I'll be out of the blogosphere for the next few days, while I'm in Chicago for Amtrak block training May 5, 6, and 7. I'm going up early on Sunday so I can do a little research at the Chicago Public Library. In doing research about the demonstrations during the Chicago Convention, I've relied mainly on four books: Rights in Conflict (The Walker Report), Chicago '68 by David Farber, No one was killed by John Schultz, and Norman Mailer's Miami and the Siege of Chicago. I've also had access to the Chicago Tribune on microfilm at the Bloomington Library. But the Trib was a pretty wacky paper in those days--here's the beginning of an August 25, 1968 editorial about Hubert Humphrey:
It will probably occasion little surprise among readers that in his former days around the family drug store in Huron, S. D., Hubert Horatio Humphrey was known to the clientele as Pinkie. But if the readers jump to the logical conclusion that this appellation had something to do with Hubert's political coloration, which is socialist, radical, and left-wing, if not precisely Red, they will be wrong. The tag was hung on him simply because of his complexion.
The Harold Washington Library will have the Sun-Times and the Daily News, and (I hope) The Seed, Chicago's premier underground paper at the time.
In other news, Tim Hallinan is sponsoring the following contest:
In response to something I wrote in the book roundup for April (about my once having eaten lunch with Cary Grant), Sylvia wrote the following sentence:
I once drank a beer in a dirt pit which had previously been Cary Grant’s swimming pool.
Lisa Kenney, who doesn’t miss much, immediately wrote to say that this was a GREAT opening sentence for a novel. I had thought the same thing; in fact, I’d figured out what the basic setup for the book would be. I’ll show you mine in a minute, but first, a contest:
I’ll give away four autographed copies of my new Bangkok novel, The Fourth Watcher, to the four people who come up with the best ideas for a novel that opens with Sylvia’s sentence. If there are more than four good ideas, I’ll sign and mail more books. Here are the rules:
Entries should be sent in the form of replies to this post.
No entry should be more than two paragraphs long.
Entries should be received by Monday, May 12.
The beer-in-the-dirt-pit scene can NOT be a dream sequence, just because I hate books that begin with dream sequences.
Here's my entry--the paragraphs are a bit long:
I once drank a beer in a dirt pit which had previously been Cary Grant’s swimming pool. It was a strange place for a protest meeting, but it was appropriate. It seemed a perfect way to embarrass the Americans for a Classless Society. The ACS has nothing to do with Karl Marx. In fact, it doesn’t even call itself that. Something about progress. But it’s all about a classless society--a society without any class. I don’t know how long the ACS has been around--at least since 1964, when its operatives tore down New York’s magnificent Penn Station and replaced it with the unspeakably ugly Madison Square Garden. Since then, ACS has been hard at work, demolishing anything with class. If ever there was a poster boy for class in America, it was Cary Grant. Even when he played a millworker and fugitive from justice in “The Talk of the Town,” he had class. And the ACS was out to destroy everything connected with him. Including his swimming pool.
My wife and I got involved when the ACS decided to tear down the Blackhawk Hotel in Davenport, Iowa and replace it with a garish Las Vegas-style palace. We had spent our wedding night at the Blackhawk; Grant had stayed the last night of his life there. I had come to California to meet with others who were fighting the people who wanted to replace class with crass. The dirt pit was chosen because it symbolized just how far the ACS would go. But it turned out the ACS was ready for us. We were like the French at Dien Bien Phu--stuck in a valley and surrounded by the enemy. The cops dragged us out of the pit, just as we were finishing our refreshments. The media people, whom we had counted on, were nowhere to be seen. Round 1 for the ACS.
My wife and I really did spend our wedding night at the Blackhawk, though it was many years before Cary Grant spent his last night on earth there. In 1973 it was a solid downtown hotel, with Maxfield Parrish reprints hanging on the walls. While it's now owned by President Casinos, I know of no plan to replace it with a Las Vegas-style palace.
All the best to my readers. I'll be back in the world of the Web on Thursday.