Robert Loerzel is a freelance journalist and photographer in Chicago. His historical nonfiction book “Alchemy of Bones: Chicago’s Luetgert Murder Case of 1897” was published in 2003 by the University of Illinois Press. His reporting and writing have appeared in the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Reader, Chicago magazine, and other publications. He has reported on-air for WBEZ Chicago Public Radio, including stories for the Curious City show. His concert photography and reviews appear on his blog, undergroundbee.com. His Twitter account, @robertloerzel, has 12,800 followers.
1. What’s been keeping you up at night?
Just the usual stuff: the seemingly impending hellish global catastrophes, evil monsters occupying our nation’s executive branch, things like that. In a more positive way, I literally lose sleep sometimes when my brain is occupied with thinking about things I want to write.
2. What’s the coolest thing you’ve seen or heard lately?
The Art Institute of Chicago hosted a daylong event, with musicians playing twelve different John Zorn compositions, each in a different gallery, juxtaposed with artworks that loosely corresponded with the music. Zorn was there himself, playing a couple of pieces (and urging audience members not to take pictures or videos with their cellphones or cameras). The diversity of the music was impressive, and it was just downright cool to see music being played without any amplification in incredible settings like that. My favorite moment was watching as Zorn had a huge smile on his face, even laughing, as he sat crosslegged on a gallery floor and listened to some string musicians playing a piece he’d performed. This was also a nice social event, as we audience members struck up conversations while walking from gallery to gallery.
3. What’s the most exciting thing you’re working on right now?
For a long time now, I’ve been researching and writing a nonfiction historical book about some crimes in Chicago at the turn of the 20th century. How long have I been working on this? Fifteen years! (Gulp.) I haven’t gotten tired of the topic yet, and I still keep making interesting discoveries. And I *hope* I’ll have something to show for it … sometime soon.
4. If you could add anyone, alive or dead to your team, who would it be?
That depends on what the project is. I don’t really have a “team” as such, though of course I collaborate with various people on various projects. Rather than choosing some famous person, I might prefer paired with creative people I’ve never heard of, someone from a completely different background.
5. When the movie of your life is made, what will it be called?