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March 2013 Archives

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The speed of new media makes it easier to dismiss history.

Like these folks who advertise one of Chicago's most beloved writers as visitors approach the historic Chicago skywalk section at Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower).

Hard Times, indeed.

(Courtesy of Community Media Workshop and Jim Romenesko)

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Sun-Times portrait of Marie Williams by Rich Hein


The Golden Apple, 2971 N. Lincoln Ave. in Chicago does not have a key to gain entry.
My favorite Greek diner never closes.

The door is always open for opportunity.
Marie Williams understood this. I got to know Marie during the 1980s when I lived in West Lakeview. She was the second
shift waitress at the Apple. We both loved Lefty Frizzell and Merle Haggard. I loved her silver fork and spoon earrings that were given to her by a loyal customer. Her black eyelashes fluttered like the wings of a lark.

Marie was the second oldest of 23 children born to Alberta and Alonzo Williams of Atlanta, Ga.
She knew how to find her way........

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Sun-Times photos and video by Scott Stewart

The fine folks at the private Everleigh Social Club, 939 W. Randolph, had some revealing news over the weekend.

International Read Naked Day is July 5.

It's a nice spin off the World Naked Bike Ride which takes place on June 8.

The "Naked Girls Reading" arm of the Chicago based literary salon will spread the word through it's 18 international outposts, including Victoria, British Columbia and London, England. International Read Naked Day was announced during Friday's 4th anniversary celebration of "Naked Girls Reading....."

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It was the shining moment of my journalism career.

Last night I was a recipient of the Studs Terkel Community Media Award presented by the Community Media Workshop in Chicago. I was humbled to be in the company of fellow 2013 award winners Megan Cottrell, Reporter/Blogger for the Chicago Reporter and Fernando Diaz, Managing Editor of Hoy Chicago,

Their work makes a difference. Their work opens eyes and hearts---and that is my aspiration.

By request, here's my acceptance speech (I got my red argyle socks at Target, Studs got his reddies at Land's End).

Red socks.

Studs Terkel wore red socks.

They took him everywhere. Blue is sad. White is for weddings. Argyle? Studs didn't live far from Argyle Street.......

My Liberace Moments

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Liberace was outre' when outre' was out.

The bedazzled pianist is the subject of the upcoming Steven Soderbergh HBO biopic "Behind the Candelabra." Michael Douglas plays Liberace, Matt Damon portrays Lee's lover Scott Thorson (the movie title comes from Thorson's 1988 memoir) and Debbie Reynolds plays Wladziu Valentino Liberace's mother. I'm not making any of this up.

Liberace died of complications from AIDS in 1987.
A little history lesson: if Elton John's father had been from West Allis, Wisconsin, he would have been Liberace.
"Lee," as his friends called him, died with six pianos, 27 dogs, 15 homes, nine cars and a $1 million wardrobe that filled 54 trunks......

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In line for something fine--Sun-Times portrait by Jon Sall


Ronny's Original Chicago Steak House is celebrating 50 years as a Loop landmark.

Ronny's never had the cache' of the Berghoff, whose historic streak in the Loop was broken in 2006 when it "closed" through crafty union busting techiniques, or the Italian Vilage (est. 1927) which remains a trip back into the swinging nocturnal 1950s.

At one time there were six Ronny's in downtown Chicago.
Ronny's was to meat what the Daleys were to juice.......

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Cubs fan Fred Speck would be packing up for Spring Training now for his extended stay at the very moderate Motel 6 in Scottsdale, Az.
More often than not we would meet for a baseball drink at the Pink Pony in Scottsdale and he would be all over me about his latest Mexican food discovery in the Valley of Eternal Promise.

Fred died over the winter.
Cubdom just won't be the same without Fred Speck and Bob Beck.

Here is a link to my post on Fred's passing along with some touching comments from his friends.

Fred used to host an annual Cubs Opening Day party, first at his Wrigleyville condo, and later at Guthrie's Tavern, 1300 W. Addison (773) 477-2900.

The 20-year tradition will continue this year at Guthrie's as a Memorial to Fred.
Doors open at 9 a..m. Monday, April 8 before the Cubs host the Milwaukee Brewers. How appropriate. Milwaukee was Fred's second favorite city. He once fell in love with a girl from Wolski's.

Hawaiian shirts are optional. Brats, chili and potato salad will be served in the back of the bar.
Along with tall tales.

Fred and I argued about everything ranging from the worth of baseball commissioner Bud Selig to Fred's strange affinity for Hootie and the Blowfish.

But we always agreed on the American glory of Merle Haggard.

And we understood the simple beauty of this Haggard song:

Dave Hoekstra

Dave Hoekstra has been a Chicago Sun-Times staff writer since 1985. His collection of Sun-Times travel columns, "Ticket To Everywhere," was published in 2000 by Lake Claremont Press. He was lead writer for "Farm Aid: Song for America" (Rodale Press, 2005) which commemorated the 20th anniversary of the Willie Nelson inspired effort.
He won a 1987 Chicago Newspaper Guild Stick O-Type Award for Column Writing. Hoekstra wrote and co-proudced the WTTW-Channel 11 PBS special: "The Staple Singers and the Civil Rights Movement," nominated for a 2001-02 Chicago Emmy for a documentary program/cultural significance.
He lives in Chicago.

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