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Local Book Notes: Neon Chicago & The Story Of A Subdivision

"Chicago's neon signs, glowing fixtures of the city's bars, theaters and shops, had their heyday in the '50s and '60s, but they've received fresh appreciation in recent years," Zoe Galland writes for Crain's.

"Many Chicagoans can probably think of a favorite neon sign already - perhaps the tall 'Jesus Saves' sign in Andersonville, or the glowing glass tubing atop Loop restaurant the Berghoff. In recent years, technology - especially photo-sharing sites like Flickr and Instagram - has made it easier for neon sign fans to share photos.

"St. Charles artist and photographer Nick Freeman is one of the enthusiasts. He's been photographing Chicago signs for 15 years, and in his new book, Good Old Neon: Signs You're in Chicago, he shows off shots of some famous - and many not-so-famous - neon signs."


Here's Freeman talking to WGN Radio earlier this month.

Ground War
"Scott Strazzante thought he had a quick newspaper assignment photographing a farm in suburban Chicago. Instead, he spent the next 20 years documenting life there and on the suburban subdivision that replaced it," Evelyn Nieves writes for the New York Times.

"His new book, Common Ground (PSG), pairs an elderly couple's everyday routines on the farm with strikingly similar images of a young family in the starter-home development that replaced it. His project kind of happened, with plot twists and serendipity, much like life itself."


Strazzante was at the Daily Southtown when he got that assignment, and later joined the Tribune.

El Book
Former Tribune urban affairs reporter Patrick Reardon is "in the middle of writing a book about the history and importance of the elevated Loop in Chicago."

Migraine Central
"Women's complaints of pain have long been written off and attributed to sensationalism, hysteria, or simply just their weak-willed-lady-brains," the University of Chicago Press says.

"Nowhere is this more clear than with migraine. Migraine is an extraordinarily common, disabling, and painful disorder that affects over 36 million Americans and costs the US economy at least $32 billion per year.

"Nevertheless, it is frequently dismissed, ignored, and delegitimized. In Not Tonight, Joanna Kempner argues that this general dismissal of migraine can be traced back to its longstanding association with neurotic women.

"Pain. Vomiting. Hours and days spent lying in the dark. Because the symptoms that accompany headache disorders lack an objective marker of distress that can confirm their existence, doctors rely on the perceived moral character of their patients to gauge how serious their complaints are.

"Kempner shows how this problem plays out in the history of migraine, from nineteenth-century formulations of migraine as a disorder of upper-class intellectual men and hysterical women to the influential concept of 'migraine personality' in the 1940s, in which women with migraine were described as uptight neurotics who withheld sex, to contemporary depictions of people with highly sensitive 'migraine brains.'

"Not Tonight casts new light on how cultural beliefs about gender, pain, and the distinction between mind and body influence not only whose suffering we legitimate, but which remedies are marketed, how medicine is practiced, and how knowledge about disease is produced."

Paging Redmoon
"While preparing an exhibit on English-language literature last fall, staff members of the public library in Saint-Omer, near Calais, pulled what they thought was an unremarkable old book off the shelves," the History Channel says.

"Instead, it turned out to be a first folio of William Shakespeare's plays, of which only around 230 are known to exist. As no known manuscripts of his plays survive, the first folio has been credited with preserving much of Shakespeare's work, and has been called the most important book in the history of English literature.

"Edited by Shakespeare's friends and fellow actors John Heminges and Henry Condell, the first folio of the Bard's work was printed in a run of about 800 copies in 1623, seven years after his death. It contains 36 of Shakespeare's 38 plays, and is considered to be the only reliable text for half of his works, including Macbeth.

"First folios are among the world's most sought-after volumes, and Shakespeare aficionados track their whereabouts like bloodhounds. According to Rasmussen, a new one surfaces around every decade. Over the centuries, there have been some famous first folio disappearances: one went down with the doomed S.S. Arctic off Newfoundland in 1854, while another burned in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. More recently, a first folio sold at Sotheby's in 2006 for $5.2 million."


Comments welcome.


Posted on December 2, 2014

MUSIC - Chief Keef Changed The Industry.
TV - Vizio's Best Product Is You.
POLITICS - UIC: Soda Taxes Work.
SPORTS - More McCaskey Malpractice.

BOOKS - All About Poop.


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