Justin O’Brien is a retired advertising professional and an active freelance writer. He received his bachelor’s degree in English literature from the University of Illinois at Chicago. For most of his 42-year career, he practiced the craft of typography, a subject that he also taught at Chicago’s International Academy of Merchandising and Design.
With more than 400 by-lines
on a variety of subjects, he has written extensively about blues music over a forty-year period, and for several decades has been associated with Living Blues magazine, of the University of Mississippi. Among other publications, his work has also appeared in Juke Blues, Sing Out!, Irish Music, UIC Alumni News, Chicago Parent, The Typographer, Digital Chicago, Southern Graphics, The Minneapolis Review of Baseball, and Elysian Fields. He was a contributor to Contours (Driftless Writing Center, 2020), the Encyclopedia of the Blues (Routledge Press, 2005), Armitage Avenue Transcendentalists (Charles Kerr, 2009), and Base Paths: The Best of the Minneapolis Review of Baseball (Wm. Brown, 1991), to which, coincidentally, former Senator Eugene McCarthy, the “peace candidate” of 1968, wrote a foreword.
The mission of Garret Room is
to issue writings primarily about Chicago, its neighborhoods, history, music, politics, and more.
Our initial offering is "Chicago Yippie! ’68," a true account of a 17-year-old boy caught up in the street demonstrations during
the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Justin O'Brien's detailed reminiscences are supplemented by interviews with other participants—students, working people, SDS members, musicians—in addition to three original maps, and more than 150 photos, many of them never before published.
Please leaf through the photo gallery to view some of the amazing photos to be found
in "Chicago Yippie! ’68."
Garret Room Books
P.O. Box 124
Mineral Point, WI 53565
Justin O’Brien seemingly was ever-present during 1968’s Chicago Convention Week. His lively recollections from the streets and the parks resurrect a polarized time of counterculture protest and potential.”
(from the back cover of Chicago Yippie! ’68)
—Abe Peck, Professor Emeritus in Service, Medill School of Journalism / Northwestern University. Former editor, The Chicago Seed; Author,
Uncovering the Sixties: The Life and Times of the Underground Press
”Just how severe—and life threatening—this all was some 50 years ago is captured in a recently published book called Chicago Yippie! ’68...The book is filled with vivid detail of the violence that occurred. O'Brien does an excellent job, both with words and pictures, to describe just how dangerous the protests became as the convention week wore on.”
—Dave Zweifel, editor emeritus of The Capital Times
“...A fine, fine book. Anyone who was alive and aware and about in 1968 will have their memories massaged and other memories evoked by reading Justin O’Brien’s Chicago Yippie! '68...one young man’s journey through the time coming up to and culminating in the crazyness of August 1968 when the Democrats came to town.”
—Rick Kogan, WGN radio
"I think it’s incredible—especially the photos! This is a 1st class job and exploration into that week. Bless you!"
—Pat Thomas, author of "DID IT!" the biography of Yippie Jerry Rubin
“There is no book more loyal to the events that occurred over four sweltering August days in Chicago in 1968 than Justin O’Brien’s riveting Chicago Yippie! ’68. With his lucid, engaging prose, O’Brien effortlessly unwinds the various discordant threads that were so tightly woven into the fabric of the civil rights and anti-war movements that defined the 1960s. Chicago Yippie! ’68 will take you back to a place that time may have muted, but that Mr. O’Brien has never forgotten.”
“Very important work... I, along with Michael Tigar and Gerald Lefcourt, did all of the pre-trial motions in the Chicago 8 trial and therefore knew a considerable amount what happened in the streets, something your book did an excellent job in covering.”
“This is a wonderful, thoughtful and scary read. As someone who was there, this is a true telling of events that are hard to describe, but Justin O’Brien has in this book done so directly and quietly like a friend talking to you late at night of things that can not be forgotten.”
“A great read! Highly recommended.” —Carl Tunestam
“Justin is a fine writer and brings you up close and personal to an optimistic yet turbulent series of events during the Democratic Convention that took place in Chicago in 1968—a week during which I myself was grounded for my own safety!”
News & Events
In this month’s issue of The Voice of the River Valley, contributor Jennifer Moore-Kerr features Justin O’Brien and his book, Chicago Yippie! ’68 in her monthly column, which profiles individuals from the Driftless community of southwest Wisconsin. Justin's poem, Today I Am a Poet, also appears in this issue. Read both at voiceoftherivervalley.com
January 27, 2021
Justin O’Brien will be reading from Chicago Yippie! ’68 as part of the Winter Writers’ Series for Shake Rag Alley, presented via Zoom from 7-9 p.m. Please go to shakeragalley.org for more information.
October 15, 2020
Chicago Yippie! ’68 is now available as a Kindle download from Amazon.
September 27, 2020
The Shake Rag Alley Writers’ Retreat, Mineral Point, WI. Justin O’Brien will be a panelist speaking on Pathways to Publishing at 11:15.
September 26, 2020
The Shake Rag Alley’s Writers’ Retreat, Mineral Point, WI. Justin O’Brien will read a selection from Chicago Yippie! ’68 as one of the panel of writers reading from their work, from 7:30-10:00 p.m.
April 25, 2020
As part of the contributor reading event for the Dritftless Writing Center’s new anthology, Contours, Justin O’Brien will be reading his poem, Tintype. Slowpoke Lounge, Spring Green, WI, on Saturday April 25 from 3-5:00.
April 27, 2019
The Shake Rag Alley Writers’ Retreat. Justin O’Brien will be a panelist speaking on Alternatives in Publishing at 4:30. In addition, he will read a selection from Chicago Yippie! ’68 as one of the panel of writers reading from their work, from 7:30-10:00 p.m.
June 14, 2018
Justin O’Brien will be Allen Ruff’s guest on his WORT radio (Madison) show on Thursday, June 14 at noon. We will be discussing Chicago Yippie! ’68 and the connection between protest and music, the spirit of protest on the 50th anniversary of the 1968 Convention, and the frustration of the Left.
May 20, 2018 (Note: Date Change!!)
Justin O’Brien will be Rick Kogan’s guest on “After Hours” on WGN radio, Sunday, May 20, at 9 p.m., where he will be talking about his new book, Chicago Yippie! ’68.
May 9, 2018
Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism will host the ‘The Media and the 1968 Chicago Democratic Convention—Then and Now’ series of conferences which will examine issues of objectivity and patriotism in a turbulent time. Bill Kurtis, former CBS news anchor will be the keynote speaker.
Chicago Yippie! ’68 will be available for purchase at a merchandise kiosk hosted by The Seminary Co-op of Hyde Park.
Patricia McNair, Associate Professor of Creative Writing at Columbia College in Chicago, was kind enough to ask me to contribute to her “Writer's Handful” blog.
March 23, 2018
Justin O’Brien will be the guest of DJ Terry Nelson on his “Friday Night Showdown” on WLUW radio, 88.7 FM, on Friday, March 23, at 10 p.m. Justin and Terry will spin and discuss some folk, rock, and blues from 1968 and Justin will read selections from his new book, Chicago Yippie! ’68.
March 23, 2018
Quimby’s Bookstore, 1854 North Avenue in Chicago, will host an in-store event at 7 p.m. on Friday, March 23, with Justin O’Brien signing and reading from his new book, Chicago Yippie! ’68.
March 16, 2018
Dodgeville Public Library, 139 S Iowa St, Dodgeville, WI, will present a reading and discussion of Chicago Yippie! ’68 by the author, Justin O’Brien, beginning at 1 p.m.
March 4, 2018
Arcadia Books, 102 E Jefferson St., Spring Green, WI, will host an event at 2 p.m. on Sunday, March 4, with Justin O’Brien reading from his book, Chicago Yippie! ’68, and signing copies.
January 27, 2018
Justin O’Brien will be Michael James’ guest on “Live From the Heartland” on WLUW radio, 88.7 FM, on Saturday morning, January 27, talking about his new book, Chicago Yippie! ’68. The live radio interview will be broadcast from the WLUW studios at 26 E. Pearson in Chicago at 9:00 a.m.
January 21, 2018
Justin O’Brien will be reading from his new book, Chicago Yippie! ’68 at Foundry Books of Mineral Point, hosted by proprietor Gayle Bull on Sunday afternoon, January 21 from 2 to 4 p.m. O’Brien will be talking about his new book and signing copies. Foundry Books, 105 Commerce St. (608) 987-4363
January 13, 2018
Dave Hoekstra’s WGN radio “Nocturnal Journal,” Saturday Jan. 13, from 9-11 p.m.
Tune into Dave Hoekstra’s “Noctural Journal” this Saturday night from 9-11 p.m. when I will be talking about Chicago Yippie! ’68.
On Chicago’s Very Own 720 WGN.
Chicago Yippie! ’68 is now available at these locations:
Quimby’s, 1854 W. North Ave., 773-342-0910
Dusty Groove, 1120 N. Ashland Ave., (773) 342-5800
The Book Cellar, 4736 N. Lincoln Ave., 773-293-2665
Logan Hardware and Records, 2532 Fullerton, 773-235-5030
Reckless Records, 3126 N. Broadway, 773-404-5080
Reckless Records, 1379 N. Milwaukee, 773-235-3727
City News Cafe, 4018 N Cicero Ave., (773) 545-7377
Bob’s Blues and Jazz, 3419 Irving Park Rd., 773-539-5002
Laurie’s Planet of Sound, 4639 Lincoln, 773-271-3569
57th Street Books (Seminary Co-Op), 1301 E. 57th Street, 773-684-1300
City News Stand, 860 Chicago Ave., (847) 425-8900
Oak Park, IL
The Book Table, 1045 Lake Street, 708-386-9800
Mineral Point, WI
Foundry Books, 105 Commerce Street, 608-987-4363
Longbranch Gallery, 203 Commerce Street, 608-987-4499
The Mineral Point Collection, 151 High Street, 608-987-9930
Spring Green, WI
Arcadia Books, 102 E Jefferson St, Spring Green, WI; 608-588-7638
A Room of One’s Own; 315 Gorham, 53703, 608-257-7888
MadCity Music; 2023 Atwood, 608-251-8558
River Lights Books, 1098 Main St, Dubuque, IA 52001; (563) 556-4391