September 2013 Irish American News Column




Mike Houlihan

Cartographers in ancient times, having no knowledge or research into the frontiers on the other side of the ocean, would label those sections of their maps as “terra incognita”, i.e., unknown territory.

Debate raged about what was out there in the “terra incognita”? Monsters?  There might be dragons out there on the South Seas.

There’s been lots of talk of prejudice lately, an irrational dislike of those who aren’t exactly like us. Many in our community fear these groups, scoff at them, assuming those tribes have not evolved to the sophistication of the rest of us.

Here in Chicago, those fears can escalate to outright bigotry, as it did last July in an ugly exchange at The Irish American Heritage Center Irish Fest.

I was working a table selling my books and DVDs, like any other honest merchant of his trade. Chicago author John Linehan split the table with me and we drank beer and worked the room as fest goers cruised through. Linehan is from the south side, went to Leo and St. Justin Martyr grammar school. He’s written a great book “City Life: Coming of Age in Chicago”.   I highly recommend this very funny roman a’ clef of Linehan’s days as an Andy Frain usher all over Chicago in the seventies.

John and I huckstered at the people as they strolled by our table, hoping to lure them in and talk them into buying our books.  An aging bimbo picked up my book, “Hooliganism”, looked it over while John and I tossed out sweet nothings to her. She finally said, “Oh, it’s about Southside Irish!”

She spit out the words “Southside” with particular disdain, as if something fuzzy was in her mouth.  Her hands curdled around the book, a wicked twitch as she dropped it back on our table.  She sneered as she walked away “Euuwwuh South-side”.

John and I turned to each other aghast. Had this woman actually just dissed the South Side Irish? We were stunned by her blatant bigotry.

If only Al Sharpton were there to record this woman’s bile and help us make some money out of it.

Linehan and I were of course deeply wounded by this venom directed our way as native Southsiders.

In the interest of transparency I will disclose that I was born in Evanston, baptized at St. Margaret Mary parish, just a couple blocks from my folks two flat on Estes Avenue. So I have North Side Irish blood.

I’m not ashamed to admit it, proud to have those drops of blood in my character. I still have friends in my old parish, like Anne Marie Grogan, who my brothers tormented by hiding the baby, me, behind the shower curtain in the tub when she was babysitting.

But we moved to the south side when I was two years old, emigrated to Christ the King parish. And for the next twenty odd years I matriculated as a Southsider and earned my street cred as a member of the Mt. Carmel Caravan. So it ain’t like I’m a Cub fan or anything.

So yes, I am deeply hurt when some old Milwaukee Avenue skank dares to besmirch the reputation of the great South Side. Sadly, this is the not my first encounter with this ugly prejudice.

But being Southside Irish has served me well in life and enabled me to tell many people in high places to “feck off!”

I’m happy to confirm to those flat-earthers, that of course there are “dragons” there and I’ve drank with many of them. And while we have our geniuses, surgeons, inventors, and even playwrights, we also have our monsters and thank God for them. It wouldn’t be the south side without ‘em.

So let me offer this olive branch to the rest of our community. We on the South Side love you. We are all part of a big family and when we come together to work or play, all of Chicago’s Irish together can work wonders. That’s what’s out there for those who dare to sail into the terra incognita.

So be like Ponce de Leon, Magellan, and Bob Hope! Explore and you just might find the Fountain of Youth

The great gathering of all Chicago Irish was evident a few years ago when the Irish community of Chicago came together to help Natasha McShane, the young Irish girl who was brutally attacked by a villain with a baseball bat as she and her friend walked home. The trial is starting soon for Natasha’s attacker and let’s pray that JUSTICE BE DONE.

That justice might include, not prison, but releasing the criminal who did this to the entire Chicagoland Irish community. Then the world could watch us work together in harmony.

The West Side Irish could get some of their best city workers together to introduce the bat wielder to the marvels of a Streets and San steamroller.

The Northside Irish could have some of their gorgeous women castrate the hombre on a Saturday night in front of Vaughn’s.

And we Southsiders would love the opportunity to bring this devil to Gaelic Park where we could all remove his head and kick it about like an aul’ football.

I know the entire Irish community would be as one as we greet him in unison, “Welcome to Terra Incognita Amigo!”

You can take the kid out of the Southside, but you’ll never take the Southside out of the kid.

June 2013 Hooliganism–The Irish American News

Unfortunately he's having a good year.

Unfortunately he’s having a good year.



Mike Houlihan

On special assignment for the Irish American News I recently visited the devil.

It was hard to nail him down for an interview, the guy is as slippery as an eel, an electric feckin’ eel!

I was ushered to his suite by a short German guy with a Hitler moustache. Hey wait a minute! That was Hitler!

As I followed Adolph down the hall, I mused to myself, “Wow, Hitler is the butler in hell. He deserves something worse than that. How bad could it be, being the butler in hell?”

Just then a large naked Jewish lady stepped out of the shadows and slapped Hitler in the face with a very wet used diaper she had been wearing.

Old Adolph just took it in stride, pushed back by the force of the gooey diaper, but then just wiped some mocha slime from above his moustache and said, “Thank you Mrs. Finkelstein!”

He smiled at me as he softly vomited into his mouth and put his hand on the knob to the devil’s door. “His Excellency will see you now.”

I sneered at Der Fuehrer, “I hope Mrs. Finkelstein does that to you a lot.”

He clicked his heels, “She does, every one hundred and ninety-six seconds…or so.”

As the door closed behind me, a double batch of Depends slammed into his kisser.

I looked about the sumptuous room with a spotless onyx desk with little beams of light occasionally blinking thru the cracks.  You could hear the soft murmur of sinners trapped inside that desk. The huge panoramic window looked out on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. I wondered why Beelzebub had chosen this view and then I heard a dark voice behind me.

“Futures clients.”

Old Scratch picked up the remote and started clicking around the world via the window to Vegas, Kuala Lumpur, Amsterdam, and Chicago; scenes of avarice, lust, and homicide in all his favorite places.

“Have a drink, Houli. I’ve got some Irish Whiskey or some Guinness, whatever you like.”

I was apprehensive, I’ve been slipped a Mickey before and if anybody was gonna do it, it would be this sick creep.

I think I’ll just stick to this bottle of water I brought with me, if you don’t mind, Lucifer.

“Please, call me Lou.”

Let’s not get too chummy; I’m here for your story, not to go dancing with you.

“We’re very patient down here Houls, we want to make you a future client.”

I whipped out my reporter notebook; glad that I brought the water because it was starting to feel really warm down here.

Okay, I guess most of us already know how you got started in the evil business, and how St. Michael kicked your ass down here for eternity.

“Well, of course that’s exactly the narrative that the haters, racists and bigots want you to believe. I think the truth lies a bit further down the road.”

Yeah sure Lou, right down the ol’ Hershey highway.

“You’re boring me…so what’s this interview all about, what’s your angle? Who do you write for again?”

The Irish American News

He laughed as he drained his drink- Baby’s Blood on the rocks. “Oh we’ve got plenty of your Irish cousins down here, don’t you worry about that.”

He picked up the remote and on the screen was the village of Moneygall when the President visited the town of his Irish roots.

“You know how you love watching ‘The Quiet Man”, Houli? Well this is my Quiet Man.

Whaddya mean?

“Barak, Barry, my man, the best client I’ve got. Evil Inc. is booming, thanks to him. Millions of babies murdered, Benghazi, Dr. Kermit Gosnell, the IRS scandals, and spying on the AP reporters. He’s made evil cool again! This kid is the best thing that’s happened to me since Stalin.”

Yeah, maybe it’s time you slowed down, cuz right now it looks like the world is goin’ to hell.

“Well, duh! It’s only taken me two thousand years.”

Don’t count your chickens, Lou.

“Oh yeah? Watch me dismantle the Catholic Church over the next couple decades. And all it took was Obamacare and a couple dozen pedophile priests. Ireland is ready to legalize abortion, they are toast!”

I stood up, backtracked toward the door, and opened my water bottle; it was really getting hot down there.

“Come on Houls, it’s only your soul. I can have Lindsay Lohan here in five minutes!”

He picked up the remote and suddenly the picture got fuzzy and the sound went blippo screeching so loud the devil put his hands over his pointed ears.

What the hell is that?

“Damn, somebody is jamming my connection with prayers.”

Don’t you get it, devil boy. The tide is turning. The media is turning on your buddy Barry.  Even the mopes at MSNBC are having second thoughts, including moral zombies like Lawrence O’Donnell and Chris “The Tingler” Mathews.

I took a swig from my water bottle, flung open the door, and discovered Hitler over Mrs. Finkelstein’s knee as she spanked him. The devil was pissed now.

“You’re not going anywhere!”

I spit a mouthful of the water in his face.

“Ahhhh that’s holy water!”

That’s right Lou, adios sucker!

I leapt over Hitler and ran down the hallway and made it outta there just in time.  Something tells me it’s gonna be a very hot summer.

October 2012 Hooliganism

Mike Houlihan

Hugh Hoyle returned to his car after leaving the Old St. Pat’s party. He’d had several beers and was worried his wife, Caitlin Corrigan Hoyle, would be bitching about his behavior. She was having a party for her friends from Planned Parenthood that night and told Hugh to be home by nine, “at the latest!”

Hugh was just crossing the 90/94 overpass when he came upon an older black guy leaning on the railing, playing the Flintstones theme on his sax.

Hugh slowed to sing along with the music:
You’ll have a yabba dabba doo-time
A dabba doo time
You’ll have a gay old time!

Hugh was loaded and started laughing and applauding the street guy’s performance.

Black guy eyeballed Hoyle, “Watch you say about being gay, Jack?”

Embarrassed, Hugh took out his wallet, “Oh no no no, those are just the actual lyrics to the song. I’m….well…I’m cool dude. Can you change a twenty?”

What you say, Mr. Notre Dame jacket? Twenty is my minimum, you racist preppie.

“Oh no I’m not racist… I voted for Obama. I’m Hugh Hoyle, what’s your name?”

Dr. Leroy Coleman.

“Hi, Dr. Coleman. You can keep the twenty.”

You voted for Obama? Man, you are one cool white man.

“Thank you.”

Now you gotta give me a lot more than twenty, you racist bastard.

Hugh was getting irritated with this guy and puffed out his chest, “I just told you ‘I’m not a racist, I voted for Obama.’

Gimme more, then you won’t be a racist. Ain’t that what Obama be saying all the time? ‘You gotta spread it around, Jack!’ So cough.’

Hugh started backing up slowly, “It’s okay, I’m cool with that. What’s your beef with Obama?”

I’m a doctor. That Obamacare is bulls—!

“What hospital do you work out of Doctor?”

The hospital of shut the f— up, motherf——.

Hugh plunged his hand into his wallet to offer more.
Dr. Leroy Coleman snatched the dough from Hugh’s hand, picking up the coins in his case and packing up his saxophone.

Hugh was angry now and having buyers remorse over his donation. He stuck out his chin, “Hey man, relax with the racist stuff. I told you, I’m cool, I’m hip to what you’re saying, spread it around, yeah I’m down with that, just like Obama.”

You think votin’ for Obama bought your certificate of racial absolution, dude?

“I’m on your side, it’s okay. I’m going to vote for him again.”

Dr. Coleman’s eyes flashed crazily beneath the brim of his fedora. “You what?”

Hugh staggered back warily. He looked over his shoulder for any other people from the fest while sizing up the doctor. Maybe he should just run. Maybe he has a weapon, he’s not really that big, Hugh had at least fifty pounds on the skinny old black guy with the straw hat on his head, swinging his saxophone case back and forth in his hand until it HIT HUGH IN THE FACE.

Hugh went down, his heart beating like mad, as blood spurted from a cut opened over his eye.

Dr. Leroy Coleman went into a trance, stood over him seething, “You racist piece ‘a crap. You the reason we in this mess. What you know about Obama? A light-skinned Kenyan, socialist, Marxist, Jew hatin’, baby-killing, economic terrorist systematically bankrupting our country to reduce us to a third world power as we continue to shovel our scratch into the Islamic Brotherhood? Obama takin’ your church, your schools, your hospitals. Don’t you see evil? Catholic boy? You stupid honky, whatchoo about to do? Can’t you see what’s goin’ down here? Don’t you know Obama wasn’t even born here? He was born on the planet Uranus and his father was actually Osama Bin Laden. What you know about that, Hugh Hoyle? Obama killed his father just like Luke Skywalker had to bump off Darth Vader. Obama is the anti-Christ, dude, and you are going to vote for him ‘cuz he black? Gimme all your money, you racist!”

Hugh cowered on the bridge and handed over his wallet. Dr. Coleman whipped it open and took the rest, another couple hundred bucks, and then flipped Hugh’s wallet over the side onto the Dan Ryan as he walked into the darkness.

The lights of a van came squealing up the ramp and swiftly knocked Dr. Coleman about twenty feet across the street, where he lay stock-still.

Hugh called 911 on his cell phone as he ran to the motionless body of the Doctor. He looked down at him; a look of peace upon his face, his head just slightly bloodied, the sax case had never left his hand and lay by his side.

Hugh could hear the sirens in the distance and the voices of other bystanders and the driver exclaiming, “He walked right in front of me!”

A young woman turned to Hugh, “Who was he?”

Hugh looked at the face of the old black man and thought about what Dr. Coleman had said. He was crazy, that’s pretty obvious…. or was he… a messenger…an angel… a voice of one, crying in the wilderness, to warn him?

You decide. On November 6th.