PLANNING MEETINGS, EMAIL CHAINS, WORKSHOPS, EDITORS MEETINGS, SUBMISSION DEADLINES, DESIGN DEADLINES COLLAB COLLAB COLLAB…

A CITYWIDE EFFORT BIRTHS APIARY MAGAZINE‘S 8TH ISSUE

SOFT TARGETS

WITH US AS GUEST EDITORS

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In conjunction with Philadelphia-based DIY postcolonial sci-fi collective METROPOLARITY, the staff of APIARY Magazine are proud to announce that APIARY 8, SOFT TARGETS, HAS OFFICIALLY LANDED!

Thank you to all who came out to our launch party to celebrate the release! This was truly a luminous event, and we could not have pulled it off without your love and support!

If you missed our launch party, you can pick up a copy of APIARY 8 SOFT TARGETS at any of the following locations at this continuously updated list here.

The Apiary crew is busy distributing stacks and stacks of the free magazine all across the city – you can see where in almost real-time via their Instagram here.

Meanwhile, we’re shipping out a copy with any t-shirt purchase from our webshop.

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What’s inside?

In this issue our authors interrogate fear. They recode the technologies of terror and depravity into a language of bravery, beauty, and tenderness. APIARY 8 asks: How do we live freely? How do we prevail against violence? How do we, also, resolve the injustice in our own hearts?

We don’t pretend to have the answers. Instead, we’re letting the visions, poems, stories, and artwork of local Philadelphians speak to our city.

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Here’s a few choice pics of the launch party from July 9th at The Painted Bride in Olde City, by Erin Pitts Photography. The full album with 200+ pics can be viewed here.

 

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Thanks Apiary staff and everyone who wrote, read, showed up and otherwise busted their ass to contribute to this thick slab of magazine!

 

PSSST…

WE’RE STILL WORKING ON THE #SOFTTARGETS METROPOLARITY CUT EDITION…

THIS IS THE WORK OF OUR OWN RASHEEDAH PHILLIPS OF THE AFROFUTURIST AFFAIR AND CAMAE AYEWA OF ROCKERS / MIGHTY PARADOCS / MOOR MOTHER

AKA

BLACK QUANTUM FUTURISM COLLECTIVE

WHO WERE AWARDED A FELLOWSHIP AND WERE RECENTLY ABLE TO OPEN UP

COMMUNITY FUTURES LAB

at 2204 Ridge Avenue in North…

View of Ridge Avenue storefront, Community Futures Lab, Philadelphia (photo by Amanda Sroka)

“Community Futurisms: Time & Memory in North Philly” is a social practice, collaborative art, and ethnographic research project exploring oral histories, memories, alternative temporalities, and futures within the North Philadelphia neighborhood known as Sharswood/Blumberg. The area is currently undergoing a major redevelopment project after years of deep poverty, educational inequality, and high crime. “Community Futurisms” will document the redevelopment of Sharswood/Blumberg, through an multidisciplinary community art project that explores the intersections of futurism, literature, visual remixing, sound, and activism as art.

The goal of the Community Futures Lab is to collect, preserve, and share the Sharswood-Blumberg community’s memories and stories for future generations. We are looking for anyone who has ever lived in the neighborhood, and people who still live in the neighborhood and surrounding areas.

A project of The AfroFuturist Affair/Black Quantum Futurism Collective, supported in large part by A Blade of Grass
http://www.abladeofgrass.org/fellow/black-quantum-futurism/
BQF Collective is inspired by afrofuturism, quantum physics, and african traditions of spatial-temporal consciousness. They weave science fiction realities with african concepts of time, ritual and sound to present innovative works that offer practical ways to escape time loops, oppression vortexes and the digital matrix.

This project is not affiliated with the Philadelphia Housing Authority or the City of Philadelphia

For more info, please contact:
communityfutureslab@gmail.com

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Black Quantum Futurism (BQF), along with the AfroFuturist Affair, both activist-oriented collectives celebrating and disseminating black science fiction culture, has opened a community resource space envisioned as a “time capsule” in Sharswood/Blumberg. The North Philly neighborhood has seen much socioeconomic strife over the years and is now undergoing a $526 million dollar redevelopment project that cleared thousands of residential units via eminent domain. The Community Futures Lab was created in response to this reality and is also asking the neighborhood what potential needs the lab can fulfill, from organizing housing resources workshops and skill-sharing panels to zine brunches and yoga classes. Located next to Temple University, the blocks around the lab are tempting land grabs for thirsty real estate developers — in this case, the Philadelphia Housing Authority — who want to wipe the slate clean of the poverty and inequality that have long plagued the area. But the city neglects to consider the chaos that the displacement of human beings and communities causes to the residents who are uprooted. Personal stakes are ignored and buried under the rubble in the name of profitability.

[…]

Black Quantum Futurism encompasses the work of the lawyer-activist-writer Rasheedah Phillips and musician-designer-photographer Camae Ayewa, as well as the efforts of others who have collaborated with the two artists. Phillips is the founder of the AfroFuturist Affair and published the Black Quantum Futurism manifesto, which proposes a creative and critical vision that values and rewrites black diasporic history through an Afrofuturist lens. She has participated in The Shadows Took Shape, the group exhibition at the Studio Museum in Harlem that explored Afrofuturist aesthetics, as well as the yearlong Octavia Butler celebration at Clockshop in Los Angeles. Ayewa performs and tours as Moor Mother, a solo music project creating memorial soundscapes and what she calls “slaveship punk,” and cofounded Rockers! Philly, a festival devoted to marginalized artists.

In addition to her artistic practice, Phillips is the managing attorney for the Community Legal Services of Philadelphia, which ties her intimately to the concerns of locals who are left helpless in the state of the current housing crisis. She also attended Temple University for both her BA and JD, and has lived about 10 blocks from Community Futures Lab for the last six years. Phillips says, “utilize me,” and wants her neighbors to know that she has a stake in Sharswood/Blumsberg and intends to facilitate change through civic engagement.

An Afrofuturist Community Center Targets Gentrification

THE GOINGS ON…

CFL has only been open a couple months and has already hosted mulllltiple events and received as many press write-ups. We’ll try to crosspost CFL events here, but the best way to keep up with what’s going on at the Lab is to follow them:::::

@COMMUNITYFUTURESLAB ON INSTAGRAM +

COMMUNITY FUTURES LAB BLOG +

/COMMUNITYFUTURESLAB ON FACEBOOK

 

THE PRESS SO FAR….

PHILLY VOICE | Race Against Time: A North Philly artist aims to document her disappearing community | 16 JUNE 2016

VIBE MAGAZINE | This Artist Collective In Philadelphia Is Documenting Gentrification In The Community | 17 JUNE 2016

GENEROCITY | Rasheedah Phillips’s Community Futures Lab in Sharswood is underway | 17 JUNE 2016

HYPERALLERGIC | An Afrofuturist Community Center Targets Gentrification | 22 JUNE 2016

WHYY | Bharatanatyam, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Afrofuturism (video, 26:49) | 26 JUNE 2016

THE PHILADELPHIA TRIBUNE | Spoken word history project opens in North Philly | 2 JULY 2016

APOLLO MAGAZINE | A whistlestop tour of Philadelphia’s contemporary art spaces | 6 JULY 2016

NODE CENTER | Black Quantum Futurism Theory & Practice | 13 JULY 2016

PHILLYCAM | Around the Corner: Afrofuturist Affair | 20 JULY 2016

HUFFPOST POLITICS LIVE | Rasheedah Phillips tells the truth about gentrification and displacement in Philadelphia, the site of the Democratic convention. | 26 JULY 2016

CENTER FOR THE FUTURE OF MUSEUMS | The Community Futures Lab: Oral Histories, Oral Futures, and Quantum Time | 4 AUGUST 2016

 

WHAT’S COME TO PASS…

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So yeah yo, follow @communityfutureslab on Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, and if you want to stay abreast of Rasheedah’s many projects, events, and appearances in general, we definitely recommend subscribing to her FUTURE LIGHT CONE newsletter here.

The following was performed at the 3rd annual ROCKERS BBQ weekend. Consider it a part of our episode, the SPACE INVADERS :: Gentrification x Community issue of our Journal of Speculative Vision & Critical Liberation Technologies. Video by Kaos Blac. Feature image by House of Hayes.

So, I opened a customer’s check book, and inside, there was a pamphlet about god. My boyfriend had visited me at work, kissed me on the cheek and dashed off to an adventure on his own. It made my day. I think the three-top sitting at D4 saw this. After I dropped the food at their table, they asked me to pray with them. I declined. Fortunately, as the note they’d written on their check said, “God cares. Even for sinners such as you” . In a saner, more just universe (one with leprechauns in the Senate, one with were-dragon ballerinas as Septa train operators, one with talking lucky squirrels that spin acid jazz and jungle dub plates at barmitzphas), I would bring them back their change mixed in with shredded pieces of the Jesus pamphlet. I’d leave them a note as well. This is what it would say:

“The grid shapes us, molds us, makes us uniformly square. The binary assault on our senses has dulled us. We are trapped, thinking that our sexuality stems from some kind of intrinsic pre-determined genetic code, or that it can even be unlearned. We are all existing on levels of love, on a cosmic string that stretches across and over galaxies like electrical wires. When I lay down and kiss my boyfriend at night, I’m crossing the streams of countless eons of information, of pre-cybernetic memory, the ancient kind of memory that tells me that “I exist”. So, no matter what you write *now* on this little receipt, I’m giving you, in return, a sort of inter-dimensional banjee girl effect. I am kissing your son and husband passionately, deeply on the mouth, even now, just by writing this. I do appreciate your prayers, because I recognize that it is essential to humanity to create stories and dreams that explain the science of the world, that reassures us of our place, even as granular as it is, within the multiverse, but I also recognize that just as essential is our notion to be connected in grander ways to each other, that our holes are there for traversal and transmission and communication, and that we are portals, always and forever. So, yes, I am eternally in need of God, but only so much that god is creation and sex and fervor and life.“

(And yes, I could write all of this in-between serving customers and waiting on my other tables; sure, i’m *that* good. Plus, I keep a cache of “verbal beat down” tucked into my brain for just such occasions so it was all a matter of channeling, really)

Even in this reality, where ever “this reality” currently is, where we danced on top of DHL trucks at bonfires. Where we filled our baskets with the cosmic dawn, with the tools of the culling, marched over the horizon and struck a blow at the sun. Even here we are flying things, vast and unicorn, radiating in free effervescent thought chroma, bursts of the burgeoning universe lilting over radiant nebula, cloud and ash. We are baristas and shamans at the desks of the apparitions, the waitstaff in white gloves on the yachts of freedom ghosts with our time cards stamped until eternity.

My hands are gold and steel, wrapped up time machines. I push the button and black goo pours out in delicious crema. I stare at it as it coalesces into a filthy golden ring, a soul sapping halo of procured anti-vitamins, a sun-sucking ember extracted from a plant three thousand miles, one hundred leather straps on the back, an ocean of dead black bodies buried at sea, away. And then I pour it into the cup.

“Hello?” The pregnant white woman is holding her purse, her lips curled up in a half crescent of desire and thirst. She sees my black skin first, ignores the beading droplets of sweat coagulating on my brow. I think of the nights where we set fire to a rib shack, where we etched “death to gentrifiers” on the windows of the newest Wendy’s on Lancaster avenue, where we pricked our ankles on barbed wire and left bloody DNA tattoos on the walls of art museums. I think of the night sky opening up, afterglow sparking, ebullient rush of the wind, the party doors swinging wide and androgynous avatars announcing to the world, this is the land of the freaks and warriors and we’re taking things back, we’re busting out, we’re clearing this world, swollen on the fruit, still starved for the meat.

I wrote so many things down in those days, on the back of Spider-Man comic books, on napkins and napkin holders, on pieces of trash stuck and corroding on the side of the curb. I wrote of taking the artifacts out of the glass cases and putting them back into the ground- the sacred ground. I wrote of the ground.

“I’ll be with you in a moment,” I say, as I stir the pure brown down into the creamy liquid mass of the white white milk. Ah, an easy metaphor, I think, a clear and beautiful piece of hyperbole, consisting of the life blood of yuppiedom. I can set this thing on the counter, watch its pale beige swirl inundate the glass, cascade over the clear, nameless, not-there ice cubes, as it turns into the perfect mix of the people of the planet, of the people of Philadelphia, this great city of love, of understanding.

But this isn’t an 11th grade essay or a melting pot narrative. I’m standing behind a counter with a uniform on, the blackest beacon in a white universe, easily Google-able, so simple it is to Yelp my non- name: the star artist in this cappuccino and iced americano crazed continuum is ______. You can type my form into the entry for the café, it’s simple, and they will know who you are talking about. It’s not like we’re standing in a bodega in South Philadelphia or a five and dime in Kensington or a donut shop under the L at Girard. We’re here where the encroaching horizon of academia clashes with the shrinking border of hunger and death pangs. It’s real simple: I’m the black guy that works there.

“Are you ready for me?” she asks, as I stand staring her into her crisp blue eyes. She held her smart phone, tethered to her hand like a cyborg arm connected with nano machines. I could not tell where she ended and the iPhone began.

She is not ready to order. She is just there.

And so they all list into being, like a star-studded wikipage unraveling, falling into life and birthed in a line. They all want something from me, every inch of my black body, all that I can muster for them. They want everything except my story. A cop. A minister. A priest. A man in a Duke Lacrosse t shirt. An elderly woman with a tripod cane. A seeing eye dog. A boy in ripped jeans with a handlebar mustache. Another cop. A man with a souvenir paint brush from Milan. A woman wearing a dress made of kente cloth. A punk rocker.

I sat on the stoop outside of the café, watching children play in a puddle, the water rising and falling with their every excited splash. A police car came tearing through the intersection, slowed down when it passed the kids, rolled it’s window down. A white man in the back seat peered out plaintively, shook his head at the children then mouthed something to the cop driving and the squad car sped on.

When I’m emptying the trash, I am still a super-hero flying through the air, talking to dwarf stars and dreaming in quasars. When I’m picking up used napkins off of tables, I’m still a griot mystic, weaving light constructs from tiny threads of reality. When I’m making your coffee…

I saw the pregnant white woman on the 34 trolley. She got on at 36th street. I could feel the air sucked out of of the car from the vacuum created by the many men and women rising to give up their seat. I felt the searing heat of x-ray eyes, as the air got thinner, hotter, at 40th street station, where a black woman with three kids, weighed down with grocery bags got on. The look of disdain from the same passengers was hot enough to bake vampire flesh. I kept reading my comic book, stitched into my aisle seat.

When we reached 48th street, the sea of color had dispersed. The swirling yellow and porcelain white, the garish garments and cargo pants and Birkenstocks had disappeared. The announcer stopped announcing the street numbers. There was just us: monolithic, vast, black, and unicorn.

::in blaring sports announcer voice::

WELCOME TO MEDIA BLACKOUT, WHERE WE REVIEW THE ZINES & OTHER MEDIA CLUTTERING UP OUR BAGS AND BEDSIDES. GAME ONE FEATURES THREE REVIEWS. LET’S GET IT ON!

A R K D U S T by our own Alex Smith
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Alex writes fiction that reads like an absurd reality show super hero comic with the emotional weight of the last really good movie you saw, combined with total “crazier things have happened” subway riding plausibility. Ever since starting the queer sci-fi/fantasy reading series, Laser Life, we’ve all begged and begged Alex for some take-home print form of the arresting stories he would diplomatically drop on us lowly commoners. So when he announced he would be making a zine to debut at the April 2013 Laser Life, we all counted our pocket change and patiently held our breath till the appointed day.

A R K D U S T is a fangirl dream. It contains five short stories by Alex, plus an excellent bonus story and interview from his partner, Shane Jenkins of Razed By Wolves, another mainstay of Laser Life, whose stories touch on the surreal fantasy vapors that always start to creep up from behind our spines when watching Princess Mononoke alone in the dark. All this in an old-school Kinkos xerox 8.5″ x 11″ format!

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“Wow. Wow, really? Look, Wondra could snap your wanna be Ricky Martin ass in half and mail your spleen to Hook if she wanted to, so why not keep all the “bitch” comments tucked away into that turd brain of yours. I mean seriously, you’re the shittiest stool pigeon ever, how do you even find out any of this underworld shit you’re always reporting to Hook with as high a profile as you keep? I feel like Hook’s just too lazy to use Google on any one of his many goddamn smartphones because your information can’t be too insider. Like, every fucking wanna-be carjacker and armed insurrectionist knows who you are!” – A Little Light

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The air outside was crisper, a refreshing spray of April breeze tickling at his flesh. He pulled his Harrington jacket a little tighter. The street was alive with drag queens and leather daddies and kids voguing in knock-off Yves St. Laurent, punks with spikey pink hair and Camaros with their trunks rattling under the weight of anthemic bass. Henry kept his eyes trained on the misshapen sidewalk, at the crack vials and used condom wrappers crackling under his Doc Martens. He was busy thinking about nothing, letting the wild night’s conversations slip over and through him, so much so that he’d walked a bit past his bus stop and had turned to go back when he saw the boy of velvet standing in front of TRINITY, under an awning, patting his pockets, shaking nervously, his muscles rippling out of his thin green shirt. He looked like a shadow. When the boy found his pack of cigarettes, the boy cursed to himself that he’d lost his lighter. A kind of ghostly sadness crept over Henry when he saw the boy standing there without a light, and this sadness grew as he watched wave after wave of clubgoers pass the boy, and though the boy’d ask, none of them had a light for him. Henry quickly patter himself, but remembered he’d stopped smoking a year ago. – Clones

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Get a copy of A R K D U S T by contacting Alex at theyarebirds @ gmail. com or follow Alex’s new queer superhero tumblr, the A\terv3/rz3.


BETA DECAY by Andrew Jackson King
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Maybe it’s because I started to read Beta Decay #4 while luxuriating on my roof in the hot Philly sun, but the short fiction pieces inside Andrew’s zine remind me of all the random pulp novels I used to bring with me on the week-long family vacation down the shore. Except stranger and more ominous, and neatly within the treatment one could imagine given to summer Hollywood movie releases, but the kind you leave the theater feeling strangely bereft and wondering if a milkshake at the diner after is really going to bring you back to earth. Beta Decay #4’s assortment of unrelated(?) short stories gives the reader glimpses of the incomprehensible world as it reveals itself to mundane human perception. Shit is creepy yo (but I’m not trying to spoil it here!).

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Frances closed her eyes. Her mind pulled out from the building, out from the town, out from the metropolitan agglomeration, out from the continents and sea and hemisphere, out of the earth completely. Against the deep black, she saw the planet as a red, pulsing dot, emitting a see of radio waves, microwaves, gamma rays, a nearly infinite spectrum.

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Spread out before Jeremiah was a monolith of coral, splashes of orange and red and yellow. Jeremiah always thought someday he would be able to make out patterns, that after a while, he’d be able to understand the exact way that the organisms grew and deviated from geometrical perfection, but this information had eluded him ever since he was a boy pouring over the dusty picturebooks on his mother’s shelf

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Get MOAR BETA DECAY here (for free!).


UP AGAINST THE WALL: A History of Resistance to Policing in Philadelphia by Arturo Castillion
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I picked up this zine while at a punk/noise/thrash? show at LAVA Space in West Philly, an autonomous organizing space on Lancaster Ave. (Ever since this new show organizer, Zu, rolled up to town there’s been a #brosfallback no racist/colonialist/misogynist/phobic bullshit atmosphere at their shows that’s been a breath of fresh air, especially for someone that stopped going to shows because they were full of violent man babies. Another novel aspect of the shows they organize is the provision for zines & hang-out discussion space, which is embarrassing to find novel because it should be normal if we’re having radical bands play radical spaces. ¬__¬;) Anyway, Arturo was there, and intrigued that someone had made a zine summarizing local black resistance to police, I bought a copy.

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This zine is essentially an academic-feeling summary of racism and power relations surrounding the Philadelphia police, its formation, and how the black communities being terrorized by them resisted in the forms of mass uprisings. Appropriately, it feels like reading from a history text book from middle school, and is easy to digest. And similar to most every classroom history textbook, its author provides no personal bio or reasoning for compiling this particular history of resistance. So while it’s very intriguing and useful to read about black Philly resistance to cops, I couldn’t help but feel displaced by the bodiless and unsituated voice of the narrator (despite having shook their hand!).

In Our Enemies in Blue: Police and Power in America Kristian Williams describes how policing has historically functioned to enforce a white dominated racial order. In the city once the nation’s capital, the predecessor of the modern day Philadelphia police was the civilian-run “night watch,” which monitored the populace from the time of the early eighteenth century. The watch, which developed in Boston as well, was the Northern equivalent of the Southern slave patrols. In 1837 the mayor of Philadelphia declared, “Every colored person found in the street after (the posting of) watch should be closely supervised by the officers of the night.” Whether it was the night watch or the slave patrol, the white population as whole was expected to police black people.

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The introduction of the first black officers reflected the growing size of the black population. In the Philadelphia Negro W.E.B. Dubois described how in 1884 Mayor Samuel G. King appointed the first sixty black officers to the police department, a move that was opposed by whites. These police were put on duty exclusively in black neighborhoods and only permitted to arrest black people. Dubois also noted that none of the original black policemen would ever receive any promotions. Thus, the incorporation of black police was not a sign of racial progress, but instead a means to control the rising black populous.

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Despite the voice behind the curtain vibe, the zine served as a solid reminder that many other histories and conflicts have occurred in this city. It compiles historical facts to demonstrate just how real and tangible white supremacy and racist power dynamics are and how they contributed to the current status quo. What I found most useful and intriguing were the recounts of several street incidents throughout the 50s and 60s where police beatings & other open abuses of power were confronted and stopped by suddenly forming crowds of black Philadelphians. It closes by summarizing the actual tactics and methods used to confront police violence, namely that there is power in quickly gathering groups of people. Useful to read if only to remember, since those in power would love to have us forget. . .

You can probably get your own copy of this and Arturo’s other police resistance zines at LAVA Space shows and Wooden Shoe books, or you can definitely read an updated text-only version of it here.

THANKS 4 READING! ^_~v

On an evening that would see a multi-generational art show themed around “a sci-fi’ed reimagining of education,” the student body of the Philadelphia School District would stage a mass walkout (not the first this year, mind you) and protest down Broad street in tremendous, exhilarating numbers. The impending school closings and continuously proposed budget cuts to schools here in Philly are frighteningly outrageous, with plans to “eliminate all sports, extracurricular activities, counselors and libraries,” and in the meantime, the city and the state governments can’t seem to keep their stories straight from their actions when it comes to allotting funds. They can make deals to let corporations come frack the land and ruin the water, they can keep abandoned homes and empty lots from neighbors who would improve them, they can greenlight casino expansions and spend several hundred million bucks on building a couple new prison facilities upstate, but they just can’t seem to find the money to keep our schools from closing down and firing as much staff as possible?

Some good folks operating under the name Brick & Mortar decided to get an art show going for us to meditate on this dystopian reality, with an open call for submissions:

Brick & Mortar is responding to the Philly School District’s announcement to close 23 schools this year and chop many more into achievement networks to be managed by public and private groups. We asked artists and visionaries: What will our education system look like in 5 years? In 10? 15? 20+? What will it be like to be a student in the future? A parent? An educator? What will our city be like as these changes are implemented?

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Metropolarity crew was hard-pressed to submit anything in time, so instead we counted the days until the show. Our highlights follow thusly: Art, video, and fiction from graphic designers, anarchist activists, and most preciously, Philly students themselves (coincidentally working with Girls Rock Philly.)

Click the images for larger views.

GPSE CONSUMER ALERT by patrick st. john
GPSE CONSUMER ALERT by Patrick St. John

"history class" by emma willow vass, age 11
An empty classroom with empty shelves

"the future scares me" by eleanor g, age 13
“Students and teachers are brainwashed by the government.”

"yolanda" a story by suzy subways

from "yolanda" by suzy subways
A devastatingly raw piece of flash fiction.

"english" by nyree jauhar, age 15
The future of English class, overwrought by needlessly employed technology?

"not so distant future" by numar ahmed, philly student union
A one page zine containing radical fiction by Numar Ahmed, a member of the Philly Student Union

"what" by brianna, age 10
Embodiment of emotional reaction, perhaps, to the senselessness of the situation. I dare say we’ve all known this feeling.

There was also a short animation and submitted music playing, along with a few other pieces, which are absent from this collection (bonus video to follow). But to say the least, the show was IT. Seeing work after work of dystopian art & fiction from kids age 10 to 15 about their own school situation is heavy and to be meditated upon. Props to the organizers of this show, which is currently housed at The Soapbox independent publishing resource center (they have a zine library too). The kids are in the streets. There’s work to be done.


the soapbox independent publishing center

Under these streets, under these, under the train tracks, the shit that goes on in the woods, the shit that goes on while this train is driving by above our heads, the things that go on, on these streets at night when the lights go off, are the kind of things that, that, that people can only dream about, that people can only, it just amazes, it would amaze a normal person, it, it would, it would totally amaze a normal person. Me, myself, like I came down on the train and I got stuck and I been here for 10 years. 10 years I been down here.

The passage above reads like something from a dystopian comic book. Instead, it’s real life under the El along Kensington Ave here in Philly.

If you don’t live by the El in North Philly or if you don’t ride SEPTA outside of Center City, you probably only hear about what goes on under the El when Action News decides to run a passing blurb about some brutal drug-related event where they show a clip of cop cars at night flashing the red and blue. We don’t hear about the history of economics, the lacking access to resources, post-industrial blight and poverty, the relationships between those events and subsequent drug addiction and violence, and least of all, the people living these realities.

Scrappers, 2010

Meanwhile graphic novel after television series after movie comes out depicting brutally violent dystopian post-apocalypses, cyberpunk fictions of complete corporate takeover and total abandonment of The People for The Riches (Governor Corbett, are you there?), the destruction of the environment for terminally capitalistic surveillance states, the scramble for humanity to survive in the zombie apocalypse. . .

Jeffrey Stockbridge shows his chronicle of the living through an ongoing release of photography, audio, and interviews. By his media we get a straightforward glimpse of daily life for those who have not much else available to them but what they can hustle that day. In his own words:

Kensington Blues focuses on the men, women and children who live along Kensington Ave in North Philadelphia. Shadowed by an elevated train, known as the El, the Ave runs approx 3 miles into North East Philly. Under the El, drug use and prostitution are widespread. Many residents are caught in a loosing battle with their drug addiction and live day-to-day to supply their habit and avoid dope-sickness. This drama unfolds every day on the Ave as if it were a stage and the rush of El train above, its curtain. Using photography, audio recordings and journal entries my work explores the state of mind of those who struggle to survive the neighborhood and themselves. By utilizing first person story telling, my goal is to tap into the hearts and minds of my subjects and viewers equally, drawing forth the human condition and encouraging compassion for one another despite the vast differences between us.

It’s been a minute now since there’s been a project that doesn’t just photograph the lives of poor, unfortunate souls for us better-off folks to voyeuristically remark upon––Kensington Blues goes to the great trouble of interviewing people. And I say great trouble because getting people to talk to you about their personal experiences, spending time with them while they write it down, transcribing tape recordings––all that takes time. And in our society today, the adage “time is money” prevents a huge majority of us from doing work like this, even empathizing with work like this.

It should certainly be said that Kensington Blues largely depicts white people. Perhaps that is the result of the artist’s own skin tone and cultural race identity (or appearance thereof), and his subsequent ability to approach willing subjects. Perhaps it’s what you get in old European emigrated working class neighborhoods after the decline of industry in a white supremacist country (where crimes against brown people are routinely devalued and ignored while crimes against white people receive attention and action). Either way, Kensington Blues is real. Sci-fi and speculative fiction often depict dark futures where survivors are abandoned to their own devices, but so do projects like these. In fiction, we’re invited to imagine ways out of these desolate premonitions. What do we do about reality?


Read and listen to first-person stories and see photographs of Kensington Blues at length here. Or check out more from Jeffrey Stockbridge at his professional website here.

Type the search tag “Philly” into tumblr, and you will be met with glimpses of this post-industrial rust belt city that are dare-say more a testament to the living, breathing Philadelphia than what most media outlets (fashion blogs included) bother to cover: Heavily filtered Instagram photos from vantage points beneath the El and empty lots in upheaval where homes once stood. Fine photography of endless SEPTA hallways, wet pavement bus stops, and the clouds shrouding the buildings like mirrors, Comcast and Cira.

As Philadelphians past and present, we find purchase in the view from 215. Natives and transplants who have ever bothered to step outside of Center City and its immediate neighborhoods may already know that our metropolis of the fifth magnitude has no need to obsess over Blade Runner futurescapes of Tokyo, Berlin, London, New York, or any other city of renown — Philadelphia already carries the promise, the pulp, and the grit. Perhaps we find affinity with Detroit, Chicago, Baltimore, and the other American cities less loved by Hollywood feature. Yet we find ourselves here.

RECtheDirector stands out as one who does as well, a silent surveyor with an eye on corners of the city we may have all trod at least once before, offering more than just mundane snapshots of sentimental skylines or blighted rowhome neighborhoods. We suspect REC sees something — a city worth watching with all eyes open, perhaps. What REC does with the hard lens, we do with the speculative voice. Won’t you join us?

Check out more from REC on their tumblr and follow him on Instagram @recthedirector.

The Sent(A)Mental Project is a memorial to queer and trans* suicides. It hopes to bring visibility to mental health issues and much-needed attention to the thousands of people lost within our communities, as well as share survivor stories through a variety of artistic expressions. Members of the Laser Life queer SF collective were invited to perform at a S(A)M benefit show on 24 May 2012, along with an small array of other artists. Rather than read individual stories, the Laser Life crew decided to collaborate on a three-piece tale, woven together with a common universe but written in each person’s respective style. Below are the live recordings from the event:

The Weeping Cabin: A Benefit Compilation is a collection of live, exclusive tracks from performers featured at the Sent(A)Mental Benefit Show at Geppetta’s Studio, May 24th 2012. The compilation features downloadable tracks from Emily Bate, Shomi Noise, and Liz & the Lost Boys plus sci-fi spoken word from Laser Life and an excerpt from a performance by a stick and a stone* with full album download. The compilation is an eclectic mixture of voices and styles ranging from indie rock to haunting folk, riot grrl to dystopian science fiction. So very swoon worthy.

Initial proceeds will go to production costs for ‘There Was a Cabin Who Once Wept‘, a short film in-the-works, with additional proceeds benefiting the Sent(A)Mental Project: an artistic memorial to LGBTQ suicides. The film project will be a submission to S(A)M.
“There Was A Cabin That Once Wept” is made possible by a Lee Foundation Art and Change Grant.

Click here to download the compilation

To learn more about Sent(A)Mental Project, view or submit art, visit: http://sentamentalstudios.weebly.com/

The following is an interview excerpt reproduced from Cluster Magazine (with permission) with Philly resident cyborg, Maggie Eighteen, author of All That’s Left. Originally posted March 30, 2012.

by Cluster Mag Editor-in-Chief Max Pearl.

Number Eighteen constructs a world where the distinctions between the technological and the organic appear absurd, where prosthetics and body-modification have made almost every body a cyborg.

All That’s Left is a sci-fi zine that follows a group of friends living borg lives in the hood, surviving as high-tech foot soldiers in the urban periphery while the ruling classes party it up in sequestered communities called ‘the domes.’ And borders between the technological and the organic are not the only permeable, shifting boundaries. Characters in this post-apocalyptic drama perform gender according to mood and immersive, web-based sex allows users to grow organs or lose them mid-act. It becomes clear that while All That’s Left is a sci-fi narrative, its pessimistic prophecies and its utopian dreams are in some ways real for us already. The wealth gap is fucked, global warming is here, and with the amount of time we spend attached to our smartphones, we’re pretty much already cyborgs.

The zine itself was printed on dumpstered paper dug out from around the Penn campus in West Philadelphia- ‘the domes,’ anyone? The stories themselves are also available in audio form on Soundcloud and Bandcamp.

Cluster Mag interviewed Eighteen about what it means to be part machine, whether we spend too much time on the internet, and when exactly sex is going to catch up with technology.

Cluster Mag: So in All That’s Left, you set the story in these peripheral, militarized slums controlled by gangs and armies of genderqueer cyborgs. What other narratives, genres, or bodies of work inspired and informed you in building this world?

Number Eighteen: Wow! Well, there are dozens of information flows that inform my fantasy dystopia, but in the zine I mention 1990s cyberpunk anime as being an inspiration. I feel like anyone who is a fan of Ghost in the Shell can find obvious influences in my stories. But also there are the worlds of GUNNM (Battle Angel Alita in the U.S.), Appleseed (another Masamune Shirow creation), and Akira (duh) that serve up such gorgeously detailed world settings, technological relationships, and dystopian states. I get frustrated when people—especially sci-fi fans—haven’t given those series the time of day. They’re classics of anime for a reason.

The visual sci-fi of the 80s, 90s, and early 00s (my formative years) are also deep with futurevision; They Live, The Big O, No Escape, Demolition Man, etc—these pulpy “low art” productions are passed over for their perceived campiness, and yet all these series are about power and the oppressed in dystopias of “terminal capitalism” and corporate domination by old straight white motherfuckers who still think their “hard work” is what got them to where they are today. What do you think the #Occupy shit and every other social justice movement is about right now? Humans are humans are humans, and motherfuckers say that money is god, that God founded this country, and that white is right. Fuck that. You know who every villainous motherfucker is in all these series always is? An old white corporate guy.

Continue Reading . . .


Eighteen will be reading at this month’s Laser Life OCT 19, along with other friends of METROPOLARITY: Ras Mashramani, Shane Jenkins, and Alex Smith, Laser Life’s founder and curator.

A shot from the “Using AfroFuturism to Examine Reality” workshop with the Institute for Community Justice program, where the AfroFuturist Affair exchanged perspectives on racism and stereotypes in sci-fi, ancient wisdom, co-creating the future, time as a cycle, and time traveling.

If you would like The AfroFuturist Affair to give a presentation or workshop at your community organization, please contact them at @ afrofuturistaffair@gmail.com

The AfroFuturist Affair is a Philadelphia based community aiming to not only provide space for dialogue around Afrofuturistic ideas, but also a space for actual and practical implementation of these ideas as they serve social progress and freedom. The AfroFuturist Affair uses Afrofuturism and Sci-Fi as vehicles for expression, creativity, education, agency, and liberation in communities of color. For more information, visit their website here.