Hot Air: Tear Gas Times

A late post — I’ve been been finishing up a radio news piece and I’ve been rehearsing a reading I’m scheduled to do tonight — and therein lies today’s Big Takeaway. Stop on by The Block House tonight, 7pm, for the William S. Burroughs birthday bash, part of the Wounded Galaxies 1968: Paris, Prague, Chicago conference and festival commemorating and analyzing that annus horibilis 50 years ago.

The b-day fete will include a bunch of locally-produced short films along with avant garde, improvisational music by Urban Deer, as well as the Frédéric Moffet movie, Jean Genet in Chicago, and a reading by me of Studs Terkel’s recounting of some of the street violence during the ’68 Democratic National Convention.

Terkel, that late August week a half-century ago, was gassed and hectored by billy club-wielding Chi. cops during a couple of iterations of the Battle of Lincoln Park and the subsequent Battle of Grant Park. Terkel experienced that mini-civil war with luminaries like Burroughs, Genet, Terry Southern, Alan Ginsberg, and William Styron, along with countless anti-war/civil rights protesters who’d descended upon the city. The events of the week would be described in official reports as a “police riot.” My readings’ll be taken from Terkel’s memoir, Talking to Myself.

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Mayhem in Chicago, August 1968

Pre-conference festivities have been going on for about a month now. This whole shebang is the brainchild of the Burroughs Century folks, including Charles Cannon, Prof. Joan Hawkins, and Writers Guild at Bloomington honcho Tony Brewer and others, and it’s been a smash thus far. The academic conference itself runs from Feb. 8-11, with one of the keynote speakers being the Rolling Stone‘s Greil Marcus.

The opening of the Rikki Ducornet exhibit Friday night at the I Fell Gallery was a super hot ticket and there’s much more to come. Click over to the conference/festival website for all the upcoming events and, again, please stop in at The Block House tonight.

Revolting!

My guest on Thursday’s edition of Big Talk will be none other than Charlotte Zietlow. She’ll recount another revolutionary (albeit non-violent) historic event: The Democratic Party’s takeover of Bloomington in the storied 1971 election. It was the first American election following passage of the 26th Amendment, mandating the 18-year-old vote.

Just a reminder — Big Talk is now a stand-alone, half-hour program airing every Thursday at 5:30pm, immediately following the Daily Local News on WFHB, 91.3 FM.

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