Breaking News from Screen Print Artist Chris Drew — ACLU Takes Up His “Felony Eavesdropping” Case

The news from my court appearance today is…… we declined the State’s Attorney’s plea bargain of a felony and 18 months probation. We asked for time to file a motion to suppress the evidence seized from the audio-recorder because there was no search warrant issued to listen to it. The judge gave us a new court date of September 22, 2010 to present our motion. That is two days before the T-shirt Art Harvest Fest

What is breaking our story wide open is the action of the ACLU to sue the Cook County State’s Attorney, Anita Alvarez, in Federal Court to stop her office from prosecuting citizens who audio-record police in public. This is a calculated effort to create Federal case law on the topic of audio-recording police in public. Now that is substantial news! I am the single live case cited in their lawsuit. This make me the poster-boy for the issue of audio-recording police in Illinois and, eventually, alongside Anthony Graber (see below), nationally.

The Chicago Tribune wrote on the ACLU story (link below) featuring me and two brothers recently convicted of “attempted eavesdropping.”,0,2296176.story

Then the Tribune followed up with an editorial by their editorial board last week largely in support of our view of the issue.,0,43844.story

WBEZ – National Public Radio is running an interview with me and others on this issue tomorrow morning, Wednesday, 9/1/10. Check it out.


The story of Anthony Graber is plowing the way for our case in the national news cycle. His case is significant because it is the case of a good-old-boy speeding on his motorcycle with a videocam on his helmet getting jacked around by a jack-booted cowboy cop in plainclothes with his gun out looking like a road-rage maniac. Then, when Anthony posted his video to Youtube the Maryland cowboy with his cop buddies freaked and raided Anthony’s mother’s home without a proper warrant. The photo-grab from the video of the cop with his gun out is compelling and the news people love riveting visuals. My case came before his. It is more illustrative of the real dangers of the State using its powers to selectively prosecute citizens based on their political views and as a tool to silence social critics. Even though our case is less sensational, we are able to use the attention Mr. Graber gets to tell our story. Our case is more likely to create the case law that makes real change. Please stay tuned.
All this means our annual T-shirt Art Harvest Festival the last weekend in September is going to rock.

Party for freedom at the T-shirt Art Harvest Festival, September 24-26th with art and music all weekend long at the American Indian Center, 1630 W. Wilson Avenue.

Art Patch Project art will be featured alongside 22 years of T-shirt art at the 22nd annual T-shirt Art Harvest Festival. Bands will play free all weekend. Come pick-up Art Patch Project art-patches and boogie-down.

Also displayed will be comments by people from around Chicago and the Nation in reaction to the actions of the States of Illinois, Maryland and Massachusetts to incarcerate citizens for exercising their First Amendment right to audio-record their public servants (police) in public. Thirty-eight States recognize this right but nine are wavering and three are very bad actors attempting to take your rights away. Tell them what you think!

All who attend will be invited to add their own comments on this pressing issue confronting our Nation today. Your comments will be posted online to illustrate the decision of the Court of Public Opinion. Your voices are powerful.
Please donate to help us support socially conscious art actions.
To read more about this event visit this link.

To see the bands that are playing visit this link.

Want to help? You can download our fool proof flier and print it out on both sides. Cut them to make four fliers per sheet. Then you can pass them out to all your friends.

Or come to our Sunday and Wednesday workshops to pick up already printed fliers to distribute.

Mexican Labor News and Analysis – edited by Dan LaBotz

August 2010, Vol. 15, No. 7

About Mexican Labor News and Analysis
Mexican Labor News and Analysis (MLNA) is produced in collaboration with the Authentic Labor Front (Frente Auténtico del Trabajo FAT) of Mexico and the United Electrical Workers (UE) of the United States, and with the support of the Resource Center of the Americas in Minneapolis, Minnesota. MLNA can be viewed at the UE’s international web site.

For information about direct subscriptions, submission of articles, and all queries contact editor Dan La Botz at the following e-mail address: or call in the U.S.(513) 861-8722. The U.S. mailing address is: Dan La Botz, Mexican Labor News and Analysis, 3503 Middleton Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45220.

If there is no byline, republication is authorized if the reproduction includes the following paragraph: This article was published by Mexican Labor News and Analysis, a monthly collaboration of the Mexico City-based Authentic Labor Front (FAT) and the Pittsburgh-based United Electrical Workers (UE)
Contact: Editor Dan La Botz at or 513-861-8722. For a free e-mailed subscription, sign up at:

The UE Home Page which displays Mexican Labor News and Analysis has a complete Index of back issues.
Staff: Editor, Dan La Botz. Frequent Contributors: David Bacon, Fred Rosen.

* Alert: Renewed Aggression Against Bankworkers Union, SUNTBANOBRAS
* Victory for workers! Agreement reached at Johnson Controls
* Workers at General Tire Overwhelmingly Beat Back Charro Take-Over
* SME Leadership Analyses Situation; Plans Major Mobilization September 15, Additional Steps
* Calderón’s Drug War Fails; Deaths, Costs Mount; Dangers Loom
* Mexican Miners Win Important Victory at Cananea
*Grupo Mexico and Mexican Labor Secretary Defy Court Order
*Steel Workers Send Observers to Mexican Mine
* Press Release from the Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores Mineros, Metalúrgicos, Siderúrgicos y Similares de la Republica Mexicana
*Unions Divided as New Investors Acquire Mexicana
*No Progress in U.S.-Mexico Truck Dispute; Mexico To Raise Tariffs
*Oil Workers at Sea Without a Safety Net
*Labor Law Reform Debated in the Mexican Congress
*Labor Shorts
*Social Statistics
*Job Postings

Automation and Robotics News August 29 — from Tony Zaragoza

[Why, pray tell, does a newsletter devoted to labor and the arts make sure to include Tony Zaragoza’s compendium on robotics every 2 weeks?  The broad answer is that the field of automation and robotics describes a sea change taking place, which amounts to a massive cultural shift in society.  The short answer, within that massive shift, is that we see repercussions in every field of cultural/creative endeavor (like the one you are looking at now) and in rapidly eliminating the need for human labor in the production of commodities.  From Decatur Illinois to Silicon Valley to China and the United Arab Emirates, the effects of automation on job loss are reported below.  In one report on hospital automation we find the following stark but very honest quote:

The robot’s maker says his robots perform work that people find distasteful or hazardous, such as picking up infectious waste. Add, there’s another benefit, he says: “They don’t take breaks and vacation and you don’t have to pay them benefits.”

Hmmm. Please note that the same hospital has just announced they are going to lay off 140 workers.

Note also among the reports below the automated library book retrieval system and the “Espresso” self publishing machine.  This is not a “read and weep” report.  The point of view of the Chicago Labor & Arts Notes blog is that all of us are creative people — artists — and we can all think creatively to envision a better world.  The first thing that we can begin to question is why do we need private corporations, when the possibility of unleashing all this human potential is chained by a corporate system that views the problem as workers who need to take breaks and get vacations and require benefits like health care?  — Lew Rosenbaum]

Automation and Robotics News–Aug 29, 2010

Highlights: Software malfunction strays robo-drone; cheap, disposable military robots in development; robotic book publisher; Growth in automation of food production in UK; hospital workers and DoT workers replaced with robots; library robot; tree planting robot…



At Robot Show, Future of Warfare Is on Display

AOL News – Aug 27, 2010

DENVER (Aug. 27) — From robotic insects that can crawl and fly to spy drones that look and move like real hummingbirds, the future of warfare was on …

Drones Surge, Special Ops Strike in Petraeus Campaign Plan

Spencer Ackerman, August 18, 2010

KABUL, Afghanistan — Ever since the Afghanistan war became a counterinsurgency fight, critics have charged that commanders’ cautions about using force only inhibit the fight against the Taliban. But in the shadows, NATO Special Operations Forces are engaged in an intensely lethal war of their own.

Automation Alley puts focus on defense work

The Detroit News – Louis Aguilar – Aug 20, 2010

Automation Alley, the state’s largest technology consortium, is stepping up efforts to nab more work in homeland and border security for Michigan companies.

US military to covertly deliver payloads with robot rockets

DVICE – Kevin Hall – Aug 20, 2010

Called the V-Bat, the rocket-shaped robot is able to take off vertically like a Harrier jet, and can autonomously proceed to its destinatio

Iran’s Robotic ‘Ambassador of Death’ is More Envoy of Annoyance (Updated)

Noah Shachtman, August 23, 2010

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad skipped onto a stage yesterday, drew back a blue curtain, unveiled a shiny gold drone, and pronounced it an ambassador of death” to Tehran’s foes. So does that mean Tel Aviv should be worried about Iranian robo-bombings? At the moment, probably not. . . .


Register – Lewis Page – Aug 26, 2010

A software error, combined with an unfortunate user action, led to a US military robot helicopter – developed from a manned version and capable of carrying a fearsome arsenal of weapons – straying into restricted airspace near Washington DC, according to reports.

Show features drones, robots; provides new hints about future of war

CNN – Charley Keyes, Reynolds Wolf -Aug 26

Denver, Colorado (CNN) — It was a glimpse into the future, when convoys rumble toward the battlefield without a driver behind the wheel, aircraft soar without pilots on board and robots glide forward to fight with machine guns and grenade launchers, all the while beaming back video. Hundreds of displays at the Colorado Convention Center this week in Denver allowed the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) to show off its sharpest designs and latest inventions. Some of these machines already are on duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. . .

Chico State program making cheap robot

Enterprise-Record – Aug 23, 2010

CHICO — Providing the military with a robot it can afford to lose in combat is the aim of a program at Chico State University headed by Nick Repanich, …


Why Manufacturers are Giving Automation a Fresh Look

The market is in recovery. Finally, those who, over the last few years, have been forced to diversify to remain competitive – downsizing teams and stretching budgets in the process – can breathe a sigh of relief. “It has been a difficult period, but many [companies] have performed well [during the downturn]. They’ve remained competitive and [in some cases] even expanded. With the market beginning to recover, the race is on to find ways to improve efficiency, increase productivity . . .

One of the key benefits of automation is its ability to reduce labor costs, which in many instances represents the largest overhead in any given warehouse or distribution centre . . .

Can this ‘robot’ help save publishing?

University of Texas Co-op--the most profitable independent college bookstore in the United States--has purchased an Espresso Book Machine and is aiming is to "revolutionize how the store does business and interacts with the local community." The espresso will print and bind a 300 page paperback in 4 minutes.

Monday, August 16, 2010, David Carnoy

The $150,000 Espresso Book Machine can print a professional-looking paperback in about four minutes. More small presses are looking at it as an option to cut down on printing costs and better manage inventory.

Chinese labour disputes have silver lining

By Jing Ulrich, August 17 2010, Financial Times

China’s     large coastal manufacturing hubs have, for many years, been the     production base of choice for domestic and multinational companies     looking to take advantage of the country’s vast pool of     inexpensive labour. But along with a strengthening renminbi and     government action to curb pollution and overcapacity, an upsurge of     labour disputes since May suggests that the low-cost model of     production is no longer robust. Companies that traditionally relied     on China as a source of cheap labour are increasingly relocating     low-margin production lines to lower cost labour venues –     particularly in central China, by speeding up factory automation     plans . . .


Robot suit for old Japanese grower nearing completion.

FreshPlaza – Aug 27, 2010

Thanks to the robot, physically hard work like picking apples becomes easier. The farmer doesn’t have to hold his arm up himself but is helped by the suit.

Robots Take Over Food Manufacturing

Food and Drink Digital – Chris Farnell

Food and drink manufacturers purchased more automation and robotic equipment than the car sector in the second quarter of 2010

The food and drink sector has been buying in a great deal of packing, palletizing and handling equipment , according to a quarterly survey of members of the British Automation and Robotics Association. The Robotics Association found that the food and drink sector accounted for 17 percent of all robotics sales, making it second only to the pharmaceuticals industry. . .



Adept Technology Ships Major Order From Packaging Automation Solution Partner in China

PLEASANTON, Calif. — Adept Technology, Inc. (Nasdaq:ADEP), a leading provider of intelligent vision-guided robotics and global robotics services, today announced that Austong Intelligent Robot Technology of China placed an order for twelve Adept Quattro s650H robots to automate a secondary packaging operation for a leading dairy processor in China. . .

McKesson eyes automationfor distribution center

FiercePharma Manufacturing – George Miller – Aug 19, 2010

McKesson US Pharmaceutical will open a distribution center in Caroline County, VA. A local press report says plans call for a 340,000-square-foot center requiring a $50 million investment. The facility will include “solutions for the automated picking of fast- and slow-moving product, . . .

Kokoro shows off its latest android Actroid F News

Saturday, August 28, 2010 Posted by Tim Hornyak

Tokyo entertainment firm Kokoro shows off its latest fembot, Actroid F, in a PR video. The lifelike android is slated to go on sale to work as a receptionist or hospital worker.

A Robot Lawn Mower That Can Detect Darting Gophers

Timothy Hay, 08/18/10

Robotic vehicles have been used for space exploration, deep-water drilling, high-tech warfare and a range of other exotic applications. But one start-up is gaining traction by creating robots to mow lawns, shovel snow and repave parking lots. . . .

Who Wouldn’t Buy Ice Cream From A Cute Japanese Robot?

Rosa Golijan, Aug 16, 2010

As if ice cream doesn’t practically sell itself in the summers anyway, a Japanese theme park decided to hire a cute robot named Yaskawa-kun to hawk the delicious treat. I think you’ll understand their choice after you see a video of him at work.

Library ‘robots’ now operational

SF State Campus Headlines – Aug 20, 2010

August 20, 2010 — This summer, J. Paul Leonard Library faculty and staff gave members of the campus community a preview of the computerized crane system that will retrieve most books stored in the expanded and renovated Library when it is expected to reopen in early 2012. The library retrieval system, or LRS, fills three floors of the Library’s new west addition. . . [An} online request cues the crane to retrieve the bin holding that book, and immediately delivers the bin to a crew of trained student assistants and Library staff. The book is removed by hand, and delivered to the Library’s distribution desk for the patron — all in about five to 10 minutes.

Bleep it and weep: the frustration of using self-service checkouts -Alastair Jamieson – Aug 22, 2010

But Britons are embracing automation faster than any other country in Europe. Two-fifths of Britons refuse to queue for longer than two-and-a-half minutes, … Some 15,000 automated tills will be in operation by the end of 2011 . . .

Robots Redefining Cancer Surgery

UC Irvine Healthcare to perform robotic thyroidectomies.

By Marcida Dodson – Filed Aug 23, 2010

UC Irvine’s innovative Robotic Oncology Center offers minimally invasive treatment in multiple disciplines. In the ever-evolving battle against cancer, the surgical robot is gaining ground. . .

Frog eggs could help robot noses sniff pollutants

CNET (blog) – Leslie Katz – Aug 24, 2010

It’s not often here at Crave that we get to write about frog eggs and robot noses in the same story, so when we saw this report in the latest issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, we smelled an opportunity. . .


Scientists’ Robot Submarine Discovers Plume of Oil in the Gulf – Aug 20, 2010

Scientists used robot submarine to wander across the deep of the gulf water and discovered plume of oil under the deep of the Mexican Gulf.

Robots Swarm Oil Spills

Posted 26 Aug 2010 at 22:41 UTC by Rog-a-matic

In spite of new and unexpected findings by a Berkeley Lab research team that microbes have done an amazing job taking care of the underwater oil plume in the Gulf of Mexico, oil on the surface can cause a lot of damage to wildlife and property if it washes ashore. Researchers at MIT are working out ways to skim that surface oil using a swarm of robots. The robots communicate with each other using a WiFi network, and using GPS then coordinate their movements with software inspired by natural swarms. Oil is dealt with on the spot by heating it thus avoiding a lengthy trip to shore. See the video.


Hospital hires robots, cans humans

Orlando Sentinel – linda shrieves – Aug 27, 2010

Feeling expendable?  It’s little wonder when you read stories like this.

At El Camino Hospital in Silicon Valley, hospital officials are leasing 19 robots to do work that humans used to do. The robots deliver medication, food and take out trash.  Hiring humans to make deliveries would have cost the hospital more than $1 million a year, said Ken King, vice president of facilities. Leasing the robots costs $350,000 a year, which helps the hospital cut costs. The robot’s maker says his robots perform work that people find distasteful or hazardous, such as picking up infectious waste. Add, there’s another benefit, he says: “They don’t take breaks and vacation and you don’t have to pay them benefits.” Hmmm. Please note that the same hospital has just announced they are going to lay off 140 workers.

DoT terminates staff as part of automation

Khaleej Times – Anwar Ahmad, Asif Zaidi – Aug 20, 2010

AL AIN, UAE — The Department of Transport (DoT), Al Ain, is in the process of restructuring as part of its move towards automation. The aim is to provide better services. As a result, DoT has had to lay-off some employees who will be provided three months’ salary and other benefits as per labour laws, officials from DoT assured. . . .

Companies are boosting their spending: Could jobs be next?

USA Today – Paul Davidson – Aug 18, 2010

Caterpillar had nearly $4 billion in cash and short-term investments last month. “Shareholders typically don’t like companies that sit on a lot of cash, so we’ll put that to work,” Caterpillar CEO Doug Oberhelman recently told Bloomberg TV.

The company last week said it will break ground in September on a new factory in Victoria, Texas, that will make excavators and employ 500 when it opens in 2012. Caterpillar is also increasing capacity to make mining trucks in Decatur, Ill., and enlarging a factory in Aurora, Ill., to manufacture mining shovels, a new product. The initiatives are aimed at meeting rising long-term demand for electricity and construction in both Asia and North America, executives say. The company, which laid off 9,000 U.S. workers last year, is adding about 4,200 in 2010 to operate added plant capacity and meet new demand,  . . .


Azerbaijani IT company starts implementing project on automation of state tax

Trend News Agency (subscription) – Aug 26, 2010

Azerbaijani SINAM IT Company started implementing the project of automation of the State Tax Service of Kyrgyzstan, SINAM director for business development …


Adept Technology strengthens 0.4%, outperforming 94% of stocks

OptoIQ – Aug 19, 2010

The Robotics segment provides intelligent motion controls systems, vision inspection and guidance systems, production automation software and robot …


Velodyne Introduces HDL-32E LiDAR Sensor

By Robotics Trends Staff – Filed Aug 21, 2010

Velodyne Lidar, Inc., a manufacturer of high definition LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) sensors, announced the introduction of the HDL-32E to meet the demand for a smaller, lighter, and less expensive product for autonomous vehicle and mobile mapping applications.

Mission to Mars: The next rover (roundup)

Friday, August 20, 2010, CNET News staff

Exploration of the Red Planet will shift into a higher gear in 2012 with the arrival of a car-sized, instrument-laden robotic rover named Curiosity.

Concept: Tree Planting Robot Keeps Our Earth Green

UberGizmo (blog) – Aug 19, 2010

If watching movies such as The Matrix or Terminator has taught anything, it’s probably that robots might not be too interested in protecting the environment (and humankind), but the Tree Planting Robot concept design is quite the opposite, as it’s designed to help with reforestation projects. This robot is capable of carrying 320 seedlings at one go, . . .

Cyborg Fly Pilots Robot Through Obstacle Course

The fly, in other words, believed to be airborne when in reality it was fixed to a tether ("A" in the image above), watching LEDs blink ("B") while remote controlling a robot ("C") from a virtual-reality simulation arena ("D"). Is this The Matrix, or Avatar, for flies? Graetzel tells me the goal of the project was to study low-level flight control in insects, which could help design better, bio-inspired robots. "Our goal was not to replace human drivers with flies," he quips.

Erico Guizzo  /  Thu, August 26, 2010

Swiss researchers have used a fruit fly to steer a mobile robot through an obstacle course in the lab. They call it the Cyborg Fly. Chauncey Graetzel and colleagues at ETH Zurich’s Institute of Robotics and Intelligent Systems started by building a miniature IMAX movie theater for their fly. Inside, they glued the insect facing a LED screen that flashed different patterns. . . . Is this The Matrix, or Avatar, for flies? Graetzel tells me the goal of the project was to study low-level flight control in insects, which could help design better, bio-inspired robots. “Our goal was not to replace human drivers with flies,” he quips.

Astrobotic Technology Announces Caterpillar Inc. Sponsorship of Robotic Mission to the Moon

Astrobotic will also leverage Caterpillar’s autonomous mining and construction machinery expertise.

By Robotics Trends Staff – Filed Aug 23, 2010

Carnegie Mellon University spin-off Astrobotic Technology announces that Caterpillar Inc. is a sponsor of the first of Astrobotic’s robotic expeditions to the lunar surface, which will collect data for NASA and extend the Internet to the Moon for the first time. . .  The expedition also will claim a financial trifecta: up to $24 million in the Google Lunar X Prize, a $10 million data sale to NASA, and Florida’s $2 million bonus for launching from that state.

Remote-controlled robots are entering the workforce

San Jose Mercury News – Troy Wolverton – Aug 26, 2010

The robot, which resembles a Segway scooter, uses telepresence capabilities and is being operated in the next room by Kris Magri, the Anybots Engineering …

Robot plants Chinese flag on seabed – Aug 26, 2010

A robot was used to plant a Chinese national flag at the bottom of the South China Sea, CCTV said.

Total recall – Plymouth leads European project into robot memory (press release) – Aug 27, 2010

A multi-million pound project has begun to design a new breed of robot that can form memories and engage in social interaction.

Dario Fo in Evanston: “Low Pay? Don’t Pay!”

from Dario Fo's official web site, in ItalianDario Fo is an Italian playwright, actor, composer and 1997 Nobel laureate for literature.  He is known for his comedic and musical scripts that strive to be part of Italy’s working class movement and connect clearly to global issues. It’s hardly coincidental that he has adapted Brecht’s plays to the Italian scene (The Good Person of Setzuan, for example). He has an official site (in Italian) which is worth looking at.  And now, in the midst of a “global recession” that is photographically documented at the Gage Gallery at Roosevelt University (see this link on this blog for information on the exhibit) one of Dario Fo‘s best known works comes to Evanston’s Piccolo Theatre. (See below). The work is currently titled Low Pay? Don’t Pay! I say currently because the play is rewritten or modified by the author occasionally, perhaps acquiring a changed title in the process, and so this same play has undergone various metamorphoses from the time I saw it (at the University of Southern California’s appropriately named “Stop Gap Theater”) almost 50 years ago. Then it was titled We Can’t Pay, We W0n’t Pay! (As a student I think I had to pay, perhaps $2.50 for admission.)

The following biography is taken from this web site: where you can also find information about his  plays and other works as well as biographical studies.

A popular and controversial playwright, actor and director, Dario Fo has earned international acclaim for his political satires and farces. Often considered the rightful heir of Aristophanes, Fo has led the field in political satire in Europe for over thirty years. The main targets of his ideologically inspired attacks have been capitalism, imperialism and corruption in the Italian government. For performances outside of Italy, his comedies are frequently adapted to reflect local political conditions.

Born in 1926, the son of a railroad worker, Fo began his career as a performer in satirical cabaret-style revues. Later, he wrote, produced and directed a string of successful “bourgeois comedies” (so called because they were performed mainly for middle class audiences). He has also written for and performed in several films and his one foray into television was as writer, director and co-star of Italy’s most popular television series, “Canzonissima”, which was ultimately removed from the airwaves by the Italian government after Fo portrayed a 12th century Pope who was known for being particularly cruel and hanging monks by their tongues from the church doors when they didn’t agree with him.

Fo was refused a visa to enter the United States during the 1970’s and 80’s under the McClaren Act. It was not until Robert Brustein and the American Reportory Theater invited him to perform in 1986 that he was finally granted entry. At the time of this appearance, he made a point to thank Ronald Reagan for all the publicity that had been generated by keeping him out of the country.

Since 1954, Fo has been married to Franca Rame, his chief collaborator and co-star. His best known plays include Accidental Death of an Anarchist, We Won’t Pay! We Won’t Pay!, and Orgasmo Adulto Escapes from the Zoo. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1997 for “emulating the jesters of the Middle Ages in scourging authority and upholding the dignity of the downtrodden.”

Low Pay? Don’t Pay!

A hilarious farce about real economic farce

by Dario Fo

Fridays/ Saturdays @ 8 pm,  Sundays @ 3 pm

September 10- Oct. 23  (previews Sept. 3-5)

Piccolo Theatre, 600 Main Street, Evanston

847-424-0089 or

Glenwood Ave Art Fest — The Labor & Arts Book Sale Booth

Thanks to all who stopped by during the Glenwood Avenue Arts Festival (GAAF) to say hello, some to give us donations, others to provide friendly and stimulating conversation, others

Chris Drew in front of the CL&AF booth, setting up his portable screen printing apparatus August 2010

simply to pass part of an enjoyable afternoon.  This was the most elaborate of all displays we have had over the past five years.  As one veteran GAAF staffer pointed out, we have the hardest booth to set up and the hardest one to take down.  Thankfully this year we had tremendous help from Nick McQuerrey for both parts of the battle.  The result was a very successful fair.

One element of our success was that Chris Drew brought his portable screen-printing apparatus to our booth to produce, hand out and sell his free-speech art patches. He has done this for the past two years as well, and has always contributed to the atmosphere we hope to create with our booth.  This year his presence was an even greater contribution, owing to his arrest for attempting to sell $1 art patches in the downtown area of Chicago (a misdemeanor); then his being charged with felonious evesdropping for audiorecording his own arrest; and now, with the ACLU taking on his case a major story appeared in the Chicago Tribune the week before.

Inside the CL&AF booth, August 2010

You may have read about his experiences over the past year on this blog.  Many people coming along Glenwood Ave. and by our booth were excited to meet Chris and to talk with him about his concerns.  In turn, they got an education about the state of artists’ rights and the way in which his case impinges on everyone.  If the Illinois eavesdropping law is upheld, it means that anyone with a cell phone recording device will be unable to protect him or herself in case of wrongful arrest by recording that arrest.

If you missed us this year, hold the dates for next year and plan to come by!  Along with this post are pictures of our booth and the adjacent booth, the phoebemoon studio booth set up by Diana Berek.

Diana Berek's phoebemoon studio booth, GAAF August 2010

New Book Captures the Vibrant Hip-Hop Culture of Atlanta

ATLANTA, photographer Michael Schmelling’s new book, captures the city’s vibrant hip-hop culture.

Atlanta: Hip Hop and the South

Published by Chronicle Books November 1, 2010
The volume includes essays by Kelefa Sanneh and Will Welch’s interviews with André 3000, Big Boi, Gucci Mane, Ludacris, Shawty Lo, and The-Dream.

Accompanying download features unreleased tracks from the scene’s rising stars.

Chronicle Books will publish Atlanta, the new book from acclaimed photographer/director/author Michael Schmelling, on November 1st.  Atlanta evokes the incredible diversity of the city’s hip-hop scene, capturing the lives of everyone from up-and-coming rappers to club kids to multi-Platinum artists. It also includes a series of insightful essays by The New Yorker’s Kelefa Sanneh. Exclusive interviews with key figures like André 3000, Big Boi, Gucci Mane, Ludacris, Shawty Lo, and The-Dream were conducted by Will Welch, an associate editor at GQ.

Each book will contain a code enabling readers to download a mixtape of tracks from many of the unsigned musicians featured in Atlanta, including Travis Porter, 3rd Degree, Pill, Lil Texas (who is the subject of the striking cover image) and Them Concrete Boyz.

“We wanted to let people hear the music that the kids in the book are making in their homes and self releasing,” says Schmelling, who was the principal photographer for The Wilco Book. His work has appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers and has been exhibited throughout the U.S. and Europe.

Between 2007 and 2009, Schmelling and his collaborators gained unprecedented access to the underground hip-hop scenes bubbling beneath the city’s surface and the lives of the young musicians and fans at its core. In a stunning series of black and white photos, he captures the heretofore-undocumented teen party scene – alcohol-free parties catering to the underage crowd, typically thrown by promoters in office parks after dark.

Like Atlanta’s ever-evolving music scene, Schmelling’s concept for the book changed over time. He initially envisioned a photo book based on OutKast’s Aquemini. But as he immersed himself in the culture, he decided instead to look back by looking forward.

“So we found kids who were the same age as André and Big Boi were when they were first making records,” Schmelling recalls in the book. “There were a thousand YouTube videos of kids dancing in their living rooms, beats and songs were being made on PCs and uploaded to SoundClick or SpitYoGame. Something new was happening. And something new kept happening.”

Sanneh puts things into historical perspective, describing how Atlanta replaced New York City as the hip-hop capital “by default – the place where you could hear the next hit first, the place where kids and grown folks alike still seemed excited about hip-hop, the place where you could get the best mixtapes” and taking readers inside its many subgenres.

André 3000 acknowledges the shift in a rare interview, conducted by Welch: “If you look at what was goin’ on at the time, we came out with Nas. We came out with Biggie. We came out with WuTang. As far as rhyming and being from the South? We couldn’t mess around. All of our contemporaries made us better. Nowadays, the competition for a lot of the kids in the South is just their neighborhood.”

Atlanta – and its accompanying download mixtape – takes us inside those neighborhoods, capturing a culture that’s always in transition. “The story of Atlanta hip-hop is whatever is happening right now,” says Schmelling. “A year in Atlanta hip-hop is like five years in any other genre.”

The book is available for pre-order by clicking on the publisher, Chronicle Books.

Milton Rogovin Exhibit Due in Chicago in January

Social documentary photographer Milton Rogovin, now 100 years old, has been likened to the great social documentary photographers of the 19th and 20th Centuries, Lewis Hine and Jacob Riis. His work speaks of the humanity of working people, the poor and the forgotten ones.

Milton’s photographs are a part of the documentary photography collections of the Library of Congress, the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Center for Creative Photography and other distinguished institutions around the world.

His photography has been published in books and journals, and celebrated in exhibits around the world.  The extraordinary Chicago exhibit will include photographs never before exhibited, all originals, curated specifically for the exhibit to begin in January at Roosevelt University’s Gage Gallery.  A number of events will be held in conjunction with the exhibit, including a closing as  part of the National Working Class Studies Association meeting, to be held in June, 2011.  Save these dates: January 20 to June 30 2011.

For more information on Milton Rogovin, visit his web site here.

Documenting the Global Recession: Photography Exhibit at Roosevelt U. Gage Gallery

Crisis and Opportunity:  Documenting the Global Recession

Flyer for Sept. 23 opening

September 23 to December 31, 2010

Roosevelt University’s Gage Gallery

18 South Michigan Ave.

Opening Reception Thursday September 23

featuring a talk by photographer

Michael McElroy

5-8 pm

more information at

The welter of facts coursing through the news wires leads to the inevitable conclusion that the global recession is far from on the road to recovery – despite the polyanna offerings of the current administration.  Fats and figures give a rational, statistical view of the destruction wreaked on the world’s peoples.  Precise, measureable, cut and dry.  Photographs do not allow you to leave the topic with your emotions untouched.  Photographs, when done well, grab you by the throat and convince your inner fibers of something that numbers can never do. Roosevelt University’s Gage Gallery presents just such an exhibit, beginning September 23, 2010.

Produced by, this show features the work of four photographers who are the winners of a call for entries on the global recession that SDN announced in September 2009. The exhibit was first exhibited at powerHouse Arena in Brooklyn, NY, February 16-March 14.  It comes to Gage Gallery from an exhibit at the Photography Resource Center in Boston, and will continue at Gage until  December 23.

First place winner is Tomasz Tomaszewski from Poland for his exhibit “Hades?”, an exploration of workers in Upper Silesia, Poland who are loosing their jobs and ways of life as a result of the global recession and economic restructuring.

The three honorable mentions are: Shiho Fukada‘s exhibit on a laborers town in Japan that has become a welfare town; Michael McElroy‘s exhibit focuses on the problem of affordable healthcare in the U.S. and loss of dignity; and Khaled Hasan‘s exhibit on about a stone workers community on the Indo-Bangla border.

A 32 page catalogue of this exhibit is available for sale for $12.

The opening reception, September 23 from 5-8 pm, will feature a talk by featured photographer Michael McElroy.  McElroy’s other exhibits include American Nightmare and Life Breaks Down: The American Dream? 71% of Americans live from paycheck to paycheck, and McElroy presents uncompromising images to show the results.

poster for the New York opening of the exhibit Feb. 2010 is a website for photographers, NGOs, editors, journalists, lovers of photography and anyone else who believes that photography plays an important role in educating people about our world.

Launched in October 2008, (SDN) today has hundreds of compelling online exhibits by photographers from all corners of the globe documenting issues as diverse as the effects of modernization on Kathmandu, homelessness in the U.S., the consequences of oil exploitation in the Niger Delta, and reconciliation in Rwanda. All photographers on SDN share a common curiosity about the human condition and a strong desire to communicate their insights through words and photographs.

Guild Complex Honors Kent Foreman Tuesday, August 24

The Guild Complex . . .We look at literary culture and ask,   “What’s missing?”
Live History:
A Celebration with Kent Foreman

Tuesday, August 24th, 5-7pm

Jazz Showcase, 806 S. Plymouth Ct., Chicago

Free admission

The Guild is honored to host a celebration of Kent Foreman, whose career has spanned five decades and whom the Chicago Tribune has called the “elder statesman of spoken word.”  Kent has performed with noted artists such as Amiri Baraka, Maya Angelou, Max Roach, Allen Ginsberg, his mentor Oscar Brown, Jr.; he has influenced and mentored many more. Kent has won the Chicago Historical Society’s esteemed Carl Sandburg Award, has been to the finals of the national poetry slam three times and appeared on Def Poetry Jam.The program will feature performances by Kent and friends Roger Bonair-Agard, Reggie Gibson and Marty McConnell , each one invited by Kent as some of Chicago’s strongest poets. It will be a short set due to Kent’s health, so please plan to join us early for what promises to be a memorable evening.
Hear Kent perform some of his work here

When: Tuesday, August 24th, 5-7pm
Whe re: Jazz Showcase, 806 S. Plymouth Ct., Chicago (ages 21+ unless with parent/legal guardian)
Admission: Free

–The Guild Complex

14th Amendment nullification threatens core of citizenship — Kevin Alexander Gray in the Progressive on line

14th Amendment nullification threatens core of citizenship

By Kevin Alexander Gray, August 18, 2010

When I was in the military in the 1970s, I heard two white soldiers talking on the rifle range. One soldier asked the other how he learned to shoot so well.

“I like shooting cans right off the fence,” the other soldier responded, adding: “Af-ri-cans, Puer-to-Ri-cans and Mex-i-cans.”

The comment came to mind when I heard Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., saying, “Birthright citizenship is a mistake,” and when he and his GOP cohorts started talking about immigrants having “anchor babies.”

“People come here to have babies,” said Graham. “They come here to drop a child. It’s called, ‘Drop and leave.’”

“Drop a child.” It’s as if he were talking about animals.

Graham says he’s considering introducing a bill to rescind Section 1 of the 14th Amendment.

Section 1 does confer citizenship on anyone born in the United States. But that’s not all it does.

The second sentence of that section says: “No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

Also called the “due process” clause or the “equal protection” clause, this part of the 14th Amendment is the very foundation of U.S. civil rights law. The new nullifiers who talk of getting rid of Section 1 are signaling their larger purpose and are targeting all those they hold in contempt, like so many cans on the fence.

The Reconstruction-era amendment, finally adopted as part of the Constitution in 1868, ensured that former enslaved Africans and their children were U.S. citizens. Together with the 13th Amendment, which bans slavery, and the 15th, which prohibits the government from denying any citizen the right to vote on the basis of race, color or previous condition of servitude, the 14th Amendment is fundamental to the whole country’s long walk toward human rights and equality under the law.

For instance, the Supreme Court’s landmark 1954 Brown vs. the Board of Education of Topeka decision was based on the idea that the discriminatory nature of racial segregation “violates the 14th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees all citizens equal protection of the laws.” White supremacy loomed large in the public debate during Reconstruction, and it lies just below the surface today.

Back then, opponents of the amendment talked about “public morality” being threatened by people “unfit for the responsibilities of American citizenship.” Today it’s Graham slurring immigrants as baby machines who come to America to “drop a child.”

And, incidentally, the focus on reproduction by people of color is but a twist on the long obsession with controlling black bodies.

Tampering with the citizenship provision of the 14th Amendment in any way would be devastating. Apart from creating hundreds of thousands of newly defined “illegal” persons, it would return the United States to the doctrine of the 1857 Dred Scott decision and to the hideous idea that one can never overcome the status of one’s previous condition: once a slave, always a slave; once undocumented, forever undocumented, down to one’s children and children’s children.

There may be a perverse benefit to all of this blatant nativism. It reminds us of our history, and it’s a bracing reminder that many politicians — and a lot of our fellow citizens — don’t want to consider people of color Amer-i-cans.

Kevin Alexander Gray is the author of the recently published books “Waiting for Lightning to Strike: The Fundamentals of Black Politics” and “The Decline of Black Politics: From Malcolm X to Barack Obama.” He can be reached at