Paul Greenberg

Some of Mister Dooley's judgments had the ring of instant folk wisdom. As when he advised: Trust everybody but cut the cards. And some Dooleyisms are still all too relevant: "A vote on th' tallysheet is worth two in the box."

Mister Dooley's place on Archey Road was a product of Finley Peter Dunne's rich imagination, but the Billy Goat Tavern is all too real. Located under Michigan Avenue, the Billy Goat is almost as dismal inside as out, although on a good day the cheeseburgers (pronounced Cheezeborgers) are the best this side of the Sno-White Grill in Pine Bluff, Ark.

But you don't go to the Billy Goat for the food. You go to pay your respects. You go because Mike Royko went there, and because it's so Chicago.

You go because Royko's Slats Grobnik could walk in any minute. Along with with Studs Lonigan (of James T. Farrell's heartbreaking Chicago trilogy), or maybe the real Studs Terkel. How describe Mr. Terkel - sociologist, raconteur, sidewalk sage, local institution? He is to Chicago as Jimmy Breslin has been to New York.

Charming as such fancies are, the thought of spending a beery old age in the friendly confines of the Billy Goat Tavern and Historical Site was less than cheering.

Besides, I never could flourish above a certain degree of latitude. And as much as I love shade, a dark, dank place not far from the El tracks lacked the attraction of a leafy oak in the Arkansas delta.


Inky Wretch

Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.