The celebration which falls appropriately on April Fools' Day (in the sense of the opening card of the Tarot), is being held as a carnival symposium at the Bloomingdale Artists Building, 2418 W. Bloomingdale, where the 606 crosses Western. The program begins at 7:30 and admission is $10 or $5 for students and seniors with piano by Erwin Helfer, excerpts by Tony Macaluso from Studs Terkel's radio shows, hosted discussions of Algren's beloved skid row and refections on Hemingway and much, much more. For more information and directions, go to http://nelsonalgren.org/news-and-events.html
While many know Michael or Miki (depending on the circumstance) for his free concert series at Wishbone on Thursdays and Sundays, his roots in Chicago go back much further as creator of the Lunar Cabaret (situated not far south on Lincoln Avenue) and to his compositions and piano for Beau O'Reilly's Maestro for over two decades. Anyone who has spent time with him from his long stint with the Old Town School of Folk Music to the present, is immediately aware that he is one of those remarkable individuals who nurtures art and artists because he is so singularly "in the present." The bicycle you'll always see outside Wishbone with the single gear and plastic bag covered seat--is, of course, Michael's. He also manages the Front of House and is hard to miss darting around the dining room or being caught on a catering call behind the counter.
What many don't know is that Miki is also a fine photographer; ran a cibachrome lab in Bucktown for many well known photographers AND is the very proud father of 4 girls--one of whom took the snapshot above with the tie.
More personally, Michael and I arrived in Chicago at the same time roughly 30 years ago--landing on Division Street hardly two blocks from Nelson's old digs on Evergreen. He hailed from Boston and I from New York and our paths have intersected many times since. (I include with this post an old snapshot of my preparing Miki for a film cameo in brother Gregory's DRUMSTRUCK--shot largely in James Bond's loft at 1550 N. Milwaukee.)
If you don't know the author of The Man with the Golden Arm or know that he was responsible for Simone de Beauvoir's residence in Chicago, then you owe it to yourself to find out what Chicago was like before Division Street was gentrified. The local chapter of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War is also being honored (and what better time than now?) and it's going to be a fun party with a broad mix of people.
It's also a good time to celebrate someone who has brought so many artists together and who continues to make music today. To Nelson and Miki, all hail!