I’m surprised I haven’t run into the Portland-based Dill Pickle Club group yet, but better late than never. I met with one the founders, Marc Moscato, last week and we chatted about local history, WPA projects, hobos and Chicago in the 1930s.
The club’s namesake originates from Jazz-Age Chicago’s legendary yet ill-forgotten speakeasy, founded in 1914 by labor organizer Jack Jones, Jim Larkin and Ben “Clap Doctor” Reitman. The Pickle was the heart of the “Chicago Renaissance” and the meeting spot for the city’s most noted authors, musicians and activists, including Sherwood Anderson, Ben Hecht, Mary MacLane, Lucy Parsons, Kenneth Rexroth and Carl Sandburg. It closed its doors in 1934.
According to their web site, the club will host a monthly presentation series in “which academics, zinesters, political activists, artists and people of every political shade under the sun can come together to examine life as we know it. Presentations will be controversial, offbeat and intellectual, and provide an experimental format to critique contemporary politics, culture and humanities.”
Marc’s an interesting guy and has done some fantastic work, including the film The More Things Stay The Same that examines the life and world of Dr. Ben Reitman (1879-1942), known in his day as “the Clap Doctor,” “King of the Hoboes” and “the most vulgar man in America.”
As part of their Field Trip series, they have planned is a bike ride next Sunday, June 28, that will explore Portland area WPA projects. Unfortunately the ride sold out quickly so they might add another ride the following week if there’s enough interest. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org if interested.
I’m looking forward to more great work from this group- they’re a wonderful addition to the Portland landscape.