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« April 2011 | Main | June 2011 »

May 31, 2011

The [Tuesday] Papers

With Rod Blagojevich set to take the stand this morning for his third day of testimony in his corruption trial, our very own Ed Hammer indulges in a look ahead to his likely future:

"As the convicted Blagojevich arrives at the federal prison in Terre Haute, the pent-up and hostile murderers, drug dealers and con men jeer and sneer him and the other fresh meat," he writes in The Terre Haute Redemption. "Like Red, George Ryan, who loved the casinos on the outside, bets cigarettes and money with the other inmates on how long before the new kid with the Justin Bieber haircut would last before he cries.

"Unsympathetic, Ryan gives him until his first meal. Ryan loses the bet. Blagojevich makes it through the first night without even a whimper. In a scornful baritone, Ryan remarks, 'I'll have to admit, I didn't think much of Rod the first time I saw him, but his first night in the joint, Rod Blagojevich cost me two packs of cigarettes. He never made a sound.'"

Poly Sci Final
Irrelevant Governor vs. Irrelevant City Council. Discuss.

P.S. And Then He Blew His Brains Out
"A delicate moment is fast approaching for one of Oak Park's most famous sons - the 50th anniversary of Ernest Hemingway's suicide in the foyer of his home in Ketchum, Idaho," the Tribune reports.

"The Ernest Hemingway Foundation of Oak Park, which manages a Hemingway museum, runs tours of his birthplace home and hosts a variety of Hemingway events, is allowing the event to pass without note.

"So is the Hemingway Society, which organizes international conferences and awards the annual PEN/Hemingway Award for fiction. Other Hemingway organizations - from Key West to northern Michigan and from Boston to Idaho - have taken the same approach.

"'We don't consider that a particularly big event for any number of reasons,' said Allan Baldwin, former chairman of the Oak Park foundation."

*

Name one.

*

Get me rewrite.

Snow Job
"Emanuel To Reshape City's Blizzard Strategy."

Step 1: Announce you are going to reshape blizzard strategy.

Worldwide Leader
"Getting [ESPN] rolling was the realization by a fellow named Bill Rasmussen, who would launch the network with $9,000 of credit card debt, that satellite transmission could reach anywhere in the country as easily as Connecticut and that 24 hours of satellite time cost would only a little more than a few hours," Phil Rosenthal writes in his recap of Those Guys Have All The Fun: Inside The World of ESPN.

*

See also: The Deadspin Guide To The New ESPN Book.

Lemon Pledge
"Vice President Joe Biden on Saturday credited the Obama administration's intervention for the American auto industry's recovery from 'the brink of extinction' and pointed to Chrysler's early repayment of the federal loan that saved it from disaster," AP reports.

B.S.

See also: Behind Administration Spin: Bailout Still $123 Billion In The Red.

Little Ventured, Gained
"Chicago trails Austin, Salt Lake City, Denver and Minneapolis in the ratio of dealmakers per capita," a new study shows.

So can the self-congratulations this city likes so much to indulge in. The dealmaking environment is hardly vibrant; neither is its tech sector nor its (vaunted in some corners)
online news ecosystem.

*

This is Chicago, not Des Moines. We're supposed to rank in the top three of just about everything - and not be surprised and overexuberant about it.

Trick Headline
Chicago Housing Authority Considers Tenant Drug Tests.

The Chicago Housing Authority still has tenants?

Black Crack
"The U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday cleared the way for resentencing former media baron Conrad Black next month in Chicago for fraud and obstruction of justice after rejecting his appeal," the Vancouver Sun reports.

In prison he'll be known as Connie.

Church Ladies
2 Dressed As Nuns Rob Palos Heights Bank.

Who says they were just dressed that way?

Dip Schtick
Housing Goes Into Double-Dip Recession.

I thought we were still in the first dip . . .

Q-Tip
Cubs' Soriano Sidelined By Quad Strain.

Or do they mean Quade strain?

See also: Cubs Anonymous.

The Weekend In Chicago Rock
You shoulda been there.

Geek Alert
Comic Vault stores are closing.

Nice Age
"The Crown family of Chicago, owners of Aspen Skiing Company, together with the Aspen Skiing Company Family Fund at Aspen Community Foundation, have given $100,000 to the Snowmastodon Fund," Real Vail reports.

The Snowmastodon Project.

Maelstrom
a torn receipt for condoms/impaled in an octogenarian oak.

Wrigley Review
Are there more drunken numbskulls in the crowd than in the good old days?

Land of Oz
* Twice The Fun, Half The Dunn.

* A Black Eye And Hope.

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: Strong as oak.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:21 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: Overserved, Unimpressed

Within an inning of my 12-year-old son's and my arrival at our upper deck reserved seats a couple innings into the much-delayed Cubs game Sunday versus the Pirates, the drunk sitting behind me had unleashed a stream of foul language. My son heard some of it, including the identification of someone as a fucking retard, but I'm hopeful he was distracted a little later on when the guy capped off another delightful comment with a racial epithet.

Then again, it wouldn't have been the worst thing in the world if it registered. My son and I have had some good chats the last few years after encountering guys like this during summers in the city and noting how idiotic they sound when they over-indulge this way. I'm hoping if we hear this sort of unavoidable (if you want to attend big, popular events) profanity and worse while we're together and then talk about it at least a little, there's a chance he'll learn some negative lessons, i.e., ones in how not to act.

When I first got there, the delightful gent was eating peanuts and appeared to be trying to leave as much of the shells and the skins on the chair in front of him as possible. What I initially thought was my chair turned out to be one over but soon that chair's occupant returned and it was the mother of a couple small kids. She sat down in the peanut detritus without noticing. She and her husband surrounded their two boys, who were busy plowing through the ballpark food combo platter of popcorn and nachos and hot dogs, soon to be capped off by cotton candy. It was a very strange scene.

I couldn't tell for sure but it did seem as though she was distracted enough, and the guy behind me wasn't quite boisterous enough, that she didn't absorb what he was saying. The one thing I knew through all this was that I was determined to avoid engaging the guy if at all possible. Because if you think the initial language is bad in these situations, just wait until you call them on it.

And then the potential storm passed. Within an inning-and-a-half, the guy took a long trip to the men's room and then after returning for a short while, exited our section.

So I suppose the question is, are these incidents evidence of a larger trend at Wrigley? Are there more drunken numbskulls in the crowd than in the good old days? My sample size is tiny of course - I hate it when commentators opine about "Cubs fans" when they have interacted with less than one percent of them - but I think the rate of drunkenness remains about the same.

Then again, there are certain games - the home opener, versus the White Sox, after long rain delays - when the chances are awfully good that the observation of over-served behavior will be a part of that day's ballpark experience.

I know that some sports venues have instituted programs encouraging fans to text message reports of drunkenness to the authorities. And ushers are always on hand. But like I noted before, calling an usher almost always makes the situation worse. It is almost always better to let the offenders move on. Then again, at the home opener this season, after a jackass sitting two rows up from me insisted on parading about in his White Sox cap all game, enough of the other fans overreacted enough that we did end up having to try to remind a few people that there were "kids in the section" blah, blah, blah.

They didn't really improve their behavior, they just moved on.

In the mid- to late-70s, my brother and I used to take the 22 Clark Street bus up to the ballpark, sit on the sidewalk outside the bleachers and wait until they opened the gates. Then we would purchase what used to be wonderfully cheap tickets that didn't go on sale until the day of the game and eventually settle in in the right-centerfield portion of the stands.

Celebrity Cub fans Eddie Vedder and John Cusack have said the location of their favorite seats at Wrigley was based on where Jose Cardenal was playing. The usual left fielder with the Afro who inspired fans to sing "Jose can you see?" to start the national anthem was seen as the coolest player on some bad teams. He spent six seasons in Chicago starting in 1972.

But my brother and I were Rick Monday (with the Cubs from 1972 to 1976) fans and so we almost always sat in the first five rows, not far from the fence separating the bleachers from the hitting background in center. And that was where we watched our fellow bums pound beers and pontificate about all sorts of stuff. I have a vivid memory of one such over-indulger having enough to knock himself out. After trying to wake him for a while, the ushers finally had to bring in a stretcher and haul him away.

At least back then the price of beer wasn't quite so obscene. These days I'm not so unimpressed when guys drink too much at the ballgame; I have even been known to do that sort of thing myself on occasion. But I am seriously unimpressed by guys who pound beers that cost $7 a pop.

It used to be such a point of pride to make sure we were at the game before it started and didn't leave until it ended. When I have a chance to be on time with my son, who keeps score when he can, we are still on time these days (we were late on Sunday because we were waiting to see if his game that day would be played after the rain stopped). But if I'm meeting a friend we're having our first beer (and maybe two) outside the park.

And here we finally arrive at the solution to too many drunks in the stands - helping them understand how much money they're pissing away by buying beer at Wrigley instead of somewhere else.

-

Comments welcome.

-

1. From Norman A. Kwak:

Your solution to resolving the apparent increase in drunkenness at the ballgame is a part of the problem. The need to drink before the game may be the real problem.

As a Sox season-ticket holder, I have noticed more drunks at our games as well. Maybe it's the new Bacardi bar at the ticket gates (talk about Wrigleyville envy), but Opening Day this year seemed like some beer-fueled bacchanalia. Even though the weather was freezing, the beer flowed like hot chocolate on a winter's day.

I don't see a solution, however. The drunks can't be baseball fans; else why would they ruin the game for themselves and the other fans?

Maybe if these people realized they could buy almost two gallons of gas for what they pay for 12 ounces of beer, they would slow down and try to enjoy the game.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:41 AM | Permalink

The Weekend in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Jetty Boys at the Cobra Lounge on Friday night.


-

2. Dan Vapid and the Cheats at the Cobra Lounge on Friday night.

-

3. Justin Townes Earle at Millennium Park on Sunday night.

-

4. Jim and the Povolos at the Beat Kitchen on Sunday night.

-

5. Lionlimb at the Beauty Bar on Monday night.

-

6. Scott Lucas & The Married Men at the Double Door on Thursday night.

-

7. This Will Destroy You at the Bottom Lounge on Saturday night.

-

8. Robin Trower at the House of Blues on Friday night.

-

9. She Wants Revenge at the Double Door on Sunday night.

-

10. Samiyam at the Double Door on Sunday night.

-

11. The Arrivals at the Empty Bottle on Saturday night.

-

12. Chinese Telephones at the Empty Bottle on Saturday night.

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:10 AM | Permalink

Cubs Anonymous

In the not-too-distant future, say 2018, Cubs fans will look back at the season currently in progress and say, "That team sure got decimated with injuries in 2011. Pass me that turkey sandwich pill."

Because surely turkey sandwiches will come in pill form by then.

Cyanide already does. Maybe we could kill this season now and get a head start on next year's embarrassment.

The Week in Review: The Cubs went 3-4 this week during the bunny part of their schedule against the Mets, Pirates and Astros. These guys can't beat a rug.

The Week in Preview: The Cubs play two more at home against the Astros and then head to St Louis for three against the Cardinals. At least the Cubs defense looks to get a boost thanks to Alfonso Soriano's left quad strain. Too bad Reed Johnson is also hurt. Lou Montanez and Brad Snyder join the team as replacement parts. It's already September call-up time.

The Second Basemen Report: Darwin Barney once again played all seven games this week at second base, but that doesn't mean the keystone carousel has stopped. Hardly. Blake DeWitt played some left field and third base, and we hope he catches this week and then throws out of the bullpen. The Second Basemen Report would also like to welcome DJ LeMahieu to the festivities. LeMahieu will play out of position for the ailing Jeff Baker. Just like Jim Hendry drew it up.

In former second basemen news, ex-cub Ronny Cedeno was in town to remind fans that it could be worse at second base and/or shortstop. He is missed.

The Zam Bomb: Big Z is Apologetic this week as it certainly appears that he is being coddled. Pinch-hitting makes the big guy happy - which isn't a bad thing until you are in a real game and need a real pinch hitter.

zam_apologetic.jpg

-

Marlon Byrd Supplemental Report: Conte should have been giving Marlon some "get out of the way" pills.

Lost in Translation: Rodrigo Lopez is Spanish for Doug Davis.

Endorsement No-Brainer: That Campana kid for stealing stuff. Four in a game is impressive. (Downside: Cubs have to come up with a steal sign.)

Sweet and Sour Quade: 87% sweet,13% sour. Mike drops a few points on the Sweet-O-Meter due to forgetting how he got the job in the first place. And just like your smart, well-adjusted uncle, Mike was supposed to drive himself and Aunt Trudy to the Memorial Day BBQ over at Cousin Phil's place. Mike was there last year but forgot how he got there, got lost, and ended up in Iowa.

Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Shares of Coinstar traded higher this week as it is clear that the Cubs love to pay bum pitchers these days. And bums always get paid with change.

Over/Under: The number of quality starts the Cubs will get out of Rodrigo Lopez this year +/- off. No one is going to take this bet.

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that know one knows who half these guys are.

The Cub Factor: Unlike Soriano, you can catch 'em all!

The White Sox Report: Know the enemy.

Get Your Gangler On: Follow Marty on Twitter.

Note For Readers Used To Seeing The Mount Lou Alert System Here: When manager Mike Quade shows any signs of, well, really anything abnormal, we will be all over it with some kind of graph or pictorial depiction of whatever it is, but until this guy shows something besides just being a normal, thoughtful, intelligent guy, we got next to nothing on him. We are hoping he shows something and kinda hoping he doesn't also, know what I mean? BUT HE IS GETTING MUCH CLOSER . . .

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Contact The Cub Factor!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:15 AM | Permalink

Twice The Fun, Half The Dunn

Forget what the calendar says; summer begins on Memorial Day. If you had doubts, venturing outdoors yesterday morning was all you needed to do. No fog. No wind off the lake. Welcome back heat and humidity! The chill was gone.

So are Memorial Day doubleheaders, which in the White Sox case is probably a good thing. Losing one game a day is depressing enough. Dropping a twinbill could require medication.

Years ago, doubleheaders usually drew higher-than-average crowds, and that's why they were scheduled. In fact, the largest crowd ever at Comiskey Park - 55,555 - jammed the place for a Sunday doubleheader against the Twins on May 20, 1973.

MLB hasn't scheduled a doubleheader since 1996 in Minnesota. The split twinbill or day-night doubleheaders of today are the result of make-up games due to lousy weather.

Looking back, the Sunday and holiday doubleheaders that were regular fare on the schedule consumed six or seven hours and brought out unique behavior both on and off the field.

Inevitably as dusk approached, the outfield warning track began to look like a landfill. Hot dog wrappers, bags of half-eaten peanuts, empty cups, a hat or two, and a few other personal items piled up. An outfielder going back to the wall for a long drive had to keep an eye not only on the ball but also on the garbage, which tripped more than a few defenders.

By the end of the second game, sleeping fans could be spotted around the park. The posture was predictable: heads thrown back, mouths open, snores filling the air, feet up on long-abandoned seats. Testosterone levels also had receded after the cops broke up a couple of fights. These tussles always drew the attention of the crowd as it rose to see what was happening. Usually no one got hurt; the fights were part of the scene.

Beer vendors loved doubleheaders. There was none of this nonsense about cutting off sales in the seventh inning. Public intoxication was tolerated, if not celebrated. A group of guys would begin stacking their empty beer cups right from the first pitch. As the day wore on, these towers were quite impressive, often five- or six-feet tall.

The description here applies primarily to Comiskey. Mob action at Wrigley Field during a twinbill usually consisted of the crowd chanting, "We want a hit." More often than not, they didn't get one. Of course, Ernie Banks made "Let's play two" his calling card. Any athlete mouthing that phrase today would have zero friends in the clubhouse.

The Memorial Day doubleheader at Comiskey in 1960 drew more than 45,000 fans and was one to remember. The Indians, who had finished second the year before to our American League champions - that has a nice ring to it - were in town with their volatile centerfielder Jimmy Piersall.

Piersall fought a number of demons in his life which were chronicled in his autobiography Fear Strikes Out. Later Tony Perkins played Piersall in the movie of the same name. Karl Malden played his dad. Rarely is it mentioned among the outstanding baseball movies, but it's worth watching at 3 a.m. if you ever see it on the guide.

In the first game, the Tribe outfielder got tossed by the plate umpire for arguing balls and strikes. Only thing was Piersall wasn't even the batter. He was on second base where apparently he had a simply wonderful view of the strike zone. Milton Bradley tried the same stunt - he also got tossed - earlier this season before the Mariners released him. But just think - Jimmy had a whole other ball game to cause trouble.

Earlier that season Sox owner Bill Veeck had introduced the first exploding scoreboard - which, of course, is de rigueur today. The Sox, who lost both games of the twinbill, hit a homer in the nightcap and the scoreboard erupted.

Piersall took exception. He stuffed a bunch of balls in his pockets and shirt for the ninth inning and, after the final out, Jimmy began firing them off the board. This guy had one of the best arms in the American League, and Veeck and the Sox were not amused.

Ironically Piersall later became Harry Caray's sidekick on Sox broadcasts, and he later helped coach White Sox outfielders.

Memorial Day, 1971, featured the visiting Baltimore Orioles, and the Sox got a split, losing the second game by a wide margin. Former Sox Don Buford hit a couple of homers before Chicago pitchers began throwing at him - successfully. He got hit twice which precipitated a bench-clearing brawl.

One would think Buford and Sox pitcher Bart Johnson would have been ejected. Not so. In fact, in the ninth inning a fan who just may have been stacking his empty beer cups jumped the wall behind home plate and challenged Buford - who was in the on-deck circle - to a fight.

Bad decision. Buford was joined by a couple of teammates including Hall-of-Famer Frank Robinson, who landed a fusillade of blows, thus discouraging any other idiots from joining the fracas.

Nothing so memorable occurred this Memorial Day weekend. Sure, Ozzie slammed the fans in pre-game comments on Sunday, and he was justifiably upset after the team stopped hitting in Saturday's 14-inning loss in Toronto. So what else is new?

However, the Sox caught a break last night in Boston because lefthander Jon Lester started for the Bosox. That meant Adam Dunn - hitless in 38 at-bats against lefties this season - went to the bench, and the lineup looked a lot better with Quentin in the 3-spot as DH and Brent Lillibridge in right field. Lester didn't have his best stuff, and Quentin got a huge two-out, two-run basehit in the sixth to put the game out of reach.

Last season Dunn hit .199 against lefthanders. Nine of his 38 homers came against southpaws. Not at all impressive, but at this point, I'd take that. Let's hope that Ozzie uses Dunn only against right-handed pitching until he starts hitting. That is, assuming he does begin to hit.

The other notable left-handed hitter who came over from the National League in the off-season is former Padre Adrian Gonzalez, the Red Sox first baseman. Dunn out-homered Gonzalez in 2010 (38-31) and also had a couple more RBI (103-101).
Gonzalez is having no trouble adjusting to his new surroundings; he leads the American League in RBI (46) and is hitting .332. Imagine if Adam Dunn had made a similar adjustment. The Sox would be leading the division.

Last week this space talked about the Sox six-man rotation and the possibility that a starter might also pitch in relief. That happened as Gavin Floyd stepped into the breach in Saturday's marathon. He yielded the game-winning homer to former Cub Corey Patterson, but at least Gavin took one for the team. If the Sox had any timely hitting, the game would have ended an hour earlier.

Perhaps the most promising sign for the Sox is that Cleveland just lost five of six and appears to be coming back to the pack. Now that it's summer, it is time for our boys to step up. The sooner the better.

-

Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:43 AM | Permalink

A Black Eye and Hope

The ball bounced off the turf and hit Gordon Beckham in the face. It's been that kind of roadtrip for the Sox. The team's been pretty brutal in the field for much of the season, but Beckham had been sure-handed 'til that fateful bounce. Mired in a season-long hitting slump, his defense hasn't suffered, but seeing him being helped off the field, covering his face, said much of what this season has been like.

They're all out of whack. This trip they've won games they had no business winning and lost games they had no business losing. There was the hurricane-delayed victory where Tony Pena gave up the lead and was then credited with the win when the Sox staged a rare comeback. On the flip side, John Danks, the most luckless of our starters, gets bombed and falls to 0-8. Up until that last loss, he was just coming up on the short end of the stick, but now it looks like a freefall. Both Beckham and Danks are good players having bad years (don't even get me started on Adam Dunn), whereas Pena is a mystery. Every time he's inserted into a game, I groan. How much do other MLB clubs pay the Sox to keep the man on their roster?

* * *

I tend to drive my cab from the afternoons until late into the night, so during the season I often get to hear an afternoon Cubs game, followed by the Sox at night. I don't envy the Cubs their fans, their park, nor many of their players; I do, however, envy them their radio broadcast team. Pat Hughes has a classic play-by-play voice. He knows the game and knows how to tell the story as it unfolds. I always felt a bit uncomfortable laughing at Ron Santo's simpleton gaffes, so the addition of Keith Moreland is a marked improvement. He brings a player's perspective the way Santo did but with the added bonus of actually paying attention to the game underway. In contrast, the Sox combo of Ed Farmer and Darrin Jackson are tiresome and maudlin. They take turns butchering the English language and their attempts at levity fall flat more often than not. Calling Juan Pierre "Jean Pierre" and endlessly riffing on Farmer's "hitting" and Jackson's "pitching" can only get them so far. It doesn't help that the team they're reporting on is such a baffling riddle, but these guys could learn a lot from Hughes, who's somehow made his team's chronic failure entertaining.

* * *

I don't know if the Sox will keep limping along, finally flip the "ON" switch, or just completely lose it. Beckham ended up with only a black eye, it could have been much worse; will the team be able to say that?

The only hopeful bit of news came courtesy of ESPN: "White Sox put Tony Pena on DL."

gordon_beckham2.jpgGordon Beckham by Dmitry Samarov (Enlarge)

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Dmitry Samarov brings you Outside Sox Park every Tuesday. You can also find his work at Hack and at dmitrysamarov.com. He welcomes your comments.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:16 AM | Permalink

Chicagoetry: Maelstrom

Maelstrom

Meet the new boss -
tongue of bricks -
sharpening his trowel
to tuckpoint the Shithouse

as the excruciating maelstrom
expands, like a universe.

The new sky
is on every tongue
(Just the old sky
with a new tongue):

"Betrayal! The sky
betrays us!"
Who came first?!
The old boss.

Tongue of knives,
brood of knaves.
Who betrayed who?
The sky doesn't lie.

The black winds whirl
with knives.
Shards of Giza,
specks of Gaza,

a torn receipt for condoms
impaled in an octogenarian oak.

Late spring fog along the watchtower.
Zephyrs of boats. Shears of bricks.
Life: excruciating labor,
trowels against the terror.

Summer's here and the time is rife!
The new boss sharpens his tongue,

brick licks brick.

-

J.J. Tindall is the Beachwood's poet-in-residence. He welcomes your comments. Chicagoetry is an exclusive Beachwood collection-in-progress.

-

More Tindall:

* Chicagoetry: The Book

* Ready To Rock: The Music

* Kindled Tindall: The Novel


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:06 AM | Permalink

The Terre Haute Redemption

As we get closer to the end of the saga of Rod Blagojevich, with a jury about to decide the former governor's fate for a second time, I wonder what he will be like in prison, where he is almost certainly going. The media image of Blago is that of a clown - almost likable, if you like clowns. How will that play out behind bars?

I recall when Blago appeared on Celebrity Apprentice last year. What an amusing comment on Illinois' political elite. The first episode required his teammates and him to open and operate a restaurant. Blago greeted every customer with "Hi, I am Rod Blagojevich. I am innocent."

Did he honestly believe that the hurried New York City clientele knew or cared who he was? In his charming innocent way, did he think any of the Big Apple's citizens would end up in his jury pool?

Blagojevich went on to get fired by Donald Trump for not only lacking leadership skills but also the ability to perform simple tasks like e-mailing and texting.

Back here in Illinois, our very own court jester finally got what he wanted. Last week he began to replay his life story by testifying at his own trial. This is something most defense attorneys recommend to their clients not to do.

Unwittingly, their client may say something incriminating. That's not what our Sir Rod the entertainer thinks. He must think that if he cries a little, and makes a joke now and then, he can win the heart and mind of at least one (holdout) juror.

It plays out like a cheesy soap opera. To the hard-core cynics of Illinois, Blago's technique might be new, but at its core it's the same old story. There is no need for me to repeat the litany of corruption trials we have seen in our lifetimes. Most of us find the former governor's antics humorous, but not innocent.

So what happens if this time he is found guilty of all charges, or at least guilty of a few more than last time? More than likely, he will be sentenced to prison.

And what if Blagojevich gets sent to the same federal prison in Terre Haute in which George Ryan, his predecessor, is serving his sentence for a conviction of corruption?

I imagine it would be the Illinois (or Indiana) version of The Shawshank Redemption. Two men very similar, yet very different, befriending each other. Ryan would be Red, the seasoned veteran; older, experienced and coping in his purgatory. Blagojevich would be the younger, prettier Andy; frustrated, unsettled, looking for ways to cope.

As the convicted Blagojevich arrives at the federal prison in Terre Haute, the pent-up and hostile murderers, drug dealers and con men jeer and sneer him and the other fresh meat. Like Red, Ryan, who loved the casinos on the outside, would bet cigarettes and money with the other inmates on how long before the new kid with the Justin Bieber haircut would last before he cries.

Unsympathetic, Ryan gives him until his first meal. Ryan loses the bet. Blagojevich makes it through the first night without even a whimper. In a scornful baritone, Ryan remarks, "I'll have to admit, I didn't think much of Rod the first time I saw him, but his first night in the joint, Rod Blagojevich cost me two packs of cigarettes. He never made a sound."

There would be a slight difference from the movie. Andy stayed to himself for a while. Not Rod. He'd attempt to fit in right away, talking to anyone and everyone. They'd simply scowl and walk away. The lack of social contact would wear on Blagojevich; finally he'd approach his senior political associate for a favor.

"I understand you are a man who know's how to get things?" he'd say. Ryan, as he did on the outside, has all the right connections for contraband; in this case, cigarettes, cigars, booze and porn. He Ryan might even have a way to place a bet on some sporting event. Just like Red in the movie, he'll reply to Blago, "I've been known to locate things from time to time."

In the movie, Red finds Andy a rock hammer, which he uses to aid with his escape. Ryan would find Blagojevich a cassette player he could use to play all the tapes, as well as some Elvis mixes. Thus begins a bond between the once political opposites.

Now they begin to cultivate their manly connection and trust each other (to the degree that is possible for two convicted politicians). They talk of hope and the future. The relationship between these two felons, like that of the movie characters, becomes the model for all friendships.

Who knows what their future will hold? Once they are both out, will they be political consultants for Fox Chicago News? Or co-host a show on WLS-AM? Whatever the case, we know, they'll somehow always be together.

-

Ed Hammer is a retired Illinois Secretary of State Police Captain and author of the book One Hundred Percent Guilty: How and Insider Links the Death of Six Children to the Politics of Convicted Governor George Ryan.

-

See also:
* George Ryan's Park Bench
* George Ryan's Dogs and Ponies
* George Ryan's Other Jailhouse Interview
* Bugging The Chicago School Board
* Cop vs. Teacher
* Signs of Change
* Pols vs. Teachers

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:02 AM | Permalink

May 30, 2011

The [Memorial Day] Papers

The Beachwood Reporter is off for the holiday. But the Beachwood Inn will be open as usual tonight, and I'll be behind the bar slinging cold Old Styles and witty banter. Stop in and see what all the fuss is about.

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The Weekend Desk Report
You know who did the calling, Michelle? The Weekend Desk. That's a lot of Reports that will write themselves between now and Election Day.

Market Update
Moral bankruptcy filings were down this quarter, causing a temporary run on the Credibility index. However, analysts are quick to point out that the alternative strategy of trading heavily on The Reputation of the Dead generally doesn't lead to long-term recovery.

Jobs Report
Meanwhile, Illinois lawmakers have been hard at work creating brand-new jobs in the hard-hit well-connected political insider sector.

Root Canals
As the official American vacation season kicks off, high gas prices aren't the only things dampening tourists' excitement. Turns out if you planned a trip to Amsterdam to, you know, "see the Vermeers," you might have to actually go see the Vermeers after all.

Probing The Void
Things are not looking good for seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, but the dark clouds may have a silver lining. If even a fraction of the accusations can be proven, he'd make a perfect Fifa president.

Final Fantasies
What happens when Mavericks take on Heat? Fucking big-screen magic, that's what. And what happens when Canucks take on Bruins? Ditto!

-

The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Bullish.

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The CAN TV Weekend Report

May Day Commemoration
31084-MayDay-plaque.jpg
The Illinois Labor History Society formally dedicates a bronze plaque on the Haymarket statue to mark the 125th anniversary of the tragedy.

Sunday, May 29 at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21
52 min

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Restoration and Rededication of the Haymarket Martyrs' Monument
31085-Haymarket-Monument.jpg
Liz Shuler of the AFL-CIO takes part in the rededication of the restored Haymarket Martyrs' monument at the Forest Home Cemetery.

Sunday, May 29 at 10 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 21 min

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Urban Health Program Graduates and Student Achievement
31080-UHP-Grad.jpg
The University of Illinois at Chicago's Urban Health Program celebrates graduates as well as the student achievements of the 2011 class.

Sunday, May 29 at 11:30 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 16 min

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Youth Hearing: Summer Jobs and Opportunities
31086-Youth-Hearing.jpg
Teens testify before elected officials on the financial and public safety impact that losing 18,000 summer jobs will have in Illinois.

Sunday, May 29 at 1 p.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 26 min

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:31 AM | Permalink

May 28, 2011

The Weekend Desk Report

You know who did the calling, Michelle? The Weekend Desk. That's a lot of Reports that will write themselves between now and Election Day.

Market Update
Moral bankruptcy filings were down this quarter, causing a temporary run on the Credibility index. However, analysts are quick to point out that the alternative strategy of trading heavily on The Reputation of the Dead generally doesn't lead to long-term recovery.

Jobs Report
Meanwhile, Illinois lawmakers have been hard at work creating brand-new jobs in the hard-hit well-connected political insider sector.

Root Canals
As the official American vacation season kicks off, high gas prices aren't the only things dampening tourists' excitement. Turns out if you planned a trip to Amsterdam to, you know, "see the Vermeers," you might have to actually go see the Vermeers after all.

Probing The Void
Things are not looking good for seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, but the dark clouds may have a silver lining. If even a fraction of the accusations can be proven, he'd make a perfect Fifa president.

Final Fantasies
What happens when Mavericks take on Heat? Fucking big-screen magic, that's what. And what happens when Canucks take on Bruins? Ditto!

-

The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Bullish.

-

The CAN TV Weekend Report

May Day Commemoration
31084-MayDay-plaque.jpg
The Illinois Labor History Society formally dedicates a bronze plaque on the Haymarket statue to mark the 125th anniversary of the tragedy.

Sunday, May 29 at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21
52 min

-

Restoration and Rededication of the Haymarket Martyrs' Monument
31085-Haymarket-Monument.jpg
Liz Shuler of the AFL-CIO takes part in the rededication of the restored Haymarket Martyrs' monument at the Forest Home Cemetery.

Sunday, May 29 at 10 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 21 min

-

Urban Health Program Graduates and Student Achievement
31080-UHP-Grad.jpg
The University of Illinois at Chicago's Urban Health Program celebrates graduates as well as the student achievements of the 2011 class.

Sunday, May 29 at 11:30 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 16 min

-

Youth Hearing: Summer Jobs and Opportunities
31086-Youth-Hearing.jpg
Teens testify before elected officials on the financial and public safety impact that losing 18,000 summer jobs will have in Illinois.

Sunday, May 29 at 1 p.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 26 min


Posted by Natasha Julius at 10:03 AM | Permalink

May 27, 2011

The [Friday] Papers

How was Mashed Media?

I met up with Beachwood alumni Scott "The Commissioner" Gordon, visiting from Florida where he now lives, at the bar early last evening and didn't make it home until well after the show aired.

I do want to catch up with it. I will, I swear.

*

Also, Columbia Journalism Review takes a look at the Beachwood for its News Frontier Database project.

Blahgo, Blahgo, Blahgo
I have three words for Blago's testimony yesterday: What a wank.

*

Okay, actually I have more words than that. Check out Mystery Blagojevich Testimony Theater.

Bulloney
All the Bulls did last night was weaken a country.

Why The Law, Dad?
Because it puts us into everything.

*

That's from today's Must-See TV pick, The Devil's Advocate. I love that movie, Keanu Reeves notwithstanding. More specifically, I love Al Pacino in this movie.

Here's my favorite part:

Let me give you a little inside information about God. God likes to watch. He's a prankster. Think about it.

He gives man instincts. He gives you this extraordinary gift. And then what does He do?

I swear, for his own amusement, his own private, cosmic gag reel, He sets the rules in opposition. It's the goof of all time.

Look, but don't touch.

Touch, but don't taste.

Taste, but don't swallow.

And while you're jumping from one foot to the next, what is He doing?

He's laughing his sick, fucking ass off!

He's a tightass!

He's a sadist!

He's an absentee landlord!

Worship that? Never!

And then:

I'm here on the ground with my nose in it since the whole thing began!

I've nurtured every sensation man has been inspired to have!

I cared about what he wanted and I never judged him!

Why? Because I never rejected him, in spite of all his imperfections!

I'm a fan of man!

I'm a humanist.

Maybe the last humanist.

Also:

Eddie Barzoon, Eddie Barzoon.

I nursed him through two divorces, a cocaine rehab and a pregnant receptionist.

God's creature, right?

God's special creature?

I've warned him, Kevin.

I've warned him every step of the way.

Watching him bounce around like a fucking game.

Like a wind-up toy.

Like 250 pounds of self-serving greed on wheels.

The next thousand years are right around the corner.

Eddie Barzoon, take a good look because he's the poster child for the next millennium.

These people, it's no mystery where they come from.

You sharpen the human appetite to the point where it can split atoms with its desire. You build egos the size of cathedrals. Fiber-optically connect the world to every eager impulse. Grease even the dullest dreams with these dollar-green gold-plated fantasies until every human becomes an aspiring emperor, becomes his own god. Where can you go from there?

As we're scrambling from one deal to the next who's got his eye on the planet?

As the air thickens, the water sours, even bees' honey takes on the metallic taste of radioactivity, .and it just keeps coming, faster and faster.

There's no chance to think, to prepare.

It's buy futures, sell futures, when there is no future.

We got a runaway train, boy.

We got a billion Eddie Barzoons all jogging into the future.

Every one of them is getting ready to fistfuck God's ex-planet, lick their fingers clean as they reach out toward their pristine cybernetic keyboards to tote up their fucking billable hours.

And then it hits home.

You got to pay your own way, Eddie.

It's a little late in the game to buy out now.

Your belly's too full.

Your dick is sore.

Your eyes are bloodshot and you're screaming for someone to help.

But guess what?

There's no one there!

You're all alone, Eddie.

You're God's special little creature.

Maybe it's true.

Maybe God threw the dice once too often.

Maybe He let us all down.

The Week in Chicago Rock
You shoulda been there.

With or Without The Chicago Code
A tribute.

Beer The Inspiration
You bring feeling to my life.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Wide awake.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:38 AM | Permalink

Mystery Blago Testimony Theater

From the peanut gallery, day one. All quotes are real*.

BLAGO: I'm Rod Blagojevich. I used to be your governor.

RHODES: Before I was impeached.

*

BLAGO: I'm here today to tell you the truth.

RHODES: Patti did it.

*

BLAGO: I've waited two-and-a-half years to get the truth out.

RHODES: And I've kept my mouth shut the entire time.

*

BLAGO: I'm an effing jerk.

RHODES: Government will stipulate.

*

BLAGO: I had a man-crush on Alexander Hamilton.

RHODES: He's on the $10 bill, you know.

*

BLAGO: You can dream and not make dreams your master.

RHODES: Oprah told me that. And then I tried to shake the bitch down.

*

BLAGO: I think I was the only governor of 50 who could spin a basketball on all five fingers of his right hand.

RHODES: The other governors only needed one finger.

*

BLAGO: The beautiful thing about my dad was he always had big dreams. I think I picked up my dad's propensity to dream.

RHODES: That's why I slept so much as governor instead of reporting to work.

*

BLAGO: I'm a product of the disco era, when a hairbrush is an extension of your right hand.

RHODES: I think I was the only governor of 50 who could spin a hairbrush on all five fingers.

*

BLAGO: I can't say I came out of law school knowing much about law.

RHODES: And yet Eddie Vrdolyak hired me anyway! True story. But I really can't say I came out of Eddie's office knowing much about law. Or the Cook County State's Attorney's Office. Or the state legislature. Or the U.S. Congress. So I really didn't know that what I was doing as governor was illegal.

*

BLAGO: I wish I would've stayed that night [when my dad died].

RHODES: But I had a fundraiser to get to.

*

BLAGO: I really liked Jesse Jackson Jr. in the beginning.

RHODES: When I thought he could be bought.

*

BLAGO: I was really close to his family.

RHODES: From The Governor: I didn't know his father. I met him once at the airport and introduced myself as a congressman who worked with his son. He couldn't have cared less and acted like he didn't have the time of day for me.

*

BLAGO: God bless you [to sneezing juror].

RHODES: That's Serbian for 'please hold out.'

*

BLAGO: I deserved an F not an F-minus from the NRA.

RHODES: It was law school all over again.

*

BLAGO: I've made a lot of mistakes in my life. I believe deep in my heart that I did follow the oath.

RHODES: To Satan.

*

BLAGO: I didn't do it.

RHODES: Nobody did.

* Sources for Blago quotes: @natashakorecki, @Msjournalist, @StacyStClair and AP.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:00 AM | Permalink

Beer The Inspiration

When you love somebody.

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:47 AM | Permalink

The Chicago Code: With or Without You

A tribute.

-

Comments welcome.

-

Previously:
* Trailer: The Chicago Code

* Making TV: The Chicago Code On Location

* Breaking The Chicago Code

* The Chicago Code Finally Debuts Tonight After Seeming To Have Already Been On For Three Seasons

* The Music of The Chicago Code: Billy Corgan Gets Schooled

* The 33-Second Episode 2 Recap of The Chicago Code

* Jennifer Beals Still Friends With Chicago High School Pals But Has Ditched Her Hometown Accent

* The Chicago Code Drinking Game

* Jennifer Beals Channels Beyoncé.

* Save The Chicago Code?

* Chicago Code Cancelled.

* Mike Royko's Revenge: The End of the Chicago Code Is Near

* Chicago Code Finale Will Leave You Stunned!

* Wrapping Up The Chicago Code

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:32 AM | Permalink

Bulls Take Heat To Five Games! Blow 12-Point Fourth-Quarter Lead! Let Down A Nation.

"With two defenders on him, Derrick Rose launched a desperation three-point shot with 1.5 seconds left," Mike Dodd writes for USA Today. "It was an air ball."

Again?

"The last moments summed up the Chicago Bulls' play in the fourth quarter of their final four games as they squandered a 12-point lead in the last three-plus minutes to fall to the Miami Heat 83-80, losing the Eastern Conference finals in Game 5."

"Rose, whose season-long heroics earned him the NBA Most Valuable Player award, again struggled in the final quarter, hitting two of nine shots and scoring six points and committing two turnovers. He finished 4-for-23 in the deciding quarter and overtime of the last four games, all Bulls' losses.

"The Bulls were outscored 18-3 down the stretch of this one, a stunning collapse and bitter ending to a season in which they won an NBA-best 62 games."

*

Derrick Rose Again Fails In Crunch Time.

*

"Even with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade on their side, the Miami Heat were all but left for dead, cold as a corpse with the odds stacked high against them," Matt Youmans writes for the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

"The Heat trailed by 12 points with 3:53 remaining, but that's when a rather quiet Thursday night of NBA betting was interrupted by a visit from a crazy uncle. Unpredictable insanity turned the Las Vegas Hilton sports book into a carnival atmosphere.

"In-running wagering - a concept in which the point spread, money line and total are adjusted and posted at each timeout - is a tool every sports bettor should put to use. There might be no better example than the Heat's 83-80 victory over the Chicago Bulls in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals."

*

Heat Can't Remember Comeback That Bulls Will Never Forget.

-

Officialish NBA Highlights

-

AP's Post-Game Report

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:53 AM | Permalink

The Week in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Lykke Li at the Metro on Monday night.

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2. Adele at the Riv on Tuesday night.

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3. Eleventh Dream Day at Millennium Park on Monday night.

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4. We Are Hex at the Empty Bottle on Monday night.

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5. Rabble Rabble at the Empty Bottle on Monday night.

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6. Grimes at the Metro on Monday night.

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7. Distractions at the Empty Bottle on Monday night.

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8. Bayside at the Metro on Sunday night.

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9. Silverstein at the Metro on Sunday night.

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10. Kelroy at the Cobra Lounge on Sunday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:50 AM | Permalink

May 26, 2011

The [Thursday] Papers

As I've written here before, I can't bear watching myself on TV, but tonight I will try to give it a go.

For the last two years I have given occasional interviews to local independent filmmaker Brett Schwartz about the state of the media and the state of ye olde Beachwood in the midst of it. I am just one bit player in the final result, Brett's Mashed Media, which airs tonight on Channel 11 at 10 p.m.

Seeing the lineup that comprises the rest of the "cast," as well as this (wrongheaded) write-up by Robert Feder is cause for a little trepidation - Will Brett's exploration go beyond the tired talking points and unvetted claims we've grown accustomed to? Is Bill Adee really the star for creating the gruesome ChicagoNow platform? - but what can you do.

Here's Brett's own synopsis:

"From the front lines of the bankrupt Chicago Tribune, to the vibrant local online publishing and start-up scene, pioneering journalists struggle to reinvent a storied, yet troubled industry. In Mashed Media, we visit bloggers, independent publishers, hacker journalists, and social media mavens working in the trenches of Chicago, providing a rare and intimate look at the future of journalism now."

*

The film will also air on WTTW's digital HD channel, WTTW Prime, on Friday at 4 p.m.

Brett adds:

"For those of you outside of the Chicago area, it's possible that the film will stream on the station website at WTTW.com later in the week, although that is not currently confirmed. Check the schedules tab on their website for more updates. Thank you all for your support, and enjoy the film."

*

The best part of it is that I've finally made IMDB!

Casino Roulette
I haven't a clue on the likelihood that a gambling expansion bill including a Chicago casino gets passed in the final stretch of this legislative session - and I think a Chicago casino would be disastrous, as much as I enjoy gambling - but it's kind of a fun parlor game to think about where such a casino would be built.

With a new casino opening soon in Des Plaines (borrring), O'Hare might not be such a great location. The next spot pundits usually point to is McCormick Place - particularly McCormick Place East, officially known as the Lakeside Center.

But then, I hadn't thought of this:

"Lakeside Center is definitely not the place for a casino," MPEA Trustee Jim Reilly said in a statement," the Chicago Journal reports (h/t: Capitol Fax). "Our trade show customers do not want their attendees leaving the show floor during show hours."

I guess putting a casino at McCormick Place rather than at least a short cab ride away would make it a little too easy, even though convention-goers would be our prime target.

*

I don't go to Las Vegas much anymore, but when I did I spent most of my time at the craps table or in a sportsbook. I would love to be able to do that here - and not on some schmaltzy riverboat. But casinos are also depressing places; yes, the money folks lose can be chalked up to the cost of entertainment, but I doubt very many patrons truly know just how much the odds are stacked against them and in the favor of the house. And when you learn how to beat the odds through perfectly legal means - card-counting, for example - casinos simply refuse to service you any longer. That's the way the games are rigged, and unless that formula changes, I find it hard to condone the industry (any more, that is, than condoning the shenanigans of, say, the oil bidness.)

Casinos also prey particularly on the vulnerable. Our society is funny that way. Billion-dollar corporations spend tons of money trying to seduce people into smoking, drinking. eating unhealthy food, obsessing about sex, and then the folks at the top who get rich off it castigate the very swaths of the public they appeal to most for their lack of character when it comes to their destructive lifestyles.

Let's put another dozen McDonald's' in an impovershed neighborhood while railing against poor people for their eating habits! If only those dummies were strong enough to resist our come-ons for tobacco and booze. State lottery, anyone?

At least those are private companies. They can be regulated, but they are also free to do whatever they want. But government?

Government has no business being in business. Privatizing the lottery is only a management twist; it's still the government's. Regulating casino licenses still makes government responsible; the casinos exist for government's benefit. Casinos exist because lawmakers don't have the courage to design a better tax system. Casinos and lotteries are monuments to the fecklessness of our elected officials.

Rahm Emanuel, like Richard M. Daley before him, says any Chicago casino that is brought forth would have to be city-owned. That inspires confidence. Instead of hired trucks we'll have hired dealers. Of course, the city would then (presumably) put the management of the casino out to bid. I'm pretty sure we could come up with a solid list right now of who would win that contract, along with all the others. Talk about the ultimate insiders game.

And that's before we get to the inevitable - this is Chicago - infiltration by the mob.

If the city and/or the state wants to legalize gambling, fine. Let everyone compete in the market and tax the proceeds - if you could track them. Beachwood Casino would be a blast. We could make it work and use the revenue to fund all the great journalism we could think of.

But what a mess that would be. Can you imagine?

So gambling just doesn't work here, except in its clandestine forms, office pools and OTBs.

Plus, Block 37 is taken.

*

A faithful reader writes:

"Here's the one way I could stomach it. If they made it a totally elitist, hi-roller, luxury complex a la Monaco or something. Seriously, if they made the price of admission so steep, they'd only get rich people and we could stick it them all ways possible - hotel taxes, food taxes, and gambling losses."

Or we could just bring back Rahm's luxury tax. That sure disappeared quick, didn't it?

What's Your Sector, Victor?
Speaking of the role of government:

"Illinois on Wednesday revealed the names of eight more companies that will receive more than $230 million in incentives over the next decade, out of a total of 27 firms," the Tribune reports.

I've got an idea: Let's privatize the private sector. Then let's let government do the jobs that government is supposed to do - garbage pick-up, parking meters, schools. We've got it backwards, folks.

*

Hey Pat Quinn, for a couple mil I'll create some jobs too! Why not me?

Birther Madness
Reversible Contraceptives In Demand.

Because you want to get pregnant after all?

I don't understand this world.

Blahgo, Blahgo, Blahgo
Another day, another request for mistrial.

*

Blahgo to incriminate himself today.

Bulls Wire
Noah Apologizes, Says Anti-Gay Remark Was Totally Gay.

*

Heat fans already moving on.

Greatest Artist Ever
Dylan, right?

Who else, Shakespeare? Michelangelo? Picasso? Beethoven?

I think Dylan's influence, range and depth goes beyond them all. He's not only mastered but enhanced blues, folk, country and gospel; he practically invented a new lyrical language; his underrated musicality is astonishing (just read what fellow musicians who have been in the studio with him have to say about that); his singing, when he still had his voice, was pure brilliance, despite the naysayers. And his songs, as he himself has shown, are amazingly malleable even as their structures and frames remain intact. It's almost miraculous.

Just take a look at our third and final installment of Chicago Does Dylan (as well as parts one and two). From The Redwalls' take on "Crash on the Levee" to Phil Flowers' souled-up version of "Like a Rolling Stone" to my favorite of the series, Julie Jurgens' "You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go," it's just a cavalcade of rich interpretations made possible only by the master himself. Could any other artist hold up this way and with so much material?

I'll just use the word astonishing again.

A Very Important Public Service Announcement
Someone please feed Erin Heatherton!

Go Cubs Go
No, really, go.

Pols vs. Teachers
"Are any elected officials who are proposing cuts to teachers' pensions likewise proposing cuts in their pensions?" our very own Ed Hammer wonders.

Adult Swim Now With Lasers
The official channel of Late Night Monday Beachwood announces its new slate of programming.

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: All ages.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:48 AM | Permalink

A Very Special Beachwood Public Service Announcement: Someone Please Feed Erin Heatherton

Skokie supermodel Erin Heatherton (known by her birth name of Erin Heather Bubley at Niles North High), back in town on Wednesday for a Victoria's Secret gig (and a stop at Wrigley Field) is only a super model if you want your daughter to grow up super anorexic. There is nothing sexy about walking skeletons. Or as the street may say, baby ain't got back. She probably ain't got a menstrual cycle no more either.

1. Thinner than a bat.

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2. Thinner than the Cubs bench.

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3. Bony enough for the Field Museum.

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4. For just a dollar a day, you could feed her for a year. Please give now.

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5. What inner thighs?

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6. Gross.

*

"My favorite memories growing up were breakfasts at Walker Bros. Pancake House and Lou Malnati's Pizza."

Or did she say throwing up? It was hard to hear.

*

"I wanted to study biology."

Mission accomplished.

7. Tags: bones, bony, Erin Heatherton, model, scary skinny, skinny, thin, underweight.

*

abby b says: June 23, 2010 at 5:55 pm

ideal body in my opinion! she's gorgeous and i'm aiming for a figure like hers, currently i'm 5'9" and 120 lbs, i still need to slim down a bit

FYI.

8. The curves of her bones?

-

Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:29 AM | Permalink

Owls That Shoot Lasers Out Of Their Eyes Celebrate New Adult Swim Schedule With Jay-Z

"As if the two 12-foot-tall, fog-shrouded golden owls that stood sentry over the crowd at a party for the Adult Swim cable television channel on Wednesday night weren't imposing enough, they also shot lasers out of their eyes," the New York Times reports.

"We couldn't see what nightmarish owls were meant to convey at the advertiser-courting party. But they didn't faze the guests at Roseland Ballroom, many of whom seemed to be archetypes from the TV show 30 Rock: corporate sharks and ironically bespectacled comedy writers - the sorts of people who create, profit from or watch animated programming for adults."

*

Jay-Z To Rock Stoner Set With Adult Swim Deal.

*

"Is there any popular TV genre that Adult Swim won't knock off and tear down," the Los Angeles Times' "Show Tracker" blog wonders in "Adult Swim Adds a Soap Opera, Crime Parody and Animated Blaxploitation."

-

The Beachwood Inn proudly airs Adult Swim on late Monday evenings with the closed-caption on and the jukebox rocking.

Here is the new slate direct from Adult Swim PR (all times Central):

* NTSF:SD:SUV::: NTSF:SD:SUV:: (National Terrorism Strike Force: San Diego: Sport Utility Vehicle) is a clandestine team of government agents working together to protect San Diego from numerous terrorist threats coming in daily from such evil countries as Mexico, Canada and Guam. This team of highly trained operatives has only one job: saving your ass so you can drive your Prius and see your movies in 3-D without worrying about living in a country run by no-good terrorists.

As with many other acronym-ed police procedurals that dominate the airwaves, NTSF:SD:SUV::'s season of 15-minute episodes is ripped from the headlines and full of suspense, action, drama, cliffhangers, yelling, passionate love-making, more yelling, death and plenty of pregnant pauses.

NTSF:SD:SUV:: is created by Paul Scheer and stars Scheer, Rebecca Romjin, Rob Riggle, Kate Mulgrew, Brandon Johnson, June Diane Raphael, Martin Starr and S.A.M., the first sentient robot on television. Premieres this summer.

* THE VENTURE BROS. SPECIAL - FROM THE LADLE TO THE GRAVE: THE STORY OF SHALLOW GRAVY. See the Venture Family as you've never seen them before: in a 15-minute documentary-style animated special.

Follow the meteoric rise, the equally meteoric fall, and the decidedly un-meteor-like second coming of the most important band Hank Venture, Dermott Fitctel and H.E.L.P.eR. robot have ever been in: Shallow Gravy.

If you're hungry for rock, then open wide, because here comes a ladle of heavy metal fire and metaphoric meat drippings.

Launched on Adult Swim in August 2004, The Venture Bros. is an inspired spoof of 1960s action cartoon shows such as Johnny Quest. Created by Jackson Publick III (King of the Hill, The Tick), the 30-minute animated series follows the bizarre misadventures of the Venture family. The Venture Bros. Special - From the Ladle to the Grave: The Story of Shallow Gravy premieres July 24.

* THE HEART, SHE HOLLER. The Heart, She Holler is a new live-action soap opera about folk who ain't never used soap or seen an opera. It's a satire on the emotional Hee-Hawification of America, set in a town so inbred that the folks have become almost supernaturally wrong. The series is produced by PFFR, and stars Patton Oswalt and Heather Lawless. The Heart, She Holler premieres this fall.

* CHINA, IL. Frank and Steve Smith are brothers who teach in the history department of a state university in China, Illinois. They also happen to be legends in their own minds who will often sacrifice facts, lessons and syllabi for the sake of being awesome. Created by Brad Neely, executive produced by Brad Neely (Creased Comics) and Daniel Weidenfeld and produced by Titmouse, Inc. (Metalocalypse), China, IL premieres this fall.

* TIGHT BROS. Tight Bros is a new animated comedy that follows two moronic "clergybros" who are on a quest for fat beats, hot chicks and tricked-out cell phones. Vince and Aaron were called by God to spread a holy message: one of peace, love and tearin' up the club. By day the two sell religious kitsch at a kiosk in Viceroy Del Sol mall. By night they hunt for babes, but only with mega-tans and super smooth waxes in place. Premiering in the spring of 2012.

* BLACK DYNAMITE. Based on 2009's critically-acclaimed feature film Black Dynamite, the new 30-minute animated series will premiere in the spring of 2012. The Black Dynamite animated series further chronicles the exploits of the central character, Black Dynamite, and his crew.

Under the direction of Carl Jones (The Boondocks), the series features the voice talent of Michael Jai White, Tommy Davidson, Kym Whitley and Byron Minns, all of whom starred in the feature film.

The feature film is an outrageous action comedy-spoof that follows ex-CIA agent and full-time ladies man, Black Dynamite, who's out to avenge the death of his brother against kung-fu masters, drug-dealing pimps and The Man.

Returning series:
* AQUA UNIT PATROL SQUAD 1. The series formerly known as Aqua Teen Hunger Force is one of the most popular and longest-running original series on Adult Swim and has been retooled for glory and renamed Aqua Unit Patrol Squad 1. Show creators Dave Willis and Matt Maiellaro, felt that after 100+ episodes, they really didn't like the name.

Now Frylock, Master Shake, Meatwad and their smelly neighbor Carl appear under a new banner and new theme song, which was written, composed and performed by Joshua Homme (Queens of the Stone Age) and Alain Johannes. The closing theme shred guitar performance is by co-creator Maiellaro.

The cast also does a lot of the things they've done over the past 10 years: look for a new place to put their stuff, pay rent, make gut-wrenching decisions and talk about life while sipping herbal tea.

Aqua Unit Patrol Squad 1 premiered May 8 and continues every Sunday at 10:45 p.m. on Adult Swim.

* CHILDRENS HOSPITAL. Childrens Hospital is an award-winning facility where happy and healthy children are looked after by doctors who deeply care about them and the overall well-being of their community. That whole sentence was a lie.

Childrens Hospital is created by Rob Corddry (Hot Tub Time Machine, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart) and produced by Abominable Pictures, distributed by Warner Bros. Television and features an all-star cast.

The series is based on the Webby Award-winning digital series that debuted on TheWB.com in 2008.

In Season 3, Corddry is again joined by a cast of comedic geniuses, including Malin Akerman, Lake Bell, Erinn Hayes, Rob Huebel, Ken Marino, two-time Emmy winner Megan Mullally and Henry Winkler.

Season 3 returns to Adult Swim on Thursday, June 2 at 11 p.m.

* DELOCATED. Delocated is a live-action 30-minute comedy series. After testifying against the Russian Mafia, "Jon" and his family are uprooted and start living undercover through the witness protection program. After existing quietly in an anonymous suburb, "Jon" accepts an offer for the family to participate in a reality show based on their lives. Season 3 of Delocated premieres in the spring of 2012.

* EAGLEHEART. The live-action comedy Eagleheart, starring Chris Elliott, debuted on the network in 2010. Elliott returns in season 2 as U.S. Marshal Chris Monsanto along with cast members Brett Gelman and Maria Thayer. Every episode of Eagleheart promises violence, suspense, intrigue and copious amounts of needless bloodshed as Marshal Chris Monsanto blindly kicks, punches and shoots his way to what may or may not be a legitimate solution to his case.

* MARY SHELLEY'S FRANKENHOLE. Moral Orel creator Dino Stamatopoulos returns to Adult Swim in the spring of 2012 with season 2 of the stop-motion animated series Mary Shelley's Frankenhole. This is the true story of Victor Frankenstein - the world's most narcissistic genius - and his various attempts to become recognized as the great creator/scientist that he believes himself to be.

* METALOCALYPSE. From creators Brendon Small and Tommy Blacha, the fourth season of the animated series Metalocalypse premieres in the spring of 2012. The series chronicles Dethklok's crusades into darkness and their exploitation as the world's most popular metal band and most significant cultural force.

* MONGO WRESTLING ALLIANCE. The Wrestler meets Metalocalypse in this story of the once great Kleberkuh Clan. Backstabbing smoking ring sluts, villainous mutants and pile-drivers from the top of great big ladders - it's all in a days work for young Rusty Kleberkuh who is determined to restore his family's name in the treacherous and deviant world of professional wrestling. Mongo Wrestling Alliance premiered season 1 part 1 in January. Season 1 part 2 premieres Sunday, June 19 at 11 p.m.

* ROBOT CHICKEN. Robot Chicken uses stop-motion animation to bring pop-culture parodies to life in a modern take on the variety/sketch show format. The Emmy Award-winning series began airing in February 2005 and remains the top-rated original series on Adult Swim. Season 5 part 2 premieres this fall.

* SQUIDBILLIES. The inbred squid-things of Dougal County return for a fifth season of hillbilly shenanigans in the spring of 2012. The squids won't disappointify you, as long as you like bank robbing, drug trafficking, unskinny bopping, and guest appearances by bona-fide famous people.

* SUPERJAIL!. In April the hit series Superjail! slammed back into general population for a second season of destruction and continues to premiere on Sundays at 11 p.m. (ET, PT) on Adult Swim. Double the insanity. Double the crazy. Double the pain of being kicked in the guts really hard.

Pilots currently in development:
* Regal Productions; Live action comedy created, directed, produced and starring Bob Odenkirk.
* The Dummiez; Nick Cannon project
* Untitled project with Major Lazer
* Untitled project with Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All
* Rolling with Dad; 30-minute animated sitcom created by Seth Grahame-Smith and David Katzenberg

Returning acquisitions:
* AMERICAN DAD
* BLEACH
* FAMILY GUY
* FULL METAL ALCHEMIST: BROTHERHOOD
* KING OF THE HILL

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Airing nightly from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. (ET/ PT), Adult Swim shares channel space with Cartoon Network, home to the best in original, acquired and classic entertainment for youth and families, and is seen in 99 million U.S. homes.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:45 AM | Permalink

Carl's Cubs Mailbag: Go Cubs Go. No, Really, Go.

I'm getting tired of hearing "Go Cubs Go" after wins at home. Got any suggestions for winning Cubs theme songs?
-Eddie V, Seattle WA

You're tired of it after having heard it just 10 times this year?

Why do we still have interleague play?
-Darien, Darien IL

So we can watch the blossoming Diamondbacks/Twins rivalry on MLB Network for $100 per season.

I just got cable and I get the feeling the ESPN [Editors Note: not a typo. Tom actually wrote "the ESPN"] likes to talk about teams from Boston and New York. Am I on to something?
-Tom, Under A Rock

One could get that impression after watching the Cubs/Red Sox broadcast on Sunday, but the Eastern Sports Propaganda Network swears there is no geographical bias in its editorial voice. Just like its parent company swears that its founder didn't hate Jews . . . he just had a coincidental habit of being the only studio head willing to screen movies by Leni Riefenstahl in the 30's and personally signed off on Der Fuehrer's Face (1943), the short that showcases Donald Duck as a Nazi.

Are the call-ups really the result of injuries or are we watching the Cubs do some kind of extended tryout for 2012?
-Kyle, Lisle IL

The Cubs 25-man major league roster is starting to look like someone has been playing Franchise Mode on Madden for 10 seasons (i.e., players like Hines Cutler and D'Brickashaw Culpepper start showing up in your drafts). That being said, I don't think Marlon Byrd was taking a ruptured optical socket for the team so the Ricketts could get a good look at Lou Montanez.

What do you know. Another home game played in misty crap from the sky [received during the May 25th game vs. the Mets]. Can we please put a retractable roof over Wrigley?
-Eugene, Carol Stream IL

Until I can take a piss in something other than a device that was literally designed to feed livestock, or possibly to store tripe, Chicago weather feels like a campaign problem to me.

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Send your comments or questions to Carl!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:33 AM | Permalink

Pols vs. Teachers

I do not know why, but there seems to be a trend in our culture to blame particular groups of people for specific ills. We blame all of Islam for 9/11. We blame immigrants for high unemployment. We blame African Americans for our cities' high crime rates. We blame the uninsured for the health-care crisis. And now we are blaming teachers for failing schools.

I, personally, blame politicians for everything.

The fact of the matter is that most issues are complex. A multitude of variables are the cause for most crises. No entire race, religion, or class of people is responsible for any specific problem.

School budgets are in the red. Pensions are on the verge of bankruptcy. Student test scores are flagging.

Whose fault is that? Teachers'?

Again, I blame the politicians.

Teachers have one of the most difficult jobs there is compared to many other professions.

They are required to have the skills of a nurse, police officer, social worker, decorator, computer technician, and parent all wrapped up into one. They have to manage the behavior of 25 individuals whose brains are not physically or emotionally developed while at the same time teaching them the basics needed to survive. Their classroom may consist of a full range of learning types and behavioral disorders. And yet, somehow, out of all that, most children graduate and become successful adults. Thank the teacher.

You have to ask yourself: Is this there anybody as equally responsible for a child's success or failure?

The first thing that pops into my brain is the parents. Are the parents home? Do they speak English? Do they belong to a gang? Are they so busy with their careers that they do not have time to help with homework? Are they setting a good moral example for their offspring by paying taxes, going to church, and driving the speed limit? Do they tolerate ethnic and racial differences or do they use racial slurs and hate-mongering when gossiping about neighbors?

Any of these conditions in a student's home can result in academic failure. Many politicians lack the courage to discuss these issues publicly. After all, parents vote.

So they have made teachers the problem.

Take pensions, for example. Have the city and state governments ever borrowed against the pensions? If so, have they ever paid the pension funds back? Are the teachers' pensions paid from tax dollars or from teacher contributions? Do state and city governments make timely contributions or are they holding back? Are any elected officials who are proposing cuts to teachers' pensions likewise proposing cuts in their pensions?

The fact is that teachers contribute 9.4% of their gross salary to their pension and do not contribute to Social Security. It is the failure of states and cities to meet their pecuniary obligations to teachers' retirement funds that have resulted in the fiscal failings of pension plans.

Yet, teachers are now the scapegoats for politicians who have created the pension crisis.


* * *

There is now a bill sitting on Governor Pat Quinn's desk that gives all the power over our education systems to the administrators appointed by the politicians - the politicians who created the problem in the first place.

Getting rid of teachers who don't perform makes sense, but evaluating performance on test scores opens the door to all kinds of shenanigans, including the incentive to cheat. Another worry: a principal who wants to fire an experienced teacher and replace him or her with a less costly rookie can stack the older teacher's classroom with students who have behavior problems, language issues, and learning disabilities, thereby setting up the teacher and students for failure.

But politicians clearly want to replace experienced teachers with cheaper, inexperienced newcomers. It is even foreseeable that in the future our teacher corps will turn over every four or five years - even while we're stuck with underperforming pols seemingly forever.

How did we get here? Why so much anti-teacher sentiment now?

Start with the United States Supreme Court. Last June, the Court ruled in Citizens United that corporations both for-profit and non-profit had a First Amendment right to spend as much money on political advocacy as they wanted. Corporate-funded - and created - interest groups quickly got to work.

The Portland-based Stand for Children, for example, established a beachhead in Illinois with with $3.5 million in its coffers. This made it the third-wealthiest PAC in Illinois.

Although the PAC originated outside Illinois, most of its money here came from familiar Chicago figures such as the Crowns and the Pritzkers. In a last minute effort to avoid election reform laws that came into effect in 2011, the PAC donated more than $600,000 to Illinois politicians in late 2010.

Stand for Children supports the bill on Quinn's desk - which is also supported in part by the teachers unions. Who ever said the teachers do not understand the dire need to reform and compromise?

So what is wrong with the legislation? A last-minute amendment singling out Chicago teachers was snuck in under the nose of the Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis and negatively affects the future of Chicago's children.

The bill requires 75% of CTU membership to vote Yes in order to strike. It denies the union the legal right to file unfair layoff grievances with the Illinois Education Labor Relations Board. Essentially, termination of teachers will be left to the discretion of school principals. The bill also removes the union's right to negotiate the length of the school day or school year. Ultimately, all final decisions without allowing any union discussion will be made by Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

The state teachers unions now oppose the bill. CTU, which initially supported it, has backed off, citing the bills limits on future collective bargaining

Many veteran teachers I've spoken with over the last several days are demoralized. Why have the elected officials and much of the public forsaken these dedicated individuals? Is it smoke and mirrors to distract from where the fault really lies, the politicians?

This not only is a slap in the teachers' faces, it is a violation of their First Amendment rights. Like a PAC under the Citizens United ruling, unions have First Amendment rights too.

Most importantly, the quality of education will decline. As classroom sizes increase and teachers' salaries decrease, experienced teachers will be fired and new teachers will become difficult to come by. Students' scores will decline. Even more parents of mjeans will send their children to private school, abandoning public schools even further to the less privileged. Public schools in the city will be the repository for the children of the poor and working class.

* * *

The irony of all this is Illinois' push for educational reform is contradictory to a prior attempt for political and election reform. In January 2008, at the peak of the unfolding Blagojevich scandal, then-Lieutenant Governor Quinn formed the Illinois Reform Commission. Its mission was to make recommendations for cleaning up state government. The panel included sincere professionals with genuine interest in reform. Experts were brought in from all over the country to testify.

By the end of April 2008, the panel released a report containing recommendations of a wide range of ethics reforms including campaign financing, transparency, and better government. All this came in the form of legislative proposals presented to the General Assembly. The end result from our elected representatives was a watered-down version of changes that effectively squelched reform.

Now, the General Assembly, after lobbying by a billionaires PAC, wants to reform education, the foundation of our culture. I say let's fix the General Assembly first. Lower the limits on donations to candidates from individuals and PACs. Lower the members' part-time salaries. Take away their health-care plan. Eliminate their pension benefits. When they have done all that, then they can re-examine doing the same for teachers.

In the meantime, many questions go unanswered. How is it that Stand for Children believes it is helping our children by destroying our teachers' rights? Why did CTU president Lewis initially agree to this bill only to later realize there were anti-collective bargaining provisions? Were separate provisions for Chicago's teachers meant to turn the unions against each other? What are the unions doing to stop the enactment of the bill? Will they seek an injunction?

And most importantly: Will anybody ever want to be a teacher again?

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Ed Hammer is a retired Illinois Secretary of State Police Captain and author of the book One Hundred Percent Guilty: How and Insider Links the Death of Six Children to the Politics of Convicted Governor George Ryan.

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See also:
* George Ryan's Park Bench
* George Ryan's Dogs and Ponies
* George Ryan's Other Jailhouse Interview
* Bugging The Chicago School Board
* Cop vs. Teacher
* Signs of Change

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Comments welcome.

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1. From Stan Palder:

Ed Hammer's essay on so-called school reform was dead-on. He described accurately how special-interest groups and politicians are on a crusade to destroy the public schools via demonization of experienced teachers, privatization of public schooling, and giving power over public schools to those ignorant of public schooling such as private prep schoolers Arne Duncan and Barack Obama and private sectarian prep schooler Mayor Richard M. Daley. Too bad that Mr. Hammer didn't mention the Chicago Tribune and Wall Street Journal, which have been relentless in their vicious attacks on teachers.

I was surprised that Mr. Hammer did not mention that charter schools are a fraud. They are a rip-off of the public schools because their so-called lotteries are for those parents who have the motivation to enter the lotteries. If a family wins the lottery, it must follow through and send their child to the charter school. Furthermore, their child can be winnowed out of the charter via punitive measures (sometimes financial) if he or she does not perform up to the charter's standards. A charter school is merely a private school that gets most of its funding from the taxpayer. Extra funding for many charters comes from anti-public school groups.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:09 AM | Permalink

Chicago Does Dylan: Part 3

Celebrating Bob Dylan's 70th birthday this week with a collection of covers by Chicago artists or by artists performing at Chicago venues over the years.

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Part 1.
Part 2.

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1. "Crash on the Levee" by The Redwalls, uploaded November 9, 2008.


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2. "Thunder on the Mountain" by Indiana Joe & The Tempo of Doom Band, performed at The Hideaway in Blue Island on New Year's Eve 2009.

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3. "You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go" by Julie Jurgens, performed presumably at her home, uploaded February 21, 2009.

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4. "Lay Lady Lay" by Josh Rouse, performed at the Park West on October 25, 2007.

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5. "Down in the Flood" by the Paul Green School of Rock Chicago Show Team, performed at the Sheffield Garden Walk on July 19, 2009.

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6. "Blowin' in the Wind" by Eddie Kowalczyk, performed at Schubas on June 23, 2009.

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7. "Like a Rolling Stone" by Phil Flowers & The Flower Shop, performed at the Double Door's Soul Summit Chicago, uploaded December 2, 2010.

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8. "From a Buick 6" by Quasar Wut-Wut, performed at Martyr's in January 2006 (seguing into a tribute to Bruce Springsteen).

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9. "Masters of War" by Eddie Vedder and Ben Harper, performed at Lollapalooza on August 3, 2007.

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10. "Subterranean Homesick Blues" by Roly O, performed presumably in his home, uploaded August 2, 2009.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:40 AM | Permalink

May 25, 2011

Wrapping Up The Chicago Code

Were you stunned?

A round-up of reviews.

*

"And so The Chicago Code comes to an end, with a rushed, overstuffed episode that nevertheless poses provocative questions related to the central themes of this series: How do you really fight crime in a city where the politicians are in league with the racketeers? What good is the code of honor among policemen if it works against the closing of cases? And how do you weigh true justice against the needs of the many good people who might be hurt by it?" Noel Murray writes for The A.V. Club.

"That's The Chicago Code in a nutshell: How do you fix a city where the only way to make progress is to make illegal deals? The very act of cleaning up corruption splashes the filth back on you."

*

"We planned all along to wrap up the Gibbons story this season," Shawn Ryan told HitfFix. "In fact, we signed Delroy Lindo to only a 1 year contract. Having said that, Delroy loved the role and we talked about bringing him back for 2-3 episodes in Season 2. But the main thrust of Season 2 would be a brand new story with a couple of new characters. I always envisioned it a bit like the old show Wiseguy - new villains and new characters every 10-13 episodes."

*

"With Gibbons behind bars and Wysocki finding out his brother was a dirty cop, the show would have certainly been intriguing next year, but as a series finale this worked out pretty well," Ciara Moyna writes for Daemon's TV. "Colvin, sitting at a bar pretending to be a tourist at a convention in order to get some action was an inspired scene. Being the first female Chief of Police, with all of her sexual relationships up for front page grabs, strips her of an identity. Seeking justice in Chicago sucks."

*

"Delroy Lindo . . . still merits serious Emmy consideration," Bruce Fretts of TV Guide says.

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Comments welcome.

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Previously:
* Trailer: The Chicago Code

* Making TV: The Chicago Code On Location

* Breaking The Chicago Code

* The Chicago Code Finally Debuts Tonight After Seeming To Have Already Been On For Three Seasons

* The Music of The Chicago Code: Billy Corgan Gets Schooled

* The 33-Second Episode 2 Recap of The Chicago Code

* Jennifer Beals Still Friends With Chicago High School Pals But Has Ditched Her Hometown Accent

* The Chicago Code Drinking Game

* Jennifer Beals Channels Beyoncé.

* Save The Chicago Code?

* Chicago Code Cancelled.

* Mike Royko's Revenge: The End of the Chicago Code Is Near

* Chicago Code Finale Will Leave You Stunned!


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:44 AM | Permalink

The [Wednesday] Papers

1. Calling all chubby children, toothless men and people with pick-up trucks.

2. Breaking News From Fox Chicago: "Acting Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy: Fighting Crime #1 Priority."

*

In other developments, acting schools chief Jean-Claude Brizard declares educating children his top priority; environmental head will focus on environment; and Ed Burke will put accumulating wealth first.

3. "Hershey is punching tiny holes in its iconic candy bar. Nestle is bringing Skinny Cow to the candy aisle. Wrigley is coming out with apple pie gum. Mars is stuffing vitamins and minerals into snack bars. And in case you missed them, Jelly Belly is bringing back rotten-egg jelly beans," Ad Age reports.

"In a sugary stampede, candy makers big and small are rushing hundreds of new products to market this year hoping the innovations will bring sweet profits. And no wonder: New product launches helped propel the $26 billion sweets and snacks industry to 2.5% growth in the year ending April 17, which is about double the growth of all grocery categories, according to SymphonyIRI.

"So the industry is in a rather celebratory mood this week as it gathers for the annual National Confectioners Association's Sweets & Snacks Expo in Chicago. Marketers are showing off more than 2,000 new offerings in a trade show that covers three acres and attracted some 14,000 manufacturers and candy buyers - not to mention the Peep chick, the M&M gang and dozens of other candy mascots roaming the convention hall, where the smell alone is enough to give you a sugar buzz."

4. "A Chicago lawyer wants a judge to exclude a buxom woman from the opposing counsel's table at an upcoming trial over a car dealership's warranty on a used Cadillac," the ABA Journal reports.

*

From the lawyer's motion:

"Defendant's counsel is anecdotally familiar with the tactics and theatrics of plaintiff's counsel. Such behavior includes having a large breasted woman sit next to him at counsel's table during the course of the trial. There is no evidence whatsoever that this woman has any legal training whatsoever, and the sole purpose of her presence at plaintiff's counsel's table is to draw the attention of the jury away from the relevant proceedings before this court, obviously prejudicing the defendants in this or any other cause."

5. "Artist LeRoy Neiman and his wife are giving $5 million to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago for a new student center," AP reports.

"Neiman and Janet Byrne Neiman both attended the school. In a news release, the school says the money will help fund what will be called the LeRoy Neiman Center."

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"An extraordinary, very early Neiman painting depicting Chicago's colorful cabaret nightlife at the Clover Leaf Lounge - 48" x 72" Oil on Board, 1956." (Amico1too)

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6. Derrick Rose not valuable enough.

7. Chicago Does Dylan, Part 2.

8. Wow, remember when this guy was getting benched against the Blackhawks?

9. Measles Case Causes [Iowa] To Declare Health Alert.

"[P]eople who might have been exposed include passengers on an American Airlines flight from Chicago to Des Moines May 11."

10. "In the course of over-thinking, I underestimated several players who have gone on to be fantasy stars this season," our very own Dan O'Shea writes in this week's Fantasy Fix. "In the interest of self-flagellation, here's my All-Underestimated Team so far this season."

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Flagellate.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:29 AM | Permalink

Chicago Does Dylan: Part 2

Celebrating Bob Dylan's 70th birthday this week with a collection of covers by Chicago artists or by artists performing at Chicago venues over the years.

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Part 1.

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1. "Highway 61 Revisited" by PJ Harvey, performed at the Metro in 1993.


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2. "Absolutely Sweet Marie" by Jay Farrar and Ben Gibbard, performed at Lincoln Hall on October 26, 2009.

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3. "Make You Feel My Love" by The Silhouettes of Loyola University, performed on April 30, 2011.

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4. "Dark Eyes" by Warren Zevon, performed at the Park West on March 4, 2000.

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5. "One More Cup of Coffee" by Dusty Denim, performed for The Brian Costello Show at the Empty Bottle, uploaded March 31, 2008.

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6. "Tombstone Blues" by Mike Mangione, performed at the Double Door, uploaded December 9, 2008.

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7. "Like a Rolling Stone" by Ken Koshio, performed in Chicago in 2003.

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8. "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues" by Bailiff, performed at the Empty Bottle in March 2008.

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9. "I Shall Be Released" by Kevin Prchal & Venna, performed backstage at Otto's in DeKalb in advance of a February 20, 2010 show at Subterranean also including this song.

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10. "Wagon Wheel" by Poor Man's Cow, performed at Mahoney's Pub & Grille on July 9, 2009.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:21 AM | Permalink

Rose Wilts, Bulls Melt

"The youngest MVP in the history of the NBA missed a free-throw with 1.10 seconds to play which would have given the Bulls a point lead before spurning two more chances to level the series in the final minute," the London Evening Standard reports.

"[A] distraught Rose, 22, acknowledged the fact that he had let his team down.

"Tonight it was definitely on me," said Rose who scored 23 points on the night. "I had great opportunities to end the game and I couldn't do it. It was my fault but I will learn from it.

"If you want to be great you need to want pressure. It was a tough night and they played great defense but you need to find a way to finish the game off in the fourth quarter when we have a lead."

Air Ball
"When Derrick Rose had a chance to win the game and tie the series, he came up short. In fact, his shot failed to reach the rim," AP reports.

"The miss from 17 feet as the fourth quarter ended sent Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals into overtime, and the Miami Heat took advantage of the reprieve Tuesday to beat the Chicago Bulls 101-93."

*

"[Rose] was neutralized for the third game in a row. The NBA MVP scored 23 points, but he shot only 8 for 27 and committed seven turnovers."

Rose Doesn't Have 'It'
"[H]e wasn't efficient," Israel Gutierrez writes for McClatchy Newspapers. "He wasn't overpowering. He wasn't enough.This is where it is becoming painfully obvious that Rose, as talented as he is and as willing to lead as he is, just doesn't have what it takes to lead this team past the Heat.

"What 'it' is remains to be identified. Maybe he's simply not tall enough to be the force that LeBron James is. Maybe he doesn't affect the game on the defensive end the way you would expect someone with his athleticism would. Maybe he remains conflicted with his 'point guard' role because he's also asked to score too much for his team to compete. Or maybe this Heat defense really is just that good at stopping a team's initial option."

*

"He was 0 of 5 from beyond the three-point arc in the first quarter. He missed seven of his nine shots in the quarter. He committed two turnovers and had zero assists in the quarter. And it was a quarter where the Heat shot a lousy 27.8 percent from the floor and scored 16 points. Still, Rose couldn't make his imprint."

LeBron vs. Rose
"LeBron James showed his value to the Miami Heat on the defensive side of the court in their 101-93 overtime win over the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday, stopping the man who replaced him as the league's MVP - Derrick Rose," Simon Evans writes for Reuters.

"James, who top-scored with 35 points for the Heat, took on the task of limiting Rose in the fourth quarter and it was his presence that hampered the Bulls main offensive threat when he missed a chance to win the game with eight seconds left.

"Toward the end of a marathon game, James volunteered for the difficult job of guarding the quick and agile 22-year-old and his coach Erik Spoelstra was delighted as his team went 3-1 up in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference finals."

Official NBA Highlights

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AP Post-Game Report

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:39 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: My All-Underestimated Team

Being a fantasy baseball fanatic, I traffic in trends, predictions, rumors, obscure statistics and conspiracy theories, among other things, but almost never in common sense.

A lot of what's fun about fantasy sports is the intense analysis that goes into it as you look to prove that you know the players and their abilities better than any other manager in your league - maybe better than the players do themselves.

But such hubris is likely to bite you in the ass once in a while, or perhaps often. Your in-depth research and your desire to wow your opponents with unexpected moves during the draft will turn up a few gems for you, but you may also pass up the biggest diamonds of all. In the course of over-thinking, I underestimated several players who have gone on to be fantasy stars this season.

In the interest of self-flagellation, here's my All-Underestimated Team so far this season:

C - Russell Martin, NY Yankees: Most of the planet had written Martin off long ago. Yankee Stadium will beef up anyone's numbers, but conventional wisdom suggested he would merely being keeping a seat warm for highly-touted prospect Jesus Montero, and otherwise might only play against lefties. Martin's 8 HRs and 24 RBIs suggest otherwise.

1B - Lance Berkman, St. Louis: A brief trip to New York late last season was disastrous, and Berkman suddenly looked about 50 years old, and as much like Fat Elvis as he ever has in his career. But a slimmer version recommitted to playing outfield showed up this spring, and with 11 HRs, 35 RBIs, and a .341 batting average, he has been one of the biggest surprises this year.

2B - Ben Zobrist, Tampa: The defections of Carlos Pena and Carl Crawford were supposed to hurt guys like Zobrist, who hit poorly before but subsisted on the walks, stolen bases and runs that came from hitting somewhere near one of those other guys in the lineup. Zobrist had a quiet 2010 after a breakout 2009, but 8 HRs, 28 RBIs and 5 SBs have made him a great draft bargain.

SS - Asdrubal Cabrera, Cleveland: Fantasy-wise, he has always been a promising but perennial backup. Who knew he would choose 2011 for his breakout year, with 10 HRs, 34 RBIs and 7 SBs so far?

3B - Jose Bautista, Toronto: He's leading the league again in home runs, and again it makes no sense to me at all. I still think pitchers refuse to accept his power and serve him fastballs that end up reinforcing it, but in any case, 19 HRs and a league-leading 41 walks with a .353 average make him the player of the year.

OF - Curtis Granderson, NY Yankee: Like Martin, his fly balls may be turning into homers in Yankee Stadium. He's among the HR leaders, but where did the guy who used to collect triples and SBs go?

OF - Matt Holliday, St. Louis: The most vanilla slugger in the game. He's a middling power hitter, but his .350 average and 13 doubles have him playing up to his pre-draft rank at the fringe of the top 20. Not many players can say that.

OF - B.J. Upton, Tampa: Still not living up to his longstanding promise, but 7 HRs, 27 RBIs and 8 SBs puts him among the multi-stat leaders.

UTIL - Michael Young, Texas: He was a tough call at draft time because it wasn't clear where or even if he would play for Texas. However, he has more doubles than anyone else at 16, and his 64 hits have him second in the majors in that category.

SP - Shawn Marcum, Milwaukee: Marcum had his moments with Toronto, but I felt he was generally inconsistent, and didn't understand his high pre-draft ranking in some quarters. Being backed by a powerful offense has helped, but Marcum really has excelled with 6 wins, 62 strikeouts and a 2.37 ERA.

RP - Francisco Rodriguez, NY Mets: With his off-field problems and the Mets' poor play last year, I expected a dismal season, but he's second only to Leo Nunez in saves at 15.

Expert Wire
* Bleacher Report wonders if it's time to trade Max Scherzer, SP, Detroit, who is having probably his best season.

* ESPN takes a closer look at Albert Pujols' bad start and wonders whether he is just destined to have a bad year. Perhaps, but it's going to cost him millions if he does.

* SB Nation welcomes Chase Utley, 2B, Philadelphia, back from a prolonged stay on the DL. I may be in the minority on this, but I think we have long since seen the best Utley has to offer.

* Yahoo! Roto Arcade is on phenom watch with Brett Lawrie, Toronto 3B prospect. Too bad for him, Bautista plays the hot corner in that town.

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Dan O'Shea's Fantasy Fix appears in this space every Wednesday. He welcomes your comments. You can also read his about his split sports fan personality at his Beachwood blog SwingsBothWays.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:20 AM | Permalink

May 24, 2011

The [Tuesday] Papers

Thanks to the good folks who have been coming out to the venerable Beachwood Inn on Monday nights to watch The Chicago Code, it's been great fun having you. But I've got one question for y'all: Were you stunned?!

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And just because the Code got canceled doesn't mean we did; I'm still there every Monday! FYI: A Beachwood dance party indeed did commence, but not until much later. Like they say, nothing good happens before midnight.

Cover Stories
Just to get a taste of Bob Dylan's almost incomprehensible body of work, check out our first installment today of a week-long celebration of the man's 70th birthday: Chicago Does Dylan, in which Chicago artists or artists playing Chicago venues perform their versions of songs from the master.

Running Chicago Like A City
We show Rahm how.

State Senate Panel Not As Heinous As We Thought
Please see the correction attached to this post.

Poker Face
"A Chicago man pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges Monday, admitting that he helped Internet poker companies find banks to process millions of dollars in gambling proceeds even though he knew it was illegal," AP reports.

"Bradley Franzen, 41, also signed a cooperation agreement, agreeing to testify if necessary at any trial to result from a government prosecution that has already caused the three largest online poker companies to shut down their U.S. operations."

Franzen was known as a "payment processor."

From an April press release from the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York, accompanying the indictment:

"Because U.S. banks and credit card issuers were largely unwilling to process their payments, the Poker Companies allegedly used fraudulent methods to circumvent federal law and trick these institutions into processing payments on their behalf.

"For example, defendants Isai Scheinberg and Paul Tate of PokerStars, Raymond Bitar and Nelson Burtnick of Full Tilt Poker, and Scott Tom and Brent Beckley of Absolute Poker, arranged for the money received from U.S. gamblers to be disguised as payments to hundreds of non-existent online merchants purporting to sell merchandise such as jewelry and golf balls.

"Of the billions of dollars in payment transactions that the Poker Companies tricked U.S. banks into processing, approximately one-third or more of the funds went directly to the Poker Companies as revenue through the 'rake' charged to players on almost every poker hand played online.

"As alleged in the indictment, to accomplish their fraud, the Poker Companies were with an array of highly compensated 'payment processors' - including defendants Ryan Lang, Ira Rubin, Bradley Franzen and Chad Elie - who obtained accounts at U.S. banks for the Poker Companies. The payment processors lied to banks about the nature of the financial transactions they were processing, and covered up those lies by, among other things, creating phony corporations and websites to disguise payments to the Poker Companies."

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See also Economists Find Evidence Of Skill In Poker.

Outside Sox Park
Alien vs. Predator.

Programming Note
That's all for today, folks. I was up for 24 hours yesterday and just got a few hours of sleep this morning. More tomorrow.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Like a bench mob.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:40 PM | Permalink

Running Chicago Like A Business

"Mayor Rahm Emanuel's top economic advisers promise nothing less than reinvention of city government as they develop strategies for slashing a looming massive deficit," the Tribune reports. "Ultimately, Chicagoans may end up with a government more like Charlotte, N.C., which tries to run as much like a private business as possible."

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We've heard a lot over the years about running government like a business and it's always baffled us. Think of your own workplace; do you really want your government run like that?

Unlike governments, businesses go belly up all the time. Most start-ups are failures. Customer service is practically non-existent, incompetence is rampant and most of us are getting ripped off; would you really want Comcast or AT&T in charge of picking up your garbage, much less policing your streets?

Still, if that's what the public wants - or, more like, profiteering insiders - then we've got a few suggestions for Rahm & Co.

* 15% gratuity automatically added to kickbacks for groups of 10 or more.

* Outsource 911 calls to India.

* $25 baggage-check fee on all purses and briefcases carried into municipal buildings.

* Chicago credit cards with 0% interest on all transfers in the next six months. Rules and regulations that even Stephen Hawking can't understand apply.

* Parking Ticket Tuesdays: Two for the price of one.

* What's it gonna take to get you into a used El car today?

* All bribes are now final. No exchanges, refunds, or transfers for services rendered.

* Liquidate remaining phone books and other torture devices from all police precincts.

* Layaway option for parking meters to be available by 2015.

* Require appointments for police service calls; you must wait for them on Tuesdays or Thursdays between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.

* Put those security tags on everyone's clothes.

* Retain the right to refuse service to anyone the city thinks is icky.

* Send every citizen four copies of the memo about the new TPS reports.

* Spend a million dollars researching and designing an ugly new logo that will be abandoned in six months.

* Add toner.

* Hire a consultant to write up a report about how the consultant can further engage your services by writing reports based on their consulting.

* Franchise Chicagos to every state, plus China.

* No outside beverages allowed.

* Allow taxpayers to vote out the CEO/Mayor every year at the annual meeting.

- Scott Buckner, Nick Shreders, Dmitry Samarov, Tim Willette, Steve Rhodes

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:04 AM | Permalink

Chicago Does Dylan: Part 1

Celebrating Bob Dylan's 70th birthday this week with a collection of covers by Chicago artists or by artists performing at Chicago venues over the years.

1. "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright" by the Walter Williams Band, performed at the Wild Hare. Uploaded February 19, 2011; "Walter Williams was a popular country band in Chicago circa 1979."


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2. "Pressing On" by the Chicago Mass Choir, performed for Gotta Serve Somebody: The Gospel Songs of Bob Dylan, May 2009.

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3. "Slow Train Coming" by Robbie Fulks, who covered the album of the same name at the Hideout on May 10, 2010.

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4. "Farewell, Angelina" by Andi Crist, performed presumably at her home on April 9, 2009.

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5. "Tomorrow Is A Long Time" by Phosphorescent, performed at Lincoln Hall on April 11, 2011.

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6. "It Ain't Me, Babe" by Dan MacLachlan, performed at Handwritten Studios and uploaded on February 18, 2008.

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7. "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere" by Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova, performed at Lincoln Hall on August 12, 2010.

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8. "I'll Keep It With Mine" by The Tallest Man On Earth, performed at Lincoln Hall on May 28, 2010.

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9. "Mr. Tambourine Man" by Cloud Cult, performed at the Green Music Festival on June 27, 2010.

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10. "She Belongs To Me" by Dolly Varden, performed at the Double Door on April 24, 1999.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:47 AM | Permalink

Alien vs. Predator

I hate interleague play. It still seems like a gimmick to lure back disgruntled fans after the '94 strike to me. It's let's-pretend time, like imagining how your favorite superheroes would do if they fought (see Alien vs. Predator). The World Series is no longer as special because there's now always a possibility that the two finalists have already met in the regular season.

Here in Chicago, we're subjected to the Crosstown Classic, where fair-weather fans of the Cubs and Sox overpay to watch six games of an imaginary rivalry. When they played an exhibition game for bragging rights, if your team won you could gloat for a day or two, then forget about it. Now these games actually count, but instead of being matched against the A's or the Orioles, we get to face the Pirates and Diamondbacks, for reasons only marketers might find compelling.

Last year, the Sox' 15-3 mark against the National League gave us hope that they could make the playoffs. It turned out to be fool's gold and the fact that they couldn't hold their own against rivals in their own league bore that out.

Before the first interleague series this season, Don Mattingly, the manager of the Dodgers, complained about his team not being built to play against the American League. I can't fault him for this (American League teams tend to look silly in National League parks as well.) None of the three games have been pretty. The first should have been a routine victory for the Sox; instead, it turned into an ugly loss after Santos' first blown save of the season and Guillen's inexplicable decision to send his closer back out for the 10th. The second and third games were no-doubters. Don't get me wrong, I want my team to win every game they can, but these games left a sense that the deck was stacked, so the triumphs felt hollow.

It's been an odd year all over baseball. The Red Sox, Rays, and White Sox all had atrocious starts only to come most of the way back. The Cleveland Indians have the best record in baseball. The Sox are 4-1 against them so far and it's likely that come September they'll be in a dogfight with the Royals for the cellar of the Central. The Sox haven't lost a series in some two weeks. We're getting there. It's a shame that beating up on the Senior Circuit is what it takes to take our rightful place in the standings, but if that's the way it has to be, so be it. I'm with Mattingly though, in wishing it was the way it used to be: before interleague play, Sosa vs. McGwire, and various other side-show stunts "saved" baseball.

pierre.jpgJuan Pierre by Dmitry Samarov (Enlarge)

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Dmitry Samarov brings you Outside Sox Park every Tuesday. You can also find his work at Hack and at dmitrysamarov.com. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:10 AM | Permalink

May 23, 2011

The [Monday] Papers

1. "World-class cities have casinos," state comptroller Judy Baar Topinka said over the weekend.

You mean like Hammond?

In fact, a quick review of all the casinos in the United States shows Topinka is dead wrong, unless you consider Tunica, Mississippi and Ardmore, Oklahoma world-class cities.

Besides, I thought we were already world-class. Wasn't that Richard M. Daley's big achievement?

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Biloxi has 12 casinos in "world-class resorts." And yet, somehow, a dozen world-class resorts does not equal one world-class city. Huh.

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See also: About That Chicago Casino.

2. "GE Capital will bring 1,000 new jobs to Chicago in the next three years, company and city officials said today," the Tribune reports."No incentives were promised, Emanuel said."

Outside of not mentioning that perhaps they should start paying their taxes.

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But why be rude to the president's pal?

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"Because its lending division, GE Capital, has provided more than half of the company's profit in some recent years, many Wall Street analysts view G.E. not as a manufacturer but as an unregulated lender that also makes dishwashers and M.R.I. machines," the New York Times reports.

"G.E. and other financial services firms won a change in tax law that would allow multinationals to avoid taxes on some kinds of banking and insurance income. The change meant that if G.E. financed the sale of a jet engine or generator in Ireland, for example, the company would no longer have to pay American tax on the interest income as long as the profits remained offshore.

"Known as active financing, the tax break proved to be beneficial for investment banks, brokerage firms, auto and farm equipment companies, and lenders like GE Capital. This tax break allowed G.E. to avoid taxes on lending income from abroad, and permitted the company to amass tax credits, write-offs and depreciation. Those benefits are then used to offset taxes on its American manufacturing profits.

"G.E. subsequently ramped up its lending business."

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World-class companies don't pay taxes.

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See also: Who Is Full Of Crap? GE. So nice to have these folks "doubling-down" on Chicago.

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Assignment Desk: Does GE pay local and state taxes?

3. "It makes a Bulls fan gravely ill of course, and heck, it makes most sports fans sick - the thought of Miami's preening peacocks pushing through and winning the Eastern Conference," our very own Jim Coffman writes in SportsMonday. "It is too infuriating to contemplate for too long.

"But it wasn't the Heat who engaged in the most objectionable behavior in Game 3, a furious battle in which Miami never, ever faltered on its way to a 96-85 triumph.

"In fact, a fan had to be impressed with the way the Heat responded when the Bulls tried voicing a little trash in both halves."

4. "A Pakistani-American who pleaded guilty to laying the groundwork for the deadly 2008 attacks in Mumbai has taken the stand today in the trial of a Chicago businessman accused of helping his former friend in the plot," AP reports.

5. "Even as he makes cuts elsewhere, Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios gave his daughter a promotion and $10,000 raise," the Sun-Times reports.

Methinks Berrios has a future at GE Capital.

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Just a reminder: Berrios was endorsed by Pat Quinn and Toni Preckwinkle.

6. How are the jellies at the Shedd like Democrats? Neither has a backbone.

7. $500,000 Burglary On Jewelers Row.

That's almost as much as GE steals every year in taxes.

8. Chicago Code Finale Will Leave You Stunned!

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And I'm back behind the bar tonight at the venerable Beachwood Inn to bring it to you. Doors open at 5 p.m.; show airs at 8 p.m.; doors close at 2 a.m. Free pizza while it lasts, plus Old Style for $2.50 and $1 off the bottomest shelf we've got. Jukebox dance party commences immediately after the show.

9. A Most Excellent Weekend in Chicago Rock.

10. "Field biologists following thousands of wild zebras in Africa used to joke about how nice it would be to have a bar code reader to help them identify and catalogue individual animals," the Tribune reports.

"It's no longer a crazy dream: A team of computer scientists at the University of Illinois at Chicago has developed such a device."

11. The Cub Factor: Lou Piniella Is Back And Residing In Mike Qaude's Brain.

12. The White Sox Report: Saving Starters.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Stunning!


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:47 AM | Permalink

About That Chicago Casino

Talk of another attempt to install a casino in Chicago is once again rampant.

The talk may be just that - talk.

The two suburban legislators spearheading the effort refuse to discuss details of legislation, but hint a bill mirroring previous attempts at casino expansion will be introduced. Previous bills called for a Chicago casino as well as one in Rockford, Park City (near Waukegan), Danville and an undisclosed location in the south suburbs. Additionally current casinos would have more slots and horse racing tracks would have first time slots.

Recent campaign disclosures show that legislative casino proponents as well as other legislative leaders have received large campaign contributions from horse tracks and casinos.

The talk comes two weeks before the expected end of the spring session of the legislature and three weeks before the opening of the state's tenth casino, in Des Plaines. The untested Des Plaines casino will provide an Illinois venue so Chicago-area gamblers won't have to go to Indiana to play slots.

"This talk is diverting the City and the State from finding legitimate ways to plug deficit holes in their budgets," says Doug Dobmeyer, spokesperson for the Task Force. "Despite a stated goal of the new Chicago mayor, Chicago citizens have never been asked through a referendum if they want a casino. So a neophyte mayor and two suburban legislators intend to jam a casino down Chicago's throat? That move is a joke that will only undermine the new mayor."

There are alternative revenue enhancements that could and should be considered. They include:

* A very small tax on stock trading and derivative products. This would have no effect on costs, but would yield millions because of the volume of business. This tax would be ripe for revenue sharing.

* A city income tax of 1 percent on money earned in Chicago above $30,000 annually would bring in millions to city tax coffers.

* The Center for Tax and Budget Accountability suggests taxing retirement funds above a certain amount. This would be akin to what the federal government does with Social Security income.

* Blending of local property taxes above the average cost per student to help poorer school districts in the state. An example would be using Winnetka property taxes to assist Ford Heights in providing better education.

New York City has both a stock trading tax and a city income tax.

Who Gets Hurt
Gambling draws low-income people and problem gamblers to support its business. This disrupts family efforts to educate children and meet the basics of family life, especially during the recession the country is immersed in. Finally, a gambling casino would change the character of Chicago already beset with crime and corruption forever.

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The Task Force to Oppose Casino Gambling for Chicago is a coalition of religious, civic and neighborhood organizations.

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See also:
* Topinka Supports Chicago Casino Plan

* Emanuel Wants Casino; Welch No Longer Does

* Quinn Remarks Show Difficulty Of Reaching Chicago Casino Deal

And:
* The Casino Meat Is A-Cookin'

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:11 AM | Permalink

Chicago Code Finale Will Leave You Stunned!

Expect the unexpected! Empires are crumbling! Careers in jeopardy! Who will cross the line? The answer will leave you stunned!

1. Preview:


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2. Featuring:

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3. Airing: Tonight at 8 p.m. at the Beachwood Inn. Old Styles $2.50; $1 off the bottom shelf. Free pizza while it lasts. Jukebox dance party immediately following.

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Comments welcome.

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Previously:
* Trailer: The Chicago Code

* Making TV: The Chicago Code On Location

* Breaking The Chicago Code

* The Chicago Code Finally Debuts Tonight After Seeming To Have Already Been On For Three Seasons

* The Music of The Chicago Code: Billy Corgan Gets Schooled

* The 33-Second Episode 2 Recap of The Chicago Code

* Jennifer Beals Still Friends With Chicago High School Pals But Has Ditched Her Hometown Accent

* The Chicago Code Drinking Game

* Jennifer Beals Channels Beyoncé.

* Save The Chicago Code?

* Chicago Code Cancelled.

* Mike Royko's Revenge: The End of the Chicago Code Is Near

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:55 AM | Permalink

Jellies at the Shedd

"Be transported to the beautiful and mysterious world of sea jellies. In Shedd's new special exhibit, Jellies, discover the intriguing ways these pulsing, translucent animals survive - and thrive - in the world's oceans. Learn how a jelly can devour enough food to double its weight each day, or how sea nettles hunt by trailing their long stinging tentacles to paralyze prey upon contact. And they do it all without blood, bones, or brains. On Earth for millions for years, but at Shedd for only a limited time! Jellies runs through May 28, 2012."

- Shedd Aquarium

1. By AnnaMarkiewiczIdeas.

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2. By jeffreytz.

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3. By blaster212.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:36 AM | Permalink

The Weekend in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Tommy Stinson at the Double Door on Saturday night.


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2. Armin van Buuren at the Aragon on Saturday night.

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3. Death Cab for Cutie at the Metro on Saturday night.

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4. Empires at the Beat Kitchen on Saturday night.

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5. Ben Sollee at Schubas on Saturday night.

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6. Aretha Franklin at the Chicago Theatre on Thursday night.

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7. The Sea and Cake at the Empty Bottle on Saturday night.

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8. UFO at House of Blues on Friday night.

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9. Magic Milk at the Mutiny on Friday night.

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10. Urge Overkill at the Bottom Lounge on Friday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:02 AM | Permalink

Lou Piniella Is Back And Residing In Mike Quade's Brain

Mike Quade took the reigns of a team late last August that had thus far posted a 51-74 record under Lou Piniella's gasping leadership and turned around its fortunes with a 24-13 stretch in the last leg of the season by basically doing the opposite of what Sweet Lou had done.

That meant, among other things, pulling Alfonso Soriano after a bonehead play; sitting down Starlin Castro after the same; finding playing time for Tyler Colvin while scotching the idea of turning him into a first baseman; rewarding productivity without regard to star power or doghouses; letting the pitching staff relax instead of keeping them on tenterhooks; respecting defense - and his players - by not constantly playing people out of position; and even informing players of the starting lineup well before game time so they could actually prepare for their days' work.

Where oh where has that Mike Quade gone?

Because if he was still around, we wouldn't have seen Soriano starting in left in front of the Green Monster in Boston on Friday when the designated hitter was in play, nor would we have seen Blake DeWitt and Jeff Baker out there - especially with hot veteran Reed Johnson on the bench (where Aramis Ramirez ought to be more often) and Tyler Colvin wouldn't be in Iowa. Tony Pena (.223) wouldn't bat fourth or fifth just because (the idea voiced on ESPN's Sunday night broadcast that Pena is "struggling" is belied by the fact that he's hitting 27 points above last year's average and just four below the year before that; Pena isn't struggling, this is who he is). Finally, there wouldn't be a different lineup every damn game. I know this team doesn't have No. 3 hitter, but pick a spot for Castro and stick with it. It may not matter to him - though it should influence his approach at the plate - but it matters to everyone else.

(Quade recently said he chooses his lineup by plugging in who he wants to see on defense first, which is either delusional or a lie because if true, Soriano would never get a start.)

Quade has this team at 20-25, which is still competitive in the NL Central, but a team playing this ugly will eventually fall apart, especially with what the schedule-makers have in store for this team in June, just like it did under the weight of Piniella (and Jim Hendry, the true culprit.) Take a look at

Memo to Mike: You won the job by being yourself. Don't lose it by being your predecessor.

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Week in Review: The Cubs went 3-4 for the week, dropping two to the Reds, taking two from the Marlins, and losing two of three to the Red Sox. The Cubs haven't won more than two games in a row this season. They are the definition of mediocrity.

Week in Preview: The Mets come in on Tuesday to open a nine-game homestand, followed by a weekend series against the Pirates. Now is the time to .500 in advance of the toughest stretch of the season.

The Second Basemen Report: Darwin Barney got all seven starts this week and we'd see he's locked down the job if history didn't tell us otherwise. Jeff Baker got one start in left (inexplicably, at Fenway), which isn't a good idea, and one start at third, which is; he went three-for-four and is hitting 79 points above A-Ram. You certainly don't lose anything defensively, either. Blake DeWitt also got a start in left (inexplicably, at Fenway) and has suddenly become Mike Quade's favorite pinch-hitter.

In former second basemen news, Fred "Dandelion" Pfeffer played for the Cubs when they were the White Stockings. He is credited with inventing the concept of the cutoff man, among other innovations, and still has the best mustache any keystoner has brought to the party. He is missed.

The Zam Bomb Big Z threw 122 pitches in 5 2/3 innings in the Cubs' 9-3 win in Boston on Saturrday night and seemed reluctant to give up the ball to his manager while awaiting the arrival of Sean Marshall. We're pretty sure Z was Getting Angry.

zam_gettingAngry.jpg

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Marlon Byrd Supplemental Report: Take all the supplements you can get your hands on this week, Marlon.

Lost in Translation: Surpriseo wall-san is Japanese for Oh, I thought you meant this Green Monster! Nevermindeo.

Endorsement No-Brainer: Marlon Byrd for Excedrin.

Sweet and Sour Quade: 89% sweet, 11% sour. Mike stands pat 'cause anyone can lose two of three in Boston and the boys get some home cooking this week, which is just what the doctor ordered. And just like your smart, well-adjusted uncle, Mike's gonna bring a big bowl of his famous chili into the clubhouse to let the fellas know that we're still family despite the ups and downs, even if we're not as good as some of the other families on the block, because all we have is each other so we better make the best of it.

Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Shares of Nowhere spiked this week because that's where Tony Campana came out of.

Over/Under: Games before Bob Brenly goes ballistic on Alfonso Soriano again: 2.

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that Alfonso Soriano is beyond tutoring at this point in his career.

The Cub Factor: Unlike Soriano, you can catch 'em all!

The White Sox Report: Know the enemy.

Get Your Gangler On: Follow Marty on Twitter.

Note For Readers Used To Seeing The Mount Lou Alert System Here: When manager Mike Quade shows any signs of, well, really anything abnormal, we will be all over it with some kind of graph or pictorial depiction of whatever it is, but until this guy shows something besides just being a normal, thoughtful, intelligent guy, we got next to nothing on him. We are hoping he shows something and kinda hoping he doesn't also, know what I mean? BUT HE IS GETTING CLOSER . . .

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Contact The Cub Factor!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:38 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: Bulls Trash It Up

It makes a Bulls fan gravely ill of course, and heck, it makes most sports fans sick - the thought of Miami's preening peacocks pushing through and winning the Eastern Conference. It is too infuriating to contemplate for too long.

But it wasn't the Heat who engaged in the most objectionable behavior in Game 3, a furious battle in which Miami never, ever faltered on its way to a 96-85 triumph.

In fact, a fan had to be impressed with the way the Heat responded when the Bulls tried voicing a little trash in both halves.

First it was Taj Gibson who was going to intimidate Chris Bosh with some angry chatter in the second quarter. All Bosh (who had missed his first three shots on the evening) did was respond with 13 makes in 15 attempts the rest of the game. He carried the Heat offense throughout, ensuring it wouldn't experience the kind of lulls that could have given the Bulls an opening.

That was the thing about this game. The Heat established command and would not relinquish it no matter what. If Miami can sustain that level of play for two more games, it is hard to see how the Bulls mount an effective and decisive counter-attack.

Keith Bogans got into the act in the third quarter, trying to bump and talk Dwyane Wade off his game. It didn't result in the same sort of offensive explosion as Gibson's ill-advised foray, but Wade was anything but distracted as the intractable Heat kept pushing, pushing, pushing toward victory. The Bulls' refuse rhetoric wasn't over-the-top; heck, Michael Jordan engaged in worse hundreds of times. But it ensured that any list of the opposing teams' annoying attributes wouldn't start with the Heat for one night.

Oh by the way, if Bosh keeps playing like that, the Bulls are in deep, deep doo-doo. They already usually don't have a second scoring option to match whichever of Miami's big two isn't the alpha dog that day. And as far as the No. 3 is concerned, well, they couldn't have less of an answer for a dominant Bosh.

If I'm Tom Thibodeau, I'm giving Kyle Korver a break in Game 4. Some of the criticism of the shooting guard has been over the top, but there is no denying that Game 3 really got away from the Bulls after he came in. It is time to try the two-man rotation at two-guard, i.e., to bring Bogans back in when Ronnie Brewer runs out of gas. The Bulls simply lose too much defensively when Korver is on the floor to justify any sort of offensive boost.

This will probably result in Bogans having to take more shots as the Heat sags off him to help on Derrick Rose, but he had made 46 percent of his playoff threes going into last night's game. Granted most, if not all, of those were wide-open efforts near the beginnings of halves, not pressure-packed attempts down the final stretches of games. But at least Bogans can hold his own defensively against Wade and even LeBron James at times.

That sequence when James broke out on a fast break in the fourth quarter with only Korver to beat and just shrugged off Korver's pathetic attempt to intentionally foul him on his way to the three-point play that officially broke the Bulls' backs - that will be hard for Korver to live down.

Carlos Boozer played a great game. Not only was he the scorer the Bulls desperately need him to be but he also won several impressive physical battles in the second half. But it seemed as though once he heated up, Derrick Rose was content to just get him the ball and call it a possession. The Bulls need big contributions from both Boozer and Rose and they didn't get it from the latter on Sunday.

One thing that is killing the Bulls offense is that James is too strong and too quick for Luol Deng. Deng's driving has just about been eliminated the past few games and the Bulls desperately need at least occasional forays to the hoop from their second scoring option (third if Boozer can keep it going).

Wrapping it up now . . .

Why can't people in certain towns (helloooo Miami) figure out that the "White Out" when all the fans wear the same color shirt is perhaps the stupidest thing they can do? They understand that white is the color of surrender don't they? What is the color of the flag that forces raise when they give up? Oh yeah, white. What is invariably the color of the towel a boxer's corner tosses into the ring when they insist that the fight be stopped? You know the answer.

There was a great crowd shot toward the end of the broadcast that showed one fan who had declined to join the sheep and don the white clothes. Heat president Pat Riley was in the stands in a classically conservative dark suit. Steve Kerr noted that Riley seemed to be taking notes but the main thing he was doing was making a statement that you don't have to look like an idiot at a sporting event just because everyone else does.

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The Official NBA Recap:

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Rose: 'Our Will Wasn't There Tonight'

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:00 AM | Permalink

Saving Starters

Step right up, Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls. See ringmaster Ozzie Guillen and drum major Don Cooper present the Greatest Show on the South Side. Oz and Coop have six - you heard me right, not five, but six! - starting pitchers, and this is no freak show. It may be the real thing!

Jake Peavy's spectacular return has forced Ozzie's hand. Simply spelling latissimus dorsi is a challenge. Coming back less than a year after detaching the big L.D. is off the charts. Yet there was Jake in total command last Wednesday with a complete-game shutout against the hard-hitting Indians.

The other five - Danks, Buehrle, Floyd, Jackson, and newcomer Phil Humber - all have looked sharp at times this season, so our ringmaster didn't pull the trigger and send Humber to Charlotte or designate anyone for a relief role.

Assuming this arrangement will be with us for a while, what are the ramifications?

For one, each of the starters obviously has an extra day of rest and preparation. One might assume that they would be stronger with the extra time, and come September they might be fresher with fewer innings pitched.

On the other hand, the five veterans - when healthy - are accustomed to getting 30 to 33 starts a season, pitching approximately 200 innings. Will the diminished workload affect their routine and rhythm? How adaptable will they be?

And the bullpen - evenly split with three lefties and three righties - now has one less body. With the surplus of starters, what are the chances that one of them could develop into an effective relief pitcher? Don't scoff. It's happened before.

Take Dennis Eckersley, who after 12 seasons and 151 wins as a starter, switched to the bullpen and became the game's premier closer for another 12 years. This was Tony LaRussa's idea after Eckersley was traded to Tony's Oakland ball club in 1987.

(Okay, I can't resist. After going 6-11 as a starter for the Cubs in 1986, they sent him to Oakland for three minor leaguers, none of whom every played on the North Side.)

In 1992 Eckersley won not only the Cy Young Award but also was MVP! Eck pitched until he was 43 years old, and today he's a Hall of Famer.

Then there's John Smoltz. Fans know the history. Smoltz was among the top starting pitchers in baseball with the Braves from 1988 to 1999. He didn't pitch at all in 2000. Nothing as titillating as a detached latissimus dorsi. It was just your run-of-the-mill Tommy John surgery. But Smoltzie did return - as a closer - and notched 144 saves in three seasons, 2002 to 2004.

For good measure, Smoltz switched back to a starting role, won 44 games in 2005 to 2007, and retired at age 42.

Couldn't you see, say, Edwin Jackson copying these guys? He throws hard, records lots of strikeouts, is just wild enough to be intimidating, and seems to have the makeup for pressure situations. He just might be very effective for an inning for two whereas he tends to have a blow-up inning as a starter.

Wilbur Wood was the last Sox pitcher to have success both as a starter and reliever. He's not in the same genre with Eckersley and Smoltz since Wilbur threw the knuckleball, had an ample belly, and no one could recall ever having seen him run.

But he had a rubber arm so that when manager Chuck Tanner brought him out of the bullpen in the early 70's, Wilbur often pitched on two or three days' rest - or whatever he was doing between starts.

Managers make a big deal today if a pitcher can give them 200 innings in a season. In 1972 Wood pitched 376 innings and followed that up the next year with 359. I'm not making this up. He won 24 games both seasons, but he also lost 17 and 20.

wood.jpgWilbur Wood/Chicago White Sox

Wood might still be pitching today, but his left knee was shattered by a line drive at age 34, and he never was very effective after that. One thing's for sure: Neither his rotator cuff nor his latissimus dorsi ever were in any danger.

Then there are starting pitchers who also took their turn out of the bullpen in the same season. Ozzie already has indicated that he will use pitchers solely as starters or relievers. Nevertheless, Yankee manager Casey Stengel employed this strategy with outstanding success in the 1950's with ace righthander Allie Reynolds.

Sol Gittleman, a professor of literature and history at Tufts University, also is a knowledgeable and avid baseball fan. He wrote a book, Reynolds, Raschi and Lopat: New York's Big Three and the Great Yankee Dynasty of 1949-1953, which is both interesting and revealing.

Reynolds, who was part Creek Indian, was used in crucial situations out of the bullpen - both in the regular season and the World Series - even though he was one of the top starting pitchers in the American League.

Sol writes, "Stengel said Reynolds was 'the best going two ways, starting and relieving, and I seen [Christy] Mathewson, [Walter] Johnson and Cy Young. Nobody was as good as my Indian.'

"Reynolds temperamentally was that kind of player; Stengel never asked him [to relieve]. Reynolds would just get up and go down to the bullpen. Stengel would look around and ask, 'Where's the Indian?' and [Ed] Lopat would point down to the bullpen."

Reynolds did all this with floating bone chips in his elbow most of his career. I'm not suggesting that he could have pitched through a detached L.D. - torn rotator cuff maybe - but this guy was courageous and, in today's parlance, he took one for the team on a regular basis.

reynolds.JPGAllie Reynolds/Courtesy of Sol Gittleman

"What made Allie unique was his ability to chalk up saves in between starts, a real throwback," Gittleman told me in an e-mail. "He was finished at 39 because of an injury to his back, not his arm. Probably Smoltz had the same makeup."

Maybe Jake Peavy has it as well. Certainly looked that way last week.

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Comments welcome.

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1. From Noel Lammers:

How about Quentin in left and Lillibridge in right, leading off?


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:15 AM | Permalink

May 21, 2011

The Weekend Desk Report

Wait, we're still here? Oh fuck. We weren't really prepared for this . . .

Market Update
Reputations took a beating this week as even a multi-million dollar bail out couldn't convince the IMF.

Preakness Prediction
Look, with the Apocalypse upon there's really only one choice. Everyone else will be Left Behind.

Doomsday Reprieve
Of course, for some the Rapture has been pushed back by a couple of days.

Personal Apocalypse
And for others, it seems the end of world is signaled by a museum choosing art over profits.

Life's a Mitch
Finally this week, we're not the slightest bit surprised Mitch Daniels was struck by a door. We're just mildly amused it didn't hit him a little lower.

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: A slice of heaven.

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The CAN TV Weekend Report

The Dream Act Unity Press Conference
DREAM-Act-PressConf.jpg
U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle join the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, community organizations and immigrant youth to push for passage of the Illinois and the federal DREAM Acts.

Click here to watch online
Saturday, May 21 at 8 p.m. on CAN TV21
44 min

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Radiation Exposure and Health: From Chernobyl to Japan and Beyond
31078-Radiation.jpg
Jeff Patterson from Physicians for Social Responsibility and Dave Kraft, from the Nuclear Energy Information Service discuss the tragedies in Chernobyl and Japan.

Saturday, May 21 at 9 p.m. on CAN TV21
2 hr 30 min

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In the K/Now: Living a Life Organic
31070-Know-Organic.jpg
Sustainability and new trends in the organic revolution are discussed by panelists Paula Miller of Whole Foods, Tim Murakami of Growing Home, and writer Alison Neumer Lara.

Sunday, May 22 at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 20 min

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How Art Works: The Impact of Art on Chicago Movements
31073-How-Art-Works.jpg
The Neighborhood Writing Alliance hosts a discussion on how social movements have used art to further specific causes such as environmental justice, youth development and inter-generational collaboration.

Sunday, May 22 at 1:30 p.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 55 min

Posted by Natasha Julius at 9:17 AM | Permalink

May 20, 2011

The [Friday] Papers

1. Structural Errors In Proteins Responsible For Complex Life.

I knew it! We're a mistake.

2. Notre Dame Pays $6.6 Million And Counting To Get Rid Of Charlie Weis.

See what I mean?

*

If Charlie Weis had a shred of conscience, he'd either demand a more reasonable severance or funnel nearly all of that money back to the school to fund scholarships for the needy.

*

It would be easy to fall back on the cliche that the amount of money we pay to college football coaches exemplifies our society's perverted values system. But what it really demonstrates is a failure of barely restrained market economics. A market economist, for example, would say that society has deemed college football coaches more valuable than, say, cancer researcher, and if that's a perverted value system, so be it. But society is not saying that at all. Do you know anyone who would deem a college football coach more worthy of reward than a cancer researcher?

This is a question of pure economics unattached from other realities of life. You can't pack 100,000 people into a stadium to watch a cancer researcher do his or her job once a week because it would not only be boring, but unproductive. Folks who attend Notre Dame games, though, are not making a value choice. Not everything is a commodity, nor can everything be priced. Diverting the revenue from a football game to cancer research might even be a choice most people would desire, but if that choice is left up to individual coaches and their immediate, highly rewarded supervisors, self-interest will prevail if that is what we as a society think our economic structure ought to be based upon.

Of course, that's what those with the most to gain from self-interest want you to think.

I'm not saying wealth redistribution should be forced at each and every strata, but that the collective choice of we the people might be to at least voluntarily do that exact thing. Whose values are really being reflected, then, when only those with something (big) to gain are the ones making the choices?

3. Oprah's Mystical Power So Strong It Makes Richard Roeper Smarter Than Roger Ebert.

Structural errors in protein involved.

4. Cubs Return To Scene Of Alleged Crime.

Structural errors in fabric of space-time involved.

5. "It's being widely reported in the media that the FBI's Chicago bureau sent someone to the Supermax prison in Colorado to obtain a DNA sample from my brother," David Kaczynksi writes for the Albany Times-Union. "The purpose: to see if my brother's DNA matches evidence collected in the 1982 Tylenol poisoning case in which 7 people were murdered.

"I find this odd because the FBI already has my brother's DNA from its investigation of the Unabomber case."

Structural errors in FBI chain of command alleged.

6. "Trampoline parks have started springing up around the Chicago area, and that's causing some concerns about safety issues."

Cool! Structural errors! Beachwood field trip?

7. "Back in February, when Rahm was still just a candidate for mayor, he reminded city workers that they were 'actually public servants,'" our very own Ed Hammer writes in Signs of Change. "I am glad some of the workers were able to serve the public this week by letting us know who their new boss is. We might otherwise have been in left the dark. Who says government workers are lazy?"

Structural errors in Rahm's PR involved.

8. NBA 2K11 Simulation Predicts Bulls Over Mavs.

Somehow that sounds like a structural error.

9. "Oprah has left," our very own David Rutter in This Week in WTF. "We're still here. Sort of like Saturday's Rapture."

Back to the protein thing.

10. The Cars, Tower of Power, Echo & The Bunnymen and more in This Week in Chicago Rock.

Unstructured.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Structual.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:36 AM | Permalink

Oprah's Mystical Power So Strong It Makes Richard Roeper Smarter Than Roger Ebert

"I suspect she also has a future in high public office," Ebert wrote this week in the preface to his puffball interview with Oprah.

Really, Roger? You too?

I never thought I'd write these words, but this is just how crazy the Oprah phenomenon is: I wish Richard Roeper had conducted that interview.

"[O]ver the last 20-plus years, I . . . penned more negative columns about Oprah than probably anyone else in Chicago (and quite possibly the country), criticizing her endorsement of an utterly impractical cookbook filled with expensive recipes, her embrace of the astounding load of crapola known as The Secret, her often breathtaking celebration of self and her forays into such spiritual crockery as 'Change Your Life TV,'" Roeper writes.

Amen.

*

Roeper, 1990: See if you can guess the bogus Oprah topic*:

A. "Couples Who Have Lost Interest in Sex"

B. "My Mother Stole My Man"

C. "My Husband Works with a Flirt"

D. "When Your Spouse Meets Your Old Flame"

E. "When the Man You're Dating Appears on America's Most Wanted"

F. "Marriage: For Love or Money"

G. "Blue-Collar Hunks"

Roeper, 1994: "Excuse me, but I'm having a hard time understanding why this Oprah Winfrey-endorsed cookbook has become the publishing phenomenon of the century. Given her history of yo-yo weight losses and gains, it seems to me that buying a book of recipes from Oprah 's chef is like buying a book of relationship tips from Roseanne and Tom Arnold's marriage counselor."

*

"Oprah's popularity transcends all demographics, but the key to her success is her natural ability to relate to average folks who watch her while doing housework or getting their hair cut or folding clothes in a coin-operated laundry. I can't help but wonder how many of those regular types are going to consistently create dishes such as Pesto Linguine in Fresh Tomato Sauce ('For a spectacular presentation, top the pasta bowl with a few scallion starbursts').

"Or how about the Grilled Vegetable Sandwich: 'This tongue-tingling creation features a colorful and rather monumental assemblage of warm vegetables atop layers of fresh tomato, basil leaves, arugula, roasted peppers, smothered in a spicy mustard-yogurt dressing and spiked with liberal applications of cayenne and black pepper, jalapeno peppers and Tabasco sauce.' Whew!"

*

"God bless Oprah, I hope she stays slim for the rest of her days, but let me also just point out that her latest weight loss was achieved only after she worked out twice a day for nine months with a personal trainer. She also kidnapped Ms. Daley from a $3,500-a-week spa and installed the talented and personable chef in her own kitchen. Who wouldn't lose weight with that sort of wildly expensive expert attention?"

Roeper, 1997: "In the opening program of the 1997-98 season, as the world awaited Oprah's live announcement about the future of the show, she told us that from the very beginning of the Oprah era, 'The goal was to try to use television and the force of good that I believe is greater than us all - I call it God, you can call whatever you want to - the force of good that is greater than us all to try to help people lead better lives, and I realized now more than ever that this show, for me, is the best way to do that.'

"Well, baloney. The goal for Oprah in 1984 was to get a better job in TV. She arrived here from a gig in Baltimore to succeed Robb Weller as host of A.M. Chicago, a typically fluffy local morning show, and she rose to syndication success and fabulous wealth and fame largely on the strength of energetic, loud, self-centered and often cheesy programming.

"On a 1986 show, penile implants were explored in depth. In 1988, a bunch of skinheads were tossed out of the studio after shouting profanities and racial insults. A particularly exploitative program in 1992 featured adult children who confronted their mothers in the studio and asked why mom let dad get away with molesting them as kids.

"One sweeps-period run in 1988 included these topics: 'I Want My Abused Kids Back,' 'Women Who Turn to Lesbianism,' 'Best Bodies' and 'Man Poaching.'

"A smattering of Oprah topics from one three-month stretch in 1989: 'Losing a Boyfriend or Husband to a Man-Stealing Relative,' 'Fathers Dating Their Daughters' Friends,' 'Casanova Lovers' and 'Polygamy.'

"Over the course of two weeks in 1990, Oprah shows included 'Couples Who Have Lost Interest in Sex,' 'When Your Spouse Meets Your Old Flame,' 'My Mother Stole My Man' and 'My Husband Works With a Flirt.'

"Those one-hour gems may have been entertaining as all get-out, but I'm not sure they helped anyone but Oprah lead a better life."

Roeper, 1998: "It's amazing. Oprah endorses a product_and hundreds of thousands of her fans immediately put on their coats, dash out the door and purchase that item, simply because their television best friend has recommended it. Here's hoping that one day she recommends the philosophy of independent thought!"

Roeper, 1998: "Winfrey told TV Guide she's so happy she's 'splendiferous' - but it seems to me we're watching a woman go through an almost frantic search for spiritual bliss and higher consciousness.

"She's becoming Deepak Oprah.

"Consider the anecdote in Time about Winfrey's 'go there' moments, in which 'old spirits are trying to get in touch with her.' Winfrey said she hears the voices of slaves - they even have names - and 'she has come to know each of them personally and calls them in at will to guide her in her work.'"

*

"There's a revealing episode [in a Vogue interview] about how she sometimes thinks of her audience as mere background extras in the movie of her life."

*

"Then there's the 'Remembering Your Spirit' segment, in which Winfrey is surrounded by candles as she welcomes authors and psychobabblers. Here we get talk of writing in 'gratitude journals,' and discussions of becoming 'multisensory' by connecting with 'non-physical friends,' whatever that means."

Roeper, 2000: "'Phenomenally, phenomenal woman, that's me.' - Oprah Winfrey at her 'Personal Growth Summit' in Detroit last Friday."

Roeper, 2004: "'You win a car! You win a car! You win a car! Everybody gets the car! Everybody gets the car! Everybody gets the car!' - Oprah Winfrey, informing her studio audience that everyone was getting, um, a car.

"True or False: On the premiere of Oprah Winfrey's 19th season in syndication, Winfrey gave each of her 276 audience members a car.

"The answer is 'False.'

"Oprah didn't give away anything. Even though the ecstatic members of her studio congregation kept thanking Oprah for making their dreams come true, Winfrey didn't personally give away those cars any more than Jeff Probst dips into his checking account to give $1 million to the winner on Survivor.

"Pontiac footed the nearly $8 million tab - one of the biggest bargains in the history of marketing . . . Note that the giveaway orgy was conceived not by Oprah or one of her staffers - but by Pontiac's marketing team."

Ebert, 2011: The questions he sent to Oprah in an e-mail "interview."

"Q. The novel Miss Lonelyhearts was about the author of an advice column who began to crumble under the weight of his readers' problems. How do you survive the depth of suffering of some of your guests?

"Q. I believe you started out with a career and ended up with a vocation. If you agree with that at all, did the transition catch you rather by surprise?

"Q. Your Chicago shows began with the standard TV morning show studio format. Today I can't imagine your program without a studio audience. How did the studio audience evolve, and how do you relate to it?

"Q. Do you monitor your behavior because you are such an influential model for so many people? Many celebrities lead appalling lives. Not you.

"Q. Will the Oprah Winfrey Network broaden out from health and counseling sorts of programs to include news, sitcoms and other formats?

"Q. On TV, I saw you weeping at Grant Park during Obama's Election Night speech. I sensed at that moment something more than simply joy. I felt something very deep within you had been accessed.

"Q. At the movies, I think many people cry more when they see goodness than when they see sadness. Why is that?

"Q. You have created your own environment and never been absorbed into "show biz" in the sense we associate with the coasts. Did Chicago help your focus?

"Q. Gene Siskel's inevitable question: What do you know for sure?

"Q. What do you think happens after death?"

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*The correct answer is E.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:49 AM | Permalink

Cubs Return To Scene Of Their Alleged Crime

"Say it ain't so. The Chicago White Sox players who tanked the 1919 World Series for money got the idea from the Chicago Cubs, who threw the Series a year earlier and got away with it," the Tribune opines.

"'The ball players were talking about somebody trying to fix the National League ball players or something like that in the World Series of 1918,' said pitcher Eddie Cicotte, the first of the infamous Black Sox to confess, in a 1920 deposition recently posted on the Chicago History Museum's website. 'There was talk that somebody offered this player $10,000 or anyway the bunch of players were offered $10,000 to throw this series.'

"That sounded pretty good to the Sox players, who eventually struck a deal for themselves - and ended up banned from baseball. But the Cubs apparently got a pass. Nobody really dug into that business about somebody offering something to somebody until Sean Deveney's 2009 book, The Original Curse.

"Deveney and others offer plenty of reasons the Cubs players might have been motivated to throw the Series to the Boston Red Sox and scant evidence that they actually did, but, hey, all the witnesses are dead. Play along here."

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Open Town
"Gambling is part of the history of the game and Chicago at the time was very much a gambling town," Deveney told the Boston Globe last year.

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Handicapping The Series

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Comments welcome.

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Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:05 AM | Permalink

The Week in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. The Cars at the Riv on Thursday night.


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2. Tower of Power at the House of Blues on Tuesday night.

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3. Childish Gambino at the Park West on Wednesday night.

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4. The Airborne Toxic Event at the Metro on Wednesday night.

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5. Good Luck Jane at Reggie's on Tuesday night.

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6. Echo and the Bunnymen at the Vic on Tuesday night.

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7. Twilight Singers at the Metro on Tuesday night.

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8. Warren Haynes at Park West on Monday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:29 AM | Permalink

The Week in WTF

1. Oprah, WTF?

Really, WTEffinF. Chicagoans apparently have underdeveloped gag reflexes. We get second-by-second coverage of her launch into California orbit, sort of like a Space Shuttle liftoff except all the O-rings work.

This just in. Oprah has left. We're still here. Sort of like Saturday's Rapture. (Being heathens, WTF's staff is not making plans. But you can save Fluffy if you're worried.)

As for O's liftoff, Chicago apparently has not fallen into Lake Michigan in a mass suicide pact. It was a close call. More proof that the terrorists have defeated our national sense of self-worth and dignity.

2. Bishop Daniel Conlon, WTF?

He wanted to be bishop in Steubenville, Ohio, for the rest of his life. Like the smallpox contagion, sin had been permanently eradicated there, and it's an easy bishop gig. But the Pope said go to Joliet, my son. They need help.

As recently as five years ago, the Joliet Diocese, under pressure, revealed the names of 22 priests involved in sexual abuse. Critics said the list didn't come close to being complete.

So this new guy must be a reformer? Nah.

National defenders of sexual abuse victims rap Conlon as an old-style hide-the-predator, ignore-the-victim cleric.

Just what the Pope must think Joliet needs.

3. Starbucks, WTF?

This isn't strictly a Chicago story except that we have Starbucks here too. Or so I've heard.

Anyway, be very careful the next time you're in a store before asking for the short latte.

4. Residency Rule, WTF?

Whatever the philosophical value for why city employees must live in the city, the policy slapped the new mayor upside the head on his second day in office.

Retaining Diana Ferguson might have come in handy when it came to fixing schools' financial woes. It might be defensible for police, firefighters and teachers to be anchored in town because that puts them closer to the job and the people. Frankly, there are a lot of people in Chicago that WTF doesn't want to be that close to.

But Ferguson was a financial officer. Doubtful she's going to be smarter or more dedicated in Streeterville than she'll be in Wheeling.

Meanwhile, she's going to work on the budget for free until a replacement is hired. Sounds like just the sort of public servant we should run out of town. But rules are rules and she wants to get married and live in the 'burbs.

5. Doctor Oh No, WTF?

We give this fake doctor props for nerve.

He used toothpicks for acupuncture. Patient said he felt lots better afterwards, except for the splinters.

6-ish. Other stuff that WTF couldn't pass up.

A) We have a natural selection view of old people who go out onto Lake Michigan, get trapped by a sudden storm and need to be rescued. Saving them is meddling with nature. Old people on lake trips is just the universal order's way of saying, "Check, please."

B) We admit a morbid fixation on this story out of all portion to its larger societal implications. This is one of those stories that has you screaming "WTF!" after each successive sentence.

Personally, we don't think it was the heroin that was so dangerous. Anyone who drinks "bacon milkshakes" is daring the Supreme Diet Deity to strike them down in mid-gulp. It's the dietary version of old people on the lake.

C) Let WTF get this straight: The head waterfixer of Chicago doesn't want to clean up the human effluvium he dumped into the Chicago River because that would make it cleaner.

Thank goodness. We prefer our water crunchy, oozy and full of brown floating items.

D) Here's what sitting in front of a teleprompter and reading someone else's words is worth.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:20 AM | Permalink

Signs of Change

The buzz around Rahm Emanuel's inauguration this week reminded me of each time a new Secretary of State took office and signs had to be changed.

I served under four Secretaries of State: Dixon, Edgar, Ryan and White. The day each one was sworn into office, the process to change the name on the signs began post-haste. We are talking a lot of signs here. There were signs in hallways; signs on doors; signs outside buildings; and signs from Rockford to Cairo. Signs, signs everywhere a sign, clogging up the scenery. Breaking my mind.

I was a special agent supervisor for the Chicago office of the Secretary of State inspector general in 1991 when George Ryan was sworn in as Illinois' 36th Secretary of State. That morning, a couple of workers removed Jim Edgar's name from our office's lobby door and put Ryan's name in place. Edgar was a good boss and I knew it was an end to an era.

Additionally, in a true example of government efficacy, Edgar's photo was removed from the front office's wall and swapped with an image of Ryan that was three times larger. It was an omen of the problems we were about to face in the Department of Inspector General.

Similar deeds in Chicago were being reported as Rahm Emanuel began to assume office this week. The new mayor quickly reacted and ordered that only signs that were "essential" be changed. Some of those essential locations included the airport and the Skyway.

"I do not want people rushing out, making changes on a whole bunch of signs, wasting time, wasting dollars, for no reason," Emanuel declared.

Back in February, when Rahm was still just a candidate for mayor, he reminded city workers that they were "actually public servants." I am glad some of the workers were able to serve the public this week by letting us know who their new boss is. We might otherwise have been in left the dark.

Who says government workers are lazy?

Not me. Especially in these times of budget deficits, we Americans like to complain about how the government never gets anything done. Sometimes the griping is legitimate, but generally unfair.

Sure there are often long lines at the post office. That's because they operate with fewer front-line employees than a purely private operation might. Walmart even has greeters, for godsakes.

I find the postal service very efficient. Where else can you get an item delivered in three days across 3,000 miles at the bargain rate of 42 cents?

Another common grievance are the long lines at the DMV. In Illinois, that is the Secretary of State's responsibility. The three largest motor vehicle facilities in Chicago handle 3,000 to 4,000 customers a day. I think the lines were longer several years ago when accepting a bribe for a driver's license was the standard operating procedure for some of the less altruistic examiners.

Today, the motor vehicle facilities operate with much more efficiency. Part of that is due to online and telephone renewals.

All my life, I have heard people grumble the cliche, "Where's a cop when you need one?" What they really mean is that a cop is always right behind them when they break the law, but nowhere to be found when their neighbor's Memorial Day party is too loud.

Based on my experience working as a peace officer for both the state and a municipality, the police make a valiant effort to respond to each and every incident in a timely fashion, and the more serious ones as fast as humanly possible. This is the backbone of law enforcement.

I personally believe most government workers, whether teacher, firefighter, sanitation worker or bus driver works as hard as everyone else with great deal of pride in their service.

Here's to hoping the new mayor resolves the budget problems, ends patronage hiring, raises test scores, and halts police impropriety. The city's public servants can then post a sign in front of City Hall proclaiming "Mission Accomplished."

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Ed Hammer is a retired Illinois Secretary of State Police Captain and author of the book One Hundred Percent Guilty: How and Insider Links the Death of Six Children to the Politics of Convicted Governor George Ryan.

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See also:
* George Ryan's Park Bench
* George Ryan's Dogs and Ponies
* George Ryan's Other Jailhouse Interview
* Bugging The Chicago School Board
* Cop vs. Teacher

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:34 AM | Permalink

May 19, 2011

The [Thursday] Papers

"Foul trouble was far from Rose's only obstacle Wednesday. The bending, twisting layups United Center fans have grown accustomed to seeing weren't falling. Neither were his jumpshots," Vaughn McClure writes for the Tribune.

"In the first half, Rose made just four of 11 shots for nine points, missing four layups. The Heat hit him with a constant diet of doubles teams off the pick and roll, forcing Rose to give the ball up. His teammates failed to convert some of Rose's pinpoint passes.

"The second half started off as much of the same story for Rose. He was 3-for-8 shooting in the third quarter, watching three of his layup attempts kick off the rim and seeing another get blocked while going 1-for-3 from 3-point territory.

"And fouls came back to haunt Rose again. His third foul was a silly and uncharacteristic blunder as he slapped at LeBron James in the open court. James converted the basket and completed the three-point play.

"At the end of the third quarter, Heat guard Dwyane Wade stole the ball from Rose, keeping the Bulls from getting off a final shot."

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Here's our report, titled Bulls Ruin Unrealistic Dream of Sweeping The Heat Spawned By Game 1 Rout; Lose Home-Court Advantage Though They Play Just As Well If Not Better On The Road In The Playoffs.

Weekend Preview
How The Chicago Media Will Cover The Rapture.

The Hip Chicago Way
"A new social sharing app - Bribespot - allows users to check-in each time they've paid a bribe."

Symbolic Promise Symbolically Fulfilled
"Emanuel said more than $31.2 million in savings will come from better grant management, but it's unclear how that precise number was determined," the Tribune reports.

"The administration also did not cite specific grants or explain how their handling would be changed. The generalities Emanuel offered were similar to those that punctuated his successful campaign for mayor, his transition report and his inaugural address Monday. One of Emanuel's strengths as a political operative has been his ability to craft a message and stay on it."

Of course, this can only work if the media allows it to. Nearly every major news outlet in town simply reported that Emanuel had cut $75 million from the budget on his first day in office, fulfilling a campaign pledge. This story is a welcome antidote, but the message train has already left the station. The narrative is set and those pointing out the real facts are once again marginalized as "critics."

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"Another $17.5 million will come from freezing nonessential contracts, while purchasing items like road salt in bulk with other governments, he added. Although the administration did provide the road salt example, it said it had yet to determine which contracts were nonessential."

If the administration doesn't know which contracts are non-essential, how does it know they add up to $17.5 million?

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"Further cost cuts would come from a series of steps that include reducing the number of managers and their salaries, assigning more legal work to city staff instead of hiring outside lawyers, and merging departments while centralizing now-fragmented operations."

That's a lot of "ifs." Cuts like these often end up costing more in overtime, unforeseen circumstances and screw-ups from agencies without enough manpower to do their jobs properly.

But it's the legal services bit that caught my eye. I have no doubt the city could save money by refraining from showering favored firms with lucrative business. But a year from now I bet this looks silly.

"There's only a certain number of cases each (in-house) attorney can handle," outgoing corporation counsel Mara Georges told the Sun-Times in 1999. "You can't say to an attorney, `Here. Handle another 100 cases.' You can't spread somebody that thin."

Not that I give much credence to anything Mara Georges says. But then there's this from 2009:

"Earlier this year, Police Supt. Jody Weis asked Georges to be more aggressive in fighting lawsuits against police officers by going to trial instead of settling to cut the city's losses.

"The new strategy includes farming out cases seeking less than $100,000 to outside lawyers who receive a flat fee, instead of being paid by the hour. It's already paying off, Georges said."

So until we actually see the plan (and the results), Rahm, you don't get credit for it.

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"'The symbolism of this is not lost on anybody,' said Emanuel at his debut news conference as mayor at the city's vehicle management headquarters. 'It's Day One, $75 million, what I pledged.'"

Of course, the city's budget deficit is actually about $700 million; Rahm's $75 million pledge was symbolic - random, even - from the get-go. It got good press but you know what? I just symbolically saved my household $750 a year by estimating some cost savings. Somehow, though, my income and outgo remain the same. Symbolism sucks when it's only, um, symbolic.

Hired Schmucks
"Emanuel also is expected to officially introduce already announced appointments to top Cabinet posts - like Garry McCarthy as police superintendent - who already are on the job. That way they can be assigned to committee for full confirmation, and the word 'acting' can be removed from their titles."

I was going to ask if it's legal for McCarthy (and Jean-Paul Brizard, for that matter) to be on the job before they've been confirmed, but I guess that's where the "acting" comes in.

At the same time, wouldn't Daley have had to appoint them, then? Rahm didn't legally have the power to do so before Monday, did he?

I know, quit nitpicking the law. Silly technicalities, such as residency, only apply to the little people.

Flies On The Walls
Tweet from Sun-Times reporter Abdon Pallasch:

Rush of reporters as Rahm leaves to use restroom. The cameras line up. Ald. Rick Munoz rolls his eyes: "Did you get the 'First Flush'?"

About Oprah's Favorite Book
Let's be clear about who this woman is and what she's pitching.

Obama's Substitute Teachers
Leadership void.

Git Er Don't!
Cubs' new slogan.

Paul Simon's Two-Night Stand
Played the Vic, then the Chicago Theatre. We have highlights.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Still crazy after all these beers.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:41 AM | Permalink

About Oprah's Favorite Book

1. "I can't believe they sell this shit."


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2. "It's like the universe as a giant "Click here for a free iPod" banner ad."

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3. "You create your own reality!"

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4. "We can dictate what we want to come into our life, and with absolute certainty it will arrive."

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5. Sex Fail.

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6. From Wikipedia:

"The claims made by both the book and film have been highly controversial, and have been criticized by reviewers and readers in both traditional and web-based media. The book has also been heavily criticized by former believers and practitioners, with some going as far as claiming that The Secret was conceived by the author and that the only people generating wealth and happiness from it are the author and the publishers.

"Others assert The Secret offers false hope to those in true need of more conventional assistance in their lives. In 2007 Barbara Ehrenreich, an author and social critic, ridiculed the book's weight control advice to 'not observe' overweight people.

"According to the online magazine Religion Dispatches, [Secret author Rhonda] Byrne argued that natural disasters strike those 'on the same frequency as the event' and implied the 2006 tsunami victims could have spared themselves.

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See also: Our Favorite Oprah Moments.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:42 AM | Permalink

How The Chicago Media Will Cover The Rapture

An old joke about how the nation's news organizations will cover the end of the world - which is Saturday, dontcha know - predicts the The Wall Street Journal will go with "God says world to end tomorrow; market to close early" while the Washington Post will announce "God says world to end tomorrow; women and minorities hardest hit."

Let's add some Chicago outlets - and personalities - to the mix.

Tribune: "Frenzied Families Prepare For End With Mixed Feelings."

Eric Zorn: "Where Does The Word 'Rapture' Come From?"

John Kass: "God Is A Chumbolone If He Thinks He Can Outsmart The Daleys."

Mary Schmich: "A Poem For God, Explaining The iPod."

Tom Skilling: "Forecast Partly Hotter Than Blazes For Weekend Rapture."

Editorial: "Memo to God: Cut Pensions First."

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Sun-Times: "Rahm: City 'Ready' For Rapture."

Michael Sneed: "Tittle Tattle: Sneed hears that with the end of the world at hand, the Royal Family is preparing a graceful exit from this world. But will they be a don't invitem item with Jesus? Stay tuned."

Stella Foster: "God is coming, and not a moment too soon. These young girls showing their cha-chis all over His earth need a good talking to from a stern role model who isn't afraid to do some smiting. You go, God! Yeah, I said it!"

Mark Brown: "I can't decide what I think about the Rapture. It could be good, but then again, some people might get hurt. But maybe that's just the way it is."

Editorial: "Critics may complain, but the Rapture is the only realistic solution. We just hope it is done as fairly as possible. And hey, we're Chicago, we're tough enough to take it."

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Bob Sirott: "One More Thing . . . About The Rapture. Will Ronnie Santo be there? Because if won't be, I don't wanna go."

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Walter Jacobson: "I find this Rapture business puzzling. I think the fix is in. Sooo coooolllllld!"

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Chicago Tonight: "Join us tonight when our panel of experts talks about the most boring implications of the Rapture; we'll be sure to cut off the discussion as soon as someone says something interesting, throwing it to another piece on the Columbian Exposition."

Week in Review: "We'll recap what everyone has already said about the Rapture in a show taped ahead of time."

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RedEye: "Rapture Sex: Should You Have It?"

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Chicago Magazine: "Top 28 Rapture Restaurants. Plus, which neighborhoods will be hot after God arrives."

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The Reader: "Rapture, page 35."

Ben Joravsky: "Rapture is same old Chicago politics despite talk of change."

Mick Dumke: "Rapture contract obtained through a Freedom of Information request shows Daley insiders still reaping the benefits of their connections."

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The Expired Meter: "Meters Must Still Be Fed On Judgement Day."

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Harry Teinowitz: "I was bangin' seven-gram rocks and finishing them! That's the Rapture, baby!"

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Chicago News Cooperative: "Innovate rapture coverage coming soon."

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Andy Shaw: "We'll be covering the Rapture live as part of our expanded mission to not only watchdog local politicians but the masters of the universe."

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The Beachwood Reporter: "Media Once Again Fails To Properly Cover The Rapture."

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Comments welcome.

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1. From Steve Rhodes:

Adding . . .

Bill Kurtis: "I've just found the Rapture."

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:56 AM | Permalink

Bulls Ruin Unrealistic Dream Of Sweeping The Heat Spawned By Game 1 Rout; Lose Home-Court Advantage Though They Play Just As Well If Not Better On The Road In The Playoffs

Well that sucked.

"By late Wednesday evening, the Heat had reclaimed its identity and claimed a huge victory, rolling over the Chicago Bulls, 85-75, at the United Center to steal home-court advantage," Howard Beck writes for the New York Times.

"The night was defined by defense, mostly Miami's, which throttled Derrick Rose, flustered Luol Deng and turned Carlos Boozer into a footnote. The Heat held the Bulls to 34 percent shooting and secured the win in a plodding, grinding, grisly fourth quarter, which Miami won, 14-10."

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"Bulls Collapse Late," says USA Today.

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"Heat Beat Bulls At Own Game," writes Michael Wilbon for ESPN.

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The Official NBA Highlights:

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AP's Post-Game Report:

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:18 AM | Permalink

Carl's Cubs Mailbag: Git 'er Don't!

What . . . the . . . hell . . . was . . . that?
-Esteban, Peotone IL

I see you watched Tuesday's game against the Reds.

Yes, all seven runs were unearned. Hoo-ray Beer!

In an effort to cheer you up, allow me to recount some other notable baseball occurrences that were harder to stomach than the 7-5 loss in Cincinnati.

* Roger Craig is accidentally injected with steroids by a syringe stowed in his wife's bra.

* Sammy Sosa throws out his back while stuffing his bat full of super-balls.

* Don Zimmer gets face slammed by Razor Ramon (SP Boston Red Sox) in a bench clearing brawl during the 2003 playoffs.

* Leadoff man Brady Anderson's 50-home-run season.

Is there an official stat for plays that weren't made that should have been? I'm referring to the stuff that went on in 6th inning on Monday.
-Bob, Chicago IL

That was a rough series against the Reds.

There have been some recent additions to defensive statistics that address fielding capabilities more completely, such as Probabilistic Model of Range (PMR) and Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) which I find to be just another shovel full of Sabermetrics.

In the case of crap defense, nothing works like the eye test.

I'm advocating for the addition of the "Awww F@#%," or AF, statistic.

Whenever Aramis Ramirez has to dive for a ground ball that would have hit Kevin Kouzmanoff in the chest, resulting in what is technically an infield hit, mark down an AF.

Next time Alfonso Soriano has a ball sail well over his head because he broke in for some reason, mark down an AF.

And so on.

What do you think of the new outfielder, Tony Campana?
-Ryan, Wood Dale IL

He's from the Cincinnati area, so he likes chili on his spaghetti.

Are the 2011 Cubs really that much worse than the 2010 San Francisco Giants?
-Sandy, Michigan City IN

With the Giants in town last week, presumably to be pissed on by the sky, I thought about the same thing. The conclusion I came to is other than the consistent pitching, solid defense and the winning, the two teams are remarkably similar.

The '10 Giants found a way to get it done and the '11 Cubs are finding a ton of creative ways to get it don't.

I'm sure there's a great merchandising opportunity for the tagline "Chicago Cubs Baseball: Git 'er Don't!"

Why doesn't Reed Johnson play everyday?
-DeLino, Carol Stream IL

I'm kind of hoping he does so I can bust out a column titled "Diminishing Reed-turns" when he goes into a slump. In fact, I put together a whole notebook of preemptive puns before the season started.

I've got "Baker's Dozen!" for the day the Cub utility man knocks in 13 runs; "Pena Collide-a!" when Carlos Pena bowls over a catcher during a game-ending play at the plate and "Marshall Law" which I'll use when Sean Marshall and Korean fashion designer Jean-Claude Van Damme team up to dispense a unique brand of justice upon terrorists plotting to sell explosive counterfeit foam fingers to Wrigley patrons*.

It's called wordplay, kids. That's how you make the big bucks.

*Substitute "Sean Marshall" with "Rob Schneider" and that's an actual movie.

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Send your comments and questions to Carl!


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:01 AM | Permalink

In Action: Paul Simon at the Vic and the Chicago Theatre

Paul Simon played at two different venues in Chicago this week, Monday night at the Vic and Tuesday night at the Chicago Theatre. Let's take a look.

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"In one sense, the two-hour, 24-song performance played like a mini-history of rhythm, spiraling out from the doo-wop of Simon's native New York to West Africa down the coast to Capetown and then out to the Caribbean, into Brazil, Memphis and New Orleans," Greg Kot wrote for the Tribune.

"His band of multi-instrumentalists was versatile enough to keep pace with Simon's game of continental hop-scotch, the singer demonstrating how he synthesized his rhythm journeys into durable pop songs."

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"[O]ver the course of his two-hour set he made a convincing, sometimes intriguing case for a common thread connecting not just his catalog but from his catalog to the world of music at large," Joshua Klein wrote for Time Out Chicago.

"A cover of Jimmy Cliff's 'Vietnam' segued into 'Mother and Child Reunion,' which was originally recorded back in 1972, in Jamaica, with Jimmy Cliff's band.

"The accordion-driven zydeco rhythms of 'That Was Your Mother' were later echoed in the South African dance groove of 'Gumboots,' while one imagined Simon had the street corner doo wop vocals of his youth in mind when he incorporated Zulu a cappella harmonies into his 'Diamonds on the Soles of her Shoes.'

"An earlier rendition of 'Hearts and Bones' transitioned into Junior Parker's 'Mystery Train,' slyly a song made famous by another prominent white singer borrowing from black music."

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1. Sounds of Silence at the Vic.


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2. 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover at the Vic.

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3. Kodachrome & Gone at Last at the Vic.

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4. Vietnam & Mother and Child Reunion at the Vic.

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5. Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes at the Vic.

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6. Obvious Child at the Vic.

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7. Still Crazy After All These Years at the Chicago Theatre.

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8. Slip Slidin' Away at the Chicago Theatre.

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9. Only Living Boy in New York at the Chicago Theatre.

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10. Rewrite at the Chicago Theatre.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:10 AM | Permalink

Obama Leaves Financial System In The Hands Of Substitute Teachers And Empty Seats

After the worst crisis since the Great Depression, President Obama has unleashed an unusual force to regulate the financial system: a bunch of empty seats.

With Sheila C. Bair soon to leave her post at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Obama administration will have five major bank regulatory positions either unfilled or staffed with acting directors.

The administration has inexplicably left open the vice chairman for banking supervision, a new position at the Federal Reserve created by the Dodd-Frank Act, despite having a candidate whom many people think is an obvious choice: Daniel K. Tarullo.

The new Consumer Financial Products Board chairman is unnamed.

There are some lower-level positions that don't have candidates, including the head of the Treasury's Office of Financial Research and the Financial Stability Oversight Council insurance post.

Perhaps most important, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, is being headed by an acting comptroller, John Walsh, who took over the agency last August. Nine months have passed without a leader who might better reflect the Obama administration's views on banking regulation, a time lag made worse by the office's coddling of the banks even as they have acknowledged rampant abuse and negligence in the foreclosure process.

The vacancies come at a time that calls for stiffer regulatory examination. The financial regulatory system was remade under Dodd-Frank and requires strong leaders to put the changes into effect. Though the acting heads insist they feel empowered to make serious decisions, they have roughly the same authority as substitute high school teachers.

Supposedly, the Obama administration is getting close to naming people to head the comptroller's office and the F.D.I.C. But we've been hearing that for a while. In April, Barbara A. Rehm of American Banker wrote that the administration was working on a big package of nominations to send to the Hill all at once. A month later, we're still twiddling our thumbs in anticipation.

So what's going on?

In a vacuum of leadership, conspiracy theories arise. One is that Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner is making a power grab and doesn't mind that these roles aren't filled. The idea is that he is asserting his influence over the Dodd-Frank rule-making process. A former adviser to Geithner dismissed that notion as ridiculous, and that's persuasive to me. It seems too Machiavellian by half.

If it's not Geithner, then who or what is responsible for the vacancies? Not surprisingly, people close to the administration blame Republicans. The nomination process has become hopelessly broken in Washington. Even low-level appointments are now deeply partisan affairs, the playthings of score-settling senators with memories like elephants and the social responsibility of hyenas (which probably insults hyenas).

The Obama administration put up Peter A. Diamond for a position on the Federal Reserve board. Winning a little something called the Nobel Prize hasn't helped him with confirmation, however. Sen. Richard Shelby, the powerful Alabama Republican and ranking member of the banking committee, is standing in his way.

The senator also quashed the nomination of Joseph A. Smith Jr. to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

But much of the blame for this situation lies with the Obama administration. It's almost as if the president and his staff have thrown up their hands. The administration has had trouble finding good candidates who are willing to go through the vetting process and has shied away from fights. It also hasn't seeded the ground or supported the nominations it has made, people complain.

A Democratic Senate staff member confided worry to me about the fate of Mark Wetjen, whom the administration nominated last week as a candidate for a seat on the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. "They didn't shop it and they didn't get buy-in," the staff member said. "The administration doesn't seem to be putting any sort of effort into it."

Making these appointments will help answer a question: Where does Obama stand on financial regulation?

With the Geithner appointment, the president chose early on the path of continuity over muscular regulation. Immediately, the Treasury Secretary became the personification of every Obama financial policy. Mr. Geithner remains the most politically costly appointment Mr. Obama has made, saddling him with all the Bush presidency's financial crisis decisions.

After all, Mr. Geithner, as head of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, was intimately involved in the emergency actions of September 2008. Republicans made great hay tying Democrats to the Wall Street bailouts in the 2010 midterm elections. Now, of course, Republicans are leading Democrats in Wall Street campaign donations.

With these positions unfilled, Obama is losing out on a political opportunity to draw a line between himself and his opposition.

But it's more important than that. Allowing these vacancies to linger drains leadership from the financial overhaul at the exact moment when it is needed most.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:02 AM | Permalink

May 18, 2011

The [Wednesday] Papers

1. What the media keeps forgetting about Oprah.

2. Take The Bulls And The Under Tonight.

3. This story may no longer be viable.

4. "Illinois in 2011 is on pace to provide much more money in financial incentive programs to businesses to retain and add jobs, with the total through early May exceeding $230 million pledged to 27 companies," the Tribune reports.

"That is nearly the amount pledged all of last year by Illinois to keep corporations from leaving the state or to attract businesses to relocate or expand here, the Tribune has learned."

Here's the best part:

"The identities of 21 of the 27 companies receiving a total $53.1 million were not disclosed in a list provided to the Tribune on Tuesday by the state's Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity."

Yes, there is an explanation . . .

"The company names weren't released because of nondisclosure agreements with the companies, because contracts have not been finalized or because employees had not been told of plans at the companies in question, department spokeswoman Marcelyn Love said in a statement."

. . . but please, it's our money. Shouldn't these things be discussed publicly first?

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"Face it, we're hostages," Rich Miller writes. "It's distasteful as all get-out, but we're basically left with no good choices. And the more deals we cut, the more deals we'll have to cut. Until we can overcome our serious, long-standing problems, we're at their mercy - and corporate CEOs are not generally known to have an abundance of that human quality."

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I beg to differ. If the the more deals we cut just invites more deals we'll have to cut, any economic reasoning goes out the window. Besides, everyone knows you don't negotiate with terrorists. And if we're hostages, those taking us hostage are terrorists - the economic kind.

It's also not clear that there is an economic reason to make these deals. Just under Miller's column he includes a link to a Trib story with the subhead:" Critics say states, in push to attract businesses, often do more harm than good, with few jobs created and money wasted."

And if CEOs aren't known for their mercy, maybe out elected officials from the president on down should pound some into them, instead of palling around with them at cocktail parties.

Are you with America, Mr. CEO, or are you against? Are you with Illinois, or against? Are you on the side of the taxpayer, or against? Do you want government out of your business? Then get out of ours.

Finally, it seems to me a case could be made that these subsidies are - or could be made - illegal. Taxpayer money isn't supposed to be spent for private gain, right? Subsidizing corporations isn't the job of government. Taxing them to pay for the benefits they enjoy when they receive their charter is. We've got it backwards.

5. Homeless Chicago Man Shames Corporate CEOs, Elected Officials.

6. From a faithful Beachwood reader:

"I've been reading all the coverage of Emanuel's first full day in office and I'm starting to wonder, is it really a $75M cut in the budget if $31M of it is better grant management? That's not a cut in spending, it's more aggressive tapping of outside funds, and it relies on getting others, who may also be tapped out, to foot the bill. There's no guarantee that the money will actually be found, is there?"

Shhh. You just don't say such things around here. Get with the program.

7. "Chicago has a new mayor, Rahm Emanuel, who is impatient as all get-out to fix the city's public schools, make dangerous neighborhoods safe and create more jobs," the Sun-Times opines.

Gee, even more impatient than Richard M. Daley was to do the same for 22 years? Good thing we didn't elect someone with more patience!

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The Sun-Times's Rahm rapture is in the service of supporting a new Chicago casino, which is one of the all-time bad ideas.

"The big casino being contemplated would bring the city an estimated local revenue share of $300 million to $400 million, create some 2,000 jobs and have a ripple effect on hotels, restaurants and other businesses."

First job in journalism? Because it only takes a few months in this career to learn that these kind of estimates are wildly inflated, if not outright fabricated.

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"We have long supported in concept a casino for Chicago, with caveats. It would have to be located where it naturally draws the tourist trade, not Joe Blow from down the block gambling away his rent money."

Like downtown, which is traditionally difficult for Joe Blow to find.

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"A recent Associated Press story quoted a Chicago man who said he gambles at a casino in Gary because it doesn't ban smoking.

"Maybe. But we suspect that this Chicago man does not do his gambling in Chicago because there is no casino in Chicago.

"Let's shorten his commute."

To a tourist area?

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"The Illinois Gaming Board would have to have a strong say in the casino's operations to fend off organized crime."

On what planet?

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"And the city's 'take' would have to be large."

Well, just from the parking meters alone . . .

8. How To Spend $1,000 On Dinner For Two In Chicago.

9. The Jane Addams Children's Book Awards.

10. One Love, Wild Hare. You made us feel alright.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: One love.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:04 PM | Permalink

Homeless Chicago Man Gives A Shit

"I don't understand about the world sometimes."

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Homeless Chicago Man Donates $9,000+ From Daily Handouts He Receives To Help Struggling Mother & Child!

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:42 AM | Permalink

Take The Bulls And The Under Tonight

For entertainment purposes only, including gambling.

1. Just look at the numbers.

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2. Heat outcoached and outbenched.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:18 AM | Permalink

How To Spend $1,000 On Dinner For Two In Chicago

"We had a great dinner at Alinea restaurant in Chicago. This dinner was not cheap - $950 for two (including the tip). It could easily have been $2,000 had we gone full hog on this. Truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience, thanks to a gift certificate we received from some dear friends. The food was delicious, the presentation incredible. It actually was worth the $1,000. You have to make a reservation two months in advance. We finally got in on a Thursday. It's rated the #1 restaurant in North America by Gourmet and Restaurant magazines (#6 in the world)."

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See also: Ben Hart's accompanying blog post.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:05 AM | Permalink

The Jane Addams Children's Book Awards

The Jane Addams Children's Book Awards are given annually to the children's picture books and longer books published the preceding year that effectively promote the cause of peace, social justice, world community, and the equality of the sexes and all races as well as meeting conventional standards for excellence.

The Jane Addams Children's Book Awards have been presented annually since 1953 by the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom and the Jane Addams Peace Association.

Winner of books for younger children:

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Emma's Poem: The Voice of the Statue of Liberty, written by Linda Glaser with paintings by Claire A. Nivola, Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company is the winner in the Books for Younger Children category.

Emma Lazarus wrote a sonnet in 1883 that became one of our nation's most familiar sonnets and one that accompanied the Statue of Liberty as well. Emma also helped to shape the heart of the nation in her urgent message to declare the statue as a welcome to all immigrants.

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Winner of books for older children:

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A Long Walk to Water: Based on a True Story by Linda Sue Park, Clarion Books, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company is the winner in the Books for Older Children category.

This dual narrative features young Nya and young Salva in Sudan. Nya walks eight hours every day so her family has water. Salva is in school when shots are fired and he flees into the bush to begin his every day walking. How does their future impact the future of war-torn Sudan?

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Two books were named Honor Books in the Books for Younger Children category:

Ruth and the Green Book by Calvin Alexander Ramsey with Gwen Strauss and illustrated by Floyd Cooper, published by Carolrhoda Books, a division of Lerner Publishing Group, Inc., has been named an Honor Book for Younger Children.

In the 1950s, young Ruth and her parents travel south in their new car when she discovers her African American family is not always welcome along the way. An Esso attendant shows the family a Green Book as a way to safety in the Jim Crow era, enabling Ruth to relish the kindness of strangers.

Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down by Andrea Davis Pinkney, illustrated by Brian Pinkney and published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, Hachette Book Group, has been named an Honor Book for Younger Children.

Four young black men stood up for civil rights in 1960 by sitting down at a Woolworth lunch counter with the sign WHITES ONLY and came up with the perfect recipe for a peaceful protest.

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Two books were named Honor Books in Books for Older Children category:

Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes, published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, Hachette Book Group, has been named an Honor Book for Older Children.

Twelve-year-old Lanesha has only Mama Ya-Ya, and that's just fine by her. Mama Ya-Ya's visions of the arrival of hurricane Katrina busy the two in preparation, but Lanesha can't imagine what she's being prepared for.

Birmingham Sunday by Larry Dane Brimner, Calkins Creek, an imprint of Boyds Mills Press, Inc., has been named an Honor Book for Older Children.

In Alabama in the 1960s frequent racial bombings had been terrifying but not yet deadly before September 15, 1963, when six children lost their lives in the attack. Larry Dane Brimner highlights FBI files, police records, and multiple additional primary sources to tell the story of the church bombing on Birmingham Sunday, placing it in the historical context of the Civil Rights movement.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:30 AM | Permalink

Our Favorite Oprah Moments

One thing we won't get while the press breathlessly "reports" on Oprahfest is the truth about how whacked-out and delusional Oprah and her followers really are. To put it politely, she's a hypocritical crackpot. "She puts the cult in popular culture," media critic Mark Jurkowitz once wrote. So as is often our duty here at the Beachwood, we hereby offer an antidote to the madness in the form of our favorite Oprah moments. We trust you'll get the picture.

1. Eternity with Oprah, what a treat!


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2. "The Importance of Being Oprah" by Barbara Grizzuti Harrison, New York Times Magazine, June 11, 1989. Link not available, but please find it if you can; it is essential reading.

Curiously, letters to the magazine about the article are online. Here's one:

"I am thoroughly disgusted by Oprah Winfrey's arrogant and self-serving theory of 'the Universe" ('The Importance of Being Oprah,' by Barbara Grizzuti Harrison, June 11). Her claim that she was 'born for greatness' ideologically contradicts her convenient reliance on free will. Furthermore, her accusation that welfare mothers consciously 'choose' to be such leads me to believe that her boyfriend, Stedman Graham, is not the only Republican in this wonder couple of the 1980's."

KATHLEEN MARLEY
Bethlehem, Pa.
July 9, 1989

3. A Million Little Pieces.

4. Oprah opens a school in South Africa instead of, say, Chicago, telling Newsweek: "I became so frustrated with visiting inner-city schools in the U.S. The sense that you need to learn just isn't there. In America if you ask the kids what they want or need, they will say an iPod or some sneakers."

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"At the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Leadership Academy, Winfrey received much criticism surrounding the 'extravagance' of the school, with mention, among other things, about the need for high thread-count sheets for the dormitory beds, a beauty salon, two theaters (one indoor, one outdoor) and a yoga classroom to educate girls in an impoverished region of South Africa."

5. Oprah holds Live Your Best Life seminars. Tickets are $185.

6. "After two decades of searching for her authentic self - exploring New Age theories, giving away cars, trotting out fat, recommending good books and tackling countless issues from serious to frivolous - Oprah Winfrey has risen to a new level of guru," USA Today reported in "The Divine Miss Winfrey?"

"She's no longer just a successful talk-show host worth $1.4 billion, according to Forbes' most recent estimate. Over the past year, Winfrey, 52, has emerged as a spiritual leader for the new millennium, a moral voice of authority for the nation.

"With her television pulpit and the sheer power of her persona, she has encouraged and steered audiences (mostly women) in all matters, from genocide in Rwanda to suburban spouse swapping to finding the absolute best T-shirt and oatmeal cookie."

7. Oprah thought her way into The Color Purple via The Secret.

But she can't think her way thin.

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"But what really makes 'The Secret' more than a variation on an old theme is the involvement of Oprah Winfrey, who lends the whole enterprise more prestige, and, because of that prestige, more venality, than any previous self-help scam," Peter Birkenhead wrote for Salon in "Oprah's Ugly Secret." Oprah hasn't just endorsed 'The Secret'; she's championed it, put herself at the apex of its pyramid, and helped create a symbiotic economy of New Age quacks that almost puts OPEC to shame.

"Why 'venality'? Because, with survivors of Auschwitz still alive, Oprah writes about 'The Secret' on her Web site, 'the energy you put into the world - both good and bad - is exactly what comes back to you. This means you create the circumstances of your life with the choices you make every day.'

"'Venality,' because Oprah, in the age of AIDS, is advertising a book that says, 'You cannot "catch" anything unless you think you can, and thinking you can is inviting it to you with your thought.'

"'Venality,' because Oprah, from a studio within walking distance of Chicago's notorious Cabrini Green Projects, pitches a book that says, 'The only reason any person does not have enough money is because they are blocking money from coming to them with their thoughts.'"

8. The Universe According to Oprah:

"Since Oprah began her show on TV she has offered to the public an alternate spirituality. She has promoted psychics, channeling, ghosts and haunted houses, reincarnation, witchcraft . . .

"On her program, guest Wayne Dyer says - 'there are no accidents in a perfect universe . . . '

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Oprah: You all talk about energy in the universe and how it flows and we flow with it what do you mean by that?"

Wayne: The whole thing is perfect. (We need to be unattached) Everything is thought and thought is energy-everything is from thought.

Oprah (to audience): Everything starts with thought, got that? The base upon what you think that is how things manifest because this is how you act because what you think.

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"Oprah then tells a story about her losing her luggage and normally she would blame it on the airlines but she now thinks it is her fault. 'I thought the universe was trying to tell me if that's what you want this is what you are going to get . . . '

"The porter shortly afterwards told her they found her luggage."

9. John Tesh: Oprah And I DID Date.

10. Oprah's Marriage Guru Divorcing For Third Time.

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Has there ever been a more materialistic preacher of spirituality over things? Has there ever been a more vain preacher of inner beauty?

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Funny how the core of Oprah's belief system is routinely ignored by a coddling media that never seemed to learn that the job of the journalist is to expose charlatans, not to enable and aid them in their enterprise - no matter how unpopular that may make you with their followers, who have existed along with them from time immemoriam.

But it actually really isn't funny; it's sad and irresponsible. Media managers want to make a buck off the poor saps even more than she does. And many of them - and their charges - are among the poor saps, salivating at celebrity and its riches, racing to get as close to her side as they can, when their duty is to get as far away, for a better view. That's the real secret.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:28 AM | Permalink

One Love, Wild Hare

After 25 years as Chicago's reggae headquarters, The Wild Hare closed out a two-week celebratory jamboree on Sunday and shut its doors. Let's take a look, first in words and then in video.

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"Late last Friday night, Chicagoans were streaming into the Wild Hare, a landmark reggae club in Wrigleyville," Howard Reich wrote for the Tribune last month.

"As the band Flex Crew played its buoyant music, young men and women swayed freely on the dance floor to a joyous beat, the palpable optimism of the sounds inspiring smiles all around.

"But the fun-loving scene at the Wild Hare - which has been presenting reggae on North Clark Street for 25 years - will end May 15. That's when Ethiopian owner-musician Zeleke Gessesse will close his widely admired club and prepare to open a new one in his homeland.

"In essence, a major chapter in Gessesse's life - and in reggae music in Chicago - will come to a close."

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"Gessesse was a member of Dallol, a band that was once signed to Bob Marley's Tuff Gong label," the Jamaica Gleaner notes. "They also toured as opening act for Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers."

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"Owner Zeleke Gessesse is moving back to his native Ethiopia, where he's building a Wild Hare in the capital, Addis Ababa. Jerome McDonnell, Radio M host Tony Sarabia and Zeleke reflect on some of the club's legendary performances."

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"Originally called the Wild Hare & Singing Armadillo Frog Sanctuary, the club opened in 1986 at 3530 N. Clark when Wrigleyville was still an up-and-coming neighborhood," the Sun-Times reports.

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"[O]ne of the premier reggae clubs in the country," according to the Chicago Bar Project. "The Wild Hare is located on Clark, across from Sluggers and next to John Barleycorn Wrigleyville and just south of Wrigley Field. It is a reggae oasis surrounded by sports bars filled with drunk Cubs fans in the summertime. Some Cubs fans filter into the Hare, but most of the crowd are reggae fans - people that know where to go for the best reggae around. Just look for the sign with the half-lidded rabbit chilling out with a beer-toting armadillo, and you've found the self-billed Reggae Capital of America."

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Flickr photostream by Rose Mountain Photo.

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The Flex Crew plays the last days, uploaded by JAHN0321.

1. Carry on.

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2. Feelin' alright.

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3. Steely.

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4. We're jammin'.

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5. More jammin'.

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6. Backstage.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:37 AM | Permalink

May 17, 2011

The [Tuesday] Papers

Channel 2's Susanna Song led off her midday report giddily proclaiming "Talk about a bold mayor!" because Rahm Emanuel chose his first official press conference as mayor to once again tout his plan to cut $75 million from the city budget.

I don't think bold is quite the right word for it.

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This WBBM radio report isn't much better.

"Making good on a campaign promise to cut the city budget, Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Tuesday outlined a plan to save $75 million in 2011 through a series of salary cuts for senior managers and other cost-saving measures."

Did the mayor really "make good" on a campaign promise? Every candidate promised to cut the city budget; there isn't much choice. There's a deficit.

So promises don't come much emptier.

And "outlining a plan" isn't the same as achieving one.

You know, if you want to be a stenographer, go to stenography school. If you want to be a reporter, report.

For example:

Rahm Emanuel sought to portray himself as a man of action on his first day of mayor by providing the most details yet on the way he intends to cut $75 million from a city budget that is as much as $700 million out of whack. How he intends to get the rest of the way there remains a mystery.

One way or another, you'll be asked to pay. For example, more stringent parking enforcement made Emanuel's list, even as taxpayers are still fuming about one of the Daley administration's biggest embarrassments, the leasing of the city's parking meters at an apparent discount rate, and the accompanying rise in fees for motorists as well as a whole new private enforcement patrol.

Meanwhile, most of Emanuel's departmental budget targets will be met by simply not filling vacant city jobs - perhaps a necessary step but hardly a bold harbinger of the kind of change the new mayor spent Inauguration Day touting.

Instead, we get "reporters" peddling meaningless, contrived slogans such as Emanuel saying "If everyone will give a little, no one will have to give too much."

Just because a politician has crafted a line he thinks clever doesn't require you to use it.

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Then the new mayor dropped this bomb:

"The biggest savings will come from better management of grant programs. Emanuel said the city's poor management of grant dollars is wasting $31 million a year - forcing taxpayers to pick up the difference.

"Emanuel said city managers failed to follow-up on securing the second installments of grant money for projects - forcing the city to use tax money to make up the difference."

What?

Talk about burying the lead.

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But at least reporters knew enough to ask this:

"How did he feel on his first full day on the job?"

Because it's all about how he feels.

"Energized," our new leader said.

Presumably by the opportunity to make all of our lives better. Or his. Either way.

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The next "reporter" who asks somebody how they feel should be the last. We're not here monitor the thinnest layers of our subjects' emotional lives. "How do you feel about whoever hired Angelo Torres?" is no substitute for "Who hired Angelo Torres?"

J101.

Take an interviewing class, please. Read a book. Study your profession. There's plenty of help out there.

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Finally, if Chicago is really as ready for change as Rahm is allowed to keep claiming it is, why did it elect the candidate who promised the least of it?

Change is like sex; those who talk the most about it do it the least.

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Rahm is using he word "change" so much because David Axelrod told him to. If conditions were identical and Axelrod found that voters would respond better to the word "continuity" or the phrase "status quo," Rahm would be making the exact same moves but labeling them differently. Wake up, people.

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One thing I'm certain of: The media isn't changing. With few exceptions, "reporters" are still desperate to be liked by the mayor and fearful of asking not just "tough" questions" but real ones.

Actually, sadly, most "reporters" in this town don't even know what the real questions are.

Another Way To Save
There is absolutely no reason the mayor needs his name on our infrastructure outside of the cynical political motive of free (actually taxpayer-subsidized) advertising. Change starts with you, Rahm.

rahmphoto.jpg

It reminds me of that Xerox commercial where a bunch of managers are sitting around desk tearing their hair out trying to find more budget cuts. Suddenly one looks at the piles of papers, binders, reports and styrofoam coffee cups and says, "How 'bout all this? How much does all this cost to produce?" Another colleague says "Could be millions!"

Of course, Daley's name has to be removed; that's a sunk cost, as it were. But leaving our signs and stationery nameless would save money the next time we have a new mayor. Even if it's Zach Emanuel or Patrick Daley.

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Or Ilana or Leah Emanuel; it's not that Zach is male, it's that he's the oldest.

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Same for department heads and other elected officials when it comes to stationery and so forth; we all know you get off on it but c'mon. Grow up.

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UPDATE: 4:18 P.M.: The Beachwood gets results!

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Rewriting History
"Emanuel campaigned on a promise to 'change the culture' of corruption and cronyism at City Hall that gave birth to the Hired Truck, city hiring and minority contracting scandals," Fran Spielman "reports" for the Sun-Times.

Really? I don't remember that campaign at all. Was I in an alternate universe or was she?

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The headline on Spielman's story is "Emanuel Jumps Into Works, Signs 6 Executive Orders."

But halfway through the story we learn that three of those executive orders are merely Daley reissues.

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"I want a set of values as an example," Emanuel said. "We can't [expect] people to have any sense in the entire city of that change if you're not gonna lead by example."

Then he revealed who inside his congressional campaign was the contact who coordinated with Don Tomczak's illegal patronage armies.

Or did I just imagine that?

Osama bin Angelo
"I will hunt down whoever hired Angelo Torres and implore them to tell federal authorities everything they know."

Or did I just imagine that?

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Also in today's Beachwood:

* Bob Seger and Elvis Costello rolled through town over the weekend. Thanks to the glories of YouTube, we've got a few highlights - including Elvis doing "Purple Rain."

* "When was the last time anyone saw a pitcher unable to execute an intentional walk?" writes our very own Dmitry Samarov in Outside Sox Park: Getting Metaphysical. "When did Konerko join the Harlem Globetrotters? How often do we face a team so desperate for a run that they'd attempt a straight steal of home? These are all things I'll happily recall if the Sox use this baby step and keep toddling on up to .500, then the Central Division lead, which is theirs for the taking."

* "I sought a train home/from the garage of servitude," writes our very own J.J. Tindall in Chicagoetry: A Suit of Jade. "Up from south State/to the mirage of solitude."

* State Senate Panel Suggests Saving Money By Giving Bosses Raises.

* Bill O'Reilly and Jon Stewart Debate White House Poetry Reading By Chicago Rapper Common.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Players wanted.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:14 AM | Permalink

Bill O'Reilly And Jon Stewart Debate White House Poetry Reading By Chicago Rapper Common


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This is a RUSH transcript from The O'Reilly Factor, May 16, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

O'REILLY: If you watched The Factor last week, you know we thought inviting a rapper named Common to a poetry reading at the White House was a big mistake by the administration. That's because Common has openly sympathized with two convicted cop killers, including the notorious Joanne Chesimard, a member of the Black Liberation Army who was convicted of killing a New Jersey state trooper, escaped from prison and is now living in Cuba. Common actually visited her in Cuba. But our pal Jon Stewart disagrees with the criticism of Common. So I challenged him last week to a debate and he answered the call.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

O'REILLY: All right, Stewart, I'm shocked. I am shocked that you don't understand why people like me and millions of other Americans are upset, annoyed and looking for answers that a guy like Common would be entertained at the White House. Common traveled to Cuba to meet with Joanne Chesimard, who was convicted of killing a New Jersey state trooper. Common said, "Damn. This was somebody who fought for my freedom." This is a cop killer. This is a woman who gunned down, along with two other accomplices, a woman who is a member of the Black Liberation Army . . .

STEWART: Right.

O'REILLY: . . . who they found 16 live rounds in her purse, and this guy thinks she is great.

STEWART: Thinks she is innocent.

O'REILLY: No. She is great.

STEWART: Well, but, also . . .

O'REILLY: This was somebody who fought for my freedom. It made me want to do better in life. Come on.

STEWART: I can't speak for him because I'm not him, I don't think.

O'REILLY: Not yet.

STEWART: I can rap. I rapped on the show. I think it was pretty impressive.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEWART: O'Reilly, oh really. I know that you feel me. I joke to the folks while you choke on that smoke.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEWART: You are saying that he is celebrating a cop killer or promoting cop killing.

O'REILLY: No, I didn't say he's promoting cop killing.

STEWART: Well, people on your network are.

O'REILLY: Let's just speak to me.

STEWART: Alright. I'm talking to you.

O'REILLY: Celebrating, celebrating a cop killer, yes.

STEWART: Here is the only distinction I would make there and I can't speak for him. What I think he is doing is not celebrating but honoring someone he thinks was wrongly convicted of cop killing. I think he believes she was convicted unjustly.

O'REILLY: Okay. That's fine and Common wasn't even born when this crime took place, thinks that based on nothing because the evidence is overwhelming.

STEWART: Okay.

O'REILLY: He is entitled as an American to do that. The president of the United States, though, takes him into the house, alright, thereby validating him. Come on, that was a bad decision. You know it was a bad decision.

STEWART: You are saying that by having him at the White House, that, in essence, was tacit approval of everything he has ever done to some extent?

O'REILLY: No. It validates him - alright - it elevates him . . .

STEWART: As an individual.

O'REILLY: . . . as a poet or whatever. Do you know how many poets would have liked to have been there?

STEWART: Let me ask you something.

O'REILLY: No, let me ask you a question.

STEWART: Alright.

O'REILLY: Why was he selected in your opinion? Why did he get that honor in your opinion?

STEWART: Because I think he's not defined as an artist by this Assata Shakur court case.

O'REILLY: This is big.

STEWART: I think he's defined - well, I think it probably isn't as big in his career as you might think it is. Let me go to a different point, if I may. It sounds like what you are saying is - and correct me if I am wrong and I don't want to be wrong when I'm with you because you know I got mad love for you - that's a rap phrase.

O'REILLY: I got it.

STEWART: Correct me if I am wrong. What you are saying is if an artist supports someone that has been convicted of killing a cop, they should not be allowed to go to the White House?

O'REILLY: No, it's a little bit more than that.

STEWART: Okay. Say it again.

O'REILLY: I'm saying that when a president invites someone - in this case the First Lady invites someone - the resume has to be put in front of them and they have to select people who are almost unimpeachable, alright, because they are getting that honor to go to the White House. This guy is controversial all day long with this stuff. Not only did he support this cop killer, or celebrate the cop killer, he celebrated another one in Philadelphia.

STEWART: Again, he is celebrating someone he thinks was unjustly - he is not celebrating . . .

O'REILLY: Is this Perry Mason we are talking about now? Is this the most brilliant lawyer of all time?

STEWART: Who?

O'REILLY: This Common.

STEWART: Oh, Common. Let me ask you a question. Are you familiar with Leonard Peltier?

O'REILLY: Yes.

STEWART: Leonard Peltier was convicted of killing two . . .

O'REILLY: Now we are going to Wounded Knee.

STEWART: It's similar.

O'REILLY: No, it's not.

STEWART: Why is it not?

O'REILLY: Because you are pettifogging the issue.

STEWART: It's the exact same thing. It's a guy convicted of killing a law enforcement official. No? Guess who wrote a song about Leonard Peltier?

O'REILLY: Yes.

STEWART: Bono.

O'REILLY: Okay.

STEWART: Guess where he was? The White House. Booyah! That's a rap word.

O'REILLY: All right. Did Bono . . .

STEWART: Yes.

O'REILLY: Did he actually come out and say that he was innocent?

STEWART: I think that's the crux of the song.

O'REILLY: I think it was raising questions about it.

STEWART: Now who is pettifogging? Now I can't even see you. Here you pettifog. No. That is exactly the same. Bob Dylan wrote a song about a convicted killer named Hurricane Carter. He has been to the White House. Why are you drawing the line at Common? There is a selective outrage machine here at Fox that pettifogs only when it suits the narrative that suits them. This guy is in the crosshairs in a way that he shouldn't be, whether you agree with him or not. You may think he is ignorant in believing that Assata Shakur is innocent. You may think he is ignorant in believing that Mumia is. But then guess what? Bono can't go to the White House. Springsteen can't go to the White House. Bob Dylan can't go to the White House. You have got a lot of people that aren't allowed to sit in the White House because they have written songs about people convicted of murder.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O'REILLY: Ah, but there is another point to be raised, and in a moment we will continue our debate with Mr. Stewart. And then you can vote on BillOReilly.com as to who won the shootout.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'REILLY: Continuing now with the wisdom of inviting the rapper Common to the White House. The Obama administration, of course, did that last week. Now, I tried very hard to make Stewart see it my way.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

O'REILLY: Okay. So you say that because Bono, Springsteen . . .

STEWART: No, no . . .

O'REILLY: . . . and Bob Dylan wrote songs defending people who were accused of heinous things . . .

STEWART: Yes.

O'REILLY: . . . that I have to give Common a pass . . .

STEWART: No.

O'REILLY: . . . because he did the same thing?

STEWART: You have to be consistent with your outrage.

O'REILLY: Let me give you . . .

STEWART: Be consistent.

O'REILLY: I will. Common visited, went to see . . .

STEWART: So what if Bono went to see Leonard Peltier?

O'REILLY: . . . in Cuba . . .

STEWART: So now that's your line? You're putting yourself in a smaller and smaller box.

O'REILLY: No, I'm not. I'm not.

STEWART: So this guy is worthy of it because he actually visited. And by the way, I don't agree with you that that's what puts it over the top. I completely disagree with you.

O'REILLY: This makes it beyond a reasonable doubt.

STEWART: Oh, please.

O'REILLY: Come on. You know this guy is sympathizing with two cop killers.

STEWART: I don't know this . . .

O'REILLY: You know that.

STEWART: I don't know him. He believes they were unjustly convicted. That's what I imagine this is. He doesn't . . .

O'REILLY: You just whipped this visit to Cuba. You put it in your little drawer. It never happened.

STEWART: No. It happened.

O'REILLY: Okay. That's enough for a sitting president to say, "You know what? This guy might be radioactive. I'm not doing it."

STEWART: G. Gordon Liddy. In the Randy Weaver case, after the ATF stormed that facility, right? When he was talking about the ATF, do you know what he said on his radio show? He said, "If they break down - if they break down your doors, don't shoot them here, because they're wearing protective gear. Shoot for the head."

O'REILLY: Was that before or after Liddy made the gold commercial? Okay, you see, your craziness, you bring this stuff in. Okay. I'm making you president of the United States, which is just . . .

STEWART: Every time I come here you make me president of the United States.

O'REILLY: It's insane. I know. Alright. So you're sitting there, and you know on your resume, okay?

STEWART: Uh-huh.

O'REILLY: You already have Reverend Wright. You've got Bill Ayers, okay? And then a guy named Common comes in and . . .

STEWART: You mean that Fox News has already . . .

O'REILLY: All these things.

STEWART: . . . put these people as they basically connected the dots as though these are the most influential people in my life?

O'REILLY: You have a history of associating with dubious people. You know that. I know it. Everybody knows it. And then you say, "You know what? It's a good idea to bring in a guy who sympathizes with a cop killer." Do you think that's a good decision?

STEWART: Here's what I think. I think Common believes that this woman was unjustly . . .

O'REILLY: You're the president. Will you make that call?

STEWART: Can I be honest with you?

O'REILLY: Yes, please.

STEWART: If I'm the president . . .

O'REILLY: Yes.

STEWART: . . . and I'm booking my own poetry slams, throw me out of office.

O'REILLY: Okay. With pleasure.

STEWART: Because I would believe, as president, I would have things to do . . .

O'REILLY: Okay.

STEWART: . . . rather than go over the list of poetry slammers.

O'REILLY: How about your guys? You already have Wright. You already have Ayers. You already have Bernadette Dohrn. So let's bring in Common.

STEWART: Here's what I think. It's a poetry slam. Who gives a crap?

O'REILLY: A lot. A lot of people do. This is National Police Week.

STEWART: You know what? Let's do something nice for National Police Week. You and I. Let's have us agree to promote a reinstatement of the ban on assault weapons, because that doesn't celebrate killing cops metaphorically or figuratively. It tries to get weapons that kill cops literally off the streets. That's important. This is nothing.

O'REILLY: As you know if you've ever done any research . . .

STEWART: No. You do support it.

O'REILLY: Correct.

STEWART: I'm saying let's - and why don't we get the entire apparatus here.

O'REILLY: The apparatus?

STEWART: The infection machine that is . . .

O'REILLY: You mean the diverse opinions that we have here unlike you - your network?

STEWART: You have not a diversity of opinion.

O'REILLY: Oh, stop it.

STEWART: You bring in people like Colmes so you can beat him around the head with pillows.

O'REILLY: He has no defense mechanism here? He's kind of like - Colmes is a smart guy.

STEWART: A very smart guy.

O'REILLY: He actually likes you, which . . .

STEWART: I like him, as well. He's a very - can I say this? I like you, as well. It saddens me to see you wasting your time.

O'REILLY: Alright, now . . .

STEWART: And by the way, songs are not literal. You know that, right?

O'REILLY: Oh, stop.

STEWART: When The Weather Girls sing "It's raining men," it's not really a precipitation of males.

O'REILLY: I got it. Alright.

STEWART: It's a metaphor.

O'REILLY: Stop attacking The Weather Girls. One of my favorite groups.

STEWART: Are they really?

O'REILLY: I love them. Alright. The thing I like about you is you do take cheap shots all the time, but you defend those cheap shots.

STEWART: Let me tell you something. That's not the only thing you like. I'm like a shot of Levittown right in your ass, like a B-12, boom.

O'REILLY: I think I'm going to commit suicide.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O'REILLY: All right. We also taped an interview about the presidential race with Stewart, a separate topic. We're going to have that for you [Tuesday]. It's very interesting.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:21 AM | Permalink

State Senate Panel Suggests Saving Money By Giving Bosses Raises

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EDITOR'S NOTE 5/18: The validity of this story is now under question.

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EDITOR'S NOTE 5/24: Illinois Statehouse News has issued this correction: "In a report on legislative pay cuts and legislative pay raises, Illinois Statehouse News misidentified legislation in the Illinois Senate. SB260 deals with furloughs. SB2467 addresses lump sum appropriations that could result in pay increases for some lawmakers. Illinois Statehouse News regrets the error."

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Illinois lawmakers usually say it loud and proud when they cut their own pay to save the state some money, but they are much quieter about raising their salaries.

A state Senate panel on Monday passed a plan requiring General Assembly members to take 12 furlough days for fiscal year 2012, which starts in July.

However, the same proposal, SB260, includes the "additional amounts per year" for other lawmakers - committee chairmen and committee minority spokesmen and spokeswomen.

The lump-sum appropriations in the proposal would increase pay for Senate committee chiefs by 14 percent. House committee bosses would see a 47-percent jump in pay. These increases are on top of the base $67,836 annual salaries that all lawmakers earn. Committee and leadership posts bring extra pay.

In other words, more taxpayers' money would be funneled into extra pay for select lawmakers, said state Sen. Dale Righter, R-Mattoon.

"So there's some games being played here," said Righter, a member of the Senate Executive Committee. "And sometimes that's the way things happen - like this - is because (Democrats) want to do it before anyone really sees it."

However State Sen. Dan Kotowski, D-Park Ridge, who sponsored the measure, said this move would restore the public's good faith and trust to the government.

"We're basically changing the existing law, to require legislators to work 12 days without getting paid," he said. "That's very, very, important, and that's going to lead to reduction in salaries across the board this year and a total of saving $1.2 million for taxpayers."

Lawmakers do want the public to notice when they cut their own pay, Righter and Kotowski said.

"But not this, the increasing the stipend (proposal), because it kind of makes it look like, 'OK you're taking it out of your pocket over here, but you're going to shove your other pocket full,'" Righter said. "That's what it looks like, like the outset that they're trying to do here."

Lilia Hodges, 58, of Chicago, was at the Capitol on Monday to support Progress Center for Independent Living, a nonprofit advocacy organization.

"I feel ashamed, and I feel mortified that our legislators would increase the lining of their pockets when we, who are on Social Security disability, have not had a cost-of-living increase in over two years," said Hodges, an Army veteran who served until 1984.

Eric Guidish, 41, said lawmakers deserve a pay raise, but now is not the right time.

"I understand lawmakers work hard . . . but I don't know if I can bear a pay raise (for lawmakers,)" the Springfield man said. "Here we are asking not to be cut and to be able to continue to live in our communities and live with our family and loved ones. On the other hand, we hear they are required to receive pay raises when a lot of agencies are losing funding and closing."

The government needs to live within its means, Kotowski said.

"The fact is, we have very limited resources available, and we have to make necessary cuts and sacrifices," he said. "The General Assembly needs to lead, and that's what we're doing - we're leading and we're making necessary sacrifices that we have to."

The measure is on its way to the Senate for a full vote.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:38 AM | Permalink

Bob Seger & Elvis Costello: Together & Apart in Chicago

Bob in Rosemont on Saturday night ; Elvis at the Chicago Theatre on Sunday night.

1. What's so funny 'bout Purple Rain?

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2. Here I go, playing the star again.

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3. There's magic and malice in every season.

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4. She didn't have to say a word; I knew what she was thinking.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:15 AM | Permalink

Outside Sox Park: Getting Metaphysical

Just when I was about to give up on the season and tell Steve there was no point in my continuing to write this column (aside from causing myself stomach ulcers), the Sox go out West and win three series in a row. Go figure.

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Monday night a middle-aged couple hailed me for a ride in Lincoln Park, going downtown. Hearing the ballgame on the radio, the gent inquired, "What game is it?" Sox-Mariners, I answered. "So you're a Sox fan?" he asked, sounding relieved. Him and the wife were in from St. Louis for the Cubs-Cards series. It was a pleasant conversation the rest of the way. I pointed out that their team had the Sox former manager, which made the man chuckle. He told me he'd met LaRussa several times and liked the man. His wife piped up with a joke too: "What does the World Series and a sterile bear have in common? No Cubs!"

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It's been such a topsy-turvy season so far that it should be no surprise that on the West Coast trip where the Sox are traditionally lucky to win a game or two, this team goes and takes six out of nine. Jake Peavy came back from the disabled list and didn't embarrass himself. Now we've got six starters for five slots. It's good to have a problem like that instead of: why can't we hit, catch, or throw the ball? (What most of us were asking as late as the week before last.) Having Sergio Santos closing games hasn't hurt either.

There were metaphysical forces at work as well, as has been well documented. When was the last time anyone saw a pitcher unable to execute an intentional walk? When did Konerko join the Harlem Globetrotters? How often do we face a team so desperate for a run that they'd attempt a straight steal of home? These are all things I'll happily recall if the Sox use this baby step and keep toddling on up to .500, then the Central Division lead, which is theirs for the taking.

One thing I've appreciated with the Sox' lousy start this year is that they haven't resorted to whining or public squabbles like a certain aging East Coast club has. Reading about the latest Yankee soap opera involving Jorge Posada and his hurt feelings is sort of satisfying. What happened to going gently into that good night? Not the way for a Yankee, I guess. The personal dramas on our team seem to usually involve Ozzie running his mouth, and for that I'm profoundly grateful.

We're still seven under break-even, so there's a lot of climbing from the ditch left to be done. But, at least this road-trip showed that the fellas were interested in giving it a go. Ozzie was quoted as saying that they'd make it up to Sox fans at home. That we deserved better. It's time to deliver.

sergio_santos.jpgSergio Santos by Dmitry Samarov (Enlarge)

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Dmitry Samarov brings you Outside Sox Park every Tuesday. You can also find his work at Hack and at dmitrysamarov.com. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:43 AM | Permalink

Chicagoetry: A Suit of Jade

A Suit of Jade

The moments of my greatness
have flickered and faded.
The oil of my ambition
has ossified to jade.

I sought a train home
from the garage of servitude
up from south State
to the mirage of solitude.

Beyond the red train
stood a pagoda in the sun,
the lean mirage of Chinatown
bejewelled the urban dun.

They believe a suit of jade
guarantees immortality
and so thus buried
one is freed of death's fealty.

But if everywhere is Chinatown,
Chinatown is nothing.
Life is like this.
Only the immortal keep suffering.

I renounce my suit of jade
for the essence of the thing:
to find pleasure in life,
to make the most of the spring.

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J.J. Tindall is the Beachwood's poet-in-residence. He welcomes your comments. Chicagoetry is an exclusive Beachwood collection-in-progress.

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More Tindall:

* Chicagoetry: The Book

* Ready To Rock: The Music

* Kindled Tindall: The Novel

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:35 AM | Permalink

May 16, 2011

The [Monday] Papers

"Bridget Higgins McCarthy and her husband, Kevin McCarthy, found themselves in a tough spot early on the morning of April 25, 2004," the Sun-Times reports.

"Their friend Richard J. 'R.J.' Vanecko, a nephew of Mayor Daley, had just been involved in a drunken confrontation in the Rush Street area that left a 21-year-old man from the suburbs severely injured, the result of a single punch the police would conclude seven years later Vanecko had thrown.

"David Koschman would die in a hospital bed 11 days later of brain trauma, his mother at his side, her son never having regained consciousness.

"The McCarthys - born into wealth, with a circle of friends that includes Daley's children, nieces and nephews - knew that their friend R.J. was the guy the police wanted to talk to but hadn't been able to identify.

"But they weren't telling."

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Richard M. Daley, State of the City address, 2009:

If you know about a crime, report it. If you know who is involved in a crime, report them.

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"[During the key early hours of the initial police investigation, the McCarthys didn't cooperate with the police.

"They not only didn't identify Vanecko, but Kevin McCarthy also lied to the police, police reports show. Twice, he told them - at the scene and, later, at his home - that he didn't know the two men who'd run off after one of them hit Koschman and sent him reeling backward, where he cracked his head on the street."

Something as simple as using a cell phone to report a crime can solve a crime.

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"Why did the McCarthys delay telling the police they knew whom they were looking for?

"And why did Kevin McCarthy at first deny even knowing the two men who ran away?

"They won't say.

"Both have declined Chicago Sun-Times requests for an interview. 'I appreciate what you're trying to do,' Kevin McCarthy told reporters, 'but I have no comment.'

"When two detectives, ordered to reinvestigate after the Sun-Times asked the police department to release records from the 7-year-old case, came to the McCarthys' North Side home in January, Kevin McCarthy told his wife 'not to say anything to the detectives,' according to the police."

For me, ending the violence is one of the most frustrating challenges we face.

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"Daley, who is leaving office today after not seeking re-election, also has declined to respond to questions about his nephew and the police department's handling of the Koschman homicide investigation."

I'd rather a parent be embarrassed by a knock on the door when a police officer brings a child home for violating curfew hours than for that knock on the door to be followed by news that another child has been killed.

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"McDonald, too, is a friend of Daley's children, nieces and nephews. The police never talked with her, according to the detectives' reports. She declined to comment to the Sun-Times."

The code of silence in many neighborhoods that protects the gang bangers and drug dealers is killing our children. It must end.

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"Vanecko, now 36 and living in Southern California, also has never spoken with the police."

I can't emphasize how important it is for parents to accept their responsibility to keep their children safe.

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The Greatest Mayor Ever.

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If someone can find a single reporter who asked Daley about this in their exit interviews, let me know. I'd be shocked because, you know, it just isn't done.

But Reporters Love Them Both
"'Everybody knows how good the mayor was. To me, he was the best,' said Billy Goat Tavern owner Sam Sianis," the Sun-Times reports.

"Sianis has an outpost at O'Hare Airport that was initially placed in the name of his wife at the city's direction. When the Chicago Sun-Times raised questions in 2005, City Hall initially removed Billy Goat IV's certification as a women's business enterprise, only to restore the certification.

"Asked whether he's concerned about losing his O'Hare concession under new Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Sianis said, 'It's [in] my wife's name. It's not me there. It's all a minority.'"

Paging Pat Fitzgerald!

Most Accessible Mayor In America
"Monday's event was billed as an 'open house,' but reporters were barred from the mayor's office. And even though there was a photo op of the handshaking, the Chicago Sun-Times, which has broken scores of stories on corruption and contract cronyism during the Daley years, was specifically excluded."

Martial Law Declared
"A Chicago Police officer was struck by a CTA bus while chasing a man who allegedly swore at Mayor Daley as he was leaving City Hall Friday for the last time as mayor," the Sun-Times reports.

"About 4:45 p.m. Friday, as a crowd gathered to watch Daley say goodbye to City Hall, Janusz Kopycinski, 30, allegedly yelled 'Fuck the mayor,'' police said."

If that's illegal now, it won't be long before they'll have to lock up half the city. Or at least half the teachers' union.

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"Kopycinski, of the 6500 block of West Wellington, was charged with three counts of resisting arrest, two counts of disorderly conduct and one count of reckless conduct."

They'll think up more later.

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"He was arrested in 2007 for battery to police."

But not convicted?

And if you're gonna use criminal histories in a story like this, please include the complaint history against the cop.

Rahm's Inauguration Day
A Beachwood Exclusive.

Bulls On The Mountaintop
"It may not get any better for the Bulls than the second half last night, but with 20 points to spare, it may not have to," I write subbing for Jim Coffman in SportsMonday.

Now Hitting Third For The Cubs
Frank Enstein.

Retiring Paulie and Pierre
For better and worse.

Mitch Spinach
The hero of Sunchoke Elementary.

Chicago Lawn Mower For Sale
First pull every time.

The Weekend in Chicago Rock
Rise Against, The Memorials, Bad Religion, Elvis Costello, Bob Seger, Crystal Castles and more!

Mike Royko's Revenge
The end of The Chicago Code is near.

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Stop by the Beachwood Inn and see for yourself. I'll back behind the bar tonight slinging cold Old Styles and cheap booze off the bottom shelf. The second-to-last Chicago Code airs from 8 p.m. - 9 p.m.; it's the world's greatest jukebox the rest of the way. Plus, free pizza and witty banter. 5 p.m. - 2 a.m.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Code One.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:47 AM | Permalink

The Beachwood Guide To Rahm's Inauguration Day

4:30 a.m.: Rahm wakes wife and proclaims "I am the mayor of Chicago, bitch!"

5 a.m.: A naked Rahm confronts patrons in the East Bank Club who are afraid to point out that the emperor has no clothes on.

5:30 a.m.: Rahm back home for a breakfast of coal, metal shards, asbestos flakes and milk.

6 a.m.: Rahm is chauffered downtown in a used presidential limo he got Obama to drag out of storage. The vehicle will be known as I'm Number One.

6:30 a.m.: Rahm meets with senior staff, informs them to never write anything down.

7 a.m.: Rahm meets with Mayor Daley, who gives him the nuclear codes and the telephone number for the guy who did the Xs at Meigs Field.

7:30 a.m.: Rahm meets with religious leaders and tells them to tend to the needs of the fucking poor because he's got his hands full with "real people."

8 a.m.: Rahm meets with business leaders and discloses the number of his Swiss bank account.

8:30 a.m.: Rahm meets with his media team and tells them to keep reporters away for the next four years or they'll find themselves dispatched to the water reclamation district.

9 a.m.: Rahm meets with his legal team to reassert his belief that if the mayor does it, it's not illegal.

9:30 a.m.: Rahm meets with Ed Burke and discloses the number of his Swiss bank accont.

10 a.m.: Rahm holds a not-for-attribution conference call with reporters from The New York Times, The Washington Post, and USA Today describing how he killed Osama bin Laden. "You can attribute 'It was a double fucking tap between the eyes' to 'a senior administration official,'" he says.

10:30 a.m.: Rahm gathers senior staff and challenges any one of them to do more push-ups than him.

11 a.m.: Rahm begins to practice speech but loses interest when the new Divorce Court comes on.

11:30 a.m.: Rahm calls chief of staff into his office and tells her to get rid of this fucking desk because he's gonna stand all day, like Rumsfeld.

Noon: Rahm gives inauguration speech calling Daley the greatest mayor ever even while proclaiming the city he leaves behind as hopelessly broken. Tries to shift blame to the national economy even as he praises his former boss, the president. Thunders that "The status quo will not do!" before lunching with Joe Berrios and Jim Thompson at Gibson's.

2 p.m.: Nap.

3 p.m.: Begin plotting next move. Senate? Or right to the presidency?

4 p.m.: Knock off early; it's been a long day.

5 p.m.: Dinner at home with wife and kids. "How was your day at charter school?"

6 p.m.: Review clout list. "Doesn't Madigan have enough jobs? Christ!"

7 p.m.: Make prank phone call to Forrest Claypool about train derailments. Chump.

7:30 p.m.: Call David Axelrod, ask him for another word for "layoffs."

8 p.m.: Commission a poll on first-day approval ratings. Leak results to Sneed.

8:30 p.m.: Start to memorize names of aldermen. Give up, saying "Who the fuck cares? They should memorize me!"

9 p.m.: Start to memorize the names of neighborhoods. Give up, saying "Who the fuck cares? I won't step foot in most of them until my victory lap when I'm leaving office. And even then, why bother?"

9:30 p.m.: Dodge phone call from Pat Quinn for last time today.

10 p.m.: Prepare for tomorrow's meeting: How We Will Divvy Up The Spoils.

10:30 p.m.: Read memo from legal team: How To Use Buffers To Avoid Getting Indicted.

11 p.m.: Warm milk, chocolate chip cookies, bed.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:48 AM | Permalink

Chicago Lawn Mower For Sale

First pull every time.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:44 AM | Permalink

Mitch Spinach

The secret life of one cool kid.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:33 AM | Permalink

Royko's Revenge: The End of the Chicago Code Is Near

The cancellation of our "favorite" TV show means the final two episodes of the season will really be the final two episodes. While viewers were promised last week a two-part season finale, show creator Shawn Ryan says the two parts will run tonight and next Monday - just like usual. The finale is called Mike Royko's Revenge. Let's take a look.

1. Promo for two-part finale.

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2. Preview of tonight's episode, "Greylord & Gambat."

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3. Fox preview of next Monday's finale:

"It's the moment of truth for the city of Chicago and the Chicago Police Department. FBI Special Agent Cuyler (guest star Adam Arkin) returns to pay Superintendent Colvin a visit, and Jarek stops at nothing to address family issues that have haunted him for years. When Jarek and Teresa are forced to put everything on the line, the stakes are raised as their case against the kingpin of corruption in Chicago comes to a climactic conclusion in the all-new 'Mike Royko's Revenge' season finale episode of The Chicago Code."

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4. We'll air both at the Beachwood Inn from 8 p.m. - 9 p.m. Free pizza and $2.50 Old Styles.

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Comments welcome.

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Previously:
* Trailer: The Chicago Code

* Making TV: The Chicago Code On Location

* Breaking The Chicago Code

* The Chicago Code Finally Debuts Tonight After Seeming To Have Already Been On For Three Seasons

* The Music of The Chicago Code: Billy Corgan Gets Schooled

* The 33-Second Episode 2 Recap of The Chicago Code

* Jennifer Beals Still Friends With Chicago High School Pals But Has Ditched Her Hometown Accent

* The Chicago Code Drinking Game

* Jennifer Beals Channels Beyoncé.

* Save The Chicago Code?

* Chicago Code Cancelled.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:07 AM | Permalink

The Weekend in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Rise Against at the Aragon on Saturday night.

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2. Excision at the Congress on Saturday night.

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3. Elvis Costello & The Imposters at the Chicago Theatre on Sunday night.

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4. The Memorials at the Double Door on Saturday night.

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5. Model Stranger at the Double Door on Saturday night.

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6. Bad Religion at the Aragon on Friday night.

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7. Crystal Castles at the University of Chicago on Saturday night.

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8. The Shpongletron Experience at the Congress on Saturday night.

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9. Arma at the Double Door on Saturday night.

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10. Bob Seger in Rosemont on Saturday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:28 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: Bulls On The Mountaintop

There's still a long way to go for the Bulls, but what must - or should - frighten the Heat and whoever would come next, the Mavericks or the Thunder, is that this is a team getting better before our eyes. Talk about peaking at the right time.

And make no mistake about it, this is a team. Sure, without Derrick Rose these guys might not have even made the playoffs; that's why he's the MVP. But without the role players around him and the defense-first coaching philosophy of Tom Thibodeau, Rose wouldn't be in the playoffs either.

After all, the headlines announcing the Bulls rout of the Heat in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals last night name Luol Deng as often - if not more - as the MVP. Or don't name names at all.

"Deng, in addition to his 21 points, seven boards, four steals and one block, was the principal defender in limiting LeBron James to 15 points on 5-for-15 shooting," USA Today notes.

"Joakim Noah . . . had 14 rebounds, 9 points and 2 blocked shots and led a relentless assault in the paint," the New York Times notes.

And it was Taj Gibson who addressed the team at halftime - when the game was still a game - and then went out to deliver what Deadspin accurately describes as The Taj Gibson Dunk That Inspired Reggie Miller To Quote Martin Luther King On Air.

None of which will automatically prevent LeBron & Co. from turning the tables in Game 2; the Heat have yet to beat the Bulls this season (0-4) and they have to win sometime, don't they?

It may not get any better for the Bulls than the second half last night, but with 20 points to spare, it may not have to.

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Here are the official NBA highlights:

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Beachwood Baseball
The Cubs and White Sox are probably quite happy that the Bulls' deep run into the playoffs is diverting at least some attention away from their lackluster starts.

The Cubs think they're "hanging around" in the NL Central race, and it is only May, but a team with half a dozen No. 6 hitters but no one to bat third isn't one likely to contend. Our very own Marty Gangler investigates in this week's Cub Factor.

The White Sox, looking even more Cubbish than the Cubs thus far, put together a decent week but Juan Pierre is simply killing them. Our very own Roger Wallenstein takes a look in this week's White Sox Report.

Programming Note
Regular SportsMonday writer Jim Coffman is on special assignment scouting left fielders for both Chicago teams. He returns next week.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:38 AM | Permalink

Now Hitting Third: Frank Enstein

Sure it was just five games this week, but it was a complete and utter mess. Little clutch hitting and hardly any extra-base hits is no way to win baseball games. Throw in some physical and mental errors and here you are.

With all of this in mind, we here at The Cub Factor think that the one big thing the Cubs need is that legit 3rd-place hitter. It just does not exist on the roster, but what if we were able to make one from the talents on the team they currently have? Like a player named Frank Enstein.

We here at The Cub Factor have given this a little thought. This is what we would like to see in our 3rd-place hitter:

* The batting eye of Kosuke Fukudome - in April.

* Koyie Hill's ability to switch-hit with equal skill as a lefty and a righty - except being good from both sides instead of bad.

* The ability to abuse left-handed pitching like Jeff Baker - but with a more interesting name like Darwin Barney.

* The ability to hit seeing-eye singles like Darwin Barney - but who plays a different position than Jeff Baker.

* The "play like this is the last time you will ever play baseball and if you don't hustle your kids will be killed"-ness of Reed Johnson - instilled in the younger body of Tyler Colvin.

* The "legal" supplements of Marlon Byrd - but get the ones that work.

* The hair of Jeff Samardzija - you want a signature look.

* The intimidating thighs of third-base coach Ivan DeJesus. The guy could squat a Buick.

* The shift of Carlos Pena - with the willingness to beat it.

* The salary of Marcus Mateo.

The Week in Review: The Cubs went 2-3 for the week, losing two of three to the hated Cardinals and splitting the two games they were able to play with the Giants. The game Sunday was rain/colded out. My guess that it will not be rescheduled as it will not matter in the standings for either team.

The Week in Preview: The Cubs travel to Cincinnati for two games, Florida for two games, and then Boston for three games. If the Cubs had a shot at this, fans might get a little ticked about this ridiculous travel schedule. But as it is, it really doesn't matter too much, does it?

The Second Basemen Report: Darwin Barney started all five games this week at second base and got back to what he does best: Hitting a bunch of singles and getting no walks. A .333 average is pretty sweet but a .355 OBP kinda stinks - especially when you are batting .333. Just like Jim Hendry drew it up.

In former second basemen news, Ex-Cub Best Known For Not Being A Cub Anymore Mark DeRosa was back at the Friendly Confines this week with the Giants. Mark has six hits in 15 games this season but he is always really, really missed..

The Zam Bomb: Big Z stays at Apologetic this week as even the Cubs blowing a game he should have won didn't phase the big guy. We think he is finally cured - which by saying that is kinda like telling a pitcher he has a no-hitter and jinxing him. This season isn't going anywhere, we need some fireworks already.

zam_apologetic.jpg

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Marlon Byrd Supplemental Report: Conte gave Marlon some pills labeled "third-place hitter" a few times this week but they were actually placebos.

Lost in Translation: Mucho stinkio Tradeio bate is Japanese for Aramis Ramirez could not be traded right now for a bucket of baseballs.

Endorsement No-Brainer: The Cubs for Blackjack's Gentlemen's Club, because they always got a ton of singles.

Sweet and Sour Quade: 89% sweet,11% sour. Mike stands pat this week because he knows what he is dealing with but is still trying. And just like your smart, well-adjusted uncle, Mike is making lemonade out of lemons for the family reunion this week and he knows his lemonade is a little tart because his lemon tree gives him tart lemons. But times are tough and this is all he can afford right now; if you want the real good stuff go buy a Snapple and leave him alone.

Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Tipsters suggest investing in the secondary car market this week because Casey Coleman can really sell a used car, and that is where he will be soon.

Over/Under: The number of quality starts the Cubs will get out of Doug Davis this year (even after his first great start): +/- 1.5.

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that that was the best start you were ever going to get out of Doug Davis and you still lost.

The Cub Factor: Unlike Soriano, you can catch 'em all!

The White Sox Report: Know the enemy.

Get Your Gangler On: Follow Marty on Twitter.

Note For Readers Used To Seeing The Mount Lou Alert System Here: When manager Mike Quade shows any signs of, well, really anything abnormal, we will be all over it with some kind of graph or pictorial depiction of whatever it is, but until this guy shows something besides just being a normal, thoughtful, intelligent guy, we got next to nothing on him. We are hoping he shows something and kinda hoping he doesn't also, know what I mean? BUT HE IS GETTING CLOSER . . .

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Contact The Cub Factor!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:05 AM | Permalink

Retiring Paulie and Pierre

Let's be clear that the White Sox have more pressing concerns than wondering where to put Paul Konerko's likeness and his retired No. 14 once his playing days have ended.

Nevertheless, a guy's mind wanders a bit while sitting through a lackluster performance at The Cell early in this puzzling season.

You look across the faces on the left centerfield fence, and it's apparent that the two newest honorees - Carlton Fisk and Frank Thomas - share a space, while Fox, Baines, Appling, Minoso, Aparicio, Lyons and Pierce have larger tracts. But, hey, they got there first.

Space will be designated for Paulie when the time comes, but who knows where it will be?

Years ago this business of retiring numbers was practiced only by the Yankees. And that was for good reason. They had most of the great players.

In addition, they also had the space in the old Stadium for lots of plaques. Lou Gehrig, who was dying of the disease that today bears his name, was first in 1939 on the day he retired. Today 16 Yankees have been honored.

The Sox' greatest player in the first half of the 20th Century was Joe Jackson. His career average over 13 seasons was .356, third highest in history. But the thorny problem of throwing the World Series really screwed things up. But fret not. Players didn't even wear numbers in those days.

The Sox' first retired number was Appling's No. 4 in 1975, a mere 25 years after he finished his career. Apparently it only took a quarter-century for management to figure out that Luke was a pretty good ball player. Two batting titles and a career .310 average make a nice impression.

Old Aches and Pains, Luke's nickname, was a longtime teammate of Ted Lyons, the other really old-timer out there in left center. One could argue that it took 30 years for the franchise to recover after the core of the team was expelled from the game following the 1920 season. Lyons played for 21 seasons and Appling 20, all with the Sox. In that time, the team never finished higher than third.

On the other hand, Konerko has a World Series ring and two additional post-season appearances. And he's doing his part this season to rally the team from disaster. The Sox aren't there yet, but last week's West Coast swing was reason to keep watching.

The Sox limped out of town after two losses to the lowly Twins. Anyone predicting a 6-3 road trip would have been taken as seriously as Charles Barkley commenting on ballet. So how did they do it?

The Angels were no misnomer as a wild pitch on an intentional walk to Konerko (haven't seen that before!) went a long way toward Wednesday's 6-4 win. A's hurler Brandon McCarthy's errant pickoff attempt in the second inning gave the Sox their final run in a 4-3 victory on Friday.

Don't underestimate the role of good fortune when it comes to winning ball games. The Sox had some gifts coming their way. Lord knows, they've given enough away so far this season.

But how about Sergio Santos. He is becoming a premier closer. So far this season in 19 innings, no one has scored on him. His confidence is growing, and the guys setting him up - Matt Thornton, Jesse Crain, and Chris Sale - are improving right along with him. Serge left the tying run on third base in Sunday's 4-3 win over Oakland. No way they would have won that game the first two weeks of the season.

With the return of Jake Peavy, Ozzie is trying out a six-man rotation. Jake's six-inning debut on Wednesday was promising. His control was spot-on; he effectively changed speeds; and he was aggressive. He pleaded with Ozzie to go out for the seventh after 88 pitches.

The other starters - with a couple of exceptions like John Danks' rough outing in the 6-2 loss to the Angels on Tuesday - have pitched late into games, keeping the Sox competitive.

You get jazzed thinking about the prospect of a potent offense like most observers expected earlier this spring. Yet Konerko remains the one truly dependable hitter.

Others like Dunn, Quentin, and Ramirez have produced some big hits, but this team leaves far too many runners on base and fails to move guys along when they sorely need to.

Alex Rios isn't hitting much, but he's bounced back before. Meanwhile, Gordon Beckham is playing a solid second base although he and Brent Morel often look lost at the plate.

That leaves Juan Pierre, a guy who is key to the offense. The effectiveness of the middle of the order is compromised when Pierre doesn't get on base, and so far he's been under .250 with only 14 walks in 40 games.

A .297 lifetime hitter who led the league in steals last year, Pierre has been picked off and thrown out more than he's stolen this season. That's a glaring problem, as Sun-Times beat writer Daryl Van Schouwen pointed out last Friday.

Defensively, Pierre has been a liability, and I'm being kind. He couldn't make a catch on Wednesday against the wall, leading to an Angels run against Peavy. We watched him blow two games in April when he dropped fly balls. He's committed five errors. He can't throw. Sort of makes Alfonso Soriano look like Joe Rudi.

Pierre has had a fine career, and no one can say he doesn't hustle. But how's this for a solution? Put Quentin in left field, and bring up Dayan Viciedo and let him play right. He's killing the ball at Triple-A Charlotte, and he hit over .300 last year in 100 at-bats with the Sox.

The team surely will lose nothing defensively with this alignment, although they wouldn't have a legitimate leadoff man. But the way Pierre is going, they don't have one now.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:25 AM | Permalink

May 14, 2011

The Weekend Desk Report

Natasha Julius is on assignment inside the Emanuel inauguration preparations, though we haven't heard from her for quite some time. Maybe she shouldn't have worn a wire.

Ding Dong
"Daley Exits City Hall To Applause."

No one is clapping louder about his departure than we are.

The King Is Dead
From @BeachwoodReport:

End of an Era: Unfortunately, #MayorDaley's departure from City Hall is not a perp walk. #goodriddance

End of an Era: #MayorDaley leaves behind red ink, Meigs, Block 37, Millennium Park, the Duffs, Sorich, Hired Truck, the parking meter lease.

End of an Era: #MayorDaley leaves City Hall with $1 million retirement TIF. #goodriddance

End of an Era: #MayorDaley unindicted as he leaves City Hall. #goodriddance

End of an Era: #MayorDaley shreds last document, leaves City Hall. #goodriddance

Long Live The King
Rahm Emanuel to be sworn in on Monday.

"I solemnly fucking swear . . . "

*

As a Jew, will he put his hand on just the first half of the Bible?

Beer Run
Pabst Moving To Los Angeles.

More hipsters there.

Like A Virgin
Pornography Stash Found At Osama bin Laden's Compound.

Osama bin Wankin'.

- J.J. Tindall (and the New York Post)

UPDATE: The Daily News went with Osama Porn Laden.

On The Occasion Of Tonight's Cubs Game
Internet Fosters Black Market For Wrigleyville Parking Passes On Game Day.

Talking Shit
"Making the Chicago River safe enough for swimming would waste taxpayer money and increase the risk of people drowning, officials who oversee the waterway said [Friday]," the Tribune reports.

The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District then announced it would start polluting Lake Michigan as a precaution against boating accidents.

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Purified.

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The CAN TV Weekend Report

Solidarity Unionism: Rebuilding The Labor Movement From Below
31066-Solidarity-Unionism.jpg
Attorney Laurie Burgess and a panel of fellow labor advocates discuss methods for workers to gain control of the union from the bottom up and facilitate change within the workplace.

Sunday, May 15 at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 44 min

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The Political Economy of Transnational Labor Citizenship
31067-Transnational-Labor.jpg
Professors Gerardo Otero and Margaret Gray review the changing political economies of Mexico and the U.S. and the residual effects on labor migration and workers rights.

Sunday, May 15 at 11 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 43 min

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Homelands and Hometowns: Emigrant/Immigrant Organizing in the U.S.
31068-Homelands-Hometowns.jpg
Doctoral candidate Rebecca Vonderlack-Navarro joins professors William Sites, and Roger Waldinger to discuss the limitations of Mexico's policy of diaspora engagement and the expanding role of Mexican hometown associations in Chicago.

Sunday, May 15 at 1 p.m. on CAN TV21
2 hr 5 min

*

Breaks in the Chain: What Immigrant Workers Can Teach America About Democracy
31069-Breaks-in-Chain.jpg
Author and scholar Paul Apostolidis discusses his book on the positive impacts immigrants can have on the United States.

Sunday, May 15 at 5 p.m. on CAN TV19
1 hr 11 min


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:32 AM | Permalink

May 13, 2011

TrackNotes: Reaching The Civilians

Perhaps because it is just one race, there is no greater mental or even emotional decompression than what we horseplayers experience after the Kentucky Derby.

The Breeders' Cup is a luxurious indulgence in some of the world's finest racing, but it is spread over two days and 14 races. You don't get as caught up in any one race because there's another big one in 38 minutes or so. The Dubai Festival and Travers Day and even Arlington Million day get me too.

After watching Animal Kingdom turn in an impressive performance in winning last Saturday's 137th edition of America's marquee race, all the while understanding the stone cold truth of how Thoroughbred horse racing is down in so many ways by so many self-inflicted wounds, it's still the Kentucky Derby.

It is the one race each year that draws anything close to a general audience. Women and men alike who we horseplayers call "civilians" jump on the bandwagon to enjoy the pageantry and pretend they're wiseguys for a day. And there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. If you know anything about racing, you know it needs new fans. A lot of them.

The fractured and dysfunctional lords of racing in many ways play the same parochial game Samuel Riddle and Charles Howard played in their peacock dance to get War Admiral and Seabiscuit on the same racetrack. Why can't the buzz of the Derby translate to other races and the game in general?

Why can't the sport act as one sport?

Derby favorite Dialed In and Shackleford are in line for big money bonuses in the Preakness because they achieved a measure of success at Frank Stronach's Magna tracks, of which Pimlico, the suffering track in Baltimore and the site of next week's Preakness Stakes, is one. When the top horses almost never face each other on a regular basis, who cares if old Frank is bribing them to come to his place.

Milwaukee radio talker Mark Belling owns horses and pieces of horses through a racing syndicate. It seemed he was particularly cantankerous when he wrote his Derby preview.

"The Kentucky Derby used to be America's greatest horse race. It's not anymore; it's just the weirdest. I could go on forever about the frailty of the breed, the inability of modern horses to run a distance, wimpy training techniques, the insanity of a 20-horse field and a lot of other reasons why this race has become an inscrutable mess in which the winner often goes on to, well, nothing," Belling said. There are no truer words.

While racing dips deeply into its nostalgic past (even then not so effectively), like the Cubs erecting statues like so many toy Army men, the Kentucky Derby is also a victim of today's game itself. NBC sure didn't get it, never mentioning the three great Triple Crown winners of the 70s, the gutsy Ferdinand, speedy Monarchos, or even the origins of the Derby itself. It's our biggest race. Why? Because it is, even though the Preakness is older.

Today's worst practices have now come to adversely impact its biggest race. The Derby, at least when the big network comes to visit, is nothing more than some sort of big event and the civilians are given no history, no perspective, no chance to build appreciation.

My epiphany came about Monday or so when I realized what racing as a game does not know or care about. Something they sure as hell had better learn before people like me leave the game.

And that is, I now own a part of Animal Kingdom, a part of the 137th Derby, a part of May 7, 2011. A part of what turned out to be a good race. I had Animal Kingdom in both an exacta and straight up as a winner. Animal Kingdom and Nehro and Mucho Macho Man and many of the other horses in the race will now get my undivided attention for as long as they run. I won, and I will remember and tell the stories of this Derby.

I'll always disparage the tomfoolery of Mine That Bird's Derby upset, but there are a few of those out there who had him. I've told you about Pete the Bartender who had Giacomo. We still talk about it.

And it seemed to me that this is exactly what racing must come to understand. You put in time and effort - or not - to figure out a race and you remember the big wins and the tough beats. You remember them for a long time, a long time. But the fans and their enthusiasm and perspective are always ignored.

You don't think the bean counters and marketing men at Churchill Downs Incorporated, that predatory "gaming" company run by a man who is afraid of horses, won't close Arlington Park in a heartbeat if it doesn't get slots? And that it probably stays open only because Richard L. Duchossois still draws breath? Its Calder Race Course is now Calder Casino & Race Course. Think that doesn't send a huge signal?

How do we commiserate with the boo-hoo of track officials when they put major energy and resources to into American Idol or REO Speedwagon concerts?

It would take many millions of dollars, a years-long advertising campaign and a shoring up of the game to fix what's broken. Wouldn't it be worth it to remind the civilians that the great things about Derby Day happen all the time? But we know they're incapable.

We won't know how good this Derby was until we see what Animal Kingdom and the others do this summer and fall. But even though they try, I've got my piece and they can't take it away from me.

The Big Mo
Whoever they is, they say that we shouldn't stereotype people. Sorry.

Mike Repole is a loudmouthed obnoxious New Yorker. And I can say that because I once lived there.

His height came announcing on Thursday the scratch of Uncle Mo for a health issue they still haven't pinpointed. Repole gave the racing world, and any civilians watching, the big middle finger when he took off his Uncle Mo hat and donned that of Stay Thirsty, his other horse in the race. The fortified-water king has a few billion dollars, but he can't buy class.

His and trainer/house savant Todd Pletcher's failure to clear Uncle Mo from the entry box when they knew he would not and should not have been in the race rubbed it in the faces of the connections of Sway Away, who would have taken the 20th spot in the field with an earlier scratch.

Instant karma's gonna get these guys, if it hasn't already.

Flay Away
Do we have to comment on the television coverage? Okay.

It was generally decent with the big improvement being the odds trailer on the bottom of the screen. I'd rather see it permanently on the left side of the screen, but at least they tried.

They still used the blimp and overhead wire-rig shots they learned in the NFL to give us those weird angles. I'm not sure if they heard me scream, but in the earlier races of Friday's Kentucky Oaks card, you missed 30 or 40 percent of the races because of the infestation of corporate tents on the infield. It appeared they changed the camera angle for the Oaks itself and were more careful on Derby Day.

Instead of trying to give some background on every horse and connections, TV did what TV does in taking just a few stories and pounding them into the ground.

Rosie Napravnik has her own jocks' room. Figure that!

Calvin Borel has humble Cajun beginnings, as footage they dusted off from last year reminded us. Too bad his horse had no chance.

Maria Menounos is so hot that it was easy to overlook the fact she knows next to nothing about horse racing. But she did a valiant job interviewing celebrities, including Green Bay Packer quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who knew even less. And who were those celebrities? I didn't see any A-listers. Where's a Jordan or a Barkley or a Pesci when you need one?

But I'll admit I'm a huge fan of celebrity chef Bobby Flay, an accomplished horse owner himself. He had the best moment in the fluff department when presenting the obligatory mint julep recipe piece.

The Woodford Reserve bourbon guy was slowly waxing poetic about the mint muddling, sugar introduction, the greatness of Woodford Reserve and the Tasmanian ice made with rainwater that has never touched the face of the earth in the making of the $200 julep. Bobby knows cooking and Bobby knows TV pacing, so he forcefully and with a very slight roll of the eyes told the guy to get moving already on the damn cocktail. I don't think Bobby likes mint juleps - what a waste of good bourbon - and he said outright he doesn't like Kentucky burgoo after presiding over a preparation of what is more commonly known as roadkill stew.

Trumped
It's official: Bob Costas's hair is now a national distraction. The little guy standing on an infield planter wall in hopes of a good camera angle - and woefully miscast as a horse racing host - Bob's hair looked darker than Black Beauty, who he probably thought was in the Derby. If it's a wig, it's a damn fine one. But the 'burns a different color and texture than the top? Has there ever been a hair hat you couldn't detect? If it is his real hair, you gotta think he's special enough to stop with the Clairol at home and go professional.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:36 AM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

1. "Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois thanked Mayor Richard Daley on the floor of the U.S. Senate for his years of service to Chicago," AP reports.

Durbin then joked that if Daley had been a Republican with a similar record of scandal and corruption he would have led the charge to remove him from office long ago.

Or did I just imagine that?

*

But I thought Daley was a Republican, sort of.

Yes, but not that kind of Republican. He's more of a Republicrat. Or, really, a Daleycrat.

2. Rahm Emanuel's new chief of staff is just the bestest!

*

"Mintle did not return calls."

*

So she's "not afraid to make difficult decisions" but she's afraid to return a reporter's phone calls?

*

Curiously, this article doesn't provide a single instance of a difficult decision Mintle wasn't afraid to make.

*

"[O]ne thing is certain: Mintle is prepared for the challenge of a lifetime running a city on the brink."

A) City on the brink! News at 10!

B) After Mintle is chewed up and spit out, we'll get to read stories about how she really wasn't the right person for the post - as opposed to her replacement, who will be the bestest.

*

"Mayor Daley spit out chiefs of staff almost as often as most people spit out gum."

Um, how often is that? Because most people don't spit out gum very often, do they? I'm not even sure most people chew gum, and those who do are just as likely, if not more, I'm willing to bet, to dispose of their gum properly. A better metaphor might have been "Mayor Daley spit out chiefs of staff almost as often as I ought to get a performance review" because it probably comes out to almost once a year.

*

What Fran Spielman couldn't be bothered with:

- Theresa Mintle's LinkedIn profile.

* She contributed to both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in 2008 - within eight days of each other.

* She contributed $1,000 to Rahm's mayoral campaign.

* She fits right in with Rahm's call for sacrifice to all; from a 2009 Sun-Times article about executive raises from 2006 to 2008 at the CTA (even as she was reportedly praised for managing budget cuts and layoffs there):

Theresa E. Mintle , chief of staff* $109,725 $126,167 $154,544 41%

The asterisk indicates she changed jobs or was new to the CTA at some point in that period.

* She's also once made a (small) donation to a charter school, which also makes her a perfect fit for Rahm.

* She and her husband sold a unit at 230 E. Delaware Place for $1.38 million in 2007 - doubling their investment. She had previously lived at 210 E. Pearson St. She appears to now live at 232 E. Walton Place.

No wonder she showed up in Panache Privee.

* Her husband, Mike Toolis, is an Ed Burke campaign supporter, and once gave money to Gery Chico.

* Toolis is the chairman and CEO of VOA Associates, a noted architectural firm involved in many city projects, the latest of which include the new Roosevelt University tower.

* It's not just that she was previously chief of staff to Terry Peterson, but that she was chief of staff to this Terry Peterson.

3. Emanuel Hires Tom Hynes' Son As Top Lobbyist.

"Matthew Hynes worked for the Emanuel campaign as a consultant, and will now direct the new mayor's Office of Legislative Counsel and Government Affairs."

4. Mayor Daley's Optional $1.1 Million Retirement Fund.

So why does he need us to pay for his security detail?

Isn't this just the sort of thing we should privatize?

5. This is a sad story but no one with a job in the news business - even if it's in a TV sports department - should be known as "a fan first, a reporter second."

6. Huh. I'm pretty sure my parents would say our ancestors would be proud of the way I'm willing to point out that this is bullshit and Rahm is the devil's spawn. I wonder if his parents are proud of his past as a sleazy political operator, or of how he once made a living manipulating the media instead of devoting himself to truth, or of his willingness to serve wicked financial masters in order to get rich.

*

I also wonder how his parents felt about his recent little joke.

7. Cop vs. Teacher.

8. Bulls Get Dream Match-Up.

9. CAN TV: Focus on Africa.

10. The Week in Chicago Rock. (In a word - Rammstein!)

11. The Week in WTF. And what a week in WTF it was.

12. TrackNotes will be posted shortly is up and it's awesome.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Valued above par.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:03 AM | Permalink

Bulls Get Dream Match-Up

On the strength of double-doubles from both Derrick Rose and Carlos Boozer, the Bulls closed out the Atlanta Hawks last night and now advance to the Eastern Conference Finals against Public Enemy No. 1, LeBron James and the Miami Heat. Let's take a look.

1. Game Highlights.

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2. Post-Game Comments.

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3. Bulls-Heat Preview.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:27 AM | Permalink

The Week in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Rammstein in Rosemont on Tuesday night.


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2. The Crombies at Lincoln Hall on Monday night.

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3. Bad Manners at Lincoln Hall on Monday night.

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4. Family Force 5 at House of Blues on Thursday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:26 AM | Permalink

CAN TV: Focus On Africa

Grady Davis appears in this promo reel to shed more light on the talk show Focus On Africa, hosted by Samuel C. Memoh on Chicago Access Network Television, CAN TV.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:06 AM | Permalink

The Week in WTF

1. Garry McCarthy, WTF?

Based on the federal probe of his Newark police department, he seems like a perfect fit for Chicago.

Mistreatment of detainees in holding cells? Shield-protected retaliation? Excessive force? Jon Burge probably feels he retired too soon.

But don't worry. The new mayor says McCarthy was totally vetted by the Chicago Police Board. WTF is feeling better already.

2. Christian Choate, WTF?

There are legal definitions why states are permitted to execute heinous killers. There are moral reasons, too. And then there is this case, which seems to be beyond human comprehension.

There is no luck left for little Christian. The world took it all away and left him broken and dead.

No one came to help. Not the state. Not family. Not strangers.

Our only consolation as citizens - and a minor one at that - is that it occurred in Indiana and not Illinois.

Indiana still executes people like dad Riley Lowell Choate and stepmom Kimberly Leona Kubina.

Good.

3. Blagojevich, WTF?

If you are not yet tired - indeed, sick to DEATH - of new legal circumlocutions to explain why the former Guv is not scum, try this one for size.

Nobody told him it was illegal. If they had just TOLD him.

It was his staff's fault.

If they had just told him it was improper to trade the Senate seat under his purview for a better deal for himself than that crappy governorship of a crappy state he had somehow been forced to accept, then none of this would have happened.

The judge in what seems like his 75th retrial for corruption would not even allow the questions, and on cue, Mrs. Blago did her Scarlett O'Hara swoon on the courthouse steps.

And further, if you are not sick to death of historical references about Blago, consider whom we should blame for his interminable appearance among us.

First, of course, there's father-in-law Dick Mell, who not only sired Scarlett O'Blago, but also hubby's career. Hizzoner Richard Daley deserves a special parting gift, too. He gave Blago a job in the state's attorney's office, just another political favor to benefit a person devoid of aptitude, talent or moral fiber to have deserved the favor. Blago admits he was a lousy student and majored mostly in bikinis at Pepperdine University's law school. "I barely knew where that law library was," he once admitted.

Maybe Blago does have a legal argument. In a life devoid of honesty, perhaps a person lusting for power is incapable of integrity unless an adviser tells him how to recognize it.

4. Pat Fitzgerald, WTF?

There is a pleasing verisimilitude to Pat Fitzgerald's deal to coach Northwestern football for the next 10 years, or forever, or until the world blows up in 2012. His lineage is perfect. The Wildcats are entertaining. Hey, it's Evanston, so who's complaining?

Until this year, Fitzgerald was the second lowest-paid football coach in the Big 10 ($750,000 per) and one of two who made less than a million in base salary. Bet he has a nice we're-glad-you're-here salary nudge.

However (you just knew there was a however, didn't you?) Fitz has plenty of time to remake Northwestern history in his image. But it is not quite true that he has taken the Wildcats "to a whole new level," as is commonly trumpeted in local media.

He has a winning record but just marginally (34-29) in a program that has lost 56 percent of its games since 1882. The Wildcats have lost eight straight bowl games, including the last three under Fitz.

The Wildcats haven't had many winning coaches. Their first was 8-6-1 over five years, which is a better percentage than Fitzgerald has. Those first Wildcats were coached then by "no coach" As in, there was no coach. The players took care of themselves. And they didn't get $750,000 a year, either.

5. Sears, WTF?

Curt Flood brought free agency to baseball. Now Caterpillar and Sears have brought free agency to corporate extortion.

Makes you wonder if CEOs just want to make the governor look dopey and impotent, and lord knows he doesn't need this much help.

If this was just about tax breaks, isn't that a discussion to have somewhere else than local TV?

6-ish. A special series of WTF updates, WTF

A) Matthew Perry is still drunk.

B) Possible the only currently working actor more irritating than Charlie Sheen. How much better luck does he need? He gets to sleep with Demi Moore and Hugh Grant said no to $600,000 per episode.

C) Okay, so he's more irritating than Charlie Sheen, too more irritating than Charlie Sheen, too.

D) Couldn't you have bet this was not going to have an Ozzie and Harriet climax?

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:28 AM | Permalink

Cop vs. Teacher

The Tribune produced a list this week of 10 stressful jobs. No. 3: Professional Chef. My son chose that career and my worrying about his stress levels causes me a good deal of anxiety. Now I know how my father felt when I chose to be a police officer, No. 8 on the Tribune's list.

Dad's life was loaded with critical events and crisis. My life makes me look like a pansy compared to his. A World War II veteran, Dad survived the Battle of Guadalcanal and two bouts of malaria. His mother, whom he loved ever so dearly, died while he was onboard a ship heading to one of the bloodiest battles in history. He did not become aware of her passing until three months later, only to face humankind at its ugliest. Soldier is No. 10 on the list.

During my career as a police officer with the Illinois Secretary of State, I was not exposed to the frequency of many of the psychological traumas that most municipal police officers face. For most of my career I investigated non-violent crimes like auto theft and identity theft. There was a long stretch when I supervised a squad that investigated public employees and political corruption under a much politicized boss.That was the kind of chronic stress that eats away at you slowly, as opposed to acute stress that is sudden and shocking.

Oh, sure, I worked undercover, buying stolen cars from thieves high on drugs; executed search warrants in some of the area's scuzziest buildings; and sometimes had high speed pursuits in congested traffic. However, big city police face mayhem daily. The blue uniform they wear is a target for the psychopathic gangbangers. Entering some residences exposes them to disease and injury. Seeing a maimed or murdered human being can be routine. I would have been vexed if the Trib had not included police officer on the list.

What might be a surprise to many is No. 6: Elementary/High School Teacher.

For the last four years I have worked as a substitute teacher in both the Chicago Public Schools system and in a suburban school district. You have not seen the devil face to face until you've spent a day in a classroom. Yes, there are little angels, and they can make you smile, but all it takes is one or two Mr. Hydes to raise your blood pressure and increase cortisone production. In a class size of 25 to 30, there can be five or six Hydes.

Today's teacher is constantly under pressure from administrators and politicians to improve standard test scores. Little Johnnie and his mischievous cohorts can distract a teacher from the lesson plan, thereby having her spend most of her time managing classroom behavior. Chatting, throwing, and goofing are the minor offenses. All classrooms have the potential to escalate to peak levels of delinquency with theft, assault, bullying, fighting and even weapons.

Teachers face these variables with little or nor back-up. They can't flee. They can't duck for cover. If they are one of the lucky ones, there is a telephone in the classroom.

Fortunately, most classroom management deals with the less serious infractions, but it is never-ending. The best modification techniques just don't always work.

In my years as a cop, I never came home from work as exhausted as I do when I substitute in a room full of misbehaving prepubescent sixth-graders.

At first, I suspected it was my age. Then I asked around to the full-time teachers, both young and old. They not only faced the same stressors as a sub like me, they have to go home to prepare lesson plans, grade tests and worry about professional development.

I have grown to respect all those who have chosen this vocation. In the back of their minds they must be wishing they were cops. Then they at least would have handcuffs, pepper spray, a taser, and back-up.

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Ed Hammer is a retired Illinois Secretary of State Police Captain and author of the book One Hundred Percent Guilty: How and Insider Links the Death of Six Children to the Politics of Convicted Governor George Ryan.

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See also:
* George Ryan's Park Bench
* George Ryan's Dogs and Ponies
* George Ryan's Other Jailhouse Interview
* Bugging The Chicago School Board

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:00 AM | Permalink

May 12, 2011

The [Thursday] Papers

1. Oprah Gets Chicago Street Named After Her.

But you have to sign a confidentiality agreement to see it.

*

Because Oprah is known for her confidentiality agreements.

*

This is harder than it looks, folks.

2. Oprah once again called Chicago "the greatest city in the world."

Then why is she moving to L.A.?

*

"I prefer to live in the second- or third-best city. Maybe even fourth."

3. "[F]ormer Chicago Sun-Times sports columnist and controversy-bringer Jay Mariotti has now been charged with three felonies by police," Bryan Alaspa notes for Huliq.

*

Mariotti has already pled "not guilty," according to the Los Angeles County's District Attorney's Office.

*

"Stalking and assault allegations are 'lies,' attorney says."

4. "The Obama administration is ordering an ambitious cleanup of the Chicago River, a dramatic step toward improving an urban waterway treated for more than a century as little more than an industrialized sewage canal," Michael Hawthorne reports for the Tribune.

"In a letter obtained Wednesday by the Tribune, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency demands that stretches of the river must be clean enough for 'recreation in and on the water,' a legal term for recreational activities including swimming and canoeing. The order also applies to two connected waterways, the Cal-Sag Channel and Little Calumet River.

"If state officials fail to adopt more stringent water quality standards, the 'EPA will promptly do so itself' by invoking its authority under the federal Clean Water Act, the agency's top water official told Lisa Bonnett, interim director of the Illinois EPA."

*

Does that mean they'll pay for it?

*

"Complying with the order likely will require more expensive sewer bills in Chicago and the Cook County suburbs, where homeowners and businesses pay among the nation's lowest costs for treating human and industrial waste."

*

I guess we pay in either case. But if we must we must:

"Chicago is the only major U.S. city that skips that important germ-killing step. Until now, the river and its connected waterways have been exempt from the toughest provisions of the Clean Water Act because it was long assumed that people wouldn't want to come near the fetid channels."

Not so. We want to be right up in it.

5. From what I and others have been hearing, this story is likely to get much uglier.

6. "A judge ordered a Chapter 11 trustee to take over Giordano's Enterprises Inc.'s bankruptcy case after a federal watchdog said it was unclear who's running the legendary Chicago pizza chain," Dow Jones Financial Information Services reports.

7. Chicago Attack In Bin Laden's Journal.

Yay, we're a world-class city!

*

Officials: Bin Laden Eyed Small Cities As Targets.

Oh.

*

Hey, did you hear about the Oprah street?!

Yeah, she's moving to LA.

We suck.

8. "An Afghan contractor has pleaded guilty to charges he bribed an Illinois National Guard officer to arrange contracts worth more than $1 million at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan," AP reports.

Yay, we're a world-class city!

9. Cubs GM Hendry, Pujols Say Hug No Big Deal.

They're just friends.

10. Clarence Page's Column Is A Vast Wasteland.

11. Celebrate The End Of The Daley Era In Style!

12. Carl's Cubs Mailbag: Ryan Theriot Actually Is On The Right Side Of The Rivalry Now.

13. Cool Art Institute Stairs.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Digital messaging.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:49 AM | Permalink

Clarence Page's Column Is A Vast Wasteland

The next original thought to appear in a column by veteran Tribune Op-Ed writer Clarence Page will be the first. He is expert at being the last pundit in America to write what everyone else has already written - and in the same manner. He's an aggregator of conventional wisdom who is expert at distilling and plagiarizing the standard narrative and regurgitating it in as cliched a manner as possible.

Today's column on the vapidity of television - A Plea For Better Junk On TV - is particularly egregious. Let's take a look.

*

"Fifty years ago this week, then-Federal Communications Commission Chairman Newton N. Minow famously skewered the nation's daily television programming as 'a vast wasteland.' Today, it is still largely a wasteland, in my view, because that's mostly what people want."

People are stupid! Unlike me.Tsk, tsk!

*

"I have tried to avoid getting too excited about that over the years. After all, bad TV has its good qualities. It provides me with much less of a distraction from life's more useful and rewarding activities - like reading."

Because books are so superior. Just look at the the No. 1 seller on Amazon that hasn't even been released yet!

*

"But every so often a smart visionary like Minow comes along to remind me that, hey, the public airwaves do belong to the public. That's us. Broadcasters make truckloads of money through our good graces. We let the broadcasters use our airwaves at no cost."

Page needs to be reminded that the airwaves belong to the public. He forgets - even as he makes boatloads off them.

Or as Trib commenter sowhatandmethree writes: "Speaking of wasteland, are your checks for the McLaughlin Group still clearing? Has Suze Ormond cured their financial problems?"

*

"For that, we deserve to have a little more than the TV that architect Frank Lloyd Wright described as 'chewing gum for the eyes.'"

I don't even know what that means, but Frank Lloyd Wright died in 1959! TV has sort of changed since then. Apparently Page didn't get the memo that even Minow no longer believes TV is a wasteland."[M]ost of what I hoped for has far exceeded my most ambitious dreams," he wrote just five days ago - on the Trib's Op-Ed page!

*

"Alas, a half-century later the metaphor of the vast wasteland remains too vivid - and too appropriate - to be easily forgotten.

"You could hear that in the audience laughter as former CNN anchor Frank Sesno, now director of the School of Media and Public Affairs at The George Washington University, read excerpts from Minow's speech. In an average viewing day, it said, 'You will see a procession of game shows, formula comedies about totally unbelievable families, blood and thunder, mayhem, violence, sadism, murder, western bad men, western good men, private eyes, gangsters, more violence, and cartoons . . . '"

Wait, what? Sorry, got distracted by the comics and crime and sports and horoscopes in today's newspaper.

*

"'What's changed?' Sesno asked, sparking more laughs. That's a good question, Frank."

And one Page is ill-equipped to answer because he apparently does not watch TV, even though he feels qualified to comment on it. Of course, a lot has changed, from groundbreaking situation comedies with brilliant social critique such as All in the Family and M*A*S*H to shows such as NYPD Blue that replaced black-and-white with gray to innovative and insightful programming such as The West Wing, The Shield and The Wire - some, but not all on cable, which is still television. Has anything more brilliant than The Simpsons and Family Guy ever been broadcast? I mean, besides The Larry Sanders Show? I could go on and on. And that's not even getting to The History Channel, Discovery or The Daily Show. The real question is, What hasn't changed?

*

"It's easy to knock today's abundance of unreal 'reality TV' shows like Jersey Shore or Keeping Up with the Kardashians or new-wave versions of old game shows and talent shows like Celebrity Apprentice and American Idol. And it is easy to knock those of us who knock such self-consciously low-brainpower shows as elitists."

Yes, but sadly America's elitists seem to have the lowest brainpower around.

*

"Let the marketplace decide, goes the modern argument, especially now that there are so many channels available in the cable TV universe, plus the Internet and other new technologies."

Who else should decide - Clarence Page?

*

"Even so, I often surf around the channels with a Bruce Springsteen song on my mind: '57 Channels (And Nothin' On).'"

How did I know that was coming? I'm surprised it wasn't the lead. Of course, that song is 20 years old. And I can guarantee you that if you can't find something interesting to watch in the first 57 channels of the dial, you're the problem, not TV.

*

"The marketplace practices an elitism of its own. Network programmers race to the bottom of public tastes in order to come out on top of the ratings."

Which newspaper and book publishers never do!

*

"The best shows are often on cable channels, which don't use public airwaves but cost extra."

Like the New York Times's website!

*

"The marketplace in broadcasting tends to reflect the tastes of only a slice of the public, the slice that advertisers view as the most impressionable consumers, especially young people who have money to spend and respond most quickly to whatever TV happens to be selling."

The Tribune never does this!

*

"Yet, contrary to what some of his critics assert, Minow has never called for government to decide what people should view."

Really? The point of his infamous speech was his threat to pull the licenses of stations that failed - in the view of his FCC - to meet their (undefined) public interest obligations. In fact, some scholars blame him for making TV execs ratings-obsessed.

*

"Then as now, the networks could do better. If they're going to offer us junk, at least they should make it good junk."

I have no idea what this even means. The airwaves these days are filled with quality. Is there junk, too? Yes. Just like very cultural endeavor. As Trib commenter Studio City says:

"This is a bunch of embarrassing, elitist crap. Minow was writing about a 3-network universe, 10 years before PBS launched. And even then he was overstating his case. The allusion of a 'wasteland' reflects the sheer volume of hundreds of channels, each filled with shows of all descriptions. The relatively few shows we might agree are 'high quality' is about the same percentage of excellence one finds in all the other arts - films, architecture, music, painting, and in more commercial experiences like restaurants and hotels. I don't enjoy reality shows, but as a producer I know that, depending on format, they take huge amounts of skill and resources to create and maintain. Watch Frontline, Treme, Justified, Fringe, The Daily Show, and even lighter fare like NCIS, Hawaii Five-O, and American Idol and you'll see a huge range of well-crafted shows that craft characters and stories that enlighten, challenge, and yes merely entertain millions of people who do indeed have brains in their heads.

*

Amen.

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Next From Page: The Internet Is A Sewer.

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See also: About That Wasteland.

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More Page:

"Clarence Page also did some reinventing on last Sunday's Chris Matthews Show," the Daily Howler once noted. "Page was discussing a recent remark by Dick Cheney. And then, he thought back to Campaign 2000. As usual, memory failed:"

PAGE (9/12/04): Well, it's a lot like Al Gore inventing the Internet. He never actually said that, but the word went out through, you know, conservative talk radio, etc., saying he did. And then the late-night comedians picked up on it, and the same thing now -

Here's the problem. From his (nationally syndicated) Trib column:

PAGE (12/10/03): Gore, the techno gadget freak, must be impressed with how well Dean's new-wave campaign machine rides on the cutting edge of technologies adapted to populist politics. Dean's ability to draw crowds, organize local campaigns and raise funds has broken all expectations by his use of the device Gore once inaccurately claimed to have invented, the Internet.

And so on.

The vast wasteland, sir, is yours.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:53 AM | Permalink

Say Goodbye To Mayor Daley With A T-Shirt From Beachwood Novelties

Celebrate history! Two to choose from. Or choose both!

corruption.jpg

Buy it now!

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nolonger.jpg

Buy it now!

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:31 AM | Permalink

Art Institute Staff Picks: Liz N

Also known as Public Notice 3.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:22 AM | Permalink

Carl's Cubs Mailbag: Theriot Tells The Truth

Are the Cubs going to make a play for Albert Pujols in the offseason?
-Larry, Hammond IN

And leave Carlos Pena, Jeff Baker and even Tyler Colvin without a job at first base? I think not.

What is the impact of Geovany Soto's injury?
-Selena, Chicago

My hookup just left town for a month. Bogus.

If Ryan Theriot is finally on the right side of the rivalry, where is Mike Fontenot?
-Jeremy, Sycamore

On the left.

If Albert Pujols makes $1 million less than teammate Matt Holliday in 2011 and $2.5 million more than Kosuke Fukudome in 2011, how much money does Pujols make?
- Doug, Itasca IL

The correct answer is YOU'RE TELLING ME ALBERT PUJOLS ONLY MAKES $2.5 MILLION MORE IN '11 THAN A CUBS LEFT-HANDED PLATOON PLAYER??????!!!!!

If Albert Pujols signs with the Cubs, which side of the rivalry will he finally be on?
- Abe, Springfield IL

The dumber side.

Which side of the rivalry is Dusty Baker finally on?
- George, Rogers Park

His own side, dude.

Which side of the rivalry is Alfonso Soriano on?
- Bob, Ravenswood

The wrong side.

Is it possible Ryan Theriot is right?
-Len, Canaryville

Anything is possible.

The game against the Reds the other day got me thinking; what's the record for the most runners left on base in a game?
-Dean, Sandwich IL

Several sources have the record at 20 by the Yankees in a 1956 game versus the Red Sox, but after some digging I discovered that the Hartford Dark Blues left 173 men on base in a nine-inning game on August 2nd, 1876.

The main offender was Hartford's Horace "Plowboy" McTugg, who left 47 men on alone. McTugg was also involved in a baserunning gaffe in which he ran past player/manager Rufus "Manhandler" DeVos on his way to home plate, ending the inning without either runner scoring. The play was later immortalized in the local papers as "McTugg's Boner."

Granted, the rules of the time made the game almost unrecognizable by today's standards. Up to three players could occupy a base at once and certain fielding positions, such as the "providence magistrate" and the "corner hurler" could be pinch run for by livestock; but only those animals that occupied the field at the start of the game.

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Send your comments or questions to Carl!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:21 AM | Permalink

May 11, 2011

The [Wednesday] Papers

1. City Stickers Will Actually Stick This Year.

And parking tickets will actually tick.

2. The Schockuation.

3. The Chicago Code canceled.

Less interesting than reality.

*

After all, how can the Code compete with this?

Or this?

Or this?

Or this?

Or this?

If Fox - or any network - wants a ratings winner, they should just air a Chicago newscast every night.

*

And by "newscast," I mean newscast, not the Newsotainment For Dummies that currently airs on our local stations.

4. "A Cicero school board president says he has no recollection of a conversation with a childhood friend, who's an Outlaw motorcycle gang member, in which the gang member worries that he's going to be arrested for a mob-ordered bombing that gutted a Berwyn business," the Sun-Times reports.

Well, when you have so many conversations like that it's hard to remember just one.

5. Pfleger Says He Will Preach At Other Churches If Not Reinstated.

Is that a promise or a threat?

6. Schaumburg Twp. Elementary District 54 assistant superintendent earns $340,000

Let's blame the teachers.

7. "Bringing new meaning to 'haute cuisine,' KFC will give lunch an extreme makeover by dispatching its KFC Colonel to personally deliver new $5 Everyday Meals to window washers working nearly 40 stories up at Chicago's 'River Bend' building," Yum Brands announced.

1 Colonel Stunt Double Repelling.jpg

"At noon today, the KFC Colonel will strap on a harness and descend 38 floors with food in tow, demonstrating KFC's commitment to taking lunchtime meals to all new heights."

*

But does he do windows?

8. "In 2008, the city devised a way to keep neighborhoods from turning into junkyards as the nation's foreclosure crisis roared on," the Chicago Reporter reports. "The city passed an ordinance forcing owners of vacant properties - mostly financial institutions - to register them with the city. That way, the city could inspect the properties to make sure they weren't falling into disrepair.

"But an analysis by The Chicago Reporter found that many financial institutions aren't registering the properties. The Reporter analyzed records of 11,500 single-family properties that have been reclaimed by lenders since 2008 and have likely been vacant since that time."

Among the findings: At least 50 percent of these bank-owned homes were never registered; The city lost at least $2.2 million in revenue from fees lenders skirted by not registering the homes; just about one-third of all bank-owned properties.

*

"And yet, banks that are lenders have continued to receive city business, a point of contention for some officials. In a single bond deal in 2010, Bank of America Corp. collected $5.3 million in underwriting fees from the city when it structured a $1 billion issue to finance bonds to cover capital projects, including work at O'Hare International Airport, a Bloomberg investigation found.

"The Reporter found that nearly 76 percent of Bank of America's single-family properties were not registered, meaning the financial institution owed at least $103,000 to the city. 'It's like being a scofflaw,' said 3rd Ward Alderman Pat Dowell, from the city's South Side. 'Individual scofflaws that don't pay taxes or parking tickets can't do business with the city. Banks should be treated the same way.'"

*

"We provide the financial resources and expertise to help communities achieve their full potential as desirable places for people to live, work and raise families," Bank of America says.

But fees may apply - for you, not them.

9. Chicago's Poetry Brothel.

10. Free Comic Book Day in Chicago.

11. Who will throw major league baseball's next no-hitter? A surprising Chicago pitcher makes our list.

12. "Monday's $100,000 ticket marks the third Little Lotto winner sold in Arlington Heights in less than two weeks, according to the Illinois Lottery, which adds that two of those tickets were sold at the same newsstand," the Daily Herald reports.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Fee-free.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:10 AM | Permalink

Chicago Code Cancelled

Two-part season finale to air over the next two Mondays, and that's it.

"Chicago Code took over for Lie to Me as Fox's House lead-out on Mondays, but just couldn't hold on to its audience. It premiered with a 5.7 rating/9 share on Feb. 7, but finished with a 3.4 household rating last week, according to Fast National overnights from The Nielsen Co.," Inside Blip notes.

"In the end, Chicago Code did fare better than the now-canceled Lie to Me, but only managed to keep 75 percent of House's audience. Not bad, but not good enough to continue based on its high production costs."

Here's a brief roundup:

* HitFix broke the news.

* Creator Shawn Ryan's Twitter feed.

* "This is the really sad one among the cancellations: a good cast and some good writing, plus the Chicago atmosphere (though they said 'Chicago' too often)," Jaime Weinman writes for Macleans. "It was a potentially fine 10 o'clock series that had the misfortune of being on a network that doesn't have any 10 o'clock slots."

-

More to come as this important breaking story develops . . .

-

Previously:
* Trailer: The Chicago Code

* Making TV: The Chicago Code On Location

* Breaking The Chicago Code

* The Chicago Code Finally Debuts Tonight After Seeming To Have Already Been On For Three Seasons

* The Music of The Chicago Code: Billy Corgan Gets Schooled

* The 33-Second Episode 2 Recap of The Chicago Code

* Jennifer Beals Still Friends With Chicago High School Pals But Has Ditched Her Hometown Accent

* The Chicago Code Drinking Game

* Jennifer Beals Channels Beyoncé.

* Save The Chicago Code?

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:21 AM | Permalink

The Chicago Poetry Brothel

Five dollars gets you a private reading.

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See also: Dancers! Whiskey! Poetry Whores!

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:15 AM | Permalink

Free Comic Book Day in Chicago

Kiel Phegley of comics blog The Cool Kids Table and his erstwhile companion Kegmeister hit up seven Chicago comic shops for Free Comic Book Day 2011.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:05 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: Candidates For The Next No-Hitter

Two no-hitters in one week: It's 2010 all over again, when it seemed like almost anyone could throw a no-hitter at any time. First, it was Francisco Liriano, SP, Minnesota,a complete surprise, then Justin Verlander, SP, Detroit, less of a surprise because he already had a no-no on his resume and because he was already considered a top 10 pitcher.

Who's next? How can we make an educated guess about such a thing? A lot of the experts might say Josh Johnson, SP, Florida, because he actually has held opposing teams hitless into the sixth inning at least twice this season. Jaime Garcia, SP. St. Louis, who came close to a perfect game recently is another. Both Johnson and Garcia have low walks and hits per innings pitched, an important stat in many fantasy leagues.

However, if you start looking for other starting pitchers with low walks and hits per innings pitched, you'll come up with a few surprising names:

Josh Tomlin, SP, Cleveland: Maybe the most surprising pitcher on the most surprising first-place team. He has a WHIP of 0.81, tops in the majors among starters with at least 25 IP. Most of the WHIP is due to just 8 walks in 40.2 IP, but he also has given up just 25 hits. At 4-1, he is still available in 42% of Yahoo! leagues.

Alexi Ogando, SP/RP Texas: An unexpected starter. His effectiveness - 3-0 record with 24 hits in 37.1 IP and just 9 walks for a 0.88 - is not a secret anymore, but you can still get him in 33% of Yahoo! leagues.

Phil Humber, SP/RP, White Sox: He almost no-hit the Yankees in New York, and has a 0.94 WHIP, with 26 hits surrendered in 39.2 innings. His 2-3 record might be more a reflection of anemic run support. Available in a whopping 91% of Yahoo! leagues, but the caveat here is that he is keeping a seat warm for Jake Peavy, due back this week.

Josh Beckett, SP, Boston: Probably the least surprising name on this least, though he's coming off an injury-marred 2010. His 0.88 WHIP has him tied for second in the American League among starters. Generally not available on the waiver wire, but his WHIP and 1.99 ERA for a slow-starting club make him worth seeking in a trade.

Brandon Beachy, SP, Atlanta: A 0.97 WHIP for a guy who lives in the shadow of teammates Tommy Hanson and Derek Lowe. His other key stat may be 45 strikeouts in 42 IP. Available in 48% of Yahoo! leagues.

Kyle Lohse, SP, St. Louis: His National League-leading 52.1 IP help, but he still has the lowest WHIP on the National side at 0.86. He tends not to have a strong strikeout tally (29), and probably because of that is still available in 22% of Yahoo! leagues.

Expert Wire
* Bleacher Report asks if our new friend Brandon Beachy is the real deal?

* USA Today Fantasy Windup looks into the value of much-hyped call-up Eric Hosmer, 1B, Kansas City.

* Speaking of call-ups, Yahoo! Roto Arcade wonders when Philadelphia's OF stand-out Domonic Brown is going to get his.

* The Los Angeles Times has more on the sad story of Kendrys Morales, 1B, LA Angels, the huge talent who injured celebrating a walk-off home run almost a year ago and still not recovered. Morales was a tentative, buy-low late-round pick in many leagues, but if he doesn't get good news soon, he could prove to be a wasted pick.

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Dan O'Shea's Fantasy Fix appears in this space every Wednesday. He welcomes your comments. You can also read his about his split sports fan personality at his Beachwood blog SwingsBothWays.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:30 AM | Permalink

May 10, 2011

The [Tuesday] Papers

1. Oprah Mulling Broadway Roles.

"I have a stack of plays in my bag right now that I am reading," she said.

*

Such as The King and I, in which she would play both roles; and Rent, in which she would play the landlord.

2. Emanuel Releases Transition Team Report.

*

A) Concludes that he is both a resident and the mayor-elect.

B) Concludes transition of raw power to make everyone miserable nearly complete

C) Concludes no-snitch code regarding the hiring of Angelo Torres has not been compromised

3. Passengers Say Man Yelled 'God Is Great' On Flight To Chicago As He Rushed Cockpit Door.

*

How come no one ever yells "God Sucks!" in these situations?

4. 2 Accused Of Running Real Estate Ponzi Scheme.

*

Huh. Greenspan and Geithner not named.

5. Chicago Home Sales, Prices Tumble.

*

Huh. The phrase "Ponzi scheme" not used.

6. NU Inks Fitzgerald.

*

Choice questionable, however.

7. Groupon Wants To File For IPO Soon.

*

Before deal expires.

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This is all the time I have for the column today . . . I know, I feel like I barely started myself. Sorry, folks.

But please check out these worthy new offerings from elsewhere on the site, and I'll be back with a full column tomorrow.

In Action: Neil Young at the Chicago Theatre
Helpless.

See The Cubs Suck From Multiple Camera Angles
AT&T is evil, but this is pretty cool.

The Political Odds Have Changed
But we're still doomed.

Outside Sox Park
Dmitry Samarov draws Gavin Floyd; placates girlfriend.

Chicago's Cool New Library
Preserving, digitizing, mesmerizing.

How Money Laundering Works
Al Capone led the way.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Unsanitized for your protection.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:01 PM | Permalink

How Money Laundering Works

Legend has it the term "money laundering" dates back to the time of Al Capone. The notorious Chicago gangster is said to have bought up a string of laundrettes in the 1920s to disguise his illicit earnings. In reality, the practice has indeed existed for decades, but the term only came into official use in the 1980s.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:50 AM | Permalink

See The Cubs Suck From Multiple Camera Angles

AT&T is evil but this is pretty cool.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:44 AM | Permalink

Chicago's Cool New Library

The new Joe and Rika Mansueto Library at the University of Chicago houses cutting-edge facilities for preservation and digitization of physical books, as well as a high-density underground storage system with the capacity to hold 3.5 million volume equivalents. With its soaring elliptical dome and prime location on campus, the Mansueto Library's Grand Reading Room, which opens May 16, 2011, provides an inviting space for rigorous scholarship in an array of fields.

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From Lynn Becker, June 2010:

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See also: University of Chicago Alumni Give $25 Million In Support Of New Library.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:28 AM | Permalink

In Action: Neil Young at the Chicago Theatre

"One man, one guitar, one big sound," veteran rock scribe Greg Kot writes for the Tribune. "Neil Young orchestrated his solo concert Friday - the first of two-sold shows at the Chicago Theatre - for maximum impact. He started slow and quiet and built to a rafter-rattling finale."

Here are some highlights from both shows.

1. Rust never sleeps.


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2. Gotta get down to it.

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3. He came dancing across the water.

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4. I could be happy, the rest of my life . . .

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5. I missed a soul.

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6. I was hoping it was a lie.

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7. I shot my baby.

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8. Baby, can you hear me now?

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:52 AM | Permalink

Outside Sox Park: One Peaceful Meal A Week

Last week my girlfriend asked why my face had darkened after checking something on my phone. I told her the damned Sox had lost again (can't remember what day it was, but there are so many to choose from.) She suggested that perhaps I was making them lose by paying so much attention to the games, so I skipped last Monday's finale against the Orioles altogether and, what do you know, they came through with their weekly win.

I didn't tune in 'til the sixth or seventh on Tuesday but kept listening to the end. So you can blame me for the team getting no-hit by the guy with persistent arm problems and a 9.13 ERA. My pal Nick DiGilio, a lifelong Cubs fan, texted to rub it in. Then, after getting no response, followed with this:

"You have to admit it couldn't have been more dramatic."

I disagreed. It would've been more dramatic if Dunn had hit a walk-off two-run homer, like we paid him to do.

Jake Austen wrote to tell me, "I was at the game last night and it was the least interesting no-hitter in history (it was the 3rd I've seen in person). Certainly more an achievement of the Sox' apparent quest for utter futility rather than a testament to any skill on the pitcher's part."

From the three innings I suffered through, sitting in my cab at the O'Hare Taxi Staging Area, I couldn't disagree.

Jake added, "I don't think you quite captured the 11-year old cancer patient whose Make-A-Wish was to get to meet the White Sox and wear a uniform vibe that Lillibridge rocks so well, he looks almost grown up in your painting."

So, perhaps I'm more hopeful about the team than he is. What's always drawn me to baseball most is pitching and over the last week there hasn't been too much to complain about in that department. Matt Thornton even pitched an inning without allowing a run! (It may have been his first this season.)

Gavin Floyd pitched eight innings of three-hit ball on Saturday. Sunday it was tied 2-2 going into the ninth when I turned off the radio and got out of the cab to have Cuban food with my girlfriend. I resisted checking the score 'til the entrees were on the table. They won it 5-2 in the 10th, so I could eat my bistec in peace.

gavin_floyd2-2.jpgGavin Floyd by Dmitry Samarov (Enlarge)

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Dmitry Samarov brings you Outside Sox Park every Tuesday. You can also find his work at Hack and at dmitrysamarov.com. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:17 AM | Permalink

May 9, 2011

The [Monday] Papers

"In the annals of Daley administration scandals, the name Duff still ranks high," the BGA reports in the Sun-Times this morning.

"The politically connected Duff family - campaign supporters of Mayor Daley - won about $100 million in city business, in part through what prosecutors said were bogus claims that they deserved breaks that are set aside for women-owned businesses. Those claims unraveled as James M. Duff pleaded guilty in 2005 to fraud and racketeering, among 33 federal charges.

"Daley knew the Duffs, went to their parties, benefitted from their campaign fund-raisers - but downplayed his ties to the family, which, during his tenure, got city cleanup and janitorial work from City Hall at Taste of Chicago, O'Hare Airport and the Harold Washington Library Center,among other lucrative city business.

"For anyone keeping score, newly released FBI files show that agents who were keeping tabs on the late John F. 'Jack' Duff Jr. - the family patriarch who was an ex-con, disgraced union boss and self-described pal of the late Chicago mob boss Anthony Accardo - had a source who told them 'it was common knowledge that Jack Duff Jr. and Mayor Daley were close friends and that Jack Duff Jr. had direct access to the mayor.'"

*

Well, that was always what John Kass said.

From August 2, 1999:

"Hey Chicago, grab your golf bags. There's a big party coming up. And you won't want to miss it.

"The Men of the Year labor union golf outing is scheduled for Sept. 10 at the Bloomingdale Golf Club. It will honor two of Chicago's prominent families - who now pretend they don't know each other.

"The Daleys and the Duffs.

"Daley spent all last week screeching that he doesn't know the Duffs. Now, it turns out, this party has been planned for weeks."

*

From August 5, 1999:

"Reporters were asking the usual question:

"How could he give $100 million in city business to people who have ties to big-time Mafia chiefs?

"'Don't ask me,' he said. 'I am the mayor of the city of Chicago.'"

*

From December 2, 1999:

"According to a Tribune investigation, Daley steered contracts toward the Duffs at the expense of minority contractors. But on Wednesday he made a speech about helping minorities.

"So did the bureaucrats behind him, including Troy Ratliff, a suit in the Purchasing Department.

"Since July, when the Tribune broke the Duff story, Ratliff has been investigating.

"Daley ordered Ratliff to investigate how the heck these white guys got $100 million in minority contracts.

"Ratliff should know. He's the one who gave the white-guy Duffs the minority contracts - even though his staff recommended against it. Later, Ratliff's office lost some Duff contract documents."

*

From July 1999:

"'I am not suppose to laugh about this,' said Mayor Richard Daley after he clowned around through his news conference on Wednesday.

"Reporters wanted to know why he gave $100 million in city contracts to a family with ties to organized crime bosses.

"Daley said he didn't know nothing about nobody. He smirked his way through. He played dumb."

*

And just last week:

"Daley would drink with the Duffs at their legendary Como Inn parties. There must not have been enough light at those parties, because the Duffs received $100 million in city-related affirmative action contracts even though they were white men with pink necks."

*

Sure enough, the BGA found.

"One document, dating from 2000, summarized an FBI interview with an individual who isn't identified in the files that were released. That individual recalled seeing Duff 'sitting at a table together' with Daley and 'several' unnamed aldermen at the old Como Inn restaurant at a Christmas party hosted by the Duffs.

"Later in that same document, the Duffs are described as 'assisting Mayor Daley with promoting certain individuals for election.'"

*

Even better:

"The elder Duff's ties to the Chicago Outfit included testifying on behalf of Accardo at the 1960 income tax fraud trial of the mobster known as 'Big Tuna.' Jack Duff testified that they did business together and were friends. Duff was working for then-Mayor Richard J. Daley at the time, a job Duff later lost."

*

"Over the years, the current Mayor Daley has acknowledged knowing the Duffs and accepting campaign help and money from them but has portrayed his relationship with them as nothing special, saying at one point, 'I know a lot of people.'"

*

Keep the Duffs in mind this week when Daley is being feted as the greatest mayor to walk the planet. As Al Pacino as John Milton says of God in The Devil's Advocate, "Worship that? Never!"

That's Jackie!
"Daley's press secretary, Jacquelyn Heard, echoes that now, saying of the FBI files: 'It's difficult to respond to statements made by anonymous people. But suffice it to say that, after 22 years at the helm of a city as mayor, you know a lot of people.'"

Jacquelyn Heard, you will not be missed either. I wonder what it feels like to lie for 22 years.

CORRECTION: Heard has been the mayor's chief flak since 1997. So she's only been lying for him for 14 years.

*

See also: Family Mops Up On City Deals: Insiders With Mob Ties Profit From Mayor's Push To Privatize.

What "Next" Should Serve Next
Ideas for Grant Achatz.

About That Wasteland
It rules.

Secret Budget Talks
Because taxpayers apparently can't handle the truth.

Bulls: Neither Ready Nor Rested
Boozer and Rose mishandled.

White Sox: Smaller Ball
Strange season stupifies.

Cubs: Cheaper Beer, Less Regret
Incentivizing fans.

The Weekend in Chicago Rock
You shoulda been there.

Programming Note
I'm back behind the bar tonight at the venerable Beachwood Inn, home of the world's greatest jukebox. Another new episode of Chicago Code is on tap ("I am at an impasse. Gibbons has played us") from 8p - 9p; otherwise it's rock 'n' roll, pool, free pizza and the kind of witty banter only the Beachwood can provide. Leaning against a suggestion, however, that we serve bin Laden specials tonight: Two shots and a splash of water. We don't need to spike the drinks.

Doors open at 5p, close at 2a.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Peachy.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:18 AM | Permalink

Illinois House Takes Budget Behind Closed Doors

When it comes to the Illinois Legislature and its budgeting process, few know what goes on behind closed doors.

Five appropriation committees in the Illinois House of Representatives have moved to closed-door meetings to hash out the details of the state budget, especially where and how to cut state spending.

"The committees are meeting in closed session to hammer out and to talk about some issues that they don't feel comfortable doing in the public," State Rep. Robert Pritchard, R-Hinckley, said.

But that contention isn't sitting well with some people.

"Public confidence is so low in Illinois lawmakers that it is not helped at all when things are done behind closed doors," said David Yepsen, director of the Paul Simon Public Policy at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.

Unlike in recent years, rank-and-file legislators this year have more say in the process of crafting a budget. For the past few years, the General Assembly sent the governor lump sums of money and allowed the state's chief executive officer to decide how and where to spend the funds.

Lawmakers said they are hesitant to float some needed, but politically dangerous, cuts in public because of the potential repercussions.

Pritchard, who serves on two education appropriation committees, said meeting in private takes off the pressure legislators face from advocacy groups that might see cuts. It also allows for frank discussions, he said.

These "working committees" generally take place before an appropriations committee, but in a few cases the public has been kicked out of a hearing so the legislators could move the talks about the budget out of the public's earshot.

Ralph Martire, executive director of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, a think-tank that promotes "progressive tax, spending and economic policies," according to its website, challenged Pritchard's contention that privacy is paramount for the budget-making process.

"What are they so afraid of?" Martire asked. "We have a right as taxpayers and voters in this state to understand what the real issues are, what the real pressures are, if we need to cut, if we need to raise revenue."

What happens in the meetings is less important than how members vote in public, according to state Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, D-Chicago. Feigenholtz chairs the House Human Services Appropriations Committee.

Feigenholtz said any budget proposal that surfaces would be in the public record for a period before the House votes on the measure, giving anyone interested the time to offer suggestions. And, she defended the closed-door process.

"I think that elected representatives who have been sent down here to represent their constituencies and to lead the charge on better health care in Illinois, more efficient health care, a smarter spending package on how we do what we do, is exactly what the public wants," Feigenholtz said.

Long-time statehouse observer and professor of political studies at the University of Illinois at Springfield Kent Redfield likened the new process to how the United States Congress handles the budgeting process - divvying up the budget into bills that represent different departments and agencies.

Like others, he said the return to the practice of lawmakers controlling the budget is a step in the right direction for Illinois, even though it's not what everyone may want.

"It's much more participatory from the members' standpoint than what's been in recent history, but it's not transparent in terms of a situation where all the decisions and agreements are made in public," said Redfield, who also works with the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, a nonprofit, nonpartisan group that pushes for accountability and transparency in government. "You probably never do get to that."

Steve Schnorf, who was budget director under former Republican governors Jim Edgar and George Ryan in the 1990s and through 2002, said during his time in state government he saw responsibility of the final budget gradually distill to the four legislative leaders and the governor.

It might not be ideal, but giving legislators the opportunity to take on the state's finances might mean some talks don't take place in front of the public, he said. It allows some ideas to be floated that otherwise might not have seen the light of day, he said.

"Those discussions, at least the preliminary ones, the early ones, taking place in a closed environment or a more private environment are pretty understandable to me," Schnorf said. "That way a legislator can say freely, 'look, I hate to even suggest this, but maybe we need to cut home services and aging by $200 million.'"

John Tillman, chief executive officer of the Illinois Policy Institute, said as long as legislators aren't breaking the law, some closed meetings can be useful. He did have one caveat, however.

"Whatever the results of these discussions are, they then have to be fully vetted in the open committee hearing or the House floor once it gets to that state," Tillman said.

The Illinois Policy Institute is a nonpartisan research organization dedicated to supporting free market principles and liberty-based public policy initiatives, according to its website.

State Rep. Patti Bellock, R-Westmont, who serves on the same committee as Feigenholtz, this week said she sat through a six-hour closed meeting to dive into the numbers. Having open and closed meetings are essential to creating a budget that everyone can agree on, she said.

"I think it's been a fair process in (our chamber) because we've had the human service appropriations hearings, so we've allowed all the people to come to us and give those views," Bellock said. "We've taken those views back so I think this process has worked well."

Jennifer Fuller, president of the Illinois News Broadcasters Association, said the proof will be in the final outcome.

"What we'll have to watch is when the final budget, or even a tentative budget, comes out, how well does that match what happened in those open hearings?" Fuller asked. "If it appears lawmakers took testimony into consideration, then perhaps our concerns aren't as serious."

The General Assembly has until the end of May to pass a budget. After that, more votes are required for passage, requiring Republican support in a Legislature controlled by Democrats.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:56 AM | Permalink

About That Wasteland

"Fifty years ago this week, Newton N. Minow delivered one of the most electrifying speeches ever given by a bureaucrat of the U.S. government," Aaron Barnhart writes for the Kansas City Star.

"'I did not come to Washington to idly observe the squandering of the public's airwaves,' he declared. 'When your license comes up for renewal, your performance is compared with your promises . . . Many people feel that in the past licenses were often renewed pro forma. I say to you now: Renewal will not be pro forma in the future.'

"That line set off alarms across the TV industry. Minow was basically saying: Start serving the public interest (whatever that was), or I'll give your station license to someone else . . .

"As a plan of action, though, the speech was a failure. Minow bears most of the responsibility for that."

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"[M]aking good on that vow would require a level of public oversight the FCC had never attempted - and wouldn't under Minow.

"Meanwhile, as media scholar Craig Allen has documented, TV stations launched a rapid response to the chairman's speech. As they frantically scanned his remarks, looking for something he liked, they saw that Minow liked local news. And how would you know if your station's news was serving the public?

"Ratings!

"Like any good snob, Minow hated audience measurement - 'Ratings ought to be the slave of the broadcaster, not his master,' he sniffed - but soon it became clear he had no alternative method for gauging public interest. Logically, station managers concluded that they would be judged by the ratings their newscasts got.

"Management at stations with last-place newscasts grew nervous. A few brought in consumer research firms, the kind that helped GM sell cars and Sears sell appliances. They were going to help these stations sell the news.

"Those first focus groups were brutal. That newscast is boring. The anchor talks down to me. Who cares about Europe? I want to know about that fire down the street.

"The consultants worked wonders. Last-place stations zoomed into first. Other stations were now in last place, and they hired news doctors . . .

"And so, if you have ever gritted your teeth about the vast wasteland of local TV news, you can thank the author of the 'vast wasteland' speech."

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I'm not so sure about that, but television has never been better - the poor quality of local (and national) TV news notwithstanding.

Dreamy Garden
"[P]eople have been asking me if I still think television is a vast wasteland," Minow writes in a Tribune Op-Ed. "It is certainly vast, far vaster than we could have imagined in 1961. And parts of it are a wasteland, but most of what I hoped for has far exceeded my most ambitious dreams."

It's unfortunate, then, that his piece in the Atlantic was given the headline "A Vaster Wasteland."

"Television is not a vast wasteland anymore," Matthew Lasar writes in Wired. It's a crazy, weed-filled, wonderful, out-of-control garden . .

"The irony of Minow's immortal phrase is that the landscape to which he referred wasn't very vast compared with today. In any given major market, such as New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles, TV usually consisted of three network outlets, three locally owned stations, and a chronically underfunded nonprofit venue, which didn't get any PBS support until 1970.

"As tedious as the network fare often was, the locally owned stations were worse. They were jokes - their best efforts focused on children's programming, followed by 'professional wrestling,' old movie reruns, and talk shows hosted by local lunatics - the clearest link between then and now.

"And your regional 'public' TV station invariably front-loaded itself with World War II documentaries. They were endless. If Adolf Hitler had shown up during a public TV pledge drive segment in 1966 asking for viewer support, I'm not sure that I would have been surprised."

Mission Accomplished?
"Some ask why we need public broadcasting," Minow writes in his Trib piece. "I believe we need it for the same reasons we support public libraries - while we also have bookstores. We need it for the same reason we support public parks - while we also have country clubs. We need it to provide more choices for all of us."

But perhaps we have more than enough choices these days. Sure, that includes cable, which is increasingly unaffordable, but the answer to that is to regulate sleazy monopolists like Comcast more stringently.

Affordability is also a good reason to look to the Internet, where net neutrality and broadband access are the answers, not Antiques Roadshow and Router Workshop.

Yet in his Atlantic piece, Minow writes:

"[W]e need to give greater support to public radio and public television. Both have been starved for funds for decades, and yet in many communities they are essential sources of local news and information - particularly public radio, which is relatively inexpensive to produce and distribute and is a valuable source of professionally reported news for millions of Americans. There is virtually nothing else like it on the air."

Overrated.

"Public-television stations, as I saw when I was the chairman of PBS, are overbuilt, sometimes with four competing in the same market. Where that is so, stations should be sold and the revenue dedicated to programming a national news and public-affairs service, built on the foundation of the splendid PBS NewsHour."

Overrated.

"And a crucial part of that service - as with public media around the world - should be to promote the country's arts and culture."

Even conservative arts and culture? And to who, elites? I'd rather see more public funding to local public access stations - the real public television.

It may be time, in other words, to declare victory for PBS, WTTW and the lot and get out, in part because the wasteland is no more.

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See also: Chicago Too-Lite?

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:32 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: Bulls Neither Ready Nor Rested

It could be worse. You could be a Laker fan. Or a Spurs supporter. The moral of the story is the playoffs are hard. Fans have to hang in there.

Even so, this series has been considerably tougher than anticipated (by me in my preview last week among many others).

If the Bulls play their best and the Hawks play their best in what is now a best-of-three series, the Bulls will still prevail. But if the Hawks' Josh Smith (11 huge fourth-quarter points during Sunday's 100-88 Atlanta win that evened the Eastern Conference semifinal showdown two games apiece) continues to mature before our eyes, the margin between the teams shrinks considerably.

In the past, Smith could always be counted on to do something stupid in crunch time. For a long time after he entered the league a half-dozen or so years ago, the prodigiously talented 6-9 forward was in love with his three-point shot. And that was despite the fact that he converted barely a fourth of his long-range bombs (out of more than 150 total attempts) during one particularly egregious season of talent-wasting a few years ago.

While he finally bagged the trifecta (or at least most of them) this past campaign, he was still susceptible to the siren song of open mid-range jumpers. No wonder, really, given how much easier it is to hoist it up from out there rather than going to work in the paint.

But Smith has found his inner muscleman of late and like another 6-9 guy who has lifted his team to crazy new heights during these playoffs - Memphis's Zach Randolph - the Hawk forward can be darn near unstoppable at the rim when he gets going.

As for the Bulls forwards, well, the team has become so accustomed to poor play from Carlos Boozer that when he finally displayed some offensive efficiency on Sunday, especially in the third quarter, his teammates didn't remember how to take advantage of it. When Boozer returned to the floor after taking a brief breather at the start of the final 12 minutes, Rose and Co. failed to find him with the kind of zippy little passes that had set up several slick shots earlier in the second half.

As for Mr. Derrick Rose, he received no rest in the second half (finishing with 45 minutes played out of a maximum 48) and that was a sizable screw-up. It was absolutely predictable that the young point guard's game came apart at the seams down the stretch. If it wasn't bad shots or bad passes, it was just bad choices. And it all added up to bad offense.

Coach Thibodeau is always going to be tempted to play his studs more in playoff games, what with at least one day between all games and with the stakes so high. He cannot give in to that temptation. Rose was clearly fatigued at the end and he needs to be at his absolute best for this team to advance.

Of course all of this has to do with growing pains as well. At times like Sunday's fourth quarter, fans have to remember that this is all new for the MVP. Some lessons can be learned on the fly, especially in regular season. But some are especially hard won, i.e. there is nothing that prepares a young player for the pressure-cooker that is the NBA playoffs.

I hope Luol Deng was paying attention as Josh Smith slashed to the rim for big basket after big basket down the stretch on Sunday. This might have been Deng's worst game of the playoffs and while there is no denying that he needs help to set up his offense, i.e. passes in good spots to either take it inside or fire away with his reliable mid-range jumper, he also needs to assert himself.

In other words, Derrick Rose didn't do a good enough job finding Deng but Deng didn't do a good enough job forcing the issue.

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Here's the official NBA recap:

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:05 AM | Permalink

The Weekend in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Peter Bjorn and John at Lincoln Hall on Saturday night.

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2. True Widow at Bottom Lounge on Saturday night.

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3. EOTO at the Portage Theater on Friday night.

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4. Yelle at Bottom Lounge on Friday night.

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5. Surfer Blood at Bottom Lounge on Sunday night.

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6. Zed's Dead at Logan Square Auditorium on Saturday night.

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7. Ted Leo at Schubas on Thursday night.

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8. Paper Thick Walls at the Hideout on Friday night.

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9. Derek Nelson & The Musicians at the Hideout on Friday night.

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10. Neil Young at the Chicago Theatre on Friday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:36 AM | Permalink

Incentivizing Cubs Fans

"Attendance for the first month of the Chicago Cubs' season is down at Wrigley Field, so the team will offer a few incentives any fan can rally around - T-shirts and discounted beer and hot dogs," WGN reports.

"On Tuesdays, beginning with the May 10 game againt the St. Louis Cardinals, select brands of beer will cost $3.

"On Wednesdays, starting May 11, hot dogs will cost $1 and each Monday, beginning May 30 against the Houston Astros, bleacher-goers will receive a free T-shirt."

At least they have troughs in the restroom for easy $3 beer puking. The Cub Factor has learned that other potential incentives remain under consideration should attendance continue to dip:

* Post-vomit beers: $1 each.

* Bring a first baseman who can hit over .200 to the game, get a free floppy hat.

* 50% fewer errors.

* Free eye exam for every Darwin Barney seeing-eye single.

* One less douchebag per section.

* Starlin Castro bats twice every inning.

* The return of Julio Zuleta.

* Win a Casey Coleman bobblehead if a search party finds the real Ryan Dempster.

* Official Cubs Fan Regret-O-Meter (free to season ticket holders).

* For every Carlos Pena bunt, the Cubs will match your donation to the Wrigleyville bum of your choice.

* If you are on the fence about heading to a game, give Tom Ricketts a call and he'll beg you to come.

* Bring Doug Davis to work day. He'll make you look good no matter what you do because he stinks.

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The Week in Review: The Cubs went 3-3 for the week, winning two of three from the Dodgers and losing two of three to the Reds. So the Cubs got back to .500 baseball, but just for the week.

The Week in Preview: The Cubs stay home this week with three against the Cardinals and three against the Giants. This is pretty cool - we get to see both Ryan Theriot and Mike Fontenot this week as they start at shortstop for their teams. And we thought they could barely play second base for the Cubs. Is this truly where baseball is these days? And the Cubs still can't win? It makes me sick.

The Second Basemen Report: We finally have a little news on the second basemen front. Darwin Barney started four games this week but both Jeff Baker and Blake DeWitt got starts too. This truly could be up for grabs again. Especially if Starlin Castro keeps making errors that force a move to second base. Which could happen, which is for sure just like Jim Hendry drew it up.

In former second basemen news, Cubs fans will finally get to see Ryan Theriot on the right side of the Cubs-Cards rivalry. Stay classy, Ryan Theriot. On the flip side, the Cubs have replaced Theriot with another shortstop who can't field but at least wields a big stick. So, yeah, Ryan you are really missed.

The Zam Bomb: Big Z has to move back down to Apologetic as he pitched well this week once again and had no issues. But secretly we think he's Furious.

zam_apologetic.jpg

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Marlon Byrd Supplemental Report: Conte is now giving Byrd weekly injections of "under the radar hitting streak."

Lost in Translation: Mendozio linee is Japanese for Carlos Pena is almost hitting his weight.

Endorsement No-Brainer: The Unknown Comic for the Cubs' third-place hitter.

Sweet and Sour Quade: 89% sweet,11% sour. Down another three points this week due to leaving way too many men on base. And just like your smart, well-adjusted uncle, Mike isn't going to pay you to take out the trash if you are just going to get it close to the receptacle and not put it all the way in. Because the critters are going to get into it and it's like you aren't helping at all.

Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Shares of sour grapes are selling higher as Ryan Theriot and the Cardinals come to town.

Over/Under: The date when Aramis Ramirez starts to hit home runs +/- too late.

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that at some point Fukudome is going to stop getting on base, right?

The Cub Factor: Unlike Soriano, you can catch 'em all!

The White Sox Report: Know the enemy.

Get Your Gangler On: Follow Marty on Twitter.

Note For Readers Used To Seeing The Mount Lou Alert System Here: When manager Mike Quade shows any signs of, well, really anything abnormal, we will be all over it with some kind of graph or pictorial depiction of whatever it is, but until this guy shows something besides just being a normal, thoughtful, intelligent guy, we got next to nothing on him. We are hoping he shows something and kinda hoping he doesn't also, know what I mean? BUT HE IS GETTING CLOSER . . .

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Contact The Cub Factor!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:00 AM | Permalink

Miniscule Ball

Yogi Berra allegedly said "Good pitching beats good hitting, and vice versa." Former Sox third baseman and current Comcast analyst Bill Melton has a less confusing take. "Good pitching beats good hitting, and mediocre pitching beats poor hitting," he observed last Friday.

Melton might have added, "Horrible pitching beats horrible hitting" after Francisco Lirano - entering last Tuesday's game with a 9.35 ERA - no-hit our fellows.

This is a team that four innings into the season had a 14-0 lead against the mighty (all right, I said it) Cleveland Indians. And the next day they tagged on eight more runs. What a bright, positive, awe-inspiring beginning: 23 runs, 29 hits, a couple of homers, and five hits by Gordon Beckham all by himself.

Surely, this was a portent of things to follow. But after a 4-18 swoon, we are reminded that 1) only a fool would make any kind of prediction after four innings, and 2) only a slightly lesser fool would draw any conclusions after two games.

But this dismal stretch does make us wonder how a team can come out of the gate and look absolutely imposing and formidable, only to play some of the worst baseball in memory in just a matter of days.

Consider last Wednesday's loss to the Twins. There will be literally thousands - if not a few million - 10-year-old Little Leaguers this summer who will be schooled on defending the sacrifice bunt: first and third basemen charge, shortstop covers second, and second baseman covers first. Ad nauseum.

And still, a 44-year-old future Hall-of-Famer who's played in nearly 2,900 games and handled almost 12,000 chances in the field, fails to cover first base on a bunt last Wednesday. As a result, two runs eventually score, and the Sox lose again, 3-2. Maybe Beckham screws this up. But Omar Vizquel? Don't tell me something weird and strange isn't happening on the South Side.

While Wednesday's performance was typical of the way the Sox played at home last week - just six hits and eight men left on base including the tying run at second with one out in the ninth inning - I have to applaud the 18,000 fans.

Parents and grandparents brought lots of pre-school-aged kids. I can't remember seeing so many little ones at The Cell. Most had the good sense to find a sunny seat on the third-base side. It was cold in the shade but warm and comfortable in the sun. The air was filled with signs of spring and good vibes.

Despite a team in the throes of a three-week slump, the fans were genuinely supportive. When the Sox threatened, they cheered. They rose to their feet in the eighth and ninth innings when the home team rallied. They acknowledged John Danks' solid pitching performance. When Vizquel was thrown out on a steal attempt, there were no boos. Only questions of why the old guy was running. Turns out he thought he saw a hit-and-run sign, but we found out later there was no such thing. Not a great day for Omar.

Juan Pierre flew out to end the game, yet still no negativity. Apparently the boo birds had bigger fish to fry later that evening at the UC when Carlos Boozer was the target.

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There was a time when an anemic attack didn't necessarily signal a losing record. Take the 1967 White Sox. They hit .225 as a team that season, averaging just 3.28 runs per game. Ken Berry and Don Buford led the club in hitting with a .241 average. (I'm not making this up.) Pete Ward with 18 homers and 62 RBI led in both categories.

So how far down in the standings did that team finish? Well, these guys led the 10-team American League for three months and were still in the race in the final weekend of the season. They won 89 games, eventually finishing fourth, three games behind the pennant-winning Red Sox.

It will come as no surprise that the likes of starting pitchers Gary Peters, Joe Horlen, and Tommy John (yes, the namesake of the surgery and winner of 288 games), and an effective bullpen, posted a 2.45 team ERA. Pitching, defense, and speed trumped hitting, and PEDs were 20 years away.

Clearly the game today is much different. The American League average in 1967 was just .236, and there were hundreds of low-scoring games. That may explain why only 12,000 fans populated Comiskey Park the last Friday of the season - the Sox were still in the race - to watch the South Siders get eliminated by the lowly Washington Senators by a score of, what else, 1-0.

The 2011 White Sox offense unfortunately has resembled that team of 44 years ago. The good news is that recently the starting pitching also has started to look like those guys of yore. And two wins over the weekend felt good.

We all know about Small Ball and Ozzie Ball. But Miniscule Ball? That's what we've been watching recently, and it doesn't come close to working.

Everyone - Ozzie, Kenny Williams, the players, Hawk - promises that the team will start hitting. Okay, I'm on board. I remember those first four innings in Cleveland, and 17 more hits on Saturday in Seattle were nice. I truly want to be a believer, and beating the Mariners twice creates hope.

But I remain dubious and impatient. The hits need to start coming consistently . . . and soon.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:34 AM | Permalink

What Next Should Serve Next

"[Grant Achatz's Next restaurant] will feature a menu that will change every three months, tied to a location and time period. Paris 1906 is its inaugural theme; Thai street food (time period undetermined) will follow in June. For future menus, Achatz has floated the idea of Prohibition-era Chicago, New York circa Mad Men and Hong Kong 2036."

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The Beachwood Foodie Affairs Desk has learned that the following ideas are also under consideration:

* Chicago 2002, Manny's Deli. A man wearing a brown paper bag over his head will sit at your table as he recreates the time he interviewed - and then hired - Angelo Torres for a city job. Start with a Julienne salad or split pea soup, then choose between stuffed cabbage and roasted tongue - the simulated day in question is a Tuesday - for your entree. Or go with the traditional corned beef sandwich with potato pancakes on the side. A simulated David Axelrod will sit at the next table.

* Richard M. Daley late-night snack, January 2010. Eat the same T-bone steak the mayor was eating at his father's wooden desk in City Hall, lovingly recreated here including a secret petty cash drawer under the Red Squad files, at the time he sealed the deal with President Obama over a secure line to swap his brother Bill for Rahm Emanuel as his successor. Served with a nice chianti and a side of bile.

* June 25, 2010, Carlos Zambrano dinner with Ozzie Guillen, just hours after he freaked out in the Cubs dugout. Featuring arepas filled with asylum-style sedatives to celebrate both their Venezuelan heritage and their fragile grip on sanity. Post-dinner anger management counseling optional. Donuts for dessert.

* Blago family dining room table, 2006. Bring your spouse and discuss job options such as ambassadorships and cabinet positions as you chow down on Boston Chicken and anti-depressants while watching the local news and Wheel of Fortune. Hide in the restroom when we send in a man posing as your budget director. Spiders for dessert.

* Chicago 2036. Blue Plate Special only $20/entree, combined city, county, and state taxes make the total about $299/person.

* Jon Burge, 1975. Dine alone at a re-created Golden Apple after a tough day coercing false confessions by zapping men's testicles. That sort of thing works up an appetite. Start with the chicken noodle soup, complete with little fish crackers. Choose the barbecued beef sandwich or New York strip for your entree. Finish with a generous slab of apple pie a la mode and an inexplicably clean conscience.

* June 2005, Barack Obama seals deal for his Hyde Park home with Tony Rezko at the Medici. Open with the baked goat cheese and hummus, and choose between the turkey burger and grilled skewers. Or just stick with arugula and an alibi. No splitting checks.

* Chicago October 2, 2009, oven roasted onion-rings in a sour marmalade, plated to form the Olympics logo. Garnished with Daley-shaped tears of rose petals and two of the world's smallest violins.

* Cubs Clubhouse, a smorgasbord from the last 102 years. Pop the cork on a bat-shaped wine bottle because there will be no champagne. Munch on the greenies in a bowl on the training table and feel free to smoke. Mashed potatoes, cold cuts, shrimp cocktail and a veggie tray. BYOB. Flintstone vitamins for dessert.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:04 AM | Permalink

May 7, 2011

The Weekend Desk Report

Be nice to your mother this weekend. Trust us, she doesn't get enough credit.

Market Update
A paradox emerged this week as April's jobs data and unemployment figures appeared to contradict each other. Analysts now suggest that, although there are more positions available, less people will be able to fill them.

Birther of a President
Of course, the biggest news of the week involved President Obama at long last silencing a loud-mouthed, delusional old conspiracy monger whose over-the-top rhetoric threatened our way of life. Oh, and he killed Osama Bin Laden, too.

Campaign Kick-off
Of course, if The Donald still wants to make a presidential run, perhaps he could find an organization that apparently doesn't give a shit how corrupt and self-serving you are.

Terror Ride
In the wake of Osama Bin Laden's death comes the shocking news that al-Qaeda may have had plans to derail Chicago trains and disrupt transit. And then they figured, you know, why bother?

Liar, Liar
Finally, we'd be remiss if we didn't discuss this weekend's Kentucky Derby. We know he's the sexy pick right now, but as far as we're concerned Pants on Fire looks rode hard and put away wet.

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Wire-to-wire.

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The CAN TV Weekend Report

Made in Egypt: A Fresh Brand of Freedom
31062-Egypt.jpg
Egyptian public speaker Ms. Sahar El-Nadi shares a detailed eyewitness account of the Egyptian revolution as well as the role that women played in the successful overthrow of Mubarak.

Sunday, May 8 at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 29 min

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Defending the Public, Our Families, and Our Communities
31063-DefendingPublic.jpg
Cook County Commissioner Jesus G. Garcia opens a panel discussion on how to fight back amidst a wave of all-out attacks against worker's rights.

Sunday, May 8 at 10:30 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 19 min

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Towards a New New Deal: A 21st Century Full Employment Act
31064-NEW-new-deal.jpg
Representative John Conyers, Jr. delivers the keynote address on the need to enhance worker's rights, and develop economic policies that promote jobs and community growth.

Sunday, May 8 at 12 p.m. on CAN TV21
51 min

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Regime Change: Baghdad, Cairo, Tehran and Tunis
31065-RegimeChange.jpg
Georgetown University professor Raymond Tanter discusses the ongoing revolutions in North Africa and the Middle East.

Sunday, May 8 at 1:00 p.m. on CAN TV21
2 hr


Posted by Natasha Julius at 8:01 AM | Permalink

May 6, 2011

The [Friday] Papers

Light posting continues until Monday, when we hope to finally catch up with Daley's departure, Rahm's arrival, Blago's trial, the new police chief, the new schools chief, and various and sundry other things. Nonetheless, we have a few offerings today:

* Rahm Biggest Campaign Fund Cheater; Used Loopholes To Keep Donations Secret

* Midland Authors Awards: Poison and Poetry

* TrackNotes: Touting The Worst Derby Field Ever

The Week in WTF and The Week in Chicago Rock are taking this week off.

The Weekend Desk Report will, however, appear on Saturday, as always.

Then we'll be back in full on Monday and, of course, we may have a few things to post/tweet on Facebook/Twitter in the meantime.

See ya around!

The [Thursday] Papers
Posting may be light until Monday, when we hope to finally catch up with Daley's departure, Rahm's arrival, Blago's trial, the new police chief, the new schools chief, and various and sundry other things. We do have a few posts on tap for Friday. It just might be a bit touch-and-go for the next few days due to colliding circumstances overriding my brain circuits.

We do have a new Carl's Cubs Mailbag today which, among other items, reveals the best porn names in the Cubs clubhouse. A-Ram did not make the cut; nor did Fukudome.

We'll save those for the launch of Beachwood After Dark. I envision a shade being drawn on the site and twinkling stars emerging to the sultry sounds of Venus Flytrap as all our content goes blue. That's where the money is.

See you here and there.

The [Wednesday] Papers
Were the White Sox just on the losing end of the Worst No-Hitter Ever?

I watched the game on TV and when the Twins' Francisco Liriano finally put it to bed, I kind of just shrugged. Eh.

Of course, Liriano got the kind of help you sometimes need to complete a game like that: a defensive gem from third baseman Danny Valencia and a botched call by first-base umpire Paul Emmel.

The call Emmel blew wouldn't have been scored a hit but a fielder's choice. But it would have brought at least one more batter to the plate.

Emmel was fooled in part by the acting performance of Justin Morneau.

You try to sell it," Morneau said.

In other words, you cheat.

Who says sports builds character.

We see this in sports all the time, and players are rewarded for it. Pretend you caught the ball. Pretend the puck didn't cross the line. Pretend you were tripped. Anything to get ahead. Just like life.

But what if sports instead taught us to be honorable? You know, all that stuff about sportsmanship. And then we translated that to citizenship.

In that kind of world, Morneau would have told Emmel he missed the tag on Gordon Beckham. Would that have been wrong?

In my view, that would have been so right.

Bitter? Hardly. I'm a diehard Twins fan. I hate the White Sox.

But I love more the kind of world I would like to live in. I thought it was the kind of world we were supposed to strive for. And you know what? It's not that hard of a world to produce. The only thing preventing us from doing so is greed and ego.

But the world we live in does not value truth, which means it does not value facts, which means it does not value principles or, well, values. And a world like that will never value justice, fairness or inalienable right of all of us to pursue happiness.

That play in the eighth inning was a tiny speck - if even that - in the history of the universe. But it tells us a lot about ourselves.

* * *

Speaking of being rewarded for cheating, Derrick Rose was named the NBA's 2010-2011 Most Valuable Player on Tuesday.

The lesson? If you are talented enough in a way that can makes you exploitable to a lot of greedy people, and you keep your mouth shut, you don't have to live by the same rules as everyone else.

* * *

We still don't know what happened inside that cab in Buffalo.

* * *

We still don't know who hired Angelo Torres, yet Richard M. Daley departs office as a conquering hero.

We don't seem to care about Daley's no-snitch code; just the no-snitch code of people who have every right to fear for their lives - and to distrust the police.

That's the Chicago Police Department that is supposed to be our provider of law and order. But they don't like law so much when it might reveal their own lack of order.

* * *

Rahm Emanuel just hired a cheater to run Chicago Public Schools. He's a liar, too.

At least we've got the right guy if we want to show our kids how the world works.

* * *

Our very own Dan O'Shea (who was at the game last night and today writes that fantasy owners may want to trade Liriano now) points out to me that the pitcher Liriano faced yesterday threw a no-hitter last season that was arguably worse than what we saw last night.

* * *

And then there was the no-hitter that wasn't but that taught us the most; if only Daley, Blago, Rahm, Rose and Kane had shown an ounce of the class shown by Armando Galarraga and Jim Joyce.

It's not perfection I'm after; it's honesty, and all its attendant values.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Conveniently located.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:15 AM | Permalink

Midland Authors Awards: Poison and Poetry

The Society of Midland Authors announced this week its winners for best books of 2010. Let's take a look at the categories that most interest us and enhance the value of their press release with simple digital tools.

NONFICTION

WINNER: Deborah Blum, The Poisoner's Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York.

"Not only is The Poisoner's Handbook as thrilling as any CSI episode, but it also offers something even better: an education in how forensics really works," Art Taylor wrote in the Washington Post.


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FINALISTS:

* Harry Castleman and Walter J. Podrazik, Watching TV: Six Decades of American Television, Expanded Second Edition.

"I recommend that you not read this entire book over the course of six weeks," Alex Taft commented on Goodreads. "It will make your brain explode."

* Kevin Stein, Poetry's Afterlife: Verse in the Digital Age.

"In this crucial (and potentially vexing) moment for poetry, technology will have much to do with poetry's evolving to satisfy fresh readerly interests," Stein says.

Stein: "On Being A Nielsen Family."

BIOGRAPHY

WINNER: Bill Barnhart and Gene Schlickman, John Paul Stevens: An Independent Life.

Barnhart interviews Stevens.

FINALIST: Bruce L. Mouser, For Labor, Race, and Liberty: George Edwin Taylor, His Historic Run for the White House, and the Making of Independent Black Politics.

"Bruce Mouser . . . describes his efforts to chronicle the life of the first African American to run for the Presidency of the United States."

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You can see the rest of the winners here.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:34 AM | Permalink

TrackNotes: Touting The Worst Derby Field Ever

The Kentucky Derby has always been a confounding race.

Especially in recent times when 20 are sent to the post in a gate area that can probably only handle 16 or 18 effectively. The ensuing 10-furlong stampede can take the wind out of the sails of the best horses, opening it up for some lucky stiff. Emphasis on stiff.

But Saturday's 137th running, scheduled to go off at 5:24 Central time (NBC), is the most inscrutable version I have ever seen in the relatively short number of years I have been handicapping the race. I'm heading out tonight to buy a new set of darts, the better to place the sharpest bets.

A race like this, you look for momentum and improvement as these young three-year-olds try to make their way to the Run for the Roses. They're still maturing and have every reason to get better and better through this campaign. And although horses traditionally drop out along the way, the high profiles and sheer number of runners out of this race is amazing.

Not only are some fine animals on the wrong side of the velvet rope, their defections have made it possible for some questionable horses to run. It's based on the top 20 in graded stakes earnings. Merit often takes a back seat.

We're talking about Boys At Tosconova, Rogue Romance and Premier Pegasus out early. To Honor and Serve won't be there. They were fooling themselves with Jaycito. Wood Memorial winner Toby's Corner was out soon after that race. Followed quickly by Wood tryer Arthur's Tale. And perhaps the horse with the biggest buzz who isn't Uncle Mo was The Factor, who needed minor throat surgery after finishing a disappointing seventh in the Arkansas Derby.

In the Derby preps, most of the logic went out the window in upset after upset. My kingdom for some form.

Rest assured, there will be some nice prices and the only thing we agree on is that the payouts will be anywhere from nice to huge. More than ever, keep price in mind this year.

The roll call, by post positon:

1. Archarcharch. He's got everything you want for this race and one thing you don't: post position one.

Purchased for a song by Jinks Fires, Archarcharch vaulted to the top of most Derby lists after an impressive whisker of a win in the Arkansas Derby. His Beyer Speed Figures have improved nicely (98 in Arkansas), matching his increases in distance. While some say he was lucky the wire found him at Oaklawn, it just might be the gut-wrenching workout he'll need for this race. The one post? Watch Saturday and you'll see that if you draw a straight line out of that post, it runs right into the rail. Nice. I'll try to find out if they move the horses out in the event of a late scratch. As recently as 2009, when I Want Revenge was a race-morning scratch, they didn't. Archarcharch is most capable and might be a very good price. It was the same last year with Lookin At Lucky.

2. Brilliant Speed. This Dynaformer colt comes out of the Bluegrass Stakes, a once prestigious prep that has lost its luster since the installation of a synthetic surface at Keeneland.

His Beyer in that race was a career-best but usually-not-enough 93. And he's been a turf/synthetic runner for most of his career. In his only two dirt races, the first of his life, he finished a combined 40.25 lengths behind and regressed in the second race. I don't believe he should be in this race; this is about the breeding later, not the true spirit of the Derby.

3. Twice the Appeal. Here's an example of how over-inflated casino purses can catapult a horse into the Derby. That would be the Sunland Derby, a Grade III at Sunland Park.

Sure, he is on the improve, but his best/last Beyer is only 89. Although in this field, that's not necessarily horrible. He's got 10 races under his saddle, decent Beyer points progression and he can rate behind the leaders and then close. At 35-1 or better, that's a flyer.

4. Stay Thirsty. My friends, this horse presents a true dilemma.

You can see Bernardini, A. P. Indy and Seattle Slew on his sire side and his dam, Marozia, brings Storm Bird and Northern Dancer to the family reunion. He seems to flinch in Grade I company, but he has beaten Toby's Corner, in the March 11 Gotham Stakes. But then he bombed to finish nearly 17 lengths back last out in the Florida Derby. Was it the blinkers? They're coming off Saturday. If you can toss out his last race, he looks just like Twice the Appeal. With Ramon Dominguez aboard, take another flyer.

5. Decisive Moment. The first thing you see is the back class.

He's faced four others in this race, but beat none of them. With a bunch of seconds and thirds, he earned enough money, with his claim to fame being a win in the January 11 Jean Lafitt, a $250,000 Delta Downs ungraded stakes race. I don't like the fact that his last, the Spiral at Turfway, was on the synthetic, but he might just think "wheee, back on dirt!" Or he could be confused. He's been at Churchill for a few weeks and has worked well. Still, no class and too many are better.

6. Comma to the Top. With 13 races already run, the most in the field, is this hard knocker supposed to remind us of Seabiscuit?

He was eliminated from the Kentucky Derby Futures Wager pool after his own connections voiced doubts about his ability to get the Derby distance. He won six of eight as a two-year-old but has raced exclusively on synthetic or turf. His connections relapsed into their Derby fever after he took a very tough loss to Midnight Interlude in the April 11 Santa Anita Derby. If he had run straight, he might have won that race. But asking him to go 1-1/4 miles against these, and he'll probably be weaving again down the stretch.

7. Pants On Fire. Your angle here, ladies, is Anna "Rosie" Napravnik, who will try to become the first female jockey to win the Kentucky Derby.

Cute, huh? Doubt her ability and she'll cut you down like a Honey West karate chop. Ms. Napravnik has brought home winners from a tremendous 21 percent of her mounts this year, absolutely dominating the Fair Grounds winter meet. She's already 18 percent in this young Churchill Downs meet. She capped her Fair Grounds riding crown campaign with a win on Pants' in the March 11 Louisiana Derby. She can ride.

Pants On Fire? After plateauing at 81-82 Beyers earlier in the year, the Jump Start colt improved 13 Beyer points to 94 in his most important race to date, and that's what you want to see in this race. He's an on-the-lead type. With an ambitious 2011 campaign and getting a short freshening since his last and a good post position, he needs to listen to Rosie, who has a nice inner clock, and control a sensible pace to be in position to win. It's a very tough assignment, but at morning line odds of 20-1 or maybe more, I'll accept it.

8. Dialed In. He's your morning line favorite at 4-1.

Grizzled veteran Nick Zito has apparently taken a page out of the thoroughly modern training manual and raced this one lightly. But in only four races, he's won three, including the Grade III Holy Bull and the Florida Derby a head over Derby rival Shackleford. He's a closer and he'll need at least some speed silliness up front to be able to run down this field. But with 20 horses and everyone taking it easy, it's tough to have this race fall truly apart on the front end. He ran a 97 Beyer in the Holy Bull and then regressed to 90 and 93 subsequently. He'll have to improve upon his last, but could this be down on the old up-and-down Beyer cycle? He has a win over this track. Just hope for a price and you might have to reluctantly include him. Some are tossing him based just on his anticipated low price.

9. Derby Kitten. The career-top 92 Beyer in the Lexington Stakes jumps out at you, but look left and you see it was on Keeneland's synthetic.

In fact, in the only dirt race of the nine races he's run, he finished nearly 28 lengths back at Belmont last fall. This is a prime example of a horse making it in because of defections. He's beaten nobody. Toss.

10. Twinspired. Here's another synthetic semi-wonder who got in based on the problems of others. And I can't like a horse who's name evokes the corporate symbol and logo of the losing-its-soul Churchill Downs Incorporated monolith.

Want dirt experience? How about 12 lengths back last December at the magical Remington Park? That was his only dirt race. I would be steamed, Alice, if this horse wins. So at 40- or 50-1, he may get $2 from me.

11. Master of Hounds. Here comes the Euro.

A study in contradictions. He's well-bred for this race, a Kingmambo colt with the late, very great Sadler's Wells on his dam side. He's traveled from Ireland to Great Britain to Dubai and even ran in the Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf here at Churchill in November. However, popping in here and winning the Derby is a huge order. He's got the world renowned Aidan O'Brian training and one of America's best, Garrett Gomez in the saddle. The bad news? He's run only once this year and has won only once, last summer at Tipperary. And he's never run at dirt. I dunno. They're taking a shot with him here and if he's 18-1 or better, you probably should too.

12. Santiva. If ever there was a horse with a right to improve, it's this one.

With only two 2011 races, he came on strong with a nice second in the Risen Star in February after winning the Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill last November. He lept 13 points to a 91 Beyer with a less-than-perfect trip in the Risen Star, only to be bottled up and shut down in the Blue Grass on, you guessed it, the synthetic. So that last one is an easy toss and you can make the case for improving dirt form. 40-1 morning line? Count me in.

13. Mucho Macho Man. For those of you who need a great backstory, better than a Police album, here's a great one.

Trainer Kathy Ritvo gets a new lease on life with a heart transplant and then Mucho Macho Man, apparently foaled dead, springs to life and runs straight to the Kentucky Derby. Boffo.

Be quiet, cross your fingers, don't get greedy and pray his morning line of 15-1 holds up. He's been knocked around in eight races, but his last two were his best, including losing less than a length to Pants On Fire and Nehro in the Louisiana Derby while running with only three shoes. He's got two-year-old back class, his Beyers stack up here and he's good on the mud if necessary (50 percent chance of rain). For this field, this one's no pretender. He's earned it. His pappy Macho Uno burned me once. It won't happen again.

14. Shackleford. Who knows? Nobody knows, and that's why the wiseguys are looking at this one.

He was on the Derby bubble at one point, but got in. He has a chance, but you'll have to rely on an 89 Beyer in a small February allowance race, a bombout in the Fountain of Youth, and a tough beat (93 Beyer) to Dialed In in a very slow-finishing Florida Derby. He does best when he's on or near the lead, but he might flame out if he chases the leaders from the 13 post. From there, playing catch-up will be dictated and he just hasn't shown he can do it. Get a very solid price on him, he's a longshot.

15. Midnight Interlude. This one might be a giraffe horse. Meaning his 12-point Beyer improvement in a watered-down Santa Anita Derby was an anomaly and he's both not that good and won't improve. Or will he?

That 97 Beyer and Bob Baffert in his corner tells me he will take a decent amount of wagering. He didn't race at 2, but will that matter with this field? He did roar back to win the SA Derby, after all, and has been working very well at both Santa Anita and Churchill. I would really hate to see him at less than 10-1, but I may have to include him no matter what.

16. Animal Kingdom. Dirt is the question and H. Graham Motion is the answer.

You gotta have faith in the highly-regarded Motion, who said that if this first-time dirt runner takes to the surface in workouts, he's a go. He comes in after a convincing win in the Spiral Stakes where he registered a 10-point Beyer improvement. Veteran Robby Albarado rides. With absolutely no dirt experience, it's a risk to go with this guy. I'll take a flyer at no lower than 25-1.

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UPDATE 6:17 A.M. SATURDAY: Johnny Valezquez Replaces Jockey Albarado For Animal Kingdom.

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17. Soldat. Uh-oh. Here's another need-the-lead type from way out there in the 17-hole.

It's as simple as that. After running a 103 Beyer in the slop in a Gulfstream allowance race, he backed it up with a win in the Fountain of Youth. Fully prepared to become the next wiseguy, or even a Derby favorite, he bombed to fifth, 10 lengths back in the Florida Derby. Even on paper, it doesn't seem he's up to running on dirt unless he's got the front all to himself. He won't have that here, that's for sure. He's going to have too much to do. Pin your hopes on Alan Garcia and get 30-1.

18. Uncle Mo. Well now, what a tangled web we weave, Mr. Repole.

This is a very unpleasant soap opera that I wish would stop. Will he run? Or won't he? When last we left Repole Stable, the loudmouth fans' friend and self-described horsey sportsman was telling us that a team of experts would decide if the two-year-old champion was over his gastrointestinal infection enough to run in the race, all the while implying that he would make the decision. He even pulled out the old "the horse will tell us" routine. During the week, Repole went sensational by saying Uncle Mo might scratch Saturday morning! Or we might know as you're reading this.

Naturally, the conspiracy theories fissioned. The most common one is that Mo is okay and Repole is just trying to sow seeds of doubt in the horse in order to run up his odds. None other than the esteemed Bob Baffert, three-time winner of the roses, threw in.

"I think [owner Mike Repole] is just trying to build a price for himself because it sounds like he likes to gamble," Baffert said.

Here's what's not to like: He was sick; is he well? Is he even in shape? He hasn't improved from his two-year-old year. He got a late start in training and may very well have had some procedures done over the winter. He probably can't get the distance, especially from the 18 hole. He'll probably still be a short price. Even if he's okay, he has a ton to overcome as this race in no way sets up for him.

All I can do is toss him. It will keep me from using the barf bag when Repole comes on the telecast.

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8:53 A.M. FRIDAY UPDATE: Uncle Mo has been scratched.

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19. Nehro. The only thing that keeps this Mineshaft colt from favoritism is the 19 post.

Nevertheless, I think he can do it. He's a stone closer and only the wire saved Archarcharch in the Arkansas Derby. He won his first race only nine weeks ago but fine runs in Arkansas and in the Louisiana Derby - second in traffic to Pants On Fire - show he was on the improve in two very legit preps. His Beyers read 64-33-79-94-98 in succession. That's plenty in this race. Morning line 8-1 would be sweet for Nehro. I think the TV analysts will trash the field, pump up this one and his value may suffer. But you have to include him.

20. Watch Me Go. Oh, c'mon!

Maybe he found the track a little hinky in the Illinois Derby at Hawthorne, wouldn't be the first time. But he finished 17 lengths behind a horse who isn't even here. He'd have to run the race of his life from a Tampa Bay Derby win two back, where he registered only an 89 Beyer. Other than that, he's basically a 77-Beyer horse. Got two bucks you don't need? Fine, but get no less than 65-1.

I won't begin to predict who will win this race. I'll just be taking a couple of crazy guesses and then covering some big longshots.

Here's your T and V coverage:

* Saturday: ESPN(?) coverage of Kentucky Derby undercard, Churchill Downs, 10:00 a.m. - 3 p.m., Versus.

* Access at the Kentucky Derby/Kentucky Derby Red Carpet Special, 3 p.m. - 4 p.m., NBC. I think this is where Rico puts down The Big Derby Bet.

* Kentucky Derby (gr. I), Churchill Downs, 4 -6 p.m., NBC.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:01 AM | Permalink

Rahm Biggest Campaign Fund Cheater; Used Loopholes To Keep Donations Secret

Links and boldface by the Beachwood political desk.

A newly created loophole in state regulations allowed more than 500 large campaign contributors to escape public disclosure before the recent municipal elections, according to a research report issued Thursday by the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform (ICPR).

Because of the loophole, nearly $500,000 in contributions to 190 candidate and party committees was hidden from public view until after the February and April elections according to the report, Piece by Piece, Check by Check.

"Before the General Assembly weakened this portion of the disclosure law last year, candidates would have been required to tell the public about all of those contributors and many others before voters went to polling places," said Cynthia Canary, Director of ICPR. "The General Assembly should close this loophole and stop candidates and contributors from making a mockery of the state's campaign finance disclosure system."

"The problem simply is the absence of aggregation in counting contributions," Canary said. "By requiring early disclosure of large contributions in the days leading up to an election, the law recognizes it is important for voters to know the big money donors to candidates. But the loophole requires early reporting only of single donations of $1,000 or more, and hides smaller amounts that - aggregated - hit or exceed that $1,000 level."

In the most egregious examples, donors gave multiple checks on the same day that were individually below the $1,000 threshold but would have been disclosed if the money came in a single check. At least one candidate has acknowledged advising his contributors on ways to avoid immediate disclosure.

In previous municipal elections, committees were required to disclose the identities of donors who had given $500 or more in contributions in the 30-day period prior to an election. The $500 amount included the aggregation of smaller amounts from the same contributor. Once the $500 level was reached through one or multiple contributions, the recipient had two business days to disclose the contribution to the public in reports to the Illinois State Board of Elections.

The loophole was created by regulators interpreting revisions in the 2009 legislation that included contribution limits, which took effect Jan. 1, 2011.

From the report:

* Twenty-one candidate and party committees reported getting two or more donations on the same day from the same donor that were each under the disclosure threshold but would have been subject to disclosure if the money came in a single check. These include Gov. Pat Quinn, Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon, the Senate Democratic Victory Fund, House Republican Leader Tom Cross, and the campaign fund of Chicago Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel.

* Chicago for Rahm, the campaign fund of Rahm Emanuel, shielded the most donations with the loophole. He avoided disclosure of $26,000 until after the February 22 election, including $15,375 received from eight donors each of whom gave multiple checks on the same day.

Leonard Berlin, a doctor at Rush Hospital, wrote two $500 checks on January 31. Jason Vincent, COO of "New Hope," also wrote two $500 checks that day, and nearly three weeks later, Vincent wrote another $500 check. Lynn Cutler, a policy advisor at the law firm Holland & Knight, wrote two checks, one for $500 check and one for $750, on February 7. Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Commissioner Debra Shore wrote two $500 checks, also on February 7. Duane DesParte, an executive at Exelon Corp., wrote two $500 checks on February 17, as did Ken Norgan of Norco Ltd.

The following day, Rahm received two $500 checks form Park One, Inc, which operates parking lots in the Loop. On Valentine's Day came donations from real estate developer Robert A. Kohl in the form two checks, one for $610 and one for $765. Four days later, on February 18, Kohl gave another $500.

None of this money was disclosed until 5:04 pm on Friday, April 15, long after Emanuel was elected Mayor on February 22.

* Speaker of the House and 13th Ward Committeeman Michael J. Madigan gave substantial help to Ald. Michael R. Zalewski, who represents the neighboring 23rd Ward on the Chicago City Council.

After the election, Friends of Mike Zalewski reported receiving five donations from Madigan's political committee on February 9 totaling $2,745.93.

Because all of the individual donations were below $1,000, Zalewski did not have to report receiving any support from Madigan prior to the election.

Madigan's financial support for Zalewski was not made public until the day of the February 22 election.

On February 22, Madigan gave Zalewski $5,000 in a single check, which was disclosed to the public on that same day.

Zalewski's son, named Michael J. Zalewski, serves along with Madigan in the Illinois House of Representatives.

* Chicago Ald. Leslie Hairston's campaign fund reported four checks from Safeway Construction Co., a builder with several city contracts, totaling $1,750. These include two checks on January 21 - one for $500 and one for $250, and separate $500 checks on February 23 and March 4. None of these donations were disclosed until after the April 5 run-off election.

* James Cappleman, running to succeed 46th Ward Ald. Helen Schiller, received $1,400 in donations from Ellen Feinberg over the course of the campaign. Feinberg lives in the ward and works for the CME Group (Chicago Merchantile Exchange).

Feinberg's money came in a check for $250 on January 26, another for $150 on February 17, followed by two $500 checks, on March 4 and March 20.

None of this money was disclosed until after the April 5 run-off, which Cappleman won.

* Gov. Pat Quinn reported six donations from three different donors, all of them lawyers or law firms, on January 31. Each donor wrote two checks, each for $500. Because the money came in two checks rather than one, Quinn did not need to report the receipts for another two-and-a-half months.

* Chicago Ald. Toni Foulkes reported receiving over $35,000 in donations from SEIU affiliates, suggesting her degree of union support.

Still, the total reported amount of her support increased by more than a third when she filed her Quarterly Report on April 14, after the April 5 run-off.

Foulkes' Quarterly Report showed another $12,348 in receipts, including 150 checks, each for $75, plus one more for $150, all received on February 28.

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Several candidates may have structured their contributions to their own campaign so as to avoid disclosure.

* Springfield City Council candidate Joe McMenamin, made five transfers of $900 each from his federal PAC to his state PAC on January 5, 11, 14, and 18, and again on February 1.

(McMenamin lost a race Congress in 2010 and was able to transfer funds from his federal PAC to his aldermanic campaign. Later, from his own pocket he gave his campaign $900 on March 19, another $900 on March 20, $700 on March 21, and $960 on March 22. All told, he delivered $7,960 to his campaign without disclosing the funds to the public until after the election.

The State Journal-Register has reported that McMenamin deliberately structured giving to his campaign so as to avoid disclosure, and that he counseled some donors to his campaign to do the same.

And, indeed, he also received $200 from Margot Kramer on January 2, followed by another check for $300 on January 12 and a $500 check on February 21. He also reported two $500 checks from Kay Mackenzie, one on January 20 and another two weeks later. Melvin Wing gave $500 checks on January 8, 14, and 28, and again on February 1 and 9.

McMenamin's total receipts for the first quarter were $21,395. Nearly three-fourths of that came from donors who gave over the disclosure threshold; none of it was disclosed until after Election Day.

* Chicago aldermanic candidate Tommy Abina gave his political committee $700 in personal funds each day of February, from the 1st through the 7th, and again on the 9th. (The 8th was a Tuesday). His $5,600 was not disclosed to the public until well after the election.

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Some donors may have divided donations so as to minimize or avoid disclosure.

* The Construction and General Laborer's District Council of Chicago gave two $500 checks to the Kane County Democratic Central Committee on February 23, and two $500 checks to the campaign fund of Republican Cook County Commissioner Peter Silvestri on March 5.

None of the contributions were disclosed until the Quarterly Reports came out.

* Devine Mulvey, a consulting firm that works on campaigns and elections, made donations to three candidates that appear to have been structured so as to hide all or part of the transaction.

On February 16, it gave Citizens for Keith Farnham $7,489, which was disclosed to the public, and an additional $154.69, which was not.

Two days later, on February 18, they gave State Rep. Emily Klunk McAsey's campaign $3,623, which was disclosed, and also another $153, which was not.

On February 28, they gave State Rep. Dan Burke $900, and the following day, they gave another $191.40.

Neither of the donations to Burke was disclosed for another six weeks.

* The United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 881 (UFCW) gave $31,593 among four Chicago aldermanic candidates, only $20,090 of which was disclosed before the April run-off election.

The union gave $2.500 to 49th Ward Ald. Joe Moore on January 21, which was disclosed, but on March 5, they gave another $1,751, which was not disclosed as it came in seven different checks.

They gave $1,494 to Ald. Toni Foulkes on February 14, which was disclosed, and then another $3,600 on the day of the February election, which was not disclosed as it came in 12 different donations.

The day after the February election, UFCW gave Foulkes' another $3,920, which was reported.

On March 11, their $980 check went undisclosed until after Foulkes had won the April run-off, but the $1,176 they gave three days later, and also the $10,000 they gave on March 16, were both reported before the runoff.

Their two $500 checks to appointed Ald. Tom Cullerton, one on January 15 and one on March 23, were not reported until after the April runoff, which Cullerton won, although their endorsement of Cullerton was public.

Their $1,000 donation to the Committee to Elect Marina Faz-Huppert on January 14 was disclosed, but their seven donations totaling $1,870 on March 4 were not, nor was the $344 check on March 5, all of which came in after Faz Huppert lost the
February 22 election.

How the Loophole Was Created
The change that allowed some large donations to remain hidden was inserted by a legislative panel to regulations proposed by the State Board of Elections to implement the new campaign finance law.

The 2009 overhaul instituted contribution limits in Illinois for the first time, and also greatly expanded disclosure of campaign finances.

Prior to the new law, political committees filed disclosure reports twice each year, and had to file supplemental reports in the 30 days before an election.

Now, the new campaign finance law requires political committees to file disclosure reports every three months, and also to file supplemental reports year round when they receive large donations.

The loophole inserted into the regulations affects the supplemental reports that are now required to be filed year-round.

The loophole was placed into state regulations at the last minute by the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR), which reviews all regulations before they become effective.

The State Board of Elections proposed rules that would have required political committees to aggregate donations for the purpose of supplemental disclosure.

JCAR objected, instead reading the statute to require disclosure only of individual checks that were over the threshold.

Faced with the prospect of having no regulations in place during the 2011 municipal elections if it insisted on their initial proposed regulations, the State Board of Elections agreed to the change.

Conclusion
We recognize that JCAR made a purposeful choice to eliminate the aggregation rule. This has been an obvious and detrimental effort by the legislature to on the one hand trumpet improvements to disclosure while at the same time reducing the amount of information provided to the public in a timely manner.

The change to the aggregation rule allowed candidates to hide nearly half a million in donations in just the first three months of the year. While the money was eventually disclosed in the Quarterly Reports filed in April, the delay in reporting denied the public of the chance to see money from large contributors in virtual real-time. Most importantly, voters were denied the opportunity to evaluate these large donors before casting their ballots.

Given that the rule change was made in January and so quickly produced so many hidden donations, we can only expect this problem to accelerate going in to the 2012 legislative races.

ICPR urges the legislature to restore the aggregation rule to campaign finance disclosure.

A simple change to statute is all that is needed to clarify that disclosure of donations from sources that give multiple donations that total over the threshold should be disclosed to the public, and that neither donors nor political committees can evade disclosure by structuring their giving in increments below $1,000.

Failure to restore the aggregation rule prior to the 2012 primary election undermines the very essence of timely disclosure.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:08 AM | Permalink

May 5, 2011

The [Thursday] Papers

Posting may be light until Monday, when we hope to finally catch up with Daley's departure, Rahm's arrival, Blago's trial, the new police chief, the new schools chief, and various and sundry other things. We do have a few posts on tap for Friday. It just might be a bit touch-and-go for the next few days due to colliding circumstances overriding my brain circuits.

We do have a new Carl's Cubs Mailbag today which, among other items, reveals the best porn names in the Cubs clubhouse. A-Ram did not make the cut; nor did Fukudome.

We'll save those for the launch of Beachwood After Dark. I envision a shade being drawn on the site and twinkling stars emerging to the sultry sounds of Venus Flytrap as all our content goes blue. That's where the money is.

See you here and there.

The [Wednesday] Papers
Were the White Sox just on the losing end of the Worst No-Hitter Ever?

I watched the game on TV and when the Twins' Francisco Liriano finally put it to bed, I kind of just shrugged. Eh.

Of course, Liriano got the kind of help you sometimes need to complete a game like that: a defensive gem from third baseman Danny Valencia and a botched call by first-base umpire Paul Emmel.

The call Emmel blew wouldn't have been scored a hit but a fielder's choice. But it would have brought at least one more batter to the plate.

Emmel was fooled in part by the acting performance of Justin Morneau.

You try to sell it," Morneau said.

In other words, you cheat.

Who says sports builds character.

We see this in sports all the time, and players are rewarded for it. Pretend you caught the ball. Pretend the puck didn't cross the line. Pretend you were tripped. Anything to get ahead. Just like life.

But what if sports instead taught us to be honorable? You know, all that stuff about sportsmanship. And then we translated that to citizenship.

In that kind of world, Morneau would have told Emmel he missed the tag on Gordon Beckham. Would that have been wrong?

In my view, that would have been so right.

Bitter? Hardly. I'm a diehard Twins fan. I hate the White Sox.

But I love more the kind of world I would like to live in. I thought it was the kind of world we were supposed to strive for. And you know what? It's not that hard of a world to produce. The only thing preventing us from doing so is greed and ego.

But the world we live in does not value truth, which means it does not value facts, which means it does not value principles or, well, values. And a world like that will never value justice, fairness or inalienable right of all of us to pursue happiness.

That play in the eighth inning was a tiny speck - if even that - in the history of the universe. But it tells us a lot about ourselves.

* * *

Speaking of being rewarded for cheating, Derrick Rose was named the NBA's 2010-2011 Most Valuable Player on Tuesday.

The lesson? If you are talented enough in a way that can makes you exploitable to a lot of greedy people, and you keep your mouth shut, you don't have to live by the same rules as everyone else.

* * *

We still don't know what happened inside that cab in Buffalo.

* * *

We still don't know who hired Angelo Torres, yet Richard M. Daley departs office as a conquering hero.

We don't seem to care about Daley's no-snitch code; just the no-snitch code of people who have every right to fear for their lives - and to distrust the police.

That's the Chicago Police Department that is supposed to be our provider of law and order. But they don't like law so much when it might reveal their own lack of order.

* * *

Rahm Emanuel just hired a cheater to run Chicago Public Schools. He's a liar, too.

At least we've got the right guy if we want to show our kids how the world works.

* * *

Our very own Dan O'Shea (who was at the game last night and today writes that fantasy owners may want to trade Liriano now) points out to me that the pitcher Liriano faced yesterday threw a no-hitter last season that was arguably worse than what we saw last night.

* * *

And then there was the no-hitter that wasn't but that taught us the most; if only Daley, Blago, Rahm, Rose and Kane had shown an ounce of the class shown by Armando Galarraga and Jim Joyce.

It's not perfection I'm after; it's honesty, and all its attendant values.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Conveniently located.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:55 AM | Permalink

Carl's Cubs Mailbag: Porn and Day Baseball

Which Cubs player has the name best suited for porn?
-Ron, Los Angeles

Reed Johnson is the leader in the clubhouse, but Kerry Wood and Thomas Diamond are close seconds.

Is Ryan Dempster tipping his pitches?
-Neil, Elgin IL

Less like tipping and more like skywriting.

Going into Wednesday, the White Sox had the worst record in baseball. Should I care?
-Lynette, Chicago

No. You shouldn't care that as of May 4th the Sox are already 11.5 games back in the division. You shouldn't care that their offense has totally underperformed, that their bullpen is arguably the least reliable in the league and that their defense kicks the ball all over the place. You shouldn't care that they were no-hit by a guy with an ERA of more than 9.00. You shouldn't care that a guy named Humber is one of the few bright spots on the South Side.

You shouldn't care at all.

Heh-heh.

Can any manager reach Alfonso Soriano?
-Mike, Chicago

Sure.

What's wrong with Starlin Castro?
- Michael, Chicago

He's tipping his swings.

Is Buddy Bailey the next Mike Quade?
-B.B., Daytona FL

And at half the price.

Is day baseball really to blame for the Cubs' historic woes?
-Ron, Heaven

Yes. Night baseball, too.

I was watching the game this afternoon and saw Ted Lilly pitching for the team with the "B" on their hat. I dunno, maybe they're the Los Angeles Barrios or Burritos or something? Who did we get for Lilly anyway? He was our best pitcher for like a million years, am I right? So my wife walks in during the game and is all like "Why can't you get a job?" So I tell her . . . [Editors Note: This question was edited for length and profanity]
-Randy, Ottawa IL

The "B" on the hat is for Brooklyn, New York; the state where the "Draft Dodgers" and many of their lefty, liberal, communist friends are originally from. The nickname made its way west along with the franchise.

The Cubs traded Ted Lilly, Ryan Theriot and $2.5 million in cash for Blake DeWitt, two unheard of pitching prospects and [Dodgers part-owner] Frank McCourt's assistant Joey, who is ex-wife and former Dodgers CEO Jamie McCourt's nephew.

Ted Lilly was not the Cubs' best pitcher for one million years; he was the Cubs' best pitcher for 3.5 years.

Lastly, since your wife is also at home during a Wednesday afternoon Cubs/Dodgers game, she has no right to criticize your lack of employment.

Doink Doink.

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Send your questions to Carl!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:28 AM | Permalink

May 4, 2011

The [Wednesday] Papers

Were the White Sox just on the losing end of the Worst No-Hitter Ever?

I watched the game on TV and when the Twins' Francisco Liriano finally put it to bed, I kind of just shrugged. Eh.

Of course, Liriano got the kind of help you sometimes need to complete a game like that: a defensive gem from third baseman Danny Valencia and a botched call by first-base umpire Paul Emmel.

The call Emmel blew wouldn't have been scored a hit but a fielder's choice. But it would have brought at least one more batter to the plate.

Emmel was fooled in part by the acting performance of Justin Morneau.

You try to sell it," Morneau said.

In other words, you cheat.

Who says sports builds character.

We see this in sports all the time, and players are rewarded for it. Pretend you caught the ball. Pretend the puck didn't cross the line. Pretend you were tripped. Anything to get ahead. Just like life.

But what if sports instead taught us to be honorable? You know, all that stuff about sportsmanship. And then we translated that to citizenship.

In that kind of world, Morneau would have told Emmel he missed the tag on Gordon Beckham. Would that have been wrong?

In my view, that would have been so right.

Bitter? Hardly. I'm a diehard Twins fan. I hate the White Sox.

But I love more the kind of world I would like to live in. I thought it was the kind of world we were supposed to strive for. And you know what? It's not that hard of a world to produce. The only thing preventing us from doing so is greed and ego.

But the world we live in does not value truth, which means it does not value facts, which means it does not value principles or, well, values. And a world like that will never value justice, fairness or inalienable right of all of us to pursue happiness.

That play in the eighth inning was a tiny speck - if even that - in the history of the universe. But it tells us a lot about ourselves.

* * *

Speaking of being rewarded for cheating, Derrick Rose was named the NBA's 2010-2011 Most Valuable Player on Tuesday.

The lesson? If you are talented enough in a way that can makes you exploitable to a lot of greedy people, and you keep your mouth shut, you don't have to live by the same rules as everyone else.

* * *

We still don't know what happened inside that cab in Buffalo.

* * *

We still don't know who hired Angelo Torres, yet Richard M. Daley departs office as a conquering hero.

We don't seem to care about Daley's no-snitch code; just the no-snitch code of people who have every right to fear for their lives - and to distrust the police.

That's the Chicago Police Department that is supposed to be our provider of law and order. But they don't like law so much when it might reveal their own lack of order.

* * *

Rahm Emanuel just hired a cheater to run Chicago Public Schools. He's a liar, too.

At least we've got the right guy if we want to show our kids how the world works.

* * *

Our very own Dan O'Shea (who was at the game last night and today writes that fantasy owners may want to trade Liriano now) points out to me that the pitcher Liriano faced yesterday threw a no-hitter last season that was arguably worse than what we saw last night.

* * *

And then there was the no-hitter that wasn't but that taught us the most; if only Daley, Blago, Rahm, Rose and Kane had shown an ounce of the class shown by Armando Galarraga and Jim Joyce.

It's not perfection I'm after; it's honesty, and all its attendant values.

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: Conveniently located.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:52 AM | Permalink

Music for the People

The People's Music School in Chicago is trying to fill the gap in music education left by budget cuts to public school music programs. The tough part? Getting in.

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See also:

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:13 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: Trade Liriano? No-No Means Maybe

I sat down to start writing this column just hours before attending Tuesday night's White Sox game against the Twins. Here's my original first paragraph:

The first week of May has me looking back at the cruelest month and in particular at those players whose fantasy baseball numbers were most disappointing. Among hitters, the most awful start may be a toss-up between Hanley Ramirez and Carlos Gonzalez. Among pitchers, no two had worse starts to the season, given their pre-season rankings, than Ubaldo Jimenez and Francisco Liriano. Still, out of these four, the only one I would consider parting with is Liriano.

Liriano, of course, no-hit the already lifeless Sox Tuesday night, and while this does not nullify giving up 24 earned runs in his first 23 innings to start the season, and is not nearly as impressive as it would have been to no-hit, say, the Texas Rangers, re-evaluating my position on Liriano is an absolute must.

Liriano has never quite made good on the 12-3 record he posted in a half season of duty back in 2006. He did win 14 games last season, but followed up a bad spring with a worse April, and there had been reports during spring training that the Twins could trade him.

After the no-no, his trade value may increase in the real world, so it will be interesting to see if the Twins pull the trigger, particularly if they end up spending the first half of the season fighting the Sox for cellar rights.

Fantasy-wise, it might be a good time to sell high, too, though I wouldn't expect to get anyone near Liriano's pre-season ranking of 83 in Yahoo!

But, if you hold on to him, consider this: The Sox are bad . . . really bad.

So, what about those other stiffs?

Hanley Ramirez, SS, Florida: A prolonged slump to open the year is actually not out of the ordinary for him, though hitting under .200 to open May might qualify as his worst start ever. Hold onto him and beware of other owners trying to buy low.

Carlos Gonzalez, OF, Colorado: I thought most signs pointed to a near-repeat performance of his near-MVP season last year. It hasn't happened yet, but I still think it will. An opportunity to buy low from an owner who doesn't feel the same.

Ubaldo Jimenez, SP, Colorado: This one is tricky. He was injured last month, and I think it will be a few weeks before we see what he can do. He hasn't won yet, and has given up 16 earned runs in 20 innings, but he also has 20 strikeouts and I like his chances to win often later in the season with strong run support.

Expert Wire
* Yahoo! Roto Arcade doesn't mince words about Liriano: Sell now.

* Bleacher Report has an appreciation for under-appreciated Matt Joyce, OF, Tampa.

* The New York Times's baseball blog is interested in buying low . . . really low. Like Carlos Pena, for example.

* ESPN's Eric Karabell notes that things are suddenly becoming treacherous at the hot corner. Is Ron Cey still available? Aw, Penguin, I miss ya.

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Dan O'Shea's Fantasy Fix appears in this space every Wednesday. He welcomes your comments. You can also read his about his split sports fan personality at his Beachwood blog SwingsBothWays.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:19 AM | Permalink

May 3, 2011

The [Tuesday] Papers

"A few momentary blasts, flashes of orange light, and the Mississippi River began pouring through a wide hole in a Missouri levee, intentionally blown open by the Army Corps of Engineers in the hope of saving a small Illinois town," AP reports.

"The Army Corps exploded the Birds Point levee after nightfall Monday, sacrificing 130,000 acres of rich farmland and about 100 homes in Missouri to spare the Illinois town of 2,800 residents that is at the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers."

*

"Missouri officials opposed the . . . breach, saying it could inundate 130,000 acres of farmland and crush the region's economy and environment by possibly covering the land under feet of sand and silt and rendering it useless," the Kansas City Star reports. "But their efforts to block a blast failed to sway a federal judge, an appeals court and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, who without elaborating Sunday rejected the state's latest and . . . final bid to stop the Corps from sacrificing the levee.

"The ruling by Alito, who handles emergency requests from Missouri and various other Midwest states, came the same day all but 20 to 30 families in 2,800-resident Cairo were ordered out of the city."

*

"By Monday evening, the National Weather Service in Paducah, Ky., reported the Ohio River at Cairo crested at 61.44 feet, almost 2-feet higher than the record 1937 flood," Illinois Statehouse News reports. "Flood stage is 40 feet."

Rich Miller, who has been the go-to aggregation source for southern Illinois flooding woes, has more.

*

The Tribune has a photo gallery of deserted Cairo.

*

"I think with God's help we will get through this crisis," said Gov. Pat Quinn.

Well, He got us into it, didn't He?

*

God could not be reached for comment.

Osama's Virgins
Heaven or Hell?

*

Navy Seal Team Six.

*

Stella Foster, National Treasure:

OSAMA BIN LADEN IS DEAD screamed the headlines. I screamed: "Well, it is about good and damn time." I got so frustrated trying to understand why it has taken 10 years to find this cat. Also, he had more videos out than Mary J. Blige . . . yet the U.S. couldn't find him. Finally, finally, finally . . . the guy who always said he did it and was not living in a cave all these years but in a mansion . . . has been done in and now the more than 3,000 victims of 9/ll can truly rest in peace. And he is resting with SpongeBob SquarePants at the bottom of the sea.

Court Snort
"[Blago defense lawyer Aaron] Goldstein said many of those expected to testify against the former governor stepped forward to complain about Blagojevich only after prosecutors pressed them, sometimes granting immunity and sometimes agreeing to plea deals," the Tribune reports.

"'These stories don't get concocted 'til the government comes a-knockin',' Goldstein alleged."

*

I knew Johnnie Cochran. Well, I interviewed him once. And you, Mr. Goldstein, are no Johnnie Cochran.

*

Here's one: If the fucking golden thing fits, you must convict.

Alternate Rahm
We Are Not Going To Charter School Our Way Out Of This.

DIY Punk & Open Access Scholarship
The Fireside Bowl Journal.

Sox Store
"The Chicago White Sox have tapped Delaware North Cos. Sportservice to develop and construct a two-level, 13,000-square-foot flagship team store in U.S. Cellular Field," Business First reports.

"The store is believed to be the largest of its kind among sports arenas and will sell not only White Sox merchandise but items from other Chicago area professional and collegiate teams."

*

Perhaps the new Sox store will sell the wonderful portraits our very own Dmitry Samarov is producing for his Outside Sox Park column. Today: Wide-eyed, jug-eared Brent Lillibridge.

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: Juggy.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:16 AM | Permalink

A D.I.Y. Punk Scene and Open Access Scholarship

The connection between the Chicago punk scene in the 1990s and open-access publishing.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:21 AM | Permalink

We Are Not Going To Charter School Our Way Out Of This

The man who should be mayor emphasizes neighborhood schools while Rahm focuses on charters. In other words, the candidate for the elite got elected while the candidate for everyone got pummeled. Nice job, Chicago.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:01 AM | Permalink

Outside Sox Park: Lifeless, Clueless

I haven't made it through many Sox games over the last couple weeks. I put on the iPod or just look out the window to let the anger fade. These guys give the impression that they've lost before they even start. The worst part is that all this ineptitude was completely unexpected (at least by this dumb fan.)

Before the 2010 season started, few gave that squad much chance of contending. They limped along for the first few months, then put together a hell of a hot streak before fading back to second place. It was a shame that they couldn't hang on and the late (and unnecessary) addition of an over-the-hill Manny Ramirez left a sour taste, but overall they exceeded expectations. Coming into this season, I don't know any Sox fan who didn't count on a lot more than what we've gotten so far.

All we can do is celebrate the bench players. Phil Humber has been fantastic. He one-hit the Yanks for seven innings in one of the very few games that the team showed anything resembling a pulse, then threw well enough to win against the Orioles only to see Matt Thornton come in and seal the loss.

Brent Lillibridge saved a sure defeat with a couple circus catches. He's also hit a couple home runs. That odd wide-eyed, jug-eared mug of his makes me smile. I don't know that the guy will ever be an everyday player but he sure has the desire, which is more than can be said of some of the more handsomely-compensated members of the Sox. One thing I took away from the split of the four-game set with the even more absurdly overpaid Yankees is that you really can't buy a winner. The team with the highest payroll in the league is depending on castoffs in the twilight of their careers to get by. If the Sox weren't on life-support themselves they would've swept that series without breaking a sweat.

The opinions of the cab-riding public isn't kind to the Sox either. A DePaul girl, hearing the Sox game on my radio, asked, "So how do you feel about your team being in last place?"

You can imagine my answer, but when she added, "The Cell sucks to drink at, that's why I'll always be a Cubs fan," I felt better about my team (even if that team never wins another game.)

An ancient pair leaving a gala at the Swissotel stated their dissatisfaction with many aspects of their evening: the food had been inedible, the organizers of the event should've been shot, and the Sox needed to fire their idiot manager.

When I countered that Ozzie couldn't hit, pitch, or catch for his charges, the old lady insisted, "He doesn't know what he's doing. But that's just my opinion."

I don't know how much longer this farce will continue, but something's gotta change. After Sunday's 6-4 loss to the Orioles, Ozzie said something about them at least being in the game, making it interesting in the late innings. At this point, I'd probably settle for competitive losses. May has to be kinder to them than April was.

lillibridge.jpgBrent Lillibridge by Dmitry Samarov (Enlarge)

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Dmitry Samarov brings you Outside Sox Park every Tuesday. You can also find his work at Hack and at dmitrysamarov.com. He welcomes your comments.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:13 AM | Permalink

May 2, 2011

The [Monday] Papers

"[This is] not a day for dancing in the streets" but for "reflection," suburban congressman Peter Roskam told WLS-AM this morning.

I have to agree. The scenes of folks chanting "USA! USA!" and cadets at West Point singing the national anthem make me uncomfortable.

On the other hand, a little humor can't hurt.

Osama Bin Laden- Family Guy
Tags: Osama Bin Laden- Family Guy

-

Osama's Obit
"He was born to privilege, one of more than 50 offspring of Saudi Arabia's wealthiest construction magnate," John-Thor Dahlburg and Alex Rodriguez write for Tribune. "He spent his youth in air-conditioned mansions filled with crystal chandeliers, gold statues and Italian tapestries.

"Yet when death came to Osama bin Laden, it was not far from the Afghan border, the laboratory of global terrorism that had protected him from America's pursuit for the nearly 10 years since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that he was accused of helping plot.

"And it was Afghanistan - the remote and starkly beautiful Central Asian land - that played a decisive role in his 54 years of life. There, the well-born Arab evolved into a religious fanatic and learned the theology and practice of jihad.

"There, the exiled Saudi became the architect and paymaster of a far-flung, sophisticated and devastatingly effective terrorist organization - al-Qaeda."

Liveblogging Bin Laden
"A computer programmer, startled by a helicopter clattering above his quiet Pakistani town in the early hours of the morning Monday, did what any social-media addict would do: he began sending messages to the social networking site Twitter," AP reports.

"With his tweets, 33-year-old Sohaib Athar, who moved to the sleepy town of Abbottabad to escape the big city, became in his own words 'the guy who liveblogged the Osama raid without knowing it.'"

Jobs Sobs
"As few as 25 percent of 16- to 19-year-olds are likely to be employed this summer, part of a decades-long trend of declines in teen summer employment, according to a report to be released today at the Chicago Urban League," the Sun-Times reports. "By comparison, 45 percent of teens had summer employment in 2000, a study by Northeastern University's Center for Labor Market Studies found."

We are a stupid nation.

Bugging Blago
"It was the fall of 2008 when an Illinois State Police technician was inside of Rod Blagojevich's North Side campaign office under orders from Blagojevich's camp to search for bugs," the Sun-Times reports.

"The tech left the office telling Blagojevich's people that no listening devices were found.

"But the bugs were, in fact, in place, the FBI was listening, and the State Police employee even knew where they were. He pretended not to detect them.

"That's because the Illinois State Police, the agency charged with protecting Blagojevich and his family, was at the same time secretly working with the FBI, providing them with inside information during a critical period of the probe against the former governor."

Pool Party
"After the government asked Zagel to dismiss an unemployed man who said he spends his days watching reruns of The Beverly Hillbillies and who struggled to express himself during his interview, defense attorney Sheldon Sorosky bristled," AP reports.

"In the end, Zagel dismissed the man on the grounds that he 'seems to be entirely detached from reality.'"

So, a peer as a juror.

Governor Gumby
"Since his inauguration for a full term Jan. 10, Gov. Pat Quinn has spent 12 days in Springfield, according to a review of his publicly released schedule," GateHouse News reports.

Wow, that's only 12 days more than me.

Roeper Doeper
"If you ask someone how she first heard about bin Laden's death, she'll likely say it was via a text message from a friend - or she found out via Twitter or Facebook. This, we're told, is further evidence 'old media' is dead and social media rules the day," Richard Roeper writes.

Really? Is this what we're told?

"But when someone Tweeted or Facebooked the news about U.S. forces killing bin Laden, was that person actually breaking the news - or simply using social media to repeat the story they'd heard from someone else, who'd heard it from mainstream media."

Um, duh. Do you think anyone really believes "Facebook" breaks news like this?

In fact, I found out about bin Laden's death via Facebook. Then I e-mailed a friend. Then I turned on the TV. Finally, I logged onto the Internet and read the news online.

I think everyone understands that Facebook is largely - though not wholly - a distribution method for news. Just like most newspapers. After all, the Sun-Times didn't break the news either. So what's the difference?

PR Fills Vacuum
Propaganda Nation.

Media Toasts Royalty
History is such a drag.

Finally Below Average
Now we can get real about the Cubs.

The Ex-Sox Factor
Not pretty.

Bulls and Bears
Ascendant.

I Am A Security Guard
And he is a coke dealer.

The Weekend in Chicago Rock
You shoulda been there.

Programming Note
I'll be back behind the bar at the venerable Beachwood Inn tonight, and The Chicago Code will be back too.

While Teresa and Jarek set the stage for their case against Alderman Gibbons, their effort to clean up Chicago takes an unexpected turn when a deadlocked jury acquits a corrupt city official. Suspicious, the two mount an investigation, only to discover that jury tampering is just the tip of the iceberg.

We'll also have the Bulls against the Hawks and, of course, the world's greatest jukebox. Stop in and exchange witty banter with Beachwood contributors and bar regulars. 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Tamper-proof.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:28 AM | Permalink

Media Toasts Royalty

There is nothing Americans love more than British royalty. It's what our country was founded on. Or against. It was so long ago, who remembers.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:03 AM | Permalink

PR Industry Fills Vacuum Left By Shrinking Newsrooms

This story has been co-published with the Columbia Journalism Review.

The Gulf oil spill was 2010's biggest story, so when David Barstow walked into a Houston hotel for last December's hearings on the disaster, he wasn't surprised to see that the conference room was packed.

Calling the hearing to order, Coast Guard Captain Hung Nguyen cautioned the throng, "We will continue to allow full media coverage as long as it does not interfere with the rights of the parties to a fair hearing and does not unduly distract from the solemnity, decorum, and dignity of the proceedings."

It's a stock warning that every judge gives before an important trial, intended to protect witnesses from a hounding press. But Nguyen might have been worrying too much.

Because as Barstow realized as he glanced across the crowd, most of the people busily scribbling notes in the room were not there to ask questions. They were there to answer them.

"You would go into these hearings and there would be more PR people representing these big players than there were reporters, sometimes by a factor of two or three," Barstow said. "There were platoons of PR people."

An investigative reporter for The New York Times, Barstow has written several big stories about the shoving match between the media and public relations in what eventually becomes the national dialogue.

As the crowd at the hearing clearly showed, the game has been changing.

"The muscles of journalism are weakening and the muscles of public relations are bulking up - as if they were on steroids," he says.

In their recent book, The Death and Life of American Journalism, Robert McChesney and John Nichols tracked the number of people working in journalism since 1980 and compared it to the numbers for public relations.

Using data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, they found that the number of journalists has fallen drastically while public relations people have multiplied at an even faster rate.

In 1980, there were about .45 PR workers per 100,000 population compared with .36 journalists. In 2008, there were .90 PR people per 100,000 compared to .25 journalists.

That's a ratio of more than three-to-one, better equipped, better financed.

How much better?

The researcher who worked with McChesney and Nichols, R. Jamil Jonna, used census data to track revenues at public relations agencies between 1997 and 2007. He found that revenues went from $3.5 billion to $8.75 billion.

Over the same period, paid employees at the agencies went from 38,735 to 50,499, a healthy 30 percent growth in jobs.

And those figures include only independent public relations agencies - they don't include PR people who work for big companies, lobbying outfits, advertising agencies, non-profits, or government.

Traditional journalism, of course, has been headed in the opposite direction.

The Newspaper Association of America reported that newspaper advertising revenue dropped from an all-time high of $49 billion in 2000 to $22 billion in 2009.

That's right - more than half. A lot of that loss is due to the recession. But even the most upbeat news executive has to admit that many of those dollars are not coming back soon.

Six major newspaper companies have sought bankruptcy protection in recent years. Less money means fewer reporters and editors. The American Society of News Editors found the number of newspaper reporters and editors hit a high of 56,900 in 1990. By 2011, the numbers had dropped to 41,600.

Much of that loss has occurred since 2007. Network news did not fare any better - the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism estimates that employment there is less than half of what it was in the peak period of the 1980s.

"I don't know anyone who can look at that calculus and see a very good outcome," said McChesney, a communications professor at the University of Illinois.

The dangers are clear. As PR becomes ascendant, private and government interests become more able to generate, filter, distort, and dominate the public debate, and to do so without the public knowing it.

"What we are seeing now is the demise of journalism at the same time we have an increasing level of public relations and propaganda," McChesney said. "We are entering a zone that has never been seen before in this country."

The First Modern PR Man

Modern public relations was born from a train wreck.

Michael Schudson, a journalism professor at Columbia University, CJR contributor, and author of Discovering the News, said modern public relations started when Ivy Lee, a minister's son and a former reporter at the New York World, tipped reporters to an accident on the Pennsylvania Railroad. Before then, railroads had done everything they could to cover up accidents. But Lee figured that crashes, which tend to leave visible wreckage, were hard to hide. So it was better to get out in front of the inevitable story. The press release was born.

Schudson said the rise of the "publicity agent" created deep concern among the nation's leaders, who distrusted a middleman inserting itself and shaping messages between government and the public.

Congress was so concerned that it attached amendments to bills in 1908 and 1913 that said no money could be appropriated for preparing newspaper articles or hiring publicity agents. But World War I pushed those concerns to the side. The government needed to rally the public behind a deeply unpopular war. Suddenly, publicity agents did not seem so bad.

Woodrow Wilson picked a former newspaperman, George Creel, to head his new Committee on Public Information in 1917. The group cranked out thousands of press releases in support of the war and started a speakers bureau that eventually grew to 75,000 people, all giving morale-boosting talks across the country.

"After the war, PR becomes a very big deal," Schudson said. "It was partly stimulated by the war and the idea of journalists and others being employed by the government as propagandists."

Many who worked for the massive wartime propaganda apparatus found an easy transition into civilian life. Samuel Insull, president of Chicago Edison and an early radio magnate, launched a campaign on behalf of electric utilities, which, according to Schudson, was the most far-reaching public relations effort of the era. It prompted an investigation by the Federal Trade Commission and a new raft of angry reports about the increasing power of PR.

People "became more conscious that they were not getting direct access, that it was being screened for them by somebody else," Schudson said.

But there was no turning back. PR had become a fixture of public life. Concern about the invisible filter of public relations became a steady drumbeat in the press. From the classic 1971 CBS documentary, The Selling of the Pentagon, warning that the military was using public relations tricks to sell a bigger defense budget, to reports that PR wizards had ginned up testimony about horrors in Kuwait before the first Gulf War, the theme was that spin doctors were pulling the strings.

Gary McCormick, former chairman of the Public Relations Society of America, said that was unfair. McCormick acknowledged that there have been PR abuses, but he said most public relations people try to steer clear of falsehood. And he makes a pretty logical argument: lying does not work, because you are almost always going to get caught. And when you do, it makes it worse for your client.

"If I burn you, I am out of business," said McCormick, whose organization has a membership of 21,000.

He concedes that can be a tough message to relay to a client facing bad press.

"The problem is when you get caught up with a client, and the business drives you to tell a message differently than you would advise," McCormick said.

McCormick is right: lies are not ubiquitous, and they are not the heart of the matter. The problem is that there is a large gray zone between the truth and a lie.

Eric Alterman, a professor at Brooklyn College and a columnist at The Nation, said skillful PR people can exploit this zone to great effect.

"They are able to provide data that for journalistic purposes is entirely credible," he said. "The information is true enough. It is slanted. It is propagandistic. But it is not false."

PR Up - Journalism Down

So what has changed? Isn't this article yet another in a long line of complaints, starting with Silas Bent's counting of stories generated by publicity agents in one day's issue of The New York Times in 1926 (174) or Peter Odegard's 1930 lament that "reporters today are little more than intellectual mendicants who go from one publicity agent or press bureau to another seeking 'handouts'"?

It is, in a way. But the context has changed. Journalism, the counterweight to corporate and government PR, is shrinking.

"We are coming out of a period when news organizations were extraordinarily prosperous and able to insulate themselves from a lot of pressures," said Paul Starr, a sociology professor at Princeton University and author of The Creation of the Media. "The balance of power has shifted."

When public relations began its ascent in the early 20th century, journalism was rising alongside it. The period saw the ferocious work of the muckrakers, the development of the great newspaper chains, and the dawn of radio and, later, television. Journalism of the day was not perfect; sometimes it was not even good. But it was an era of expansion that eventually led to the powerful press of the mid to late century.

Now, during a second rise of public relations, we are in an era of massive contraction in traditional journalism. Bureaus have closed, thousands of reporters have been laid off, once-great newspapers like the Rocky Mountain News have died.

The Pew Center took a look at the impact of these changes last year in a study of the Baltimore news market. The report, How News Happens, found that while new online outlets had increased the demand for news, the number of original stories spread out among those outlets had declined.

In one example, Pew found that area newspapers wrote one-third the number of stories about state budget cuts as they did the last time the state made similar cuts in 1991.

In 2009, Pew said, The Baltimore Sun produced 32 percent fewer stories than it did in 1999.

Moreover, even original reporting often bore the fingerprints of government and private public relations. Mark Jurkowitz, associate director the Pew Center, said the Baltimore report concentrated on six major story lines: state budget cuts, shootings of police officers, the University of Maryland's efforts to develop a vaccine, the auction of the Senator Theater, the installation of listening devices on public buses, and developments in juvenile justice. It found that 63 percent of the news about those subjects was generated by the government, 23 percent came from interest groups or public relations, and 14 percent started with reporters.

An example: When the University of Maryland announced on July 22, 2009, that it would test the new swine flu vaccine, the university press release read this way: "The research is a first step toward the U.S. government's stated goal of developing a safe and effective vaccine."

The Daily Record newspaper in Maryland, Pew said, was first out with the story: "Research on the vaccine is the first step toward the U.S. government's aggressive goal of developing a vaccine for the virus."

Tom Linthicum, executive editor of The Daily Record, said that first story reflected the reality of the Internet age.

"It's kind of like working for the wire services in the old days," he said. "You write the short lede to get it up there first. You come back the next day and flesh it out."

Linthicum said the vaccine story, while important, was not really in The Daily Record's typical coverage area - the paper is more business-oriented.

"We came back and fleshed it out some; frankly, we did not flesh it out a lot," he said. "I think we did with it about what we could given our other priorities."

This is not terrible. It is a decision that editors make every day. But, as Pew points out, it does hand a lot of control over the narrative to the institution that is peddling the story.

Of the 19 stories Pew reviewed that covered the development of the vaccine, three contained significant new information, another three had new details, and the rest either repeated the same basic facts as the press release or were identical stories appearing on a different platform.

"One of the key findings of the study was that as the press scales back, dissemination of other people's work becomes a more important part of the news system," Jurkowitz said. "There is also a greater emphasis on time, on speed, on getting the first bit of information up quickly. Often that first bit of information is coming from government agencies or public relations."

Of course, in the modern world, news does not stay in one place for long. Stories may begin on a newspaper blog or a TV website, but they soon ripple across the Internet like a splash in a pond. Tom Rosenstiel, Pew's director, said that ripple effect makes the original story that hits the web - and the source of information it is based on - even more important.

"The nature of digital technology is that it is distributive," he said. "A story would be grabbed and distributed and when the original story is later updated, other versions out there might not be. It all depends on when someone grabs it."

Some experts have argued that in the digital age, new forms of reporting will eventually fill the void left by traditional newsrooms. But few would argue that such a point has arrived, or is close to arriving.

"There is the overwhelming sense that the void that is created by the collapse of traditional journalism is not being filled by new media, but by public relations," said John Nichols, a Nation correspondent and McChesney's co-author.

Nichols said reporters usually make some calls and check facts. But the ability of government or private public relations to generate stories grows as reporters have less time to seek out stories on their own. That gives outside groups more power to set the agenda.

PR Goes Direct

Leonard Downie Jr., who was executive editor of The Washington Post for 17 years, does not believe that reporters working for reputable organizations are going to let PR people dictate their stories, no matter how busy they get.

"Observing our own newsroom" at the Post, "I don't see a difference in the way people are working," said Downie, who is now a professor at Arizona State University and vice president at large of the Post. "In addition to talking to PR people, both in government and in business, our reporters want to talk to principals all the time. I don't see a change in that relationship."

What Downie does see is a change in the relationship between PR and the public itself.

The Internet makes it easy for public relations people to reach out directly to the audience and bypass the press, via websites and blogs, social media and videos on YouTube, and targeted e-mail.

"Let's take a hypothetical situation in which there had been no reduction in the media; at the same time, there still would be growth in the ability of public relations people to directly reach the public," Downie said. "They are filling a space that has been created digitally."

Some quick examples: In the academic world, the website Futurity regularly offers polished stories from research universities across the country like "Gems Clear Drug Resistance Hurdle" (Northwestern University) and "Algae Spew Mucus to Alter Sea Ice" (University of Washington); on the business front, Toyota used satellite press conferences and video feeds on its website to respond to allegations about sudden acceleration in its cars last year, and published transcripts on its website of a long interview with reporters at the Los Angeles Times; and in the realm of political advocacy, Media Matters for America led a battle across the Internet for the past several months with the anti-abortion group Live Action over a videotaped sting that Live Action did on Planned Parenthood.

In a vacuum, none of this is bad. Schools need to publicize their research, corporations defend their products, and political groups stake their positions.

But without the filter provided by journalists, it is hard to divide facts from slant.

It's also getting tougher to know when a storyline originates with a self-interested party producing its own story.

In 2005 and 2006, the New York Times and the advocacy group PR Watch did separate reports detailing how television news was airing video news releases prepared by corporate or government PR offices, working them into stories as part of their newscasts.

PR Watch listed 77 stations which aired the reports, some of them broadcast nearly verbatim.

Stacey Woelfel, the past-chairman of the Radio Television Digital News Association, said when his group looked into the issue after it was raised by the reports, it was troubled by how widespread the use of the releases had become.

"Some stations were running video news releases all the time, sometimes packages from corporate interests," he said.

There is evidence that it has not stopped. James Rainey, the Los Angeles Times media columnist, recently won Penn State's Bart Richards Award for Media Criticism for columns last year that showed how local television stations were running paid content in their news programs.

"There's a good chance that your small screen expert has taken cash to sell, sell, sell," Rainey wrote in a Sept. 15 column.

In 2008, the New York Times again returned to the issue of hidden public relations agendas with a series of stories in which Barstow showed how the Pentagon was using retired military officers to deliver the military's message on the war in Iraq and its counterterrorism efforts. Barstow described how the officers were presented on the news programs as independent consultants offering unvarnished opinions.

After being stonewalled by the Pentagon for two years, the Times eventually sued to obtain records about the Defense Department's use of retired military officers. Barstow found evidence that the officers' appearances on television were not happenstance, but a carefully coordinated effort of what the Pentagon called "message force multipliers."

Barstow was struck by the sophistication of the operation.

"In a world saturated with spin, viewers tend to tune out official spokespeople and journalists," he said. "Where they are influenced is when they see people who are perceived to be experts in the subject matter but independent of the government and the media."

Front Groups Obscure Special Interests

Hiding the PR agenda is not a new tactic, but one that seems to be rising to new levels.

One form it takes is front groups, supporting this cause or that, this candidate or that, this product or that, without revealing their ties to the cause, candidate, or product.

Jane Mayer focused national attention on such groups in an encyclopedic article about the Koch brothers last summer in The New Yorker. The article described how the Kochs had funded groups to promote their conservative political philosophy and oppose "so many Obama Administration policies - from heath-care reform to the economic-stimulus program - that, in political circles, their ideological network is known as the Kochtopus."

Mayer said one of the most difficult tasks in reporting the story was finding the connections between the groups and their funders. Many people and organizations besides the Kochs fund advocacy groups, and from both ends of the political spectrum. Mayer said it takes so much effort to find out what group is connected with what organization that it is difficult for reporters to keep up.

"You never know what you don't know - it is getting harder and harder to find out who is behind those front groups," she said.

That is no accident, according to Wendell Potter, a former vice president for corporate communications at CIGNA, the insurance company.

Potter, who has since become a vocal critic of corporate public relations, particularly related to the health-care debate, said PR's influence has become deliberately more opaque as viewers become more attuned to its influence. During the debate over the Clinton health-care plan in 1993 and 1994, Potter said, the health-insurance industry's trade group openly opposed the measure. In a series of ads featuring Harry and Louise, the fictional married couple, the industry warned that the Clinton plan would mire health care in tangled bureaucracy. The industry's role in the ad, he said, "was very visible, very vocal."

The industry's opposition to the bill reflected the public's concern at the time about government interference in health care, Potter said. But by 2007, public opinion had changed and polls showed that a majority of Americans felt that some degree of government involvement was needed.

Thus, Potter said, the industry no longer wanted to be closely linked to lobbying on the issue. So instead of directly running ads, it farmed a lot of the work out, obscuring its role.

"You really want someone that seems to be an ordinary person. That gives you credibility and the perception that the public is on your side," he said.

The health-insurance industry's trade group, America's Health Insurance Plans or AHIP, declined to speak for this story. But executives with the public relations firm APCO Worldwide, which has worked for the health-care industry, said that when their agency sets up a group to fight for an issue, they don't try to hide their association.

B. Jay Cooper, APCO's managing director, said in the recent health-care fight APCO managed such a group, but every reporter who covered the issue knew who APCO represented. That doesn't mean the link was always reported to the public.

Indeed, it is often difficult for reporters to find the connection. It took Drew Armstrong, a health-care reporter for Bloomberg, months to nail stories showing how the health-insurance industry had funded efforts by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to fight against changing the health system.

Armstrong dug into tax records to show what had previously been hidden - that AHIP contributed a whopping $86.2 million to the Chamber to fight against the Obama health-care plan.

"I was shocked by the amount," Armstrong said. "It was 40 percent of the Chamber's budget."

The problem for Armstrong was that neither organization's filings proved a link. There was no definite proof that it was the same money. The IRS forms filed by the groups are pretty scanty - they require organizations to list donations but not the donor - and Armstrong had to work with sources to confirm the connection.

It took a while for Armstrong to establish the link, but he did so in a Nov. 17, 2010, story.

Neither group would confirm that it was the same money - the Chamber still won't - but no one called for a correction.

"Giving money to the Chamber lets you have it both ways," Armstrong said. "You can sit with the Democrats, lobby for your position, and have your phone calls returned. At the same time, you have someone like the Chamber out there, running ads, doing the public relations campaign."

After his first story, Armstrong looked into how the Chamber used the money. He found that it set up a sophisticated operation to oppose the law, particularly in swing states. The Chamber paid for ads that ran in 21 states beginning in August of 2009. The ads warned that the government-proposed plan would lead to tax increases, swell the deficit, and expand "government control over your health."

Bill Vickery, who Bloomberg said was paid by the Chamber to help run the opposition in Arkansas, told Armstrong that he organized about 50 events targeting incumbent Sen. Blanche Lincoln, a Democrat who was a key supporter of the health-care law. Lincoln lost by 21 percent in last November's midterm elections.

"I talked to a lot of consultants, pollsters," Armstrong said. "They said this was one of the most sophisticated operations, akin to a presidential campaign, that they had ever worked on."

Steve Patterson, the Lincoln campaign manager, said most of the ad money for the health-care fight actually hit the state the year before the midterm election while the battle over the Democratic plan was in full cry.

"Most of it was educational in nature," he said. "Call Sen. Lincoln and tell her to vote no."

But Patterson knew early on that the heath-care fight was likely to be the defining issue of the Senate race, and many of the ads were already targeting Lincoln's position in favor of change to the health-care system. So he asked the campaign's ad buyer to track the spending. They found $6 million in issue advertising was spent during the period - a very large amount in a small media market state.

From October to early December, Lincoln's buyer found that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce spent $2 million in advertising. Americans for Stable Healthcare - a coalition of liberal groups, the pharmaceutical industry, and unions in favor of the plan - spent $1.2 million. And the 60 Plus Association, a conservative senior citizen group opposed to the plan, spent $650,000.

"I think it was the critical issue that turned voters against Sen. Lincoln," he said. "Her numbers started turning when this process began."

Tom Collamore, who ran Fred Thompson's presidential campaign before becoming senior vice president of communications and strategy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, likened a modern issue campaign to a presidential race. "There are all the elements," he said. "You test the message and then you push the message out through all the outlets. If you are really serious about something you have to make a big investment. It involves research and focus groups and proper messaging that will lead to highlighting things that resonate."

In the heath-care battle, the Chamber created a web hub, healthreformimpacts.com, to continue the fight. It set up coalition groups like Employers for a Healthy Economy. Collamore said much of the effort also involved old-fashioned PR work as well. "We did a lot of online pushing of the message through stories, columns," he said. "A lot of interaction with the press, a lot of interviews."

Although the fight over health care was larger than most campaigns, Collamore said it was not fundamentally different than several other public relations efforts the Chamber is working on.

One of the largest is the Chamber's $100 million "Campaign for Free Enterprise," an effort to fight government involvement in business matters. Besides the traditional effort of advertising, press releases, and position papers, the Chamber has set up groups like Students in Free Enterprise and the Extreme Entrepreneurship Tour to target college campuses.

It's also making an online push. The Chamber kicked off part of the campaign with $100,000 in prize money for a video contest on its Facebook page. The campaign received 100,000 views, recorded 10,000 votes, and collected 4,000 email addresses to add to the Chamber's database. Right now, it has 146,000 fans - not Lady Gaga level (more than 30 million at press time) but not bad for a business group.

"The news cycle never ends. There is a lot of space, there is a lot of competition for people's attention," Collamore said. "It's not just press releases anymore."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:01 AM | Permalink

The Weekend in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Steve Somogyi & Friends at the Elbo Room on Sunday night.

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2. Symphony X at Bottom Lounge on Sunday night.

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3. All Time Low at the Congress on Friday night.

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4. Mogwai at the Metro on Friday night.

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5. Deftones at the Riv on Saturday night.

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6. Mother Superior at House of Blues on Saturday night.

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7. The Enders at The Mutiny on Saturday night.

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8. Dierks Bentley at the UIC Pavilion on Saturday night.

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9. Josh Thompson at the UIC Pavilion on Saturday night.

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10. Strand of Oaks at Lincoln Hall on Friday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:16 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: And The Winner Is . . .

I try to avoid previews.

When I read (or view) sports coverage, I'm looking for analysis, i.e., an assessment of what has already happened. I'm fond of plenty of other stuff as well, such as profiles of compelling sports figures or stories about unusual sporting occurrences.

But a great deal of standard sports media divvies up into review or preview. And I would much rather spend time on the former than on conjecture regarding future events.

Of course, decent pre-game stories contain information about what has happened before, especially in previous games featuring two teams that are facing off on a given day. But in the end, a prediction is required and that's when it all goes off track.

After all, if the predictions were any good with a high rate of consistency, it would do huge damage to spectator sport. Why bother watching if you know what's going to happen?

And then there's the whole sports betting business and how it would crash if prognosticators really did their job well. For a long time, I've marveled at the job requirements of horse-racing handicappers in particular. The bottom line is if they get too good, they take down the industry. Bettors would just take their picks and bankrupt tracks with their bets.

But these handicappers can't get them all wrong or it's just a farce. So their job is to strive for some sort of magical middle ground, where they get enough right to have at least a little credibility, but not so many as to do damage. It has to be a very strange existence.

At least there is some accountability. It is easy to keep track of horse-racing predictions and most charts predicting thoroughbred results feature some sort of tally of at least recent success rates. People who consistently botch previews of other sporting events, i.e., get predictions wrong more often than any sort of acceptable standard for that sort of thing, usually face no sanction.

So, most of the stuff I write is analysis.

But there is only one game in town at this point (and probably for the next few months anyway, given the way the baseball season has begun and the status of pro football in general). And the next chapter of the pro basketball postseason starts tonight when the Bulls host the Atlanta Hawks to start their best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal series.

I'm sorry to disappoint but I'm still not going to "break it all down" like the hypemeisters on whatever overstuffed TV preview show.

Instead I'll just point out that there is no way the Bulls lose this one (I know that is an amazingly outrageous prediction - thank you, thank you very much - I'm here every week, almost). That is especially the case with Hawk guard and former Bull stalwart Kirk Hinrich almost certain to miss the series with a bad hammy. And that's the end of my Beachwood Bulls preview.

Bears Bull
There was also no way the Bears could give up that fourth-round pick for nothing late last week. Some people called for the team to do so after it botched the reporting of a trade with the Baltimore Ravens but this is pro sports we're talking about here, people, and pro sports is about winning.

Of course teams have to strive for victories while following the rules, but the rules made it very clear that the Bears' trade with the Ravens - in which the Ravens would have received a fourth-round pick in exchange for allowing the Bears to move up in the first round - was not official until both teams phoned it in. The Bears never phoned it in.

A sports organization has no chance to succeed consistently unless it prioritizes, and the first priority is improving the team on the field, plain and simple. Just giving away a fourth-round pick because it was perceived as the honorable thing to do would have been a mistake, plain and simple.

There was also some concern that Bear general manager Jerry Angelo will have a hard time making deals in the future because teams believe he did something underhanded here. Except the evidence is compelling that the Bears not reporting the trade was a simple mistake.

Potential trades with the Bears will still come down to whether people believe the assets the Bears are offering are of equal or greater value than the assets the other team would be giving up. Honor's got nuttin' to do with it.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:54 AM | Permalink

Finally Below Average

At least this week the Cubs are no longer .500.

Cub fans can finally be angry that the team has lost more than it has won. And that is important.

With few expectations coming into the season with this team, you would have to feel pretty good if they kept playing .500 baseball.

So they aren't even average now, and you can really begin to dissect what the issues with this team are and complain about them.

And it comes at a good time because I was beginning to like this plucky team just a bit too much. They were pulling me in.

The hope that Fukudome would play like he plays in April all season. The desire to have a real second baseman finally in Barney. The need to have Soriano worth the contract for just one year. The expectation that when you pay a first baseman 10 mil a year so he can hit his weight and not have the bunt be his best option.

Okay, sure a bunch of these wants, needs and desires are actually possible (except for the first baseman part) but even if they play out the same way it has been going, this team is already under .500 with a whole bunch of things going right. They just aren't that good.

And little good comes from over-liking an average team.

So thanks, Cubs, for giving us a taste of who you really are and not letting us think you are something else. It's good to be entertaining and likeable but it's better to be good.

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The Week in Review: The Cubs went 2-4 for the week, losing two to the Rockies - Mother Nature did the Cubs a favor and rained out the final game - and split a four-game set with the D-backs. It was a great time for a rainout against the Rockies; it's just too bad it was nice enough to play the first two games.

The Week in Preview: The Cubs try not to get beat up as they head to Dodger Stadium for three and then come home to welcome good ol' Dusty Baker and the Reds for a three-game weekend series. Come to think of it, maybe a few of them could use a good knock in the head. Yep, looking at you, Dempster.

The Second Basemen Report: Darwin Barney started five of the six games this week and continues to be the go-to second sacker. It may stay this way as Jeff Baker has emerged as your best first base option. Which is surprising because there were 10 million reasons the Cubs thought Carlos Pena was supposed to be much better than Jeff Baker. You know, just like Jim Hendry drew it up.

In former second basemen news, Blake DeWitt is still on the Cubs roster. He has 19 at-bats for the season yet was supposed to be the starter, so he is missed.

The Zam Bomb: Big Z had a good outing this week and should be back to Apologetic. But we know that he is still secretly Getting Angry. We are banking Furious before we get out of May. A Starlin Castro four-error game is around the corner with Big Z on the mound, don't be fooled.

zam_gettingAngry.jpg

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Marlon Byrd Supplemental Report: Vic Conte is now giving Byrd weekly injections of "somewhat regrettable acquisition."

Lost in Translation: Insaneo but coretiomundeo is Japanese for The Cubs really miss a healthy Jeff Baker in the lineup.

Endorsement No-Brainer: Carlos Pena for nothing. Because if you want nothing, no one is better.

Sweet and Sour Quade: 92% sweet, 8% sour. Down four points this week due to just being angry that his team is just not better and getting thrown out of a ballgame when you knew you were wrong. Just like your smart, well-adjusted uncle who calls a family roundtable right away to clear the air so disputes between cousins don't fester.

Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Shares of the company that makes Lame Excuses are expected to trade higher this week - to coincide with Dusty Baker getting back in town.

Over/Under: The number of Cubs regular position players who will finish May batting over .290 (there are currently 5): +/- 2.5.

OVER/UNDER FOLLOWUP: The number of Cubs regular position regulars who will finish May batting under .167 (there is currently one): +/- 2.5

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that entertaining and likeable do not win ball games.

The Cub Factor: Unlike Soriano, you can catch 'em all!

The White Sox Report: Know the enemy.

Get Your Gangler On: Follow Marty on Twitter.

Note For Readers Used To Seeing The Mount Lou Alert System Here: When manager Mike Quade shows any signs of, well, really anything abnormal, we will be all over it with some kind of graph or pictorial depiction of whatever it is, but until this guy shows something besides just being a normal, thoughtful, intelligent guy, we got next to nothing on him. We are hoping he shows something and kinda hoping he doesn't also, know what I mean? BUT HE IS GETTING CLOSER . . .

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Contact The Cub Factor!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:28 AM | Permalink

The Ex-Sox Factor

What's the guy doing out there in the first place?!?

That should have been - and probably was - the question that the Yankees were asking after Brent Lillibridge made not one - but two - spectacular, game-saving, once-in-a-lifetime catches to close out the Sox 3-2 win at The Stadium last Tuesday night.

If Lillibridge wasn't the 25th man on the roster leaving spring training, then he was 24th, a baby step ahead of Lastings Milledge, who was gone a week into the season.

Lillibridge, who looks to be about 14 years old - he could have passed for 12 when he initially joined the Sox, but that's what a goatee can do for ya - spent most of the last two seasons in the minors. The advantage of being able to play multiple positions no doubt landed him a job in The Show, enabling him to be in the Big Apple last week.

So it was fortuitous that he was even in New York. Now consider that prior to this season, Lillibridge only played right field in one big league game ever. Then in the top of the ninth, Carlos Quentin again gets hit by a pitch, and Ozzie inserts Lillibridge to run for a guy who has more bruises than rotten apples.

If Quentin had merely popped out, would Ozzie still have inserted Lillibridge in right field?

It's a question no one has asked the skipper.

However, let's be clear that no one - not Quentin, not Ichiro, not Clemente (not that I equate Carlos with those two) - would have caught those shots off A-Rod's and Cano's bats. It's simply fate, the same way no one but DeWayne Wise could have saved Mark Buehrle's perfect game in 2009.

Ironically, it also was Quentin who was yanked in the ninth inning that July day as Wise was inserted in centerfield. Scott Podsednik moved over into Quentin's spot in left.

DiMaggio couldn't have caught Gabe Kapler's shot to left center because that's the way fate operates. And it's also why the game - dare I say life - is so compelling and interesting. You never know what's around the corner.

But if you thought that Lillibridge's heroics and notoriety - there was a nice little feature about him in the New York Times on Thursday - were the signal for the Sox to kick it into high gear, pudgy (I'm being kind) Bartolo Colon dashed our hopes the next night, and the Sox haven't won since.

Remember in 2009 when Colon was a member of the Sox and doing okay as part of the rotation? Then he said he hurt his knee and went into a Houdini act. He disappeared. Every time Ozzie was asked when Colon was coming back, he'd reply, "How should I know? I don't even know where he is."

Presumably the big fella was back in the Dominican, chowing down on some home cooking, pitching locally, and plotting a return to the Bigs. He stopped the Sox dead in their tracks on Wednesday. Sure, so have a lot of other pitchers this season, but Colon didn't even pitch in organized ball last year.

You'd never know it. Who does this guy think he is? Luis Tiant? He consistently hit the mid-90's on the gun, walked one, struck out six, and allowed a lone run in eight innings. As Harry Caray used to say about Tiant's comeback in the early 70's, "You coulda had this guy for a ham sandwich!"

As of this writing, Freddy Garcia - the same Freddy who won 12 games for the Sox last season - and Colon have pitched 44 innings for the Bombers with a combined ERA of 2.45. How about both of them for a ham and cheese?

While the White Sox struggle for respectability, a couple of former Sox also had bad weeks in this regard.

Vance Law, who played three seasons at third base on the South Side (and two on the North) - including the 1983 division-winning team - has been the head baseball coach at Brigham Young University since 2000. Seems that following the Cougars 1-0 win over New Mexico on April 23rd, the teams engaged in a very un-Mormon-like brawl. Four of Law's players were suspended, and he was given a "public reprimand," whatever that is.

Law is the son of Vernon Law, a truly great pitcher for 16 season with the Pirates in the 50's and 60's who posted 162 career victories. He also holds the Major League record for the most children with names beginning with the letter V. Vern - and his wife Vanita, of course - are the parents not only of Vance but also of Veldon, Veryl, Vaughan, Varlin, and Valynda.

A guy who helped the World Series champs in '05 was Carl Everett. He clubbed 23 homers and drove in 83 runs six years ago primarily as the DH. Having played for eight different teams in his 14-year career, Carl occasionally was labeled with Milton Bradley-type tendencies, but the guy sure could hit.

Apparently not just baseballs. Carl and his wife of 18 years got into it last week, and before the "argument" ended, he had held a silver-plated (hey, the guy made more than $40 million in MLB) gun to her head, broken two phones as she tried to call 911, and was charged with tampering with a witness (I guess!) among other transgressions.

Not the finest of weeks in Soxdom.

More Minoso Merry-Making: Sunday marked the 60th anniversary of Minnie's White Sox debut, and there he was throwing out the first pitch at The Cell for the second time in 12 home dates. And he threw another strike, making him two-for-two, which is a lot better than most Sox pitchers.

Minnie got lots of play on the Jumbotron and then mingled with fans in center field alongside his statue.

Minnie2.jpg

It's fortunate that the bronze has a Number 9 on its back because the resemblance to the real man is negligible. But then, Minnie was/is one of a kind. There's no way to duplicate him as badly as the White Sox could use someone like Minnie.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:31 AM | Permalink

I Am A Security Guard: Replacing Raquel

One night, Raquel walked up to me for a chat. She told me a male customer had been making her uncomfortable during her shifts. She said he repeatedly complimented her face and curvy figure.

The news enraged me. Raquel, a cashier, does her job well and follows the Golden Rule. Due to mutual respect, she and I have become friends.

After Raquel described the jerk, I recalled watching him during previous shifts. He has an average height and build, with some flecks of gray at the temples. A cocaine dealer by trade, he flashes a big wad of cash and talks loudly on a cell phone as though he were a big shot. He chats up the Cool Assistant Manager to earn suck up points. He often buys flowers for emaciated women. The staff ponders whether the women are hookups or clients.

Once, he mentioned he saw me walking in my neighborhood and added he could provide a lift to work. I firmly said he had the wrong person.

At any rate, he was more interested in Raquel. She needed my help. I described her plight to an assistant manager and a police officer. Both told me I could talk to the dealer when he visited company property.

For a couple of weeks after Raquel complained, I awaited his return. But he stayed away from the store. Instead, he continued his pursuit away from the premises. One morning, Raquel finished her shift and walked toward her apartment. He stopped his car and offered to buy her breakfast. She refused. He drove away.

Raquel got scared, thinking that he might get more aggressive. She started packing Mace and a small knife. Her boyfriend searched for him around the neighborhood.

One night, the dealer finally showed up. I pulled him aside to address Raquel's claims about his conduct inside the store.

He snorted something about not trying to cause offense and walked into the aisles. He bought his goods and left without uttering a syllable. He has not bothered Raquel anywhere since that night.

The quiet end of the drama relieved me. But the dealer got the last laugh a month later.

He walked through the door about 4 a.m. with a young girl. The petite brunette wore a denim jacket and tight blue jeans.

Raquel retreated into the break room.

Both the Cool Cashier and I looked at the youngster's smooth face and wide eyes and reached the same conclusion. She did not appear hip enough to be on the street with him, especially at that hour. She was also most likely a minor.

I figured the drug dealer intended to send a message to Raquel. He did not need to bother her anymore. He had found a younger replacement.

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A very pseudononymous Jerome Haller earns rent money as a security guard for a large, publicly-held retail chain. He welcomes your comments.

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See more tales of security guarding, pizzeria waitressing, barista-ing and office drudgering in our Life at Work collection.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:35 AM | Permalink

MUSIC - Christgau Loves Chicago Neonatologist.
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BOOKS - Writers Under Surveillance.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Original Warrior.


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