Cabbie and author of Hack: Stories From a Chicago Cab, still flags:
Nelson Algren’s books: Nelson Algren introduced me to Chicago years before I ever got here. Some older, more with-it friend gave me a copy of Never Come Morning or A Walk on the Wild Side sometime in high school. I was hooked immediately. Rereading The Man With the Golden Arm now, over 20 years later, including some seven lived in the neighborhood that the book is set in, has been a sort of revelation. I didn’t remember how funny his writing was, nor had yet I been around enough people when first reading it to recognize Algren’s unerring ear for catching people’s speech.
Passengers that notice the thick paperback tucked into the side of the passenger-side door of my cab ask what I’m reading, and when I tell them most have never even heard of Algren. If you live in this city that really shouldn’t be. I haven’t gone down Division Street once without thinking of the man. Neither should you.
See a profile of Dmitry Samarov in our Fall Arts Preview.
Visual artist who’s got a show at Roots and Culture, can’t put down:
Ubu Roi: Lately I’ve been interested in the writing of Alfred Jarry. The latest thing I’ve read is an English translation of the short play Ubu Roi, written in 1896. The plot can only be described as absurd, dadaist, and surreal, so it’s fairly incomprehensible. It involves a group of characters conversing, while reveling in vulgarity and juvenile humor, snot, farts, vomit, sheeyit, sexcrement, etc.
The controversial text seems mild by today’s standards, but according to Wikipedia, upon its original performance it was considered so vulgar that a riot broke out in the theater. Ubu Roi and Jarry’s other work is cited as a precursor and inspiration for later cultural movements of dadaism and surrealism. Jarry’s nonsensical texts have also inspired the work of notable contemporary artists and musicians including Paul McCartney, the Fall,and Pere Ubu (who took their name from the main character in Ubu Roi). I became interested in Jarry because of his pseudo-philosophical concept of “‘Pataphysics” (the study of imaginary solutions), as well as his pioneering role in absurdist humor. It’s short so you should read it. If you don’t like reading, there’s also a movie. But you should download a free copy from the Internet immediately or not at all. Farts.
A director of and performer in El Circo Cheapo, tumbles for:
Antiques Roadshow: I love just about anything and everything that is more than 50 years old; movies, clothing, architecture, men, you name it. That is why I choose to spend my Monday evenings with WTTW. Antiques Roadshow is one of my favorite shows currently on television, and it has been for years. It is my Monday Night Football, or something along those lines. It enthralls me. I often catch myself talking excitedly to myself about how much something is worth. People own beautiful, unique and strange things. Anyone who watches Antiques Roadshow will agree that, whilst watching, we sit in hope that we, too, own something that is worth a pretty penny and are now rich, but, perhaps, will never give up our treasure. The value is in knowing we own something worth something, and it can be just as fulfilling. It is such an exciting show and is on twice in a row!