Cultural Writing. In 1960, Dorothy Kilgallen wrote, "If you wish to see the so-called 'beat generation' in action, drop in at the College of Complexes." A unique combination of tavern, university, and non-stop party, the College was for many years Chicago's premier "outsider outpost." The writings collected here by the College's Founder and Janitor, Slim Brundage (1903-1990), chronicle the colorful history of what may well be the oldest continuous dissident workingclass intellectual community in the U.S. Hobo, Wobbly, Soapboxer, housepainter, humorist, and chief architect of the scandalous Beatnik Party during the 1960 elections, Brundage was very much a maker of the history he writes about. "Slim ran a lively place-livelier than most. He's an ingenious sort of guy... good at talking and getting people to talk"-Jack Conroy. Franklin Rosemont's introduction discusses the college's roots and outlines the Janitor's radical (and Dadaist) critique of traditional education.
The city of Chicago has had a long history of anti-establishment, free speech thinking going back to the 1880s Haymarket days. Through the early 20th century, there were a number of open-air forums open to all. The most famous was a place called Bughouse Square. Kind of like Hyde Park in London, anyone could get on a soapbox and talk on anything. The International Workers of the World (IWW, or Wobblies) were the first egalitarian union, open to everyone, especially the supposedly "unorganizable" … more