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books

Sukhdev Sandhu

The premise of Syeus Mottel’s delightful, disorienting CHARAS: The Improbable Dome Builders (Pioneer Works Press/The Song Cave) is the stuff of retro-futurist fantasy. First published in 1973 and brought back into circulation this year, the book is an account of how Chino Garcia and Angelo Gonzalez Jr., both New York gang leaders, decided to take on the system they believed was killing their communities in the mid-1960s. Ditching their initial plan to organize a mercenary army to invade Cuba, they formed the Real Great Society and, from their headquarters on East Sixth Street, set about supporting small businesses in busted-up areas of the city, creating storefront schools and fixing up homes in urgent need of repair. Then the society organized a lecture by Buckminster Fuller. His talk of “Spaceship Earth” and new designs for living inspired them and their closest associates to

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