Monday, June 4, 2007

Ed Galing: Tales of South Philly

Review of tales Of South Philly by Ed Galing

=======================================Tales of South PhillyBy Ed GalingNo ISBN28 page chapbook at $5Four-sep PublicationsP.O. Box 12434Milwaukee WI 53212

Tales of South Philly is, perhaps, Ed Galing’s best known work. The PoetLaureate of Hatboro PA grew up there in the years between W.W. I and W.W.II. These are priceless poetic memories of the people and places he knew in his youth -- Jake’s Candy Store, Porter Street, Snyder Avenue, Market Street, colorful immigrants who lived a hard knock life but proudly learned English and became citizens, and Mafia guys who took care of their own. This excerpt from “by definition” begins Galing’s odyssey back in time:

"you just don’t come to live in South Philly just because you like it here…….you come here the hardway…the way I got here…"

“Love on the Sly” tells of South Philly girls. "They had their dreams, and most of them did not include marrying poor:cause south philly girls came from poor houses and dreamed of movie stars like Gable or Stewart or maybe Fred Astaire…Poverty and crime took a huge toll on South Philly. State and Federal programs poured money into South Philly.

In “progress” Galing documents the results:
"…and pretty soon what was supposed to be the end of living in poverty and the beginning of a new era began to turn to ashes…those who lived there tried to hang onto their memories…but a few months ago they blew those hi rises down…dynamite rippled through slight murmur and the houses that jack built came down…."

Ed Galing was abandoned to poverty, unceremoniously dumped off in SouthPhilly by his father to be raised by a devoted mother. He grew up tough in hard streets, but loved the shops, sights, scents, and people who shared his existence. All that and more is in this paean to an era long gone. Tales ofSouth Philly is highly recommended because Galing tells history like it was, as only he can.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

The Violinist and Other Selected PoemsEd GalingThe Poetry Collection3435 Mill Road, Hatboro PA 19040No ISBN $5.00

At near-ninety years of age, Ed Galing is a Pushcart nominee and the official Poet Laureate of Hatboro PA. He's authored numerous chapbooks and his poetry has been featured in just about any poetry journal you can name. His work is a virtual monument to America as it is and was. In fact, because of their content and appearance, his chapbooks could be described as folk art. Galing by-passes amenities and goes straight for the heart in his work. In this latest chapbook, readers will find paeans to the phenomenal Gene Krupa and Fats Waller as seen through Galing's eyes in their glory days.

And as always, the poet memorializes sweet years of his youth, memories of his parents, his father's violin music. One of my favorites in this chapbook is "Marathon," a long poem about a dance marathon during the Depression years. This poem is almost like being there on the dance floor. Galing has seen it all during his long life and documents his experiences with clear eyes.

For example, in this excerpt from "The Heyday" he remembers burlesque and makes a valid social commentary: "burlesque died a gasping breath when the floodgates opened and civil liberty took a different turn."

This excerpt from "Retrenchment" tells a too-familiar story of workers in America. It was true when Galing was young and struggling, and doubly true today:

"that's what you get fromthose in power,controlling workers' lives hour by hour. and when they're finished,they spit you out,and that's what democracy is all about."

Whether social or personal, Galing shows life like it is based on eighty-plus years of experience.

The Warehouse/ Nursing Home by Ed Galing

Two Poems by Ed galing

The Warehouse

this is my first day in
this nursing home,
my son said, dad,
this is the best place
for you right now,
yeah, sure it is…
just because i had a
small stroke at eighty
he puts me in here…
well, i cant blame him,
he is sixty himself,
works night and day,
he cant take care of
me, specially now…
dad, he says, soon as
you get better, you
can come home with my
wife and meyeah, crap too… it will
never happen…
anyway, now that i am here
in a wheelchair, i have a
roommate next bed, a big
black guy who snores all
the time,
and the hallways are full
of screaming alzheimer
people, and broken down men
and women who each live in
their own hell… i call it a
warehouse for old people,
before we die…
once you get in here you
dont come out…
(they say the food
aint bad here…)

Nursing Blues

you don’t need to go
to hell when you
just get sent to
a nursing home
any one
and you will
soon learn what
it is
to die by inches…
the one my sister
in law was in
was the worst i
ever seen,
she laid in a goofy
bed, with a
mattress that blew
up with air,
the nurse came
around to stick
her with a needle,
and to wipe her
my sister in law
groaned, when
they put her in
her wheelchair,
she was half out of
it, when they took
her into the dining
room to eat with all
those crazy people in
I seen it with my own
she has alzheimer’s,
at the table she
fell asleep, and her
face hit the lousy
food they had given
god have mercy
the nursing home

From "The American Dissident" Ed Galing Speaks out!

A Literary Journal of Critical ThinkingIn the Samizdat Tradition of Writing against the MachineA Forum for Examining the Dark Side of the Academic/Literary Industrial Complex
Ed Galing (Hatboro, PA)

Ninety years old, outspoken, hate government bureaucracy, and the namby-pamby sons of bitches destroying our way of life. I am also a Jewish man, who doesn’t care if you like me or not, and a gentle man; just leave me alone, goddamn it. I hate the way day care centers for the very old treat all of us like a bunch of idiots—coloring books, and playing kiddy games. When I was young there was the WPA. Lots of drones worked on this make-believe program. I have written many letters and had a, knock on my door when I was 21, for criticizing the city government. I worked on the writer’s project during the war—another phony job. I have served in the army and navy... got out after 17 years with no pension because the navy shipped me away from home, and made it impossible for me to complete my last few years… I suffered plenty. The whole damn world is run by lunatics. My wife had terminal illness and was in a nursing home after an operation, then in a holistic room in a hospital where they give you 6 months to live (or less). We were married 68 years—2 grown sons, 2 grandchildren, 5 great grandchildren. Once we were all young, and family. Now we’re suffering from old age and death. At this time of my life I’ve written over 50 chaps, been in hundreds of zines—won awards, first prizes, etc.—so what, eh?

Turkish Bath by Ed Galing

Turkish Bath

one of the enjoyments of
jewish life on the lower
east side,
the turkish bath--

there was a saying,
if you could last in
the turkish bath,
you are a real man...

the baths were red hot,
steam coming in the
damp enclosed room, that
turned the room into a dark
and you could hardly see
where you were, or who was in
the room with you,

the water was scalding,
but good...
and there were those
wooden benches, we
sat on,
it was called the
Schvitz, and even the
name sounds like something
really hot, as it was,

old men would sit
on the benches naked
maybe a towel around their

pot bellies, wrinkles
bare feet and
smell of fish,
while the clouds mercifully
surrounded all of us,
and we would talk about the
talk about the old country,
israel, and maybe even a bit
of the talmud was discussed here...

it was cheap... one dollar...
this all means schvitz could make
you or break always
came out of there feeling like
a new man...your sins all washed