Monday, January 01, 2007

Rick Kogan, A Chicago Tavern: A Goat, A Curse, and the American Dream

The Billy Goat Tavern is one of the staples of Chicago tourism and cuisine, and this little book celebrates all that is the early life and heyday of a genuine Chicago landmark. From its humble beginnings as the Billy Goat Inn across from old Chicago Stadium to its current digs along lower Michigan Avenue and Hubbard Street, this book recounts the endless newspaper reporters, pols, entertainers, and goats who shared a late-night/early morning beverage and "cheezboorger" (not the least of whom was Pulitzer Prize-winner author Mike Royko).

Kogan's book reminds you of all the ways in which the Billy Goat Tavern has become interwoven with Chicago history over the past eighty years, from the famed "curse" placed on the Chicago Cubs to the Belushi-inspired Saturday Night Live skits. The interviews with owner Sam Sianis capture the immigrant-tinged dialect of so many Chicago bar owners, and Kogan's relaxed style makes you feel like you're sharing stories with an old friend over a beer and bowl of pretzels.

A Chicago Tavern is one of several books published by Lake Claremont Press, which specializes in books about Chicago history. Thanks to my wife for getting it for me for Christmas!

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