I know its been a while, but allow me a brief political post today, friends. I just read this brilliant Washington Post piece and felt compelled to offer some thoughts.

One hundred years ago today, 136 NYC factory workers, mostly young women, were forced to leap to their deaths from the 9th floor of a building in flames. In the absence of enforced government regulation, the factory owners denied union demands for sprinklers, hired goons to beat up organizers, and locked the only exit that might have let the workers out. Since that time, laws have been enacted which protect workers’ rights, and it is THESE laws which are currently being threatened by the willfully-ignorant-of-history, “every-man-for-himself-but-put-CEOs-first” charade which so-called “Libertarians” continually defend. Bells will commemorate the victims all around the country at 4:41pm today, but let’s remember that they did NOT die in vain.

Incidentally, I’m on the list-serve of NYC-based singer/songwriter Allison Scola, and I thought I’d just copy and paste news of an event she’s participating in which is being held in NYC today to commemorate the victims. This strikes me as just one more example of how artists can (and should) connect to larger societal issues. Wish I could be there to show my solidarity!

I’ll be spending this day walking the paths of victims of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire of 1911.

The morning will begin early. I will be “chalking” the sidewalks of of victims Josephine Carlisi (31 years old) and Frieda Velakofsky (20 years old) both who lived around the corner from my old apartment in the East Village (a Sicilian enclave 100 years ago).

At 10:30 AM I will be part of a procession of ceremonial shirtwaists (blouses) in honor of victims. I will be carrying a shirtwaist representing Michelina Nicolosi (21 years old) who lived in a tenement directly behind my old building and next to the East Village’s Shrine to the Black Madonna on East 13th Street. Michelina was from a small town in the hills of Sicily, about 2 hours away from where my grandparents were born. She had been in the United States for just over two years before the fire.

The procession will make its way from Union Square down Broadway to the Brown Building, formally the Asch Building, at Greene Street and Washington Place, where at noon there will be a memorial ceremony and reading of the victims’ names.

At 4:41 PM bells will ring throughout the United States in recognition of the time the fire broke out and reminding all of us of the deep legacy left by this tragedy–safer working conditions, increased fire regulations, and so many other benefits to us in the workplace and beyond.

Saturday, March 26th, 2011
Labor of Love: A Story with Music Based on the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire of 1911 – 4:00 p.m.
Westchester Italian Cultural Center

One Generoso Pope Place
Tuckahoe, NY 10707

Price: Members $25, Non-Members $30; Fa

A story with music based on the Triangle Factory Fire of March 25, 1911
Presented by Ti Piace, Italian American Presentations, Inc.

A collaborative effort by and performed by the Ti Piace Performers featuring Tre Bella with Allison Scola, Anthony Tolve, Mary Ellen Toomey, Deborah Longino, and Dimitri Minucci