Direct Action was a tabloid newspaper published by Livermore Action Group (LAG) of Berkeley from 1982 to 1986. The first two issues were called the LAG Rag, a name some people were sad to see yield to the more prestigious later title.
We published 25 issues in all, each one lovingly hand-pasted using typewriters, xeros machines, and old-style gluesticks. One of our absurdly primitive production sessions is portrayed in the second scene of Luke Hauser’s novel Direct Action. Read more about the paper below.
After the first few shorter issues, the paper averaged 20 full-sized tabloid pages, around 35,000 words per issue. Just reading all the headlines will keep you busy for a while!
So far, the Direct Action Archives Project has succeeded in digitizing the early issues, and more are on the way. If you are inspired to help with this archival project or donate to offset production costs, please email us!
Direct Action – Zip Files (collected back issues – more soon!)
Direct Action – Zip 02 – Issues 9-16 plus bonus files – in process – email us
Direct Action – Zip 03 – Issues 17-25 plus bonus files – in process – email us
Direct Action – single issues – free downloads
DA01 – November 1982 (Introducing Our Newspaper – aka LAG Rag 01)
DA02 – December 1982 (pre-Vandenburg action – aka LAG Rag 02)
DA03 – January 1983 (pre-Vandenburg action)
DA04 – February 1983 (January Vandenburg action followup)
DA05 – April 1983 (March Vandenberg plus June Livermore prep)
DA06 – May 1983 (June Livermore prep and International Day))
DA07 – June 1983 (June Livermore prep and International Day)
DA08 – July 1983 (June Livermore Wrapup and What’s Next?)
DA09 – September 1983 (Cruise & Pershing II, Nonviolence)
DA10 – October 1983 (Prep for Cruise & Pershing II protests)
DA23 – January 1986 (Theme: Waging Culture)
DA25 – Fall 1986 (Theme: Art & Activism)
LAG Posters – 20 classic posters from the 1980s!
More issues coming soon!
Published as part of the International Day of Nuclear Disarmament. Some editions were also included as inserts in issues of Direct Action.
Action Bulletin 01 (March 1983 – International Day Actions for June)
Action Bulletin 02 (May 1983 – International Day Actions for June
Action Bulletin 03 – missing??? We’re still searching!
Action Bulletin 04 (June 1983 – International Day Actions for June)
Action Bulletin 05 (June 1983 – International Day Actions)
Action Bulletin 06 (June 1983 – International Day Wrap-Up)
More About Direct Action
From its early “LAG Rag” newsletter editions to its dense, theme-focused later issues, DA brought the voices of Bay Area activism to its 5000 subscribers (half from outside Northern CA).
Literally hundreds of writers, organizers, photographers, and artists are featured in the 25 issues, making it probably the most thorough reporting on grassroots activism in the early to mid 1980s. See Direct Action: An Historical Novel for context.
The issues were produced by a volunteer team that included several people with production experience, but as you will see, we learned on the job. Production sessions were held in Berkeley, at an apartment at Dwight & Telegraph and a house on Ashby near Telegraph.
One of our chaotic but energetic production sessions is portrayed in the second scene of Luke Hauser’s novel Direct Action.
This was entirely pre-computer. The stories were typed into columns on an IBM Selectric typewriter (we saved up and bought two, which were kept constantly clacking away), then xerox-reduced the text to 77% before we hand-pasted them onto layout boards. (Making a bike-run to the xerox shop was a regular production task!)
A typesetter at the East Bay Express set our headlines for us. Toward the end of production, we wrote them all out on a long list, gave him a day or two, then picked them up, cut them apart, and hand-pasted them into place. Mostly we got them lined up evenly!
Graphics could be xeroxed to the right size and pasted in. Photos had to be “half-toned” at a professional shop and then carefully hand-pasted into place (nothing looks worse than a crooked half-tone!)
Sadly, DA was printed not on the finest vellum, but on the cheapest available newsprint, long since dried and yellowed – the crinkly, double-sized pages are hard to scan without all sorts of weird shadows. The photoshop clean-up work on each page is daunting.
If you are inspired to help with this archival project that will doubtless be treasured by historians and assorted other misfits in the distant future, or to donate to our equipment fund, please email us!
On Beyond Direct Action
Folks from DA went on to produce GroundWork magazine in the 1990s, and later helped produce Reclaiming Quarterly magazine – both heavy on grassroots reporting and pre-internet photo-journalism. Visit the links above for samples.