Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year! Samuel Johnson's Poem: To Myrtilis - The New Year's Offering

Dr. Samuel Johnson, like me, tended to equate worth with wealth and though a poor man, - impecunious, Tapioca, short of the long-green-difference - offered the target of his manly heart his hoard of love-loot. I offer the very same, with the Great Doctor's lines.

I offer this to those I love ( agape, philia, as well as eros) this new year.

Happiness - it can't buy you money, but it's pretty damn good!

To Myrtilis - The New Year's Offering

Long have I look'd my tablets o'er,
And find I've much to thank you for;
Outstanding debts beyond account,
And new - who knows to what amount?
Though small my wealth, not small my soul:
Come, then, at once I'll pay the whole.
Ye powers! I'm rich and will command
The host of slaves that round me stand;
Come, Indian, quick disclose thy store,
And hither bring Peruvian ore:
Let yonder Negro pierce the main,
The choicest, largest pearl to gain:
Let all my slaves their art combine
To make the blushing ruby mine,
From eastern thrones the diamonds bear
To sparkle at her breast and ear.
Swift Scythian, point the unerring dart,
That strikes the ermine's little heart,
And search for choicest furs the globe,
To make my Myrtilis a robe.
Ah, no! yon Indian will not go,
No Scythian designs to bed his bow,
No sullen Negro shoots the flood:
All, all my empty power disown,
I turn and find myself alone;
'Tis Fancy's vain illusion all,
No Moor nor Scythian waits my call.
Can I command, can I consign?
Alas! what earthly thing is mine?
Come, then, my Muse, companion dear,
Of poverty, and soul sincere;
Come, dictate to my grateful mind
A gift that may acceptance find;
Come, gentle Muse, and with thee bear
An offering worthy thee and her;
And though thy presents be but poor,
My Myrtilis will ask no more.
A Heart that scorns a shameful thing,
With love and verse is all I bring;
Of love and verse the gift receive,
'Tis all thy servant has to give.
If all whate'er my verse has told,
Golconda's gems, and Afric's gold;
If all were mine from pole to pole,
How large her share who shares my soul!
But more than these may Heaven impart;
Be thine the treasures of the heart;
Be calm and glad thy future days
With virtue's peace and virtue's praise;
Let jealous pride, and sleepless care,
And wasting grief, and black despair,
And languor chill, and anguish fell,
For ever shun thy grove and cell;
There only may the happy train
Of love, and joy, and peace remain:
May plenty, with exhaustless store,
Employ thy hand to feed the poor,
And ever on thy honour'd head
The prayer of gratitude be shed!
A happy mother, may'st thou see
Thy smiling, virtuous progeny,
Whose sportful tricks, and airy play,
Fraternal love, and prattle gay,
Or wondrous tale, or joyful song,
May lure the lingering hours along;
Till death arrive, unfelt, unseen,
With gentle pace and placid mien,
And waft thee to that happy shore
Where wishes can have place no more.

Samuel Johnson

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Corey Ankum, CFD - Three, Three, Five

Old firehouses would use a bell to signal alarms. The most dreaded was a 5-5-5 Toll that announced the death of a firefighter in the line of duty. Fallen Firefighters are honored with a slow tolling of "three times three ( 3-3-3)" which signals "return to station." ( Correction to post c.10:35 )

Firefighter Corey Ankum is returning to station and Christ today. Like his brother Edward Stringer, Corey Ankum will watch over the heroes here below who must answer the tolling of bells and signals and protect all of the rest of us.

Thank you for your service, Gentleman! God speed you home to Him!

Correction on the Fire Bell Tolls - from an unimpeachable source - A Chicago Fire Captain and Loyola Grad Class of 1974 - I obviously used a much dated source in the original post* -

pat 5-5-5 is our signal for going to a fire called being stilled out 3-3-5 is for returning yo (sic) quarters mike loyola'74

Before whistle signals, bells were the mode of communicating for mass dispersion. Church bells rang the fire alarm before a Fire Department was founded in 1877. Many townsfolk had small, wooden handled, hand held fire bells to ring the local alarm at a moment’s notice.

The Ward Four Fire Barn at Nash's Corner had one of the first fire bells installed in 1878. The bell was placed in the bell tower in front of the station. With a weight of 422 pounds and a cost of $35.62, it was the pride of the ward and a special honor to pull the rope tolling the bell.

Fire stations were built and took over the ringing of alarms. Some churches still rented their bells for alarms in dead spots.

Fire bells rang out the nearest street box number to the fire. The locations of Fire Street box numbers were listed in the Weymouth Gazette every week. Call men and folks would run to the location to watch or help in the blaze.

The fire bells had other purposes other than fires. A lost child would ring in three series of four tolls from the firehouse belfry, then the box number nearest the last location of the child.

Weymouth school children’s favorite in hearing was the “no school” signal of two sets of 2-2-2 bell rings. Civil unrest or disaster 8-8-8 brought the State Guard out.

The dreaded 5-5-5 toll, meaning the line of duty death of a firefighter, has solemnly echoed five times in the halls of Weymouth’s fire stations.

Ward 2’s wooden fire house at Broad Street and Filament was originally located near Dizer's Shoe Factory, then Greg LaRocco’s Welding Shop, then moved to its present location a little up Broad Street. The building is now the VFW hall on Broad Street. It was the Central Station until the presently closed Station 2 was erected in 1930 at Broad and Putnam Streets.

Station 2’s bell is inscribed with “Wm. Blake and Co., formerly H.M. Hooper and Co. Boston Mass. A.D. 1879.”

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Universal Brotherhood of Firefighters Walk Down Western Avenue in Tribute to Fallen Hero Edward Stringer

From Ashkum to Wilmington, Illinois Firefighters paid tribute to one of the two fallen Brothers on Western Ave. yesterday. I watched with my neighbors along the route that took Firefighter Edward Stringer from St. Rita Chapel to Beverly Cemetary at 119th & Kedzie. Here is a fine story from Kane County on the Universal Brotherhood of Heroes - 1st Responders: Police, Fire and Emergency Medical.

When two Chicago firefighters died after a wall collapsed on them Dec. 22, waves of sadness spread to their fellow firefighters.

Firefighter Edward Stringer’s wake was on Monday night and he was buried Tuesday morning. Visitation for his colleague Corey Ankum is scheduled today; his burial will be on Thursday.

Some of the hundreds of firefighters who came to one funeral and will go to another are from the Fox Valley. Local officials say they came to respect those who died in the line of duty.

Among them was St. Charles Fire Capt. Nick McManus, who went to Stinger’s funeral on his day off.

“I went to honor a fellow firefighter fallen in the line of duty, to show my respects,” McManus said. “It’s just the right thing to do. It just comes with the territory of being a firefighter.”

McManus said he stood outside in the cold to salute and follow fire service funeral tradition and ceremony of saluting until the casket is brought into the chapel.

“When I saluted, I tried to make sure my arm was not shaking,” McManus said. “It was the wind.”

He said firefighters attended not only from the suburbs, but from Canada, Houston and Dallas, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Indiana and New York City.

“I felt sadness and a great sense of pride,” McManus said.

Geneva Deputy Chief Scott Spencer said paying respects at a funeral is part of the fellowship of firefighting.

“If a firefighter is killed in the line of duty in Chicago, or Pittsburgh or New York – it doesn’t matter. It hits everybody the same,” Spencer said. “It’s a horrible loss.”

Eight firefighters from Geneva went to Stringer’s wake and funeral, he said.

Fire officials in Sugar Grove could not confirm anyone went to Chicago, but a few from Elburn went.

“It’s important to honor your fallen brothers and their families,” Elburn Fire Chief Kelly Callaghan said.

But sometimes a staffing problem prevents them from attending, as it did in Batavia, explained Batavia Fire Lt. Tim Lyons.

“We are too tight on manning,” Lyons said. “Myself and another guy were going to go [Tuesday] but because of people being out sick, we were at a bare minimum. It broke my heart not to send somebody.”

Still, Lyons said he is off on Wednesday and plans to attend services for Ankum.

“The department has always been very good about covering my time so I can go. I’m there representing them, not just myself,” Lyons said. “I look at it as a blessing to have the support of the fire department to allow me to go.”

Lyons said he went to New York after Sept. 11, 2001, and went to 10 funeral services a day for five days.

Lyons said it meant a lot to the departments and their families to have that support.

“We said we are from just outside Chicago and they were blown away, got something in their eye,” Lyons said. “I get things in my eyes once in a while. It just means so much.”

He said it is not unusual for so many firefighters to turn out and support a fallen brother.

When six firefighters died in a fire when a warehouse collapsed on them in Worcester, Mass., in 1999, Lyons said, he was among those who came to help dig them out. It took eight days to recover their remains.

“They had guys there from Ireland, from England,” Lyons said. “There were 30,000 firemen there.”

God Bless All Who Protect Us From Harm!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Kankakee Water Treatment Blast - Chief Ron Young, Chicago's Fallen Firefighters and All 1st Responders -God Bless You!

Today at St. Rita of Cascia High School at 77th & Western Ave. Chicago will send Firefighter Edward Stringer home to Christ. Last night hundreds of Firefighters from across the Midwest attended the wake at Blake and Lamb Funeral Home, in Oak Lawn and paid tribute to Firefighter Stringer. On Wednesday and Thursday, Corey Ankum will be honored back to Christ. Visitation for Corey Ankum is Wednesday at Apostolic Church of God in Chicago. Funeral services are the following morning at the church. God Bless these heroes.

Firefighter Stringer spent his off hours at a campground in Wilmington, Illinois along the Kankakee River. Only yesterday, an explosion at one of the sewage digestion plants of the Kankakee River Metropolitan Agency (KRMA) sent sludge and sewage into that beautiful river that flows north toward Joliet. One of my students at Bishop McNamara High School, Ron Young is the Fire Chief for the Kankakee City Fire Department. Ronnie is married to Deanna ( Dupuis) Young. Ron was a 145 Lb. Illinois State Wrestling Champion, whose sons became outstanding wrestlers and Christian gentlemen.

Like Firefighters Stringer and Ankum, Ron Young and his band of 50 brothers and sisters put their lives on the line every day. My nephew, Patrick Cleary, is a Romeoville Firefighter.

God Bless our first responders - Police, Fire, Emergency Medics at every level of government.

From the Kankakee Daily Journal

Kankakee Fire Chief Ron Young said it is unknown just how much untreated sewage has flowed into the river.

"I don't know if we'll ever have that," he said.

The cause of the explosion remains under investigation.

No one was working inside the digester building when it exploded, Young said. KRMA treats wastewater from Aroma Park, Chebanse, Bradley, Bourbonnais, Kankakee and Manteno. Young said service hasn't been interrupted.

The Kankakee Fire Department has 50 personnel working a 52.5-hour weekly shift (24 hours on-48 hours off) with 5 officers and 2 firefighters working a 40-hour week day shift. There is a Chief, 2 Assistant Chiefs, 5 Captains, 9 Lieutenants and 40 firefighters. 38 members are paramedics, 12 are certified fire investigators and 6 are certified arson investigators. We are supported by two full-time administrative assistants.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Kankakee Water Treatment Center Blast - No Injuries Thank God!

About and hour ago there was an explosion at the Kankakee River Water Treatment Plant - Bishop McNamara Alumnus and State of Illinois Wrestling Champion Ron Young is the Kankakee Fire Department Chief. No injuries were sustained in the blast, thanks be to God!

I spent some of the best years of my life in this wonderful City and county.

Blast destroys Kankakee water plant building
December 27, 2010 10:03 AM | 1 Comment
An explosion destroyed a building this morning at a water treatment plant in Kankakee.

But no one was hurt and all 13 people who work on the property at 1600 W. Brookmont Blvd. are accounted for, a fire official said.

The explosion occurred a little before 9 a.m. at a building that produces methane gas used for energy, said Kankakee Fire Department Chief Ron Young. He said the plant was still operational, though.

The explosion, Young said, sent debris into the surrounding neighborhood. The treatment plant, he added, serves several communities besides Kankakee, but there were no reports of any households experiencing problems as a result of the explosion.

Nicor Gas, ComEd and the Illinois Environment Protection Agency personnel were notified about the explosion, Young said.

Kankakee is about 60 miles south of Chicago.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Blessing for You on the Feast of the Holy Family

This morning Deacon Pat Murphy joined Father Gallagher at Sacred Heart Catholic Church for the Feast of the Holy Family.

His homily was a gem. As a youngster Deacon Pat, helped make the case to keep the Mission Church of the Sacred Heart founded by French Chicagoans in 1904 open for good. Pat Murphy went all the way to Vatican to plead for the continued mission of this jewel on the south side.

It was wonderful to hear Pat Murphy's homily that centered on the dreams of St. Joseph which caused that good man to marry his Virgin Fiance who was bearing Redeemer of Man's Sins. He was also awakened to take his family in flight to Egypt and spare the Christ Child from Herod's slaughter. His next dream called them back to Israel and the final dream leads Joseph and his family to take up residence in the town of Nazareth.

Pat Murphy noted that the gospels never quote Joseph and that Joseph was a man of action - Deeds not Words; Facta Non Verba - the motto of Leo High School by the way.

I am a man of words. My deeds are all too often reactions to situations and feelings rooted in my childish sense of my self. I have an arrogance that is too steeped in in that sense of self. Better women and men are like St. Joseph - they do and act for others with an immediacy that requires no careful planning,parsing or cutting of corners.

All around me in the pews of Sacred Heart Church were St. Josephs: widows, firemen, cops, skilled tradesmen, unemployed fathers, people of action - like St. Joseph.

I pray on this Feast of the Family to shed myself of childish and selfish pride. I also pray that my limited skills with tools will be graced with some small talent today so I can fix the drive on my snow-blower - plow the white stuff for my neighbors. That might be a good start for this sinner.

Merry Christmas and Feast of the Holy Family - We are all so blessed!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas! It is Christmas and Invites All!

Merry Christmas! Please, remember Christmas. I forget Christmas and act like a gold-plated self-absorbed jerk.

I forget all of my blessings, when I forget Christmas; when I "Happy Holiday" phone-it-in good cheer and allow my tendencies to allow myself to be the absolute center of the universe.

This is the remembrance of Christ's birth - Christmas.

St. Francis of Assisi (12th Century) is credited with developing the creche - the Nativity Scene that is the anathema of the ACLU set and the bane of local government. One hundred years later the Italian artist Giotto painted one the first Nativity Scenes in a two dimensional simplicity and grace. From that time on the Nativity became a touchstone for all that is good and human.

Here is what a secular celebration of the Winter Solstice looks like -

Good Old ACLU Secular AL Hitler and the like-minded gents. This photo was taken in 1941 when a great separation of Church and State leader was taken seriously - deadly serious.

The pictures from December 18, which have only just come to light, show Hitler and his generals at a party for SS officer cadets in Munich.
But the Nazi Christmas was far from traditional.
Hitler believed religion had no place in his 1,000-year Reich, so he replaced the Christian figure of Saint Nicholas with the Norse god Odin and urged Germans to celebrate the season as a holiday of the ‘winter solstice’, rather than Christmas.
Out of sight at the top of the tree behind Hitler was a swastika instead of an angel, and many of the baubles carried runic symbols and iron cross motifs. The remarkable pictures were captured by Hugo Jaeger, one of the Fuhrer’s personal photographers.
He buried the images in glass jars on the outskirts of Munich towards the end of the war, fearing that they would be taken away from him.
Later he sold them to Life Magazine in America which published many of them this week.

Christmas is for everyone. The Alternative was tried.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Chicago Firefighters - No Stone Unturned for Their Brothers and Sisters

Chicago Tribune Photo.

Chicago firefighters lost two young brothers in the horrific collapse of the building east of Stony Island on 75th Street yesterday. Nineteen Chicago firefighters were injured and several are in bad shape.

I live in a neighborhood that is thick with 1st Responders - Police Officers, Paramedics, Firefighters: City, State, County and Federal.

I know them and see them at Mass, cutting the lawn, shoveling the snow for the widows, coaching little guys and girls up at Kennedy and Beverly Parks, grabbing a Miller Lite at Keegans or Cork and Kerry, attending wakes and funerals and never have I heard one of these public servants ever tell a war story to civilian like me.

That is for those who share their perils.

I listen to bar stool philosophers and disappointed and bitter people beef about ' the pension rich tax hogs.' The Chicago Media, in between the purple draped funerals of cops, firefighters, or others who charge into peril, takes cheap shots at firefighters and cops in the name of Better Government High-mindedness. Only last week a cranky and sophomoric series of articles beefed about the drill conducted to remove siding from a home in Mount Greenwood. As Vice President Biden might opine -BFD. A real journalist, like the Chicago Sun Times' late Ray Coffey would never soil his fingers with such pusillanimous ink. Ray Coffey understood danger and respected men and women who ran into peril.

The reality is to be witnessed in the photo up above - not one green-black coated and helmeted figure is inactive. Every heart and hand is digging and clawing its way to bring hope to their brothers under the bricks, rubble and ruin.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

God Be With Our Firefighters!

CFD personnel evacuate an injured firefighter at a alarm fire at 1700 East 75th Street. (E. Jason Wambsgans/ Chicago Tribune)
UPDATE - I just spoke with Fire Hero Jim McMahon (CFD ret.) and learned of the deaths and circumstances of these young fireighters. No names were given. Here is the latest from the Chicago Sun Times -

Two Chicago firefighters were killed Wednesday morning after they were trapped when a wall collapsed at an abandoned, one-story, brick former laundry building on East 75th Street near South Shore High School.

Four other firefighters also were trapped before being pulled to safety.

Swarms of fellow firefighters flooded the disaster scene, furiously digging through rubble to find the missing firefighters. When they were located, they were quickly carried out of the building, with firefighters clearing a path.

God Bless Their Souls and May Christ Comfort Their Families.

This morning, while I worried about my self, Chicago firefighters were risking life and limb to save people and property. My neighbors are firefighters and policemen. They are generous, happy, dedicated young people.

They get a bad rap from the media at every possible turn and usually about some nonsense.

These heroes go where we would not. At least four CFD heroes are injured and one firefighter is as yet 'unaccounted for' - which means that a family is in horrific anguish.

May God Bless these young people who do so much for us all and shelter this firefighter in particular.

At least two other firefighters to taken to other hospitals but their conditions also were not known.
About half a dozen police cars and several fire vehicles were parked in front of the emergency room at Northwestern. Truck 122 pulled up and three firefighters walked in, including a lieutenant. One firefighter from Truck 122 was on a cell phone and wiped away tears with his jacket.

The fire broke out about 6:54 a.m. in the abandoned one-story brick building in the 1700 block of East 75th Street.

The fire was raised to two and then three alarms to save the trapped firefighters. A "mayday" was called. Firefighters also reported having problems with frozen hydrants.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Julian Assange and Me!

LONDON — Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks who was released from a British jail late last week, is facing a new challenge: the leak of a 68-page confidential Swedish police report that sheds new light on the allegations of sexual misconduct that led to Mr. Assange’s legal troubles.

Last week, I took the Sacrament of Penance, AKA Reconciliation, at St. John Cantius Church just prior to the start of the Nine Lessons and Carols Concert by the St. Cecelia's and the Holy Innocents Choirs. Without divulging my litany of sins, let's just say that I was in the Box for what would be in baseball a good two innings with both teams getting four runs on walks.

The Sacrament of Penance, AKA Reconciliation, is not yet accessible on Al Gore's Information Superhighway. You can not text-it, wire-it, or phone-it in; you must go to the Confessional . . .with a priest behind the screen.

I received Absolution, but that was a week ago. I had a week chock-full of vanities, vices, follies, foibles, outbursts and impure thoughts, but that is between me and Father Anonymous.

We live in a culture that insists upon featuring the sins and follies of everyone. Julian Assange, the Wikileaks celebrity, blackmails whole governments with the complicity of tabloids and networks.

Today, the Albino Dagobert Assange had his secrets appear in ink.

Governments and individuals must reconcile their faults and tell their sins to the proper Confessor. Likewise, we should remember the words of the Duke of Wellington when some bimbo threatened to publish his love letters in the British tabloids, unless Wellington coughed up some gelt. The Iron Duke drew himself to his fullest height,cocked an eyebrow and rejoined, "Publish and Be Damned!"

Saturday, December 18, 2010

From Wikileaks! Irish Navy Clashes with US Navy

Nordic translations of a chilling encounter between American Naval Forces and the Irish Navy.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Crawlspaces and Boxes? School Choice is the Only Way to Reform Chicago Schools.

The elegant and brilliant Joe Morris is trying to keep a lid on the Rahm Emanuel residency hearings - Frankly, I think Mr. Emanuel belongs on the ballot for Mayor. The issue du jour is "What's in the crawlspace?" Que Lastima!

All the while Senator James Meeks has tossed down the gauntlet to Chicago's Public School Lobby - the folks who demand the same-old/same old disaster that is Chicago Public Education. Senator Meeks tried to get a genuine Chicago School Choice bill through Springfield but was betrayed by the very same Illinois Republican legislators who huff and puff about wasted tax-dollars.

The Chicago Tribune reported on the Meeks Reform Plan:

One of the major aspects is a voucher program Meeks said would allow up to 50,000 low-income students in Chicago to receive at least $4,500 per year to attend schools of their choosing.

Meeks passed a similar plan through the Senate earlier this year but it failed in the House. The candidate was asked what would be different if he were mayor.

"I like (my chances), because our school system is failing now, and I believe a plan that's being pushed by the mayor of the city of Chicago -- I passed that bill out of the Illinois Senate as a senator," Meeks said. "I'm sure that as mayor, we will be able to pass that plan through the entire General Assembly."
Meeks also said he would give the Chicago Teachers Union one year to develop a program "with teeth" to identify and fire teachers who aren't performing. If the union does not do so, Meeks said he would call on the General Assembly to pass legislation to deal with it. Such legislation has not passed during Meeks' tenure in Springfield, however.

"I don't think most of our teachers are bad. I think that most of our teachers are good, but we don't have a way to weed out the bad ones," Meeks said at a City Hall news conference outside the mayor's office.

Now, as a very viable candidate for Mayor of Chicago Senator/Rev. Meeks has iisued a challenge to the Chicago Teachers Union to come up with a plan to discharge bad teachers . . .long silence . . .wait for the howls.

Here it is! In the Huffington Post (chicago):

Meeks, also the minister at the massive Salem Baptist Church, was able to push a school voucher bill through the State Senate earlier this year. It passed by a 33-20 vote, before failing in the State House.

Under the plan, students at the lowest-performing schools in the city would be able to transfer to private or parochial schools, with money in their pockets to help pay for the tuition.

Such a program faces stiff opposition from teachers' unions, which argue that vouchers would deplete resources from already ill-funded public schools. They also object that public resources should be devoted to programs that will improve the lot of all students, not just a few, and that a voucher law could be unconstitutional if it gives public funds to sectarian purposes.

Here are some of the daffier HuffPo aficiandos and their thoughts.

That is the reason chump you will never be mayor of the windy city, so crawl back where u came from.

Mr. Meeks sees nothing wrong with ramming Jebus down your throat while vilifying all the gays that live in the city.

Every candidate for Mayor needs to get School Reform - Real school Choice -Vouchers - out of the crawlspaces, unpacked and put into place ASAP.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tell Santa to Make You A Movie Producer -Invest in Houli's Film!

Skip the snuggies, the Chia Pets, the fruitcakes and the cork screws. For Two bits -( $25.00 US in This Our Economy) you can make Your Mom, Your Brothers and Sisters, Your Bride, Your Kids, Your Kids' Teachers,, Your Boss, Your Mailman, Your Precinct Captain, and Your Buddies a Move Producer. Clcik my post title for the deal of a lifetime.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Roses in the Snow - Hickey Christmas Party, Nine Lesson/Carols and Our Lady of Guadalupe

Praestet fides supplementum/sensuum defectui -faith for all defects supplying,
where the feeble senses fail.Tatum Ergo Scaramentum by St. Thomas Aquinas

Last night, I attended two great events and witnessed another at 1919 S. Ashland Avenue.

The first was the annual Hickey Christmas Party at Cork and Kerry. This event began in the basement of my grandparents house at 75th & Marshfield in Little Flower Parish. My Dad's family was huge -thirteen children of Lawrence and Nora Hickey ( seven men and six women of whom only my Aunt Helen Brennan survives). The Hickey Party featured corned beef, Italian beef, cookies, cakes, and a ceili. Santa made an appearance often encorpified by the beefier males of the clan. Irish step dancing to the button accordion in the thick mitts of Granpa Hickey accompanied by some of the best Irish musicians in Chicago - Cuz Teahan, Jimmy Neary and Tom Masterson on fiddles and tin whistle.

Years later the party moved to Wally's Last Stop at 85th Kedzie, a bar that was closing for decades and owned by Polish Polka Museum Hall of Famer Wally - Leader of Wally and the Fat Boys. Subsequently, this movable feast journeyed to such halls and watering holes as could accommodate the massive extended Hickey Clan.

The Clan swells. With two of my three children, I entered the hall section of Cork and Kerry. Like Wally's, Cork and Kerry has a mini stage. This seems to be the key feature necessary, as the platform gets swarmed by toddlers who dance, gambol, cavort, tease and generally strut their tiny stuff. There was a tide of tiny Hickeys, Winters, Walshes, Brennans, McNamara's, & etc. darting and weaving among the taller legs and limbs like Roses in the Mantel of Our Lady. It was magical.

I had to leave in order to attend the Nine Lessons performance at St. John Cantius, where the woman I love sings with the St. Cecilia Choral. This annual festival that runs over two nights, is a presentation of music and faith centered on the miracle of Christ's birth. Each reader opens a Lesson about the Nativity of Christ with a passage of Scripture from Old and New Testament followed by a Carol from the greatest Christmas themed music in Western Civilization.

St. John Cantius Church is Chicago's link to Catholic culture in its devotions that are traditional and universal - rites are conducted in Latin and English in the Novus Ordo and Tridentine forms. I immediately went to Confession, because I am topped off with sin and folly.

Then, I applied myself to a full spiritual soaking of sacred texts rich in message and mystery and music that purges the petty from a very petty man. One Carol in particular hit home a 17th Century Carol by Thomas Ravescroft (c.1582-1635):

Remember God's goodness/Othou man, O thou man,/And promise made:/Remember God's goodness,/HOw his only Son he sent,/Our sins for to redress:Be not afraid.. . .In Bethlem was he born,/for mankind dear:/In Bethlem was he born/for us that were forlorn,/And therefore took no scorn,/Our sins to bear.

I have a terrible memory. God's goodness has given me more moral mulligan's any sinner deserves.

I took Ogden Avenue to Ashland home to Morgan Park and at 1919 S. Ashland witnessed the hundreds of devout and proud Mexican Americans crowding the icy corners around St. Pius V Church where the Dominicans still lead the devotions to Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared to a peasant named Juan Diego in the 17th Century, two centuries after Spain conquered the people of Mexico. Our Lady appeared not to a Spanish grandee but a humble native and directed Juan Diego to build a Church on the place of that apparition. Juan Diego told his bishop, but like any good company man the Prince of the Church wanted due diligence - go get a miracle.

Juan Diego was directed by Our Lady to gather flowers in the snow. Juan Diego found the flowers where Our Lady had placed them in her cloak and when Juan Diego returned the image of Our Lady had replaced the flowers in her blue mantle and that image remains in the Church built upon the flowers in the snow and the Faith of a man.

Three hundred years of Peace followed the miracle of Our Lady of Guadalupe. I don't require that many years, but do need to bone up on my faith and devotion to my family, my Church and my God.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Speedo Santas on Division Street - Nothing Says The Holidays Like Kids Doing Good

I am no grump. I'm sardonic, but no grump. Yesterday, while attending to some Christmas shopping in Chicago's Gold Coast, I had the occasion to witness the conclusion of the Santa Speedo Race for Diabetes.

About a hundred and change young adults fought the chill of Chicago's arctic winter to raise money to help combat diabetes. For a drop of Forty Dollars ($40), participants donned Santa hats and other Yule-tide trimmings and bells and Speedos - the negligible underparment worn by Europeans and Ipanema types in the Western Hemisphere and ran a mile and change in the snow and slush to Michigan Avenue and back. The goose-fleshed honed and "prime figured" of the Internet Generation comported themselves handsomely and appeared to, by and large, behave themselves during the three hour open bar

Naughty or nice....
Buddhist, Sikh, Christian or Jew...
Santa wants YOU to be part of his SPEEDO...bikini...snowsuit ... RUNNING crew!
What: Santa Speedo Run (1 mile down Rush street and back up Michigan Ave)
When: December 4th Saturday (11am open bar, 1 pm race 1:00pm, and an afternoon of Santa mayhem)
Where: Shenanigans, 16 W. Division Street, Chicago
Who: All elves, reindeer, santas...
Attire: speedos and swimsuits encouraged... snowpants, sweatshirts, and parkas completely acceptable! Wear your best costume underneath and at the stroke of 1pm, we will strip down to the speedos and get our run on! Please note while speedos are encouraged, you don't have to run or wear a long as its festive!
Open bar starts at 11am and lasts 3 hours. $40 cover charge inludes open bar, snacks and Santa hat.
Flip Cup tourney, raffle, prizes, contest and North Pole dancing!
All proceeds go to the Chicago Diabetes Project!
A Hearty "well Done" to the owners and staff of Shennigans!

I had occasion to chat with Devin of Alton, Illinois and he said that "once you got past the 1st bug-eyed, slack-jawed reaction the balance of the trot was slicker than snot on a door-knob."

Handsomely acquited, young 'uns! In tribute to your selfless and heroic efforts, I offer Rick K and Allnighters!

Saturday, December 04, 2010

The Irish Sense of Place is the Key to Understanding

Note to CPS - Here is a nun and her class of Forty-three (43) students in a Catholic School.

It was the "Heated Hallway" directly across from the side door into the LF Gym on 79th Street. I learned a few very good things there.
Morganelli's, Hite's, Millie's, no wonder I had cavities. The crossing lady to get us across Damen at 80th Street was Mabel, a great old girl.
Remember when we all descended on Morganelli's after grammar school football games at Dawes. I think some of the guys may even have shop lifted.
Yes, very fond memories!
Tim from the Little Flower Facebook page. God bless All Here. (Click my post title)

Yesterday, I posted some self-deprecating and self-directed teases about the Chicago Irish. Again, to understand who are are, we always seem to drag up where we come from -Mayo, Clare, Castleisland, Clare Island,Bohola, Crossmaglen, Little Flower, St. Sabina's, Visitation, Back of the Yards, Mount Carmel, Mount Assisi, 79th Street, Over by the Boulevard but not Viz, Our Lady of Peace, This side of Western.

The Irish are not solely identified by the capacity to ingest spirits, but by a gushing of Spirit associated with where we have been.

Going as far back as Irish literature can take us, the Irish -aboriginal as well as Norman/Saxon Irish - have identified all activities with place. Author Patrick Sheeran argues in his Genius Fabulae:The Irish Sense of Place that it was the denial of a place for the Irish by Normans,Cromwellians, Scottish Planters and regiments of redcoats that pounded a sense of loss and place into the Irish universal.

I think that the sense of place was there long before Perdious Albion pounded on the Poor Banished Children of Eve in Hibernia. Sheeran cites a Belfast children's song that runs with identity of street names that no longer exist 'Balaclava, Ormeau, Sevastapol, Divis' - places that no longer exist, but in memory sparked by the langiage of place. Little kids singing the street names never lived on them - or did under a new name. Ireland's national epic concerns the theft or raid of the province of Connaght ( Mayo men, of course. Damn Culchies)to steal the stud bull of Ulster - Donn Cuailnge( Dun Cooley. The Irish were linked to the Stockyards centuries before they arrived in Bridgeport and Canaryville.

The Irish epic Táin Bó Cúailnge is litany of struggle, slaughter and deceit and despite the supernatural efforts of the Ulster Champion the stud bull is taken back to Connaght, but escapes and wanders Ireland creating placenames before it dies of exhaustion.

Placenames and their association with Self are the key to understanding the Irish psyche. Thus - the Canaryville kid will identify with his family spirit welling up from the blood of slaughtered pigs, cows, sheep and of course working men and woman in Chicago's Stockyards -no longer there, but in memory and sensibilities.

The Irish of Chicago are not much different from the Irish of Butte, Montana, Southie in Boston, or the Cross in County Clare. Our courage, commitment and sense of service wells up from places long gone.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Partial South Side Irish Sobriquet Glossary

In this month's issue of The New Criterion, essayist Joseph Epstein considers " The Long, Unhappy Life of Saul Bellow" whom Epstein attributes to have been afflicted with Irish Alzheimers - "he forgot everything but grudges."

Here are some more regional sobriquets and verbal brickbats.

South Side Chicago Irish sobriquets defined-
Irish Alzheimer's = Forget everything but their grudges.

Irish Arthritis = Stiffness in every joint but one, or " I get stiff in a different joint every night."

Irish Breakfast = Ice Cold Old Style or HammsTall Boyin the morning.

Irish confetti = Bricks.

Irish curse = All spuds and no meat.

Irish flu = Hangover.

Irish foreplay = "Hey! . . . You wake?."

Irish good-bye = Long time parting ways. e.g. - "So any way . . .Look you gonna go to Headsy Dillon's wake? Naw Fuck 'em. . . .Say Hi to your Bride and kids, by the way, as long as I got you here . . .look I'm a little short to pay day . . . Forgedid. No just kidding . . .that a new topcoat . . . I gotta go . . ."

Irish gravy = Brooks ketchup.

Irish handcuffs = A beer in each hand.

Irish hickey = Black eye.

Irish hospitality = When some soth sider gets pissed at you for not knowing what time it is.

Irish luggage = Hefty Garbage bags.

Irish Riviera = Long Beach Michigan/Delavan Wisconsin.

Irish seven-course meal = Potato and a six pack.

Irish Sports Page/Funnies = The obituaries.

Irish carry -out = A Slim Jim and an Old Style Tall Boy

Irish tan = Sunburn.

Irish twins = Two kids born of the same mother within a year's time - me and by brother Whitey are eleven months apart.

IRISH up your coffee = Add Bailey's and Jamesons.

Irish virus = rampant alcoholism.

Lace Curtain Irish/ or Bicycle Irish, Lace Curtain Mick =See: Irish Fellowship Lunch -Catholic, middle class, "proper", assimilated Irish. e. g. -Any Female Judge candidates with hyphenated Irish Names -Cathy Lawlor-Redmond-Burke ( code for "I'm a Gold-plated Bitch").

McCEO = housepainter

Shanty Irish = Working-class Irish. Quarrelsome; clannish; alcoholic.

Canaryville Suit = A pair of dress pants, or nice jeans, with a turtleneck, Banlon shirt,or Dago Knit and a sport coat/blazer over it, commonly seen at wakes and political parties.

Mt. Greenwood Suitcase = A County Fair Foods canvas bag with a towel and underwear in it for a quick trip to the Kankakee,IL.

Morgan Park Tuxedo = Adidas nylon running suit, brown cloth Mount Carmel scapular and black Johnson & Murphy wing-tips

Two Toilet Irish. See "Lace-Curtain Irish." any one on the east side of Western Ave. Affluence!!!!!

Read Raymond Chandler; Mix A Metaphor; Wink at a Homely Girl or Boy and Mind Your Manners

"She smelled the way the Taj Mahal looks by moonlight." ---The Little Sister (Chapter 12)

Now that Civil Unions are a reality in Illinois, I have lost fat, increased my muscle tone, sprouted darker richer and more lustrous hair, play the oboe as well the banjo and guitar, found more zeroes before the decimals in my checking account, and am no longer troubled by Low T. No, not the evil Chinaman Loan Shark and Opiates Purveyor from Morgan Park, but that new affliction of "guys 45 and over." In fact, now that same sex couples can begin bringing an avalanche of lawsuits against everything from gumball machines to the State of Illinois, I sleep much better knowing that thanks to Greg Harris, Deb Mell, the Illinois Democratic Party, WTTW, every news outlet in Illinois and Asian Carp Civil Unions is the path to Liberty.

The last fifty plus years, have been absolute hell!

Well, thank God that's over. Now, I have time to go back and re-read Raymond Chandler.

Raymond Chandler was an Irish-Chicago born , British educated writer who captured the sound and sense of urban America like no other writer, since Mark Twain. As a young man, Chandler fought in the trenches of France during WWI with the Canadian Gordon Highlanders and later transferred to the RAF. After the war, he settled in Los Angeles, married woman eighteen years his senior, clerked for an Oil Company and began writing Pulp Fiction -after he was fired for his boozing.

In one of his early stories his narrator states, "I'm an occasional drinker, the kind of guy who goes out for a beer and wakes up in Singapore with a full beard." --"The King in Yellow"

His novels The Big Sleep, The Little Sister, and Farewell My Lovely also helped launch his career as a Hollywood Screenwriter. Hollywood now hires kids who can barely read but create Graphic Novels. Try an find a script that is not lifted from another work -AVATAR is Dances With Wolves from Walter Scott's Waverly.

Chandler represented the epoch when movies were an art unto themselves and actually had wit, craft and a theme.

Now, that my life will be a path strewn with roses, rainbows and lollipops, all thanks to Civil Unions. I can re-read Raymond Chandler.

Profiling, or Scouting?

My pal, Attorney Tamara Holder has a re-posting of a thoughtful article that she wrote last January, following the arrest of the terrorist who attempted to bomb the Detroit airport.

Ms. Holder wrote this in reaction to calls for greater attention to Muslim folks boarding flights to the United States and re posted this morning because the profiling issue was exacerbated by the TSA pat-downs boosted by Homeland Security Czarina Janet Napolitano.

Tamara Holder writes, "“Racial profiling” is used too loosely. Instead, “intelligence” is the issue. If a terrorist gets to a security check-point at the airport, he has already gotten too far. We cannot rely on patdowns and scanners to catch terrorists. Terrorists are smarter than a TSA employee.
Patdowns and bodyscanners may be tools to keep terrorists off of planes but they will just look for a different way to achieve their mission. The 9/11 terrorists may have been caught if the body scanner detected their box cutters. Abdulmutallab may have been caught if the body scanner detected the bomb-making material in his underwear. These measures may or may not work to deter terrorists. We shall see…"
Click my post title for more. I disagree with Tamara Holder. I think Profiling is good scouting.

I think that profiling is no more than a smarmy PC buzz-word like Systemic. High school coaches profile every time that they enter a gym, or grab the top row in the stands at a football game. They are profiling young men ( sexists.) who have the physical abilities to perform great feats of athleticism for the school that can grab them. Option Offense ( teams that use a running game to beat the clock) schools looks for a quarterbacks and running backs who can perform in the Wishbone, I-Option, Spread Option Wing-T Option, Flexbone and Double Option formations. The scouts Profile a quaterback who displays a keen sense of the field as well as a quick witted nimbleness in determining which running back will be fed the ball to take the "dive." "veer," or "mesh" run against the opposing defense. The scouts are looking for qualities and characteristics. They come armed with a Profile.

A myopic kid in an iron lung will not meet that profile.

Likewise, remember the old Western movies when a cavalry patrol came upon a massacred wagon or stagecoach?

The Steel-eyed Old Army Scout and his Commanche Aide would take arrows and lances from the victims and return to the Cavalry Commander.

Scout Cole Murtaugh- "These are markings of a Kiowa Murder Party, Lietenant - see how these red hash marks cover the yellow? That means that Red Hand is out for Yellow Hair scalps."

Lt.Oakes Willoughby -" Mr. Murtaugh, your antipathy to the Kiowa is well known. The Kiowa are indigenous Americans with a rich culture and robust moral sense that is Eco-friendly and Earrth wholesome. To take your meaning, we should troop along and abuse . . .nay, murder people? That is Systemic Racism!"

Scout - " These arrows and lances were just pulled out of the backs of these here women folks."

Lt. Oakes - "Did you see the actual act of launching these missiles, Murtaugh? Who's to say? Who's to say that Kiowas killed these people? It may very well have been an Aryan War Party of disgrubtled Confederate Army veterans. Why, only the other day in an Op-Ed Letter of the Shinebone Star The Rev. Mark Potok of The Southern Poverty Law Center deemed it may be so! I will not Profile."

Scout - "Well,Sonny Boy, me and Jimmy-Sass-Back, here, will pull freight - you and me done split the blanket Lootenant. We'll winter up in the High Lonesome and come down in the Spring and bury you and your patrol then."

Lt. Oakes -" Your empirical sense and systemic racism will not be on my hands. Killing Kiowas will only add to their recruitment efforts."

And that was not how the West Was Won. However, given the PC sentiments of some folks . . . I gotta go with Profiling is Scouting.

Profiling is Scouting - intelligence. It is how option quarterbacks are selected and it was how patrols in the old West avoided that really close haircut.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Will Joe Morris Be the Election Judge in the Rahn Residency Contretemps?

Out in the hustings and on the pavement for Leo High School, I run into clerics and clerks, gents and jerks, and guys-in-the-know, as well as makers of snow. I celebrate the diversity that is Chicago - 24/7.

This I know . . . a gentleman of unimpeachable honesty and absolutely no dog in Chicago's political brawls offered this " it seems that Joe Morris will be involved in the hearing on the challenge to Rahm Emanuel's legal residency status. Isn't that something." Could be.

Joseph A. Morris is a Partner in the law firm of Morris & De La Rosa, with offices in Chicago and London. He maintains an active practice conducting trials and appeals in the areas of constitutional, business, labor and international law. He is a member of the Bars of the Supreme Court of the United States, the Supreme Court of Illinois and several other courts. Mr. Morris served under President Reagan as Assistant Attorney General of the United States and Director of the Department of Justice Office of Liaison Services, in which capacity he was the Attorney General's top assistant in charge of International affairs and of liaison with state and local prosecutors and law enforcement agencies. He has served as an American delegate to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in Geneva and both a government and a public member of the Administrative Conference of the United States.
A leader in B'nai B'rith and other Jewish and interfaith organizations, he served from 1995 through 2001 as the President of B'nai B'rith in the Midwest. He was founder and first Chairman of the B'nai B'rith International Center for Public Policy.

He serves pro bono publico as the President and General Counsel of The Lincoln Legal Foundation and is active in a number of other bar, civic and charitable organizations.

A frequent lecturer and debater, he has appeared on such national and local television and radio programs as ABC's "Good Morning, America", NBC's "Nightly News", WTTW "Chicago Tonight" abd "Extension 720 with Milt Rosenberg". He was former co-host of "Equal Time" on WBEZ Radio, the Chicago affiliate of National Public Radio.

Mr. Morris is an alumnus of the College and the Law School of The University of Chicago. He is married to Kathleen Morris and resides in Chicago.

Professor Dave Protess's "Treats" for "Innocent" Murderers

One of the cottage industries that has eroded any and all faith in our Justice System is the Lawsuit Lottery. The Lawsuit Lottery was invented by radical lawyers and assaults police officers, prosecutors, judges and city, county and municipal governments in defense of convicted murderers and career criminals by tugging at the heartstrings attached to our American sense of fair play.
The gambit is always the same - a murderer was convicted of a horrific crime because

A. Systemic Racist police officer ( black, white, Hispanic, Asian or Pacific Islander) tortured, abused and denied basic civil rights to a copyrighted Minority - usually a black man - in order to close a case.

B. A prosecutor hid evidence in defense of Systemic Racism

C. A Corrections Official tortured, abused and denied basic civil rights to whole bunch of copyrighted Minorities -usually many black men- while they awaited trial.

D. A convicted murdered can only be freed and given Justice by kids taught by Professor Dave Protess of the Medill School of Journalism as part of the Innocense Project.

Cook County States Attorney Anita Alvarez smelled the same stink that many newspaper readers found wafting through their senses as the endless parade of G. Flint Taylor Burge Bonanzas and Professor Dave Protess Atticus Finch Productions blared from the front pages and spilled into the evening news shows. Now, we learn, via the e-mails that the Cook County Prosecutor Anita Alvarez has stoically demanded that Professor Dave turn over, that Professor Dave Protess, the too much lionized leader of the Medill Innocense Project, tosses "Treats" to obatin the intended outcome of Innocense, where the Justice System had declared Guilt.

No American wants an innocent man to suffer an injustice and the Hegelian Progressives use that sentiment to make millions of dollars and careers for future Katie Courics. Triple figure cabfare, a few few Iron Hotel visits by NIU college cuties . . .nothing seems too costly in the purchase of the intended outcome. That is pure John Dewey flavored Hegelianism.It seems the wheels are off of Professor Dave Protess's Snakeoil Wagon -

CHICAGO, Dec. 1 (UPI) -- Northwestern University's Medill Innocence Project arranged a visit from a female student as a "treat" for a prisoner, prosecutors allege.

Illinois prosecutors say the visit and a possible offer of unspecified promises were made before the prisoner recanted his testimony in a 1993 murder and armed robbery case, the Chicago Tribune reported Tuesday.

Authorities produced three memos and an e-mail sent by students of Northwestern journalism professor David Protess to an attorney representing convicted murderer Armando Serrano, who is seeking a new trial.

The memos include suggestions that Francisco Vicente, who testified against Serrano but later recanted to the students, was upset that a private detective who works with Protess failed to make good on unspecified "considerations."

The e-mail, sent by a student investigating the Serrano case, said a female former student agreed to join a visit to Vicente in prison after he requested her presence.

Dangling a girl infront of a locked-up gent,Professor Dave?

Well, that is all part of the magical world of Hegalian Dialectic that dominates academic methodology - Truth is mutable. As that old Vermont Sap John Dewey said,

Time and memory are true artists; they remould reality nearer to the heart's desire.

If Professor Dave and the Kiddies in his charge really want convicted murderers to be innocent men, well they will by golly be just that . . .with the help of Lawsuit Lottery Lawyers, gutless politicians, and really goofy journalists.