Author Archives: Adam Milat-Meyer

WAR ON ALL PUERTO RICANS: REVOLUTION AND TERROR IN AMERICA’S COLONY

VMF’s AUTHORS SERIES PRESENTS:

NELSON DENIS and HIS BEST SELLING

WAR AGAINST ALL PUERTO RICANS: REVOLUTION AND TERROR IN AMERICA’S COLONY
Wednesday, April 6, 2016, 5-6:45 PM  

Vito Marcantonio Forum presents a book presentation on war against all puerto ricans by nelson a denis

WHAT:
VMF Authors Series panel discussion followed by Q&A

WHO:
Nelson Denis
discusses WAR AGAINST ALL PUERTO RICANS: Revolution and Terror in America’s Colony

Gil Fagiani, VMF co-founder, will moderate discussion. Roberto Ragone, will deliver dramatic readings of Marcantonio’s speeches about Puerto Rico

WHERE:
NYPL Mulberry St. Branch,  10 Jersey St., NY, between Mulberry & Lafayette Sts., one block south of Houston St.

WAR AGAINST ALL PUERTO RICANS BY NELSON A DENISADMISSION:
Free Admission, light refreshments will be served

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. 

LuLu LoLo Pascale MAS Podcast Interview

LuLu LoLo Pascale, one of our founding members, mentions Vito Marcantonio in a breakthrough, in-depth podcast interview. She also talks about her many endeavors and longtime dedication to projects like #RememberTheTriangle and much, more.

It couldn’t have been said better in the notes for the show:

LuLu LoLo PascaleNew York City has over a hundred monuments honoring specific men who’ve changed the course of history and made significant contributions to our communities. But guess how many women are up on pedestals in this city? Here’s a sad hint: you can count them on your fingers. One hand, even. Performance artist, playwright, and overall activist LuLu LoLo is on a mission to change that. In this Women’s History Month podcast episode, Lulu tells us about her latest venture, “Where are the Women? A Call for Monuments of Women in NYC,” and reminisces about growing up in East Harlem, a neighborhood where strong women (including the city’s first Puerto Rican librarian) graced every block.

Annual Sagra del Libro Book Fair in Little Italy, NYC

Gerald Meyer at IAWA and Order Sons of Italy in America Book Fair February 26 2016

Dr. Gerald Meyer, VMF co-chairman, giving a talk about his book, Vito Marcantonio, Radical Politician 1902-1954.

Friday, February 26, 2016
The Italian American Writers Association (IAWA) kicked off its 25th anniversary with the Sagra del Libro Book Fair. This event represents an historic collaboration between the Order of the Sons of Italy, Lt. Joseph Petrosino Lodge #285 and Italian American Writers Association (IAWA) that was initiated by IAWA’s recently departed Board Member and friend, Emelise Aleandri and was, in fact, dedicated to her memory.

All, not just Italian American authors, publishers, literary event organizers and artists displayed, read out loud and sold their books, materials, and services at the Lt. Joseph Petrosino Lodge #285 at the Church of the Most Precious Blood, often referred to as the San Gennaro Feast Church at 113 Baxter Street in the heart of Little Italy, New York City.

In past years on a Sunday in May most bookstores remained open in Italy to support and promote its writers. This initiative was called “Celebrazione dei Libri” (Celebration of Books). IAWA’s Sagra del Libro continues in the spirit of that movement by celebrating Italian-American literary culture and including other cultures as well.

Authors Anna fillameno with Gigi Sssante and Maria Lisella

Authors Anna Filameno with Gigi Assante and Maria Lisella

Besides the co-sponsors — the Italian American Writers Association (IAWA), and the Order of the Sons of Italy in America, other organizations and their members attended.

Eight Vito Marcantonio Forum (VMF) members participated, five of whom are published authors, who aside from retailing their published works, took turns at the podium giving talks about their respective research.

Side by side with VMF was the Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition representative, Rose Imperato, who brought flyers about the annual commemoration event scheduled for Wednesday, March 23 at the sight of one of the worst industrial tragedies in U.S. history. On March 25, volunteers are invited to Chalk for the Triangle Workers. Visit http://rememberthetrianglefire.org/events/month/

Gil Fagiani and Maria Lisella are founding members of both the VMF and along with Bob Agnoli who chaired the Sagra are also Board members of IAWA. The Church of the Most Precious Blood generously provided the venue for the event.

Maria Lisella
@MLJourneys
VMF Vice President

Mark Fasanella documentary and Gil Fagiani’s latest book.

This past weekend was action-packed with VMF-related events that were both a success! On Saturday, February 20th 2016, Sherri Machlin, of The Mulberry Street branch of the New York Public Library, hosted a screening of two movies riveting Italian American classics:

Its One Family Knock on Wood1pm: It’s One Family – Knock on Wood (1982) – Orlando Furioso is a five foot tall performer living in Brooklyn, and is made of wood. Fifty years ago he was carved from oak and given a suit of armor by Papa Manteo and his children, Orlando’s sword still flashes on a stage. In It’s One Family: Knock On Wood, we meet puppeteers Mike and Aida Manteo, their children and grandchildren, a family bound together by a Sicilian folk tradition that dates back to the 16th Century. Mike still builds marionettes; Aida sews capes and gowns; on stage, Orlando woos Angelica in the court of Charlemagne, as the entire family works together to entertain audiences across America. Directed by Tony DeNonno. Runtime – 24 minutes.

Ralph Fasanella documentary

Ralph Fasanella painting one of his great masterpieces.

1:30pm Ralph Fasanella: Song of the City (1981) – A film documenting the life and art of Ralph Fasanella, a self-taught painter born in Greenwich Village in 1914. Raised in a struggling immigrant Italian-American family, Fasanella grew up to become a school truant, laborer and union organizer before discovering his true vocation as a painter. Working within the broad tradition of “social primitivism”, the artist, through his detailed canvases, interweaves scenes of his troubled youth, urban landscapes, labor history and social-political causes. Runtime – 25 minutes. VMF Vice President, Maria Lisella will give a short introduction before the film is shown.

Gil Fagiani during the Q&A with a longtime friend of Mark Fasanella

Gil Fagiani (right) during the Q&A with a longtime friend of Ralph Fasanella

Following the screening, Gil Fagiani, longtime member of the VMF said, “I’ve been asked to say a few words about Fasanella, who I gave a lifetime achievement award to at an event back in 1992… Still, I didn’t really know him personally like two of the people we are fortunate enough to have here today.” Two longtime friends of Fasanella recounted delightful memories of the life and times of Ralph Fasanella.

The second event that took place was on Sunday February 21st 2016 at the Gallery Gaiga on 79 Hudson Avenue at Front Street in Brooklyn for the launching of Gil Fagiani’s latest book, Logos. The Resistance Reeding Series sponsored an Evening of poetry and prose hosted by Tsaurah Litsky.

Gil Fagiani’s book recently got an excellent review by Mark Fogarty:

Gil Fagiani LOGOSThe great jazz-rock-folk singer Tim Buckley once told his friend and lead guitarist Lee Underwood that taking heroin made him feel as if he was walking in the clouds. That’s a modest example of what I call junkie porn, the romanticizing of something not really romantic (heroin gave Buckley an exit into the clouds for good when he was just 28). Gil Fagiani’s visceral book of poems  Logos is all about junkiedom and recovery, but there’s little junkie porn in it.

No, the poems in Logos tend toward the bleak and harrowing side of addiction (perhaps there is porn to be had there too, but at least it’s in aid of a useful end) and the bleak but hopeful process of recovery. Alluded to in Fagiani’s previous book of poems, Stone Walls, here his addiction is in full and ugly bloom. Fagiani missed Woodstock, for instance, when a last-minute urge to cop left him overdosed and cut by broken glass and robbed by the junkie rescuers who took him to the hospital. The active-junkie part of the book (called “Shooting Dope with Trotsky”) is full of puke and rot and weasel-like junkie business like stealing from and betraying those closest to you. It is ugly and depressing.

But if you are looking for a reprieve when Fagiani checks into rehab at a place called Logos, you won’t find it. To say Logos facilitates recovery through tough love would be a total understatement. Their treatments are violent and vicious, to the point where reading about them is as depressing as reading about active junkie business. However, Logos seems to have set Fagiani on the path to decades of recovery so there is that for a good result.

The poems of Logos are prosy, anecdotal, differentiated from actual prose only by artful line breaks and well-organized stanzas. They read easily and are powerful and gripping, though often stomach-turning at the same time. The individual stories of many people who fail the program (and sometimes are physically tossed out into the street) and their invariably bad outcomes are nothing but distressing.

There’s an entertaining revolt against the Logos universe (the founder is called “The Great Him”) that results in an alt-Logos amid a Sixties-Seventies mise-en-scene of revolutionary fervor that includes the rhetoric of another Great Him, Mao Tse Tung. There is also a helpful glossary of junkie and recovery terms for those who don’t know the lingo, and, as in his earlier book, a discography of songs that form the soundtrack to a landscape that resembles hell a lot more than heaven.

The above review originally appeared on attheinkwell.com 

Ralph Fasanella movie screening this weekend!

Movie Screenings at the Mulberry St branch of the New York Public Library this Saturday, February 20, 2016, 1:00-2:30 p.m.

Maria Lisella, Vice President of the Vito Marcantonio Forum, has been instrumental in helping put together two events happening this weekend in New York City. Join us for an afternoon of 16mm films celebrating the rich artistic and cultural heritage of Little Italy, in conjunction with our NYPL Community Oral History Project! 
  • 1pm: It’s One Family – Knock on Wood (1982) – Orlando Furioso is a five foot tall performer living in Brooklyn, and is made of wood. Fifty years ago he was carved from oak and given a suit of armor by Papa Manteo and his children, Orlando’s sword still flashes on a stage. In It’s One Family: Knock On Wood, we meet puppeteers Mike and Aida Manteo, their children and grandchildren, a family bound together by a Sicilian folk tradition that dates back to the 16th Century. Mike still builds marionettes; Aida sews capes and gowns; on stage, Orlando woos Angelica in the court of Charlemagne, as the entire family works together to entertain audiences across America. Directed by Tony DeNonno. Runtime – 24 minutes.
  • 1:30pm Ralph Fasanella: Song of the City (1981) – A film documenting the life and art of Ralph Fasanella, a self-taught painter born in Greenwich Village in 1914. Raised in a struggling immigrant Italian-American family, Fasanella grew up to become a school truant, laborer and union organizer before discovering his true vocation as a painter. Working within the broad tradition of “social primitivism”, the artist, through his detailed canvases, interweaves scenes of his troubled youth, urban landscapes, labor history and social-political causes. Runtime – 25 minutes. VMF Vice President, Maria Lisella will give a short introduction before the film is shown.
If you are unfamiliar with the life and times of the great Ralph Fasanella, you should check this video produced by Italics:

Gigi Assante poem

Longtime VMF member, Gigi Assante, is an accomplished poet who has done readings at a few of our events over the years. She was kind enough to provide this poem for us. Happy Holidays from the VMF and thank you Gigi!

THEY’RE STILL HERE

JOY, OLDER WOMAN
CAROL, YOUNGER WOMAN
JAMES, OLDER MAN
BOBBY, YOUNGER MAN

BOBBY

They’re still here.

JOY

They’re still here
Still singing, still believing

JAMES

Crazy artists, children, anti-war protesters,
Rabble rousers, pacifists ‘n sharp shooters

CAROL

Antiwar warriors, and equal equity proclaimers

JOY

Some say
“Sabine started it!”

CAROL

Others say
“Woodstock!”

JAMES

“Ghandi!”

BOBBY

“Martin Luther King!”

JOY

They who wrote it, sang it, marched it,
Lived and died it! Believed in better

CAROL

As we browns “n Blacks ‘N scruffy Whites
Walked the power,

JAMES

Walked along in mud and hail and tears.
Our Fears real.

JOY

Little school girls crashed and burned,
Barbarians hiding in wait.

BOBBY

We sat, protested, died or were jailed.
Sit-ins started and aborted with kicks and hoses.

JAMES

To fail but return the next day and the next day
Escaping with high price to pay
But not diverted from the way.

JOY

Slow or fast, sure footed and brave
Making changes to last.

CAROL

Climbing poles, hitting dirt or pavement
They’re still here, still singing.

BOBBY

Still marching, still occupying
And spreading the word with action and song.

JAMES CAROL JOY BOBBY

Let’s “Spread the wealth”
Let’s make a future for the young
Let’s not let wealth corrupt absolutely.

– Gigi Assante

Vito Marcantonio by Anna Filameno

anna_filameno_so_you_wanna_be_italian

Click on the image above to purchase the book.

VMF member Anna Filameno is a word painter with a vast palette… sometimes romantic and poetic, sometimes explosive! Reading her vignettes is like being on a rollercoaster ride… and when you catch your breath you’re ready for more!”

-Arlene Karian, Author

The following is a chapter from her latest book SO YOU WANNA BE ITALIAN? An Artist’s Journey Exploring Her Roots

The following is a chapter she wrote on Vito Marcantonio

“quintessential man”

Sun in Sagittarius

Congressman

“You only live once and it is best to live one’s life with one’s conscience rather that to temporize or accept with silence those things one believes to be against the interests of one’s people and one’s nation.”

congressman vito marcantonio pictureVITO,

     What is it like to be inside the wind?…

Forever circling… sweeping in like a tsunami?

A mind like yours is mercurial, capricious… and sometimes creates a tidal wave of such enormous dimensions… so compelling that we are forced to give it relevance… We are filled with a sense of optimism… and tremendous power…

You VITO MARCANTONIOurban maverick… were that wave… that tsunami. You lived all your working hours in the dream you belonged to. The rhythm of the streets was your mantra… the immigrants, poverty… the wild and boisterous sounds the wind made as you rushed into your orbit… were all part of the adventure.

Could you have done it all?

The mad attempt to fight the system… defending civil rights and the workingman… and the constant struggle to transform politics?

“I fully realize,” you said, “that men must pay the great price in order to adhere to ideals. I fully realize that one needs guts to pursue such a course…”

And guts you had, Vito

How many streets did you walk down to find the same scattered silences, the same empty eyes staring back at you… the same exaggerated disappoints and contradictions… the same paradoxes. How many of you got lost in the complexity of the indigence that abounded on Ninety Sixth Street to one hundred and Twenty- fifth Street… from Lexington Avenue to the East River?…

Who were they?…

These Italians, Puerto Ricans, Jews, and African Americans? How much of yourself did you see in them?… such that you could not let go? Perhaps this was your way of affirming life… a way of freeing yourself from your past.

East Harlem was your mirror, a place where you could abandon yourself. It was a place where you joined the gamut of human life… life which reflected the very essence of who you are.

You were all part of the same fabric

VITO MARCANTONIO… Fighter for the underprivileged…

And when you felt most alone… surrounded by great opposition… that’s when you fought the hardest. That was when you remained true to yourself… You lived most deeply when you faced the onslauight.

“I vote my conscience.” You said.

And indeed you did, Congressman…

You, VITO, have passed through your transitions nobly… and the triumph of your ideals is stamped in history.

There are times when greatness becomes visible and it lives for a while. It has a moment in the sun and becomes luminous… and we have no choice but to let it dazzle us… and then it slips away… leaving us in a state of reverence.

The streets were your home, VITO, your Mecca to defend. But you had a rendezvous with destiny, didn’t you? And on that rainy day in New York City, your heart made an inevitable and uncompromising conquest. You lost the battle. They found you on the very streets you loved…

The streets that finally claimed you

Michael Parenti video for the symposium at the NY Public Library

We are proud to announce the completion of our latest video for our last event:

Michael Parenti | Growing up in Italian Harlem | A Symposium on Waiting for Yesterday, Pages from a Street Kids Life (Bordighera Press)

Special thanks David Giglio and Rosemary Siciliano for producing the following masterpiece and don’t forget to share it on social media and subscribe to our YouTube channel:

For more information about the video, check the following report on the event provided by VMF Treasurer, Adam Milat-Meyer:
VitoMarcantonioForum.com/michael-parenti-book-presentation-for-waiting-for-yesterday/

 

VMF event at Hostos Community College was a success!

October 15th, 2015
In commemoration of Italian Heritage Month, Hostos Community College’s Division of Student Development Enrollment Management proudly presented,

Vito Marcantonio: Champion of Immigration Rights 

vito_marcantonio

Vito Marcantonio

Marcantonio, who served as Congressman from East Harlem for fourteen years (1934-1936, 1938-1950), organized a powerful political coalition of his constituency’s mostly Italian-American, Puerto Rican, and African-American residents. Marcantonio’s dedication to his beloved East Harlem, a working-class community where he spent his entire life, continues to inspire his admirers.

The standing room-only event featured presentations and dramatizations of letters and speeches about the late, great Congressman. A number of areas of the College helped plan and promote the event and the Vito Marcantonio Forum (VMF). Special thanks to Nydia R. Edgecombe, Director of Alumni Relations, for her creativity and dedication in making the proceedings memorable for faculty, staff, students, and the many visitors in attendance.

susan miceli

Susan Miceli

Hostos counselors Professor Susan Miceli coordinated the production and promotion of the event that included a sumptuous spread of Italian specialties.

Vice President for Academic Affairs, Christine Mangino, provided insight and inspiration in describing the importance of observing Italian Heritage Month.

Poet, translator, and short-story writer, Gil Fagiani and Professor Lizette Colón read “The Litany of San Vito,” a poem written by Fagiani in dedication to Marcantonio:

Gil Fagiani and Lizette Colon

Gil Fagiani and Lizette Colon

San Vito of East Harlem, pray for us
San Vito bread of the poor, pray for us
San Vito crucified by Wall Street, pray for us
San Vito martyr of McCarthyism, pray for us

From the jail cell walls, San Vito deliver us
From the backyard crap game, San Vito deliver us
From the loan shark’s vig, San Vito deliver us
From the drunken stupor, San Vito deliver us

From TB and asthma, San Vito deliver us
From the social worker’s visit, San Vito deliver us
From immigration raids, San Vito deliver us
From the landlord’s greed, San Vito deliver us

Professor Gerald Meyer, who currently teaches World History at Hostos, also is well known for having written the most important book on the subject: Vito Marcantonio: Radical Politician, 1902-1954. 

“Leonard Covello, Marcantonio’s teacher and mentor, created a club called the Circolo de Italiano, that helped Italian students learn to help one another as well as their families in the community of East Harlem. Covello firmly believed the children of immigrants must learn their parents’ languages ”

The Lucky Corner in East Harlem New York City

American Labor Party rally at Lucky Corner during Marcantonio’s mayoral campaign, November, 1949.

Marcantonio went on to become a congressman who championed the rights of immigrant groups that included mostly Italians and Puerto Ricans. Dr. Meyer described, in depth, how Marcantonio publicly defended Pedro Albizu Campos and Clemente Soto Vélez, who had been imprisoned for treason by the United States government for their involvement in the Puerto Rican Independence movement.

LuLu LoLo Pascale, community activist and performance artist, dramatized letters to Marcantonio from his constituency. An East Harlem native who grew up on the same block, Ms. Pascale reminisced talking to Marcantonio in the street when she was a small child. With a heavy heart, she recalled, “It was so long ago… if only I could remember what he and my father used to talk about!”

Roberto Ragone

Roberto Ragone reenacts Marcantonio speaking at the Lucky Corner

“When I put on this fedora, I become Marcantonio,” said Bronx native, consultant, and actor Roberto Ragone, who dramatized a Mayoral campaign speech made in 1949, the night before election day at the “Lucky Corner” on East 116th Street and Lexington Ave.

“[I pledge] our City shall be free from fear – fear of discrimination and fear of want,” Ragone read with much fervor and enthusiasm, “I pledge to fight for the ‘little’ people of the City of New York.”

Dr Gerald Meyer

Dr Gerald Meyer

Professor Meyer, Gil Fagiani, Maria Lisella, LuLu LoLo Pascale, Roberto Ragone, Ria Barakos, Luis Romero, Terry Anderson, Adam Meyer, and a dozen others dedicated to the cause formed the “Vito Marcantonio Forum” in October 2011.

The community based organization brings together people from a wide variety of backgrounds dedicated to disseminating and sharing knowledge of the life and work of Vito Marcantonio (1902 to 1954). For more information, please see the group’s website at www.VitoMarcantonioForum.org

VMF events in September & October 2015

Vito Marcantonio Forum Celebrates Pope Francis’ Visit and Italian American Culture Month with a People’s Pilgrimage to East Harlem

Vito Marcantonio Forum 2015

Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015 @ 12:00PM

Walking in the Footsteps of Vito Marcantonio.

Starting at Lucky Corner at the northeast corner of 116th St. & Lexington Ave at 12pm. Highlights include a visit to Vito Marcantonio’s home, Our Lady Queen of Angels Elementary School that Pope Francis is scheduled to visit (the church was shut down to parishioners’ protests in 2007). VMF will appeal to the Vatican to bless Marcantonio who was refused a Catholic burial by Cardinal Spellman in 1954. Route details will soon be posted to VitoMarcantonioForum.org  Weather will be great!

See below for a map of the tour. For questions or if you get lost, call or text Adam Meyer at 347.813.1396

Vito Marcantonio Forum - Program for Walking Tour of East Harlem_09-19-15

Map of Procession

 

____________________________________________________________________________________

Marcantonio and Immigration

VMF dramitization of Leonard Covello by LuLu LoLo PascaleThursday, October 15, from 2:00 to 3:30, @ CUNY’s Hostos Community College, Bronx, NY. This will be VMF’s 3rd program at Hostos. The focus for this program will be:

Marcantonio and Immigration.

Presenting: Professor Gerald Meyer with life-long East Harlem resident performance artist, LuLu LoLo Pascale and activist, actor and marketing expert, Roberto Ragone. The format encourages audience participation.

Light refreshments will be served | Admission is FREE!

____________________________________________________________________________________

I’m Dying Now and I Did Not Kill Emmet Till

VMF - emmet till play flyer

THE PRODUCER’S CLUB
358 West 44th Street
New York, NY off 9th Ave
Admission is $10.00 

Friday, September 25, 2015 at 8PM
Saturday, September 26, 2015 at 8PM
Sunday, September 27, 2015 at 6PM

A play directed by VMF member Art Bernal with an acting appearance by VMF co-chairman Roberto Ragone.

The murder, the trial, the injustice for all is covered in this play. DON’T MISS IT. For more info, email dramaworkshopproject@gmail.com or call 201-416-9516

____________________________________________________________________________________

Michael Parenti Book Presentation

waiting for yesterday by Michael Parenti

Saturday, October 31, 2015 from 2:00 to 4:00 @ NYPL’s Mulberry Branch Library, VMF will present a symposium on Waiting for Yesterday (Bordighera Press), Michael Parenti’s memoir of growing up in Italian Harlem. The event will be moderated by Gil Fagiani. Speakers will include author Stephen Siciliano and dramatizations by life-long East Harlem resident performance artist, LuLu LoLo Pascale and activist, actor and marketing expert, Roberto Ragone.

Parenti received his PhD in political science from Yale University and for many years, he taught political and social science at various institutions of higher learning. Eventually he devoted himself full-time to writing, public speaking, and political activism.

Parenti is the author of 23 books and many more articles. His highly acclaimed writings cover a wide range of subjects: U.S. politics, culture, ideology, political economy, imperialism, fascism, communism, democratic socialism, free-marketorthodoxies, conservative judicial activism, religion, ancient history, modern history, historiography, repression in academia, news and entertainment media, technology, environmentalism, sexism, racism, homophobia, Venezuela, the wars in Iraq and Yugoslavia, ethnicity, and his own early life.

Michael Parenti blog banner

Don’t miss these VMF events in September & October 2015!