L.A. we love you but we have to talk.
We love the natural beauty you still have, that has yet to be turned into luxury condominiums for the woefully out-of-touch transplants that always ask us where to get the best tacos. We love the weather in that sweet spot of early Spring where the days are slightly cool and the winds push the smog away long enough to see the ocean glimmer from the 134. We love the way you find any excuse to get rowdy and to scare the cops by showing that we still know how to act as though we were free. We love how you’ve always had an underground that makes us feel welcome whether we’re queer, punk, geeky, or brown or all of the above and yet some think we don’t’ exist. We love that you don’t really love the movie stars and almost categorically ignore them cuz we know they mingle with us common folk cuz they know we are the creators of what’s really going down. We love your gloriously obscene sunsets. We love the oldies blaring out of Eastside cars, the cumbias blaring out of the stereo shops on Broadway, the house coming from the warehouses left empty by deindustrialization, the hip-hop bumping from the motorcycles of South Central and the joyful voices of the karaoke spots in Little Tokyo & Koreatown.
But we don’t love the fucking cops that have been beating us up, breaking up our parties, stopping our people in the hustle just for selling food on the street, harassing those who sleep on the streets just for living, killing with impunity black and brown folks and for being the standing army protecting private property above all.
We don’t love the city government and especially their mayors, no matter how brown they are or how many ponchos they give out. We know that those small fry pronouncements made by the city council are but an escape valve for anger and never a motor for change.
We don’t love the fucking high rent. Some of us have lived here our whole lives and can’t move to our home hoods cuz of creeping gentrification moving Eastward in a sort of reverse manifest destiny. We’ve seen beautiful murals painted over to make a place for austere, minimal, overpriced cafés which serve as a beacon call to make that creative class, which has no home, feel at home.
We don’t love the transplants telling us that we’re vapid, unintelligent, materialistic or shallow. We know that they just don’t recognize game when they see it and that all they can see is what is made intelligible to them. Some of us are just too on our trip to be caught as a blip on their mickey mouse radar.
We don’t love how the streets can be terrifying or deadly for women or those who don’t fit neatly into a gender binary. People do walk in L.A. but these long boulevards can get lonely late at night and really we need to get rid of all hyper-controlled private spaces policed by an army of overzealous private security. We think of all the squares and plazas filled with joyous night life of elsewhere and how we’d really like to bring them home.
We don’t love how those places which were once invisible to the White & Moneyed Gaze are now made visible just cuz the rent is cheap and the houses ripe for the flipping (mostly cuz that Gaze saw us as nobodies). Once again we are made to know that our movement is restricted and bordered.
We don’t love the pervasive erasure of history & memory. But we remember the Massacre of 1871, the Zoot Suit Riots, Lucía Norman leading angry protesters shouting “Tierra y libertad” through the streets, the Watts Riots, Chávez Ravine before Dodger Stadium and that we are on occupied territory of the Tongva which Toypurina first led a revolt against in 1785.
What we do love is the possibilities we see latent here. L.A. is a crossroads and a crucial node for the global economic system of capitalism. We see that we can be a part of that global wave that’ll finally wash away all the filth that is capitalism, the state, patriarchy, settler colonialism and white supremacy.
Now what is L.A. ONDA?
The basis of L.A. ONDA is an attempt at intervention via propaganda and a 3-dimensional view on radical anti-politics.
The content of this propaganda is as much negative as positive. It creates space by taking space. It is critical and not prefigurative as a means to allow this taken space to grow.
We also want to talk with you, those of you who we do know and those of you we don’t know yet. We’ll say our piece on the electrons of the internet but also with you at the bar, in the street, at the party, in class, in line for the bathroom and at the barricades.
It is as much based in the very human experience of life under capitalism, as well as a materialist conception of this life. By this we mean we know life is an endless (often lethal) drudgery for most of us. We stand by the belief that we therefore need to understand the material conditions of this society so as to attack & destroy it.
As climate changes begins to show us its ravages, we know the enemy is not just a single, a dozen, or a hundred coal-powered power plants, but the entirety of the system which requires such power plants to perpetuate it.
As the seas taking the lives of those fleeing violence brought on by the products of Western intervention, we blame not the seas but a whole apparatus known as the State which maintains borders with deadly force.
As commodities move freely across these borders, we do not blame these commodities themselves but the relation that springs from their exchange on a market: capitalism.
As this market shapes our desires, our fears and our dreams, we do not blame our lack of resolve to maintain a personal or social autonomy but that which necessitates this manipulation to sell us back our very lives at a profit.
As our lives are taken from us hour by hour, day by day, year by year we know that the problem is not that we can produce (un)necessary things but that this capacity is used to bind us to wage labor.
As we look on the entirety of this society where the only divergences from the norm that are tolerated are those which do not upset the flow of capital, we know that reform could not possibly calm our deep need to be free of want and free of control.
Though this position may seem fatalistic or doomed, we find kindred co-conspirators out there that we seek to speak with and to. These co-conspirators are those we reach out to here in Los Angeles and beyond.
P.S. send us your thoughts, concerns, comments, diatribes, critiques, chisme, shade to firstname.lastname@example.org