This week I’ve been talking to Dan Terkell about growing up in Lakeview during the ‘50s and ‘60s with politically engaged parents—one of was blacklisted during the Red Scare. This caused the family some economic strain, sure. They all worked, passionately and for social justice, but this rarely pays. Were he a different person, as Dan’s been explaining, his father Studs Terkel may well have amassed vast wealth. But Studs, and Dan too, are rare types in this day and age: principled, determined, and unwilling to accept as given what has been given.
Nov. 4, 2010
We lived in this apartment because that was what we could afford at the time. We had what I guess some folks might have considered at the time a blue collar income, even though my folks didn’t have blue collar jobs. I think it was a very healthy way to grow up. There was quite a lot of economic diversity within the area too. We were just a couple blocks off the lake—really one long block, if you’re familiar with the area between Lake Shore Drive and Broadway, just north of Belmont. Right along Lake Shore Drive and maybe half a block inland. There were a lot of families who were fairly well to do. Some kids sort of had a sense of entitlement and some a false sense of entitlement. They felt as if their shit was ice cream.
So there was a little bit of a divide, in that sense. I didn’t participate socially with them. They didn’t particularly like me, but I didn’t like them either so you might say it was a symbiotic relationship. But I had plenty of friends who were, more or less, in my own economic—I don’t like to use that word class—but economic milieu maybe. No that sounds too pretentious . . . . Economic area. I like that. Why use a more pretentious word, when you can just use a very straightforward word?
Nov. 4, 2010
"For those of you who missed Monday's post about this week's mission, we wanted to drop this at your doorstep before week's end."
Welcome to November, everyone.
I've been on the road quite a bit lately, and I've been captivated in a front and center kind of way by how we (we being us humans currently roaming the planet) use our time in transit, that no-man's-land time that dangles precariously between point a and point b.
And this is what led me to this week's mission.
This Saturday morning, November 6th, come join me for 45 minutes of fun, exploration and contemplation in what I'm calling "The Train of Thought." If you like train rides, are free Saturday between 10:30 a.m. and noon, own a pen, and are up for a quiet (but hopefully cool) adventure, then just shout "save me a seat" down below in the comment section.
For crowd control reasons, I will reveal the exact time and Chicago subway/train location later this week directly via email to all eager "Train of Thought" passengers.
In the meantime, I share with you now this shiny brand new video. It's highly interactive-- I hope you enjoy it.
Nov. 4, 2010
Here is today's news, as I see it. Let's call it the Kaufmann-cast:
A story: At dinnertime, I went over to the Billy Goat to get my nightly triple-cheeseburger and I saw our new Senator Mark Kirk! I guess he was having a beer with some meathead blackhawks fan. I think he was tutoring him?
They didn't let the media get close enough to hear the conversation. But if we were close enough, my guess it that we would have heard this:
Kirk: So have you thought about what you want to do this semester?
Alexi: I dunno. I like computers? Could I take some classes in computers?
Kirk: Alexi, you can do anything you set your mind to.
Alexi: Cool. Welp, I'm gonna bail and hit up Barleycorns for the Hawks game. I didn't want to be senator anyway. I just ran cause my buddy Barry told me to.
B story: There is an article today in the New York Times about the RNC blueprint and strategy for this election.
Nov. 4, 2010
There are few things more satisfying than hot, crispy, thinly-sliced fried potatoes. I tend to respect folks who cut Idaho russets all day long, par-blanching them first, and then, right before an order comes in, frying them a second time to crisp them up. It doesn't mean serving them soggy and limp, but rather, extra-crispy (the result of an oil bath of about 360-375 degrees). I do still find myself asking for them a little well-done, just to make sure they're properly cooked.
Some places go a few steps further, and rather than fry them up in standard vegetable oil, they use some tasty alternatives, such as beef fat (hello Top Notch) or duck fat (mazel tov, Mr. Sohn). I also realized that I can't just limit my parameters to Chicago proper. This week, we're expanding our boundries, and including the 'burbs as well. I look forward to the heated debate and constructive criticism that will inevitably follow.
Nov. 3, 2010
By nearly every measure, the GOP had a big night on Tuesday. But what about things closer to home? Who were the big winners and losers in Illinois?
That's where things get much more interesting. In the Land of Lincoln, Obama, and Blagojevich, outcomes both confirmed and defied national trends. And even though votes are still being counted in two key races - Governor and the 8th U.S. Congressional District - a mixed picture of winners and losers is beginning to emerge.
Here's how it looks:
Cook County Democratic Party: Lost amidst all the attention paid to Republican successes locally and nationally was the fact that the Cook County Democratic Party "got it done" when it counted last night. Despite the bruised egos that came with the loss of the U.S.
Nov. 3, 2010
Last summer, before my bride and I stepped out on a bright and clear Iowa afternoon to be married in her parents’ backyard, we kept peering through the windows to see who’d arrived. My cousins. Her cousins. Aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, siblings, a sea of friends: white, Latino, black, Jewish, Asian, queers, non-queers, Christians of all sorts, agnostics, atheists – I kid you not, at least two Muslims.
We were in Iowa to celebrate our union because, like a lot of other couples, we wanted it to happen in a place that had meaning. And Iowa is where my bride was born and raised, where her family still resides, and where I’ve come to believe all that is good about America is plentiful.
Nov. 3, 2010
As Chris Jones was too tactful to do so, it’s left to tacky me to point out that the most exciting thing about Remy Bumppo’s new Artistic Director Timothy Douglas is not that he’s New York-based, not that he’s directed in Chicago before, not that’s worked at Yale and Actors’ Theatre of Louisville and the Taper Forum, but that he’s black. Eventually I trust we’ll get to a place where the color of a new artistic director’s skin will be no more interesting than the color of her hair; but we’re nowhere near that in this country, and certainly not in Chicago, which boasts a theater community as segregated as the city itself.