Science fiction writer Greg Bear in 1994: The Internet’s future

Sunday, November 20, 2022
[Updating this original post—from March 1, 2015—on Nov. 20, 2022: Greg Bear is dead at 71.] 

Science fiction writer Greg Bear in a 1994 interview with me on WNUA-FM, Chicago, on the future of the Internet:

“It’s going to be a huge intellectual telephone line, with graphics and library materials, all available at a few minutes’ notice. That, I think, will be revolutionary. ... We have a lot of people from the entertainment industries thinking it’s going to be a lot of the same old, same old — where they can simply market movies in new ways, and I don’t think it’s going to be that way at all. ... The people who are loosely called Generation Xers are going to have their say on this. And I think we may not be able to predict what they’re going to do with it.”

Update, Jan. 4, 2018: A later interview with Greg Bear, from 1996, when we talked about the prospect of life on Mars.

Chicago Public Square: I built it for free, and you can do the same

Saturday, September 24, 2022
On Sept. 22, 2022, I was invited to talk to members of the Oak Park Temple B’nai Abraham Zion congregation via Zoom about the story behind the story of the creation of Chicago Public Square. The thrust of my message was this: Virtually for free, I created this email newsletter for people who live in and care about the Chicago region, and you—or anyone you know—can do the same for any subject matter about which you’re passionate.

You can see edited video excerpts here or read the rough transcript below.

Why I should never sing in public

Saturday, June 11, 2022
Chicago Reader
columnist Ben Joravsky was kind enough to invite me on his show this week—we talked Wednesday, the podcast was published Saturday—to answer questions about how and why I do what I do for Chicago Public Square.

I was honored along the way to express my admiration for columnists Neil Steinberg and Robert Feder, Reader critic Jack Helbig, The Onion, WXRT-FM News pioneers C.D. Jaco and Linda Brill, Square reader Angela Mullins, radio DJs Bob Stroud and Marty Lennartz, my college radio station WPGU … 

… and to deliver an ill-advised musical tribute to my alma mater, Carl Sandburg High School, whose fight song I was—for reasons that elude me now—moved to butcher.

You’ve been warned. Here it is.

If you like this, check out more of my conversations with thought-leaders through the years on this website, in Apple Music, on Pandora or Spotify, via your favorite podcast player and at Chicago Public Square.

1995: Peter David, Chris Claremont and Gary Colabuono discuss the comic book industry’s flirtation with disaster

Wednesday, June 1, 2022
[It’s been a while since we dove into the archives. But now that hour’s come round at last—again.]

In 1995, the comic book industry was approaching what later became known as “the Great Comics Crash of 1996”—triggered in part by Marvel Comics’ 1994 purchase of the business’ third-largest distributor, converting it to distribute Marvel’s stuff exclusively.

So that was a significant topic June 30, 1995, when I sat down at WNUA-FM in Chicago—just ahead of the 20th annual Chicago Comicon*—with acclaimed comics writers Peter David and Chris Claremont, maybe best known then for their work on Marvel’s The Incredible Hulk and The Uncanny X-Men, respectively; and the convention’s CEO, Classics International Entertainment President Gary Colabuono, also then the proprietor of Moondog’s comic shops.

Here’s how it went.

Looking back on that time now, Colabuono recalls: “Marvel’s decision to distribute their own comics was not only the death knell for direct market distributors, it was also the beginning of the end for the vast majority of comic book specialty shops in the U.S. Of the 21 stores in the Moondog’s chain, 20 were out of business within a year of Marvel’s move.”

I’ve also asked David and Claremont for their perspectives on that time. I’ll share them as they arrive.

But here’s David’s July 28, 1995, reflection on that year’s con: “If Gary Colabuono … asks you to be guest of honor, two words—Do It. Gary is the consummate host, making sure that you want for nothing and taking care that every need is anticipated.”

If you like this, check out more of my conversations with thought-leaders through the years on this website, in Apple Music, on Pandora or Spotify, via your favorite podcast player and at Chicago Public Square.

* For a show that was broadcast July 2, which explains David’s joke at the end, “Boy, am I exhausted from that!”