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spacer.gif   PRINTERS BALL GETS BUSTED
Posted by : cj on Saturday, July 21, 2007 - 10:08 AM
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Poetry Gossip: Click On Headlines .
CHECK OUT THE 2009 PRINTERS BALL, click here

This page has had more than 22,000 views.
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Cops Kick Lit Mags Out Of Private Art Gallery

The Zhou B. Art Center, 1029 West 35th St., turns into a poet's heaven for a few hours on Friday, July 20. America's ninety-year-old legend, Poetry Magazine, gets to show off its hip new strut with a free event called Printers Ball. This one promises to be the best Printers Ball of all, and I finally see that The Poetry Foundation is doing something good with the money it has inherited from Ruth Lilly. And there are free hotdogs!! How much more American can you get?

On the first floor there are tables stacked with magazines, books, anthologies, journals and small press zines, all of which are being given away free to whoever wants to grab one. Cool tote bags are given out while supplies last. There is a DJ spinning music in one room and a performance art exhibit in another. On the second floor a glee club sings new wave songs. The walls of the third floor are decorated with art. There are hundreds of people here, all celebrating literature and literacy peacefully. The Lumpen guys can be seen with the Chicago Review guys. Issues of Columbia Poetry Review sit next to issues of In These Times.

For the moment, I think I am in a poetry paradise. The party is only beginning.

And then a swarm of police wearing bulletproof vests with badges on ropes around their necks like characters from The Shield illegally storm into this private art gallery. Without so much as a search warrant or even an explanation, five of them surround the DJ and demand he turn off Mark Morrison's "Return of the Mack." Issuing uncompromising threats, they force the DJ to announce over the microphone that without so much as a discussion EVERYONE MUST LEAVE THE PREMISES.

Like a scene out of Robocop, a small army, in ominous black jumpsuits with CHICAGO POLICE in big white letters across their chests, arm the exits as hundreds of literate citizens file out into the night.

Thus ends this year's Printers Ball, which took who knows how long to plan and which apparently offended the authorities by putting some literature into its party. One has to wonder what has gone wrong with the City of Chicago at times like this. Does this city simply have too many narcs? Do these roughnecks have to keep busy to justify their paychecks? Are the Chicago Police that daft that they can't tell a book giveaway from a rave? Is this a sign of intellectual cleansing in preparation for the Olympics? Or perhaps there is a legitimate concern like a bomb threat but we the people are too ignorant to have it explained to us.

Exactly what crime has been committed that this peaceful party needs to get raided by the gestapo? Is the fuzz in a state of ALARM because a BEARD OF BEES gathers AFTER HOURS for a FREE LUNCH with some MILK? Has the NEW CITY given SHELTER to a fugitive RHINO? Are the good ol' boys in blue not impressed by the poet's FEATHERPROOF vest? Perhaps the bullies are afraid the GREEN LANTERN is going to get into it with the PUDDIN'HEAD?

I've seen some thick skulled nitwits with guns do some truly comic things (beating up a defenseless woman in a bar not being one of them), but this quite literally takes the cake. This is yet another example of the Chicago Police acting as if they are above the law by terrorizing the kind and decent people of this city with their don't ask any questions or we'll kick the shit out of you attitude. I for one am sick of cocky mafia men using their all-powerful but hypocritical pieces of tin to disrespect our rights! This is America, not Afghanistan; and your taxes shouldn't fund the Taliban tactics that succeed in censoring the culture in this city. I wish I had my camera so that I could show you just how knuckle-headed these armed thugs looked barking threats at the peaceful publishers of Chicago literature.

Chicago's finest, what the hell is your problem? Go find some real criminals to torture; and let a few people have some fun once in a while.

--CJ Laity



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