Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Best of...ON SALE!

The Best of OBSOLETE! Magazine

Highlights from the first six issues of OBSOLETE! Magazine, along with original, never before published material. Essays, fiction, poetry and artwork from the newsprint tabloid published in the tradition of the International Times, OZ, The East Village Other, The Berkely Barb, The Chicago Seed, The Whole Earth Catalog, PUNK! and the other great underground rags of days past….

This anthology features an exclusive interview with Cory Doctorow, original fiction by the late, great Mick Farren, poetry by Todd Colby, artwork by Hyena Hell and much, much more!!

The book is ON SALE now, at obsolete-press.com!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Call for Submissions: AnarchoSciFi Anthology

Obsolete Press is currently compiling work for an anthology of writing and artwork influenced by the ideas of Anarchy and Anarchism. Work should fit broadly into the “Science Fiction” genre and address the ideas of a stateless society or the efforts to escape the oppression of statism. 

How to Submit:
Send your writing submissions as rtf, doc or odt files, or artwork as jpg, to anthology editor, Ricardo Feral, at Obmag(at)feral-tech(dot)com. Please send writing without special formatting, double spaced, five space indented paragraphs, Times New Roman 12 pt font, 1 inch margins. Artwork should be 300dpi, 8”H X 5”W. Please include your name, email address, mailing address, and phone number at the top of your submission an a short bio (50 words or under) at the end.
Number of Pieces:
You may submit up to 3 pieces of work for consideration- fiction (under 4000 words) or Black and white illustrations or other artwork.
Cover Letter:
Include a cover letter in the body of the email. include previous publications, if any. We welcome submissions from unpublished authors, but work must be polished and print-ready. Please include your name, email address, mailing address, and phone number in your email cover letter. Please put YOUR ANTHOLOGY SUBMISSION in the subject line.
We will consider reprints. Please include publication information on previously published stories and artwork.
At the end of your CL, please include a 2-3 line bio (50 words or under). This is what will appear on our contributors’ page.
submission period is July 15–September 15, 2013. We will be reading and making selections during and after the submissions period. Only authors whose work has been accepted will be notified. If you place your work elsewhere prior to its acceptance please let us know immediately.
If your submission is accepted, you will receive one free copy of the book. Authors will have the opportunity to buy additional copies at a 40% discount, 50% discount for orders of 10 books or more. You will also receive a 10% commission if you take bookstore orders that the publisher fills.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Mick Farren: The last OBSOLETE! Story.

This was supposed to be the first of a series of stream-of-conciousness column/rant/stories that Mick was going to write for OBSOLETE! Unfortunately, it was to be the last piece he will write for us. It's classic Mick Farren.


”The very planet proves to be alive. And very pissed off.”

The report on you is filed, my friend. You, Agent X9, above all others, should realize that the data cannot be reversed. The algorithms of the Corporate Hegemony are inflexible. The images are graven. They rule with cool and absolute binary authority. The database may only be amended and items only added to the labyrinths of detail and the profiles that stretch to the edge of entropy. The report has been filed Agent X9. It has joined the endless and ultimately personal catalogues of caprices and conceits. A major responsibility of the Intelligence Committee of the Corporate Hegemony is to preserve the minutiae of peccadillo and purchase, intimacies and indiscretions and store them on the mainframes in those mines measureless to man. It is a vital foundation of the Sociopath Agenda. You were once one of our most respected Continental Operatives. As such you should be aware that absolutely nothing is reversible. All structures are indistinguishable one for another in infinite reflection, standardized by electric dissection and quantified by template. You are Damned Agent X9. That’s how they would have expressed it in the ancient days. What’s that? You want a cigarette? The general regulations specify this as a non-smoking facility but here in the white room we might make an exception. Will someone fetch Agent X9 a cigarette and the means with which to light it?
            The report is filed, Agent X9. Smoke your cigarette and reflect how the requirement is helplessness. The requirement has always been helplessness. Not only from the victim but from the victor. Our drones release death from the above. They fall free from a clear blue sky. They do not consider the merits of the mission or contemplate its morality. They are merely machines. The same could be said of the machines air-conditioned operators deep in their protected bunkers. They perform their assigned tasks. They calibrate for assigned targets. They are compliant. They obey. They do not question. In fact they strive for excellence in what they do. They believe the infallibility of their instructions. Remember the good Colonel Benton? "I feel no emotional attachment to the enemy. I have a duty, and I execute the duty.” You also believed Agent X9. When you were sent against the Hello Kitty subversion, the Deathless Men, The Horst Wessel Brigade or the Ancients of Lhasa you also complied with discussion or argument. What happened, Agent X9? When did you develop this philosophical schizophrenia? In former times, when you stood are you in hall of mirrors and the Lady from Shanghai opened fire, you ducked the shining shards and carried out your mission. What changed, Agent X9?
            Before the battle of Passchendaele a British general issued an order, “Maps must conform to plans and not plans to maps. Facts that interfered with plans were impertinencies.” The Intelligence Committee may not totally agree with this concept, but it certainly has its historical merits in that it is plainly a forerunner of modern thinking by the Corporate Hegemony what would ultimately find form in the Sociopath Agenda. The mass must move as one with a driven uniformity. For each to plot an individual course would create the abject chaos of uncharted anarchy. Law enforcement fills the prisons. It is their vocation. They are not required to reason why, just fill their quota. The sick die. The poor starve. The churches preach insanity. The advertising industry creates impossible desires and implausible expectations. Tolerance is eliminated and fear is substituted. The pliable iron is set in the soul of men. You have done your part in establishing that program, Agent X9. Ignorance has been nurtured and nourished. Pornography is encouraged. Paranoia is cultivated. The underclass is publicized as the ever-lurking threat. There but for the grace of consumption go you and go I. Their internecine criminality and territorial gang violence is tacitly fostered as a means of intimidation. Their drug traffic is clandestinely regulated and monitored to keep them within the designated boundaries by psycho-chemical manipulation. Education has now fully collapsed on itself and the children remain feral, but eruptions are managed and the destruction is confined to their own habitats. They burn their own turf. The bodycount is media fodder. The sub-culture is exploitable. Function is inflexible. Function is always inflexible.
Did you forget that Agent X9 when you flaunted your new found individualism? Individuality can only be the prerogative of a tiny and elevated elite and, even then, it must be subject to multiple and geometric restrictions. Public postures of leadership and private poses of decadence among this quasi-elite are as narrowly proscribed as the tailored delusions of the masses. They are permitted their gaudy party favors, their garish notoriety, and extravagant illusions of superiority, their deviant sex and their own costly and rarified varieties of recreation drugs. They are dazzled by their own glitter, their metallic eyelashes, and the contents of their gift bags. They are encouraged to amass their toys, their mansions, their yachts and their jets, to consume beyond reason, and leave their vast carbon tire tracks. They are conditioned to strive for fortunes so inflated they are abstractions. They are taught a magical arithmetic and a numerical concept of the elemental self-esteem. They are reminded how they are bright candles but the wind is always waiting.   
Even we on the Intelligence Committee do not attempt to think for ourselves. The very fabric of our society dictates that all levels adhere at all times to the essential construction of the Corporate Hegemony and the Sociopath Agenda. But you, Agent X9, have elected to think for yourself. You have embraced a condition is wholly singular, when, at the very least only the binary is recognized and only the totality is accessible or acceptable. You appear to believe you are the recipient of a revelation. You imagine you have seen the error of our ways. You have attempted to apply logic where logic is inapplicable. You make the essential mistake of believing that humanity as a species can be saved. As long ago as 1949, the great Harry Lime notably remarked, “Nobody thinks in terms of human beings. Would you really feel any pity if one of those dots stopped moving forever?” You ignore the crucial tipping point after which humanity became fully viral and its general survival became unworthy of consideration except in small and carefully selected superior enclaves. As for the rest, it is unfortunate. As a virus they are a destructive infection of the overall biosphere and only worthy of elimination. The choice is not easy but it has been made, and that choice is the core of the Sociopath Agenda.   
So you see, Agent X9, any misguided attempts you might make to save humanity or civilization as we know it are far too little and their lateness defies contemplation.
Your sorry attempt to forge a treasonous liaison with the Daughters of Gaia only serves to demonstrate your unqualified misinterpretation of the cybernetic feedback systems operated unconsciously by the biota. You linger in the 20th century. Agent X9. Once upon a time, the Corporate Hegemony assumed itself a total odds with the Lovelock proposal. They too saw no alternative to preserving humanity if only as producer/consumers. It was only when the emergent Intelligence Committee presented evidence of how human beings in their current numbers were inimical to the broad stabilization of the conditions of habitability in a full homeostasis that the higher thinking began to change. Our masters accepted that this world of humans is dying, Agent X9. They accepted it very easily. Parts of it are already dead. They cannot be resuscitated. Our only option was to maintain a semblance of order as the systems fail. It was the only alternative with which to retain power. The Corporate Hegemony was well aware they were the descendants of all feudal lords, warrior chieftains, violent dictators, and totalitarian butchers of old. In their form at the time of the tipping point they were opportunists motivated by self-interest and greed, and inclined to dominate or subjugate those around them through manipulative means. A new order needed to evolve from the previous policies of destructive self-interest. 
            We have no Cossacks, no pogroms, no purges, and no final solution. The secret police operate primarily for their own amusement. Humanity will be largely destroyed but we are not the destroyers per se. Lovelock himself made it clear. "The Earth System behaves as a single, self-regulating procedure with physical, chemical, biological, and human components". The Earth's survival depends on the interaction of living forms with inorganic elements and one of those living forms is now too degraded to be part of the interaction. The human component has grievously malfunctioned and Earth will eliminate it. The Earth itself will destroy humanity. That makes your failed alliance with the Daughters of Gaia all the more ironic. The very planet proves to be alive. And very pissed off. It will push man to extinction. The Corporate Hegemony may help speed the process in some small ways. An epidemic here. A famine there. A withdrawal of aid. A nuclear accident or a toxic cloud. The Earth will do the rest. It will throw off viral humanity. It will cure itself with earthquakes and volcanoes, fire and flood, climate shift, and things at which we can only guess. Our own minor efforts are what might be called transactional. We sacrifice our own kind in return for exceedingly limited numbers of us being allowed to continue as what might call living fossils. A tiny percentage of the former species world given sanctuary in protected enclaves from which we guarantee we will not spread and cause no more harm to planet. In this we embrace the largest possible picture. The Sociopath Agenda is, at root, an acceptance that humanity has outgrows any possible usefulness, and we are making what we can from its demise. Didn’t I make clear that the Corporate Hegemony was a coterie of advanced whores and evolved opportunists?
But what of you Agent X9. We on the Intelligence Committee are not the frivolous or gratuitous torturers of old. Pain is not our entertainment or distraction. Your life will merely be concluded as painlessly as possible because, knowing all that you know you cannot be allowed to persist, world at an end. Would care for another cigarette, Agent X9? And perhaps a blindfold?

© Mick Farren, Brighton UK, 2013     

Mick Farren: Do Gooders Suck

I ran across this article a while back in an ancient copy of the international times that I gought at a flea market. It's a good example of Mick Farren's early writing style. And, it's still relevant!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Mick Farren on David Frost

RIP Mick Farren: The Obsolete Interview

I did this interview with Mick late last year- it appears in OBSOLETE! #7 and "The Best of OBSOLETE!"

He was so generous with his time and loved the underground paper aspect of OBSOLETE!– he was our single most consistent contributor. His guidance and encouragement was a big part of what kept us going.

OM: Do you think there is room for a real “underground” in the age of twitter?

MF:I think it’s probably a double-edged sword. It’s never too clear what’s meant when we talk about an underground. If we’re talking about the psychedelic left – which is how I’ve pretty much always described my political persuasion – then social networks, blogs, Twitter, and, indeed the whole of the internet, make a lot of things possible that could never have been achieved in a time of print, limited access to radio, and even more limited access to broadcast TV. The internet is impossible to control and almost impossible to censor. It is a near infinite resource of a vast variety of information. You want to build a bomb or cook crystal meth? Hell, it’s all there. The potential offered by instant communication has scarcely been scratched. Flash mobs? Viral protests like the ones during the BP Gulf oil spill? They are only the tip of a huge subversive iceberg. Like I said though, it’s a double-edged sword. It’s a huge resource and if you want to find out about The Rapture or the Earth being flat that’s all there too. The internet is also wholly transparent. Any passing troll or secret policeman can see exactly what you’re doing, and, of course, computers never forget anything. A perfect example occurred during the recent UK riots. Looters were coordinating their efforts on iPhones and Blackberries but also had the police listening in, and then rounding them up later using their call records. You have to keep moving and keep a low profile. It makes visible leaders like Julian Assange hopelessly vulnerable.

OM:I feel like digital technology has knocked some of the sharp edges off western culture. Does your experience as a writer of science fiction inform how you feel about the new media environment? Is this the future you would have expected?

MF:I guess this is close to the future I expected. It’s not the utopia I dreamed about, but it also isn’t the glow-in-the-dark nuclear wasteland that was our worst-case scenario back in the 20th century. I’m not one of those ancient 1960s freaks who whine about the revolution being a lost boulevard of broken dreams. The gay movement, despite a fatal plague, has made great advances. Feminism is changing the face of society. We warned of a lot of current dangers, especially in the area of the environment and the spread of global totalitarian capitalism, but we were ignored, often ridiculed, and now the price is being paid. Yes, we told you so, but you chose to believe the oil baron’s media shills! The current media environment is nothing short of bonkers since Craig’s List gutted the newspapers – both mainstream and alternative – by taking away the classified ads. “50 Shades of Grey” is a bestseller while small independent imprints are publishing any worthwhile writing and inspired experiments in print. Literature and especially poetry is rapidly coming a wholly DIY business – only business is hardly the right word since no money is being made on the web except by Amazon. Sony can’t keep free Bob Dylan off YouTube; creativity on the internet – that may well be the repository of most popular creativity – can’t be supported by paid corporate advertising and t-shirts. Ultimately the web may spawn a form of cyber-socialism since capitalism can’t really handle it except by constantly reconfiguring the hard and software to sell us new but hardly improved versions of the same old shit..  

OM: In your autobiography “Give the Anarchist a Cigarette”, you describe your time on the scene in London in the 60's, and it reads to me as having been ground zero for the “Modern Age”. In many ways it seems more modern than the present, despite our technological advances. There was an energy and excitement about the future, and revolutionary changes in all aspects of life. Where do you think that went?

MF: In the 1960s, we were on our way to the Moon; we thought we were going to Mars and Stanley Kubrick told us we’d make it to the moons of Jupiter by 2001. We took our drugs and believed all things were possible. The floodgates looked wide open, even as the corporate filters were closing on us. Obviously I am extremely disappointed that all we’ve now got in the future is fancy phones, robot drones, CCTV and Twitter. Some developments are nothing short of bizarre. The Black Panther Party is nostalgic history, but America elects center right black president. Norman Spinrad predicted in his 1969 novel “Bug Jack Barron” that, by around 1980, Acapulco Golds – legal packaged marijuana – is sold across the counter. In reality the War On Drugs drags on into a new century and is close to destroying Mexico. Where do I think the energy and excitement went? I think it got hard when it ceased to be just a sex, drugs, and rock & roll culture war and we hit the real thing. We were taking on the whole concept of capitalism. It might not look like it, but capitalism is fighting for its life and capitalism fights hard and dirty. 

OM: Are you seeing signs of real revolution anywhere now?

MF: I think it’s all around us. There’s Occupy, there’s the One Percent. But, for the moment, I don’t hold out a lot of hope for America. A century ago the Bolsheviks had no trouble motivating a Russian underclass that was starving and oppressed by Cossacks. How you move a proletariat that weighs 500 pounds, lives on animal fat and high fructose corn syrup, and is hard wired to Fox News and the Bible is beyond me. You have to look past the USA and think more internationally. Kids in the UK went one a mindless instinctive rampage looting and burning. The workers in Greece and Spain have been pushed much too close to the edge by the so-called austerity – a racket that’s truly nothing more than a global scam for the rich to get all of the money. They’re mad as hell and not going to take it much longer. Then there’s the Arab Spring in the Middle East, which is a real AK47 shooting revolution. The only problem there is it will most likely be taken over by jihadists who will drag it back into a very nasty thirteenth century. I hear interesting things coming out of Bangalore, the Indian DIY Silicon Valley. Indeed, my revolutionary bets are on the “BRICK” nations – Brazil, Russia, India, China and Korea. Pussy Riot may be showing us all the way of the future. 

OM: In addition to being too fat to fight, Americans are too medicated as well.  In the last issue of OBSOLETE! we ran a story called "Why Anti-Authoritarians are Diagnoses as Mentally Ill", in which psychiatrist Bruce Levine lays out how the American medical establishment is actively engaged in maintaining the status quo by medicating away dissent.  On the other end, kids in the Northwest are getting arrested for possession of anarchist literature, essentially thought crimes. I know that the UK is surpassing even the US in CCTV use and other high tech surveillance- since returning to live in the England, do you see that having an effect on the national consciousness?

MF: This shit has been going on at least since Napoleon banged up The Marquis de Sade in the lunatic asylum at Charenton, Let’s not forget that De Sade – aside from being a world class perv – was also an early utopian socialist. Stalin was very good at locking away dissidents in mental hospitals. In the US ECT and lobotomy were 20th century favourites for keeping the rebellious in line. Think of Francis Farmer or the fictional McMurphy in One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest. Nurse Ratched is the scourge of though crime. In the Levittown, production-line conformity of the 1950s, the CIA had a mission goal of creating what they dubbed the “psycho-civilized society”. Totalitarian capitalism where conformity would be maintained with speed, barbiturates, and meprobamate happy pills (Milltowns) a pre-Valium tranquilliser, reinforcing a constant barrage of anti-Soviet better-dead-than-Red paranoia and massive sexual repression. I believe Elvis Presley and rock & roll did a whole lot to upset that apple cart.

I would venture that a slightly different perspective on the war on drugs is that it’s a face-off between Ritalin, Adderall, Valium, Prozac and Thorazine on one side and pot, acid, MDMA, and DMT (if we could get it) on the other. It’s the lockdown drugs against the liberating drugs. Those are the chemical battle lines.

I don’t worry about CCTV too much because I’m so fucking ancient I don’t participate in street actions any more, I do notice that teen fashions now tend to conceal the face – masks, hoodies, balaclavas etc. (Pussy Riot), anything to hide the facial biometrics. I’m hoping we will have a future fad for really elaborate renaissance-style masks.    

OM: At some point in the 70's you turned from writing for the underground press and song writing to writing Sci Fi. I first got on board with The Song of Phaid the Gambler
in the early 80's, but then went back to DNA Cowboys and other earlier stuff. How did you start writing Sci Fi- were you a fan as a kid and does that relate in any way to the political or musical sides of your work? There is a thread of Sci Fi sensibility in the bands you have written for- Hawkwind, Mötorhead....

I really don’t have a neat answer for this. I was a space cadet before I was a rocker. It’s like the two halves of my brain and it’s all interconnected. I started at five years old with a Brit comic Dan Dare Pilot of The Future and Flash Gordon and just sailed on from there. Sci Fi has such potential for stretching one’s imagination. The path led through Arthur C. Clarke, Orwell, Phil Dick, Ellison, Mike Moorcock, (who is a friend) and on to Uncle Bill Burroughs (who was a mentor), which meshed neatly with the surreal “Gates Of Eden” period of Bob Dylan. The DNA Cowboys books were really an attempt to set a narrative in a quasi-Dylan world. And of course, Sci Fi was an essential preparation for psychedelic drugs. It’s also a perfect medium for satire and oblique political commentary When I started, I didn’t really didn’t give up anything else, I was working at the NME and writing songs with Lemmy and Larry Wallis and later Andy Colquhoun with whom I still work today. I just wasn’t singing in a band right then which gave me some time on my hands and you can only watch so much television after the bars close. This all makes perfect sense to me. I don’t know about anyone else.      

OM: Sci Fi has been very much fan-driven since it's earliest days, as was rock and roll. The "Fanzine" goes back to early 20th century amateur Sci Fi publications, long before the pre-internet punk rock "zine" explosion. Now, the blogosphere is like one giant fanzine.  As a veteran of the indie publishing scene, what roll do you see for indie book publishers in the coming years?

Whatever future I might have in print – especially now I’m concentrating on poetry and experimental fiction – would seem to be entirely in indie publishing. There’s essentially no longer any point in dealing with the major publishing houses in NYC or London. They only want to publish Harry Potter, 50 Shades of Grey and cookbooks. The real question is how much of the work I’m doing will be in print. I firmly believe that popular art and popular culture always adapts itself to the prevailing technology. The 1960s underground press – particularly the very colourful one like Oz (UK) and The Oracle (Bay Area) – got real jiggy with the web offset printing. Punk zines of the 1970s where make possible by fairly sophisticated copier machines like the Cannon 500. Now we have all the ramifications of the internet from Twitter to YouTube, to Pirate Bay. On the other hand, people still have a need for tangible objects from the past. The obvious example is music on vinyl. (Or Obsolete) I could see a lot of my fiction coming out as ebooks. (Although I do see a problem with a lack of visual reinforcement. Where would all those Conan books have been without the Frank Frazetta covers?) Other stuff, especially poetry lends itself better to print. Book will increasingly become object rather than just delivery systems for information. They will be read but also be treasured, collected, and put on shelves or left lying around to impress visitors. All in all, I’m open to anything, open to offers, and riding into the purple sunset to see what happens next. Right now I’m pushing the novelette Road Movie that is published by Penny Ante. The UK indie publisher Headpress will be bringing out the first deluxe hardback edition of Elvis Died For Somebody’s Sins But Not Mine, which is a mammoth “greatest hits” collection of my essays, commentary, short stories etc., and I also wrote a learned introduction to a coffee table collection called Classic Rock Posters. And back catalogue is still up on Amazon. (Mick has left the computer.)    

Mick Farren: 3 September 1943 - 27 July 2013

Sad, sad news in the OBSOLETE! Magazine universe today. The great Mick Farren collapsed on stage and died last night. He was our most consistent contributor and our spiritual guru. He was a fucking wildman, and died with his boots on. He wouldn't have wanted it any other way.

Mick Farren was a legendary poet, musician, author, critic, activist, countercultural icon, and one of the last true gonzo journalists. As lead singer and chief anarchist of the legendary Social Deviants, Farren helped blaze the trail for the advent of punk rock. He has co-written songs for the Pink Fairies, Motorhead and Hawkwind, as well as writing over 40 books, including science fiction novels and non-fiction. Farren served as writer and editor of IT, the International Times, one of the UK’s premiere underground newspapers. He contributed to three of eight issues of OBSOLETE!, and appeared in "The Best of OBSOLETE!"