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OUTTA CONTROL: capture/rupture of anti-social underworlds in downtown eastside

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everybody came down here to get all fucked-up; some stayed and the party never ends!



Along the threshold of plagues — plagues of disease, violence, control — the junky lives at the limit of being. The limit of being is the place of community, forms of life living in common. A community brought together and driven to the limit by the desire of excess — excess of drugs, sex, crime.  ‘Junky’ is the signature for the indivisible remainder, what exists beyond excess and beyond control, after all the forces of subjectification wash over their bodies. This community at the brink is only the space where the time of the junky passes; where time and space pass as one; where space-time communicates its own myths. Each being here, in their own Single Room Residency (SRO) or back alley, or tent, etc. experiences this passing into excess-in-common with the junky down the hall. A singularity of beings evading the immanence of society. In their exchanges of excess, infinity becomes disjointed by deaths, and in these interruptions is the community that can only be spoken of in the excess of life; that is, at the threshold of death.


Death then is where the junky community will pass into and away. Death is the foundation and the closure of community. Thus each community-of-beings is finite. Whether knowing this or not, junkies drive themselves further, accelerating the suppression of community, not allowing their space-time to be captured, not sacrificing their myth-making to the structural social sciences but abolishing myth and leaving only the residual myths of their myth. This community is ever negating itself as an absence. To locate it would be to declare a new mythology, which is always the quest of the colonialist.

Colonization now seeks to freeze community at its point of dissolution. To capture the space and control time. The multitude of junkies is the wilderness in which social scientists venture forth under the banner of society to conduct field research; not to impose the will of god, or govern lost souls but in order to communicate the social order back to itself. For the Mythologies of Civilization have always been founded upon the grinding up of communities, the fertilizer of society (this is why there can be no return to the “lost community” and why community happens only in the wake of society). The capture of the junky is an endo-colonisaton that resubjectifies an already conquered people. The broken settlers, the vanquished native, who seek to exit society through excessive means (means of excess which ends is nothing), detonate too great a series of minor ruptures for societies smooth function. So society imposes life; and therefore opposes death.


The community-of-death is forced into the society-of-the-living by a state of emergency, which restructures the abyss between the two, by creating a new space and time of exceptionality. Societies Mythology is Totality and the junky must be brought back into it—hence the mythos of Community Control, no longer of death—but of the living dead. This mythology is regulated through a series of apparatuses. It becomes operational in the state of emergency and runs symmetrical to the founding Myth of society. This Community is not the space of community-of-death, but is the realm of geo-politics and where excesses are normalized into practices of control.


Press release (1997):

The Vancouver/Richmond Health Board passed a motion on September 23rd declaring the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the Downtown Eastside a public health emergency. The immediate goal of the action plan is to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS amongst street-involved injection drug users, who live in or spend time in the Downtown Eastside, and those with whom they come into close contact.


For the modern ghetto of the downtown eastside (DTES) in Vancouver, the sounding of the first trumpet signaling the state of emergency, in which we now find ourselves, was declared as a health emergency in 1997. In the wake of AIDS and the epoch of an overdose “epidemic,” in which a person a day was OD’ing — 1200 dead between 1992-2000; the deathworld of the DTES was “flooded with services.” Since then and accelerated by Olympics money — these services are networked and have been integrated into a massive police operation (Operation Lockstep) that relies heavily on medical intervention. This is now referred to as the “second generation” of emergency by health authorities. The transitioning from a ghetto of discipline to one of control marks this stage, in which the distributed networks deteritorialize the disciplinary assemblage. Here is how the myth of Community Control was born, between gods and monsters, created by how many sacrifices; its gore is cybernetic phlegm, an omnipresent specter in the electronic ether.


Community Court (2008):

Vancouver's Downtown Community Court is a unique partnership between the Provincial Court of B.C. and justice, social and health services agencies working to address the complex crime issues in the area. Located in the courthouse are: a Provincial Court judge, a co-coordinator, a Crown counsel, a defense lawyer, a Vancouver police officer, sheriffs, court clerks, probation officers, forensic liaison workers, a forensic psychiatrist, a nurse, health justice liaison workers, employment assistance workers, a victim services worker, a BC Housing support worker and a native court worker.

In this state of emergency the state is mobilized to preserve the life of the body. The society of the living seek to turn the community-of-death into bare life; that is, an existence stripped naked of any liberties and left exposed to the raw power of the sovereign decision. Society must do this to ensure its future — a future of our escalating present, of technocratic neo-capitalism driven by reproduction and circulation. It cannot kill its surplus population nor allow them to set a precedent of exclusion, so it must integrate bare life as the living dead. Where once the junky was banned from society and subject to the impunity of violence from any citizen, they are now interned in an inclusion-exclusionary machine which itself illuminates the operation of sovereignty in society.


Assistance to shelter act (2009):

If a person at risk refuses to comply with or fails to respond to the police officer's request under section 6, the police officer, using reasonable force if necessary, may transport the person at risk to an emergency shelter.


The junky captured and made bare life by their removal from their relationships to the community-of-death is subject now to only the mediations of sovereignty as administered in the state of emergency. An intimate chemical incarceration under liquid surveillance. The site of the biopolitical administration is the space where the state of emergency has become the norm- that is the Camp. This power has often been exercised by the state- sovereignty is defined by its exemption from the law as exception. It is because of the frequency of this exceptional measure that the camp is the fundamental paradigm of democracy. Concentration camp/ reservations/ work camps/ asylums/ prisons. The contingency of camp is in historical flux — from inclusion to exclusion, from liquidation to slavery. Any native knows this threshold.


Mental health act (2005):

A police officer or constable may apprehend and immediately take a person to a physician for examination if satisfied from personal observations, or information received, that the person (a) is acting in a manner likely to endanger that person's own safety or the safety of others, and (b) is apparently a person with a mental disorder.


When not resorting to extermination, society has operated upon the living dead with two paradigms: the exclusion of the leaper and the inclusion of the plague victim. In the case of the DTES, for the transient unemployed/bum/hobo it was exclusion and forced labor in the internment camps of the 1910-20’s, slave camps of the 30-40’s and the prisons and hospitals since. For the junky now, it is integration into the ghetto, it is bare life in the camp; left alive as the living dead, subject to pharma-medical exploitations, exposed to the policing of biopower and therapeutic domination  —  iatrogenic state violence. No longer the junky that menaces society, but the mental health consumer preserved by society — excesses commodified so that the remainder be codified. Health is the intervention par excellence; the state of emergency is proclaimed in either silence or acclaim. Neither questioned as anything but for the good.


Mental health car:

Car 87 teams a Vancouver Police constable with a registered nurse or a registered psychiatric nurse to provide on-site assessments and intervention for people with psychiatric problems. The nurse and the police officer work as a team in assessing, managing and deciding about the most appropriate action.


The Great Integration now taking place, after a century of confinement to the slum and its ghetto-institutions, is made possible under the rubric of the psychology of madness. Only this campaign could unleash so many operations all at once. No longer capable of policing the peripherals of society, the mass internment and centralization of forces is constructed upon the pathologicalization of the junky; no longer the harbinger of plague, but the vector of mental illness. The drug-user, and the mental health-consumer: mental-health-and-addictions — bare life. Such designations unite the fragmented histories of abnormality and ushers traditional techniques into a new age of cybernetic surveillance and biotechnology.


Project Link, which is the coordinated group of Vancouver Police Department (VPD), ACT and VCH’:

In 2007, Vancouver Coastal Health Authority (VCH) created Assertive Care Teams (ACT) to deliver a full range of integrated primary care, mental health services, and addiction services to residents in supported housing and emergency shelters in need of clinical interventions. As of 2012, the program was in 19 supported housing sites and nine emergency shelters and was supporting over 1,205 individuals. These sites primarily house individuals who are chronically homeless, live chaotic lifestyles, and have multiple chronic health conditions, including mental health conditions and addiction.


Cynically enough it is the hotels which were once a plantation of rent for the bums and drunks of skidrow which have been purchased and reconfigured into camps. In 2007 the state purchased over forty hotels in shady deals while at the same time co-opting the militating demand for social housing in an operation that could be called grassroots counter-insurgency. Immediately the apparatus was constructed which would control these hotels and the others purchased and assimilated over the years (16 newly constructed camps go on-line in 2013, with 1500 internees). Called Partners in Action and falling under the hegemonic designation of “supportive housing,” it integrated the police, housing agency, health care, welfare, courts. Operating in a state of emergency as declared against homelessness, mandatory emergency shelters were opened and have remained open, multiply into a network that can be traced back to the prisons. Bodies circulate through this network in an eternal return, as the zones become indistinguishable. The junky as what-ever remainder is simply caught and drugged, interned.


Six actions are being taken under the Partners in Action protocol (2008):

·       Specific beat officers will be assigned to specific SRO hotels, so they can establish one-on-one relationships with the non-profit operators and residents;

·       A Partners in Action decal will be prominently displayed at participating SRO hotels to help deter drug and criminal activities;

·       A brochure will provide the non-profit operators with an outline of both their and VPD’s rights, authorities and roles with respect to law enforcement activities. For example, if the police need to investigate at an SRO, operators will know what police can legally request to do;

·       The Province has provided a description of each SRO hotel to the VPD, including contact information and an overview of the support services available to residents, such as mental health counseling or life skills training. The VPD will forward this information to E-comm so that officers being deployed to these residences are aware of any potential special needs of residents;

·       The VPD has provided direct contact information to the non-profit operators to enhance communication between operators and police when dealing with more complex, long-term tenant issues; and

·       Beginning in 2009, new recruits will receive a half-day of training at the SROs.


The asylums of old are refitted into the decrepit hotels, which are now furnished with state of the art surveillances; the panoptical gaze is transmitted through dozens of buildings, thousands of rooms, by CCTV. The grand confessional, so central to religious governing of the soul is now transmitted openly in a permanent confession as dictated by a series of questionnaires that all bare life must submit to. Hospitals no longer enjoy the monopoly of treatment as their services are diffused by an army of doctors and nurses working with cops throughout all supportive housing (Project Link). The junky is transformed not in the switch of discourse towards mental illness, but rather as a result of the operations invested in their bodies.


From questionnaire for Supportive Housing (2012):

Have you been diagnosed with a mental health issue…?

Have you attempted suicide, or self-harmed…?

What are your choice of non-prescribed drugs…?

Are you currently on methadone, what is your current dosage…?

What is your employment history…?

How many friends do you have who are misusing substances or who are trying to make changes in their lives…?

Are there any issues you want to work on?

Are there any topics that might trigger you…?

List three things you like to do…?

Three things you would like to try…?

One thing that you do well…?

What do you do for fun, and with who...?

What are three words a friend would use to describe you…?

Is there anything else that you think is important for us to know about…?


This is how society counters the junkies myth, with the myth of mental illness, and by conjuring the accompanying rituals of control, creates for itself a new mythology; that of a Community of Control. But whereas this totalizing of control might be better received as the techniques generalize throughout society — in the ghetto all this only alienates madness, the very choral, which this mythologizing machine will wreck itself. For integrating the institutions where madness is interned only gives more corridors for madness to stalk. Madness born of anguish; that core element from which the community-of-death fashioned their mythical cosmology.



Virus of Control


We follow the operations of our new governmentality back discursively to find a legacy of catastrophe. Each rupture accompanied by a renewal of the emergency-control. From natives, to unemployed, immigrants, communists, fascists, to drunks then junkies, each to their own discursive catastrophization- maps, charts, stats, tables, and intensifying gathering of data. Looking back at these events, closing off into the next, it's hard not to feel that they join in harkening something bigger, something that reaches into the present moment, bringing with it all these camps, all these hysterias, the ultimate catastrophe from which all since have been born, but one so normalized into the everyday life so as not to be remembered or even feared any more. Remember AIDS?


Contemporary governmentality and its plagues of control, is a by-product of the AIDS epidemic. In the death world of the ghetto — AIDS was sovereign. In those years new mythologies where fashioned: one of mutual extermination and the other of scientific survivalism. The myths today are carried over from so many dead myths then. The society of the living, utilizing discourse, wrapped its coils around this myth structure to drag the community-of-death out from the charnel alleys from where the mob gathered in black mass.


End times never came; instead the end has been opened indeterminately. Within it fall enough bodies to feed it off. Bodies wracked with pestilence, broken and emptied, enough tears that you’d have thought we would be drowned. The plague came but it did not end the world, as was prophesied at the time. Looking back at that moment in time when those who cared to see saw the epoch of unknown death facing them, you can read the fear and trembling in their words and metaphors.

That those with AIDS were saved was because society saved them. Alongside the AIDS virus runs the virus of control. The multi-drug treatment needed to sustain life, the control needed to ensure the taking of the drug and the surveillance of the drug user. These systems began to define the ghetto. Slowly at first, now accelerating beyond control. Various studies done on junkies in the DTES have found that AIDS prevention as transmitted to junkies by the state is often ignored or defied in the same way that heroin warnings are dismissed or even used to exoticize their sale: In the existence of excess, prevention, like treatment, must be enforced.


[E]everyone wants to get high and they want to get

out of it. Like they want to get, as much as they can,

out of their life. You know everybody’s here to

escape reality. (2012- Respondent #9: female, age 51,

injecting for 35 years)


In the wake of AIDS meds and in some kind of response to this reprieve, the junkies ushered in a plague of their own. One so extreme as to have a state of emergency eclipses that of AIDS. Overdoses in the ghetto, ends more lives than AIDS. There is a symmetry between AIDS prevention and OD’ing, and within the zone of indistinction between living and dying came the decision to live with death upon ones terms: harm reduction. If one did not want to suffer the agony until death, there were ways to introduce reduced pain into a life of excess. These means of harm reduction were not administered by society, but circulated by junkies.


Prior to harm reduction being a scientific cult that has generalized into a science of control, harm reduction was a secret society. Sometime, somewhere, someone began the story, and it was passed along, picking up rites and passages, never written but marked upon the body. It had always been there in the mutual aiding of survival and the gift economy of junkies, but now harm reduction became myth and spread as such. Its first partisans found that to exist in excess at the threshold of death was not a contradiction of being. One could be in the world and stay high as fuck, but the unnecessary suffering — that accursed share, the surplus of pain, could be minimized without spoiling the potlatch. The death drive could accelerate at will, but the style of death did not have to be a foregone conclusion. An ambivalence between life and death allowed being to be in a reality yet undecided.



For a while two myths opposed one another: harm reduction vs. crime prevention — manifesting into rituals of vulgar class war (street sweeps, drug busts, shutting down needle exchange, shooting junkies, etc.). Suddenly society collapsed their war on drugs and began the war for drugs. The referents of prevention, treatment, enforcement, and reduction all imploded into a closed circuit of hegemonic power (hegemony here being the reabsorption of negativity, with the aim of having all conflicts vanish digitally). The institutions of punishment, care, housing all liquidated into a cascade of techniques.


This is not a heroic feat of dialecticism. Sovereignty proclaims exceptionality when in need of absorbing its counter-power, just like judo (the martial art in which Vancouver cops are trained). By championing harm reduction, society strips the community-of-death of their historical mission and in taking it on themselves — accelerating its power, no longer compromised by give and take — produces a pure harm reduction of total consumption.



Harm reduction was adapted into cutting edge techniques of governmentality and used to graft onto the junkies body the yuppie mentality of self-control and self-discipline. Accompanying this science of the self is the surveillance and medication of the body all in the name of reducing harm; which of course is accomplished by limiting the body’s exposure to death — by removing its circulation from the community of death.



Asymmetrical, but accelerating at the same velocity to societies subsuming of harm reduction — is the categorical demand of the junky, who in their multitude, by insisting upon everything — demand nothing. This hyper-nihilism leaves no traction for ongoing mediation and as such the spectacle of negotiation must always be redeveloped. The speed of demand and its appropriation is the final antagonism in the society of control. The only essence that can modulated upon the categorical demand is the construction of renewable subjectivities — that each fluid subject might be in turn modulated in an identity of inter-changeable particulars. Failing this, the junky engages with society only in so much as society serves as a means towards no particular end.


“He gave me some stuff for my brain”


Hysteria was (re)invented in Sal Petriere, the French asylum for women in the late 1870’s; similarly mental-illness-and-addictions is being tested in the camps. Sal Petriere, built out of a gun factory that was then a prison and finally an asylum; the camp, built out of a hotel, then a shelter, a hospital, supportive housing. There as here, under the omnipresent gaze of the guards and doctors, the women performed in front of the cameras. Thousands of photographs were taken and compiled in an iconography that would inspire psychoanalysis as a science of hysteria. On the stage of internment the women abandoned their senses; free from restraint they contorted their bodies as free as their minds. Between the patient and the guard the competition between capture and rupture accelerated into gruesome distortions. To this dynamic, of medicine to diagnose the spirit that endlessly tries to flee the body, to chain it to a cell of a medicated body, to incapacitate the mind and body, to study the workings of the mind and body, to dissect the restless spirit — the spirit responds with masquerade — playing the game only to abolish the rules. In the ghetto now it is “the party that never ends,” welfare day is mardi gras Wednesday, to play this game the junky will perform in front of the specialists to receive their stipends, they will lend you their body for protests, science experiments, meetings, data, surveys, photos, they will play any game wanted from them, strike any contortion, and just when they have made you believe they are what you knew they would be...


From these wild hysterics is the impossibility of diagnosis, only escalating pharmaceutical drugging with increasingly exotic atypical antipsychotics for a pre-fab general psychosis. A milking of disorder through dispersed economy’s of chemical control at the molecular level. Denounced socially as “feral” and “aggressive” the junky further reseeds into wildness: the virus of words creates monsters. Mockery of authority that in its canrivalesquness nears riot, as in the pagan festivals of past. The doctors collect only the evidence to prove their hypotheses, always wary that in the hysteria they have constructed, the patient might uncover a secret power. The screws in the supportive housing, and their bosses, are ever vigilant, that if this entitlement of hysteria goes un-medicated even momentarily — the discipline required to keep the camps running might soon be exploded in cumulative frenzy.


Because the inmates of our camps had abandoned life and fear not death a new world is created inside the words of pharma-psychiatry. The jargon of therapy at its origin was stolen from the mythologies of the Greeks and the dreams of the mad. In this last year the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which has long been the holy bible for headshrinkers, has laid waste to the fantasies of psychiatry and replaced those legends with the hard data of neurology. Big Data, Big Daddy. Unlimited diagnoses of mental disorders are an algorithm in an endless matrix of modulation. Like a mouth opening to the universe, it unhinges itself so as to devour the world.



“The reason I look at rooms,” Doctor Bill MacEwan says, peering into his patient’s unit in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, “is because it’s a picture of their brains.” Moments earlier, the doctor had confronted the room’s occupant in the hallway, asking about a meeting, chasing her down a flight of stairs and out onto the street when she refused to stop and talk. For the past decade, the silver-haired psychiatrist has taken the unconventional approach of going out to the patients who refuse to go to him. (...) Later out on the street the doctor runs into patient who is “doing much better now.” “He gave me some stuff for my brain,” Mr. Hogan said, referring to an injectable antipsychotic medication Dr. MacEwan prescribed.  (Globe and Mail, April 10, 2013)




The architecture of the modern camp was extracted from experiments being done at the Correctional Service Canada’s (CSC), Regional Treatment Centre (RHC). Operating since 2004 just outside Vancouver, and warehousing 600 inmates, the institution has had to create a liquid internment that flows between hospital and prison. Below are excerpts taken from a 2011 operational review. These fragments were chosen to highlight the mechanisms and theories built into the camps of the DTES:

The Redevelopment of the Regional Health Centre is designed to be at the forefront of the Correctional Service's philosophy of the treatment of offenders. Nowhere else in Canada and possibly the world has a correctional facility attempted to promote rehabilitation and the equitable treatment of offenders, using this type of operating regime, on this scale.


At its heart is an attempt to marry treatment, research and libertarian philosophies of security into one centre.


Dynamic Security: The primary tenant of dynamic security is that through communication, we can intervene in potential security problems before they become serious. Leading edge technology in the area of electronics, the new wireless fixed point and personal portable alarm systems, CCTV, and remote operation of security equipment.


The design of the new RHC represents a major shift in correctional thinking. Currently the security systems rely heavily on physical means of controlling negative behavior with interpersonal skills based dynamic security acting as an early intervention strategy. The new RHC places much heavier emphasis on dynamic security, to the point that many static security elements have been removed.


Master Development Plan:  The structure must offer the capacity to effectively control the behavior of the full spectrum of offenders from minimum to maximum security as well as that of mentally disordered offenders. The challenge is to design the physical plant to provide the required level of containment while offering a facility in which a therapeutic milieu can be established. In all cases, containment will be required at the building level. The ability to provide access control and effective temporal zoning without resorting to excessive fencing and barriers is desirable. Where possible the buildings themselves could provide such functions and thereby soften the overall appearance and atmosphere.


Open Control Posts, which are to replace the Closed Control Posts, is intended to allow increased dynamic supervision, increased interaction and increased communication. With an open control post, the possibility of barricading the post does not exist. Although there are comparatively few low intensity incidents at RHC, when incidents happen, they are usually of the more serious nature, such as staff assaults and hostage taking.


The Operating Regime: Operating regime appears to be a new concept, the premises behind it seem to have a long history in prisons. A series of mutually exclusive systems, operating simultaneously, while sharing common resources.


The operating regime of RHC will operate the same way, except the different populations will be based on therapeutic needs, and not incompatibility, or security classification. The efficacy of an operating regime is achieved, in part, by creating individual populations, with the highest level of homogeneity of needs possible.


This leads to the question at the heart of the issue: how do we safely manage a large population of patients, with diverse security needs, in an open institution?

- Andrew Parrish & Dan O'Hara RHC JOSH Committee

Infinite Border


Uber Coca; Sigmund Freud, 1884

When the Spanish conquerors forced their way into Peru they found that the coca plant was cultivated and held in high esteem in that country; and indeed that it was closely connected with the religious customs of the people. Legend held that manco capac, the divine son of the Sun, had descended in primeval times from the cliffs of lake Titicaca, bringing his fathers light to the wretched inhabitants of the country; that he had brought them knowledge of the gods, taught them the useful arts, and given them the coca leaf, this divine plant which satiates the hungry, strengthens the weak, and causes them to forget their misfortune. Coca leaves were offered in sacrifice to the gods, were chewed during religious ceremonies, and were even placed in the mouths of the dead in order to assure them a favorable reception in the beyond. The historian of the Spanish conquest, himself a descendent of the Incas, reports that coca was at first a scarce commodity in the land and its use was a prerogative of the rulers; by the time of the conquest, however, it had long since become accessible to everyone. Garcilasso endeavored to defend coca against the ban which the conquerors laid upon it. The Spaniards did not believe in the marvelous effects of the plant, which they suspected as the work of the devil, mainly because of the role which it played in the religious ceremonies. A council held in Lima went so far as to prohibit the use of the plant on the ground that it was heathenish and sinful. Their attitude changed, however, when they observed that the Indians could not perform the heavy labor imposed upon them in the mines if they were forbidden to partake of coca. They compromised to the extent of distributing coca leaves to the workers three or four times daily and allowing them short periods of respite in which to chew the beloved leaves. And so the coca plant has maintained its position among the natives to the present day; there even remain traces of the religious veneration, which was once accorded to it.

The ontology of plague is the invasion of alien bodies. Foreigners in turn play hosts by spreading the plague; by dealing the crack, coke, heroin, meth ect. The cops feel certain that the aliens are from distant Honduras; “we believe there is some sort of network in place, because they get here and are so quickly in the trade.” In 1998 the cops whose emergency-imagination conjures the most fantastical absurdities, claimed that there was a ring of 100 Honduran children running drugs in the DTES. But aside from these flights of fancy, what is the network? In 2005, the cops and immigration thugs launched Operation Torpedo, targeting “Honduran dealers.” This was followed by the deployment of 60 more cops into the ghetto under a program called Citywide Enforcement. The weeks after the invasion were war for remaining territory. Watching a young white guy enter the alley, the red spot on the back of his white t-shirt grew into a blotch that ran down into his pants as he collapses behind a dumpster; across the street a berserker took an iron pole to a mans head. Pressing his skull together, calling for an ambulance, looking down the block to see ambulances attending two other street corners. From this time on the dealing has been Latino(/Latina). Honduran or not.


So what kind of network was “torpedoed,” what was it replaced by? And the trade? For what would so many take the phantasmagoric exodus through the infinite border; transversing cops, military, death squads, deserts, train wrecks, dehydration, and all other rites of global capitalism's passage? The cops obviously don’t give a shit. For them the “trade” is depicted in scatological exchange: “Honduran crack dealers store the wrapped rocks of crack in their mouths. When they see a police officer they swallow it. That does sort of paint the picture of what they then do to get their drugs back. Its actually quite a gross way they do their transactions.”


Depicting the shit of a filthy immigrant — the primal economy of the savage, to confirm the social disgust and motivate the cleansing of society. An immigration lawyer, paid to defend the good foreign workers and protect us from the bad workers, says of the dealer: “you detain him on site and keep him detained until you physically deliver him from whence he came.”


In this trade, this crack trade, the Latino dealers are a way station, a middleman between the white distributors and the consumers; the actual street dealers are the junkies, who themselves hold the rock, deal it, and when out — re-up from the Latino guarding over the stash. The junky in return are given gifts for their risks. It is this gift economy that drives a considerable chunk of the junky drug trade. The junky also works as “6,” the front line of defense in spotting the police, “6-UP!”, while above street level, Miguel points out, a more sophisticated counter-surveillance of police movement is taking place; following his pointing finger to the windows, there are no narco-terrorist peering down through scopes, but the latina he points out in the coffee shop on a laptop with a cell phone, back when both were few and far inbetween in the ghetto, does strike a sentry figure.


Amongst the junkies the gift economy takes place in rituals and festivities in which economic transaction is only one element. Excessive exchange, of crime, drugs, sex, marks the junky economy — not an exchange of labor value for a wage from the dealers higher up the street hierarchy. Types of mutual aid exist between the junkies in the gift economy, watching one another’s back, sharing rigs and pipes, leaving the last push or hit from the brillo. Accepting a gift reinforces a social bond between giver and receiver. It also places one under an obligation to give something back in return. In a life lived in pursuit of constant excess this cycle of reciprocation is desperately valuable in times of withdrawal crisis. This circulation of gifts is wedded to a moral economy of authority and prestige, as there is always the dealer who has more, the dealer’s gift establishes asymmetrical relations of power.

The gift of the Latino dealer and the power they draw over its distribution to underling dealer/users exists in the economy of potlatch. A word given to the ritual of destruction by indigenous secret societies on the pacific west coast, meaning “to feed,” “to consume.” Through potlatch, assembled tribes seek to outdo one another with gifts and the destruction of wealth. The excess of possessions are sacrificed to insert prestige over those whom the gift is offered or destroyed on behalf of. The Latino dealers who are renowned for their parties, where choice street-underlings and women get wrecked on the supply that they have been slinging. These festivals further assert the dominion of the dealer over his crew; the drugs are consumed in frenzy, further indebting the recipient, while enforcing their reciprocal return of loyalty to the trade. The Latino dealers will also compete against one another in a gruesome completion of prestige — of who retains more subservience, and who can command the more. Sometimes this competition will increase in violence, and the destruction of their drug supply into the body of their street-dealer will end in the sacrifice of that street-dealer — or woman’s life.


The Latino chief command respect and fear, they are a tribe to themselves, but not isolated from the street, and still “networked” in the junky “trade.” Here is where their flight from the south has brought them, to temporarily rule over a fiefdom of junkies, before their inevitable capture and deportation. Along their way here, myths are gathered in flight. Forging in the shadows of the infinite border, they make it to the edge of empire, where exoduses empty and mix in the ghetto; the refuse of global diasporas wash up where the highway of tears leads hang-around-the-fort-Indians to wait and drink and get high outside the gate; all together in this border zone of conjoining barbarian cosmologies.



The community-of-death is an economy of consumption, sacrifice and excess, that relationship to things is the destruction of things, the negation of negation — that is Potlatch. The society of the living is an economy of growth, the accumulation of things and the relationship between these things; the acceleration of accumulation — that is Control. Now that society has conquered the war on drugs by absorbing harm reduction, turning the state into the biggest drug cartel; there is a new form of hostility between the junkies and the Man. Not a class war, but among the two is a potlatch of destruction and of control. With the expenditure of control, its excess is invested back into biopower. This surplus of control is then channeled into the circulating economy of the junky, overpowering the exchange between the drug trade and creating its own pharma-economy off of the need. Now there are no longer gifts exchanged, nor the mutual networks created around such an economy; rather, drugs are imposed upon the junky that is banished from the street to the camp, to passively receive biopower’s administered junk. In response, the junkies potlatch of destruction can only reciprocate with the annihilation of their own life.



Juan, who is making a film with the drunks and junkies of Oppenheim park, tells the tale of Rosa, standing over there, a blonde giant of a women. She started the first (and only?) all female street gang down here. Leaving the reservation, she was the first daughter of the kwakiutl chief and wanted no part of her hereditary duties. From the ghetto then to prison, she founded The Moccasins. Back on the streets she met her lover whom she would marry. He was a refugee from El Salvador (which side of the civil war?), he sold crack and was head of The Scorpion Gang. Their marriage was more then one of convenience, but the gangs did prosper and the crack did procreate more crack. Until suddenly her lover died of pneumonia. In the wake of his death and the in the violence of power’s vacuum, Rosa was set upon by an assassin while grieving in bed. Believing her dead by the amount of blood pooling between the sheets, the incompetent killer bludgeoned her no more and left the job incomplete. During Rosa convalescence The Moccasins fell away and/or fell prey. Rosa now holds court over a few benches in the park. She says she will return to the rez.


Living Wild


A journal of the Plague Year; by Daniel Defoe -1722

{...} The locking up of peoples houses put the people upon all manner of stratagem in order, if possible, to get out; and it would fill a volume to set down the arts used by the people of such houses to shut the eyes of the watchmen who were employed, to deceive them and to escape or break out from them, in which frequent scuffles and some mischief happened; of which by itself. {...} There was violence used with the watchmen, as was reported, in abundance of places; nor, indeed, could less be expected, for here were so many prisoners in the town as there were houses shut up; and as many people shut up or imprisoned so were guilty of no crime, only shut up because miserable, it was really the more intolerable to them...

{...} It is to be considered too, that as these were prisons without bars and bolts, which our common prisons are furnished with, so the people let themselves down out of their windows, even in the face of the watchmen, bringing swords or pistols in their hands, and threatening the poor wretch to shoot him if he stirred or called for help... so that in short the shutting up of houses was in no wise to be depended upon. Neither did it answer in the end at all, serving more to make the people desperate, and drive them to such extremities, as they would break out at all adventures...

{...} The severity of those confinements made many people desperate, and made them run out of their houses at all hazards, and with the plague visibly upon them, not knowing whither to go or what to do, or, indeed, what they did; and many that did so were often driven to dreadful exigencies and extremities, and perished in the streets or fields for mere want...

{...} Yet there were many ways of retreat, and particularly, as I hinted, some got tents and set them up in the fields, carrying beds or straw to lie on, and provenience to eat, as so lived in them as hermits in a cell, for nobody would venture to come near them; and several stories where told of such, some comical, some tragically, some who lived like wandering pilgrims in the deserts, and escaped by making themselves exiles in such a manner as is scarce to be credited, and who yet enjoyed more liberty than was to be expected in such cases...


The junky that remains evasive is living wild. Escaping the police and outreach workers, they take to the woods. Any overgrowth of thicket, or cluster of trees that remain on the peripheral of the ghetto, shelters the debris of the escapee. In the larger fields and forests are constellations of encampments postindustrial hobo jungles, buried under the soggy green canopy. These places are only known by the wild junkies and the queers who seek out “open-air” encounters.


In the forest you find yourself on a foot beaten trail (not one of those made by the slave labor of the unemployed of the ‘30’s), as you walk into the dense woods, the trails fractal off in all directions; exploring is like making the first map, the lines swerve ever out, every seeming end is just a conjunction, branching off are other paths that lead to carved out enclaves, many are hand sculpted and feature primitive art dangling from the branches and are aligned by esoteric rock formations; the ground is well trodden here and littered with empty packs of lubricant, condoms and drug paraphernalia.


These outlaw spaces are nodes in an expansive rhizome. If there are any structures, they are off the flowing paths and set in the bush — they are not to be located. Outside the state and outside of society, an orgy of feral excess. Against the blue print of control, a cartography of escape. Here are those whom resist the enclosures, of the hotels, the safe injection site, crack inhalation rooms; as well as the steam baths and nightclubs -here is a kind of freedom and a free fuck. Not without its risk, the chance one takes to live so close to death.


These are the new hunting grounds for the social scientists whose mission is to “seek and treat.” The humanitarian invasion that only wants to help, by placing you in a concentration camp. The health outreach workers who insist that you must quarantine your body so as not to contaminate others. They insist your desires must be reified and rendered unto capital.


Below the forest is a hidden labyrinthine commons, an unfolding universe of burrows being dug, a-centered systems, and networks of finite automata, where paths do not pre-exist and are ever interchangeable; where strolling has the result of schizophrenia. That is why these spaces have always been under attack. Hobo jungles, tent cities and cruising-parks, if allowed to grow-in-commons will burrow tunnels from out and under society in such a cumulative way that the edges of the city will collapse. That is why the society of control with all of its coils, is organized into a snake — so as to hunt the moles in their burrow.



Chemical Coils of Control


Gilles Deleuze in his Postscript on Societies of Control makes this remark and then leaves it at that: “future means of control will resemble those described by William S. Burroughs.” In a 1979 screenplay for a movie, Blade Runner (no not that “Blade Runner,” but that’s how it got its name), Burroughs predicted for our present:


“Overpopulation has led to ever-increasing governmental control over the private citizen, not on the old style police-state models of oppression and terror, but in terms of work, credit, housing, retirement benefits, and medical-care service that can be withheld. These services are computerized. No number, no service. However, this has not produced the brainwashed standardized human units postulated by such linear prophets as George Orwell. Instead, a large percentage of the population has been forced underground. How large, no one knows. These people are numberless.”


William S. Burroughs wrote a lot about junkies and queers (in such books as ‘Junky’ and ‘Queers’!). He experienced these worlds as becoming a laboratory for the techniques of mass control, in particular the relationship between drugs and the state, specifically in the use of methadone:

“I see control more in terms of the administering of drugs; the government has done nothing to fight this pox. What’s worse, they have set up methadone clinics — merely a substitute for heroin — and can thereby control the addicts who return up to four times a day to get their official dose.”


The empire of methadone in the ghetto has been ruled feudally, where lords of methadone have their own fiefdoms. The junky, like surf, is allowed to use the clinic and only this clinic, so long as they hand over their welfare subsidy that pays their script. The clinics are usually situated with the storefront of a hotel, but now scattered like so many convenient stores, due to the hotels becoming camps with their own internal supply. Out back and along the alleyways are the dumpsters of the numerous pharmacies; red, yellow, blue, green, brown, all overflowing with clear garbage bags near bursting with countless Styrofoam cups used in the dispersal of the methadone (and free coffee!). Often these dumpsters are wheeled into the middle of the pockmarked alley, used as barricades against creeping cop cars.

It is not just from historical knowledge that junkies refer to methadone as “Hitler juice” (as it was made in Germany during the midnight of the last century by IG Farben, the same company that made Zyklon B — the poison gas the Nazis used to kill the Jews and gypsies and queers), but also a precise knowledge of methadone’s application — in this, already, the midnight of our new millennium. Now heroin and alcohol maintenance are being administered on mass, removing the communal drink and high from the streets and bars and ushering it into the ambiance of the camps control, where there falls under the jurisdiction of the petty-tyrant who administers how much of a dose you are allowed. Freed of paradox, everything is permitted, so long as it is deprived of its anti-social tendencies. Asked decades ago how far this system of drugging could go, Burroughs responded, “there is no limit, there is absolutely no limit to what the control mentality will do.”


The war on drugs, once asymmetrical, has become, by power consuming its counter-agents, a matter of full-spectrum permissiveness of ever escalating drugging. Unhinged from the obsolete armory of the past wars of fixed engagement, are the so-called “atypical antipsychotics” drugs. If Hitler juice was social control, then these new drugs are a gas. Enforcement now flows through the bloodstream and neuron cells in the forms of risperidone, quetipine, olazapin, abilify and more and more. Pills that conveniently side step conventional drug testing, which can take years or decades, are now being tested on poor folks in countries in Africa and eastern Europe — before being tested on mass throughout the camps of the ghetto. The economic domination of health makes the junkies bodies a cash cow, stuffed to the gills with billions of dollars of profitable drugs. This is the neo-liberal exploitation of “disorder” that continuously remodels biopolitical control, whilst harvesting the junky. As pharmaceuticals replaced oil as the world's largest business, so shifts wars from extraction to injection.


Starting from the global slums/laboratories, the industrial pharmaceutical complex grafts itself upon society that in turn spreads its chemical coils of control through proliferating modes of treatment. Therapeutic governmentality becomes installed by mass psychology, which permeates society through the micro-politics of normative regimes. Like the Kafka parable, the psychiatrist/health worker position themselves as the watchmen outside the gate of the law, for which each citizen has their own door.


Recently told by a worker at one camp that patient/tenants who are paranoid about their drugs, that they are forced to take before being allowed to leave their supportive housing, are allowed to open the packages themselves. Asked what if they don’t want to take the drugs, he responded, “we call their health teams who with the help of the police make sure they do.” In the lobby beside this office where the drugs are administered, a black woman screams at the police that she does not want to go with them. The workers just kinda shrug and smile.




The junky is singular and plural. A loner and a horde. The junkies multiplicity of relationships is a multitude of becomings. The junky is the rodent that spreads disease, that fucks like bunnies, vampire that sucks blood. Half-man, half-wolf —  wolfman, feral, a fink, a snake, buggy, parasite, flying high, creepy-crawly; the junky is zoological. Running in packs, like the contagion of viruses that circulate through the body; bipolar, split personality, borderline, multi diagnosis — the treatment of AIDS takes from this fractaling  — multi-resistant drugs. The existence of the junky is thus anomalous, Everything is in flux of becoming, absorbing, expelling, connecting; within the body and the community this all happens at once.


For society of control to take the initiative it must seize at least one site in the hyper-metamorphosis and lay its own claim. In colonizing a single space, Mental-Health-&-Addictions, is such a claim. It inherently apprehends the multiplicity and counters with psych-meds that dissolve combinations. This is how the state has always attacked societies outside the state — secret societies, criminal syndicates, fraternal bombers, heretical sects, primitive rebels; capturing one to break them all  — “a junky always rats.”


Social Justice


Living-everyday-towards-death does not mean choosing to die, or be killed. It can mean taking a chance on death to live. A precarious existence that risks to be ambivalent towards a politics-of-living has a better chance of escaping the subjectifying techniques of bare life. It is neither either/or -choosing life or death, but a threshold of precarity that opens to a plane of consistency.


‘... prostitutes, however, love the thresholds of these gates of dream. The threshold must be carefully distinguished from the boundary. A threshold is a zone. transformation, passage, wave action, swell...’ Walter Benjamin 1927


To capture this ambivalence and stack the odds against chance, is the discourse of survivalism. This is what the pharma-policing and Rescue Industry is founded upon. Equally as banal as the assessment that sex work is slavery, is the false agency applied to survival sex work.


In the economy of harm reduction the choice of survival is a false offering. By declaring some of sex work as “survival” it becomes alienated from sex work, just as it isolates life from living, and the solidarity potentiality of the precariat is broken. Isolated, this form-of-sex, as a form-of-life, is prey to the police, who have become the voice of Rescue. Sister Watch (“The Sister Watch Project is a multi-faceted operation designed to combat violence against women in the Downtown Eastside.” VPD, 2010) and the categorical integration of the pig farm inquiry recommendations, put the cops at the vanguard of progressiveness, and situates the violence against women at the forefront of policing — where ultimately the choice between life and death is based on the whim of the cops.

This is how Law became Social Justice. The need of control — white junk, returns to the mentality of white slavery, but no longer of the hysteria that jazz-playing-negro-dope-fiends are abducting-women-and-addicting-them-into-prostitution-rings; now by way of white junk, the “sick addicts” are rescued from “evil dealers” and inturn are indentured to the camp, addicted to state dope and the cops are their pimps. Just like the snake that eats its own tail, the serpentine society of control devours itself.



Red Light District: a few camps offer brothels. All tenants must be actively engaged in survival sex work to live there. Johns are allowed 2 hours stay. Two pieces of government ID are left at front desk. Three cameras at front door, more at control post, and in all hallways.

“Do you allow police in the building?”

“Oh, they can just come in, sometimes we might go up to the room with them and knock on the door.”



Vancouver Police 2012 Business Plan Mid-Year Report Card:

o    Ongoing. The VPD regularly participates in community events relating to marginalized women and sex trade workers.

o    Movie Nights have been held at the Aboriginal Front Door Society, Carnegie Centre, and Ray Cam Community Centre.

o    Over 30 VPD members participated in the annual Feb. 14th Women’s Memorial March.

o    VPD Sister Watch committee members attended a Circle of Understanding workshop held at the Vancouver Aboriginal Community Policing Centre (VACPC).

o    The VPD initiated the “I.D. for Me” program which has helped 95 women thus far in obtaining vital personal identification documents such as care cards, birth certificates, and social insurance cards. This effort has helped empower these marginalized women.

o    The VPD has received a $3,500 grant from the Vancouver Police Foundation (VPF) to provide appropriate safety items to sex workers.



Theatre of the Plague


‘Rites de Passage --this is the designation in folklore for the ceremonies that attach to death and birth, to marriage, puberty, and so forth. in modern life, these transitions are becoming ever more unrecognizable and impossible to experience. We have grown very poor of threshold experiences. Falling asleep is perhaps the only such experience that remains to us. (but together with this, there is also waking up.) and, finally, there is the ebb and flow of conversation and the sexual permutations of love -experiences that surges over thresholds like the changing figures of the dream. “how mankind loves to remain transfixed,” says Aragon, “at the very doors of imagination!” It is not only from the thresholds of these gates of imagination that lovers and friends like to draw their energies; it is from thresholds in general. Prostitutes, however, love the thresholds of these gates of dream...’


The dream here spoken of is the communication of rupture, how theses thresholds are communicated, between two worlds, and within new worlds. Sex and drugs are threshold experiences that bring one into communication with junkies...


The trans sex worker in the documentary “Hookers on Davie” proclaims that this is all an act — that the street is a stage. The audience and characters blur together and the stage cuts threw everyone. She paints her face in elizabethan excess and wears clothes from another dimension; her costume sets her apart from the crew as she applies her trade. The lines have been repeated thousands of times — the show has had a long run; some say its the longest running show in history. The acting techniques have been passed down, it is now a simulacra of gestures evoking erotic simulation.


For Breton Brecht, the encounter between a sex worker and a john would be the basic model for his Epic Theatre. He encouraged his actors to mimic the man on the street who has witnessed a car accident and reenacts the situation for the gathering onlookers: he animates the little sub-incident, emphasizes its importance, makes it worthy of attention. Like the sex worker, she extends her body off the curb, showcasing it, more tantalizing than the others. Brecht notes that in the context of Epic Theatre it is necessary to stress the socially practical significance; the actor can break from the script, like the man imitating the accident, “whenever he feels he can in order to give explanations,” stress his personal view. The sex worker will aswell, stop on a dime — to chase away creeps, negotiate price, dodge cops, smoke crack, etc; of course during these intervals the show is still going on, as the street scene plays on indefinitely; but the worker is able to slide in and out, returning as whatever character, in whatever dreaming zone, she chooses.


Apart from this refined and staged theatrics of the street corner theatre, is the everyday, all-day theatre which encompases the existance of the junky and denotes their spectacular relationship with the world. Unlike Brecht's theatre and the economy of sex work, this theatre’s “meaning” cannot be imitated, as it serves no “socially practical significance.” Antonin Artaud called this the Theatre of Cruelty. This sort of drama was founded in plague and in plague it remains. Drawing his morbid attention to the spiritual physiognomy of diseases, Artaud dwells on the spectacle of plague. And in the spector of the pits illuminated by the fires we see our camp.


In the city of the plague, when all of society has self-destructed and corpses are made with little distinction — those who survive however briefly (re)turn a different breed. “The dregs of the population, apparently immunized by their frenzied greed, enter the open houses and pillage riches they know will serve no purpose or profit and at that moment the theatre is born.” The theatre: “an immediate gratuitousness provoking acts without use or profit.” Of course for the junky, stealing is vital to sustaining the high, but the gratuitous acts which orbit these crimes can be deemed by some as useless and suicidal. It is not the social territorialisation of the ghetto, nor the nihilism in the jaws of plague which sponsor these gratuitous acts: “neither the idea of an absence of sanctions nor that of imminent death suffices to motivate acts so gratuitous absurd on the part of men who did not believe death could end anything,” but rather — or also, it is the frenzy of the theatre itself. The abandonment of social restraint, the escape of mortal pain — in the community-of-death, the junky invents for themselves “personages he could never have imagined without the plague, creating them in the midst of an audience of corpses and delirious lunatics.” Here is the analogy between the junky and the poet-dramatist who invents characters, entrusting them to an audience equally inert or delirious. A dreaming communication between zones and thresholds. The plague is contagious delirium and like the theatre it is commutative; and like theatre the plague takes images that are dormant, a latent disorder, and suddenly extends them into the most extreme gestures; anti-social ceremonies and other rituals played out in the midst of plague are the summoning of incantations against control.

the tweaking junky picking through sidewalk cracks with a dirty rig

the back alley flailer screaming bloody conspiracy

secret seances muttered in nods

jib heads running near-naked in freezing rain

tranny queens blowing kisses to cops

robbing the dead of their drugs

The list of characters goes on with every new high. What is found in this defiant performance is release; getting so fucking high that anguish is exploded, even if for single moment — the reprieve from suffering is the carnival of plague, and drugs keep the party going.



If a theatre of control where to be staged dramatically, it would follow Pasolini's re-make of Sade’s 120 days in Sodom, which he restaged in fascist Italy. The castle owner, duke, bishop and judge who precure men and women to satisfy their sadism are “beings of a profound and recognized criminality, who have no god but the lubricity, no laws but their depravity...godless, unprincipled, unbelieving profligates in whose eyes the life of a woman — the lives of all women, are as insignificant as the crushing of a fly.” In the setting of the ghetto our allegory would be residential schools, the paranoid realisation of underground pedihpilia rings and kidnapping conspiracies, or the earlier rumors of a pig farm.


“the void that no longer has an organ”


It is oft said that drugs are an escape from life — and when life is hell, the junky escapes from hell; escapees destined eternally to reenact their escape. Artaud in a letter to the legislators of the law on narcotics, spoke of opiates as such an escape from pain and anguish. He considered himself to have an anti-social position but believed “addicts have an inalienable right within society, which is that they be left the hell alone.” As a lunatic and addict himself (who only contemplated suicide at the realisation he could not cut his doctors throat), he understood in this letter of 1925 more than many now; such as the medical industry's role in social control: “the law of narcotics places in the hands of the inspector — usurper of public health, the right to have control over human suffering.” Against this Artaud proclaimed, “I am the master of my pain, even more than of my death.”


The junky self-medicates their pain and more than that “opium is that inviolable and despotic substance which allows those who have had the misfortune to lose the life of their souls the possibility of recovering it.” The disease, for which opium is release, is named by Artaud as Anguish:

Anguish which drives men mad

Anguish which drives men to suicide

Anguish which condemns them to hell

Anguish which medicine does not know

Anguish which your doctor does not understand

Anguish which violates life

Anguish which constricts the umbilical cord of life


Opium does not abolish anguish, but the “anguish of opium has another hue.” Artaud writes “it is full of echoes, caves, labyrinths, and turns; full of speaking tongues of fire, of mental eyes in action, and of the clapping of thunder that is dark and full of reason.” And finally in another letter he calls for the experimentation of bodies without organs, “one must experience the real unraveled void, the void that no longer has an organ. The void of opium contains as it were the shape of a brow that thinks, that has located the position of the black pit.”


Integrated Spectacle


In his Comments on Society of the Spectacle, Guy Debord updated his analysis to better reflect the society of control. He outlined how spectacular power in the previous societies of dispersal and of concentration have combined to form the integrated spectacle. The society of the integrated spectacle is characterised by the combined effect of five principal features: “incessant technological renewal; integration of state and economy; generalised secrecy; unanswerable lies; and, an eternal present.” (On the side, and in his old situationisty way, he noted that the highest ambition of the integrated spectacle is still to turn “secret agents into revolutionaries, and revolutionaries into secret agents.”)


Utilizing each point in Debord’s art of war above, the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) have succeeded in a coup d’etat, and inserted themselves as the leadership of the Community Control network. They found their footing during the 2010 Olympic state of emergency, which bore the Integrated Security Unit (ISU): The RCMP established the V2010 ISU in 2003, uniting law enforcement and the Canadian Forces, which had their own: “Command and Control (C2) structure concurrent with the selection of Commanders at the Bronze, Silver and Gold command levels”(!) The VPD used the 2011 riot and its post-operation’s Integrated Investigation Team to further ingratiate themselves into the upper echelons of low level military actions and high intensity police operations. More significantly on street level, a grassroots campaign of counter-insurgency against junkies and their plague of crime; the VPD imposed themselves on the operations model of their own mytholoicalalizing design (Operation Lockstep and it mutations).


Always the good trotskyist, the VPD, who only years ago would crash international conference to thuggishly distribute their own anti-harm reduction papers, have now become much more sophisticated (trotskyists) and use their influence to muscle into coalitions and then split them along the lines of “with just-us” or with crime. This has succeeded in their total takeover of the discourse and subsequently, the services of the “2nd generation emergency.”


The outline of their Great Leap Forward first took form in “Operation Lockstep: a united effort to save lives in the DTES.” The cops insisted that “a matrix of issues-stakeholders create a multi-government structure to direct the Most Vulnerable Population (MVP) Initiative.” This structure would then integrate with the community court and have cops serving in every steering and sub-committee, and with their personal communicating at every level. This would not be an ad-hoc committee of pencil pushers, but an “alliance” that would consist of “the highest levels, where top decision makers in each organisation have the authority to take action and command resources.” With bare life being the object of the grande intervention — they spelled their strategy out clearly: “The goal should be to get people the help they need. Politics, or a desire to be treated in a certain way, should not be factored into any solution.”


Following this report, and at the beginning of the creation of its command structure, the VPD authored Lost in Translation: The Disturbing Truth, and then issued their own self-critique of that report with Beyond Lost in Transition: Policing Vancouvers Mentally Ill. The two reports together serve as an escalating demand that the police be given total control over whatever services they need so as to regulate this state of emergency. Stressing the need to integrate health services with police, they were able to fully absorb all health outreach in the DTES. No longer confined to the singular Car 87, the matrix of health and police dispersed throughout the ghetto into an integrated network; bounty hunters whose mission is to “Seek and Treat.”


This medical-police structure continues the fascist symbolism of integration that the cops choose for their Operation Lockstep: Operation Link. On the ground and in the buildings the Assertive Care Team (ACT) wraps its coil around thousands of bare lives interned in supportive housing.


The cops know it was their tactical use of discourse which created this myth of Community Control and allowed them to lord over it. Taken from a Vancouver Sun special report (April 25 2013) with the gonzo title of “Vancouver Police Mental Health Team Tries to Stop the Revolving Door of Arrest and Treatment:

Sgt. Howard Tran is the officer in charge of the VPD’s newly formed mental health unit.”

Tran says the unit owes its formation to two internal reports — the first produced in 2008, the followup in 2010 — that were critical of the lack of treatment and facilities for the mentally ill, as well as the lack of housing for them.

“With the ACT team we are proactive. We target clients, almost like we do chronic offenders. It’s mutually beneficial to them, to the public, to the health care system and to the police. (...) We believe if we can stabilize them, get them housing and get them on a treatment regime, we can reduce their contact with the police and the health care system, and so far it’s rung true.”

While participation in receiving At Home services is optional — patients being discharged can refuse to allow the team to visit them at home — the ACT team’s services aren’t. The “assertive” part of the ACT team’s title makes that plain, as does the presence of Vancouver police officers embedded in the team. “The ACT team are like minesweepers — they pick up anyone in the community who is in distress. They are dealing with situations that could be quite dangerous at times,” Tran said.


In the absence of law, there is social justice; in the myth of Community Control, this justice is mediated by the Community Court, which operates only in the DTES, since 2008. Its integrated structure best exemplifies the operation in its totality:


Vancouver's Downtown Community Court is a unique partnership between the Provincial Court of B.C. and justice, social and health services agencies working to address the complex crime issues in the area. Located in the courthouse are: a Provincial Court judge, a co-ordinator, a Crown counsel, a defence lawyer, a Vancouver police officer, sheriffs, court clerks, probation officers, forensic liaison workers, a forensic psychiatrist, a nurse, healthjustice liaison workers, employment assistance workers, a victim services worker, a BC Housing support worker and a native courtworker.


The cop’s utopia of control is Burroughsesque and renews the call for Kathy Acker’s emergent fantastical dystopian-insurrection. It is this simulation of surveillance that Jean Baudrillard once speculated about in his essay on Simulacra and Science Fiction. He writes that there are three forms of simulacra, that correspond to three forms of Sci-Fi; first the simulacra of the real; which belongs to the imaginary of the utopia, with its counterfeit of the ideal harmonious institution of nature. To the second which corresponds to contemporary Sci-Fi, is the simulacra that are productive; founded on energy, force, its materialization by the machine and its whole system of production. In the third case, he believed “something else is in the process of emerging,” which “puts an end to science fiction, as well as theory, as specific genres.” This is, “the simulacra of simulacra — founded on information, the model, the cybernetic game — total operationality, hyperreality, aim of total control.” Could it be, by taking over the writing-apparatus with all its data, profiles, questionnaires, studies, reports, etc. that the cops have blasted us beyond the final frontier of science fiction and postmodern theory?


The White Junk of White Devils


'On returning home, i tried to fasten the chain, and when this proved difficult my first suspicion was that an experiment was being set up'.

Walter Benjamin, Main Features Of My Second Impression of Hashish; Written January 15, 1928, at 3:30


'Under the state of emergency, anything is possible'.

Michael Taussig, Terror As Usual: Walter Benjamin's Theory of History As State of Siege


The junky is endowed with the psychic powers of paranoid-schizophrenia. In decoding the Community of Control and locating lines of flight, the paranoid junky skitzoid is one of those whose superior lucidity enables them in all circumstances to see further, infinitely and dangerously further, than the immediate and apparent reality of facts. In the tweeked-out rants, the rastaman’s chanting down babylon-burning, “Fire! Fire! But theres no water!”


The alarm of the camps epoch had long been raised. Shrugged off as paranoid delusion, the alarm returns as emergency. The paranoid mocked for imagining a total surveillance of their body and mind, now stands in the same place totaly exposed to a system of complete control. Another paranoid side-effect of the schizoid junky is to believe that nothing is ever due to chance and that every bad thing that happens is the result of an ill will that is conscious, intelligent and conceded; which psychiatrist never believe. How now does the doctor accused of working with the police respond? It was not by prophecy the junky saw what was really behind the veneer; patterns of birds, animal intestines, nor oracles, made them refuse their medicine.


The junky knows intimately the nature of addiction. Knows instinctively that Control is Addiction: “White Junk.” The Society of the Living operates much like the community-of-death in that both are sustained by excess. Unlimited control is the junk of society; it will undergo any deformation to obtain it, and will never stop hunting for its next fix. The junky knows where this is all heading, and is only slightly surprised, inspite of themselves, by the speed.

Despite this affinity, the process of domination is mystifying. The junkies (like those who in the process of being proletarianized sought to understand and resist this foreign Mythology with the power of their myths) are anthropomorphizing their subjugation; something evil, a dark power — the (white) devil (be the persecution be extra-terrestrial, multi-cultural, or inter-agency). There is a brutal and paranoid hostility directed against all the servants of the state (despite the gratuitous gestures of compliance); all are in on the conspiracy. The junky is singled out by surveillance, as it is their soul, and theirs alone, which is prized. There are limited degrees of arrangements made with the devils — but never full collaboration; as even the small deals made for limited self-gain are seen to be soul-sucking — and will leave the mark of a “rat.”


In the ghetto, this demonic influence is made manifest in-common by the exchange and circulation of the Residential School compensation cheques, which are administered periodically in their tens of thousands of dollars. Every single native who receives this blood money knows it is a continuation of the holocaust and that the money itself is haunted. What is purchased is possesed. “I won't spend it on my family, only with my friends.” The demonic force is mixed in with crack and alcohol and shared. As the cheques are bureaucratic-genocide, they are dispersed, like diseased blankets, at different times, to different “degrees” of “survivors.” In this way the white devil circulates and the act of sharing the poison is returned, in kind, with poison.


Indigenous theorist and militant, Jack D. Forbes, wrote is his book Columbus and other Cannibals, that “for several thousands of years human beings have suffered from a plague, a disease worse than leprosy, a sickness worse than malaria, a malady much more terrible than smallpox.” This epidemic, from which the Plague of Control is yet another virus, he calls Wetiko (cannibalism). An unchecked contagion of “rape, aggression, hate, of conquest, of empire-building.” Spreading rapidly wetikoism makes cannibals from the survivors who themselves spread the “wetiko psychosis.” He stresses that it be understood, that wetikos do not eat other humans only in the symbolic sense, “but literally consume the lives of those that they exploit.”


Wetiko is a cree term (wikeno in Kwakiutl, windigo in Ojibway, wintiko in Powhatan) which refers to a cannibal, or more specifically, “to an evil person or spirit who terrorises other creatures by means of terrible acts.” Wetikowatisewin, refers to “diabolical wickedness or cannibalism.” “Traditional ritualistic ‘cannibalism’ was the act of eating an enemy's flesh in order to gain part of their strength and power — or show respect,” but this cannibalism is the consuming of another's life for one's own private profit, “accompanied by no ceremony or ritual” — just “raw consumption.”

In this mystical conspiracy theory, this paranoid perspective, occult cosmology, we see — with our own sick and fevered dreams, the plague which consumes the world. The wetiko, which is society, devours its enemies and steals their power, and unceremoniously turns them into itself and then becomes them in turn. But always more Control, driven by unquenchable hunger, more and more Control. Forbes called this drive the Matchi syndrome; which he derived from a term found in the Powhatan, Delaware, Massachusett, Ojibwe and Cree languages — meaning evilness of mind, speech,and acts; “this phenomenon takes on either neurotic or psychotic form:” the white junk of the white devil.





Where were you the last time you overdosed?/ How did you pay for the drugs?/ How many different clients have you had sexual activities with where you received money, gifts, drugs or something else?/


The questionnaire attempts to locate the extreme limits of living-in-excess; its used to modify the subjectivising apparatus, so that control might modulate all that the junky does, where they do it, and with whom: not prevention but traceability. As opposed to “regulating the poor” — junkies are commodities and as such undergo an economy of extraction and  production. The commodification process conceals the fact that within the medical-control matrix, junky knowledge as use-value is the source of profit. By the purchase of the commodity of junky-power — the capitalist incorporates knowledge, and the body in which the product is reinvested. The questionnaire is conducted at the threshold of every Open Control Post that the junky must pass through on their way to becoming bare life. In the camps the data is updated consistently over a coffee and for a small stipend. The junky will sell their power-knowledge, but never all of it, not even close.


How would you or how have you dealt with the following situation: you just had an argument with your partner, your Parole Officer recommends more programming but you don’t feel you need anymore?


It is a challenge of the excess in consent. The spectacle of the questionnaire becomes submission (“You want to devour me with your eyes? go ahead, eat me then, I want it!”) to such an extent that submission passes into subversion. The junky overloads the circuits of power-knowledge, the questionnaire begins to unravel; this is followed by a campaign of misinformation: “Are you and intravenous drug user?”, “No”: skip 16 pages of questionnaire. The questionnaire becomes a portal of fantasy — the junky makes shit up, covers their tracks, makes new tracks, circles their tracks, how many different tracks are there here!? Then the junky just stops. Shows over. All characters dissolve back into One. This in psychoanalysis is called Theatre of Flames, in the middle of the performance someone yells: “Fire!”, but the audience is not sure what is real and what is staged.


The junky is a virus in the programs of virtualisation. They check-out from any simulation which has been computed to foresee their contagion. All the programs and data synchronized for the hyper realisation of the junky-reality just slides off them. Given this subjective proclivity of the junky-guerrilla, the state falls back on the tried and tested objective reality of internment. The hyper-real world of codes and biotech, has through its apparatus of camps, imposed the simulacra of surveillance as the reigning scheme of reality. The bare life of the camp can recognize it, or not — just so long as they flow through the open control posts, which transmit their data at a speed that pre-emptively secures their movement.


How do you feel about the crimes you have committed? If your friends were planning a crime, would they ask for your help in the planning/execution of the crime? Why/why not?


And still the social scientist tweak away, for they are the missionaries in the wild, hunting for the last refuge of unspoiled savages. Or are they more like the explorer map-makers, the sappers, believing always something mysterious lays just beyond the last charted islands — a final line to enclose their gulag archipelago. But in the end, what do these brown shirt eggheads have? File cabinets line their hallways full of questionnaires, all coded with different highlighters, all saying the same thing. What evades this questionnaire is the unnamable remainder, that which survives all their subjectifying assaults. That form of life which lives and dies in the intensity of enjoyment: Jouissance, the french allude to it as. For the junky it is that whatever joy which destroys the whatever anguish, it is a being in the world that none outside the community-of-death will ever reenact.


Do you participate in Aboriginal cultural or spiritual activities? If yes, could you tell me a little bit about them and what they mean to you? How often do you take part in these activities? When was the last time you did so? Do you wish you could become more involved in these activities?


The social scientist can never locate Jouissance, if they even know it exists, because their science is geared towards the future -the future of society. The cult of epidemiology is foreseeing how plagues will develop, but Jouissance has no future, it is a negative force and is nihilisticly anti-social. All psychiatry has been able to locate in Jouissance is the Death Drive, and here is where Hegemony funds itself. The junky will live day-to-day and there the questionnaire will derive its data; but the junky lives for rupture — when the anguish of day-to-day is blown apart by moments of Jouissance. Forever chasing dragons that the scientist don't know exist.


Humanitarian Intervention

The metropolitan camp is of the “world wide web of camps.” Global, “corridors of exile” lash through nation states, replacing borders with detention centers and peripherals with slums. Imperial forces of Humanitarian Intervention weave this web — its operations adaptable, but techniques consistent — in all sites of control. These sites of exile and exodus are that of Heterotopia: “other place.” Foucault said that the ship was the heterotopia par excellence; refugees locked out, upon floating camps. So many such ships wrecked upon shores to create new coasts of fortifications. Michel Agier has named four kinds of camps for the tens of millions of undesirables in the (officially) thousands of camps that are spreading across the globe.


First camp: self-constructed and self-organised camps, which are illegal and under threat of violence.

Second camp: screening centres, located usually on borders, to regulate and administer.

Third camp: refugee camps, the official camp which are sprawling into camp-cities.

Fourth camp: camps for internally displaced persons are the slums and ghettos of the metropolis.


From his decades of observations within these camps, Agier insists that “camps create identity.” Swirling subjectivities are tactically exchanged and re-configured; broken down and interchangeable, these camp-identities are:


Bricolage of new identities: grafted onto old ones,

Strengthening of particulars: emancipation from old dominations,

Anti-ethnic behaviors; class and gender antagonisms directed against ethnic divisions,

Inter-ethnic exchanges: encounters impossible outside the camps.

Seen from the Global Civil War, the downtown eastside is the site of a strike at the heart of a metropolis by the Humanitarian Intervention of Empire. The State of Emergency which governs such universal intervention has constructed a ban-opticon — a network of surveillances and biopolitical regulations to banish and segregate the junky undesirables; who themselves are displaced and fled. Like the “new citizen” of the “city-camps,” what form of life is becoming for the junky? Permanently situated in a space of exception, a law totally of their own, full to bursting with billions of dollars of new pharma-narcotics, segregated into camps based on socio-ethnic determinations. What is being built and what is being torn asunder?


Ghost Dance Commune

'I have escaped the camps; perhaps, if I lie low, I will escape the charity too'.

-Life and times of Michael K, by J.M. Coetzee


My brother, I bring you the promise of a day in which there will be no white man to lay his hand on the bridle of the Indians horse; when the red men will rule the world and not be turned from the hunting grounds by any man. I bring you word from your fathers the ghosts, that they are now marching to join you, led by the Messiah who came once to live on earth with white men, but was cast out and killed by them. I have seen the wonders of the spirit-land, and have talked with the ghosts. I have traveled far and am back with a message to tell you to make ready for the coming of the Messiah and return of the ghosts in the spring.

-Kicking Bull’s vision: 1890

Following the plague which killed 100 000 upon the pacific north west coast between the years 1862-63, and following the last spasms of violent resistance, the few who remained were interned within scorched earth refugee camps. These camps would become known as reservations and beam into our modern world the every means of control which now governs the Community of Control. Pass systems, bans on ceremonies, judicial hangings, the creation of bare life. The indians who existed outside the Law, unto a law of their own, had the white junk imposed upon them. It was this exception in which the sovereignty of the colonial state was defined: the exceptionality of hanging indians. And under the gallows, the exception became the rule in the reserves.


In these reserves, the indians realigned their rituals, transversing the new Law and old law into a new way of being in the world. Alcohol which was outlawed and severely punished, become a weapon. Whisky Feasts, communally practised, unseated the potlatches of the chiefs and aristocracy, and were performed in total defiance to the administering indian agents. Passing the bottle of whisky around and around, taking deeper swallows on each pass, songs song back and forth. “Drinking, the indian becomes violent against the white man,” observed white man Edwin Lemert in his anthropological journal, as his study subjects turned on him.


Whiskey would be used to help bring back visions and inspire the re-singing and dancing of banned festivals. From these arose drinking songs and drinking games that would lead to prestige. Unlike the potlatch, and the gift economy, the expectation of reciprocity is absent. Drinking was always held in common, in feast and party.


Indians would escape off-reserve, without checking out with the indian agent, and would go trade and buy booze from the settlers, whom in creating a new relationship of solidarity, risked imprisonment for betraying the white civilisation. Indian women would escape the men on their reserve and trade sex for booze from Chinese miners and Japanese fishers, and then return to the reserve and sell it back to the men with mark up and autonomy.


Alcohol was illegal for all natives, until gradually administered by the state;  each removal of statutes under the Indian Act brought forth new systems of control. Finally after a riot on centennial day in 1954 by some 200 indians who wanted to get drunk at the bar — booze was legally available for purchase at bars, including bars in the DTES. These bars also ushered in systems of control from their origin. First, saloons numbered 1 for every 12 folks in New Westminister, and was much the same in Vancouver. Places where the chaos would go unchecked were finally subjected to the new laws of property, which imposed the legislation that all saloons must convert to hotels to be allowed the right to sell alcohol. In these hotels, regulations on drinking behaviour were enforced; but gradually the unruly again imposed their lawlessness.


The hotels became skid row, pouring out drunken proles into the bars below and alleys behind. The drunks of the secret society calling themselves the Cordova Pipe Fitting Union drank rubbing alcohol in abandoned factories. Eventually the junkies took over, and the broken workers were relegated to the back of the bar. The hotels, reciprocals of plagues of excess, ruled. The alleys and bars circulated the junky hordes and the cops only to happily kept them quarantined on this urban reserve.


In the moment before the camps went up inside these hotels, one building slipped out of the dominion of the ghetto. Its queer owner died and the family and courts would not recognize its title passing into the ownership of his life long lover. The tenants, all drug fiends, were abandoned to this vortex of Law. Immediately the Pender Commune was proclaimed!


Duties and responsibilities rotated among the 20 — or so who remained after the first threats of evictions. Rooms were stocked shooting galleries, hallways whiskey parties, sex trade up front and drug dealing in the back. As the situation arose that the tenancy laws, which then existed, must be fulfilled, no eviction took place. No rent was paid and no cops let in. Until under an exception of the rule the police, fire, and city declared the commune to be a giant drug lab about to explode (based on the evidence of two empty propane tanks). Under the occupation of HazMat, the commune was placed under quarantine, and the communards interned in the parking lot. Under the hot sun junkies withdrew violently, hookers cat called towards the alley, forced to stand or sit, a squatting women menstruated into the dirt. The cops demanded identifications and the social scientists attempted to conduct interviews. Two city blocks were closed in a vulgar display of sovereign control.


The commune was unable to defend itself. For two months inside, a whiskey party had raged on. Crack and heroin and a bit of meth; but like always mostly booze. There was no command here, just the rule of life, lived in commons, towards death. The few which escape the plague of control have left the reserves and camps, went off-reserve, off-camp, and taken to the parks and wild spaces. Like the ghost dancers, which rose up against the imposition of the reserve by taking over the reserve, and networked between reservations- ghost dance camps; there is the chance to reclaim the hotels, or flee them entirely — or partially. The reign of austerity has assured no more funding for the camps; already staff is being cut and ruination creeps-in. The last line of defence will be the nurse, accompanied by a cop, and their needle. Already the dancing has begun again; “A return of the ghosts in the spring.”


In the experiments to make way for new forms of biopolitical solidarity, ways which have no use for the closed circuits of self-projected “agency” and “contingency,” the work being done by “grassroots community organisations” will have to be directly denounced as policing operation. The current campaign to designate partitioned areas of the DTES as “Social Justice Zones,” is as ignorant as it is compliant to the biomedical banning of bare life. One can not organise on behalf of bare life, except to further camp formations. A biopolitical solidarity would start with the mapping of camps, followed by the destabilization of their flows of control. Necessarily anti-social behavior!


There is a preconfiguration of new forms of ungovernablity in the ceremonies and rituals of defiance made in the whisky feast. Today it is the junkie that exposes themselves to the limit of control, and by singularly passing it, a new community comes into being, unworking its eclipsed myths. The particularity of this community-out-of-control is articulated by its intensity. The ever escalating intensity of dysfunction and inoperativity gestures towards a general unpotentiality of being. A generalised exodus from the Society of Control, an exodus that awaits messianic vengeance from a past we hope to open within moments of rupture. An exodus dance, drunk and high, leading out from the camps. A dance around the forts burning.

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