Nelson Algren celebration at Lottie's Pub Saturday


The Nelson Algren Fountain in the Polish Triangle with its winter cover in place

Nelson Algren (1909-1981) remains America's best forgotten author, thanks to an FBI file longer than War and Peace, McCarthyite attacks, vicious reviews and strategic neglect by the city that he put on the literary map, says Nina Gaspich of the Nelson Algren Committee (NAC). NAC is celebrating their 25th year of changing the view of Algren with a party at Lottie's Pub, 1925 W. Cortland (at Wabansia), Nov. 22 at 7 p.m. 

In Algren's beloved Near Northwest Side of Chicago, the NAC began in 1989 in the basement of Lottie's, an old Algren hangout and one-time house of ill repute. There a poker game ran for decades, supported by Algren's money and his tendency to call with only a pair of deuces and a fat pot at stake. 

Saturday's event will celebrate how NAC has kept Algren's work and life (including his romance with Simone de Beauvoir) alive in the public eye for 25 years. It also will celebrate local artists and activists who, in the spirit of Algren demonstrate "a conscience in touch with humanity." 


Algren's grave

There will be a sneak preview of soon to be released, The End Is Nothing, the Road Is All (his epitaph). Co-creator Mark Blottner will be on hand to discuss the definitive documentary about Algren, which NAC helped produce. 

Other parts of the evening will include "Chicago Theatrical wonder Donna Blue Lachman and Saturday Night Live's Nate Herman, who performed at the inaugural NAC event in 1989," explains Gaspich. "There will be a tribute to Studs Terkel and Stu McCarrell, who helped found NAC. Also participating will be notable local scholar and historical re-enactor Paul Durica, as well as archivist Tony Macaluso of WFMT, presenting rarely heard Terkel interviews with Algren and veteran actor/singer/impresario Bob Swan. Rounding out the evening will be live music, performance, a surprise guest or two and Alderman Joe Moreno, an Algren fan." 

Gaspich will serve as the evening's Master of Ceremonies, assisted by the Committee's co-founder Walter Leming, Kurt Jacobsen and Hugh Iglarsh.  

The party will have a cash bar and free pizza. Cost is $10 or "$5 if you're a student, senior or just strapped."

Photos courtesy of the Nelson Algren Committee


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