A SCIFI/SPECULATIVE STORYTELLING & DISCUSSION SERIES

FEATURING

ORIGINAL WRITING +
BELOVED SLEPT-ON TALES +
ATMOSPHERIC AUDIO ACCOMPANIMENT +
RELATED DISCUSSION

WITH YOUR CYBORG HOST, magus monk (b.k.a. eighteen)
AND SPECIAL GUEST NEIGHBORS FROM TIME 2 TIME

///EPISODE #00

Eighteen introduces the listener to this new series and then waxes on at length about the slept-on feminist sci-fi short story writer, James Tiptree Jr/Alice B Sheldon.

From 21:43 begins the dramatic reading of Tiptree/Sheldon’s grim tale of rising facist men’s cult, The Screwfly Solution, featuring musical accompaniment by the spacer, @starsinmypockets.

CONTENT WARNING: sexualized violence & assault of women (part of the story’s riding theme), suicide

///EPISODE #01

Ras Mashramani reads her story GRL.SUICIDE.HOLIDAY from METROPOLARITY’s debut book, Style of Attack Report.

Audio accompaniment done live by Althea of SWARM & Bare TeetH collectives.

After the story, Ras and Eighteen hang out and talk about
social space and the early internet + video games/interactive narratives and mental health coping techniques + social work programs + institutions + getting published + using the 2nd person + working writer pro tips

and other ish. =)

Mentioned in the cast:
Thomas Ligotti
our temporary supervisor – https://libcom.org/library/our-tempor…
the town manager – http://www.theshortform.com/story/the…
the red tower – http://weirdfictionreview.com/2011/12…

procyon 2016 sci-fi anthology: http://bit.ly/2lzg3Iy
poc destroy sci-fi: http://www.destroysf.com/
stories for chip – http://bit.ly/2khFOgb

///FUTURE EPISODES

Check back or subscribe to DHDcast at https://www.mixcloud.com/DHDcast/desire.

They built an ark for us, they said, ushered us in as a swelling mass of bodies, our flesh rent and curdled amongst others of our flesh, our brown flowing with blood and feces and made liquid. They said, an ark— for those of you who could make it across the habitat of dangerous amphibians, you’ll see mermaid husks, dried out impaled on the ruins of Atlantis, you’ll see a bright sustained, red sun peaking over the horizon, waves licked with foam; an ark that will carry you to lush, green new worlds, that will float across the sea.

Such were arks built for us.

It’s 8am and they are still raging. The clatter of the promise of the new world beating a strange arpeggio in rhythm to a riot. A grocery store cart on fire, lit by a stack of Alpha Flight comic books and worn mattresses; a dance on top of a mail truck, buildings— once towers that housed telemarketers and people eating salad on their lunch break, towers that served as a safe, comforting space— a cocoon— for law makers and bill collectors— rain sheets of glass, the windows sliding off these wonders of architecture in a glorious cascade. And of the bill collectors themselves? Without their vast halls, there is nothing for them. They pirouette vulnerably in the city center, kneeling on the stoops of the monuments they themselves once guarded— at least ideologically— in more prosperous times— times that, at least for them, lacked uncertainty. Now, they are led by their ties like chattel, by masked women carrying shotguns and cattle prods, some adorned with the swaddled, breast-wrapped body of a baby. Someone’s made a tank out of rusting Whole Food’s dumpsters, affixed a pneumatic pump-triggered launcher and armed it with Molotov cocktails made from discarded Belgian import beer bottles.

Someone’s made a throne out of a bunch of milkcrates and cardboard boxes. Sitting on the throne is a woman who, a week ago, was begging for change in front of the Comcast building. Her sign reads “Will write think piece for food”. Her skin is black. She is wearing crystal and spiked Christian Louboutin heels. They worship her; she may not be a goddess but at least, for now, she is the king.

A vinyl sign floats by in the quickly whipping wind. “JUSTICE!” it reads, though I can’t make out who for; surely, it was any one of the unarmed men killed a few months ago by police. I squint to make it out, but the horizon takes it, and all I can think about is how much that sign had to cost with FedEx/Kinko’s rising printing rates, and it’s at least 10 feet long and two colors and there’s pictures. This isn’t a riot, though, this is the promise of the ark; this is the new wonderland that they gave us, made real. The wonderland we dreamed up when we ate sugar sandwiches and flicked roaches off the kitchen table; the wonderland that danced in our subconscious when we bent coat hangers into antennae and patched up our couches with duct tape. Or at least, this is the beginning, the dawn, the spark.

“Look, we didn’t ask for it,” I told him. A round of shots burst outside of our window. I peak out. A pay telephone is finding itself launched into a Korean corner store. “We did everything right. We walked down the streets, en masse, with our hands up. We held our bus passes aloft, wore gray clothing, tied our shoes, pulled our pants up. We were totally complicit. We tried it.”

He sits on the edge of the bed in our crumbling room in our crumbling row home. He is hunched over and crying and afraid. I walk away from the window over to him and touch his skin, gingerly, rub my brown fingers into his mealy, white hands as I have done hundreds of times before. He looks back at me with those soft eyes. I can’t help but stare into them. They are deep wells. I’m reminded when we first met, on some queer dating app, probably BearHunter or Masc4Masc, when everyone had smart phones and the world was navigable by finger touch, when autonomy seemed to float down like consciousness on a stream— the ark.

The seeds were planted then, we just couldn’t see it. We slowly let a few politicians step out of darkness and into the glorious light of an MSNBC news van. We gave them the spotlight with our reblogs and our “LOLs” and so those politicians joined up with their best buds, the corporations, and the real world— planet earth, burgeoning apiary wrought with oak and diamonds in ravenous salty lake, a sphere suspended in space in real life— became the stage where real live human beings, black ones, became the bargaining chips for electoral campaign residue. Mayors, state senators, presidents, comptrollers. The zealots slipped into the seams of the system, soon outnumbering the even tempered and mild mannered, the would-be people’s politicians, still careerists all, who sat back eating grapes and getting their feet washed while the world turned to ash, who never spoke up or got angry for fear of losing an election, for fear of losing their already spine-wilted constituency.

I tear myself away from his gaze; I must be strong, can’t handle his crying, and I go into a stack of papers. I read with a rasp choking on barbed saliva; trembling: “And thereby granting executive power to any law enforcement agency under any circumstances in instances of perceived criminality wherein the property or personhood of other persons, including incorporated entities, are threatened. Unless the assailant is showing extreme complicity, all executive actions undertaken by law enforcement on behalf of said property or persons, including incorporated entities, will be upheld and protected by writ of federal law.” And it’s too much for him. He falls into a ball on the floor, crying, tearing at the paper. I go to lift him up. I remember how we all made our way then; we didn’t rebel, we just walked with our eyes lowered and our hands constantly up, we stopped carrying devices that looked like guns— cell phones, pencils, packs of incense. We stopped laughing in public theaters, stopped trying to apply for jobs we knew we were qualified for— lawyer, stenographer, nursing floor manager, comic book writer— and we shuffled, thinned out the timbre of our voices and cut the auxiliary cords on the stereos in the faded brown Fords we drove to and from work. A mass of black skin in gray suits, heaving, respectable, settling into our seats, entering buildings with our backpacks already opened, spread eagle and waiting patiently while all others feasted. And yeah, there were so-called allies, white men and women who marched through the city with their hands up too. They coasted, hands up and bright orange rubber messenger bags swinging in the neon kissed afternoon, all in solidarity they said, on their way to their 9 to 5s, on their commutes to the hipster coffee shop/bean bag emporium. Some even wore our pale gray suits; post-modern Patty Hearsts clip-clopping down hallways on their way to turn off our lights. Eventually, we faded out of fashion from over-saturation; gray suits lined the racks at Urban Outfitters sharing shelf-space with hot pink keffiyeh scarves and Che Guevara t-shirts.

But one of us, then another of us, and another, were killed; perhaps we took too long to get our train tickets ready for the conductor? Perhaps after a long shift at the diner we gave a little sass to an overly aggressive customer? Perhaps we jaywalked ahead of the yellow light, jogging across the street as cars rolled to a stop, a momentary pause in genuflecting, suspended in traffic like a moth in amber. In that very moment, before our death, we are in control, fully free. (and of the ark?)

BANG.

Now, the streets are alive with fire. Everything is burning. The night before, I lay swept in his thick heavy arms, cradled by him, asleep in his wonderful weight. We lit a candle and let our awkward playlist simmer: Godspeed You Black Emperor, Daft Punk, FKA Twigs, Moor Mother Goddess, Barry Manilow, Art Ensemble of Chicago; those old songs, before everything was digitized, approved, and kept behind gates, music from the time when album covers had artwork, when albums had covers, when albums… We talked in hushed tones about what all these killings meant. I was blunt with him. It wasn’t enough that the love we shared was the most forbidden kind. We had to work towards something. He let out a sigh. He usually let me do the talking and that night was no different. He just sighed and squeezed me harder, as if he were trying to get inside of my skin to get to my heart. He kissed my forehead and fell asleep.

I lift him up, my knees wobbling, the roar of footsteps outside of our door, the smash and clatter of a falling dynasty in our hallway. Some body thrusts against our door maniacally. The rage of centuries on the ark, centuries on the slave block, centuries traipsing through the social assistance lines is tearing at the fabric of our reality and the only thing that is stopping it from ripping is the shoddy masonry I’d sent a polite letter to our landlord about, two hinges that have been WD-40’d into a new shade of rust.

The door crashes into shards.

At least twenty men stand before us. I thought their eyes would be aflame, skin caked in blood. They are not. They are haggard, yes, a dark conglomerate of beings barely shifting in the dust strewn light. They have machetes and guns and vacuum hoses and X-Box controllers wrapped up as nunchaku. Some are carrying Ziplock bags of blond hair, others have necklaces of white thumbs, some are wearing Burberry scarves and Tom Ford ascots like equal symbols of warrior-hood. They look at my partner and snarl. They lunge forward, grabbing at our limbs. A loud bang, sharp and deliberate. Am I hit? Is he? I sink to my knees, slipping out of his hands and the sea of men parts before us. A woman appears. She is short, squatty, cherubic and carrying a bop gun made of springs, hydraulic pumps and canola oil, firing nails and bobby pins; her satchel tucked at her breast filled with sage ash. Her hair is a tangled mesh of dreads, her ears pierced with a wooden ankh. A burst of dusty street lamp light refracts wildly off of her crystal Louboutin heels. The men slowly pile out of the room, then tear back out into the streets, ahowl.

The night is fresh and suddenly clear. The short woman with the dreads smells sweetly of ozone. She lowers her weapon, inspects the room and leaves. I watch from the window as she ambles up the street. Occasionally she fires her weapon, controlled bursts in the air, disappearing down the avenue, covered under a swirl of trash, lost amidst the wails, guiding flaming motorcycles into the pharmacy, pulling Asian children out of the rubble, safe guarding the rest of the world from the death throes of revenge. I don’t know her, but at that moment I’m sure that’s all she’s ever done, on the ark, in the swamps by the master’s house, at funerals for drug dealers, on the internet, and in the streets, begging for change on the steps of the place where she once wrote elegiac think-pieces every time one of us died. I rub my fingers through my boyfriend’s shaggy brown hair, down across his chubby cheeks and think, yes, she still does this guarding now, in the promised and pristine garden of the wonderland.

“SCI-FI AS MEMOIR IN THE REALITY OF APOCALYPSE”

(1) #SOFTTARGETS WAS A DAY OF WRITING CRITIQUES + WORKSHOPS + PERFORMANCES ON A SATURDAY AFTERNOON AT THE PHILADELPHIA FREE LIBRARY CENTRAL BRANCH.

This was an day-long event held in preparation for the submission deadline to APIARY Magazine’s 8th issue and collaboration with our collective, themed SOFT TARGETS. APIARY is a volunteer-run, freely distributed literary magazine based in and featuring Philadelphia writers. Before METROPOLARITY got started, Ras was one of the fiction editors for the mag. APIARY’s staff has always supported us, and we’ve been meaning to do some sort of collaborative effort ever since. So the SOFT TARGETS issue is a sci-fi one collaboratively edited by us at METROPOLARITY, along with the standing editors at APIARY.

THE DAY CONCLUDED WITH METROPOLARITY SQUAD READING IN THE MAIN BRANCH’S FAMOUS AUDITORIUM. IF YOU MISSED IT, THANK THE COSMOS FOR A LIVESTREAM, M I RITE???? AUDIO IS PROVIDED BY NYFOLT & MOOR MOTHER GODDESS/BLACK QUANTUM FUTURISM CREW

Eighteen says: It was sooooooooooo nice to be at the central branch of the library for this event, and super starry to perform in the famed auditorium. Like a lot of Philadelphians out there, I spent a looot of time in the library growing up (Olney & East Oak Lane branches whut up). Really grateful to APIARY staff and Adam from the Library for making things possible, and very appreciative of everyone who came out to the writing critique session and workshop, and all those who stayed for the performances.

(2) THE LASER LIFE QUEER SCI-FI READING SERIES MARCH EDITION WAS FIRE

ALEX SMITH READS AT LASER LIFE

THE LASER LIFE AT LAVA ZONE
HASHTAG QUEER SCI-FI HASHTAG FUCK GOD HASHTAG FUCK LANDOWNERS HASHTAG UP THE HERETICS
#METROPOLARITY

THANKS TO ALL WHO CAME. THANKS TO JOYCE HATTON FOR THE MOST EXCELLENT DEBUT, MOOR MOTHER GODDESS FOR THE STORM, CHASKA FOR THE PERFECT AUDIO/VISUAL ATMOSPHERE & EVERYONE WHO CAME OUT <3 <3 <3 <3 IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN READING/PERFORMING AT THE NEXT LASER LIFE, CONTACT THEYAREBIRDS AT GEEEEEMAIL.

What nobody seems to have pics of is the powerful trailer for M. Asli Dukan‘s INVISIBLE UNIVERSE documentary on black speculative fiction… but check this out:

INVISIBLE UNIVERSE DOCUMENTARY (FUNDRAISING DEMO) from MIZAN MEDIA PRODUCTIONS on Vimeo.

In 2003, independent filmmaker, M. Asli Dukan, set out to make a documentary about the 150 year history of Black creators in speculative fiction (SF) books and movies. What she didn’t realize at the time was that she was about to document a major movement in the history of speculative fiction. A movement where a growing number of Black creators were becoming an effective force, creating works that had increasing influence on the traditionally, straight, white, cis-male dominated SF industry. However, while these Black creators imagined better futures for Black people within their fictional works of SF, in reality, the everyday, lived experiences of Black people in the United States – e.g., the rise of massive inequality, the prison industrial complex, and police brutality – stood in stark contrast. She began to wonder if these phenomena were related.

Told through the ever-present lens and off-screen narrator voice of the filmmaker, Invisible Universe will explore this question by examining the work of Black creators of SF through the ideology of the emerging Black Lives Matter movement, which addresses the systematic oppression of Black lives. Since she began the documentary, the filmmaker has compiled an extensive interviewee list of Black writers, artists and filmmakers of SF who have been creating works where Black people not only exist in the future, but are powerful shapers of their own realities, whether in magical lands, dystopian settings, or on distant worlds. In addition, she has documented an ever-increasing number of academic, community and arts events dedicated to the work and critical analysis of Black SF, as well as building connections between the creators, thinkers, organizers and fans. In the past decade, the filmmaker has documented the cultural shift around Black SF and its explicit connections to Black liberation. This documentary explores the idea that in a world of capitalist exploitation, anti-Black oppression and state violence, Black creators are speculating about better worlds as a means of resistance and survival.

The documentary will also consider how “Black Speculation” is rooted in the history of “Black Struggle” in the United States by exploring two previous eras of Black creators speculating about Black lives through the genres of SF. The first era occurred during the nadir of African American history in late 19th and early 20th centuries, when slavery, war, lynchings, race riots, disfranchisement and segregation inspired Black writers to pen narratives about international slave rebellions, secret, Black governments and powerful, long lost, African kingdoms. The second era occurred during the 1960’s and early 1970’s, when the work of Black writers of SF seemed to extrapolate on the possible futures that would occur as a result of the successes or failures of the Civil Rights or Black Power struggles. This documentary will explore how this current moment, which the filmmaker considers the third era of Black Speculation, compares and contrasts with the earlier two eras.

This timely documentary includes interviews with Black writers of SF like Samuel R. Delany, the late Octavia E. Butler, Steven Barnes, Tananarive Due, Nalo Hopkinson and Nnedi Okorafor, actors like Nichelle Nichols and Wesley Snipes, cultural organizers like Rasheedah Phillips and her AfroFuturist Affair, academics/artists like John Jennings and Nettrice Gaskins, social justice workers/artists like adrienne maree brown and Walidah Imarisha, as well as numerous other filmmakers, artists, academics, archivists, and fans. This one-of-a-kind project is essentially an archive of a “Who’s Who” of Black speculative fiction.

The artist Sondra Perry hit us up one day with a collab idea: We write/record a critical writing component to go along with her project, #MyTwilightZoneThing, taking place at Recess Art in New York. A couple weeks later…

We had the great fortune to commission the critical writing for #MyTwilightZoneThing to METROPOLARITY, a collective of speculative fiction writers/artists/activists based/raised in Philadelphia. Their contribution “YOU HAVE 4 MESSAGES” includes 4 texts [and 3 audio pieces] written by RAS MASHRAMANI (@anti_gyal), Alex Smith (@theyarebirds), M. EIGHTEEN (@cyborgmemoirs), and Rasheedah Phillips (@afrofuturistaffair).
It’s incredible.

My Twilight Zone Thing builds upon the artist’s belief that the original show dismantles whiteness through the lens of science fiction. Although each episode of The Twilight Zone opens with the narrator (series creator Rod Serling) describing the mostly male, primarily white characters, these individuals go on to enter an alternate plane—a move that complicates the viewer’s ingrained ways of seeing and coding the characters’ physical realities.

Perry posits that the way in which the show scrambles assumptions around the characters’ bodies gives rise to multiple new possibilities for seeing and understanding their personhood. Perry will work with the collaborators to experiment with this dissolution of identity as they insert themselves into these narrated scenes. With only the original script remaining as a point of reference to the source material, the actors will have the opportunity to assume, mimic, or defy the externally prescribed characteristics, thereby taking advantage of the rift between representative structures and real bodies.

Download your copy at the link below!
http://www.recessart.org/metropolarity-you-have-4-messages/ (at Recess)

Or visit map to Recess Gallery in New York to grab a limited USB drive loaded with the goods + other tasty media morsels

Ya’ll are some fools! I’m yelling and gnashing my teeth and screeching at them in modified Common to pay attention. But these gentry don’t know what the fuck I’m talking about. You know that? Then they get robbed and laughed at and their goddamn feelings hurt cause they wanna talk to me and I tell them their Common ain’t shit — nobody can understand what the fuck they talking about! Don’t come to this end of the city like you know what this place is! But they come anyway.

Don’t you know? One time in ancient history someone came up with the idea that says, to fool and become an important human being you first must be white; secondly — totally understanding; third — never totally actually directly responsible (accept this); and fourth — that you will move through space outside of history (just like an astronaut!) and come to truly know yourself only by trying out other people’s cultures.

Except if you can’t fucking speak Common, how the fuck . . .

I don’t get it either, and they think I’m like them, and then they get Sensitive when I’m like that’s not how you use Jawn and that’s not what Salty means here, and that’s not how you act on the train, and you never heard of Belmont Plateau? You been living here for ten years five years three years you never heard of that place?

All these young white punks fresh from college and suburbia, responsible young moms as far as the eye can see, touring upper class parents here to survey the neighborhood — YOU KNOW SOMETHING? UPENN THROWS DOWN HALF ON A HOUSE IN WEST PHILLY IF YOU WORK FOR THEM? SO HOW CAN I GET A JOB? Gentry keeps coming in, crawling over Malcolm X Park and the block of Osage the city bombed to the ground, and nobody has any memory and everything is so charming, and they don’t even know we’re here and don’t even care! Cause they don’t know Common? BUT IT DOESN’T MATTER CAUSE THEY THINK THEY DO!!

You know, I never lived in a place that was gentry-fied before. I was living out by 48th and Baltimore down the street from my aunt. They call that area Middle Hill now and my aunt stays holed up with her cat in her Victorian rowhome with her Classic Olde Philly accent (the only one the realtors recognize, anyway) looking at her property taxes like she don’t know what she’s gonna have to do. And I moved back to Olney, out by the empty fields where the HK Mart used to be, and the abandoned middle school at Godfrey . . . Live by my parents finally — my stepdad’s got a grill, my mom’s got a little library going, and my little brother, he builds stuff that keeps things DRY. You know they say Levittown is a swamp now? That and the whole shit by Cobbs Creek — lotta places. It’s from the overflowed rivers and all the old backed up drainage systems in the city, and they only send out the truancy officers to those parts, rounding up all those badassed lazy kids and throwing them in detention schools, which YOU KNOW, are the only kinds of free schools this city GOT anymore, and my nana woulda been pissed to have her taxes go to those nasty kids! But what she doesn’t know is that we’re all living with the possums and raccoons now, and those loudass coquís. Her basement’s been flooded and her house is falling down empty.

And me, I go to work downtown for this young gay PhD couple taking car of their dogs. They work at the experimental charter school district — not the Penn one, the other one sponsored by PEW down by the Delaware. You know, the Delaware’s off limits, too. Might as well call it the Columbus River, if you hear what I’m saying, and let us merry men stick to our trashy creeks up the way . . .

And we’ll keep speaking in Common and remember the old blocks and these fools will stay making some other city on top of ours. Cause they don’t know that we’re here, and they don’t fucking care.

 

GENTRY was recently performed for LIVE at Kelly Writer’s House (available to listen here), and originally appeared in the space invaders edition of the Metropolarity Journal of Speculative Vision & Critical Liberation Technologies (available 4 free here). It was also assigned reading in a University of Pennsylvania undergraduate English department class, but Eighteen, who lives blocks away from campus, was not present to give any context to the piece whatsoever.

For western scientists the ideal blackbody absorbs everything that shines on it, reflecting nothing, remaining the blackest, seemingly unchanged, invisible.

I live in Long Beach California by Compton College with my big brother, my baby sister, and my mom and dad. I get into trouble by going out and not coming back all day, doing stupid stuff with my brother and my friends. I be leaving because it’s hard in my house, my dad is strict. He’s strict because he’s from Guyana, and mom said he had a hard life, so he be beating us for stupid stuff. So I just try to get away from him. We do stuff like going to the liquor store and one of us talks to the lady, and the rest of us just take the Mexican candy and put it in our pockets. When we get suspended we catch fishes in the LA river instead of staying home, but you got to walk a long long way to do that. In school they say don’t walk in the river cause if it rains you’ll get washed away, then they show you all these videos of people drowning in the river when it’s raining. But sometimes the police catch us and they bring me back home all the time, and that’s how you get a beating in my house, when the police bring you home.  I’m not afraid of getting put away cause I went before to a residential after they found me at the riots taking Nintendo games from the game store up the block. It wasn’t nothing though, and we still got the games.

Sometimes my brother won’t have time for me so I go down by the car wash to make some money. I use the money to buy corn on the cob covered in cheese and chili and all this candy and sometimes I save the money to buy sneakers cause my dad won’t get me new stuff like that, and I get clowned at school because of all the old stuff I be wearing. Three times though I went down to the car wash and the dude who’s always there wasn’t there, and this other old dude was there and he gave me 20 dollars to touch his thing. The second time he gave me 20 dollars again to touch my thing.  But the last time was bad, and I told my dad about it and he just beat me. He said I didn’t have no business by the car wash anyway, so why am I telling him all this. He poured some rice on the ground in the kitchen. He told me to kneel on it and the rice was all in my skin when it was done, and there was blood coming out my knees. That’s why I be riding the bus up and down Long Beach Blvd by myself sometimes, cause I’m not tryna be home like that. That’s why I be by the baseball fields so I can watch the kids play, cause my dad won’t let me play. He wants me to play the damn violin, and I’m like nah, I can’t do that. I want to play baseball, that’s what I really want to do.

They’re gonna put me away when I’m 12, because I’m too much trouble and I keep running away and I be drinking and smoking like my brother. And my therapist’s gonna be this white dude Dr. Ferguson. He tells me all that’s wrong with me, and he tells my mom and dad all that’s wrong with me. I got attention deficit disorder, and I got oppositional defiance disorder, and I got this and I got that, man all I got is a dad who beats me and my mom, she don’t do nothing to help me. So I’ma just stay in this “facility” and try to be good til they let me out and then when I get out I’ma get into some money get away for real. When I get out I’ll find out they moved out of Long Beach to somewhere safer called Paramount. They forgot a lot of my stuff, and when I get out I feel fucking lost.

My big brother’s gonna die when I’m 13, and we find out in the middle of the night. Some gang bangers shot him in front of our old apartment complex on Orange Avenue. Dad says I’m old enough to come with him to the morgue and he tells my sister only the men of the house can go, but he doesn’t tell her where. And I go and I see him dead there and my dad tells the guy yeah that’s him. They shot him in the side, and the bullet broke his artery. Now my big brother’s dead and all I got is a sister, who’s just a baby. After the funeral me and my sister get together and sing ‘We Are the World’ for our family in the living room. And something’s wrong with mom. After the funeral something happens to her, like she can’t see the real world no more. All she talk about is seeing him in front of her bed, seeing his spirit with blood pouring out his side. And I hear her talking to him from her bed. She tells him ‘You asked for a brother, you got a brother. You asked for a sister, you got a sister,’ and then she’s crying. That’s another reason I don’t be in the house.

The police tell dad they can’t find the killers. Mom says my brother was only on the news for one night, but when these white kids get killed you know their names for months and months and sometimes years. I hold a gun when I go over my brother’s best friend’s house to smoke some weed and calm down. My brother’s best friend says he got something for them cholos. I guess at least that’s some kind of justice, right or wrong? Better than nothing, everyone forgetting he got murdered. I hold the gun for a long time and I see all its parts.

We’re gonna move away from Paramount to somewhere safer called Norwalk. I run the streets with my Korean homies Danny and Mark here. Sometimes we get jumped by the Mexicans, and sometimes we jump the Mexicans. We throw glass bottles in the alley behind our apartment complex. I fuck Danny’s cousin Julie. I fuck Chris’s sister Monica. We fuck all these girls. I feel like I can’t stop sometimes. We smoke wet. We huff paint. We choke each other out to get high. We talk shit when we can’t think and that’s how I like it.

I’m gonna get in trouble at school for fighting this fat girl with a bald spot. The school cops put me in a hold and bend my fucking wrist, and when the teacher tried to stop him the cop was like ‘I will spray this shit down your fucking throat, who’s your supervisor?!’ And I’m like damn Miss, be careful, these cops don’t play. But yeah they fucked my hand up, but I went to the police station, not the hospital.

I’m gonna get in trouble at school for sexual harassment cause this white girl said I touched her butt. So they kick me out, and I gotta go to this rehab program for teenagers over in Cerritos behind the Home Depot. But I don’t mind it there really. They’re cool. But I’m still gonna keep running.

The police are gonna kick me in the head cause I stole a Walkman from Circuit City. The put the dogs on me and put me away again, except not in a residential, in juvenile hall. My dad hates me because they all gotta come up and visit me and he says it’s too far but it’s not that far, only in Downey. It’s called Los Padrinos. This kid name Marcos tells me it means ‘godparents.’ And where the fuck are mine now? Marcos keeps the other boys off me cause he’s my roommate. Marcos says he loyal to all his roommates, no matter what, cause we don’t got anyone else in this place but each other. And I believe that.

When they let me out my dad’s not gonna have me back, so I stay over Mark and Danny’s house across the way from our townhouse. I see my sister, and she be wanting to play and follow me around. It’s fucked up I can’t live in that house no more but I guess I brought it on myself. Mark and Danny’s mom let us smoke in the garage while she mixes kimchi and she don’t care. How come my parents can’t be like that? My sister tells me mom is worse and worse every day but she don’t say how exactly. When I see my mom she happy, but she don’t tell me to come back or nothing like that. Maybe this a good thing.

I’m gonna be fucking this white girl, but her dad gonna walk in on us and she gonna start screaming like I’m raping her. And they say I was raping her, so I hide out so they don’t find me for a while, til my homie Greg mom snitches on me. Which, whatever, maybe I would too cause I’m a fucking criminal already. Nobody wants a criminal in their home, not even your own parents. In court, the white girl there crying and they talk about her vagina and semen and penetration and force, and my mom not there cause they had to put her ass away too. But my dad here, and he had to bring my sister cause he don’t have childcare. Dad interrupts court when they’re talking about all the sex stuff, and he asks if my sister can go in the back room and they say okay. But she don’t even know what they was talking about, so it don’t even matter.

They make me stay at Los Padrinos for six months. That shit really fucked me up cause I don’t sleep no more because I have to fight all the time. My dad don’t really visit like that, and they bout to send me up to the mountains, some place called Chatsworth. That’s where they put juvenile sex offenders like me. I’m like who gives a shit. Maybe somebody’ll kill me before I get up there. Some boy hung himself in the next room over. That’s how I be feeling.

They’re gonna leave me up here in the mountains by myself to rot. All these other kids got their family coming up for groups and therapy and activity time and shit, and my dad stopped coming after like three months. The doctor banned me from seeing my little sister, so my dad stopped bringing her. I know she gonna forget about me, cause I’ma be up here for 3 more years. I try not to worry about it, but the doctor make me write letters to my dad to tell him how I feel. I sent one, but he never calls so I don’t know if he got it. In the letter I was like, ‘How come you stopped seeing me and stopped calling me? How come you don’t love me like a son? Why do y’all always put me somewhere? What do you want me to be like?’ All these questions. They keep me awake all night.

I’m gonna have a worker who cares about me though. She tells me my strengths, and she puts me in this program with computers, where I learn to fix them and take them apart. She tells me that I can make a new family when I’m out if I want. And that I got some chosen family already, like Dave and Anthony who I knew since I was like six. And I’m about to get out too, soon. They gonna move me to semi-independent living back in Paramount. It’s like a group home. But I’ma just keep to myself and try to get in school or something like that.

I’m gonna go down Lakewood Blvd to my dad new apartment. It’s gonna be nice and gated with a swimming pool and trees and shit. Like a good place to raise a kid. My sister is all the way in sixth grade now. I like to help her out like buy her shoes or give her a ride to school or something. Dad is very old, like he might die soon, or get sick. I don’t know if he remembers me even though it’s only been four years or so. But he had remarried while I was gone, and now Mom’s in Newark, New Jersey where her sister takes care of her. I try to give them what little bit I have from financial aid and the shipping place. I try to buy some groceries and keep them having internet.

I’m gonna live in a garage behind this one lady’s house in Carson, and there’s gonna be a pitbull in the backyard guarding everything. The police raid all the houses on this block, so I can’t keep the weed around like I really need to. I just keep it on Lakewood Blvd with my sister. I take her to see my girl in San Diego so she can chill with us and my girl’s niece, Aubrey. It’s nice cause it’s a long drive and it’s like the fall, and you can see the beach all along the side of the car and the wind feel good as shit. On the way back it’s dark and late and I know my sister had a good time cause she sleep in the passenger seat with all this In-n-Out burger stuff all over her.

I’m gonna move back in with my dad cause he had like two major strokes. He don’t even leave the hospital bed no more and I gotta help him piss in a plastic bottle. Lynette is his wife and that bitch is suspect. She probably thinks my family comes from the devil, but my thing is, why you marry into this shit? Just to judge us? Sometimes I hear her call my sister a heathen and a lesbian, and I gotta tell them both to shut the fuck up with that arguing. My sister, I worry about her. She don’t talk to me like that no more since she started high school, maybe cause she was like a daddy’s girl and he’s like all laid up in the living room looking dead. I could see how that’s depressing. She just be in her room all the time. I ask her what she gonna be when she grow up, and she don’t even turn around from her Playstation. She says “I’m gonna be a blackbody, just like daddy is a blackbody, just like you are.” I think she’s doing drugs.

When dad dies, he’s gonna be covered in bedsores in a nursing home up La Mirada way. When my stepmom kicks my sister out, I pay for her to get on a plane and go to Newark to live with my aunt. I can’t keep my priorities straight no more after that, after I have to drive her to LAX with all her shit in a trash bag. She don’t talk to me the whole way, and don’t say bye when she gets through security. I spend a lot of time with my dad’s old homie from church, try to see what he can tell me about my dad, like what did he believe in. It’s all I feel like doing is this digging, and drinking forties. Like I need quiet, so I go on long drives on the Pacific Coast Highway and try to create a plan for myself. I can’t though, like the lines are broken up and I can’t get from here to there.

I’m gonna leave California to help take care of my mom in South Carolina, cause my aunt said she can’t handle her no more. Like she won’t stop tripping and won’t take the medication. Sometimes I call my sister to talk to my mom because she got more experience dealing with this bipolar shit than I do. And I haven’t spent more than a week at a time with my mom since I was 14 years old. My sister dropped out of her freshman year of college and she blames me for it. She’s mad that she worked so hard to not be like me and look where that gets her. And I can’t help her with nothing. I can barely help myself.

Mom’s gonna fall into a diabetic coma, and I’m gonna find her face down in the yard. They ask me all these questions about what she’s been eating like I’m raising her. I try to call my sister to let her know, but her dude is like she’s in the hospital cause she tried hang herself in the closet and he gives me the number to the place. When I call her I have to wait for her to come to the phone. ‘Yo,’ she says and I ask her what she’s doing in there and she’s like ‘What do you think?’ And I forget what I called to tell her cause I’m mad she’s fucking up like me and mom. And I tell her that, and she hangs up the phone on me. She stops answering our phone calls for years.

I’m gonna be fishing one day on the Edisto River on my day off from the group home. My cell phone’s gonna ring and it’ll be a 267 number. My sister is calling me from Philadelphia and it’s a lot of noise on her end. I haven’t heard her voice in four years but I can recognize it, even though she’s older, even though I can barely hear her over the shit in the background. Shit sound like bombs, honestly. I try to ask her how she doing but she’s screaming over sirens and static ‘Can you hear me?’ I try to tell her yeah, a little bit I can hear you. I ask her where she is. It’s like chaos over there. ‘Before they write the headlines,’ she says, ‘You were a life.’ I look out over the black water confused. Like, I think, I still am, and what is she talking about? I tell her I’m not dead, which is a fucked up thing to say out loud in a boat in the middle of the swamp. ‘I’m not dead,’ I say again and the call is dropped.

I’m gonna have dreams that night where my body’s broken in pieces, there’s bits of my jaw and wet bullets in my mouth, and the skin on my back is cracked open, on fire. I’m gonna wake up feeling for blood, inhaling a cloud of mosquitoes flying over my face. I’m gonna walk over to my window and look outside, and the sun will be rising over the houses as tanks roll down the block, AIKEN POLICE painted on the sides. Something will tell me to stay inside with my mom, who’s sleep. Something will tell me they’re coming for me. And that none of this mattered.

 


Ras Mashramani is a founding member of Metropolarity. This piece debuted in the FUTURE NOW episode of Metropolarity Journal of Speculative Fiction & Critical Liberation Technologies. You can pick up her zine here.

Image on this post by the formidable @RecTheDirector.

They said Yolanda was an arsonist. I don’t know — I guess they tried her as an adult. We never saw her again. But I remember seeing her face bent toward the sandy earth that day, and I don’t think she was sadistic. Just curious. And Connor was the only kid who had talked to her all week, probably. I heard her say she’d never used a magnifying glass before. Tons of ants were crawling over the pipe by the west side of the school, swarming together onto the dirt like an oil stain. She set them on fire, yeah, but I’m not even sure she wanted to. She probably would rather have used the magnifying glass to stare at a hunk of igneous rock or something, and she would have been able to tell how old each once-molten layer was.

Yolanda stuck out because she was the only black girl in our middle school. She was a high-performing student, and I guess her parents could pay. Most of the black kids in Philly can’t go to school anymore. Some people say black kids come from a culture of poverty, so they’re not ambitious and can’t get out of their neighborhoods anyway. People who say that kind of shit think good students like Yolanda are different from other black kids. I wouldn’t really know, but I remember when I said “Hi” to her on the first day she came in. It was January. I was like, “I know you’re new here, because I would’ve noticed you before.” And she winced just like my little brother does when my mom calls him “Fatso.”

Her family probably lives on a block of row-homes and eats at Petri Burger like we do—everyone in Philly craves their sterile in-vitro meat. And Yolanda’s dad might even get them all together to watch the drone strikes if they have a large-screen wall. My dad bets on drones. That’s how he pays for my school.

Since SEPTA banned teenagers, nobody at school can take the bus anymore. The bell rings, and a row of nannies in cars stalls the traffic outside. A few of us stick around for a while, in an in-between kind of world where rules still exist, but we can’t see them.

Convex lenses focus light to magnify solar energy. I knew this, but it’s different to see it in action. So when I saw Connor and Yolanda crouched down under the library window in the afternoon heat, I crept closer and craned my neck. There wasn’t even a spark or smoke, but the ants shriveled up under the fierce light, dead, one by one. Then Yolanda grabbed a piece of paper from her backpack and set that on the ground. Honestly, it looked a lot like when that laser took down a drone over a beach in Mexico last week. That was cool. You don’t see that kind of beam — it’s not like other lasers where you see a sharp purple line in the air. When Yolanda held the magnifying glass over it, a nickel-sized spot on the paper just suddenly caught fire.

And then, I can’t believe what happened next, but it was a real drone. The non-lethal kind that hovers overhead in case the metal detectors fail and some crazy kid tries a mass shooting. But Yolanda… The cops carried her away unconscious on a stretcher, barking at Connor to shut the hell up when he screamed, “Why’d you cuff her?”

Yolanda’s gone.

 


Suzy Subways is a writer/activist who loves Philly the way a three-eyed fish loves its lake. She edits Prison Health News, coordinates an oral history project about the Student Liberation Action Movement (SLAM), and temps as a copyeditor. Send a message to Mizsubways(@)gmail(.)com for her fiction zines.
Image on this post by the formidable @RecTheDirector.

Prologue: The Great Collapse:

Live from the 215 and kneedeep in the muck of the not so distant future, a cataclysmic rupture in the global capitalist system has created an economic, political and social shockwave that has reverberated around the planet with a fury previously unseen in the whole of human history. Maybe it was Wall Street gambling and high volume trading? Maybe it was global peak oil prices causing the whole fossil fuel industrial complex to grind to a screeching halt? Maybe a few of our Vodoun initiated sisters had really conjured up a devastating hex from the bowels of the nether world, that caused the entire system to just get sick and die? Nobody REALLY knows, and few people really give a fuck. All we knew/know is that the game has changed and we out here tryna live.

In the weeks immediately following the great collapse, the TV news and Social Media sites were flooded with “Experts” and “Economists” trying in vain to put together a story that made sense of it all. The TV talking heads gritted their teeth and furrowed their brows in an desperate, futile attempt to bottle a whole new world up into the impossibly tiny and inadequate snow globe of corporate Media Newspeak and “mainstream” economic theory.

The Politicians also tried to get control of the situation. At first they tried calm and soothe people, urging us to “stay home” and “remain calm” (as if we was calm before all this shit went down Smh). When that didn’t work, they passed new, repressive “laws”, increased domestic surveillance and unleashed police and military upon the massive waves of people that poured out into the streets, desperate to find food and security. For a little while, the police fought the people and the people fought the police. The cops and military were well trained and well indoctrinated, but all that training and indoctrination ran into direct conflict with a very definite, very concrete material reality. To put it simply, once the cops stopped getting paychecks, they stopped being cops. The dollar and all other global currencies collapsed under the weight of hyperinflation and deflation. Initially, the large multinational Banks, Manufacturers, Speculators and Tech Companies, for the most part did what we expected them to do; They took flight. The sick and dying American economy was further weakened by an unprecedented outsourcing of Production and Capital. The State administrative machine was bottlenecked and ultimately overwhelmed by the influx of bankruptcies, civil and criminal litigation. The world had changed rapidly and America as we all knew it was dead. The Empire, in its mad thirst to increase power and profits had spun itself into chaos, bankrupting the State and suffocating itself with the unruly weeds sprouted up from it’s own contradictions. The entire system and it’s interlocking, interdependent institutions was at once imploding and exploding all over, with multiple crises being set off simultaneously from multiple locus points. Nobody really knows how it all happened, but everybody knows WHAT happened. A new space had opened up and thankfully, many of us had been in our communities, working and preparing for it. How quickly the whole world changes.

Philadelphia is a fucked up city…

We know we ain’t telling you nothing new when we say that, we just felt it would set an appropriate tone for us as we discuss the urgency of the challenges we face and the dire necessity of a new approach to confronting those challenges. We live in a time following the great collapse of the system. For the past five centuries (or more ;) ,we have bore witness to the unfolding of a very specific, identifiable process in the dynamic movement of human history.

The world we live in today and our collective memories of the worlds that we have lived through in the past are a direct result of this process. From top to bottom, inside and out, our lives and our planet have been drastically reorganized by this historical process. Land, Labor, Culture, Sex, Love, Thought, Feelings, Dreams, everything we’ve ever known, even “Knowing” itself was seized up, divided, redefined and sublimated to the twin terrors of ownership, and domination. We watched in horror and fought valiantly as the machines born of this terrible process expanded out from their unholy centers of operation, rolling over every continent , violating fresh, virgin land, swallowing up Black, Brown, White and Yellow bodies and spewing out a pale grey deathsmoke everywhere.

For a long time it seemed like this chaotic process had stabilized. The owners and dominators had crystallized their aggressions into an over arching superstructure made up of various new institutions; NationStates, Parliaments, Banks, Judiciary Bodies, Plantations, Factories, Unions, Political Parities and Corporations. In addition to these new institutions, a whole new set of psychosocial norms, values and relations were designed to uphold and perpetuate the rule of the owners and dominators. For the most part these institutions, acting in coordination had subtly (and not so subtly) reshaped our ways of relating to one another, ourselves and our environment. Our communities and our lives were forcefully tied together in service of this perverse new empire of the State and Capital. The empire was strong and furious in it’s destructive and repressive capabilities. Despite these strengths, the system itself was vulnerable, prone to a long cycle of ever deepening and expanding internal crises. Many of us were aware of the weaknesses, contradictions and self inflicting vulnerabilities. We studied, worked and sacrificed, not only to understand the defects of the present system but with the hopes of surviving it’s inevitable collapse and laying the foundations for a new, more intimate, sane and humane system. We wanted to create a new way of life deeply rooted in the values of liberation, cooperation, shared responsibility and lateral decision making power. In the years leading up to the great collapse, the State attempted to reconcile the contradictions of a decaying world system and the empire it had produced. They attacked us with their economic austerity budgets, destroyed our public schools, relentlessly spied on us, threw many of us in jail and murdered many others. This process caused our people, all peoples, great pain and misery, but it also created the space and imperative for us to begin to plant the seeds of a new world within the dying shell of the old.

Our New Community


We live in Southwest Philly 52nd & Woodland. Years of intensive work and study has allowed us to identify, clarify and strengthen the core values around which our new world would be shaped. In the wake of the great collapse of the world system, we took care to make our community, the neighborhood where we live and work each day, the central focus of our efforts. The Community is our highest ideal To put it simply: We knew that the next phase in the great arch of human social evolution would bend towards the “localization” of human Social, Political and Economic organization and the free, open relationships forged between these small, community locales. The lateral, nonhierarchical distribution of decision making power over the affairs of our community was to be a central value in both our word and deed.

During the prior five centuries or so, the Empire of State and Capital had rolled across the face of the Earth, crushing communities and absorbing them into it’s body, constraining us within those boldface lies commonly known as “National Borders” and “Property Lines”. As a result of our close study of the system’s deep, irreconcilable contradictions, we had anticipated the great collapse. We viewed the collapse as an explosive event that would initially “dislodge” communities all around the world from the grips of the highly centralized, dominating State Capitalist system by rendering the empire’s institutions incapacitated. We knew that we would have to begin the long, tireless work of building a vital, community capable of producing the food, energy and social resources necessary for us and our people to not only survive this cataclysmic event, but to thrive and create a new autonomy and independence in the wake of the systemic collapse. There were only a handful of us here when we began the work of building new institutions and (more importantly) new relationships in this neighborhood. Some of us had grown up here, some of us had moved here from other places. The relationships we created with our neighbors was most important. We didn’t approach them as “activists” or some sort of political party jockeying for position within a foul system, nor did we walk with timidity or fake humility. We spoke with certainty, listened to our neighbors in earnest and did genuine work to help them take direct action to solve their own problems.

Early on we identified four key issues that were effecting the lives of people in our neighborhood, throughout the city and in Ghettos throughout the control. Those key issues were:

1. Lateral Power and Decision Making

2. Housing and Land

3. Food Production and Distribution

4. Education and Childcare

5. Energy and EcoSustainability

Our study and direct experience had informed us that these five key issues were most important and pressing because the effectiveness of a vital and productive community rested upon them, the same as a house rests on a stone foundation

1) Decision Making and Lateral Power


Looking closely at the society in which we lived, we came to the understanding that a fundamental root cause of many of the problems that plagued us were directly related to the fact that the vast majority of individuals lacked the power to make decisions and exercise real control over their lives. Even further, our Communities themselves lacked the power to administer their own internal affairs in any significant way. All decision making power had been centralized into the body of the Corporate State, jealously guarded by it’s detached class of politicians and bureaucrats. Social Hierarchy and the unjust concentrations of power that follow it had shaped virtually every aspect of our lives: The relations between Men and Women, Workers and Capital, Heterosexuals and Queers, White Folks and everybody else etc. We understood that the Corporate State was a key actor in the perpetuation of these imbalanced and ultimately unjust relationships. We knew that we wanted to be a free, self-determining Community. We knew that we not only wanted to do away with the “external” hierarchy imposed upon us by the State, we knew that we did not want hierarchy and unjust concentrations of power to exist within our community either. This understanding brought us face to face with the challenge of creating institutions (Businesses, Gardens, Cultural Spaces, Schools, Defense and Safety Collectives etc.) and ultimately a culture in which power was not distributed hierarchically from top to bottom, but laterally, side to side, person to person. This is easier said than done, in any organizational effort, it is almost second nature for people to replicate the very same hierarchical structures typically seen in private Corporations, Political Parties and the administrative institutions of the State. We wanted something new, a new way of thinking, creating and being; in short our new community needed to produce a new culture. In order to lay the groundwork for a new culture, we had to create new institutions to act as the carriers of that culture. In order for these institutions to be qualitatively different from those old institutions that were failing and crumbling all around us, we knew that they would require a radically different organizational structure, a structure in which power is distributed laterally, not hierarchically.

Early on, the few of us that initiated this work would get together and discuss the many many challenges of Lateral Power and nonhierarchical organizational structures. We identified 2 key principles that would go a long way toward distributing the decision making power within a given institution or organization to as many participants as possible:

 a. Collective Decision Making:


The process that we undergo in order to make important decisions is central to the make up of our Community and the institutions within it. We knew that we wanted decisions that affected us all to be discussed openly and publicly, until a general consensus was reached and every member of our community took a vote. In order to strengthen our own experience with collective decision making, we started off small, organizing weekly outdoor neighborhood assemblies in the evenings after our neighbors returned from work. During the assembly individuals, families and small groups would present the ideas they had for making our Community stronger. Strategic locales for Food Production, Cleaning and Beautification projects, etc. Many many issues were discussed at our assemblies and everyone was free to offer their opinion. These assemblies were not perfect, but they created a space for all of us to get together, discuss the challenges of the day and most importantly, see and hear each other. In addition to the serious discussions, consensus building and decision making, the neighborhood assemblies became naturally social affairs in which neighbors would congregate, laugh, talk, flirt, eat and dance to music, building deeper more intimate interpersonal ties amongst neighbors in the process of practicing radical democracy. These neighborhood assemblies (which still occur today) helped lay the foundation of mutual trust and experience that allowed for the new institutions we created in our Community to flourish under truly democratic control, virtually free of unnecessary hierarchy and concentrations of power.

 b. Accountable Representation:


Under the old system before the Great Collapse, our society was thoroughly controlled by bourgeois Politicians and shadowy Corporate Execs and Share Holders that owned them. These people would make stupid speeches using grand, flowery language, claiming to “represent the interests of the people” or whatever. The Politicians and the CEOs, hopelessly fused together in a sick, incestuous oligarchy of State and Corporate power, lied through their teeth, claiming that the true power lay in the hands of us as voters and consumers and that they were merely our humble (but well paid) “representatives”. By now, everyone knows that the power over the old system and the institutions within it, was in every significant way, wielded by a small, detached class of Political and Economic elites. In our new Community we do elect representatives to carry out specific tasks but these representative positions are truly accountable to the people.

Every representative is subject to immediate popular recall and these representative positions are revolving with a new representative elected once the specific task is completed. This revolving structure helps to “democratize” skills and experience while working to prevent the ossification of a new administrative/decision making class. Many of the new institutions we created early on were structured this way; Schools, Businesses, Gardens, Work Shops etc. Many more have been created and maintained today.

2) Housing and Land


Throughout history Housing and Land have been important focal points for people around the world struggling to achieve freedom, self-determination, autonomy and genuine community. In our time we understood that the people’s relationship to the Land was central. The Capitalist State, throughout it’s history as a Social entity has stolen Land that was once the shared providence of the many, selfishly proclaiming it as the private property of the few. We understood that the Land was a gift to all of us and In the early stages of our work we were presented with several strategic advantages. In the years leading up to the collapse, many of our neighborhoods were ravaged by gentrification. On a whim Market and local governmental forces would converge with the sole purpose of forcing us out of our neighborhoods. There was little legal recourse we could take against these decimations of our neighborhoods. Even in the face of rampant corruption, deception and outright theft on the local level, there was no “higher authority” that would hear our call of distress. We were for all intents and purposes, a landless, homeless people. As the economic crisis deepened, sucking more and more large private Real Estate companies into the abyss, we took quick notice of the abundance of vacant buildings in our neighborhood and throughout the city. We surveyed the people of our neighborhood and shared info with friends from other hoods and put together a database of individuals and families that were in need of housing. We’d organized work crews made up of able-bodied folks on the database as well as a few volunteers in the neighborhood and we’d open up the vacant, often boarded up buildings, renovate the units and move the homeless into them as quickly as possible. In the early days, jilted landlords would call the cops on us, forcing evictions. Many in our Community fought the cops viciously when they came to kick families back out in the street and even after all that, once they left, we’d just organize another work crew, rip the boarding off the buildings and move people right back in. Like most of the institutions in our Community now, the buildings were radically democratic and self-managed, with each resident having equal say in decision making. Soon, we saw multiple buildings that were once reserved solely for the benefit of private profit were slowly transforming into vibrant, dynamic centers of Communal activity.

3. Food Production and Distribution


The problem of Food Production and Distribution emerged early on in the process of institution building in this neighborhood. The vast majority of our people suffer through a dead man’s diet of greasy, high cholesterol, fatty, processed, pesticide ridden and genetically modified “foods”. Speaking with our neighbors early on, we understood this issue of Food Production and Distribution to be a central component of community building. Vacant lots and mid sized plots of land were seized and refigured for the purpose of growing food. Many people in neighborhoods throughout the city (and the world) were doing similar work, refiguring Urban spaces as local food production sites. In order to increase the diversity of food access, we reached out and established direct relationships with other neighborhoods, coordinating crop growth and sharing produce. Today, we enjoy a vast city wide food distribution chain in which everyone is fed according to his or her needs, crop growth is coordinated and yielded crops are traded shared based on a cooperative structure neighborhood by neighborhood.

4. Education and Childcare


In the days proceeding the Great Collapse, Women and Men were drawn out of our neighborhoods seeking to sell their labor to an employer for a wage. This process left the children of our neighborhoods in a position where the majority of their formative years are spent in the care of a nonblood relative. As the contradictions of Capital deepened, wages were suppressed and more and more workers have to take on 2, sometimes 3 additional jobs, families find it financially impossible to homeschool/rear their young children. In response to this reality created by Capitalism, the State has stepped in to “mediate” the need, by providing families with childcare vouchers, and facilitating a veritable explosion in the childcare/daycare industry in poor Black, White and Latino communities. Due to the fact that the majority of these Daycare facilities are heavily reliant on State subsidies, the entire industry as we know it rested upon a huge State supported bubble. Seeing this, we understood that this “bubble” could be burst by the next round of State austerity budget cuts, resulting in countless families being left unable to pay the (market driven) childcare costs. This potential Childcare “bubble burst” scenario is a double edged sword. A drastic cut in State funding for childcare subsidies would not only leave parents assed out with no way to pay for their children’s care during the day, this scenario would also cripple one of the largest employers in the hood, the Daycare Centers themselves. In the days following the Great Collapse, the “bubble burst” scenario that we had envisioned and planned for was nothing compared to the viciousness in which the State cut all social subsidies (Food, Housing, Education, Childcare and many many more) in a desperate attempt to save the Capitalist economy in the wake of the great collapse. Acting in service of our principles and out of sheer necessity, we created several new cooperative Educational and Childcare institutions. Our neighborhoods already possessed much of the necessary infrastructure for these new Childcare and Educational cooperatives: Schools closed and abandoned due to State budget cuts, formerly private Daycares, Childcare workers and Teachers displaced by the collapse of the system, Parents, Grandparents, Students, Neighbors and Mentors all willing to share in the work of caring for and teaching our young people. Our curriculums, standards and practices are shaped and upheld collectively by the community and we are working towards creating a new culture of care and learning suitable for our new Community.

5. Energy Production and EcoSustainability


Quite possibly the most challenging issue we have faced in the wake of the Great Collapse of the system, was the issue of Energy Production and EcoSustainability. Despite our great desire and dedication to freedom and autonomy, our neighborhoods were intimately tied to the same powers we opposed, due to our reliance on the State’s energy infrastructure. Our homes and vehicles were powered by energy sources we knew to be harmful to the planet. Our community wanted clean, renewable energy technologies that worked in harmony with our abundant planet. There have been many people working on methods in which we can harness the Earth’s power and use it to suit our needs. We continue to study and experiment with these methods. Early on, before the collapse, we began to counter act our neighborhood’s dependency on the State energy grid by collectively instituting our own alternative sustainable energy production strategy. We envisioned every building in our neighborhood as a potential minipower plant. We started off by outfitting a few large, strategically chosen buildings (mainly abandoned and repurposed schools and warehouses) with our own Solar Panels to collect sunlight from the roof. We have also built miniwind turbines on the sides of the buildings. We also envision a technology that will allow us to drill narrow pathways into the ground in order to extract geothermal heat from the Earth’s core. Each of our minipower plants have also been outfitted with a small a meter and processing unit that can collect the solar, wind and geothermal energy, use it to power the building and store any surplus energy in hydrogen tanks or ship it back into the new, decentralized, internet based energy grid, so that others who need it, may use it. The use of this technology has become widespread in the past few years and we have formed working relationships with neighboring Communities throughout the City and the world in order to collect and share clean energy freely.

Conclusion (For Now/For the Future)


We still here and we still tryna live, a flower growing up from the rich soil of a new world fertilized by the corpse of a dead social order. Everyday we take further steps toward a standard of freedom, autonomy, cooperation and social intimacy, our immediate ancestors couldn’t have imagined. This ain’t a game, this is a battle. We fight, make mistakes and hopefully learn and improve. Again, we state that we hold the Community up as our highest ideal. The free association and equally democratic relation between individuals and groups within our Community as well as the Communities around us and throughout the world, will continue to be central to our vision for a new society while acting as the means by which we hope to bring that society into being. For now, we here and we building.


 

Bibliography:

1. Jeremy Rifkin The Third Industrial Revolution: How Lateral Power is Transforming Energy, The Economy and The World

2. K. Kia Bunseki FuKiau Mbongi: An African Traditional Political Institution

3. Graham Purchase Anarchist Organization

4. Huey P. Newton “On Intercommunalism”

5. Benjamin Barber Jihad Vs. McWorld: How Globalisation and Tribalism are Reshaping our World

6. Murray Bookchin The Philosophy of Social Ecology: Essays on Dialectical Naturalism

7. Russell “Maroon” Shoatz ” The Dragon and the Hydra”

8. Sam Mbah & I.E. Igariwey African Anarchism: The History of a Movement

9. Max Rameau Take Back the Land: Land, Gentrification and the Umoja Shanty Village

10. Michael Albert Moving Forward: Program for a Participatory Economy

11. Rudolph Rocker “Socialism and the State”

John Morrison is an MC, producer, writer, and DJ. Follow him @johntheliberator, The Culture Cypher, Soundcloud, Mixcloud, all the clouds. An excerpt of this work originally appeared in season one episode one (not our pilot episode, mind you) of Metropolarity: Journal for Speculative Vision & Critical Liberation Technologies.

Turns out, NASA’s master password is pretty easy to guess: AmericaInSpace1961. We’d been using it to hack the Hubble space telescope and run searches on all galaxies in the universe for the ultimate skate park.

We found a planet located in a metal rich segment of the Sculptor Dwarf galaxy with smooth, calcified, totally skateable surfaces and a crust shot through with thousands of deep canyons. It was also 290,000 light-years away from the cops and the new faces that had been progressively infiltrating our neighborhood. Our two main criteria satisfied (skating to be had + far away), all we needed was a way to get to Skate Park Planet.

When we were younger we’d learned that wormholes take the space-time continuum and bend it back against itself, connecting points that would ordinarily be separated by un-travelable distances. We decided to hack NASA again and see if they’d done any research into the matter that might be helpful. We found out pretty quickly that the Breakthrough Propulsion Physics Project, a supposedly massive project that spanned several decades and used cutting edge theories and experiments to figure out how to travel at hyper-speed was a decoy, but it had a secret offshoot: the For Realzies Wormhole Project. The NASA dudes probably spoke of it in hushed tones as F.R.W.P. at their NASA cocktail parties.

After downloading a .pdf of the F.R.W.P.’s final report which included step-by-step blueprint instructions for a wormhole generator, we set to work collecting everything we needed, which turned out to be a couple cathode ray tubes hooked up to some modified circuit boards whose jumper wires and conductors had been soldered together and connected to a 9V battery, a switch crank connected to a circuit breaker, and five hula-hoops covered in a thin layer of peanut butter.

We still had to do a lot of calculations so the wormhole would take us to the exact point in space where Skate Park Planet awaited, taking into account that it had moved pretty far from its position where Hubble had picked up the light its star had given off 290,000 years ago. Taking breaks to skate around, we calculated, drew up graphs and mapped out schemata. Then something happened that forced us to put the voyage to Skate Park Planet on hold.

A couple suits strolling down the sidewalk had sparked urgency in our neighborhood. One of them was actually smoking a cigar. The five of us were out skating and talking about Skate Park Planet when it happened.

The suits walked right up to a home whose family had been there for thirty years. The family was struggling to finish paying the last bit of their mortgage to a bank that had bought up their loan from another bank. The suits looked back and forth between the family’s home and their space phones. Something had to be done about this shit.

People in our neighborhood talked amongst themselves and started holding community meetings. There were new faces at the meetings. The new faces used phrases like “neighborhood revitalization” and “inclusionary zoning”. A couple of us painted a hand holding an evil eye at the end of our street to ward off neighborhood revitalization and inclusionary zoning.

A few weeks later, a real estate developer opened what the new faces called a “gastro-pub” a few blocks away. The new faces talked about brunch and craft beers and how much they loved the way this part of town, our part of town, was “changing so much for the better.” Cop cars became even more of a regular occurrence, harassing people for being outside. Someone launched a brick through the large window of the gastro-pub. The owner responded with more cops. Pretty likely he was paying them off. Something had to be done about this shit.

Well, we did have a wormhole generator. We convened an emergency meeting and decided to make a wormhole and throw the infiltrators straight into it. Problem was, calculations for this type of thing take weeks and we didn’t have time to re-calculate a new place to aim it. The ultimate skate park would have to be sacrificed for the neighborhood.
We barely had time to make anti-wormhole pulse wave disseminators out of small but powerful magnets found in a dumpster outside Penn’s physics department. We soaked the magnets overnight in the sulfuric acid of a car battery and then carefully wrapped them in bubblegum-flavored dental floss, following to the letter the blueprint instructions found on Addendum 5B of the final report, entitled Necessary Equipment For Opening Up Wormhole.

Anti-wormhole pulse wave disseminators, or A.W.P.W.D.’s, are necessary cause you might not want to just jump straight into a wormhole when you create it. You might want to throw someone else into it first, either as a test subject or otherwise. The NASA dudes, being human supremacist a-holes, had of course tried throwing a monkey into the wormhole. In our case, we were going to throw cops into the wormhole. We superglued Velcro to the A.W.P.W.D.’s as well as to our shoes and boards so they could be easily attached and removed and would anchor us to this side of the Real.

We also made pro-wormhole pulse wave disseminators by turning the magnets around. P.W.P.W.D.’s push anything between them and a wormhole into the wormhole.

***

The wormhole generator is wheeled out and aimed above the street corner and we pull the switch crank. Our device hums for a few minutes, starts vibrating and then the entire street, the row homes on our block, our bodies, even the air feels like it’s bending ever so slightly. The peanut butter starts melting off the hula-hoops but that’s no big deal cause it’s only needed as a catalyst. Then a dark patch materializes, grows bigger ‘til it looks like a cloud that’s gathered above the street.

We’re tempted to test it out, do some skating, then come back for the neighborhood intruders, but just as we’re debating who should go through first, a cop car pulls up and shines a light at us. Most of the light disappears straight into the wormhole. The cop car rolls its window down and we hear a voice, “Whatcha kids up to so late?”

I skate up onto the wormhole with A.W.P.W.D.’s activated, let myself sink into the edge of the darkness and extend two middle fingers from up above.

“Come closer and find out, you cop fuck.”

Thing about giant abysses appearing above street corners is they scare the pants off of cops and normos. The cop car drives off. I jump back out and we skate around laughing and high-fiving.

Keeping the wormhole open, we wait for the backup that will inevitably arrive. An hour or so later, the cops have closed off the streets a few blocks away in every direction, and they approach cautiously in linear formations. We’re not afraid cause we have wormhole tactics. All they’ve got are badges and guns.

The cops are so busy gazing up at the wormhole they don’t notice us skating around the back of them and activating our P.W.P.W.D.’s.

“Y-y-y-you feel that?” One of them stutters to the next before feeling the weight of his body dissipate. Cop is lifted up, starts yelling, ‘W-w-w-what the fuuuuuck…?” and hovers for a moment in the air before making straight for the cloud above the street and disappears, headed for Skate Park Planet.

They look back and notice us, aim their guns and start shooting but thanks to the P.W.P.W.D.’s, the wormhole siphons away their bullets in mid-air. Cops start getting sucked into the wormhole like ants into a vacuum cleaner hose.

They arrive in droves, feeling confident in their usual safety in numbers, but it’s pretty easy to circle around them and push them into the abyss. Our streets are narrow and very few of them escape. After forty or so cops have been dispatched into the wormhole, the ones blocking off the streets jump in their cop cars and drive off.

We flip the crank switch and paint a message next to the evil eye: “Fuck with us and we open up the wormhole.”

***

So at this point we had about a precinct worth of cops at Skate Park Planet to deal with. We started doing more research about the planet and its solar system to figure out how to get rid of them. One idea was to locate the supermassive black hole located at the rotational center of the Sculptor Dwarf galaxy and use our P.W.P.W.D.’s to give the cops a wormhole ride into it so we could have the planet to ourselves.

In the interest of less time and energy spent on calculations, we decided to take a more practical course of action. If there were any regions of Skate Park Planet with extreme weather conditions, we could send the cops there. Our investigations soon revealed that temperatures on the entire planet range from 500 to 600 degrees Celsius. There are also Hydrogen Peroxide thunderstorms that hammer its surfaces day in and day out.

So we didn’t need to worry about what to do with the cops. No skating would be had in the canyons of Skate Park Planet though, which we were pretty bummed about.

The good news was that back in our neighborhood, the new faces were freaked the fuck out by everything they were hearing about dark clouds and disappearing cops and they moved back to wherever they came from.

The F.B.I. was brought in and they developed their own A.W.P.W.D.’s. We expected this though and were waiting for them with A.W.P.W.D. disruptors.

Fifty or so F.B.I. agents into the wormhole later, the neighborhood is still safe. We also located a new Skate Park Planet similar in terrain to the first one. There, temperatures are about what they are in a hot Philly July and it never rains. All that’s needed are a few more calculations and we’ll be ready to take our first trip.

T.B.C.


DK has a sense of humor we  appreciate. Photo by them as well. This story originally appeared in season one episode one (not our pilot episode, mind you) of Metropolarity: Journal for Speculative Vision & Critical Liberation Technologies

“They’re coming,” Casper thought. A sad, beautiful beach, lit up by the sun reflecting on sand. Casper runs his feet under the cool water, the foam licking in between his toes in gracious laps. He stares up at the big, round orange hole in the clear sky. “They’re coming and I’m not ready.”

Malik is standing in front of him.

“Hi.”

“Move, you’re blocking the sun.” Casper puts his hand up to Malik’s boney chest, gently pushes him to the side. He breathes deeply and welcomes the sun’s rays deep into his chest. Malik hits the beach facedown beside Casper with a desperate thud.

“I’m bored,” he huffs. “Take me somewhere.”

Instinctively, Casper reaches over and gently rubs Malik’s side, down to his stomach, stopping at the wire of a black thong, slowly working his finger under Malik’s bathing suit. Casper’s still staring at the sun. “Where do you want to go?”

A phone rings. A seagull lands on a rock just a few feet away, fluffs its wings. It turns on its spindly bird feet and raises its beak at the two men, lets out a squawk, lets out a stream of white birdshit.

“Hello?” Malik picks Casper’s meaty hand off of his crotch, flings it and then rolls over on his side. Hmmph. The sun is a bright, distant citrus dream. It looks like it’s a tangle of string, interwoven corona in a constantly moving sphere. Casper taps Malik on the side, points towards it like “look”, but Malik doesn’t look. Malik just sulks. Casper’s on the phone, “Yes, what’s up? Where are you guys? No. No. We’re on the beach.”

And then the sun disappears. A wave of purple and black washes over the beach, folding into a final, gestating grey. With a chill squeaking up his spine, Malik turns towards Casper and buries his face in Casper’s shoulder. The seagull launches into the air and is lost in a flock of them. “Who’s that?”

“Yeah?” Casper sits up. The synergistic grey and then a cloud or two, the fading sun; so sudden. “We were just about to leave.”

PART TWO:

On Roa, they made crystal sieves and mined the gelding stone. There was a great dance before they sent the men into the mines, they shook shackles and metal plaques and tied up ghosts in rituals and burned cages. They went to the highest mountains and started their shambolic soul dance at the peak, spinning and twirling there until sky reached its purple climax.

Little volcanic fissures in Roa’s surface sprayed a fine mist and they sent their men into them, one by one, towards their birthright.

“Roth. Get up.” Ragolos looked into the bamboo tent. His son was sleeping on a bed of grass. “Get up. It’s time.”

Young Roth without protest gathered at the edge of a long path. Saba was there with him, three boys down. They looked at each other. Saba was trembling, his upper lip bouncing furiously into his lower teeth.

Roth closed his eyes and tried to imagine he and Saba, running across quiet plains and chasing Mupquat Bugs, tying twine to their enormous tails and then sailing through the meadow with them as Roa’s two suns beat down on their bare skins. Roth tried to remember sneaking into the Novatt Temples and stealing small, sacred jewels, angering the monks who chased them with sticks. As Saba’s simpering got louder, the memory of Roth fighting back a horde of boys tossing rocks at the two of them swelled in his mind. The larger boy, Staen, put down his rocks, walked up to Saba, grabbed his grass-woven shirt and shoved Saba into the dirt. When Roth stepped in front of Saba to defend his friend, Staen and the other boys beat him to a pulp. One punch lifted Roth off of his feet and into the air sending Roth falling backward and landing on the rocky ground lifelessly. Roth’s vision was coated with wetness, a fish lens haze, but he could see, right before passing out, the feet of his friend Saba treading through the grass, getting smaller and smaller and disappearing over the horizon.

Staen was in the line of boys. He was smirking as usual, fighting to withhold a laugh. They all stood there, naked, their tar black bodies exposed. On one side of them, a line of chanting warriors; on the other a line of humble, broken bodied men from the mines; in front of them, the monks and praetors and scholars walked slowly, deliberately, casting flowers and lighting incense as they moved down the path. Women of the village looked on out of the windows of their huts, their day in the fields or on the hunting grounds or cleaning the vast libraries and sanitoriums and monuments on hold.

“Boys!” the praetor announced. “Today, you will walk through the mist! You will walk through the mist and emerge a warrior, a miner, or a monk! Today, you will be shown your destiny!”

A roar from the crowd. Birds lifted to the sky. All of the naked male children in a hushed silence tensed up. And behind the monks in front of them, a guyser of red mist shot up! And with this the crowd silenced.

“Come!” shouted the praetor, raising his skinny arms through voluminous robes. “Come and meet your destiny!”

And as the monks parted, the boys walked down the line and into the mist. Soon they would emerge with the distinguishing marks that chose their fate. Inside the mist, Roth felt searing heat. A soft glistening rain coated his body. The boys screamed! Their bodies racked with pain, then spiraling into ecstasy, and fading into numbness. When the mist subsided, Roth collapsed on the forest floor. His eyes slowly opened. There was Saba, his back torn into shreds, protruding with the wings of a warrior. Staen was curled up in a ball; his fingers long and pointy, skin etched with the elegant, esoteric design of the tattoo of a monk.

And then Roth saw his father’s boot. He followed up the length of the man’s torso until he met his father’s eyes. A solitary tear had escaped and rolled down the man’s cheek.

“Come, my son.”

But behind his father was a slowly burning light, a bright star expanding, just reaching over his father’s shoulder. As it grew larger, winds ripped through the village. Naked young men, now christened warriors and miners and monks, scattered, as rain poured violently into the atmosphere. Trees bent, houses unthatched, monks clutching their precious parchments ran for safety, crying to the heavens, their sacred ritual desecrated by some unforeseen force. And then emerging with a sonic boom from the light, a large vessel appeared! It was made of a strange platinum. It moved through space like liquid. It seemed like hours, but only minutes had elapsed as it hovered over Roth and his father, trapping them there in its path with an intense magnetism.

A hatch opened. Out strode a man in a tight, blue and black suit that seemed to swim over his body. His skin, that rippled over his taut, muscular frame, was a ripe purple. His hair was a long, flowing mane of starburst strands, glowing with a fire the people of Roa had never seen. And he spoke.

“Roth F’_iiosf of Roa!” he commanded.

Roth’s father held the boy tightly, his tears turning to firey determination. “What do you want with my son?” he screamed out in exasperation. “My family has suffered enough disappointment today!”

“Roth F’_iiosf of Roa! I am The Destroyer. You have walked through that mist! Rise and take your place with the true champions of this universe. For Roth F’_iiosf of Roa is no more. Now, there is only Black Mage of the Galactic Legion!”

Roth pulled away from behind his father. As the wind and light swirled around them, the boy took a step. He looked at his father; the man’s sad, crumpled and tattered face sunken and desperate for light. The sagging, tar pitched skin. The eyes etched on both sides with the three, tell-tell hatchmarks of a miner. And he took another step towards the Destroyer. And he remembered tying twine to Muquat Bugs. And he said, sadly, to his father, “I don’t want to be a miner.” And he took another step, then more, and followed the Destroyer into the vessel and disappeared into the black, shapeless void of space.

PART THREE:

There’s a bar Rob and Chris are sitting at. Its long, rickety bar stools seem to spill out of the large windows of the place and onto the street. They’re facing the television and talking over dance beats. It’s easy to ignore the monotonous Robin Thicke remixes, Chris thinks suddenly, when your excessively handsome friend Rob is unloading a fresh batch of college football stories in that wide, cavernous cadence of his.

“I was the best arm coach had, but he had me playing tight end,” Rob explains, thudding his beer on the counter in subtle protest. “Like, yeah, I was the biggest motherfucker with any kind of skill set he ever recruited, but damn man, I never wanted to play tight end! Got caught on a slant route with no protection—“

“No protection?” Malik has his caramel arms around Rob’s thick, black ex-football neck. “Sounds like my kind of game.”

“There you are!” Rob stands up, almost out of some strange courtesy, lets Malik steal his seat in the suddenly crowding bar. “Where ya’ll been?”

Casper is adjusting his belt, fumbling with his wallet. He pushes his glasses back onto his face twice before even reaching the guys at the bar.

“It’s not that kind of party,” Chris informs Malik. “We were discussing slant routes. Again.” Chris is wearing another striped polo shirt, drinking another Manhattan.

“Child please, I’d rather hear about any kind of route than about some ridiculous star war or green goblet for the thirtieth time,” Malik confides.

“Are you two together?” Chris asks, almost scandalously. Malik looks over at doughy, strange Casper, awkwardly shaking Rob’s mammoth hand. Casper, pushing up his glasses again, tiny hairs peaking out of his overworn Green Lantern t-shirt— in Malik’s mind they are piling into Casper’s Puegot, then they’re wandering some dingy comic book store and Casper’s talking to the guy at the counter about rare masks, and then they’re at Subway, the green and yellow blending synergistically with the smell of rancid banana peppers and dim lighting until Malik’s ready and nauseous. But they’re also in a tent on a moss covered rock, and they’re in a forest; they’re on the beach under a peach colored sun.

“No,” Malik says, a lilt of sadness or reflection in this voice. “No, we’re not,” he reaffirms, stronger this time and with a hint of sass.

“Oh.” Chris is a wise and average fool. His shoes are white New Balances, but, as Malik puts it when they’re all in the hotel room, his bank account is, essentially, black and gold Prada, to say nothing of Dolce and Gabana.

“Don’t worry about what shoes I’m wearing,” Chris says, taking off his cross-trainers. He holds up one of them, models it. Rob let’s out a roaring laugh. Malik clamps his nose with his fingers, tries to make for the door. Inevitably, Chris’s musty shoe ends up following Malik around the room. Casper sits nervously at the edge of the bed, fiddling with the remote, muttering under his breath.

Rob tries to make contact: “Cas. Cas!” Everything in the room stops. They’re all looking at Casper. “What are you doing, dude?”

“I’m trying to…it’s the television.” Casper explains. “It’s the television. Apparently, you need to be a Shi’ar tech sergeant of the Imperial court if you’re going to figure out how to work this thing.” They’re all looking at each other. Rob turns back to Casper.

“We didn’t come out this way to look at TV, man.” Rob walks over to his fidgety friend, puts his hand on Casper’s shoulder, then works the thick, mealy flesh of it underneath the shirt . “Let’s get loose.”

Casper runs out of the room, nearly knocking Chris into a nightstand. Casper beats on the elevator buttons, they all light up but the elevator doesn’t come in time. He sinks to the floor and covers his face with his hands. Malik gingerly walks over to him, stands there, mustering great patience. Casper looks up through a thin veil of tears. Malik is holding his hand out towards him.

“Come on,” Malik says, softly, sternly. “Let’s go back.”

PART FOUR:

A small, blue light flashed on.

A man with metallic skin is standing in the middle of a vast control room.

“Ion-1.” And the rest of the lights sparked to life, a trail or whirring electrons sweeping over the room. “Commence cryobirth. Stage 2.” Rising from the floor, an array of sleep champers, nearly twenty of them. Each one slowly opened in a cloud of frozen mist. Beings emerged from slumber, some gasping tasting the sterile air of the cryochamber, others feeling no real effect at all. Red Star was one of them, his hair cascading away from him as he flexed his awakening muscles.

“Fucking balls, mate,” said Spike. He was a tiny man, still covered in dirt and raw unkempt hair. “What a trip, eh?”

The being next to him, roguish, nearly 8 feet tall, with green, cratered skin, groaned, pulled himself out of the sleep casket.

“Aw, dreaming about those Crabgirls in the Nebulaar Sector again, Grok?” Spike quipped.

“*@***@*@****@@@*,” the large, green man countered.

“Crikey, Ion-1, we’re asleep in these stupid metal trashcans for god knows how long and you can’t find time to fix the bloody translators? I don’t know how you were picked to be a part of this ragtag outfit if you can’t do your one bloody fucking job, you pooz!”

“Ion-1 was chosen the same way we all were, Spike.” Void was standing in front of her, still groggy, still submerged comrade. As she spoke, her skin was coated with the living pixels and nano-bytes that make up her outer nervous system.

“He was chosen by the Light,” Red Star interrupted. That seemed to shut up the diminutive Spike. “Ion-1, forget the translators for now. We have a more pressing matter. Before we left the last quadrant, I felt a surge in energy. Can you play back all significant electroscans in the last three sleep cycles.”

“Christ, can we all get some clothes on before you start in with all the Star Trek shit, mate? I’m freezing me bloody arse off here!”

Red Star looked at him, first quizzically, then, after looking around the room, nodded. “Fine. All members of the Galactic Legion, convene in the chamber of darkness. Now.”

A robot, bent and distended, it’s sockets and circuitry exposed, lifted off of the gymnasium floor. It rose with a quirky unease, bracing itself on the wall behind it. From it’s hand, a shaft of solid, hard light, a photon, appeared. It roared to life moving impossibly fast, it’s sabre of light ripping through the atmosphere. It was sent hurtling back, smashing into pieces. Roth landed two feet in front of it, cupped his fist into his open palm, and bowed.

The door to the gym slid open, startling him. A women covered in ever changing pixels glided into in.

“Roth.” She surveyed the heaps of metal and scrap that decorated the gym floor. “You’ve been in here since we awoke from cryosleep. Why? What purpose does it serve trashing battle-bots in such a way?”

Roth, nearly breathless, closed his eyes, let the calming hand of his father wash over him. He was chasing Muquat Bugs. He turned to look at Void.

“You wouldn’t understand.”

“There is nothing in the cosmos beyond my understanding, young one.” She looked intently at Roth, her eyes tracing his body as if he were merely a blueprint of himself. “Yet…” She spoke quieter, softer. “Yet, I feel that you are an enigma that can’t be solved with any postulate known to even my eternal databanks.”

“I don’t know. I guess I can’t just…” He moved closer to Void. He reached out his hand to touch her face. She didn’t flinch or twitch or make any movement to show that Roth had breached her personal space. So he touched her.

“What is this ritual, human?”

“How alone are you?” he asked. He could feel a slight burn as Void’s skin on his emitted a stinging warmth.

A red light flashed and the chimes of an alarm fell about them.

“Come, it is time.” Said Void, gliding across the gym floor again. When she looked back at him, her eyes seemed to have a sweet sadness to them breaking through their usual, medicinal stare, though he could have imagined it.

A large star map floated above the table. All 20 members of the Galactic Legion were assembled. They sat in front of their symbol, crude runes depicting each of their talents. Glassbird sat before crystal wings. Phaser sat before a swirling black hole. The Destroyer, a hardened menanced visage slightly cracked when Roth entered the chamber. And Red Star sat at the head of the long table, in front of a swirling, pulsing red, red sun.

“My friends, my greatest comrades,” he began.

“Here we go,” Spike mumbled, nudging Roth in the kidney.

“I’ve troubling news. It seems as if The Vanq have found their way to this sector.” A murmur gently trickled through the assembly. “I know, the Vanq even gives me pause. They are led by the dark lord, Apox, the demon who found the accursed Dark and with it rose through many hells to be birthed on this universe. His is a vast, dark evil. At his employ are some of the sickest mercenaries from the darkest galaxies. The Iduwanda, galactic pirates from Xon. Cyx the Unicorn Killer and his tribe of cannibal mercenaries. Dragon Deth, the beast wranglers from LV-21.”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah, we know all about these tossers,” Spike spat out, leaning back in his chair, his grimy boots planted on the table. “But what makes this so special, eh? Why the bloody Christ are we worried about these arseholes now? We put them in stasis before, we’ll put them in stasis again.”

“I’ll field this one, sir.” Ion-1 stood, proceeded to the center of the table, typing furiously on the touchscreen. “If we’re mapping the power surge that Red Star, our incorrigible leader, felt right before the last sleep cycle, and if we’re to believe that these are Apox and his forces using power heretofore unknown to them to traverse the stars, we can find out exactly where they are going.”

And with the touch of another button, the star map whirled and disappeared. Animated pixels rose in its place and coalesced into the shape of a small sphere. Enhancing, it was revealed to be a small, blue planet with nebulous clouds circling it’s stratosphere.

“They’re headed for earth,” Spike whispered.

“Not that shithole,” Grok protested through his gravely voice.

Something about the blue sphere hypnotized Roth. He stared intently at it. It was not unlike Roa in its appearance. The stories Spike told of it were entertaining, but mostly seemed to make the young man sad. He asked, “What makes Earth so special?”

“Not earth Not earth Not earth not earth not earth not earth” Spike was shaking his head, his eyes protruding dangerously out of their sockets.

“Earth is the nexus of the universe,” Void offered. “The prophecy of the Light. It ends on earth.”A silence etched over the room. “It all ends on earth.”

Red Star lowered his eyes. His hair swam to life. He stood up, mouth agape. And a large explosion blew a hole in the roof. The Galactic Legion looked up, almost in unison; the could see out into space! The explosion had ripped through the hull, tore down the hallways of the ship, and penetrated to the chamber of darkness. A swarm of armor clad mercenaries with advanced weaponry spilled into the room. They were covered in a strange slime.

Glassbird flew into action, her mighty wings ripping through her enemies bodies, striking down three of them. A large hand grabbed her face and, with all it’s might, flung her into the chamber walls. He was a snarling beast of a man, made of black soot. Steam and smoke rose from his eyes. Lava filled his mouth. Two creatures with the features of bees stepped out from behind him, raised the long prods they held in their hands and fired them at the still dazed Glassbird, sending an intense shock through her crystalline body. In seconds, the electricity spiraled through Glassbird in a near atomic flash, shattering her.

“No!”, Spike yelled. As the horde descended on the Legion, many of them being taken down by surprise, Spike jumped up on the table, leaped in the air. Two waves of electricity escaped from the bee creatures pods, one of them hit Grok who was being held down by space mercenaries. Another hit Red Star who had managed to tangle up a few mercs in his powerful, heat charged hair. He exploded, steam rising off of him. His costume was tattered but he remained practically unharmed, as the lifeless bodies of the mercenaries dropped to the floor. Grok was not so fortunate. His hollowed out husk turned to ash before their eyes. Spike leaped from the table. Two large, bony, sharp pegs grew out of his palms. He yelled in pain, but in mid air bounced off of the back of a mercenary and sent himself hurtling straight for the large man made of black soot.

“AAAPOOOXXX! DIE YOU BLOODY POOF!” he screamed, and wedge the pegs in his eyes. Apox stammered. His men were being cut down, now that the Legion had regathered and regrouped. For all his vast cosmic power, to be felled by a scruffy turd of a man from Earth? With a wave of his hand, he smacked Spike off of him, sending him hurtling through the air.

“Crikey, this is gonna hurt,” he whimpered. But before he impacted with the wall, possibly splattering across it, his spine already irreparably damaged by Apox’s blow, Void appeared in mid-air, teleporting him away.

“We’ve got to get that bastard out of here!” Spike yelled. “I put two charges on those spikes, no telling what kinda damage it’ll do mixed with all of that demon power!”

“Your request is inarticulate.” Void said, laying down here friend a few feet from the battle. “But I know what must be done.” And she teleported away.

Apox, still with Spike’s pegs submerged into his eyes, stood over Roth. He smelled of acid and shit and brimstone. Roth’s fists were bloody and caked with the pulp of dead and dying space pirates, of mercenaries from gutter regions of the universe. He’d at one time fought a Fan’gor Beast with just a stick and a stone, saving a village on some backwater planetoid from being devoured. He’d fought a gang of Angel Mob, fallen ones who attempted to gain control of heaven mafia style, all by himself in the slums of Cowanchee, the former prison asteroid turned space colony. But before him was Apox. The large creature leaped into the air and hurtled down towards Roth. Roth jumped. He didn’t know what to do. Aim for the eyes? Try to drive Spike’s spikes further into his head? He had an eighth of a second to do it. As the two met each other, there in the chamber of Darkness, a light flashed. Roth rolled right through the light and crashed into the meeting table. Red Star emerged into the room. They could see a similar light appear in space. Void was outside, holding Apox in her arms, floating away from their ship. A voice sounded in Roth’s head.

“We are never alone.” It echoed, sounding like Voids.

And then, in the black of space, amongst debris and craggy asteroids, an explosion that trailed like a falling star.

PART FIVE:

“What do you mean, they’re coming?” Chris snickers from the backseat of Casper’s Peugot , biting his quivering lower lip. “Who’s coming?” He can barely whisper the words without painfully fighting back a laugh.

Casper looks in the rear-view mirror, adjusts it, eying Chris. His stuffy green and white polo shirt, strangely combed and stiff blond hair, dangerously jaundiced skin, over-dyed Old Navy jeans shorts and dreadful white tennis shoes—“I’ve got bad feet,” Chris had said the other night when Malik was making fun of his “boring guy” uniform at Olive Garden the night before. “You’ve got bad everything, hon,” Malik reminded him, tossing a grape tomato at Chris, laughing. Always laughing.

Then Casper looks out and into the parking lot. A bird shitting on the curb impressed a bum so much, the bum stands up pointing and guffawing in barely contained delight, knocking over paper bags of glass bottles into the gutter.

A static hung in the air. Casper can feel it rise up and through his fingers somehow. Right? Can’t he feel it? Sitting there in the 711 parking lot, he grips the steering wheel, watches a newspaper swiftly levitate into the air and swirl around the dancing bum. He shuts his eyes and tightens his grip. “Come on, come on” he whispers, waits. There’s a sucked out silence, nothing.

When the door opens its like a wall of sound crumbling into the front seat. Malik and Rob are on the tail end of a bad joke. “I told him, I’m not paying for it. Those items were flawed.”

“But Malik, you put them on, wore them outside and everything? They can’t resell underwear after they’ve been all over your areas, man,” Rob informs him through a light chuckle. They fall into their respective seats, Malik settling into the front, gleefully sipping a slurpee, almost willfully oblivious to any emotion Casper could be conjuring; Rob in back careful not to let his leg slide too far over to Chris’s side, to touch the man’s denim protected skin, to brush up against his hairy knees. Before Rob could spiral into a sad trance of guilt, into the dark dread that arises when he’s near Chris, that strange doe eyed look as Chris’s lumpy body lay there as softly as it could ­after Rob had fucked him that night two years ago, a look that turned dry and somber with confusion when Rob, through a barrage of small talk and excuses, got up and put his clothes on and left— Rob looks over at Chris’s face now and sees another kind of confusion. He mouths, “what now?” at Chris who, wide-eyed, just shakes his head.

Cutting through Malik’s impassioned, complaint filled anecdote of retail horror, Rob asks, “Casper, you alright?” They’re already on the road. There’s a hushed, still blossoming twilight peaking over the horizon.

Is the air thick with electricity?

Malik shifts in his seat. He finally looks over to Casper, wordlessly pleads for his friend to say, “yes, yes, I’m fine.”

“And this is my Green Lantern collection.” They were in his room in his tiny apartment in University City. “You’ve got John Stewart,” Casper said, picking up a small, green clad figurine. “And this is Guy Gardener. This is Kilowog.” Before him, on this tiny IKEA dresser, stretched various miniatures of the entire Green Lantern Corps. There were red ones and yellow ones and orange ones, too. And posters of star-crossed barbarians in dragon-skin loin cloths, of men in long flowing capes and armed to the teeth with an irrational amount of guns.

“What?”
“No, nothing.” Malik looked for a place to sit and found a corner of the bed that wasn’t smothered in paraphernalia. “It’s just not what I’m used to.”

“Oh.” Casper said, his once assured voice turning more delicate as the conversation started to turn. “What exactly are you used to?”

“I don’t know,” Malik replied. He cleared another section of the bed. Casper almost gasped as a pile of comics tumbled onto the floor. “Here. Sit.”

A year later, they are going 85, then 95 miles an hour on the turnpike, flying recklessly around small surburban towns and making wild turns onto one way streets.

“Jesus fucking Christ!” Chris is a mess of nerves in the backseat. Rob is panicking and yelling for Casper to calm down. Malik has his eyes closed and he’s muttering something under his breath. Casper drives.

“Do something, motherfucker!” Chris screams at Rob. His face has twisted into a maze of frowning skin. “You’re always on about your great physical prowess, about how fucking brilliant you were on the goddamn field! When it comes right down to it, you’re a scared little faggot, just like the rest of us. Aren’t you? Aren’t you?!?!”

Rob sat there in stunned silence as buildings whiz by, as stoplights beg for that Peugot to stop. The road beneath them shrinks as their vehicle plunges into the oncoming night. 100mph, but nothing was happening for Rob, except the slow motion, distorted admonishing contortions of Chris. For this moment in time, Rob finally sees the man as a man. What is this person like? Is Chris just a shopping trip to Target every Tuesday? A man DVR’ing “Judge Judy” and “Young and the Restless”? Is Chris just a man sitting at a bar, laughing at bad jokes and hoping for a Lady Gaga song? He didn’t know. Rob reaches out and slaps Chris in the face.

Malik unbuckles his seatbelt. He turns to Chris, and, with thin wrists, wrenches the man’s grip from the steering wheel. The car swerves into a guard rail, flips over a ditch and rams, upside down, into a light pole. The wheels don’t even spin.

Malik’s eyes clogged with haze. He can smell the acidic aroma of iron and blood. Lights are flashing? Everything is black and white and upside down. He can see two figures walk towards him. Their boots are heavy, their walk is locked in and measured. They’re speaking in tongues so strange they sound metallic. The lights turn into a single, burning, sphere. It’s a white vortex cutting through the black night. Wind whips and everything around him trickles away as bits of a sand castle floating off into the hurricaning sea.

“They’re here,” Malik thinks. Whispers? Malik thinks he reaches out to casually tap Casper on his shoulder. He knows somewhere in his soul that he can’t move, but he reaches anyway. “They’ve finally come.”

AS A CULTURAL NEONATE, THE METROPOLARITY CREW DISCUSSES ITS INTENTIONS, SCIENCE-FICTION, AND ITS RELATIONSHIP TO ‘THE POLITICAL.’ NOTE THE POINTS OF OVERLAP AND POINTS OF DIVERGENCE. RELISH IN IT ALL! WE ENJOY URBAN PARADOX. IT’S IN OUR NAME, IN FACT.

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R.Phillips of the AfroFuturist Affair and founding Metropolarity member says:

The Institution that is Western Science was born of the politics of the 17th century, bifurcating itself as a practice and institution of empirical thought separate and distinct from philosophical thought. It is essential to note that the scientific institution’s development coincided with the emergence of the TransAtlantic enslavement system, used as a justification for subjugation. Its development was also impacted significantly by the Roman Inquisitions The Inquisition had condemned Galileo for teaching that the Earth moved; Descartes delayed publishing, and likely tweaked his philosophical theories on heliocentrism, due to the Inquisitions’s belief in the Earth as the center of the Universe. Newton conducted his experiments in an effort to prove Descartes wrong, and many of his theories have failed to stand the test of ‚time‛ (whose own scientific history is convoluted, in the realm of thermodynamics and relativity). Science is the ultimate political body, the mind-body split, the dualism that persists into present times, the reason why classical physics and quantum physics seemingly contradict.blinded by its own so-called enlightenment and thusly setting light and dark as opposites/eternally at odds inside of the cascading, chaotic universe. Science is really the resulting end of a negotiation; the laws and principles we hold to be commonly true about the universe and world were all shaped by the hands of a privileged few.

Traditional sci-fi, a more imaginative retelling of science history and an anticipation of its trajectory, is steeped in the dark age from which it emerged, reinforcing the narratives of white superiority. Because we know science-fiction to be social commentary on the (d-)evolution of society through the use of parable, it is easy to see where the lines split between the Science of the haves and the have nots, and thusly where the lines split between traditional and DIY sci-fi. People on the edges/intersections/margins of society can no longer continue to try to rectify their lack of representation and their lack of survival in traditional science fictional worlds; it no longer computes for our program of living. We are here and we are many and we are political. We are political because skin color is political, because body parts are political, because gender is political, because who you like to hump is political, because breathing clean air and drinking clean water is political. And in order to disavow the political, to challenge the political, to break-down the political, you must first understand how it already has you confined, then proceed to unravel it from the inside. Out of the dust of the crumbling institutions of science divorced from imagination (what they call the hyphenated science-fiction) comes science and speculative possibility in the form of Metropolarity. A nu science for a nu world of our own shaping. Here, with Science left in our care, the thermodynamic arrow shoots out into all possible directions. Here at Metropolarity, there is no difference between the Experimental and the Theoretical. Science-fiction is the dying remnant of the old ways of living. We are Science’s proposal to imagination for a happy, lifelong union, we are time = space. ∞

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M Eighteen Téllez of All That’s Left series and founding MP member says:

Politics is just a reference word to describe the obscene and greedy fight for power dominance and all its selfish machinations used to exploit one’s community and achieve ideological supremacy. I dislike words that compress and obfuscate the vastness of insidious control mechanisms like that, especially in this centuries-long era of white-supremacist colonialist patriarchal capitalism… But humans began utilizing the language tool to be able to communicate quickly. So for brevity’s sake in an informal setting I would chance suggesting that awareness of “politics” is important, that sci-fi is political, or that I am political in certain ways. But really I’m a cyborg (the Haraway kind), and I think the world has many more lenses than “politics” to be seen through.

Science fiction is a lens. It’s a conceptual tool in a paradigm still woefully clinging on to old technologies like Progress, Men, Money, and God. The word-phrase-concept “science fiction”, or sci-fi, is really a shorthand piece of reference language that has since morphed from its originally intended use, much like the word-concepts gender and mestizo. Like a cyborg, science fiction is not merely the joining of science and fiction (or human and machine), but something much more complex, fluid, and contradictory.

Is sci-fi political? I think “political” is another cloudy word, successfully wielded by mass media and its gatekeepers of dominant culture to devalue and mock those who express ideals that would disrupt the well-oiled exploitative power dynamics at play. Situated within dominant paradigms, sci-fi is inherently political because it provides vision outside of those very paradigms. Let’s not front though–the very phrase “being political” is a divisive control mechanism, particularly one that’s been polarized as aggressive/active and mired in Left/Right ethical ideologies. But sci-fi doesn’t operate on Left/Right being/not being aggressive/passive dominant/submissive binaries. It operates on desire, hope, despair. Ultimately, sci-fi is a tool, a feedback mechanism, just another piece of cyborg technology to get us beyond this oppressive existence and connected to the universe.

[Metropolarity] is a brand. We’re the ghost of 1990s Internet come back to remind you what it was like to live adventurously without the trappings of your pre-signified body. We’re a time travel start-up. We’re spirit ritual from a world without money. Connect with us. ∞

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Alex Smith, founder of Laser Life queer sci-fi reading series, the Afterverse, and MP OG says:

SCI-FI is psychotropic super-spiritual revelation, a futuristic dream and sigil ritual. It’s both surreality and reality. It has, like magic and religion, been used as a political tool, but it’s true manifestations are not political in the most overwrought sense of the word. I don’t believe sci-fi has any political aspirations outside of complete liberation. To me, liberation can not be found through the machinations of politics. From Proudhon to Ginsberg to Rammellzee, all of these visionaries brought liberation technology to the masses.

Quickly, I will say that psychotropics refers to sci-fi’s ability to induce dream like trance in the writer and the reader, the participant. It’s similar to psychotropic hallucinogens in that the quality of the fiction appears to be both real (possible) and wholly surreal (impossible). The affects of the best sci-fi is like the effects of the best drugs. While the participant “sees things” many of us still without sci-fi in our lives can’t see, the participant also engages in these “things” they see; they act and behave as if being chemically induced. This is a simplification of it, because all things that sci-fi are working in conjunction to produce the effects and spiritual continuity of sci-fi.

I see say super-spiritual in that sci-fi is the teachings, experiences and being of Thor, Buddha, Einstein, Jesus, Mohammed, Athena, orishas, lwa and shamans throughout the course of time, but turned into something grander in our own, post-modern world. They are all reimagined through a futurist lens but in the hands and hearts of those who are sci-fi, they are made EVEN MORE POWERFUL! because their true natures are ALL that is siphoned. We’ve abandoned all of the clutter, the dogma, the messiness and focused on the now. Like, Neo in the Matrix takes the red pill; this is the complete, purified form of spiritual thought made into a pill! He has absorbed ALL through the means of futuristic imaginings. It’s not that he has somehow bypassed all of the Mecca pilgrimages, all of the baptisms, the hail mary’s, the sitting under trees in a Himalayan forest meditating; he’s done more by simply imagining all of those things and super-focusing it into a vast technology of the will.

And so, you can see how these descriptions all collude to form the basis of real sci-fi; you can understand the futuristic dream and the sigil ritual working together to inform, build, and create the other. The dream is the machine, the ritual is the fuel; the sigil (a symbol in ritual magic) is the on/off switch. Since this is all powered by the individual where only the imagination limits them, the idea of the introduction of politics fails miserably. This is where Ayn Rand and her ilk have misstepped, as rightists often do; combining overwrought political metaphor in an attempt to simulate freedom is completely useless. The meaning is derived from our psycho-spiritual reaction to the dream, not the dream itself.

I hesitate to say that a polemic can be built for the left from strands of sci-fi, because sci-fi is an end in and of itself. sci-fi is diametrically opposed to systems- even when systems are implied in the telling of the tales; eventually, in most of these tales, the system fails anyway! From Dhalgren to the Fall of the Towers to the Deathstar to the Tyrell Corporation; they all fucking DIE in the end. As revolutionaries, radicals, shamans and visionaries, we are wise to understand this. Replacing one system with another results in that system falling. However, when I’m staring at another cop trying to fuck with me on the streets of Philadelphia, I see the image of Goggles from Cyber City Oedo 808 smashing through a robot that’s clearly representative of the machine, of man’s nature to make himself extinct, a robot that’s pure hyperbole for “the system”, and in my mind as the metal rains down from Goggles’ final strike, i meditate on that image and I’m strengthen. But that’s not political, that’s sigil. That’s liberation.

Listen, I’m not utopianist really. I sometimes cringe at the sloganeering and sort of simplistic banality that we’re all over here guilty of, even Metropolarity and Laser Life at times. But I mean, sometimes, yes, “There IS a fucking tree under this concrete” and nearly every time, “Silence DOES equal death”. I just prefer to use sci-fi to express the beauty of things long held sacred now rotting, decaying. This transformation is what powers me. ∞

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Ras Mashramani, glorious founding MP member and purveyor of the Nightspace says:

For me, Metropolarity is an expressly political endeavor. No I’m not concerned with politics–with rubbing elbows with old white men, or lobbying for marginal legal successes–fuck all that noise. Marginalized populations are politicized not because we want to be, but because it’s a political act to express the uneven distribution of power in our country. As blacks and queers and women and working poor, we carry generations and generations of fragmented stories, ones created out of anger, fear, disconnection, isolation.

But now we live in a newborn world of information, increasingly co-dependent with that resilient, inclusive, mostly free, anarchic machine: the Internet. And culture and change can be generated by the internet. Voices that are commonly disenfranchised can build their own spaces on the Internet. My own identity has been formed in large part by the internet | memories, stories, and identities I have created and interacted with through AOL chats, multi-user dungeons, forums, and personal web pages. Queer kids coming up now are experimenting with identities in places where they are protected from our country’s religions and popular kids.

I truly believe that we are living in a science-fiction reality, and if science-fiction has taught us anything, it’s that a mastery of technology is integral to survival in a plugged-in world. Today, the digital divide is real and tangible! And our identities hinge on our ability to create and manipulate data in the cybersphere to affect change in real life.

The free for all who can access it, open-source, information-sharing nature of the Internet is a model for our real life. Cities like Philadelphia are hurting for a space to discuss the future of our communities. Fragmented histories and fictions have exhausted their reactionary, grieving, angry stories. The advent of the information age can also mean the beginning of new stories for us freaks and outcasts, whose existences are politicized by overpowering mainstream media that tries it’s best to distract the masses with golums like Jennifer Aniston and google images of Kim Kardashian’s vampire face bath. Metropolarity is the real life answer to this void of critical, future oriented stories for the urban have-nots. I intend that we become a space where we can examine our world speculatively while sharing skills to control the media in the cybersphere, where ideas | solutions | hope can spread like a virus globally.

When we began forming and developing Metropolarity, I had in my head science-informed consciousness raising. I was thinking about the democratic power of the internet–of perfecting the art of coercion by digital means in the name of justice and education, art and expression. I was praying desperately for a space, as populations with difficult and fragmented inter-generational stories to tell, to explore, and critique our increasingly globalized and complex world, while learning to master the technologies that we have been blesses with in our science-fiction age.

Let’s create memes with more substance than feisty kitty cats and babies eating lemons. Let’s take hold of our representations and worm our way into the mainstream.

MEME BE A MEME!! ∞

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.