Wednesday, September 24, 2008

a reading...


Lovers of Words & Free Wine & Cheese


Poets & Playwrights & Fiction Writers


Writers & Readers & Listeners


the triumphant return of


a reading series

Every Tuesday at 5pm

Join us in the fabulously cozy

Casablanca Room

(Creative Arts Building, Rm 158)

Each week there will be 2 featured writers and an open mic.

This is a chance to hear SFSU graduate and undergraduate students read their work.

And an opportunity for you to share your own writing.


(All genres welcome)

Our first event is September 30th


Tomas Moniz & Neale Jones

Friday, September 12, 2008

rad dad on the radio (well, internet)

I won't be talking about yoga, but we'll talk about parenting, community, and other fun stuff I'm sure...

Event: Yoga Mama Satsangha with LaSara Firefox
"Interview with Tomas Moniz, of Rad Dad Zine."
What: Listening Party
Host: Revolutionary Moms and Dads.
Start Time: Friday, September 26 at 12:30pm
End Time: Friday, September 26 at 1:00pm

Monday, August 18, 2008

everyday parenting

Rad dad 11 will be out in mid September, so get ready...

A few nights before Father's Day, we had a wonderful "celebrating parents" event at Book Zoo in Oakland, California. It was amazing to see so many kids running around, parents relaxing, and parent allies enjoying the stories the readers shared with the audience. We fantasized about doing a reading and softball game next year…

I have to share something. I feel like such a fake, a phony. Like I'm the last person who should be writing for a zine like rad dad. Let me explain. About a month before Mother's Day, Ariel Gore, editor and founder of Hip Mama, emailed me and asked if I'd be willing to read at their Mother's Day Extravaganza. I was honored; of course, I would. This is what I had been hoping for all along: recognition for rad dad in the radical parenting community and a chance to gain exposure for the zine and for all the amazing writers and stories I have had the chance to work with.

Nothing could stop me. I was now officially super rad dad editor.

And then my son's counselor called. He wasn't going to pass high school, she said, unless we did an intervention, unless we corrected his behavior. Now. Immediately. Tomas, she demanded, you gotta do something.

It seems I hadn't done enough. I had been harboring that fear all along. Had I let him down? Had I hid behind a veneer of trusting his "choices" when in reality I was just in denial, just at a loss for what to do? And instead of sitting with those questions, contemplating ways to approach him, I did the worst possible thing after hearing his counselor's pleas; I got hella angry with my son. Not a good approach, about as successful as parenting by denial. When I confronted him about his progress report, which for every class including PE was listed as F, he looked me straight in the eye and said: Don't worry dad; I got it under control. Like a cartoon, I looked down at the progress report: F, F, F, F, F and back up to him, down, back, down, back over and over again. Who was this kid?

Basically he's been a normal teenager. Yes, we've gone through some difficult teen years, the not coming home, the walking in after school drunk, the hoarding of every glass and bath towel in his room as if he were the only one who needed to drink or shower. But through these years, I've also seen glimpses of what he will become: the way kids look up to him and the way he gives them such respect, the times he connects with his sisters when he doesn't know we are listening in the next room, the way he plays with our pet chickens.

So how do I explain the situation he was in? Can a rad dad raise a high school failure? Not a dropout, mind you, but someone who failed his classes when many of his teachers bent over backwards for him. He was given opportunity after opportunity, second chance after second chance.

But it gets worse; as we get closer to my departure for what I'm thinking is my big coming out party, my day in the sun, his monthly court date arrives for his probation hearing. Oh, did I fail to mention also that he has been on probation for the past two years? Each time I take him to court, which, of course, is peopled with nothing but kids of color and blatantly class targeted, I can't help but get livid at my son as the Judge reads off: his attendance (I didn't know you could miss over 100 days in a semester), his straight Fs, his unfinished hours of community service, his failed drug tests. It just never ends, and I feel so angry that he hasn't dealt with it. Because one day the Judge is gonna do something, I warn him.

Well, just as I'm about to leave, that's what happens. My son is sentenced to Juvenile Hall for the weekend. My weekend. I just couldn't, and still can't, get over the irony; the universe must be trying to tell me something.

You can talk all you want about how you would like to parent, what you think is valuable, what the implications of your parental choices might be, but all that theory, all that shit, flies out the window when you're faced with the power and pain of parenting in the moment. You are on your own when they're hurt. When they're dealing with their disappointment in the world. Or in you. When they step further and further away from you. Moments like these aren't talked about in books or zines; there are no answers found by doing readings in front of other people or participating in Mother's Day Extravaganzas. In fact, all that stuff just seems silly. Instead, what you discover in those moments is your capacity to love unconditionally, to forgive and forget, to be gentle, to put things in perspective. But it's not easy; it's ugly and hard, and it hurts.

I finally decided to skip the event because too much was happening, but my partner convinced and reassured me that I should still go, that it would be alright, that staying was not gonna change what had happened. So come Friday morning before I'm supposed to fly to Portland and my son is supposed to check in to the Alameda County Juvenile facility (after school, of course), we meet up in my living room. I hug my boy goodbye. I tell him I love him, I trust him, I have faith in him even if the world doesn't seem to, even if he doesn't believe in himself, even unfortunately when I too often act like I don't.

I do. This is hard, I say. But you can do this. You can.

He nods his head, says thanks, and saunters off to school like it ain't no thang.

That weekend was a profound awakening in many ways for me (and for him, I believe); hearing his mother describe how they took him away, how she watched him being searched before they shut the doors behind him and also hearing inspiring stories of creating a free school in Portland, gathering with a ton of parents to share a little bit of rad dad with them, sharing my feelings of failure with old and new friends in the middle of the afternoon, considering how to expand rad dad into a larger format, more inclusive magazine, and finally flying home to hear stories of my babies' mama spending Mother's Day contentedly gardening with our daughters and eventually leaving to bring our son home from Juvie.

Parenting is so much more than something we should celebrate on a day or with an event, so much more than feeling good at times or bad. Or like a phony. Or like a failure. It's an adventure, it's unknowable, fluid, never static, ever evolving. It's work. And, it's what matters most. Happy parenting to everyone out there, holdin' it down and keeping it real.

I believe in you. I do.

This is hard at times. But we can do this. We can.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

sf zine fest

i'll be tabling with mk chavez, one of my favorite writers, at this years sf zine fest on july 19-20. i'll have the newest issue of rad dad as well as some of the few remaining copies of the last four issues. i'll also have some new fiction out, so if you're into zines, comics or crafts, check us out!


Saturday, June 14, 2008

How to Reclaim Father's Day from Ties and Work

The other night, we had a wonderful “celebrating parents” event at Book Zoo in Oakland, California. It was amazing to see so many kids running around, parents relaxing, and parent allies enjoying the stories the readers shared with the audience. We fantasized about doing a reading and softball game next year…..

One of the things I shared from rad dad 7 was a list of ways fathers (and others) can fight patriarchy. Feel free to add more things and I’ll include them in the next issue of rad dad…Here it is:

Things Fathers (or really anyone) can do to challenge Patriarchy

1. Remind yourself and others that parenting does not equal mothering.
2. Wear your baby in a sling.
3. Take your kids with you everywhere you can—grocery stores, errands, to your place of work, Sunday afternoon celebrations, meetings
4. Believe in other men’s ability to parent. Talk to other men about fathering.
5. Vocalize your support of breastfeeding moms
6. Consider being a stay at home dad.
7. Take any parent infant class you are interested in. Be proactive in your parenting.
8. Talk to your kids about gender, class, and racial privilege. Be proactive in addressing the subtle ways these things are taught to your kids.
9. Start a new dad’s group, one where you take the baby with you.
10. Volunteer to help set up child care in the organizations you are a part of.
11. Ask others, especially non-parents, to help. Be a parent ally!
12. Make a point to ask if there are changing tables in the men’s restrooms everywhere you go.
13. Fight gendered parental roles – make dinner, do the laundry, mop the floors, clean the bathroom, watch the kids.
14. Combat images of bumbling fathers in the media. Talk to your kids as you encounter these stereotypes ala “Daddy Day Care,” “Mr. Mom,” “The Pacifier,” “Big Daddy.”
15. And, of course, write for Rad Dad as well as create your own fathering/parenting projects. And invite others to participate.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Where Hope is Found -- Transgendered Fathering

From the start I knew I was in trouble. I understood that there lurked a Pandora’s box waiting within the pages of rad dad that would ultimately have to be opened releasing, as the myth states, chaos and confusion into the safe easy gender dichotomy that defined men as fathers and women as mothers. But to extend the metaphor, opening that box would also release hope, release the belief that in the end despite the difficulties of walking this parental path, we will make it out alive.

In issue one, I joked about feeling excluded from the mama club at parks and playgrounds. I wrote: Damn my cock! Although I know cocks don’t always make men and men don’t always have cocks, but that’s an essay for another time. But issue after issue, I skirted that essay, avoided it; however, in each consecutive zine, it kept rearing its pretty little head: someone wrote an article exploring the relationship sperm donors have to their biological children. I also considered how my vasectomy changed my perception of myself as being able to “father.” So now what kind of man was I? Does biology make the man or the father? Absolutely not. I know this, but how to write about it, how to explore it; and of course what does challenging gender do to how we define fatherhood; one dad pondered how, as a bisexual father, he should discuss sexuality with his growing pre teen child? But finally a friend flat out told me: I love rad dad but you gotta talk about queer issues, about how fathering is constructed there?

I could hear the box opening, all those questions wanting to get out. Now my friend had volunteered to help me with the cover, and I immediately asked her if I could talk with her abut being a new mama, but finding herself by default in the position as father. Out in public people constantly spoke to her partner, the birth mother, and completely ignored her as she stood right there, clearly the “other” parent. How much of a fathering moment is that? The assumptions people make that if you’re not Mama, you don’t know about your child, his or her routines, his or her diet. Even though she identified as a woman, since she was not the breast-feeding birth mama, she was invisible, she was negligible, she was -- father. We talked about how her experience is similarly replicated across the queer community as queer parents grappled with the public perceptions of their parental roles and, perhaps even more intense, their own perceptions of themselves as parent.

One afternoon a few weeks later, we met with another person who is a transgendered man, and specifically Papa to his near two-year-old daughter. Our conversation that afternoon was a reminder to me, O.G. Papi that I am, what it’s like to be around new parents, little babies, the glowing exuberance, the love, the concern, the hope. We all traded stories about each of us feeling excluded by the connections moms created with the baby. We all shared fears of inadequacy when our child wanted to be soothed by the mom in times of need and not us. We all discussed how we tried to challenge the gender sanctified responsibilities of dads by offering to watch the baby as often as we could allowing mom to stay connected to her life outside of parenting.

It was one of those afternoons that reminded me how amazing having children and, perhaps more importantly, having community to talk about children is. I learned how parenting is so disconnected from gender when it comes down to it. I saw instead how parenting is grounded in love and nurturing and dialog and commitment. I learned that queer couples’ parental intentions force them to contemplate the meaning of parenting so much more deliberately than parents who have a child by “accident.” I learned how gender is institutionally reinforced by making the non-birth parent have to legally adopt his or her child, which requires in home visitations and hella money. A “biological father” doesn’t have to do that. I learned about the word “gaybies.”

But as engaging an afternoon as it was, the reality is that gender happens. Socially and institutionally, gender is enforced, sometimes subtly and sometimes violently. And it will take more than an afternoon’s conversation to change things but it’s a start. And I’m hoping rad dad can also be a part of that conversation. We need to reflect on what we do as parents, on how we support other parents. Working on rad dad, forcing myself to confront issues around my identity, my politics, my parenting has been one of the most difficult tasks I have done. I have fought against it, resented things I discovered, my internalized sexism, my gender privilege; but it has also inspired me, allowed me to love more openly, more honestly. Despite the chaos and confusion analyzing gender might cause in ourselves and our families (and our zines), there is also hope: hope in asking tough questions, hope in challenging each other and our assumptions, hope in the struggle.

So tell me about your hope. Perhaps your hope is found in your community, in those around you. Perhaps it is embodied in the partner you’re committed to and the family you dream of making together. Or perhaps your hope is something else, something smaller, something more immediate, something you wake at three in the morning to rock back to sleep, something you sing songs to; the hope in those moments of love and caring is powerful.

Send in your stories of what it’s like to be a transgendered parent, a queer parent, a queer ally and a parent. This the beginning, the first baby steps on a much longer journey towards redefining fatherhood, parenting even, an attempt at understanding, at support, at ultimately creating communities between all of us parents, parent allies, mamas, papas and all those in between and outside of and a little bit a both.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Baby Daddy

So I’m watching the movie Baby Mama which I have to say was hella funny and horrifying at the same time. I was expecting though the requisite number of jokes about how pathetic fathers are but for the most part they weren’t there. In fact, at the end of the film there is this scene at which all three dads were there: one wearing a baby in a sling, all laughing with their child, nurturing their child. I was momentarily stunned. But, hey, times can change and even Hollywood comedies about parenthood can challenge (however weakly) some stereotypes. But it finally came: one dad does give his 1 yr old daughter a motorized pocket motorcycle. Yes, I laughed out loud.

However, this has been what I’ve been struggling with lately. How to challenge gender prescribed roles of fathering. How popular culture reinforces traditional gender roles about bad dads and their inept parenting abilities. And right about the time, Jennifer Margulis contacted me about reviewing the book The Baby Bonding Book for Dads.

Sure, I said. Anything that connects fathering to nurturing and babies, that equates men with the ability to offer support, to handle a crying baby, to discover themselves through the act of parenting, is something I want to support.

I eagerly agreed and waited for the book to arrive in the mail. When it did, I sat with my two youngest daughters and flipped through it. Of course the baby peeing in the air was wonderful, and we wondered how many times they tried to take that picture. My daughter asked if the man got paid to get peed on. Good question? Yes, unfortunately some of my preteen bonding techniques involve really bad comedies like Baby Mama. And I wonder where my daughter gets her crude sense of humor? Hmmm.

But peeing aside, I like the book. I think any new father would appreciate a book so clearly based in loving your child, in the beauty and power of becoming a father..

I did have three concerns that are really issues I have with many of the parenting resources out there, issues, I’ll be honest, I have with my own project rad dad. My main concern is how the tone of the book seems to assume that the standard or normal fatherhood mentality is one grounded in patriarchally defined gendered roles. Somehow I want to think that today’s dads are beyond thinking that they have no real place in their kids’ lives until they are able to play ball. Do many men still equate cooking dinner for their kids as something too close to domesticity? Would most men really rather plop down in front of the TV, drink in hand, than go out for a hike? Don’t get me wrong; I’ll be the first one to act the fool during a big time Raiders game, but I’m not sure that I’d rather do that than spend quality time with my family and/or community. And I don’t think most men would either.

A smaller issue, but one that is important to me as a reader, is the voice of the narrative. I kinda wished they wrote as a mom and dad? I wanted to see the variations in the voices, to see them work things out on the page, back and forth between each other, as mom, as dad. Instead I felt the book had a slightly detached, impersonal tone to it, as if they were trying to speak to all parents rather than as parents.

I loved the all pictures (not just the peeing one), but as usual I wanted to see more diversity than the three or four pictures out of the thirty or so ones in the book. Too often it seems to me parenting is seen as a white experience when clearly and obviously it is not.

But having said those issues, I loved some of the things they say especially the idea of taking your baby with you everywhere you go. How often do women take their kids to errands, to work, to the store or bank. I love that they encourage fathers to do the same, to be seen publicly as fathers. We need to see that more often.

I love the notion of getting naked with the baby. It is so true that nothing is as wonderful has skin on skin with your newborn.

And the recommendation to carry your baby in a sling. So true.

I can’t say enough about how important it is that the notion of discipline was absent from the book! Thank you.

Finally, the chapter on comforting was wonderful, was so important I wish it was even more prominent. Men can comfort, men can sooth, men can parent, even though yes sometimes they buy dumb presents that are more about them than their kids.

As a twenty one year old dad with a newborn, I would have loved this book. As a thirty seven year old, I’d love a book on how to bond with your seventeen year old child. When’s that one coming out?

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

i love it when you call me big papa

Reclaim Father's Day

come celebrate transgressive parenting: readings on the pleasures, pains, and politics of parenting (or being parented)

open mic

hosted by tomas
editor / writer of rad dad
and the good folks at book zoo

7:30 pm

parents of all persuasions and genders welcome to attend and read!

June 12th

Kid Friendly

6395 Telegraph Ave
at Alcatraz Ave
Oakland California
(510) 654 - BOOK

Thursday, March 06, 2008

the official announcement

Radical Parent Writer-Zine-Friends Together at Last:
Joybringer, My Mother Wears Combat Boots, Rad Dad, The Future Generation!

Wednesday, March 19th, 7 pm @ AK Press Warehouse, 674-A 23rd. St Oakland, CA:
Book reading event with China Martens, The Future Generation: A Zine-Book For Subculture Parents, Kids, Friends & Others (Atomic Books Company) and and Jessica Mills, My Mother Wears Combat Boots (AK Press). For more info contact: AK Press at 510.208.1700 or visit

Thursday, March 20, 6:00 PM @ Modern Times Books, 888 Valencia Street, San Francisco
What does it mean to be a radical parent in these times? Join these anarchist parents and authors of Rahula Janowski , Joybringer; China Martens, The Future Generation; Jessica Mills, My Mother Wears Combat Boots; and Tomas Moniz, rad dad for a reading and a discussion.

Saturday and Sunday March 22-23, @ 13th Annual Bay Area Anarchist Book Fair, County Fair Building in Golden Gate Park, Ninth Avenue and Lincoln Way, SF,
Check out our zines and books!

Sunday March 23rd, 12:00 – 12:50 @ Anarchist Book Fair:
PANEL DISCUSSION - Anarchist Parents / Building an All Ages Community of Resistance
Anarchism challenges us to create personal and social change but often provides no support for mothers, fathers, and other caretakers of children who try to do so. Let’s learn how to work together in new ways. By valuing the involvement/work of parents and caretakers, we form a more vibrant culture of resistance; and we teach the young the vision we want to see of a more equitable future by including them in our activities now. This will be a discussion between both parents and non-parents, on concrete ways child-free allies can support parents and children in their community. Good for everyone!

Co-presented by:

Rahula Janowski is an anarchist, anti-racist white mama living and raising her child collectively in San Francisco. Her zine Joybringer is about politics, parenting, and the places where they intersect.

China Martens, a single mother of a 20-year-old, is the author of The Future Generation: A Zine-Book For Subculture Parents, Kids, Friends & Others (Atomic Books Company) and the coordinator of Kidz Corner @ the Radical Mid-Atlantic Book fair in Baltimore. (Baltimore, Maryland)

Jessica Mills, a partnered mother of two, is the author of My Mother Wears Combat Boots (AK Press 2007) and the monthly MRR column of the same title. (Albuquerque, New Mexico)

Tomas Moniz is living, writing, teaching, loving, fighting, and parenting three awesome children 17, 12, 10 in California’s East Bay. He works on rad dad zine.