Tidbit of the Day: Mike Royko = God

I’ve just started reading a compilation of famed Chicago newspaper columnist Mike Royko‘s columns, One More Time: The Best of Mike Royko.

For the last couple of years, I’ve had this tepid curiosity with Royko. I received a fellowship named for him when I was a graduate j-student at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern U from ’06-’07. When I was awarded the thing, I read his book, Boss: Richard J. Daley of Chicago, and was floored. His prose is effortless, and he always seems to turn the right word or phrase.

Anyway, I’ll probably post an interesting excerpt or two. Here’s one from March 15, 1966 — an apology for saying that the Irish drink a lot of beer. Keep in mind that Royko wasn’t racist, but he could turn on anyone. And he did:

So I will do as the many callers demanded: I will apologize. I will retract. I will admit my error.

First, the part about beer-drinking.

The Irish do not have a great capacity for beer. I’m sorry I suggested they did.

There. That should make a satisfactory retraction and apology. But just to be safe, I’ll make it stronger.

The Irish, in fact, have a very limited capacity for beer.

Germans, for instance, can consume far more impressive quantities of the suds than the Irish and still be on their feet singing university songs.

(I realize that this may get the Germans angry at me, but I’ll apologize to them later.)

Then there are the Poles. They are capable of far greater feats of beer-drinking when they put their minds to it. There are still Division Street bars that tap a full barrel every time another customer walks in.

Even the Italians might drink more beer than the Irish if they didn’t prefer Chianti.

…and so on. I’ll keep you posted on my Royko exploits!


  1. Mollie

    Wow- my grandma provides you with the book and you take a cut at our kind…
    Regardless, didn’t know you were reading this already.

  2. Katie

    Yeah, I agree with Mollie–what the ???? And his little article just blasted all 3 of my ethnicities plus Jim’s.
    But in reality I find Mollie’s voting preferences more offensive…

  3. Todd And

    Nice post – one of my favorite books! Mike Royko has a great quote that can be easily applied to the blogosphere:

    “It’s been my policy to view the Internet not as an ‘information highway,’ but as an electronic asylum filled with babbling loonies.”

  4. Daniel

    Mollie – Psht.

    Katie – Ouch. Let’s see if Mollie comes back.

    Todd – Definitely agreed. Unfortunately, with the fast-paced nature of the media, local guys like Royko and Breslin become less relevant, I believe. Mark Konkol and Mark Brown over at the Sun-Times are trying, but there’s just no comparing these guys to Royko.

  5. Mollie

    Hmph. I still contend this posting stings and if my grandmother knew what the internet was.. well actually no. She wouldn’t even probably remember giving you the book.
    Katie- My politics are not offensive. Going for ole’ McCainy would be.

  6. Bob

    Royko, though of Polish & Ukranian heritage, took no prisoners in his writing. No one was above being made fun of, which is why he was so popular in ethnically diverse Chicago. Stories about Slats Grobnik were my favorite. I doubt that some of what he wrote would make it to a newspaper today because it would be deemed politically incorrect. I guess that’s why blogs came about. BTW, I was reading Royko well before all of you were born! About time you caught up.

  7. Daniel

    Another Wieszcholek heard from!

    The Slats columns were funny too. And you’re right about his columns being seen as politically incorrect today. In his later years at the Tribune, he was targeted by a pretty regular stream of protests.

    Geez, reading Royko before we were all born. How old does that make you, again…? (Kidding.)

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