March 2023


Like me, most alert readers (ARs) have probably heard of ChatGPT, an artificial intelligence (AI) tool that some college students are using to write papers.  Before any ARs even ask the question, I want to say for the record that every word in every column I’ve ever written has been my own.  I’ve never used ChatGPT for anything and have no intention of doing so.  As long as we’re on the subject, I should add that, unlike the 19-year old  grandmaster Hans Niemann, I have never used AI to cheat at chess nor been accused  of doing so.  I have also never sought romance or friendship through Replika or any other AI chatbot mobile app.

Clarence Rook is one of millions of writers who never used ChatGPT, primarily because he died in 1915, long before the age of apps.   While most ARs are probably not familiar with Rook’s work, they are assuredly familiar with the word “hooligan”, which he is often credited with popularizing.

In 1899 Rook published a book titled The Hooligan Nights  about a criminal named Patrick Hooligan, who in Rook’s words “walked to and fro among his fellow men, robbing and occasionally bashing them.” The character on whom Rook’s Hooligan was based was a London gang leader (possibly named Houlihan) known for muggings, street fights, vandalism and other criminal activity.  In 1904  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote in one of his Sherlock Holmes stories about “senseless acts of Hooliganism” with a capital H. Five years later H. G. Wells referred to “young men of the hooligan type,” using the term as a non-capitalized common noun.

Although “hooligan” was originally an anti-Irish slur, by the 1970s it had come to be associated with English football (soccer) fans who organized themselves into so-called “football firms” that followed their teams at both home and away games engaging in rowdy behavior.  Inspired by these English football firms, fans of St. Louis City S.C. formed The St. Louligans (,  a much more wholesome version of their counterparts across the pond.  I’m honored that The Louligans on their website invite their fans to “Party with us at Schlafly for St. Louis City Home Games” and  gather to watch Road Games on TV at The Schlafly Tap Room.

Ten years after the publication of The Hooligan Nights Rook wrote an article titled “The Art of Eating”, in which he derided “the animal instinct” of eating with one’s fingers. One wonders what he would have thought of our Stout & Oyster Festival on March 24 & 25, during which tens of thousands of oysters will be consumed by hand, many raw on the half shell and many in po-boy sandwiches. He probably  would have rightly considered our Irish Stout a Hooligan’s drink.

Rook is known to have visited St. Louis in 1904, during which time it’s safe to assume he was at The World’s Fair.  Given that he died 11 years later of locomotor ataxia, which is caused by syphilis,  one can easily wonder whether he contracted the disease in St. Louis. As recently as 30 years earlier prostitution had been legal in the city.  And even though the practice had since been outlawed, it’s safe to assume that sex workers were among the millions of people who came to St. Louis from all over the world.  Why wouldn’t Rook have availed himself of their services?

In 1872, while prostitution was still legal, the so-called “Social Evil Hospital” opened on Arsenal Street on the site where Sublette Park is now located. It was a separate hospital for “fallen women” who became overly friendly with male patients when they were housed in a coed facility.  While its original mission had been treating unwed mothers and patients with STDs, by the time Crook came to St. Louis it had evolved into a hospital for women patients generally. In other words, even if Clarence Rook did contract syphilis while visiting The World’s Fair, he would not have been treated for it at this hospital.

More than a century after the demolition of The Social Evil Hospital, St. Louis has been called The STD Capital of the United States.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2019 the City of St. Louis had more cases per capita of chlamydia and gonorrhea than any other American city.  This raises the question: Will Replika and other forms of AI soon become so realistic that they could actually transmit STDs? Will AI computer viruses be both literal and figurative?





Tom Schlafly
Chairman – The Saint Louis Brewery