The other night, a friend found a copy of Tides of Flame, "a Seattle anarchist paper," in a gold-painted box chained to a post near Dick's on Broadway—a box that has since disappeared. It's issue No. 2, dated "mid july 2011," and even though its purpose seems to be to get you to burn and break things—imagery in the logo includes fire and a shattered window—I keep it on the nightstand and like looking at it before bed.
Unlike most of the printed-on-paper things that come out of this city—glossy city magazines, beautiful literary journals, self-published novels—Tides of Flame is not boring. It's sarcastic, dramatic, provocative, funny, dark, practically spitting. "Like most cops, Detective Christopher Young is clueless," begins issue No. 2. That's a great first sentence. At www.tidesofflame.wordpress.com, I found issue No. 1 (dated "early july 2011"), with an article about that SPD officer who left an assault rifle on the trunk of a cop car in broad daylight outside of a Starbucks not long ago. The article is four sentences long, and the last two of them are "The SPD can often be found at several downtown Starbucks at various hours of the day. It is unknown why Starbucks creates such a fascination and fixation in the minds of police officers, but what is clear is that some magnetism of the Starbucks corporation never fails to draw in the men and women in uniform."
Anger makes for good writing, and if violence is a time-tested form of entertainment, Tides of Flame is un-look-away-from-able. The newspaper has printed communiqués taking credit for breaking the windows at a Chase bank ("because banks are a clear symbol of the misery and slavery that we experience under capitalism"), breaking the windows at a Ferrari dealership ("forcing the removal of the expensive cars from the show room"), breaking the windshields of two police cruisers (one with a hammer and another with a metal street barrier), and breaking the windows at an American Apparel.
Another of the communiqués mentioned a Stranger mixer with city council candidates: "After discovering that our favorite paper The Stranger was giving power-hungry ding-dongs another free opportunity to interface with the public they want to manage, we decided to pay the event a little visit... The candidates were hamming it up as usual, putting on their most disgusting grins and feigning the deepest concern. We know full well, after they are elected, these bozos will further criminalize the homeless, redesign and gentrify what is left of the nasty Seattle streets we love, and make the city a green, social-democratic paradise, all the while making over 100,000 dollars a year." Whatever else you say about Tides of Flame, they're right about the city council. They ought to start a spin-off publication called Power-Hungry Ding-Dongs Feigning the Deepest Concern.