Alderman Ed Burke on Trial

Chicago, Wed. December 13, 2023
Former Alderman Danny Solis likes his hookers Asian and his Viagra free. Not exactly a candidate for canonization.
That’s all I knew about the little weasel until yesterday when I went down to the federal building for the Burke Trial with old pals Peter Nolan and Jimmy Strong.
The Feds have probably wanted to get their claws into Burke for decades cuz he’s the quintessential high profile Chicago pol. I met him through my brother Danny around 1985 when I returned home to Chicago after a career in the theatre in New York City.
I talked my way into a cushy job as the Special Events Coordinator for the newly launched State of Illinois Center, which was the controversial multi-million-dollar architectural landmark designed by the late Helmut Jahn that was on the receiving end of intense criticism from the press and public about its many flaws, especially its lack of proper air conditioning and supposedly “ugly design”.
I created a program of ethnic events year-round which invited the public to sample the cultures of Chicago’s many neighborhoods in the 800-seat auditorium, on the plaza and all over the building. We always got on the nightly news and could pretty much count on photos of my events in the front pages of the Sun-Times and Tribune.

Of course my favorite event was right around St. Patrick’s Day for “Illinois Salutes the Irish”, which featured Irish dancers, singers, police bagpipe bands and many of Chicago’s great and not so great Irish politicians. Our signature act was 14th Ward Alderman Ed Burke playing the. piano while Illinois Speaker of the House Phil Rock sang “Danny Boy” and “Galway Bay”.

I’d caught their act one night at a party at Pete Nolan’s home in Glencoe and asked Rock and Burke if they would consider bringing their act to the SOIC, now the Thompson Center. They were both very receptive and would annually pack the place with their dignified Irish American blarney.
They became my friends and while Phil Rock is now in heaven, I’ve always regarded Ed Burke as a classy guy.
So out of respect for my old friend Ed Burke, we paid a visit to his trial yesterday.
Must admit I don’t think the government has much of a case against him, especially after watching the defense attorney Chris Gair questioning former Alderman Danny Solis about setting up Burke to save his own ass from jail.
I’ve met some weasels in my day but this guy Solis takes the cake. He admitted on the witness stand that the FBI had paid him a visit years ago and that they had the goods on him and admitted on the witness stand yesterday that he had his phone tapped and that he wore a wire to trap Burke and anybody else he could net into his web of indiscretion.
Chris Gair got Solis to admit he was a liar, and that he had lied to friends, the feds, and many of his associates, including his own family.
The government has no case against Alderman Burke and they have wasted one helluva lot of taxpayers’ money, time, and good faith on this mope Danny Solis. Is that the best you got?
Best part of the day yesterday was seeing all the folks in court who were there to wish Ed and Anne Burke well and support them.
God bless them.
Merry Christmas to the scrooge feds and to you little Danny Solis, enjoy your Asian hookers you weasel.
-30-

Regrets, I’ve had a few

I’m celebrating my 75th birthday next Saturday Dec. 16th.  So let me pause to reflect on my wonderful life indeed and wonder how in the world I’m still alive.

Knock wood, no disease despite a profligate lifestyle and unconscious disregard for the feelings of others.

I’ve been very lucky, yes I will count my blessings, including:

My wife, the lovely Mary Carney, the most gorgeous gal on Broadway when we met in New York almost fifty years ago in a production of Shakespeare’s ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL. My twin sons Bill and Paddy, continue to amaze me and make me laugh. My grandkids Charlotte and. Mikey, love them to pieces.

And of course my friends, who have been pals with me through thick and thin. Yeats said, “Think where man’s glory most begins and ends, and say my glory was I had such friends.”

However, I also give thanks for all the Houli-haters in my world, and there are plenty, some I don’t even know about I’m sure.

Most of you know the “Houli-haters” club as that group of ugly, fat chicks who are repulsed by my talent, good looks, and unfailing optimism. And all I can say girls is “Mea culpa, chubettes.”

And while the Houli-haters club is not exclusively female, it might as well be ‘cuz you HH members of the opposite sex are just left wing weenies pretending to be men.

If it weren’t for you I would have croaked a long time ago I’m sure. But your unceasing hatred of me is actually what keeps me going, fuels my ferocious wit and brings me to my knees in church in repentance of my many sins.  So thanks!

So, in no particular order, I’d like to say thanks and beg your pardon.

To the many drunk Mt. Greenwood folks who came to my Hibernian radio show one night a couple of summers ago in the beer garden of the Cork n’ Kerry, when we featured the brother of a fallen female Chicago police officer on the show. Sure I was shocked when the crowd turned ugly and went batshit when you did not get  your “free” pizza and proceeded to get in my face, video tape me and my crew eating OUR pizza, spread all kinds of BS stories of my actions that night, called our sponsors to dump our show, and basically ran us out of the pub that night with your misplaced aggression and vilified our show on Facebook the next morning with your lies in an incident that will forever be known as “Pizza-Gate”, I can only say thanks. That evening will always be one of the high points of my career!

To the kind folks at the Siskel Film Center, where I founded our Annual Irish American Movie Hooley, (the only Irish American film festival in the world), I particularly want to thank your transexual  box office manager, who came to meet me at the loading dock that afternoon when I was dropping off programs for our big weekend. I’ve got my car parked in the alley off State Street and this guy, (he had to be about six feet, 250lbs), comes out with a hand truck wearing a fecking dress! I burst out laughing and immediately thought of Milton Berle.  But Uncle Milty was appalled at my mirth and the next thing I know he/she has alerted the powers-that-be at the Art Institute and Siskel brass to what an insensitive lout I am and next thing I know they are threatening to shut down my film festival cuz I laughed at a man in a dress!

To the costume designer of Sam Shepard’s play TOOTH OF CRIME at Goodman theatre in 1974 who insisted that the satin pants designed for my character of “Galactic Jack”  must be worn “commando”, thanks. I’ll never forget squatting on the stage on opening night in the middle of my act and the seam of those same satin pants split right up the middle and my family jewels plopped right into view as the audience snickered row by row as my testicles made their Chicago professional theatrical debut.

Oh I’m sure there are other regrets I can’t recall but it’s the bumps in the road that make life interesting and yes, they keep me going.

So next weekend I’m inviting everybody to celebrate with me on Sat. Dec. 16th at Barney Callaghan’s Irish Pub, 10618 S. Western from 4-8PM, where we will once again celebrate our Irish culture with Balladeer Liam Durkin, international sensation Irish fiddler Cathryn Cowell, Pipes and Drums of the Emerald Society of the Chicago Police Dept., Irish dancers Michalene Donnelly, Maggie Olk, Jack Bullington and Tadgh Spillane as well as other shenanigans, a free Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey raffle and surprise guests!

Houli-haters please stay home.

For the rest, please join us, all proceeds benefit Hibernian Media, and your suggested tax-deductible donation of fifty bucks will get you in, but we’ll take whatever we can get.

You’ll meet some Chicago All-Stars and I’ll keep my pants on, promise!

Thanks and God bless!

There will be pizza.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

St. Patrick’s Day 2022

The other night Saint Patrick was snoozing in heaven after falling asleep watching the TV show “The First 48” when the GOD PHONE next to his couch began insistently buzzing off its hook.

St. Patrick stirred from his slumber and eyeballed the red phone, which hadn’t rung in many years. He mumbled to himself, “Uh oh, something huge must be happening in Ireland!”

He picked up the receiver and faked alertness, “Helloooo!”

He heard the voice of Our Lord Jesus Christ bellow into his ear, “Pat, get over to my office immediately! We gotta talk!”

“Yes Lord, I will be there in a jiffy!”

God sounded angry and let him know it. “Don’t give me this jiffy crap, I want to see you NOW!”

Patrick hustled off the couch and made his way down the hallway to God’s office. His mind was racing, trying to guess what it was all about. Ireland has had many troubles over the years and just lately, within the last half century anyway, had joined the “woke” culture and been gradually turning away from the Catholic Church and electing some very strange leaders. On top of that the whole world has been upended with this goofy pandemic and this guy Putin was itching to blow up everything.

He bolted into God’s outer office and smiled at the gorgeous receptionist. “He’s waiting for you Patrick, so go right in.”

God had his back to him as he gazed out the heavenly window, “Have a seat Pat. We have a situation we need to discuss.”

What is it, Lord? Is it Belfast? Dublin? Trouble in the Dáil Éireann, Oireachtas or Stormont?

God spun around in his chair and dropped a copy of the Chicago Tribune on his desk as his eyes met Patrick’s. “It’s on the southside of Chicago!”

Patrick sat down gingerly and picked up the paper. “Well, there are plenty of Irish on the south side, lots of Southside Irish Catholics. But come on Lord, the Tribune?  You already know everything, why be reading that malarkey?”

God folded his hands under his chin and peered at Patrick. “Just read the story, about Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, read what it says.”

Patrick took out his reading glasses and started scanning the page, mumbling as he read along until he finally said, “A lawsuit against the city by a former Park District attorney alleges that Mayor Lori Lightfoot berated staff in obscene terms over Columbus statue, told them “My dick is bigger than yours and the Italians, I have the biggest dick in Chicago.”

God grinned at Patrick. “Ain’t that something?”

He then leaned forward and asked, “And what exactly is happening in Chicago next week?”

Patrick gulped. “Oh eh, The St. Patrick’s Day Parade?”

God chuckled, “Yes keep going, what else, more specifically?”

Patrick squeaked out his answer, “The Southside Irish St. Patrick’s Day Parade…which has been canceled the last two years…is returning on Western Avenue Sunday March 13th.”

Jesus laughed, “Jackpot! So, you have the mayor of Chicago claiming to have the “biggest dick in Chicago” marching in a parade through the 19th Ward, a very heavily Irish neighborhood, as you well know, and what do you think those southside hooligans are going to do when she walks her big swingin’ schwanz down Western Avenue?”

Patrick burst out laughing. “Lord that sound like a party to me!”

Jesus laughed with him, “Gee, do you think there might be some ‘shenanigans’ by the crowd at the parade that day? Maybe some signs calling her out? Some cat calls, hoots, and hollers and as your Irish like to say, “great craic” when big dick Lori strolls the avenue.”

Both now were rolling with laughter as God stood up and walked to the bar in his office. He smiled at Patrick, “The Irish are the greatest race I’ve ever created and this weekend we’re going to celebrate with music, dancing, and the great culture of the Irish, especially on the southside of Chicago, where all my favorite people come from as we laugh and cheer for this total doofus of a mayor. Pat, how about a pint?”

They clinked their glasses and laughed as Jesus said, ‘Slainte! To the Southside Irish of Chicago!”

St. Patrick took a big gulp of his porter and laughed, “We gotta invite Columbus to this too!

 

 

With Apologies to Finley Peter Dunne

The other night in a dream I was visited by the ghost of my ancient Irish mythological grandfather, Ferocious Frank O’Hooligan.
Frank was a Chicago cop, born in Kilrush, County Clare, Ireland back in 1939. Ferocious Frank O’Hooligan, was the seventh son of Finbar and Mary O’Hooligan. The family emigrated to Chicago in 1946 where Finbar opened a tavern on 79th Street, not far from Sheehy’s Funeral Home and Riley’s Trick Shop.
As a seventh son of a seventh son, Frank O’Hooligan was also blessed with the ancient Druid powers bestowed on the few favored of our race. Those powers came in handy at critical moments in his life.

Ferocious Frank was always a good man for a pint.

Once in 1963 while waiting in line to cash out his Christmas club account at the bank at 71st and Jeffrey, a pair of masked bandits entered with shotguns and demanded everyone empty their pockets and screamed for the tellers to hand over all the cash.
Frank used his Druid powers to magically turn the bad guys into braying donkeys and the guns dropped from their scrambling hooves as the alarm was sounded.
Stunned witnesses couldn’t remember exactly what happened that day but all were thankful that the off-duty Irish rookie cop had saved the day.
In my dream, Ferocious Frank appeared to me on the next stool at the Cork & Kerry Irish Pub in Bridgeport as we quaffed pints. He called me by my nickname as we discussed our beloved city of Chicago.
“Mr. Hooley! What’s this Lightfoot fella up to with the police?” he barked.
I told him, she’s not a fella, but just a diminutive lady with a little man’s complex.
Frank was upset, “Word is that this Mayor Lightfoot called the cops of Chicago, “cowards”
Well, many of the coppers have no faith in her Superintendent of Police, David Brown, and have voiced their feelings about him, and she said they are “cowards” according to the Sun-Times.
O’Hooligan scoffed, “Is she daft?”
Well, yeah kinda.
“How in the hell did she get elected?”
It’s a long story grandpa.
“And what’s all this blather about ‘defunding the police’”?
Yeah, it’s happening across the country, progressives want to replace the police with social workers to solve crime.
Ferocious Frank laughed, “Social workers? Do youse call a social worker when somebody is raping your daughter? Or stickin’ a gun in your face to hijack your car? And who the hell are these ‘progressives’ yer talkin’ about?”
Good government types who are hellbent on destroying the status quo, up is down, black is white, women are men, and men are eunuchs, and we’re all racists. We call them ‘goo-goos’!
“Goo-Goos is it? Dirty stinkin’ blagguards is more like it!”
Yeah, things are outta control, they’ve issued no days off for the cops, making them work round the clock, and when they do make a pinch, the scumbag walks out of the station five minutes later, on his own recognizance.
Murders and shootings are at an all-time high in the city, the violence is so bad in The Loop, and folks are so scared, it’s like a ghost town. Roving gangs of whacked out marauders have been descending on the stores and cleaning ‘em out of fur coats, clothes, tv sets, looting is practically legal.
“Bejazus! What does Mayor Napoleon say about ‘dat?”
She says the stores should have hired their own private security guards.
“It’s a nightmare! My Chicago has given way to the tossers and blagguards! This would never be happening if Mayor Richard J.Daley was still running things!”
Yeah, a couple ‘shoot to kill’ orders might straighten the whole mess out. But he’s dead and we are stuck with this little tyrant who thinks everything is just jake. The Loop is a cesspool, almost empty because of all the violence.
“But why Mr. Hooley? Why piss off the police? Those are the LAST guys any mayor should want to fight with, they’re the only line that stands against the evil feens of this world!”
Things are different now grandpa, we’re living in a world gone mad.
“Ah bejazus Mr. Hooley, yer startin’ to depress me with all this talk of ‘defund the police’, goo-goos, and your murderin’ midget mayor!”
Say I meant to ask you grandpa, do you ever see Mayor Daley up there in heaven?
“Uh ho, did I say I went to heaven, me boyo?”
I just assumed.
“Assume your sister!”
Well grandpa, there is one ray of sunshine in Chicago lately.

“Ah that’s better me bucko, tell me something good is happenin’ now in my windy city, what is it?”

Chicago’s 2022 St. Patrick’s Day Parade Queen Kelley Leyden CPD.

The Queen of this year’s St. Patrick’s Day parade is a young Irish American cop, a darlin’ young female police officer named Kelley Leyden.
“Now that’s worth comin’ up here to hear. Good to see the Plumbers Local 130 is still doing good things for our city. God bless her, long may she reign!

Break out the Bobble-heads!

Rob Holt, AKA “Cane Guy”

Chicago White Sox Director of Public Relations, Sheena Quinn, hit a home run this week with the announcement of their latest bobble head, “Cane-Guy”. This is the best news since the announcement of Minnie Minoso finally being inducted into Baseball Hall of Fame.

“Cane-Guy” is Northbrook’s Rob Holt, the rabid septuagenarian White Sox fan who put the zammo on the Houston Astros pitchers in the later innings of the Sox only win in the ALDS play-offs last October. Our Sox were down 3-1 when “Cane-guy” went to work, hexing 16 batters to strike out and delivering a final 12-6 triumph for our Southsiders.

With a “something wicked this way comes” expression, Holt cast his spell; waving his cane eerily like the wizard he is from his front row seats behind home plate. It worked, if only for that one game but Holt and the TV cameras had created a sensation.

“Cane-guy” became the talk of the town, a beloved bewitcher caught on camera electrifying the crowd and earning the Sox a victory that night. Holt was invited back for the next game but alas the magic could not last, and the Astros went on to later lose the World Series to Atlanta in five games.

Some “scientists” have claimed that Cane guy needs to work on his aim, insisting the fates misinterpreted Cane Guy’s evil eye and transported it to the Travis Scott audience at Astro World last November 5th, resulting in a mass stampede that killed eight audience members and effectively ended Scott’s career as a rapper.

Bringing “Cane-Guy” back as a bobble head is brilliant PR amid our winter malaise, especially since the White Sox convention has been canceled due to Covid.

Sure hope Cane guy is back next season but let’s keep an eye out for other bobble head opportunities.

We didn’t have bobble head dolls for kids when I was a lad. Oh, sure we had GI Joe and J Fred Muggs but when this precocious pre-teenager asked for an anatomically correct Barbie doll, mom smacked me in the mouth.

My seven-year-old grandson Mikey isn’t so much into bobble heads as he is into action figures, with a decidedly horror film bent. This Christmas he assembled a rogue’s gallery of these characters including Chucky, Leatherface, Freddy Krueger from Friday the 13th, and Ghostface from Scream.

I first learned of his propensity for horror characters one day when Mikey and I were picking up some cheap milk at Aldi and the fat weirdo behind us in line had a “Pennywise” t-shirt and a creepy pedophile grin for my grandson when Mikey recognized the character on his shirt. Yikes.

Those action figure collectibles run about forty bucks a piece so we’re trying to wean the kid off Horror movie heroes.

With our city murder rate climbing daily and the bubbling cauldron of violence, poverty, Covid mania, and media hysteria, maybe it’s time for a Mayor Lori Lightfoot Bobble head doll.

A Lori Lightfoot bobble head in Chicago could cause quite a profitable little niche for our city treasury in this time of need. Of course, our politicians would be jumping on that to grease the wheels for bobble head contracts, just like the red-light cameras we’ve grown to hate, spewing indictments all along the way.

A Lightfoot bobble head in your rear window could be the perfect signal to anybody thinking about pulling you over, whether cops or car jackers.

I know the Lori Lightfoot bobblehead would be the perfect gift for my friend, FOP President John Catanzara. He’d be sticking pins in that for sure.

But of all the future bobble head inspirations I guess the best would have to be the 2021 Jusslie Smollet bobble head. Kids could have fun staging the fake racial hate crime, and maybe even bring in brothers Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo as they pretend to jump Jussie on Lower Wacker and throw a noose around his scrawny neck.

Action figure Jussie.

We could even create a Kim Foxx bobble head to come in at the end to try and get him off!

The piece de resistance would be to bring in Cane Guy at the end to zap them all with his White Sox Mojo.

Nothing better than an Irish audience

Houli in Ireland 2021

I’ve been traveling to Ireland every year consecutively since 2013, and just returned last month from my 10th trip back into the arms of Kathleen ni Houlihan.

She never disappoints.

Usually I’m lucky enough to have between a dozen and forty companions on these journeys but Covid kissed all that goodbye. Most people were too spooked to hit the airports and be humiliated and interrogated like spies as we crossed over international waters. But our small but mighty crew leapt at the opportunity to joust with Vax Nazis, bureaucrats, and hotel security.

We survived and now live to tell the tales.

 

The lovely and vivacious fiddler Katie Grennan joined us along with her paramour, Irish music guru John Williams. Without them, we were a crew of Magnificent Seven including Haggerty brothers Ricardo and Billy, Walking Eagle Peckham, retired CFD “Chief” Mike Miller, Robert “Moon” Mullins, former military intelligence agent flown in from Dallas, Dennis A. Kearns, grandson of “Weeping Jim Kearns” the father of the Chicago flag and the star of our film, who arrived last from Austin Texas by way of Heathrow, and me.

It was a wild group of old geezers drinking like they were headed to the electric chair and whenever there was a lull in the pub-crawling, Katie and John would introduce their instruments, take center stage and with electrifying trad music just blow the roof off the joint. Memories were made. Much credit to Derry Cronin of Specialized Travel for helping us make this pilgrimage.

The expedition had begun auspiciously when Chief Miller and I met up at O’Hare airport, the requisite four hours early, to ensure that our “papers would be in order”. Now we know what it was like in the late thirties entering Berlin. Once you get there it’s not that bad, but they’ve created so much paranoia about Covid and vaccinations passports, people locator forms, and PCR tests that you go into it fearing worse than the bowel prep for your last colonoscopy.

That kind of stress makes you want to start drinking. So, Mike and I breathed a sigh of relief as we got close to our gate and strolled into the British Airways Lounge and shouted to the scary lady at the desk, “Skinny Sheahan sent us!”

That was good enough for her as she invited us into the VIP Lounge. Mike cracked wise as we entered the room and the ladies in attendance treated us like dignitaries, thirsty dignitaries. We ordered up some drinks, (“keep ‘em comin’”), and lunch, and relaxed for our three-hour wait. Mike chuckled, “Looks like we’re on scholarship!”

Of course, we duked the sweet young ladies who helped us out all afternoon and then made our way to the plane feeling no pain. Great start to the journey.

We arrived the next morning at six AM to check into the Fitzpatrick Castle in Killiney. Mike and I were jet lagged and worn out and the gorgeous blonde at the Fitz asked what we would do if there were no rooms ready at that hour? “That’s okay, we’ll just sleep right here in the lobby!”

In a flash she handed us keys and welcomed us back to the Fitz. It sure helps to know the boss, and we threw Eithne Fitzpatrick’s name around and it was magic. My room was the size of Gately Stadium, a suite with a dining room table and breathtaking view of Dalkey’s Dublin Bay.  As I collapsed in the boudoir with adjoining bath I mused, “It just gets better and better.”

Woke up around 11AM and went down to the Fitz Castle lobby for waffles and bacon for breakfast. Havin’ a cuppa tea and enjoying the scenery when the Hags brothers show up with Moon Mullins and Walking Eagle Peckham, who is wearing General McArthur’s uniform hat, and a t-shirt that reads “Booty Hunter” across his ample bosom. This guy is a dead ringer for the late Professor Irwin Corey, looking like Santa Claus with white beard and man-bun. And he thinks he’s a chick magnet!

Ignoring him the best I can but it’s difficult when he is approaching waitresses and asking them “would you like to pet my weasel?” and producing a bagpiper’s sporran that looks like he found it in the alley next door.

I overslept after a raucous first night dinner with Dennis et al at the Castle and chastised all along the way the next morning on the road to Galway, where we would spend the next three nights gettin’ after it. We hit Kilbeggan Distillery on the way and caught up with Katie and John on Friday night

The Magnificent 7 (left to right) Billy Haggerty, Houli, Ricardo Haggerty, Dennis Kearns, Walking Eagle Peckham, Chief Mike Miller, and Bob “Moon” Mullins

Saturday night was spent at “Moran’s on the Weir” in Kilcolgan just outside Galway in a private room where we feasted on oysters, prawns, and Chief Miller described the dinner conversation as a “nitwits convention”. He was right but we all settled down when Katie and John put on a concert that soothed the savages by candlelight as we supped and sipped.

Mass on Sunday at Galway Cathedral and then back to meet with my old pal Aodh Ó Coileáin, filmmaker and resident genius, for a quick catch up before embarking for our cruise on Killary Fjord.

On Monday we left for Westport and the Irish premiere of our film IN SEARCH OF WEEPING JIM, ostensibly the actual reason for this trip. I asked the hotel concierge to call me a cab. She called Mary O’Toole who picked me up and Mary chatted me up on the way. I told her my film was premiering that night at the Town Hall Theatre and she says, “Oh I wanted to go to that, but have to work.” Then insisted on not charging me for the ride! Yes, the Irish are great people, especially Mary O’Toole.

It turned out to be a magical night with over a hundred folks in attendance, many of them featured in the film that we shot over several years in Kilmeena and the tiny island of Inishcuttle in County Mayo.  The Irish audience embraced the film, because of course it was about them and they got ALL the jokes. Very special occasion.

Sitting in the back row of the theatre I was touched when footage of Inishcuttle came on the screen as The Saw Doctors broke into “The Green and Red of Mayo” and the audience started singing along.  I broke for the bar in the lobby, but it was closed, when I ran into theatre manager Rosaleen Heraty who asked me, “Mike, do you like whiskey?”

Rosaleen opened a bottle of Grainne O’Malley’s, the pirate queen. “Believe in Grace” it said on the bottle, and I most certainly did that night.

That grace was evident in Mary O’Toole and the lovely audience ….and Matt Molloy himself of The Chieftains as we filmed an on-the-fly episode of OUR IRISH PUB with Katie Grennan, John Williams, Matt Molloy and his son Peter Molloy, jammin’ the trad tunes late into the evening.

It was epic as I turned to Walking Eagle, who was romancing a pair of old Irish witches lookin’ to party, and caught him on camera telling the ladies, “I’ve got more women than I can shake my dick at!” Bizarro World in Westport.

Ordering two at a time is so much easier.

That’s when I decided to make the Irish exit and head back to the hotel. Billy Haggerty guided my stumbling old fella self as he extolled the film to our cab driver, who I asked, “Do you know Mary O’Toole?”

“Of course, I do!”, he chuckled, “She’s, my sister!”

Or something like that. At that point the peak of the party had been hit and the next day we jumped back into our bus for the ride back to Killiney for our final night at the Fitz.

Once again, I was in Room 427, making me feel right at home for one more night. The Magnificent Seven assembled for our final dinner of this adventure.  It had been a Jim dandy exhibition of Irish roguery for the last week and as our waitress came to our table to interrupt our nitwits’ powwow, she turned to Walking Eagle, and her mask could not mask her extreme sarcasm through her lilting brogue aa she said, “Did’ja you bring your weasel?”

She may be the only human on this earth who could shut up Walking Eagle Peckham. He just sorta dribbled into his beard while we all laughed.

It was time to go now. We’d all be heading out of Dublin in no time on different flights and would all be dragging our asses home.

So, I’m sitting on the flight back home and the gorgeous Aer Lingus gal sez to me, “Would you like a drink?”

Her name was Eimear and I told of her my friend, fiddler, and singer Eimear Arkins, and that she should listen to her music or some bs like that and then I asked, “You don’t happen to have any of that Grainne O’Malley the Pirate Queen Irish whiskey, do you?”

And she smiled and said, “Do you believe in Grace?”

I said, “I do indeed, and her name was Mary O’Toole. “

ROSE PLAYS JULIE

Ann Skelly stars in the psychological thriller ROSE PLAYS JULIE.

Rose Plays Julie

For those looking for artistic descendants of Alfred Hitchcock and his unique style, building suspense and sometimes horror, check out Christine Molloy and Joe Lawlor’s Irish film ROSE PLAYS JULIE. The film is now running virtually as part of the Gene Siskel Film Center’s “From Your Sofa” series.

Ann Skelly delivers an astonishing performance as “Rose”, a college student in Dublin studying to be a veterinarian. We don’t know how long Rose has known she was adopted, but her inner monologues reveal her overwhelming yearning and frightening resolve to find her birth mother.

The filmmaking here is precise and perfectly sets up the suspense in this psychological thriller that will have you climbing the walls of your living room. It works, big time.

We follow Rose on her mission of discovery, while studying “Euthanasia and the healthy animal”. Her friend recounts putting down dogs, cats, and even horses as she reassures Rose, “Trust me, you’ll get used to it.”

Rose knows her birth mother is an actress in her mid-fifties.  Rose somehow finds her phone number and starts stalking Ellen, her mother, played engagingly by Orla Brady.

We’re not sure of Rose’s intentions. After an awkward ploy to view her mother’s home for sale, she and Ellen finally retreat to a wooded area by her home to “talk”. The filmmakers have trusted their actors to convey so much of this story without dialogue, which adds to the suspense. We’re not sure where it’s going and violence seems imminent until Ellen blurts out, “I was raped.”

ROSE PLAYS JULIE is very much a woman’s film. Mother and daughter form a strange alliance. Rose dons a variety of disguises to play “Julie” and seeks out and meets the father, a creepy archeologist named Peter Doyle.

The rest I won’t give away, only to say that this is a psychological thriller that will give the hair on the back of your neck a great workout. It’s eerie, creepy, and scary as hell;   taking you on an adventure in identity and revenge that seems almost supernatural, particularly in the performance of Ann Skelly as Rose/Julie. Her face can take you in a hundred different directions all at once with no dialogue necessary.

ROSE PLAYS JULIE is available online at https://www.siskelfilmcenter.org/rose-plays-julie until April 15th and could potentially be extended beyond that date. Do yourself a favor, get some popcorn, prop up the cushions and hunker down for one helluva ride from your sofa.

Richard The Driehaus

Richard the Driehaus

By Mike Houlihan, Special to The Irish American News 

He was my Hail Mary in a chaotic life of show biz risks taken while walking the tight rope over a pond of snapping gators.

I was tapioca in 2009 and driving a limo to survive. The bank was threatening foreclosure. I’d moved my office in the Loop into my basement, put my house up for sale, and stopped answering the phone at home to avoid those Indian guys who kept calling to talk to “Mr. Hooligoof”.

A Hells Angel repo man had banged on my door at 5AM screaming for me to “surrender” my 2002 Caddy. As I dropped a car full of cheap Germans and their concrete luggage at the hotel, one of them flipped me a finski with a big stupid grin on his kisser. I cursed them as I drove away. “I am too old for this crap!”

And then my cell phone rang. The Driehaus Charitable Lead Trust wanted to know if I would consider a “matching challenge grant” to finish my film, OUR IRISH COUSINS.

It wasn’t the first time Richard Driehaus had saved my ass, and it wouldn’t be the last, but the timing couldn’t have been better as I broke out my rosary in thanksgiving for the guy who gave me a reason to believe.

We first met in the year 2000 when I was looking for investors for my politically incorrect, south-side “noir comedy”, MICKEY FINN, at the Royal George Theatre. My old friend Roger Guerin introduced me to billionaire philanthropist Richard Driehaus, who dropped twenty grand into the play and showed up on opening night to party with us into the night. Critics cringed and the play closed quicker than a honeymoon gone wrong.

Richard took the tax write off, and remained a friend, inviting me to his annual 4th of July parties to hobnob at his estate in Lake Geneva with the hoity toity and the hoi polloi alike. Richard was a sophisticate without guile or pretension and his parties were spectacular events with plenty of free booze, music and beautiful people. I took my son Paddy with me one year and we woke up the next morning, hungover in our bargain basement overnight cabin and Paddy said, “The whole thing was like a dream!”

When I was writing the “Houli in ‘da Hood” column in The Sun-Times I interviewed Richard in May of 2005 and we compared notes on our southside Irish Catholic roots. He had started using his paper route money to invest in the stock market when he was 13 and the rest is history. He grew up in St. Margaret of Scotland, the next parish over from me, and had donated a million bucks to the nuns there when he made good.

Richard told me, “It’s important to give something back. There is good in doing good. Money is like fertilizer, if you let it all pile in one place, it stinks.”

His generosity is legend, and he never forgot the lessons he learned at St. Margaret’s, St. Ignatius, and DePaul. He also took a liking to playwrights, poets, and dreamers. I was lucky enough to be among that group.

Richard died suddenly last Tuesday, March 9th. He’ll be celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in heaven with his mom and dad, Saint Ignatius Loyola, William Blake, Father Danny Mallette, and Sister Henrika from oh so long ago at St. Margaret’s.

Back in September Richard invited me and my son Paddy to his home to talk about the future of Hibernian Media and our mission “telling stories to enlighten future generations while honoring our ancestors.”

Mike Houlihan, Richard Driehaus, and Paddy Houlihan.

He had just purchased a couple of hotels in Dublin and showed us pictures. But it wasn’t gold that made Richard happy, it was his love for his family. His good friend Marzena Mellin told me how he would light up after messages from his daughters Tereza, Caroline, and little Kate. He sure was beaming that day, showing us photos of Kate on his phone.

At his funeral mass Richard’s great niece Regina Rossi gave the eulogy, “He encouraged all of us to be a never fading star.” That he was.

Richard was proud to be a Southside Irish Catholic, “Everything goes back to the ‘hood, that’s where I came from.”

Remembering my old pal Richard H. Driehaus, Yeats said it best. “Think where man’s glory most begins and ends, and say my glory was I had such friends.”

God rest his lovely soul.

 

CROCK OF GOLD; A FEW ROUNDS WITH SHANE MACGOWAN

Reviewed by Mike Houlihan, Special to The Irish American News & The Irish Echo

Christmas 2020 will hit in a few weeks and I can’t think of any Christmas song more perfect for this year of horror, death, and dystopian nightmares than “Fairy Tale of New York”, by Shane MacGowan of The Pogues and featuring the late Kirstie MacColl. The tune tells a haunting story with its lyrics of despair from the NYC drunk tank one Christmas eve and yet still manages to kindle the seasonal love and hope and promise of a new year. You’ll be singing the chorus yourselves sometime this season, you know you will. The song’s been called the best Christmas song of all time by various UK and Ireland polls and no doubt you’ve seen the video hundreds of times.

Here’s a link to the You Tube of this classic.

That video was my first introduction to Shane MacGowan of The Pogues, maybe the most unlikely male torch singer I’ve ever laid eyes on. Pretty, he ain’t.

But the guy is so damned committed to the music and the poetry and the craic, you can’t take your eyes off him. Soul, he has in abundance. And this holiday season we’re all about to be treated to a hilarious, and ultimately sad documentary film about this man who lit a stick of dynamite with a lifestyle and passion that appears to have finally taken its toll on his Irish body and soul.

The film is CROCK OF GOLD: A FEW ROUNDS WITH SHANE MACGOWAN, and it’s available through the Gene Siskel Film center VOD starting December 4th.

You might want to have a cocktail or two handy when you watch it. Filmmaker Julien Temple finds a variety of ways to tell the story of Shane MacGowan, including animation, historical and archived concert footage, old interviews, and a series of MacGowan’s friends, including Irish patriot Gerry Adams and film star Johnny Depp, probing him for details of his deliciously defiant life of performing traditional Irish music through drugs, sex, and rock and roll. I found myself laughing out loud at the comic absurdity of Shane’s antics until falling under the spell of his poetry and staring into the abyss by his side. It’s a wild ride.

Shane tells us God chose him as a little boy to be the one who saves Irish music, because of course, “God is Irish”. Being born on Christmas Day has its perks, “I was born lucky.”

The film takes you on the journey of Shane’s life over sixty years starting idyllically in Tipperary where he would visit relatives in the summers and started drinking and smoking at the age of six.

We follow him and his family growing up in London, meet his mom and dad, his sister, friends, and girlfriends, all through the prism of Shane’s wacked out psyche. There’s plenty of Irish mythology and poetry and pints and whiskey, acid, and heroin to keep things interesting.

The tragedy of Shane MscGowan is the tragedy of all the great Irish bards like Behan, Joyce, Flann O’Brien and plenty of others who dared to kiss the sky. We all ultimately share the same fate as Icarus. The film is packed with Irish history, politics, mythology, religion, and plenty of soul.

Gerry Adams reminds Shane of one of his own favorite lyrics from Fairy Tale of New York. “I could have been someone.” And of course, the retort, “Well so could anyone!”

Do yourself a favor and watch CROCK OF GOLD, A FEW ROUNDS WITH SHANE MACGOWAN. Just like Shane, it’s a masterpiece.

To order your screener go to Gene Siskel Film Center’s website at www.siskelfilmcenter.org. Video on Demand starts December 4, 2020.

YOU CAN WATCH THE TRAILER HERE!

Merry Christmas!

Pat O’Brien for Cook County State’s Attorney

By Mike Houlihan, Exclusive to The Irish American News

I’m scared.

I don’t feel safe in Chicago anymore.

Earlier this year I looked into buying a gun.

I haven’t been downtown on the train or the El since early last March. At my age, (72 this December), I just feel like I’m no longer the “bad-ass” I once was. After many years of being mistaken for a cop, I’m just too old and vulnerable now to be any kind of a threat to a criminal who might want to bash my head in or kill me and rob me. I’ve become a “mark”.

It wasn’t always like this in Chicagoland. But lately criminals have grown much bolder in assaulting and killing people on the streets of our once great city. That’s because there are no longer consequences for criminal behavior in Cook County. Every weekend it’s a bloodbath in the city, often with innocent young children, sometimes even babies, slain in our streets. 

I can’t blame the police. I do blame our elected officials, particularly our Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot. Both are police haters and are willing to stand by and watch as our civilization goes up in flames in order to achieve some strange, obscure philosophical political goal.

I’ve been hosting a radio show for the last eighteen months, Hibernian Radio, dedicated to Irish First Responders and I’ve met many of our great Irish warriors who lay their lives on the line every day to help protect us and our families. They certainly deserve our respect and admiration. I’ve learned in that time through interviews and conversations with these Irish heroes that Cook County is in a very bad way because of the inept, and criminal advocacy of our leaders.

Maybe you’ve read or heard about the famous Jussie Smollet case where Kim Foxx refused to prosecute the gay actor who had faked a homophobic attack on himself to gain publicity for his TV show. Maybe you read Special Prosecutor Dan Webb’s report on that case, where he revealed that Kim Foxx repeatedly lied to the public and authorities as she continued the coverup of this hoax to protect her politically connected pal.  

Did you know that State’s Attorney Kim Fox has released over 130 accused murderers onto our streets with no criminal prosecution or jail time? These are individuals that the police arrested for murder, but Foxx let them go free with no charges! They’re on the street now, murderers in our midst, waiting to meet you on the El or outside your neighborhood pub.

Foxx just won’t prosecute criminals and they are released on low bond or on their own recognizance mere hours after committing these crimes, free to break the law again and again and again. According to Judge Pat O’Brien, “She’s made the system a joke.”

And the joke’s on us, the law-abiding citizens of Cook County.

According to the Chicago Tribune, (August 10, 2020), “A total of 25,183 people had their felony cases dismissed under Foxx through November 2019.” This is madness and it’s just going to get worse if Foxx continues in office.

Please help stop this very dangerous politician. Vote for Judge Pat O’Brien in this election, for our safety and protection.

Pat grew up in Resurrection Parish on the West Side, attended Ignatius, Loyola, and then DePaul Law School

Judge O’Brien has an impressive record, including his time working as Felony Trial Supervisor, the Bureau Chief of the Criminal Division and Chief Deputy of the State’s Attorney’s Office. He has handled some of the biggest criminal cases in Illinois and he’s greatly respected in the field. Kim Foxx is not.

Listen to Pat O’Brien on the Hibernian Radio podcasts of July 11th and August 29th at hibernianradio.org

You’ll have an opportunity to hear him make his case and tell his story to an Irish audience. Get more information at obrienforcook.com

Please vote for Judge Pat O’Brien for Cook County State’s Attorney. Our lives, mine and yours, and our children and grandchildren, depend on it! It’s time to fire Kim Foxx.