Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Downtown LA Anarchist Cafe (Was A Bust!)

(Editors' Note: "Reader Beware - You're in for a Scare!" Though hesitant about posting this, we have yet to receive other reports on the event. In hopes of sparking debate and another side to the story, we post it. For the record, none of us attended the event and intend no hard feelings to anyone.)

Where is the horse and the rider?
Where is the horn that was blowing?
It has passed like rain on the mountain,
Like wind in the meadow.
The days have gone in the west,
Behind the hills,
Into shadow...
How did it come to this?

-Theoden of the Rohirim

To be honest, I didn't want to write this. I was hoping someone else would step up and tell it like it is. But I don't think that's gonna happen. I even thought about blocking the event out of my head - maybe we'd all forget about it, forget it ever happened. But I can't do that, I have to get this off my chest - set the record straight.

Here we go:

This past Sunday, February 28th 2010, there was an Anarchist Cafe hosted at the Smell in Downtown LA. The event was scheduled to be $5 admission, from 1 to 8 PM with workshops, activites, vendors, poetry, and music. I believe the event was organized primarily by one person, Anarcho Paparazzi.

I arrived early during the first scheduled activity - the Hatha Yoga Class. Without a mat and uninterested in Yoga, I wandered about checking out all the vendors. PM Press was there, Revolutionary Autonomous Communities, Mass Media Distro, Arte de la Tierra, Action for Animals, Scorpion Collective, Ediciones Bizarras, Vegancitas and the vegan catering service Vegan Goodies were all present. As I browsed the vendors, I noticed some were tabling in almost complete darkness. The majority of the vendors, though having access to light, were only dimly lit.

Unable to find anything to do and without an area to congregate because of the unusual small spacing of the Smell, I wandered around until I ran into some friends. We caught up and traded stories, strategies and news about the war in progress as time flew by without any announcements of activities or workshops starting or ending. Due to the awkward arrangement of the venue and no communal interactive discussions or activities, most people tended to stick to their own friends or acquaintances.

To be frank, the event continued on in this manner until about 5 PM, when I decided to leave.

After the Hatha Yoga Class there was ANOTHER Yoga Class, this time a Prenatal Kundalini one. I did not attend, I wasn't interested. Then after that there was an hour long Vegan Nutrition Class followed by a speaker on Vegan Bodybuilding and Exercise. I didn't attend either, because I wasn't interested in either. I came to the event to find other LA anarchists, see old friends, and discuss topics pertaining to anarchism (which is broad and can relate to many issues), not pertaining necessarily to health or dietary choices. Then there was an Anarchist Dating Game (did not attend) and then a study group and meeting, leading to perhaps the only slightly interesting discussion of the event, led by Anarcha-LA on planning an action around the March 20th 7th year anniversary of the War in Iraq. While I was still present in the area as this was going on, I was already on my way out saying goodbye to friends and getting ready to take off.

After I left the Guerrilla Queenz played, then there was a round of poetry, then Subsistencia played, another round of poetry, then In Lak Ech, another round of poetry, Aztlan Underground, and then one last round of poems.


Okay....I tried to keep that as objective as possible without throwing in any overt personal biases but that was HELLA hard and I know they still crept in. I also completely acknowledge this isn't a good report given that I didn't attend ANY of the scheduled workshops and activities. Trust me, it would be way more descriptive if I did.

Anyway, shit, where to start?
I want my $5 back. The Anarchist Cafe's I used to go to at Windchime House were fucking dope and FREE, even though, yeah I'll admit it -  they ended up a little subcultural because of the attendees but shit man at least they were NON-vegan POTLUCKS and had FREE FOOD. Everything here was for sale the moment you walked in and paid your $5 billz.

The only thing enjoyable about this event was catching up with old friends, hanging out with them during and after the event and...that's about it. Fuck, only ONE 30 minute discussion on anarchist feminism and I don't think that even happened. I think they ended up just having the meeting to plan the March 20th action.

I really hope the PM Press guy made some dough that night during the show because it DID NOT look good when I walked by during the day. The fool came all the way out from Oakland to table. At least he got a spot near the light, some other vendors weren't so lucky. Homies looking all sad in the dark, no one touching their shirts or books for sale. That shit was depressing.

Also, what's with all the vegan and yoga workshops? And the anarchist dating game? Seriously, I almost wasn't going to go when I found out about that but I was sadly optimistic. Reminds me of what someone said I think about anarchist events in the Pacific Northwest(?) "VEGAN BIKE BIKE VEGAN VEGAN". How subcultural can we get? How 'bout we have some discussions about why there's NO anarchist movement in the Los Angeles Area and why friends stop being friends because they aren't VEGAN like he or she is? I'm glad this site exists cause people need to get their shit called out on. FUCK. At least there's the bookfairs, that shit's dope and at least folks from Windchime House are still putting on monthly anarchist events where they live. I guess that's "some" movement. I haven't been to their new events yet, but I'mma check out the Sierra Madre Anarchist Picnic on March 13th. Fuck the SF Bookfair. (Also proud of the UC Irvine kids throwing down last week. Dopeee)

Anyway, I'm getting way off track. The Downtown LA Anarchist Cafe = anarchist (as in vegan, trendy, hipster) identity for SALE. Epic Fail.

Please post this LA Anarchist Weekly,



  1. I could only make the first couple of hours. I am not a vegan, and not really into yoga, so I just went home. Glad I saved $5.

    But hooray Anarcha LA!

  2. LA Anarchist Cafe = La Vegan Market

  3. I just scanned this but it looks like you were unhappy but didn't do anything to change the event. Turn some lights on yourself!

  4. Vlad,
    its interesting to read this 'anonymous' posting. So usual people who are not really willing to create or deal with full ramifications of a real lived social experience but must hide in the 'net'. I agree with allot things here...but none the less i think there are way better ways to go about it.

    Vlad an anarchist who will be attending the Anarchist bookfair in S.F. and who attended the picnic in Sierra Madre and who know who you are.

    In solidarity wah,wah...

  5. To - Anonymous,
    I'm just one person - I'm not here to make everyone all happy and book the same workshops over and over.
    The Anarchist Cafe was about having a good time with music, poets, .. etc
    It was not about bring on a Revolution or lets over throw.
    As for Vendors I support DIY business. So I told anyone they can set up for free.
    And all the vendors got in free with no charge. On top of that about 30 people on the guest list showed up (out of 50). The event was $5 so I can pay the last two bands since they have been playing benefit shows for many years and with the left over $$$ I'm planning to organize a Free event this summer with a reggae band (ex - member of Bad Brains who I met at the Anarchist Cafe). Everything cost money - rental, printing flyers...
    This is why $5 was charged at the door. $100 went to Aztlan Underground, $50 went to Subsistencia. And not much money was raised at the cafe due to low turn out. I want to support all the DIY bands. Singer from the Aztlan Underground been involved in the L.A. Anarchist Movement since 1983. Subsistencia has been part of the L.A. Anarchist Center (that was opened for a year and a half in the mid 90's and did Food Program in Highland Park). Now they are school teachers and community organizers.
    I'm not interested on debating or how should it be done heard this kind of complaint from the 80's and it's nothing new to me. And I am not interested on sending emails back and forth. I'd rather talk in person face to face. It's simple if you dont like it organize things yourself or with friends. I would of been happy to refund your money if you came up to me directly and said all this in person face to face.

    From Anarcho Paparazzi
    PS- As for labeling people Hipsters.
    If the Label Fits ...Fuck off! - Icons of Filth

  6. Hey dude, being an ass is a very poor organizing technique. If you don't like what others did, why not just do your own instead as opposed to making snotty comments about it.

  7. I actually agree with the sentiments expressed here, though I hate to admit it. Fortunately though, going to the anarchist cafe was a learning experience for me.

    One issue I noticed was that the crowd there was very cliquey (including myself). This made the atmosphere of the event feel cold and distant to me, as I don't live in LA. One way to conquer this is to have one or two of the organizers simply greet people as they walk through the door, and maybe explain what the event is about.

    Also, as to charging $5 to come in, I understand that the bands should get paid. But why would you ask for the money before any of the bands play? I had to leave before any of the bands played, and I know many other people had to leave too. It is more than fair to ask for $5 for a cool show, but not just to go inside.

    Lastly, the workshops that were there greatly lacked diversity. I have no issue with having yoga or vegan workshops, but to only have those is very exclusionary. I understand this event was supposed to be fun, but you could have thrown in DIY workshops, a comedy act, or other things along those lines.

    I don't mean any offense to Anarcho Paparazzi in writing this, I think it is great that he is organizing events like this. I am just trying to point out little things that I think could help make the next event much more fun.

  8. A good critique of the event, but I actually think you are too nice...

    If you're going to do an event with basically workshops and tables about vegan fitness and yoga, why not just do an event based around those subjects, throwing the anarchist stuff in there in order to radicalize that scene of people?

    As you stated in this piece, there doesn't seem to be be anything about the substance of the event that was based on creating a movement of counter force against capital, or people learning what kind of struggles were going on in that are and how they can resist. Anarcho paparazi stated that as well in their post. "It's not about revolution..." then why call it anarchist?

    I don't really care if people are into yoga and vegan sex toys or whatever the fuck; it's just that this is what anarchism largely is. It's time for those of us who aren't interested in this to start doing our own thing.

  9. This post is written childishly and implies that these are the sentiments of the organizers of the Anarchist Picnics in Sierra Madre and organizers at the Windchime House.

    This is not the case.

    I attended the A-Cafe at the Smell and although I wasn't satisfied with the event, I fully understand that events such as these are not easy to plan as "anarchism" is incredibly broad and always subject to debate.

    Disliked the A-cafe? Get involved. Plan your own. Learn how to break barriers yourself rather than pin the blame on others.

    Events coming up:

    Peter Gelderloos - March 9th

    Anarchist Picnic in Sierra Madre - March 13th

    Contact me if you'd like to get involved with either.


  10. Hey all,

    so, we've gotten some messages, e-mails and phone calls from people asking if we wrote this article. some of them even accusing us of it.

    We just want to let people know that no, we did not write this article. We've submitted two articles that were posted here in the past. Those two articles being the one on the first sierra madre anarchist picnic and the second one about what happened between us and the pasadena and sierra madre weekly.

    We did attend the downtown la anarchist cafe and we were only there for two or three hours. We don't know who wrote this and are afraid of people associating the attitude and vibe of the article with us and the events we put on. We're more than willing to talk to people in person, over e-mail or on the phone about our own personal opinions of the event.

    You can contact us at windchimehouse@gmail.com
    : ]

    in solidarity,

  11. Here's what I posted on the LA Anarchist email list.

    What a shitty review. What a shitty reviewer.

    I'm not a fan of yoga either but that's what was advertised on the flyer, as was the dating game. So no, I didn't go, as I've been to a few cafes like this before. But they have their place, they can be fun and you can get more out of it than some laughable critique that both decries things being sold and feels bad PM press wasn't selling enough. Make up your mind.

    If $5 is too much to pay for an all day event, then you really should be sticking to your free potluck park gatherings. Anarcho Paparazzi shouldn't have to be justifying an event he took the time to organize. In the many years there's been anarchists doing events/projects here in Los Angeles the one constant is that people don't unnecessarily bash others for no good reason. Or at least they shouldn't, there's not enough of us for that. If you have a critique, fine, say it like you mean it. Just don't be a chump about it, acting as if your particular whims amount to a considered criticism.

    And that concludes my review of one attendee, hereby known as Dopeeey!


  12. To say that Anarchy or Anarchism is only about the physical struggle is to delude one's-self into the dominant control paradigm that currently plagues society.

    The event flier clearly stated what the intention of the event was & I personally commend Anarchist Paparazzi (& all who put on and attended the event with an open mind) for striving to bring something more to the (A) scene in LA beyond "revolution, revolution...ra ra ra."

    We absolutely must strive to understand the programming that we each have within if we sincerely hope to achieve a lasting revolution that goes beyond the abolition of various physical structures.

    All physical structures could fall tomorrow and yet if we do not rise up and above from within (as well as without) then we will surely build the same structures that we rail against from an ineffective sub-conscious level.

    So you are not into veganism or yoga... Ok, so what are you into and did YOU attempt to facilitate that at the event?

    Cleansing the mind and the body are extremely important and while I don't adhere to standard commonly accepted vegan doctrine I see many important dietary points and leave the points out that do not apply. Yoga goes far beyond "hipster" and has been practiced for thousands of years as a means to awaken and expand both the general flow and the energetic flow of the body. (You would be amazed at how much simple breathing exercises can change your life for the better)

    No matter what your method of choice is.. It is imperative to any lasting revolution to have its people take care of themselves via diet and some sort of bodywork plan.

    How long has generation after generation struggled solely in the physical world and failed?

    It's time to take this (r)evolution and incorporate the struggle that we each go through within.

    The purpose is a new world.. If we can't change ourselves and learn to see truth objectively then we won't be able to change anything.

  13. This reminds me of the skit Moose Turd Pie by Utah Phillips (an anarchist folk singer). They played that on the Dr. Demento show a lot in the 1980s, before you were born.

    Utah used to work on the rails, building the transocntinental. Someone was always assigned to cook for everyone on the railroad, and nobody liked to do it cuz you didn't get paid extra to do it. The rule was, if anyone complained, then, they were the next person to cook for everyone.

    Well, one day, Utah complained about the lousy food, and blammo, it was his turn to cook. "D'oh!"

    So, he got an idea into his head. He'd make moose turd pie. He went and found the biggest, driest moose turd he could find on the plains, then made a big flaky crust, and baked that pile of dung into a big ol' moose turd pie.

    That night at dinner, he served the pie, all steaming hot and smelly. The first person to take a piece and bite into it got a real surprise. His face turned red, and he stood up and hollered, "by god, that's MOOSE TURD PIE!!!!! ..... it's good though."

  14. http://diyzine.com/anarchistcafe2010photos.html

  15. i completely agree with crudo. sure it may hurt feelings to bring up the atrociousness that events like this foster, but it needs to be done. anarchism is 100% unequivocally about disrupting the flows of capital and perpetuating a revolutionary situation. veganism and anarchism are not linked at all. if the goal was the classic "expose people to anarchism", or to have people "realize" that "you dont have to fuck someone over to live" then the poverty in critical thinking is beyond evident. Yes it is a good suggestion, if you don't like it try and do somethign else. Is it not also reasonable to call out those who use the term anarchist, the position supporting no government and self organization along with absolute confrontation with the current modes of capital?

    this was clearly a scenefest.

    if those who perpetuate lifestylist politics are not called out because it may be mean or hurt feelings, then when will they? when there is confrontation and one starts pulling the dumpsters our of the street that the other put there?


  16. word, understandable sediments.

    but since when is the pnw all about "vegan vegan bike bike"? portland yes but...? no matter though, good critiques.

  17. To - Cody.

    Veganism = Respecting animals and not eating them. Anarchism means total Freedom and Liberation. No one is free when others are oppressed.

  18. >No one is free when other PEOPLE are oppressed.