April 23, 2024

Cocktail Talk: Pork City, Part III

Pork City by Howard Browne

For our last stop (so far – they do a lot of drinking in this book, so there may be more in the future, which is funny in a way to say as the book takes place in the past) in the Chicago of Howard Browne’s well-worth-reading Pork City (a book based on a real event from the rollicking prohibition era), we step away from the bootleggers to get a view into the health care profession of the time – at least one tell-it-like-it-is doctor! Be sure to catch the Pork City Part I and Pork City Part II Cocktail Talks, too, or Alphonse Capone might have to have a word with you!

Dr. Gilchrist, not noted for his bedside manner, had made it clear six weeks earlier that he had no patience with idiots. “Any sonvabitch,” he roared at Jake, “who smokes fifteen cigars a day, swills bathtub gin, sleeps six hours a night, and spends the other eighteen stewing over the goddamn stock market is gonna end up with an ulcer. Duodenal. You hear what I’m sayin’, asshole?”

–Howard Browne, Pork City

April 9, 2024

Cocktail Talk: Pork City, Part II

Pork City by Howard Browne

If you haven’t yet read the Pork City Part I Cocktail Talk, don’t hesitate (or you may get gunned down by gangsters – I’m kidding!), so you can learn more about this Howard Browne should-be classic re-telling of a murder that happened during prohibition-era Chicago. It’s a rollicking read, and if you’ve always wanted to get an eye into booze smuggling and selling during the grand failed experiment, well, this book has you covered. The below quote focuses on the bootleggers, and mentions a car that spawned a band, too!

The ’27 REO Speedwagon lurched steadily ahead, its cargo of forty cases of Old Overholt bourbon covered with alfalfa bales under a black tarpaulin. Cotton woods and elms met overhead to for a leafy tunnel. This was corn, wheat, and hog country, level as a billiard table, dotted with small white farmhouses, large red barns and an occasional silo. The sun shone, the air smelled of new-mown hay, birds sang and swooped and crapped on the windshield.

–Harold Browne, Pork City

April 2, 2024

Cocktail Talk: Pork City, Part I

Pork City by Howard Browne

Pork City, how did I miss out on you for so long? I blame society (as a punk once said), or just myself for not knowing more about author Howard Browne. Not the English bishop (who I also know little about), but the editor of Amazing Stories and Fantastic Adventures who also wrote mysteries and then for TV – including the ever-loving Rockford Files! One of his mysteries was the book Pork City, though calling it a mystery only alludes to where it’d be filed in a bookstore or library, as there’s no mystery to the murder that happens in it. But let me back up. Taking place in prohibition-era Chicago, Pork City is based on a true story, the murder of a Trib reporter, and has a host of real-life folks in it (including Alphonse Capone himself as a mainish character), and centers around real Chicago spots of the times. All of which makes it sound a little like a historical retelling, which it is, in a way, but with more pizzazz, more thrills, more snappy dialogue, and more booze, as well as real insight into the workings of police and the mobs of the time. It’s a hoot and a humdinger, and for one like myself whose interests intersect in booze and the bang from a gun, well, an ideal read. So ideal we’re gonna have a couple of Pork City Cocktail Talks, starting with the gin-y below number.

She angrily brushed away a tear, went to the bar, and refilled her glass with Gordon’s gin (or so the label claimed). After adding a minuscule amount of vermouth, she dropped in two ice cubes from the silver-trimmed bucket and crossed to one of the living room’s wide windows. The newly installed Lindbergh beacon, revolving from high atop the Palmolive building a few blocks to the south, put a slashing path of light against the night’s cloudless sky. Loop-bound traffic drifted soundlessly along Lake Shore Drive, past the Potter Palmer castle and the long stretch of beach at Oak Street and on into Michigan Avenue.

–Howard Browne, Pork City

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