One afternoon I was sitting outside of a coffeeshop on Division drinking Hibiscus tea and reading a book titled “Adventures in The Skin Trade” when a man who looked to be about 70 leaned over and said, “Is that a sex book? It looks like a sex book.”

I laughed awkwardly, looked at the cover which had a beer bottle with someone’s pinky inside the neck of it, and said, “No! It's Dylan Thomas and it's kind of boring.”

"So, you like to read books?"

I nodded, wondering where this was going.

"I ask because they say the average American reads two books a year, if that. Probably less now with all this computer nonsense."

I turned that comment over in my head for a minute. He was probably right. Nobody reads books anymore. It was a depressing thought.

"You know Nelson Algren, the famous writer? He used to live down the street. He always wrote about Ashland and Division. Him and Simone De Beauvoir, you ever heard of her?"

I looked at him in surprise. “what? ...she used to hang out in Wicker Park?”

He nodded. “Oh sure…they had a secret affair.” He said somebody found all their love letters in the attic of that walk up flat on Evergreen.“ Johnny Depp paid millions of dollars for them. Wouldn’t be surprised if he makes a picture film.”

Love letters. I had written a few in my time. If only people wrote more letters these days.

He then asked me what I went to school for. I sheepishly said, “Screenwriting” as if that even counted. I had dropped out of two colleges.

"Ahh! So you are a screenwriter then?"

"Well, no. I am a horrible screenwriter. I don't have any ideas. I work in the music industry."

His face lit up. “Music!!”

He waved his arm up and down the street and asked if I knew who Clyde “Red” Foley was. I had no idea.

"He was a famous cowboy. Used to walk up and down Division St. with his guitar, playing outside of bars. People would throw money in his cowboy hat. At one time he was more famous than Johnny Cash."

Cowboys on Division Street?

"There were all kinds of musicians in this neighborhood, busking on the streets. Polka bands galore. Between Ashland and Damen there were 72 bars and all of’em had music and dancing."

He looked at my legs and said “You look like a dancer.” Did I like to dance?

I shook my head and admitted I wasn’t much of a dancer.

"Me, I was always good at two things. Dancing and stealing cars."

"Stealing cars?"

He became very serious. “Look at my face.

 

Blues and fathers might not be, at first glance, the most obvious of pairings. For one, according to Muddy Waters (father of the electric blues, according to some), blues is a woman who “got pregnant/and they named the baby rock and roll.” As well, some of the finest practitioners of the form (Charley Patton, Sonny Boy Williamson, Little Walter, to name a few) never earned the best of reputations; the songs themselves rarely celebrate the joys of domesticity or the well-earned comforts of family life.

Yet in the lyrics, among the players, and throughout the history of the music, fathers of all sorts have been, well, instrumental. This list attempts to pin down a few, in honor of Father’s Day.

1. WC Handy

If you venture east on Beale Street in Memphis, you can stroll past all the shops and bars and restaurants (most of which are sincerely tacky or tackily sincere) and witness a statue of WC Handy in Handy Park. The statue is very representative of Handy: nattily dressed, well groomed, trumpet in hand. Hardly the image of the lowdown bluesman most of us prefer. Yet a list of blues fathers without Handy is decidedly incomplete. After all, the man named his autobiography, Father of the Blues, and the historical record certainly backs it up. Composer of such blues classics as Memphis Blues, St. Louis Blues, and Beale Street Blues, among others, also collected and promoted numerous blues tunes and melodies . All this after an encounter in a Clarksdale, Mississippi train station where he heard an African American guitarist playing what Handy called “the weirdest music I had ever heard.” And while it is difficult to envision the blues in the twentieth century without a Bessie Smith or BB King, it is impossible to envision it without WC Handy.

2. Howlin’ Wolf

Unlike WC Handy, Chester Arthur Burnett—AKA Big foot Chester, AKA The Tail Dragger, BKA Howlin’ Wolf—all but typifies the mid twentieth century bluesman. Brazen enough to shake his ass in front of white teenagers on an episode of Shindig, Wolf blew harp like he was trying to put out fires, was an overlooked but powerful slide guitarist, and inspired more '60s rockers than perhaps any other figure outside of Elvis Presley.

 
Where To? Book Trailer #2

By Naomi Huffman

"The call came about 9:00 pm on a Monday night..."

Dmitry Samarov's second book trailer for WHERE TO? A HACK MEMOIR is in, and it's just as beautiful as the first. View it below:

 

 
Wannabe - 62

By Chris Prunckle

AllNewWannabe_10_Web.jpg

Wannabe is a blog series by Chicago area artist Chris Prunckle documenting his trials and tribulations as a wannabe artist. Check back next week for a new posting.

Chris Prunckle is a graphic designer, illustrator and comic book artist banished to the suburbs of Chicago. Though an advertising industry minion by day, he slaves his nights away creating a mad little world.  He’s previously worked on the comics Fisted, Bonesetter, and The Scarab.  Follow him at @midjipress.

 

 

Curbside Splendor is thrilled to announce it’s new montly reading series, The Marrow, to be held every third Sunday at the Punch House in Thalia Hall in Pilsen. 
Beginning June 15th, local independent publisher Curbside Splendor will produce a monthly reading series called The Marrow. Held every third Sunday in the Punch House at the historic Thalia Hall in Pilsen, The Marrow explores truth in its various forms,  including essays, creative nonfiction, and memoir. The Marrow’s debut line-up inclues Samantha Irby, Nico Lang, Jeff Miller, and Jen Richards.
The Marrow will be hosted by Leah Pickett (contributor to the Chicago Tribune and The Daily Dot), and Naomi Huffman (managing editor at Curbside Splendor and literary editor at Newcity).  
Cash and book donations will be collected for Free Books, an organization that provides books to prison libraries in the United States, seeking to enrich inmates’ lives with access to better literature. Since it’s inception in 2012, Free Books has worked with prison libraries in eight states. For more information, visit freebookscharity.org.

 

The Marrow Curbside SplendorCurbside Splendor is thrilled to announce it’s new montly reading series, The Marrow, to be held every third Sunday at the Punch House in Thalia Hall in Pilsen. 

Beginning June 15th, Curbside Splendor will produce a monthly reading series called The Marrow. Held every third Sunday in the Punch House at the historic Thalia Hall in Pilsen, The Marrow explores truth in its various forms, including essays, creative nonfiction, and memoir. The Marrow’s debut line-up inclues Samantha Irby, Nico Lang, Jeff Miller, and Jen Richards.

The Marrow will be hosted by Leah Pickett (contributor to the Chicago Tribune and The Daily Dot), and Naomi Huffman (our very own managing editor, and literary editor at Newcity).

 


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