In the Frunchroom: Ricardo “Rick” Muñoz

Too often we think about politicians as separate from than the average person. Over the past year, as organizations line Run for Something and She Should Run have shown, the lines we’ve drawn between the governed and those that govern are largely artificial.

All this is to say that The Frunchroom has often been a place where we’ve heard politicians like Alderwoman Susan Garza and Commissioner Bridget Gainer tell the stories of how they came to elected office by starting as lunch ladies or banquet hall servers on the South Side. It’s not as rare a path as others might make it seem.

A storyteller at our third anniversary show this week has a similar tale of working in the South Side from the ground-up.

Ricardo “Rick” Muñoz has become a dominant voice for reform in Chicago, earning his leadership role through innovation and determination. Muñoz put forward a proposal to generate millions in education spending without raising taxes, while overseeing the construction of more new schools in his neighborhood. He worked to make one of the schools in his community into the first-ever “dual language” academy in the City of Chicago.

Rick is also a progressive leader within the national Democratic Party and assisted then Senator Obama during his 2008 Presidential election. One of the original City Council sponsors of the Chicago Living Wage legislation, he helped lead a citywide, multi-racial coalition of labor, community, and religious organizations to victory on July 29, 1998. He is also notable for following through with major ethics legislations, like making it illegal for high-ranking administration officials to receive favorable city contracts, while still on the city payroll.

In his neighborhood, Little Village, Rick is known as a committed public servant, who twice declined his City Council pay increases and instead gave more than $90,000 to charitable organizations throughout the community. Muñoz is equally generous with his time, organizing block clubs and weekly clean-ups of streets, alleys and vacant lots. He also teaches classes on leadership at local schools, including serving as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Rick was born in Monterrey, Mexico, and is currently the ranking Mexican-American member of the City Council and a graduate of Northern Illinois University. He’ll tell the story of how his ward became a place where schools get built, not closed.

Join Rick and the rest of our readers this Thursday, April 19th at 730pm at Beverly Arts Center – presented by the Beverly Area Arts Alliance.

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In the Frunchroom: Claire Zulkey

It was with some mild consternation that I realized we will have not one, but two readers from the North Side at the Frunchroom’s 3rd anniversary show.

Luckily, they’re pretty great. And one of them is Claire Zulkey.

Claire was raised in Evanston and will likely die there. She produces the show Funny Ha-Ha, which returns to the Hideout May 11 (featuring Julia Sweeney). She is also a freelance writer and you can find out a lot more about her at her very old site

(Claire is apparently too modest to note in the bio she sent that she is also the author of the YA novel An Off Year, which I really enjoyed even though I am an OA – old adult).

Claire will be telling some stories of her dad’s days growing up in Bridgeport. Don’t miss her and the rest of our readers this Thursday, April 19th at 730pm at the Beverly Arts Center (111th and Western in the Chicago neighborhood of Morgan Park).

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Podcast, Volume 8: Write your way out edition (plus show notes)

It was a simpler time…the last night of the Obama administration. And the setting for Volume 8 of The Frunchroom.

Our readers are:

John Chatz
Blogger, tech consultant, softball player and father to many

Eric Charles May
Writer, professor, Sox fan, native South Sider

Robin Baumgarten
WGN Morning News anchor and lifetime South Sider

L.D. Barnes
Blogger, poet, mystery writer, essayist, wife and nerd

Jamie Nesbitt Golden
Journalist, mom, coffee-drinker, Buffy-expert

John’s blog, “It’s Never Just Black And White” is here.

Eric’s book, Bedrock Faith, which he reads from in our show, is here.

This video is from a few years ago, but Robin’s tour of Beverly (watch for Cork & Kerry and Janson’s) and other old haunts of the South Side is still funny to me.

More of L.D. Barnes’s work is here.

You can find some of Jamie’s writing on Medium.

That’s it. See you this Thursday!

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In the Frunchroom: Edward McClelland

Are all the Frunchroom shows good? Well, you can be the judge of that, but we try to make it so. Our anniversary shows, however, tend to be extra-special – thanks, in part, to our co-producer The Beverly Area Arts Alliance. Things just come together in a certain kind of way.

Our upcoming third anniversary show this Thursday, April 19th at 730pm at Beverly Arts Center is no exception.

Starting off our lineup is someone with a story that’s perfect for an event called “The Frunchroom.”

Edward McClelland is a native of Lansing, Mich., which is also the birthplace of Burt Reynolds and the Oldsmobile, and a longtime resident of Rogers Park.

Ted’s most recent book, How to Speak Midwestern, is a guide to the speech and sayings of Middle America, which The New York Times called “a dictionary wrapped in some serious dialectology inside a gift book trailing a serious whiff of Relevance.”

His upcoming book, Folktales and Legends of the Middle West, tells the stories of Resurrection Mary, Paul Bunyan, Nanabozho, and other mythical characters from our part of the world.

Ted is a former staff writer for the Chicago Reader. His writing has also appeared in The New York Times, Columbia Journalism Review, Salon, Slate, and Playboy

Ted will be reading a story about the disappearing Chicago accent and why Beverly is one of the few neighborhoods in Chicago where it can still be found.

Join Ted and two, tree odder people in da Frunchroom this Thursday, April 19th at 730pm at Beverly Arts Center.

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The Frunchroom, Volume XIII: 3rd anniversary edition

When we started The Frunchroom, we imagined it would be a going concern for a while. But it’s still hard to believe we will have featured 70 speakers over the course of 13 shows in these three years (and across three different venues).

Join us Thursday, April 19th at 730pm for five new stories about, of and for The South Side of Chicago at the Beverly Art Center (2407 W. 111th Street).

A $5 donation is requested and goes toward the production of more great arts programs from the Beverly Area Arts Alliance.

The Beverly Area Arts Alliance proudly presents:

The Frunchroom’s 3rd Anniversary Show!

Sponsored by: The Beverly Arts Center

Colleen Hart-Kozubowski
Wordsmith, musician, leader, advocate, fighter

Tamar Manasseh 
Founder/President, Mothers Against Senseless Killings (MASK)

Edward McClelland
Author, Folktales and Legends of the Middle West

Ricardo Muñoz
Alderman, 22nd Ward

Claire Zulkey
Co-creator/host, Funny Ha-Ha

Hosted by: Scott Smith
$5 donation requested to benefit the Beverly Area Arts Alliance

Subscribe to the Frunchroom podcast via Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Google Play or wherever you listen to podcasts.

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Podcast: Volume 7, ladies night edition (plus show notes)

Subscribe to us in iTunes here or leave us a review

This is almost two weeks late. Sorry about that.

Our readers are:

Sheila Maloney
Mom, lawyer, professor, friend, wine enthusiast

Eileen O’Connor

Katy Jacob
Writer, professional nerd, payments expert

Eve Ewing
Essayist, poet, sociologist, editor, artist

Mare Swallow
Writer, founder of Chicago Writers Conference, fan of gin, ukulele novice

Here’s the book Sheila wrote on conflict resolution.

Eileen’s Chicago Now blog can be found here.

Katy’s blog is here.

You can buy Eve’s book Electric Arches here from Haymarket Books (or from Bookie’s on Western if you are in the neighborhood). Information on her many other projects can be found on her website. The New Yorker piece she excerpted for The Frunchroom is here.

Here is the beginning of Alderman Matt O’Shea’s plan to close/merge schools in the 19th ward, here is an article about parents going in front of the CPS board about it and here’s his decision to eventually scrap the whole thing after parents marched in the streets. Oh and here’s a letter I wrote to the Beverly Review about the whole thing.

Mare Swallow has collected some of her writing on her website.

This episode was recorded by Jaime Black of Dynasty Podcasts on September 27th, 2016 at Beverly Woods Restaurant at 115th and Western. (The restaurant was briefly closed, but has been purchased and re-opened by a new set of owners.)

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

As always, our audio production and editing is by Tim Mata.

Our next Frunchroom live show is on Thursday, Aril 19th at Beverly Arts Center at 730pm. More details to follow.

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Everything you need to know about The Frunchroom, Volume XII

This will be our 2nd show at Beverly Arts Center, but we have a few new touches in store for you thanks to our production partners, the Beverly Area Arts Alliance.

Who are the readers?

Aaron Cynic
Writer, photographer, mithrandir, aspiring coot

Ronne Hartfield and Audrey Peeples
Sisters, executives, community creators

Kelly Wickham Hurst
Activist, educator, speaker, troublemaker

Nate Marshall
Writer, MC, South Side enthusiast

Amy Wiegert
Pastor, mom, writer

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.

Wait, there’s art?
Come early, grab a drink and enjoy photography from two local artists in The Blue Room, located just off the lobby at BAC. Curated by Beverly Area Arts Alliance co-founder Sal Campbell, The Blue Room will showcase photography by Preston Thomas and Holly Donovan (who is the resident house photographer at all The Frunchroom events).

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, sandwiches and craft beer or farther up the street you’ll find Horse Thief Hollow for dinner 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, Lizzy Benner, Chris Castaneda, Corinne Rose and Cicely Harris who’ve given this event material, financial and moral support. And a huge thanks to Beverly Arts Center for sponsoring the show.

See you there!

The Frunchroom is presented by The Beverly Area Arts Alliance and sponsored by Beverly Arts Center. 

Photos: Main image by Holly Donovan. Inset image by Preston Thomas. Read the caption to the above photo on Instagram.

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