Re: Len Bracken

To The Editor

Washington City Paper

23 September 1998

In his excellent article on Len Bracken and the Washington Psychogeography Association (Washington City Paper, Vol. 18, No. 29 July 24-30, 1998), Patrick Tracey wrote that "it turns out there are a New York City Psychogeographical Association and a London Psychogeographical Society." Our impression is that the London group -- which is centered around the author Stewart Home -- is a lot like Bracken's personality cult, but that isn't our purpose in writing to you.

We'd like it to be known that, unlike Bracken's group, the NYPA is not a group of bullshit-spouting, publicity-seeking, self-aggrandizing, "common" vandals and drunks who have found a "theory" that lends support to or justifies their childish self-indulgences. The members of the NYPA do not need a spectacular "meeting" to take advantage of the endless opportunities to detourn everyday routines and write provocative slogans in visible places; as individuals, we engage in the creation of "subversive" graffiti every day of our lives. And so, while we do create graffiti when we have meetings, graffiti isn't the only thing that we do during them. Far from it: there are other, more important things to do.

During our meetings, we explore -- drift within -- our own neighborhood(s) and those neighborhoods of which we are particularly fond. In addition to simply enjoying each other's company, we are -- soberly but not solemnly -- looking for areas that can and should be defended against real onslaughts by the capitalist spectacle. If and once we have found such an area, we both enjoy it as it is (without altering it) and take concrete and appropriate steps to defend and protect it.

Our publications, unlike what Patrick Tracey accurately calls Bracken's "nasty little pamphlet[s]," are provocative, but are not merely intended to shock. They are intended to initiate and encourage serious conversation on matters of immediate, local interest. We take positions on specific issues and conditions, and we give our publications out in the areas that we write about. When people want to talk to us, we do them the courtesy of listening to what they have to say.

As you can see, our attitude toward our own city is fundamentally different from Bracken's attitude toward Washington, DC. Our attitude has to be different. We can tell you from personal experience that, if Lenny Bracken was arrested in New York City for writing political graffiti in a public place in broad daylight, the NYPD would not have done what the nice officer from the Washington Metro Police did. The NYPD would have taken him in, charged him with a felony, fingerprinted him, and let him sit in a holding cell for 22 hours before finally letting him go.


The New York Psychogeographical Association



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