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The [Friday] Papers

I don't think there's much debate that Mike Royko's Boss is still the ultimate primer on Chicago politics and perhaps the greatest piece of non-fiction produced in the state of Illinois.

But what about the Great Illinois Novel? That's where you'll get a debate that will go on for days without conclusion.

I was recently asked to pick the state's all-time best novel by Marshal Zeringue of The Campaign for the American Reader.

See for yourself how I did.

Tell me why I'm wrong and make - and defend - your own pick in our Beachwood Books forum.

Heckuva Job, Jehovah!
Maybe we should turn FEMA (and the O'Hare expansion project) over to the Jehovah's Witnesses. That's all I can conclude after reading the piece by Jake Austen (Chic-A-Go-Go! and Roctober) in the current issue of I.D. magazine about the Jehovah Witnesses' famous quick-builds. The story isn't available online but I.D. is always worth the price of a subscription and almost always worth the price on the newsstand.

Burke Watch
Retiring state supreme court judge Mary Ann McMorrow continues to inspire. In this piece by the Chicago Reader's Michael Miner, she declines an interview request. It's not like the salary we've paid her for her years of service or the pension we'll continue to pay her as she travels the world in retirement or the decisions by her pal and secretly-named replacement Anne Burke we'll live under for years as force of law entitles us to an explanation or anything.

Daley Watch
Believe it or not, the bidding for the lucrative news and gift shop concessions at O'Hare airport may not be on the level. One would-be vendor tells Fran Spielman of the Chicago Sun-Times that the new bid specifications seem to have been written in such a way to ensure that the clout-heavy joint venture between Hudson News and JRE Enterprises gets to stay on the job. "It's a done deal," Spielman is told. "They won't get any [competing] proposals. One company can win: The incumbent. It stinks so bad, it's unbelievable."

But then, why should our contracts be any different than our elections?

Like A Dream
If you still read the print edition of the Chicago Tribune, perhaps out of nostalgia, who knows, you'll find an artful photo of Eleventh Dream Day's Rick Rizzo at the microphone by Wes Pope on page two of Tempo. It doesn't say so in the paper, but you can go online to see and hear an audio slideshow by Pope and Tribune rock critic Greg Kot, who rightly calls Eleventh Dream Day "as good as any band produced by Chicago in the last two decades." Their new record is due out April 25 on Thrill Jockey.

Odds and Ends
Why do they call it mumps? The Sun-Times's Lori Rackl has the answer.

Google has yet another amazing innovation.

The definition of the day is apropos at And while you're there, check out their definition of high school. has gotten even better with an assist from the Chicago Journal.

Wouldn't like to be married to, work for, or even be friends with this woman.

If the Tribune were smart (oh, how many times have we wished it were so . . . ) it would put Tales From the Front on the cover of Tempo and leave it there, and give Cheryl Lavin Ask Amy's promotional budget.

Let's find the downside in this, because we know there is one. And again, all that money spent improving Midway . . . could have gone to shutting it down and redeveloping the neighborhood while building Peotone, no?

Will we have to read Sneed pimping her pal Judy every day now until November - and then twice a day if she wins or just every other day if she loses?

Reinsdorf takes on Mariotti (second letter) again.

UPDATE 2:42 p.m.: Eric Zorn doesn't like "blind linking," as I've done in some items above - that is, providing a link without spelling out exactly what and where you are linking to. See Zorn's post about it here, including comments. My reply to Zorn is as follows:

"Blind links. done right, are part and parcel of the way narrative works on the Internet. The example EZ uses to begin [his post] is a great example of the wrong way to blind link We have no idea what he's talking about. But if I use a link, as I did today, that says 'There is no way I would want to marry, work for, or even be friends with this woman,' and you click the link on 'this woman' to the story about the person with the amazing memory who literally remembers every detail of every day, then you've accomplished a small but satisfying comment/joke while providing something interesting for readers.

"Sometimes, as John Scalzi says, the linked story is the punch line. Other times it allows you to comment on the linked story in a sly way. Other times you can seduce the reader into a story in a way you might not otherwise be able to.

"I used a lot of blind links today in my column today and by doing so I was able to send readers to Steve Johnson's Trib piece on a presumably new Google innovation without giving the game away, for example. It's better than saying, Hey, 'Steve Johnson wrote a clever piece today on a fake new Google innovation that would search your wallet.' I think I do other writers like Johnson a favor by instead ensuring (in my view) that more readers actually go read his piece, rather than just read my summary.

"If you aren't sufficiently intrigued to click on a blind link, the writer/blogger hasn't done his/her job, or you just don't care about the subject matter. So what.

"This is the Internet. Links aren't strictly for background or footnotes. That's traditional print thinking. Links, like music videos and text messaging, are part of a new level of narrative that, I think, engages the reader."

Tribune Critics Update/Clarification
These two paragraphs appeared in yesterday's column about the white-maleness of the Tribune's arts critics:

"At that time [August 2004], Mary Elson, who was then associate managing editor for features, told Miner that an ad the paper posted on resulted in a 'tidal wave . . . hundreds of responses . . . a pool of really, really spectacular people.'

"None of them, apparently, a spectacular woman (or non-white), though the Tribune's moves this week also smell a bit budget-constrained--all in-house maneuvering.'"

Just to be clear, my comment following Elson's quote was in no way directed at her. A trustworthy source tells me that "Nobody worked harder to bring minorities and women into this building than Mary Elson."

My comment was directed at the Tribune as an institution, though I think we can safely target the higher-ups in the paper's chain-of-command for apparently not being as enthused about the hiring pool as Elson. The Tribune seems able to attract many of the best and brightest women and minority journalists in America. Apparently actually hiring them is a different matter.

Note from Beachwood HQ
You may not have noticed but I feel compelled to acknowledge a relatively sparse number of new offerings on the site this week. It's for your own good - it's a reflection of my focus this week on the unfortunately necessary business end of this venture, not a dropoff in quality content. In fact, I've got quality content stacked up my butt, so apologies to those writers who haven't seen their pieces see the light of day yet, and apologies to readers expecting a bit more from the Beachwood. I hope to dish out the editorial you've so quickly come to know and love more generously next week.

But if you haven't done so yet, or even if you have, please read Head of the Humpback, by our very own Timothy Inklebarger. This piece is quickly making its way around the Web. Be a part of it.

And you can see even more photos here.

Tell your friends. But tell them to stop by our site first.

Speaking of which . . . we've had more than 4,000 unique users in April so far, double our number in March, when we launched. But we need more. Help us extend that number even further so we can make this site viable and further execute our vision as the kind of Chicago Website that only begins to bring you a beheaded humpback, Taxi Cab Journal, and Metromixology on the same section front.

The Beachwood Tip Line: Now accepting text messages.


Posted on April 14, 2006

MUSIC - Spring Awakening Wake-Up Call!
TV - Exclusive! Rahm's New TV Gig.
POLITICS - The Political Odds UPDATED.
SPORTS - NHL: CTE Not Our Fault.

BOOKS - Stan Lee, Flawed Hero.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Chicagoetry: I Am Iron Man.

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