The origins of Ztangi Press

Ztangi Press got its name from a tag discovered in Chicago in the late 60s. The tag was “Desire! Revolt! Ztangi!” and, we presume, was meant to instill trepidation in those who profited from the Spectacle and curiosity in those who aspired to be its vandals. “Ztangi” was variously assumed to be the name of an obscure revolutionary, the cry of revenge in an extinct language or a comic book superhero. But in fact it is none of the above, though the last comes close. It is simply the name, spelt backwards, of the mouse in George Herriman’s Krazy Kat, Ignatz, who methodically, and with nonchalant maliciousness, flung bricks at Krazy, who was a worthy target for brickbats as a Know Nothing, or a Philistine, or simply a bourgeoisie.

In the 70’s, Ztangi Press (ZP) published various ephemera, however in 1981 ZP was the publisher of Polish August: Documents from the Beginnings of the Polish Workers’ Rebellion, Gdansk, August, 1980. This was the complete edition, originally published by Labour Focus in the UK, of the daily bulletins issued by the striking workers in the occupied shipyard in the port city of Gdansk (formerly Danzig). These bulletins read like an adventure story. A story that could have had a deadly ending if the Polish government had moved troops in to remove the strikers. The first edition sold out in weeks and Left Bank Books in Seattle reprinted.

Afterwards the ZP imprint appeared on various leaflets, manifestos and rants that saw the light of day only to be swallowed by the black hole of history, most never archived. ZP maintains an elusive tradition as a publisher with no material means and a nebulous virtual presence.

Contemplating my branding near the Saramago Foundation in Lisbon, Portugal

As an “agent of Anarchy ” in the US for Colin Ward’s British journal, I was one of the founders in 1964 of Chicago’s Solidarity Bookshop. The Bookshop served as a center for Wobbly (IWW), anarchist and surrealist effusions, including Rebel Worker, for almost a decade. After facing felony-kidnapping charges, along with a dozen classmates from Chicago’s Roosevelt University , for protesting the sacking of radical historian Staughton Lynd, I dropped out to take up the printing trades at a Chicago co-op, J. S. Jordan Memorial. It was there that I collaborated in publishing the first US Anarchist Calendar and many pamphlets for Solidarity Bookshop, including a new edition of the classic revolutionary text – The Right to be Lazy. I moved to San Francisco in the late 70’s to work in a commercial printshop and a few years later became the Production Editor of Across Frontiers, a journal that gave voice to the dissident movement in Eastern Europe.  A decade later, I joined Inkworks Press, a collectively run print shop in Berkeley, and participated in the founding of the Network of Bay Area Worker Cooperatives (NoBAWC) and Just•Alternative•Sustainable Economics (JASecon), which promoted the grassroots economy in the SF Bay area. In 2011, I edited a collection of Paul Lafargue’s Right to be Lazy (AK Press) along with a selection of his short satirical works. I have been writing rants, manifestos and satire since high school.