From Oct. 25 NY Times

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Mon Oct 25 10:56:05 MDT 1999

In Film, Immigrants Bring Real Life to Acting Jobs


Cesar Monzon lives in a single basement room in Queens, thousands of miles
from his family in Peru, whom he has seen for only two weeks in 11 years.
When he does not have work, he spends his days on a Queens corner with
dozens of other immigrants, hoping that a contractor will drive up with an
offer of low-paying, back-straining work.

"When a person matures he accepts what life gives him," Monzon said,
"including the suffering."

But one fortuitous meeting on that Queens street corner relieved Monzon of
a bit of his suffering. As Monzon was waiting there for work five years
ago, he met David Riker, a writer and director who was making a film about
immigrants in New York.

Today, Monzon and a few dozen fellow Hispanic immigrants who are not actors
and were cast by Riker in "La Ciudad," or "The City," are the subject of a
rising buzz that may make the film a sleeper hit in the city's
Spanish-speaking neighborhoods and beyond.

The film, shot in black and white, tells four stories: of day laborers
hired to clean bricks, of a homeless puppeteer and his daughter, of a young
couple from the same town in Mexico who fall in love and of a seamstress
struggling to find money for a sick child back home. Although the tales are
fictional, they rely on stories the immigrants told Riker during his five
years of research.

The film, which opened over the weekend at the Quad Cinema on 13th Street
in Manhattan, has drawn strong reviews and was sold out for several
screenings. It has struck a chord among Hispanic people, who have been
hearing about the film almost nightly in coverage on the Spanish-language
television network Univision.

Although the film is fictional, to Monzon it is fact. "It is my story," he
said yesterday at a Mexican restaurant in Corona, Queens, near the room he
rents for $300 a month. In its telling, he said, he has found some comfort.
"In reality, life is like that," he said of the film's stories about
immigrants facing exploitation, pain and loneliness. Seeing what he has
felt manifested on the screen, he said, "gives me tranquility."

Full story at:

Sigmund Diamond, 79, Professor at Columbia


Sigmund Diamond, a Columbia professor of sociology and history who studied
American business titans, female industrial workers and Federal Bureau of
Investigation information gathering, died on Oct. 14 in Norwich, Conn. He
was 79 and lived in Salem, Conn.

The cause was esophageal cancer, said his wife, Shirley.

Dr. Diamond retired in 1986 as Giddings Professor of Sociology and History
at Columbia, where he had taught since 1955.

In his book, "Compromised Campus: The Collaboration of Universities With
the Intelligence Community, 1945-1955," Dr. Diamond wrote about the
F.B.I.'s attempt to gather information from university employees. In The
New York Times Book Review, Herbert Mitgang wrote that the book asserted
that for at least 10 years after World War II, J. Edgar Hoover's agents
"enlisted administrators and professors and planted them as subagents in
place." Dr. Diamond said in the book that those university officials and
teachers were prepared to give the F.B.I. information on coworkers they
thought were disloyal to the United States.

In his earlier book, "Reputation of the American Businessman," published in
1955, Dr. Diamond chronicled titans like John Jacob Astor, Cornelius
Vanderbilt, J. P. Morgan and John D. Rockefeller.

Dr. Diamond worked for the United Auto Workers during the 1940's, compiling
reports about women who worked during the war and what happened to them
after it ended. The report found that by early 1945, women who had been
laid off were having trouble returning to work, partly because of
prejudice. While he a U.A.W. staff member, Dr. Diamond advocated that women
get equal pay for equal work.

Full story at:

Germany's East and West: Still Hostile States of Mind


FRANKFURT AN DER ODER, Germany -- Four years ago, Gabriela Mendling came
here to Germany's "Far East." She trawled streets with names like Salvador
Allende and Karl Marx in search of a home.

A physiotherapist, she searched vainly for a job. She observed, she
listened, in growing amazement. Finally she decided to write -- and the
storm broke.

Suddenly she was the most hated "Wessi," or westerner, in town. Her car was
sprayed with paint. Her husband's Mercedes was scratched. Her son was
taunted at school. Threatening phone calls poured in. "A simple-minded
racist," says Henry-Martin Klemt, a local writer. For Peter Edelmann, the
Deputy Mayor, "She is a liar."

The source of Ms. Mendling's notoriety is a book called "Neuland" ("New
Land"), published this summer. Its subtitle is "Very Simple Stories"; it is
scarcely profound.

But its daily chronicle of the difficulties of a west German woman adapting
to the formerly Communist east does bring the problems of German unity down
to basics.

Such basics include lasagna -- poked at suspiciously by "Ossis," or
easterners, clearly new to the dish that Ms. Mendling has prepared. And
Christmas carols: there are none at the Christmas gala in the city hall.
And attitudes: Ms. Mendling finds she is treated with contempt as a "Wessi"
seeking a job while so many "Ossis" are unemployed.

When the Berlin wall came down a decade ago, east German demonstrators
quickly adjusted their chant from "We are the people" to "We are one people."

The cry had a ring to it, but as Ms. Mendling has found, it was an
illusion. While the economies of east and west have moved closer, a
psychological gulf has remained -- even widened.

More than 40 percent of west Germans have never traveled to the former
east, recent surveys indicate.

At the same time, "Ostalgie" -- nostalgia for the old East Germany -- has
spread among the former citizens of what was probably the most spied-on
state in history, with its 6 million state security files for 17 million

The nostalgia is rarely so acute as to involve a desire for the return of
Germany's little police state, but equally it is seldom entirely absent.

Memory, of course, is selective, and what is remembered now is this: there
were jobs for everyone, even if they did not amount to much, time for
friendships and a sense of solidarity, of community, of a life beyond "me."

Even the Communist bicycles (when available) were more solid, some say. And
the free day care centers were wonderful.

Full story at:

Louis Proyect

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