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!

Irish American News Letter to The Editor July 2019.

Dear Editor:

Have to tell you how shocked I was to see your “We Get Letters” section on page 3 of the recent June issue of the Irish American News. The writer, Judy Deever, applauded the IAN and the Irish American Hall of Fame committee for their fairness and good sense, but then went out of her way to trash myself and a couple of other columnists with this bon mot, “Sure, writers like Boyle, Brady and Houli are not always pleasant reading….”

Judy…Judy…Judy! While I’m flattered to be included in their company, Judy, it appears that you haven’t been paying attention. Perhaps if you could drag yourself away from the Rachel Maddow show you would realize that I haven’t written regularly for the IAN for over three years!

While I’m proud of my twenty-year tenure as a columnist in the IAN with my “Hooliganism” column, I stopped writing it in 2016. I haven’t written for IAN since, other than occasional promo pieces on my radio shows, film festival, or trips to Ireland, which my old friend Cliff Carlson has been kind enough to run in the paper.

I’m also proud Judy, of the fact that I obviously made such a lasting impression on you that you still feel my presence three years after I’ve left.

I had a lot of fun with Hooliganism, and it spawned two published anthologies you can purchase online if you’d like to re-read my brilliant yarns Judy. But please be careful, I wouldn’t want to trigger you darling.

Actually there’s been quite a bit of conjecture in the Irish American community as to why I no longer write for the paper. So I’d like to put that to rest.

Many folks thought I was fired for my “offensive and politically incorrect” humor, but that’s nonsense of course. How can you be fired from a gig that doesn’t pay?

I will forever be grateful to Cliff Carlson for giving me an opportunity to indulge my whimsy and entertain myself and hopefully some readers from 1996-2016.

The fact is, I got busy.  In 2014 I founded a public charity dedicated to Irish and Irish American culture and found myself busier than a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest. It was tough keeping up with all that culture.

That’s also about the time I became aware of a disease in our culture: misandry. This disease manifests itself in a nihilistic, secular world view, hell bent on destroying the sacred, the spiritual, and even the silly. They want to take the magic away. And much of the laughter as well. They just can’t understand normal thinking!

We know these people as “Houli-haters”, and they’ve followed me throughout my career, casting aspersions and contempt in my wake. Rather than suffer their slings and arrows I chose to walk away, but still you haunt me, don’t you Judy Deever.

My cousin Meghan modeling her new “Houli-Hater” t-shirt.

So here’s my olive branch. My good friend Brian Harms recently designed a terrific new t-shirt specifically for all you Houli-haters out there. You can buy them online at brianharms.threadless.com Go the site, click mens or womens t-shirts, pick your color and size and you’re in business, Judy!

Here’s a photo of my cousin Meghan, modeling her shirt, which she just loves. And yes, ladies, we do carry the Houli-Hater t-shirts in Triple XXXL sizes for all you full figured gals! Order your shirts in pink to match your pussy hats!

Mike Houlihan

Chairman

Hibernian Media NFP

 

OUR IRISH PUB is so much more than booze.

Let’s say you quit drinking. It just wasn’t any good or fun for you anymore. Was it ever? But you had to stop. And celebrating St. Patrick’s Day gave you the heebie jeebies. You just couldn’t take it anymore. The crowds of micks marching. The inbred Irish chicks in their white sweaters and toothy grins nursing their mewling infants with a green plastic derby on their heads and a shawl to hide their boobs, they just make you want to run screaming from the pub.

I get it. I hear ya.

But you still loved being in an Irish Pub. Forget about the booze, an Irish pub still feels like home, with the smell of spilled porter, the soft glow of a fire, and above all, the music. Ah the music, live music with real live Irish musicians in an Irish pub. It’s enough to erase every bad dream of every St. Joseph’s day hangover you’ve ever had.

And if connecting with your heritage these days has been reduced to staying home on the high holy day and watching Sean Thornton and Mary Kate Danaher on Comcast, then I have news for you my friends!

What if you could visit a trio of Irish pubs with a gorgeous young blonde, who is also a world class fiddler, from the comfort of your living room without spilling a drop? What if she introduced you to some legendary Irish musicians playing their hearts out, singing, dancing, and having the craic? And it wouldn’t cost you a dime!

Lizzie McNeill’s Irish Pub is featured on OUR IRISH PUB.

Then let me tell you about OUR IRISH PUB, making its debut Sunday night March 31st on WTTW, Channel 11 at 11PM. Set your DVRs now!

OUR IRISH PUB is a television program created, produced, and developed by Hibernian Transmedia starring international Irish fiddler Katie Grennan, as she invites the audience to join her for a visit to three of her favorite Irish pubs in Chicago; Lizzie McNeill’s Irish Pub at 400 North McClurg Ct., Chief O’Neill’s Irish Pub at 3471 North Elston, and The Galway Arms, 2442 North Clark Street.

Katie Grennan has performed all over the world as a fiddler, step dancer, and most recently as a member of the electrifying Irish band Gaelic Storm. She tells the history of each pub along the way and joins all the musicians in a series of very lively Irish tunes.

The show features some of Chicago’s most prominent Irish musicians and performers, including Jimmy Moore, Siobhan and Brendan McKinney, Lexia Kennedy, Jimmy Keane, John Williams, Patrick Quinn, Laurence Nugent, Ian King, Francis “Francie” Campbell, with some bravura vocal performances by singers Paddy Homan, Catherine O’Connell, and Pat Broaders. Our Irish Pub is a musical feast for the ears and eyes as these local masters play some of their favorite, rousing, heart-pounding Irish tunes. Tune in on Sunday March 31st and you will find your toes tapping to the delightful music in OUR IRISH PUB.

The Galway Arms Irish Pub is featured on OUR IRISH PUB.

And if you’re tempted to crack open a pint of the dark stuff in the comfort of your own home, who’s to say you can’t have just the one? Enjoy OUR IRISH PUB this Sunday night on WTTW Channel 11 at 11PM. The show is also set for re-broadcast on Tuesday morning April 2nd at 4AM. Set your clocks! Watch it before you go out to vote!

Rahm in Ireland, YIKES!

A friend of mine in Galway sent me a link to an article in his local paper the other day. The story was about Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel visiting Ireland next week, and in particular Galway and how he was leading a group of 30 dignitaries with him. I almost puked at the thought of this phony, little twit grandstanding in Ireland as if he was someone who should be so honored. I have news for you Galway, that man is pure evil and has reigned over the complete destruction of Chicago’s good name over the last eight years as murder and shooting stats have risen in the blood soaked streets of this once great city. And what has Mayor Emanuel done to stem the tide of violence? Not a feckin’ thing.

Wake up Ireland, read my book! I worked for Rahm’s strongest challenger in the last election and have catalogued the crimes of the “tiny dancer”. If you want the inside story of dirty politics in Chicago, it’s all here in NOTHIN’S ON THE SQUARE. Available on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Nothins-Square-Mayoral-Campaign-History/dp/1619847205

Or if you’re looking for an autographed copy of the book, https://abbeyfealepress.com/

It’s a quick read and you will feel like the proverbial fly on the wall as you get a glimpse of the back room politics in action and the misdeeds of the “nine-fingered ballerina” known as Rahm.

But don’t take my word for it, listen to Chicago Tribune’s John Kass, who said, Good read by a great storyteller. Houli knows what he’s doing. This is a very good book. It was fascinating, you have to know about this book. He tells everything! He pisses people off that are friends of mine…and his! The stuff Houlihan puts out in the book, you can see how campaigns actually work. He’s an expert at that. I want you to go buy this book!

Or WGN Radio and Tribune columnist Rick Kogan, who called it, A deep dive into the wicked and wacky world of Chicago politics with a man who knows the score. An incisive, rollicking, intimate trip. Mike Houlihan is a raconteur of the first order. This is a remarkably tough look at his involvement in the last mayoral election. He minces no words here… taking on politicians, media types, and a lot of other folks. This is a unique and essential Chicago book.”

Or Tribune political columnist and political radio analyst Rick Pearson, who said it’s, Just a fun, rollicking ride of a book, which says a lot about Chicago politics. For someone who doesn’t live and breathe and follow politics it’s an excellent kind of primer, virtually no one is unscathed in this thing, I laughed when I first read it. It’s all about the various deals and side deals plus elements of a political campaign and of a street campaign. This is a good way to get into what politics IS, and how it’s still played and how it has always been played. It’s such a great inside look of truly how a campaign runs and how the campaign operatives are and the personalities that are involved.

And for those of you in Galway next week, when you see the “nine-digit midget” ask him if he’s read it, right before you shove his phony ass into the Galway Bay.

Don’t Get Raunered!

Stop this weasel on election day! Take a Republican ballot and vote Jeanne Ives!

Sometimes we find ourselves in the midst of a firestorm and wonder which way to turn.

I’m excited about the candidacy of Jeanne Ives for Governor in the upcoming Republican primary on March 20th. She’s the only pro-life candidate in the race and is bringing a breath of honesty and grace to the millionaire pinball machine that make up our only other options. That’s why I organized a little party on March 5th at Reilly’s Daughter called “Irish for Ives”.

Last week I was invited to a luncheon at the Union League Club to meet Jeanne once again. My last visit to the Union League Club was about ten years ago when I was interviewed for membership.

I didn’t make the cut, somebody blackballed me. To quote from my book, Hooliganism: I’m not naïve enough to think I haven’t made enemies over the years. I’m an outspoken chronicler of hypocrisy and absurdity and I take pride in that. But which of my attributes can take the blame for my blackballing?

 I discussed this with my lovely wife and she reeled off a litany of my character traits that could have led to my ostracism. “Well, maybe it was because you always paid your bill late at the CAA. They could have said you’re a deadbeat…or a lush…or maybe it was… your fatness…you’re very crude…your clothes don’t fit…or the way you eat like a slob…or…” That’s quite enough, I said, I get the picture.

 Long story short, those anti-Catholic poseurs didn’t want me in their club. And yet there I was last week looking over my shoulder for those patrician fakers.

I got there early because I wanted to distribute some postcards and posters for the Irish for Ives event. At the coat check counter I encountered the same disdain as I had years earlier. “You can’t leave any literature here sir.”

I gathered up my stuff in umbrage and turned to my left to discover my old friend Rusty O’Toole checking his coat. He glanced at my posters incredulously, “Houli, are you a Republican?”

I am, and proud of it, been a Republican since 1985 when my old pal George Ryan helped me get a job after busting out in Gotham. It was easy, there was no initiation ceremony and no interview and they have never tried to blackball me like those jerks at The Union League Club.

But Rusty O’Toole was offended. If I wanted to waste another breath talking to him I would have told him how the Democratic party abandoned me when they embraced abortion on demand, homosexual marriage, transsexualism, and the suppression of Christianity in our schools, institutions, and supposedly free press.

But I really didn’t have time to debate this tool. His third cousin was once Attorney General and Rusty had been playing off that connection for over thirty years.

I asked the concierge the location of our event and headed to the elevator. Once again Rusty O’Toole approached me with his Union League pals, “What would your ancestors say if they knew you’d become a Republican?”

“Feck off!” I said, and headed for another elevator. Rusty was now playing the “Irish card”, and it really ticked me off.

What would my ancestors say? I thought about that. Well my ancestors were all Catholic when they came to this country. This was long before legalized abortion and the church has consistently denounced it as the very personification of evil. It was then, and still is considered the taking of a human life, murder.

Generations of Irish Americans have voted Democratic ever since the famine days, and when the progressive wing of the party took over in the late 1970’s, they kept right on doing it. I blame the Kennedys. Teddy sold his soul to the devil.

That night I had a dream. My great, great grandfather, Ferocious Frank O’Hooligan, from Kilrush, County Clare, Ireland, slid onto the stool next to me at the bar. He’s been in heaven for over a century and wanted to know how I was doing.

It was my connection to Frank that the Irish government considered when granting me citizenship a few years ago and I thanked him for that. His son, Frank Jr., was an Iron Worker in Chicago who fell to his death from a building in 1915, leaving my father an orphan at 11. My dad toughed it out with his two older policeman brothers, went on to great success, married my mom and fathered six sons and one girl, of which I am the youngest.

I had plenty to tell Ferocious Frank, but the words of Rusty O’Toole haunted me, “What will you say to your ancestors?”

So I ordered us both a pint and a shot of Irish whiskey and blurted it out, “Grandpa, I’ve been a Republican since 1985.”

He sipped his drink and smiled, “We don’t have politics in heaven, that’s why they call it heaven.”

I explained our “motley insurgency” to elect Jeanne Ives, and why I always take a Republican ballot by going over some of the sordid history of our country: the secularization of our society, the promotion of deviant lifestyles over the rest, the surrender to government in solving every problem, how our unions were infected with this disease and embraced it, forcing members to choose between the state or their religious beliefs, career politicians who lined their pockets while pretending to help the poor, political correctness destroying comedy for a generation, a mainstream media trying to shape the will of the American people with “fake news”, and…well you know the story.

Grandpa’s jaw was practically hitting the floor. “Rusty O’Toole, did you say? I knew his ancestors. I think somebody pissed in his gene pool! They took inbreeding to new heights. His family tree looks like a telephone pole.”

So what should I do, Grandpa?

“It’s obvious, lad. Jeanne Ives is our last chance! The only other candidates are left wing wacko billionaires! You’ve got to encourage all your friends to cross over, take a Republican ballot in the primary and vote for her before it’s too late!”

But he has tons of dough, Grandpa! He’s spreading lies about her in mailings and on TV and radio, some people are actually starting to believe Rauner’s bullshit!

Ferocious Frank O’Hooligan, drained his glass and slammed it on the bar.

“Don’t get Raunered! All he’s got is a checkbook, all Jeanne has is the truth. Who do you trust?”

And then he was gone. Maybe I can get him to show up at Reilly’s Daughter on Monday, March 5th for IRISH FOR IVES. Please join us, the craic will be mighty!

Houli’s 69th Birthday!

Censored Photo of Baby Houli getting a bath!

Today is my 69th birthday! These days a proclamation like that could get me into trouble. But it’s legit, I was born on December 16, 1948.

Soixante-neuf is how it’s pronounced in French, and the mere mention of that number has triggered wry smiles and raised eyebrows going all the way back to the Kama Sutra.

But I won’t dwell on that, not much anyway. It’s just another reminder that I’m an old fart, albeit an old fart with a helluva lot of going on. I did come across that old baby picture you see above of “Baby Houli”. Yeah, that was taken when the gal next door, Fiona, used to come over and help my mom with the kids. She used to give me a lot of special attention as the youngest of the seven kids.

My brothers tell me Fiona came over a lot and that I was her favorite…especially at bath time!

But enough of that ribaldry, I’d just like to say that I’m proud of my 69 years so far, in spite of the fact that I look like Santa Claus after he shaved. I’ve been married to a saint for almost 40 years, have two great sons, a lovely daughter-in-law and two rambunctious grandchildren who I love more than anything.  As a writer, actor, producer, journalist, radio personality, film festival founder, and flim-flam man I’m also doing okay with a career in show biz of almost 50 years.

Some folks say I’m shameless and it’s true. I’m a shameless self-promoter, but I’ve had to survive on my wits alone, unlike certain friends in the 19th Ward with three government pensions. You know who you are!

And while we’re on the subject of self-promotion, I feel compelled to plug my upcoming book signings of NOTHIN’S ON THE SQUARE. I’ll be at The Curragh Irish Pub this Sunday Dec. 17th from 4-7PM at 6705 N. Northwest Hwy in Edison Park, also at Fitzgerald’s Sidebar, 6615 Roosevelt Rd. in Berwyn on Thursday night Dec. 21st from 9-11PM with the band “Over the Side”, and for you last minute shoppers I’ll be at Mollie’s Public House 31 Forest in Riverside on Saturday, Dec. 23rd from 4-7PM. Would love to see you all and share Christmas cheer.

Speaking of Christmas, here’s my message for all of you. The other night on the street in Berwyn, (where I am the Baron), I was stopped by a Christmas angel and she asked me for dough, but I said no.

Mike Courtney, musician and owner of The Twisted Shamrock, invited me to join him and his band for a last minute bash to sell my book and share the stage with them at Fitzgerald’s this coming week. It would be another opportunity to pick up a few bucks so I leapt at it.

So Mike and I were standing in front of my building in Berwyn, as I gave him some posters for the gig. Caught up in our animated conversation we suddenly felt the presence of another in our midst on that cold December night.

A young woman stood just a few feet from us in the night looking cold. She looked tired and scared and was bundled up in a parka and pajama bottoms. “Can I help you?”, I asked, and then she went into her pitch, just got out of the hospital, got bad news, etc. could either of us spare a couple bucks? It was a familiar spiel and at first seemed like a scam so we declined.

But as she walked away I looked at her again and remembered that it was Christmas. The blessed mother was probably just about her age on a cold December night over two thousand years ago, and had been turned away with her husband Joseph as they searched for a place to give birth to the baby Jesus. As she drifted off into the darkness I immediately regretted not helping her. Later at home in bed I was haunted by her face and wished I could take that moment back. I said a prayer for that kid and vowed to help every panhandler I saw in the future. The next day I thought of her as one after another unfortunate souls hit me up in the car at streetlights all along Ogden Avenue. I handed over plenty of cash but the image of that young lady continues to haunt me.

So let’s never forget the message of every Christmas season and the good news Jesus brought with him when he told us to feed the hungry, welcome the stranger, and clothe the naked.

It’s a time of rejoicing, so reach into your pocket and spread the cheer to all who need it and especially remember “Baby Houli” when you clothe the naked!

Merry Christmas everybody!

-30-

Nothin’s on the Square

NEW BOOK PROVES POLITICS “AIN’T BEANBAG”

“NOTHIN’S ON THE SQUARE: 82 DAYS ON THE MAYORAL CAMPAIGN TRAIL, MAKING HISTORY IN CHICAGO 2015”

NOW AVAILABLE ONLINE AND WITH SELECTED RETAILERS.

Chicago, IL – July 30, 2017- Wanna know what really went on behind closed doors during the 2015 Campaign? Here it is, in all its ugly and hilarious glory. Chicagoland radio personality Mike Houlihan, former features columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times and The Irish American News, documents a behind-the-scenes look at the race for a new mayor.

Nothin’s on the Square tells the story of 82 days on the 2015 mayoral campaign trail, making history in Chicago with Chuy Garcia vs. Rahm Emanuel. “Nothin’s on the Square,” published by Abbeyfeale Press, is now available on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble and other selected retailers.

Take a peek at the bare-knuckled back room brinkmanship and back-stabbing brew that propels Houlihan and company along the Chicago campaign trail, from empty candidate forums to boisterous corned beef bashes to the full Monty of both of Chicago’s St. Patrick’s Day Parades. Setting the scene with daily murder and mayhem stats from the bloody streets of the ghetto, Houlihan peels off the days of the calendar to expose history in the making, as upstart candidate Jesus “Chuy” Garcia clashes with millionaire mayor Rahm Emanuel, the evil incumbent burning through money to protect his ass and toss opponents in front of the bus. Like sausage and politics, it ain’t pretty, but this diary exposes the “warts and all” of a seldom seen world of local ward heelers in hand-to-hand combat in the trenches, with all the macabre humor and sensational characters that will forever define “Chicago politics”.

Rick Kogan of Chicago Tribune/WGN Radio calls it “A deep dive into the wicked and wacky world of Chicago politics with a man who knows the score. An incisive, rollicking, intimate trip.”

About Mike Houlihan

Mike Houlihan, former features columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times, has just finished a 20-year run as columnist for The Irish American News. He’s Chairman of Hibernian Transmedia, a public charity dedicated to Irish and Irish American culture. He began his career over 44 years ago acting with The American Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, CT performed on Broadway, Off-Broadway, on TV, and in indie features and major motion pictures. He’s also author of anthologies, “Hooliganism Stories” and “More Hooliganism Stories.” His adventures “Goin’ East on Ashland” came to life onstage in Chicago for six years running and his favorite Chicago Commandments are “Only Suckers Beef,” “Never Make Bail Under a Viaduct”, and now “Nothin’s on the Square”!

Book Launch: Tues, Aug. 22nd, 2017 at Cork & Kerry, 10614 S Western Ave, Chicago, 7:30PM. Thurs. Aug. 24th, Irish American Heritage Center, 4626 North Knox, Chicago, 7:30PM;

Mon. Aug. 28th, Beverly Art Center, 2407 W. 111th St, Chicago.7PM

Tues. Aug 29th, Duffy’s Tavern, 7513 W. Madison, Forest Park, Il. 7:30PM,

Houli will read from the book, and sign and sell copies of the book for a measly $14.95! Now available on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble and other selected retailers. Limited Edition signed copies available at https://abbeyfealepress.com/

Houli’s new book is on the street!

Hi everybody, it’s been awhile since I posted anything. Actually almost a year! But now I am back! Yeah, with a vengeance, ha ha. Wanted to let everybody know my new book, NOTHIN’S ON THE SQUARE, 82 Days on the Mayoral Campaign Trail, Making History in Chicago 2015, is now out and ready to read. You can get the book on Amazon, or do yourself a favor and go to http://abbeyfealepress.com and get a signed copy shipped by priority mail to you and yours. Here’s a little teaser, from the book.

PROLOGUE

I think I was in fifth or sixth grade, like 1959, when I met Mayor Richard J. Daley. I was standing by the side door of Christ the King Catholic Church on 93rd Street between Hamilton and Hoyne on the South Side of Chicago. I was with my crew of guys, loitering outside before nine o’clock Sunday mass started, spitting hockers over the bushes, hands in pockets, being wise guys, corner boys. A black car pulled up on 93rd Street and three men got out wearing suits and hats.

We gazed at them as if they were just a couple more parents heading to mass and then we were stunned by the presence of the Mayor of Chicago. To our young eyes he might as well have been e Lord God Almighty himself in our midst.

We were frozen with fear and looked at each other with our eyes bugging out. The  Mare doffed his hat as he skipped up the three steps to the doors and one of his guys held the door for him. I blurted out, “Hey Mare, how’s it goin’?”

“Hi ya fellas.”
Huge grins broke out on our faces as we all answered Hizzoner. “Hi Mayor!”
“Hiya Mayor Daley!”
“ Thanks for coming to our parish!”
“We’re White Sox fans!”
He gave a little wave as he walked through the door and all of us started going nuts, incredulous at what had just happened on the steps of CK, our parish.

His name was revered in all our homes. Our parents loved him. And so did we. He was an Irish Catholic from the South Side of Chicago. Richard J. Daley was one of us.

I was living in New York City when he died, but my world still stopped when I heard the news.

I missed the whole Mike Bilandic tenure and the Jane Byrne circus while living on the East Coast, but heard enough about her from my brother, Danny, who was sort of in her cabinet.

I had moved back to Chicago during the reign of Mayor Harold Washington, a colorful and folksy mayor who I enjoyed watching, until he died on Thanksgiving weekend of 1987. Eugene Sawyer served a couple of unremarkable years as Mayor but he never looked the part.

Then Daley’s son Richard M. Daley was elected in 1989 and served even longer than his dad, when he retired in 2011.

Chicago always felt right for me with a Daley on the Fifth Floor. Rich Daley certainly wasn’t anything like his old man, but he was still an Irish Catholic from the South Side.

Young Daley was a modern big city mayor, for better or worse. Shakman and a shitload of other crybabies had kinked up the old school pols that used to run this city, and many of them went to jail. But word was that Daley had cut a deal and the heir apparent was a short, cocky Clintonion, who would become Chicago’s First Jewish Mayor, Rahm Emanuel

He was not one of us.

***

Okay, pick up the book if you want to read what happens next! Here’s the back cover with some blurbs.