In January, I read Dr. Kookie, You’re Right!, so I guess you can take it to heart that I’ve read another one of his books this year. I mean, I won’t even mention both names in a sentence, but this guy probably would think he’s like Royko, but he ain’t.
This book collects a number of Royko’s columns from the Chicago Daily News, the Chicago Sun-Times, and the Chicago Tribune. When the Daily News folded, he went to the Sun-Times; when Murdoch bought the Sun-Times, Royko went, breach of contract and all, to the Chicago Tribune. He didn’t like Murdoch and he didn’t like Reagan, but I still can enjoy Royko’s columns.
Maybe it’s because he came from a different era, although the columns that talk about Reagan trend toward the snotty. Perhaps it’s the selections of his columns that ensure that the more universal or the less context-centric column inches make it into the book, but I think Royko hearkens back to an era where the political wasn’t personal, and where you could get together with people on the other side of the political divide for beers after the day was done. Besides, he excoriated Daley I, Bilandic, and Byrne as mayors, so he’s proven he’s not a Democratic party lapdog. I think he’d have mocked the netroots and maybe even Hillary Clinton (mostly because he’d be an Obama man, but still).
Royko’s collection of 30 year old columns are worth reading just to give you perspective about how little things change. He talks about hipsters on the lakefront, the sort of people who a generation later sport iPods and Starbucks cups. He gets a Bronco to cope with the Chicago winter and deals with the fuel-mileage conscious people who drive the little Japanese imports of the era. Oddly enough, the unchanging nature of these picadillos gives me hope, because I sometimes wonder if our lifetimes will run as smoothly (in retrospect) as theirs did. If the problems and whatnot are simply ongoing and are not cataclysmic as they seem to someone living through them the first time, maybe so, maybe so.