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Zines dispersed, cops pied at Pipsqueak fair

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The corner of Pipsqueak — Photo by Daniel Lindsley
The corner of Pipsqueak — Photo by Daniel Lindsley

Expecting a group of very punk rock individuals, I dressed for Saturday's anarchist zine fair in a straw hat, fishing vest, and the biggest glasses I had. A thrift-store button-up meant for someone much broader than I, together with green jogging pants with wool socks and running shoes, completed the look. I was ready to stick out like a sore thumb.

The event was hosted by the Pipsqueak Gallery, a general-purpose gathering space for revolutionary-minded individuals, on the corner of 16th and East Spruce. It's part of a larger building, residential by the looks of it, and old too, with stained brickwork and peeling paint. In other words, it was exactly the place one would expect to find such an event.

The sidewalk, the stoop, and the gallery itself were all busy when I arrived. A loose row of darkly dressed and well-pierced folks were hanging out on the building's steps. Others in generally brighter attire seemed to prefer sitting in circles on the patches of grass beside the road, in the afternoon sun — that is, wherever there was space. Most of the grass was taken up by carnival games, like balloon darts, portrait sketches, and the evergreen classic "pie-a-cop."

A table at the fair — Photo courtesy of Pipsqueak  

And there were zines, of course. Tables both indoors and out were quilted corner to corner with neat, stapled booklets, on subjects ranging from divination to Sapphic poetry to self-defense during mass protests. Most were free with optional donations, and some — the ones built to last, with covers and proper spines — were $14 at most. At least one table's donations went to a refugee kitchen in Tijuana called El Comedor (which has a Patreon for those interested).

I was told by a Pipsqueak regular at one of the tables that the event was the first zine fair at the place. Many of the people present had interacted with each other online before, and tabled at other zine-friendly events. But since the larger anarchist book fair has been canceled for the second year in a row for pandemic reasons, this occasion was also the first time some had met in person.

Many attendees also didn't want their faces in pictures, nor their names published, but they were happy to talk about the content. The zines were sourced from blogs like Tumblr and other online outlets, for the most part. Queer themes were present at every table in some measure.

Queer Fire, for example, dealt with the George Jackson Brigade, a local urban guerilla group active in the 1970s, composed of veteran activists of the Black, women's, and Gay rights movements. First Protocols of Queer Goetia was a free guide to interacting with Queer spirits, as part of a broader theme of Queer mysticism in books from Contagion Press.

Of all the theory, poetry, and other thoughts swirling in that atmosphere, one call to action was particularly immediate. The Seattle chapter of Black and Pink, a prison-abolition and LGBTQ+ support organization, was looking for pen pals for incarcerated Queer people and those living with HIV/AIDS. There was a binder of guidelines for anyone who wanted to start writing letters immediately.

A mural from the CHOP lives on — Photo by Daniel Lindsley  

One of the people tabling for Black and Pink said a vigil was to be held at King County Jail that night, for the five inmates who had died in custody there since the year began. The same person said that May Day was bound to have some anarchist events as well.

I left the event with a vestful of anarchist literature, including the first edition of Pipsqueak's own new zine, fresh off the printer.

As it has since 2011, the gallery will be hosting events like art exhibitions, anti-space symposiums, gunshot wound treatment classes, and other anti-authoritarian gatherings in the future.

To stay up to date with Pipsqueak, follow it on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/pipsqueak.seattle/.