Puppet, Pauper, Pirate, Poet, Pawn & King

Puppet, Pauper, Pirate, Poet, Pawn & King

 By Don Hall

That's life (that's life) that's what people say
 You're riding high in April
 Shot down in May
 But I know I'm gonna change that tune
 When I'm back on top, back on top in June

I said, that's life (that's life) and as funny as it may seem
 Some people get their kicks
 Stompin' on a dream
 But I don't let it, let it get me down
 'Cause this fine old world it keeps spinnin' around

I've been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate
 A poet, a pawn and a king
 I've been up and down and over and out
 And I know one thing
 Each time I find myself flat on my face
 I pick myself up and get back in the race…

I graduated college back in 1989 and drove randomly north. With no cash, no connections, no job, no home, I landed in Chicago and began the process of reinvention.

For a decade, I was a public school music teacher by day and an improviser by night. Then it was time to reinvent again.

I had started a theater company in ‘92 so when I decided to leave teaching music to teenagers in ‘98, I went all in. I was a theater producer, director, actor, and blogger in the early days of what we called the theatrosphere for nearly another decade.

Reinvention, like a spiritual calling, started to bang its knuckles on my door once again. From 2007–2017, I built from scratch a public radio events department, house managed an NPR juggernaut, hosted another NPR juggernaut, and dove in head first within the storytelling scene.

It’s 2018 (almost 2019) and it’s time to reinvent again. The problem with going through this process in one geographical location is that it gets harder and harder to cease recycling experiences when landlocked. Reputation, accomplishments, friends and enemies — it’s all baggage to shuffle off in order to transform. So, in order to leap from the cliff of who I have been to who I can be, it’s time to relocate as well as reinvent.

Where to? Dana and I (with a good friend looking to get outta Dodge as well) are buying a house in Las Vegas and heading for the Mojave Desert. We’re here, doing our farewell Chicago tour until March and then we’ll be basking by a swimming pool in the heat of Nevada.


Why Vegas? Not complicated. I produce events and Vegas is all about events. In looking for new ground to break, we wanted something as different from Chicago (but still in the States because our parents are all here) as possible and that means either desert or mountains. Las Vegas is in a desert surrounded by mountains. We were married there and ever since living in Arizona for a spell as a kid I’ve been a bit in love with the region. Also — IT’S VEGAS, baby!

DonHallChicago will be shifting to DHCEvents soon enough and Literate Ape will continue as a bi-coastal entity. David will be our MidWest Editor and I’ll be our West Coast Editor. We’ll still be recording (via FaceTime) the Literate ApeCast. BUGHOUSE! will suddenly be a twice a month show and podcast. I have a feeling that The Sickest Fucking Stories I Ever Heard (the poker show) will find a stronger purchase on Vegas soil and who the hell knows how the income front will be?

Each reinvention has been accompanied by being a freshman again, learning the ropes, establishing a niche, working my way up the chain (or inventing my own chain). I understand the desire of folks to establish roots and stay put. That’s never been my jam and neither is it Dana’s so I found the perfect partner to co-exist with in my nomad lifestyle.

I’ll miss Chicago — she’s been my home for 30 years and there is so much I love about her that I’ll be writing about my experiences a bit on these digital pages in the next couple of months.

In the meantime, let’s hang out!

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