Boss: Richard J. Daley of Chicago, by Mike Royko

Book 34

Since Mike Royko’s death, I have been seeing his books everywhere. I picked up Boss: Richard J. Daley of Chicago at the Library Used Book Store. When my mother saw me reading it, she asked if it was my father’s copy. He had to read it in college. They went to college in Ohio.

This particular edition had a new introduction written by the author after Daley’s death. The introduction was downright poetic, in my opinion:

“If a man ever reflected his city, it was Richard J. Daley and Chicago.

In some ways, he was this town at its best – strong, hard-driving, working feverishly, pushing, building, driven by ambitions so big they seemed Texas-boastful.

In other ways, he was this city at its worst – arrogant, crude, conniving, ruthless, suspicious, intolerant.

He wasn’t graceful, suave, witty or smooth. But then, this is not Paris or San Francisco.
He was raucous, sentimental, hot-tempered, practical, simple, devious, big and powerful. This is, after all, Chicago.”

I think if the Old Man himself had read the introduction, he might have liked it. The book itself…I think he would have turned purple. The introduction validated many of my feelings of the son, Richard M. Daley, the current Mayor. Certainly imperfect, probably corrupt, but oh so Chicago. Oh, about that corruption..Royko suggests that Daley wasn’t actually in on the take himself, he just turned a blind eye to everyone else cashing in. Unless they got caught.
Royko drew a really interesting picture of the Chicago Machine, and it scares the bejeezus out of me. It doesn’t, however, give a whole lot of insight into the man. Other than the whole Getting Whatever He Wants All the Time thing.
Royko was a journalist and Daley hated journalists. I wonder what it was like to be Royko in the five years between when this was first published and Daley’s death.
Anyway, back to why I care..the current mayor. Because I do not live in the city-proper, I do not vote for mayor. I am perfectly happy with this. I don’t want the responsibility for voting for or against Richard M. Daley. I believe he loves Chicago more than he loves anything. I certainly enjoy his sound bites. I am told that the garbage is always picked up and the snow is always removed in a timely manner. And you remember how he tore up the runway at Meigs field in the middle of the night? I loved that. But what the book said about the father, I believe to be true of the son..that he builds great things that people can see and buries the horrible things that people can’t see.
Like Poverty. Segregation. And don’t get me started on the schools.
I guess it is really easy to judge from the ivory tower of the suburbs.
Aside from the Tribune bashing in which Royko, of the Sun Times, indulges, this is a fine book and some time, I might look him up again.
But now I am going back to school.

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