Category Archives: CONVERSATION

MIKE DAVIS AND JON WIENER — SET THE NIGHT ON FIRE

The nation’s first and most successful underground paper of the Sixties, the Los Angeles Free Press (the “Freep”) at its peak in 1970 published forty-eight pages every week, had a guaranteed paid circulation of 85,000, and boasted a “faithful readership” estimated at a quarter of a million. At the time, among alternative weeklies, only the Village Voice, started a decade earlier, had more readers. The Freep’s founder, Art Kunkin (1928–2019) was not a naïve hippie or flower child, but rather an experienced Old Left journalist. When he published the first issue in 1964, he was thirty-five and already a movement elder. A New Yorker who had gone to Bronx High School of Science, he had become a tool and die maker, and—by then a Marxist—joined the Trotskyite Socialist Workers Party (SWP), working at GM and Ford in the 1950s and becoming business manager of the SWP newspaper, the Militant. In the early 1960s he moved to L.A. and, he says, “went back to school to become a history professor.” A faculty member asked whether he wanted to work on a new Mexican-American newspaper, the East L.A. Almanac. It published eight pages, once a month, 5,000 copies, and was associated with MAPA, the new Mexican American Political Association, headed by Edward Roybal—the first Latino on the L.A. City Council, and later the first Latino member of Congress from California. “I was the political editor,” Kunkin said, “listed on the masthead as Arturo, and I’m writing about garbage collections in East Los Angeles.” By that time he had left the SWP, joined the less radical Socialist Party, and become its Southern California chairman: “I was working closely with Norman Thomas and with Erich Fromm, the famous psychologist,” he said. “I wrote some resolutions with Fromm against the Democratic Party drift of the Socialist Party.”

He started planning the Freep in January 1963, after a visit from the FBI. They had read his criticisms of LBJ in the East L.A. Almanac, and asked whether he was a Communist and whether he could identify names on a list of suspected Communists. He told them he was a socialist and an anti-communist, and that he refused to talk about other people. Two days later, after the FBI visited the East L.A. Almanac, he was fired. He had long been complaining to friends hanging out at the Sunset Strip coffee shop Xanadu about the Village Voice: while it excelled at covering the hip scene and ran some strong writing, politically it always supported liberal Democrats. People told Kunkin he couldn’t publish a Voice-type independent paper in L.A. because the city had no Greenwich Village; it was too spread out and fragmented, and besides, it would require at least $10,000 to get started. But Kunkin went ahead anyway, looking for financial backers…

The first stand-alone issue of the Freep was dated July 30, 1964. “A New Weekly,” it proclaimed in a front-page statement, “Why We Appear.” Kunkin opened by declaring that while the paper represented no party or group, “we class ourselves … among the liberals.” Of course, Kunkin himself was not a liberal; he had been a member of the SWP and at the time was a leader of the Socialist Party in L.A., which made it a point to criticize liberals. Apparently he thought that L.A. in 1964 was not ready for a paper that criticized liberals from the left. Kunkin did promise that the Freep would be “free enough to print material disagreeing with liberal organizations,” and indeed the paper would start doing that pretty quickly. But at the beginning, Kunkin declared his goal was “to link together the various sections of our far flung liberal community.” He also said “we do not plan to deal with national and international events”—instead, the paper would focus on Los Angeles. — from Set the Night on Fire: L.A. in the Sixties*

Mike Davis and Jon Wiener—authors of the epic new movement history SET THE NIGHT ON FIRE: L.A. IN THE SIXTIES—will discuss the period covered in the book and its application to the ongoing crisis.

Presented by Verso and the London School of Economics, the authors will be joined by Glyn Robbins.

SET THE NIGHT ON FIRE: L.A. IN THE SIXTIES—

MIKE DAVIS, JON WIENER, and GLYN ROBBINS IN CONVERSATION

Monday, June 8.

10 am on the West Coast; 1 pm East Coast.

*Mike Davis and Jon Wiener, Set the Night on Fire: L.A. in the Sixties (New York: Verso, 2020).

From top: Angela Davis (left, with Che-Lumumba Club Leader Kendra Alexander) enters Royce Hall at UCLA for her first lecture in October 1969—attended by 2,000 students; Art Kunkin, courtesy and © the New York Times; Los Angeles Free Press, first stand-alone issue (following sample insert premiere issue); Los Angeles Free Press, vol. 3, no. 27; Gidra, UCLA’s radical Asian-American zine, courtesy Mike Murase; members of the Gidra staff pose in a photograph to protest exploitation of Asian females, photograph by Mike Murase, courtesy and © the photographer; Set the Night on Fire: L.A. in the Sixties, courtesy and © the authors and Verso, cover design by Matt Dorfman, cover photograph by Luis C. Garza, courtesy and © the photographer and the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center, youth from Florence in South Central L.A. arrive at Belvedere Park in East L.A. for La Marcha por la Justicia, January 31, 1971; Dorothy Healey, leader of the Communist Party of America, 1949, courtesy and © the Dorothy Healey Collection, California State University, Long Beach; Corita Kent, a passion for the possible, 1969, serigraph, courtesy and © the Corita Art Center.

PAUL B. PRECIADO BOOK LAUNCH AND READINGS

I am not a man I am not a woman I am not heterosexual I am not homosexual I am not bisexual. I am a dissident of the sex-gender system. I am the multiplicity of the cosmos trapped in a binary political and epistemological system, shouting in front of you. I am a Uranian confined inside the limits of techno-scientific capitalism.Paul B. PreciadoAn Apartment on Uranus

The queer-studies philosopher, curator, and author Paul B. Preciado will launch his latest book AN APARTMENT ON URANUS: CHRONICLES OF THE CROSSING—published by Semiotext(e)—which explores his transition from Beatriz to Paul, the Greek economic crisis, the refugee crisis, and the Catalonian independence movement.

The streamed event—presented by Hebbel am Ufer, Berlin—will include readings by Preciado, Susanne Sachsse, Black Cracker, Margarita Tsomou.

PAUL B. PRECIADO—AN APARTMENT ON URANUS LAUNCH and CONVERSATION

Saturday, May 30.

Noon on the West Coast; 3 pm East Coast.

From top: Paul B. Preciado (2); An Apartment on Uranus, 2020, cover courtesy and © Semiotext(e); Black Cracker in Berlin, 2015, photograph by Ériver Hijano; Countersexual Manifesto, 2018, courtesy and © Columbia University Press. Images courtesy and © the author.

SKY HOPINKA SCREENING AND CONVERSATION

LACMA and Sky Hopinka present his first full-length feature film MALNI, TOWARDS THE OCEAN, TOWARDS THE SHORE. This “poetic exploration in his signature style… follows Sweetwater Sahme and Jordan Mercier’s perambulations through their worlds—sometimes overlapping, sometimes not—as they wonder and wander through the afterlife, rebirth, and the place in-between. Spoken mostly in chinuk wawa, a language indigenous to the Columbia River Basin, their stories are departures from the Chinookan origin of death myth, with its distant beginning and circular shape.”

Hopinka will participate in a post-screening Q & A.

SKY HOPINKA—MALNI, TOWARDS THE OCEAN, TOWARDS THE SHORE

Friday, May 29.

6 pm on the West Coast; 9 pm East Coast.

Sky Hopinka, Maɬni, towards the ocean, towards the shore, 2020. Images courtesy and © the artist and the Sundance Institute.

LUCHITA HURTADO —JUST DOWN THE STREET

If I have a voice at all, I’m going to use it… to complain [laughter]. Because it’s the only way that you get anything done. — Luchita Hurtado*

The exhibition LUCHITA HURTADO—JUST DOWN THE STREET is now open in Zürich. The show brings together the artist’s drawings and paintings on paper from the 1960s.

LUCHITA HURTADO—JUST DOWN THE STREET

Through July 31.

Hauser & Wirth

Limmatstrasse 270, Zürich.

*Hurtado and Hans Ulrich Obrist in conversation at LACMA, February 2020.

Luchita Hurtado, from top: Untitled, 1965, acrylic on paper; Just Down the Street, 1965, oil on paper; Portrait, 1965 / 1968, oil on paper; Luchita Hurtado—Just Down the Street, May 11, 2020–July 31, 2020, installation view; Untitled, circa 1957 / 1968, oil and conte on paper; Untitled, 1968, oil and graphite on paper. Artwork photographs by Jeff McLane. Images courtesy and © 2020 the artist and Hauser & Wirth.

ETEL ADNAN AND LYNN MARIE KIRBY

ORACULAR TRANSMISSIONS—a new volume collecting three email collaborations between Etel Adnan and Lynn Marie Kirby—is out now from X Artists’ Books.

The book also includes poems by Denise Newman and an introduction by curator Jordan Stein presenting their works and performances.

From top: Etel Adnan, Untitled, 2013, courtesy Sfeir-Semler Gallery, Hamburg and Beirut; Etel Adnan and Lynn Marie Kirby, Oracular Transmissions (2020), X Artists’ Books; Lynn Marie Kirby, Room Tone; Adnan and Simone Fattal in 2012 at the Post-Apollo Press table at the Marché de la Poésie à Paris, Place Saint Sulpice. Images courtesy and © the artists and the publisher.