My political debut on the lunatic fringe took the form of a poster project called “The Last International.” I never liked the name and inadvertently appropriated it from a former member of For Ourselves (see “Preface to The Right to Be Greedy”
) — I met him at my Gorilla Grotto event, actually — who, however, never adopted it for himself. I sometimes used other rubrics, such as those deployed below in “Déclassé(fieds).” My models were one- or two-person poster projects using organizational pseudonyms like Upshot in San Francisco (John and Paula Zerzan) and Aurora in Madison (Scott Polar Bear and Bob Brubaker). My opinions reflected situationist and, to a lesser extent, anarchist influence as refracted by these grouplets and by Detroit’s Fifth Estate
. My purpose was to bypass the media, even the “alternative” ones, with expression un
mediated by editors, by being for sale, or in any other way, to vent my views in just the way I wanted to, politeness and popularity be damned. I’d been a New Leftist, increasingly restive under the routinism and righteousness of the New Left as it ossified in the 70s, and it was exhilarating to break free. In the beginning my own standpoint was still ultra-leftist — I was interested in council communism, Processed World
’s dogma (see “Circle-A Deceit”
) — but the posters were designedly destructive, not constructive.
“Religion as Banality,” the only representative of the Ll’s origins in Ann Arbor, is in part derived from an anonymous poster I circulated in 1976 at Georgetown law school, a Jesuit institution, when I was a disgruntled student there. Ll posters are underrepresented in this collection because much of their interest is as visual as it is verbal, and in this format the built-in bias is toward text. (Not that I’m a talented graphic artist — no way! — but I did independently discover and clumsily employ some of the collage techniques which the punks have since made commonplace.) But they’ve been pilfered for some of the other texts included here.
Ll posters have been produced over the years in, I’d guess, the low end of five figures (more than 10,000, but closer to that than to 100,000), including reprints by Gerry Reith
in Wyoming and a few hundred Spanish-language versions of “Religion as Banality” which were posted in San Francisco’s Hispanic slums, where I lived, very
cautiously. They’ve been published in four countries, and will shortly appear in a fifth (Yugoslavia). The irony is that a project which intended to avoid the media has ended up fueling some of them.
All these texts originated as one-page posters except the last one, “Fighting Words,” which appeared as a folder (clandestinely typeset on Processed World
’s equipment). When I moved to Berkeley from San Francisco in fall 1982 I encountered massive jaded indifference in a town that prides itself on its politicization but is, in fact, parochial and passive. And so the poster project faded out. Which is all right. The trick is, without being a quitter, to know when to quit.
Religion As Banality
The Ballad of Brenda Spencer
Theses on Groucho Marxism
Because of Laws
The Correct Line
Ins & Outs
Surrealist Destinies: Mix and Match
Workers of the World... Relax!
In Defense of Marxism
Who Is Gerry Reith?
Money Is No Object...
My Feelings Are Me
I’ve Got a Nietzsche Trigger Finger!
The Exquisite Corpse: Gary Warne
The Last International business card