Rogers Park in early November, 2018.
was a Friday and four of the eight defendants convicted in connection with the Haymarket Affair were executed — hung — in the alley behind Chicago’s old City Hall: George Engel, Adolph Fischer, Albert Parsons and August Spies. The evening before, another of the convicted, Louis Lingg, had committed suicide by biting down on a blasting cap while in his cell. Two others, Samuel Fielden and Michael Schwab, had their sentences commuted to life in prison by Illinois Governor Richard James Oglesby. Oscar Neebe had been sentenced to 15 years imprisonment. In 1893, Illinois Governor John Altgeld pardoned Fielden, Schwab and Neebe.
The Haymarket Affair grew out of the struggle for an 8 hour work day. A predecessor organization to the AFL-CIO, the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions, had proclaimed that as of May 1, 1886, the 8 hour day would be “the law” and a series of strikes and demonstrations were organized to enforce the proclamation or it was included as a part of ongoing disputes, such as the strike at the McCormick harvester plant in Chicago that had been ongoing since February. On May 3, 1886, a rally at the McCormick plant was violently suppressed by police, killing at least two of the striking workers.
A protest rally was hastily organized for the next evening at Chicago’s Haymarket on the near west side. It was poorly attended, about a tenth the size organizers had hoped. As the rally sputtered to an end in the face of oncoming rain, Inspector John “Black Jack” Bonfield arrived with a large contingent of police, despite having been instructed by Chicago Mayor Carter Harrison, Sr., to stand down. A bomb was thrown at the police, killing several and severely wounding many others. The police responded by shooting indiscriminately, hitting several of their own and many of the crowd. It’s not known how many of the demonstrators were killed or injured.
If you work a 40 hour week, you can thank the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions and the Chicago anarchists for your leisure time. If you live anywhere but in the United States, you can thank the Haymarket Affair for making May 1st your Labor Day.
There are three points that I think are worth making this year.
First, present day histories of the Affair tend to downplay a simple fact: Most of the Haymarket defendants were revolutionaries. They would have been seriously disappointed to be presented as anything else. They generally came to that position as much through experience as anything else. I don’t mean this as an endorsement of insurrection, but whatever you might think of it in the present, they were making a reasonable assessment of their own times and of the immediate possibilities for change. It shouldn’t be downplayed.
Second, the case against the defendants had scarce physical evidence. The suicide, Louis Lingg, was apparently a bomb-maker and the physical remains of the thrown bomb were consistent with his product. How much you want to trust this is up to you. The law was not well respected by much of Chicago, not just by the anarchists. And there is some doubt, of course, about whether or not Lingg’s death was actually suicide.
Most of the case against the Haymarket defendants was their own rhetoric. For example, Samuel Fielden, the last speaker at the rally, was winding up his speech with:
“A million men hold all the property in this country. The law has no use for the other fifty-four millions. You have nothing more to do with the law except to lay hands on it and throttle it until it makes its last kick… Keep your eye upon it, throttle it, kill it, stab it, do everything you can to wound it — to impede its progress.”
Incendiary language, certainly. Worthy of the death penalty? Yes? No? Now tell me: What should be done about Donald Trump’s rhetoric?
Ah well, that was then and they were poor. This is now and Trump is rich.
Finally, Inspector John Bonfield is a bigger player in this story than most accounts provide. While he was not in charge of the earlier police action at the McCormick harvester plant, he was a participant. He got the nickname “Black Jack” through his liberal use of the same in putting down other labor strikes in Chicago. He was later accused of stealing Louis Lingg’s clothing and property to sell. This accusation led to his resignation from the Chicago Police. Perhaps he had supplied the blasting cap as well?
For all that the left and labor justifiably hated him, Bonfield is an interesting character. You can find a good summary of his life and misadventures HERE, but there’s a good deal more available on the web, including his testimony at the Haymarket Affair trial. He’s buried under a modest stone in Oakwood Cemetery on Chicago’s southeast side.
Winter is coming.
The first year in review
October 31 was the first anniversary of Yip Abides: 417 posts, though there were a few missed days. Blogs are basically stacks; the newest entries are on top. Older posts are buried like geological strata. So here are the best of those 417, in my humble opinion: 116 posts of Yip Abides’ first year, by category, in reverse chronological order – as if the blog were a queue instead of a stack. Let the posts buried by time stand forth!
There’s a lot of good stuff that did not get included below, so exploring will be rewarding if you care to do so. The categories are a good way of focusing your browsing, depending upon your interests. While tags have something of a social function in WordPress, vaguely similar to Facebook, Twitter and other social platforms, I’ve used them here as a subject index. Unfortunately, with the theme I’m currently using, you can’t browse by both category and tag.
And what is in store for the coming year? Fewer posts, most certainly, perhaps not even one each day as I expect to have other irons in the fire than just this blog. There’s been a distinct tendency toward photos over other content lately; that would be easy to continue. In any case, I’m making this up as I go along so you’ll find out as soon as I do.
The first post: Hello World.
Rock Island in Bureau Junction – old GP7 1275 on the Peoria line.
Birdman Lives! – the man and the mural.
Terror in the Subway! – Tyrannosaurus CTA.
Winter Has Come – photos from 1358 W. Greenleaf.
Mash Note – everyone should get at least one.
28 Thoughts on Trees – trunks, light and leaves.
Wallartee 2 – murals from the hippie underground.
Artists of the Wall 2017 – the annual mural arts in Loyola Park.
Wallartee 5 – two murals under the CTA Red Line @ Pratt.
Wallartee 6 – mural under the CTA Red Line @ Farwell.
Pounce! – Gargoyle gonna getchu.
Artists of the Wall 2018 – the annual mural arts in Loyola Park.
Teddy Bear’s Picnic – Lunt Avenue at the CTA Red Line.
The Face in the Door – stare at the door and the door stares back.
Carpets of the Sun – grasses and sedges and sun and shadow.
Beeves in Summer – cool cattle in shades…
Whirl – we spend our lives circling the edge of an event horizon.
Reflexions – water and light.
Paranoia Agent in Rogers Park – actually, Little Slugger has come.
Without the Shadow, Would We Know the Light? – a meditation.
Bird on Cable – the bird professed to know me but I found our acquaintance hard to swallow…
Cat & Floor – This is your floor on catnip.
Lurking – Troll @ work.
Spun Glass – you really need to see this! IMHO, it’s way cool.
Groot Home Chicago – return to roots. But wait! There’s more.
The Gizzard of Odd – oh my…
Rapid Transit – the CTA Red Line @ Jackson. It’s a long way down…
The Last Evening of Summer – Leone Park Beach.
No Idea – will the last person leaving…
On Fullerton Avenue – what is it?
A Botanic Afternoon – my annual Fall pilgrimage to the Chicago Botanic Garden.
The Light! The Dark! The Day! – and Captain Beefheart
The Gunfighter – almost certainly the best comedic western since “Blazing Saddles”.
Wild West Fan Co. – maybe the best comedic western since “Blazing Saddles”.
Frankie Sinatra — Geezer demons in a music video. I hate music videos.
This Won’t Hurt a Bit – except for the wallet biopsy. Health care in America.
Bindle Bros – there’s a hipster born every second.
Waltzing into Anarchy – bugger the bankers and politicians…
I Trust You – in the face of orchestrated hate.
World Builder – a very sweet virtual reality love story.
Descendants – keep this in mind on Valentines Day should you think of flowers. (Whoopi Goldberg!)
Alien Love – a truly alien love story… or maybe it’s a music video.
You Gotta Believe in Something – Nina Paley sez to Moses.
Over Time – a most amazing muppet wake: a must see.
I Hate Music Videos – but I keep watching this one: Cats!
Catnip: Egress to Oblivion? – classroom drug education.
Monsieur COK – which came first: the capitalist or the egg?
Fugu & Tako – the charismatic sex appeal of being a puffer fish.
Human Fountains – mind blowing… with an incredibly sweet soundtrack.
Happiness! – and the commodification thereof. A great Steve Cutts animation.
Hyper-Reality – the singularity doth come & gone but alienation remains.
AMA – you geezers think that Esther Williams was great? Hah! Watch this underwater dance!
Mom Commercial – happy Mothers Day? Amazing!
Long Term Delivery – a bizarre comedy about a secret division of the USPS.
Flamingo Pride – a hoot, especially if you watch it all the way to the very end.
Time Travel: UGH! – warning: immature content. But you’ll love it anyway.
Dissonance – for Fathers Day. Love and madness.
Curmudgeons – a geezer love story. (Danny DeVito!)
La Vague – spells gone wrong: tres cute!
The Head Vanishes! – A trip to the sea side singing a different tuna…
Final Offer – if John Grisham wrote science fiction…
Love & Theft – full screen and headphones recommended.
Fish Heads – I regret the existence of this video. And the song. So will you.
Who Will Pay? – If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu. Really.
Apollo 8 – Earthrise, 50 years later.
The Kings of Siam – Halloween is coming.
Worthless – a powerful commentary written and performed by Agnes Torok.
A – it’s entropy, after all.
You Look Good in Red – yes, you do.
On Having an Infected Finger – after having helped loot a cigarette machine.
If You Were a Whale – imagine that.
The Cat Got His Tongue – and more as well.
Subway Love – by Max Stossel.
Apocalypse Rhyme – the anthropocene in rhyme by Oliver Harrison
Caffeine Zombie – can’t wait to get up in the morning and have some nice…
Waiting – for love and trains.
Eye – cats, all the way down.
It’s a Hard Rain That’s Gonna Fall – about a small 1991 strike that stopped an anti-union jihad from beginning in Wisconsin. That was then.
Employment and Survival in Urban America – an interesting public event that later became a major part of the “Obama is a socialist” narrative pushed by conservatives.
A Living Wage: It’s the Law! – on the passage of living wage ordinances for Chicago and for Cook County.
No More Business As Usual – remember Enron?
The USA PATRIOT Game – part of Chicago DSA’s campaign against the USA PATRIOT Act.
Debt and Taxes – a subtle mix of malice and incompetence back in 2005, and it only got worse from there.
It Was May Day and I Couldn’t Stop Smiling – with a half million people in the streets: sure!
What Do Hotel Workers Want? – old Sam Gompers knew…
Wal-Mart Rampant – Chicago surrenders while proclaiming victory.
But Is It Organizing? – unions and workers’ centers.
A Small Battle in a Larger War – Jorge Mujica’s 2015 campaign for the 25th Ward.
Our Revolution: It’s a Start – Bernie Sander’s post-convention organization.
Everyone Is Joining the Resistance – anger to action.
Dubya and his band of thieves – don’t imagine they’ve given up on mugging the elderly.
Fake News – If it’s fake, it’s not news. If it’s news, it can’t be fake. Really?
Wrapped in Steel – Chicago’s southeast side at a time of transition.
The OTHER 9/11 – Time to rub your nose in it.
Brett Kavanaugh – All his sins remembered…
Tom Broderick – rest in power, as they say.
Julie Was a Free Spirit – that was then…
But We Were Always Like That – this could be about several different things…
The War of the Roaches – soon to be a BBC 4 documentary featuring Tony Robinson?
Bureau Junction – a postcard and some family history.
The Answer – a sad mix of father and son and cultural change.
Mysterious Neighbor – some things are best not known.
The Tail – a shaggy shark story.
Why Socialism Failed in the U.S. – discussing “It Didn’t Happen Here: Why Socialism Failed in the United States” by Seymour Martin Lipset and Gary Marks.
The Really OTHER America – a review of “The Right Nation: Conservative Power in America” by John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge.
Don’t Sleep with Stevens! – Timothy J. Minchin’s account of labor’s mid-20th Century campaign to organize the South.
The Wounds That Never Heal – a review of “Flashback: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Suicide, and the Lessons of War” by Penny Coleman.
When the Democratic Party Lost Its Soul – a review of “Kennedy vs. Carter” by Timothy Stanley.
Anarchy! – a review essay of “More Powerful Than Dynamite” by Thai Jones and “In Search of Sacco and Vanzetti” by Susan Tejada
Bad Moon Rising – Arthur Eckstein’s account of the FBI and the SDS. Do si do!
In This Corner of the World – Sunao Katabuchi’s incredibly beautiful but troubling animated video of WWII Japan.
Dr. Potter’s Medicine Show – a review of Eric Scott Fischl’s horror fantasy novel, because I like barkers.
Design with Nature – a retrospective on landscape architect Ian McHarg’s influential book and the documentary movie based on it.
Which Side Are You On? – a review of J.D. Vance’s memoir, “Hillbilly Elegy”.
Djinn City – a review of the new fantasy novel by Saad Hossain.
Members of Birdman‘s flock:
On Thursday, October 18, I made my annual Fall pilgrimage to the Chicago Botanic Garden. Admission is free to pedestrians and it’s easily accessible by public transit via PACE’s Route 213. It was a fine Fall afternoon: