Had lunch twice this week at the Country Lounge in Hobart, first with Anne Balay from the English Department and then with former student Sam Barnett. Neither had been to the 70 year-old eatery, sometimes called “Hunky Hollow” because it was once a favorite watering hole for Lake County politicians, many of whom were of Eastern European ancestry. During the 1970s it was one of the few places near IU Northwest where I could go after class for a few beers with minority students without getting hassled. Chancellor Dan Orescanin often went there for lunch and returned with a placemat filled with names, phone numbers, messages, and reminders that he expected his secretary to decipher. The place still serves tasty lunches and offers friendly service.
In addition to his teaching duties in Chicago Sam is involved in all sorts of grassroots neighborhood activities. He brought me two recent issues of the magazine “AREA Chicago: Navigating the City through Art, Research, Education and Activism” that ran photos of his. In the “contributors” section it mentions that he is “also known as Samuel A. Love, a writer, researcher, artist, educator, and ‘band professor’ of 33, 45, 78 (www.myspace.com/334578music).” He’s my most creative protégé (if that is the right word) and on the cover of my 1990s “Steel Shavings” issue (volume 31), which contains his memoir about being a punk rock band (Fuzz Factor) front man. At one time I had hoped he’d succeed me at IU Northwest after I retired. He’s involved in an ambitious “AREA Chicago” project called “A People’s History of Chicago” and has interviewed residents (both participants and victims) who recalled the riots that occurred in the aftermath of Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination.
Many of the “AREA Chicago” articles deal with contemporary labor strife – a subject sadly neglected by the mainstream press and not much in fashion among our current generation of American historians. Contributor Lauren Cumbia put together a time line entitled “Strike! Chicago” listing labor stoppages of the past 30 years involving teachers, fire fighters, cemetery workers, symphony orchestra members, copy editors, bricklayers, actors, waste haulers, as well as industrial workers. The editors listed these “local media allies” among others: The Baffler Magazine, Journal of Ordinary Thought, Lumpen, Nitty Gritty News, View from the Ground, and We The People Media, Say What? Two “inspiring publications” mentioned were the Brooklyn Rail and Green Pepper, published in Amsterdam. The pity is that publications such as these don’t reach a larger audience.