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The [Thursday] Papers

1. Jim DeRogatis names the top 10 Chicago bands to watch in 2008, including some psychedelic shoegazers from Bridgeport and a group he says has the "spiffiest suits since the Mighty Mighty Bosstones."

2. "In its campaign to revive the intimate, friendly feel of a neighborhood coffee shop, Starbucks orchestrated the closing [Tuesday] of 7,100 of its American stores at precisely 5:30 p.m. for a three-hour retraining session for employees," the New York Times reports.

You mean to revive the friendly feel of neighborhood coffee shops that Starbucks drove out of business?

"Howard D. Schultz, the company's recently reappointed chief executive, has spoken of regaining the 'soul of the past'", the Times notes.

It's hard to remember a time when Starbucks had soul, but it's actually true. I'm using a Starbucks coffee mug right now that I bought from a Starbucks in Evanston, which I believe was the first in the Chicago area. The mug art is a reprise of Edward Hopper's Nighthawks, with the name of the diner changed from Phillie's to Starbucks Coffee.

At the time - 1991 or 1992 - Starbucks was new and even exotic. How quickly things changed. Not only did the burgeoning chain capture the yuppie imagination with overpriced, highly-caloric, burnt and bitter coffee, but it transformed itself into McDonald's in its rapacious hunger for market share, cheapening its brand and alienating large swaths of its potential customer base.

Now it's (rightly) a symbol of corporate evil that invokes the kind of ire usually reserved for oil companies.

My suggestion: Pull back on locations and become a supplier to local shops to grow the industry for everyone instead of suffocating it.


More fun at Starbucks Gossip.


UPDATE 9:54 A.M.: "Starbucks To Begin Sinister 'Phase Two' Of Operation."

- via Steve Johnson's Hypertext

3. Gov. Rod Blagojevich says he's too busy to pay attention to the upcoming Tony Rezko trial, which is essentially a trial about the governor's administration and could be a preview for the day when Public Official A sits in the dock.

"I am not involved in this court case," he said on Wednesday. "I don't know much about it. I have a job to do as governor. It's a full-time job."

Not according to Mike Flannery.

4. The governor wants $40 million to demolish Cole Hall - the site of the recent Northern Illinois University shooting tragedy - and replace it with a new building to be called Memorial Hall.

"[H]old on a minute, governor," the Tribune says in an editorial this morning.

Beachwood contributor Tim Howe seconds that emotion.

"Take the money and endow a scholarship for students interested in entering the mental health field," Howe writes on our Politics page today. "Maybe that will keep future students at Cole Hall safe. A new building certainly will not."

5. "Immigrants in California are far less likely to land in prison than their U.S.-born counterparts, a finding that defies the perception that immigration and crime are connected, according to a study released Monday," the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Maybe we should build a fence to keep them in.

6. In "Just Stupid Enough To Be True," the Reader's Ben Joravsky catches up with the story of Election Night's magic pens with invisible ink.

7. "Rear Adm. Patrick Driscoll, the deputy chief of public affairs in Baghdad, encourages Iraqi journalists to more courageously question government policy and become advocates for a free-thinking society," the Tribune reports.

Irony alert: If American journalists practiced what Driscoll preaches, we wouldn't be in Iraq in the first place.

Bonus quote: "I grew up reading Mike Royko and how he was always giving Mayor Daley a hard time," Driscoll said. "That, to me, was the way journalism was supposed to be. That was it at its best."

8. "We don't see much to this story," the Tribune editorial page said about the now-infamous John McCain story in the New York Times about his close relationships with the same lobbyists he so often declares his independence from.

You didn't see that story? You know, the one about McCain having an affair? I thought so!

Am I the only one who thinks the story was solid? I don't know if the press corps is sex-starved, because they're awfully eighth-grade when it comes to the subject, but whether McCain actually had intercourse with Vicki Iseman is beside the point. (And why they let the Times become the story at McCain's behest is beyond me.) Iseman, a lobbyist with interests before McCain's commerce committee, was such an ubiquitous presence during McCain's 2000 presidential campaign that some of his top advisors thought his candidacy could be doomed.

And even that wasn't the point of the story; it was just the best, most egregious example of how McCain's actions vis a vis lobbyists is at odds with his rhetoric.

The Tribune, however, doesn't want to believe it.

"Though he twice wrote letters to the Federal Communications Commission urging it to act on a case that involved one of Iseman's clients, McCain says he was trying to get the FCC moving not influence its decision," the paper says. "The wording of his letters bears that out."

First of all, even accepting that at face value is doing Iseman's client a favor; a negative ruling still helps them move along.

But, predictably, there's more to the story than the Trib acknowledges.

"While the campaign said Thursday that Mr. McCain never spoke to anyone from Paxson [the Iseman client in question] or Ms. Iseman's lobbying firm before sending those letters to the commission, an article posted on Newsweek's Web site on Friday said that Mr. McCain had previously acknowledged first speaking to Mr. Paxson," the New York Times reported over the weekend.

"Recounting that conversation, Mr. McCain testified in [a] deposition, 'I said I would be glad to write a letter asking them to act.'"

And act he did.

"The two letters he wrote to the FCC in 1999 while he was chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee produced a rash of criticism and a written rebuke from the then-FCC chairman, who called McCain's intervention 'highly unusual,'" the Washington Post reports. " McCain had repeatedly used Paxson's corporate jet for his campaign and accepted campaign contributions from the broadcaster and his law firm.

Back to the Times: "In three interviews with The New York Times, Mr. Paxson has provided varying accounts about the letters. In the first, he said Ms. Iseman was involved in the drafting of them and had lobbied Mr. McCain. He later said he could not recall who had been involved."

Other aspects of McCain's story are crumbling too.

It actually isn't about the sex - if there was any.

But then, the Tribune editorial page has its hands full still prosecuting Whitewater.


By the way, if you click on the Trib editorial, you'll see that newspapers still don't understand the basics of linking. I'm pretty sure anyone reading a Tribune editorial on John McCain knows who he - and Barack Obama - is. You don't need to link on proper nouns. On the other hand, linking to the New York Times that is the basis of the editorial might have been a nice service to readers.

Memo to the Trib et. al.: Links = evidence, context, and punch lines. It's time to start writing in 3-D.

9. Oh, I'll get to Sam Zell. Be patient.

10." A long-serving reporter on the Guardian, a British daily, Mr. Davies turns his investigative skills on his own profession," the Economist writes. "The picture he paints of journalism (almost entirely British despite the 'global' in his subtitle) is of a debased trade in which rumor and unchecked speculation often masquerade as fact, where staff cuts mean that vast swaths of national life simply go unreported and where overstressed and underfunded reporters are easy prey for influence-peddlers, liars and con men."

It gets worse. In Reviewing the Reviews.

The Beachwood Tip Line: Zell bent.


Posted on February 28, 2008

MUSIC - Britney's IUD.
TV - Vizio's Best Product Is You.
POLITICS - UIC: Soda Taxes Work.
SPORTS - Locked Out And Loaded.

BOOKS - Foxconned.


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