[This is our awesome blog post about Printer’s Row Lit Fest, 2k11.]
The weekend started yesterday at 3, where we sat on our hands waiting for pizza. This was near the Rockwell stop on the Brown Line in a neighborhood notorious for its wandering children and wild animals. It was not too difficult for us to stifle the stench of the North Branch behind wafts of rotten fruit and 9% alcohol. This imbibing lasted until 10:30 or so, by which time we were all sweaty and sharing our moisture with everyone around us. It was one of the things we resolved that we would do at a New Year’s party this past January. “And I will share more things with friends and strangers alike,” and by ‘things’ we meant moisture.
Come 11:30, most of us were parallel to the ocean floor and in danger of running ashore. There is no rest for the wicked, but the couch was a good makeshift lifeboat and carried a number of us through to Saturday morning, though we threw a few dead bodies overboard because the sound of their decomposition was making everyone miserable. The air conditioners were on full blast and draining Earth’s precious bodily fluids but keeping us comfortable in our self-inflicted misery. Next year’s Maifest will hopefully be just as promising.
Morning shuffled in like a sick rodent, dragging its little pink feet and scraping its wet nose on the ground because somewhere under there is a worm or a bottle cap. A little shower and a little black tea took brought us to back to 50%, but the cream-cheese and carbohydrates didn’t do much to pacify our collective hiatal hernia, which is as modern of a problem as pancreatic cancer and hot yoga. Orange juice, orange juice, orange juice, and an 11:07am Loopbound train out of Ravenswood Gardens. Our stop was at the Harold Washington Library, which would put us just a short skip north of the Printer’s Row Lit Fest, which was the real goal of our weekend and uninhibited by the prior evening’s cheap-ass libations.
We had no ultimate goal for PRLF except to soak up the sun and dodge double-strollers piloted by Waldorf mothers half-buried under their REI safari hats and SPF 10,000 sunscreen. We wanted to buy a few books, too. MJL found a copy of Hell’s Angels by Hunter S. Thompson and a discounted volume of McSweenys. Solace is shared moisture, Saul Bellow’s Turkish bath. The sun beat down upon our thin-skinned heads as if we were nothing more than insects under a metaphysical magnifying glass, and it’s not everyday that you’ll hear people on the street saying things like ‘metaphysical’ or ‘Judeo-Christian’ in passing conversation, which is one of the wonderful and tedious things about PRLF. Lots of pale skin and intellectual muscles glistening from the true electric energy of a book-selling marathon.
Many of our small, independent lit-mag buddies were there. Knee-Jerk, Hobart, After-Hours… others. Next year, assuming we have enough materials, we’ll be there too, sweating right along with them. Yes, it’s a self-serving crowd, but have you ever been to Gun Lover’s convention? Or a dinner for Jewish non-profit professionals? And how do you cure eczema, anyway? We will have pamphlets and literature for you to peruse, and our fingers our crossed that next year there will be more anarchists and communists handing out their dated literature glorifying H.H. Lenin, as if the 21st century is goofy enough for another socialistic uprising. We wish we saw more people on their cell-phones at the convention, but the pervasive humidity lingering in the air shorted the batteries and people were forced to read and hawk.
We handed out a few postcards, most of which were forced into the hands of slack-jawed pedestrians who were unprepared for our grassroots audacity. Maybe we made some new friends, or gained new brethren and sistren.
That gig got old, daddy-o, so we blew this joint and gamboled up State Street, sweating out the last few drops of our hangovers while all the little swans and sheep darted about with their plastic bags and fingers in their ears. It’s Chicago and it’s so beautiful and so damn hot that we walked all the way to Kinzie before we realized that some shade was due. A few more blocks and we hopped back on the train to somewhere north where bit into a few slices of expensive and uncooked fish, and hid under rolled-up newspapers while the rain started to fall. Perfect timing, too, since PRLF was about to shut its doors for the day and our skin was threatening to turn inside out.
In other words, it’s been a great 24 hours. Lots of money was wasted, in the best way possible, and we’re excited for the future.