Category Archives: book presentation

Please join us for our remaining three events of 2017

waiting for lefty by work of art productions and vito marcantonio forum

We have three (3)! VMF events that we are either sponsoring or co-sponsoring to round-out the year. A stage reading of “Waiting for Lefty” on 12/10/17, a fundraiser for hurricane relief in Puerto Rico on 12/16/17, and a free reading circle event on 12/20/17.
You can contact us for details on any of these events, however, we really would appreciate you reading everything here first:
Sunday, December 10th at 3pm at
The Roy Arias Stages (2nd floor)
777 8th Ave between 47th and 48th Streets
Tickets will be $10 at the door.
or a reservation can be made by emailing
Directed by Art Bernal with an introduction by Gerald Meyer and an epilogue by Roberto Ragone as Vito Marcantonio, this stage reading will be dedicated to Marcantonio, who was born on December 10, 1902.

Description of the play from Wikipedia:
The play is composed of seven vignettes. The first takes place at a union meeting of taxi drivers, where union boss Harry Fatt tries dissuading the men from striking. A few drivers ask of the whereabouts of Lefty, their elected chairman. Fatt reminds them their elected committee is already present, then lets Joe, one of the drivers, speak. Joe maintains he is not a “red boy”, citing his status as a wounded war veteran, but complains of how any driver who expresses dissatisfaction with working conditions is labelled a “red” (slang for communist) by the bosses. He says his wife has convinced him to strike for higher wages.

In the second vignette, set a week before the union meeting, Joe comes home to find that the furniture, not yet paid for, was repossessed. Joe’s wife Edna urges him to lead a strike and demand a living wage. Joe argues that strikes do not work and that he would lose money while on strike. Edna criticizes the union as only benefitting its bosses. Joe admits the union bosses are “racketeers” but refuses to stand up to them. Edna announces she is going back to her old boyfriend, since he earns a living. Joe protests, and Edna implores Joe to start a workers’ union without the racketeers. Joe, swept up by her passion, tells her he is going to find Lefty Costello.

The next vignette features Fayette, an industrialist, and Miller, a lab assistant. Fayette raises Miller’s salary as a reward for his loyalty, and reassigns him to a new laboratory where Miller will help create poisonous gas for chemical warfare. Miller loses enthusiasm, but Fayette believes the world is on the brink of war, and that the U.S. must be ready. Miller grows distraught, reminiscing about his brother who died in the previous war. Fayette expects Miller to provide a weekly confidential report on the project’s leader Dr. Brenner. Miller refuses to do any “spying”, insisting he would rather lose his job than agree to such terms. Miller’s outrage grows and he punches Fayette in the mouth.

In the fourth vignette, Florence tells her brother Irv that she loves her boyfriend Sid. Irv urges her to break up with Sid, since he earns too little money as a taxi driver. Sid enters and Irv exits. Sid says he knows he is like “rat poison” to her family and knows that she is reconsidering whether to marry him. He laments their lowly status as “dogs” under the thumb of powerful rich men. He is upset that his brother, a college boy, has swallowed the “money men”‘s propaganda and joined the navy to fight foreigners who are, ultimately, just like himself. Florence says she will follow Sid anywhere, but he tells her to be realistic.

Back at the union meeting, Fatt brings up Tom Clayton, who took part in an unsuccessful strike in Philadelphia. Clayton says that his experience taught him that Fatt is right. Clayton’s brother then runs on stage and outs Clayton as a company spy who has been breaking up various unions for years. Clayton leaves and his brother voices skepticism of Fatt’s supposed ignorance of Clayton’s true identity.

The next vignette occurs in the hospital office of the elderly Dr. Barnes. The younger Dr. Benjamin enters, upset that he has been replaced for surgery on a patient in the charity ward by an incompetent doctor named Leeds, the nephew of a senator. Barnes reveals that the hospital is shuttering the charity ward because it is losing money. Furthermore, they are firing some staff, including Benjamin. Though Benjamin has seniority, he is being fired because he is Jewish. Barnes takes a phone call and learns that the patient has died in surgery. Benjamin grows furious, saying he was skeptical of the ideas of radicals until now, and vowing to fight on even if it means death.

A man named Agate talks to the taxi drivers, insulting their weakness and insulting Fatt. Fatt and his armed guard try to detain him, but Agate eludes them. Agate proclaims that if “we’re reds because we wanna strike, then we take over their salute too!” He makes a Communist salute. Agate incites the drivers with fiery rhetoric about the rich killing them off. He tells them to “unite and fight!” and not to wait for Lefty, who may never arrive. A man runs in and reports that Lefty has just been found, shot dead. Agate yells to his fellow union men, “Workers of the world… Our Bones and Blood!” and leads them in a chorus of “Strike!”

Hurricane Relief Fundraiser for Puerto Rico
Dec 16th, 4PM-8PM
The Hurricane Fundraiser relief effort for Puerto Rico has been moved to 12/16/17. We will have more info on how you can help so please stay tuned!

i-vote-my-conscience by annette t rubinsteinChelsea Rising Reading Circle | Dec 20th, 6PM-8PM
On the third Wednesday of every month, The VMF has been sponsoring a reading circle run by Co-chair Gerald Meyer, on I Vote My Conscience by Annette T. Rubinstein. There is no admission charge and being that this is the final installment in the series–this event will end with a celebration–so don’t miss it!
Penn South Reading Room
339 W 24th St
New York, NY 10011

Next Reading Circle will be June 21, 2017 at 6PM in NYC.

The Vito Marcantonio Forum  / Chelsea Rising 

The Vito Marcantonio Forum and Chelsea Rising have launched a joint Reading Circle that meets on the third Wednesday of the month @ 6:00PM in Penn South’s Community Room at 339 West 24th Street (between 8th  & 9th Aves., closer to 9th Ave.). The Community Room has its own entrance which is under an awning proudly announcing “Community Room.” The Reading Circle’s second meeting was as successful as our first. We will convene our third session on Wednesday, June 21, 2017 @ 6:00PM. 

Our text, I Vote My Conscience: Debates, Speeches, and Writings of Vito Marcantonio, edited by Annette T. Rubinstein, is an invaluable source for all those interested in studying the life and work of seven-term, American Labor Party (ALP) Congressman, Vito Marcantonio, who courageously represented East Harlem and the entire American Left.

I Vote My Conscience presents: useful Introductory matter; excerpts from Marcantonio’s debates and speeches from each of his seven terms in office; a special section on his work on behalf of Puerto Rico and the Puerto Rican people; and lastly excerpts from his legal briefs for W. E. B. DuBois and other victims of McCarthyism. In addition to his Congressional work, Marc served as Chairperson of the ALP, and ran for Mayor in 1949, under its banner.

The June 21st session will focus on Marcantonio’s Congressional speeches and debates from his first second in office.  Copies of I Vote My Conscience will be on sale for $10, or can be purchased in advance by sending a $13 check to Gerald Meyer 381-2nd St. Bklyn. 11215.

Gerald Meyer, Co-Chair VMF

Italian News Mention of the VMF East Harlem Walking Event

Renato Cantore wrote a great piece on last year’s walking tour that you can see here:

Presto a East Harlem la “Vito Marcantonio Street”

Vito Marcantonio Forum Walking Tour 2015

Gerald Meyer speaking to members of the walking tour. Speaker of the City Council, Melissa Mark-Viverito is on the left of the picture.





Wednesday, May 18th 2016, 5:00-6:45 PM

Prof. Gerald Meyer will chair a discussion of ITALIAN AMERICAN RADICAL CULTURE, 1890-1940, by Marcella Bencivenni. Italian/English bilingual readings of Arturo Giovanitti’s poetry by VMF members: Gil Fagiani, Maria Lisella, & Roberto  Ragone.

Where: NYPL Mulberry St. Branch,  10 Jersey St., NY, corner of Mulberry & Prince Sts., one block south of Houston St.

Books available for purchase.
Free admission, light  refreshments served

marcella bencivenni

Author Marcella Bencivenni

This event is co-hosted with Italian American Writers Association (IAWA)

The Vito Marcantonio Forum (VMF) is an educational organization dedicated to preserving the history of the radical political tradition of East Harlem, the cultural backdrop of Italian Harlem and El Barrio and increasing awareness of the American Labor Party that Marcantonio led for years; and the critical role of the Left that rallied to Marcantonio.

The Italian American Writers Association will celebrate its 25th Anniversary in 2016. Since 1991, IAWA has given voice to writers through its literary series every second Saturday of the months. Readings begin with an Open Mic: IAWA-East is held even months at Sidewalk Café and IAWA-West continues at Cornelia Street Café on odd months.

BLOG: italian american writers café