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The [Friday] Papers

By Steve Rhodes

1. Is Chicago The Most Ironic City Ever?

2. Rick Kaempfer writes:

"Got a ticket last night. $50 freaking dollars. And I was there only two minutes after the meter expired. Meter expired 9:18. Ticket written 9:19. Rick gets back to his car 9:20."

I wonder if you can get screwed for $25 a minute on Craigslist.

3. The Reader's story about Bucky Badger did not disappoint. This is the part that really caught my eye, though.

The Buckys take seriously their role as ambassadors for the university. They speak with awe of football coach-turned-athletic director Barry Alvarez despite his apparent antipathy to the mascot. "They feel they deserve more respect," [filmmaker John] Fromstein says. "They feel slighted. We pushed a couple people [in the athletic department] on this and they were pretty defensive," reluctant to acknowledge that a problem existed. Being Bucky addresses that tension between the mascot's duty to be goofy and Alvarez's all-business approach. "Bucky's for the fans," Alvarez says in the film. "He's not for the team."

"Fromstein wonders whether Alvarez is neglecting part of what makes UW unique. 'Barry would say, 'We're just worried about football.' His mindset is winning games. But there's more to it than that." Back before Alvarez turned the team around and started winning, Wisconsin fans "created all these fun things to pass the time," Fromstein says - their "Jump Around" ritual (bouncing to House of Pain's "Jump Around") after the third quarter, their slow-then-fast take on the wave, and "fifth quarter" polka dancing on the field. "They're the best school at creating that environment," Fromstein says. "And Bucky is the personification of that."

The fan rituals are what makes Wisconsin football games so much fun. The Fifth Quarter is legendary. It's not always about winning and it's not always about the athletes. Wisconsin football has always shared something with the pre-gentrified Cubs in that way. it wasn't that the fans didn't want the team to win, but that the they were just as much a part of the experience as the team was - maybe even more. But that the experience of going to a major league (outdoor, daytime) baseball game and the experience of going to a college football game were paramount.


In some ways, Grateful Dead shows were like that too; maybe hanging out at the Beachwood Inn also has a slice of that element. It's authentic, romantic, and about community. It's about the things marketers crave but can't invent, and what newspapers have been missing for a long time and don't seem to be able to get back.


The Sun-Times could have it if it truly was the scrappy underdog it likes to think it is, but it's never really been that. Not when it's best work is overshadowed by ridiculous amatuerism and gobs of cheese.


When I was working at the Lakeland, Florida Ledger in my first newspaper job after college, I landed on the police beat after six months in a bureau writing Sunday stories. I went to the Polk County Jail every day as part of my beat rounds to see who had been booked in the last 24 hours.

The Ledger was an aggressive paper that liked to make use of Florida's model sunshine laws. It liked to dig, though its resources were sparse.

One day at the jail a civilian in the waiting room saw me looking through the day's reports and said to me, "You guys really like to go after it, don't you!"

That's the way you want readers thinking about your publication. And you can't fake it, or manufacture it with a marketing campaign about "attitude." You have to be it.

Like Bucky.

4. Our man on the rail, Thomas Chambers, has the lowdown on how the boys tried to keep the girl out of the Preakness.

5. Please welcome new Weather Channel correspondent David Hall to these pages. He's really into weather.

6. What's on Rob Miller's jukebox? That's what we wanted to know.

7. SUVs Stimulate Cops.

8. Is Madigan The Man Behind Stroger?

9. I'm glad it's the Red Wings. Old-time hockey.

10. Chicago E-Cigs:


The Beachwood Tip Line: Embedded.


Posted on May 15, 2009

MUSIC - Millions Of New Guitar Players.
TV - "One America News" is AT&T.
POLITICS - When Wall Street Came To My Mobile Home Park.
SPORTS - Tonyball, Bears On The Run, Eyes On The Sky & More!

BOOKS - China Holding Swedish Publisher.


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