Demos: Chronicles of the Mark Lombardi Society

Demos is an illustrated speculative fiction novel in development.

“This thing’s about to kick the bucket!” Vinegar shouted over the raucous chants.  Vinegar’s phone was perpetually running out of juice, bringing urgency to even mundane communications.  It stressed out Dina and Isai as they plodded through the night city.

“Don’t worry,” Vinegar bellowed, “just get your sweet asses to the meeting spot! You goddamn millennials need to accept that things work out in the end! They really do! Always! One way or another! And this time, they have to! The world has no choice!”

“But what if…”

“Get over yourselves and have some goddam faith!” Vinegar’s accent was a mix of Lower East Side and her native Polish, slurred with drink much of the time.

Meet near the “Red Thing” at 2 am was the plan. There was an outside chance she’d get sidetracked, Vinegar had explained, but they could just ask around. Although the park was a human tapestry of thousands of strangers, this was apparently a reasonable scheme, because “Vin” was a well-known Occupier. By 1 or 2 am, the day activists and tourists would have returned to their indoor comforts and the hardcore would know where she was for sure.  Folks could track her down in the debate circle or near the meditation tree or medical tent or food tables or she might be at the falafel stands along the edge of the park if the pizza ran out. If not, they could just wait near the Red Thing, and sooner or later she’d turn up.

“You’ll stop worrying after you see Liberty Park in all its glory!”  Vinegar had harangued. “You’ll be zapped by the revolution! And when you meet Survival, you’ll understand what’s possible!”

“But Vin….”

“Stop with the fucking buts!”

They could hear Vinegar slough off her aggravation with a great big breath she’d been practicing at the meditation tree.

“Look kids, what do people do in an occupied park? Think about it. This is no protest, it’s about meeting people. And who? The veterans! I’m talking about the Occupiers of Tahrir and Puerta del Sol, maybe even Tiananmen Square, maybe even Seattle, Tompkins, Stonewall!  All that embodied wisdom is in the park!  And why does it matter? Because you’ll fucking learn something. See where I’m going with this? It’s free college, kids! Master classes in communal decision-making, self-defense, short-circuiting the police state: I’m talking about practical knowledge! Stuff you can’t learn in the sad old ivory tower! Stuff they’ll never let you learn!”

“But Vinegar…”

“No buts!  Just come and see. You arrive at the park as (sorry but it’s true) atomized capitalist sheep, but by tomorrow’s general assembly, you’re activated humans! Revolutionaries! Occupiers! And all without being brainwashed by the PMC—that’s the professional-managerial class, kids. And most importantly: without a fucking red cent of debt! And that means you won’t be forced to join the zombie death squads to pay the banks back for your mind upgrade—and by the banks, I mean those who should be wearing orange—those who should be behind lock and key! Kids: there’s even a meal plan included! There’s free pizza for fucksake! What are you waiting for?”

That sealed it for Isai who’d spent his first year as an art major at UC Santa Cruz but couldn’t stop himself from obsessively calculating the accrued interest of his future loans—he’d promptly dropped out to certify as a CPA. And it sounded interesting to Dina, a junior at Yale, but bored, and yeah, the professional-managerial vibe around campus was part of that—everyone constantly prettying up their resumes so they could grab a bigger slice of the pie. Probably she was supposed to do that too—especially as a Black woman whose people had been denied access. But Dina couldn’t see all that primping as anything besides mediocrity. She wanted to do something great, something historical.

And now, Dina and Isai had spent all day and part of the night meandering from New Haven down Manhattan Island toward little Zuccotti Park. That’s how much they trusted Vinegar, whom they’d never met face to face. And Vinegar had made a big thing not just out of the Occupy Movement, but of a brooding hacker who called himself (Dina thought it pretty silly)— Survival. That was the guy Vinegar claimed possessed the missing ingredient that would make their work really matter.

Along the way, Dina and Isai stopped at bodegas twice for snacks, and eleven times, to make out. The long day had given way to a clammy November night— one that now reverberated eerily with sirens as they approached the park. Vinegar had spoken of the Occupy movement as some sort of updated Be-In, but to Dina and Isai, lower Manhattan seemed foreboding as fuck.



Survival ambled through the highway’s overgrowth, a black duffel slung over his frame. He was considering how each fissure in the asphalt constituted a kind of clock.  The road had been in good shape when he’d founded Hunter’s land, and over time, the cracks had spread, deepened, and sprouted.  This had been his victory—the old world of shit slowly choked off by weeds. But now that same world of shit was calling him back.

He stopped to drink from a water skin. Then he stepped off the asphalt, fully entering the lush overgrowth, summer leaves pungent, mosquitos clouding his face. A steep incline in the forest forced the centenarian to stop every ten paces. He clutched a tree trunk for support and caught his breath. A fall would be disastrous. He had to make it up the hill.

A sun-bleached tower dominated the hill’s crest, shooting up to dizzying heights. Survival had no interest in craning his neck up to it. Instead, wheezing from the climb, he focused on the ground.  Kneeling under the tower he produced a small adz from his belt, and began hacking into the soft black earth until it gave up a white cable. Then he reached into his duffel, and spread tools among the wildflowers. Deft as a surgeon, he spliced the white cable to the receiver he’d fashioned from a motorcycle helmet. He checked the circuit board connections on the helmet. The old skills returned as he worked.

Before slipping the helmet on, Survival closed his eyes. He appreciated the sparrows’ song and inhaled the forest’s windborne perfume. Being unconnected had been his power; to reconnect was to risk losing it all—not just his status as a feared leader of the Hunters, but most of all, the pleasure of all this. He’d miss the sweet berries that grew from the highway cracks; he’d miss the thrill of sending his carrier pigeon out, bound with instructions for the bloody raids into TruZōn.

But then, just a few days ago, the first rumors of a digital virus had reached Hunters Land, and he knew at once that all this sweet, bloody, hard-earned freedom was as good as shit. The virus meant there was zero choice. The virus brought him to this hill. He slipped the helmet on, feeling the musty padding around his skull.  He felt for the button and pressed it. And then Survival’s limbs quivered as his brain tapped directly into the Mesh network via that white cable. And then he was mainlining the digital virus which had infested the entire network. His head began to bob rhythmically.

He hurtled into a crude flight. It sent him crashing and thrashing painfully against burned-out cities—deeply familiar ones. He was a mad pilot with no idea how to fly the thing. He was colliding with his past. But Survival was nothing if not dogged. He remained on the hill through a day and a night, enduring it. He endured nausea, dehydration, and delirium, and his skin was bitten raw by insects and the centenarian might have died like a rabid old animal there, under the plastic tower on the hill. But then, with his last bit of strength, he yanked off the helmet and lay on the hill disconnected, half-dead, but resolute. He knew what he had to do next.

He limped down the hill and returned a few days later with his followers, the Hunters. They wheeled hand-drawn carts bearing weighty spools of cable. They connected their spools to the white Mesh cable and laid the line through the swamps and the camps of Hunter’s land, snaking it all the way to its capital and the museum there. Then Survival sent the Hunters away and sealed the door, poured diesel into a generator for light, and sat alone among the museum’s paintings. He re-helmeted. And again his head started bobbing, and this time, he learned to fly.

After three days, a moan was heard in the museum—an embarrassingly private and feral noise. Lifting his helmet, Survival’s face was streaming with tears. What had he been doing all these decades besides attacking—literally attacking, with bloody raids using primitive weapons—the only ones who could help him with the task that lay before him?

He scrawled a message, rolled it tightly, and attached it to the leg of a carrier pigeon. He let it fly though the museum’s broken skylight. The message would end the raids— there would be no more preventable blood. And then, muttering under his breath “Long Live Vinegar,” Survival again slipped on the helmet and tapped back into the Mesh network. But this time he knew how to avoid being grabbed into his past by the virus. This time he accessed Demos— the platform he’d once coded himself more than half a century earlier, but banished from Hunter’s land. He entered Demos, which he’d once believed once carried so much revolutionary promise but ended up as shit, total shit. Through Demos, he sent the Unconditional Pact to Dina, Maria Paz, and Isai— his enemies. His victims. His former comrades. The founders of TruZōn.

Global Swarming: Science of the Ants

While humans are paused in a frenzied standstill, they become militant: electro-ants cause short circuits in factories. It is high time to make contact in order to make common cause against fossil fuel-dependent catastrophe capitalism: two species, one goal: CANCEL INDUSTRIAL CO2! ANTiFA ACTION AGAINST FOSSIL FASCISM!

For this performance, I designed the set and appear onstage.

Premiere: HAU3, Berlin June 2022

The Art Party: An Election Speculation


The Art Party: A Sci-Fi Story (Part 1)

The Whitney had five separate doorways leading to separate experiences according to credit levels. As a leading collector, gallerist, and chair of the board, Agnesia entered through the founder’s gate. She took a deep breath, raised her resistance fist aloft, and was met by a glittering of image-flashes from inside…

Read Part 1 here

The Art Party: A Sci-Fi Story (Part 2: Election Day 2032)

The candidate was among the bright stars of a movement known as Verified History Painting. Each brushstroke was determined by algorithms from the artist’s genetic data and supplemented by AI-enhanced forensic cultural analysis…

Read Part 2 here

The Art Party: A Sci-Fi Story (Part 3: Election Victory)

During five months of constant meetings in the basement of the Brooklyn Army Terminal, the coalition had been hashing out plans to occupy the Whitney Museum on the eve of the 2032 election. The ragtag group consisted of art workers, prison reformers, and debt strikers, brought together out of desperation in the face of staggeringly powerful opponents.

Read part 3 here

The Giant Pit

The Graphic story is entitled “The Giant Pit.”  It’s a meditation on art and the economy of the future, the legacy of the Guggenheim family, and hopefully you’ll appreciate the dark narrative humor and intense detail of the drawings as you journey into the future-past. It was published by the magazine L’internationale Online, platform of research, debate, and communication supported by a number of progressive museums across Europe. This excellent issue focuses on Class and Redistribution.
My graphic story is here, page 77 (39 in the 2 page layout).



During the Occupy Wall Street Movement, the artist wandered Zuccotti Park as a talking coin giving voice to the complaints of a faltering democracy in the face of concentrated corporate wealth. Then one day an old Yippie, famous for pie-in-the facing Washington elites, admonished him to leave the comfort of the occupation in search of more productive confrontations. Seven years later in a world now sizzling with conflict and audiences programmed into echo-chambers, Fischer speculates on future performances that could confront dystopia head on and win.


Part of Bodies on the Gears, a series of five lecture performances curated by Tom Sellar as part of American Realness 2019.

A small table set with an empty pie tin and a can of Reddi-wip. Fischer walks onto stage with a theater seat strapped to his body like a shield. Hello! We caught each other at a strange moment, not a particularly safe moment, especially for an activist. My name is Noah Fischer: I am an activist, or at least I was, before this moment. But I got myself all freaked out about the potential violence of the Left. And that’s what I’m working with now. So I’d like to get you freaked out too.

I’m going to begin by telling a horror story: a story about the near future. Let’s say that in 2020 Trump is again victorious. And in his second term a shadowy foreign group stages an attack at a college football playo¢ game and that’s the switch that was there the whole time, but now they £nally ¤ipped it. We shift into emergency mode, drive o¢-road, the gloves come o¢. 2024 there’s no election because in a time of crisis you need structure. The country needs a strong father not some activist former waitress like the Democrats are running and when there are massive protests, bigger than we’ve seen before, he tweets the signal, and his followers swarm out to the town squares and city boulevards where people are marching and they are armed, they are organized. They are ready. They have to be because they’re the embattled minority: their backs are against the wall; their personhood itself is threatened: their whiteness is threatened.

They are super prepared. Stockpiles of automatic weapons, grenades, war drones, armaments you and I didn’t know existed: they emerge from underground caches. They wear uniforms: fatigues with the red hat, the frog logo, other logos from 4chan we don’t know about. The militias have their own app called “Triggered” and use it to e«ciently set up checkpoints. They are searching for frizzy-haired snow¤akes and people who look like immigrants and the descendants of slaves.

Some of the snow¤akes £ght back. Dsa Student groups, black bloc Anarchists, armed feminist cells, trans ninjas, the Socialist Ri¤e Association, New Black Panthers, and shamans, pagans, antiracist Buddhists are performing protection rituals. Artist come out with turpentine Molotov cocktails. Actors come out with theater seats strapped to their bodies for protection. Fischer loudly taps the theater seat strapped to his chest and then explains that he got it in a barter exchange from an artist at Occupy Wall Street. But it’s not a fair £ght because at the core it’s violence and violence isn’t our possession, it’s theirs. They’ve got a whole cult developed around it. They publicly torture and execute activists on livestream. A crowd of white faces pose with the bodies in a celebratory manner. This is nothing new: it’s a tried and true method. And it has a widespread chilling effect.

But we’ve got Silicon Valley and it now steps up to protect us. Amazon’s newly legal drone delivery service means that people can lock out the violence in gated communities if they can a¢ord to, or just not leave their apartments, going on with their lives sans public space and embracing a new culture called SafeWorld. The ransacked Universities, with classrooms and o«ces spattered with the blood of Decolonial antiracist Marxist professors, move their classes online. A 3d teleconferencing technology is unveiled. There’s less tra«c on roads, less planes in the air and in truth this is not a bad thing, at least for co2 levels. You know, there are two sides of every coin. Art becomes introspective because there’s no more public space, no more street protests. Businesses can operate with fewer checks and balances. New markets open and rise to recordbreaking levels. Corporate campuses have their own security forces. Amazon expands far into Queens, setting up a city within a city where its executives and workers can live normal lives. Jeff Bezos is appointed Mayor of the megacity that stretches between Boston and dc. There are prolonged negotiations with the Government and £nally Los Angeles, Denver, Miami, Boston, San Francisco, and the Eastern Megacity become freemovement campuses in exchange for tripling economic output. Aladdin, BlackRock’s market-tracking ai, selects the optimal governance team and makes policy recommendations. The real estate prices in the safe and successful cities shoot up astronomically.

Where does the creative community go? They are moved by decree to upstate prisons which have been rebranded “Live, Work, Repeat.” The prison population has expanded with the new BlackRock Debt Laws. But the prison buildings themselves have emptied with the greenlighting of embedded control chips, a new incarceration Upstate Prisons, watercolor with digital manipulation, technology developed by Koch industries that sends o¢enders out into the market and hands their controls over to the employer. So there’s new cheap labor and new real estate available, a win-win. Fischer takes o… the theater seat and leans it against the podium, in view.

Sorry. (Long, contemplative pause). I know this sounds bleak and not that creative: it’s an echo of bleakness that’s already out there. As an activist, I wanted to inspire you, I wanted to share a brighter future with you but something kept pulling me down. Pessimism. Isn’t it strange how pessimism became second nature? It’s so addictive!

And my question for all of us: what to do about this addiction?…

(read full text on the PDF)

Lecture Performance: Occu-Pie (Chemnitz, Germany)

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September 17, 2011, a talking coin circulated through the New York streets of Occupy Wall Street blending outrage and humor to proclaim broken trust in capitalism. In the utopian urban camp, the talking coin met an activist from the 1970’s known for throwing pies in the face of the powerful. Noah Fischer, the talking coin of 2011, speculates on methods beyond the violence of pies for confronting dystopia head on.

After the lecture performance, we will connect live with activists from Maidan, Gezi and Algiers via video chat to remeasure utopian spaces between hope, energy and frustration.

The event takes place in English. A whisper translation is provided.

A cooperation within the program new undiscovered narrative and the Chemnitz Open Space of the Chemnitz Art Collections.