Laborpaste In Gary

While driving through Chicago’s Pullman neighborhood in last days of January 2016 I was delighted to see a familiar face. It was that of Eugene Debs, legendary Hoosier radical, looking triumphant and happy, waving his hat from the first floor fire-escape of a boarded-up tenement. The life-size photograph was from the day of his release from prison in February 1921 after serving three years for sedition for his outspoken opposition to the Great War.

More familiar faces greeted me when I returned to Pullman in May. Dolores Huerta, another Debs, a piercing-eyed Pullman porter (which honestly I first thought was someone peeing in the alley), and even more labor heroes appearing beyond the immediate neighborhood: Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, A Philip Randolph, a young Caesar Chavez, Lucy Parsons, even Debs’ beloved hunting dog Babe.

I was in the neighborhood that day to help with an art-build for the upcoming Break Free Midwest protest. Some kind Pullman artists offered us space in the massive former Pullman Administration Building, now a national park. As I explained how excited I was to see Debs to the man unlocking the building he turned to me and said, “Well I put them up!”

His name is JB Daniels, the project is called Laborpaste, and it has since expanded to Terre Haute (Debs’ hometown) and now Gary, Indiana. Here’s JB at his home studio in Pullman:

In the spirit of the project we’ll let you find these for yourself and we’ll enjoy watching them fade away over time.

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Waveguide + Radius in Gary

Howe Park
39th and Vermont
Gary, IN
24 January, 2015

With help from the Gary Park Department two Chicago-based experimental radio outfits, Waveguide and Radius, turned Howe Park into a performance and transmission site.

Michael Esposito, born in Gary, performs with EVP recordings he made in the vacant Indiana Bell building on Ridge Road, a block west of Broadway. The performance can be heard at Radius episode 59: Phantom Plastics.

Following the performance attendees travelled to the Bell building, some on foot some by car, all with radios tuned to 88.9FM. Sounds from the recent Waveguide radio workshops held at Arts On Grant filled the neighborhood’s air.

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As I caught up with some of our guests, sounds from recent #BlackLivesMatter actions in Hammond and Gary filled the neighborhood. And then the poetry of our recently departed and dearly missed Kelechukwu Brnfre. Glen Park, once a neighborhood that threatened to secede from Gary, was now a platform in the struggle against misery. I’m deeply grateful for all who made the moment happen.

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While the event concluded and guests mingled in front of the pavilion, a few of us admired the stands of milkweed growing along the chain-link fence enclosing an abandoned swimming pool now being colonized by cattails and other marshy grasses. Thinking what a wonderful sunken garden it would make we shook loose the remaining milkweed seeds.