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How Jessica met Ira

Back in 1996, I was a regular contributor to the NewCity, which was then a free weekly tabloid in Chicago. My editor, Marc Spiegler, sent me to do a piece on the Fireside Bowl, a punk venue situated in a former bowling alley (that is apparently once more a bowling alley) on Fullerton Ave in Chicago, my home town.

I went to the Fireside often anyway, and knew many of the people I interviewed, and I also got to do a cover for the paper, a rare treat. So it was a fun job for me all around.

But perhaps the most interesting thing about this strip is that it’s also responsible, in a roundabout way, for Out on the Wire. Ira Glass came across this strip when it ran in the NewCity in 1996, clipped it, and stuck it in his files. When he was looking for a cool idea for a pledge drive premium two years later, he thought of my strip, and called me…in Mexico City, where I’d moved six months earlier.

Punk Pilgrimage, By Jessica Abel © 1995

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