Various contributors, compiled by Tomas Moniz. I bought mine through Ms. Valerie Park Distro
Issue 20, Various topics, incl. “Anarchism, special needs children, traditional Japanese grandparents, queer male allies, etc.”, 38 pg.
Issue 19, “Heavy Topics”, 44pg.
Issue 18, “Sex and Love”, 40 pg. at half-letter size
Rad Dad is a great and justifiably well-known zine, compiled by Tomas Moniz. It is currently in its 21th issue, and an anthology came out last year. I was particularly excited about it cause my partner is a rad dad to a rad ten-year-old daughter, and I aspire and struggle to be a rad adult in her life. And it’s really really hard, and I need all the help and advice I can get. Parenting advice from a radical perspective is still fairly hard to come by, although there is a lot of great writing being done in that area.
My boyfriend worked nights to spend all day, every day with his daughter before she was in school, and when I showed him the cover of the Rad Dad anthology, which features a Nikki McClure image of a man stooping to support a toddler on a skateboard, he exclaimed, “That’s me, I was that guy!”. So I had high hopes for this to be a zine that would capture both our experiences and our politics.
The three issues I picked up were fun, interesting, and moving. Highlights for me included a heartbreaking article by an incarcerated parent, some writing about Oscar Grant, an unarmed man (and a father) killed by Oakland police, and the light-hearted but informative pieces about teaching kids about sex and relationships, including open and polyamorous ones.
In the time that these have been sitting around on my desk, issue 21, the Occupy Issue, has come out. It looks great, but I haven’t picked it up, and I want to talk about why.
Rad Dad features a slick, pleasing design. The artwork is great, and it also appears to be set in one of my favourite fonts, Baskerville Old Face. I was feeling great about this good-lookin’ zine until I realized that it is laid out by Joe Biel of Microcosm Publishing.
I have written here about why I no longer buy from Microcosm after reading Biel’s former partner Alex Wrekk’s account, in her zine Brainscan, about Biel being an abusive creep. As I’ve said, there are so many zines (books, records, paintings, etc.) made by good-hearted, non-abusive people, that there’s really no need to support projects involving people who are abusive to others.
In any culture that took rape, assault, and abuse seriously, the people who do those things would be running scared. In ours, they seem to be doing all right, so let’s get on that.
Weirdly, there is also an article in Issue 19 by Moniz about trying to figure out to deal, in particular as a parent who wants to model responsibility and respect for others, with a friend and neighbour of his who was violent to his partner to the point that police were called. He defends his decision to remain friends with this man and to talk with him about what he’d done, while also taking advantage of the opportunity to discuss violence and abuse with his kids.
Finding out someone you know has done something terrible is really, really hard, and the decision on how to deal with that is both personal and difficult. That said, Moniz’ decision is sure as hell not the one I would have made, and not the one I have made regarding people I’ve known and liked who have been abusive or violent.
So honestly, I am really conflicted about this.This zine is mostly awesome, and I really want to support projects by and for radical parents.
However… There’s no way in hell I would buy a zine, go to a show, or support a project by someone who was abusive to me or one of my friends, and I don’t see why I shouldn’t extend that standard to abusers I don’t know personally. Although Biel’s involvement in Rad Dad is relatively minor, it’s enough to give me a gross feeling about buying more issues of the zine, so I probably won’t. However, it is really great and if you don’t share my gross feeling, you would probably love it.
Response from Tomas Moniz, Rad Dad editor;
Hello, thank you for the review – Rad Dad is dedicated to presenting and fostering conversations about our parenting, creating communities and the struggles that come with it.
There has been enough out there about the Microcosm debate that I will not add to it other than to say: I published 17 issues of Rad Dad myself, the last 4 issues have been published by Microcosm, and all future issues will be published by me and 1984 Printing.
But what strikes me as the one truly problematic issue in your analysis is the simplistic approach to difficult issues.
Now maybe you aren’t advocating that any perpetrator of violence (or for that matter anyone who does things we disagree with) should simply be shut out, but that’s what I seem to get from your piece.
Let me say clearly; if we don’t confront and hold people accountable, shit won’t change. If a white person says something racist and we just ignore it and cut them out of our lives, that doesn’t fight racism; if anything it helps it to continue on unchecked. We have to step up and say ‘that’s unacceptable and what are you going to do about it?’
My essay in Rad Dad 19 deals with the difficulty of realizing that – yes it would have been easier to say he’s an asshole and leave it at that; it is more difficult and more importantly more of a model of living a radical life for my children to be transparent in confronting a friend of mine about his behavior…not once, not twice but throughout our friendship.
That is the work to create a society in which violence like that is never tolerated.
Your decision to just cut off the perpetrator of violence does nothing to address the problem – people need to be held accountable and if we walk away, that gives them the ability to start fresh with new people, people who may not know their history.
As an anarchist, a radical and a parent, that’s the kinda world I wanna live in.
Many many thanks to Tomaz for this response. I agree that there is a lot more to say on this topic than can be said in a zine review, so I apologize for being cursory and unclear. I am totally happy to talk WAY more about this at any time, to anyone. And I am SUPER DUPER stoked that future issues of Rad Dad will not be put out by Microcosm, so I can keep buying and recommending them.
- Lily Pepper