Tuesday, May 31, 2011

May 31, 2011 – The Pinto

There are various ways to mark the passage of time. One sure way is when something that was completely un-cool becomes old enough for us to start using terms like vintage, retro and classic. When something is old enough that it finally becomes cool is significant marker of time’s passage.

With that in mind, let’s introduce the “new” design for the 1979 Ford Pinto! It’s features included the new “gas tank shield,” mileage of 32 mpg and an affordable price. It could be had for $3,787 back in 1979. That would be about $13,500 in 2011 dollars.

When you consider that a Prius goes for about $23,000, you can see that the Pinto was quite the bargain for it’s day and the mileage wasn’t all that bad. I mention the Prius, because I secretly think it was modeled after the Pinto. If you looked online and bought yourself a surviving, used, classic Pinto today, you would look cool. Perhaps a Prius will be cool in 2045. But in 2011 the Prius seems to be the car of choice for the self righteous, vegan who rolls through stop signs. As any pedestrian in San Francisco knows, beware the Prius!

So, if I were to consider car ownership, it would have to be a cool car. Enough time has past that I’d think about a Pinto. Get it refurbished, new paint job, polish the chrome and check on that gas tank shield. A good stereo playing the Partridge Family and the Carpenters and I’d be ready to head out on a road trip. As the TV ads said, “Pinto, a little carefree car to put a little kick in your life.”


In a weird coincidence, NPR did a story on the Pinto today.

Monday, May 30, 2011

May 30, 2011 – Bookshelves

If I am visiting someone’s home, I often like to get a look at the bookshelves. If you really want to get to know a person, their bookshelves are a great place to begin. There are some people who are heavy library users or they just don’t hang on to books. And then, there are those who, it’s hard to imagine, don’t read. You can learn a good deal about what I am interested in, where I have been and where I like to go by perusing my bookshelves. But I too am a big fan of the library, so it’s not a complete story.

I have always lived surrounded by a lot of books. I grew up in a Victorian house that my parents particularly chose for its large wall of built-in bookcases. Every home has always had walls and sometimes piles of books. As a kid I can remember the occasional visitor who would always look at the wall of books and say something inane like, “Has someone read all these books?” A question like that always tells you who you’re dealing with.

(I figure I am hurting no one’s feeling by this point, because people who don’t read books would have never made it past the first paragraph).

All of the images for today’s piece for the 2011 Project came from my own bookshelves. My work often is oriented in grids so constructing the images this way is expected. About 10 years ago the SFMoMA did a Sol Lewitt retrospective. My favorite part of the show was his series of very personal, autobiographical photos. He had photographed every day objects in his home and studio and laid out the square photos in 3x3 grids. The series included things like what was on the kitchen windowsill.

Sol Lewitt’s series reminds us that, as an artist, the best way to construct an autobiography may not be the written word. Last week I had some friends over to see the 2011 Project “in progress.” They got see the 140+ pieces on the wall in a big grid. As we were deconstructing and discussing the work it became clear that even though I am creating a map of the year, the work in itself is also an autobiography. It reflects the present as well as the life so far that has lead up to this point. This is especially manifested in the way I am using bits and pieces of things I have been saving for decades.

So, to get to know me, start with the bookshelves.

And always remember the words of John Waters —

“If you go home with somebody, and they don’t have books, don’t fuck ‘em!”

Sunday, May 29, 2011

May 29, 2011 – Just Over the Hill

One of the many pleasures of living in the Bay Area is our immediate access to nature. Places like Big Sur and Yosemite are all of four hours away, but so many incredible places are much closer. You can just go right across the Golden Gate Bridge to Marin Headlands. Today we were just the other side of Oakland. Just over the hills, a few miles from downtown, hidden away is Redwood Regional Park. We stopped for lunch at a crowded shopping center in Emeryville on the way. By contrast the park was quiet and uncrowded. It was a beautiful day with mild, sunny weather and why one would choose shopping over nature is always a mystery to me. The park is a beautiful place t with a remote feel. As you stroll down one of the shaded trails, you have no sense that you are in the heart of an urban area with over 7,000,000 people.

Oddly, last night I had dreams about a giant, 3 foot tall grackle. I just thought it was a ridiculous dream. Okay, I didn’t see a big grackle, but my brain must have been picking up the signal from the wild turkey and her chicks that I met on the trail.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

May 28, 2011 – The World’s Most Beautiful Bridge

She is 74 today and still looks great. I’ve lived in San Francisco over 20 years and still, every time I cross the Golden Gate Bridge, I get a little thrill. It’s quite appropriate that the world’s greatest city has the world’s most beautiful bridge. There is a reason why you can go pretty much anywhere in the world and you’ll see images of the Golden Gate Bridge — it’s stunning. Next year we’ll have a big party for 75.

Friday, May 27, 2011

May 27, 2011 – House of Wax

Today is the day to add wax to the list of mixed media used in the 2011 Project. Considering that Vincent Price was born on this day 100 years ago, melted wax seems the right medium to drip and spread over the piece. In 1953, the House of Wax was the first 3D, color movie. My father took my brother and I to see it in the theatre during a re-release when I was about 10. It was the first 3D movie I ever saw. Normally, I would have been terrified, but I just remember being mesmerized by the 3D and waiting for the next effect. I really am not much for 3D movies, but the one that really did scare me was the Siegfried & Roy biopic in 3D.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

May 26, 2011 — There’s Gold in Them Thar Hills

We never seem to question why gold is gold. Imagine what would happen if 7 billion people started to question why we believe in gold. Gold has more adherents than any of the world’s religions. At times it seems our entire world is built on the belief of the power of a pretty, shiny metal. At this moment gold is priced at US$1,521.80 per ounce.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

May 25, 2011 – Your Own Backyard

After 21 years of living in San Francisco, I finally climbed all the steps to the top of Telegraph Hill and visited Coit Tower this week. The view from the top is really cool, and I got to see the City from a perspective that I usually do not see. As small as San Francisco is, it’s the sort of place where we often do not venture out of our neighborhood and a few other places. North Beach always seems like an impossible distance. If I did have a car (which I don’t), I’d never find parking. As for MUNI, I think I might get to Berkeley quicker on BART than I ever would get to North Beach trying to use public transportation.

It is so typical that we never visit places in our own backyard, but I am glad I finally got to Coit Tower and need to go a little more often. The real reason is visit is the W.P.A. murals.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

May 24, 2011 – Reese’s

Today is H.B. Reese’s birthday. Yes, he is that Reese. He was the inventor of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. They are not the fanciest example of American cuisine and, while I like them, no love them, Reese’s are not the best either. But in many ways, what could be more American than Reese’s? Nowadays they are found in more places around the world. Not long ago, they were a rare item turning up in “gourmet” food sections in European groceries. Many a trip overseas saw me packing a bunch to take along for friends. Reese’s are America’s answer to Nutella.

Monday, May 23, 2011

May 23, 2011 – Thinking about Museums

Yesterday’s visit to the Legion of Honor got me thinking. Clearly, I was inspired by Rodin’s The Thinker in the courtyard entrance. I love the Legion of Honor for a number of reasons. The setting alone always makes it a worth the visit. I also like the building inside and out. When it comes to art museums, I admit to being somewhat old fashioned. I don’t mind modern architecture for a museum. My issue is with museum buildings that don’t have that special presence.

When you walk up to the Legion of Honor, enter the Courtyard, say hello to The Thinker and make your way inside, you know you have arrived at a museum. I like the feeling of a temple of culture. The newly renovated and modern Oakland Museum also gives you that feeling as you make your way up the stairs off of Oak Street. It does not have to be all about columns and marble. The Asian Art Museum, in the converted old Main Library, retained the grand feel of the Beaux Arts style building. While it’s a very un-Asian building from the street, it clearly has the presence of an important museum. Many newer museums are beautiful once you make your way inside and get into the galleries, but the initial experience is not very museum-like. Every time I walk into the new de Young I feel I should be looking for my gate and signs that say things like Jet Blue and Southwest.

San Francisco has a lot of newer buildings that do not look like what one might expect. The de Young feels like an airport terminal. The International Terminal at SFO looks more like a Costco. The massive Costco South of Market looks like a jail. Down the street the jail looks more like a modern art museum. Turn up Third Street and you might mistake the SFMoMA for a bank. You step into the lobby and expect to even see a row of tellers. The newer main library next to the Asian Art Museum feels more like a shopping mall when you enter into the large atrium. It is very similar to the San Francisco Centre down the street, but without the Nordstrom’s upstairs.

One could respond that museums are more about their collections and how they are curated. Which, yes, is the most important thing. But I prefer the whole experience and like my museum entrances grand as well.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

May 22, 2011 – 8 Tracks

Remembering 8 Track Tapes always makes me cautious when the latest iGadget comes along. When my friends are a buzz over some new thing I reflexively make the same cynical remark over and over, “It’s the new 8 Track….” Once in a while I am even right. When you think of how large and clunky an 8 track was and the amount of music we now can fit into such a small little device, it is pretty cool. The way we acquire, store and play music has radically changed in the last 30 years and especially in the last 10 years. Yet with all the changes, we still are listening to the same music that used to be available on 8 Tracks. Well, not always, I can’t imagine many people are still listening to the Bay City Rollers or Tony Orlando.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

May 21, 2011 – Other People’s Photos

There is something captivating about random, found photos from people I don’t know. The snapshots you find on the street, at garage sales and in found albums. You can deduce what you can from the photo and what was found with the photos. It is always a bit of an exercise in fiction. The macramé planter, bad hair and plaid pants and we know it was the heart of the 1970’s. The envelope from the shop where the film was developed is labeled “Victoria.” I know the Scottish parade was up in Canada in the 1960’s. The man with the sunglasses was an actor (there were headshots of him found in the box). Anything else I say is probably just made up.

Friday, May 20, 2011

May 20, 2011 – Levi Strauss

San Francisco has always been a city that has attracted innovative and creative people. One of our earliest San Franciscans came up with something that has impacted so many of our lives. Frankly I can’t imagine my life without them. Back on this day in 1873, Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis applied for their patent on the copper riveted, denim pants we all call jeans.

I am a person that lives in jeans and in particular Levis. My only concern about my casual, sartorial choices is that someday, jeans may go out of style. What If no one wears jeans in the future? Will I end up some funny looking old man in jeans? I could end up like a 2050 version of Orville Redenbacher with his bowtie and suspenders. Lucky for me, I’ll be an old artist and can play the eccentric angle like Salvador Dali. In the meantime, I can change out of my paint splattered jeans now for the day.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

May 19, 2011 – Tokyo

I like to travel, but my desire to travel is usually limited by both time and money, or the lack there of. Oh to have both so I could go and explore the places I want to see. People who love travel tend to keep a list in their heads of places they want to go visit again and places they still want to see. Like individuals, no two lists are alike. Japan and particularly Tokyo are high on my list.
So for today’s piece with the 2011 Project let me try an experiment. Can I manifest my desire through my art? Many of the new agey books claim you can have what you want if you wish for it. Could you imagine if it works? Some high-end gallery showing my work in Tokyo, yen pouring in, business class tickets SFO to Narita. Getting lost on the subway in Tokyo. Pointing to pictures on menus. And, if manifesting my desires through art really takes off, you’ll see me on PBS during pledge week in an infomercial like setting. Move over Suzy Orman, here comes Tofu.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

May 18, 2011 – Food and…

Food and what? I clipped this image and ad out of a magazine years ago. I have no idea what it was for. I stuck the ad in a big envelope long before the series Mad Men came along. Look closely, these gentleman aren’t quite so glamorous looking as their fictional counterparts. So the question remains, “Food and what?”

Perhaps these gentlemen are not even ad agents. Could it be a meeting of members of the Rotary Club planning an event? Perhaps it’s a group of Nixon operatives planning to fix the local ballots? Could it be the Springfield chapter of the Mattachine Society having a luncheon? It remains a retro mystery. Unless there is no mystery at all, and the modeling agency just got a call, “Four businessman; one old, one young.”

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

May 17, 2011 – Xiangqi 象棋

I confess, I buy these little games in shops in The Richmond solely because they look cool (they are also very inexpensive). If I was really ambitious, I could learn how to play, but I don’t even care for Western Chess. I repurposed this game set for an art piece and I had to wonder what Chinese people would make of it. Is it really cultural appropriation or just silly? As an American, it is often weird encountering foreign depictions of “American” things. Obviously it can be similar experience for any people when their culture is reconfigured by another culture.

I think for my next trip to the The Richmond it’s time to hit the Russian candy store — if just for the packaging. Plus I’ll have to eat all those sweets for the sake of art.

Monday, May 16, 2011

May 16, 2011 – Crop Circles

No matter who made them, I’d say crop circles are most definitely art. That said it is art in the same gray area that street art often finds itself in? Is it art or vandalism? Are crop circles alien graffiti? Imagine the idea of teenage, little green hooligans flying around the galaxy tagging planets. Many if not all crop circles are certainly human made. More than a few pranksters have come forward to admit they made them. Still, there are some crop circles that are a genuine mystery. It’s just impossible to sift through most of the pseudo-scientific muck and new age nonsense. Most of the crop circle websites I found are fairly cheesy and reminded me of my visit to the space alien museum in Roswell, New Mexico. To quote the X-Files, “I want to believe.”

Sunday, May 15, 2011

May 15, 2011 – Cape Cod

When you grow up on Cape Cod, and Gosnold is name of the street at the corner, you learn something about Bartholomew Gosnold. Bartholomew Gosnold was the English Explorer who “discovered” Cape Cod on May 15, 1602. Of course the Wampanoags and Nausets knew that Gosnold didn’t discover anything. They were already well at home on the place we call Cape Cod. But it was Gosnold who gave the place its name. And until a buried Viking ship emerges from the sands after a storm, Gosnold gets the credit for being the first European to visit Cape Cod. Perhaps if Gosnold had not died young a few years later at Jamestown, we might have all learned about Gosnold in American History Class. And while Geography is barely taught at all in the United States, most people can still find Cape Cod. It’s the arm that sticks out into the Atlantic.

This piece is also featured on a print/poster available from Society6.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

May 14, 2011 – Egyptian Scrap Sparkle

I like that as the title. It sounds a bit more like the name of a recipe than a piece of art. But when you find stuff at SCRAP (Scroungers Center for Reusable Art Parts) the word ingredient often comes to mind, so the recipe metaphor fits. I actually have not visited SCRAP in a long time, but I still have a lot of stuff — too much stuff. My whole Reverse Collage series back in the 1990’s would have never happened if not for a piece of inspiring Plexiglas I put in the bag at SCRAP. Today, with some gold bits, I recycled an old, tattered little book about Egyptian antiquities that I found at SCRAP nearly 15 years ago.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Friday, May 13, 2011 – Good Luck

I adhere to certain superstitions, but I am perfectly okay with Friday the 13th. I focus on my lucky days instead and my favorite numbers. As for other superstitions, I do love those lucky German pigs, the best Schwein Glück is always made of marzipan. I don’t walk under ladders and always pick up pennies. And of course a genuine Wild West lucky horseshoe hangs in the kitchen. The god’s eye over my door has been watching over my home since I was little. You also note the Three King’s initials marked in yellow chalk above the doorframe. So Happy Friday the 13th and Good Luck!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

May 12, 2011 – Keep This Coupon

What would happen if you did not keep this coupon? Would a scary clown with a decorated paper bag mask show up at your door? Maybe you need to keep this coupon in case the clown does come by. If you gave the clown the ticket, would they go away? Right now in some drawer or pocket, chances are, you have one of these Keep This Coupon tickets from the Indiana Ticket Company. I suggest you keep it.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

May 11, 2011 – Rivers

First you cut the land area out of maps and essentially only leave the rivers. Then you layer all the rivers together. The result is something that looks almost anatomical. The rivers appear to be a section of the human body’s veins and muscles. When I did this piece for the 2011 Project that result wasn’t intended or expected. And like many artistic experiments, I am quite pleased with what happened.

Rivers are an integral part of all human history. Their flood plains provided some of the earliest gardens that were the beginnings of agriculture. Rivers moved people, goods and ideas. Towns, cities and empires grew on rivers. The flow of rivers created industry. It then helped generate electricity to power more industry. Rivers have always been places were deities dwelled.

California’s rivers are not some of the world’s most impressive. Most are small and scrappy, they lose altitude fast while making a quick run towards the Pacific. But, if not for the American River scouring the mountains and exposing gold, California would be a very different place.

This piece is also featured on a print/poster available from Society6.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

May 10, 2011 – Papel Picado

When I moved to San Francisco I discovered Paper Picado the Mexican paper-based folk art. Traditionally it is not cut, Papel Picado is chiseled. Huge, tightly layered sheets of colored tissue paper are packed into a block. The patterns are then cut into the block of paper using a chisel. I am yet to try this, and imagine it’s much harder than it looks. I suspect the novice could chisel his hand as easily as the block of paper. The advantage of the chiseling process is it allows one to make hundreds of sheets at once. That they are on tissue paper adds to their ephemeral nature.

Papel Picado was brought north with immigrants from Mexico. It has become as much a Californian Folk Art as it is a Mexican one. Its patterns appear in other forms and have fused with other traditions. I even saw some Chanukah Papel Picado recently. The railings of the BART station at 16th and Mission are designed to resemble Papel Picado.

Papel Picado has taken a long journey, starting with cut paper art in China about 2,000 years ago. It spread west and found its way to Spain with the Moors and subsequently the Spanish brought it to Mexico. This link has a good article from the International Folk Art Museum in Santa Fe.

Monday, May 9, 2011

May 9, 2011 – Wind

I always feel at home when it’s windy. The fact that I have lived most of my life in windy places has something to do with it. From Lake Erie to the Atlantic to the Pacific, I have usually lived in a windy spot. And compared to life on Cape Cod, I don’t consider San Francisco particularly windy. But I do live in one of the City’s windier spots. On the edge of Alamo Square I catch all the wind that whips across Golden Gate Park and channels through the Panhandle between Buena Vista and Lone Mountain. It’s almost always windy when I walk out into the street.

It is a challenge for a painter to render the wind in one’s work. Warmth or cold, even stillness, these are elements that are comparatively easy to express in paint. As for wind, one can show its effects, the full sails, the waves, the bent trees, etc. But expressing the movement of the wind itself in paint is trickier. I think I have a new challenge…

Sunday, May 8, 2011

May 8, 2011 – You Are an Artist

I am not sure if you are an artist. But, I always encourage people to find a way to express themselves artistically. We all need some creative outlets. Today, in one of my piles of “treasures,” I found the book Your Are an Artist. It was the companion book to an early TV series on NBC of the same name. Jon Gnagy was the author and host. The book boasts that when it was written in 1947 (!):

"You Are an Artist," has had at this writing by far the longest run of any program emanating from the NBC television studios."

In many ways Jon Gnagy was a pioneer of the do-it-yourself TV show. You can even find episodes online. As soon as I stopped being a bit cynical and got passed the slightly dated and campy feel of the book, I realized that you are an artist too (or can be).

Saturday, May 7, 2011

May 7, 2011 – Tito

My artwork is often focused on using old maps. I have always been interested in historical geography and even if I wasn’t, I would learn it anyway as I cut up and repurpose old maps. One place in particular that has seen a great deal of change is Yugoslavia and the nations that now make up the former country.

Today happens to be Tito’s birthday. It may never be appropriate to refer to a leader as a “good” dictator, but all dictators are not the same. Tito certainly was not a bad dictator. After leading Yugoslavia’s WWII resistance to the Germans he lead Yugoslavia for 35 years. He steered a separate, independent course for Yugoslavia as the country slipped under the Iron Curtain. Perhaps Tito’s greatest accomplishment was holding the country together and creating a state of unity between its different ethnic and religious affiliations. A lot has changed in Yugoslavia since his death in 1980. Without Tito the country fractured apart and slid into a gruesome civil war.

It’s unlikely that Yugoslavia will ever exist again except for on old maps. I still have plenty of pieces of Yugoslavia to incorporate into my art. Today’s piece for the 2011 Project is a slide puzzle. Slide puzzles are one of those pre-electronic toys that have all but vanished. If Tito were here, he might be able to put it back together.

Friday, May 6, 2011

May 6, 2011 – Chocolate

About 4,000 years ago the ancestors of the Olmecs came up with this wonderful, magical concoction. They used the roasted and fermented beans of the cocoa tree. The Mayans and Aztecs carried on the tradition. The history is a little muddled but it seems at some point in the 16th Century, Spanish tourists started stopping at a place called Sí’s at the aeropuerto. They bought this delight called xocolatl to bring back to Europe. Inevitably it ended up in the boudoir of some Swiss mistress. And the rest is well, as they say, history. It’s hard to imagine a world without chocolate.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

May 5, 2011 – The Dandy

In the old days, if you did not have enough reasons to smoke, some cigarette packs came with little trading cards. They were in collectible series on a variety of historical and manly topics. I have seen cigarette cards on subjects ranging from automobiles and steam engines, Peoples of the British Empire, Cricket Players, etc. One of the oddest series had to be the cards depicting famous dandies.

George IV was one of the most famous and fabulous dandies of all time. According to the details on the back of the card he spent over £10,000 annually on his wardrobe, he even appeared in court in “a coat of pink silk and a white silk waistcoast.” George IV wracked up huge debts, a horrid arranged marriage and died obese and possibly addicted to laudanum. Somehow I imagine it would be like having a 19th Century Merv Griffin as your monarch.

Dandy is a term and a type that is disappearing in our culture. Make no mistake, the metrosexual is far from being a dandy. That was just a brief fad that the cosmetics industry foisted on a bunch of dupes. And, any bad moustache in a v-neck t-shirt and tight jeans who thinks of themselves as a dandy, is only fooling himself. Being a poser is for amateurs. A dandy requires a level of commitment that few young gentlemen seem to be up to today. Considering the staggering student loan debt and lack of jobs for college graduates, it might be better if we encouraged more lads to choose a “career” as dandies.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

May 4, 2011 – Bali

Bali is on the list. There are so many places I would love to visit. It’s always the trick to have the cherished combination of time and money. Sometimes I have to satisfy myself by visiting places vicariously thought museum exhibits. The current show at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco is a nice peak into Bali. The color palette is one I need to play with more. And when I do get to Bali, I really need to get my own set of fighting cricket cages. I am not looking to have a bunch of fighting crickets, but the set of cylindrical little cages just captivated me form across the room. And true to museum form, the taking of photos was verboten so you’ll just have to go see the show or use your imagination.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

May 3, 2011 – James Brown

The Godfather of Soul, the Hardest Working Man in Show Business, the amazing James Brown! He is a mood-enhancing drug — if listening to James Brown can’t make your day better, all hope may be lost. And watching him is an experience you’ll never forget. I recently saw the documentary Soul Power. It’s a great film and worth watching just to see James Brown dance. I regret never having seen James Brown perform live.

Today is James Brown’s birthday. In the future it may be a national holiday honoring his contribution to American music. When James Brown Day becomes a holiday, we all have to dress up like James Brown for the day. Imagine stepping outside and seeing everyone looking fabulous with a big, big smile. Call my tailor — I want a blue velvet suit!

Monday, May 2, 2011

May 2, 2011 – Enchilada Casserole

I thought I was so clever when I invented Enchilada Casserole. I decided to create something lasagna-like. I would use tortillas in place of lasagna noodles and enchilada sauce in place of tomato sauce. The cheese would be jack or cheddar instead of mozzarella. I titled my invention “New Mexico Lasagna.” I bragged to my friend Jordan about my invention. Jordan is from New Mexico and informed me that my “invention” was merely Enchilada Casserole. He went on to tell me that every potluck in New Mexico has at least three show up. Okay, I didn’t invent anything new, but what do they day about great minds thinking alike?

In some ways it’s not surprising that this has become a staple in my kitchen. It’s an American classic in a league with many of my favorites like Sloppy Joes, Tuna Casserole, Mac-n-Cheese and that New England “delicacy” American Chop Suey. As today’s art piece is drying and I write this, the pan of Enchilada Casserole is in the oven.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

May 1, 2011 – An American Holiday

Today is May Day. When International Worker’s Day comes to mind, few think of the United States. For most Americans, May Day conjures up images of Cold War era Soviet Tanks parading in Red Square. We even have a government sanctioned Labor Day to distract us from the “other” day for working people. Most of us have forgotten that May Day got its start here in the United States.

In 1884, May 1 was chose as the day worker’s were to carry out general strikes and campaign for the 8-hour workday. American workers, both immigrant and American born fought and died for rights we take for granted today. On May 4,1886 a bomb exploded at a peaceful labor rally in Chicago’s Haymarket Square. It was never determined who threw the bomb (it may have been an agent provocateur or it may have been an anarchist revolutionary). In the ensuing chaos hundreds were injured and at least twelve died including eight police officers. Many of the police deaths and injuries were caused by “friendly fire.” The number of dead and injured workers has never been determined. Many feared going to hospitals for fear they would be arrested. In the aftermath seven innocent, anarchists were charged, tried and executed in trials that were widely recognized as unjust.

From this tragedy grew a day of resistance that evolved into a day to celebrate workers around the world. Over a century later May Day is an important holiday in many parts of the world, except the country where it started. America has always been a country where good ideas have originated and spread around the world. And at times it is a country where we do not know our own history.