Scotch Plains: Monday, March 1, 7:30 P.M.; East Brunswick: Thursday, March 4, 7 P.M.

Neither 3 consecutive snowed-out readings nor forebodings of 4 additional snow-ridden days ahead (nor the unrelievedly grim pre-storm glooms draped o’er NYC’s Penn Station from whence I lately departed) dampen our conviction: things are lookin’ up on the docks!

The portents comprise a singular sensation—in form of a dissertation proposal for the ages by a preternaturally gifted doctoral student-advisee—along with sets of coupled entries, beginning with a pair of N. Ctrl Jersey public library readings to coincide with the arrival of March and its promise of renewal. Following next Monday’s Scotch Plains event we turn Thursday to the reading venue found nearest to our dearest home town, that once-funky Hub City, along the banks of the ol’ Raritan; ‘New Brunphus’ [sic] NJ, whose proximity to East Brunswick brings hope of reunion with friends, mentors, mentor-friends; even newly re-found loved ones.

Consecutive recent days saw us in video studios; for a community-channel spot publicizing E. Brunswick, followed by a deftly-executed between-classes West Side Manhattan interview courtesy most gracious folks at WNET, the historic NYC public television outlet. Eight storytelling minutes ensued: telecast scheduled for MetroFocus program, Channel 13 March 25 at 8:30 p.m.

Review symposia slated for a disparate pair of academic periodicals signal a new chapter in the book’s life story following months of heartening engagement largely by non-academic readers, many sporting Irish waterfront pedigrees. The journals in play neatly cover our eclectic waterfront: American Catholic Studies and the history of the American Left.

A review of Irish Waterfront in the current online edition of Commonweal is complemented by a link to Budd Schulberg’s stirring 1953 Pete Corridan tribute published in that same venerable (if yes, at times vexing) bi-monthly. Budd penned his unforgettable non-fiction advocacy testimonial then turned to crafting dialogue for the great movie’s shape-up scene, wherein Edie’s startling appearance on Hoboken’s Pier 1 prompts an as-yet-clueless Terry to bellow—what else?–‘things are lookin’ up on the docks!’

The Commonweal review features some puzzling gaffes, redeemed however by a well-turned line citing the Irish Waterfront’s sudden recourse to communion breakfasts (highlighted by gaudy, improbable parades from Chelsea to the Waldorf-Astoria), when threatened by nosy, reform-minded Jesuit waterfront priests. Thanks to the intrepid Dr. Chew and her cell-phone-cam, find above an image from the inaugural Port of New York longshoremen’s pre-breakfast Mass, celebrated by Msgr. John J. ‘Taxi Jack’ O’Donnell on Chelsea Pier 61 in early May 1950. The image is treated on the final page of Irish Waterfront; in both form and content this image haunts our story across nearly all its many and varied chapters.


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