Showing posts from April, 2021

Review: In Defense of Looting: A Riotous History of Uncivil Action

In Defense of Looting: A Riotous History of Uncivil Action by Vicky Osterweil My rating: 4 of 5 stars Osterweil writes a book that is likely to rattle many folks based upon the title but is definitely worth the read. Throughout the work, she makes a series of convincing arguments about the role of violence or how violence is mislabelled and misrepresented dependent upon who is doing it both in the present and through the lens of various historical movements (e.g. labor and civil rights).  For instance, when colonists seize land and take lives for their own benefit or when police seize bodies or personal property (asset forfeiture) without little or no consequence, looting is not a word that is used though it is quite evident in such work. Her strongest point is the illustrating of the questionable and blurred lines of distinction between violent and nonviolent, civil and uncivil, and how these lines are so easily manipulated by structural forc

Review: Tell Me About Me

Tell Me About Me by Marc Predka My rating: 4 of 5 stars As personal as they are powerful, Predka unleashes a torrent of emotional punches in this collection of poems.  They evoke visceral, even gut-clenching, moments of pain in a way that can make many readers feel seen by words they may have never strung together but feel deep in the bones.  That's one of the most poignant elements of Predka's work; how his poems are corporeal leaving imprints in the mind and on the body. It makes a certain amount of sense given how much of the works are about bodies--being in one's body, escaping one's body, harming one's body, witnessing changing one's body, connecting or missing another's body, and how the mind and body may connect or disconnect. On that point, many poems explore mental health in bold or nuanced ways--a theme that Predka had taken up in a recent album as the hip-hop artist, The Traemarc (Blood Meridian, 2019). Like any good c

Review: Care Work: Dreaming Disability Justice

Care Work: Dreaming Disability Justice by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha My rating: 5 of 5 stars Piepzna-Samarasinha's collection of essays is both foundation and ground-shaking. Through essays, reflections, interviews, and other written pieces, she defines much of the contours of a disability justice that is intersectional and informed and guided by the people who understand the work and navigate daily through an ableist world that constantly seems them as broken, messy, or unfixable. Beyond providing a variety of histories, accounts, and personal experiences of herself, friends, idols, and her locals, Piepzna-Samarasinha shows the reader time and again that there are vast strengths, resources, insights, and networks among queer, trans, lesbian, gay people of color communities that fight hard to keep them alive and have value and insight in ways that the larger culture largely ignores, disregards, and never chooses to ask. Further, she

Review: Hate Inc.: Why Today's Media Makes Us Despise One Another

Hate Inc.: Why Today's Media Makes Us Despise One Another by Matt Taibbi My rating: 5 of 5 stars Taibbi aims to provide an updated version of Noam Chomsky & Edward Herman's Manufacturing Consent adapted to integrate the last thirty years of mass media practice coupled with Taibbi's own insider views and criticism about how media across all divides is failing the US in profound ways. His argument is not new (media is failing us) but his take that all mainstream popular news outlets (TV, radio, print-based, digitally based) are complicit in this destruction because they're all playing to specific audiences is rather important. Taibbi explores and explains how news entities continue to focus on a portion of the audience they believe they can maintain by offering a particularly biased focus and forgo trying to win over other news consumers. The result is that most people end up paying attention to the news media that fits their politi

Review: Politics Is for Power: How to Move Beyond Political Hobbyism, Take Action, and Make Real Change

Politics Is for Power: How to Move Beyond Political Hobbyism, Take Action, and Make Real Change by Eitan Hersh My rating: 5 of 5 stars This is the book that so many of us need to read, thinking about, and act upon.  Hersh's argument is that there are a lot of people who believe they are politically active because they are engaged in daily news binging and social media arguments but not actually involved in political acts that help to expand one's influence or power.  Primarily, these folks (myself included here) know a lot about the national level blow-by-blow and have deeply-held beliefs about politics but find themselves less likely to do much to build a political powerbase (or support one) to enact change.  Hersh provides different reasons for this.  Sometimes, it's the disconnect between the moral philosophy of the participants (or nonparticipants as they were) and the fact that they would have to actually compromise and navigate complex dec