Here’s a recording of our February 2016 show. The theme was Mixtapes. Featured readers included Jes Skolnik, Tori Szekeres, Emily Hilleren, and Angela Benander.



Meet Our Readers

Mixtaaaappppppes! I don’t know what I’m more excited about, this month’s theme or the readers we have doing it justice. Hopefully I decide by Wednesday night, and don’t kick off the evening with random blubbering and “you are all so great you can just talk about whatever”, and just kidding we know that’s going to happen no matter what.

Jes Skolnik

Jes Skolnik is the op-ed features editor at Impose Magazine and a regular contributor to Pitchfork, Flavorwire and Paper Magazine, among other publications you may or may not have heard of. A child of DC punk, Positive Force and zine life, they have lived in Chicago for the past decade, currently residing with their partner, two rude cats and too many records in Hermosa.

Abby Sheaffer

12717820_1076426239076832_1072611637941893078_nAbby Sheaffer is the founding editor-in-chief of Chicago Literati, a nonprofit literary magazine and organization, and the founding editor-in-chief of The Vignette Review. When she is not working, she nerds out to The X-Files, Hannibal, and other shows with her adorable bulldog, Winnie.




Emily Hilleren

CVmY6ffXIAA6VG4Emily Hilleren is a North Dakota expat and former mathlete living in Avondale. She is a founding member in The Emilies, Chicago’s newest, nicest girl gang. She posts pics of thrift shop finds at @emilythrifts and co-edits the music blog Store Brand Soda, where you’ll find her annual report on twee bands and sad punks at South By Southwest in March. She sometimes writes things when she’s not annoying her cat with indie pop (Catimir Pulaski HATES indie pop) and is currently working on a zine about dating website profiles, which you will be able to buy at Chicago Zine Fest.


Angela Benander

AABelevatorAngela Benander wrote her first story titled Little Ed Under the Bed in Kindergarten and has been writing in one form or another ever since. Raised in a small town in the woods of Northern Michigan, she graduated from Albion College with a degree in political science. Angela worked for nearly 10 years on Capitol Hill as a policy aide and press secretary for two Democratic senators. In 2007, she retired from politics and moved to Chicago in an attempt to become a normal human being. She is the co-producer of That’s All She Wrote, a monthly Live Lit Series in West Town. Angela has performed at Story Club, Story Lab, Solo in the 2nd City, Here’s The Story and Guts and Glory and she is currently working on a novel.

Breakup Albums That Were There For Me

Today’s guest post comes courtesy of Meryl Williams. We’re lucky enough to have had her perform at Miss Spoken, and today she’ s contributing to February’s theme. 

I have long maintained that the only good part about a break-up is the music that goes with it. It’s one of many ways to wallow, and for at least a little while, your friends can’t say anything to you about the fact that you’re wearing pajamas at 2 p.m. and eating Trader Joe’s flatbreads and Little Debbie Zebra Cakes for most meals because hey, you’re in mourning over here. But carb-loading and non-showering aside, the only way I know how to get past a break-up is through it, and that process requires a heavy rotation of truly depressing music.

Some bands and albums I straight-up can’t listen to anymore because dudes have ruined them for me (Frightened Rabbit and Magnetic Fields, I’m looking at you). But while some others may bring out some pain, the work they do is cathartic. And so, just for you, here are the albums that have gotten me moving forward again when I needed it.

Nobody Calling On The Phone, ‘Cept For the Pope Maybe In Rome

I’ve been listening to the radio a lot because I’m in the car more than ever.

In case you were wondering (I’m sure you were not), radio in Chicago is a sad state of affairs.

Some of you may know I went to college and graduated with a degree in radio. I had no lofty expectations of becoming a DJ, though a part of me wished I could. I loved Wendy & Bill in the morning on the original Q101. I used to record songs on cassette from Hot 97 in St. Louis. I called into stations for promotions and one time won tickets to see the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Radio used to be a pretty big deal. Eric & Kathy (who are apparently still around) were getting million dollar contracts for hosting the morning show on 101.9, The Mix. And yes, Kathy was making less.

But with iPods and satellite radio (once thought to be a failing fad), it’s lost a lot of appeal.

Anyway, I’m getting off track.

A few weeks ago, I was listening to the ‘Top 9 at 9’ on B96 (which is also still around) and the number one song was some guy singing about how a girl he hung out with used to call him on his cellphone.

I figured it was called “Cellphone”.

I did not know it was Drake.

Either way, I was very ANNOYED by this song, even though I also sort of liked it at the same time.

I was irritated by the lyrics.

So, you moved out of the city and this girl is hanging out with new people and wearing new clothes and drinking champagne on the dance floor when she used to stay at home and be a good girl? (You seem REALLY STRESSED OUT about these girls you’ve never seen before.)

First…seriously? Like, I get the image you are trying to paint, but…No. If she was cool enough to hang out with, I doubt she just stayed at home every night, curled up in bed calling you. Also, going out doesn’t make someone “bad”.

Second, so what if she’s wearing less clothes? Actually, what does that even mean? Did she wear sweat pants and cut them off into shorts? Is she opting out of a coat when it’s cold? Is her skirt above the knees now?


All of these changes have you worried that she’s bending over backwards for someone. Ahem. I KNOW YOU MEAN THAT LITERALLY.

Oh you “taught her things”, did ya now?

Look, I like the idea of writing a song about how someone used to call you on your phone. Because like listening to the radio in high school, I talked on the phone A LOT. I had my own line and would leave funny outgoing messages on my answering machine and stayed up until the wee hours of the morning talking to my best guy friend.

I miss those days, Drake. Even though you are eight years younger than me, perhaps you remember talking on the phone too.

But just because Rihanna, I mean, Some Girl, isn’t calling you anymore, doesn’t make her some raging party girl who is dabbling in anal sex with someone other than you.

And even if she is, THAT’S NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS, SIR.


P.S. But if the DJ played this song at an imaginary club I won’t be going to because I’m old, a parent and live in the suburbs, I’d be out on the dance floor.

P.P.S. But probably not with champagne.

P.P.P.S. Unless it was free.