Screen Shot 2014-11-19 at 3.30.07 PM

Every fall dozens of ski movies with high-production values are released as foreplay to the oncoming winter. Most these movies are largely ignored by or totally obscured from those who don’t get their kicks in the snow. Most of the movies also shy away from being political—viewers tend not to like mixing politics with their porn.

But one ski movie released this fall, “Almost Ablaze” by Teton Gravity Research, stands out for peeking behind the Olympic curtain. Amidst the normal jaw-dropping fare of heli-skiing in Alaska, waist-deep powder in Wyoming’s Tetons and elsewhere, TGR takes cameras and a gold medalist to an Olympic wasteland.

A few weeks after the $51 billion Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, slopestyle gold medalist Joss Christensen went to the Balkans. The juxtaposition between Sochi and the ruins of the Sarajevo 1984 games is striking. After Putin and his oligarchs spent lavishly to show the world Russia’s ideal self, 30-year-old vacant buildings covered in graffiti and speckled with bullet holes make up a large part of the forlorn Olympic infrastructure in Sarajevo.

Continue reading “Teton Gravity Research takes on Olympic aftermath”

051912-7The Zapatistas have lingered in the imaginations of progressives and radicals around the world since the coming out of their rebellion in 1994. People from nearly all leftist persuasions have taken the struggle of the impoverished indigenous communities at the end of Mexico to be one of their own. This, to a degree, has been welcomed by Subcomandante Marcos’ prosaic communiqués and has been a key component of building significant international solidarity. Yet, perhaps to an even larger degree, much of what is understood of the Zapatista struggle is largely a product of these same outsiders’ imaginations.

Irish writer and activist Ramor Ryan, author of “Clandestines: The Pirate Journals of an Irish Exile,” uses a seemingly benign and common water project to delve into the complexities of Zapatismo and of its associated solidarity activism in his book, “Zapatista Spring” published a year ago this month by AK Press. Over the past 15 years, dozens of water systems have been constructed in Zapatista communities with technical help from solidarity activists. The projects have not only had the pragmatic goal of bringing potable tap water to villages which before lacked that basic convenience, but also the heady goal of building solidarity between the Zapatista base and foreigners.

The cast of characters Ryan presents fit the archetypal activist spectrum, from a socially inept yet passionate anarcho-dogmatist and a less ideologically driven, type-A career organizer, to a radical punk sex worker and an academic Chicana in search of her roots in the Lacandon Jungle, among others. The group is far from harmonious and the internal problems of the outsider activists themselves drive the narrative for a good portion of the short work. For an anarchist and self-proclaimed revolutionary, Ryan’s humor, empathy and nondogmatic take on politics and personal folly is refreshing. Throughout his narrative, he invites the reader to laugh at him, laugh with him and, most importantly, encourages fellow activists to laugh at themselves.

Read more at Truthout…