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The [Monday] Papers

The papers today are refreshingly absent of George Ryan juror news. Hey, even I could use a break.

But if you want to catch up on the weekend's developments, please see The [Sunday] Papers and find out why I think judge Rebecca Pallmeyer seems naive, and why jury foreperson Sonja Chambers seems unbelievable in her varied explanations of why she didn't answer truthfully on her jury questionnaire when it came to past legal entanglements.

And while you're in our Papers archive, check out our Weekend Desk Reports, brought to you every, um, weekend by the fabulous Natasha Julius. If you've been missing them, they're worth going back to.

Now on to The [Monday] Papers and some left over non-Ryan newsbits from the weekend.

Lost Landmark
A promo with a refreshingly strong come-on for an inside story is stripped across the top of the Chicago Tribune's front page today: "Just Deserts For Revamped Soldier Field: Architecture Critic Blair Kamin On The Lies And Liars That Cost The Landmark Its Status."

And Kamin delivers, ferociously.

"And so, the Big Lie about Soldier Field is finally and officially exposed," Kamin begins, and it just gets better from there, as Kamin skewers Mayor Richard M. Daley and the Soldier Field rehab team who insisted that their renovation was designed to save "one of Chicago's great landmarks."

A landmark that, officially, is no more.

Or Maybe It's Blair's Bungle
A news story on Saturday first reporting the news about Soldier Field contained this nugget: "Ben Wood, one of the lead architects on the renovation that was completed in 2003, blamed the media, especially Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin, saying a barrage of unfavorable commentary influenced the federal decision."

He has a point. It's only because of Blair Kamin's nitpicking that anyone noticed the changes.

- Tim Willette

[Editor's Note: Shouldn't that Tribune headline be Just Desserts?]

[UPDATE 2:34 P.M: The answer is No! The Tribune got it right, according to an Eric Zorn column from 1994. The column isn't linkable, but in it Zorn says: "The proper spelling, when one wishes to express that an outcome is particularly apt and fair, is 'just deserts.' One s.

"A little research in the dictionary (one of which I do already own) reveals three distinct meanings for a word spelled 'desert.' The first is 'barren landscape' and is pronounced DEZ-ert. As in, 'I lost my camel in the desert.'

"This meaning traces back to the Latin verb 'deserere,' to abandon. This is the same root of the second meaning of 'desert,' 'to leave in the lurch.' Pronounce it deh-ZERT when you say, 'Don't desert me next time, you faithless camel.'

"The third meaning . . . is 'a fitting reward; that which is deserved.' We also pronounce this word as deh-ZERT, but its Latin root is 'servire,' to serve. The prefix, 'de,' acts as an intensifier, so the sense of the word is of a thing that is properly served. Think of the far more common word, 'deserve.'"]

[MORE IMPORTANTLY: Zorn has culled relevant excerpts from the Sonja Chambers transcript in his new post "The Forewoman Vs. The Coffee Shop Owner: Who's Telling The Truth?"]

Demerit Pay
State legislators are in line for a 13 percent pay raise.

Because folks like Jim Durkin are working so hard on our behalf.

Impeaching the Press
The Sun-Times's Tracy Swartz leads a story today about a few state legislators trying to whip up an effort to impeach President Bush this way: "Leave it to the Democratic-controlled state Legislature to find an obscure way to attempt to oust President Bush."

Which is obviously worse than a Republican Congress impeaching a president on obscure grounds.

"This is absolutely ridiculous," John McGovern, spokesman for U.S. Speaker of the House and Illinois congressman Dennis Hastert, told the paper.

Because it takes a lot more than lying us into a war to get Hastert to support an impeachment.

Straight Talk Express
At least we have a president who believes in straight talk. Not like Bill Clinton, who dared to suggest that it really does depend on what the definition of "is" is. For example, if you asked me if there is something salacious going on with my intern, I would say no. But if you asked me if there ever was something salacious going on with my intern, that would be a different question, right?

So what was so wrong with what Clinton said?

Aren't Bush's lawyerly answers about how he has the authority to ignore our eavesdropping laws because they are old and inconvenient far worse? Just for starters?

Yet, it's still Bill Clinton - whom I never voted for - who still gets the brunt of it even in stories about Richard M. Daley and the city clerk's office.

Art Abstraction
The Sun-Times editorial page today supports the Art Institute's decision to make its voluntary $12 entrance fee mandatory (second item in the link).

"[W]atching a decline in attendance, the Art Institute wisely realized it could no longer use the voluntary arrangement."

So, when attendance is in decline you raise the price of admission?

That's almost like raising the price of the newspaper to fight off declining circulation.

Duckworth's Worth
Lynn Sweet reports today that Sixth District Democratic congressional candidate Tammy Duckworth has only about a dozen donors from inside the district, where the voters, unlike her and her major backers, actually live.

New Media Madness
In his magazine roundup today, Jim Warren, the Tribune's deputy managing editor for features recommends an Economist survey of new media. "It's somber about newspapers' fate," Warren writes, "repeating one study's worry about 'the decline of full-time, professional monitoring of powerful institutions.'"

Is that the same decline that started with the newspaper industry itself consolidating until there were monopoly papers in virtually every American city?

Or the decline that somehow hampered the ability of the full-time professional monitors to, oh, get it right in the country's most crucial hour - the run-up to a war?

Or is just that the monitors don't like being monitored?

The professional monitors over at the Sun-Times gave over the top half of its front page on Sunday to advertising its White Sox "mini-baseballs" promotion, including prominent mention of participating retailers Walgreens, 7-Eleven, White Hen, and Speedway. Then it published a page three "news" story by staff reporter Shamus Toomey about the promotion. Another "news" story appears on page three today.

The paper did the same thing a few years ago with Bears medallions. I asked then-editor Michael Cooke about it back then and instead of just saying, "Yeah, we did it because we're the Sun-Times and we'll do anything for a buck," he tried to convince me that "This is a big story in Chicago!"

Cooke, who went on to preside over a short and unsuccessful stint editing the Daily News in New York before slinking back to Chicago, is back in the Hollinger fold working mostly on coordinating the company's suburban papers.

There's probably something to say here about the decline of professional monitors, but I think you can figure it out on your own.

More Monitoring
Page Three headlines Sunday in the Sun-Times:

- "Arrest in Gospel Musician's Killling"
- "Pair Hope To Adopt Girl Put Up For Sale"
- "Your Chance To Fill In Your Own White Sox Mini-Stadium Starts Today"

Page Three headlines Monday in the Sun-Times:

- "Remember Him? 'Forgotten' Bin Laden Has New Tape"
- "Play Ball! White Sox Collectibles Now On Sale"

Essential Sunday Reading
Witness the Tribune editorial board condescend to an entire continent.

Get the low-down on that bad heroin going around.

Crucial A-list celebrity tattoo news you don't want to miss. Really!

The R. Kelly trial may finally begin this summer.

Metro Monitoring
Is this kind of metro column writing an example of what old media are worried about losing in the new world? "Guys, let me tell you something about women," the Tribune's Mary Schmich advises. "You can't really know a gal until you know what she wore to her high school prom, and any woman lucky or unlucky enough to go to one can tell you about that dress."

Professional monitors hardly need the Internet to hasten their decline. They've been doing quite well at declining on their own for years.

The Beachwood Tip Line: Off like a prom dress.


Posted on April 24, 2006

MUSIC - Holiday Hullabaloo.
POLITICS - IRS Lax On Tax Cheats.
SPORTS - SportsMonday: Bears' Real Goat.

BOOKS - Frederick Douglass: Prophet Of Freedom.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Persuading Midwestern Climate Change Skeptics.

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