Tag Archives: folk heroes

JOE MAGARAC: NEGLECTED AMERICAN FOLK HERO

Joe MagaracLabor Day weekend is the appropriate time to post this look at neglected working class folk hero Joe Magarac. This figure was the Steel Mill equivalent of Paul Bunyan and John Henry.

Though mostly associated with Polish-American steel workers in Pittsburgh, PA the general figure of a literal “man of steel” helping and protecting his coworkers can be found from the East Coast through the American Midwest. Sometimes the figure is Croation or some other ethnicity instead of Polish. 

Written versions of Joe Magarac and/or similar steel worker tall tales seem to have started around 1930 or 1931. Oral legends about such figures – but not specifically Joe Magarac – have been dated as early as the 1890s.

Vintage advertisements from tattered old newspapers indicate that such Man of Steel imagery may have been used for the steel industry prior to World War One. This “Which came first, the chicken or the egg” dilemma for Joe Magarac and other Steel Men puts one in mind of the quandary surrounding Billiken lore.        

Joe Magarac statueAs a lame play on words since this is Labor Day season I’ll present Joe Magarac’s origin and then depict his tales as “Labors” like in The Labors of Hercules.

BIRTH – Joe Magarac supposedly sprang into existence from a mound of iron ore and – depending on the version – that mound was either in Pittsburgh or the Old Country. Magarac emerged from the melting mound fully grown and spoke broken English like so many of the other Polish steel workers. He was called into being by the urgent need to catch up on production since the current shift had fallen dangerously behind.

Joe was 7 or 8 feet tall, his flesh was like solid steel, his torso was as wide as a smoke-stack and his arms were as thick as railroad ties. His surname Magarac meant “mule” in the workhorse sense, referring to his stamina. Joe’s appetite was such that he carried his lunch in a washtub instead of a standard lunch box.

Magarac’s favorite leisure time activity was polka-dancing and halushkis were his favorite food.

THE LABORS OF JOE MAGARAC:   Continue reading

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Filed under Mythology, Neglected History

SABO: GUERILLA ART AT ITS FINEST

sabo on zuckerberg and schumerStreet Artist Sabo has earned genuine folk hero status with his guerilla art projects that he sets up in public, often under the cover of darkness, in various cities. Daylight unveils his masterpieces of dissent. Sabo takes on the subjects that too many faux iconoclasts are afraid to handle, most recently the corporate fascist Mark “Skippy” Zuckerberg.

The guerilla artist simultaneously broached the way that Zuckerberg’s ties to just one political party are a clear conflict of interest (Chuck Schumer’s daughter works there as just one example of dozens) and should call for regulation of Facebook as a public utility. The baby-faced Techno-Tyrant Zuck has a well-deserved name for politically motivated,  one-way enforcement of Facebook/ Fakebook’s supposed “Community Standards.”

Sabo on HillarySince ANY Facebook user can block anybody or anything they want, such heavy-handed interference with the free exchange of ideas is as unnecessary as it is ugly. (Personally I left Facebook years ago since it’s like being trapped in the suburban barbecue from hell.)

Scandals about Facebook’s violation of users’ privacy have provided even more reason to be suspicious of the organization. Go to Gab.ai or Steemit.com or any of the other sites out there. They aren’t yet the obnoxious corporate cesspool that Facebook has long been. Continue reading

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Filed under LIBERALS AND CONSERVATIVES, Neglected History, opinion