Words for Cable Street

“Behind the Archival Time Machine,”
Photo by Anonymous.

Cables stretched from North American to Ireland in 1858 to carry the first transatlantic messages, messages that, prior to that time, were transported by ship across an ocean and could take nearly two weeks to deliver.  In 1973 in Madison, Wisconsin, my roommates and I mimeographed messages from our other roommate, John Iversen, who, being an activist with Chippewa blood, had joined the occupation at Wounded Knee.

On his seven-week stay, he transmitted information to us via phone calls and letters, and we typed up his dispatches, mimeographed them, and handed them out on the street. The smell of freshly mimeographed paper remains strong through the decades. Today, we forward messages via social media, no smells at all. 

From a search on Wikipedia, I learned that “Cable Street started as a straight path along which hemp ropes were twisted into ships’ cables.” Cable Street is also famous for the Anti-Fascist Battle on October 4, 1936, in which the locals, mostly Jews and Irish of the East End of London, banded together to halt the march organized by Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists. So okay, hemp ropes and anti-fascists, sounds good. But what convinced me that Cable Street was the right name for our magazine was when I read in Wikipedia, “From Victorian times through to the 1950s, Cable Street had a reputation for cheap lodgings, brothels, drinking inns and opium dens.” My people! But seriously, folks, our magazine strives to be inclusive, though, there being some eight billion people in the world, a good percentage of them who are writers, being inclusive is difficult, endlessnessly daunting. Thus, we must be a tad circumspect.  As when we were called Witty Partition, we strive to offer a choreography of voices and images that leap across generations, perform fancy footwork to a multitude of rhythms from many cultures, twirl to the patterns of any human endeavors, and, as dancers do when they have reached their limit, we pause, rest our eyes with photos, to catch our breath, breathe deeply.

Bring us your tired, your poor, you huddled masses yearning to be published, and we’ll do our best to squeeze into Cable Street as much passionate, compassionate, word-dancing writing as it will hold.

— Jan Schmidt