home > this article
Chapter Thirty-Six of Keeping Score In America: Pat Hickey
By Michael Moriarty
I have a friend in Chicago named Pat Hickey.
He's really not as ugly as I thought he'd be!
He's a writer for the Chicago Daily Observer and reminds me a lot of my former home town of New York's Irish literati, Pete Hamill and Jimmy Breslin. I just looked both of them up and, by God, Breslin and Hamill are still alive?!
Perhaps, except for Yeats and Shaw, "Irish literati" could be a contradiction-in-terms.
However, George Bernard Shaw… or GBS as he's more fondly known by his idolaters… cannot possibly be my kind of Irish. He was just too much in love with British disdain, snobbery and his own, all-too self-consciously upper-class and fashion-setting bullshit… the hypocrisy of a total surrender, yea shamelessly consensual addiction to Socialism.
We, the "Snapper" eating corner of the Shamrock Isle, are a crudely tougher lot! We are the Mick, unavoidably angry… yet eloquent Pen-Pushers.
As for Hamill and Breslin, they are not that much older than myself but they are more Irish than I. Why? I spent too many foolish months in London following orders from Shavian snobs at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts.
Oh, well… many former acquaintances, not just Irish, are dropping like flies around me. Not just because I left the United States.
They're dying on us.
Symbolically and otherwise.
Given up the fight.
At any rate, my friend Pat keeps me posted on the goings-on, both good and bad, noble and otherwise, in the chaos of Chicago.
It's a pen-pals-man-ship that's been going on quite awhile between us and one of the few reliable mainstays of my reading life.
I never really did like to read.
Perhaps that's what made me a writer.
Misery loves company and having to proof-read my own scribbling provides it.
Both the company and the misery.
Pat makes such misery fun; although I keep telling him, for his private gazette, which he provides for his family, friends and fans, he needs a proof-reader. Because he thinks, writes and talks with such speed, his spelling is beyond appalling.
Pat Hickey's spelling is based on the language of another planet.
Right now he and I are keying up, in wildly different corners of the continent, for the St. Leo Basketball Game tonight. It's the beginning of The Playoffs!
Facebook, a miracle I've only recently surrendered to, has us burning up the keys in conversation.
I was trapped as a boy with the Jesuits in Detroit.
Pat's kinda trapped as an adult with Jesuits et Al in Chicago… but he doesn't consider it prison. He's, how shall I say this, a relatively devout Catholic. The more Irish fathers consider Pat's temper a part of his genius, whereas the "other" priests and College of Catholicism merely blush.
What that means is he doesn't lecture a lapsed helot like myself. Yet, at the same time, he doesn't give up trying to bring me back to "the Fold" with Rabelaisian zest.
He… well… he and I like to have a good time and we do… without giving the Priests, Cardinals and Bishops of Chicago too much heart-failure. Merely a few embarrassed gasps.
He's quick, ole Pat is.
He's merciless mercury.
And he's fun… without being unaware of all the nightmares around us for that's the meat feeding his best fun. He's beyond not suffering fools lightly. His victims remind me of Savonarola at the stake.
The nightmares of a lawless Chicago are actually the source of some of Pat's greatest metaphors. The titles he gives these all-too substantial demons of what that other radical Socialist, yea Communist, Bertolt Brecht described as The Jungle of Cities can be found in abundance here.
You won't regret it.
It's one of the best introductions to one of the greatest but most infamous capitals of the world: the All-Too-Toddlin' and Ever-Worldly Town of Chicago, Illinois.
Michael Moriarty is a Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning actor who starred in the landmark television series Law and Order from 1990 to 1994. His recent film and TV credits include The Yellow Wallpaper, 12 Hours to Live, Santa Baby and Deadly Skies. Contact Michael at email@example.com. He can be found on Twitter at https://twitter.com/@MGMoriarty.