When Does It Pay to be a Liar?

When you’re an oligarch or wannabe, apparently; it is a way of saying, “I’m too big to care what you think.” This from Vox:

There’s more HERE.

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Wrapped in Steel

This is a portrait of a Chicago community in transition circa 1982-1983 while it was still somewhat in denial about what was in store:

Produced and directed by James R. Martin, written by James R. Martin and Dominic Pacyga, with some original music by William Russo (!). The more you know about Chicago history during the last third of the 20th Century, the more you’ll take away from this documentary.

The movie cries out for a retrospective essay… or even a retrospective documentary. It isn’t something I’m prepared to do, so I’ll be limited to making a few observations.

The then-Alderman of the 10th Ward, “Fast Eddie” Vrdolyak makes an early appearance. It’s worth mentioning as Vrdolyak was the Darth Vader of the Chicago City Council wars that raged after the election of Harold Washington as Mayor of Chicago. Some time later in the documentary, United Steelworkers leader the late Ed Sadlowski, Sr. (a DSA member) makes a number of appearances. The current 10th Ward Alderwoman is Susan Sadlowski Garza, Ed Sadlowski’s daughter. She was one of the early candidates to be endorsed by Bernie Sanders as his campaign for the Democratic Presidential nomination got going.

As an aside, the 10th Ward was the place where I first did canvassing for a candidate. I was volunteering for Saul Mendelson, who was running in the primary election for the Illinois State Senate and for Leon Chestang, who was running in the primary election for the Illinois House of Representatives. Chestang was Black. Mendelson was a Southshore Jewish socialist. I don’t recall the reaction of the voters we canvassed though I doubt we recorded many “pluses”. The reactions were probably better than if we had been canvassing for Republican or third party candidates. We ran into workers from Vrdolyak’s office canvassing for their slate. They were cordial but that was mostly because they did not feel at all insecure with their prospects for victory.

This is a compelling documentary, not for any sentimental nostalgia (though if you grew up in Hegewisch around that period, you may end up a puddle) but because in this portrait of southeast Chicago, you will see the early 21st Century in birth.

Dear Alice

This thesis project by Matt Cerini is over-the-top sentimental — I’d say he’s got that slider pushed up to 11 or more — but his video does have a point…

Kids have been ignored or neglected (I don’t mean in the sense of outright abuse) long before cell phones, and it has always (well, at least in the 20th Century) been easy for parents and children to be something of a mystery to each other — think of Amy Tan’s The Kitchen God’s Wife for just one example. But there does seem to be a qualitative difference in the contemporary experience. Is it more lonely being a child today? (And how would one tell?)

The Walk Home

Wishful thinking or magical realism?

Growing up in a small… very small town, I didn’t have entire groups of people — which is to say, gangs — to worry about, but I do recall trips home from school that required being alert for particular individuals. Reading accounts about some of the inter-ethnic juvenile violence in 19th and earlier 20th Century urban America makes me think that in some ways, “The Walk Home” is an old story. But I’m willing to believe things have changed and not for the better.

My own, relatively mild experience left me with a rather sour regard for the adults my cohort eventually grew into, never mind the adults of my youth who supposedly supervised us. Buddha save me from having to repeat the experience!