Department of Amplification
Re "Comedy on the Color Line" by Tim Reid and Tom Dreesen with Ron Rapoport and "A Pioneering Flop" by Michael Miner, September 4
As a longtime Chicagoan and friend of Tom Dreesen and Tim Reid I've enjoyed reading your extensive coverage of the Tim and Tom book. Good stuff!
However, I thought you'd like to know there is an earlier version of the Tim and Tom story on the market: That's Not Funny! by Vince Sanders.
Thanks for the heads up on Ron Rapoport's book. I miss Ron here in Chicago. He was always a great read—coherent, classy, and thoughtful. The Sun-Times would do well to lure him back.... I hear there is an opening in the sports department.
The Munster Mansion
Re "The Barn House: Confessions of an Urban Rehabber" by Ed Zotti, August 28
I saw the piece by Ed Zotti on the house [near] Ashland and Irving. During the early 80s I and a group of friends resided at that house for approximately one year.
The house at that time was in ill repair with numerous gaping faults. During one rather chilly Chicago winter the kitchen had a huge icicle that reached from the ceiling to the floor. Being that we all lived there on equally meager funds (the rent was very low) we looked upon the house with amusement. It was known to our friends as the "Munster Mansion" with its dilapidated facade and interior.
While living there, two friends of mine who were studying at Columbia filmed a short video called Lonely Sheets, in which they interviewed me about my bedroom at the house. I still am in possession of that video. I also have some photographs of a "Summer of Love" party that we put together there.
I spent two years there, and it still haunts me. I'm not even surprised that someone would write a book about the house because it felt that important to my family as well. I wrote my first short story about the place and the neighborhood when I was in high school, a few years after we had moved. I can vouch that those lost original doorknobs (and plates) were beautiful. I remember them being on the doors, but then the place was rented to punk-rock kids who sold them all. We still talk about that, because it was such a loss, even though we were gone. Before this era, the brown shingles were contrasted with orange trim, like some conversion van nightmare. We removed sparkling stalactite ceilings, and spent days stripping the wood staircase and mantles and many original windows with noxious substances. My sisters and I found turn-of-the-century toys stuffed in the walls and under the radiators—wooden army men, a porcelain doll head with tiny teeth, and a miniature pewter cauldron. We knew the back stairs were haunted. I remember the coal room in the basement and the giant cement slab with the military seal along the side of the house, which took up most of the yard. Even to us that house was a symbol of how we choose to live, I think, and we took pride in the ability to see past the surface to the potential. A normal house would be too easy. Where's the soul? But it was liberating to leave that house behind, after all. I'm glad it was saved.