Friday Film: Freaks

This is a great film. I've been somewhat hesitant to post it, as it's not political, and I was worried that some folks would think it "ableist". I would argue that it is the opposite. It does not demonize those with deformities, rather celebrates there differences. The physically deformed "freaks" are inherently trusting and honorable people, while the real monsters are two of the "normal" members of the circus who conspire to murder one of the performers to obtain his large inheritance.

Freaks is a 1932 United States horror film about sideshow performers, directed and produced by Tod Browning and released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, with a cast mostly composed of actual carnival performers. Director Browning took the exceptional step of casting real people with deformities as the eponymous sideshow "freaks," rather than using costumes and makeup. Browning had been a member of a traveling circus in his early years, and much of the film was drawn from his personal experiences.

Wobbly Wednesday: Riot Cops Detain IWW Union Supporters

Sorry that this is a day late. I have a super busy day yesterday, with work and school dominating my time.

Baristas at the Mall of America Starbucks joined the Starbucks Workers Union in July 2008. Starbucks fired Barista Erik Forman in an effort to quash the union drive. Through a campaign of direct action, legal pressure, and media advocacy, we won Erik's job back. On August 31st, the IWW held a rally to celebrate the union victory. After the rally, union supporters accompanied Erik Forman to his first shift back at the Mall of America. I've met Fellow Worker Erik Forman, he's a super nice guy.

Things did not go as planned.


This is my 50th post on the blog. Let's celebrate with some mind blowing psychedelics!

I really don't know what to say. It sort of reminds me of a statement in the french magazine La Revolution surrealiste: "Let us swim in our own bodies, leave our souls within our souls; we have no need of your knife-blade of enlightenment."

Hattip to geekologie.

Monday Music Video: Hip Hop by Dead Prez

I'm not really that big of a fan of rap music, but one of the few bands that I have listen to in the past was Dead Prez.

Dead Prez is an American underground political hip hop duo composed of and M-1. They are known for their confrontational style combined with socialist and pan-Africanist lyrics. These lyrics tend to focus on revolution, veganism, institutional racism, critical pedagogy, police, capitalism, education, prison systems, religion, activism against governmental repression, and corporate control over the media, especially hip-hop record labels. Dead Prez made their stance clear on their first album, declaring on the lead song, "I'm a African" that the group is "somewhere between N.W.A. and P.E."

Friday Film: Ethel MacDonald: An Anarchist's Story

This documentary-drama tells the story of Ethel MacDonald, a remarkable young woman whose name hit the world headlines during the Spanish Civil War. She was hailed as the Scarlet Pimpernel of the workers revolution but has since become something of a forgotten legend.

Ethel MacDonald (24 February 1909—1 December 1960) was a Glasgow-based Scottish anarchist and activist and, in 1937, during the Spanish Civil War, a propagandist on Barcelona Anarchist radio.

Wobbly Wednesday: Brewing Solidarity: A Profile of the Starbucks Workers Union

When workers at Starbucks Coffee in New York decided to unionize with the Industrial Workers of the World, baristas in other cities took notice. From Chicago, to the Twin Cities, and now, here in Canada, Baristas in a Quebec city Starbucks have joined with I.W.W. Starbucks Workers Union to fight for better conditions in there work place.

In this episode of Labor Beat, food service workers at Chicago's Logan Square location of Starbucks are interviewed about the high-volume conditions at their store and what they decided to do about it. Labor Beat is a public access TV show in Chicago.

To order DVDs of this or any past Labor Beat title, visit

Monday Music Video: Hockey Night in Afghanada by The Consumer Goods

This song was submitted to the CBC's Hockey Anthem Challange, but it was not posted to their website for voting. Which is a shame, 'cause it's a pretty catchy jingle that could have won!

Thanks to Brian for sending me the link.

Audio: Andrew Nellis Interviewed by Denis Rancourt

Andrew Nellis is an anarcho-syndicalist activist from Ontario. He is one of the lead organizers for the Ottawa Panhandlers Union. Denis Rancourt was a professor of Physics at the University of Ottawa, known for his radical pedagogy. This is a very good interview for Denis Rancourt's radio show The Five O'clock Train. Listen and enjoy!

Andrew Nellis Interviewed by Denis Rancourt for The Five O'clock Train.

Prevues of Coming Attractions

I just wanted to a prevue of Coming attractions to The Insurrectionary People's Picture Show Theater. I am slowing going to show some old, non-political films mixed in with very political films. Here's what to expect in the next couple of weeks:

Nineteen Eighty-Four
: Released in 1984, based upon George Orwell’s novel of the same name, following the life of Winston Smith in Oceania, a country run by a totalitarian government. The film was directed by Micheal Radford, and stars John Hurt, Suzanna Hamilton, and Richard Burton in his last film role.

Freaks: a 1932 horror film about murder at a sideshow. Directed and produced by Tod Browning (who had been a member of a traveling circus in his early years) the film was based on a Tod Robbins’ short story “Spurs”. Director Browning took the exceptional step of casting real people with deformities as the eponymous sideshow "freaks," rather than using costumes and makeup.

Reefer Madness (aka Tell Your Children): 1936 exploitation film revolving around the tragic events that ensue when high school students are lured by pushers to try "marihuana": a hit and run accident, manslaughter, suicide, rape, and descent into madness all ensue. It was originally financed by a church group and made under the title Tell Your Children.

The Grapes of Wrath
: 1940 American drama directed by Academy Award Winner John Ford. Based on the Pulitzer Prize novel written by John Steinbeck, the film follows tells the story of the Joads, an Oklahoma family, who, after losing their farm during the Great Depression in the 1930s, become migrant workers and end up in California. Stars Henry Fonda as Tom Joad.

A Place Called Chiapas: Canadian documentary of first-hand accounts of the Ejercito Zapatista de Liberación Nacional (EZLN, or the Zapatistas) and the lives of its soldiers and the people for whom they fight. Director Nettie Wild takes the viewer to rebel territory in the south west Mexican state of Chiapas, where the EZLN live and evade the Mexican Army.

Friday Film: Salt of the Earth

Salt of the Earth was produced, written and directed by victims of the Hollywood blacklist. Unable to make films in Hollywood, they looked for worthy social issues to put on the screen independently. This film never would have been made in Hollywood at the time, so it is ironic that it was the anti-communist backlash that brought about the conditions for it to be made. In many ways it was a film ahead of its time. Mainstream culture did not pick up on its civil rights and feminist themes for at least a decade. This film entered the public domain in 1982 and was selected for the National Film Registry in 1992.

Wobbly Wednesday: The Wobblies!

This 1979 award-winning film airs a provocative look at the forgotten American history of this most radical of unions, screening the unforgettable and still-fiery voices of Wobbly members--lumberjacks, migratory workers, and silk weavers--in their 70s, 80s, and 90s. Eerily echoing current times, THE WOBBLIES boldly investigates a nation torn by naked corporate greed and the red-hot rift between the industrial masters and the rabble-rousing workers in the field and factory. Replete with gorgeous archival footage, the film pays tribute to American workers who took the ideals of equality and free speech seriously enough to die for them. Directed by Stewart Bird and Deborah Shaffer, THE WOBBLIES is a rare and challenging invitation to rethink both past and present through the eyes of an organization largely omitted from memory.

Music Video: The Log Drivers Waltz

I remember this as a kid. It was one of my favorite songs, along with The Cat Came Back by Fred Penner and The black fly song. The common line between these songs are they where all made into short, animated films by the National Film Board of Canada.

So, for your viewing pleasure, a little slice of my childhood and a classic piece of Canadiana, The Log Drivers Waltz.

Short Clip: Worker and Parasite

Super Board on a Monday night, so here's Eastern Europe's favorite cat and mouse team!

Monday Music Video: The Foggy Dew by Sinead O'Connor & the Chieftains

According to the Wikipedia entry, "This song chronicles the Easter Uprising of 1916, and encourages Irishmen to fight for the cause of Ireland, rather than for the British, as so many young men were doing in World War I." The wiki entry also very helpfully links many of this historical and geographical references in the song, so check it out.

Sinéad O'Connor is best known in North America for the hit Nothing Compares 2 U. After she tore up a picture of the pope on SNL, she fell off the North American map. Few people here would know that she went on to have a very successful reggae career, as well as continuing anti-catholic activism.

Friday Film: The Free Voice of Labor

The Free Voice of Labor: The Jewish Anarchists is a 1980 documentary by Steve Fischler and Joel Sucher of Pacific Street Films. It memorializes the story of the Yiddish anarchist newspaper Fraye Arbeter Shtime, and the Jewish anarchist movement of the early 20th century. The movie contained a short interview with a very young Joe Conason. Paul Avrich was a consultant on the film.

As of 2006, AK Press has begun distributing it as part of a double DVD release with Anarchism in America, named after the latter.

Wobbly Wednesday: Starbucks Union Press Conference

The Grand Rapids Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) held a May Day press conference outside the East Grand Rapids branch of Starbucks. The Press Conference was part of an ongoing campaign to get Starbucks to recognize the union's legal right to organize their workers. The Grand Rapids chapter of the IWW is part of a legal case along with another union in New York that has been challenging Starbucks' anti-union practices.

Trailer: DJ Spooky's "Rebirth of a Nation"

This film was on one of the specialty channels I am currently receiving for free. I'm kind of disappointed I didn't watch it. It is a hip-hop reinterperation of the racialist D.W. Griffith film Birth of a Nation. Birth presented a vision of the Civil War and reconstruction-era KKK in a sympathetic light.

Rebirth of a Nation turning the tables on the 1915 D.W. Griffith film that simultaneously launched the modern film industry and gave the Ku Klux Klan a foothold in the 20th Century. Dj Spooky applies DJ techniques to cinema in a way that parallels, deconstructs and remixes the original.

Monday Music Video: Ryan Harvey at IMF/WB Rally

Ryan Harvey is a Baltimore-area musicians and activist apart of the Riot Folk Collective. There's allot of his music floating around on torrent. The Riot Folk site used to have all his songs for free download, but it's down at the moment.

Weekend Emma: Prisons: A Social Crime And Failure Audio

Prisons: A Social Crime and Failure
is an essay written by Emma Goldman published in 1910.

One of the idea I really thought should be explored more is how prison labor should no be seen as scab labor or against the established labor market, and that unions should try and create solidarity with our brothers and sisters in jail being used as essentially slaves.

Listen to Prisons: A Social Crime and Failure at Audio Anarchy

Friday Film: Breaking the Spell

Breaking the Spell is a 1999 anarchist documentary, directed by Tim Lewis, Tim Ream, and Sir Chuck A. Rock.

Using amateur camera footage recorded by protesters at the scene of the 1999 WTO protests, it documents the events from the perspective of the anarchists, their opinions of fellow protesters, local politicians, and includes footage which aired nationally on 60 Minutes.

The film is currently distributed by CrimethInc. on the CrimethInc. Guerilla Film Series, Volume One DVD.

Wobbly Wednesday: IWW IU 460/640 March on HWH Trading

The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) IU 460/640 marches on HWH Trading, a new shop where workers have joined the union. At HWH some workers work as much as 110-117 hours per week with no overtime pay.