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spacer.gif   City of Chicago Turns Local Lit Scene Into A Tourist Attraction
Posted by : cj on Sunday, November 07, 2010 - 02:15 PM
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UPDATE: ChicagoPublishes.com has now added a link to Cram and ChicagoPoetry.com in their Publishers Directory, despite my editorials. I see this as a good sign and as a recognition of freedom of speech on their part.


Leave it to the City of Chicago to turn the energetic, provocative and unique Chicago Literary Scene into an advertisement to promote tourism. The City of Chicago’s new propaganda website, ChicagoPublishes.com (aka dot org and PublishingChicago.com and org), has launched a few days ahead of schedule, and I must say--it is frightening. It portrays the local lit scene as if it is a purely academic, mainstream society of smiling, happy Caucasians. In fact, flash animation at the top of its homepage actually shows white people smiling and posing for the camera. Oh my. It’s as if they are assimilating the diversity of the Chicago Lit Scene. If you look really hard you can find Johanny Vazquez Paz mingling in the Publishers Gallery, but other than that, the only color I can find is an article about how wonderful a Toni Morrison reading was, and besides Maya Angelou, she is about the safest black person one could write about. Am I right?

The city is stomping on our local independent Lit Scene and it expects us to thank it for doing us the favor. It’s like the City of Chicago is saying: “We will provide you with this new website, whether you like it or not!“ The ChicagoPublishes.com calendar of events is using the same Google format that Charlie Newman and ChicagoPoetry.com use. In fact, when I clicked on the link and it appeared before my eyes, for a second I thought the city had simply imbedded my own calendar onto their page. With their calendar, the City of Chicago is lumping the “Publishing Industry” in with the local Lit Scene, a really dumb idea. True, the Lit Scene publishes and gets published, but the “industry” is quite another monster altogether, and since the promoters of this website are constantly using the term “industry professionals” this calendar seems to suggest that those included in it are professionals, and those who are excluded from it, well, are not. But why would anyone be excluded from ChicagoPublishes.com‘s calendar? Does it have anything to do with professionalism? Well, you aren’t likely to find a listing to anything that could lead to a potential lawsuit for the city, for example. We wouldn't want the city to send people to an unlicensed loft to see a performance without a permit, now would we. Nor will anything too sexual in nature be listed; nor anything too political that could jeopardize the jobs of the city employees who edit this website (there will be an election in February you know). ChicagoPublishes has nothing to do with professionalism and everything to do with white washing the Chicago Lit Scene, so that it appears to the outside world to be a safe place full of content people, none of whom are transvestite communists or anti-police-brutality activists.

Exactly what does ChicagoPublishes really think about the local Lit Scene? One only needs to look at which four events were chosen to be held in the Publishers Gallery out of all those proposals, to see what the City of Chicago’s idea of a Lit Scene is. The four events selected were: a Holiday Fair for kids; yet another event sponsored by Lake Claremont Press (they make guidebooks); a self-publishing “boot camp”; and one single lit reading about “Chicago neighborhoods” featuring, ahem, four white authors. What? Nothing featuring Rick Kogan? Now that’s a surprise.

The new Directory of Chicago Publishers seems to be the most unique thing that ChicagoPublishes has going for it, even if it is a very sly maneuver to increase search engine traffic by including the name of every single Chicago area publisher that one might search for. Click here to read my other editorial.

--CJ Laity



Note: Click Here for the editorial.

 
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