[Autonogram] mid-July updates from Autonomedia

Ben at Autonomedia ben@autonomedia.org
Wed, 14 Jul 2004 16:34:45 -0400

hello, friends --

Much is going on in the Autonomedia environs these days; we've got 
federal subpoenas, riot grrls in burqas, cars that only run 
backwards, and Michael Moore as a publicity magnet. Here's the 

* * * * *
1. Steve Kurtz/Critical Art Ensemble trial update
2. New Books: The Taqwacores, Negativeland, Spermatogonia
3. A lively time at the Interactivist Info Exchange

* * * Steve Kurtz Update * * *

Most of you are probably aware of the vexations facing Steve Kurtz 
and the Critical Art Ensemble, so I won't recap his whole bizarre and 
infuriating case here (click on http://www.autonomedia.org/cae if 
this is new news to you). Steve was arraigned in Buffalo Federal 
court last week, and along with Robert Ferrell at the University of 
Pittsburgh, was charged with Mail Fraud and Wire Fraud. These charges 
carry a maximum twenty-year prison sentence and $250,000 fine; though 
it seems quite unlikely that the State would push for these maximums 
on what amounted to $256 in "defrauded materials", everything about 
this case has seemed unlikely from the start, and yet it keeps on 
moving. We're hoping that the court will drop the case before it even 
gets to trial; any letters of support for Steve and the work of the 
CAE could help affect this outcome. Please continue to visit 
http://www.caedefensefund.org for much more info on this case and a 
list of addresses where letters of support can be sent.

On the Autonomedia front: we were subpoenaed to provide all documents 
and records of communication pertaining to this case. While the court 
never made clear precisely what they wanted, we were prepared to 
challenge their right to certain records on First Amendment grounds 
(with counsel from the New York Civil Liberties Union). This 
challenge hasn't yet come to pass, however, as activity around the 
subpoena dropped off shortly after Steve's arraignment. I'll 
certainly send out updates as they develop; stay tuned also for 
details of upcoming fundraisers in New York and San Francisco in 
support of the case.

I'm taking the liberty (while such things still exist!) of sending 
the press release from the CAE Defense Fund pertaining to Steve's 
arraignment; the number of dissenting voices from prominent places in 
the science and art worlds, and the different angles of analysis of 
the case itself, are more than I want to duplicate here, so please 
look for a subsequent email from me. I rarely send anything not 
personally authored to you, dear Autonogram subscriber, so consider 
this important!

* * * New Books * * *

Even with all the legal nonsense surrounding us, we've managed to 
knock out three new books, all of which are available at our online 

The Taqwacores, by Michael Muhammad Knight
Set in a Muslim punk-house in Buffalo, New York, this novel explores 
the twin identities of punk and Islam in their many varieties and 
degrees of orthodoxy. The story here is primarily with the characters 
-- such as Umar, the straight-edge Sunni; Rabeya, the burqa-clad riot 
grrl; Jehangir, the dope-smoking mohawked Sufi (who plays rooftop 
calls-to-prayer on his electric guitar) -- and their collective 
articulation of a heresy-friendly, pluralist Islam. Full of punk 
references (real and invented) and enough Arabic phrases to fully 
deck out your skateboard, "The Taqwacores" is a great introduction to 
the cracks in the surface of mainstream Islam with a peculiarly 
American face. 256 pages, $10.
Have a look at http://bookstore.autonomedia.org/index.cgi?&pid=414

Negativeland, by Doug Nufer
This novel, in which a simple grammatical constraint informs the 
syntax of every sentence, traces the descent of a former Olympic 
athlete through diminishing spotlights of fame, with a roadtrip 
around the country linking this trajectory. Doug's writing inhabits 
the tradition of the OuLiPo, the (mostly) French literary roundtable 
devoted to writing through restrictions, and true to its style, the 
device used becomes invisible after the first few paragraphs as the 
story overtakes the mechanics of its construction. Only about halfway 
through the book, where Doug lets go of this device for a single 
paragraph, does one realize how deeply his constraint permeates one's 
readerly consciousness. Harry Mathews and Gilbert Sorrentino both 
enjoyed this book, so you ought to give it a look. 192 pages, $9.95. 

Spermatogonia, by Bart Plantenga
As everyone knows, psychogeography is the study of the effects of the 
geographic environment on the emotions and behavior of individuals. 
So when Kees Califlora, a corporate psychogeographer (paid to locate 
places where people are predisposed to certain marketable behaviors), 
begins to doubt the validity of his own identity and experience, he's 
too well-informed about the fictions of his own life to address it 
directly. The result is a dizzy unravelling, as Kees abandons 
friendships, interactions, and eventually even language. With an 
innovative page design and NYC photography by Dave Lombard. 144 
pages, $7.95.

* * * Interactivist Info Exchange Update * * *

The Interactivist site -- Autonomedia's collaborative project with 
ABC No Rio and the Interactivist Network, at 
http://info.interactivist.net -- has seen a huge upswing in daily 
readership lately, with a lot of stories on the Critical Art Ensemble 
case, a lively debate on the virtues of Fahrenheit 9/11 (with a 
sneaky link to a download of the film via peer-to-peer networks), 
much to huff about concerning the upcoming presidential conventions 
in New York and Boston, and other worthwhile stories that don't 
appear too many other places. Here's a short list of story links as 
an incentive to wander over and contribute to this forum:

"Anarchists Object: We Are No Excuse for Terror-baiting", a response 
to the NY Daily News "expose" on the dastardly plans of anarchists 
during the Republican Convention. 

"Manufacturing Dissent", a close analysis of some of Michael Moore's 
claims in Fahrenheit 9/11. 

"Republicans and Sex Workers at the RNC: Good Old-fashioned Pleasure" 
by Kirsten Anderberg, a piece about the preparations among the 
Manhattan sexatariat for the coming Conventioneers! 

"AnarIstanbul: A Summary of What We've Done Against NATO", a 
description of the summer campaign against NATO by anarchists in 

* * * * *

That's it for now; again, look for the CAE Defense press release in 
your email, buy lots of books, and check out the info exchange! You 
can change your autonogram subscription obtions through the links at 
the top (or bottom) of this email, and as always, thanks for the 

Ben / Autonomedia