"A TAVERN IS A CITY," the journalist recalls, "A city writ small. There was a whorehouse down the street. It became a saga."
In those days... Forget Woodward and Bernstein, here is another form of journalism that twenty-first century corporate media does not countenance, cannot abide. Or, except for Jim Hogue at the Sun-Times, would not abide then. It was offered to the Trib, which worried, "what if someone got hurt at a Tribune-owned bar?" Zekman says. There were six sets of books, and of the eventual site of the four months of shamanic sham, she says, "It was a total dump-" She pauses for effect- "But it was something the Sun-Times could afford. The inspectors came through, they were as corrupt as we were told they were. It was a project, an investigation, a dream assignment and a nightmare assignment. We were here impossible hours, the story could explode at any time."
But Recktenwald, now a professor of journalism at Southern Illinois University, says that when the 25-part series dropped in January 1978, a five week run, each morning on the El to work, readers had the Sun-Times open, their mouths open, they were "all laughing at the appropriate places, and they all read to the jump! And it damn near won the Pulitzer."
They know they did something good but they won't say they did something great. They'd rather tell a story, this motley crew: crisp, irreverent, funny. So funny even after all the retellings. Classic Chicago. [Originally appeared in a different form in Newcity, 31 August 2006.]
24 August 2006
21 August 2006
16 August 2006
09 August 2006
07 August 2006
I am The Great White Way of the city: after Carl Sandburg."