Saturday, September 03, 2011

Studs Terkel? Labor Day Celebrates Working People Not Posers

Lefties live on a diet of BS. The more BS they shovel in, the more strident they become e.g. the Chicago media call SEIU Big Labor. Whenever labor is used in newsprint, think SEIU. Remember the Big Box BS? Jane Addams has an expressway named for her; why?

Jane Addams, truth to tell, stabbed the Amalgamated Meat Cutters in the back in Sept. 1904, after a violent and horrifically hot summer on strike against the Meat Packers. A vote was called to continue the strike at the union hall on 47th & Ashland. Hours later a Jane Addams and her delegation of short-haired women activists, who pretended to stand with the strikers, met with union President Michael Donnelly. Three hours later Donnelly called off the strike. The Amalgamated Meat Cutters got nothing. Donnelly faded into obscurity and died under mysterious circumstances. Try finding anything on Michael Donnelly in modern labor history, the Chicago Encyclopedia, or anywhere on the web. He was as Orwell warned, disappeared. Like the old timey Lefties are wont to say, 'You could look it up!' I did. Go through the New Times and Chicago Trtibune 1904 archives -fascinating reading. (STRIKE IS ENDED; MEN SURRENDER.
Chicago; Sep 9, 1904; ProQuest Historical Newspapers Chicago Tribune (1849 - 1985))

Jane Addams has a nice stretch of highway running Northwest toward here home town Cedarville, IL. Jane Addams got herself a Nobel Peace Prize, taking credit for the work of others.

This morning, Carol Marin offered another heaping helping of BS and called for a Studs Terkel rant for Labor Day. Why? Don't ask. He's a treasure.

I miss Studs.

I miss his laugh. His martinis. His stories. But this weekend, I’m missing what he would say about working. Or — for so many desperate Americans right now — not working.

It is Labor Day weekend and the news is grim:

In August, there was no job growth, the first time in a year there has been no monthly jobs growth.

Studs Terkel died Oct. 31, 2008, at 96. He was the greatest listener of the 20th century. Armed with a tape recorder, a brilliant mind and an insatiable curiosity, he asked normal, everyday people what they thought and felt.

He won the Pulitzer Prize in 1985 for his book The Good War, and received the Presidential National Humanities Medal in 1997.

But it’s his 1974 book, Working, that’s on my mind.

The unemployment rate remained stuck at a dismal 9.1 percent in August.

Work helps define us. Gives us pride. Puts food on the table and pays for the tuition that sends our kids to college. And yet America, a huge swath of it, is not working right now.

Studs did exactly what? He recorded people's stories and did not share the royalties and won awards, and played records on Public Radio and spun yarns on Public Television.

Studs did alright for himself. I grew up in a fiercely union house. I have met real labor heroes and a very few villains.

There are old timers who actually had their heads spilt by company goons. Like combat veterans of WWII, Korea, Vietnam and our current wars with Islamist terror, they never cashed in on their efforts.

Studs Terkel did pretty well on their efforts however. Like Jane Addams, Studs Terkel is remembered because of the diet of BS, than by any real efforts.

I met Studs Terkel once when my late wife Mary was a waitress at Arnie Morton's in the early 1980's. I was waiting for Mary to get off work and she introduced me to Studs. I was teaching English at Bishop McNamara in Kankakee and came home to Chicago on the weekends. I had read Working, in fact Hots Michaels, the great jazz pianist for the old Scuttlebutt Lounge and Chicago Chop House, Mount Carmel grad and life-long pal of my uncle Jack was featured in Working. I asked about Hots. Studs asked 'Who?' Hots Michaels he is featured in the beginning of Working.

"Oh, yeah, . . .Hots," and the man of people got up tossed two bucks on the table for Mary and shuffled off to Buffalo.

My uncle Jack, Hots Michaels and a bunch of guys including Nelson Algren played cards together. It seems that Studs Terkel played a few times. Hot Michaels was a great musician and Chicago legend. My uncle Jack was a stationary engineer at the water station on 35th Street.

Studs Terkel put Hots in his book. I am sure Hots Michaels never saw nickel one, nor did he care.

Studs Terkel had his work and his success. Labor Day is about labor and the fight for a living wage, an eight hour day, and the dignity of work.

The late Tom Roeser respected working men and women. He knew Studs Terkel.

Her( Carol Marin) first column was to celebrate that 14-carat phony with a self-embroidered history of radical activism from yesteryear, Studs Terkel, 96, a self-promoting agnostic windbag who named one of his kids after declared Communist stage actor and singer Paul Robson and , to hear Terkel tell it in his rasping voice which thrills his listeners since they fathom the real man of the street is talking… marched with the Wobblies, braved assaults from the club-wielding goons in the Armour strike, endured beatings with Walter Reuther in the Detroit sit-down strikes of the 1930, fought the white racists who opposed blacks swimming off a South Side pier in the 1920s, was black-listed because of his opposition to that hideous Joe McCarthy…all the stories inflating in coloration by the year-some invented out of whole cloth--while Ms. Marin beamed expressively and accepted his supposed man-in-the-street lingo as true genre.

As the late Steve Neal, no conservative, pointed out in a column Terkel never did anything of note for the “working class,” is in reality a b.s’ing blatherer of tales who would long since have been thrown out of a neighborhood bar for inculcating terminal boredom, since he has lived far longer than most and has license to exaggerate scandalously without fact-checking. Aside from a brief acting career on early TV, Terkel’s has done nothing noteworthy except to snap on a tape recorder and capture stories from first-hand participants for which, as a canny capitalist, he paid nothing but from which he made a fortune for himself-beginning with “Division Street America.” A self-proclaimed man of the people, he deliberately never learned to drive and rides a bus, taking care to sit by the window where he, festooned in his red-checked shirt, can be quickly glimpsed. I debated him once at Bughouse Square. A coward when confronted, this giant puff ball self-inflated turned into a clawless pussy cat. I actually went easy on him after he caved. It was the first time he was ever called on any of his stories because his recollections were at variance with history. Marin the dilettante swallows it all.

Labor Day and every day lets lay off the BS. It makes fat heads.

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