Thursday, March 25, 2010

Until Time Erases.

Unlike the Titanic disaster one year later, the Triangle Fire of 1911 has never been the subject of a major Hollywood blockbuster.  When I proposed it back in grad school as the subject of my research--to a class that had already been studying immigrant lit for almost fifteen weeks--no one had ever even heard of it. 

146 women died in the fire; almost all were first generation immigrants. The circumstances of their deaths directly influenced future social programs and political practices of the US.

Poet Morris Rosenfeld's memorial as published in The Jewish Daily Forward after the fire:

Neither battle nor fiendish pogrom
Fills this great city with sorrow;
Nor does the earth shudder or lightning rend the heavens,
No clouds darken, no cannon’s roar shatters the air.
Only hell’s fire engulfs these slave stalls
And Mammon devours our sons and daughters.
Wrapt in scarlet flames, they drop to death from his maw
And death receives them all.
Sisters mine, oh my sisters; brethren
Hear my sorrow:
See where the dead are hidden in dark corners,
Where life is choked from those who labor.
Oh, woe is me, and woe is to the world
On this Sabbath
When an avalanche of red blood and fire
Pours forth from the god of gold on high
As now my tears stream forth unceasingly.
Damned be the rich!
Damned be the system!
Damned be the world!
Over whom shall we weep first?
Over the burned ones?
Over those beyond recognition?
Over those who have been crippled?
Or driven senseless?
Or smashed?
I weep for them all.
Now let us light the holy candles
And mark the sorrow
Of Jewish masses in darkness and poverty.
This is our funeral,
These our graves,
Our children,
The beautiful, beautiful flowers destroyed,
Our lovely ones burned,
Their ashes buried under a mountain of caskets.
There will come a time
When your time will end, you golden princes. Meanwhile,
Let this haunt your consciences:
Let the burning building, our daughters in flame Be the nightmare that destroys your sleep,
The poison that embitters your lives,
The horror that kills your joy.
And in the midst of celebrations for your children,
May you be struck blind with fear over the Memory of this red avalanche
Until time erases you.

Source:  Stein, Leon.  The Triangle Fire.  Ithaca:  Cornell UP, 1962, 145-146.

Image,  Detail, History of the Needlecraft Industry (1938), by Ernest Feeney, High School of Fashion and Industry. A mural commissioned by the International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGW).

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Okay. Here's what happened.

I curled up in a chair Tuesday afternoon with Sarah Waters' The Little Stranger. It's a slow-building modern Gothic that's just perfect for falling asleep over on a quiet, weekday afternoon.

And so that's what I did. 

And of course, the thing that always happens when I fall asleep in the middle of a weekday afternoon happened.  The doorbell rang. It scares me to death to be awakened by the doorbell. In fact, it's pretty common for me to answer the door in wild-eyed, bed-headed breathlessness.  There's no telling what people think I'm doing up in here.

This time, though, I lept up into the air and as I came back down, heard a sound that seemed, oh, I don't know, kinda out of place. Way in the back of my mind--the part that wasn't already begging to be shot--I thought, "Hmm. That sounds just like snap beans. It's too early for beans, init?"

It took quite a while then to get to the door, because for what seemed to me to be a very long time, I could only roll around on the floor saying, "Owowowowowowow" (or some less printable version of that same thing). Finally though, I got to my knees and crawled the two-to-three feet to the front door, dragging my useless right leg behind me.  

So I was on my knees--a wild-eyed, bed-headed, breathless Dorf--as I opened the door.  And then I did something that really only happens in the South.

"I'm sorry, I fell trying to get to the door."

That's right. I apologized to the UPS man for taking so long to open the door.

Which was fine, I guess, because this guy was not the least interested in whether or not I was injured.  Maybe because I was so successfully holding my shit together or maybe because it was obvious to even this total stranger that I was some kinda tough old bird, he handed me first the package and then the fake clipboard WHILE I WAS DOWN THERE ON MY KNEES. I had to lay the clipboard-y thing on the ground in order to sign.

And then he thanked me and got back into his truck.

Ordinarily, this is the place where I would hit the post button--because you know I don't like to go on after I think I've made my point. But I want to pause here to ask--way back on February 16, when I was working up a full head of steam reaming out the lady at my doctor's office for not having my name on the appointment register when we both realized first that my appointment wasn't really scheduled until March 16, and then that no amount of apologizing would likely ever be enough--it's cool if we just call that a wash, now, right?


Image, sergiok's photostream. My xrays are happening on Wednesday. Stay tuned.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Because there's new school ukulele, and then there's get-the-hell-outta-here ukulele.

For all those folks who--when I say I play ukulele--say, "Oh. Like Tiny Tim."

edit--which is not to say that I can play this well. Yet.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

What a feelin'.

I have a friend whose husband is amazed that she can remove her brassiere without taking off her clothes. It's an easy trick, and for some reason I don't understand, it's been shocking guys slackjawed since Jennifer Beals did it in Flashdance. Truly, men forget their home address when they see women do this.

But let me tell you something. If men wore bras, they would find a way to take them off right there in front of everybody in the room--all while making you think they were just jingling their keys.

image, Melissa Maples' photostream.  

I shimmy out of mine in the car all the time. Most days, I'm shed of it before leaving the parking lot. Last week, I couldn't find my favorite bra, and it wasn't until I had turned the house upside down that I realized I had left in in the glove compartment.  

Oh, don't act so shocked. 

Monday, March 8, 2010

Happy International Women's Day!

The rest of the world has been observing March 8 as International Women's Day for 100 years.

I'm willing to bet that you've never even heard of it.  We just don't make a big hairy deal out of it here in the US--probably because we didn't think of it first.

Instead, we designated the entire month of March as Women's History Month. Of course, you might not have been aware of that either, since there are no cards to send or decorations to string.

Hopefully, you did get wind of the fact that Hurt Locker director Kathryn Bigelow took the Oscar for Best Director last night--the first time the award has ever gone to a woman. 

Which seems as sure a path to equality as having our own special day, I'd say.

image, Library of Congress, 1920 Republican Convention. L-R: Mrs. James Rector, Ohio, Mary Dubrow, N.J., Alice Paul, N.J.