By Mason Johnson

Toiling away in the dark, you spend many nights under the impression you’re some sort of secret genius.

But you’re not.

I know this because I have the same thoughts you do – visions displaying my writing/paintings/wrestling skills becoming famous long after I have died.

But it won’t happen. Well, it might happen for me, there’s a slim chance. But it won’t for you.

The closest you’ll get to genius is at some of this weekend’s best events. So, you know, get off your butt and into the city!

(Credit: Michael Johnson /

(Credit: Michael Johnson /

Happy Birthday Henry

Intuit: The Center For Intuitive And Outsider Art
756 N. Milwaukee Avenue

April 12, 6-8pm

You and I could never hope to create anything as impressive as the extensive fantasy world Henry Darger manifested through his writing and illustrations. Darger’s one of those lost geniuses, an artist not appreciated — or in his case, even discovered — until after his death. His work was amazing.

Oh yeah, and it’s his birthday on Friday.

Intuit: The Center For Intuitive And Outsider Art is celebrating in style. They’ve got beer (from Revolution Brewing!), memorabilia and music.

And cake. Beautiful, beautiful cake.

Whether you’ve never heard his name or are intimately familiar with his work, this is definitely worth attending.

(Credit: Chicago Outfit Roller Derby's facebook page)

(Credit: Chicago Outfit Roller Derby’s facebook page)

The Chicago Outfit Roller Derby Presents: Spaghetti Wrestling!

Double Door
1572 North Milwaukee Avenue
Chicago, IL 60622‎

April 12, 8pm

The Chicago Outfit is a roller derby league that destroys their enemies on the merciless flat track. Spaghetti wrestling is, well, exactly what it sounds like. To The Outfit specifically, it’s sort of their homecoming dance. A pre-cursor to their first game of the year (their first away game is on April 21st, and their first home game is on April 27th), it’s a great, fun way to kickoff the season.

And you can kickoff the season with them! Personally, the thought of spaghetti rubbing against my skin as I wrestle someone creeps me out. The texture of noodles is just too… weird. Thankfully, all I have to do is show up, have a drink and let others do the wrestling for me.

I think it’s important to note that The Outfit is a positive, community-building organization that makes a habit of donating to various charities. So go, pay the $7 bucks to get in, and have fun!

Just don’t eat any of the pasta…

(Credit: Curbside Splendor / the Chicago Writers House)

(Credit: Curbside Splendor / the Chicago Writers House)

Pop-Up Book Fair

Empty Bottle
1035 N. Western Ave
Chicago, IL 60622

April 14, 1:30-6:30pm

Hey, NERD! I know you like GEEKY books because you’re a huge freakin’ NERD, so here ya go, an event for you, ya big loser.

Seriously though, fiction and creative non-fiction hasn’t been this vibrant on this scale in this city in years. Beautiful zines, small journals and new book publishers are fighting against mediocrity with some really great writing. If this is news to you, go to the Empty Bottle on Sunday and you’ll see exactly what I mean. Hosted by Curbside Splendor and the Chicago Writers House, you’ll see great work from publishers/publications like The Handshake, Rose Metal Press, Poetry, Chicago Center for Literature and Photography (CCLaP) and many, many more.

There will also be occasional sets of music by Mr. Mayor & the Highballers, Warm Bones, and If Trees Could Write. Combine those weird sounds with the drinks you can get at the bar and you’ve got a fun afternoon ahead of you.


The one & only Dan Shapiro. (Credit: Mason Johnson)

The one & only Dan Shapiro. (Credit: Mason Johnson)

Dan Shapiro’s Rigged Open Mic

2338 North Milwaukee Avenue
Chicago, IL 60647
(773) 276-5802

April 14, 8:30

Dan Shapiro’s Rigged Open Mic is not for the faint of heart. I don’t mean this in a WOW-IT’S-SO-EXTREME-LOOK-AT-THESE-SUPER-EDGY-COMEDIANS-WATCH-OUT-DAD-YOU-MIGHT-HAVE-A-HEART-ATTACK-THAT’S HOW-EDGY-THIS-OPEN-MIC-IS kind of way.

That sounds lame.

What I mean to say is that Dan Shapiro’s Rigged Open Mic is so uniquely uncomfortable and awkward that you’ll be shifting anxiously in your chair the whole show.

But you won’t leave.

Despite its quirks, it’s still an entertaining show worth attending. In fact, it’s the quirks that make it different from the other eight million open mics in the city.

Also, it’s not as rigged as it sounds, so bring your weirdest jokes, stories and poems.

Mason Johnson is only joking when he’s mean to you and promises to be nicer in the future. He has an inappropriate and idiotic Twitter account.