07-29-2017  5:01 am      •     
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NEWS BRIEFS

PCC Board Refers Bond Renewal Measure to Nov. Ballot

If renewed, the bond will fund improvements to PCC ...

Organizers Announce Aug. 6 March for Freedom, Solidarity and Justice

Endorsers include Portland Interfaith Clergy Resistance, VOZ Workers Rights Education Project and Council on American Islamic...

PAM Presents African American Portraits

Exhibit demonstrates diversity of the African American experience, late 1800s to 1990s ...

Humboldt Sewer Repair Project Update

Construction continues on a project repairing more than three miles of public sewer pipes ...

Augustana Lutheran Church Hosts Summer in the City Aug. 6

Free event includes BBQ, book sale, children’s games, music ...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

OPINION

Welcoming Immigrants Keeps America Great

Trump’s plan to bar immigrants from six predominantly Muslim countries is unlawful and un-American ...

EDITORIAL: It’s Time to Sunset the 48-Hour Rule

This week Mayor Ted Wheeler will ask Portland City Commissioners to end the hated 48-hour rule ...

Throw the Doors of Opportunity Wide Open for Our Youth

Congressional Black Caucus member Robin Kelly says it’s time to pass the “Today’s American Dream Act.” ...

Trump’s Proposed Budget Cuts Threaten Civil Rights

Charlene Crowell of the Center for Responsible Lending talks about the impact of President Trump’s budget on civil rights...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

ENTERTAINMENT

Men at Lunch photograph

During the construction of Rockefeller Center in 1932, a photo was taken of 11 ironworkers taking a break from their arduous labors to eat, drink, smoke and talk to each other.

Because they were sitting on a steel beam dangling perilously some 69 stories in the air with Central Park and the Manhattan skyline in the background, the iconic image would soon sear itself permanently into the country’s subconscious.

But who took the picture called “Lunch atop a Skyscraper,” how was it staged, and who were the guys posing for the camera?

These are the questions which nagged director Sean O’Cualain ever since the day he and his brother saw the famous photo hanging on the wall while hoisting a few a world away in Whelan’s pub in Shanaglish, Ireland. A note next to the stunning snapshot identified a couple of emigrants to America from County Galway, Sonny Glynn (1903-1953) and Matty O’Shaughnessy (1901-1978), as the bookends on the far left and far right of the girder, respectively. That chance encounter in the bar was the source of inspiration for Men at Lunch, an enlightening documentary narrated by Fionnula Flanagan which unearths a cornucopia of factoids about the picture’s previously unheralded subjects.

Perhaps more importantly, the film also tells the greater story of the thousands of ironworkers who built skyscrapers during the Depression, a very dangerous undertaking indeed given the 2 percent annual mortality rate along with a 2 percent permanent disability rate. Still, given the dire state of the economy back then, any able-bodied man was likely happy just to have a $1.50 an hour job, even if it was as thankless as it was treacherous. Plus, perched so close to the heavens, they seemingly enjoyed an elevated social status relative to the working-class men making an honest day’s pay down on street level.

A posthumous testament to the intrepid crew of immigrants who risked their lives in the sky over New York City to erect 30 Rock.

Very Good (3 stars)

Unrated Running time: 67 minutes

Distributor: First Run Features

DVD Extras: Five bonus shorts: The 1929 Crash, Rockefeller Center, Joe Woolhead on September 11, 2001, The Inspiration of ‘Lunch atop a Skyscraper’ and Ric Burns on ‘Lunch atop a Skyscraper.’

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