Tag Archives: Gil Fagiani

Video of Vito Marcantonio Memorial at City Hall Park 2016

We are proud to announce the release of the latest Vito Marcantonio Forum video!

Thanks to VMF co-founder David Giglio, who films and edits our events, we have a brand new video! Please share it with everyone you know via email, social media, etc.

In addition to everyone in attendance, we also like to specially thank the following speakers:

  • Hon. Melissa Mark-Viverito, Speaker of the NYC Council
  • Hon. Gale Brewer, Manhattan Borough President
  • Gloria Quinones, East Harlem Community Activist, Attorney, Advocate

Click below for the latest Vito Marcantonio Forum video:

Nelson A. Denis Book Presentation at the Mulberry St Library

April 6th, 2016
Mulberry Street branch of the New York Public Library

War Against all Puerto Ricans: Revolution & Terror in America’s Colony
– Nelson A. Denis, Nation Books, NY 2015

Nelson A. Denis book presentation poster 2016 Vito Marcantonio ForumGil Fagiani brought the night’s event to order. Over 40 attendees heard a brief summary of the Many events the Vito Marcantonio Forum (VMF) has organized through the year and the VMF members who contributed their time and talents to these events. He officially opened the night’s event by reciting the Litany of San Vito, a poem he wrote and dedicated to the late, great congressman from East Harlem, New York City, who the VMF models their nonprofit after.

Nelson A. Denis began by giving some background of U.S. involvement in Puerto Rico; for example, by introducing U.S. dollars and eliminating the Puerto Rican peso (the Spanish peso)—in this exchange—the latter currency lost 40% of its value, thereby causing widespread poverty, loss of many businesses, collapse of banks and numerous financial institutions. Four corporations ended up owning almost half of all the sugar fields of the entire island.

Gil Fagiani, Nelson Denis, Roberto Ragone

Gil Fagiani, Nelson Denis, Roberto Ragone

“Vito Marcantonio was the most able, courageous, and principled defenders and friend of the Puerto Rican people. Much more principled than most Puerto Rican politicians of the times,” said Mr. Denis.

Denis’ presentation was energetic and impassioned. The audience felt his beliefs and outrage as he described the violent repression unleashed on the opponents of American intervention.

After the book presentation, Roberto Ragone, co-chairman of the VMF, ably dramatized two Vito Marcantonio speeches. At the end of the performance he received an enthusiastic applause and praise from Mr. Denis and the audience. Denis’ talk and Ragone’s performance blended together seamlessly to give flesh and form to Denis’ words.

Nelson A. Denis with Vito Marcantonio Forum Treasurer, Adam Milat-Meyer

Nelson A. Denis with Vito Marcantonio Forum Treasurer, Adam Milat-Meyer

The efforts by Gil Fagiani in organizing this event must not go unnoticed. His labors of putting on this event manifested themselves in the excellent presentations of Mr. Ragone, the impassioned and sometimes humorous words of Mr. Denis, and the support and intelligent curiosity displayed by the audience which filled the room at the Mulberry Street Public Library.

The group thanks David Giglio for filming the event, which soon will be released on this site (please check back frequently). The Mulberry Street branch of the New York Public Library for providing the event space deserves much thanks as well. Last but not least, Nelson A. Denis for his inspirational and fascinating presentation and Q&A discussion.

Click on the following link to purchase the book:
War Against All Puerto Ricans by Nelson A. Denis.  

Luis Romero
Cofounder/blogger of the VMF

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 

The Resistance Reading Series presents: An evening of poetry and prose

THE RESISTANCE READING SERIES

Sunday, February 21, 2016

5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

An Evening of Poetry and Prose

hosted by Tsaurah Litsky

featuring

Gil Fagiani

&

Bonny Finberg

WHERE: Gallery Gaia
79 Hudson Avenue at Front Street
Brooklyn, New York
Vinegar Hill, North Dumbo
A few blocks from the York Street
F train subway stop
THE RESISTANCE is a monthly reading series designed to foster light in these dark times.
* Come early to sign up for a space in the Open Reading!

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

Thank You for Attending our Walking Tour of East Harlem

September 19th, 2015

Over forty people gathered at the Lucky Corner on East 116th St & Lexington Ave for “Walking in the Footsteps of Vito Marcantonio,” a walking tour of East Harlem. Another cultural/educational event sponsored by the Vito Marcantonio Forum.

Vito Marcantonio Forum - Melissa Mark-Viverito with Gerald Meyer and Roberto Ragone

Professor Gerald Meyer with Melissa Mark-Viverito. Photo by Daniel A. Nelson of the Columbia School of Journalism.

 

VMF Co-Chairman, Dr. Gerald Meyer, spotted Speaker of the City Council, Melissa Mark-Viverito in the crowd and promptly summoned her to the microphone where she said enthusiastically:

“This is a great way of remembering someone who is a great individual. Following in the footsteps of places that were important to Vito — someone who fought really hard on issues that we still care about today — in terms of living wage, in terms of immigrant rights… I feel really proud to represent a district that had been represented by Marcantonio.” 

Vito Marcantonio Forum - LuLu LoLo Pascale

Playwright/Actor and Performance Artist LuLu LoLo Pascale shares her early memories of Marcantonio.

The walking tour continued with a re-enactment of Marcantonio’s speech at the Lucky Corner by actor, activist, and Co-Chair of the VMF Roberto Ragone.

At a stop in front of educator Leonard Covello’s home at E116th Street, writer and performance artist LuLu LoLo Pascale, related her memories of having known Marcantonio and Covello as a child. She also read an excerpt from Covello’s breakthrough autobiogrphy, The Heart Is the Teacher.

A walking tour stop on E116th Street included a visit to Haarlem House, which was later renamed LaGuardia Memorial House. Pascale and Dr. Meyer discussed the historical significance of what was originally the Home Garden Settlement. What was interesting was a street vendor in front said he knew Marcantonio and that it was he who got his mother an apartment back in 1949.

VMF - Christopher Bell_walking tour of east harlem 2015

East Harlem native, Author and Historian, Christopher Bell.

Local author and historian, Christopher Bell, who has a chapter about Marcantonio in first book, Remembering East Harlem, discussed the importance of the next stop at 247 East 116th Street (between Second and Third Avenues): The Fiorello LaGuardia Political Association and later the Vito Marcantonio Political Association was often referred to as the “political club.”

Our Lady Queen of Angels School on 229 E112th St, New York and 229 E113th Street Our Lady Queen of Angels Church on 229 E112 Street are important for the fact that they will be at the site of a Papal visit next week.

Attorney Frank Marcantonio, who is a relative of Vito, read a letter to Cardinal Dolan about how Cardinal Spellman denied Vito Marcantonio a Catholic burial during the crazed Joseph McCarthy anti-communist era. The walking tour ended at Our Lady Of Mount Carmel Church, the site of Marcantonio’s baptism.

The Vito Marcantonio Forum thanks all who helped in presenting at the various stops as well as those who helped with audio & video, making signs, writing copy, contacting press, promotion, and more: Rita Barakos, Christopher Bell, Lizette Colón, Gil Fagiani, Lionel Francois, David Giglio, Maria Lisella, Frank Marcantonio, Adam Meyer, Gerald Meyer, Daniel A. Nelson, LuLu LoLo Pascale, Roberto Ragone, Luis Romero, Rosemary Siciliano, and many all who supported the cause — we cannot thank you enough!

Melissa Mark-Viverito looks on as Gerald Meyer speaks about Marcantonio altered on online photo application

Melissa Mark-Viverito (left) with friends and members of the VMF look on as Gerald Meyer speaks at a key location about Congressman Vito Marcantonio.

Politics, Poetry, and Unsung Heroes

Politics, Poetry, and Unsung Heroes

SATURDAY, MAY 9
5:45-7:45 PM
$8 cover charge (includes complimentary drink)

Cornelia St. Café @ 29 Cornelia St. off Bleeker
A, B, C, D, E, F, M to West 4th St.; #1 to Christopher St.-Sheridan Square

painting of vito marcantonio | the goodfather by stephen sicilianoTwo founding members of the Vito Marcantonio Forum will present their work at a Literary Reading sponsored by the Italian American Writers Association (IAWA).Gil Fagiani, will read from his new work, Stone Walls published by Bordighera Press.

Stephen Siciliano, a screenwriter, will read, accompanied by a pianist, from his latest completed manuscript The Goodfather that tells the life story of the radical congressman Vito Marcantonio from the perspective of la famiglia Fortunato, who lived down the street from him in East Harlem.

This wonderfully stimulating event will take place this coming Saturday, at 5:45, in the Cornelia Street Cafe. We look forward to seeing you at this celebratory event. Here is some additional info about Fagiani and Siciliano:

Gil Fagiani has published seven collections of poetry. His latest book, Stone Walls, focuses on his relationship with his father growing up in Stamford, Connecticut. This fall Guernica Editions will publish Logos, which chronicles Fagiani’s experiences in a South Bronx drug program in the early 1970s. Fagiani was the subject of a New York Times article by David Gonzalez,“A Poet Mines Memories of Drug Addiction.”

An independent scholar, translator, essayist, short story writer, and poet, his translations have appeared in such anthologies as Poets of the Italian Diaspora, edited by Luigi Bonaffini and Joseph Perricone; and Italoamericana: The Literature of the Great Migration, 1880-1943. He co-curates the Italian American Writers’ Association’s reading series, and is an associate editor of Feile-Festa: A Literary Arts Journal.

Los Angeles-based Stephen Siciliano is a journalist, scriptwriter and a script reader for the Creative Artists Agency and United Talent Agency. As a correspondent he works at Bloomberg BNA, Los Angeles Business Journal and as managing editor for Downtown Los Angeles News. He co-founded and edited the Spanish-language weekly, La Otra Orilla (The Other River Bank) in 

His adaptation of Jodi Picoult’s novel Change of Heart is set to be filmed later this year.  His latest novel-manuscript is The Goodfather, which tells the life story of the marvelous and radical congressman Vito Marcantonio from the perspective of la famiglia Fortunato who lived down the street from him in East Harlem. His reading will be accompanied by  New York-based pianist and composer Peter Dizozza.

Free Marcantonio event today with Gil Fagiani!

Don’t miss found Vito Marcantonio Forum member appearing live today!

Vito_Marcantonio_event_at CUNY

FREE event!

The City College of New York Division of Interdisciplinary Studies at the Center for Worker Education and the Divisional Committee on Inclusive Excellence In recognition of Italian-American Heritage Month

present

Vito Marcantonio: Beloved Son of Italian Harlem,

Master of the Multiethnic Coalition

Wednesday, October 29, 2014
6-8PM

The City College of New York
Division of Interdisciplinary Studies at the Center for Worker Education

25 Broadway,
7th Floor Auditorium

FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC