Tag Archives: Mike Royko

A tribute, if you will

Today is the fifteenth anniversary of the death of Mike Royko, the quintessential Chicago newspaper columnist. To say that Royko was one of my most influential journalistic role models as a kid doesn’t even come close to the situation. In fact, not only did Royko influence the state of the newspaper column through the Twentieth Century, but I submit that media through the Twenty-First owes him recognition as well. You wouldn’t have had newspaper columnists as diverse as Dave Barry, Molly Ivins, and Lewis Grizzard without Uncle Mike’s inspiration, and I’m certain that if he were alive today, he’d have one of the most-read and most-quoted blogs on the planet.

At the same time, considering what has happened to standard journalism since he died, I also think he really got the last laugh. Royko was famous for quitting the Chicago Sun-Times the day after Rupert Murdoch bought the paper, and laughing when Murdoch tried to pretend this wasn’t an issue and ran old Royko columns in their place. In some afterlife, I can see him cutting up with his friend Studs Terkel, howling “They practically gave me a state funeral! Talk about leaving early to avoid the rush! I wonder what they’re gonna do for Skip Bayless and Elvis Mitchell: set fire to the garbage can before tossing them in?”

Goodbye, Uncle Mike. And goodbye to your lifelong pal Slats Grabnik, too. There are times where my old friend Edgar Harris mourns that we won’t get any more anecdotes from Slats or Dr. I.M. Kookie as well.

Okay, so SOME kvetching about the weather

I know, I promised, I wasn’t going to complain about the weather. You’d think we’d be sick of it by now, because I definitely am. (I discovered last night that my favorite Heliamphora died at the same time as my Nepenthes hamata, and I’m probably going to lose a loquat tree thanks to the insanely low humidity.) However, you have a nearly palpable disappointment in Dallas that we didn’t break a record for subsequent 100-degree-F days originally set in 1980. My father-in-law, a very sane and rational man who lived through both the 1980 and 1952 heatwaves, has the right perspective on this: “It’s not a record. It’s a losing streak.”

Trust my father-in-law to state the obvious. Summer 2011 is the Chicago Cubs of meteorology. (And I say this as a diehard Cubs fan, having seen the light thanks to one of my childhood role models.) I just want to know what we did to deserve our very own Billy Goat Curse.

Meanwhile, I’m reminded more and more of the summer when I finally moved out on my own and became a reasonably responsible adult. My father had a a lot to do with that, too. “The Emperor told us to go to Arrakis,” Dad says. “You won’t miss Caladan a bit,” Dad says. “You’ll make lots of new friends, and get some new hobbies, and maybe meet a nice girl,” Dad says. Dad, SHUT UP. The sun’s so hot that I have sunburn on the backs of my eyelids.