Tuesday, May 24, 2005

I should read some Isabelle Allende

On Magic Realism -

"magic realism is just an acceptance that the world is a very mysterious place and we don't know all the answers"

Curt Johnson's The Wicked City: Chicago from Kenna to Capone...and a list of heros

Only just dived into this one, and I'll say it is a keeper. I could spend a month with this one and all its delicious depraved history. This one reminds me that I want to take a closer look at those Hebert Asbury books. The only thing that could make me love this book more would be even more photos. Those old black and whites fascinate me.

Speaking of old Black and Whites, today Samuel Fuller's Forty Guns comes out on DVD. I got to get me some of that. Fuller is among my short list of artistic/cultural heros. On that list in no particular order

Samuel Fuller - His commitment to democracy as laid out in his autobiography is to me one of the most direct and simpliest bits of inspiration.

Sam Peckinpah - Before he hit rock bottom (even as he was in the midst of his terrible falling descent), this man made some of the most powerful and meaningful movies ever made. The difference between machoismo and masculinity can be discerned here. And his magnum opus Pat Garret and Billy the Kid is like Hemingway's Old Man and The Sea.

Studs Terkel - When it comes to a storyteller connecting with his audience and creating a tangible sense of community through the work, this man has no equal. What I wouldn't give to have a few dinners with this guy while he is still around.

Sam Shepard - Lotta Sams on this list. If I ever have a boy, I think I'll name his Sam.

Johnny Cash - He taught me that one can be profound without being obtuse, academic, or overtly complex. Parables can not be indiscernable. Dont make your audience struggle to comprehend. Tell them exactly what you mean as simply as possible.

Maria Irene Fornes - The Play entitled Mud, is to my mind, the perfect example of someone showing the audience instead of telling the audience.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Nelson Algren's Chicago: City on the Make

What a writer. I am in awe of Algren's talents. When he writes about Chicago, hell he almost makes me wish I was staying.

"You never truly love [Chicago] till you can love its alleys too. Where the bright morning faces of old familiar friends now wear the anxious midnight eyes of strangers a long way from home."

"Once you become part of this particular patch, you'll never love another. Like loving a woman with a broken nose, you may well find lovelier lovelies. But never a lovely so real."

Simple, Transcendent, Meaty, Perfect.

He wrote about this city with love in his heart. But didn't he eventually have to flee?

"literature is made upon any occasion that a challenge is put to the legal appartus by conscience in touch with humanity".

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

A.J. Leibling's Chicago:The Second City

I've lived in Chicago now for about six years. However, the winter winds and wind chills are about to make me migrate back south (Atlanta most likely) before the words "below freezing" are muttered by our local meterologists.

Before leaving though, I wanted to embrace all there is to enjoy about this city during my last summer here, and to emmerse myself as much as possible into all things that are the positive side of Chicago. This included reading as much about Chicago history and culture as I could during these last few months of my residence here.

Some of the books I've picked up were Studs Terkel, Nelson Algren, Saul Bellow, etc. One book I picked up and then put back down again was A.J. Leibling's Chicago: The Second City. Has anyone else this book? I got about half way through (It is a very short book) and then had to put it away. It was very clever, but it was also too pithy and then began to border on prissy. A very intelligent author who was able to fine only the worst of this city while here.

Preparing for my own departure, It seemed ill advised to read such an erudite author talk about all the reasons one should flee the City of Chicago.

Now, I knew going into this book, that A.J. was going to trash the town a little bit. But, i guess i expected a more earthy more sweaty view of the city and the vice and the corruption and the dirt. Instead, I got sassy remarks about the aristocracy mingled with critics of Chicago's Shopping culture, all of which by the way is not historical so much as dated...dated...dated. Having read some of his writings on boxing, I wasnt prepared for such a foppish work from A.J. but I guess I didnt know him as well as I thought. So, I decided to put the book down after about 70 pages.