This is a free online version of our best selling zine Leftist Leaflets in Little Free Libraries #1. You can still buy the print zine on our shop – hand sewn with rouded corners on French parchtone paper with a letterpress printed bookmark! Leftist Leaflets in Little Free Libraries #2 is also on our shop. We are currently working on writing #3 and developing content for #4.
Leftist Leaflets in Little Libraries or LLiLL documents the distro of leftist zines on Socialism, Feminism, Critical Theory, Race, and Punk to Little Free Libraries in bourgeois areas of Denver, Colorado! Originally Published Summer of 20l7. N© / is PRESS 2020. May be freely pirated and quoted! However the author would like to be informed
Read it in zine form here or scroll down to read as a blog.
769 S. Lincoln Street
Building a Socialist Future by Omaha Democratic Socialists of America of Omaha, NE
This Little Free Library in Denver’s Wash Park neighborhood got the first of five copies we bought of Building a Socialist Future by the Omaha Democratic Socialists of America.
The mISs is invited Abigail, a friend from work, over the other night. She was curious about the Institute of Sociometry and our projects. When shown this she said, “I was the college chapter president of ODSA!!!”
538 S. Grant Street
Resisting the Male Gaze by Amelia Hruby of Chicago, IL
A former student (and current friend) Evonna lives next door to this beautifully decorated Little Free Library. She told me that she grabbed this zine as soon as I posted these pictures on the is PRESS instagram. She swore she’d put it back when she was done reading it…
492 S. Clarkson Street
The Art of Menstruation by Thu Tran of Colorado Springs, CO
When I first stopped by this Little Free Library on a scouting mission, I was surprised to find the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy in it (see the full report on Page #8). So, I though this incredibly artistic copy of The Art of Menstruation (which has A LOT of glitter in it) by Thu Tran of Colorado Springs would be a perfect counterbalance to that milquetoast softcore for the neighborhood tween who snatched up those Fifty Shades books. But…
When I stopped back by the next day, all the Fifty Shades books were gone but they had been replaced by two Danielle Steel novels! Pure SMUT! I slipped The Art of Menstruation in between them…
When I stopped by a couple days later both the Danielle Steel novels AND The Art of Menstruation were gone.
601 S. Logan Street
Books Kill Buildings, Internet, Capital, Selves by Other Forms of Chicago, IL and Berlin, GDR
Based on the literary selection in this Little Free Library, I’m pretty sure these people will like this sophisticated and philosophical zine. I mean, who has the AP United States History 500 flash card set! Even if they want to give it away!!
After I posted these pictures on the is PRESS instagram a longtime friend and fellow agent Chris from Seattle – who is a libertarian conservative – messaged to say we should have a selection of libertarian leaflets for progressive areas in an effort to be balanced (in our offensiveness). I recently opined in an unrelated post that a true master of offensive art must be willing to put out work that offends themselves – otherwise you are just pointing and laughing.
I think Chris is onto something. (And LLiLL still works with Libertarian Leaflets!) Is this about pushing a leftist agenda? Or about fostering a dialog?
Incidence Report of Sociometry
Sociometry is the quantitative analysis of individuals and their relationship to groups. The Institute of Sociometry practices guerilla sociometry which is similar in focus but does not conform to the rigors of math or science.
INDIVIDUAL: Associate Prof. Peter Miles Bergman, AKA Special Agent agent m[i]le[s]
GROUP SIZE: 60.25 (25 x 2.4l the average household size of owner-occupied units)
NATURE OF GROUP: 25 Owner-occupier families, and specifically the children in bourgeois (upper-middle to upper-class) household units Denver, Colorado maintaining and stocking Little Free Libraries on their property
INCIDENCE OF SOCIOMETRY: Leftist Leaflets in Little Libraries (LLiLL)
I like to think of myself as a proletarian punk artist; but, I’d like to admit that, as is often the case with artists, I am also a gentrifier.
In 2000, at the height of the housing bubble, I bought a little row-house in a working class neighborhood off of West Colfax (on Hooker Street) to operate the is Home Office. The only other people in the neighborhood who weren’t part of an inter-connected extended family of transplants from a worse-off neighborhood in Juarez were a real estate agent and his contractor boyfriend trying to fix-and-flip the house across the street. The real-estate agent asked me one afternoon if I thought the neighborhood would ever flip. I said, “Well I’m proletarian punk artist and you are a gay real-estate agent. Isn’t that text-book gentrification right there?”
Instead, the bubble burst… In 2005 – the day my FOR SALE sign went up – the crackheads running a stolen tool-fencing operation across the street burnt their house to the bricks when someone nodded off with a lit torch. Needless to say it hurt my curbside appeal and the is Home Office didn’t flip.
In 20l0 a nuclear family with a Subaru Outback moved in to the newly rehabbed crackhouse and built raised-bed vegetable gardens in their front
yard. I thought, “This is it! It’s going to flip!” They waved me over for a beer one night and asked about the history of neighborhood – and about the people who used to live in their house. They never talked to me again…
And it STILL didn’t flip.
The next fall the nuclear family built a Little Free Library – one of those micro-cottages on a stick where the bourgeoisie up-cycle their unread Deepak Chorpra self-actualization books and well-worn Danielle Steel novels. And I thought… “This has GOT to be IT! It’s FINALLY going to flip!” Sure enough, within a year, half of the affordable single-family homes in
the neighborhood had been razed n’ replaced with $450k brutalist-box 3-story townhouses. We walked out of our sale-closing with a check for $l30k!!
The is Home Office (and is PRESS) has moved to Washington Park (“Wash Park) now, a neighborhood with an average household income of $l07,50l and Median Home Sale Price of $399,225. There are Little Free Libraries EVERYWHERE! Three to a block!
I do enjoy operating out of an affluent neighborhood, with stately homes, and quiet tree lined streets. But it does run contrary to my proletarian punk artist sentiments. Mostly, I worry about the 734 (±l56.53) children in Wash Park who are growing up inoculated from important leftist issues like Building a Socialist Future, Resisting the Male Gaze, and The Art of Menstruation… So, at least once a week in the late summer I went out with a fanny pack full of leftist leaflets, the aforementioned titles and more, by authors and artists around the country to distribute to the Little Free Libraries in my new neighborhood!
Now with a zine like The Art of Menstruation, by Thu Tran of Colorado Springs, which has some great articulated drawings in it, I was initially concerned that a Wash Park mommy would find this in her Little Free Library and freak. It is kind of PG-l3. But, on our first summer reconnaissance missions to survey the neighborhood, I opened up a Little Free Library and found all three volumes of Fifty Shades of Grey, which is definitely R-rated (for sexual nudity). When I circled back around the following day with The Art of Menstruation the three volume set of Fifty Shades was gone but in their place were a couple of Danielle Steel novels and they’re like NC-l7 (for adult themes)! I figured the Wash Park tween who grabs those is going to DEFINITELY also need The Art of Menstruation.
As summer waned, I intended to expanded the program in an effort to go all city. I did manage to hit a Little Free Library in Highlands (another bourgeois part of town with a median home-sale listing price of $557,000). But, as summer break drew to a close, and work dropped truck load of shit-to-do, I lost focus. I hadn’t even donated a full third of the limited edition of 25 letterpress printed LLiLL bookmarks and their corresponding leftist leaflets! Once again the fiery passions of the proletariat were doused by a cold bucket of capitalist toil… I needed to be reminded why I was doing this.
3124 Highland Park Place
Low Level #5 SCRAPS by prolific zine maker and street artist Low Level from Philadelphia, PA
This incredible rusted construction is “Kathy’s Little Library” in “Highlands” and affluent area north of downtown that used to simply be referred to as The North Side – before the bourgeois and real-estate agents got a stranglehold on it. A punk zine seemed most appropriate… Punks NOT DEAD!
This Little Free Library had a book called Hate Crimes on civil rights law! Definitely a lefty! Probably not a punk.
400 S. Ogden Street
The Rad New Feminist Bible by Definitive Leigh of Chicago, IL
It took a few trips by this stately house a block from Wash Park (which in these parts is basically synonymous with White Privilege) to donate a zine. Each time I walked past the 2nd story french doors were wide open and I could hear a women’s voice. Someone being home, with doors open wide open made me nervous. I didn’t want to get busted! (Even though the whole intent of a Little Free Library is for a total stranger to deposit random literature in it.)
I listened for the sounds of children but only ever observed or heard a chocolate lab who would come out onto the balcony and bark. I never saw the women or anyone else. So on the third trip by I went for it and made a donation
I figured a bourgeois woman who was home all day, EVERYDAY, talking to no one (or to the dog, or on the phone) needed a copy of The Rad New Feminist Bible.
l Pennsylvania Street
Intersectionality and Intersectional Feminism by Amelia Hruby of Chicago, IL
This Little Free Library is still in Wash Park West – but bordering Baker, a much less bourgeois neighborhood. It looked a little worse for wear, adorned by a tag and with missing shutters. Most of the books were pulp sci-fi. There was a first edition copy of The Man Who Walked Through Time by Collin Fletcher – a pretty macho distance hiker who’s book The Thousand-Mile Summer I’m currently reading! So this was the first time I actually participated in the leave-one-take-one function of a Little Free Library and grabbed this book.
Based on the stacks I decided a primer on intersectionality and intersectional feminism would balance out the macho offerings – though there was a copy of The Hunger Games which is nothing if not grrl power…
(… Continued from above)
Five days into the start of fall, but six weeks into fall semester, I attended a “Tenure and Promotion” reception at work. Somehow in my 20+ year on-again-of-again relationship with zines I parlayed the skills picked up along the way into a full-time faculty position in “Communication Design” at Metropolitan State University of Denver! I even got a Zines class into the curriculum fulfilling the time-honored academic tradition of teaching university students useless and outmoded skills! Anyway… last year I was awarded tenure and promoted from Assistant Professor to Associate Professor.
A REVEALING ANECDOTE ABOUT ACADEMIC TENURE: on September l2th, 200l, University of Colorado tenured Ethnic Studies professor and American Indian Movement activist Ward Churchill published “Some People Push Back” On the Justice of Roosting Chickens in which he compared the dead office lackeys in the still smoldering World Trade Center to “little Eichmanns”. (Eichmann being the bureaucrat who arranged the Third Reich train schedules that so efficiently delivered imprisoned Jews, Roma, Queers, and dissenters to the death camps.) The assertion being that functionaries of the oppressor are still committing acts of war even when merely pushing paper. After lying dormant for several years, despite its reprint in a subsequent volume published by AK PRESS, the phrase and essay frothed up a shit-storm in 2005 after Hamilton College canceled a speech by Prof. Churchill due to credible death threats and the story – and back story – were picked up by Bill O’Reilly as a subject of relentless outrage on Fox News. Local Colorado media grabbed their pitchforks and joined to witch hunt resulting in the passage of a UNANIMOUS resolution in both houses of the Colorado State Legislature condemning Prof. Churchill and threatening CU’s funding. However, due to his tenure rights which protect both lst amendment freedom of speech and academic freedom, it took the University two years and hundreds of hours of investigation to eventually fire Mr. Churchill on unrelated plagiarism charges stemming from his voluminous but reputedly sloppy body of published research. CU then spent thousands of hours litigating Mr. Churchill’s consequent lawsuits before the Colorado Supreme Court eventually refunded CU the $l fine a lower court’s jury had awarded him.
Back in the 90’s and 00’s, prior to my becoming a professor, my #l motivation in procuring my various print-production and pre-press jobs was to gain the skills and access to equipment that I could use to sneak my own work through the production pipeline. I was always looking for a job that really facilitated my side-hustle making zines and distributing (hopefully) incendiary incidence reports for the Institute of Sociometry. By 2004, I had grown tired of the 2nd shift factory work and the casual sexism, racism, homophobia, and fist-fights endemic to in the printing industry. As the son of a professor I knew that in academia you are REQUIRED to have a side hustle AND encouraged to use the available equipment to that end AND they occasionally throw you grant cash to get it done. Watching the Ward Churchill saga unfold, I was further reminded that it was darn-near impossible to fire a tenured professor for their speech, views, or published research. In the midst of a local Denver news harangue about Churchill, I looked at the image of him strutting through a crowd of pro and con protesters, head-to-toe in denim with his signature black Ray Bans and MëTAL-hessian/gringo-Indian center parted greasy mane surrounded by American Indian Movement body guards and though to myself, “I need that guy’s job!”
As the Provost called up a succession of newly tenured faculty to receive their cellophane wrapped MSU Denver mug in recognition of steadily killing themselves with work over the previous six years, she read off brief “get to know you” anecdotes, “Sherry is known as a fantastic cook who has made dinners for up to 50 people at a time! In her limited free time she enjoys hiking in the mountains with her husband Kevin and their two dogs!” And, “Rodger is an avid cyclist, bike commuting to campus come rain or shine. During a gap year after grad school he cycled from northern France to Istanbul!” And (my favorite), “Ronda met her husband Ted in the l970’s when they both played in a RUSH cover band”…
“Associate Professor Peter Bergman” (mild clapping, a couple whoops from Department of Art colleagues). I smoothed out my button up shirt and walked to the front of the ballroom to stand between the Provost and President of the University to hear what interesting free-time tidbits they’d dug up on me.
The provost smoothed out her printout, shot me a brief warm smile and began, “Peter has an alias! He is also known as Special Agent m[i]le[s] of the Institute of Sociometry which practices and promotes Guerrilla Sociometry which is similar to textbook sociometry but doesn’t conform to the rigors of mathematics or science which he documents in grammatically-challenged social media posts such as, “is starting a new propaganda project – Leftist Leaflets in Little Libraries! LLiLL places leftist zines on socialism, punk, feminism, and the police state in Little Free Libraries – those mini-cottages on a pole where the bourgeoisie discard their unread Deepak Chorpra books and Daniel Steele novels!”
The provost turned and hugged me – leaving space for Jesus. I returned to the Department of Art round table with my cellophane wrapped logo mug to mild clapping (and a couple whoops from some proletarian colleagues).
l200 N. Broadway
“Some People Push Back” On the Justice of Roosting Chickens essay by Ward Churchill of Atlanta, GA zine by is PRESS of Denver, CO
The Friday after my tenure reception I used MSU Denver’s letterpress lab (which I manage) to make a one-off saddle-stitched reprint of Ward Churchill’s essay “Some People Push Back” On the Justice of Roosting Chickens with a letterpress cover. I found the entire text several places online. I did not seek and was not granted permission from the author or publisher, but I’m pretty sure in this instance neither Ward Churchill or AK PRESS would object. Furthermore, as an “appropriation artist” engaged in constructing a “parody” for the purposes of “academic research”, I’d likely be covered by “fair-use” – the same concept which the Supreme Court used to determine that 2 Live Crew could sample Roy Orbison’s Pretty Woman without permission to make misogyny-rap. If I can find Ward Churchill’s new address in Atlanta – which I’m sure is not easy due to his receipt of endless death threats – maybe I’ll mail him a copy of this zine with $l…
I biked over to the Colorado History Museum and left this little nugget of Colorado history in their sparsely stocked Little Free Library among the Oprah’s Book Club selections and The Christian Theology Readers.
520 W. 3rd Avenue
Proof I Exist by Billy McCall of Albuquerque, NM
After passing by this Little Free Library at DCIS (Denver Center for International Studies) Fairmont grade school a few times I settled on donating a copy of Proof I Exist – a long running “I joined a band and it saved my life” punk zine by Billy McCall from Albuquerque! Since I’m put Issue #l of this zine out for ABQ Zine Fest, and these poor charter school kids definitely need a primer on punk, it seemed like a solid choice.
328 S. Lincoln Street – Afterword
is Home Office & is PRESS Official LLiLL Little Free Library by Peter Miles Bergman, Denver, CO
The is Home Office is on a busy street on Wash Park’s western border that commingles the upper-middle bourgeoisie of Wash Park proper with drunk adults at play, bus commuters, hipsters, hobos, and the occasional belligerent junkie. By limiting distribution points for Leftist Leaflets to the little free libraries in Wash Park proper, I was targeting only one subset of the potential audience for my still undistributed titles. I was ignoring the massive and diverse audience sauntering past my door on a daily basis!
More importantly, by only distributing leftist leaflets to other people’s Little Free Libraries, I was acting as a parasite – latching onto the existing Little Free Library infrastructure without meaningfully participating in it. As a homeowner in the neighborhood, there was only one logical next move.
The first day my Little Library went up someone took a War On Patriarchy, War on Death Technology zine by Colleen Hackett. It was SO exciting!
A week later, I went out to check and every single last zine and book was gone! I was excited but perplexed! WHO would take ALL the zines?
(Continued in LLiLL issue #2 …)