3/22/13: Join us at Nelson Algren’s birthday party!

March 22, 4:39PM: 9,997,761

We’re still on track to hit 10 million views to our YouTube channel this weekend.

Where will we be celebrating? At the 24th annual Nelson Algren birthday party. Tom and Sara will be showing our classic 1975 video with Studs and Algren, plus a short video surprise! (Hint: it features Richie Daley.) Tom Palazzolo is this year’s Algren award recipient, and the night will be full of entertainment.

Nelson Algren
Birthday Party

Saturday, March 23 at 8PM

Bloomingdale Arts Building

2418 W. Bloomingdale

$10, $5 students/seniors

Read all about it:

The Nelson Algren Committee hosts the 24th annual Nelson Algren Birthday Party on Saturday, March 23, 8 PM, at the Bloomingdale Arts Building, 2418 W. Bloomingdale (just west of Western Ave., and near the Blue Line’s Western stop). The party celebrates the writer who depicted mid-20th-century urban America with a cool eye and a compassionate heart, as seen in such masterpieces as The Man with the Golden ArmNeon Wilderness, Never Come Morning and his great prose poem, Chicago: City on the Make.

The event also celebrates community members who display a “conscience in touch with humanity,” while flying under the media radar. This year’s recipient of the coveted Nelson Algren Committee Award is Tom Palazzolo, Chicago filmmaker extraordinaire, who will show some of his outstanding work.

The party features a one-of-a-kind blend of readings, poetry, music and video, as well as tributes to Algren and commentary on his continued relevance.

Local journalist and author Mary Wisniewski, currently working on an Algren biography, will be on hand, along with filmmakers Denis Mueller (Howard Zinn: You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train) and Mark Blottner, whose Algren documentary, now close to fruition, promises to be definitive. Their doc features interviews with such luminaries as Studs Terkel, Kurt Vonnegut, Dave Pelz and Stephen Deutch. Decades in the making, the documentary got off the ground with financial support from the Algren Committee.

Saturday Night Live’s Nate Herman, currently at the Improv Olympics, will read from Algren’s work, and may perhaps play some guitar. Nate, once of the Wilderness Road band (www.wildernessroad.net), will be joined by his beautiful partner, Ginny. Media Burn Archive’s Tom Weinberg and Sara Chapman will screen rare footage of Algren in conversation with Studs Terkel. Tom was producer/director of the famed Image Union, a longtime award-winning feature at WTTW and an oasis of creativity in TV’s vast wasteland. Laura Weathered and the Near Northwest Arts Council will once again sponsor the event, which will also feature the services of Carmine Cervi and Ilko Davidov of Bulletproof Film. Charlie Newman will add a poetic touch, and actor/director Gary Houston will dramatize Algren’s work. This is just a sample of the array of art and intellect offered by this unique event. More names will be added as the party nears.

Admission is $10 at the door, $5 for seniors and students with ID. Drink tickets are available to those wishing to toast Algren; complimentary snacks and a door prize drawing add to the fun. A precious few Algren “Mugshot Mugs” remain on sale, as well as a selection of other mementos. Committee members Warren Leming and Hugh Iglarsh attempt to MC the madness, ably assisted by fellow members Nina GaspichCharlie Newman and Kurt Jacobsen.

The night concludes with a rousing “Happy Birthday” sung to Algren, who entered the world in 1909 and departed from it in 1981, leaving behind a singular body of work and an enduring influence on succeeding generations of artists, activists, readers and citizens.

When the Committee started in the late 1980s, not long after Algren’s death, his books were mostly out of print and his presence almost unmarked in the city he made his life’s work. Now he’s commemorated with a fountain and plaque, and he’s been inducted into the inaugural class of the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame. But none of his titles has been included in the city’s “One Book, One Chicago” program, and he remains in a limbo of partial and grudging acceptance. The Committee’s work goes on. For updates and more information, visit www.nelsonalgren.org.



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