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Tearing Down the Streets: Adventures in Urban Anarchy Paperback – December 31, 2002
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"If I can't dance, it's not my revolution," anarchist Emma Goldman is said to have declared, bringing together the ideals of freedom and pleasure, and her sentiments are echoed by a new wave of grassroots political activism aimed at making streets safe, cities more livable and the environment healthier. This in-depth, wittily written analysis of take-back-the-city activists ranges from graffiti artists who target the "Disnification" of New York City with images of a decapitated Mickey Mouse and the words "Just Say No" to the radical anti-automotive bike group Critical Mass (whose motto is "We Don't Block Traffic. We Are Traffic"), to San Francisco Liberation Radio, which struggles to "free" the air waves. Interweaving political analysis, social history and a semi-gonzo-pop journalism, Ferrell, professor of criminal justice at Northern Arizona University, writes of his own adventures as a graffiti artist, street entertainer and political bicyclist, but places his political commitments in a broad historical and cultural framework that includes discussions of the direct action strategies of the Wobblies, the cultural importance of the 1871 Paris Commune and the political impact of the Sex Pistols, British punk culture and homeless activism. Balancing theory with descriptions and evaluations of actual events New York mayor Giuliani's battle against the nonprofit Housing Works; city campaigns against political Native American graffiti in Denver he provides an energetic and highly informed look at environmental and political movements to nonviolently "reclaim the streets." (Dec.)Forecast: While the movements trying to influence the shape of globalization have been overshadowed by recent events, Ferrell's account of nonviolent activism reveals a humanist core that can be respected regardless of ideology. Readers looking for evidence of what civil liberty means should look no further.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Criminal-justice professor Ferrell describes himself as a "discontented troublemaker" with penchants for graffiti art and outdoor urban music. Thus he brings authority to his subject, the struggle between street denizens and the "Disneyfiers" trying to turn gritty downtowns into antiseptic shopping malls and tourist parks. He makes no pretense of objectivity. He is always with the punks, artists, and other street folk resisting encroaching commercial homogeneity. Drawing historical inspiration from anarchism, he demonstrates how a lack of organization and clear goals constitutes the only coherent argument against so-called urban progress. The skateboarders and graffiti painters who risk arrest to impress their identities upon their environment seem much like native peoples fighting colonization as they combat gentrification and the oppressive umbrella of ostensible public interest and safety. Ferrell's argument is academic, but the battle he describes isn't, and those who have felt themselves being smothered for the sake of an artificial community will find it difficult not to share his sympathies, including his contention throughout that "the destructive urge is a creative urge, too." Will Hickman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.