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Frederick Marx

Frederick Marx

Oscar-nominated filmmaker | Made 1994’s ‘Hoop Dreams’ | Class of 1977

It was known as The Garbage Truck — and one glimpse at the ingredients in the late-night special at Abe’s Red Hots reveals why.

“It was a hot dog with everything on it — not only the usual mustard, ketchup and relish trio but chopped onions, jalapeno and banana peppers, sauerkraut and other items gratefully forgotten,” says Frederick Marx, who as a UI freshman lived within sniffing distance of Abe’s, in a basement apartment at Fourth and Green. “It not only satisfied any hunger, it was suitable punishment for a night of revelry. The feeling the next morning was unforgettable.”

It’s been 40 years since Marx — the acclaimed documentary filmmaker and brains behind “Hoop Dreams” — earned his bachelor’s degree in political science and film studies from the UI.

But he still remembers that pad at Fourth and Green — “a great deal” at $75 a month but one that presented a few challenges for the San Francisco-based president of Warrior Films.

For one, “I had to duck my 6-foot-5 frame under the pipes and heating ducts to walk around,” says Marx, who also remembers the day that the house sewer system backed up and “everything from the upstairs apartments came out my lone basement toilet. 

“Bless her brave soul, my best and dearest friend, Carole Dyal, helped me clean it all up.”

The apartment also provided easy access to Ruby Gulch, which was just across the street. “The best live music bar I’ve ever experienced, anywhere,” Marx says. “Since I knew the bouncers, I could always get in for the final, post-midnight set for free, and see some of the finest blues, jazz and rock performers around, not only from Chicago, but from across the U.S.

“Since they had live shows almost every night, I was there often, making it all the more miraculous that I ever graduated.”