To semi-quote myself in the About page of the newsletter, I started it for fun and community to cope with the continued social isolation. The newsletter will dive into topics that have preoccupied my mind during the long days and nights of the pandemic. Stuff like creativity & productivity, loneliness, favorite artists, places & people, aging & ageism, class & classism, storytelling, and the life and geography of big cities & tiny islands.
I already have my first post up, about the Chicago outsider artist Henry Darger. Please check it out. This is also a two-parter post–you can expect the second part to go up next week.
What makes this different from my website and the occasional posts here?
A few things. The newsletter will be bi-monthly at the most, monthly at the least. That’s much more frequent than my posting here on my personal site.
You can also subscribe to the newsletter and get an email whenever a new post goes up. There are links to subscribe in the newsletter at Substack, and you can also do it here.
You’ll notice there’s a payment option. For now, my posts will be free. Maybe they always will–this is brand new journey and I haven’t a clue what’s around the corner with this. For all I know, there are no corners. Anyway, Substack was created as a self-publishing platform like Medium, WordPress, and Blogger, but with more of an ability to earn income for your writing. If you’ve been paying attention to changes in media and publishing over the last 10-15 years, and certainly if you’ve worked in media, you’ll know how changes have set so many media professionals adrift, especially many of a certain generation (cough, Gen X, cough). Layoffs and scale staffs, newspaper foldings, media conglomeration, the rise of blogging, the glut of blogs, free media, social media, unpaid internships, the decline of print–all of this has turned publishing, journalism, and media careers upside down and affected many writers’ income. Substack, like Patreon and other “content monetization platforms” (ugh, what a phrase–but it is what it is), allow for writers to charge for their newsletters to give some of the power back to creators.
I’m under no illusion that anyone wants to pay for my ramblings. But since the option is there, if you’d like to show your support by paying, I’d of course feel grateful and encouraged. The subscription cost is $5 a month or $50 a year. Should I ever start charging for the newsletter, it will most likely be the model most other writers are using: some free posts that all subscribers and visitors to the site will get, mixed with some locked ones for paying subscribers only. There is also an option for me to “grandfather in” my original free subscribers so they continue to get the newsletter for free even if I start charging–a gift for the support of loyalty.
What can subscribers expect to read about?
Here are some topics that I plan on writing about beyond my first posts about Henry Darger:
- Chicago outsider artists Vivian Maier and Lee Godie
- the Chicago Riverwalk, its bridgehouses, and the Technicolor Man of downtown Chicago,
- Jean-Baptiste DuSable, city segregation, and the sundown towns of Illinois
- Tim Robinson and the Aran Islands
- the islands of Chicago (Goose, Northerly, Stony, Blue)
- learning a minority language (Irish) in America
- the sand dunes of Indiana, the boy who fell inside one, and the Girl X case that broke Chicago’s heart
- the Green Mill and Michael Mann’s/James Caan’s great film, Thief
- the Pigeon Man of Lincoln Square
- informal economies and the vanishing Chicago hot dog vendor
- maybe more (Chicago graffiti art, Ronnie Woo-Woo, Jazz Record Mart (RIP), other Irish islands I have known, who knows?
How to subscribe and connect
To subscribe just go to Island in the City, click the Subscribe button, and add your email. If you like a post, please share. And if you like the newsletter in general, please tell all your like-minded friends.
As a gift for reading this, here’s a deer pic for your enjoyment. And there’s more where that came from. 😉