I currently write a column each Tuesday for the DeKalb
Daily Chronicle. The column will also appear on this website
each week and be added to the archives.
The Articles started December 2007.
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Schrader: A big fan of Kassisms
By Barry Schrader.................................August
In DeKalb County we hear sayings like Welcome to the
Barb City," Knee high by the Fourth of July
and corn as high as an elephants eye
taken from 'Oklahoma,' I know) but if you read the Chicago press
you may hear terms like The Chicago Way and State
I recently got to meet the
man who coined his own terms of endearment for the politicians
who run Cook County and the state of Illinois, much to their
chagrin. His name is John Kass, he writes a political column
for the Chicago Tribune and he held a barbecue recently for which
I happened to obtain a ticket.
like myself have their favorites in the field mine used
to be Mike Royko of the Daily News and later the Trib and Herb
Caen of the San Francisco Chronicle. Sadly, both of those great
penmen have died, but others have arisen to take their places
on the pages of their respective papers. I also had great respect
for the late John Callaway, whose insightful interviews were
aired on WTTW in Chicago for many years.
have to admit to now being a fan of Kass, despite the fact that
we live and write in two different worlds.
was born the son of a Greek immigrant grocer on Chicagos
south side. I was born the son of a farmer in Corn Country,
aka DeKalb. I was nurtured in a bucolic environment and grew
up in the country near the gently flowing Kishwaukee
River. Kass witnessed his father being harassed by city meat
inspectors who came into the store and loaded up with sacks of
steaks, just so his father could stay in business.
Newspaper columnist John Kass tells dinner guests how
to prepare Beer Can Chicken.
He also witnessed life in the rough and tough neighborhoods where
the presence of mob figures and ward bosses were part of everyday
life. So I imagine we have a different outlook on things, ingrained
from childhood experiences that left indelible impressions on
So I have to admire his attitude
when he said in a recent TV interview that I do this because
I love this city and this state ... and want good government.
He has a way of cutting to the quick, so to speak,
as his column is full of Kassisms and nicknames for
myriad political and mob-connected characters who abound in his
city and all the way down to Springfield, where the tentacles
of The Chicago Way seem to stretch.
name a few Kassisms: Gov. Dead Meat (Blagojevich), Mayor Shortshanks
(Richard M. Daley), Roland Tombstone Burris (our
new senator who has the biggest mausoleum in the cemetery with
boastful inscriptions on it), and Feditis (politicians
loss of memory about past misdeeds when being questioned by federal
prosecutors). Then there is what he calls The Combine,
a powerful coalition of Democrats and Republicans who work together
to raise money for their mutual friends (like Rezko and company)
to keep themselves in power and line their own pockets. A couple
more of my favorite terms of his are Chumbolones
and Hopium. The first is what citizens of Chicago
(and Illinois) are when they let the politicians get away with
all they do, and the second seems to be what people smoke so
they dont see whats happening in Illinois politics.
Or something like that. Ill have to ask our two local elected
leaders Farmer Bob Pritchard and Brad The Voice
Burzynski if I have this all straight. Im sure they read
and relish Kass every word.
back to the BBQ held at the McCormick estate, Cantigny, in Wheaton.
Kass introduced us to "Beer Can Chicken" on the grill.
I had never heard of his recipe but it really is tasty. I wont
list all the details, but you take a chicken and, after applying
an appropriate seasoning rub, open a can of beer, take a sip
or two to empty it halfway, insert it into the chicken's body
cavity, then stand the bird and can upright on the grill so the
liquid bubbles up inside as it cooks for an hour or so. Then,
voila, you have a tender and juicy meal. If you want the recipe,
check out his Web site, not mine. I only know how to scramble
eggs and whip up a batch of flapjacks on rare occasions at our
house. Thats one reason why I married a farm girl!
The columnist can be reached via email at :
or by snailmail at:
PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115