The following interview took place in the summer of 2018 with Aragorn!, a longtime anarchist involved in a large number of writing, publishing, and infrastructural projects. In the course of several hours of discussion, he describes his childhood in Grand Rapids, his youth in the hardcore scene, his introduction to anarchism, the motivations that drove him, and what it means to commit oneself to a life against the grain. This is an invaluable historical document tracing the development of counterculture and anarchism across four decades—through the Reagan years, gang conflicts with Nazi skinheads, the first Gulf War, and the emergence of the Internet. We offer this transcript in response to Aragorn!’s tragic and untimely death, so that you can hear directly from him how he developed his ideas and what he sought to accomplish.
We recommend this in conjunction with our eulogy for Aragorn!, “Elegy for an Antagonist.”
This interview was conducted as part of a forthcoming oral history project on anarchism in North America over the past 75 years. If you’re interested in sharing your stories or interviewing others, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: I’m speaking with Aragorn!. Can you spell your name for me?
Q: All right.
A: Exclamation mark.
Q: Excellent. So Aragorn!, to get started, can you tell me a little but about when you were growing up, what your situation with your parents and your home was like, what the area was like where you grew up?
A: Because I was raised in the ‘70s, I had a very common story, which is that my parents met and relationshipped in the enthusiasm of the immediate post-Vietnam era. I believe I was consummated under a giant oak tree in the fall of ’69. And they had expended their energy by the time I was three or four years old, mostly because my father was a horndog. But they were not suited to each other. I was raised by my mother, and then at a certain point I ran away and actually spent my pre-teen and teen years with my father. And then I was done with that. My next family was punk rock. And the town I grew up in had a really vibrant downtown punk scene that I definitely called home for whatever my teenage years. Then by the time I was seventeen, a family member who was concerned by me being raised by wolves brought me to California, and more or less, other than my traveling twenties, I’ve been in California ever since.