The End of the Beginning?

The Unamerican Activities site offers "industrial-strength cultural propaganda" and "tools to help you fucking matter," says Kumar. He's referring to the "Tedium is the Message" poster (free), "fuck yeah i'm weird" T-shirts ($10), and "DRUG ME" coffee mug ($6). More important, the site is every content producer's dream: it actually makes money. Kumar has been living off the profits of unamerican.com since he lost his job last year, selling some $2000 a month in merchandise. He doesn't take credit cards--the site prints out an invoice for customers to mail in. "It's backbreaking to support the advertising model [like content sites do]," he says. "But the merchandising model just kicks butt."

Kumar's politics are a little hazy, merging capitalism with socialism. "Remember the guy who created the 'Mean People Suck' bumper sticker?" he asks, referring to a man named "Andy" who allegedly sold over 600,000 such stickers since 1992. "Man, that rocks." By running a "media company," Kumar says, he is just trying to tap into the "cultural rage." The site is intended to foment revolt by teaching workers to start their own businesses, like Kumar's. "There is nothing wrong with a kid on the street selling stickers," he adds. "He's not exploiting anybody."

The site also promotes Kumar's Unamerican listserv and his mailing list, a monster with 38,000 names. To build the community of the antisocial, he's even planning on offering e-mail and home pages at a reduced cost. But the site's real purpose is to help Kumar find offline stores to carry his products. With his goods sold in just 20 stores now, Kumar hopes to increase that number to 200 in the near future. But he's not planning on working too hard. As he says, "Workers of the world, relax."

E-mail: abunn@villagevoice.com

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