General Falderol

The World Premiere of my Hollywood On Lake Michigan, 2nd Edition Lecture!!!

Saturday, October 5        4PM

I am appearing in Lisle this coming Saturday, October 5 at 4PM at The Lisle Depot Baggage Room (921 School St.) as part of The History Author Series of The Museums At Lisle Station Park. I will be holding forth about the History and Present of Chicago Film and telling stories of my herculean struggle to update Arnie Bernstein’s beloved Chicago classic.  I will also be selling (cash only) and signing copies afterwards.

It’s going to be a very fun afternoon, so stop on by!!!




HOLM 2 Book Cover


The love for Hollywood On Lake Michigan, 2nd Edition keeps on flowing with two more great reviews!!!


The first one is in the online entertainment journal Pop Matters and was written by Brendan William Boyle. Brendan gives the book 8 out of 10 stars!

Click here for the Pop Matters review.


The second was done by film blogger Aurora on her classic movie site Once Upon A Screen (aka Aurora’s Gin Joint). Aurora gives a great review of the book and even had a book giveaway! (My apologies to those who missed out on it for my procrastination in not posting this here earlier)

Click here for Aurora’s review.



My appearance on WGN Radio 720 with Matt Bubala is now up on the web!!! Click Here To Listen



It was ALMOST as fun as jumping up and down on the bed singing rock songs into a hairbrush, but not quite! 😉

Talking about Chicago History and taking calls from listeners; it doesn’t get much better than that. I was in Pontification Heaven! A huge Thank You to Matt Bubala and everybody at WGN!!!

I forgot to draw attention to this nice little mention of Hollywood On Lake Michigan, 2nd Edition on the website Pure Wow. It was posted in June by writer/journalist Lara Levitan:


Check out the piece here.

HOLM 2 Book Cover

Have you bought it yet? Well get on it, Internet!!!

For years there have been calls for “A National Dialogue on Race Relations” but until now there has been very little progress on getting this great conversation started. A new web series produced in Chicago is out to change that, and will also add some talk about gender roles, generational politics, class struggle, and perhaps even sexuality.

I have much to say about The Great Melting Pot, but first just watch it:



The Great Melting Pot is the brainchild of Wendell Etherly, a playwright/filmmaker raised on Chicago’s south side and in the nearby suburbs. The project grew out of a play he felt compelled to write the night Barak Obama was first elected President. Wendell recounts, “I remember looking over at my wife [author and publisher Lesley Etherly] and asking, ‘what does this mean exactly?’ I wasn’t by any means ignorant to the magnitude of the milestone itself, but the effects of it concerned me for many reasons. Would this moment in U.S. history cast the delusion of a post-racial society into stone, thus providing a much needed smokescreen for those who do in fact discriminate and oppress others for no other reason than racial prejudice?”

He was also concerned about what this perceived watershed moment (where racism was suddenly magically washed away by the election of one single person) might mean to his career. “As an artist of color who produces strong social content, are my chances of being produced even slimmer than before?” He knew that socially relevant material would always be viable, but how would those people whose opinions shape what material gets produced in the American Theater/Entertainment scene feel about this moment? “And my concerns proved to be legitimate when the literary agency that represented me at the time suggested I start ‘creating work that was more reflective of the era,’ as if capitalism, racism and classism suddenly became obsolete.”

After shopping the play around Chicago’s theater scene and getting a tepid response, Etherly felt compelled to adapt the script into a short screenplay and produce it himself. “Initially, I hadn’t intended the project to be anything more than a short film, but after watching it several times, I grew interested in telling these stories through a series of events. At that point I decided to create an ongoing discussion about race and the current social climate of this country through the lens of my principle characters as they maneuver through their day to day encounters with racial prejudice.”

The second episode of The Great Melting Pot is currently in production, with seven more episodes coming after that. Anyone interested in helping fund this project can visit and those desiring more info about the series can go to where they can also leave questions and comments regarding the pilot.


The nice dinner that Caren (left) arranged so her friend Debbie (right) could meet her children doesn’t go quite according to plan when Debbie’s daughter and Caren’s son get into a debate.


Things I LOVE about this pilot:


Realistic and well drawn African-American characters-

I had almost forgotten what it was like to see black people in a show who spoke and acted like actual people instead of cardboard cutouts. TGMP really points up what a lean period we are in right now for portrayals of middle-class black intellectuals in the entertainment media. And to be frank- how few honest portrayals of white people there are these days. I imagine an African-American kid might grow up thinking that all white people must be vampires or zombies.

The concept that not all African-Americans believe the same things-

This is something that shouldn’t seem so ground breaking in this day and age. There is no homogenous Black Opinion any more than there is a White Opinion. As TGMP points out; parents argue with kids, siblings argue with each other; etc etc. As the old adage goes “There are as many black points of view as there are black people.” This fact often seems to have fallen by the wayside in mainstream culture and politics.

The idea that people can have a heated disagreement about something important and it is not the end of the world-

One of the biggest stumbling blocks to getting this whole much ballyhooed “National Dialogue On Race” up and running in this country is that many people are so afraid of conflict that they flee from disagreement as if it were a bomb about to explode (perhaps partly because of the “everyone yelling at once” paradigm of debate fostered by the news media). TGMP illustrates how we all need to gird our loins here and get talking about things. It’s OK, we can all survive a heated word or two.

A civil discussion can’t happen without the discussion part- so let’s get to it.



I will be appearing with Arnie Bernstein on WGN Weekend With Bill Moller (WGN 720 AM) on Saturday, July 20th at 9AM CDT. We will be discussing Chicago Film and Hollywood On Lake Michigan, 2nd Edition. Gonna be fun!!!



I always enjoyed Bill’s work on CLTV so I am really looking forward to chatting with him about HOLM 2!!!

The hits just keep on comin!. Arnie and I are on the venerable Chicago PBS news digest Chicago Tonight to discuss the history and present of film in Chicago.

“Hollywood on Lake Michigan”

Chicago Tonight | July 11, 2013  7 pm

A new book takes a look at how Chicago became a leading lady on the silver screen. Hollywood on Lake Michigan looks at the city’s role in developing cinema throughout the past 100 years. Authors Michael Corcoran and Arnie Bernstein join us on Chicago Tonight at 7:00 pm.




I had to do something to make this post more visually interesting- so here’s a wacky photo from the internet. Perhaps it’s a metaphor for the emotional over-saturation of the psyche engendered by electronic media.

I did my first solo media interview for Hollywood On Lake Michigan, 2nd Edition on this wacky “vidcast” a few weeks ago. The Down And Dirty With Frank Fontana reminded me of all the mid-market morning zoos I used to do back in my stand-up days; and I didn’t even have to get up at 6AM to do it!!!


Spent the weekend recovering from the “After Party” but I wanted to mention that the Hollywood On Lake Michigan, 2nd Edition Launch Party at Centuries & Sleuths was a rollicking good time!


Arnie and I dropped much Filmic Science and History upon the heads of those in attendance.


Augie did his usual wonderful and gracious job of hosting a book launch event. Here he is posing with myself and Arnie “Three Books” Bernstein (as he will be known for the rest of the year!).


Author Christopher Lynch dropped by to hear Arnie and I speak and to hip us to an old Jimmy Stewart movie that filmed at Midway Airport in the 1940’s and which Arnie and I were unaware. Here he is holding a few of his titles and posing with me and old “Three Books” Bernstein.


Here’s the fabulous window display that Augie created for Senor Tres Libros and myself. Between the Printers Row Lit Fest Panel and this awesome event I now fully feel like I am a REAL AUTHOR. It was truly my Book Mitzvah!!!


My Adventure In Authorland continues apace with this new wonderful honor: I have been invited to join The Society Of Midland Authors!!!


Out of all the fabulous things that HOLM 2 hath wrought, this is the one honor which my late  Mother would have been the most impressed by.


This is a real old school “Chicago Renaissance” kind of thang. The Society Of Midland Authors was founded in 1915 by a group which included Clarence Darrow, Edna Ferber, and Vachel Lindsay. Jane Addams, Edgar Lee Masters and Lorado Taft were among the earliest members to join. Current members include bestselling authors like Scott Turow, Stuart Dybek, and Jane Hamilton; noted historians such as Anne Durkin Keating (OMG!), Melvin Holli, and Dominic Pacyga; and a “Who’s Who” of Chicago writers, journalists, publishers, and intellectuals.

I will be extremely excited and intimidated as hell when I attend my first meeting at The Cliff Dwellers Club (that’s right, baby- THE FREAKING CLIFF DWELLERS CLUB!!!).

Huge thanks to Arnie Bernstein for nominating me and SMA officer Thomas Frisbie for being so kind and accommodating to me. Although the whole part about new inductees sacrificing a goat whilst making a blood oath to The Muse Of Fire over the bones of Hamlin Garland was apparently a “Rookie Prank!”

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