I Like Mike
Why Royko of Chicago was our greatest columnist.
One More Time: The Best of Mike Royko
University of Chicago Press; 312 pages; $22
If journalism has changed since Royko's heyday, so too have cities like Chicago. White ethnics have ceased to be the dominant force in urban life. In 1981, when Royko moved to a condominium in a lakefront high-rise, he cast himself as a bungalow-bred Margaret Mead, studying yuppies by living among them. But yuppies--or at least the suburbanized offspring of Slats Grobnik--were increasingly his audience and his newsroom colleagues. Royko saw himself as more and more of an anachronism. Before he died, he quit drinking and unhappily moved to the suburbs.
So why don't we have newspaper columnists as good as him anymore? To summarize: We no longer have his kind of newspaper. We no longer have his kind of city. But mainly, we don't have another Mike Royko--a newspaper writer grounded in a place like Chicago, with a gift for explaining it to the world, and the world to it.