Author Archives: Louis Galdieri

A Screening at Three Arrows Cooperative Society

On Friday, July 12, 1913 Massacre screened in the Norman Thomas Hall at the Three Arrows Cooperative Society in Putnam Valley, New York. After the credits rolled, a woman in the audience started singing “Joe Hill,” and everybody joined in.

A classic organizing song with a rich history, “Joe Hill” is probably one of the songs Woody had in mind when he wrote his song about copper bosses and the “copper boss thugs” in Calumet.  

“The copper bosses killed you, Joe.”

“They shot you, Joe” says I.

“Takes more than guns to kill a man.”

Says Joe, “I didn’t die.” Says Joe, “I didn’t die.”

Three Arrows Cooperative Society also has a strong claim to this history. Established in 1936 as a socialist summer  retreat, the Putnam Valley colony was a place that Woody Guthrie would have known. In 1949, he and members of the Cooperative, along with people from other colonies and camps in the Peekskill area, were involved in the Civil Rights Congress benefit concert.

The concert was originally planned for August 27th, but had to be postponed after violent protests by local reactionaries (“fascists” in the parlance of the day).

The following week, however, Paul Robeson and Pete Seeger performed for a racially integrated audience. The fascists rioted and attacked concert-goers. When we interviewed him, Pete Seeger remembered people throwing stones. “It was like a battlefield…you had guys surrounded.” Later, he said, he heard that the Klan was involved (along with the local police force) in organizing and inciting the violence. 

With all this history in the mix, Three Arrows Cooperative was a wonderful place to show the film, and we’re grateful to Hilary White for organizing the event. I put up some shots of the venue on Twitter yesterday, just to give a sense of the place and its connection, via Norman Thomas, to this history.

If you would like to show the film, or invite us to present it, just get in touch.

 

1913 Massacre in Putnam Valley on 07/12/19

1913 Massacre in Montclair on 04/23/19

Badly Bent in Beach Haven

Woody and the Kids on the beach at Coney Island, 1951

Back in January of 2016, a song Woody wrote in 1950 about his landlord “old man” Fred Trump made the news. This weekend, the Beach Haven apartments where Woody lived were the subject of another New York Times investigation. It’s the story of yet another rent-raising, tax-dodging Trump family scam, and focused on the ordinary people the Trumps cheated.

Those buildings have been home to generations of strivers, municipal workers and newly arrived immigrants. When their regulated rents started rising more quickly in the 1990s, many tenants had no idea why. Some heard that the Trump family had spent millions on building improvements, but they remained suspicious….

The folk singer Woody Guthrie took an apartment at Beach Haven in 1950. He wrote a song called “Old Man Trump,” contemplating the morality of paying rent to someone who would not allow blacks to live in the building. The chorus began:

Beach Haven ain’t my home!
I just can’t pay this rent!
My money’s down the drain!
And my soul is badly bent!

At this point, what else is there to say? We all know how you feel, Woody. Everybody sing along.

A Great Double Feature

Back in 2014 I wrote about a film called Palikari — Louis Tikas and the Ludlow Massacre. Directed by Nikos Ventouras and produced by Lamprini Thoma, the film tells the story of Greek and other immigrant miners during the Colorado Coal Strike of 1913-1914.

The other day, our friend Michael Kleff sent word that Palikari screened last month in Trinidad, Colorado, at an event commemorating the life and work of Louis Tikas. A statue of the Ludlow Tent Colony leader was unveiled.


This was a local event, but it occurs to me that Palikari and 1913 Massacre would make a great double feature anywhere, especially now, at a moment when there are powerful forces trying to demonize immigrants (we all know who’s leading that charge), undo the accomplishments of the labor movement (witness the recent Janus decision), and generally distort and whitewash American history.

Remember, also, that Woody Guthrie wrote and played “1913 Massacre” and “Ludlow Massacre” together, as “a group of two” songs. He read about both tragic incidents in the same chapter of the same book: Ella Reeve Bloor’s We are Many.

The chapter from which Woody wrote these songs, sometimes lifting whole phrases, is called “Massacre of the Innocents.” 11 children died at Ludlow; 59 in Calumet. In both places, immigrant children — innocents — found themselves on the frontlines of a violent struggle not just for better working conditions, but for basic human rights, and for an idea of what the country could be that we now abandon at our peril.

Deanna Kamiel, 1946-2018

Back in September of 2012, when Ken and I had just finished 1913 Massacre, Deanna Kamiel invited us to screen our new film for her graduate documentary filmmaking class in the School of Media Studies at The New School. Like other screenings in the DOC Talk series, it included a videotaped Q & A with the filmmakers, which Deanna moderated and produced.

At the time, we were on our way to Calumet — where we would hold the first public screenings of the film at the Calumet Theatre. We were bringing the film back to where it came from, back to the town and the people it was about. When we mentioned our upcoming trip during the Q & A, Deanna said that George Stoney had done the same thing with Uprising of ‘34 (his film about the General Textile Strike in the south). That was all we needed to know we were on the right track.

Deanna kept in touch throughout our Calumet trip, and encouraged us after that to take the film to Twin Cities Public Television in Minnesota — where it was broadcast on Labor Day of 2013.

Ken emailed yesterday to let me know that Deanna had passed away over the weekend. We will remember her as a teacher, friend, and guide.

A Perfect Holiday Pairing for the Bob Dylan Fan in Your Life

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s a holiday gift idea for the Bob Dylan fan in your life: a copy of Daniel Wolff’s Grown Up Anger, tracing the connections between Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, and the Italian Hall disaster, and a DVD of the film 1913 Massacre.

Seamless editing, engrossing interviews and a stirring well-integrated music soundtrack make the film flow like long lost friends catching up on history… It joins the ranks of great progressive movies.

People’s World

You can buy the DVD right here, and order Wolff’s book on Amazon.

Woody Guthrie and Arlo Guthrie fans will love it, too!

For Woody’s Birthday, A New Book About “1913 Massacre”

Just in time for Woody’s birthday — he’d be 105 years old today — a new book about 1913 Massacre by Daniel Wolff: Grown up Anger.

Wolff’s book explores the deep personal, cultural and historical connections between Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan, following a trail that leads from Dylan’s “Song to Woody” through “1913 Massacre” to Christmas Eve, 1913 in Calumet, Michigan.

This is a dimension of the 1913 Massacre story we explored in making the film, but which — for all sorts of reasons — never made it into the film. In our editing system, there’s still an unfinished scene, cut from 1960s protest footage, with “Song to Woody” as the music bed. There’s some consolation in the fact that the scene that we never realized in our film has now gotten the book-length treatment it warrants.

The book is close not only in subject but also in spirit to our film: Patti Smith says Wolff manages to “raise the ghosts of greed and misery. Through memory, music, and a clear insight into the emotional process of protest, Wolff reminds us of how it did, and how it does, ultimately feel.”

Put Daniel Wolff’s Grown Up Anger on your reading list. Check it out.

A Little Song About A Man Gone Wrong

Joan Baez:

https://youtu.be/AHQ7N9lEl_E&w=512&h=288

People’s Stories and The Italian Hall Memorial

There’s a discussion underway in Calumet right now about the design of a new Italian Hall Memorial. We contributed the following thoughts to that discussion today.

To the Italian Hall Memorial Group and The Village of Calumet,

As producers of 1913 Massacre, the feature-length, 2012 documentary film about the Italian Hall disaster, we strongly support the effort to bring the public into the process of deciding what the new Italian Hall memorial should look like.

As outsiders, it’s not our place to express any strong preferences or opinions about the
design of the memorial. But we think it’s important for us to share one big lesson we
learned in the course of our work on the film and at screenings of 1913 Massacre we did at the Calumet Theatre, around the country, and in Europe over the past five years.

People’s voices matter profoundly when it comes to remembering their history.

There isn’t just one Italian Hall story; there are many, and there will be many more as long as the stories of the Italian Hall are passed down, told and retold.

How should the victims of Italian Hall be honored? Some people visit the cemetery or the Italian Hall site. Others light candles. Some tell stories or share pictures or hum Finnish tunes they learned from grandparents or uncles and aunts. Some people knocked down the Hall itself; that was their way of coming to terms with the story. Others still remember the victims in the way Woody Guthrie memorialized them in a song.

Everyone has his or her own way of remembering and making sense of the events of December 24th, 1913, and the public should be given a strong voice — or many voices, a chorus of voices — in the deliberations of the Memorial Group and the Village.

We encourage you to keep this process open and transparent to the public, and to listen to everyone who wishes to be heard. We look forward to seeing the results of your work next time we are in Calumet.