TWO HOURS WITH BEN MOREA AND DAVE WISE

When I was 18 I went to the Wooden Shoe Bookshop in old compton street. It was run by Albrt Meltzer  and stuart christie though I was unaware of this. It didn’t sell much but what it did sort of blew my mind as we used to have it. I picked up copies of Black Mask,Heatwave, Rebel Worker.’The Forecast is Hot’ from the Chicago surrealists and Franklin Rosemont, and something from the Resurgence Youth Movement. I likedthe RYM stuff the best………..every sentence exploded off the page like a fizzing bomb. I’d never seen the like. You couldn’t pick this up in rural hampshire – no sirree! The RYM were some sort of politicised street gang with some links to chicago’s Blackstone rangers.

On friday i went to listen to Ben Morea of Black mask and Up against the Law motherfuckers. At the first oppotunity I asked Ben about RYM. ‘Yes that was Jonathon Leake’ he said. An older English bloke volunteerd ‘yes that was Jonathon Leake – he was murdered’. ‘well who else besides Jonathon leake’ I queried. ‘Well no one’ said the english man’ it was just Jonathon Leake’. My heart sank – my entire political life and especialy Class war had been predicated on RYM being a gang of street toughs – not shown  to be the case. I gasped but recovered.

Ben Morea was fantastic listening for anyone of my age. Modest, funny, self deprecating but poltically astute. He coveredeveryone from Abbie hoffman to valerie Solanos and H Rap brown. After the murder of the panthers fearing for his own life he’d fled into the forests for 35 years. Two things stood out. The Motherfuckers were slated by radical artists for being too interested in politics and by polticos for being too interested in art. But Ben wanted a total revolution – an all embracing group of the kind you don’t get anymore. they recfused to be pigeon holes – they wante ‘the totality for kids’ Ben was also very warm and generousspirted to people he disagreed with. He’s  say how much he disagreed with say Abbie hoffman and then dd disarmingly ‘i loved him’ Maybe that generosity could be replicated now. He also dismissed the ‘dogma’ of the situationists saying the Motherfuckrs wanted to fuck things up not wallow in dogmatic pronouncements. ‘I’m the only person to be expelled from the SI who was never a member in the first place’ he said.he also spoke touchingly about the waifs and strays and nutters who the Mothefucker family took in and looked after ‘it was a violent place the lower east side’ he reminded us. One such was Valerie Solanas who had shared a house with Ben and who later applauded her assasinaton attempt on warhol – ‘thats when the art radicals fell out with us’ he laughed. Someone asked him ‘What do you think of Banksy?’  Ben looke quizzical not understanding the queston….He’d never heard of Banksy.

He was aided and abetted throughout  by the english man who’d produced King Mob – with others – and who had a clearer recall than Ben of some events and acute political judgement. It dawned on me that this could only be Dave Wise. I’d never met him before. ‘I introduced myself and asked him about Jonathon Leake – ‘murdered by speed freaks’. Dave lives in bradford now ‘ – ‘lets meet up next time your in london’ I chanced. Actually i was a bit star struck. ‘that’s Dave Wise’  i went round telling people. On the way home in the rain i thought about murdered Jonathon leake. i saluted him .Just one geezer – jonathon I love you.

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10 responses to “TWO HOURS WITH BEN MOREA AND DAVE WISE

  1. upfrombelow

    “‘What do you think of Banksy?’ Ben looke quizzical not understanding the queston….He’d never heard of Banksy.”

    Ben…you’ve got your priorities spot on! Really, who needs to know about ‘brand Banksy’?

    Also…

    “Ben was also very warm and generousspirted to people he disagreed with. He’s say how much he disagreed with say Abbie hoffman and then dd disarmingly ‘i loved him’ Maybe that generosity could be replicated now.”

    Too right…we could do with that generosity of spirit now!

  2. b

    Totally agreed: generosity of spirit = opposite of sectarianism and posing and ideology and stuff. (Having said that, I love the way Morea told Vaneigem he thought he was essentially a ‘man of letters’ – as Dave describes it on his website).

  3. “I asked Ben about RYM. ‘Yes that was Jonathon Leake’ he said. An older English bloke volunteerd ‘yes that was Jonathon Leake…’ ‘well who else besides Jonathon leake’ I queried. ‘Well no one’ said the english man’ it was just Jonathon Leake’. My heart sank – my entire political life and especialy Class war had been predicated on RYM being a gang of street toughs – not shown to be the case.”

    Just goes to show the power of propa-propaganda 😉

    As a strategy I’ve always argued that we should create as many groups/fronts/pseudonyms/zines/posters/websites/etc as possible – the more localised the better, as this creates the illusion that widespread anarchy already exists. Which in turn influences/inspires others (‘fake it until you make it’ – as they say in Jazz circles).

    We should never underestimate the force of the faux – after all, as Ian has shown, the idea behind RYM led directly to the formation of Class War (itself a group which always punched well above it’s weight). Power and hierarchy themselves rely almost exclusively on illusion; the vast majority of people will never witness the true brutality of the state because the most effective policeman is the virtual one which they carry inside their (and our…) head (which is why those who do confront authority head on often speak of a feeling of ’empowerment’ when their own ‘mind forg’d manacles’ have been shattered).

    Thanks to new technology it would be easier than ever to produce an illusion of widespread revolt – although I have to admit that it’s not as much fun as the old ‘cut-n-paste’ and a photocopier days of yore 😦

    The basic techniques for producing cheap, good looking propaganda can be taught in a single half-day workshop using ‘end-of-use-computers’, Free Open Source Software (FOSS) applications and readily available Creative Commons licensed artwork (and even text if you’re feeling really lazy!).

    Give me a room, a selection of old – but working – computers internet access, and some willing victims/volunteers and I will give you an army of propagandists!!! Bwahaha!

    Anyone up for it?

    • alan back on tyneside

      We’ve been talking about this a lot up here in the past week or so; stickers, flyers, local newsletters and reclaiming the lost art of flyposting; damn those cameras everywhere.

      Also in Bermondsey judging by MCauter’s blog:

      “i firmly believe our main priority needs to be just getting our ideas out, on the internet and on the street, getting out there handing flyers out, putting posters and stickers up, merging your daily routine with spreading our ideas – take some flyers with you on your way to the newsagent, try to talk to someone at the bus stop about it –
      whatever”

      http://mcautersmusings.wordpress.com/2011/06/20/alarm-a-work-in-progress/

      (also check out the leaving education stuff – a great piece of writing.)

      • Glad you like the blog mate, i agree with the flyposting! Some camden alarmers got nicked for it last week so i get what you say bout the cameras but id think anyone vulgar and irresponsible enough to do such things could bring a bally and a pushbike..

        To warren draper im up for that if its london or bristol area

      • @mcauter: I’d be up for hosting a workshop in London or Bristol if there’s anyone who can sort out the logistics at that end… room, electric, wi-fi, advertising etc.

        Any old (working) computers will do, but if people were asked to bring their own laptops it would make it even easier to pull off.

        Might need sufficient notice to get some traveling funds together, but other than that I’d be happy to host a workshop wherever there’s potential demand.

        W

  4. Ian – Was the talk recorded by any chance?

    • Anonymous

      I wanted to record the talk but unfortunately no video or audio recording was allowed which was a great shame. Was lovely to see Larc packed with people listening, discussing and laughing.
      Great write up Ian, I was waiting to read this after seeing you on friday, I’ve never seen you so excited going up to people – “That was Dave Wise!” Haha.

  5. b

    How many of the four English members of the SI in 1969 went to Cambridge University? How many went to private school?

    Is the answer “all four and all four”?

  6. Pingback: Gavin Grindon

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