Lendon Sadler: A tribute to a South Side raconteur

Lendon Sadler’s life is full of art, music, storytelling and honesty. He is beholden only to seeing the world as it is and being as true to oneself as his mind and body allow.

While his physical form has passed, his spirit, counsel and lessons are still with us. And so, I write this in the present tense or, as Lendon lived, in the present progressive.

Though this post is written on the occasion of his death – he passed away yesterday afternoon “at home surrounded by friends as we held him,” according to his close friend and companion David Greene – it would run counter to how he lived if I began with this fact. (Friends have been leaving tributes to him on his Facebook page.)

There is no one so able to tell his story as he. Here is how Lendon described himself for his reading at The Frunchroom’s 2nd anniversary show (he appeared during the second of our two nights):

Lendon has been – in his own words – a peace activist & actor, artistic and cosmetic model, street transvestite and guerrilla theater performer, fast food worker & dumpster diver, domestic & factory employee & construction laborer, winner of multiple Boy Scout merit badges & sex educator for the Girl Scouts of America, Mother Superior of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence & co-conspirator for the Cockettes, a rhetorician of the obscure Gay Left, a raconteur of American musics; an ecstatic student and enraptured confidant. But of notable consequence, an unabashed lover.

The below clip finds Lendon telling the tale of his journey to Chicago, his life in Beverly and his observations on life itself.

When asked to describe the story he read that night, Lendon said it was “life sketches by a homo hippie Negro in Beverly.” While it will be included in the full show podcast at a future date, it felt right to release his portion now.  It remains one of the high points in the show’s history, especially for his lessons on building community and compassion:

Buy goods and services locally, wherever you can. Food, flowers, clothes, whatever it may be. Give that toothless junkie begging on the expressway on-ramp an extra dollar.

Kiss your lover, when your inclination is to kick them.

Love your children hard when they are most annoying.

When your instinct is to make harsh judgements about things that you don’t really understand, just relax. Tell your mind to shut the fuck up.

Be kind to strangers. For one day, it may be me.

Good night, Lendon.

A few notes about this clip: This is a rough edit in the interest of speed.  We used an improvised audio setup during the show as Lendon sat a short distance away from the recorder and spoke in his trademark gentle tenor. My intent is to have a more fully produced version of Lendon’s essay for the final podcast, but it felt right to provide this to you as soon as possible.

Main photo: Holly Evanchik Donovan
Inset photo: Diego Ivan Martirena

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Podcast: Volume 5, plus show notes

Better late than never, it’s our first anniversary show!

Subscribe to us in iTunes here

This is Volume 5 of the The Frunchroom from April 21st, 2016 at O’Rourke’s Office on 111th and Western Avenue – the last time we’d record there before moving to Beverly Woods.

In order of appearance, our readers are:

Tim Baffoe
Sports columnist, high school teacher, former pizza driver, Ginger

Carrie Williams
Editor, Tribune Content Agency; Writer, Daily Southtown

Angel Simmons
Author, speaker, columnist, co-host of Do Not Submit – Englewood

Elaine Hegwood Bowen
Writer

Bill Savage
Editor, writer, Northwestern professor

Thanks, as always, to Tim Mata for audio production and editing.

You can again hear the sounds of a Blackhawks game in the background, especially during Elaine’s piece, which was also published in South Side Weekly here. Speaking of Elaine, here’s the gorgeous painting she refers to in that piece.

Read Tim’s posts at The Score here.

Carrie’s blog can be found here.

Here’s the open mic in Englewood that Angel hosts.

Bill’s piece was also published in Chicago magazine here. And here is episode 1 of The Frunchroom where Dmitry Samarov talks about Hardboiled Coffee.

Brought to you by your host Scott Smith – a resident of Beverly/Morgan Park – and The Beverly Area Arts Alliance.

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Everything you need to know about The Frunchroom at Beverly Arts Center

With the show moving from Beverly Woods to the Beverly Arts Center, we’re in uncharted territory here, which is to say we’re going to be adjusting on the fly and improv’ing as we go in a new space. But there are a few things we know for sure:

Who are the readers?

Tina Jenkins Bell
Writer, President of FLOW, Educator, and MOB

Parneshia Jones  
Author, poet, editor, Chicagoan

Troy LaRaviere 
Kay’s son, Zahran’s father, Your brother

Francine McKenna  
Writer, reader, teacher, traveler

Marisa Novara 
Superpower is curiosity

What’s the time?
730pm. But show up by 7-715pm to guarantee yourself a seat, chat with friends, get a drink from the bar, check out the art (see below) and settle in. We’ll close the balcony at BAC to keep things a bit more intimate and cozy.

Where’s the place?
Beverly Arts Center at 2407 W 111th St. (the corner of 111th and Western).

What’s the cost?
We ask for a $5 donation at the door to support the work of the non-profit Beverly Area Arts Alliance, which co-produces the show, sets up the room and coordinates the beautiful art you’ll see in our space.

Wait, there’s art?
Hoo boy, there is.

This is Beverly Art Walk Week in the neighborhood so Beverly Arts Center will have all kinda of things going on in its galleries.

First, there’s the Elevation show in the Simmerling Gallery upstairs.

There will also be work by St. Xavier University students and work from twelve 19th Ward (K-8) schools – including most of the public schools in the ward – curated by their teachers. Morgan Park High and VanderPoel are new additions to the exhibit this year.

Where do I park?
Beverly Arts Center has parking just west of the building.

How do I get there via transit?
Take the Metra Rock Island Line which departs from the LaSalle Street Station in the Loop. Get off at 111th Street. Head west up the hill for about three blocks. The BAC is the big red building on the corner.

Where can I eat?
Waldo Cooney’s is across the street for pizza. Manzo’s is on the other side of Western for burgers. Up the street is Open Outcry Brewing for Neopolitan pizzas and craft beer.

You mentioned drinks?
Beer, wine and liquor will be available at the cash bar before and during the show. The post-Frunchroom festivities will continue at Open Outcry Brewing.

What are the stories like?
Some are sincere, some are tongue-in-cheek. One may be a call-to-action, another might make you think. One might be historical, one might make you remember a place you haven’t been since childhood. Basically, like having a conversation with someone you haven’t seen in a while. This review from South Side Weekly really captures what we’re about.

Who’s helping you with this?
I’m producing this in partnership with The Beverly Area Arts Alliance (or The Alliance, for short).

A big thanks to Monica Wilczak, Sal Campbell, David Barsotti, Jane Zia, Chris Wilczak and Lizzy Benner who’ve given this event material, financial and moral support. And a huge thanks to Beverly Arts Center for stepping in as a host when we had just a couple weeks to find a new space.

See you there!

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Podcast: Volume 4, plus show notes

It took two-and-a-half-years for the first episode of The Frunchroom podcast to be released. The next came a bit quicker.

Here is Volume 4 of the The Frunchroom from January 21st, 2016 at O’Rourke’s Office on 111th and Western Avenue.

Subscribe to us in iTunes here.

Why is there no Volume 2 or 3? Listen to find out.

The readers are, in order:
James Finn Garner
Humorist, Politically Correct Bedtime Stories and Rex Koko, Private Clown
Lolly Bowean
Writer
Grace Kuikman
Editor, The Villager; Facilitator, Longwood Writers Guild
Mario Parker
Writer, Bloomberg News
Andrew Huff 
Founder, GapersBlock.com

Some notes related to the show:

If you’re wondering why there’s so much background noise, it’s because there was a Blackhawks game on the TV in the other room at O’Rourke’s Office. (They lost 2-1 that night.)

This is the Google Street View of 111th and Hoyne, one of the places mentioned in James’s story.

Here’s a video of Lolly during her Harvard/Nieman fellowship. Her first article for the Tribune after returning was about “rebranding the South Side” around the Obama Presidential Center and featured Jahmal Cole, another Frunchroom reader.

Here’s the lineup of the live readings at Speakeasy – the demo version of The Frunchroom – including Grace Kuikman. You can see the exterior of The Irish American Center here though I haven’t been able to find a picture of those stairs.

Here’s an article from Mario in the Washington Post with a similar tone to his piece here.

The next Tuesday Funk, hosted by Andrew Huff, happens to coincide with the next Frunchroom, so be sure and attend the next 20X2 Chicago, his other series, on October 20th. The lineup is here. Also, I forgot to mention this in the episode but his references to “this past season” refer to 2015, not the Cubs’ successful World Series run.

Thanks, as always, to ace audio producer Tim Mata for making The Frunchroom podcast sound so good.

Our next episode will be out on November 1st.

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In the Frunchroom: Marisa Novara

As we’ve said, this month’s theme deals with race, identity and segregation. The Metropolitan Planning Council has been looking at these issues all year long with its Cost of Segregation project. So we’re thrilled to have MPC’s vice-president Marisa Novara joining us on Tuesday, October 3rd for our next show.

Marisa joined MPC in 2011. She directs MPC’s housing and community development work, and manages technical assistance and support to communities facing development challenges related to housing, transportation, transit-oriented development and economic development. She designed and manages the multi-year Cost of Segregation project.

Prior to MPC, Marisa spent a year in Milan, Italy, completing her master’s degree in urban planning with a focus on international community development. Her studies were informed by years of work on the ground in Chicago, most recently as the senior project manager for Lawndale Christian Development Corporation. There, she directed more than $30 million in affordable rental and for-sale housing development in the North Lawndale neighborhood. She also worked in community development at the Steans Family Foundation and Carole Robertson Center for Learning.

A Michigan native, Marisa has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan in sociology, master’s degree from the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration, certificate in affordable housing finance, development and management from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and master’s in urban planning from the Istituto Politecnico di Milano, where her master’s thesis explored the role that an intermediary could play in advancing the community development field in northern Italy.

Marisa serves on the Community Development Committee of The Resurrection Project, the board of West Central Association, was a 2014 Marshall Memorial fellow and a 2016 Leadership Greater Chicago fellow. She lives in Little Italy with her husband and two sons.

Join Marisa and the rest of our readers for The Frunchroom this Tuesday at Beverly Arts Center.

Need a reminder of this event? Click here to RSVP on Facebook.

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In the Frunchroom: Tina Jenkins Bell

In 2017, Chicagoans of all backgrounds have celebrated the 100th anniversary of Gwendolyn Brooks, our city’s pre-eminent chronicler of African-American life. For our October show, we’re grateful to be joined by some artists who have been influenced by Miss Brooks’s work as they’ve created their own voices.

Tina Jenkins Bell is a fiction writer, playwright, freelance journalist, and literary activist. She lives in North Beverly with her husband, two sons, and neighborhood dog Bella. Recently, her collaborative hybrid fictitious account of Robert Sandifer’s (the young boy who was murdered by his own gang) last hours, entitled “Looking for the Good Boy” was accepted for publication in a Black Lawrence Press anthology.

In January 2017, her short story, “The Last Supper” appeared in Revise the Psalm, an anthology that honors the life and works of Gwendolyn Brooks and has been favorably reviewed by Chicago magazine, New City, and The New York Times.

Tina is currently completing edits on Mud Pies, which is her first novel; an excerpt from it was published in the award-winning Hairtrigger anthology.

Her other stories and prose have appeared in BAC Street Journal, Expressions, and Steam Ticket: A Third Coast Review, and Guildworks anthologies. Tina supports the publishing efforts of Pithead Chapel Literary Journal as a reader.

As a freelancer, she has written for the Chicago Tribune, Crain’s Chicago Business, and Upscale Magazine among others. As the president of FLOW (For Love of Writing), Ms. Bell creates and collaborates with other writers and organizations to offer literary programming on Chicago’s South Side. She’s also a two-time DCASE Individual Artist Project grant recipient, a two-time Ragdale resident, and a 2015 short story fellow with Colgate University and the Midwest Writer’s Conference.

Tina will read a humorous piece that address the evening’s topic of race and identity. See her and four other readers on Tuesday, October 3rd at 730pm at Beverly Arts Center.

Need a reminder of this event? Click here to RSVP on Facebook.

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In the Frunchroom: Parneshia Jones

We’re just a few days away from our next Frunchroom event at Beverly Arts Center. And this month, we are lucky enough to have the incomparable poet Parneshia Jones with us.

Parneshia Jones is the author of Vessel: Poems (Milkweed Editions), winner of the Midwest Book Award. After studying creative writing at Chicago State University, earning an MFA from Spalding University, and studying publishing at Yale University, Jones has been honored with the Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Award, the Margaret Walker Short Story Award, and the Aquarius Press Legacy Award.

Named one of the “25 Writers to Watch” by the Guild Complex and one of “Lit 50: Who Really Books in Chicago” by Newcity Magazine, her work has been anthologized in She Walks in Beauty: A Woman’s Journey Through Poems, edited by Caroline Kennedy and The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South, edited by Nikky Finney; and featured on PBS Newshour, the Academy of American Poets, and espnW.

A member of the Affrilachian Poets, she serves on the board of Cave Canem and Global Writes. She currently holds positions as Sales and Community Outreach Manager and Poetry Editor at Northwestern University Press.

Parneshia claims Rogers Park and Evanston as home. She’ll be sharing some of her poetry with us on the evening’s topic of race. Join us at 730pm Tuesday, October 3rd at Beverly Arts Center.

Need a reminder of this event? Click here to RSVP on Facebook.

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