Last night, my son Jack and I went to see the documentary Men of Steel by photographer Chris Zarconi. Zarconi is a graduate student at George Washington University and set out in his to photograph the rust belt and interview those still living in cities like Youngstown, Ohio. He is an amazing photojournalist and filmmaker. These are his pictures (published with his consent). Zarconi was also one of the plaintiffs in Chang v. United States, the mass arrest case stemming from the 2002 protests of the World Bank and the IMF. I had the honor of representing Chris and the other plaintiffs with my co-lead counsel Daniel Schwartz and his colleagues at the Bryan Cave law firm. Chris was arrested while working as a photo journalist for the award-winning Hatchet university newspaper.
The documentary features a former steel worker in Youngstown (not far from where my mother grew up) who lost his job just a few months short of his pension. Ronnie G is a accoustic guitar player who wrote songs over the course of his career. He not only performed some of his songs but gave the audience and extremely moving account of his life and lives of his fellow steel workers. It was an incredible show. Ron’s songs like “Too Damn Bad” were performed on his old guitar from back when he was an 18 year old steel worker in the 70s.
Zarconi has an incredible artist perspective and traveled around the rust belt in his 74 Airstream. He met Ron and other fascinating individuals in these forgotten towns of mills, mines, and steel works.