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by Christopher Brinckerhoff

"Sidewalks II: Reflections on Chicago" author and photographer Rick Kogan and Charles Osgood pause for a smile. Kogan will speak in Kankakee Library about the work. Later this month the library will host a discussion about another one of his books, "America's Mom: The Life, Lessons, and Legacy of Ann Landers." Photo by Chris Walker.

The Kankakee Public Library will have an unusual patron in-house this evening. And some might only be able to recognize him by his distinct voice, which floats on an octave so low it generates gentle rumbles on eardrums.

Chicago Tribune senior staff writer and WGN radio host Rick Kogan will be on-hand Nov. 12 at 7 p.m. to talk about his latest collaborative effort with former Chicago Tribune photographer Charles Osgood, “Sidewalks II: Reflections on Chicago.” This is the second collection of their well-known Sunday paper columns about intriguing people and places around the Windy City, and Kogan agreed to the engagement, in part, because he loves libraries.

Copies of the book, which will be officially released Nov. 13, will be available to purchase for the first time at the event. They will be offered at a discounted price, $30 instead of $40, and Kogan will be signing books after speaking about the work.

The Sidewalks column stories are primarily about the little things, everyday characters and peculiar locations that form the cultural textures of Chicago.

“The thing about Sidewalks is the stories are not stories that deserve front-page news,” Kogan said. “I just think that they’re stories that deserve to be told because they do address the sort of fabric of this area.”

The event is the third of six in the Kankakee Public Library’s current author and artist series. The library’s assistant director Allison Beasley said people will turn out for the event because they know Kogan and Osgood’s work, but they will be pleasantly surprised to learn how interesting and relevant the Sidewalks books are to any city in America.

“It’s certainly about Chicago and Chicago’s people, but I think it’s about human nature,” Beasley said. “It’s about the interesting kind of quirky side to people.”

Osgood, former Chicago Tribune photographer, will not attend. He said one of his favorite stories in “Sidewalks II” was “Honor Flight,” which was about an event where World War II veterans were flown from Midway Airport to Washington, DC for the day to tour monuments and other significant spots as a way to show gratitude for their service. A crowd gave them a warm reception upon their return.

“It was one of the more interesting situations I’ve been in because I had never heard of this thing before, but a lot of people have,” Osgood said. “So you have people of all ages from all walks of life that are standing cheering the Marines or the former servicemen as they get off the plane.”

“Sidewalks II” is the first offering by Sidewalks Book Company, which Kogan and Osgood formed this year. Kogan said if “Sidewalks II” is successful, their next release might be a collection of images from newspaper photographers, which he called “the most anonymous artists in contemporary America.”

The vibrant front cover of "Sidewalks II: Reflections of Chicago" by Rick Kogan and Charles Osgood is the first offering by the publishing company they began this year for the purpose, Sidewalks Book Company. Graphic courtesy of Sidewalks Book Company.

An exhibition including more than 60 large reproductions of Osgood’s Sidewalks photographs and Kogan’s stories opens Nov. 19 at the Chicago Tourism Center Gallery downtown.

The next featured author or artist at the Kankakee Public Library will be Chicago filmmaker Andrew Surprenant in January, known for his work producing the documentary “The Atom Smashers,” which aired on PBS in 2008.

Copyright 2009

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