buses pass by. Skeptics dig for signs of failure. Journalists interview each other. Wall Street workers can be seen moving through the crowd, investigating this occupation of their hallowed ground.

Accountability, transparency, communication, nonviolence, and compassion are not just fetishes or dogma here: they are the foundation on which everything that happens next is being built. We have the technology now to ensure instant accountability, transparency, and communication. And we have a history of highly successful compassionate and nonviolent movements to draw from.

So while the movement figures out what it is and how to communicate that to the world, it is also constantly checking itself, holding itself accountable, sloughing off anything that deviates from the message it is still forming. It is no small feat– amazing to watch, even more amazing to be a part of. There is no such thing as a neutral observer here, because each person here is recognized as a vital part of the process.

I’ve been gathering samples of the movement for days: observing, recording, asking, listening to speeches, interviewing people, singing along to songs, wiggling my fingers to express my consent or dissent. I am both passive observer and passionate activist. I know exactly what is going on here, and I don’t know how to tell you. You must read, watch, hear, experience as much of it as you can. You must agree and disagree for yourself.

The conversation is yours, we cannot have it without you.


Liberty Square, October, 2011. Photo by Kim Boekbinder.

In the following days and weeks I will be exploring OWS and other Occupations around America as I tour: NYC, San Francisco, Portland, New Orleans, Boston.

There is continual coverage from many good media sites. My favorites for today:

Finnish Door Opening

Watching this video I cannot exactly be sure if this isn’t in jest. Surely, one would think, there is no need to explain the proper way to open a door. Surely, one would think, if those Scandinavians figured out the mechanics of leaving a room, the Finns would have as well. This video seems to illustrate otherwise, indicating that, at least until 1979, the Finnish people were constantly running, full-tilt, into entryways, oblivious to how these infernal blockades functioned, perhaps flailing wildly at the door knobs (provided they had not knocked themselves unconscious) their spastic flapping eventually resulting in the door opening after, what must have seemed, an eternity; the sad, exhausted individual collapsing through the doorway, already dreading the next encounter. One could theorize that, with so much of their faculties taken up by trying to master their sadistically difficult language, they have little capacity for much else inside their brain-meats. (Editor’s Note: This is just the theory of one man. It does not represent the opinions of Coilhouse or the Editors and does, in fact, come from the diseased mind of a crazy person. The Finnish people have a wonderful language and are also in possession of exemplary brains.)

Whatever the reason, there still exists this clip of a dapper, mustachioed gentleman, wearing, one might say, an obscenely wide tie, demonstrating how to open a door in a manner that would most likely result in the practitioner immediately being ejected from the space they had just entered on suspicion of being some sort of trespasser; especially in conjunction with the aforementioned moustache. Perform at your own risk.

Occupy Wall Street NYC’s First Official Document For Release / Collection of Pertinent Links, Video

Hey, all! This is just a quick scrapbook post to gather together some information about the activism building in NYC (and elsewhere in the US) since September 17th, with an emphasis on bits and pieces that a) touch on the evolution of open source counterculture, b) examine indie media/social network coverage versus MSM, c) convey the increasingly surreal (and sometimes funny), stranger-than-speculative-fiction nature of much of what’s happening, or d) relate directly to longtime members of the Coilhouse community. It will be updated over the next few days/weeks, with all additions and edits clearly marked.*

Are you currently organizing/protesting in NYC, or elsewhere in the States? We’d love to hear from you in comments. The more dialog that gets going about all of this, the better. Interesting times, indeed. Certainly galvanizing. And, potentially (hopefully), healing? Fingers crossed. Best of luck, everyone.


Hundreds of protesters were arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge yesterday. (Photo via)

Occupy Wall Street’s First Official Statement (via the Daily Kos):

This was unanimously voted on by all members of Occupy Wall Street last night, around 8pm, Sept 29. It is our first official document for release. We have three more underway, that will likely be released in the upcoming days: 1) A declaration of demands. 2) Principles of Solidarity 3) Documentation on how to form your own Direct Democracy Occupation Group. This is a living document. you can receive an official press copy of the latest version by emailing c2anycga@gmail.com.

Declaration of the Occupation of New York City

As we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice, we must not lose sight of what brought us together. We write so that all people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world can know that we are your allies.

As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality: that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors; that a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth; and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power. We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments. We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let these facts be known.

They have taken our houses through an illegal foreclosure process, despite not having the original mortgage.

They have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity, and continue to give Executives exorbitant bonuses.

They have perpetuated inequality and discrimination in the workplace based on age, the color of one’s skin, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation.

They have poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the farming system through monopolization.

Jeff Wengrofsky Talks Punk Rock, New York, and Jewish History…and Announces a Film Premiere


Press photo courtesy of The Syndicate of Human Image Traffickers.

Longtime Coilhouse friend and contributor, Jeff Wengrofsky, was recently interviewed for a prestigious podcast series– Long Story Short, presented by Tablet magazine (a recent winner of the National Magazine Award). Two other two guests in the series are eminent writers Vivian Gornkick and Morris Dickstein.

The conversation topic: how punk rock relates to Jewish history. Jeff has been a footnote to the NYC punk scene since 1982. In the podcast, he puzzles about how Jews have made significant contributions to punk, but the same could be said for their involvement in DaDa, feminism, socialism/communism/anarchism/unionism, The New Left, ecology, and the civil rights movement.

Jeff –who has one of the most astounding original issue vinyl collections of punk on the planet– invited podcast host Liel Leibovitz into his Art Deco lair on the Lower East Side for a fascinating conversation. From Tablet’s writeup:

“…in the 1970s, a very different sort of Jewish artist emerged. Joey Ramone, Handsome Dick Manitoba, Sylvain Sylvain and the other founding fathers of punk rock were as disdainful of the culture as their predecessors were eager to help define it. Wearing leather jackets, singing about sex and drugs, and cultivating their status as rejects, they made music that was loud and fast and much more true to the traditional status of Jews as eternal outsiders. touching on how many young, disenfranchised folks of Jewish descent “the other founding fathers of punk rock were as disdainful of the culture as their predecessors were eager to help define it. Wearing leather jackets, singing about sex and drugs, and cultivating their status as rejects, they made music that was loud and fast and much more true to the traditional status of Jews as eternal outsiders.”

Listen here.

As the Director of the Syndicate of Human Image Traffickers, Jeff has been making a series of films at the intersection of art and life. Several of them have appeared on the Coilhouse website.  The sixth film in the series, “The Party in Taylor Mead’s Kitchen,” is an Official Selection of DOC NYC 2011, the documentary film festival of the Independent Film Channel. After reading Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, Taylor Mead, the scion of Michigan’s Democratic Party political boss Harry Mead, left his
Grosse Point home and Merrill Lynch sinecure for a life hitchhiking around the US. Upon arriving in San Francisco, his ability to write and perform clever, bawdy, homoerotic poems made Taylor an instant hit with the Beatnik scene. He soon came to personify the “Beatnik” ethic in Ron Rice’s classic film, The Flower Thief, in 1960. After meeting Allen Ginsberg at a poetry function, Taylor moved to the Lower East Side of New York, then the Beatnik capital of the world. Taylor was soon a Warhol superstar and came to be featured, most famously, in Tarzan and Jane Revisited…Sort of, and most notoriously, as the star of Taylor Mead’s Ass in 1964. He has since acted in over a hundred films, has acted for the stage, and has published books of poetry.

Fifty-one years after trading in upper-crust luxury for bohemian art stardom, The Party in Taylor Mead’s Kitchen finds Taylor still living the life of poetry, painting, partying, acting, homo-eroticism, gossip, modest living, and indifference to bourgeois notions of hygiene. We visit the octogenarian in his Lower East Side grotto to find him still brilliant, boyishly cute, and ready to party at noon. The film depicts the romantic beauty and squalid dereliction of the bohemian life while dishing the dirt on Andy Warhol, Jack Kerouac, Ron Rice, Woody Allen, and Tallulah Bankhead. At 85, Taylor Mead is an ambassador of bohemianism from a world without the internet, cable television, surveillance cameras, cell phones, global positioning systems, credit cards or roach spray.


As this film is short, it has been paired with a longer film that also deals with New York City artists of a bygone era: Girl with the Black Balloons.
They will be shown as a double-feature at these times and dates and locations:

  • 7:30 PM, Sun. Nov. 6, 2011 – NYU’s Kimmel Ctr. 4th Floor (Eisner Auditorium) – Buy Tickets
  • 3:45 PM, Mon. Nov. 7, 2011 – IFC Center – Buy Tickets

Coilhouse Can’t Stop Saying THANK YOU. (Epic Post-Fundraiser Gratitude Fest)


The core crew: @yerdua, @nicoles, @ashabeta, @theremina, @nadya, @raindrift, @angeliska, @sfslim

“I am covered in sweat, grit, glitter, leather dye, candle wax, hope & joy. #coilhouse” – @thekateblack, posted the day after. (Exactly how we felt, too.)

This post has been exactly one month in the making, but not because we’ve been flaking on it, trust us. Actually, even in the midst of everything else that’s going on (hoo-whee, there’s a lot going on), we haven’t been able to STOP thinking about it, or adding to it constantly. It’s taken time because we’ve wanted to try our best to give props to every single person who made that fundraising event possible, and beautiful, and memorable. There were so, so many of you. Danged if it didn’t take a friggin’ village.  Thanks for bearing with us, comrades. Thanks for helping us. Thanks for everything. We can’t stop saying thank you.

According to our tabulations, over three-hundred people came out to the Red Lotus Room on Sunday, August 21st, 2011. Most of them braved a torrential summer downpour, sweltering heat, substantial commutes, and a tough time getting out of bed on Monday morning. Approximately two-hundred-and-fifty of these folks were ticket-holding attendees. The remaining fifty-plus consisted of our enormous (mostly volunteer) crew. And let’s not forget the hundreds of others who donated or bid, watched the Livestream remotely, or hung out DJing for us in the Coilhouse Room on Turntable.fm! This was a huge and complex undertaking for all of us, and somehow, it miraculously came together with less than three weeks of planning.


Aerialist Sarah Stewart performs a death-defying drop. Photo by Audrey Penven.

Mer’s take on the whole thing: “I don’t think I’ve hugged that many people, smiled that much or said ‘THANK YOU’ so many times in an eight hour period.” A month later, it already feels like the sweetest, stickiest, sweatiest of dreams. But it wasn’t. It was real. You were real. Because of you, Issue 06 is imminent, and all kinds of new, exciting projects are in the works. Truly, we remain so deeply grateful to all of you, and we want to tell you again, officially and publicly. So here goes….

The Mark of Princess Hijab

Editor’s note: today marks the birth date of one of our most tireless and incisive contributors, Mr. David Forbes. For his birthday, David gave us a present: an interview with elusive street artist Princess Hijab. Thanks, David – happy birthday!

A spectre is haunting Paris. For five years, Metro-goers have rounded corners to find heavy, black marker strokes obscuring the idealized arcadia depicted in subway advertisements, the airbrushed bodies of the inhabitants — men and women — disappeared behind a heavy veil. Princess Hijab has struck again.

When she started her “reign” in 2006, observers initially couldn’t decide if it was the work of a modernity-hating zealot or some sort of rabble-rousing commentary. The year before Paris had destructive rioting. France has its own serious racial and ethnic issues, and culture wars are never a place for nuance. The hijab is now, controversially, banned in public.

But from her work, there is no hiding, Parisians still pour out of trains to find the mark of Princess Hijab.

She hasn’t exactly hidden from the media, either. But strangely, in an era craving constant revelation, her identity remains a closely guarded secret. She claims to be around 22 years old, poor, from an immigrant background, and not a Muslim. Those who meet her aren’t even sure if she’s female.

Via e-mail, Princess Hijab, the alias chosen to represent “a mixture of precarity and aristocracy,” has chosen to draw back the veil, just a bit, and tell us about how — and why — she chose her domain.