November 12, 2007
Photo credit: Chicago Daily News negatives collection, DN-0003451. Courtesy of the Chicago Historical Society, by way of the Library of Congress.
El Cabrero got a wild hair a few years ago. I decided to audition for my first “acting” role, if trying to act normal doesn’t count.
The West Virginia Humanities Council has a program called History Alive! in which people portray various historical figures. Most of the characters were West Virginians or had some connection to the state, although there were exceptions.
I wanted to audition as Eugene Debs (1855-1926), labor leader, Socialist, perennial presidential candidate, and convict. He wasn’t a West Virginian—nobody is perfect, after all-- but he came here many times as a union organizer and candidate. He was even incarcerated here at the state pen in Moundsville for a while for his opposition to World War I.
It was his favorite prison.
So I put in an application to audition, thinking all along that even 80 years after his death he would still be too hot to handle. To my surprise, they actually went for it. My smart aleck remark was that if I knew they would go for it, I would never have sent in the application to start with.
There followed a period in which I researched the character, reading old speeches, articles, biographies, and letters and tried to put together a presentation. I even made the pilgrimage to Debs’ house in Terra Haute, Indiana, which is now a museum. Then of course there was the matter of finding the suit, vest, pocket watch and bow tie. Thank God for Goodwill.
After passing the hurdle of the audition, it was time to channel some Eugene.
About which more tomorrow.
VETERAN'S DAY. Here's hoping justice will be done to US veteran's.
LET US NOW PRAISE (SORT OF) FAMOUS MEN. Here's a good book review from the Charleston Gazette by Yvonne Farley, a dear amiga of El Cabrero's, about a recent biography of Don West, radical, poet, and activist. Yvonne was a good choice to review the book since she knew the subject well. Don was the Primal Father of Appalachian lefties and I had the good fortune to get to know him and receive his blessing in his later years. Among other things, Don was co-founder of the famous Highlander Center, which played a major role in the struggle for economic and racial justice in Appalachia and the south.
GET THEE TO A NUNNERY wasn't all that good advice in Hamlet's time and it isn't so hot now either. According to a recent study, abstinence programs--heavily favored by the Bush administration and the domestic Taliban--just don't work.
HEALTH CARE. Here's a good one by Paul Krugman about all the lame excuses people give in this country for our lack of a universal health care system.
FOOTBALL is the guiding thread through the Rev. Jim Lewis's latest edition of Notes From Under the Fig Tree. As always, it's worth a look.
IN DEBT. Here's an interesting item on America's debt crisis from Alternet.
GROSS NATIONAL HAPPINESS. Here's an op-ed on a perennially interesting subject.
GOAT ROPE ADVISORY LEVEL: ELEVATED