Hollywood On Lake Michigan Previews And Teasers



Yes, this day has finally arrived!!! I appear with Arnie and Robert K Elder at Printers Row Lit Fest at 1PM today.

Those of you who clicked for tickets need to show up at least 20 minutes in advance to get your seat in the room- and those who missed out on the “ticket clicking” can just wait in line and you will be seated once all the ticket holders have been seated and the 20 minutes before presentation deadline has passed.

I am so looking forward to seeing you all!!!



Hooray, Hooray!!! HOLM 2 Drops TODAY!!!

The long and winding path has finally reached its end.

And another one begins:

I managed to get some extremely heavy cats to play with me on a video to commemorate this historic book launch. Seasoned Chicago music fans will immediately recognize them.






Now’s the time to get those tickets.


THANK YOU, CHICAGO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


You are now able to click for your free tickets to see Arnie Bernstein, Robert K Elder and I drop some filmic science upon the Printers Row Lit Fest on Sunday, June 9 at 1PM. DO IT NOW BEFORE THEY ARE GONE!!!



This is the hot ticket of the Fest! Way hotter than Sting. Tiny bit hotter than Judy Blume. 😉

I may stand out a little amongst the sophisticated stylish crowd at Printers Row Lit Fest.


I had been waiting until the details were finalized before I posted about this, but now I am shouting it from the proverbial highest roof!


Printers Row Lit Fest Panel Discussion

Michael Corcoran, Arnie Bernstein, and Robert K. Elder

Sunday, June 9. 1PM
University Center Multimedia Room
525 S State St.

Tickets are required and will be available May 27th.

Moderator: Chicago Tribune Columnist Nina Metz


Of course, that may not be the order in which the Printers Row folks have it billed 😉

Robert K. Elder is a brilliant journalist, author and film critic who also has a book coming out with Chicago Review Press in June entitled The Best Film You’ve Never Seen: 35 Directors Champion the Forgotten or Critically Savaged Movies They Love.

He and Arnie will provide the gravitas and I will be bringing the bluster. We will discuss some overlooked and/or forgotten films and directors.

This is seriously starting to seem surreal to me. I am half expecting my third grade nun to suddenly walk into the room or for me to open my back door and have it lead to a red-curtained room with a dancing, reverse-speaking dwarf.

For those few of you who may not know, Printers Row Lit Fest is kind of the Lollapalooza of the Midwest literary scene. Scores of hugely famous (e.g. Judy Blume) and unknown (e.g. Me) authors, hundreds of publishers, and thousands of bibliophiles converge on the South Loop Area for an immense celebration of the printed word.

I would have been thrilled just to be appearing in a little tent along Dearborn Street, but to be indoors in the lovely air-conditioned confines of University Center is just about as good as it gets for the likes of me. Damn, this may even be recorded and televised on CSPAN! So I will perhaps be able to tell myself (instead of some public policy wonk) to “shuuut the hell up” while absently flipping through channels on a Saturday afternoon.

Tickets are free but on a “first click- first served” basis, so start your last week in May off by ordering some before you have your morning porridge.


HOLM 2 Book Cover

The Book Stork brought me a beautiful 3 Pound, 400 Page Trade Paperback today, and it couldn’t be cuter.


I was sitting down to write a couple posts today, when the UPS man rang with my 10 contractually obligated complimentary copies of… you guessed it— HOLLYWOOD ON LAKE MICHIGAN, 2ND EDITION, BABY!!!!!!!

If you thought that Booklist review got me Verklempt; I spent 3 hours sitting on my back porch gently cradling it in my hands, cooing over it, and getting weepy at times. Up until now, the whole thing has been just a really big WORD document and the project has felt like a gigantic term paper. But today sitting on that couch on the porch, it finally was no longer an abstract concept or this albatross like thing I bored my friends and family talking about but a BOOK— and a pretty awesome one at that— looking even better in reality than in my wildest Trade Paperback Dreams(TM).

Chicago Review Press did such a great job on it; from the layout to the quality of the printing and images all the way to how well the text reads due to those innumerable editing, fact checking, and proofreading sessions. All those questions and corrections to review, some which made me want to pull my hair and scream “Who the hell cares?!?!,” were worth every second of excruciating exactitude (and petulant whining) on my part. I give great thanks to Devon Freeny and his army of fact checkers and legions of lexicographic legerdemain practitioners; Cynthia Sherry for her work on the manuscript and for rescuing this project from limbo last year; and to Mary Kravenas and Josh Williams for their marketing and publicity expertise.

And of course, Arnie Bernstein for writing a brilliant book for me to draft off of and Sharon Woodhouse at Lake Claremont for bringing me on board this project in the first place.

In another few weeks, everyone will be able to see my pretty new baby!!!

The launch party for HOLM 2 is set!!!

An Awesomely Bibliolicious Venue Has Been Found!!!
An Awesomely Bibliolicious Venue Has Been Found


Hollywood On Lake Michigan, 2nd Edition Launch Party

Friday, June 14—— 7PM

Centuries & Sleuths Bookstore

7419 Madison St.

Forest Park, IL 60130


Much more information (across multiple platforms) will be forthcoming!!!


I can’t get over the feeling that this is some elaborate prank. But here is the Booklist edition the review appears in.

The following review of Hollywood On Lake Michigan, 2nd Edition appears in the May 1, 2013 issue of Booklist, the official publication of the American Library Association (their online site has a pay wall so I have just pasted in the whole darn thing):

Film lovers and Windy City fans will cherish this updated guide. Film historian Bernstein, who wrote the first edition, “brushed up the silent section,” but the heavy lifting here is done by Corcoran, for 10 years a tour guide whose Chicago cinema excursions are his most popular offerings. Bernstein’s “The Silent Era” traces South Side black filmmakers, including Oscar Micheaux, as well as more familiar North Side figures like Charlie Chaplin and Gloria Swanson at Essanay, spotlights early movie palaces, profiles silent film accompanist David Drazin, and traces the real murder mystery behind Call Northside 777. Corcoran shifts from history to geography, exploring the Loop and nearby areas, and then Chicago’s North, West, and South Sides and their respective suburbs. Each chapter mixes nuggets for self-guided tours, tales from the making of specific films, and chats with such Chicago-area film folk as Tim Kazurinsky, the Hoop Dreams and Barbershop teams, Harold Ramis, Joe Mantegna, and Irma Hall. A list of more than 1,250 movies, mainstream and indie, filmed at least partly in Chicago or its suburbs is included. 

Whoooooooooooooooooooooooeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!! OMG OMG OMG!!!!

Sorry, had to get that off my chest. This is the first official review of HOLM 2, and I have been waiting a long time for any recognition at all for my efforts, much less such a glowing recommendation.

Booklist is a publication beloved and respected by librarians and bibliophiles the world over, so this is huge in so many respects. First off, these folks live and breathe the printed word, so to get such a positive review from them provides a little more cachet than one from a regular entertainment publication (although that would be awesome too). Secondly, this is where librarians go to make decisions about what books to order for their collections; and aside from the extra copies a Booklist review can sell, it just gives me SUCH a huge thrill to think that a book I wrote is going to be available in Public Libraries— a place where I spent some of the happiest hours of my childhood.

Perhaps some dorky, lonely kid in a small town somewhere will come across it on his Library shelf and be inspired to become a writer or filmmaker— or at least be entertained for a few hours.

Thanks much to Booklist, Arnie Bernstein, Chicago Review Press, and everyone else who has helped me along this long and twisted path. I do believe I will go and have a little Happy Cry right now.


Ameena Mathews, herself a daughter of imprisoned Gang Leader Jeff Fort, discusses the toll of violence with a group of teens.

Ameena Mathews, herself a daughter of imprisoned Gang Leader Jeff Fort, discusses the toll of violence with a group of teens.

The Interrupters

This film was co-produced by Steve James (one half of the team that created Hoop Dreams) and author/journalist Alex Kotlowitz (best known for his book There Are No Children Here, about two brothers growing up in the Henry Horner projects). It chronicles one year on the streets of Chicago’s roughest neighborhoods through the eyes of three “violence interrupters” for an organization called CeaseFire.

CeaseFire (now known as CureViolence) was founded by epidemiologist Gary Slutkin, who believes that since violence seems to mimic the same patterns as infectious disease, it should be treated as such by public authorities and the community. Namely by going after the most infected and attempting to treat the outbreak at its core.

The interrupters are key to this effort, going into distressed areas where violence has recently occurred and encouraging those closest to the victims (and the victims themselves) not to seek retribution. The interrupters mission literally brings them into the midst of a storm as they try and calm communities long wracked by violence and strife on the heels of a fresh incident.

This is aptly illustrated by a scene in the film where a fight occurs on the street right outside of a CeaseFire strategy meeting and everyone heads outside to stop things from escalating. This becomes especially difficult after a sister of an injured party rushes to the scene to seek vengeance for her bloodied brother and begins wielding a brick at members of the opposite faction.

The three interrupters followed by the filmmakers; Ameena Mathews (daughter of notorious gang leader Jeff Fort), Cobe Williams, and Eddie Bocanegra; all have past gang memberships and criminal records. This gives them a certain cachet as they try to discourage young gang members to not only resist the temptation to commit retaliatory violence in the moment, but also to eschew the gang lifestyle altogether.

The film follows their attempts to lead young people out of the cycle of crime and to quell strife in the affected communities, and also in their efforts to make up for their own criminal pasts and deal with their troubled consciences over past acts of violence. This struggle is acutely felt by Bocanegra, who details his attempts to come to terms with a murder he committed during his teens. The same theme of redemption is also illustrated by a wrenching scene where Cobe Williams takes a young recently released felon who has turned his life around back to the very barber shop he was convicted of robbing years before to apologize to those people he terrorized by his actions. An exchange between the young man and one of the women he robbed is an amazing illustration of the human capacity to change and to forgive, and of the incredible courage it takes to do both.

A major incident covered by the film is the killing of Derrion Albert, whose death during a massive street brawl was captured on video and received worldwide coverage. The filmmakers show the behind the scenes strategy sessions of CeaseFire as they scramble to prevent retribution and deal with the underlying community tensions that fueled the incident in the first place.

Of course the very gang backgrounds that provide credibility to the interrupters when they interact with residents of distressed areas are a red flag to law enforcement agencies, who view CeaseFire’s activities with varying degrees of suspicion and mistrust; particularly the fact that the interrupters will not share information gained during their interventions with authorities. Not surprisingly, CeaseFire responds that they are a violence reduction initiative, not a police agency, and that they would lose all credibility with the community if people felt they couldn’t be trusted.

The uneasy relationship between the interrupters and the police continues to this day, as do the problems of violence in the places where they work. The Interrupters doesn’t provide any magic potion for curing these problems, but it does shine a light upon some of the people who are trying one day at a time to do what they can to heal the pain felt by these communities, and by themselves.

Kartemquin Films. This wonderful Chicago film institution can best be summed up by their Mission statement:


Our Mission

Kartemquin Films is a home for independent filmmakers developing documentary as a vehicle to deepen our understanding of society through everyday human drama. Focusing on people whose lives are most directly affected by social and political change and who are often overlooked or misrepresented by the media, Kartemquin’s films open up a dialogue, both in communities and between the general public and policymakers.

Kartemquin documentaries are supported by civic engagement strategies that are developed with local and national partners to foster understanding, change thinking, and build support for social change. As a locally and nationally-recognized media arts organization, Kartemquin acts as a trusted bridge between communities and the media, fosters the growth of emerging filmmaking voices passionate about social issues and media policy, and encourages staff and stakeholders to play a role in advocating for a strong public media.


These are the words of an organization that has not only shined a light into how we live our lives but has also illustrated ways in which those lives could be better lived. Though it’s most well known as the company that made Hoop Dreams (1994) a reality, Kartemquin Films is a long-standing Chicago institution. Since its inception in the late 1960s, Kartemquin has been a thriving hub for socially conscious documentary filmmakers. In 1998, the Chicago Film Critics Association presented Kartemquin partners Gordon Quinn and Jerry Blumenthal with the “Big Shoulders” award, honoring their “ongoing efforts to promote filmmaking [that] best exemplifies the bold, innovative, and independent spirit of Chicago.” And in 2007, Kartemquin received one of eight international MacArthur Awards for Creative and Effective Institutions.

Hollywood On Lake Michigan, 2nd Edition has much more about the beginnings and early history of Kartemquin films, but now I want to introduce a new weeklyish segment, Kartemquin Korner (sorry, I just can’t resist the cutesy hometown newspaper-esque misspelling); where I will spotlight a particular Kartemquin Film. The first installment will be about the second most renowned  Kartemquin film, The Interrupters (2011).

HOLM 2 Book Cover

It is now official!!!  Holm 2 will be released June 1, 2013 by Chicago Review Press and is now available for pre-order!

I will be reviving this humble blog as the official companion site of the book and also as a general Chicago film/arts/performance/history/culture/etc blog.

There will be much content to produce, Gentle Reader, so please feel free to hit me up if you are a filmmaker, musician, artist, poet, writer, etc who has something to promote and I will expend some pixels upon you.

The ride is just beginning, folks. Please come along!!!


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