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1. Forthcoming: The Big Jones Cookbook

It’s unconventional, to say the least, for a university press to publish a cookbook. But an exception to this rule, coming in Spring 2015, is Paul Fehribach’s Big Jones Cookbook, which expands upon the southern Lowcountry cuisine of the eponymous Chicago restaurant. As mentioned in the book’s catalog copy, “from its inception, Big Jones has focused on cooking with local and sustainably grown heirloom crops and heritage livestock, reinvigorating southern cooking through meticulous technique and the unique perspective of its Midwest location.” More expansively, Fehribach’s restaurant positions the social and cultural inheritances involved in regional cooking at the forefront, while the cookbook expands upon the associated recipes by situating their ingredients (and the culinary alchemy involved in their joining!) as part of a rich tradition invigorated by a kind of heirloom sociology, as well as a sustainable farm-to-table tradition.

This past week, as part of the University of Chicago Press’s Spring 2015 sales conference, much of the Book Division took to a celebratory meal at Big Jones, and the photos below, by editorial director Alan Thomas, both show Fehribach in his element, as well as commemorate the occasion:

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To read more about The Big Jones Cookbook, forthcoming in Spring 2015, click here.

 

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2. Citizen: Jane Addams and the labor movement

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On this day in 1931, Jane Addams became the first woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Read an excerpt from Louise W. Knight’s Citizen: Jane Addams and the Struggle for Democracy, about the ethics and deeply held moral beliefs permeating the labor movement—and Addams’s own relationship to it—after the jump.

***

From Chapter 13, “Claims” (1894)

On May 11 Addams, after giving a talk at the University of Wisconsin and visiting Mary Addams Linn in Kenosha, wrote Alice that their sister’s health was improving. The same day, a major strike erupted at the Pullman Car Works, in the southernmost part of Chicago. The immediate cause of the strike was a series of wage cuts the company had made in response to the economic crisis. Since September the company had hired back most of the workers it had laid off at the beginning of the depression, but during the same period workers’ wages had also fallen an average of 30 percent. Meanwhile, the company, feeling pinched, was determined to increase its profits from rents. In addition to the company’s refusing to lower the rent rate to match the wage cuts, its foremen threatened to fire workers living outside of Pullman who did not relocate to the company town. The result was that two-thirds of the workforce was soon living in Pullman. By April, many families were struggling to pay the rents and in desperate straits; some were starving. The company’s stance was firm. “We just cannot afford in the present state of commercial depression to pay higher wages,” Vice President Thomas H. Wickes said. At the same time, the company continued to pay its stockholders dividends at a the rate of 8 percent per annum, the same rate it had paid before the depression hit.

The workers had tried to negotiate. After threatening on May 5 to strike if necessary, leaders of the forty-six-member workers’ grievance committee met twice with several company officials, including, at the second meeting, George Pullman, the company’s founder and chief executive, to demand that the company reverse the wage cuts and reduce the rents. The company refused, and on May 11, after three of the leaders of the grievance committee had been fired and a rumor had spread that the company would lock out all employees at noon, twenty-five hundred of the thirty-one hundred workers walked out. Later that day, the company laid off the remaining six hundred. The strike had begun. “We struck at Pullman,” one worker said, “because we were without hope.”

For Addams, the coincidental timing of the strike and Mary’s illness, both of which would soon worsen, made each tragedy, if possible, a greater sorrow. The strike was a public crisis. Its eruption raised difficult questions for Addams about the ethics of the industrial relationship. What were George Pullman’s obligations to his employees? And what were his employees’ to him? Was it disloyal of him to treat his workers as cogs in his economic machine? Or was it disloyal of his workers to strike against an employer who supplied them with a fine town to live in? Who had betrayed whom? Where did the moral responsibility lie? Mary’s illness was Addams’s private crisis. Mary was the faithful and loving sister whose affection Addams had always relied on and whose life embodied the sacrifices a good woman made for the sake of family. Mary had given up her chance for further higher education for her family’s sake and had been a devoted wife to a husband who had repeatedly failed to support her and their children. The threat of her death stirred feelings of great affection and fears of desperate loss in Addams.

As events unfolded, the two crises would increasingly compete for Addams’s loyalty and time. She would find herself torn, unsure whether she should give her closest attention to her sister’s struggle against death or to labor’s struggle against the capitalist George Pullman. It was a poignant and unusual dilemma; still, it could be stated in the framework she had formulated in “Subjective Necessity”: What balance should she seek between the family and the social claim?

The causes of the Pullman Strike went deeper than the company’s reaction to the depression. For the workers who lived in Pullman, the cuts in wages and the high rents of 189394 were merely short-term manifestations of long-term grievances, all of them tied to company president George Pullman’s philosophy of industrial paternalism. These included the rules regarding life in Pullman, a privately owned community located within the city of Chicago. Pullman had built the town in 1880 to test his theory that if the company’s workers lived in a beautiful, clean, liquor- and sin-free environment, the company would prosper. Reformers, social commentators, and journalists across the country were fascinated by Pullman’s “socially responsible” experiment. Addams would later recall how he was “dined and feted throughout Europe . . . as a friend and benefactor of workingmen.” The workers, however, thought the Pullman Company exercised too much control. Its appointees settled community issues that elsewhere would have been dealt with by an elected government, company policy forbade anyone to buy a house, the town newspaper was a company organ, labor meetings were banned, and company spies were everywhere. Frustrated by this as well as by various employment practices, workers organized into unions according to their particular trades (the usual practice), and these various unions repeatedly struck Pullman Company in the late 1880s and early 1890s. The May 1894 strike was the first that was companywide.

Behind that accomplishment lay the organizing skills of George Howard, vice president of the American Railway Union (ARU), the new cross-trades railroad union that Eugene Debs, its president, had founded the previous year. To organize across trades was a bold idea. Howard had been in Chicago since March signing up members, and by early May he was guiding the workers in their attempted negotiations with the company. The ARU’s stated purpose was to give railroad employees “a voice in fixing wages and in determining conditions of employment.” Only one month earlier it had led railroad workers at the Great Northern Railroad through a successful strike. Thanks to the ARU as well as to the mediating efforts of some businessmen from St. Paul, Minnesota, voluntary arbitration had resolved the strike, and three-fourths of the wage cut of 30 percent had been restored. Impressed, 35 percent of Pullman’s workers joined the ARU in the weeks that followed, hoping that the new union could work the same magic on their behalf.

At first, the prospects for a similar solution at Pullman did not look promising. After the walkout, George Pullman locked out all employees and, using a business trip to New York as his excuse, removed himself from the scene. Meanwhile, a few days after the strike began, Debs, a powerful orator, addressed the strikers to give them courage. He had the rare ability to elevate a controversy about wages into a great moral struggle. The arguments he used that day, familiar ones in the labor movement, would be echoed in Jane Addams’s eventual interpretation of the Pullman Strike. “I do not like the paternalism of Pullman,” he said. “He is everlastingly saying, what can we do for the poor workingmen? . . . The question,” he thundered, “is what can we do for ourselves?”

At this point, the Civic Federation of Chicago decided to get involved. Its president, Lyman Gage, an enthusiast for arbitration, appointed a prestigious and diverse conciliation board to serve as a neutral third party to bring the disputing sides before a separate arbitration panel. Made up partly of members of the federation’s Industrial Committee, on which Addams sat, it was designed to be representative of various interests, particularly those of capital, labor, academia, and reform. It included bank presidents, merchants, a stockbroker, an attorney, presidents of labor federations, labor newspaper editors, professors, and three women civic activists: Jane Addams, Ellen Henrotin, and Bertha Palmer.

The board divided itself into five committees. In the early phase of the strike it would meet nightly, in Addams’s words, to “compare notes and adopt new tactics.” Having had some success in arranging arbitrations in the Nineteenth Ward, Addams was eager to see the method tried in the Pullman case. She would soon emerge as the driving force and the leading actor in the initiative.

The first question the board discussed was whether the Pullman workers wanted the strike to be arbitrated. Addams investigated the question by visiting the striking workers in Pullman, eating supper with some of the women workers, touring the tenement housing, and asking questions. Afterwards, she asked the president of the local ARU chapter, Thomas Heathcoate, and ARU organizer George Howard to allow the conciliation board to meet with the Strike Committee. Refusing her request, Howard told her that the ARU was willing to have the committee meet with the board but that first the Pullman Company would have to state its willingness to go to arbitration.

Meanwhile, three men from the conciliation board were supposed to try to meet with the Pullman Company. The board’s president, A. C. Bartlett, a businessman, was to arrange the meeting but, as of May 30, two weeks into the strike, he had done nothing. Frustrated, Addams stepped in. On June 1 she arranged for Bartlett, Ralph Easley (the Civic Federation’s secretary), and herself to meet with Vice President Wickes and General Superintendent Brown. At the meeting, which Bartlett failed to attend, Wickes merely repeated the company’s well-known position: that it had “nothing to arbitrate.”

Thwarted, Addams decided, with the board’s support, to try again to arrange for the board to meet with the Strike Committee. At a Conciliation Board meeting, Lyman Gage suggested that she propose that rent be the first issue to be arbitrated. Agreeing, Addams decided that, instead of taking the idea to the uncooperative Howard, she would take it over his head to Debs. Persuaded by Addams, Debs immediately arranged for members of the board to speak that night to the Strike Committee about the proposal. Once again, however, Addams’s colleagues failed to follow through. She was the only board member to turn up.

At the meeting, the strike leaders were suspicious, believing that arbitration was the company’s idea. No report survives of how Addams made her case to them, but one can glean impressions from a description of Addams that a reporter published in a newspaper article in June 1894. She described Addams as a “person of marked individuality[;] she strikes one at first as lacking in suavity and graciousness of manner but the impression soon wears away before [her] earnestness and honesty.” She was struck, too, by Addams’s paleness, her “deep” eyes, her “low and well-trained voice,” and they way her face was “a window behind which stands her soul.”

Addams must have made a powerful presentation to the Strike Committee. After she spoke, it voted to arbitrate not only the rents but any point. It was the breakthrough Addams had been hoping for. “Feeling that we had made a beginning toward conciliation,” Addams remembered, she reported her news to the board.

Meanwhile, with the workers and their families’ hunger and desperation increasing, tensions were mounting. Wishing to increase the pressure on the company, Debs had declared on June 1 that the ARU was willing to organize a nationwide sympathy boycott of Pullman cars among railroad employees generally if the company did not negotiate. The Pullman Company’s cars, though owned and operated by the company, were pulled by various railroads. A national boycott of Pullman cars could bring the nation’s already devastated economy to a new low point. Meanwhile, the ARU opened its national convention in Chicago on June 12. Chicago was nervous. Even before the convention began, Addams commented to William Stead, in town again for a visit, that “all classes of people” were feeling “unrest, discontent, and fear. We seem,” she added, “to be on the edge of some great upheaval but one can never tell whether it will turn out a tragedy or a farce.”

Several late efforts at negotiation were made. On June 15 an ARU committee of twelve, six of them Pullman workers, met with Wickes to ask again whether the company would arbitrate. His answer was the same: there was nothing to arbitrate and the company would not deal with a union. Soon afterward George Pullman returned to town. He agreed to meet with the conciliation board but, perhaps sensing the danger that the sincere and persuasive Jane Addams posed, only with its male members. At the meeting he restated his position: no arbitration. At this point, Addams recalled, the board’s effort collapsed in “failure.” The strike was now almost two months old. Addams had done everything she could to bring about arbitration. Resourceful, persistent, even wily, she had almost single-handedly brought the workers to the table, but because she was denied access to George Pullman on the pretext of her gender, she had failed to persuade the company. Her efforts, however, had made something very clear to herself and many others—that George Pullman’s refusal to submit the dispute to arbitration was the reason the strike was continuing.

The situation now became graver. At the ARU convention, the delegates voted on June 22 to begin a national boycott of Pullman cars on June 26 if no settlement were reached. Abruptly, on the same day as the vote, a powerful new player, the General Managers Association (GMA), announced its support for the company. The GMA had been founded in 1886 as a cartel to consider “problems of management” shared by the twenty-four railroad companies serving Chicago; it had dabbled in wage-fixing and had long been opposed to unions. George Pullman’s refusal to arbitrate had been, among other things, an act of solidarity with these railroad companies, his business partners. Disgusted with the outcome of the Great Northern Strike, they were determined to break the upstart ARU, which threatened to shrink the profits of the entire industry. Pullman departed the city again in late June for his vacation home in New Jersey, leaving the GMA in charge of the antistrike strategy. It announced that any railroad worker who refused to handle Pullman cars would be fired.

The ARU was undaunted. On June 26 the boycott began. Within three days, one hundred thousand men had stopped working and twenty railroads were frozen. Debs did not mince words in his message to ARU members and their supporters. This struggle, he said, “has developed into a contest between the producing classes and the money power of this country.” Class warfare was at hand.

Jane Addams was not in the city when the ARU voted for the boycott. She had gone to Cleveland to give a commencement speech on June 19 at the College for Women of Western Reserve University. But she was in Chicago when the boycott began. Chicago felt its impact immediately. There was no railroad service into or out of the city, and public transportation within the city also ceased as the streetcar workers joined the boycott. With normal life having ground to a halt, the city’s mood, which had been initially sympathetic to the workers, began to polarize along class lines. Working people’s sympathies for the railroad workers and hostility toward capitalists rose to a fever pitch while many people in the middle classes felt equally hostile toward the workers; some thought that the strikers should be shot. In Twenty Years Addams writes, “During all those dark days of the Pullman strike, the growth of class bitterness was most obvious.” It shocked her. Before the strike, she writes, “there had been nothing in my experience [that had] reveal[ed] that distinct cleavage of society which a general strike at least momentarily affords.”

The boycott quickly spread, eventually reaching twenty-seven states and territories and involving more than two hundred thousand workers. It had become the largest coordinated work stoppage in the nation’s history and the most significant exercise of union strength the nation had ever witnessed. The workers were winning through the exercise of raw economic power. Virtually the only railcars moving were the federal mail cars, which the boycotting railroad workers continued to handle, as required by federal law and as Debs had carefully instructed them. The railroad yards in the city of Chicago were full of striking workers and boycotters determined to make sure that other railroad cars did not move and to protect them from vandalism.

Now the GMA took aggressive steps that would change the outcome of the strike. On June 30 it used h its influence in Washington to arrange for its own lawyer, Edwin Walker, to be named a U.S. Special Attorney. Walker then hired four hundred unemployed men, deputized them as U.S. Marshals, armed them, and sent them to guard the federal mail cars in the railroad yards to be sure the mail got through. In the yards, the strikers and marshals eyed each other nervously.

Meanwhile, on June 29, Jane Addams’s family crisis worsened. Jane had visited Mary on June 28 but returned to Chicago the same day. That night she received word that her sister’s condition suddenly had become serious, and the following day she rushed back to Kenosha the next day accompanied by Mary’s son Weber Linn (apparently they traveled in a mail car thanks to Addams’s ties to the strikers). She deeply regretted having been gone so much. “My sister is so pleased to have me with her,” she wrote Mary Rozet Smith, “that I feel like a brute when I think of the days I haven’t been here.” As Addams sat by Mary’s bed in Kenosha, the situation in Chicago remained relatively calm. Nevertheless, the GMA now took two more steps that further drew the federal government into the crisis. Claiming that the strikers were blocking the movement of the federal mails (although the subsequent federal investigation produced no evidence that this was true), the GMA asked the U.S. attorney general to ask President Grover Cleveland to send federal troops to shut down the strike. Cleveland agreed, and on July 3 the first troops entered the city. The same day the attorney general ordered Special Attorney Walker to seek an injunction in federal court against the ARU in order to block the union from preventing workers from doing their work duties. The injunction was immediately issued.

By July 1 it was clear that Mary Addams Linn was dying. Addams wired her brother-in-law John and the two younger children, Esther, thirteen, and Stanley, who had recently turned eleven, to come from Iowa to Kenosha. By July 3 they had somehow reached Chicago but, because of the boycott, they could not find a train for the last leg of their trip. At last John signed a document relieving the railroad of liability; then, he, Esther, and Stanley boarded a train (probably a mail train) and within hours had arrived in Kenosha, protected, or so Esther later believed, by the fact that they were relatives of Jane Addams, “who was working for the strikers.” Mary’s family was now all gathered around her except for her oldest son, John, who was still in California. Unconscious by the time they arrived, she died on July 6.

Pullman strike
Illinois National Guard troops in front of the Arcade Building in Pullman during the Pullman Strike. [Neg. i21195aa.tif, Chicago Historical Society.]

While Jane Addams’s private world was crumbling, so was Chicago’s civic order. On July 4, one thousand federal troops set up camp around the Post Office and across the city, including the Pullman headquarters. On July 5 and 6 thousands of unarmed strikers and boycotters crowded the railroad yards, joined by various hangers-on—hungry, angry, unemployed boys and men. Many were increasingly outraged by the armed marshals and the troops’ presence. Suddenly a railroad agent shot one of them, and they erupted into violence. Hundreds of railroad cars burned as the troops moved in. Now the strikers were fighting not only the GMA but also the federal government. This had been the GMA’s aim all along. In the days to come, thousands more federal troops poured into the city.

After attending Mary’s funeral in Cedarville Jane Addams returned on July 9 to find Chicago an armed camp and class warfare on everyone’s minds. In working-class neighborhoods such as the Nineteenth Ward, people wore white ribbons in support of the strike and the boycott. Across town, middle-class people were greeted at their breakfast tables by sensational newspaper headlines claiming that the strikers were out to destroy the nation. One Tribune headline read, “Dictator Debs versus the Federal Government.” The national press echoed the theme of uncontrolled disorder. Harper’s Weekly called the strikers “anarchists.” And the nation remained in economic gridlock. Farmers and producers were upset that they could not move their produce to market. Passengers were stranded. Telegrams poured into the White House.

Like the strikers’ reputation, Hull House’s was worsening daily. Until the strike took place, Addams later recalled, the settlement, despite its radical Working People’s Social Science Club, had been seen as “a kindly philanthropic undertaking whose new form gave us a certain idealistic glamour.” During and after the strike, the situation “changed markedly.” Although Addams had tried to “maintain avenues of intercourse with both sides,” Hull House was now seen as pro-worker and was condemned for being so. Some of the residents were clearly pro-worker. Florence Kelley and one of her assistant factory inspectors, Alzina Stevens, befriended Debs during the strike and its aftermath. Stevens sheltered him for a time in her suburban home when authorities were trying to arrest him; Kelley tried to raise money for his bail after he was arrested later in July.

Addams and Hull House began to be severely criticized. Donors refused to give. Addams told John Dewey, who had come to town to take up his new position at the University of Chicago, that she had gone to meet with Edward Everett Ayer, a Chicago businessman with railroad industry clients who had often supported Hull House’s relief work, to ask him for another gift. Dewey wrote his wife, “[Ayer] turned on her and told her that she had a great thing and now she had thrown it away; that she had been a trustee for the interests of the poor, and had betrayed it [sic]—that like an idiot she had mixed herself in something which was none of her business and about which she knew nothing, the labor movement and especially Pullman, and had thrown down her own work, etc., etc.” That autumn Addams had “a hard time financing Hull-House,” a wealthy friend later recalled. “Many people felt she was too much in sympathy with the laboring people.” Addams merely notes in Twenty Years that “[in] the public excitement following the Pullman Strike Hull House lost many friends.”

And there were public criticisms as well. Some middle- and upper-class people attacked Addams, one resident remembered, as a “traitor to her class.” When Eugene Debs observed that “epithets, calumny, denunciation . . . have been poured forth in a vitriolic tirade to scathe those who advocated and practiced . . . sympathy,” one suspects that he had in mind the treatment Jane Addams received. Meanwhile, the workers were angry that Addams would not more clearly align herself with their cause. Her stance—that she would take no side—guaranteed that nearly everyone in the intensely polarized city would be angry with her.

Standing apart in this way was extremely painful. She was “very dependent on a sense of warm comradeship and harmony with the mass of her fellowmen,” a friend, Alice Hamilton, recalled. “The famous Pullman strike” was “for her the most painful of experiences, because . . . she was forced by conviction to work against the stream, to separate herself from the great mass of her countrymen.” The result was that Addams “suffered from . . . spiritual loneliness.” In these circumstances, no one could mistake Addams’s neutrality for wishy-washiness. Practicing neutrality during the Pullman Strike required integrity and courage. In being true to her conscience, she paid a tremendous price.

Of course, the strike was not the only reason she was lonely. Mary’s death was the other. And if, as we may suspect, Mary’s passing evoked the old trauma for Jane of their mother Sarah’s passing, not to mention the later losses of their sister Martha and their father, then the loneliness Addams felt in the last days of the strike and the boycott was truly profound.

She does not describe these feelings when she writes about the strike and Mary’s death in Twenty Years, but in the chapter about Abraham Lincoln, she conveys her feelings well enough. She tells about a walk she took in the worst days of the strike. In that “time of great perplexity,” she writes, she decided to seek out Lincoln’s “magnanimous counsel.” In the sweltering heat, dressed in the long skirt and long-sleeved shirtwaist that were then the fashion, Addams walked—because the streetcars were on strike—four and a half “wearisome” miles to St. Gaudens’s fine new statue of Lincoln, placed at the entrance to Lincoln Park just two years earlier, and read the words cut in stone at the slain president’s feet: “With charity towards all.” And then, still bearing on her shoulders the burden of public hatred that Lincoln had also borne, she walked the four and a half miles home.

Although the deployment of troops had broken the strike’s momentum, the government needed to put the strike’s leader behind bars to bring the strike to an end. On July 10 Debs was indicted by a grand jury for violating the injunction and arrested. Bailed out two days later, he was arrested again on July 17 to await trial in jail. However, when the government prosecutor, the ubiquitous Edwin Walker, became ill, the trial was postponed, and Debs went home to Indiana, where he collapsed gratefully into bed. The trial was held in November 1894; Debs would begin serving his six-month sentence in January 1895.

With Debs removed from leadership and fourteen thousand armed troops, police, and guardsmen bivouacked in Chicago, the strike and the boycott soon collapsed. On August 2 the ARU called off the strike, and on the same day the Pullman Company partially reopened. The railroads were soon running again. The anti-labor forces had won. Private industry and the federal government had shown that, united and with the power of the law on their side, no one, not even the hundreds of thousands of workers who ran the nation’s most crucial industry, could defeat them. If the strike had been successful, it would have turned the ARU into the nation’s most powerful union. Given that the strike failed, the opposite result took place. As the GMA had intended, the ARU died. After Debs was released from jail, he did not resurrect the union.

Although the strike was over, innumerable questions remained unanswered. For the country as a whole, whose only sources of information had been sensational news stories and magazine articles, the first question was: What were the facts? To sort these out, President Grover Cleveland appointed a three-person fact-finding commission to investigate and issue a report. Jane Addams would testify before the United States Strike Commission in August, as would George Pullman.

Meanwhile, for Addams and other labor and middle-class reformers in Chicago, the question was how to prevent or resolve future strikes. The Conciliation Board’s effort to promote voluntary arbitration had been promising, but its failure revealed, Addams believed, certain “weaknesses in the legal structure,” that is, in state and federal laws. On July 19, two days after Debs’ second arrest, as the troops began slowly to withdraw from the city, the Central Council of the Civic Federation met at the Commerce Club. At the meeting, M. C. Carroll, editor of a labor magazine and a member of the Conciliation Board, proposed that the federation host a conference “on arbitration or conciliation” to seek ideas about ways to avert “strikes and boycotts in the future.” The Central Council “enthusiastically endorsed” the proposal and appointed a committee to devise a plan. The hope was to do something immediately, while interest was high, to increase public support for arbitration legislation in Illinois and across the nation.

Addams missed the meeting because she was assisting at the Hull House Summer School at Rockford College, which began on July 10. But she was back in Chicago by the second week in August and had soon joined the arbitration conference committee. It devised a three-part strategy. First, it would convene “capital and labor” at a national conference titled “Industrial Conciliation and Arbitration” in Chicago in November to provide a forum for “calm discussion” of the questions raised by the strike and bring together information about methods of arbitration and conciliation. Second, conference participants from Illinois would press the Illinois General Assembly to pass a law creating a state board of arbitration. Third, a national commission would be named at the end of the conference to press for federal legislation. Elected as secretary to the committee, Jane Addams threw herself into organizing the event.

At the same time, she took on new family responsibilities. With Mary’s death, Jane Addams, at thirty-three, became the guardian and mother of the two younger Linn children. Their father had decided he could not afford to keep them. For the fall, she and Alice agreed that Stanley would live at Hull House and Esther would attend the preparatory boarding school that was affiliated with Rockford College. Weber, nineteen, was still a student at the University of Chicago. He would spend his vacations at Hull House. The oldest son, John, twenty-two, having returned from California, was once again a resident at Hull House and studying for the Episcopalian priesthood. Esther remembered Addams as taking “me and my brothers in as her own children. . . . [She] was a wonderful mother to us all.” Addams was particularly close to Stanley, who, according to Alice’s daughter Marcet, “became . . . Aunt Jane’s very own little boy[;] . . . he was always like a son to her.”

Jane Addams would honor this family claim for the rest of her life. Her niece and nephews, later joined by their children, would gather with her for holidays, live with her at Hull House at various times in their lives, and rely on her for advice, as well as for a steady supply of the somewhat shapeless sweaters that she would knit for them. Because few letters between Addams and the Linn children have survived, the historical record is mostly silent about the affectionate bonds that linked them and the faithfulness with which she fulfilled the maternal role. Her devotion arose from a deep understanding of what it felt like for a child to lose its mother and from a deep gratitude that she could give to Mary’s children the gift Mary had given her.

The Pullman Strike was a national tragedy that aroused fierce passions and left many scars. For many in the middle classes, including Jane Addams, some of the most painful scars were the memories of the intense hatred the strike had evoked between the business community and the workers. Was such class antagonism inevitable? Many were saying so, but Addams, committed as she was to Tolstoyan and Christian nonviolence, social Christian cooperation, and Comtean societal unity, found it impossible to accept the prevailing view. That fall she and John Dewey, now the first chair of the Department of Philosophy at the University of Chicago, discussed this question. In a letter to his wife Alice Dewey reported telling Addams that conflict was not only inevitable but possibly a good thing. Addams disagreed. She “had always believed and still believed,” he wrote, that “antagonism was not only useless and harmful, but entirely unnecessary.” She based her claim on her view that antagonisms were not caused by, in Dewey’s words, “objective differences, which would always grow into unity if left alone, but [by] a person’s mixing in his own personal reactions.” A person was antagonistic because he took pleasure in opposing others, because he desired not to be a “moral coward,” or because he felt hurt or insulted. These were all avoidable and unnecessary reactions. Only evil, Addams said, echoing Tolstoy, could come from antagonism.

During their conversation, she asked Dewey repeatedly what he thought. Dewey admitted that he was uncomfortable with Addams’s theory. He agreed that personal reactions often created antagonism, but as for history, he was enough of a social Darwinist and a Hegelian to believe that society progressed via struggle and opposition. He questioned her. Did she not think that, in addition to conflict between individuals, there were conflicts between ideas and between institutions, for example, between Christianity and Judaism and between “Labor and Capital”? And was not the “realization of . . . antagonism necessary to an appreciation of the truth and to a consciousness of growth”?

Again she disagreed. To support her case Addams gave two examples of apparently inevitable conflicts involving ideas or institutions that she interpreted differently. When Jesus angrily drove the moneychangers out of the temple, she argued, his anger was personal and avoidable. He had “lost his faith,” she said, “and reacted.” Or consider the Civil War. Through the antagonism of war, we freed the slaves, she observed, but they were still not free individually, and in addition we have had to “pay the costs of war and reckon with the added bitterness of the Southerner besides.” The “antagonisms of institutions,” Dewey told Alice, summarizing Addams’s response, “were always” due to the “injection of the personal attitude and reaction.”

Dewey was stunned and impressed. Addams’s belief struck him as “the most magnificent exhibition of intellectual & moral faith” that he had ever seen. “[W]hen you think,” he wrote Alice, “that Miss Addams does not think this as a philosophy, but believes it in all her senses & muscles—Great God.” Dewey, gripped by the power of Addams’s grand vision, told Alice, “I never had anything take hold of me so.”

But his intellect lagged behind. Struggling to find a way to reconcile his and Addams’s views, Dewey attempted a formulation that honored Addams’s devotion to unity, which he shared, while retaining the principle of antagonistic development that Addams rejected but he could not abandon. “[T]he unity [is not] the reconciliation of opposites,” he explained to his wife. Rather, “opposites [are] the unity in its growth.” But he knew he had avoided a real point of disagreement between them. He admitted to Alice, “[M]y pride of intellect . . . revolts at thinking” that conflict between ideas or institutions “has no functional value.” His and Addams’s disagreement—was it an antagonism?—was real, and in discovering it, the two had taken each other’s measure. Addams’s principled vision and spiritual charisma had met their match in the cool machinery of John Dewey’s powerful mind.

Two days later Dewey sent Addams a short note in which he retracted part of what he had said. He was now willing to agree, he wrote, that a person’s expectation of opposition was in and of itself not good and even that it caused antagonism to arise. “[T]he first antagonism always come[s] back to the assumption that there is or may be antagonism,” he wrote, and this assumption is “bad.” In other words, he was agreeing with Addams’s points that antagonism was evil and that it always began in the feelings or ideas of the individual. Dewey did not, however, retract his claim that conflict had its historical uses. These were, as he had said, to appreciate truth and to be conscious of its growth, that is, its spread. He was speaking as the Christian idealist he still was—someone who saw truth as God’s revelation. Antagonism, in other words, helped bring man to see the truth, and this was its value.

When Dewey agreed with Addams that opposition originated in individual feelings, he was joining her in rejecting the usual view that objective differences justified antagonism. This was the view that unions held. Workers believed that the antagonism between themselves and employers arose because workers lacked something real and necessary: sufficient negotiating power in the relationship. In denying this, Dewey and Addams were being, in the simplest sense, determinedly apolitical. Addams, despite her recent involvement with strikes and politics, still refused to believe that actual conditions could provide legitimate grounds for opposition. Her idealism, expressed in her fierce commitment to cooperation, Christian love, nonresistance, and unity, stood like a wall preventing her from seeing that power, as much as personal feelings, soured human relations. A strong mind is both an asset and a liability.

That fall, Hull House, returning to normalcy, resumed its rich schedule of classes, club meetings, lectures, and exhibits. As usual, Addams was seriously worried about the settlement’s finances. The size of the total deficit for the year is unknown, but her awareness that the household operating account was $888 in arrears surfaced in a letter to Mary. As she had in previous years, Addams paid for part of the debt herself (how much is unclear; the documentation does not survive). Mary Rozet Smith, among others, sent a generous check. “It gives me a lump in my throat,” Addams wrote her in appreciation, “to think of the dollars you have put . . . into the . . . prosaic debt when there are so many more interesting things you might have done and wanted to do.” Aware of the delicacy of asking a close friend for donations, Addams sounded a note of regret. “It grieves me a little lest our friendship should be jarred by all these money transactions.”

As before, the residents were in the dark about the state of Hull House’s finances. Despite her intentions to keep them informed, Addams had convened no Residents’ Meeting between April and October, perhaps because the strike and Mary’s illness had absorbed so much of her attention. Finally, in early November she and the residents had “a long solemn talk,” as she wrote Mary. She had laid “before folks” the full situation and asked them “for help and suggestions.” And she had vowed that she would “never . . .let things get so bad again” before she consulted them. “I hope,” she told Mary, “we are going to be more intimate and mutually responsible on the financial side.”

Addams was renewed in her determination for two reasons. First, there was the problem of her own worsening finances. Since July she had assumed the new financial burden, apparently without any help from Alice, of raising Mary’s two younger children. Second, there was her increasing fear, as the depression deepened and donations dropped because of Hull House’s involvement with the Pullman Strike, that her personal liability for Hull House’s debts could literally put her in the Dunning poorhouse. Meanwhile, she pushed herself to speak as often as she could to earn lecture fees. In October she reported to Alice that she had given five talks in one week. In November, she gave lectures in three states—Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan. It was all that she could think of to do: to work harder.

Hull House was doing well enough by other measures. The residents’ group continued to grow. Despite the house’s recently stained reputation and the risky state of its finances, five new residents arrived, all women, bringing the total to twenty. For 1894–95, the residents had decided, probably at Addams’s urging, to limit the size of the residents, group to that number. There was now a good mix of old and new, with the majority, like Starr, Lathrop, and Kelley, having been there two years or more. The number of men had shrunk from seven to two, but in a few years it would be back to five. Addams, as always, took her greatest pleasure in the effervescent dailiness of it all. The settlement was first and foremost something “organic,” a “way of life,” she told an audience at the University of Chicago that fall.

Furthermore, the residents’ book of maps was moving toward completion. Conceived originally as a way to publicize some of the data about the neighborhood from the Department of Labor study, it had expanded to include a collection of essays on various related subjects and had acquired a sober New York publisher, Thomas Y. Crowell and Company, and a glorious title,Hull-House Maps and Papers: A Presentation of Nationalities and Wages in a Congested District of Chicago, Together with Comments and Essays on Problems Growing Out of the Social Conditions. The byline, it was agreed, would read “Residents of Hull-House.” It would be published in March 1895. Five of the essays, those by Kelley, Lathrop, Starr, and Addams, were much-expanded versions of the presentations they had made at the Congress on Social Settlements the previous year. Five others rounded out the collection. These dealt with the Bohemians, the Italians, and the Jews of the neighborhood, the maps, and the wages and expenses of cloakmakers in Chicago and New York. The maps were the book’s original inspiration and its most extravagant feature. Printed on oiled paper, folded and tucked into special slots in the book’s front and back covers, they displayed, block by block and in graphic, color-coded detail, where people of different nationalities lived in the ward and the range of wages they earned.

Addams, happy to be back in the editor’s chair, wrote the prefatory note, edited essays, and wrote the meaty appendix that described the settlement’s activities and programs. The book’s title was likely also her handiwork. Descriptive, indeed, exhaustive, it was the sort of title in which she specialized. As she once admitted to Weber Linn, “I am very poor at titles.” The book was very close to her heart. When she wrote Henry Demarest Lloyd on December 1 to thank him for sending the house a copy of his Wealth Against Commonwealth, she observed, “I have a great deal of respect for anyone who writes a good book.” After Maps was published she noted to those to whom she sent copies, “We are very proud of the appearance of the child.”

Jane Addams’s contribution to Maps was her essay “The Settlement as a Factor in the Labor Movement.” Her intention was to give a history of Hull House’s relations with unions as a sort of case study and to examine why and how settlements should be engaged with the labor movement. The piece is straightforward in tone, nuanced, not polemical. In it she settles fully into the even-handed interpretive role she had first attempted in her speech on domestic servants eighteen months earlier.

But the essay also burns with the painful knowledge she gained from the Pullman Strike. She wrestles with the tension between the labor movement’s loyalty to its class interests and her own vision of a classless, universalized, democratic society. And she probes the philosophical question she and Dewey had been debating: Are (class) antagonisms inevitable? Are antagonisms useful? The resulting essay was the most in-depth exploration of the subject of class that Addams would ever write. She was trying to find her way back from the edge of the cliff—class warfare—to which the Pullman Strike had brought her and the nation.

On the question of what the strike accomplished, her thoughts had shifted somewhat. Although she had told Dewey that antagonism was always useless, she argues in “The Settlement as a Factor” that strikes, which were certainly were a form of antagonism, can be useful and necessary. Strikes are often “the only method of arresting attention to [the workers’] demands”; they also offer the permanent benefits of strengthening of the ties of “brotherhood” among the strikers and producing (at least when successful) a more “democratic” relation between workers and their employer. Perhaps Dewey had been more persuasive than he realized.

She still felt, however, that personal emotion was the main cause of antagonisms, including strikes. She admits that labor has a responsibility to fight for the interests of the working people (that is, more leisure and wealth) but only because achieving them would help the workingman feel less unjustly treated. She charges labor with storing up of “grudges” against “capitalists” and calls this “selfish.” She ignores the question of whether low wages and long hours are fair. Social justice is not a touchstone for her arguments in this essay.

Instead, Addams stresses the ideal she had emphasized since coming to Chicago: that of a society united by its sense of common humanity. She writes prophetically of “the larger solidarity which includes labor and capital” and that is based on a “notion of universal kinship” and “the common good.” One might read into her argument the conclusion of social justice, yet the principle remains uninvoked. Instead, Addams stays focused on feelings. She is calling for sympathy for others’ suffering, not for a change in workers’ physical condition.

Addams disapproves of capitalism but not because of its effects on the workers. The moral failings of the individual capitalist trouble her. She slips in a rather radical quotation by an unnamed writer: “The crucial question of the time is, ‘In what attitude stand ye toward the present industrial system? Are you content that greed . . . shall rule your business life, while in your family and social life you live so differently? Shall Christianity have no play in trade?’” In one place, although only one place, she takes workers’ perspective and refers to capitalists as “the power-holding classes.” (Here at last was a glancing nod toward power.) The closest she comes to making a social justice argument is in a sentence whose Marxist flavor, like the previous phrase, suggests Florence Kelley’s influence, yet it, too, retains Addams’s characteristic emphasis on feelings. She hopes there will come a time “when no factory child in Chicago can be overworked and underpaid without a protest from all good citizens, capitalist and proletarian.” While Debs had wanted to arouse middle-class sympathies as a ways to improve the working conditions of the Pullman laborers, Addams wanted the labor movement to cause society to be more unified in its sympathies. Their means and ends were reversed.

Addams found the idea that labor’s organizing efforts could benefit society compelling. “If we can accept” that possibility, she adds, then the labor movement is “an ethical movement.” The claim was a startling one for her to make. It seems the strike had shown her at least one moral dimension to the workers’ struggle. The negative had become the potentially positive. Instead of seeing labor’s union organizing as a symptom of society’s moral decay, as she once had and many other middle-class people still did, she was considering the hypothesis that labor organizing was a sign of society’s moral redemption.

The Pullman Strike also cracked her moral absolutism. In “The Settlement as a Factor” she argues for the first time that no person or group can be absolutely right or absolutely wrong. “Life teaches us,” she writes, that there is “nothing more inevitable than that right and wrong are most confusingly mixed; that the blackest wrong [can be] within our own motives.” When we triumph, she adds, we bear “the weight of self-righteousness.” In other words, no one—not unions and working-class people, not businesses and middle-class people, not settlement workers and other middle-class reformers—could claim to hold or ever could hold the highest moral ground. The absolute right did not exist.

For Addams, rejecting moral absolutism was a revolutionary act. She had long believed that a single true, moral way existed and that a person, in theory, could find it. This conviction was her paternal inheritance (one recalls her father’s Christian perfectionism) and her social-cultural inheritance. Moral absolutism was the rock on which her confident Anglo-American culture was grounded. (It is also the belief that most sets the nineteenth century in the West apart from the twenty-first century.) Now she was abandoning that belief. In the territory of her mind, tectonic plates were shifting and a new land mass of moral complexity was arising.

In the fall of 1894, as she was writing “The Settlement as a Factor,” this new perspective became her favorite theme. In October she warned the residents of another newly opened settlement, Chicago Commons, “not to be alarmed,” one resident recalled, “if we found our ethical standards broadening as we became better acquainted with the real facts of the lives of our neighbors.” That same month, speaking to supporters of the University of Chicago Settlement, she hinted again at the dangers of moral absolutism. Do not, she said, seek “to do good.” Instead, simply try to understand life. And when a group of young men from the neighborhood told her they proposed to travel to New York City that fall to help end political corruption and spoke disdainfully of those who were corrupt, she admonished them against believing that they were purer than others and asked them if they knew what harm they did in assuming that they were right and others were wrong.

What had she seen during the Pullman Strike that led to this new awareness? She had seen the destructive force of George Pullman’s moral self-righteousness. It seemed to her that his lack of self-doubt, that is, his unwillingness to negotiate, had produced a national tragedy; his behavior and its consequences had revealed the evil inherent in moral absolutism. In Twenty Years she writes of how, in the midst of the strike’s worst days, as she sat by her dying sister’s bedside, she was thinking about “that touch of self-righteousness which makes the spirit of forgiveness well-nigh impossible.”

She grounded her rejection of absolute truth in her experience. “Life teaches us,” she wrote. This was as revolutionary for her as the decision itself. In “Subjective Necessity” she had embraced experience as a positive teacher in a practical way. Here she was allowing experience to shape her ethics. The further implication was that ethics might evolve, but the point is not argued in “The Settlement as a Factor.” Still, in her eyes ideas no longer had the authority to establish truth that they once had. Her pragmatism was strengthening, but it had not yet blossomed into a full-fledged theory of truth.

The Pullman Strike taught her in a compelling way that moral absolutism was dangerous, but she had been troubled by its dangers before. She had made her own mistakes and, apparently, a whole train of them related to self-righteousness. The details have gone unrecorded, but they made her ready to understand, and not afterwards forget, something James O. Huntington, the Episcopal priest who had shared the podium with her at the Plymouth conference, had said in a speech at Hull House the year before the strike. “I once heard Father Huntington say,” she wrote in 1901, that it is “the essence of immorality to make an exception of one’s self.” She elaborated. “[T]o consider one’s self as . . . unlike the rank and file is to walk straight into the pit of self-righteousness.” As Addams interpreted Huntington, he meant there was no moral justification for believing in one’s superiority, not even a belief that one was right and the others wrong.

A deeply held, central moral belief is like a tent pole: it influences the shape of the entire tent that is a person’s thought. A new central belief is like a taller or shorter tent pole; it requires the tent to take a new shape. The tent stakes must be moved. Jane Addams had decided there was no such thing as something or someone that was purely right or purely wrong, but the rest of her thought had yet to be adjusted. Among other things, she still believed that a person of high culture was superior to those who lacked it; that is, she still believed that cultural accomplishment could justify self-righteousness.

Some hints of this can be found in the adjectives Addams attaches to democracy in “The Settlement as a Factor.” After proposing that the workers might lead the ethical movement of democracy, she anticipates the fear her readers might feel at this idea. “We must learn to trust our democracy,” she writes, “giant-like and threatening as it may appear in its uncouth strength and untried applications.” Addams was edging toward trusting that working-class people, people without the cultural training in “the best,” could set their own course. Such trust, should she embrace it, would require her to go beyond her old ideas—her enthusiasm for egalitarian social etiquette, for the principle of cooperation, and for the ideal of a unified humanity. Not feeling such trust yet, she was unable to give working people’s power a ringing endorsement. The essay is therefore full of warnings about the negative aspects of the labor movement.

These radical claims—that the labor movement was or could become ethical, that the movement was engaged in a struggle that advanced society morally, that capitalists were greedy and ethically compromised, and that there was no absolute right or wrong—opened up a number of complicated issues. Addams decided she needed to write a separate essay—would it be a speech?—to make these points more fully and to make them explicitly, as honesty compelled her to do, about the Pullman strike. Sometime in 1894, she began to write it. A page from the first draft, dated that year, survives with the title “A Modern Tragedy.” In its first paragraph she writes that, because we think of ourselves as modern, “it is hard to remember that the same old human passions persist” and can often lead to “tragedy.” She invited her readers to view “one of these great tragedies” from “the historic perspective,” to seek an “attitude of mental detachment” and “stand aside from our personal prejudices.” Still grieving over what had happened, Addams was hoping that the wisdom of culture, of the humanities, of Greek and Shakespearean tragedy could give her the comfort of emotional distance. But she had pulled too far back. The opening was so blandly vague and philosophical that no one could tell what the essay was about. She set the piece aside.

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3. Mr. Ferris and His Wheel - a review

Davis, Kathryn Gibbs. 2014. Mr. Ferris and his Wheel. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Illustrated by Gilbert Ford.

Though written in a fully illustrated, engaging and narrative nonfiction style, Mr. Ferris and his Wheel is nevertheless, a well-sourced and researched picture book for older readers.

The story of the 1863, Chicago World's Fair debut of the world's first Ferris wheel (or Monster Wheel, as Mr. Ferris originally named it),  is told in a flowing and entertaining style,
     George arrived in Chicago and made his case to the construction chief of the fair.
     The chief stared at George's drawings.  No one had ever created a fair attraction that huge and complicated.  The chief told George that his structure was "so flimsy it would collapse."
     George had heard enough.  He rolled up his drawings and said, "You are an architect, sir. I am an engineer."
     George knew something the chief did not.  His invention would be delicate-looking and strong.  It would be both stronger and lighter than the Eiffel Tower because it would be built with an amazing new metal—steel.
and

it contains sidebars that impart more technical information that might otherwise interrupt the flow of the story,
George was a steel expert, and his structure would be made of a steel alloy.  Alloys combine a super-strong mix of a hard metal with two or more chemical elements.
George Ferris' determination is a story in itself, but it is the engineering genius of his wheel that steals the show.  A "must-have" for any school or public library.

Some facts about the original "Ferris" wheel:
  • 834' in circumference
  • 265' above the ground
  • 3,000 electric lightbulbs (this itself was a marvel in 1893!)
  • forty velvet seats per car
Ferris wheel at the Chicago World's Fair c1893.
 Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.
Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division[/caption]

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4. On the 95th anniversary of the Chicago Race Riots

By Elaine Lewinnek


On 27 July 1919, a black boy swam across an invisible line in the water. “By common consent and custom,” an imaginary line extending out across Lake Michigan from Chicago’s 29th Street separated the area where blacks were permitted to swim from where whites swam. Seventeen-year-old Eugene Williams crossed that line. He may have strayed across it by accident or may have challenged it on purpose. We do not know his motives because the whites on the beach reacted by throwing stones and Eugene Williams drowned. Police at the beach arrested black bystanders, infuriating other blacks so much that one black man shot at the police, who returned fire, shooting into the crowd of blacks. The violence spread from there. Over the next week, in the middle of that hot summer of 1919, 38 people died, 537 were hospitalized, and approximately 1,000 were left homeless. White and black Chicagoans fought over access to beaches, parks, streetcars, and especially residential space. The burning of houses, during this riot, inflamed passions almost as much as the killing of people. It took a rainstorm and the state militia to end the violence in July 1919, which nevertheless simmered just below the surface, erupting in smaller clashes between blacks and whites throughout the next four decades, especially every May, during Chicago’s traditional moving season.

ChicagoRaceRiot_1919_wagon

Family leaving damaged home after 1919 Chicago race riot by Chicago Commission on Race Relations. Negro in Chicago: The Negro in Chicago; a study of race relations and a race riot (1922). Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

The 1910s were the first decade of the Great Migration, a decade when 70,000 blacks had moved to Chicago, more than doubling the existing black population. This was also a decade when the lines of Chicago’s residential apartheid were hardening. Historically, Chicago’s blacks found homes in industrial suburbs such as Maywood and Chicago Heights, domestic service hubs such as Evanston and Glencoe, rustic owner-built suburbs such as Robbins and Dixmoor, and some recently-annexed suburban space such as Morgan Park and Lilydale. Increasingly, though, blacks were confined to a narrow four-block strip around State Street on Chicago’s South Side known as the Black Belt. Half of Chicago’s blacks lived there in 1900, while 90% of Chicago’s blacks lived there by 1930.

The Black Belt was a crowded space where two or three families often squeezed into one-room apartments, landlords neglected to repair rotting floors or hinge-less doors, schools eventually ran on shifts so that each child was educated for only half a day, and the police tolerated gamblers and brothels. It was so unhealthy that Richard Wright called it “our death sentence without a trial.” Blacks who tried to move beyond the Black Belt were met with vandalism, arson, and bomb-throwers, including 24 bombs thrown in the first half of 1919 alone.

Earlier, some Chicago neighborhoods had welcomed black homeowners, but after the First World War there was an increasingly widespread belief that blacks hurt property values. Chicago realtor L. M. Smith and his Kenwood and Hyde Park Property Owners Association spread the notion that any black moving into a neighborhood was akin to a thief, robbing that street of its property values. By the 1920s, Chicago Realtors prohibited members from introducing any new racial group into a neighborhood and encouraged the spread of restrictive covenants, legally barring blacks while also consolidating ideas of whiteness. As late as 1945, two Chicago sociologists reported that, while “English, German, Scotch, Irish, and Scandinavian have little adverse effect on property values[,] Northern Italians are considered less desirable, followed by Bohemians and Czechs, Poles, Lithuanians, Greeks, and Russian Jews of the Lower class. Southern Italians, along with Negroes and Mexicans, are at the bottom of the scale.” As historians of race recognize, many European immigrants were considered not quite white before 1950. Those immigrants eventually joined the alliance of groups considered white partly because realtors, mortgage lenders, and housing economists established a bright line between the property values of “whites” and those of blacks.

The lines established in 1919 have lingered. As late as 1990, among Chicago’s suburban blacks, almost half of them lived in the same fourteen suburbs that blacks had lived in before 1920: they had not gained access to newer spaces. It was black neighborhoods that suffered disproportionately from urban renewal and the construction of tall-tower public housing in the twentieth century, further reinforcing the overlaps between race and space in Chicago. Many whites inherit property whose value has increased because of the racist real-estate policies founded after the violence of 1919. Recently, Ta-Nehisi Coates has recently used the history of Chicago’s property market to publicize “The Case for Reparations,” after generations of denying blacks access to homeowner equity.

It is worth remembering the events of 95 years ago, when Eugene Williams and 37 other people died, as Chicagoans clashed in the streets over emerging ideas of racialized property values.

Elaine Lewinnek is a professor of American Studies at California State University, Fullerton and the author of The Working Man’s Reward: Chicago’s Early Suburbs and the Roots of American Sprawl.

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5. Review: The City of Palaces. New Books. Chicago Pics. A Random Thought.


 Review:  The City of Palaces by Michael Nava

The City of Palaces
Michael Nava

Terrace Books, University of Wisconsin Press, 2014




Michael Nava published his first novel, The Little Death, in 1986. That book marked the debut of Henry Rios, a gay Chicano lawyer/detective who has become an iconic character in the crime fiction genre. The seven books in the Rios series, hailed as groundbreaking, have won six Lambda Literary Awards. The books recently were reissued in the Kindle format. In recognition of the excellence and popularity of Nava’s writing, he was the recipient of the 2000 Bill Whitehead Lifetime Achievement Award in LGBT literature. That year also marked the publication of the last book in the series, Rag and Bone, along with Nava's announcement that he had retired as a mystery writer. Lucha Corpi, one of the cornerstones of Chicana/Chicano crime fiction and a person obviously qualified to judge, has noted that many consider Nava to be one of the “grandfathers” of the Chicano mystery genre (along with Rolando Hinojosa, who published Partners in Crime in 1984. See Lucha’s Confessions of a Book Burner, page 55.)

The City of Palaces
marks Nava’s return to book length fiction, much to the relief of his many, many readers. And what a grand return it is.

Nava’s explanation of how he came to write this novel is worth repeating. Here are a few paragraphs from the author’s website:

Beginning in 1995, Nava started researching a novel about the life of silent film star Ramon Novarro, a Mexican immigrant who came to Hollywood in 1915 after his family fled their homeland during the Mexican Revolution. Novarro was one of the first generation of internationally famous movie stars, like Rudolph Valentino, Mary Pickford and Charlie Chaplin. Nava was drawn to Novarro not only because of their shared ethnic heritage but also because it was an open secret in Hollywood that Novarro was gay.
 

At the same time, he became interested in the Yaquis, an Indian tribe that inhabited the northwest state of Sonora along the border with Arizona. In the late nineteenth century, the Mexico government began to forcibly evict the Yaquis from their ancient homeland, a lush river valley at the edge of the Sonoran desert, to make way for Mexican settlers. But the Yaquis put up a fierce resistance and the Mexican government ultimately pursued a policy of extermination against the tribe that resulted in its virtual extinction. Nava’s great-grandparents were among the few Yaquis who had survived by escaping to Arizona where his grandfather, Ramón, was born in 1905.
 

Eventually, these interests converged and he began to write a novel that would tell the story of the Mexican Revolution, the near-genocide of the Yaquis, and the rise of silent film. Midway through his first draft, he recognized that this undertaking was too vast for a single book, so he conceived a series of novels called The Children of Eve, after the line in the Salve Regina addressed to Mary, the mother of Jesus: “To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve.” The first novel in that series is The City of Palaces, which is set in Mexico City in the years before and at the beginning of the 1910 Mexican Revolution.

At its heart, The City of Palaces is the love story of Alicia Gavilán and Miguel Sarmiento. Alicia is wealthy, religious, saintly, and beautiful but scarred (from smallpox.) Miguel is an atheistic doctor with a long family history of involvement in Mexico’s political scene. Miguel feels something like love at first sight when he encounters Alicia, but he struggles against his “manly” aversion to her scars. Alicia, on the other hand, may be spiritual and otherworldly, but she is sensual and most pragmatic. The two star-crossed lovers overcome obstacles put in their way by their families, the social stratification of early twentieth century Mexico, and their own inhibitions, fears, and prejudices. Yes, love conquers all.

A sure sign of excellent writing is that we read the words but see the images created by the author. As I read this book, I saw not only the decay and corruption of Mexico City at the end of the Díaz dictatorship, but I also met the people – the poor and oppressed masses that struggled together in the colonias and slums of the city, the wealthy elite hanging on to their fantasies of Europeanization and ostentatious glitter as their world collapsed, the passionate and somewhat naive revolutionaries who courageously rallied around the doomed Francisco Madero. The images are clear enough, and the writing is so direct and on point, that it does not take much to imagine this story as an HBO miniseries.

The novel sweeps through sixteen years of Mexican history. Nava has done his research, so the details are perfect. He hits high notes with his descriptions of neighborhoods, cafes and churches, references to historical figures such as Huerta, Zapata, Orozco, and Madero, and the sense of tumultuous change that was inescapable no matter how hard some tried to ignore it.

At the end, the book has transitioned to include the story of Alicia’s and Miguel’s child, José, described as a beautiful, sensitive boy who steals away from the safety of his grand “palace” to feed his secret desire for the new moving pictures, shown in dark and dirty alleys where only the most common people enter. Although there is tragedy at the end, there also is hope. The story finishes with these thoughts from Miguel: “[T]here appeared in the desert darkness an archway lit up with electric lights. It spelled out a greeting so simple in its unintentional arrogance he did not know whether the tears that filled his eyes were tears of anger or gratitude, but he wept them all the same as he spoke the words aloud: ‘Welcome to America.’” How many times has that scene been repeated by our own families?

Michael Nava tells a timeless story, a literary jewel waiting for La Bloga’s readers. I can only patiently anticipate the second novel in this series.

For another review of this book, see Michael Sedano’s post on La Bloga at this link.


____________________________________________________________________________

New Books
University of Texas Press - July, 2014

[from the the author's website]

I'm very proud of this collection of scholarly essays. You'll find pieces on Sor Juana, on la Malinche, on Chicana feminist artists and lesbian theorists, on the murdered girls and women of Juárez, as well as a rewriting of the Coyolxauhqui myth, and an opening letter to my paisana from the border, Gloria Anzaldúa, in gratitude for her lenguas de fuego. There are also 8 color plates and 37 black and white photos. Artwork includes different images by Alma Lopez, beginning with that fabulous cover she created for the occasion of the book's publication, as well as pieces by Ester Hernández, Yreina Cervantez, Liliana Wilson, Patssi Valdez, Laura Aguilar, Deliliah Montoya, Alma Gómez-Frith, Miguel Gandert, Alfonso Cano, the "Saint Jerome" of Leonardo da Vinci, the iconic "American Progress, 1872" by John Gast, and a painting of Juana Inés by my very own mother, Teyali Falcón that she created for the publication of Sor Juana's Second Dream.

Upcoming book talks/book signings for the author:
July 29, 6-8pm
Austin, TX, August 28, 7pm



Hearts & Hands: Creating Community in Violent Times, Second Edition
Luis J. Rodriguez
7 Stories Press - July, 2014

[from the author]

Join us in celebrating the book release of Hearts & Hands: Creating Community in Violent Times, Second Edition this Saturday, July 26, 2014 from 5pm to 8pm.

Live art by Rah Azul and silent art auction fundraiser during reception beginning at 5pm followed by author reading at 6pm. The event is free to the public, donations welcome.

The event will begin with a reception that will include live art by Rah Azul, a self-taught painter, muralist and poet based in the San Fernando Valley. Rah Azul's work is featured on the cover of the new Hearts & Hands book. There will be limited prints available of the book cover artwork for sale. The silent art auction will feature a special edition by this featured artist.

"Hearts & Hands is a book that belongs in the hands of any person or organization wanting to understand and work with youth and community in a respectful, meaningful way."

-Trini Rodriguez, Co-Founder of Tia Chucha's Centro Cultural & Bookstore

Tia Chucha's Centro Cultural & Bookstore | 13197 Gladstone Ave., Unit A | Sylmar | CA | 91342
____________________________________________________________________________

Chicago Pics

Many of you know that as part of La Bloga's 10th anniversary commemoration several bloquistas participated in a panel at the International Latina/o Studies Conference. See Amelia Montes's most recent post for more info about and photos of the event. The panel invigorated and inspired all of us, and many of our readers and friends gathered to talk about and help us celebrate La Bloga. Seven of our eleven contributors made it to the Windy City, and we had a great time together. We hope to do something similar again. No rhyme or reason, here are a few photos taken in Chicago. 



Toddlin' Town



Palmer House Stairwell


Millennium Park - Selfie


Millennium Park - Face










Millennium Park - Heads




Dessert at Zapatista - Free for La Bloga!


Long Live the Blues!





From the Galería Sin Fronteras Exhibit at the National Museum of Mexican Art






Wrapping Up the Panel

________________________________________________________________________________

Random Thought While Jogging Around Sloan's Lake


One of the regrettable things that has happened to Denver’s North Side, where I've lived for more than thirty years, is the rise and victory of the “suburban aesthetic”: boxy, boring housing lined up in rows; a uniform “non-conformist” style from clothes to music; restaurants that are destinations rather than good places to grab a bite to eat; an obsession about “making it,” a flaccid, common denominator cultural perspective. A great neighborhood has to be more than that.



Later.



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6. Open Letter to the International Latino Studies Conference in Chicago

Melinda Palacio

La Bloga represents at the International Latino Studies Conference in Chicago this week. Since my plans to join La Bloga's panel and reunion were squashed by my broken leg, Amelia asked me to write a short statement, one paragraph, she could read as mediator of our panel. My short statement turned into a long letter, which I decided to post today.  Everyone may read my contribution to La Bloga's panel, even if you are missing out on the conference.




July 18, 2014



First, I'd like to thank Dr. Amelia Montes and my fellow members of La Bloga for this opportunity. This conference, celebrating the past, present, and future of Latino Studies is very important. Had I not broken my leg, I would certainly be amongst you. I was looking forward to connecting with academics from my past and those who have recently hosted me in my present role as author, poet and speaker. Furthermore, in my role as teacher, I've had the privilege to teach Fiction through the online MFA program of theUniversity of Arkansas at Monticello. In my role as author, my novel, Ocotillo Dreams, has been included in a scholarly book by Dr. Cristina Herrera, Contemporary Chicana Literature: (Re) Writing theMaternal Script (Cambria Press 2014).  

Today, I am honored to discuss my work as a team member of La Bloga. I often cover the writing life. For this year's conference, I chose to present a past blog post from 2010 that documents my process as a "low-tech writer." Even though we, at La Bloga, take advantage of high-tech tools, such as our online web log or La Bloga you are used to reading everyday, some, such as myself, first sit down with pen and paper and draft what will become a dynamic non-fiction article or personal account, complete with links and photos for the world wide web archives. Writing for La Bloga has made keeping up my author website rather easy. I often add photos, events, and blog entries after they have been up on la bloga. In other words, I steal from myself. This open letter to the conference will be up on La Bloga today and later next week, on my author website. All of our La Bloga posts remain in the web archives for future perusal by our readers and study by professionals in the fields related to Chicano and Latino Studies.

            In documenting the writing life, I also feature other writers in forms of interviews, Q&As, and guest columns so that my blog posts represent a larger, mostly Latino, but global (or world wide) writing community. However, sometimes, I simply document events from my life, such as taking a stroll through Audubon Park in New Orleans, where I live part-time, or the events of my broken leg and subsequent operation (see my blog post from July 4). Today, if you didn't hear all of this letter, you can read it on La Bloga.

Gracias! I hope to see everyone next time. If you have specific questions for me that this open letter does not answer or if you wish to invite me to speak to your students, please email me at melindapalacio@gmail.com. You can also find me on twitter at LaMelinda or on Facebook or on my website.

Thank you, again,

Melinda Palacio
author of the novel Ocotillo Dreams(Bilingual Press) and the poetry collections Folsom Lockdown (Kulupi Press) and How Fire Is a Story, Waiting (Tia Chucha Press). 





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7. Sketch Workshop in Chicago


I am finally posting all of my sketches from Chicago. I have been buried since my return in work. (I have some amazing projects on my plate at the moment.)

But, it was wonderful to have a weekend devoted to just sketching and hanging out with wonderful friends.

You can see photos from the seminar here: http://chicagosketchseminar2014.wordpress.com/
and some of the Cincinnati group's photos and sketches here: http://cincyillustrators.blogspot.com/2014/06/urban-sketching-seminar-in-chicago.html

See Vanessa's sketches here: http://nessydesigns.blogspot.com/2014/06/urban-sketchers-chicago-2014.html

My favorite sketch from the weekend. This is the Holy Name Cathedral where Roger Ebert's funeral was held
and her incredible photos here: http://nessydesigns.blogspot.com/2014/06/chiacgo-urban-sketchers-trip-photos.html

Another church on the church architecture tour


Porsche at what the locals called 'Viagra Triangle' which is a good description
Big statue next to the hotel
A bit of sketching between bites of Garrett popcorn
Detail of the facade
Part of the Newberry Library

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8. Wrigley Centennial Trivia Showdown

Topps Stamps 1974 Hooton

Who is Burt Hooton? Your guess is as good as mine, or more likely, it’s better than mine. My answer is he’s no Mickey Lolich, but that’s because I grew up in Detroit—though, as Susan Sontag would say, Under the Sign of Jack Morris. But back to your guess—if you’re schooled in Cubs lore, come to the Wrigley Centennial Trivia Showdown on Wednesday, May 28th, at the Harold Washington Library,  in celebration of the year that brought you the births of Sun Ra, Julio Cortázar, and a certain stadium. Your hosts are Stuart Shea, doyen of Cubs history, and the Chicago Tribune’s Rick Kogan, and you can win t-shirts, plates, commemorative posters, and gift certificates to Birrieria Zaragoza, Clark Street Sports, Girl and the Goat, The People’s Garment Company, & Tales, Taverns, and Towns.

From the Chicago Reader: 

Stuart Shea, author of Wrigley Field: The Long Life and Contentious Times of the Friendly Confines, and the Tribune‘s Rick Kogan host the Wrigley Centennial Trivia Showdown. Test your knowledge of the legendary ballpark alongside other Cubs enthusiasts and maybe win a Wrigley Field prize pack, or bragging rights that might earn you a free drink or two around Clark and Addison.

From the press release:

First inning: easy to medium multiple-choice trivia

The three contestants with the most correct answers will move on to the second inning.

 Second inning: medium to hard multiple-choice trivia

The two contestants with the most correct answers will move on to the third inning.

 Third inning: photo trivia

The contestant with the most correct answers is the champion!

Free advice:

You can RSVP online. Also, there is a dog park in Chicago named Wiggly Field.

Books, baseball, trivia, bragging rights. That’s a good mix for a weeknight. See you there!

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9. C2E2014: Where Everything Is

mccormick southC2E2′s on once again, and this year, it’s being held in the South Hall.  (Oh, how I await the day when it takes up the entire complex!  2.6 MILLION sq.ft. of exhibit space!  60 acres! 45 football fields!  Can you imagine the programming going on all over the building?  The theater?  The ballrooms?)

*ahem*  Sorry…

Here’s the scorecard for each year:

2010  Lakeside  Hall D   300,000 sq.ft.

2011   West Building   Hall F   470,000 sq.ft.

2012   North Building    Hall B1   369,000 sq.ft.

2013   West Building   Hall F   470,000 sq.ft.

2014   South Building   Hall A1   430,000 sq.ft.

So here’s the layout, with some insider tips from your intrepid exploring reporter!

Food?  Here is the McCormick dining guide!

mccormick South 1 editLevel One (the ground floor)

When you enter from the square, you’ll see the concierge desk and the dancing water fountains.  Immediately to the south is the ballroom, host to various fannish activities.  (It’s divided in half: one half is for gaming and other geekery, the other side is for families.  Brilliant planning… it’s part of the show, but removed just enough to create a safe space.)  Aside from the coat check near the gateway to BarCon at the Hyatt Hotel, the only other item of interest on this floor are the hotel shuttles.

Comics Beat C2E2 Inside Tip: Walk down that long hallway southward.  You’ll see the massive escalators which lead to the show floor (but not working this weekend).  There are vending machines squirreled away behind and beneath these escalators.  Since McCormick doesn’t always refill the machines on a timely basis, you might have better luck here on Sunday.

If you forgot a power chord or other necessity, the Hyatt has a vending machine in the hallway leading to the check-in desk.  The Hyatt is also where you can catch a taxi, although you might want to “New York” everyone and wander south on MLK Drive a few blocks to catch a taxi before it pulls into the line.

Level 2.5 (the mall)

south-level-2-5There’s a food court tucked away on the west side.  I’ve never eaten there, so no idea.  16,000 sq.ft.   No Yelp page. Here’s the official description:

This eclectic food court offers several options to choose from: Little Italy, Pacific Rim, American Grill, Fiesta Brava, Express to Go Sandwiches, Salads and Snacks as well as a fabulous Soup Bar.

Caveat cenator…

There’s also the First Aid station, and a FedEx Office supply store (helpful if you need to rent a computer, or purchase a poster tube).  This level also connects to the food court in the North Building, where McDonald’s and other eateries are located.  Starbucks is located on Leve 2.5.  (And on North Level Three, right across from the show floor entrance.  And at the “Daily Grind” in the Hyatt Hotel.)

Comics Beat C2E2 Inside Tip: The restrooms (at least the male ones) next to McDonalds in the North Building are quite large, if utilitarian.  Right next to these bathrooms are vending machines with two microwaves. There’s a vending machine alcove near the retail stores as well.

Level 3  (the show)

mccormick south-level-3C2E2 is only using the front half (Hall A1), so there are no shortcuts you can use.  (There is a hallway behind A2, which leads down to bathrooms, and runs the width of the South Hall from .  But you’ll probably be arrested for trespassing.)

Registration is right across the Grand Concourse, in the North Hall.  They’re just using the front section for check-in. Starbucks is here.

Comics Beat C2E2 Inside Tip: There is an escalator on the east side which runs from the show floor to the Fourth Floor meeting rooms.  This may be blocked by the attendee lines.

Under the food court (that section in the middle) should be restrooms and vending machines.  Unknown if that will be open during the show.

Also, this level connects to the Grand Concourse, so you could wander over to Lakeside, where the National Show Choir Finals will be held in the Arie Crown Theater this weekend.  (Yay!  Theater geeks!)  There may be food vendors available.  Otherwise, forage for vending machines on the second floor of Lakeside (site of the very first C2E2).

Level 4 (the panels)

mccormick south level four editThis is where the event hall is located all…the…way…at…the…(are we there yet)…end…of…the…hallway.  The panel rooms are located here as well.  It’s a nice sunny hallway, so rest when needed.

Comics Beat C2E2 Inside Tip: The Fifth floor is accessible from the Fourth.  The rooms should be locked, but the restrooms and public spaces should be accessible.  A great way to view the crowds below, and escape the hustle and hubbub.

There are also two small panel rooms on the fourth floor, accessible from the North Building: S400b and S400c.  That walkway and hallway is a bit tight, but there are restrooms located over there, and it’s accessible via elevator from the South Building.  That walkway is also a good place for an overlook.

The West Building is also accessible, but distant.  Restaurants will probably not be open, but vending areas might be.

Lots of accessible wall outlets!  I recommend the fifth floor. 

If you can locate access in and out from Lakeside, I highly recommend taking some time to enjoy the lakeshore.  (Test the doors to make sure they open from the outside before shutting them.)  If you have a lot of time in the morning, it’s a nice walk south through the museum complex to the convention center.  The big question, of course, is getting into the convention center from the lake shore… there isn’t a pedestrian overpass if Lakeside is locked.  Perhaps you can find an employee to pop open one of the doors…

Got any suggestions?  Tricks?  Let us know!

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10. A true Dutch treat

Fairy Godfather A true Dutch treatI hope you jumped on those Sutherland Lecture tickets yesterday because they are gone baby gone–I understand that even the waiting list is full. A big fan of John Green’s books, I am nevertheless nervous about being in an auditorium filled with John Green Girls, beautiful, complicated and ka-razy creatures that they are. Or do I infer too much? Come say hello–I’ll be the flustered chaperone in the corner.

In the meantime I am off to White Plains today to visit Brian Kenney’s library and speak to the Youth Services Section of  NYLA tomorrow morning. Then a weekend with our lovely Dutch friends in Rye, taking the adorable Julia, Mads, and Lizze to see Matilda on Broadway, for what else are fee peetvaders for?

share save 171 16 A true Dutch treat

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11. An Irish Pub by Margot Justes












It was time to acknowledge that I was a year older, and that meant going out to dinner with family to celebrate.  It’s a lovely tradition, and the birthday person gets to pick the restaurant.

My grandkids already picked their place. We’re going to tea at the Peninsula Hotel. They both love high tea.

For my birthday, I picked an Irish Pub. To clarify, I don’t drink beer, don’t like the flavor or the smell, however I love a good meatloaf, and even more, Shepherd’s Pie. The pub had both, and the Shepherd’s Pie was the best I have ever tasted.

Chief O’Neill’s is located on 3471 N. Elston, Chicago, IL 60618 773/583-3066 www.chiefonneillspub.com

We started with the Kerrygold Flatbread; caramelized cabbage, roasted potato and Kerrygold Smoked Cheddar. The combination was delicious. My grandson ordered the Bruschetta, because that is his favorite appetizer.

Next on the menu was the Corned Beef and Cabbage, along with a really delicious Guinness Infused Meatloaf-I finally found a way I like beer-in my meatloaf. The Shepherd’s Pie had ground sirloin and veal, along with peas and herbs, topped with browned mashed potatoes. Seasoned perfectly. The Corned Beef Burger was high, served with perfectly done steak fries.

For dessert, we shared a key lime pie, Crème Brulee, and a positively yummy bread pudding with vanilla ice cream.

I was told the beers were good, as was the cider, and Irish coffee.

I have to go back for their Sunday Brunch, and to try the Scotia Eggs; hard boiled eggs wrapped in minced lamb, coated in bread crumbs and fried. I make a simpler recipe at home, just slice the egg in half,  roll it in a breakfast sausage, and cook it in a nonstick skillet.  Makes a great appetizer, or a wonderful breakfast addition.

I loved the decor, a lot of beautifully carved wood, and stained glass. It was a cold day, and we were lucky enough to sit near the fire place. The place is cozy, and the parking was easy and free. Free in Chicago is rare.

Cheers,
Margot  Justes
Blood Art
A Fire Within
A Hotel in Paris
A Hotel in Bath
Hot Crimes Cool Chicks
www.mjustes.com

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12. Grandpa Nick and his Accordion – half tone screen print

Nick playing accordion ©Sparky FirepantsIt’s sometime in the 1940s. A guy plays an accordion in the yard of a Chicago brick walkup. Chin up, with a cocky grin on his face, a cigarette dangles from his lip. He’s hamming it up for the camera, you can see he loves the attention.

This is my Grandpa Nick.

Sifting through old photos today, this one jumped out at me for all the reasons above. It was so iconic, I decided to make a halftone print. Sometimes we don’t choose what the art will be, it chooses us.

©Sparky Firepants Nick screen

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13. Beograd by Margot Justes




Chicago is a multi cultural city, and one of the wonderful aspects of that diversity are the ethnic restaurants.  I recently went to Beograd Cafe, a Serbian restaurant located at 2933 W. Irving Park Rd. Chicago Il 60618 (773/478-7575) www.beogradchicago.com

I posted the address and phone number, just in case you’re in the Chicago area, and want to try this restaurant. The food is positively scrumptious.

My next door neighbors and friends are Serbian, and I have had Serbian food at their house. I have also visited Split and Dubrovnik in Croatia, and the food is similar, so the cuisine as a whole was not a surprise, but it was well prepared, fresh and utterly scrumptious.

We started with the Shopska salad; tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, onions, and feta cheese. Then we moved on to the Burek, a savory dish made with filo dough and filled with cheese and spinach, potato or cheese and meat. They have other fillings, but we sampled the three I listed. This is a huge round dinner plate size of goodness, and they didn’t skimp on any ingredients. I tasted all three and had no favorite. I’d go back just for the Burek. Next time I’ll order one to go.

We also ordered a meat plate, the Beograd special that included lamb, chevapchichi, a traditional Serbian sausage, pork sausages, pork chops, and Serbian style hamburgers, along with ajvar, a vegetarian spread made with roasted red peppers and eggplant that went really well with the warm and delicious hot bread.  

We didn’t skimp on desserts either, there were crapes, I tasted the Nutella version which was excellent, we also ordered a Dobosh Torte, seven layers of thin sponge cake, layered  with a rich chocolate cream, and a walnut torte.

To finish the meal we had Serbian coffee, very much like the Greek and Turkish versions but not quite as strong.

I found out they’re open for breakfast and I have plans to go back for breakfast, and certainly dinner.

If you try the restaurant, let me know how you like.

Cheers,
Margot  Justes
Blood Art
A Fire Within
A Hotel in Paris
A Hotel in Bath
Hot Crimes Cool Chicks
www.mjustes.com


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14. Moving moment No. 6

Jake 375x500 Moving moment No. 6Ooh, who remembers this one? In 1982, the library systems of Chicago, Milwaukee, and San Francisco banned Margot Zemach’s Jake and Honeybunch Go to Heaven from their collections (Chicago, from where I followed the whole story avidly, did include it in its two regional research libraries). Unlike the headlines, still popular today, that too-loosely use the term “censorship” to describe any effort to remove a book from a library (it ain’t censorship unless the effort succeeds), this was the real thing: local governments, through their libraries, actively refusing to stock a book because of “partisan or doctrinal disapproval.” This was the book that made me realize that librarians could be their own worst enemies: I recall one librarian interviewed in an NPR story about the flap who actually said, “when WE do it, it’s selection, not censorship.” That is exactly backwards.

share save 171 16 Moving moment No. 6

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15. Mike Royko: One More Time

terkelroyko

Mike Royko (right), in conversation with Studs Terkel

If you called Chicago home at some point during the second-half of the twentieth century, you probably don’t require an introduction to Mike Royko, or to the work he produced as a columnist for the Chicago Daily News, the Sun-Times, and the Tribune. If you digested these newspapers on a regular basis (you know, as people did before the “reality talkies”), you knew him as a Pulitzer Prize winner with working-class roots, sparse and specific with language, sparser still with pretension, hypocrisy, and corrupt politicking. Royko would have turned eighty-one today—we publish a solid sampling of his work including Early Royko: Up Against It in Chicago, For the Love of Mike: More of the Best of Mike Royko, Royko in Love: Mike’s Letters to Carol, and One More Time: The Best of Mike Royko, from which the excerpt below is drawn. “Ticket to the Good Life Punched with Pain” is later Royko—written just after Rodney King’s beating at the hands of the LAPD and six years before Royko’s premature death at age 64—but a classic example of the writer’s sense of justice and outrage, coupled with an everyday kind of diction that spared no humor or humility, even when framing the dark side of a radically changing America.

So, with a hat tip to Royko, the piece follows below:


March 19, 1991

Ticket to Good Life Punched with Pain

The police chief of Los Angeles is being widely condemned because of the now-famous videotaped flogging of a traffic offender.

But Chief Daryl Gates, while refusing to resign, suggests that the brutal beating might have been an uplifting act that could bring long-range positive results for the beating victim.

As the chief put it at a press conference Monday:

“We regret what took place. I hope he [Rodney King, the beating victim] gets his life straightened out. Perhaps this will be the vehicle to move him down the road to a good life instead of the life he’s been involved in for such a long time.”

I hadn’t thought of it that way, but there could be something in what Chief Gates says.

There’s no doubt that King, 25, hasn’t been an exemplary citizen, although he’s no John Dillinger. When the police stopped him for speeding, he was on parole for using a tire iron to threaten and rob a grocer.

But as Chief Gates said, the experience of being beaten, kicked, and shot with an electric stun gun might be what it takes to “move him down the road to a good life.”

Who knows, in a few years when all of this is forgotten, a reporter might drive out to a nice house in a California suburb and find a peaceful Rodney King pushing a mower across his lawn.

The reporter might ask: “Mr. King, what is it that moved you down the road to a good life?”

“That’s a good question,” Mr. King might reply, “and I’ll be glad to explain it to you. You’ll have to excuse me if I wobble and drool a bit; my face has nerve damage and my coordination hasn’t been the same since they damaged my brain.”

“Of course.”

“But to get back to your question. I think it was after L.A.’s finest hit me about fifty or fifty-five times with their clubs. As you recall, some of the fillings flew out of my teeth and one of my eye sockets sort of exploded.”

“Must have been a tad uncomfortable.”

“Yes. And at that point, I’m pretty sure that those nine skull fractures and internal injuries had already occurred, my cheekbone was fractured, one of my legs was broken, and I had this burning sensation from being zapped with that electric stun gun. I was feeling kind of low.”

“That’s to be expected.”

“Right. But as I was lying there, and they were getting in a few final kicks, and then sort of hog-tying my hands to my legs and dragging me along the ground, I said to myself: ‘Why not try to look at the bright side?’”

“And did you?”

“Yes. I thought: ‘Well, one of my legs isn’t broken; one of my eye sockets isn’t fractured; one of my cheekbones isn’t broken. And although my skull is fractured, my head remains attached to my body; and while fillings have popped out of my teeth, I still have the teeth.’ And I said to myself: ‘Half a body is better than none.’”

“Very inspiring.”

“Thank you. And I had a chance to think about why the police were treating me that way. It was their way of telling me that speeding is an act of antisocial behavior and I had been very bad, bad, bad.”

“You have unusual insight.”

“I try. And I thought that if only I had led the life of a model citizen, this wouldn’t have happened to me. Let’s face it. The L.A. police never fracture the skull of the president of the chamber of commerce, the chief antler in the Loyal Order of Moose, or the head of the PTA. No, it was my past history of antisocial behavior that brought it on.”

“But they had no way of knowing you were on parole.”

“Yes, but I’m sure they could guess just by the look of me. Be honest, I don’t look at all like the head of the PTA, do I?”

“True.”

“Then, later, when Police Chief Gates said that the beating, although regrettable, could be the vehicle that would get me on the road to the good life, everything became clear. I realized that the beating would turn my life around and be a one-way ticket to the good life.”

“The chief’s words inspired you?”

“Not exactly. To be honest Chief Gates’ words convinced me that he had to be as dumb an S.O.B. as ever opened his mouth at a press conference.”

“But you said he helped you to a good life.”

“That’s right, he did.”

“How?”

“When I took his police department to court, that jury awarded me a couple of million in damages, and I’ve been leading the good life ever since.”

“I don’t think that’s what the chief had in mind.”

“I don’t think that chief had anything in mind.”

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16. From Black Sox to Three-Peats

9780226036601

Chicago sportswriting is synonymous with, well, um, as far as I know: dude who had a peg leg; dude who has the same initials as that one guy in the Sega Genesis-era Moonwalker game circa 1990; dudes who did coordinated shuffling (including dude who appeared at Wrestlemania II and was the subject of the Fat Boys’ “Chillin’ with the Refrigerator”); that one team with the curse; that other team, which once featured Bobby Jenks, who looks like Bobby from King of the Hill; dudes with the sticks that make it impossible to get a beer at the Whirlaway Lounge, assorted evenings October through April; dudes whose team is named after an 1871 domestic disaster; and various other dudes, lady dudes, mimeograph machines, folded and unfolded periodicals, and residual jouissance. Bear down, Bull up or something. Confusing Harry Caray with Andy Rooney many times as a Midwestern pre-adolescent given free range with the remote control.

But seriously: you know who really knows Chicago sportswriting? Ron Rapoport, longtime sports columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times and the Los Angeles Daily News and a sports commentator for National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition. Rapoport’s most recent edited anthology From Black Sox to Three-Peats: A Century of Chicago’s Best Sportswriting from the Tribune, Sun-Times, and Other Newspapers assembles one hundred of the best columns and articles from our local rags to tell the unforgettable, occasionally unaccountable, and incomparable history of Chicago sports. The Tribune recently praised the book as a “flip-page feast for sports fans,” and the personnel discussed needs no introduction: “What writers, what characters, what moments!”

Rapoport is coming to town for a whirlwind series of appearances, so stay tuned for spots on NBC Chicago’s Weekend Morning News, Rick Kogan’s radio show, WBEZ, WLS Radio with Richard Roeper, WGN, Sportstalk Live, Chicago Tonight, and ESPN Radio Chicago.

Want to catch the man in person? Stop by the Billy Goat Tavern (430 N. Michigan Avenue) at 5 PM on Thursday, September 19th, for a reading and signing.

In the meantime, read more about the book here.

 

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17. Guest Post: Robert Michaels

Today's guest brings us a little excerpt from his family-friendly book Gazpacho.


Prologue

The Arrival

Oh what a glorious light it was, so brilliant, bold and white. The light was so magnificent and powerful that I struggled in vain with my yet unopened eyes to gaze directly upon it. At first, with only but a glance and then with only a glimpse, I attempted to shield my newborn sight with the aid of the tiny hands and fingers that appeared there before me all aglow and bathed by the radiant light.

I quickly learned that each precious digit was mine to command. And, once I did, every one of them was sent out on the same mission of exploration, toward the light, filled with the hope and desire to touch it. Floating mere inches above me from where I lay, the light hovered ablaze, in all of its divine splendor, just out of reach. I soon came to understand that the light was never meant for me to touch in that way, but it was there for me to feel in a different way, instead. From somewhere deep inside myself I felt the incredible presence that was within it and it reached out to me with a message of love. As my eyes adjusted and grew more accustomed to the light, I marveled to behold a multitude of colorful rays on display. They danced, flickered and sparkled out from its center in every direction possible. All to a dazzling effect that filled me with joy.

Not a sound did it make, but even in the first few moments of my life, I knew that, somehow, the light had come to greet me and to help see me into the world. And I loved the light, almost as much as I felt the presence within it love me. Soon after I had made the connection with it, however, the light pulled away, faded and left. I didn’t like to see it go, but I was so very glad for the time that it had come to be with me. Even more than that, I was ever so grateful for the experience it left me with, to have known, felt, and witnessed something that was that good.

As those moments faded away, all of my physical senses took on a greater awareness. For the first time I heard soothing and comforting voices around me. At first the voices were faint, but before long, I could hear the sound coming from somewhere near me. Although I couldn’t understand exactly what they were talking about, I could feel that they were saying all kinds of nice and wonderful things just for me to hear. Love is also what I felt from them. And even though it was somehow different from the love that I felt from the light, the feelings were unmistakable and I loved them very much too!

So… this is what it’s like to be alive. Well hey, this certainly feels great! I really like it here!


About the Book: Gazpacho , a "Rarus Nimus Foetidus Loquaciatis Rauca Mollis" is a newly discovered species of worm that has the ability to communicate with most every living creature. But what his species is most known for, throughout the bug and animal world, is their highly toxic glands that produce a considerable amount of stink whenever they are stressed or in danger. This toxic "handicap" or stinky "gift", depending on how it comes to be used, sets the stage for Gazpacho's early years just as it serves to enrich his life experiences and fuel his grand adventures. From his birth in the northern forest glen to his plan of becoming the next great singing star and idol sensation, Gazpacho learns of love as he overcomes the many obstacles and prejudices against him to finally summon up the courage to leave home and live out his dream! This is the first book in a series of four that tell Gazpacho's amazing life story!


About the Author: Robert Michaels (Robert A. Nicpon) was born in Chicago, Illinois and he lived there until the age of 7. It was during Robert’s high school years that he discovered his passion for art, and it was in his last year of high school that he decided that he wanted to produce art for a living. In 2006 Robert learned that what really matters the most when producing a work of art is telling “The Story” and telling it well. When this was discerned, Robert received the inspiration to write the story of Gazpacho. With the help of his beloved coauthor Aurora Rose, Gazpacho’s story has grown into a four book series that chronicles Gazpacho’s amazing life.


Visit the author on Facebook:

And buy the book on Kindle:

As usual, you can find Mark at www.FB.com/MarkMillerAuthor

Thanks for stopping by!

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18. Bologna Children's Book Fair

This week over on Turbo Monkey Tales I'm talking about my visit to Bologna in March. 
Follow this LINK to read all about it.


Toodles!
Hazel

PS
Pearl is coming soon! Next time, what I got up to at ALA Chicago, 2013.


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19. Chicago Was Freaking Awesome

Chicago 2012

Can you see us?


Filed under: Chicago

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20. 2012 Printers Row Lit Fest was a blast!

Okay, I know I’m rather delayed in posting about this… but at least I did get around to it!

This year I headed off to Chicago, IL again to attended my 2nd year at the Printers Row Lit Fest. Last year I had a blast, met a lot of wonderful people and sold a bunch of books. This year didn’t disappoint either!

Let’s start at the beginning.

I flew into O’Hare Thursday evening (June 7th). Last year was great, but I didn’t get to see any of Chicago and was determined to fix that this year! My sweetie Sean Hayden was kind enough to pick me up (for those who didn’t know, we met for the first time at PR last year!)

Chicago!

We found our hotel, which I found using Expedia and got for an awesome 32$ a night. It was the Extended Stay American Chicago in Hillside. Considering the price, I was beyond relieved to find out it was not only easy to get to, but in excellent condition. Though not at all fancy (and no maid service though you could exchange sheets and towels at the front desk) it was VERY clean, the room was huge with a full kitchenette and everything worked. I would certainly stay there again.

On Friday we toured Chicago a bit, and visited the most awesome Navy Pier. It was a hot day, but we had a load of fun watching the boats, touring the shops and eating funnel cakes!  We had dinner at the famous Bubba Gumps. Which was pretty neat, though I found my memories of the details in the movie Forrest Gump weren’t so great.

Saturday was the big first day of Printers Row! Which meant getting up at like 5am to have everything ready and loaded. Luckily traffic was awesome and we got to the site early and were able to drive in to unload. Everyone else started arriving and it was a flurry of hellos and set up. The weather was hot but otherwise fantastic. The crowd didn’t seem to be as big as last year, but they were buying! A lot of people stopped to chat, browse (and buy) books and get autographs. Luckily we had a cooler full of ice to keep us from melting in the heat. By 6pm we were closing up (and btw, yes that is a verrrrry long day) and packing our stuff into the center of the tent. We all had dinner across the street where we ate and chatted for a few hours and then I think we all went back to hotels for some sleep.

Sunday we were there early again, set everything up again, and kept on selling! Flashy Fiction and Other Insane Tales did absolutely fantastic! (Of course it does have a really cool cover Add a Comment

21. See All the Main Attractions of Chicago for Only $35 Per Person

That’s $35.00 per person for three days!!

Not bad, eh?

Okay. So about our trip to Chicago… correction, our SECOND trip to Chicago.

We took our first trip with our boys. Which was fun, but we really didn’t get to do anything WE wanted to do. We spent our time touring museums, which was fun, but I know Kevin was disappointed because we didn’t have time to actually tour the city.

So we went back. Just me and Kevin. And did I mention this was our first trip, just the two of us, in twelve years?? Every other time, we’ve taken the boys. Which was fun, don’t get me wrong, but getting to hang out with just my husband and best friend in the world?

Awesome sauce.

We flew out of Branson. We had planned on using some of our frequent flyer miles (we have so many now that Kevin and I can take THREE round-trip, er, trips now), but honestly? It was actually cheaper to fly out of Branson than it would have been to cash in our miles. And besides, we wanted to cash those miles in on longer flights, like to either coast, than to a city only a little over an hour away.

Branson airport is tiny. As in DINKY. And it looks like a lodge. In fact, it’s so small, that it has one runway – for both take offs and landings. And it was a heck of a lot better than having to drive all the way to St. Louis, which is four hours away, as opposed to Branson, which is only 45 minutes away.

We flew Air Tran and, meh, there wasn’t anything exceptional about it, but then again, I wouldn’t really want there to be. It’s cheap for a reason – don’t expect the royal treatment, but we got up there and back safely, so that’s all that matters.

I actually wanted to stay up there a bit longer than we did (it worked out to be 2 1/2 days), but Kevin didn’t feel comfortable leaving the boys alone for longer than that and it actually worked out better this way anyway – Chicago is great, but we were ready to come home after two days.

We stayed at the same hotel – the River Hotel on Wacker street. (I know – what a name!!). It was $179.00 per night (we booked it through hotels.com), and though that sounds expensive, actually, that IS expensive, it was worth it to us because the hotel is right across the street from the Chicago River in the heart of downtown Chicago so it was close to everything.

IMAG1464.jpg

The room itself is small, but we actually upgraded to a room with a kitchenette when we got there, so we saved ourselves breakfast money by just eating cereal every morning.

The hotel has a filtered water station (FREE) near the elevators on each floor, so we also saved ourselves money on bottled water while we were there, too.

We flew into Midway Airport in Chicago. Which is actually a little ways from downtown. I was a little worried about how much money we’d have to spend in taxis while we were there, but I needn’t have worried – when we landed, I noticed that we could take the train directly from the airport all the way to downtown (the orange line). It cost us $2.25 per person to take the train, thereby saving us probably close to $30 or $40 dollars (including tip) if we had taken a taxi from the airport to our hotel. True. We had to lug our suitcase around, but we only took our one big suitcase, since it was only Kevin and me, so it really wasn’t that big of a deal. In fact, Chicago’s public transit system is pretty efficient and we didn’t take one taxi the entire time we were there.

BONUS!

We arrived at our hotel around noonish on June

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22. Art Shay on Muddy Waters (including a previously unpublished photograph)

Muddy Waters and his wife Geneva in Chicago, 1951. Image copyright and courtesy of: Art Shay.

Thanks to Paul Berlanga of the Steven Daiter Gallery.

***

From our editorial director Alan Thomas:

The 100th birthday of the great bluesman Muddy Waters arrives next April, but a recent encounter with an extraordinary (and previously unpublished) photograph of Waters prompts us to start the celebration early. It was made in Chicago in 1951 by photographer Art Shay, who himself celebrated a birthday this past spring—his 90th. Shay is a favorite of ours; his prodigious body of work includes the most memorable images we have of Nelson Algren’s Chicago. He shared his recollections of this photograph for us:

“The editor of the New Yorker ended his review of the new Keith Richards book Life with a plangent line from Richards asserting he could never be as good as Muddy Waters or as black. I met the generally acknowledged Father of Rock and his wife Geneva in 1951. Time magazine had sent me to the south side club in which he was performing. I arrived early as usual and there he was, strumming his guitar and cuddling his woman in the hallway. Slivers of dying winter light came down across the pair from some blessed window giving me barely enough natural light. He strummed a greeting using my name letter by letter. Billy Corgan noticed the first print of Muddy in the trunk of my car and bought it to hang in his studio next to vintage prints of some other music giants like the Beatles, Billie Holliday, and Ella Fitzgerald.”

For more on Muddy Waters, check out our books on issues surrounding blues culture, including:

I Feel So Good: The Life and Times of Big Bill Broonzy by Bob Riesman

Urban Blues by Charles Keil

Blue Chicago: The Search for Authenticity in Urban Blues Clubs by David Grazian

Seems like Murder Here: Southern Violence and the Blues Tradition by Adam Gussow

And, relatedly:

A Power Stronger than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music by George Lewis

 

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23. Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett (Brett Helquist, illustrator)

If you like The Westing Game, you’re sure to like Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett and illustrated by Brett Helquist (illustrator of Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events).   The book jacket says Chasing Vermeer “is a puzzle, wrapped in a mystery, disguised as an adventure, and delivered as a work of art.” A famous painting by Jan Vermeer known as A Woman Writing has disappeared and its mysterious thief has threatened to destroy it. Sixth-graders Petra Andalee and Calder Pillay start out as classmates but soon become friends and fellow sleuths as they boldly venture to follow a trail of clues and track down the missing painting.  Using their wits and intuition, they solve the puzzle of the painting’s disappearance and its mysterious thief  . Chasing Vermeer reminds me a bit of Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code. Petra finds an old used book called Lo! that tells of coincidences throughout time.  As Petra thinks, “Why wasn’t more time . . .  spent studying things that were unknown or not understood .  . . ?  . . . To try to piece together a meaning behind events that didn’t seem to fit?” Perhaps there are no coincidences–perhaps life is really full of patterns and cosmic synchronicity.  Petra dreams of [...]

0 Comments on Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett (Brett Helquist, illustrator) as of 1/29/2013 9:44:00 AM
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24. Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett (Brett Helquist, illustrator)

If you like The Westing Game, you’re sure to like Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett and illustrated by Brett Helquist (illustrator of Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events).   The book jacket says Chasing Vermeer “is a puzzle, wrapped in a mystery, disguised as an adventure, and delivered as a work of art.” A famous painting by Jan Vermeer known as A Woman Writing has disappeared and its mysterious thief has threatened to destroy it. Sixth-graders Petra Andalee and Calder Pillay start out as classmates but soon become friends and fellow sleuths as they boldly venture to follow a trail of clues and track down the missing painting.  Using their wits and intuition, they solve the puzzle of the painting’s disappearance and its mysterious thief  . Chasing Vermeer reminds me a bit of Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code. Petra finds an old used book called Lo! that tells of coincidences throughout time.  As Petra thinks, “Why wasn’t more time . . .  spent studying things that were unknown or not understood .  . . ?  . . . To try to piece together a meaning behind events that didn’t seem to fit?” Perhaps there are no coincidences–perhaps life is really full of patterns and cosmic synchronicity.  Petra dreams of [...]

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25. Chicago!

Just a few pics from the Chicago-Madison trip.  Go check out Cynsations for more!

Hancock, Drake, Palmolive
Frosty Lake Michigan

Sky view
Oak Street Beach

One of the places where we were today
Outside Glenbard West


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