At the Ref Desk (10/12/19): Today is International 'Can You Help Me With My Research Paper' Day. [more...]
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Personal/Family

What with all the talk of the 25th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall, I recalled an episode that happened to me a bit earlier while visiting East Berlin.

The way it worked is you got to spend a day there but had to be back by midnight or they'd make you pay a fine. Normally we'd go there, visit the sites (such as they were), head to a couple of bars to spend the practically worthless East-German marks, and then head back to Checkpoint Charlie.

One night as we were racing back, we got stopped by an East-German policeman or border guard or I don't know what -- on the final street right before Checkpoint Charlie. "Why", I asked the guard.

"Because you crossed the street against the light," he explained. The fine for this trespass was 20 marks (West German of course). Naturally I grumbled as I handed over the ransom money.

"But," he said by way of defense, "we have our laws, you have your laws. It would be the same in Chicago."

I looked at the deserted street I had just crossed and then the huge forbidding Wall stretched left and right with watch-towers, spotlights and men armed with machine guns -- all to keep their own people trapped inside.

"No," I assured the guard, "this is nothing like Chicago."

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Moon Landing in Eagle River, Wisc. (1969)

Submitted by Leo Klein on Wed, 7/16/14 (2:01pm)

The lunar landing in 1969 -- I remember it well. We were kids hanging out at Camp McCormick in Eagle River, Wisc. There in the darkness, under a star-lit sky, sitting on a hill overlooking the pine forests and lakes and streams of northern Wisconsin's 'Land O'Lakes', we listened on our portable radio -- TV not being allowed in summer camp -- as the Apollo 11 astronauts made their landing. When it happened and Armstrong said those famous words, we jumped up and cheered.

Daddy Fronting for the Home Team

Submitted by Leo Klein on Sun, 4/13/14 (9:19pm)

Suburbanite Economist (4/30/1958):

"United Film and Recording Studio has been awarded the production of a full length motion picture on the subject of rehabilitation of the men- tally ill, by the State of Illinois. William L. Klein, owner of the Chicago studio expects the awarding of this contract to pave the way to promote Chicago as an able film capital. He says, "Chicago has the manpower and facilities to do a supreme job and does not have to take a back seat as far as New York or Hollywood is concerned." Hear! Hear! Hear! (Suburbanite Economist, 4/30/1958, p20.)

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Mom at Reference

Submitted by Leo Klein on Sat, 4/6/13 (8:40pm)

Mom at the Reference Desk dealing with an unruly patron.

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Two Pictures, Same Street, Then & Now

Submitted by Leo Klein on Wed, 1/30/13 (12:45am)

I caught a video clip from WTTW about the Great Snow Storm in Chicago of 1967. One of the photos (see above top) which came in at around 2m30s in the clip looked familiar. I could make out the Kroger's Supermarket sign and off to the left on the storefront were what looked like the final few letters of 'Barry Regent' [Cleaner's]. That would place it on Broadway just north of Wellington. I'm not 100% sure but the 2nd photo (courtesy of Google Street View) is a bit more recent. The supermarket is long gone -- replaced by Dominick's which later (2005) succumbed to fire -- but the Cleaner's is still there. All of this is just around the corner from where we used to live on Broadway & Barry.

Jesse Jackson & Me

Submitted by Leo Klein on Thu, 6/7/12 (10:50pm)

I ran into Jesse Jackson while in Milwaukee. I've run into him a couple of times before. One memorable occasion was in West Berlin during the Eighties. He had made a speech to thousands of Berliners at the Gedanknis Kirche (i.e. the center of town) finishing with the line, 'we defeated the 3rd Reich in Germany and we'll defeat the 4th Reich in South Africa'. The Berliners cheered. Then he added that he'd be at a party in Dahlem later that evening.

Party in Dahlem! With Jesse Jackson! The moment we heard that, we headed straight to the location -- a lefty social center for students. Unfortunately what Jackson forgot to mention -- probably because he didn't know -- was that they were charging at the door! Charging at the door? Impossible! So instead of going in, we waited. Finally a car arrived and Jesse Jackson got out. "Jesse," I said, running over to him, "I'm from Chicago and they won't let me in!"

He turned to me. "You're from Chicago", he asked. "Come with me!"

We walked arm-in-arm into the place. I headed straight to the liquor table. I filled up my glass and then sauntered back to the entrance to wave to my companions who were still outside. I motioned to the doorman to let them in. Having just walked in arm-in-arm with Jesse Jackson, the doorman assumed that I had a certain elevated degree of mojo -- so he let my friends in.

I reminded Jesse of this episode when I saw him in Milwaukee. He was in good spirits and laughed.

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I came upon of slew of emails I had written while at NYU in the mid-to-late 90's. I hadn't seen them for years. Here's one from 1997. In it, I'm telling the Grad Adviser from NYU's History Dept. that I'm dumping him in favor of the far more attractive "Multimedia" Program at NYU's 'Interactive Telecommunications Program" (ITP):

Dear Mr. W*:

You were assigned as my adviser, so I guess you're the one to whom I should address this message.

[read more...]

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My First Mac

Submitted by Leo Klein on Thu, 10/6/11 (2:21am)

My first Mac was a Quadra 840av. I got it maybe a year or two after I moved back from Europe. For the first 3 months all I could do was look at the machine because I didn't have enough money for a monitor. I could hear the thing rev up though.

Anyway, thanks Steve, for OSX!

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9/11 -- All I Had to Do Was Turn Around

Submitted by Leo Klein on Sun, 9/11/11 (12:41am)

Everyone has their own story about 9/11; here's mine.

I was living on 12th St. between Avenues A & B in lower Manhattan. That day, a Tuesday, was like any normal work day. I was getting up, listening to the radio. Suddenly reports started coming in of an airplane crashing into one of the towers at the World Trade Center.

How could this have happened? I had just been there on the preceding Saturday if only to use the bathroom in the basement. The twin towers were a prominent fixture in the skyline whenever I looked south. How could something like this have happened?

Speculation on WNYC, the radio station I was listening to, ran the gamut from pilot error to intentional attack. One way or the other it was still too early to tell. Then the second plane hit and all doubt was put to rest.

I left the apartment stunned.

[read more ...]

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'Er Kommt' - Or My Short Stint as a False Prophet

Submitted by Leo Klein on Sun, 7/10/11 (11:07am)

Of the many encounters I had in Berlin recently, one of the more interesting was with a woman who I had never met before. It was at the Bauhof Anniversary Party and she came up and gave me a photo which she had taken over twenty years earlier.

The photo was of a poster of me with the words, 'Er Kommt' (i.e. 'He's coming'). She had seen the poster plastered all over the neighborhood and like a few others at the time, had interpreted it as the harbinger of some significant event.

The truth was far more mundane. I had spent much of the year (1987) in New York and when Tony Millionaire heard I was coming back, he grabbed a photo of me from my expired passport, enlarged it and proceeded to paste photocopies of it all over Kreuzberg. So I guess you could say it was a significant event -- but more along the lines of Tony Millionaire finally getting his American drinking buddy back. I hope she wasn't disappointed.

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