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The [Thursday] Papers

"We really don't think the City Council should decide what Chicagoans eat," Grant DePorter, of Harry Caray's, tells The New York Times. "What's next? Some other city outlaws brussels sprouts? Another outlaws chicken? Another, green beans?"

The day that food producers can be cruel to vegetables is the day DePorter might have an argument, rather than a meaningless soundbite. What's striking about the rhetoric of opponents of the foie gras ban is that none of them are disputing that producing the liver delicacy requires torturing animals. Instead, the debate has been re-framed as an issue about the Chicago City Council's jurisdiction, and whether they are meddling in our personal affairs.

And the media has bought in, as the Tribune editorial page notes approvingly this morning. But the Tribune editorial page was singing a different tune last year. For that and the rest of the madness, please see The Foie Gras Follies.

Holy Turtle Belly
How in the world is it news when an 81-year-old suburban Burbank woman thinks she sees the Virgin Mary in the belly of her turtle? When the Sun-Times splashes it on its front page, despite a photo that shows that the pattern on the turtle's belly doesn't even come close to even a loose depiction of any human living or dead.

Casino Royale
The big news today is that Republican gubernatorial candidate Judy Baar Topinka's long-awaited budget plan includes a Chicago casino, despite her longstanding opposition to expanding gambling in the state.

Casino revenues would in part be used to increase education funding. Gov. Rod Blagojevich previously proposed selling the state lottery to a private concern to raise money for education.

Here's an idea: Increase education funding by commiting actual existing funds from the state's actual existing budget to schools and students, and save the casino and lottery schemes for funding something like, say, lawmakers' salaries and sweetheart contracts to political supporters. I mean, it's kind of funny, isn't it, that when it comes to education funding, no one seems to propose simply increasing it and decreasing other funding elsewhere. The word for that, I think, is "priorities."

Casino Corruption
On the other hand, a Chicago casino could be a good job-creation program, given the enormous opportunities for investigative reporters to feed off the corruption skim for years.

Who Would Jesus Hire?
Rev. Dan Brandt compares convicted patronage chief Robert Sorich to Jesus.

Big Jim's Little Problem
Big Jim Thompson is resigning his position as chairman of Winston & Stawn amidst unhappiness at the firm with its $30 million pro bono of convicted ex-Gov. George Ryan and Thompson's lax performance on the board of Hollinger International as chairman of the audit committee when Conrad Black and David Radler were looting the company.

Thompson is known as one of the state's biggest cloutmeisters, a former four-term governor whose tentacles range from all the state and federal judges who used to work for him to a place on the 9/11 Commission.

He is almost universally liked, and is immensely likable.

His media image is certainly a big part of that. But have you ever noticed that nearly everything he touches goes bad? That he kind of has whatever you would call the opposite of the Midas touch? From the George Ryan case to the State of Illinois building that bears his name, from the disaster of the new Comiskey that has had to be rehabbed into what is now U.S. Cellular Field, from the Hollinger mess to legislative fiascos like the Wirtz bill, his record kind of stinks. Wasn't Jim Edgar constrained as governor because of the budget mess Thompson left for him?

Anyway, this is clearly the end of an era, even though Thompson will remain at the firm as a regular ol' lawyer.

"Thompson represents the old way of doing business," DePaul law professor Stephen Landsman told the Tribune. "It's a contrast between the old way of doing business through friendship and contacts, and a more formal way where fairness is open and obvious and everyone is above question and reproach."

The Tribune also reported that "a source familiar with Thompson's decision agrees his exit was voluntary but said it wasn't the former governor's first choice."

That doesn't sound voluntary to me.

Who Would Sorich Hire?
The mayor's chief of staff, Ron Huberman, told city supervisors that the city hiring scandal is "not over" and that "more indictments" are on the way, according to the Sun-Times.

In other news, the Rev. Dan Brandt announced his church is booked for the next six months.

Try the Luftwaffe Linguini
BOMBAY (also known as MUMBAI) - "When a restaurant called 'Hitler's Crossing opened four days ago in a Bombay suburb, the city's small Jewish community was outraged, but there were few other objections," the Associated Press reports. "Owner Puneet Sablok insisted then - and still does - that the name and theme of his new eatery is meant only to attract attention, with its posters and swastikas."

The AP goes on to state that "Holocaust awareness in India is limited. Hitler is regarded by many as just another historical figure."

Um, is that even remotely possible? I'm kind of stunned by this. Maybe we oughta make a bunch of prank delivery orders to Stalag 13. Just leave the food by the sawed off tree trunk with the hinges.

UPDATE: 9:03 A.M.: "Hitler Restaurant To Change Name."

Sick Geese
"Grant Park geese are seeing spots after the spraying of a unique chemical designed to scatter them from Butler Field, the lakefront home of Chicago's music festivals," the Sun-Times reports.

The chemical also gives the geese "temporary digestive irritation."

Grant DePorter has volunteered to force-feed them until they explode to put them out of their misery.

Foie Gras Fines
In a story about how few foie gras fines to expect, the Sun-Times's Fran Spielman notes that the recently enacted smoking ban has resulted in "only" 663 citizen complaints, 300 warning letters, and 20 inspections.

Only?

This is what happens when you get fed a story and you buy it without actually doing any reporting. Who is to say 663 citizen complaints is a small number? That sounds awfully large to me. And compared to what? Aside from that, we shouldn't expect many foie gras fines because so few restaurants in town actually serve it.

The Beachwood Tip Line: Livin'. L-I-V-I-N'.



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Posted on August 24, 2006


MUSIC - The Weekend In Chicago Rock.
TV - Cricket vs. Brexit.
POLITICS - An Odd Call From Bermuda.
SPORTS - All Is Not Forgiven, Bears.

BOOKS - Turning Points Of The Civil War.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Baxter's IV Bag Shortages.


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