Review: Steel City Revolt #1

Steel City Revolt #1 (Fall 2008)

48 pages, quarterly

(POG, c/o The Thomas Merton Center, 5125 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15224)

(Full Disclosure: I was affiliated for a couple years with the group who put out this publication. )

I was unsure what to expect from this project, since I hadn’t been keeping up with POG’s recent activities, membership, or orientation. I recalled some members of the group had wanted to publish some kind of ongoing anarchist periodical for years, but election years can dilute the character of resistance (and make it hard to find reefer). It’s good that this finally came together.

The first issue of Steel City Revolt manages to walk a fine line. The covers and printing are professional enough to be taken seriously outside of radical ghettos, without being so slick that you wonder where that money came from. Good layout and graphics. The content is militant, without being too threatening or scary. A sizable portion of the magazine is composed of personal accounts which are much more readable than the kind of manifesto rhetoric that can only ever hope to preach to the choir, at best. The internal group documents and donation/membership forms are less obtrusive than your average subscription card. Overall, it adheres to a pretty orthodox left/activist anarchism, but pays some lip service to the insurrectionary project with a quote and illustration from the Harper’s stuff on the 1877 uprisings, a Bonanno quote, pretty cool centerfold world map listing various international ruptures occuring between July and September.

Fortunately there are no attempts to redefine anarchism and it’s relationship to presidential elections. The firsthand accounts of  the RNC actions did an especially good job of  capturing the mood of these kinds of events and the interview-style article on US elections was solid, all told, there’s a bare minimum of the kind of diplomatic mollifying that is required to keep liberals from spitting on you, because you disagree with them.

The sadly, largely neglected struggle against I-69, a time-line of anarchist hunger strike from Spain, the RNC 8, and a tribute to two recently slain activists make up some of the outside content. There’s also some features/cultural stuff including movie (which is also a personal account of the 1999 WTO protests in Seattle) and book reviews, gift ideas, crafting, the mandatory ascetic recipes, and poetry (although an excerpt from P. Shelly’s “Mask of Anarchy” is erroneously labeled as “The Call to Freedom”, as it is in many places on ‘teh interwebs’. It seems like the sparts objected to the rest of the poem and cut their own favorite piece off and gave it their own title)

One of the things that I found less than thrilling was the “indivdualism” vs “collectivism” false-dichotomy that popped up in the “Get to Know an Anarchist from the Past” feature. An anarchist collective must by definition be composed of anarchist individuals, although some days I have to wonder.  Devoting four pages to business union boilerplate wasn’t entirely unexpected or entirely negative, especially the plain talk on the PAT/ATU situation. The unconditional cheerleading for big labor isn’t limited to POG, but is a shortcoming of left/activist anarchism in general, and won’t likely be solved in a periodical review.

All told, POG has put together a entertaining and informative magazine.While I have my doubts about formal anarchist groups, left activism, and their capacity to attack State and Capital, during periods of low revolutionary actvity, a project like Steel City Revolt proves they can publish a worthwhile periodical. I’m glad to see more time devoted to radically-oriented media as opposed to the futility of trying to get honest treatment from corporate media. I look forward to the next issue.


Catching Up: (Part 1.) September 1-8

Apparently life goes on whether I remark on it or not, and I feel half guilty taking September off, so I’ll try and catch up. There’s some big stuff in the works, including a collaboration with a dear comrade and little brother, on a piece about the folly of ethical consumption and an overblown commentary on Mike Vick and his sporting dogs.

  • September 1 : It wouldn’t be a long weekend, if we didn’t celebrate “our freedom” with Taliban/Carry Nation checkpoints and police crackdowns.
  • September 2: Pittsburgh Food Not Bombs hosted what was apparently a great block party.
  • September 3: Labor Day is May 1, you big dummies.
  • September 4: The Pittsburgh Organizing Group began it’s “End War FAST“, in an alleged effort to close the Forbes Avenue recruiting station. I hope no one really believed that the US military cares who eats and who doesn’t, and that blue-haired liberal ladies got out their checkbooks, which seems to be a more realistic goal for a hunger strike. For some reason, their use of all-caps in the word “FAST” drove me crazy.
  • September 5: Suburban golden boy, whose family used their City address, turned Mayor, Luke Ravenstahl, dropped by the Zone 3 police station, to get his picture taken using the City’s new cyber-snitch website.
  • September 6: The dollar fell. I hope it hits the ground before it wakes up.
  • September 7: The region’s second-worst “badge bunny“, head-trauma patient, and “Man of Faith” (don’t worry Mr. Zapalla, you’re still #1) donated money to buy shit for police dogs in Cleveland. Ben, you may or may not know this (or be able to read this), but police dogs have managed to bite black folks just fine, long before morons like you thought they needed body armor. Anti-American Idol, Osama (that’s Usama for you FOX viewers)bin Laden, releases a new tape and unveils his new look. I like it better than his old stuff.
  • September 8: Minor skirmishes outside the APEC summit in Sydney, Australia result in arrests.

Predator Access to Children Restricted by School Board

jackson.jpgAny effort to counter military recruiting, reformist or otherwise is fine with me, since I favor reinstating the military draft. Although their (public) numbers are shrinking, since 9/11/2001, there are still far too many flag-sucking sheep, who beat the drums of war, but refuse to to take up arms themselves. A draft would give many of them a chance to put their money where their mouth and magnetic ribbons are. It would be interesting to see some casualties from the suburbs, instead of the current. mostly rural and urban child sacrifice.
Otherwise sane people who feel that there is nothing they can do about the imperial designs of the US, would probably realize that there were at least a few things they could try, if their number was called. Violent authority could lose some of its newfound popularity, too. I have a feeling that the self-described, ‘War on the Lack of Consumer Capitalist Markets in Resource Laden, Largely Muslim Regions Terror’ wouldn’t survive too long if it required anything more than economic conscripts. A “volunteer” military is one of those rackets like voting, that is used by State capitalist regimes self-described ‘democracies’, to fabricate the illusion of consent, and the US could stand a little disillusionment (and barricades).

Whether it is underreported, or actually rare, there is very little of the kind of resistance that led to the US withdrawal from Indochina. Sorry old hippies, and new SDSers, I’m talking about mutiny and desertion, not sit-ins and good vibes.

The 21st century US military recruiter is a despicable creature; half pimp, using deception, coercion, and sometimes outright sexual assault, to put healthy young bodies to work for their own financial gain, as well as half snitch, because like a informant, they must get other people to forfeit their freedom, to escape the consequences of their actions, although instead of jail, the recruiter are trying to avoid combat in Iraq. If they don’t offer up enough fresh meat for the grinder, they are headed back to the front lines, and like other snitches, the State is willing to overlook almost any misdeed, if it produces the desired outcome.

Although compulsory education seems to be about 95% compulsory and 5% education, it’s good to hear that the Pittsburgh City School Board passed a resolution that restricts the kind of dirty tricks that the captive audience known as “our children” can be subjected to. Some of the provisions of the resolution include:

Curiously enough, Mark Brentley Sr., who was hailed as a supporter of the resolution, by any account, voted against it. None of the media reports name a reason.

Kudos to the School Board. I never thought I’d live long enough to say that. Nice work Conscience and Quakers, and while you’re at it, check with the folks from the Pittsburgh Organizing Group, to see if there’s anything you can do to support their upcoming action.

In theory, this will also curtail the activities of other confidence tricksters, such as those who push five-figure a semester, 2 year culinary and art schools, and credit cards for teens and other exploitative practices.

Pittsburgh Call to Organize Against the IMF/World Bank

This call was issued several days ago, but due to an awful infection in my writing hand, yinz have been spared my awful prose. My failing health will prevent me from participating in these actions, but that’s no reason for you not to. It’s a shame, as it seems like a genuine attempt to step away from the formal, defensive organizing, that passes for genuine resistance. I’m sure that the young re-enactvists who use the SDS brand name will make this as tedious as possible and take all credit for any success, so maybe it’s just as good that my health is bad?

Pittsburgh meeting of affinity groups and their delegates to organize against the World Bank/IMF: Wednesday September 5th at the Dinosaur in Oakland. (Forbes Ave, between Bigelow and Bellefield)

Attention all Pittsburgh area anarchists and radicals! Today the October Coalition, a collection of DC groups organizing against the IMF and World Bank, put out their calls for the actions happening against the meetings on the weekend of Oct 19-21. Autumn Insurrection, a Pittsburgh group of anarchists, is calling for all Pittsburgh area radicals to start forming affinity groups with their close friends and comrades. We seek to bring different affinity groups in the area together for meetings on how we can work to effectively challenge the state in October in Washington DC. We are also planning on organizing trainings and working to hook people up with transportation and housing for the weekend.

October Rebellion has put a call out for the following actions:

Friday October 19th-

12pm-2pm March and Rally at Immigration and Customs Enforcement
425 I Street

9:00pm-??? Disrupt Georgetown!
An unpermitted night march through the Georgetown neighborhood of DC, the home of some of the wealthiest and most powerful people in the country and their shopping district.

Saturday October 20th-
1Pm March on the IMF/World Bank!

We are calling for a Pittsburgh meeting of affinity groups to coordinate our plans on Wednesday September 5th at the Dinosaur in Oakland. (Same place Critical Mass meets, On Forbes Ave. between Bigelow and Bellefield, off of Schenley Drive.) 8PM.

If you have any questions, feel free to email us at

or check out the October Rebellion Coalition website at

In love and rage
Autumn Insurrection

Who is Autumn Insurrection?

Autumn Insurrection is a collection of Pittsburgh Anarchists involved with numerous other projects who are organizing Pittsburghers to go to the fall meetings of the IMF and World Bank. We hope to bring as many Pittsburgh radicals to the meetings as possible in the hope that we can all work together to effectively resist the state and global capitalism in October.

SOS-Thomas Merton Center is BROKE!!

Sorry to come back after a health/legal related hiatus, and beg for money, but the Thomas Merton Center is one of the key defensive (as are all formal organizations) structures  for participants the social war, as it is carried out here in Southwestern PA.

The TMC is one of those rare places in North America, where wild-eyed anti-authoritarians and  social democrats and their ilk can find common ground from time to time. Ask any anarchist in the 412 area code and 8 out of 10 will sing their praises. Anything that can get 80% anarchist agreement is fucking amazing.

The Yinsurrectionary Times will be selling refrigerator magnets (we got a deal on the printable magnetic sheets) to benefit the TMC, but if you think the writing here is awful, the graphic design sense is much worse, so and suggestions or advice on designs would be greatly appreciated.

send suggestions to  yinsurrectionarytimes at hotmail dot com

Some other fundraising ideas are in the works, and we’ll keep you posted.

What follows is a forwarded message:

Hi dear friends who love the Thomas Merton Center,

This is a plea for money! The activist resource center that

you know and love in Pittsburgh is having severe financial crisis!

A lot of this has to do with the fact that the TMC had to replace the

fire escape that was deteriorating. This in itself was a pretty penny and

in the process it left holes in the back brick wall which lets the water in.

Yes all the water thats been falling falling falling is falling through the center.

So water has been pouring in creating damage!! If you have been at the center

lately you have seen the huge hole in the kitcen ceiling and its getting worse!

Besides that there are numerous other building repairs that need done.

Is a group your involved in a project of the Merton Center and you are not a member?

Have you ever had an event or meeting at the center? Do you read the NewPeople on your lunch brake? Do you support the work of the 30 projects that use the resources of the merton center? The Africa Project- addressing child soldiers in Uganda, Book ‘EM – supplying quality education material to prisoners, New Voices Pittsburgh- women of color for reproductive justice, many Anti-War groups and Demilitarization efforts, Haiti Solidarity Committee, Save Our Transit,….the list goes on and on!

The TMC is currently working on a few grants but if approved that money wont

come for a great while. In addition to seaking individaul donations, we are imploring people to become members.  It costs 25 dollars for one year! That is so cheap!

You can make your check out to Thomas Merton Center and mail your check to the TMC 5125 Penn Ave Pittsburgh PA 15224 or donate online

And seriously, if you got more money then you need right now, please consider making

a big donation. You would be supporting many different activist groups all over the city and

in doing out supporting all of thier causes.

Confront Nickel & Dime War Profiteers in Your Neighborhood

Sometimes it’s hard to find a place to rent. There are any number of reason used by landlords and property managers to exclude you from shelter. They don’t need a reason.

Perhaps another worthwhile strategy that could be explored by counter-recruiters is to make the recruiters themselves homeless? Maybe the pickets and other activities could be directed at the individuals and corporate persons who are willing to rent to child predators? Landlords are quick to declare an individual a “bad tenant” and if terrorist recruiters who prey on children aren’t bad enough, I don’t know who is.

We have some tools at our disposal in Allegheny County, where Pittsburgh is located. The obvious one is the Property Tax Assessment search page. Check to see if your community has one. Here, you can type in the address of a property and find out who owns it.

For this example, we will be using the Marine Corps Officer Programs Recruitment Station, located at 5837 Ellsworth Avenue. This was the site of the unprovoked attack against a POG picket by Pittsburgh Police Sgt. William Vollberg.

The property tax assessment lists the owner as one “Shadyside Plaza Associates” and that their tax bill is mailed to 241 Spahr Street, which is owned by Richard Brourman and Maria Barnette.

The local paper reveals that Mr. Brourman and his mother, Bernice were scamming people left and right, through bad home improvement schemes. When you enter Mr. Brourman’s name into a search engine the first search result is for “Mortgage Fraud News” which describes the settlement that the Brourman crime family and some other flim-flammers arrived at with the state attorney general.

Bernice and her baby, Richard, were ripping people off under the name Iron City Builders, which has received the “corporate death penalty”, prohibiting them from doing business, which did little more than to force them to commit their crimes under a new name. It’s no surprise that they’d be involved in other despicable activities such as renting to military recruiters.

Had Mama and Baby Brourman not been able to settle out of court for a six-figure sum, it would be a criminal offense, and recorded on PA’s online docket sheets , which allow you to view criminal complaints from the Commonwealth, but that’s not a concern for rich folks.

Perhaps Mr. Brourman’s other tenants should find out who they are renting from?

The Forbes Avenue recruiting station, that will be the site of POG’s next publicly announced action is owned by Oakland Real Estate located at 216 Oakland Avenue, right around the corner from the station. Might not be a bad place for a picket?

“Progressive” Means Never Having To Say You’re Sorry (part 3.)

 Part 1.                  Part 2.                Part 3.

It’s still technically Spring, and it’s not an ozone action day, so that must be love in the air. Could Bill Peduto’s amateur counterinsurgency hobby lead him down the aisle? Apparently one Pittsburgh Craiglsist user is hoping so:

City Councilman at a press confrence – Don’t blame me for loving you

Reply to:
Date: 2007-06-12, 4:15PM EDTI was at a press conference last week called by a local “progressive” Democrat. He was tall, with dark hair (that I think was real even though it looked like a rug) and dark eyes deeper than the city’s money problems. He was taking about vandalism on Walnut Street against the G8 summit Germany. As he blamed the “Pittsburgh Organizing Committee”, his voice electrified me like a double-shot of campesiños’ blood from Starbucks. Please Bill, don’t blame me for loving you like you blamed POG for those windows! Don’t slander my heart, Billy, don’t slander my heart!!

Peduto’s accusations are right out of the Beltway democrat playbook. It would seem he was trying to position himself a “rule of law” kind of guy, who was willing to come down hard on the “uncontrollable” (and non-voting) rabble that pundits incorrectly identify as the fringes of the democratic party. I don’t blame him for trying, since it seemed to be working for the DLC, but like the US arming of of Sunni fundamentalists is Afghanistan in the 1980’s ( a mistake that they seem to be eager to repeat) there are sometimes unintended consequences.By focusing on the deep-pocketed, dried-up husks and the parents of fertility-drug triplets (I guess rich people sex doesn’t work in any way?) who frequent Walnut Street, and calling for a press conference only after their stuff was broke, but not the damages at the Food “Co-op” or the Quiet Storm, he alienated all but the most glassy-eyed of his young, liberal base. Calls to his office from POG members and supporters were ignored, and then the “progressive” cried that he “was being threatened”. This was also a mistake, since it would not be easy to pretend that in 2007, that it is possible to threaten a politician, your superior in the eyes of the law, repeatedly, over the telephone.Eventually, Peduto’s supporters in the so-called “creative class”, called him on his bullshit, and began calling his office, and sending email, the way you’re supposed to in a bourgeois democracy. They apparently had no luck either, but at some point Peduto had what an alcoholic would call “a moment of clarity” and contacted someone from POG and I would hope some of his supporters, but given the length and breadth of his freakout, it’s hard to say.

POG issued what they hope to be their last word on the matter yesterday.

And hopefully after a look at the media and its role in this debacle, I can issue my last word on this matter.