Saturday, November 24, 2007

book review

i just wanted everyone to know that a good friend's new book just came out and i have it in my greedy little hands and it is wonderful -- i was so inspired by the how to aspects of the book -- how to set up a child-swap collective and even how to set up a freeskool

it's called my mother wears combat boots

i highly recommend it!

Monday, November 12, 2007

who's your daddy?

Hello -- it's been a while since I posted, and since rad dad 8 is taking shape, I thought I’d post something from rad dad 7 as a way to say, "hey come on, I know you all got something to say, so say it -- write for rad dad 8!"

It’s been so difficult to get father's to write birth stories! In fact, I received no birth stories, so I’d love to get someone to write one for this issue out at the end of November.

Also I really like Jeremy's post about his own blog "where we are writing from." It reminded me why I enjoy writing about all this craziness called fathering. This piece is about how fatherhood gets represented in the media, and well I apologize in advance for the tone; it's a bit much but I tried...


Some of you may know this about me, but for those of you who don't, let me just spill the beans: I am a media whore! I'll be the first one to own up to my obsession with romantic comedies, with horribly bad TV dramas, with power ballads; in fact, I can identify the various stages or periods of numerous cultural pop icons—there's the Hugh Grant evolution pre or post his blowjob bust, there's the musician turned actor careers of J-Lo, Justin, and a slew of others. There's the progression of TV shows to the big screen…you get the picture.

However, I also consider myself an astute critic, ready to recognize gender stereotypes, to point out class issues, to call out racist tropes; my favorite is Justin Timberlake himself. How the fuck can Justin bring sexy back when it never went anywhere? What a perfect example of white entitlement? But I was kinda shocked the other day when my daughter said something that made me laugh but soon started gnawing at me like one of them zombies in Evil Dead.

"Dad, you should be in a TV show," Ella said innocently, and then of course added, "with your belly and your dog and you always making chili."

"Hey, don't be saying nothing about my mean vegan chili!" I replied.

And we went on to the next subject. However, the next day I was working on an essay about how men can challenge patriarchy, and I was bouncing ideas off my Official-Idea-Bouncer-Offer Andrea, and we came up with the idea of exploring stereotypes about fathers. It clicked; Ella was putting me into the category of so many images she has seen of how this society views fathers. Why had I never seen it before? But wait a second here, I'm no stereotype. Ella knows that…right? Perhaps though I hadn't noticed because even while I adamantly disagree with these images of fathering, I may in fact benefit from them, even play into them? I began to think back to early parenting roles my partner and I fell into. Most of the time we clearly processed who did what and why, what felt fair, and when we felt overwhelmed or overburdened. But it's true; I almost always would watch the kids while she would cook. And then I'd clean the dishes. How often did I mop or do some other big house-cleaning project while she took the kids to the park? Looking back on those first few years, not as often as would like to admit.

And when I was in public with my son, I remember the constant reproaches from usually older grandmotherly women about the way I held my baby, the way he was so damn dirty or the way I dressed him, especially my keen ability to never have socks on my kid's feet. But hey, who can keep track of socks, I argued. With all the advice and suggestions and snide looks I received, I often marvelled at what I was doing, particularly because I didn't have that many male role models to fall back on. Was I really that weird, that unmanly, that lucky to be able to parent my kids and keep them alive or at least warm?

We need to ask ourselves why so many in our society don't trust men to be competent at parenting, to be trusted to handle a newborn without being watched over by the mother or the grandmother. And a good place to start would be to start questioning the images of bumbling fathers we're inundated with. It is the butt of our parenting jokes: men fucking up, dressing kids, trying to feed kids, trying to be both macho and cool, because parenting in our society equals mothering. Not fathering or fathers. And is not cool.

So I decided to do a little investigative research: how are dads represented in the media? It took me only like five seconds to come up with a slew of movies all reinforcing the loving but clearly not primary parent material father: Daddy Daycare, and the new sequel coming out Daddy Day Camp, the Ice Cube movies, the Adam Sandler movies, it just goes on and on. Or there's the action adventure movies in which you threaten a Real Man's family and then you'll see what Real Fathers are like—you know the male protector/patriarch and all.

But it has gotten even worse now as parenting has become a trend with more pop icons having babies because with celebrity comes a market for cool hip parenting stuff. Sure enough, along with designer sippy cups and bibs, there has been a bunch of new books on fathering. And they all seem to have one common premise, which is how to maintain gender privilege, those traditional notions of men and masculinity, and still parent; how to be that cool dad, that hip dad, that (gulp) rad dad.

So I decided to read one and peruse a few others. I chose Alternadad by Neal Pollack because it was in my library. For a taste of some others, I moseyed on into a bookstore and, as I am walking through the aisle, I see the new GQ and pick it up (yes, because it had Jessica Alba on the cover). I kid you not, but I flip it open and come to a spread of nine famous fathers all dressed up with their kids. The headline was something like: How to Still Dress like a Winner When You Have Kids. Because of course kids make you a loser, make you so not stylish, ruin your cool life (assuming of course that the point of life is to be cool). I was shocked and turned to go find the other books when I saw Parents Press' new issue, the only free parenting newspaper in the baby area, and what is one the cover, I kid you not, but the picture of a new daddy book by some pop-punk rock singer and his three kids.


Now there is nothing wrong with being interested in fashion, with telling your story, with connecting punk rock and parenting (in fact that can be a key politicizing event for parents; check out China Martens' new book The Future Generation: The Zine-Book for Subculture Parents, Kids, Friends and Others) but something seems so disingenuous, so exploitive, so apolitical about these books. As if fathering is simply a trend.

Low and behold, as I move into the kids section they had a little display of other papa books seeing as how Father's Day was coming up (because that's the only time fathers ever speak up about parenting and it's all about being fucking cool anyways). I'll be the first one to tell you never judge a book by a cover, but I actually did in fact judge the store by their display. There were five books in the Celebrate Fathers floor display: Alternadad, Punk Rock Dad: No Rules, Just Real Life by Jim Lindberg, Dadditude: How a Real Man Became a Real Dad by Philip Lerman, and Dinner With Dad: How I Found My Way Back to the Family Table. All by white men. All by very upper middle class white men. All by upper middle class, white men with wives at home. Wow. After I mention this to the children's section coordinator, she was aghast and immediately put out a Bill Cosby book!? Somehow I felt too bummed to do anything else.

So I grabbed the books and set out to skim them as best I could. Now I will admit that most of them brought up interesting points about struggling with discipline, creating honest lines of communication, trying to maintain a healthy relationship with a partner. So I want to acknowledge that their stories are worth sharing, that I did smile at times, despite my best intentions, that I did nod my head in agreement with their struggles, that I did find connection with some of their points. But as I said they were just so similar, so privileged, with no mention of race or recognition of class differences or anything substantive outside of individual family struggles, which of course are extremely important.

However, there is not much to say for the book about making a yearlong commitment to, and I kid you not, come home at least six days a week to help make dinner with his family. See, men, we should make such a huge, committed, life-changing commitment to actually spend time with our families. His conclusion—it really changes your relationship with your family. Do people really buy these books? Ah, but cynicism is never revolutionary I remind myself, so let me take the plunge and actually read a whole fathering book.

After a month of toting it around, it became overdue and I had read only about half of Alternadad and felt like I couldn't finish it. But knew I had to. To his credit he is hella funny, and we connect as I think all parents do on the issues of poop. He relished it like a true veteran and told some very funny stories. However, Alternadad, like the other books, is just another one of those cynical, nauseatingly self-justifying stories of how a once-privileged white male aware of the issues around him chose to forgo all political and systemic critique in the wake of becoming a dad. Pre-parenthood, he always lived in neighborhoods in the edgy parts of town or places where cars had booming bass, which, of course, 'booming bass' is code word for 'young male of color,' but as a father, he's not so sure. When it comes down to it, he'd rather opt for white flight than stay in shitty neighborhoods because he can leave. He has that privilege to pack up and move cross country. Yes, he loves his neighbors, but he just wants things safer, calmer, cleaner. He knows he doesn't belong there. He ends the book with a story of enrolling his son in a hippie/hipster daycare and celebrates moving to Los Angeles because of the last straw in his old neighborhood in Austin: four youths spray painting Vatos Locos in his neighborhood. Ah, people of color again; I hope he knows they are in LA too.

Okay, I know I'm being too mean, too sensitive perhaps. And in the end I realize it actually is very important to have books out there about fathering. But man do we need other stories, other views, other perspectives about fathering that go beyond the stereotypes we see in the media all the time: the bumbling fools, reformed womanizers, and amazed businessmen about how fun being a daddy can be, golly.

So from books to TV to films, I still haven't changed my wicked ways and will probably be the first to see Transformers on my block, but I will also no longer allow the parenting/father stereotype to go by unchecked. Adam Sandler better watch out! Perhaps one day a few other fathers and I can write a script for a movie about ordinary dads from various backgrounds and ethnicities trying to parent in conscientious ways who, en route to a fun camping trip in the woods of Califas, get lost and end up in the vile clutches of the mean patriarch called Walt and are forced to rely on wits, trust, and patience to foil his plot at global domination and destroy his nefarious, dangerous alternate world called Disneyland…hmmm someday.

Friday, September 28, 2007

sf zine fest

i'll have a table at the sf zine fest oct 6 and 7th -- come on a stop by...


a review of rad dad 7

from microcosm publishing:

Rad Dad #7 is a response to the latest trend: Fatherhood. Or rather, the new spin on fatherhood in America. If you haven't noticed, everywhere you turn there are books, magazines, movies, and news programs, all about being a hip dad. The problem is that they all come from the same perspective. White middle class men who've had to find a balance between their wild, cool ways, and the "un-cool" job of parenting. In this issue, Tomas expresses his views on the subject, and reminds us that parenting isn't just an unwanted obligation. Or at least, it shouldn't be. He reviews some "cool-dad" books, like "Alternadad," and "Punk Rock Dad," written by the singer of Pennywise (which we read here at HQ, and yes, it really is that bad). And of course there are solid contributor pieces about Green Parenting, being Jewish, and the transition from pre-teen into full-fledged teenager.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

utne review on their website

Rad Dad "is not cool," according to founder and publisher Tomas. "[I]t's not about being hip, not about trying to be in style... Rad Dad is for radical parenting. The uncomfortable kind." And so the zine's seventh issue picks up where previous ones left off: by interrogating and reevaluating the role of fathers in radical politics. Articles range from "Green Parenting," in which writer Sky looks at the relationship between anarchism and parenting, to "On Being Jewish," in which Bruce contemplates the religious example he wants to set for his child. A contribution from Tomas himself -- "Who's Your Daddy: Fathers in Pop Culture" -- offers a forceful critique of how "cool parenting" has become an apolitical and upper-middle class trend that reinforces "dad" stereotypes. -- Eric Kelsey

Sunday, July 08, 2007

gangsta father

the intro from rad dad 7 -- out this week

rad dad is not cool; it’s not about being hip, not about trying to be in style, not a trend. rad dad is for radical parenting. The uncomfortable kind. The difficult kind. Radical as in not complacent, as in conscious and conscientious of our impact on our children, our partners, our environment. Radical as in taking responsibility for the privileges some of us have, whether we want those privileges or not. Radical as in being cognizant of how we challenge patriarchy (or not), how we participate in capitalism, how we depend on unquestioned roles of authority and hierarchy. And then, radical as in having the courage to consider ways of changing these aspects of fathering.

Lately I’ve seen numerous new books or web sites that clearly are trying to profit off of or benefit from or create a market for hip fathering, talking about how men can still remain men (whatever that means) and be a cool dad as well. What so many of these books or sites lack is a social critique, an understanding that for so long fathering has been intimately connected to patriarchy, to violence, to capitalism. Unless we as fathers do something to change that, no amount of coolness, no amount of humor, no amount of hip papa clothes can cover it. So my new mantra: We need radical change, not radical baby accessories.

For me rad dad is about reaching out to community. It’s not a place to provide excuses for some of the fucked up ways fathering is manifested by some men in our society nor about absolving ourselves of our complicity in the ugly history of Traditional Fathering. We gotta own up to it. And that’s why I know I need other radical parents, both mamas and papas, to help me see how I am caught up in this history. Especially when I’m unaware of it. I need them to show me how myths of fathering are perpetuated in the media or to help me see when fathering is being used as a marketing ploy or is being packaged for consumer convenience.

rad dad for me is recognizing how I need help. I can’t do it alone because I already know I’m a sucker; I’m a fool. I laugh like hell during Shrek and his silliness, and my kids love him, so he’s gotta be a good model for fathering, right? And I’ll admit I’m the first one at the bar getting all stupid when the Warriors were in the playoffs. Don’t get me wrong. We as people can and should have our own interests outside of parenting, enjoy the company of other adults in places that perhaps aren’t super kid friendly. But we are straight up wrong if we think that the word father means to be cool, to be part time, or that it’s temporal, ending when we are not with our kids, or that it’s limited to the realm of the house.

I want the word father to mean: warrior, to be synonymous with dedicated; I want it to be analogous to activist, environmentalist, feminist, gangsta, anarchist. I want people to step back when we announce we’re fathers and that we’re here and we ain’t leaving until some things change.

Starting with ourselves.

rad dad is as much about radical parenting as it is about fighting patriarchy in all aspects of our society. I believe actually that to reclaim fathering, it will be contingent upon men to work diligently for equal access and rights for women in the world outside parenting. We can’t expect to be equal partners in parenting and not have women be equal partners in the rest of society. To reclaim fathering we will need to reconsider intimately what it means to be successful and how capitalist notions of success are tied to the construction of male identity. To reclaim fathering we will need to question the social stereotypes of fathering that for so long have been used to justify gender specific parental roles.

Now I also wanna recognize that how we individually manifest our parenting and our relationships is up to us. There is nothing inherently wrong with a man providing the main income for a family and a woman being the primary caretaker. But it needs to be transparent, needs to be a choice and not the default. Fathers need to actively consider what might be the underlying reasons for their decisions about how they father and what they give priority to.

And, most importantly, fathers will need to actively, vocally, publicly support and speak up for other fathers.

So let me give a shout out to the amazing fathers and mothers and other parental allies that I had the pleasure to meet and depend on as I ventured out on the Kerbloom/rad dad speaking tour of the Pacific Northwest. It was so inspiring to realize that there are people I can call up and say, I need a place to stay or can you help me out or come to our event, and they are there lending you a pillow, offering what they can, bringing their kids and neighbors to see you read. So that is what rad dad is about, what Kerbloom is about, what creating radical community is all about. There are so many people doing so many different, cool things that every time I feel slightly exhausted or overwhelmed, I just need to look around me or think of those that have helped me, and feel reinspired, rejuvenated. You all rock.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

we're zine of the month....

May zine of the month at Broken Pencil

rad dad

by tomas moniz, zine, $3 plus postage, 1636 Fairview St., Berkley, CA, USA 94703

Thoughtful, well-written articles on "radical" fathering, tackling an array of issues, from colick to children's questions of identity. While the authors bring their diverse politics to the table, they make a sincere effort to connect those politics to the dynamic reality of raising a child... you're not getting a tract about how things would ideally be in a utopian future, but how things ARE in this moment, honestly.

An article by tomas is a highlight--he writes about his daughter and her negative thoughts about being a mixed-race person of colour, and poses questions to himself about how he can encourage her to value all aspects of her identity yet respect her autonomy to make choices about her identity that may differ from his. A supportive read for all the parents out there meshing parenthood with their politics, and a little window on the wild world of raising another person, for those of us on the outside looking in.

By Sarah Pinder

Saturday, April 21, 2007

rad dad review in slingshot

zine Review Rad Dad #6 from slingshot
Reviewed by Hefty Lefty
Rad Dad is a thrice yearly zine on radical fathering put together by
Tomas Moniz. If radical politics and living in ways that are critical
of white-supremacy, capitalism and patriarchy are to be more than just
a phase passed through by young people who have yet to burn out and
buy in, then it is important to consider how radicals can collectively
support each other throughout [all seasons of life]. I am not a parent
and don't see myself becoming one in the near future, however I do
find it helpful to think about how I interact with children and
friends who are parents. Most of us will become involved in a child's
life at some point either as a mom or dad, uncle or aunt, housemate or
friend. It is easy to for radical people, who are often [socialized so
badly], to interact with kids in [messed up] ways, especially if they
haven't reflected on the ways that their politics can inform their
interactions with kids and parents. Writings and conversations about
radical parenting consistently give me things to think about.
Publications that specifically address the concerns of radical men who
are raising kids are valuable because of the way that [society often
attributes nurturing… to women and mothers] It is telling that the
verb 'to mother' evokes an image of active (if not always flattering)
parenting while the verb 'to father' tends to connote a momentary act
without any [necessary] connection to the object fathered. Rad Dad
offers a place for people of all genders to think about issues that
effect parents and here them articulated by men who are often trying
to take a more active role in parenting than was expected of their
fathers and grandfathers.
One of the things I like most about Rad Dad is the way that it
expresses struggles and tensions rather than solutions. Tomas, who
generally contributes 2-3 pieces to the zine each issue, does not set
himself up as an authority on radical parenting so much as share, in a
very personal way, some of the struggles he has raising three people
in a [broken world-messed up world]. His pieces have dealt with
pornography and drug use; how to watch his children navigate the
racism and sexism of the system while giving them the space to make
mistakes, or even just make choices that are different from the ones
he would make. The other contributors bring in different voices of men
raising kids; struggling to exist in a radical scene that is hostile
to parents or a parenting scene that is hostile to radicals, dealing
with colic in infants and questioning the conventional wisdom of
punishments and rewards, being a gay uncle/sperm donor or a dad who
didn't happen to donate sperm. Rad Dad also frequently includes lists
of resources for radical parents, from message boards to children's
Issue number 6 showcases another stunning letterpress printed cover
by artnoose which substantially adds to the visual appeal of the zine.
The theme for this issue is anger and frustration. Tomas starts of
with a personal introduction about how he has been angry a lot lately
and butting heads with his son, and about acknowledging that anger but
not letting it overwhelm all of the other things he is feeling. This
is followed by selections from a message board of men who are
dealing/have dealt with frustration at toddlers are able to share
stories and give each other support. Chip writes about how he
struggles with fears of becoming the 'angry guy' his father was as he
interacts with his teenage daughter. Several other contributions
follow and Tomas concludes with a piece about how his own father was
often unable to communicate the his love, and that learning from his
father in retrospect and doing Rad Dad makes Tomas hopeful about his
own efforts to show his children his love. There are no answers in Rad
Dad, only the wisdom that comes from sharing struggles for back issues
at $3+postage contact If you are in berkeley,
you can find copies at local bookstores and info shops [Pegasus, Long
Haul, etc] Rad Dad 7 is due out in July.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

oester and our final kick ass reading

so here are some pics of the egg hunt and well we are coming back tomorrow

see ya all soon

Saturday, April 07, 2007

and our roadies introduce us

that's right clover and zora stood in front of 10 people and said does letterpress...........tom does we heard so many times we can copy bye

they were the best part of the show

somewhere in northwestern washington

so we had our second night off in eight nights -- it was so beautiful outside we laid in the road and watched the stars move then sat around with sky and hannah and had tea and told stories -- the best thing has been the time i've spent with the girls, with artnoose and with meeting so many people who have been willing to put us up, feed us, make us feel so welcome

we have two more shows and then were home

we're beginning to feel that pull, like a rubber band, of our place calling us



new pics

Tuesday, April 03, 2007



so the country is so beautiful and the city is very big -- there is a lot of poverty and clearly hard times down in the area we were in for most of the day. we walked through downtown, played soccer, laid in the grass, had coffee then our reading, it was a bit of a serious crowd -- no one had seen dumb and dumber in the audience -- can you trust someone without that cultural reference..

and i heard 'eh' a lot -- there are some really cool amazing people though -- the creaters of baby block, and the person who is sharing their house with us -- it's nice to be out of the us...


seattle, babies, new readings, and loonies

ok so a quick recap -- i read 4 new pieces esp because jessica and her wonderful family came to both nights so i was forced to improvise and i think it was the best readings yet -- the kids had a great time playing with emmajoy and mayaray, soccer, food, stories, they were a little tired the evening of left bank books because it was soooo nice and we were all so lazy -- then zora fell off a piece of modern art in the park crying for help -- clover and i just zoned it out

seattle is beautiful -- i think it's my new fav place besides the bay

ok off to lay on a couch and read

Saturday, March 31, 2007

cars and rain and garage soccer and pizza

lots of driving -- 8 hours from arcata to portland but it was lots of fun chilling with the girls, stumping artnoose with two questions: what's zip from zip code mean?

the reading was good -- met kate from miranda zine and her partner who wrote for rad dad 3 and another father with 3 boys

it was my best reading yet -- calm, interacted with the audience, zora and clover sold zines

artnoose was her typical amazing self even when clover the disturber we call her now made a squeaky sound with a kiddy toy

and had vegan donuts that rocked!

Friday, March 30, 2007

day one -- dead birds

Our first day was a blast…we killed a bird with our car (horrible), had lunch in the redwoods and discovered a miniature cave of baby dank trees, saw artnoose become AJ Foyt for mini-van drivers, rescued clover from the clutches of the Arcata swamp, made spaghetti, went to our reading and discovered we were the opening act to a band called eleven eyes, and while they were setting up clover spilled an experimental coconut crappy Italian soda with half and half on the floor, met a scrabble player who was from Berkeley. Then the reading. Tom read after artnooses intro to two rapt listeners and a few other random audience people. Artnoose continued to rock the house; we then went to Lynn’s studio and ran into a fox decapitating a seagull that he had been eating. Zora and clover and artnoose took pics while tom ran away….

See ya in Portland

……………………………..we ate some disgusting raspberry treats…………*other people liked em*

after wards we came home and watched some simpsons’s and enjoyed our 3rd dessert session

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

first thoughts about our trip

um................R we(clover & i (ZORA***) gonna miss our easta baskets on the trip.............this stuff is bizzar..........clovers here
.........TEE HEE...............GIGGLE..............CACKLE...............LAUGH..............ROAR

Saturday, January 27, 2007

rad dad # 6 -- where my boys at

Hello – once it again it’s time to put aside the crazy amount of work all of us are doing and perhaps consider doing a little something for rad dad 6. It’s gonna be our biggest one yet, and it’ll be part of a rad dad speaking tour my daughter, her best friend, artnoose of kerbloom! fame and I are going to do during the first 10 days of April. So I’ll be personally delivering copies of it up the coast to Canada…

I’m also considering new ways rad dad might grow and would love to hear ideas from others on directions or experiences with something like this.

As for submissions: really anything that deals with fathering from a feminist, anti-authoritarian, radical bent; sounds more ideological than it is: could be a birth story, could explore how fathering changes our identity or could explore notions of masculinity, or how fathering affects our relationships, our sexuality, how it is a political act, how it alters notions of activism, thoughts on discipline, schooling, gender...

As you can see the topic can easily fit the context of individual writers, drawers, photographers…So we need writers, buyers, distributors, and suggestions for thing we haven’t considered before.

I’d like to have it ready by mid-march.

Remember to come see us if we are in your neck of the woods in April – stay tuned for more info as it becomes settled.

See you in the playgrounds…

tomas moniz
editor and writer
rad dad zine

Saturday, January 20, 2007

system error

This is an essay from the latest issue of boxcutter:

Going through her eleven year old's new Christmas purse, Andee exclaims that the entire thing is filled with nothing but technological devices: two tamagotchis, one ipod nano, one nintendo ds, one digital camera, one piggy flashlight, and a game holder with three different games. All of us sitting with her kinda laughed and snickered about `these kids these days,' shaking our heads. `Why do they want all this stuff,' we wondered, but soon we fell eerily silent: three sets of parents, three minds realizing how our kids' worlds are just so different than ours was. For example, my kids all wanted technology for christmas, and my partner and I at first balked, thinking we were gonna give them only books and do-it-yourself science toys; you know Good Toys, but soon we gave way to pleas about what all the other kids were gonna get, and we found ourselves saying, `we might as well just buy them what they want, if we're gonna get them anything at all.' Right? What would you do?

So there we were christmas morning, and under the tree appeared so barren, looked so empty because all the presents were in these little boxes; it looked like they barely got any presents. It seemed so pathetic. By the time we got up, got coffee, got to the sofa, they made these tiny piles in front of them. I suddenly got all worried that they didn't get enough. Perhaps though we were the pathetic ones, so caught up in wanting our kids to be happy, to feel loved, to be satisfied. Because presents do that, right? Why on earth do we bother to give presents at all? I hate it. Not just with kids. I was stressing out trying to find things for the adults in my life. How did I get like this: I, who make things. I, who think of myself as so creative, so anti-corporate -- rushing around the day before christmas, so worried that my lover would not like her jacket or if I spent enough on my partner for fear she spent more. And there sat my kids' little frilly boxes underneath the tree. The only thing that saved the apparent lack of presents was the two gifts I bought basically for myself but wrapped anyway -- a basketball and a board game.

This is a panic created by consumerism and technology, but what should we have done? What would you have done? How to fight it when everyone around you especially your kids is so in to it, is so content to participate in our crazy, self destructive culture? It's easy to blame the youth of today but that is wrong. As for technology, this is what they know; it's not the way we grew up, wanting all these little devices. Were there any devices when we were kids? Yes, walkmans, and soon pagers, but did kids want them like they want a cell phone? So do we just say no to anything because it wasn't the way we experienced childhood (I mean who back then could walk around with an Atari and play it on the bart). We live in a different world. Take myspace which seems the utmost in prefabricated realities where you get a list of a hundred or so friends most of whom you don't know; I immediately want to hate on it, but I also realize that in this world of constant surveillance and monitoring, with a lack of public space to hang out in, without getting hassled, watched, where can kids turn to to reclaim there own autonomy: yep, cyberspace. It may be owned by Rupert Murdoch but it is something that they can create, control, invent, talk smack in, try to foster an identity.

So I try to relax while they rip open their presents; as they each squeal and laugh and scream and shout thank yous, I inwardly smile. A few hours later after the techno stuff is pushed to the side, after the cyber pets are sleeping in their little cyber houses, and the music is turned off because the battery needs to be charged, my daughter asks, `what's this game like?' Soon we are all sitting around playing and laughing together.

And then I opened my other present: the basketball and at the end of the day we all stepped out into the street and played with a ball, a real ball, and with our real dog, and we laughed and got angry and teased each other and had a great old time as the sun set on our real lives. Next year though I promise to do something different.

If you need some game suggestions these games have all been played and enjoyed for hours with our neighbors and friends -- get them because they don’t need batteries:

Dominos -- I got my ass spanked by a student in my english class a few semesters ago and have been wanting a rematch ever since, so when my son and I traveled into the jungle of mexico all we brought were books and a set of dominos -- we had monster games, created new slang for ridiculous decisions we made while we both learned to play. It has been a continued source of pleasure to set up and play in our house. It lasts for about 30 - 45's cheep to buy, easy to bring along, and perfect for talkin all kinda smack. Oh and I still lost the rematch...

Gobblet – This is an awesome looking game as well – made of wood and really easily set up and stored. It is like a crazy tic-tac-toe and connect four love child. The object is to get four in a row and you can gobble your opponent in the process. Hella fun and good for all ages and easy to learn.

Blokus – It’s a perfect way to kill an extra 20 minutes between cooking dinner and eating or after bath and before bed. Four people can play and as you get to know it more, you can get more strategic, but it is easy to learn and doesn’t take too long to finish. The main idea of Blokus is to get more of your pieces into play than anyone else. It is kinda like tetrus. Since the rules can be explained and learned in less than two minutes anyone can join in the fun with ease.

Friday, January 05, 2007

review of rad dad in clamor magazine

Rad Dad
Issues 2 & 3
Tom Moniz
Self-published, 2005-2006

In mainstream culture, our models for parents are those portrayed in commercials as frantic, protective, and usually white. The stressed out but selfless mother is shown driving a mini-van or SUV carting the kids to dance or karate lessons. The father, when present in popular media, remains the breadwinner who doubles as Little League Coach. Folks like Ariel Gore, Bee Lavender, Ayun Halliday, and now Tomas Moniz are making the prospect of childrearing more appealing to those of us who retch at the image of family presented by magazines like Good Housekeeping.

Moniz, publisher of the zine Rad Dad, shines a light on the need for men to awaken to their responsibility as fathers. But in "Fathering the World," he expands this idea to include accepting the role of father, whether or not they have biological children. Instead of criticizing the individual, he writes, "the society we live in disempowers men to break from the prescribed role of the 'male' parent, the role that supports patriarchy, capitalism, hierarchy, and authoritarianism!" According to the American Psychological Association, "Fathers who batter mothers are twice as likely to seek sole physical custody of their children than are non-violent fathers." If for no other reason, we need to support men like Moniz who are interested in being fathers out of genuine concern for their children, rather than for selfish, manipulative, and abusive motives.

In his second issue, he addresses the stigma attached to public assistance, the emotional aspects of having a vasectomy, poetry, and a reprint of Alfie Kohn's article on thoughtless praise. Again, I am taken by how this zine covers issues so far out of the consciousness of mainstream ideas of parenting. From my perspective as a resident of Hartford--the nation's second poorest city--I see the need for discussion on public assistance. On television, families are represented as middle-class. On occasion, they may struggle with the possibility of job loss, but rarely does that play on the screen. In reality, most of us are not living in luscious penthouse apartments. When children are added to the picture, the financial situation becomes more important. Rad Dad is unlike television or those magazines found in grocery stores - Moniz tells it like it really is, and not how he might fantasize life as being.

The third issue of Rad Dad includes Moniz's struggle with his child's marijuana smoking and subsequent lying, the importance of storytelling, as well as contributions from other writers. Rad Dad, while humorous, deals with real life questions that range from queer parenting issues to raising a child according to anarchist ideals. I would like to see this zine evolve into a glossy companion to Hip Mama magazine.
-Kerri Provost