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The [Thursday] Papers

I've been with Speakeasy for a long time, and for a long time I was really happy with their service, but after the company - bought by Best Buy in 2007 - experienced "connectivity issues in Chicago" once again this morning, I'm starting to wonder.

1. Denise Alcantar has a tummy ache. Find out why you should care.

2. "President Barack Obama railed against pork-barrel projects Wednesday," the Tribune reports. "Then he signed a massive spending bill stuffed with them."

I've never seen a politician whose rhetoric was so at odds with his reality. Over and over and over.

3. "But Obama, who as a senator had requested earmarks to benefit his home state of Illinois, on Wednesday defended some earmarks as worthwhile and accused Republicans of playing politics on the issue."

4. Let's be clear: there are plenty of worthy projects funded through earmarks. The problem is that these indeed are "pet projects" of legislators who don't have to secure funding through the usual appropriations process; therefore, the national interest and prioritization of these projects has not been evaluated. Earmarks are basically slush projects, worthy or not. (Not only that, but the stimulus bill didn't need earmarks because it was fundamentally a collection of earmarks.)

And don't give me this bull about what a small percentage of the spending bill is made up of earmarks; that's what Republicans said when they fended off Democratic attacks in 2006. Both sides have just exchanged hymn books. Earmarks still add up to hundreds of millions of dollars. Any part of such a massive bill is but a small slice. That's our money, and frankly, I'm not so sure at this particular time that we ought to be subsidizing the Adler or walking trails throughout the state or whatever projects are important to friends of Dick Durbin and Rahm Emanuel. I'd rather they just earmark that money right back to me - or better yet, use it to pay for a special election for Roland Burris's senate seat so we can put a stake in that lame objection to pursuing electoral justice. It's funny what we can and cannot afford, when convenient.

5. JUST IN: Sears Tower renamed Willis Tower. Lame.

6. The Sun-Times reports that "Chicago is No. 3 among cities worldwide in the number of people who use Twitter, according to"

Um, not really.

The paper's chart lists the top five Twittering cities as London, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York City, and San Francisco.

Does it make any sort of sense that Chicago would have more Twitter users than New York?

I didn't think so, so I checked the ratings.

The first clue that something is wrong is the website's note atop its rankings that "This only works for users whose locations we could actually parse."

The second clue was that while "New York" ranks fourth as reported, Brooklyn ranks 19th.

If your paper says Chicago loves Twitter, check it out.

7. Roeper on U2:

"The quartet has a new album out, and they're launching a worldwide tour that starts in Barcelona in June and reaches the States in the fall, kicking off at Soldier Field in September.

"So the boys from Dublin are plugging and selling, whether it's the radio interview at Metro or the unprecedented five-day run with David Letterman last week.

"Some rock fans look at this as taking care of business. Like virtually every other musical act in modern history, U2 wants to sell as many records and as many concert tickets as humanly possible, and to do so, they will partner up with corporations and participate in gimmicky promotions."

There is a long list of musicians who don't want to sell as many tickets as humanly possible and who refuse to partner up with corporations and participate in gimmicky promotions, from Neil Young to Fugazi.

"Others say U2 have sold out. Why, they've mortgaged their souls, forgotten their roots, compromised their values and abandoned their rebellious spirit!

"I don't know. Bono and company have been making music for more than 30 years, selling nearly 150 million albums and raking in untold millions of dollars. Just as Springsteen isn't exactly living the 'Rosalita' and 'Born to Run' lifestyle any more, U2 is a lifetime away from winning 500 pounds in a talent show in Limerick in the late 1970s. Are they supposed to pretend otherwise? Stop making music? Play only tiny venues for $10 a pop to prove they're still cool and in touch?"

It's exactly because U2 is fabulously wealthy and has sold hundreds of millions of albums that they don't have to behave this way. They have artistic freedom.

And unlike Springsteen, who by the way still plays "Rosalita" and "Born to Run," U2's songbook largely isn't about living in rags and dreaming of success; universal songs about social justice, the ravages of materialism, and, yes, heartache and heartbreak, are timeless. Should they be singing about what it's like to be rich instead?

And even once Springsteen did become successful, he had no problem creating masterpieces about those who weren't, be it Nebraska or The Ghost of Tom Joad. In fact, only a diminishing part of Springsteen's catalogue is about his early, hungry days.

It would be nice if U2 - and Springsteen lately - were a little cooler about their insatiable need for mass validation and huge record sales. Ironically, it would make their new music better and, who knows, maybe that would make them even more popular.

8. I think the comments to this story say it all.

(Careful, commenters, you will be graded on Attitude.)

9. Michael Miner says it (quite well) so I don't have to.

10. Brown's Chicken Tastes Better, 1981


The Beachwood Tip Line: Tastes like pork.


Posted on March 12, 2009

MUSIC - Pandemophenia.
TV - NBC's Bicentennial Special.
POLITICS - Defund Private Schools.
SPORTS - Beachwood Sports Radio & A Blackhawks Proposal.

BOOKS - The Slave Who Escaped George And Martha Washington.


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