April 12, 2013
Whenever ethnic profiling raises its ugly head, you can usually count on a great newspaper to express its outrage.
Unless the head once belonged to a goat, and said head was sent to Wrigley Field in care of Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts.
Then the "mainstream media" just start singing nah, nah, hey, hey, goodbye to their institutional animosity toward profiling.
"John, do you know anything about this goat head thing?" accused a guy at the Tribune.
Why? Because I'm Greek?
"Heh-heh, no, of course not," said the guy, a bit too quickly. "But do you know anything about it?"
He looked at me like a cop, or well, like an editor, as if I were a "person of interest."
"Well, you eat goats, you were a butcher, you're a White Sox fan and you hate the Cubs," said the guy.
He didn't have to say the other part: That I make one heckuva Greek Goat Soup.
If the Cubs really cared about their fans, they would sell the delicious healthy broth over rice to their devoted fans. I once made a video on the subject.
But I didn't do the head thing. I swear. My brothers are Cubs fans. And there's no way I'd send a raw goat head — skinned or unskinned — to Tom Ricketts and the Cubs.
That would be the act of a drooling barbarian.
I'd cook it first.
Then I'd set it on a bed of parsley, and wrap the whole thing in a Cubs jersey, perhaps the No. 49 worn by their $9 million-a-year relief pitcher Carlos Marmol, who tends to give up lots of runs in the ninth inning.
And before cooking the head, I'd season it with garlic, lemon, oregano, salt and pepper. Then I'd send along a little paring knife, so Mr. Ricketts could carve out the delicious and tender cheek meat.
The Great Goat Head Caper is a case that has terrified and outraged the gentle sensibilities of Cubs fans everywhere. Cubs players, too, were disgusted. Even Mayor Rahm Emanuel was enraged.
"There's nothing else to say. It speaks for itself, it's wrong to do," Emanuel curtly told reporters.
Wrong to do? Mayor Rahmfather? Was it wrong for you to have once sent a dead fish to a political enemy? That's even worse than sending a goat head.
"I did call Tom (Ricketts) last night, and said obviously the police need to do something, we'll be on it," said the Rahmfather.
Forget the murder rate, boys! Just get me the goat head guy and I'll make you lieutenant!
So a raw goat head is sent to Wrigley and immediately the Americani editors think a Greek did it. Even an editor of Greek descent spread a terrible rumor that I might be the person of interest. Not.
Spaniards love goat meat, as do Mexicans, Portuguese, Jamaicans, Persians, Bedouins, Turks, Italians, Sardinians, Serbians, Croatians, Albanians. Almost everyone, that is, except the Cubs.
"They probably say it's Greeks because of the curse," sighed my friend, Sam Sianis, proprietor of the Billy Goat Tavern empire.
His uncle, Billy Sianis, put a curse on the Cubs in 1945 after they denied his goat Murphy the right to enter Wrigley. And the goat had a ticket.
"I love goats," said Sam, who has repeatedly taken his goat to Wrigley in the hopes of removing the curse. "The goat is a smart animal. And clean."
Have the detectives talked to you yet?
"No, are they coming over?" asked Sam. "I don't care what they say, to send a goat head is a terrible thing. I never will bring a dead goat to Wrigley. Never.
"Only a live goat. The fans love the living goat. And a live goat can talk to the people. You know what it says? It says, 'Maaaa.'"
I didn't want to tell Sam this, but if you listen carefully, goats don't say "Maaa."
They say, "Maaa-rmol … Maaa-r-mol … Maaa-rmol." All true Cubs fans know this.
Then we began telling our favorite goat stories. Sam's son Bill told one about a family vacation to his father's village of Paleopyrgo.
"One summer my brother Tom and I were about 6 and 7 then," said Bill, "and we didn't want to leave the village and go to our uncle's house in Athens. So the family said, you can take a baby goat as a pet if you can catch one."
Bill and Tom scampered up the mountain and found a herd of a couple hundred young goats. After hours of chasing, they grabbed one by a leg.
"We brought it to our uncle's house and kept it in the backyard like a pet," said Bill. "We'd go out and pet it. The next summer, when we visited, we asked, 'Where's our pet goat?' My uncle just said, 'It ran away.'"
A similar disappearance happened to my mother's pet goat in Guelph, Ontario. That pet was named Flicka. It was like a dog. She and my uncles ran and played with Flicka on the farm, and the gentle, tender Flicka grew and grew.
One fall afternoon, my grandfather gave each of them a quarter — a fortune in the Depression — to attend a football game and have snacks. Hours later they came home for dinner.
It was a delicious roast served with orzo baked in the meat juices and tomato. Afterward, my mom looked outside and noticed something was gone:
Flicka? Where's Flicka?
"Shh," said my grandmother. "Shhh."
True Cubs fans who remember manager Leo "The Lip" Durocher know it already.
Nice goats finish last.
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