Narrator: Europeans who had flocked to 19th Century Chicago for jobs crouched together for survival. They created ethnic enclaves little Germanys, Italy's, Warsaws, and Pragues, glowering at each other with suspicion
Douglas Bukowski, Writer: I think the best way to look at late 19th century Chicago is to think of it as a great boxing ring by the lake. People just didn't get along here. Nobody who was Polish wanted to have an Irish priest. Nobody who was Irish wanted to go to a German church. This whole notion of tolerance for other groups was foreign to people who didn't know any other groups in the old country. from PBS American Experience Series: Chicago in the 19th Century
I had the great pleasure to attend the opening night of Mike Houlihan's Irish American Film Festival at the Gene Siskel Center in heart of the Loop.
I explained the etymology of the Loop to film maker Dave McLaughlin and his wife Mary Beth as we walked from the Siskel Center to The Emerald Loop for the post viewing party.
I pointed above us to the roaring CTA elevated trains above Lake and State. The Loop is elevated track fencing much of the Dan Burnham and Louis Sullivan 19th century architecture that once housed capitalists, so detested by PBS and their 501(c) 3 foundation beneficiaries that funding was provided to re-write history. That is not how stories, yarns, legends and history work . . .except on Public Television, Radio and at Media Matters.
People have been telling yarns and even paint cave walls when words failed them.
The Irish American Film Festival presented Deach An Dorais ( What;s Your Poison?) a documentary based on the Bronx legend of Mike Malloy, the Rasputin of the Bronx, a 1933 alcoholic who just would not die. Mike Malloy survived more than twenty attempts by four creeps who wanted to cash-in on insurance policies take out in the homeless derelict with no known relatives or friend. All Mike had going for him was an unquenchable thirst for alcohol and an iron constitution. He survived poisonings, methonal guzzlings, glass, nail and contaminated sardine and oysters swallowings, freezings in sub-zero temperatures, while soaked with booze and buckets of ice cold water and even a speeding automobile driven over his body.
The story was told by Bronx residents and made it's way into plays, 1950's radio stories like Johnny Dollar -Insurance Investigator and, most recently, picked up and printed by Smithsonian Magazine and made its way east over the Atlantic on the BBC.
Stories are rooted in human interactions.
Lions, chimps and whales don't tell stories, no matter what PBS tells us.
Story-telling is the germ of art.
When we arrived at The Emerald Loop the stories weaved up a storm. Irish American News columnists and television producer Mike Morley told of Martin Hogan The Fenian Hero who escaped an Australian Penal Colony on the The Catalpa only to be buried without ceremony at Chicago's Mount Olivet Cemetery, James Sheahan told of Constable James Quinn, the first Chicago cop to be killed in the line of duty and author Rick Barrett's long work to set the record straight.
I had asked a the producer of DEOCH AN DORAIS, Ms. Ciara Nic Chomaic if she had gathered information from New York's greatest story teller, T.J. English, author of Paddy Whacked. Ciara had reached out to Mr. English, but he was unavailable.
Producer Ciara Nic Chormaic (center)
You see, Ms. Nic Chormaic build the stories around any given story. She had attached the undertakers, the academics, the genealogists, the artists, a NYPD detective, GAA Hard Man Anthony Molloy ( the film's narrator) and the wildly entertaining and brilliant criminal pathologist who really stole the film for me.
The director Paddy Hayes and Ms. Nic Chromaic created art from a story.
However it was Ciara Nic Chromaic who vetted the story tellers made the narrative handled by Mr. Hayes possible.
History is a fabric of yarns, sagas. songs and stories - Art.
PBS, Ken Burns, Oliver Stone do propaganda.
I like Art.