- Paperback: 115 pages
- Publisher: Lake Claremont Press; First edition (October 12, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1893121496
- ISBN-13: 978-1893121492
- Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.6 x 0.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 9 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #348,893 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A Chicago Tavern: A Goat, a Curse, and the American Dream. Paperback – October 12, 2006
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"Rick Kogan. . . has become our local Boswell, a serendipitous chronicler of the nooks and crannies and curious characters that can turn the very act of living here into an adventure.” —Jonathan Alter, Chicago Tribune
“In the book’s acknowledgments, Kogan writes, ‘Reading the work of all the writers who have, with varying degrees of literary license, told the story of the tavern through the years, reminded me why I got in this business in the first place. There were once poets working for newspapers.’ Well, fortunately for us, there still are a few, and Kogan is one of them.” —Bob Sirott, author, One More Thing
“The book is slender, like a volume of poetry, and I immediately read it cover to cover. I would say that it is perfect—celebratory and sad, a deft encapsulation of the present and an elegy to the past.” —Neil Steinberg, Chicago Sun-Times
“Colorful and true Chicago-styled journalism.” —Food Industry News
“Incredible that this story has not been told until now. But, what a story it is. . . . As readers, we’re not just reading about the Billy Goat—we become one of its patrons, sitting alongside the bar, listening to these stories as if we were shoulder to shoulder with Rick, Mike, Sam, or Billy . . . for a few hours we feel like part of the family, too.” —Gapers Block
From the Back Cover
"The Auditorium, a theater, and the Billy Goat, a tavern, are two Chicago landmarks. The first sprang for the vision of Louis Sullivan, nonpareil of architects. The second sprang from the vision of nonpareil journalist Mike Royko, when days seemed too long and nights too short. It is our good fortune that Rick Kogan, of a fabled Chicago legacy, has put forth a work so whimsical, wistful, and wondrous."
Let the Goat In!
In the summer of 1934, a baby goat fell off a truck, limped into a tavern owned by Greek immigrant William Sianis, and a Chicago icon was born. The Billy Goat Inn became a haven for newspaper reporters, policemen, politicians, and anyone else drawn to the hospitality and showmanship of hardworking "Billy Goat" Sianis and his often antic, uniquely comforting establishment. But did Billy jinx the Cubs? When he and one of his goats were barred from entering Wrigley Field during the 1945 World Series, the Cubs' eventual loss to Detroit fueled a legend as enduring as their fans' "Wait 'til next year" mantra. Today there are seven Billy Goat Taverns, including one in Washington, D.C., and Billy's nephew, Sam Sianis--a celebrity in his own right--oversees what Illinois Senator Dick Durbin called "a national institution."
Rick Kogan's affectionate tale plunks you down at a barstool next to some of the Billy Goat's regulars, visitors, employees, and such luminaries as columnist Mike Royko, and those young stars--John Belushi, Bill Murray, and Don Novello--who immortalized Sam and the tavern in the Saturday Night Live Olympia Diner ("Cheezborger, Cheezborger! No fries . . . chips!") skits. "I remember . . . I miss . . .," someone will say, and names and faces begin to float through the tavern air. . . In these echoes Kogan lets you see and hear why taverns remain essential social focal points and lets you understand what makes a Chicago original.
Top customer reviews
Around 1950, there were almost 7,000 taverns in Chicago. In 2006, there were fewer than 1,250.
This reviewer basically learned how to read while accompanying my father to visit his friends at Peg's Tavern in Hinckley, IL (They would give me nickels and quarters to play the juke box - so I learned P a t s y C l i n e and all her friends and all their songs.) There was a real sense of community and camaraderie among the regulars, like an Irish village pub/hub, that one doesn't encounter in the "fern bar" Chains of today, contributing, one can extrapolate, to the loss of neighborliness and sense of community in current culture. (See also Bowling Alone : The Collapse and Revival of American Community)
Kogan tells about a family of Greek immigrants who created a place where all collars, blue, white, and clerical meet and mingle; a tale of a Billy Goat's tail and the "truth" about the "curse" on the Chicago Cubs. Making appearances in text and photos are the Sianis family; various animal goats; various old goat humans: Mike Royko and Harry Caray; Aykroyd & Belushi (this is the real deal - where the "Cheezborger, Cheezborger! No fries . . . chips!" were made;) some presidents and other politicians; and even that Stinkier- than-a-Goat Devil & Demolisher of the 2003 Pennant Hope, Steve Bartman.
Docked a star because Kogan's choice to write the whole thing, even the historical stuff from 1916, in the present tense, riled this reviewer worse than a whole gaggle of sorority girl foo-foo umbrella drinks.
/TundraVision, Amazon Reviewer.
The real stories behind the legendary dive, er, tavern that is now a world-wide recognized icon. Like all true stories, real life is better than fiction and especially when in the hands of a top-shelf teller of tales like Kogan, whose ability to paint vivid images is what local readers (and listeners) know and love. If there's a torch being passed by Studs Terkel, Kogan is the guy who inherits it and TAVERN proves it nicely.
A small piece of Chicago history, brilliantly preserved. I really enjoyed it.
Old Timers' Baseball Association of Chicago