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The [Friday] Papers

Lots to catch up with today, from the indictment of Fast Eddie Vrdolyak to the total humiliation of possibly the nation's worst governor (ours) to why the Brewers are better than the Cubs. And of course, this column wouldn't be complete without another Olympic lie told by the mayor and, truly, most important of all, his continued evasion of questions about police torture he appears to have known about all along.

1. The Tribune lays it out quite nicely on its front page.

"Edward R. Vrdolyak was given the name 'Fast Eddie' for his wheeling and dealing in politics and real estate, but it also described his ability to stay ahead of the packs of investigators and regulators who so frequently poked their noses into his business.

"On Thursday, the U.S. attorney announced that the former City Hall powerhouse now shared a distinction with other legendary Chicago politicians: a federal indictment.

"Though long and legally complicated, the indictment ultimately describes a simple local act - Vrdolyak allegedly got a contract where the fix was in, agreeing to kick back a taste to the connected official who steered the deal his way."

I'm not sure it could be said any better.

2. "Fast Eddie has been on the edge for so long that I figured he'd take up space in the trunk of a car before he'd ever take up space in federal court," John Kass writes in the day's must-read commentary. "I always thought he was too smart to get caught, too quick, too fast. But it looks like they finally got him."

3. The governor lost a vote on his signature gross receipts tax proposal yesterday 107-0. I didn't see it in any of the reports I saw this morning, but has that ever happened before? A complete shutout?

Seeing the disaster coming, the governor actually asked legislators to vote against his plan so, you know, discussion of the proposal could continue. Don't pass it just yet, I'm not done talking!

Of course, that was the governor's pathetic attempt to spin resounding defeat into political victory.

Worst governor in the country?

3. Seven House members voted present. So the governor is right when he says it could have been worse.

4. The Christian Right might determine the next American Idol.

5. "This week, Paula called Blake a 'contemporary rebel' for the way he beatboxed to Bee Gees songs in fasletto," the Sun-Times's Doug Elfman goes on to say. "That would have made him a rebel in 1983, maybe. Also a dork."

6. "I don't like the locker-room culture, don't respect it," Sun-Times sportswriter Greg Couch wrote this week. "In pro sports, you see 25-, 30-, 35-year-olds still leading their lives as the cool kids in high school.

"It's anti-woman, anti-nerd, anti-IQ. I was in the White Sox' clubhouse last year when Sergio Garcia was on TV in a yellow golf outfit, and the players watching were joking about his masculinity. In the words of Beavis and Butt-head, 'Heh, heh. Heh, heh.'"

7. "Former New York Mets manager Steve Phillips told Dan Patrick on ESPN Radio that he remembered players drinking after games to help themselves come down off the amphetamine high," Couch writes.

The Trib's Phil Rogers wrote recently that some athletes smoke pot after games to help them sleep.

Not to get all Breakfast Club on you, but maybe jocks have more in common with the burnouts than is typically recognized. Not to give burnouts a bad name . . . and lay off my pals Beavis and Butt-head, Couch! I love those guys.

8. The Sun-Times's Chris DeLuca notes that ballplayers no longer stick around after the game for a few beers and baseball talk. That's what was so great about guys like Mark Grace and Rod Beck. It was an indication that they loved being at the ballpark; it wasn't just a job. And camraderie was valued.

Same thing in the newspaper world, as has been lamented for years. You loved your job so much you didn't want to be anywhere else. Now it's a rush to the Metra.

Why?

Is it just changing attitudes toward alcohol? Or something more - corporatization, big money, lifestyle changes?

I agree that alcohol in a clubhouse can be a problem, and there's nothing romantic about drunken sots editing your copy, but I'd also like to live in a world where ballplayers - and newspaper reporters - talk shop after work over a few beers. And preferably not at the god-awful Billy Goat. A real newspaper bar has real people in it, not pretenders and tourists, not to mention a kick-ass jukebox. I think you know what I'm getting at.

9. Why did Luis Gutierrez endorse Mayor Daley? In exchange for a promise Daley didn't keep, Ben Joravsky reports.

10. "Many users see the plans to bring the Olympics to Washington Park as a proxy for a larger strategy: pack 'em up and move 'em out," Joravsky reports in this week's Reader.

Oh come on! That sort of thing doesn't happen around here - and before everyone's eyes.

11. When the cicadas come, don't reach for the bug spray. It won't do any good.

12. Why aren't these questions published on the front page of the Chicago dailies every single day? The same questions. Over and over. Unless or until the mayor responds. That's newspapering.

13. "While our fuel standards haven't moved from 27.5 miles per gallon in two decades, China and Japan have surpassed us, with Japanese cars now getting an average of 45 miles to the gallon," Barack Obama said in a speech this week to the U.S. auto industry.

"I'm not sure where he got that figure," a Toyota spokesman told the Tribune's Jim Mateja. "No carmaker gets 45 mpg. Ours is closer to 30 mpg."

Writes Mateja: "If elected president, perhaps Obama's first appointment should be a fact-checker."

Well, it's not like it's a pattern or anything.

14. I'm not impressed with the ability of Conrad Black's lawyer to show that David Radler is a liar with a poor memory. First, any defenses that relies on the theory that the star witness is lying in exchange for a plea deal is relying on a theory of last resort that almost never works. Second, while succeeding in making Radler (and Jim Thompson) look like idiots, a jury is more likely to conclude they were all in it together, rather than concluding that incompetent colleagues are to blame for the defendant's actions.

15. Couch again (hey, he's good):

"[The Brewers] built a team using something the Cubs have never had: A plan.

"This is a homegrown team. Turns out, you can draft players, develop them and have them succeed in the majors. Who knew?"

16. "Red Line Trains To Reroute."

Will become Pink Line. Pink Line will become Blue, Blue Line will become Brown. Orange Line will run in reverse.

The Beachwood Tip Line: Stay for a beer.



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Posted on May 11, 2007


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BOOKS - America, We Need To Talk.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Beachwood Photo Booth: Wyoming, Michigan.


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