Saturday, November 21, 2009

Let Me Tell You About Mike Royko

By Rich Kozlovich

I intend to have some kind of weekly update on the world of bedbugs and the torment they are causing. There is a large contingent of “experts” who have been spewing out absolute nonsense when they should know better. I intend to outline what is wrong with their views, I intend to embarrass them.

What really disturbs me about all of this is that it appears we have entirely too many pest control professionals, (we used to be exterminators, but now we are pest control professionals) who have lost sight of reality when it comes to bedbugs. I still really want to exterminate them…I know, I know….I have attitude. After all, what constitutes that which is professional is in the service and the outcome. Isn’t it?

Mike Royko, the great columnist for the Chicago Tribune, once wrote about our industry saying, “I preferred exterminators because that was specific. Pest control could mean anything from a school teacher to a tavern bouncer.” I wonder what he would have thought about Pest Management Professionals or Entomological Consultants, or Environmental Specialists. I bet he could have had a field day with Integrated Pest Management, Green Pest Control and all these Green Shields. He wasn’t impressed with anyone’s image of professionalism unless they “kilt” the bugs; everything else followed.

Royko was “the voice of the Everyman Chicago. Although caustically sarcastic, he never condescended to his readers, considering himself one of the people and maintaining a healthy skepticism about elites of all kinds.”
“We could use more Roykos now. His columns are prophetic. In the book's foreword, Studs Terkel, also of Chicago, also of the people, writes that it was "the real" that Royko searched out typically from the perspective of "somebody up against it."

“Royko saw America become laminated; its politicians phony, its values spiffed up and over-starched, its social discourse spooked by political correctness. It gnawed at him from his first column on.“

“He cared about privilege, street-level fairness and hypocrisy.” Royko got more difficult , more caustic, and more insensitive as the years went by (although I think it was society that changed…Royko was always Royko, just older, crabbier and tired of being “nice”…that last part was a joke by the way) “because of the superficial glitz of contemporary society. The ballplayers were in it for the money, the baby boomers were in it for the self-indulgence, and the politicians were in it for the polls. Whatever happened to the people behind the polls--to Royko's people?”

I didn’t always agree with him, but I really miss Royko! He understood what everyday people were suffering and had a way of cutting right past the smoke screen of nonsense spewed out by those who are prominent and right into the fire. Have we lost sight of it? Are we capable of seeing past the claptrap that has become a substitute for accomplishment? I can tell you that exterminators haven’t, although I am not so sure about Pest Management Professionals!

Efficacious chemistry in everyone’s hands was the answer in 1946 and it will have to be the answer once again in 2010 or there will be no answer. That is the historical lesson. People are fond of saying that “history repeats itself”. As someone once said; that is a falsehood, history doesn’t repeat itself; people just fail to grasp the lessons of history.

At my age people like for things to go smoothly in their lives; well life is becoming very complicated for me. My own fault too! But at least I haven’t forgotten that I am an exterminator and that is what I will continue to be. I just hope that I never desire “smooth” so much that I forget Royko’s people.

Quotes from Wikipedia and an article by JACK C. DOPPELT, a professor at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.



  1. I see many blog comments and commentaries about Dad, almost daily (thank you Google Alerts!), and I very rarely comment on them, but I really enjoyed yours. I think Dad would have too. Thanks, and keep on exterminatin'!
    Dave Royko

  2. Dave,

    Thank you. Your dad was the last of a breed. There were Royko look alikes, but there was only one Mike Royko. He is missed!

    Rich Kozlovich

  3. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment.You have a great blog.Pest Control Services NJ,practices in Integrated Pest Management(IPM) and our service approach always reflects that.We follow the environmentally sensitive approach.

  4. Debugit,

    I took a look at your web site. You have an impressive site, except I find the print is too small. At my age I need larger print and I wondered if that might be a problem for many of your potential customers. The baby boomer generation has an official start of June of 1946, which means that they are now 63, and they are just the beginning of that group. It might be difficult for them to read the information you have presented and that number will grow. Just a thought!

    Best wishes,

    Rich K.