Our Founder, established in 1989.
The Nelson Algren Committee has once again rallied to throw its 25th annual Algren Birthday party. The event now rivals the annual Mayoral Corruption parade, and the TV tribute to the judge who murdered the Haymarket defendants in 1886. Yes folks, it's iconic- in a place where previously only judicial corruption would do.
The cast.......In addition to the Committee: theatrical legends Donna Blue Lachman and Direcrtor/Singer, Actor Bob Swan joins us in an Algren reading, Sat. Nite Live's (and Wilderness Road's Nate Herman. Film maker extraordinnaire Tom Palazzolo,and activist/historian Roberto Lopez. Writer and Algren expert Mary Wisniewski. Carmine and Ilko of Bulletproof Film will help us feature the premier showing of a portion of Mark Blottner's and Denis Mueller's Algren documentary..(The End is Nothing: The Road is All)... which is rapidly headed toward national distribution. Additionally, top Chicago folksinger Mark Dvorak will be performing. Christopher Corbett is a writer/ novelist who may drop in on us this year.
His book:The Poker Bride: The First Chinese in the Wild West (Atlantic Monthly) named an editors pick by The New York Times Book Review.
There will be poetry by Charlie Newman and Warren Leming of the Committee, and Hugh Iglarsh and Nina Gaspich will provide some literary and culinary surprises.
And thats not all, as the program is still forming- but do come and join
Warren Leming, Hugh Iglarsh, Kurt Jacobsen, Charlie Newman, and Nina Gaspich of the Committee.
For updates on Nelson Algren Committee events and other Algren-related doings, visit this Web site or call the Algren Hot Line at (773) 235-4267. A Heroic Line of Losers: From Herman Melville to Nelson Algren by Hugh Iglarsh
The Algren Committee has a limited supply of the NELSON ALGREN MUG SHOT MUG.
Done in black and white and with Algren's mug shot, courtesy of the Chicago Police Dept., on both sides.
Greet the day with an Algren Mug Shot Mug---reminding you never to "play cards with a man named Doc.
And never to eat at a place called Ma's. And never to sleep with someone whose troubles are worse than your own."
For details email us at: email@example.com
A rare, archival DVD, of John Susman's Nelson & Simone.
The play traces the twenty plus year love affair between ...
Nelson Algren and Simone de Beauvoir
Directed by Richard Cotovsky, Live Bait Theater's 2000 production stars
Gary Houston, Rebecca Covey and Fred Wellisch.
The Algren Committee has copies of the dvd for sale at 25 dollars post paid to you. To order email us at; firstname.lastname@example.org
Be sure and include your address. We'll send you details on the purchase when we get your email.
EMAIL ADVISOR: IF YOU CAN'T ACCESS MTBANJO@MAIL.COM FROM THIS SITE... COPY THE ADDRESS AND ACCESS IT FROM YOUR EMAIL PROGRAM. THANKS, THE ALGREN COMMITTEE
Max Vanzi is a retired writer/journalist living in Sacramento, California. Max covered the Far East and points between for the wire services as a foreign correspondent. He's an Algren fan, and spent a weekend with the Committee during the 2010 Algren Birthday party. He's done us the honor of a piece on the Committee, Algren's legacy, and his time in Chicago.
"Algren's Last Night" is the bittersweet tale of a Chicago writer bidding farewell to the city he had 'made his trade.'
Bulletprooffilm February 12, 2006 Based on a script written and narrated by Algren friend Warren Leming,
Given the dark tone of Algren's work, Carmine Cervi creates his own film noir world in DV color. "Algren's Last Night" is: 'Video Noir'. Unique and evocative cityscapes reveal a dark, haunted Chicago rarely traveled or seen.
Director/Producer/Editor/Camera: Carmine Cervi
Actor/Writer/Producer: Warren Leming
MediaBurnArchive November 03, 2009 Studs Terkel chats and jokes with Nelson Algren at a party in Chicago.
Algren had recently moved from Chicago to Paterson, New Jersey, and this move was the subject of most of the conversation,
told mainly through deadpan jokes.
Here are two youtube.com sites featuring a 2009 Nelson Algren program at the Steppenwolf theater in Chicago.
The event celebrated Algren's centennial, and featured readings and commentary by authors and actors.
Nelson Algren Live: The Lightless Room,
read by Willem Dafoe
Nelson Algren Live: Margo,
read by Barry Gifford
Nelson Algren Award Recipients
2003 ... Don Rose Carlos Cortez Jon Jost Kate Hogan Jim Redd 2004 ... Laura Weathered Roberto Lopez David Williams Peter Kuttner Judy Hoffman 2005 ... Jeff Huebner Vesna Rebernak Penelope & Franklin Rosemont 2006 ... Glenda Daniel Carl Davidson Marguerite Horberg 2007 ... Diana Berek Lew Rosenbaum Bob Rudner 2008 ... John K. Wilson Kari Lydersen 2009 ... Denis Mueller Ken Dunn Alma Washington 2010 ... James Bond Erwin Helfer Erika R. Allen 2011 ... Chris Drew Maureen Murphy Scott Sanders Richard Wood 2012 ... Paul Durica Elliot Zashin 2013 Tom Palazzolo 2014 WZRD Radio Collective
Understanding Nelson Algren
Univ. of South Carolina Press
William Faulkner said that every Southern schoolboy waits eternally for George Pickett to raise his sword and begin the mad charge into Union artillery that will end with the decimation of his division and the death of Confederate hopes at Gettysburg, the high-water mark of the Confederacy.
For Nelson Algren, Chicago waits eternally to expiate the sin of its beginnings in the Haymarket show trial and the judicial murder of the Haymarket victims, hanged to stave off the fight for the Labor Union and the eight-hour day. Algren never forgave Chicago's ruthless merchant class that oversaw the exploitation and political-cum-judicial repression that still stigmatize the good residents of the Second City. And so Algren, like the Truth, had a hardscrabble life in the town he "made his trade."
Lumping Algren with Faulkner may seem perverse, but the two shared a fascination with an America that continues to defy explanation. They are both attuned to a culture of violence and deliberate moral confusion that today finds clear expression in FOX non-News and can be summarized by the sentence: "The more you watch the less you know."
Brooke Horvath's Understanding Nelson Algren, published by the University of South Carolina Press as part of its "Understanding Contemporary American Literature" series, introduces a new generation of readers to Algren. Horvath's book charts Algren's beginnings, wandering the country in the midst of the Depression, getting jailed in Texas and then returning to Chicago broke but convinced, against all the odds, that he could get enough of the city onto paper to make a living as a writer.
Inspired by Dickens, Conrad, Celine, Sartre and his friend Richard Wright, Algren set out to describe what he had found in what Brecht called "the great jungles we know as cities." Algren had already been writing for well over a decade when The Man With the Golden Arm , which won the first National Book Award for fiction, made him famous to littérateurs and infamous to many of Chicago's more respectable citizens. The book is one of the first serious attempts to look at drug addiction in a nation the writer found riddled with "spiritual desolation."
It is difficult now to reconjure the world that produced Algren and Wright, James T. Farrell and Studs Terkel. It was a world which villified a broken and exploitative Capitalist system now shifted to a media-driven triumphalist mode. Capitalism was so universally deplored that Depression-era American literature now reads as though from another planet.
What happened, one asks with Mr. Horvath, to all that now-suspect anti-mercantilist Realist prose and the radical energy that produced it? The answers lie in the carefully buried Past, victim, as Algren predicted, of the media's endless rewrite in a country continually riven by racism, inequality, violence and a rapacity that leaves a Quentin Tarantino salivating and Progressives wishing they'd been born elsewhere.
Horvath is good on the FBI, with its ever more hysterical Cold War hyperbole, as it brands Algren a "potentially active enemy agent." In today's atmosphere, he'd be considered a Terrorist. Horvath saves us a superb and prophetic Algren quote: "We must recognize that, in the eyes of the world, the CIA is now reversing what it once meant to be an American." This uttered a quarter-century and counting before George W. Bush stepped to the podium and forever blackened the legacy of a State that, if not failed,has revealed its successes as steeped in the blood of its own citizens.
It is not farfetched to call Algren a prophet, and Horvath suggests as much. Algren's view of the U.S. as "an Imperialist son of a bitch" has now been echoed by everyone from Noam Chomsky to Bill Blum to Ramsey Clarke.
What did happen to Algren who, along with Robeson and Wright and Farrell and the Hollywood Ten and thousands of others, found themselves enemies of the State? Their passports pulled, their phones bugged and their careers virtually ended by a state-sponsored attack on "subversives" that's been re-worked in our own time. Once again, the Fascist slanders of the Corporate media and the "anti-Terrorist" campaigns funded by taxpayer dollars are squandered on horror shows that produce universal hatred of the U.S. Algren held to these views despite the price exactted. Horvath suggets that the price of Algrens truths was career suicide.
The chasm between an indifferent elite and the masses of people at the bottom of the system is now a fixed fact of American life. Algren's generation is to be the last allowed to take this fact seriously, as something shameful to be acted upon. We live now, as Horvath suggests, at a time when Algren remains a problem for the po/mo academics, the hacks at the heart of the media and the middlebrow millionaire breast-beaters of the Dr. Phil and Oprah variety.
What response other than deep despair could Algren summon to what he saw in his own time? Horvath's book remains good evidence that Algren - for all his troubles, tormented love life, blighted career and eventual literary exile - remained true to something that's disappearing quickly in the self-proclaimed home of "freedom and democracy": human compassion. Brooke Horvath has given us a good look at Algren's legacy: the Corporate/State Lie and Algren's great "No" to America.
Algren's Eye: Photography and the City by Warren Leming
Most recently, the BBC (Scotland) shot "A Walk on the Wild Side," in Chicago, with the co-operation of the Committee. The video documents Algren's now famous love affair with the French writer and feminist icon Simone De Beauvoir. Copies are available thru the Committee.
The Committee is making available, for the first time, a CD of Algren reading from his work. The CD will contain a long interview with Algren by Studs Terkel. There are also excerpts of Algren reading from his work. If you are interested you can write or call the Committee about obtaining a copy. Produced by Cold Chicago, the CD was originally recorded at FM station WFMT.
In addition, a map of Algren sites, fictional and real, has been created by artist Robert Hartzell and is now available, have a look!
Click the link to download an mpeg of the Frankie Machine Blues bands version of: Algren Street our homage to the work of Nelson Algren. The lyrics to the tune are also available.
"Literature is made upon any occasion that a challenge is put to the legal apparatus by conscience in touch with humanity."
"The hard necessity of bringing the judge on the bench down into the dock has been the peculiar responsibility of the writer
in all ages of man."
"I went out there [Hollywood] for a thousand a week, and I worked Monday, and I got fired Wednesday.
The guy that hired me was out of town Tuesday."
"The avocation of assessing the failures of better men can be turned into a comfortable livelihood,
providing you back it up with a Ph.D."