For the Love of Mike: More of the Best of Mike Royko


When One More Time: The Best of Mike Royko was published in 1999, readers almost instantly began asking when the second volume of Royko columns would be published. With a foreword by Roger Ebert, For the Love of Mike: More of the Best of Mike Royko is the answer.

Royko, a nationally syndicated Pulitzer Prize winner, wrote for three major Chicago newspapers in the course of his 34 years as a daily columnist. Chosen from more than 7,000 columns, For the Love of Mike brings back ...

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When One More Time: The Best of Mike Royko was published in 1999, readers almost instantly began asking when the second volume of Royko columns would be published. With a foreword by Roger Ebert, For the Love of Mike: More of the Best of Mike Royko is the answer.

Royko, a nationally syndicated Pulitzer Prize winner, wrote for three major Chicago newspapers in the course of his 34 years as a daily columnist. Chosen from more than 7,000 columns, For the Love of Mike brings back more than a hundred vintage Royko pieces, most of which have not appeared since their initial publication, for readers across the country to enjoy. This second collection includes Royko's riffs on the consequences of accepting a White House dinner invitation (not surprisingly, he turned it down); his explanation of the notorious Ex-Cub Factor in World Series play; and his befuddlement at a private screening of Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, to which he was invited by his pal Ebert, the screenplay's author. The new collection also illuminates Royko's favorite themes, topics he returned to again and again: his skewering of cultural trends, his love of Chicago, and his rage against injustice. By turns acerbic, hilarious, and deeply moving, Royko remains a writer of wit and passion who represents the best of urban journalism.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This is a substantial second collection (after One More Time) by the quintessential urban columnist as he witnessed the 1960s through the 1990s, preserving with a keen eye his obsessions, rages and lonely ethical crusades. Royko (author of Boss, an infamous critique of Chicago's late Mayor Richard Daley) embodies a journalistic archetype once synonymous with Chicago (cf. The Front Page), but now nearly extinct: chauvinistic and old-fashioned, yet fiercely imbued with a sense of time and place, and with courage enough, as Roger Ebert recalls in his warm foreword, to denounce the newspapers of Rupert Murdoch the new owner of Royko's own paper as "not fit to wrap fish in." While Royko's subjects range widely, his moral stance and his well-honed rhetorical feints are rock-solid. Humorous columns like those featuring Slats Grobnik, Everyman of Royko's hardscrabble, white-ethnic neighborhood territory, or his legendary 1980 piece on pigeon eaters in Grant Park feel like grittier versions of folksy writers like Garrison Keillor. His serious, angrier pieces edge closer than most postwar writers dared in addressing the nihilistic darkness enveloping the cities, as in "Nero Would Love Chicago," a 1975 piece acidly questioning police priorities during an arson epidemic. His pieces regarding the civil rights struggle where he examines Northern racial hypocrisy alongside Southern brutality remain sharp and poignant, and remind how groundless are charges of intolerance leveled against Royko late in life. Finally, his wry critiques of the Chicago "machine" and its time-honored traditions ("when you buy somebody, they stay bought") make one miss his gadfly presence on the political scene, particularly his unerring eye for hypocrisy. Fans will treasure this collection. (Apr.) Forecast: Need we even say this will be a bestseller in Chicago? Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226730745
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 5/28/2002
  • Pages: 270
  • Sales rank: 541,699
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.80 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Mike Royko (1932-1997) worked as a daily columnist for the Chicago Daily News, the Chicago Sun-Times, and the Chicago Tribune. His Pulitzer Prize-winning columns were syndicated in more than 600 newspapers across the country.
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Read an Excerpt

For the Love of Mike

More of the Best of Mike Royko

By Mike Royko

University of Chicago Press

Copyright © 2003

University of Chicago
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-226-73073-5

Chapter One

March 7, 1973

How Slats Lost His Cymbals

Many people were shocked by the recent news report of the two
baseball players who swapped their wives, their children-even their dogs.
They see it as still another example of our new, loose morality.

That may be. But it isn't the first time such a thing has happened.

I remember a slightly similar incident involving the Grobnik family,
who used to live in my old neighborhood.

The cause of it all was Slats Grobnik, the eldest son.

One day he decided to join the alderman's marching boys band, which
played in his parades and rallies and also threw stones at windows
displaying pictures of his opponent.

The alderman had been Slats' hero ever since his father had said the
man never worked a day in his life.

Because of his peculiar ear for music, Slats was given the cymbals to
play. He rushed home and immediately began practicing. He hoped that if he
did well, the alderman would let him play something else, such as the

Mr. Grobnik was working nights at the time, so when Slats began
marching through the flat,clanging the cymbals, he came roaring out of

He hit Slats on the head with one of the cymbals, causing the boy's
eyes to roll even more than they usually did.

This touched off a terrible row, with Mrs. Grobnik crying that her
husband should not stifle Slats' musical development.

That was when Mr. Grobnik said he would like to swap his family.

"I would trade all of you for a little peace and quiet," he shouted,
hitting Mrs. Grobnik with a cymbal, too.

"Ma, you can get alimony," Slats yelled. "I will be your witness."

Mrs. Grobnik gathered her clothes and children and said she was
leaving and would not return until Mr. Grobnik apologized.

At first, Mr. Grobnik could not believe they were really gone. To
make sure, he changed the locks. Then he want back to bed.

Mrs. Grobnik took the children and went around the corner to stay
with her friend Ruby Peak, who had a nice apartment above the war-surplus

"Now you are the man of the family," Mrs. Grobnik tearfully told
Slats. He turned pale, thinking that meant he might have to go to work.

Word of the breakup quickly spread through the neighborhood.
Naturally, some of the unattached women set their caps for Mr. Grobnik.
They didn't get anywhere with him, though, because he didn't like women
who wore caps.

The shapely widow who ran the corner bakery hurried over with some
fresh sweet rolls for him.

And as Mr. Grobnik ate them, she leaned forward and whispered huskily
in his ear:

"Is there anything else you would like?"

"Yeah," he said, "next time bring a loaf of rye."

When Slats' teacher heard of the separation, she worried that he
might suffer a trauma.

The next day he came to class with tears streaming down his face.

The teacher assumed it had something to do with his home life.
Actually, somebody in the school yard had told a filthy joke, and Slats
had laughed until he cried.

She put her arm around him and said: "There, there."

Slats said: "Where, where?" and gave her a pinch.

She ordered him from the room, which didn't bother Slats, as he
figured he had learned enough for one day.

A few days after the separation, old Mrs. Novak asked Slats what his
mother was doing.

"She is going to Reno," Slats said.

He didn't know what that meant, but he had heard someone say it in a

Old Mrs. Novak didn't know what it meant either. She figured it must
mean Mrs. Grobnik had run off with a man named Reno.

So she went to the grocery store and told all the other ladies about

"I'll bet he is a no-good gigolo," one of them said.

That afternoon, they all told their husbands that Mrs. Grobnik was
carrying on with Mr. Reno, a notorious gigolo.

The husbands discussed it in the tavern. One of them said: "I think I
know the guy. He lives over in the Italian neighborhood."

Another said: "I know the one. He has a mustache and hangs out in the
pool hall."

When Mr. Grobnik stopped for a beer, they told him his wife was in
love with a notorious pool shark and fortune hunter named Reno, who had a
mustache and pointy shoes.

"Everybody in the neighborhood knows about it," the bartender said.
"I hear she has even sold her wedding ring to give him money."

Enraged, Mr. Grobnik went to the pool hall and punched the first man
he saw wearing a mustache. He turned out to be a jukebox distributor, and
three of his boys beat Mr. Grobnik with pool cues.

When Mr. Grobnik came to in the hospital, his wife and children were
at his bedside. Mrs. Grobnik said she would come back home and make Slats
give up the cymbals.

"Will you stay away from Reno?" Mr. Grobnik said.

"But Reno is in Nevada," said Mrs. Grobnik.

Mr. Grobnik smiled. "Good. I must have really taught him a lesson."

October 5, 1993

Three Ex-Cubs Assure Spurning of Atlanta

The experts have spoken. The Atlanta Braves are the best of the
playoff teams. The bookies have made them the favorites to get to the
World Series and win it. Some sports pundits already talk of them as one
of the great teams of all time.

The experts just never learn.

As always, they ignore that strange, mysterious, and almost-always
fatal malady known as the Ex-Cubs Factor.

Regular readers of this column know about the Ex-Cubs Factor. But
bear with me as I explain it to newcomers.

Twelve years ago, a Chicago sports nut named Ron Berler stumbled
across an amazing statistic.

Since 1946, 13 teams had entered the World Series with three or more
ex-Cubs on their roster.

Twelve of these 13 teams lost.

Berler theorized that it was a virus. Three or more ex-Cubs could
infect an entire team with the will to lose, no matter how skillful that
team might appear.

When Berler revealed his findings, the sports experts sneered and
scoffed. Stupid and meaningless, they snickered. No scientific basis, they

Then came 1990, and they were still sneering, scoffing, and making
their mindless predictions.

That was the year about 99 percent of the experts declared that the
Oakland A's could not possibly lose the World Series.

Even before the games began, they hailed the A's as one of the
greatest teams-maybe the greatest-in the history of the game.

As the Washington Post's resident baseball genius put it: "Let's make
this short and sweet. The baseball season is over. Nobody's going to beat
the Oakland A's."

As Ben Bentley, the Chicago sports savant, said: "Could the Oakland
Athletics be the greatest in baseball history?"

Yes, cried the experts: the greatest, a dynasty, a team of immortals.
They could win while yawning.

But out there were two lonely voices: Berler and this writer.

We warned of the Ex-Cubs Factor. We pointed out that the A's had
foolishly defied the terrible virus by signing a third ex-Cub. And before
that World Series began, Berler publicly stated: "As good as they are,
they will lose. And they can blame their own arrogance for ignoring

So what happened? Not only did the A's lose, it was world-class
humiliation. Four straight defeats. One of sports' all-time flopperoos.

That made it 13 out of 14 teams with three or more ex-Cubs to
collapse in the World Series since World War II.

The A's haven't been the same since. Once it struck, the ex-Cub virus
burrowed into the fiber of the franchise. In only three years they have
gone from a dynasty to limping mediocrity. Sources say their hot dogs
don't even taste as good as they once did.

Have the experts learned anything? Of course not. As the late Mayor
Richard J. Daley once said: "Duh experts-what do dey know?"

The sports experts are now hailing the Atlanta Braves as the
super-team of this era.

On Sunday, Dave Kindred, columnist for the Sporting News, wrote: "...
Atlanta has become baseball's best team since the Yankees of Mickey
Mantle and Yogi Berra ... the NL's best team since the Brooklyn Dodgers
of Duke Snider, Gil Hodges, and Pee Wee Reese."

He may be right. They have thunderous hitters, overwhelming pitchers,
and a seamless defense.

But they also have the dreaded virus. Of the four teams in the
playoffs, only the Braves are afflicted by the Ex-Cubs Factor. Only the
Braves have three former Cubs.

They are Greg Maddux, the superb pitcher, Damon Berryhill, the
reliable catcher, and ...

Even a bleacher creature would be hard-pressed to name the third

But Berler, the virus discoverer, knows. "I have it all in my
computer," he says.

A relief pitcher named Jay Howell. Although he has been in the major
leagues for 14 years, he's not a big name, not a big star, no flashy
stats. A solid journeyman. Probably good to his family, a nice neighbor, a
patriot; and he doesn't kick little dogs.

But he is one of the three skeletons in the Atlanta closet. He has a
sordid past.

For a brief time in 1981, when he was a mere lad, he was a Cub. He
pitched in only 10 games, a total of 22 innings, and wasn't very good.

But as Berler says: "That is all it takes. He is a genuine, bona
fide, star-crossed ex-Cub, the poor guy. He is a carrier. It always comes
back to your roots. Once a Cub, always a Cub."

Berler, who is a free-lance writer and teacher, recently interviewed
Maddux, who chose to become an Atlanta Brave multimillionaire, rather than
a Chicago Cubs multimillionaire, because he wanted to play on a winning

"I told him: 'You think you're leaving a loser? Ha! You are a loser.
And you're going to infect your 24 teammates.'"

He explained the Ex-Cubs Factor to Maddux. And the star pitcher
responded by shouting: "I don't believe it, I don't believe it, I don't
believe it!"

So if the Braves defeat the Phillies and make it to the World Series,
bet on the Braves at your own peril.

But this puts a Chicagoan such as myself-a devout Cubs fan-in a
difficult position.

Those who are true fans of the White Sox or Cubs loathe the other
team. This crosstown rivalry takes precedent over city pride. So if the
Sox play the Braves, I must root for the Braves. It is the only decent
thing a Cubs fan can do. Sox fans, being dedicated haters, will

It will be the first time I will be cheering for a virus.

[Editors' note: The Philadelphia Phillies and the virus beat the Braves,
four games to two, in the playoffs.]

February 16, 1973

What's Behind Daley's Words?

Several theories have arisen as to what Mayor Daley really meant a
few days ago when he said:

"If they don't like it, they can kiss my ass."

On the surface, it appeared that the mayor was merely admonishing
those who would dare question the royal favors he has bestowed upon his
sons, Prince Curly, Prince Larry, and Prince Moe.

But it can be a mistake to accept the superficial meaning of anything
the mayor says.

The mayor can be a subtle man. And as Earl Bush, his press secretary,
once put it after the mayor was quoted correctly:

"Don't print what he said. Print what he meant."

So many observers believe the true meaning of the mayor's remarkable
kissing invitation may be more than skin deep.

One theory is that he would like to become sort of the Blarney Stone
of Chicago.

As the stone's legend goes, if a person kisses Ireland's famous
Blarney Stone, which actually exists, he will be endowed with the gift of

And City Hall insiders have long known that the kind of kiss Daley
suggested can result in the gift of wealth.

People from all over the world visit Blarney Castle so they can kiss
the chunk of old limestone and thus become glib, convincing talkers.

So, too, might people flock to Chicago in hopes that kissing "The
Daley" might bring them unearned wealth. Daley, or at least his bottom,
might become one of the great tourist attractions of the nation.

The Blarney Stone has become part of the living language in such
everyday phrases as "You're giving me a lot of blarney."

That could happen here, too. People who make easy money might someday
be described as "really having the gift of the Daley bottom."

That is one theory. Another, equally interesting, goes this way:

Throughout history, the loyal subjects of kings and other monarchs
have usually shown their respect with a physical gesture of some sort.

In some places, it was merely a deep bow or a curtsy when the ruler
showed up or departed.

Others, who were even more demanding, required that the subjects
kneel or even crawl on all fours. (A few Chicago aldermen engage in this

In some kingdoms, those who approached the big man were expected to
kiss his ring or the hem of his royal clothing.

Daley has already ruled Chicago for longer than most kings reigned in
their countries.

At this point, many of his loyal subjects view him as more a monarch
than an elected official. It seems obvious that he intends to pass the
entire city on to his sons, which is a gesture worthy of a king.

So it would be only natural that he might feel the time has come when
he is entitled to a gesture of respect and reverence that befits his royal

And what he suggested would be simply a variation of kissing a ring
or a hand. Instead of kissing the royal hem, we would kiss the royal ham.

Although I have not read of any king expecting a kiss in precisely
the area the mayor described, why not? One of the hallmarks of Chicago is
that we do so many things in an original manner.

What other city has made a river flow backwards? What other city
makes traffic flow backwards?

And it would be quite original if we had a leader who greeted us

Where else would a leader turn his back on his people and be cheered
for it?

History also tells us that in some ancient kingdoms, a person who had
some terrible illness thought he would be cured if he kissed the feet of
the king.

Could it be that the mayor is launching a low-cost, and low-slung,
health program for us?

I am sure there will be some people who won't want to show their
affection for the mayor this way. As one man put it, when he heard what
the mayor had said:

"If Daley wants me to do that, then he sure has a lot of cheek."

But there also are the loyal followers, typified by radio disc jockey
Howard Miller, who declared over the airwaves that the mayor has "more
brains in his bottom" than his critics have in their heads.

While I might disagree with Miller on the quantity of cerebral
matter, I won't quarrel with the location.

In any case, we will maintain our efforts to find out what the mayor
really meant.

We hope to get to the bottom of this story. Or should I say, to the
story of this bottom.


Excerpted from For the Love of Mike
by Mike Royko
Copyright © 2003 by University of Chicago.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

1 Brainstorms
March 7, 1973: How Slats Lost His Cymbals 3
March 13, 1980: Vegas in Akron? 5
September 24, 1980: Jay's Bottom Line 8
November 27, 1980: Pilgrims' Progress 11
June 3, 1981: Love Lost in Lingo 13
February 20, 1987: A Devilish Night for Oral Roberts 15
April 2, 1987: A Word About Debate "Poopery" 18
May 15, 1989: A Smile a Day ... Can Be Sickening 21
February 16, 1990: There Go Another Wasted Three Pounds 23
January 24, 1996: Treatment of Crabs? Some of Us Don't Have Leg to Stand On 26
2 Cub Capers ... And Games We Play
April 7, 1969: "Ungreatful" Cub Fans 31
March 23, 1976: At Long Last, the Cubs Again 33
April 20, 1980: A Farewell to Cubs 35
April 9, 1981: When Ya Gotta Go 39
April 8, 1986: For It's 1,2,3 Maalox at the ... 42
March 12, 1987: Read On, Gluttons for Punishment 44
August 8, 1988: Cub Fans, Let's Be Careful Out There 46
August 25, 1989: Rose Can Count On the Memories 48
October 5, 1993: Three Ex-Cubs Assure Spurning of Atlanta 50
June 8, 1995: Yes, Golf Tantrums Are for Males Only 52
3 And Justice for All
March 16, 1965: The "Truth" in Selma 57
March 19, 1965: The "Truth" in Chicago 59
May 28, 1968: Fascism Isn't Accidental 61
December 24, 1968: For Too Many, There's No Joy 63
January 28, 1970: One Word Tells All: Outrageous 65
July 22, 1970: Bureaucracy - a Nightmare 67
February 17, 1976: For Metcalfe, a 1936 Replay 69
November 18, 1979: Wrong Mom? Tough! 71
March 11, 1981: He Deserved It 73
June 11, 1982: Baseball's Black Eye 76
October 21, 1983: Helms' Ranting Reminds Us How Far We've Come 78
September 21, 1990: Where Good Sense Is in the Minority 80
April 4, 1991: This Story May Not Have Happy Ending 82
June 23, 1994: Lincolnshire Makes Lunch a Real Hassle 84
4 Chasing the Changing Scene
February 20, 1967: High-Rise Lobby: The Old People Just Don't Fit In 89
August 10, 1970: Skirt the Issue and Live Longer 91
August 27, 1970: Lib Gawkers Tiresome Talkers 93
March 31, 1976: Mary Pickford's Old "Error" 94
May 2, 1978: It's Love at First Click 96
January 10, 1980: Survival of the Fairest 99
March 20, 1989: Something's Fishy at the Old Ballpark 101
April 11, 1991: It's Same Old Song Sung with a Twist 103
November 1, 1994: Happiness Floats in a Bowl of Misery 105
September 13, 1996: Where Have All the Protesters Gone Concerning Iraq? 107
5 Politics Ain't Beanbag
November 8, 1968: Nixon Halfway to a Mandate 111
September 17, 1971: Now, About that Book ... 112
February 16, 1973: What's Behind Daley's Words? 114
October 19, 1973: A Law City Should Keep 116
June 10, 1974: Mr. Ambition at Your Service 118
January 8, 1980: Slip off the Old Block 120
May 7, 1984: Land of the Free, Home of the Fix 123
May 17, 1988: Alderman's Brain Is a Museum Piece 125
August 17, 1988: Bush's Selection Really Hits Home 127
March 27, 1991: Hail a Taxidermist for This Public Body 130
March 17, 1992: Hillary Clinton Is Fair Political Game 132
November 4, 1992: Bush's Wish Isn't Voters' Command 134
November 10, 1995: Democrats Just Got Boost from GOP Without Even Trying 136
6 My Kind of Town
May 16, 1968: Slats Grobnik, Sidewalk Man 141
September 9, 1968: The True Story of Twinkies 143
June 16, 1969: Change Bugs an Old Square 144
July 10, 1970: So, Its Over and Out, Roger! 146
April 12, 1973: A Requiem for a Tavern 147
January 21, 1976: Ladies Miss Goat's Flavor 150
August 28, 1990: If Only the Acorn Could Play It Again 152
November 21, 1995: Even a U.S. Senator Can Botch a Recipe for Success 154
7 Raging Against the Night
December 19, 1966: Lakefront Isn't a Wasteland Yet - But It Will Be 159
April 8, 1968: Trace of Hope Was Lacking 161
June 7, 1968: Laugh It Up, It's Violence 163
April 14, 1971: Fred Hampton at the Ballot Box 165
January 24, 1973: Hollow Ring of Peace 167
September 16, 1975: Nero Would Love Chicago 169
March 4, 1976: Busing a Whip to Flog Liberals 170
February 5, 1981: Talk Won't Save Life 172
April 8, 1981: Feel Guilty? Me? 175
March 26, 1991: After All, This Is What We Fought For 178
8 The Trouble with Everywhere Else
June 3, 1982: Hicks Get Their Licks 185
June 27, 1982: Iowa's the Real Pits 188
April 9, 1984: Just Take Your Oranges and ... 190
August 20, 1984: Regional Tastes Hard to Swallow 193
October 5, 1990: Thank You, Cubs: The Pressure's Off 194
January 20, 1994: Take Off Your Mittens, Count Your Blessings 196
9 Now, Wait a Minute
July 20, 1966: Ringing Dissent to Criticism of Justice Douglas 201
February 21, 1968: Bonnie 'n' Clyde - the Sad Side 203
January 27, 1978: Short-Legged Dog Has Snow-Fooling Problem 205
November 20, 1979: Fun with Khomeini 207
May 16, 1990: Fulfilling Advice for Wellesley Grads 210
September 28, 1990: So Much to Hate, and So Little Time 213
May 6, 1992: Bush Needs Liberal Doses of History 215
September 1, 1993: '68 Convention-al Wisdom All Wrong 217
February 9, 1994: Time to Be Color-Blind to All Words of Hate 219
March 25, 1994: Using Short Form? Try Briefs Deduction 222
10 Media Musings
December 20, 1973: An Exclusive - in Club News 227
April 26, 1981: Come Clean, Post 229
January 29, 1992: Star Gives Public Just What It Wants 231
April 7, 1993: Rodney King and a Double Standard 234
June 8, 1994: Second Thought on That Invite: Oh, Forget It 236
May 21, 1996: Will "Gotcha" Crowd Go After Questions in Admiral's Death? 238
November 7, 1996: If Media Say It's Over, Why Should Voters Play Around? 240
11 Here's Looking at me, Kid
October 4, 1967: Riverview Park: A Coward's Tale 245
March 21, 1969: How to Beat an Aching Back 247
June 2, 1969: Who Actually Creates Gaps? 249
February 8, 1972: Acute Crisis in Identity 250
December 20, 1976: That Old, Gray Area 253
October 24, 1978: He's Loser by a Nose 255
October 26, 1978: Lookin' Fine? He Nose It 258
January 11, 1980: Farewell to Fitness 260
June 24, 1982: Why Rude Is Shrewd 262
October 9, 1985: Condo Man Back Down to Earth 265
August 21, 1987: Windshield Wiper Lets in Some Light 266
June 13, 1995: Oh, the Humiliation a Dad Must Endure 268
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