Saturday, November 15, 2008

The prospect of a Maine South-Mt. Carmel matchup...

...reminds me of a one-man play I once saw called "Goin' East on Ashland." It starred a guy named Mike Houlihan who grew up in Beverly and went to Mt. Carmel. Since Ashland is a north-south street in Chicago, the title makes no sense at first. But in South Side bars like Cork & Kerry or Ryan's Daughter, the phrase "You're goin' East on Ashland" was usually the last thing an overserved and ill-behaved patron heard as he was thrown back out on Western Avenue.

At one point, Houlihan tried to convey to his yuppy Lincoln Park audience what Mt. Carmel was like and what it meant to be a Carmel Guy. The Mt. Carmel that Houlihan attended in the sixties was an all-male, urban, Catholic school. It was filled with jocks and other He-Man types whose fathers were cops, firefighters, and other city workers. They didn't wear ties to work or sit at desks pushing pieces of paper around like the fathers at places like Brother Rice. They lived in the city, not in suburbs with names like Oak Lawn or Evergreen Park, and turned out every four years to vote for Hizzoner, Richard J. Daley, da Mare.

And Carmel Guys grew up to be Real Men, who saw the universe in strict terms of Black and White, not in any pesky shades of gray. Take Dick Butkus for example, who actually went to CVS. Typical Carmel Guy. Mike Ditka, who grew up in Pennsylvania? Carmel Guy. Ronald Reagan? Definitely a Carmel Guy. Senator Paul Simon, of the owlish horn-rimmed glasses and signature bow-tie? Definitely not a Carmel Guy!

Contrast this image with Maine South: North Side, suburban, and the alma mater of Hillary Clinton, feminist and wife of a draft-dodger who once worked for George McGovern! Even though she famously downed a shot of Crown Royal at Bronko's Restaurant while campaigning in Indiana, she could never be considered a Carmel Guy.

Now the last time these two teams met, the Caravan beat the Hawks, 21-14. Anything else just wouldn't have made sense to a Carmel Guy. This year they could meet in the finals. Stay tuned.

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