Read Local: Avant-Punk Puppets and Radical Reads

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New York City might be home to the big houses, but this scrappy city just happens to be the epicenter of publishing on the Best Coast. Join Alexis Coe every Wednesday for Read Local, a series on books produced in the Bay Area.

AK Press, a worker-run collective that publishes and distributes radical books and media, certainly exhibits the liberal ethos of the East Bay. Good luck calling and asking for the person in charge, because these self-proclaimed anarchists structure their Oakland workplace the same way they make their books: Collectively. Here's a sampling of their offerings, which includes books, video, audio, wearables, zines, periodicals, and more:

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The late Alexander Cockburn, co-editor of the popular website CounterPunch and writer of The Nation column Beat the Devil, attempts to rescue the English language form abusers, including journalists, politicians, and bloggers. Cockburn, who was known to engage in bitter arguments with Christopher Hitchens, takes particular issue with familiar terms he deems hackneyed, including "national conversation" and "sustainable development."

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Editor Tomas Moniz takes on modern issues from a radical parent's perspective in this zine. The latest issue, "Making Family," includes Tomas' "Letter to Teenagers" replete with his daughter Zora's response, "Letter to Adults," but each edition offers a rotating cast of contributors parsing the subjects that most vex and delight them.

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This DVD brings together queer culture, Jewish-Arab history, secular Yiddishkeit, and anti-racist analysis in an attempt to reconcile the religious and spiritual traditions of Jews with their leftist politics. Readers should expect to see today's leading Jewish activist push the boundaries of Jewish identity, never shrinking away from the most challenging subjects, including Zionism.

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Pop in this epic musical and shadow puppet performance and get ready to watch a dystopian allegory set to avant-punk music by the Aetherial Underpants Orchestra. In this world, everybody wanted everything, and no one was happy with it.


A disabled Vietnam vet and Green Beret medic, author Doug Peacock had published on all things wilderness, from the plight of grizzly bears to the fjords of British Columbia. In this new book, Peacock takes on the last global warming in North America, looking at what adapted or perished 15,000 years ago when the glaciers melted and humans migrated.

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Editor Matt Hern has compiled essays by the likes of Dan Savage and the Guerilla Girls in a book meant to equip youth as they try and make sense of a world that demands they cast aside ethical objects and accept the realities of the adult world. The book tells kids they can hold onto their values and build a life around them, offering advice ranging from how to deal with cops harassing peers to issues of race and class.


Comandante Ramona was active in the EZLN (Zapatista Army of National Liberation) until her death in 2006. Printed on the back of the shirt: "We the women are victims of a lack of education, on not having jobs, of daily violence, of ever-worsening health situations. This is why we struggle for autonomy of the Indiane pueblos -- to take into our hands the control of our lives."

Visit AK Press for more information, including which bookstores stock their titles and what days you might catch their bookmobile cruising around town.

For events in San Francisco this week and beyond, check out our calendar section. Follow us on Twitter at @ExhibitionistSF and like us on Facebook. Follow Alexis Coe on twitter @alexis_coe.

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"The Nothing Factory" is a CD soundtrack that comes with a handmade book based on an epic shadow theatre musical by Erik Ruin and Reid Books.  It's not a DVD.

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