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The [Wednesday] Papers

"Where do you start to try to understand and write about a city you barely know, one that's bigger than some countries?" writes Pulitzer Prize-winning Mary Schmich today, reflecting upon her newfound status as one of America's preeminent commentators.

"On a chilly afternoon in the April I arrived, I sat in a Coffee Chicago with a yellow pad and tried to answer the question. I wrote down things like: Go out. Get to know people. Introduce Chicago people to each other. Make the city visible. Make it feel like a small town. Stories!"

Really? She actually got out a yellow pad to figure out how to do her job? And wrote down things like "Go out. Get to know people."?

My God. Stories!

This is why so many of us reacted so violently - like in our stomachs - when Schmich was awarded journalism's highest prize on Monday. (See The [Monday] Papers including new comments.)

"I had no idea exactly what those scribbles meant," she continues, "but nothing gives you a sense of control like writing things down on a legal pad."

She didn't know what "Go out. Get to know people" meant!

"After that, one story at a time, I began to make sense of this amazing, chaotic place. It was like putting together a giant jigsaw puzzle, one you can never get entirely assembled because pieces keep vanishing and new pieces keep turning up."

But the clichés remain the same! Ugh.


Meanwhile, the head of Roosevelt University's journalism program, Charles Madigan, who is also a former Tribune senior writer and editor who frequently contributes to their Op-Ed page, thinks his colleagues ought to be shielded from the kind of criticism they dole out to others. In response to commenters on the Reader's website, Madigan writes:

"Wow, what a bunch of dicks. Can't anyone just say, Congrats, Mary, on the Pulitzer prize?"

Because apparently no one is congratulating her, and doing so on a Reader comment board would mean so much to her!

"I suppose it would be gracious to congratulate Mary for the Pulitzer, Mr. Madigan, but I do not think she warranted it," Robert Pruter writes in response. "Her column is not Pulitzer worthy."

How dare you have an opinion! That would be like debating Oscar winners and MVPs! I'm sure Mr. Madigan teaches his students to do no such thing!


Here are the judges who made the selection; quite human, all of them.


Former Tribune reporters Michael Berens and Ken Armstrong - now at the Seattle Times - won Pulitzers for investigative reporting.

Current Tribune reporters Gary Marx and David Jackson were finalists in investigative reporting for their series on fugitives.

And John Sullivan, the assistant director of Northwestern's Medill Watchdog program shared in the public service Pulitzer for leading a Philadelphia Inquirer team's report on school violence.

Rahm's Bank
See The [Infrastructure Trust] Papers (Or, Smells Like Teen Parking Meters).

Cement Shoes
"Paris-based building-materials giant Lafarge will relocate its North American headquarters from Virginia to Illinois," the Tribune reports.

"Lafarge North America agreed to invest about $10 million to move to an as-yet-undetermined site near O'Hare International Airport, and to create at least 90 jobs here during the first two years. Over three or four years, that total could grow to more than 100, the governor's office said.

"In turn, the state will provide an incentive package worth $6.4 million, including $6.27 million in tax credits over the next decade and $90,000 in job training funds, assuming the company meets hiring and investment targets."

Assuming is the right word.

"This is a mighty company, an international company that is involved in important things that we really believe in in Illinois," Quinn said. "You have to build and make things. We believe in manufacturing."

Unlike Virginia, which apparently is more interested in just doing it.


Lafarge is so busy attending to important things that Illinois believes in that nobody seems to be paying attention to its Facebook page, which includes this post from Chicago front-and-center:

The Third City is pleased to welcome the return of one of our most cherished advertising clients. Madame LaFarge's Whorehouse -- Valentine's Day Special: If you don't have a sweeheart to celebrate St. Valentine's Day with, you can always rent one from the Madame. Ask about our two-for-one special. At Madame LaFarge's Whorehouse, the customer always comes first.

Lafarge also has not announced its move here on Facebook or Twitter. Maybe it's embarrassed.

More on Lafarge - including its downstate layoffs - from Whet Moser.

Blago Beat
"In 2008, the Chicago Transit Authority had hit financial difficulties and needed a rescue package to prevent it from running out of money," Josh Barro writes at Forbes. "The legislature put one together that involved a little pain for everybody - a sales tax increase, some benefit givebacks from employee unions, and the expectation of fare increases in the future - and sent it to Blagojevich for signature.

"Blagojevich sent the package back with an amendatory veto that nobody in the legislature expected. He approved the rescue package so long as it also mandated free rides, at all hours of the day, for seniors - even on commuter rail. The legislature felt it had no option but to acquiesce, even though this hurt CTA's finances at exactly the time it needed a rescue."

The legislature felt it had no option but to acquiesce only insofar as the Chicago city council always feels it has no option but to acquiesce. Or nobody's told them where the No button is.

Rock Crock
Another transparency hiccup, a broken mayoral promise, and provisions detrimental to the local music scene. In Lollapalooza's Sweet Deal.

Tanked In Lemont
Fish and pinball.

How Do You Spell Relief?
Not M-A-R-M-O-L or S-A-N-T-I-A-G-O.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Infrastructural.


Posted on April 18, 2012

MUSIC - Madonna vs. Moderna.
TV - Sundays With The Military-Industrial Complex.
POLITICS - Private Equity In The ER.
SPORTS - Suspicious Betting Trends In Soccer.

BOOKS - China Holding Swedish Publisher.


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