An American Snapshot

 

6629260235_7d0f2e4791_b(photo by Brett Levin)

The long hall,

a track-and-zoom where sun falls through

a skylight onto the escalator’s exposed machinery.

–Chad Heltzel, “Photos of America’s Abandoned Malls” (Packingtown Review, Volume 10, Spring 2018)

 

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Fairytale of Packingtown

From The Jungle by Upton Sinclair:

“Christmas Eve–he had forgotten it entirely! There was a breaking of floodgates, a whirl of new memories and new griefs rushing into his mind. In far Lithuania they had celebrated Christmas; and it came to him as if it had been yesterday–himself a little child, with his lost brother and his dead father in the cabin–in the deep black forest, where the snow fell all day and all night and buried them from the world. It was too far off for Santa Claus in Lithuania, but it was not too far for peace and good will to men, for the wonder-bearing vision of the Christ Child. And even in Packingtown they had not forgotten it–some gleam of it had never failed to break their darkness. Last Christmas Eve and all Christmas Day Jurgis had toiled on the killing beds, and Ona at wrapping hams, and still they had found strength enough to take the children for a walk upon the avenue, to see the store windows all decorated with Christmas trees and ablaze with electric lights. In one window there would be live geese, in another marvels in sugar–pink and white canes big enough for ogres, and cakes with cherubs upon them; in a third there would be rows of fat yellow turkeys, decorated with rosettes, and rabbits and squirrels hanging; in a fourth would be a fairyland of toys–lovely dolls with pink dresses, and woolly sheep and drums and soldier hats. Nor did they have to go without their share of all this, either. The last time they had had a big basket with them and all their Christmas marketing to do–a roast of pork and a cabbage and some rye bread, and a pair of mittens for Ona, and a rubber doll that squeaked, and a little green cornucopia full of candy to be hung from the gas jet and gazed at by half a dozen pairs of longing eyes.”

Ten Years of Packingtown Review: Volume 3

Volume 3

In act 3, we hit Trouble! Volume 3 is edited in late 2011, but the press won’t release it for free. The usual sources of funding all rummage for change and turn up nothing. Instead of close to ten grand, we have zero dollars.

Where is our usual manager of mirth?
What revels are in hand? Is there no play,
To ease the anguish of a torturing hour?

And so we end up with a lost issue.

But like Paisley Park vaults,  the deepest recesses of our digital file cabinets have spit out this super rare and raw demo: the PTR3 PDF! It may not look pretty, but it teems with literary treasures.

 

In Praise of Rebels Everywhere

“I had become very aware of racism through the war; not just anti-Semitism, but the way the American army treated black soldiers. On the troop transport overseas, it was always the black company on board that had to clean the ship and do the dirty work, and I felt very uncomfortable with that.”
– Lee Lorch, on what he saw in World War Two (see http://www-history.mcs.st-andrews.ac.uk/Biographies/Lorch.html)

A white person is born in the state of New York 1925 with a silver spoon in her mouth. She later moves to the American South. Wherever she goes, she adopts most of the prejudice prescribed to her by her times and status. She dies in 2018. You could say she’s a product of her environment. If her environment is racist and broken in many ways, how could she not be?

Let’s not waste time on these basic questions and these basic people. Let’s instead remember a contemporary of the above person, a contemporary who saw through the racist lies and fought to better our world, no matter the personal cost.