George DeBolt takes us through the life and decline of Homestead, a town in the Mon Valley area of Pittsburgh, via his own life story. He recounts getting conscientious objector status in front of a conservative draft board, living in a prominent Protestant family in a working class Catholic neighborhood, and how he discovered his grandfather’s secret labor history. George also details Homestead’s radical labor activism as its steel mills closed in the 1980s, with protests involving hundreds of dollars in pennies, dead fish, skunk oil, safe deposit boxes, and Sunday school invasions.
As industry in the Mon Valley collapsed, its leaders did little to keep the neighborhood alive, instead relying on pie-in-the-sky schemes, involving Steven Spielberg, Buick World, Disney theme parks, Saudi sheikhs, and the state lottery. George describes all the schemes, along with his own attempts to improve the area, as well as invoking the wisdom of Liza Minnelli.
Gary Whelan takes us into the world of parkour in Belfast. He explains the philosophy and moves involved in the discipline, and how the scene has blossomed among young men in Belfast over the past few years. Gary also talks about how the traceurs (as practitioners of parkour are called) deal with the suspicions of hooliganism, the worries of family members, and disapproval from authority figures. And for any aspiring traceurs, Gary advises how to get involved, what training to do, what shoes to wear, and how to stay safe while scaling buildings and jumping off walls.
This week: food in Belfast.
First, to the city’s first Polish restaurant, Cracow City, located on the Cregagh Road in East Belfast. Its owner tells of why he opened Cracow City, how he’s adapted Polish home-cooking to the Irish palate, and upcoming events at the restaurant. He also treats us to a Polish sing-along, with some of Cracow City’s customers providing him back-up vocals.
Then, to St. George’s Market to hear from Brian Wallace, who runs an independent organic farm with his family near Coleraine. They sell fruits, vegetables and meat at the market every Saturday. He explains why they decided to start their own farm, what the advantages and drawbacks of going organic are, and how local farmers cope with the business practices of supermarket giants like Tesco.
Episode 21 goes to Ballymena, to Rodney Moore’s gym. He works as a bouncer along with the other guys at his gym, and they also train for Ultimate Fighting Championship. Rodney explains what it means to be a bouncer, how they can spot trouble, and what they’ve done to clean up Ballymena night life. Also on topic: the growing scene of UFC and mixed martial arts in Ballymena and beyond.