Possibly Visiting the City of Nostalgia

I've been invited to read at the Bookslut Reading Series in Chicago, in July. And this amazing honor (I did a Sally Fields), made me think more about the early-to-mid 20th century, of which Chicago has always towered as a kind of windy noir city, where nighttime is coffee shops, an apple pie picked at by a distracted woman in a brown pinstripe jacket and trousers, men walking with one hand holding onto their fedoras against the lake gusts. And scotch in a sweaty glass, amber lqiuid kissing down the ice cubes. And a pitcher in knickers, kicking up his leg as he hurls a fastball. Jazz juke joints, the quick swish of bopping skirts. The optimism of the early skyscrapers. 35 East Wacker. Louis Sullivan making every row of windows another lyric. Chicago is a city of survivors. Long history of that. The Great Chicago Fire of 1871.

The riots. Capone. A mass of nerves and glass and concrete rising up like a fist in the middle of the heartland. Or maybe that's not Chicago at all. Maybe that's all that's left in the synapses after watching a bunch of movies which either take place or refer to Chicago. Your Chicago is anything but my Chicago.

Maybe that's what M. Doughty (I mean Mike Doughty) meant
singing--more like intoning-- Is Chicago! Is not Chicago! in that self-same Soul Coughing song, back when everyone was friends and we all lived within about 5 blocks of each other and noone was upset and everyone hung happily on the big record deals they seemed to be handing out and didn't we all turn out to be survivors too. And I loved that song because the hook was repeated and repeated and contradicted itself every other line and we loved it as if it was the key to happiness, at least for a moment in the mid-90s at a pajama party at a loft in the East Village before the rents rose and the rehearsal space place turned into a fancy grocery store.


Might as well come clean about it. Here's the formula:

Here is a photo of Mike McGonigal
who stayed in my apartment in that selfsame east village and at the time sported a nervous tic and a tiny brown leather jacket. Here he is in Portland I think, photographed by M. Doughty at a Yeti event, the selfsame M.Doughty who is also publishing a book with Yeti Books/Verse Chorus Press and the same Yeti who, with Steve Connell from Verse Chorus press, branched into a publishing house that is also publishing me and Luc Sante, who now lives 15 minutes away from me, apparently and who I have as of yet never met.

But due to some circumstances regarding other entanglements which drew all of us closer into the net, at least until the bands broke up and the rents rose and the artisanal bread rack was right about where they used to keep the sticky cables, this 6 degrees of separation diatribe is temporarily suspended for the purposes of walking with one foot in front of the other.
And yes, Bookslut Reading Series in Chicago in July, I would be honored to read.

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