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Wednesday Watercooler


Need some (non-holiday) jazz? Here’s about an hour from Wynton Marsalis and friends, recorded live at the 2009 jazz festival in Marciac, France.

Dragon in Osaka with Santa Hat

The Real Meaning of Christmas

Greg Mitchell, writing for The Nation, reminds us of the 1913 Christmas Massacre which inspired Woody Guthrie’s classic song:

It was captured in brilliant and harrowing fashion by Woody Guthrie in his classic “1913 Massacre” (see below), but few may know the story of the actual tragedy, which took place on Christmas Eve of that year, at a party for striking miners and their families in Calumet, Michigan. Seventy-three died, including fifty-nine children.

The basic outline: someone shouted ‘Fire!’ at the crowded party in the Italian Hall. There was a rather inaccessible fire escape and the only real exit was down a narrow, steep flight of stairs, and dozens of kids got trampled to death. In Woody’s version, and many others, the ‘Fire!’ shouter was sent by the copper mine bosses to create just such an event. Woody added the twist (not claimed by others) that ‘thugs’ held the doors to the street shut from outside.

But despite official inquiries it’s stlll not known for certain (1) who shouted fire or (2) if the doors opened inward or outward. One academic even claims there was a small fire. Another writer, Steve Lehto in his book, says he has IDed the ‘Fire!’ shouter. In any case, a historic, tragic event in labor history.

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Photo by Max Braun released under a Creative Commons Share Alike license.

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Kit OConnell

Kit OConnell

Kit O’Connell is a gonzo journalist and radical troublemaker from Austin, Texas. He is the Associate Editor and Community Manager of Shadowproof. Kit's investigative journalism has appeared in Truthout, MintPress News and