Los Angeles Review of Books is gathering this May to honor Mike Davis’s legacy—a wide open party to combat isolation and to celebrate his optimism of the spirit. Beginning with walking tours of the radical history of Silverlake, these tours will be led by writers and activists who carry the spirit of Mike Davis. The tours will begin and end at The Black Cat, where one of the first organized demonstrations of gay rights took place, and where we will raise our glasses to remember Mike Davis. We invite activists, students, poets and dreamers to share soapbox toasts to Mike Davis (with or without alcohol). This raucous event will be the beginning of a longer project that continues in the spirit of Mike’s imagination.
Author of City of Quartz, Ecology of Fear, Planet of Slums, and much more, Mike Davis passed away in October 2022. His work was dedicated to exposing the social, political, and economic frictions of the world, and in particular those of Los Angeles. In Set The Night on Fire: L.A. in the Sixties, Davis’s movement history of Los Angeles co-authored with Jon Wiener, there are beautiful chapters about community in the city, about the Watts Renaissance and Wattstax and the free papers and coffeehouses. There are glorious pictures of young activists together—marching, protesting, and hanging out.
In the city that Mike both raged against and loved, we’re having a party in his honor. We want to bring alive his vision of being together, densely, such that we might both live well and protect green spaces outside the city walls.
Davis’s work made a shared history of hope and solidarity visible, even in the face of destruction and suffering. Often, the histories of pirate radio stations, the bike collectives, writing workshops, theater groups, art centers, and poetry readings are handed down only orally. We want to use this moment to launch a repository for representations of radical histories and places, resting on the foundation that Davis laid. In his own words in The Guardian in 2022, that’s where the people’s power lies in Los Angeles:
“What keeps us going, ultimately, is our love for each other, and our refusal to bow our heads, to accept the verdict, however all-powerful it seems. It’s what ordinary people have to do. You have to love each other. You have to defend each other. You have to fight.”
It’s only together that we build the ark.
RSVP today with details on walking tours to come.
This event is free and open to the public.