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CHIRP Radio feature stories cover current affairs, culture and the arts from all over Chicagoland.

News Interview with Artist Cal Schenkel

People want to be recognized on their own terms. But there are times when your success is more closely associated with something or someone else. When it comes to the work of Frank Zappa, it’s hard to think about anyone but Zappa as being responsible because his personality loomed so large. But artist Cal Schenkel isn’t worried about being defined only in terms of his association with Zappa.

“I mean, it has its pros and cons, you know,” says Schenkel. He created the album art for a long list of Zappa records-- Uncle Meat, The Grand Wazoo, Burnt Weeny Sandwich, Hot Rats, to name just a few. “It’s certainly gotten me a lot of recognition and also connections all over the world, really…I think my work speaks for itself, both the work I did then and the work I’m doing now.”

CHIRP’s Dan Epstein talked with Cal Schenkel at Firecat Projects Gallery in Bucktown where Schenkel’s work, both past and present, is on display until August 17th.

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Topics: album, art, artist, avant garde, cal schenkel, comic, frank zappa, interview, new wave, punk, show, visual

News Found Magazine: Ten Years of Publishing Scraps of Your Soul

One night Davy Rothbart found a note on his car. It was a very personal note. Except it wasn't for him. The writer had mistaken Davy's car for her boyfriend's car. And it was that note that got Davy started on Found Magazine and the website It's a collection of notes, scraps and photos found by people all over the world, items that are sometimes inexplicable and usually funny, perplexing and raw. They are always very personal in that they reveal something about the soul of the writer.

Now after ten years of publishing other people's innermost feelings, Davy has turned the lens on himself with his new book of personal essays, My Heart is an Idiot. He's on a 79-city tour to promote the book and to celebrate Found Magazine's tenth anniversary. He's been traveling with his brother Peter, a musician who writes songs based on found notes. Peter's new CD is You Are What You Dream.


Before their show at the Old Town School of Folk Music, Davy sat down with CHIRP's Dan Epstein. Davy popped open his briefcase, shuffled through the hundreds of scraps of paper inside and chose a few of his favorite found notes to share.

(music heard in this story: The Baddest Nissans in the Northwest and You Are What You Dream, both by Peter Rothbart)

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News Chicago Writers Conference: Helping Writers to Get Published

The Chicago Writers Conference took place in mid-September downtown at the Tribune Building. The conference was a weekend of seminars and talks for all types of writers about the business of writing.

CHIRP’s Jessi DiBartolomeo and Dan Epstein talked with executive director Mare Swallow. Her mission is to help writers get their writing published.

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News Occupy Chicago Looks to the Arts to Expand Awareness, Attention and Vision

Social justice movements have historically turned to the arts to build awareness of issues and to gather like-minded people together around those issues. Occupy Chicago is following this tradition with the Occupy Chicago Rebel Arts Collective (OCRAC).

Josh Fox and Dan Epstein tell us how OCRAC is using the arts to keep the Occupy movement front and center and to expand the focus of Occupy beyond just the economy.

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Topics: art, chicago, occupy chicago, politics

News The Pastor on the Roof

Pastor Corey Brooks of New Beginnings Church in Woodlawn believes you have to take a stand for your beliefs, even if that means some personal sacrifice.

Pastor Brooks has had enough of murders in his neighborhood, so much so that he’s been living in a tent on the roof of the abandoned motel across the street from his church on South King Drive. And he’s not coming down until he can raise $450,000 to buy the property and put up a community center.

He’s been up there since Thanksgiving. The community center would be part of Project HOOD (Helping Others Obtain Destiny), and Pastor Brooks hopes his efforts can bring a positive change to his neighborhood. CHIRP News spoke with Pastor Brooks in December.

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