Peyton Marshall on celebrity family reunions; An Illustrated Guide to Chicago Politics by Peter Orner & Eric Orner; Dubravka Ugresic on setting off alarms; Fiction by Sana Krasikov, Gary Amdahl, & Preeta Samarasan; Focus: Italy; Poetry by Tom Yuill, Pierre Martory, & Cathy Park Hong; & much more.
Lev has worried all afternoon that his niece and her husband won’t find his house. It is easy to miss the turnoff for Todd Road and get lost in a maze of half-paved, wooded roads that are part of the town’s semirural fantasy about itself. He is relieved now to see the step-van pulling into his driveway, the late sun bouncing in a streak off the vehicle’s metal siding.
“Yes, okay, I have the address,” Sonya’s husband had told him earlier today, when Lev was giving him directions.
“The address won’t help. Just listen to me…”
“I am listening.”
It had been one of those exchanges where the other person’s sentences seemed always to begin in the middle of your own.
Three years ago, Sonya had sent him and Dina a photo of herself and Meho in a wedding chapel with vinyl records and photos of old movie stars on the walls. A year and a half later, a second picture had arrived in the mail: a professional snapshot of a dark-eyed infant girl posing on a cushion, a studio backdrop of painted clouds behind her. “Our angel has arrived,” it said beneath. When Lev attached the card to their refrigerator, Dina had wondered out loud why someone would burden their child with a name like Andjela Bliss.Continue reading
VISIONS OF BERNIE EPTON (1983)
You could slate Attila the Hun or Yuri Andropov as a Democrat and he’d win this election… —Marty Oberman, Alderman, 43rd Ward (February, 1983)
Epton Before It’s Too Late —Epton Campaign Slogan
I say to you Mr. Epton: Do you want this job so badly? Are you so singularly minded that you would try to destroy a character? —Harold Washington (March, 1983)
This town is beset by a wretched plague. —Leanita McClain, Chicago Tribune (March, 1983)
He comes to me sometimes in my awake dreams, shouting, Shut up, shut up, shut up…
Election night, 1983. Maybe it was exhaustion. Or maybe the campaign had, finally, driven him as bonkers as some Washington partisans accused him of having been all along. On paper, the man was a living miracle. He won 48.6 percent of the vote as a Republican running in Chicago. Of course it wouldn’t have happened if the Democratic nominee hadn’t been you know who. A vote for Bernie Epton was a vote for survival, plain and simple.Continue reading
Harold Washington was reelected to a second term on April 7, 1987, defeating Jane Byrne in the Democratic primary and Edward Vrdolyak in the general election. He died unexpectedly on November 25, 1987, at City Hall. You can read more about Harold Washington’s place in Chicago’s political history in Barack Obama’s Dreams from My Father.
HAROLD WASHINGTON WALKS AT MIDNIGHT (1998) OUT AT MIDWAY AIRPORT
No one in this city, no matter where they live or how they live is free from the fairness of my administration. We’ll find you and be fair to you wherever you are.
Politics is a craft that has many practitioners and few craftsmen. —Ralph Berkowitz
Of Harold Washington, they used to say that as long as he had politics he’d never be lonely. And that was all well and good while he was alive, but caused some problems for the mayor in heaven. First he didn’t appreciate that the gates were pearly. Is this some sort of subliminal message? Then he challenged Gabriel for Arch Angel on a reform ticket and nearly pulled it off with forty-seven percent of the vote. Disgruntled and sub-angels supported him in droves. Over the years he caused so much trouble that finally, God, just to get rid of him for a while, let him come home for a small, unannounced visit.Continue reading
When they got the cabin, they unloaded only the food and drink, burgers and brats and bourbon and beer, set up the charcoal grill, and began to eat and drink. When they finished eating, they continued drinking and got out their guitars. All four of them played and they eventually became a kind of demented, drunken flamenco quartet, lips and teeth working fiercely over difficult fingerings, dripping sweat. When that was over, they turned on the radio and listened to a show called “Honky-tonk Saturday Night” being broadcast from a nearby Indian reservation. The show’s host was very old, they thought, and had an all but completely indecipherable mÃ©lange of mumbling lisping accents for a speaking voice. They fell in love with him immediately, and when he would do things like get up to go to the bathroom and forget both to put a record on before he left and forget to close the door after he flushed, they swooned with delight. It was nothing but very old country and Western songs for several hours, and then they began to play Yahtzee. Alex was wearing his cowboy hat and frequently jumped up to say, “Go fer yer Yahtzee, stranger,” which precipitated them all into hilarity every time he did so. The radio show host, whose name was Maylon, dropped most of the ys and ies at the end of names, and compensated by drawing out the last names, sometimes lisping the s, sometimes turning it into a harder d so it would be “Here’d a dong by John Ca-a-a-a-sh,” or “here’d Kit We-e-e-llth,” and he would put a 45 on at 78, scrape the needle across the record as he removed it, curse softly but audibly, apologize, and put it on at 33 and a third, scrape the needle again and say, “Oh for Pete dake.” When he got it right, he’d say, “Dis is goin’ out to the Wallinsky Thithters at Lunker La-a-a-ke.”Continue reading
Translated by John Ashbery
The bridge once passed
My city shows its wrinkles
Deep furrows always empty streets
Dead shops drawn shutters
It's the face it used to have
In the days when witches died
When from slow boats Negroes
In red shirts disembarked
To dissolve in the nights
And impregnated the young virgins
And made the boys dream
Of impossible adventures
It's the face it put on
In July nineteen forty
When young half-naked Aryans
Machine guns at their shoulders
Intoned the Horst Wessel song
And struck echoes from the walls
Of the never-violated city
Memories lived or learned
Flow together this Sunday
Like the waters of the two rivers
And evening descends slowly
Until night along the embankment
Lights a few streetlamps
Whose reflection at the base of the bridge
Inducted me as a child
Into impossible dreaming
Flow together this Sunday
My friend, I could wander
Around out here for years,
Shaking my head for letting him out,
Swearing not to forgive myself
If anything should happen.
He slipped out in the rain
While I slept. I followed,
Desperate, with a picture, asking people,
Have you seen this coyote?
He went across the ocean
On a freight ship, sat in the corners
Of doorways on rue Montmartre,
On Aston Quay, and in London,
Slumped, head between his knees,
Longing for the familiar woods,
Longing for the last red glimpse of sun
On the lake. He says he is a coyote
Who does what he likes. He likes
To stay outside. Tonight under the evening
Clouds in their cold, silver raiment
He sits there, alone,
And I must go out to find him.
Descendants of Chief Justice John Marshall return home for a family reunion. Peyton Marshall reports, in the new issue.
In September 2003, the descendants of John Marshall, the fourth and arguably greatest Chief Justice of the United States, gathered at the Richmond Marriott for a weekend of cocktails and lectures. I flew home to attend the reunion and arrived at Dulles International Airport a few hours before Hurricane Isabelle. Baggage claim was in pandemonium. The falling barometer had driven everyone a little mad and I had a hard time locating my parents in the crowd. I found my mother first and when I hugged her I smelled the tang of mothballs.Continue reading