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Local Book Notes: God Bless The Golden Arches!

1. Hot Lead, Cold Iron.

"Mick Oberon is a PI in 1932 Chicago, much along the lines of Mike Hammer or Sam Spade. Well, except that he uses a wand instead of a gun whenever he has a choice; he can do magic and only illusion keeps people from seeing his pointy ears."


See also: Ari Marmell.

2. Chicago Graphic Novelist Corinne Mucha Gets Over Her First Big Romance in Get Over It.

'I mean, I want to get married someday," Corinne Mucha's boyfriend told her, a few months after persuading her to give up her life on the East Coast and follow him to Chicago. "Just not to you."

"Chicago came two years after Mucha and Sam, whom she began seeing at RISD, graduated. A cartoonist himself, Sam was invited to work on a film project in Chicago. Mucha followed without having 'a life plan.'

"She worked as a barista ('at this super-hippie cafe') and worked on her art, developing her unique, playful drawing style. She got over Sam and grew to love Chicago on her own. Comic books, chapbooks, and full volumes followed, including the young-adult graphic novel Freshman: Tales of 9th Grade Obsessions, Revelations, and Other Nonsense and the chapbook The Monkey in the Basement and Other Delusions.

"She also continued her teaching job: She teaches comics courses for kids and adults and develops programs for students at Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art."


See also: Corrine Mucha Comics.

3. Hillary Is Nice to Rahm in Her Bland New Memoir.

"The former Secretary of State once engineered Emanuel's demotion in the White House, but now they're a mutual-admiration society."

4. Closing The Cloud Factories.

The latest from Kari Lydersen (Mayor 1%) documents the long and arduous journey toward the 2010 closings of the Fisk and Crawford coal plants in Pilsen and Little Village.

5. Thornton Township's First Lady Of Olympic Track.

"Thornton Township High School student Betty Robinson was late for her train after school one day in 1928," Steve Metsch writes for the SouthtownStar.

Charles Price, a biology teacher and assistant track coach at Thornton, stood on the station platform. He saw her running to catch the train in Harvey and thought she had missed it.

Imagine his surprise when she soon sat beside him on the train.

"He's in shock. He asks, 'you ever run before? Come after school and I'll time you.' That's all it took. Whammo. Next thing you know, she's an Olympic star," Rick Schwartz, 71, the eldest of Robinson's two children, said.

The book is by Joe Gergen, from Northwestern University Press.

6. Exploring Chicago Blues.

"Growing up in Chicago, Rosalind Cummings-Yeates can't remember when she first heard the blues being played. It was all part of the music - advertising jingles, her grandmother's records and songs on the radio - she remembers swirling around her when she was young. Experiencing

"But I remember vividly the first time I recognized blues in popular music," Cummings-Yeates writes in the introduction of her recently released book, Exploring Chicago Blues: Inside the Scene, Past and Present (History Press 2014; $16.99) with forward by Billy Branch. "I was watching Elvis perform 'Hound Dog' and I recognized echoes of the blues in the lyrics, the delivery and the rhythm. Except this music Elvis was singing wasn't exactly what I recalled blues sounding like."

Instead, Cummings-Yeates, who holds a BS in mass communications from Illinois State University, a MS in journalism from Roosevelt University and writes a monthly blues column "Sweet Home" for the Illinois Entertainer, had hazy recollections of "Hound Dog" performed in a much different way - as a song being belted out full-throttle by a woman.

Cummings-Yeates appears at the Edgewater Branch of the Chicago Public Library on Saturday at 1 p.m.

7. Dance Of Death Recounts Genius, Complexities Of Guitarist John Fahey.

"Teenager Leo Kottke, while trying to buttonhole another musician backstage, heard a note that blew his mind and still resonates for him today.

"I can still hear that big bong of a thumb on the E string . . . It was Fahey. It was Fahey yet to be . . . which I'm thinking is all we'll ever know of him."

"Many musicians and listeners would nod their heads in agreement with Kottke's reaction, which Steve Lowenthal reports in his excellent biography, Dance of Death: The Life of John Fahey, American Guitarist. Fahey's guitar playing knocked people out; his odd personality and self-destructive behavior made them scratch their heads."

Published by Chicago Review Press.


The Dance of Death.


8. Root, Branch And Blossom: Exploring Early 20th Century Black Cultural Achievement, 1893-1930.

"Researchers chronicling contributions made by early African American artists and intellectuals in Chicago will present groundbreaking evidence of an arts scene that flourished long before the Harlem Renaissance or Black Chicago Renaissance during a public forum being held June 18 at Roosevelt University."

A book of essays is forthcoming.

9. God Bless America And The Golden Arches.

"He arrived to the country and settled in Chicago.

"Zafiris worked in the restaurant of a Hilton Hotel in Chicago, he said, and eventually wanted to open his own. In 1962, his nephews visited him one day for lunch, but they wanted to eat at a McDonald's - not at the hotel restaurant where he worked, he said.

"As soon as I saw the golden arches, I fell in love with it," he said smiling. "There were these nice young people with uniforms and it was so clean."

Zafiris said he and a coworker, who was also from Greece, decided to open their own McDonald's. They applied and were each prepared to put down $10,000 of their own money. Their application was accepted, but Zafiris said they were told they had to own a McDonald's in another state since there was already a branch in Chicago.

So he went west.

10. The Book Of Unknown Americans.

"The lines of Cristina Henriquez's first book were written on a movie schedule at the Magnolia theater in Dallas.

A recent graduate of Northwestern University and the Iowa Writers' Workshop, Henriquez was tearing tickets, making popcorn and reading under the counter during slow day shifts.

The first draft of "Ride," a short story included in Henriquez's first book, Come Together, Fall Apart (2006), was written on the job.

"I would stand at the little pole where you tear someone's ticket and let them into the theater," Henriquez says by phone from her home outside of Chicago. "On the back of the schedule, I would be writing stories. When people would come up, I would flip the paper over so no one could see."

Henriquez has since moved back to her home state, Delaware, and then on to Chicago. But she'll return to Dallas, her home of three years, on Friday to promote her new novel, The Book of Unknown Americans, which was released earlier this month by Knopf.


See also: Cristina Henriquez.


Comments welcome.


Posted on June 18, 2014

MUSIC - Holiday Hullabaloo.
POLITICS - Bank Profits Soaring.
SPORTS - Chicago vs. Michigan, 1903.

BOOKS - Dia De Los Muertos Stories.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Chicagoetry: West Town Blues.

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