Classic dramatic device: the ticking clock. Like a lit fuse on a bomb about to explode, 2010 approaches.
In this week's episode we return to a recurring dream that has plagued one of our dramatis personae since page one
of this epic. Inexplicably, for the time being at least, Clark Zomski is haunted by images of the Haymarket Affair
I can think of no better way to introduce the Haymarket Affair to those who may be unfamiliar than a photo montage accompanied by some good old fashioned American puck rock music...
Click the image below for Against all Authority and their hit single that rules the top of the anarchist charts, "Haymarket Square" --
The bloody conflict that erupted on the streets of Chicago between police and the socialists, anarchists and labor leaders in May of 1886 captured the attention and stoked the anxieties of the entire world at the time. And even today its significance echoes in the May Day
celebrations of the international workers' movement.
Indeed, the first of such May Day celebrations was held to commemorate the eight men who were tried and executed by the state for allegedly instigating the deadly riots that fateful spring evening in Haymarket Square (who were utterly innocent, by the way, as some of them weren't even present at the scene of the crime, and the man who actually tossed the bomb "heard 'round the world" to this day remains mysterious and unknown). All eight were martyred for the cause of the eight hour work day and the two day weekend. So every wage earner, unionized or not, is currently the beneficiary of the very real peril these men put themselves in to guarantee something so simple as leisure time for American workers who can now connect more deeply with friends and family or engage in personal pursuits.
Never take Friday night for granted again.
For a little background on the first May Day, here's a great youtube'd Democracy Now! interview of James Green, the author of Death in the Haymarket, from May 1st of 2008 - the video comes in three parts (pt.1
Click the cover for a googlebooks preview --
It's a pretty good read. As dramatic, novel-ized history books about late 19th century Chicago go, I liked it better than Devil in the White City.
If your thirst for background info on Haymarket Square is not yet slaked, then I encourage you to check out this short, three part PBS doc on the subject, youtube'd for your convenience - (pt.1
Gotta love PBS. They do everything right.
And sharp-eyed Chicago history buffs will notice recently passed icons Leon Despres
and Studs Terkel
among the documentary's commentators. Despres, bitter rival of Mayor Richard J. Daley, champion for civil rights and alderman from Obama's own 5th ward, saw his last May Day in 2009, as a matter of fact. He died this past May 6th, at the age of 101. No kidding. And the wound is still raw from Studs' death, too, in October of 2008. He was a storyteller, oral historian and the very voice of Chicago; he lived here nearly all of his 96 years. At least they didn't leave the party early. But big shoulders and towering skylines aside, Chicago is diminished with the loss of these men.
I might hope you're asking yourself by now "so why does Clark keep having these dreams about Haymarket?" or "what are you getting at, connecting 1886 and 1968 like that?" If so, I can only encourage you to read on, my friends, and enjoy, for all will eventually be revealed. I assure you.
Synchronicities are better experienced than explained, anyhow. That's how you know they're for real. And the physics of them are such that they can be neither created nor destroyed. Take this recent youtube find, for instance, that I stumbled upon earlier this week while preparing to write this blog - it's the first track, Elevator
, off an ultra rare LP by a Chicago-based underground band called Haymarket Square
The record, Magic Lantern, was released in 1968.
And the video was posted on youtube in 2008, the year we launched the Chicago:1968 webcomic.
Posted on December 13, to be exact. My birthday.
I couldn't possibly take credit for making this stuff up, or planning it out ahead of time. I can only hope to harness its power to make some incredibly radical comics.
Stay tuned for 2010. It's gonna start with a bang!