Posts Tagged ‘Chicago’
August 15, 2011 | by Chris Flynn
Most dust jackets list only literary accomplishments, but I’ve always been a fan of offbeat author bios. So I asked some of my favorite writers to describe their early jobs.
Jessica Anthony: I was a singing-telegram cowgirl in upstate New York in the early nineties. I wore the dress, boots, hat, and fringe. I went to various places of business and sang, “I’m just a girl who can’t say no” from Oklahoma! to human beings who desperately had no interest in it.
Jonathan Lethem: I once had a job as the assistant of a family friend, a very talented artist and theatrical designer who had, in the parlance of the time, “gone mad.” My tasks included helping him move a discarded chrome car bumper from the street to his tiny Upper West Side studio-apartment bedroom; helping him weld the bumper to a sculpture that also included sardine tins still covered in oil and shreds of fish; and walking his poodle to the liquor store to buy him bottles of gin. But there were problems: the unfortunate, confused dog had a giant clot of bright red paint covering approximately a third of its white curls, so that it appeared to have been attacked by an ax murderer. Also, I was only thirteen. Even in 1977, a liquor store on the Upper West Side wouldn’t sell a tall bottle of gin to a teenager leashed to a zombie poodle.
Adam Levin: I used to hand out Winston cigarettes at bars for a Chicago “guerrilla marketing” firm. I was required to carry around a duffel full of cigarette cartons. We had some discretion over how many packs to give out to each person—usually between one and four. I also carried a box in which an old digital camera was mounted. If you wanted free cigarettes, you had to let me photograph your driver’s license, and you’d nearly always let me, because you were drunk, which is why I picked you to begin with. So maybe it was more like I used to collect personal information at bars in Chicago for a “guerrilla marketing” firm employed by Winston.
Peter Carey: Never, in all my life, have I been employed in a job as absurd and peculiar as the one I have right now. Commuting between 1854 and 2011 is killing me.
October 5, 2010 | by Lorin Stein
I always forget how giant Chicago is. How giant, how elegant, and how proud.
Under Culture Commissioner Lois Weissberg, the city has come into possession of an exact replica of Maxim’s, the Paris restaurant, in the basement of a Gold Coast condominium designed by Bertrand Goldberg. Beatles fans: This is the site where John Lennon recanted his “bigger than Jesus” claim.
On that hallowed ground Stop Smiling’s co-founder, J. C. Gabel, Mairead Case, and I talked shop last Friday night before a crowd of fellow editors (Poetry, Playboy, The Baffler, the Trib), Ms. Weissberg, and assorted civilians passionate—to the point of forcible ejection—about The Paris Review. It was all part of the city’s “Cocktails and Conversations” series.
New Yorkers, can you imagine such a thing? Verily, they are Sweden to our United States.
Many thanks to Danielle Chapman, of the Department of Cultural Affairs, for having us. Even more thanks to J. C., who out-Virgiled Virgil, giving me the grand tour of the city, from Saul Bellow’s old apartment building and the Third Coast bar, to the thirty-third birthday of Poetry’s Fred Sasaki. May Fred enjoy many happy returns.
Another thing I forget—and then always remember—about Chicago, or rather Chicagoans, is what snappy dressers they are. Chicago men are not afraid of a necktie or a hat. The peaked cap also is worn. On Michigan Avenue I saw plenty of all three (plus a woman sporting the first fur coat of the season), as I provisioned for the forty-nine-hour California Zephyr to San Francisco. Last-minute purchases included: Nicholson Baker’s The Anthologist, A Tale of Two Cities, Cousin Bette, Ragtime (I will read Doctorow, I will!), a pair of warm pajamas, a sturdy pigskin toilet kit, and a smallish bottle of Johnny Walker Red.
As it happened, I read the last page of The Anthologist at five-thirty Sunday morning, simply too happy to sleep, as my bunk lurched and tossed like a cozy Cyclone (I even found myself hanging on to the straps). Thus did I cross the Rockies.
In this connection, I must finally thank Patricia Daliege, Amtrak’s chief ticket agent at Chicago’s Union Station, for saving my bacon in the face of an intractable Paris Review–Amtrak imbroglio. If not for Ms. Daliege, and the sleeper compartments she finagled out of seemingly thin air, your humble correspondent would have detrained in the thunderstorming moonscape of Green River, Utah, and taken his chances against the sands. To Patti Daliege, merci.
To read more about Lorin’s trip, click here.
September 28, 2010 | by Nicole Rudick
Well, slightly West.
First stop: Pittsburgh
Tomorrow, September 29, Stein will join Bob Hoover, books editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, to reveal “The Sordid Confessions of a Subversive Big-Apple Editor.” The free event starts at 6:30 P.M. at the Cathedral of Learning, 4200 Fifth Avenue.
On September 30, Stein and Stop Smiling editor JC Gabel talk with Literago.org's Mairead Case at Maxim's: The Nancy Goldberg International Center, 24 East Goethe Street. The conversation begins at 6 P.M.