Blues Man, Jacksons Fan

If Pervis Spann loses his campaign in the 18th Ward he can blame it on some bum information he got from the Board of Elections.

“Everybody knows me as ‘Pervis Spann, the Blues Man,’ and that’s just how I wanted it to go on the ballot–Pervis Spann, the Blues Man,” says Spann, the longtime midnight DJ at WVON. “But when I called over to the Board of Elections some fellow told me I can’t go with that. He said I can’t use a nickname.”

Really? Tell that to Charles E. “Cosmos” Reynolds, “Malachi” Richard Thompson, Sylvester “Junebug” Hendricks, “Zsa” Zdzislawa Popielarczyk, Johnny Reed (Coach Nick) McQueen, Asuncion “Maria” Torres, and Carolyn Chalmers (C.C.–For the People).

As Spann later learned, you can pretty much call yourself anything you want to on the ballot so long as it’s not indecent and the name doesn’t belong to someone else.

“By the time I’d got around to talking to a legal person, it was too late,” says Spann. Despite the setback, he remains hopeful. “I’ve had that nickname forever, so when people see Spann they’ll know I’m the Blues Man. They’ll vote for me ’cause they know I’m for real and I care about the problems of this ward and I’m not running for the publicity, ’cause I don’t need the publicity. I’ve had plenty of publicity. I’m in this to win.”

And if he doesn’t win, so what? “In 40 years of show business you see it all. You learn to take it all, the good and bad. You know, I’ve done it all. I used to be a promoter and a manager. I ran a club at 55th and State called the Burning Spear. I put on talent shows at the old Regal Theatre. I discovered the Jackson 5. Anytime Diana Ross says she discovered them it’s like you saying you discovered the moon–she didn’t discover them, they were just there.

“Fact is, I discovered them in 1965 when a guy who was married to my secretary heard them in practice and told me, ‘Just listen to them.’ At that time most of my dealing was with Joe Jackson, ’cause he was the father. Michael wasn’t nothing but five years old. Joe was working at the steel mills in Gary and he didn’t have money to buy them food or uniforms or gas for the car. I put them on the Regal stage with Jackie Wilson and James Brown. The last show I did at the Regal they were on with Smokey Robinson and Bobby and the Vancouvers.

“I had them for five years and then I turned them over to Motown. I’m not even going to think about all the money they went on to make. The only thing I regret is that none of those kids really remember me. The last time I talked to the kids only Jermaine remembered me. But that’s OK. Last time I looked, Michael Jackson wasn’t living in the 18th Ward. The folks who do, they know my name.”

–Ben Joravsky

No Moore Tricks

This update just in from the 49th: It ain’t over yet! In the last few days, Karen Hoover, Grady Humphrey, and Gregory George Balos have called in or E-mailed to say that Alderman Joe Moore wasn’t able to boot them from the ballot on technicalities. “Moore’s going to have to run a race after all,” says Telly Nachos, a lawyer for Balos. “He’s going to have to win it at the polls and not by his tricks.”

–Ben Joravsky

Roll Out the Pork Barrel

With several weeks to go till the election, it looks as though the front-runner for the candidate with the most unusual platform remains Kenneth Ladien, a public-school teacher, former state senate candidate, and self-described “Pig Power” advocate out of the Tenth Ward.

When asked at a recent forum what should be done to crack down on troublesome taverns, Ladien suggested courses in Bavarian-beer-garden techniques. “When I went to Germany, I saw a lot of drinking but I did not see a lot of drunkenness. Why? People were eating radishes and potatoes and sausages–eating and eating. Did you ever see a Bavarian health club? No.”

In addition to the Germans, Ladien has high praise for pork producers (his state senate flyer called for promoting “the consumption of pork in public schools”) and the hand-chopping judicial system of Islamic fundamentalists (“there’s very little recidivism”).

At the moment, Ladien’s fighting to stay on the ballot (he was challenged for improperly filing his financial statement). But he has a catchy way for voters to remember his name, should he have to run a write-in campaign. “Think of Canadian, that’s what it rhymes with. Not bin Laden, like Osama bin Laden. But we do have something in common–a business background and a science background.” –Ted Kleine

Let’s Stay Together

My, how times have changed. Ten years ago it would have been political suicide for a black incumbent to endorse Mayor Daley. Now, among black City Council members, only Shirley Coleman of Englewood is openly supporting Bobby Rush. And Coleman–who’s mad at Daley for not supporting her favorite programs–feels compelled to do some explaining. “My constituency has said that no one was standing up for Rush. I don’t see this as an anti-Daley stance–I’m just listening to my community,” says Coleman. “Whites stick with whites, and it would be nice for blacks to stick together. That’s a lesson from the Irish and Polish.”

Coleman’s own race should be spirited, regardless of mayoral politics. One opponent is Hal Baskin, a neighborhood activist who forced Coleman into a runoff four years ago. Baskin may have won Coleman’s everlasting enmity during that campaign for his speculation about her former husband, convicted rapist and killer Hernando Williams. On the eve of Williams’s execution, Baskin told a City News reporter “She [Coleman] may not have been giving him what he needed.” –Grant Pick

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Pervis Spann/ Hal Baskin/ Shirley Coleman uncredited photos.