Last month The New Yorker reported on a staff reunion of the long-defunct New York Herald Tribune. Among the many excellent old-time newspaper anecdotes in the story is this one:
The Daily Mirror was on East Forty-fifth. Bishop was doing rewrite on the night shift. The elevator opened right in the city room. This young fellow walks off the elevator. He has a gun in his hand, blood all over his shirt. The first desk he comes to is Jim Hurley’s. Hurley was the hunting-and-fishing editor. The guy says to him, ‘I came home and found my wife in bed with another guy. So I shot her. I want to turn myself in.’ And Hurley says, ‘This is outdoor sports. Indoor sports is over there.’
I'm a big fan of the police beat columns in my local paper (as well as the hilarious police log at the Arcata Eye). They are not only a great way to keep up with the juiciest neighborhood gossip they offer a wealth of stories about oddballs and idiots, all important material for a writer to squirrel away in his hollow tree trunk of story and character ideas. I remember a few years ago when there was a rash of people assaulting the rhinos at the zoo with their hats.
Darren Stephens is a talented actor, musician, yodeler, and voiceover artist in Chicago. I knew his fine work when I was working in advertising (it's difficult to forget someone working in the biz who shares a name--at least homophonically--with the most famous ad exec in television history.)
Anyway I ran into Darren at a wedding recently and was extremely excited to learn about his latest project, the twice weekly STOP! Police podcast. On STOP! Police Darren basically reads the Chicago police blotter and offers his own sarcastic commentary. It's sort of like Hill Street Blues meets Best Week Ever and each episode is only about ten minutes long which, conveniently, is about the same length as my bi-weekly cardio workout. Short, brilliant, check it out.
Also, a program note. Tonight, (Wednesday, November 8) I am appearing on a panel sponsored by the Illinois Humanities Council titled How Free Are We? exploring the relationship between nature and nurture and the potential challenges advances in genetics pose to the notion of free will. This was an important theme of Cast of Shadows and I'm extremely flattered they've included me on a panel with actual, proven smart people. One of those people, by the way, is panel moderator and award-winning Tribune science writer Jeremy Manier who, in a remarkable coincidence, was my housemate 13 years ago when we both first moved to Chicago. It will be great fun to get together again with Jeremy and revisit the great metaphysical questions, only this time in front of hundreds of people and not over a six pack of Old Style on our Barry Avenue roof.
The event takes place from 6-8 PM at the Duncan YMCA Chernin Center for the Arts, 1001 W Roosevelt Road in Chicago. Admission is free but I think you need to register or RSVP or something so check out the the web site.
Finally, if you can't make tonight's event, on Monday, November 13 I'll be joining the Gapers Block Book Club for a more intimate discussion of Cast of Shadows, which has been GB's November reading selection. All are welcome so if you've read the book and want to talk some more about it with me and others, come down to The Book Cellar, 4736 North Lincoln, Monday at 7:30 PM.
And if you show up at either event, please be sure to say hi.