Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Chicago: Cheezborger, Cheezborger
I had lunch at the Billy Goat Tavern, which John Belushi, Bill Murray, etc. made famous on Saturday Night Live: "Cheezborger, Cheezborger. Chips. No Coke. Pepsi." They used to be a part of Second City, a comedy troupe still in Chicago, and knew the Billy Goat Tavern well. It looks like it's nighttime in the photo — that's because it's under the Michigan Avenue bridge.
Fame has not improved it; it's still a definite dive with the same characters hanging around. It was a favorite hangout for newspaper reporters, Mike Royko for one, and stories and photos adorn the walls.
A true story (Wikipedia):
The Curse of the Billy Goat is a curse on the Chicago Cubs that was started in 1945. As the story goes, Billy Sianis, a Greek immigrant (from Paleopyrgos, Greece), who owned a nearby tavern (the now-famous Billy Goat Tavern), had two $7.20 box seat tickets to Game 4 of the 1945 World Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Detroit Tigers, and decided to bring along his pet goat, Murphy (or Sinovia according to some references), which Sianis had restored to health when the goat had fallen off a truck and subsequently limped into his tavern. The goat wore a blanket with a sign pinned to it which read "We got Detroit's goat". Sianis and the goat were allowed into Wrigley Field and even paraded about on the playing field before the game before ushers intervened and led them off the field. After a heated argument, both Sianis and the goat were permitted to stay in the stadium occupying the box seat for which he had tickets. At this point, Andy Frain (head of Wrigley Field's hired security company at the time), waved the goat's box-seat ticket in the air and proclaimed, "If he eats the ticket that would solve everything.". However, the goat did not. Before the game was over, Sianis and the goat were ejected from the stadium at the command of Cubs owner Philip Knight Wrigley due to the animal's objectionable odor. Sianis was outraged at the ejection and allegedly placed a curse upon the Cubs that they would never win another pennant or play in a World Series at Wrigley Field again because the Cubs organization had insulted his goat, and subsequently left the U.S. to vacation in his home in Greece.
The Cubs lost Game 4 and eventually the 1945 World Series, prompting Sianis to write to Wrigley from Greece, saying, "Who stinks now?" Following a third-place finish in the National League in 1946, the Cubs would finish in the league's second division for the next 20 consecutive years. This streak finally ended in 1967, the year after Leo Durocher became the club's manager. Since that time, the supposedly cursed Cubs have not won a National League pennant or played in a World Series – the longest pennant drought in Major League history. Sianis died in 1970.
I will write about the map exhibit tomorrow; this is just a slice of Chicago life.