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« July 2015 | Main | September 2015 »

August 31, 2015

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Penthouse Sweets at the Chop Shop on Saturday night.


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2. Exegesis at the Red Line Tap on Saturday night.

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3. Vulfpeck at Beat Kitchen on Saturday night.

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4. Manwolves at Mayne Stage on Saturday night.

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5. Lady Lamb at Thalia Hall on Sunday night.

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6. Atlas Aria at the House of Blues on Sunday night.

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7. Naked Raygun at Wrigley Field on Saturday.

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8. Cheap Trick at Wrigley Field on Saturday night.

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9. Urge Overkill at Wrigley Field on Saturday.

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10. Santana at Ravinia on Saturday night.

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11. Foo Fighters at Wrigley Field on Saturday night.

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12. The 1910 Fruitgum Company at the Arcada in St. Charles on Friday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:51 PM | Permalink

The 'Beautiful Game' Turns Ugly: New Mob Museum Display Explores Corruption Of FIFA

LAS VEGAS - The Mob Museum, the National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement, will unveil The 'Beautiful Game' Turns Ugly on Tuesday.

The display provides an incisive and eye-opening look into the rampant corruption that plagues the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the organization that runs international soccer. Through photographs, media clippings and cover stories and expository narrative, the Museum's new FIFA exhibit gives a breakdown of the kickbacks, secrecy and match-fixing associated with the scandal.

"This exhibit is ripped right from today's headlines about the globe's most popular sport," says Jonathan Ullman, executive director of The Mob Museum. "To our growing number of visitors from places like the United Kingdom, Mexico, Brazil and Italy, the FIFA scandal provides an especially resonant example of the different shapes organized crime can take."

While allegations of corruption have been made about FIFA for more than a decade, its activities were finally confirmed by U.S. FIFA representative Chuck Blazer in 2013. Blazer admitted to taking bribes to ensure South Africa would host the 2010 World Cup and agreed to wear a wire to record FIFA conversations. As a result of his cooperation, a May 2015 indictment by new U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch charged 14 top-ranking soccer officials and sports marketing executives with taking more than $150 million in bribes and kickbacks over 25 years.

The indictment was made based on the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act - known as the RICO statute - the federal law that has been used to prosecute organized crime in the United States. In 2014, U.K. journalist Andrew Jennings compared the practices of FIFA's leadership to the Mob in his book, Omerta: Sepp Blatter's FIFA Organised Crime Family.

The 'Beautiful Game' Turns Ugly will be on permanent display at The Mob Museum. For more information, call (702) 229-2734.

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See also: U.S. 'Mob Museum' Dedicates Exhibition to FIFA Scandal.

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ABOUT THE MOB MUSEUM
The Mob Museum is a world-class destination in downtown Las Vegas dedicated to the thrilling story of organized crime and law enforcement. It presents an exciting and authentic view of the Mob's impact on Las Vegas history and its unique imprint on the world.

True stories of Mob history are brought to life in a bold and contemporary style via engaging exhibits, high-tech theater presentations and more than 885 artifacts, the largest collection of Mob and related law enforcement memorabilia under one roof.

Since opening in 2012, The Mob Museum has accumulated numerous accolades, including being named one of the "Best Places to Travel in 2015" by Travel + Leisure magazine, "A Must for Travelers" by The New York Times, one of "20 Places Every American Should See" by Fox News and Budget Travel magazine, "Las Vegas' Best New Attractions for 2012" by Travel + Leisure magazine, "9 Reasons to Visit Las Vegas" by CNNgo, a finalist for the "Best Wider World Project Award," by the British Guild of Travel Writers and "Best Museum" by Nevada magazine.

Admission is $21.95 for adults ages 18 and over with special pricing for online purchase, children, seniors, military, law enforcement, Nevada residents, and teachers.

Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, September through June; in July and August, hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Sunday through Thursday, and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

Connect on Facebook, on Twitter and subscribe to the Museum's Mobcast here.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:12 PM | Permalink

The [Monday] Papers

"Rod Blagojevich was really hoping a federal appeals court last week would put a hold on his resentencing, but the court said forget that," the Sun-Times editorial page says.

"So before Judge James B. Zagel hands down a new sentence, which could come any day, allow us to say it short and sweet one last time: Give Governor Goof a fairer shake."

Uh-oh. Here we go. Rod Blagojevich was just a "goof" who deserves a "fairer shake." OK.

"Fourteen years in prison is a long time for a man who has always been more foolish than venal, more delusional than dangerous."

Really?

The guy was governor for (almost) two terms before he was impeached. The damage he did to the state goes far beyond that of a delusional, foolish man. Venal is exactly the word to describe him. To wit:

The questioning of onetime Deputy Gov. Robert Greenlee moves to Children's Memorial Hospital. Blagojevich is accused of shaking down the hospital's CEO for a campaign contribution in exchange for authorizing state funding. When he didn't get his campaign contribution, he allegedly held up the funding.

Greenlee explained that in the fall of 2008, he met with the CEO of Children's Memorial Hospital and others to discuss state funding to help pay for a possible rate increase.

"As a result of that . . . it would allow the hospital to provide more services to sick kids," Greenlee said. "One of our stated goals as an administration was to get health care to all children."

Rod Blagojevich then called Greenlee about the possible rate increase.

"I recall that he called me out of the blue and asked if I had talked about Children's Memorial Hospital about rate increases. I told him it would cost $8 million to $10 million."

Greenlee said it represented a tiny slice of the budget.

"When he said we should look into doing it, I understood: 'Get it moving."

Later, Blagojevich calls Greenlee again, on Nov. 12, 2008.

Blagojevich: "Pediatric doctors, the reimbursement. Has that gone out yet, or is that still on hold?"

Blagojevich also asked if the governor's office had total discretion over it.

Blagojevich: "So we can pull it back if we need to, budgetary concerns, right?"

Greenlee: "We sure could."

Blagojevich: "Ok, that's good to know."

Greenlee testified he took the conversation to mean he shouldn't set aside money for the hospital, so he made a call and held it up.

Greenlee said it was an unusual request.

"In the context of health care initiatives I never heard him use budget as a reason not to more forward," Greenlee said.

Prosecutor Reid Schar noted it remained that way as of Dec. 9, 2008 - the day the governor was arrested.

And then:

A different witness is up, but government prosecutors are staying on the same theme: Children's Memorial Hospital.

The hospital's CEO, Patrick Magoon, is now testifying about a pediatric rate increase he sought in the fall of 2008. Prosecutors contend Magoon was shaken down for a campaign contribution after he asked for state help at his institution.

In testimony, Magoon said he reached out to then-Gov. Blagojevich via letter seeking the rate increase and heard nothing back. Blagojevich was in control of the rate increase, which went to doctors who treated Medicaid patients at Children's.

He then asked former Cubs manager Dusty Baker to talk to Blagojevich, a Cubs fan. That got a response and eventually, Magoon got a call from Blagojevich himself in October of 2008.

Blagojevich told him he'd get the rate increase but he asked him not to make the decision public until after Jan. 1 of the following year.

"Only five days had lapsed," according to Magoon, and he got a second call.

This time it was from Blagojevich's brother, Rob, who also happened to be the head of the Friends of Blagojevich campaign fund.

He asked Magoon to kick in $25,000 to his brother's campaign fund. And he asked that it be done before . . . Jan. 1st.

"From my perspective, the two were linked and one, in my point of view, was in exchange for another," Magoon told Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Niewoehner.

Magoon said he told Rob Blagojevich to call him on another line, it was inappropriate conversation at work. But he didn't flag to Rob that he wouldn't contribute.

"That would be tantamount to telling him that his brother were doing something inappropriate or illegal," Magoon said. If he spoke up, Magoon said he feared the rate increase "would not have been approved.

By the way, isn't that the sainted Robert Blagojevich participating in the conspiracy?

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Back to the Sun-Times editorial:

"Former Gov. George Ryan got 6 1/2 years for much more outrageous bribery crimes - he was seriously on the take - and nobody doubts Ryan knew perfectly well he was breaking the law. There are days when we wonder if Blagojevich knows anything."

Maybe Ryan got off easy. But I don't see his crimes as any more outrageous than Blagojevich's; in fact, Blagojevich should have known better coming into office as Ryan was on his way to prison!

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"When the appellate court last month threw out five of the 18 criminal counts on which the former governor had been convicted, along with the original sentence, the court made clear it would be perfectly OK from a legal standpoint for Zagel to re-impose the full 14-year stretch. But a sentence closer to Ryan's 6 1/2 years strikes us as more proportionate to the crime."

Based on what - feel?

This is also what the court made clear:

The evidence, much of it from Blagojevich's own mouth, is overwhelming . . . The district judge concluded that the Sentencing Guidelines recommend a range of 360 months to life imprisonment for Blagojevich's offenses, and the actual sentence is 168 months. Instead of expressing relief, Blagojevich maintains that the sentence is too high because the range was too high . . .

Any error in the Guidelines calculation went in Blagojevich's favor. After calculating the 360 to life range, the judge concluded that it is too high and began making reductions, producing a range of 151 to 188 months. For example, the judge gave Blagojevich a two-level reduction for accepting responsibility, see U.S.S.G. 3E1.1, and took off two more for good measure, even though he pleaded not guilty, denied culpability at two lengthy trials, and even now contends that the evidence is insufficient on every count and that he should have been acquitted across the board. That's the antithesis of accepting responsibility.

The judge reduced the range further by deciding not to count all of the $1.5 million as loss, even though he had decided earlier that it is the right figure.

Blagojevich has already gotten quite a generous deal. He also still shows no signs of remorse. And the evidence quite clearly shows that he knew exactly what he was doing. Why is the Sun-Times doing his bidding? Given that paper's history, it's fair to wonder if the hand of Michael Ferro is behind this.

(By the way if you click through on that link, you'll see it's easy to miss on his Wikipedia page that Ferro owns the Sun-Times.)

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Back to the edit:

"Blagojevich is guilty, no doubt. Governors aren't supposed to squeeze people for campaign money or a big job, at least not directly, in return for appointing somebody to a senate seat, as this governor tried to do. And let us not forget how he tried to blackmail a hospital and a racetrack owner into making big campaign donations, in addition to other cheesy offenses."

Cheesy is a word, like goof, that is intended to diminish the seriousness of these schemes. I for one, though, don't see how you can describe shaking down a children's hospital as "cheesy."

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"But if Zagel reimposes the full 14 years, Blagojevich will sit in a prison for a little over 12 years - assuming the usual time off - almost double the time Ryan served."

The federal guidelines for Ryan called for an eight-to-10-year sentence. He got a break, too. But according to the guidelines, Blagojevich's crimes were much worse.

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"Former Gov. Otto Kerner, convicted in a racetrack stock scandal, served just over seven months, partly because then-prosecutor and later Gov. James R. Thompson thought the conviction itself was a severe punishment."

Kerner's case is a particularly bad comparison; he was convicted in a single case of corruption, not putting Illinois up "for sale to family and friends" (George Ryan) or engaging in a "political corruption crime spree" (Blagojevich).

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"Fourteen years for Rod Blagojevich is overkill, always has been."

Not as long as there are apologists like the Sun-Times around.

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See also: Blago Ruling Indicts Media.

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Exclusive! Why The Corpse Flower Didn't Bloom
Another Beachwood Special Report.

SportsMonday: Breaking Bears Assumptions
God's green gridirons!

Led Cubs
No-hitter covers over the reality of a bad West Coast trip. In The Cub Factor.

Sox Gonna Sox
In parts of six seasons with the Red Sox, Junichi Tazawa had been called upon to save 22 games. He had blown 19 of them. In The White Sox Report.

Don't Go, American Pharoah
We need to see him run again. We really do. In TrackNotes.

The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Will appear tonight or tomorrow.

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BeachBook

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Which one is the rapist?

Posted by The Beachwood Reporter on Sunday, August 30, 2015

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"There can be no doubt that President Obama has thought deeply about the problem of blowback in the war on al-Qaeda — he...

Posted by The Beachwood Reporter on Sunday, August 30, 2015

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This column about Chicago violence includes the first mention of Hurricane Katrina on The Beachwood Reporter.

Posted by The Beachwood Reporter on Sunday, August 30, 2015

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TweetWood

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The Beachwood Tip Line: We stink.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:40 AM | Permalink

Exclusive! The Real Reasons Why The Corpse Flower Didn't Bloom

"Spike," the Chicago Botanic Garden's prized "corpse flower," left some fans disappointed Sunday when it failed to bloom and emit its trademark horrendous odor.

But after 12 years of nurturing and waiting for the big moment, why didn't the flower bloom?

The issue stems from Spike's lack of energy when the time came for it to bloom.

- NBC Chicago.

We know that's the popular version of what went on there. We know a lot of people like to believe that. But we know better.

Here are the real reasons why the corpse flower didn't bloom:

* Rahm's already used up all the stink in this town.

* Rauner budget cuts.

* Confused by new CPS bell times.

* Rahm-planted charter corpse designated to bloom instead.

* Ask SUPES, they got the contract.

* Blooming ordinance still stuck in the Rules Committee.

* Blooming fee on Daley's suspended credit card.

* Rahm says blooming is a last resort until all other avenues have been explored.

* Blooming stuck in court because flower union says the stink violates workplace safety rules.

* Michael Madigan's fault, somehow.

* Donald Trump paid for it not to bloom because it wasn't born in the United States.

* Because Illinois is already dead inside.

- Marty Gangler, Steve Rhodes

Comments welcome.

1. From Geoff Dankert:

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:33 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: Breaking Bears Assumptions

So many assumptions, so little justification:

The sports commentariat assumes it is a good idea for all NFL teams to essentially take the fourth exhibition game off. Teams must avoid injuries at all costs, the thinking goes, except of course for the fact that if that were really the only concern in the preseason then no stars should play a snap. I would call it a rip-off for fans but this practice has become so widespread that anyone who is not aware of what he is getting for the price of a fourth exhibition game ticket isn't worth consumer protection.

Why on God's green gridirons is not playing the starters in the fourth pretend competitive game set in stone? What about when a team obviously needs more work, like say a certain local football franchise? Wouldn't it make far more sense for Jay Cutler and whichever Bears receivers are able to walk this week to take the field for at least a half on Thursday evening against the Browns? They could continue to work on, I don't know, maybe a half dozen plays that won't be complete disasters?

They can mix those plays in among other boilerplate calls to ensure that no one will even begin to sniff out the Bears' plans for the season-opener against Green Bay the weekend after next. Given the restrictions that coach John Fox has put on video recordings of Bears preseason practices, we know the coach is very sensitive about other teams getting a sense of the team's plans for that side of the ball. The problem at this point is that all future opponents know one critical thing about the Bears offense: it is not competent enough to present any sort of a significant schematic challenge.

Observers assume that because a defensive coordinator has employed successful taller cornerbacks in the past, that tall corners are part of his "system."

As a Bears fan, I am praying that the height of a cornerback doesn't matter to Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. What matters is whether a cornerback can cover someone! Come on people! Tim Jennings, who is not a tall cornerback, fell down the depth chart and out of the Bears' plans in the last week. I prefer to think it is because he didn't distinguish himself as considerably better than other, cheaper Bears cornerbacks and that the Bears can get a little salary cap relief by releasing the relatively highly paid veteran.

Far more important than whether a cornerback is a couple inches taller than another cornerback is whether whatever cornerback is smart enough to put himself in good position against an opposing receiver and athletic enough to go up and make a play. Two years ago, despite his horribly deficient stature, Jennings played well enough to lead the team in interceptions. Last year he didn't play as well and the picks went away.

And finally, outsiders assume that because John Fox was a defensive coordinator before he was a head coach and because the Bears do not have a superstar quarterback, his team will make the running game the first priority. The team will do so in large part to make sure its own defense isn't overwhelmed when other teams have a huge edge in time of possession.

A couple of things: first of all, if an offense isn't competent, the other team will pile up an advantage in time of possession if the Bears go three running plays and out or if they go three passing plays and out.

Second, Fox and offensive coordinator Adam Gase know this, i.e., they will deploy a scheme that gives them a chance to put together a few first downs and get the offense rolling on early possessions in every game. In order to get the offense going and to thereby get the clock rolling, they will have to call plays that play to the Bears' strength and that acknowledge what other teams are doing defensively.

So if other teams decide to do everything they can to stop the run and have nine guys in the box, the Bears will pass the ball to set up the run. That is the way football works.

We now return you to the regularly scheduled pretend competitive football preseason. Please continue to find ways to remind yourself nothing matters until the regular season opener.

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Jim "Coach" Coffman is our man on Mondays. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:06 AM | Permalink

Led Cubs

I know it's really hard to do right now, but I'm going to try and look at this week as it actually happened and not through the no-hitter colored glasses of one game. Because there was some real scuffling going on and it took a no-no to wash out the bad taste of losing four in a row and it really wasn't that much fun. The cold slap of reality came in the guise of two West Coast powers; one is the three-times-in-five-years champion and the other is the more-money-than-God monster team - and let's not even get into the jet lag . . .

In times like these I think we can all just quote some rock lyrics and move on. You know what's what Rock and Roll Joe Maddon would do. And even though his favorite song is "Kitty's Back," I'm going to go with Led Zeppelin:

These are the seasons of emotion and like the wind they rise and fall
This is the wonder of devotion - I see the torch we all must hold.
This is the mystery of the quotient, quotient - Upon us all, upon us all a little rain must fall.
It's just a little rain oh yeah

So yeah Cub Fans, into each season a little rain upon us must fall. And even though through the years it's been a lot more rain than blue skies, even this good, fun, young team is going to get into some bad weather.

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The Week In Review: The Cubs went 3-4 for the week. They lost two of three to both the Giants and the Dodgers, and won the make-up game Monday with Cleveland. And Jake Arrieta threw a no-hitter. The losses were all in a row and felt like 25 losses in a row, because you know, we are Cub fans. But in the scheme of things, these things happen. But in the scheme of the Cubs, well, it just feels like every loss is really a big deal. And this last win feels like it's all good again - in a losing week.

The Week In Preview: The boys in blue head home looking for some real home cookin'. Playing "would-be" playoff teams on the road is a real pain in the season. Welcoming the Reds and D-Backs might be just what the doctor ordered.

The Second Basemen Report: HA! Finally some action at the keystone position. Everyone's favorite Castro (sorry, Fidel) started five games at second, with Tommy La Stella getting the other two starts. Also, the Cubs signed Emilio Bonifacio to a minor-league deal, so there is a good chance Emilio will join the team this week as the roster expands, as he is kinda "Maddon-y" as he can play multiple positions and one of those is second base. Not to mention the possible addition of Javier Baez. This second base thing is not close to over.

In former Cubs second basemen news, Bonifacio last played second base for the Cubs in 2013. Emilio didn't really do much with the Cubs, or any of the other seven teams he played for, but he was NL Player of the Month for July 2011 where he batted .380 with a .466 OBP. Maybe he has one more of those months left? He was missed, but now not so much as he's back.

Mad(don) Scientist: Boy, Big Poppa Joe really likes to muss with the lineups these days. You can see some of the method to the madness as guys will be up for anything. Like, who is to say that in two years Schwarber and Bryant won't be two of this team's three everyday outfielders? And that easing them into things is probably the best bet down the line? But sometimes things just look really odd. At least he's still doing this, and that is something.

Wishing Upon A Starlin: We covered Castro getting more work this week at second base. And I guess he's responded as he is batting close to .280 for the month of August. Which is kind of okay. Would be nice if he didn't boot the ball at second though.

Kubs Kalender: On Saturday the Cubs will give away a fleece blanket. It's only supposed to be like 86 degrees, so that's not really functional, but neither is this complete roster.

Ameritrade Stock Pick of The Week: Shares of Cubs playoff tickets traded lower this week.

Over/Under: The number of games left against the Pirates and Cardinals +/- too many (for reals it's 13).

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that this isn't over.

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* Touch 'em all: The Cub Factor archives.

* Know thy enemy: The White Sox Reports.

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Marty Gangler is our man on the Cub. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:11 AM | Permalink

Sox Gonna Sox

Last Wednesday's White Sox 3-0 loss to Boston wasn't a total defeat. No, it was a near-perfect opportunity to sum up this exasperating, forgettable season.

For openers, Chris Sale was on the mound, opposed by Rick Porcello. The Red Sox starter hadn't pitched since July 29 when the White Sox pummeled him for 10 hits and five earned runs before Porcello departed after three batters in the top of the third inning. Adam Eaton led off that game at Fenway Park by hitting one into the right-field seats, and Alexei Ramirez started the third inning with another four-bagger.

After that game, Porcello was placed on the disabled list with what was termed a "right triceps strain," not a good situation since he's right-handed.

Despite Porcello's recent hiatus, apparently he has been healthy for much of the season since he's made 21 starts, but the results haven't been good. The guy was 5-11 with an ERA of 5.81 going into Wednesday's contest.

We all know about Sale, who was coming off gems against the Cubs and Mariners in which he had struck out 29 hitters in 14 innings.

The morning odds listed Sale and the Sox as big favorites at -175, meaning that a bettor would have to risk $175 to win $100. Not even Donald Trump comes close to being that kind of favorite.

Sale did his job, holding the Red Sox scoreless for seven innings.

But the White Sox, the same fellows who treated Porcello so rudely a few weeks prior, couldn't touch the veteran hurler. Porcello retired the first 11 hitters before Melky Cabrera doubled in the fourth. Adam LaRoche, of all people, doubled to lead off the fifth and advanced to third with one out before the Tylers, Flowers and Saladino, failed to bring him home.

Sound familiar? Jose Abreu and Cabrera both singled after one out in the sixth and advanced to second and third on a Porcello wild pitch after two outs. But LaRoche flew out, and the scoreless tie remained intact.

Sale, who fanned seven and walked two, was finished after 119 pitches, turning the game over to reliever Nate Jones. The surgically-repaired Jones was activated on August 7 - he basically missed all of 2014 - and he had been just about perfect in his first six appearances: unscored upon in six-plus innings while giving up just one hit.

Xander Bogaerts slapped a one-out single to center, and after Jones struck out Hanley Ramirez, rookie first baseman Travis Shaw hit one of Jones' high-90s fastballs halfway up into the right field bleachers. The Red Sox added another run in the top of the ninth off Zach Putnam without the benefit of a hit.

So on we go to the bottom of the ninth. Red Sox closer Koji Uehara fractured his right wrist back on August 9, ending his season. Therefore, Junichi Tazawa was summoned for the save. (Porcello left after seven innings having given up just five hits.) Three days earlier in Kansas City, Tazawa pitched an inning against the Royals, who put four runs and six hits on the board.

Futhermore, in parts of six seasons with the Red Sox, Tazawa had been called upon to save 22 games. He had blown 19 of them. You can look it up.

Cabrera led off the ninth with a broken-bat single over the first baseman's head, bringing Avisail Garcia to the plate. Tazawa's first two offerings were out of the strike zone. Here's where you wonder what's going on with this team. They're down three runs. The tying run is on deck (in the person of LaRoche) with no one out. The other team's closer is hurt. You have a guy at the plate - Garcia - who shows a ton of promise but who also expands his strike zone with regularity. He's ahead in the count, and you need base runners. Avi's going to take a strike. Right?

Wrong. He swung at the next three pitches, finally grounding into a fielder's choice. Then it was LaRoche's turn. If he hits one to Kankakee, the White Sox still are down a run.

LaRoche has walked 46 times this season (second on the team behind Eaton's 48) despite an anemic .212 average. Again, Tazawa goes 2-0 on LaRoche. The tying run, Alexei Ramirez, waits on deck. Surely, LaRoche will take a pitch as he tries to bring the tying run to the plate.

Guess again. LaRoche swung at the 2-0 pitch and flied to center before Ramirez grounded to short to end the game.

The loss gave the Red Sox the series after the teams split 5-4 decisions on Monday and Tuesday. The White Sox mounted a ninth-inning two-run rally on Monday before losing. It should be noted that no one got ahead in the count in the final frame on Monday against Red Sox makeshift closer Jean Machi. LaRoche actually lined an 0-2 pitch to left field for a single that kept the rally alive. Obviously he wasn't as patient 48 hours later.

In a season bursting with boring games, the Sox were blanked again 2-0 by Seattle on Friday as John Danks was taken deep twice in the sixth inning by Kyle Seager and Franklin Gutierrez for the game's only runs.

The seven-game homestand was in jeopardy of being a glaring embarrassment until Mariner shortstop Brad Miller made a wild throw to first base in the ninth inning Sunday, allowing the tying run to score. Saladino's hit in the bottom of the 11th gave the Sox a 6-5 victory, a split of the series, and a 3-4 mark for the week.

With 32 games left in the season, we're hearing more and more about prospects for 2016. We'll see new faces this week as rosters expand for September. Possibly we'll get a peek at 22-year-old shortstop Tim Anderson, the Sox first-round draft choice in 2013, who's hitting .309 with 48 stolen bases and, sadly, 25 errors at Double-A Birmingham.

This year's top choice, right-handed pitcher Carson Fulmer of Vanderbilt, has pitched just 20 Single-A innings this summer, but maybe Rick Hahn will add him to the big club for a look-see. Erik Johnson, who failed in his bid to make the rotation in 2014, has had a solid season at Charlotte - 11-8 with a 2.37 ERA. Will we see him make a start or two in the season's final month?

Since being called up from Triple-A in early August, Trayce Thompson has 15 hits in 32 at-bats, including his first hit off a right-hander on Sunday. Maybe Robin Ventura will give the fleet-footed outfielder playing time against all kinds of pitching in the next four weeks.

In terms of potential changes for next season, we're hearing more and more positive things about catcher Tyler Flowers. Hawk Harrelson keeps reminding us that Flowers is a superb handler of pitchers, and Ventura said Saturday, "You're comfortable with the way he calls a game. I think he's elevated that to where he's getting some pitchers through some games."

This despite the fact that at times Flowers looks over at coach Mark Parent for a sign rather than putting down fingers without counsel from the bench. I'm never quite certain who's calling the pitches, but apparently Flowers is in charge most of the time.

We learned this week that Baseball Prospectus ranks Flowers second out of 90 catchers in terms of framing pitches. The sabermetrics say that Tyler gets more calls for his pitchers than anyone with the exception of the Dodgers' Yasmani Grandal.

Harrelson goes so far as to herald the offense of Flowers and back-up Geovany Soto. Combined the two are hitting .229 (Flowers .221 and Soto .245) with 16 home runs and 53 RBI. Hawk says that compares favorably with other American League tandems.

He's half right. The Sox duo ranks eighth (out of 15) in batting average while tying for sixth in homers and seventh in RBI.

The departed Josh Phegley, part of the trade for Jeff Samardzija, has combined with the regular Stephen Vogt for 25 dingers and 96 RBI this season for Oakland, tops among all catching duos in the American League. Red Sox catchers lead the AL with a .267 batting average.

Conversely, Seattle has received almost nothing from former top draft choice Mike Zunino, who was sent to the minors last week with his .174 average. His backup Jesus Sucre is 8-for-69. The team should be given special compensation in the form of a second designated hitter.

Defensively, Flowers has thrown out 24 percent of would-be base stealers, a bit below the league average of 32 percent. Seeing as he's catching four starting pitchers who throw from the left side, that isn't especially impressive. (Soto is somewhat better, nailing 29 percent of base-stealers.)

All of which probably indicates that Flowers will return next season because there isn't much out there in the farm system or upgrades available in a trade. The Yankees signed Brian McCann for six years for $100 million, and that's not going to happen on the South Side. There are no Yogi Berras or Carlton Fisks coming this way because they're simply too expensive.

This week the Sox travel to Minnesota, a team very much alive in the wild-card chase, before a weekend series in Kansas City. Sale pitches on Tuesday, and his turn will come again Sunday against the Royals. Let's see if the outcomes will be any better than last Wednesday.

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Roger Wallenstein is our man on the Sock. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:41 AM | Permalink

August 30, 2015

TrackNotes: Don't Go, American Pharoah

As if a man just off a bender, an apt analogy really, American Pharoah's owner roller-coasted the full range of emotions.

"I have a huge responsibility," owner Ahmed Zayat said after 'Pharoah's second-place finish in The Travers Stakes on Saturday. "I haven't spoken to my family, and (trainer) Bob (Baffert), but you start questioning yourself. Have I pushed the envelope too much? He was happy and he's special and he is the Triple Crown winner. Then you have to ask yourself, 'Is the show over? Is it time?'"

After 'Pharoah's loss, at legendary Saratoga, nicknamed the Graveyard of Champions for just the kind of thing that happened this weekend, the first thing I thought is that Zayat is going to feel terrible. He'll say whatever is on his mind, including my gasping fear: retirement for the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years.

On Sunday morning, the attitude was more open. I was taken by Baffert's comment that 'Pharoah had to work so hard in this race. It was the same thing he said after the Kentucky Derby.

"He was blowing pretty hard last night after the race, but once he got back here, within about 10-15 minutes, he was cooled out pretty quick," Baffert said. "We could tell that's the first time he got a lot out of (a race). He was blowing pretty good."

At the risk of naivete, I'll say I am really pleased that Zayat brought American Pharoah to Saratoga and The Travers. It's a journey into the lair of the unexpected, no matter who your horse is. Seems Zayat felt an obligation. As fans, we're happy.

Hell, Secretariat lost here, in the Whitney, not the Travers, after his epic Belmont win. Only one horse, 1941's Whirlaway, won both the Triple Crown and The Travers. Affirmed and Gallant Fox also lost here.

I think this could be a great sequence for Thoroughbred horse racing. Unlike a cheap Ronald Reagan RKO script, this is the real thing; true drama. With the gargantuan caveat: If they keep running him. And why not train right into the October 31 Breeders' Cup Classic?

Hello, Ma. Hello, Pa. We took a bit of a blow at Saratoga, but we're back on top now at Keeneland, God willing and a nice autumn. Our best to you.

For perspective, The Travers, aka "The Summer Derby," is a huge race. In my opinion, greater than the Kentucky Derby, and today even better. Travers Day is also better than Derby Day. At 2015's 146, The Travers is five years older than the Derby.

Its winners include, and I'll go way back here, D'Artangnan, Hindoo, Man o' War, Jim Dandy at 100-1 with the key Travers prep named after him, Native Dancer, Sword Dancer (now a race on the Travers undercard), Buckpasser, Damascus, Arts and Letters, Alydar, Easy Goer, Point Given, Medaglia d'Oro, Flower Alley, Bernardini. It's as coveted a race as there is.

After the race, they paint the canoe in the infield pond the colors of the winning connections. Very Sleepy Hollow. They have the right.

Going into this year's Travers, I obviously wanted American Pharoah to win. But there's a biblically old cliche: "That's why they run the races."

Baffert said the horse told him he was ready, three weeks out from his stunning performance in The Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park on August 2nd. He had speedily worked at 1:23:20 over seven furlongs at Del Mar the weekend before and was deemed ready.

As I've said, hindsight makes it all crystal clear. I'm thinking one culprit might be the three weeks since the Haskell. But as a Triple Crown winner, we cut them the major slack.

Before the race, Baffert expressed concern about the shipping. He arrived at Saratoga on Wednesday. His 10-furlong jog drew 15,000 people on Thursday. While I was concerned about his ribs showing, NBC touts Randy Moss and Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey tried to explain it off as an indication of his "length." Even Baffert said 'Pharoah has a difficult time keeping on his weight.

But these other horses were the usual suspects, the best of them already vanquished by the 'Pharoah.

The race reminded me of Smarty Jones having to work so hard in his Belmont quest, valiantly taking the lead but doomed by the workload.

Before the race, Texas Red's trainer, J. Keith Desormeaux, brother of the horse's jockey Kent Desormeaux, declared boldly that if 'Pharoah was to be beaten, it would be his horse. Trainer Dale Romans, with no bravado, said that if 'Pharoah wins the race, he's not only considered among the all-time greats, but perhaps the all-time great. Um, no. Even though I can say I followed a Triple Crown winner in real time.

American Pharoah has never set a track or race record. We give him his due, but he's no Citation or Secretariat.

American Pharoah and Frosted broke well.

Frosted's jockey, Joel Rosario, lost his day when his horse in an earlier race appeared to clip heels, stumbled and dropped Rosario. It looks like he'll be okay. That put Jose Lezcano up on Frosted. A fine jockey.

Their class separated them from the field by two or three lengths, sometimes more.

As any hero with a target on his back, Frosted went after him. Maybe we win, maybe we lose.

The first calls were 24 and 2, and 48 and 3. No crawl, but certainly no burn. Slowish. Ripe.

Wheelhouse, this is where American Pharoah pulls away and wins. Except, he couldn't. Frosted harassed him, pushed him, aggravated him. Goddammit, I can't shake this guy! Victor Espinoza asked on the turn, but the burst and the turn of foot was just not there. Pharoah didn't have it in him to lose him.

I thought on the backstretch, he's done. This was the kind of aggravation that he doesn't want.

But, the hero he is, he battled Frosted all down the stretch, losing the lead and then gaining it back. Besting Frosted. It was just electrifying, gallant.

In racing, pace is everything. The slowish pace allowed Keen Ice to relax a bit, not work too hard, and Lezcano timed his run perfectly, we know now, because they were all running out of real estate. The wire could not save American Pharoah.

Oh, it was a thrilling race. Pharoah ran his heart out. It was wonderful.

Wagering? I'm as cold as Keen Ice. Made a nice buck on the race.

Cross your fingers for a run in the Breeders' Cup Classic.

We need to see him run again. We really do.

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Tom Chambers is our man on the rail. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:51 PM | Permalink

August 29, 2015

The Weekend Desk Report

The corpse flower at the Chicago Botanic Garden is behind blooming schedule, possibly because of overcast weather.

We think instead that our new friend Spike has synced its rhythms to Chicago and is waiting to stink up the joint at a most opportune time.

Such as:

* When Jay Cutler throws his first interception in Cincinnati tonight.

* When Dan Haren throws his next pitch.

* When Billy Dec opens his next club.

* When Michael Sneed reports her next "scoop."

* When Rahm Emanuel next pretends to care.

* When the Chicago City Council next meets.

* When Bruce Rauner next pretends to care.

* When the next "iteration" of the Stars Wars museum is revealed.

* When the real bill for the Obama library comes through.

* When CPS cuts from the bottomless bowl known as the Central Office again.

* When yet another CPS CEO is named after Forrest Claypool has done Rahm's dirty work.

* When the next pol is indicted. Could be any day!

* When the next pundit moralizes about how sports builds character.

Because all of those things stink, too.

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Plus:

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Live stream of Spike:

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Beachwood Sports Radio: Fall Guys & Rape Culture
The entitled Derrick Rose. Plus: UniCubs and Lollipops; Insane Clown Bullpen; The Team Without Jade; The Quality Fifth Start; 0-16; The White Sox Have A Core Four!; The Chicago Fire Did Something This Week; So Did The Chicago Sky.

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "The Isley Brothers have scored hits in six different decades thanks to an ever-evolving sound, stretching from doo-wop to psychedelic funk to disco. Guitarist Ernie Isley joins Jim and Greg for a career spanning discussion."

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BeachBook

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Pull our finger.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:47 PM | Permalink

August 28, 2015

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #66: Fall Guys And Rape Culture

The entitled Derrick Rose. Plus: UniCubs and Lollipops; Insane Clown Bullpen; The Team Without Jade; The Quality Fifth Start; 0-16; The White Sox Have A Core Four!; The Chicago Fire Did Something This Week; So Did The Chicago Sky.


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SHOW NOTES

* Bulldog Turner.

* Not 41.

2:40: Our Weekly Rape Report.

* The entitled Derrick Rose.

* Cris Carter: Have a fall guy.

* Outside The Lines discussion:

* Lessons not learned.

15:45: UniCubs and Lollipops.

* 2016 is not guaranteed.

* There is no gravy.

* This is fun:

* Cowboy Clayton Richard.

* Insane Clown Bullpen.

* This team is devoid of jade.

* Act like it's the first time! Unless it's sex.

* Dan Haren = Dallas Beeler.

* The Quality Fifth Start.

45:06: 0-16.

* Appealing to Jeremiah Ratliff.

* All coaches, no players.

* The Lid Lifter!

52:30: The White Sox Have A Core Four!

* Carlos Rodon, Tyler Saladino, Trayce Thompson, Carlos Sanchez.

54:58: The Chicago Fire Did Something This Week!

* Kennedy Igboananike.

56:04: The Chicago Sky Did Something This Week.

57:20: Backroads.

backgroads.jpg

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STOPPAGE: :24

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For archives and other Beachwood shows, see The Beachwood Radio Network.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:09 PM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

1. The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #66: Fall Guys And Rape Culture.

The entitled Derrick Rose. Plus: UniCubs and Lollipops; Insane Clown Bullpen; The Team Without Jade; The Quality Fifth Start; 0-16; The White Sox Have A Core Four!; The Chicago Fire Did Something This Week; So Did The Chicago Sky.

2. Beachwood Photo Booth: Four Trey.

Four three.

3. The Week In Chicago Rock.

Featuring: Evergrey, Billy Joel, ZZ Top, KT Tunstall, The Liqs, Dinoczar, and Mid-Riffs.

4. Chicago Pest Control Consolidation.

5. Next, Their Own Brewery.

6. Chicago Life Safety.

7. Response Flow Cycle For Gun Violence Stories.

8. Whole Cloth.

9. Inspiration of the Day.

A touching and inspiring true story from the smart, talented and compassionate activist-lawyer-musician Matt Farmer.

Posted by The Beachwood Reporter on Thursday, August 27, 2015

10. Most Research Is Bullshit.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Reproducible.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:25 AM | Permalink

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Evergrey at Reggies on Wednesday night.


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2. Billy Joel at Wrigley Field on Thursday night.

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3. ZZ Top at Ravinia on Thursday night.

Kot: Billy Gibbons, ZZ Top And The Surreal Side Of The Blues.

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4. KT Tunstall at City Winery on Monday night.

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5. The Liqs at Bric-a-Brac on Thursday.

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6. Dinoczar at Bric-a-Brac on Thursday.

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7. Mid-Riffs at Bric-a-Brac on Thursday.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:15 AM | Permalink

Beachwood Photo Booth: Four Trey

Four three.

fourtresdoor.JPG(ENLARGE FOR PROPER VIEWING)

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More Chicago photography from Helene Smith.

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Helene on Twitter!

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Meet Helene!

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Stationery, iPhone cases, hoodies.

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Listen to Helene talk about Photo Booth; starts at 57:54.

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Previously:
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Man Grilling
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Yum Yum Donuts
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Father's Day
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Vintage Airmaster
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Time
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Window Shade
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Illinois Slayer
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Fire Escape
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Golden Nugget
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Hollywood, Chicago
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Flag Man.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Van In Flames.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Fluid Power Automation.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Corn Dog.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Stop The Killing Car.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Backyard.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: A to Z Things.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Swedish Diner.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Rothschild Liquors.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Silos.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Wires.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Orange Garden.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Irving Park Guy.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Pigeons.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: O'Lanagan's.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: For Rent.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Marie's Pizza & Liquors.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Mori Milk.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: American Breakfast.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: A Chicago Christmas Postcard.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Holiday Harold's.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Family Fun.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Snow Bike.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Nativity Scene.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Old Warsaw.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Deluxe Cleaners.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Marie's Golden Cue.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Die Another Day.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Sears Key Shop.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Window Dressing.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Jeri's Grill.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Barry's Drugs.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Liberty.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Kitchen.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Golden Specials.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: We Won The Cup.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Bartender Man.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Blue Plane Blues.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Finest Quality.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Family Guy.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Girls Wanted.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Skokie Savanna.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Signpost.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Old Man And The Tree.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Street Fleet.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Citgo Story.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Fantasy Hair Design.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Garage.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Clark Stop.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Pole Position.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Window Dressing.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Geometry.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Found Love.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Fill In The Blank.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Vacuums Of The Night.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Dumpster Still Life.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Wagon Master.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Intersecting West Rogers Park.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Penn-Dutchman Antiques.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Cow Patrol.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Backstage Chicago.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Skully Bungalow.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Francisco Frankenstein.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Long Cool Heat.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Smokers' Mast.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Big Fat Phone.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Happy Day.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Alley Men.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Holiday Show!
* Beachwood Photo Booth: You've Got Mailbox.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Broken Window Theory.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Dali Logan.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Svengoolie.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Horner Park Hot Dogs.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Cubs Rehab.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: 20th Century Schizoid Man.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Men On Vans.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Penn-Dutchman Is Done.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Snowy Lincoln.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Waiting Room.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Avondale Chicken.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Winter's End.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: The Friendly Skies.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Boyhood Buzzer Beater.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: J Date.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: International Window Lady.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Shanghai Inn.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Open For Business.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Andersonville Unplugged.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: 3-Flat.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Evanston Turkey.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicagolandia.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Eat At Odge's.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Deitch Pharmacy.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Sud-Z Bubble.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Bands Wanted!
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Belmont Tavern.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Superheroic San Luis Freeze.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Evanston Oasis.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Lyndale Food & Jewelry.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Lincoln Tap.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Book Window.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Alco Dude.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Ballin Drugs.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Don't Worry, Be Cookie.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:02 AM | Permalink

August 27, 2015

The [Thursday] Papers

There's just too much stupidity going on today for me to process. I'm gonna take the day to figure it out. Meanwhile, here's some other things.

* Real Chi Youth Presents: Producers On The Rise.

"There's something going on in Chicago."

* SlutWalk Chicago 2015.

Challenging the rape culture mindset.

* Fantasy Fix 2015 Football Draft Guide: TEs.

Martellus Bennett vs. Greg Olsen.

* Local Book Notes: Norcensor University.

Northwestern is the worst.

* Chicago: Das Musical.

Kommt Nach Berlin!

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BeachBook

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TweetWood

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Day-to-day.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:26 PM | Permalink

Local Book Notes: Northcensor University

"A Northwestern University professor has resigned her position at the Feinberg School of Medicine after, she said, her complaints of academic censorship were ignored," the Tribune reports.

o-ATRIUM-HEAD-NURSES-570.jpgAlice Dreger, who worked part time as a clinical medical humanities and bioethics professor, initially complained in 2014 that the school dean removed a risque article from a website for the bioethics journal Atrium because of fear it would harm the school's image.

"The university eventually allowed the essay, called 'Head Nurses,' to go back onto the website in May after Dreger said she threatened to take her complaints about school censorship public. But she objected to a newly established 'oversight committee' required to review and approve articles before they appear."

Northwestern University, everybody.

That place sucks.

See also: FAQ On My Resignation Northwestern.

Wright Wing Chicago
"The [Wright Brothers] returned to Kitty Hawk the following year, 1901, and were discouraged by the results, as well as by a plague of mosquitoes," James Salter writes for the New York Review of Books.

Screen-Shot-2015-08-12-at-3.16.40-PM.png"They had changed the camber of the wings in accordance with a shape that Lilienthal had concluded was optimal; but it turned out that their first glider had flown better. That fall, upstairs in the bicycle shop, they built a six-foot-long wind tunnel, powered by a gas engine since the shop had no electricity. They tested at various angles and wind speeds some thirty-eight wing shapes made from hacksaw blades in order to have reliable figures for lift and drag, both of which change in flight with changes in angle and speed.

"Equilibrium and control were a separate matter. Wilbur had explained it adroitly in a speech before a gathering of the Western Society of Engineers in Chicago. He had been invited to appear by Chanute and had reluctantly accepted. What was needed for a flying machine, he said, was balance and control in the air. He had taken a sheet of paper and holding it parallel to the floor let it drop. Its erratic fall, turning over and slipping one way and the other, he compared to an untrained horse that men had to learn to manage if they were to fly, and 'if you really wish to learn, you must mount a machine and become acquainted with its tricks by actual trial.'"

Chanute was a Chicago engineer who had written Progress in Flying Machines.

Chicago Transportation Geek Alert
"The Society of Midland Authors presents its monthly meeting, focusing on transportation this time with three authors. Christopher Lynch, Neal Samors and Joseph Schwieterman discuss Chicago's extraordinary role as a travel center based on their new books, Now Arriving (the story of air travel in the Windy City over the past 90 years) and Terminal Town (an illustrated guide to Chicago's airports, bus depots and train stations). The presentation will include stunning images and memorable stories of great transportation landmarks, past and present . . . and the millions who used them.

transportationbooks.jpg

"Christopher Lynch is has spent most of his life around Midway Airport, where his family ran Monarch Air Service, which serviced aircraft for more than 60 years. He has written two books on Midway Airport and is co-founder of the Midway Historians Club.

"Neal Samors is an award-winning author, co-author and/or publisher of 24 books about Chicago. His books have won three Independent Publisher Awards and several Illinois State Historical Society awards.

"Joseph Schwieterman is a professor at DePaul University and a nationally known authority on air, bus, and train travel. He has spent more than three decades studying the Chicago's ever-changing transportation system."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:45 AM | Permalink

Real Chi Youth Presents: Chicago Producers On The Rise

"There's something going on in Chicago."


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See also:
* CB Beatz.

* Fleetwood Jones.

* CookUp Cam.

* Free Spirit Media's YouTube channel.

* Real Chi Youth.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:49 AM | Permalink

SlutWalk Chicago 2015

"Now in its fifth year, SlutWalk Chicago gathers at Water Tower Place to fight rape culture and challenge mindsets of victim-blaming and slut-shaming."


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From SlutWalk Chicago's press release:

"SlutWalk Chicago is a vast, diverse array of people who refuse to accept the normalization of sexual and gender-based violence in all of its forms.

"Currently, we all live in a world of oppression where we cannot walk down a street without harassment; we cannot walk down an alley without fear of rape or assault; and we cannot feel safe in our own skin. When these acts of violence are perpetrated against us, this culture blames us for their occurrence. For the five years, we have taken to the streets in a show of our strength and power, proving to society that actively dismantling rape culture and patriarchy is possible," said Brit Schulte, Slutwalk Chicago organizer.

List of Speakers:

* Nikki Nigl with About Women

* Kara Krutcher with The Courage Campaign

* Alicia Swiz with Pop Goes Alicia

* Rebecca Brown

* Roger Fraser with Gay Liberation Network

* Darling Shear (Performance)

* Midwest Access Coalition

* Emily with Sex Worker Outreach Project

* Brit Schulte with Slutwalk Chicago

"Everyone who experienced any form of rape culture be it racism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, classism, body shaming, harassment, assault or rape is encouraged to bring a sign, noisemakers, and anything you can think of in order to make your voice heard and know you are not alone!" said Jackie Spreadbury, SlutWalk Chicago organizer.

"The SlutWalk movement began in 2011 when a Toronto police officer told a group of young women that they should 'avoid dressing like sluts' to prevent rape. In response, Toronto activists staged a demonstration against the victim-blaming narratives that are so pervasive in our society. Shortly after the protest in Toronto, SlutWalks sprang up across the world to demand an end to sexual violence and the culture of silence, shame, and victim-blaming that perpetuates it. The first Chicago SlutWalk was held in 2011.

"Rape culture is a broad term that describes a range both explicit and implicit phenomena that encourage and normalize sexual violence; victim-blaming, slut-shaming, and refusing to believe survivors are just some of its manifestations. Rape culture also describes the state of our institutions: police who commit sexual assault, judges who question the victim's state of intoxication, Justice Departments that refuse to test rape kits, media pundits who say victims 'ask for it', and a criminal justice system that frequently incarcerates women and LGBTQ-identified individuals for defending their bodies against sexual assault. Rape culture refers to an entire cultural fabric of gender stereotypes and policing, rampant sexual harassment, catcalling, street harassment, the elimination of resources for survivors, and the entire neoliberal narrative that individuals, not systems, are responsible for the ills that befall them."

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See also:
* SlutWalk Chicago on Facebook.

* SlutWalk Chicago on Twitter.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:54 AM | Permalink

Chicago: Das Musical

"CHICAGO ist das heisseste und aufregenste Musical, das Berlin je erleben wird. Die Show bietet eine leidenschaftliche Mischung aus Liebe und Luge, Ruhmsucht und Eitelkeit, Betrug und Verrat, Sex und Verbrechen - garniert mit heissem Jazz und einzigartigen Tanzszenen im Lebensgefuhl der 20er Jahre."


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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:34 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix 2015 Football Draft Guide: TEs

The tight end position is not one where you typically find a lot of fantasy depth, but this season features a long list of pretty bankable TEs whose careers are either just peaking or about to peak. I can say for the first time in years that I feel pretty confident identifying at least the first eight guys on this list as picks that will help you win draft day.

Even as deep as No. 18 on this list you can find one of the most reliable TEs of the previous season. This is way different than last year, when the back half of my TE rankings consisted mostly of speculation on how what the increase in tandem-TE offensive schemes could mean for certain players' fantasy values.

This year, there is enough depth at TE that I'm offering up a Fantasy Fix first for this position - three sleeper candidates.

1. Rob Gronkowski, NE.

Not only the top TE, but virtually a consensus first-round pick. Last year's 1,123 yards and 12 TDs were his best numbers since 2011, and even if there is a small letdown from the Tom Brady suspension, 1,000 yards and 10 TDs is as low as I'll go with a prediction.

2. Jimmy Graham, SEA.

Common sense says he can't amass the 889 yards of 2014 in a run-heavy offense, but don't drop him too low on your board because the final botched play of the Super Bowl showed what SEA lacked - a big, fast target for TD passes. Graham will fix that.

3. Greg Olsen, CAR.

Former Bears draft pick has settled in as a top target in an offense that really needs him - and more than ever with WR Kelvin Benjamin out for the year. Career high in every category last year except TDs, and I'll bet he surpasses his 1,008 yards and six TDs of 2014.

4. Martellus Bennett, CHI.

Career-high 90 catches, 916 yards and six TDs last year after many had written him off is too hard to ignore. The catch number was second only to Matt Forte, and with Brandon Marshall gone and Kevin White out, he should be busier than ever.

5. Travis Kelce, KC.

Certainly the most hyped TE. Totaled 862 yard and five TDs as a rookie on a time-share, but he'll see many more snaps and end zones targets this year. Could easily challenge Gronk for the TE yardage crown, though KC is nowhere near as good at scoring as NE.

6. Jason Witten, DAL.

Still the reliable choice for fantasy teams that don't like drafting TEs early. His career is winding down and he saw under 100 targets (90) last year for the first time since 2006, but he remains QB Tony Romo's go-to possession receiver, so draft him for consistency.

7. Jordan Cameron, MIA.

Has the skills to be ranked higher. Like Kelce, a Gronk-in-waiting. Miami teaming with QB Ryan Tannehill looks promising, but injuries have been a problem, and we need to see if MIA gives him enough chance to revisit his 917-yard 2013 season.

8. Delanie Walker, TEN.

Quietly made a pretty big fantasy impact last year with a career-high 63 catches and 890 yards. Another solid choice who should provide something every week, especially if rookie QB Marcus Mariota is at the helm, but needs more end-zone looks.

9. Zach Ertz, PHI.

Another very athletic TE with downfield promise. He and Kelce were popular sleeper picks last year, but like Kelce, he ended up splitting snaps. somehow he still managed 702 yards. Slight risk is that he's been injured in the preseason and may not start Week 1 active.

10. Owen Daniels. DEN.

Once a popular target in Houston, then a bust in Baltimore, Daniels gets the job that made Julius Thomas a star TE, thanks to Peyton Manning. Solid and experienced, and could easily be a top 10 TE, but we need to see how much DEN changes its offensive schemes.

11. Dwayne Allen, IND.

The two-headed TE beast in Indy got a lot of end-zone looks last year from the league's most prolific QB. Though Allen had only 395 yards, he was on the field in the red zone and got eight TDs out of it. Fantasy loves a TD vulture, and that's the deciding factor here.

12. Coby Fleener, IND.

774 yards to Allen's 395 last year, though his 51 catches were one less than 2013, and could go down with Andre Johnson coming in at WR. Still, something like 45 catches and 650 yards is pretty good for a TE, and he should still get some TD chances.

13. Julius Thomas, JAC: Tied Gronk and Antonio Gates for most TDs by a TE last year with 12, but he's no longer in Denver's prolific offense. In fact JAC is kind of the opposite, and unless he develops into a top target of QB Blake Bortles, he's no more than a fantasy back-up.

14. Antonio Gates, SD.

How do not one, but two guys with 12 TDs last year drop this far? Nine of his TDs came in just four games, so his week-to-week value is debatable, making him more of a match-up play. But, he's also suspended for four games, which parks him in back-up territory.

15. Kyle Rudolph, MIN.

Was supposed to have a big breakout last year, but injury sidelined him and when he returned he didn't get much playing time. An impressive and improving Teddy Bridgewater at QB could give him top-10 yardage and TDs, but for now a draft-and-stash play.

16. Tyler Eifert, CIN.

Another very promising young TE. Only played one game last year, but veteran Jermaine Gresham is no longer in his way. He's probably better than Gresham, but even if he just inherits the same workload, we're looking at 60 catches, 500 yards and five or six TDs.

17. Austin Seferin-Jenkins, TAM.

Yet another promising TE, though a lot will depend on how well and how often he connects with rookie QB Jameis Winston. He's unproven and both dropped passes and injuries have been an issue, but if everything clicks, his stock will rise quickly.

18. Heath Miller, PIT.

Finally, another boring old TE like Witten who should get you something every single week of the season, and maybe a couple big games. Maybe the fourth pass target in a productive offense, but a safe back-up bet all-around, and start him as needed.

19. Larry Donnell, NYG.

Three of his six TDs last year came in Week 4, as we started seeing the revival of QB Eli Manning, but with WR Victor Cruz back from injury and WR Odell Beckham, Jr. now a superstar, you have to wonder how much work he'll get this season.

20. Jordan Reed, WAS.

Not a great offense, whether RG-3 is at QB or not, but he may play many more snaps this year with fellow TE Niles Paul now on IR. If you demand a proven back-up option, he'll do, and maybe can be an occasional match-up starter.

Sleepers:
* Josh Hill, NO: Unproven as a weekly starter, but even with Graham starting last year, QB Drew Brees still found Hill for five TDs, so at least there's no chemistry question. With youth and lack of depth at WR, Hill could quickly become fantasy relevant.

* Eric Ebron, DET: Second-year man is the recipient of increasing hype, very much fueled by the guy who will be throwing to him - QB Mathew Stafford. We need to see how this plays out, but a nice late-round pick to view as a long-range investment.

* Richard Rodgers, GB: Seems to be getting the edge over Andrew Quarless after a time-share between the two last year. Rodgers reportedly has the hands and skills to be a receiving threat, and now the possible season-ending injury to WR Jordy Nelson could move him up a notch as a target.

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Previously in the Fantasy Fix 2015 Football Draft Guide:
* Overall Top 20.

* Top 20 QBs.

* Top 20 RBs.

* Top 20 WRs.

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Dan O'Shea is our man in fantasyland. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:04 AM | Permalink

August 26, 2015

The [Wednesday] Papers

"Little-Noticed Pension Perk For Teachers Widespread In Illinois," the Tribune reports.

That's an interesting way to frame the article.

First, "Little-Noticed" implies something sly, but the "perk" you are about to learn about is quite well-noticed to administrators, teachers, districts and municipalities. It's only little-noticed insofar as every sentence in a labor agreement is little-noticed by you and me unless we're trying to actually notice it.

Second, is what we are about to learn a "perk," which implies a gratuitous bonus of sorts above and beyond standard compensation? It is not.

Third, does the perk exist just for teachers? No, it exists for administrators too.

Fourth, is it "widespread" in Illinois? Not if widespread connotes to you something above, say, 75%, to be generous (I could argue, say, 90%). In this case, it is under 65%.

(Synonyms for widespread: "extensive, universal, common, global, worldwide, international, omnipresent, ubiquitous, across the board, blanket, sweeping.")

Fifth, "in Illinois" suggests that Illinois is uncommonly "generous" with this "perk." But the article never compares Illinois to other states, so we don't really know.

Whew, that's just the headline! Now to the article:

A brief but significant phrase appears about halfway through the 106-page teachers union contract in northwest suburban School District 21:

"The Board shall pay the entire amount of the staff member's contribution to the Teachers' Retirement System (TRS)."

What that means, according to administrators, is that nearly 500 teachers in the Wheeling-based district don't have to pay anything toward their pensions - a perk worth several million dollars. Instead, the district and its local taxpayers cover the cost of teachers' pension contributions - 9.4 percent of their earnings.

Wheeling's perk for teachers is not unusual. Hundreds of districts have reported that they are covering all or some of the pension contributions that teachers, by law, are required to make, from Lombard's elementary district in DuPage County to the Zion-Benton high school district in Lake County to Rockford's large K-12 district and dozens of districts downstate, according to state data.

Taxpayers may not know about the perk because it's been overshadowed by other bargaining issues and not always easy to find or understand in teacher contracts. But the practice is in the limelight as tensions rise over negotiating a new teachers contract in Chicago Public Schools, which has its own teachers union, separate from the TRS pension for suburban and downstate educators.

Facing financial crisis, CPS officials and Mayor Rahm Emanuel want teachers to pay the full share of their pension contributions. The district has long paid 7 percentage points of the 9 percent contribution required for teachers. The Chicago Teachers Union argues that such a change would mean a steep pay cut.

Thousands of educators across the state get a better deal than CPS teachers - their districts have been paying the full amount of teachers' contributions to TRS, the largest state pension system and among the worst funded in the nation.

This is certainly interesting - and newsworthy. Good idea to do this story. But it's the last paragraph of that opening that caught my eye: Thousands of educators across the state get a better deal than CPS teachers. That, to me, is the frame. Far from being "greedy," CPS teachers already lag their peers in compensation despite working in arguably the state's most challenging circumstances.

District and union officials say the practice can attract teachers in competitive areas or provide a benefit to educators who agree to accept lower salary increases in exchange for the district covering their pension obligations. In other cases, it's a matter of tradition - a perk gets written into teacher contracts and remains there for decades.

For example, teachers in our wealthiest suburbs get terrific compensation packages including this "perk" because those districts are competing to attract "the best." This is the same rationale someone like, say, Bruce Rauner, uses to "overpay" some of his appointees. It's also something residents/taxpayers of those districts (including many of our city's reporters and editors) "demand" of their schools - and are willing to pay for.

It's also, as noted, "a benefit to educators who agree to accept lower salary increases in exchange;" as noted, but quickly lost. If this is the exchange, the "perk" isn't above and beyond their standard salary, as implied.

As for being "a matter of tradition" in some districts, I highly doubt it. It's not ceremonial. Being a standard part of a contract is not "tradition," it is a long-standing "benefit" not unlike some other thing millions of other employers have offered their workers for a long time.

What I don't see in this article are the words "Social Security," which teachers don't get. They get these pensions instead. If the media was better at reminding everyone of this, the public who (rightly) won't stand for their Social Security "benefits" being messed with would better understand why teachers are so "sensitive" about their pensions.

A teacher salary study published in April by the Illinois State Board of Education shows that 499 of 769 districts that responded said they were covering all or some pension payments for their teachers, with most districts reporting that they covered the full 9.4 percent contribution. CPS is not listed in the study.

About 90 districts in the Chicago region, roughly a third, reported paying full or partial pension contributions for teachers, but some district officials said mistakes in reporting or misinterpretations of the state's questions in the study could skew those figures.

For example, Naperville District 203 reported paying the full amount of teachers' contributions to TRS. But when the Tribune contacted the district, the chief human resources officer, Carol Hetman, said that wasn't the case. "From our perspective, we thought we were answering the right way. We're going to relook at how we answer," Hetman said. "I can tell you that we are not paying."

I have no idea what this means. You thought you were answering the right way but you are saying now you answered the wrong way. Please explain.

The situation is complicated because, according to state law, members of TRS, including teachers, "shall make contributions" to their pension plan. But districts send the contributions to TRS using money "from the same source of funds which is used in paying salary to the member."

According to TRS documents, the teacher contributions are then treated as "employer contributions" under the federal tax code, and are tax-exempt, "regardless of who actually pays the 9.4 percent contribution."

The documents also say that "while the contribution is a member obligation, the employer may agree to pay this contribution for the member as a benefit."

The pension system's stance is that teachers are paying their share, according to spokesman David Urbanek.

"It is the position of TRS that TRS members are following state law and are paying their legally mandated contributions," Urbanek said.

Nevertheless, policy experts, districts and teachers say districts are covering the pension contributions for their teachers.

Lombard School District 44 has clear language in its contract: "The board shall pay the contribution due the TRS at no cost to the teacher."

Maybe I'm not understanding this, but isn't this really saying teachers are getting screwed because some of these districts are paying contributions at the cost of teacher salaries?

Ted Dabrowski is vice president of policy at the nonprofit Illinois Policy Institute, a conservative watchdog organization in Chicago and Springfield. He spearheaded a 2011 analysis called "Teachers' Pensions: Who's Really Paying?" using data from the state Board of Education's salary study and TRS, and reviewing about 300 teacher contracts.

The conclusion: "In nearly two-thirds of districts across the state, teachers don't contribute the full 'employee share' toward their pensions. In fact, most of these districts don't require their teachers to contribute anything toward their own retirement. Instead, the contributions are paid for or 'picked up' by school districts - and by extension, local taxpayers. During the 2009-10 school year alone, this little-known perk cost taxpayers more than $430 million."

"When we came out with this, everybody called us liars," Dabrowski said in an interview with the Tribune. "Now, everybody understands what this is."

But if districts didn't pick up part or all of those teachers' pension contributions, they would instead pay higher salaries, which would presumably cost taxpayers even more. Also, notice that we've found where the "little-known perk" language apparently originates: from the conservative "policy watchdog" (boy is that being generous) Illinois Policy Institute.

The state's two teachers unions, the Illinois Education Association and the Illinois Federation of Teachers, stressed that who pays is a decision that should be made together by teachers and district officials.

"The most important point is that this is negotiated as part of the larger compensation agreement. That's why there isn't an answer to who 'should' pay it. It depends entirely on the district," said IFT spokeswoman Aviva Bowen. She added, "Every district will have a different set of circumstances and finances."

I'm not a shill for the unions, but that seems eminently reasonable.

At the IEA, spokesman Charlie McBarron said that when districts cover teachers' contributions, it's a cost saver. "If the money was paid as salary, it would be subject to FICA (payroll) tax and would, therefore, cost the district additional dollars," he said.

Which is what I just presumed. If true, the real story is that so many districts don't pick up the full contribution in exchange for lower salaries in order to save taxpayers money. Districts should be trying to pick up as much of these pensions as it can wrangle from the unions!

In addition, "districts want their students to have the best teachers in their classrooms. These agreements, where they have been negotiated, can make a district more attractive to prospective or current teachers."

I resent the fact that our "best" teachers decide to take their skills to the North Shore instead of the South Side - and I'm not sure those folks really are our best. But the point stands that districts are negotiating these agreements to attract talent. They're running their districts like a business!

In the most recent teacher contract in Cicero School District 99, the district and union agreed to get rid of the practice of paying teachers' pension contributions, instead putting the roughly 9 percent for pensions into the salary schedule, which boosts pay for teachers.

Districts are allowed to do that!

"It was a wash for the teacher, in terms of take-home pay staying the same," said Tom Smith, a regional field service director for the Illinois Federation of Teachers.

But how does it come out for taxpayers? I think you just got screwed in Cicero!

Rockford's District 205 just finished negotiating a new teachers contract and kept its long-standing perk of paying teachers' pension contributions, according to union officials and the district.

"It really didn't come up at all," said teachers union Vice President Paul Goddard.

In other words, districts don't seem unhappy with this arrangement at all - and it seems to benefit taxpayers. That's why this article appears to have been framed with an upside-down premise.

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Beachwood Radio: My Newspaper Waterloo
A police chief, a city editor and Dean's Place.

Plus: Stick To The Coffees And Teas That You're Used To; The Buffalo News's Bullshit; The New Star Wars Museum; and Stop Tweeting Prideful Pictures Of Your Punny Print Pages!

This is good stuff, people!

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Sociologists In Chicago: Fuck Nuance
Convention tweets.

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BeachBook

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: In bloom.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:35 AM | Permalink

Thousands Of Sociologists Just Had A Convention In Chicago

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See also: The convention home page.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:59 AM | Permalink

August 25, 2015

The Beachwood Radio Hour #66: My Newspaper Waterloo

A police chief, a city editor and Dean's Place. Plus: Stick To The Coffees And Teas That You're Used To; The Buffalo News's Bullshit; The New Star Wars Museum; and Stop Tweeting Prideful Pictures Of Your Punny Print Pages!


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SHOW NOTES

* Strawberry Rock Show.

1:07: Signal-to-Noise at the Burlington on Thursday night.

4:20: Stick To The Coffees And Teas That You're Used To.

6:00: My Newspaper Waterloo.

* This is not Iowa.

* This is not Connecticut.

* Wow, it looks gentrified; I don't see Dean's, but one of those upstairs apartments is where I lived.

* I remember this place.

* The Blackhawk Hotel - also gentrified! Maybe the shopping mall is dead now . . .

20:30: Rasputina at the Double Door on Friday night.

22:49: The Buffalo News's Bullshit.

* The Beachwood Radio Hour #65: Why I Hate Reporting On Investigations.

* Off-Duty Officer Was Kane's Driver On Night Of Alleged Rape.

30:26: In My Pocket: New Star Wars Museum.

* Still the best design.

* Dubious:

35:33: Eliza Rickman at the Double Door on Friday night.

36:56: Stop Tweeting Prideful Pictures Of Your Punny Print Pages!

44:33: Sheer Mag at the Empty Bottle last Wednesday night.

46:45: The Police Chief And Me.

* Where Are They Now? Bernie Koehrsen, by my old evil city editor, who apparently was promoted.

1:00:17: Engelbert Humperdinck at the Rialto in Joliet on Friday night.

STOPPAGE: 2:32

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For archives and other Beachwood shows, see The Beachwood Radio Network.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:27 PM | Permalink

The [Tuesday] Papers

A comment from our very own Scott Buckner responding to the "Compensating Workers" item in Monday's column:

Not only will workman's comp rates be lower in Indiana, it stands to reason industries moving to Indiana also save a nice chunk of change on their unemployment insurance rate being a bit less than Illinois' rate.

So workers get even more of a lion's share of the screwage in a bigger variety of ways, especially if they go with their jobs to East Chicago: 1) Eligible for less workman's comp, 2) Eligible for less unemployment payment (since you file with the state in which you work), 3) You also have to pay an Indiana income tax, since you work there, and 4) A small fortune to gas up the car now, since public transportation between Bedford Park and East Chicago is non-existent. And that's provided they all have cars in the first place.

I'm just convinced now more than ever that business exists solely to fuck everybody, and then find new and exciting ways to fuck everybody even more.

BTW, I live right here on the precipice of the Illinois-Indiana border, and have lived here since the 1960s. So I kinda know shit that even John Kass doesn't even know (even though me and him shared a newsroom in South Chicago way back when).

And as it happens, there are huge casinos along the East Chicago and Hammond lakefront you can take advantage of on the way home to take up the slack of getting fucked by your employer if you're feeling lucky. America be beddy beddy good. Unless you lose, and you're losing every single day if you think you're on top of the world just because you "have a job."

Jeez, people: Our American slaves had jobs and lifetime employment. Wasn't much of living, was it?

And see, Steve? That's the thing here. It's all fucking bullshit.

[O]n LinkedIn, there's someone in my circle that is (I'm guessing, she's not a direct contact) working in some capacity as a booster for companies coming to Indiana, same as the equipment company form Bedford Park you mentioned on Monday. And truth be told, East Chicago seems to be a hotbed for this, for some reason, especially given what East Chicago has been historically since the 1970s, and without some Blajogevich intervention like in the East Chicago Mayor Bob Pastrick (and his city council people) days of the 1980s.

On one hand, this area needs all the help it can get, and every feather in the cap is probably well-deserved on general principles. But you are 100% correct - and why I even responded to your [Monday] Papers mention in the first place:

This may seem very simplistic and incredibly silly, but Mr. Miyagi in The Karate Kid was correct, as you were Monday, (and what I've tried to pass on to my own kids, having been an old-school journalist): "Things not always what seem."

Thanks, Buck.

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I Am A Retail Warrior
15 Things We Wish Customers Knew.

Hurricane Katrina 10 Years On
For many survivors of Katrina, it's the calm after the storm that truly haunts.

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BeachBook

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Rachel Maddow continues to be a major league poser.

Posted by The Beachwood Reporter on Monday, August 24, 2015

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I hate this movie. I've already seen it too many times.

Posted by The Beachwood Reporter on Sunday, August 23, 2015

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TweetWood

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Eastbound, down.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:04 AM | Permalink

Hurricane Katrina 10 Years On

Katrina1.JPGWhen I arrived in New Orleans after the 2005 hurricane, which caused flooding in 80 percent of the city and killed 1,572 people, the scene was quietly apocalyptic. There was dark water all around, empty highways, bodies wrapped in plastic.

The calm before the storm, the saying goes. But for many survivors of Katrina, it's the calm after the storm that truly haunts.

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As the dark clouds from a big storm gathered in the sky, local resident Errol Morning remembered that he was not too drunk that day, he only had a few drinks of whiskey in the morning. I managed to find Morning, whose photo I took after the hurricane, again this year.

But his buzz gave way to a sense of dread as water began seeping into his trailer home in a suburban area of New Orleans, slowly rose up the walls, then kept rising, all the way to the roof. He climbed on top of his home.

When I saw Morning back in 2005, a local resident aged 60 at the time, he was paddling in an aluminum boat along a flooded street, using a plank for an ore. Ten years later I went to the same corner in a run-down neighborhood. Abandoned houses are now part of the landscape.

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For Jane Garrison, an animal-protection volunteer at the time, her strongest impression of the city after the storm was the silence, broken by only two things: helicopters flying overhead and the occasional bark of a dog.

Some of the animals were also on roofs, alone, waiting for owners who would never come home in some cases. Garrison, who now lives in Palm Springs, California, traveled to New Orleans to assist after the hurricane struck.

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After some preliminary research, I drove for hours looking for the same people that I documented 10 years ago. Most of them I never found: one had died, others had moved on with little trace.

In a way, it wasn't surprising. Almost the entire city was evacuated after the storm. For weeks, residents were not allowed to return to their homes as authorities tried to pump the water out and re-establish basic services.

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Many people never moved back. They crossed state lines instead to start a new life. For those who returned home, the reality was hard - an entire city on its knees waiting to be rebuilt.

Some areas like the Lower Ninth Ward have seen many changes. The nearby levee broke, unleashing a wall of water that almost completely destroyed all the houses. The area is now rebuilt with homes on stilts.

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Today, the mostly African-American neighborhood has some new residents too: whites and Latinos. When I stopped by, there was a taco truck on the corner.

Some things haven't changed. One morning, I found myself on Bourbon Street as the sun was rising and the thermometer climbed to 90 degrees. The smells of a long night of alcohol and partying rose from the street that's long famous for attracting revelers from near and far.

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Also from Reuters: An Uneven Recovery.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:39 AM | Permalink

I Am A Retail Warrior: 15 Things We Wish Customers Knew

I work in a small, high-end boutique that caters to a very specific subset of (often wealthy) customers: Pet lovers. Just for fun, we'll call my shop "Creature Comforts," because it truly is focused on the supreme comfort of dogs, cats, and their "parents," and to that end, it's not uncommon for someone to drop $800 or $1,200 on high-quality pet merchandise in one go.

But before I get into the crazy specifics that make up my days and weeks, I'd like to share a few things that should be general knowledge for every consumer in every store, whether it's Target or Brooks Brothers, because, as a retail warrior, I hear the same stories repeated time and again, and if one more fucking person messes up 15 stacks of carefully folded t-shirts after declining help in finding a size and then doesn't buy a goddamn thing, I just might have a nuclear meltdown.

This is not a joke.

1. When you enter a store, you will most likely be greeted. The person who greets you is probably genuinely glad to see you. So when I say something along the lines of "Hi! Welcome to Creature Comforts! How are you today?" the only excuse for you responding with "Just browsing" is if you're stone deaf. I didn't ask what you were doing in my store, I asked how you were. Browsing is not a state of being. Even if you're having an absolutely shitty day, you can at least glance up and reply to the question I actually asked.

2. Do not assume retail workers are uneducated or aren't working retail by choice. And certainly don't look surprised when you find out I have a college degree from a good school. Watching your eyes almost pop out of your head when, while chatting over your purchases, I reveal I'm a former journalist who left the field by choice to come sell things to you can be comical, but it's also really insulting. And it's not just me. Everyone who works at my store has a post-high-school degree of some kind, and all of us have worked, in some capacity or another, in "professional" careers.

3. Don't try to bargain with us. We're not at the flea market. We're not in a country where bargaining is generally acceptable in retail shops. If you're making a huge purchase (and if we've had the item in stock a long time), we might offer you a small discount, but it's rude to ask. It's even worse when you want to know if we'll offer you a "two-for-one" deal. Why would we do that? In what universe does that make any business sense at all? And no, I won't call the owner at home to ask if we can make an exception.

4. We are not babysitters. If you bring your children in, you're responsible for them. That means you stop talking to your friend, put down your damn cell phone, tell your kid to stop running/throwing things/messing up merchandise, screaming, and, especially, repeatedly squeezing loud squeaky toys. The worst people are the ones who will actually sit down to dinner next door and allow their unsupervised young maniacs to run free. What the hell are you thinking? If you're going to bring your kids, pay attention to them. And if I have to get involved by telling them to stop whatever they're doing, don't get pissy with me.

5. Your AmEx Black Card does not impress us.

6. Most stores have clearly posted refund/return policies. Where I work, we do not offer refunds; we offer exchanges or credits for undamaged, non-sale, non-edible merchandise. This information is posted behind the register, at the register, and at the bottom of your receipt. Screaming at an employee because they won't let you bring back something that has clearly been used just makes you look like a jerk. And you're holding up the line. Go away.

7. Personal hygiene. Please. If we can smell you the second you walk through the door, we're pretty sure you're aware you're stinky.

8. Telling us you "know the owners" does not mean we will confer special privileges on you. Especially when you mention them by name and don't use their actual names. I'm glad you know Frank and Schmitty, but I have no freaking clue who they are.

9. If your kid or pet has an "accident" in aisle four, please just tell us so we can deal with it immediately. How is this not common sense?

10. Threatening us with a bad review on Yelp doesn't scare us. It just makes you look like a turd.

11. We only have so many employees. If you're fifth in line, we'll get to you after we get to the four people in front of you. Swearing at other customers, at us, at the store in general, etc. won't get you served any faster. For those of us who hold ourselves to a professional standard, you'll luckily still get taken care of politely and quickly. I can't guarantee all retail employees hold themselves to that standard.

12. You don't know more about our products than we do, unless you happen to work for one of the 400 or so vendors we do business with. Please trust us when we tell you that X will suit your needs better than Y. If you choose not to believe us, don't cop an attitude when you bring your purchase back because it wasn't what you really needed.

13. We have regular customers whom we really like and enjoy chatting with. Those people make our jobs fun and, over time, we develop loose friendships with them. If our level of familiarity with someone who is not you weirds you out, that's your problem, not ours. Don't worry, I'm not going to ask you about your recent bout with gastroenteritis when you get to the counter.

14. We sometimes make mistakes. When you bring it to our attention, or when we realize we've done so, we will do our best to rectify the situation. We're human too.

15. We welcome visitors from all over the world. Most of us know at least a few words in another language, and will attempt to greet you or thank you in your native tongue if possible. But it's really, really annoying when you come in, mutter "No English" at us upon your arrival, and then, after making your purchases, say, "Thanks so much, you have a very nice shop! Any recommendations for where we can get a good pizza?" This happens to me at least once a week.

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Jane Harper is our pseudonymous retail correspondent. She welcomes your comments.

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Previously in Life At Work: Barista! Tales From The Coffee Front; At Your Service; I Am A Security Guard; I Am A Roofer; Working The Door; I Am A Wrigley Beer Vendor; I Am A Pizza Delivery Guy; and the original Life at Work.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:01 AM | Permalink

August 24, 2015

The [Monday] Papers

"Friday was supposed to be Chuy's Big Day," the Tribune editorial board opined on March 13th.

Jesus "Chuy" Garcia, the man who forced Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to defend himself in an April 7 runoff election, had promised to release his fiscal blueprint. With scarcely three weeks left in the campaign, Garcia was finally prepared to spell out his plan to rescue the city's finances while somehow sparing its taxpayers.

It turns out he doesn't have one.

At a testy news event that lasted less than 30 minutes, Garcia provided no specifics about where he'd find the money to balance the city's budget, much less to pay for all the new spending he's promised.

He didn't explain how he'd pay down the $27 billion debt owed by the city and its schools, or how he'd address unfunded pension obligations totaling nearly $30 billion. Instead, he said he'd name a working committee to start looking for solutions and report back 90 days after the election.

Yeah, what a terrible idea that was.

Ahem.

"Facing the biggest city budget hole in recent memory, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Monday that he will hold three town hall meetings in the coming weeks to hear ideas from residents on how to close the gap," the Tribune reports.

Rahm Emanuel was re-elected 165 days ago.

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Of course, this is all political theater so when Rahm tells everyone the bad news he can say, hey, these were your ideas!

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"The public budget meetings will be the first for Emanuel since August 2011, his first year in office."

To be fair, he lost his sweater and didn't find it again until he was forced into a runoff.

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"Predecessor Richard M. Daley staged public forums each year."

At least he showed up and didn't listen in person.

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"Nearly two weeks ago, aldermen met with Budget Director Alexandra Holt to discuss ways to plug the budget hole."

So, approximately 141 days after Rahm's re-election - or 51 days after Chuy's commission was scheduled to report back.

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"Residents can also provide ideas via social media during the meetings by using the hashtag #ChiBudget2016."

Also, before and after! That's how Twitter works.

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The conclusion of that Trib editorial from March:

"The takeaway from Friday's disappointing presentation is that Garcia doesn't like to make those tough decisions - or doesn't want to own them before the election."

And Emanuel clearly doesn't want to own them after the election.

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Which of the three hearings will the Tribune attend? Eager to hear them beg Rahm to bring us a world-class hurricane.

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Compensating Workers
"Hoist Liftruck, a manufacturer of heavy-duty forklifts, plans to move around 300 jobs from southwest suburban Bedford Park to East Chicago, Ind., and says it will create hundreds more positions in the Hoosier State over the next few years," Crain's reported earlier this month.

"Hoist [said it] will save $1 million annually on workers' compensation-related costs, a significant sum for the firm."

On the premiums, presumably, if true. But if it is, is that because companies in Indiana are allowed to cheap out workers injured on the job?

Sounds like a great reporting opportunity with a chance for at least a modicum of funding.

Anyone wanna partner up?

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East Chicago: Like Chicago, but with more Rauner.

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The Fight For Dyett
Hunger Strikers Stand On The Shoulders Of The Payton 16, the UNO 13 And The LAZ 40!

Quagmire & Burt Reynolds Together
At Comic Con Chicago 2015. We have photos and video.

Schwarber'll Be Selling Cars Soon
In The Cub Factor.

Show Me A Hero
A Q&A with David Simon.

Man Of The Year Michael Jordan Tipped 20%!
Now with fresh comments.

Televangelists Gonna Televangel
Reviews, anyone?

Ned Ventura Or Robin Gutteridge?
In The White Sox Report.

Slow Your Roll, Bears Fans
Everyone needs to try harder to avoid drawing too many conclusions from pretend games.

The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Signal-to-Noise, Rasputina, Eliza Rickman, Sheer Mag, Engelbert Humperdinck, Lateralus, Disturbed, Chicago, Seth MacFarlane, Failure, Luke Winslow King, Black Diamond, Earth, Wind & Fire, Vinyl Theatre, Chayanne, and Lauren Anderson.

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BeachBook

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Reality theater.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:28 PM | Permalink

How To Investigate Workers' Comp In Your State

With income inequality and economic fairness at the center of national discussion, workers' compensation provides the perfect lens for examining how the social compact has changed. It is one of America's first safety net programs. And unlike other laws, it spells out a company's responsibility for its workers.

The American workers' comp system was born in the early 1900s as a "grand bargain" forged by business and labor as awareness grew about the grisly workplace accidents that came with industrialization. Workers gave up their right to sue their employers - even in cases of gross negligence - protecting businesses from lawsuit judgments that could bankrupt them. In exchange, workers were promised medical care for their injuries, enough wages to help them get by while they recovered and compensation for permanent disabilities.

But as a ProPublica investigation has found, state after state has been dismantling its workers' comp system, denying injured workers help when they need it most and shifting the cost of work-related disabilities onto public programs like Social Security Disability Insurance.

With more than 3.7 million work-related injuries and illnesses reported in 2013, these changes are hurting households across the country. But workers' comp legislation rarely gets significant news coverage, in part because it's such a bureaucratic system that varies state to state.

With this Reporting Recipe, we want to make it easier for journalists to find and report stories on changes in workers' comp policies and the impact on local workers. Read on for reporting tips, data and help finding potential sources. Still have questions? E-mail us.

What's happened in your state?

New laws in 33 states essentially did three things: They reduced benefits, gave employers and insurers more control over medical care or made it more difficult for workers with certain injuries and diseases to qualify.

To give the public a better sense of the national scope of the changes, ProPublica scoured state laws and built a database highlighting the most significant provisions. You can find it here. How have policies changed in your state? What groups or companies influenced those changes? How do they compare to those in neighboring states?

For more context on policies by state, here are a few other resources that might be helpful:

Finally, many state workers' comp systems produce their own annual reports with specific statistics. Be sure to check their websites.

Wait - aren't workers' comp costs going up?

Insurance premiums for workers' comp are affected by several factors, such as the company's history of workplace injuries, the number of workers it has and how much it pays them. When the economy is growing, as it is now, businesses hire more workers and give raises and their premiums typically go up.

But workers' comp rates - the amount employers pay for every $100 they pay in wages - are at or near historic lows in almost every state in the country. The state of Oregon has been tracking this since the mid-1980s. Find the average premium rates for employers in your state here. Are businesses claiming the rates are rising when the data shows they're falling?

How do I find out what the workers' comp benefits and rules are in my state?

During our reporting, one expert told us, "If you've read one workers' comp law, you've read one workers' comp law." There is no federal oversight of workers' comp. So benefits can vary dramatically even for states right next to one another.

For example, the maximum compensation for the loss of an eye is $27,280 in Alabama, but $261,525 in Pennsylvania. We found two workers who lived within 75 miles of each other and suffered arm amputations under similar circumstances. One received $45,000 in compensation for the loss of his arm while the other received lifetime benefits that could exceed $740,000 over 50 years. Why the vast difference? They worked in different states.

You can find the maximum amount of benefits workers can receive for permanent injuries to various body parts by state in this interactive graphic.

But be careful with how you report these numbers. There's a lot of nuance. The maximums are based on various circumstances, such as the worker's wages, the severity of the injury and sometimes age and education. Read our methodology page as well as the footnotes that accompany each state. For more detail about calculating the benefits, check the state law or contact your state's workers' comp bureau. Here's a list with links to their workers' comp agencies by state.

So how do I find workers who've been affected?

We asked our readers to tell us about their experiences with workers' comp and have heard from more than 300 people so far, including nearly 200 employees who said they are interested in being put in touch with reporters in their region. Journalists can sign up to be matched with a potential source by completing this form. Here's a quick look at the workers' comp stories we've received so far:

Several states including Florida, Illinois and California also allow the public to browse recent decisions or search for workers' comp cases by claimant name or employer.

In addition, local workers' comp attorneys, unions and worker advocacy groups can be helpful in finding injured workers. The Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group has a directory of lawyers who specialize in representing injured workers with workers' comp claims. The National Council for Occupational Safety and Health and Interfaith Worker Justice both have information about local worker centers around the country.

Get your story funded: If you're a local journalist, see our Beacon partnership to learn more about how to raise funds to report this story.

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Previously:
* Injured Worker In ProPublica/NPR Story Testifies Before Illinois Legislature.

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ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for their newsletter.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:06 PM | Permalink

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Signal-to-Noise at the Burlington on Thursday night.


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2. Rasputina at the Double Door on Friday night.

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3. Eliza Rickman at the Double Door on Friday night.

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4. Sheer Mag at the Empty Bottle on Wednesday night.

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5. Engelbert Humperdinck at the Rialto in Joliet on Friday night.

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6. Lateralus at Wire in Berwyn on Saturday night.

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7. Disturbed at the House of Blues on Friday night.

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8. Chicago at Ravinia on Sunday night.

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9. Seth MacFarlane at Ravinia on Friday night.

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10. Failure at the Metro on Friday night.

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11. Luke Winslow King at SPACE in Evanston on Saturday night.

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12. Black Diamond at House of Blues on Sunday night.

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13. Earth, Wind & Fire at RiverEdge Park in Aurora on Saturday night.

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14. Vinyl Theatre at Lincoln Hall on Friday night.

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15. Chayanne in Rosemont on Sunday night.

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16. Lauren Anderson at Wire in Berwyn on Friday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:44 AM | Permalink

Televangelists Gonna Televangel

"U.S. tax law allows television preachers to get away with almost anything. We know this from personal experience."


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See also: TV Preacher Reviews. Accepting new submissions!

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:26 AM | Permalink

Comic Con 2015! Giggity

1. Wizard World Comic Con Chicago 2015 was held over the weekend, and our pal Greg Boozell was there. This is not him, but it is his photo. Click through to see his full Flickr set.

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2. Comic Con Chicago Video Highlights By JustJones Gaming In Two Parts:

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3. Burt Reynolds, Y'all.

* Daily Mail: Frail Burt Reynolds, 79, Promotes His New Book As He Poses With Walking Dead's Scott Wilson At Chicago's Wizard World Comic Con.

* ComicBook.Com: Burt Reynolds Wants To Return To The X-Files.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:35 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: Slow Your Roll, Bears Fans

It cannot be helped. A team plays well and a little optimism creeps in no matter how lousy its overall prospects. And so it goes that a fan starts to hope that maybe just maybe the Bears won't be the worst team in the NFL this year.

We're not losing our minds here. The extent of this budding optimism is that this team might finish 4-12 instead of 3-13 after the Bears wrapped up the latest week of the preseason on Sunday. It was a week that featured practices and then an exhibition game against a good Indianapolis Colts team on Saturday that resulted in an 11-9 loss.

What's that you say? The Bears won 23-11! People, the score at the half is what matters.

The whole exercise is of course meaningless in terms of actually determining whether one team is better than another, but the only way to at least begin to make some sort of comparison between teams is to look at how the best players did against one another. The results of third-stringers stumbling around against one another probably shouldn't factor in, eh?

The bottom line is the Bears, and particularly defensive newcomer Pernell McPhee (outside linebacker) and quarterback Jay Cutler did more good things against the Colts than anyone anticipated. And that was nice. But it isn't exactly a revelation when people expect a team to lose a pretend-competitive half by multiple touchdowns and it only loses by a few points.

One more preseason pet peeve: Everyone needs to try harder to avoid drawing too many conclusions about a player's prospects on the basis of a single highlight play.

Cornerback Kyle Fuller was brutally bad on Andrew Luck's 45-yard completion to T.Y. Hilton in the second quarter Saturday. And then he compounded it with about as weird an "unsportsmanlike conduct - taunting" penalty as you are ever going to see. Last I checked, most athletes don't taunt after they get beat on a bomb.

Fuller explained later that he held on to Hilton considerably longer than necessary after the play because he was worried officials might rule Hilton wasn't touched down after he caught the pass. It was a weird explanation (it sure seemed as though Fuller had brought Hilton down in routine fashion a moment before he grabbed onto him) but at least it was something.

The second-year player out of Virginia Tech was disappointing last year, especially considering he cost the Bears a first-round pick. But turning oneself into a top cornerback in the NFL takes longer than a season-plus. Let's hold off on frowning upon his overall career prospects just yet.

And rookie running back Jeremy Langford had one delightfully speedy run through the middle of the line in the third quarter, one that resulted in a 46-yard gain. He did make one nice move that totally deked a safety, but the success of the play was mostly due to nice blocking, and the fact that the defensive scrubs had long since taken over.

In other words, hundreds of pro and college running backs could have made that run. And a decent number of them probably wouldn't have tripped over the yard marker (i.e. Langford's own two feet) about 35 yards in, eliminating what looked like a shot at a touchdown. The rookie out of Michigan State seems to have potential. So do at least a few other guys.

In the end I'm afraid I'm still not confident that even one Bear defender will qualify as "above average" in the coming season. And I am still totally depressed about the fact that the Bears got rid of the general manager and the overmatched head coach and the even more overmatched coordinators but still have the same freaking quarterback.

But hey, maybe they'll find a way to win the first half during the next stop of the pretend football tour, Saturday at the Bengals at 6:30.

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Jim "Coach" Coffman is our man on Mondays. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:13 AM | Permalink

Schwarber'll Be Selling Cars Soon

Isn't this fun?

I think as a fan I could get used to this whole "winning" thing.

And even the guys that I kind of don't care too much for have been playing great. I mean, sure, Dexter Fowler is still batting .257 for the season, but his OBP in August is .427. He's turned his season around since the All-Star break.

And I still don't like Chris Coghlan so much, but there is a big difference having a questionable guy playing second base opposed to left field. Second base is where questionable guys belong.

Now, let's not get crazy and think Coghlan truly is anything more than barely above replacement level, but when a team keeps winning like this, you can't help but like the guy - or at least hate him a bit less than before.

Not to mention this has just turned into the easily most likable team that I can remember. Okay, that 1984 team was super likable. Who could forget Jody Davis?

But let's face it, baseball (and life) was just more fun for everyone in 1984.

But no way around it, this team is getting more fun and likable by the day. I'm really looking forward to the new Tru-Link fence ad.

Or the Kyle Schwarber ad for some car dealership. Why should the Rizz have all the fun?

Uh, maybe he'll wear a not-so-weird shirt next time. Is it even buttoned correctly?

These guys are winning and it's fun. We are going to get to know these guys a lot, really soon.

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The Week in Review: The Cubs went 4-2 for the week, sweeping the Braves for four after getting utterly destroyed by the Tigers in two games. The Tigers losses were so bad that is was good to see the Cubs bounce back and handle the Braves. If there was a chance for them to feel bad for themselves, giving up 40-some hits in two games would have been a decent time. It was pretty sweet to see our old buddy Edwin Jackson back with the Braves - and then have him finally really help the Cubs by giving up a couple runs. He was not missed, but it was nice to see him.

The Week in Preview: The Cubs have a make-up game on Monday with the Indians and then head out West for three each with the Giants and Dodgers. The sweet summer tradition of going to sleep with the game on in the background. I always enjoy the West Coast trips.

The Second Basemen Report: Chris Coghlan is apparently the primary Cubs keystone sacker for the rest of this season. Or until Big Poppa Joe figures out if someone else can play second base. I remember Craig Biggio starting off as a catcher and moving to second - maybe Boy Hulk Schwarber is next? Probably not.

In former Cubs second basemen news, Sparky Adams last played second base for the Cubs in 1927. Adams was only 5-foot-4, which was short even for 1927. He looks like he is going to fall down in this baseball card picture. His balance issues aside, he is missed.

Mad(don) Scientist: Apparently Big Poppa Joe is a lot like Don Zimmer. I don't ever see Joe doing this, though. I could see him do this, however.

Wishing Upon A Starlin: Could you see a scenario wherein Castro is left off the playoff roster? I think that I can. Maybe Javy Baez or someone else comes up in September when the roster size increases and gives the Cubs more power/contact/defense/speed/character etc. You get the point; Castro really does nothing that great; he's almost a wasted roster spot come playoff time.

Kubs Kalender: On July 25th, the San Fransisco Giants had Hunter Pence Gnome Day. I guess gnomes are a thing. So we all missed that one - but you can still buy one on eBay, they are going for close to $40. Who gnew?

Ameritrade Stock Pick of The Week: Shares of Cubs playoff tickets went on sale this week. For real.

Over/Under: The number of Chicagoans who care about the Crosstown Cup: +/- hahahaha.

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that it's hard not to like these guys. And believe me, we're trying.

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* Touch 'em all: The Cub Factor archives.

* Know thy enemy: The White Sox Reports.

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Marty Gangler is our man on the Cub. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:03 AM | Permalink

The Problem With Robin

What is it that Sox fans really dislike about manager Robin Ventura?

In this fourth season of Ventura's tenure, the typical fan's patience for losing has been sorely tested, and the result is not pleasant. Cries of "It's not the manager's fault" are rarely heard. Most observers are quick to point their finger at Ventura and his staff because of lack of execution. We groan at the inability to hit the cutoff man or when one of our athletes tries to go from second to third on a grounder to short. The assumption is that the team hasn't been schooled in the fundamentals that successful clubs master and execute.

However, we have little or no access to what goes on behind the scenes. We are not privy to clubhouse protocols and procedures on the part of the manager and coaches. The media provide little or no information about the day-to-day preparation. Transparency doesn't exist so that it is difficult to assess Ventura's managerial qualities.

Ventura played 16 seasons in the big leagues, beginning in 1989 with the White Sox. Before he retired, Robin was also a Met, Yankee and Dodger. He appeared in more than 2,000 games. The 1993 White Sox, managed by Gene Lamont, won 94 games with Ventura a stalwart at third base.

Five years later he was a big reason (32 homers and 120 RBI) that the Mets won 97 games before losing in the NLCS. In 2002, Robin and Derek Jeter manned the left side of the Yankee infield for a team guided by Joe Torre that won 103 times.

The point is that Ventura's pedigree should be unquestioned. He played for some shrewd managers alongside Hall of Fame teammates. He wasn't a role player. Ventura was an integral piece of a number of very successful ballclubs. If baseball IQ and achievement were prerequisites for the Ivy League, surely Ventura would be a viable candidate for Harvard or Yale.

So how do we mere mortals judge Ventura's managerial ability? Surely, the number of victories is paramount, and we'll get to that in a moment. But let's pause for a bit and look at some strategy he employed last week as the White Sox dropped three of four in Anaheim before taking two of three in Seattle.

The Sox lost a tough 1-0 decision last Wednesday, a game in which pitcher Jeff Samardzija rebounded nicely after giving up 22 earned runs in 15 innings over his last three starts.

Samardzija answered the call, pitching seven innings and thwarting the Angels with runners in scoring position with less than two outs on three occasions. Only Angels' catcher Carlos Perez's home run in the sixth inning spoiled what otherwise was a shutout performance.

On most nights Samardzija would have been the winning pitcher, but soft-throwing Jered Weaver kept the Sox off balance, pitching into the seventh inning. The Sox managed only five hits off Weaver.

The White Sox rank 14th in the American League in runs scored. Moving runners along into scoring position and getting them in has been among the biggest challenges for Ventura's group. So when Carlos Sanchez doubled to lead off the fifth, Robin had catcher Tyler Flowers, who had sacrificed exactly three times previously in his entire career, bunt Sanchez to third. The execution was flawless in what seemed like a reasonable move - sabermatricians notwithstanding - until Adam Eaton and Tyler Saladino both grounded out, stranding Sanchez at third.

Skip ahead to the top of the seventh after Perez had given the Angels the lead. J.B. Shuck led off with a hit, bringing up Alexei Ramirez, who has sacrificed successfully 35 times in his eight-year career. Judging from Flowers' sacrifice two innings earlier, one would think Ventura would have Alexei lay one down.

Instead Ramirez hit away and struck out. Weaver then was lifted in favor of reliever Trevor Gott. Having spurned the bunt, Ventura had Shuck attempt to steal second (another sabermetric no-no), but Perez gunned him down. And wouldn't you know it; Sanchez followed with another hit which would have scored Shuck had Ramirez successfully sacrificed.

We'll never know why Robin had Flowers bunt while letting Ramirez flail away, but it sure seemed weird. One of the appeals of the game is to think along with the manager, and I'd love to know Robin's rationale from last Wednesday.

On Sunday, John Danks was way out of sorts. The Sox lefty threw just seven first-pitch strikes to the 24 hitters he faced. The Sox were in a 7-1 hole after five innings, but they rallied for five runs in the top of the sixth to jump back into the game.

But there was Danks back on the mound in the bottom of the sixth to face the left-hand hitting Kyle Seager, who promptly pumped a single to left. Reliever Matt Albers then was summoned, and he miraculously escaped a bases-loaded situation to keep the Sox within a run. Why wouldn't Robin let Albers start the inning with no one on base? It's not as though Danks was effective. He was having a horrid day in which the Sox wound up losing 8-6.

None of this suggests that Joe Fan knows the game better than Robin Ventura. What it does say is that we are left in the dark as to why Robin sacrifices in one situation while eschewing the bunt just two innings later.

While some if his moves appear questionable, we lack information about why he makes these moves. I mean, his job is to compile information in order to make intelligent decisions. My guess is that Danks faced Seager for the lefty-lefty match-up, and he didn't want to use Dan Jennings or Zach Duke at that juncture. OK, I get that. But Danks couldn't get anyone out Sunday. I was taken aback when I saw Danks out there in the 6th. Why not let Albers start the 6th regardless of the match-up? I'd love to know his thinking.

Post-game "press conferences" more often than not are meaningless in terms of the manager explaining strategy and the moves he made. Generalities and cliches rule the day.

So we are left with the bottom line: wins and losses. Thus far in Ventura's career, his Sox teams have gone 279-329 for a .459 percentage. Of the 15 American League managers, only Seattle's Lloyd McClendon has a worse mark at .450, and many of his losses occurred when he managed the Pirates before they got good.

The Yankees' Joe Girardi leads all skippers with a .560 mark, followed by the Angels' Mike Scioscia at .546.

Ventura started off as though his managerial career was going to be memorable. He was 44 years old, a year older than Girardi when Joe took over the Yankees in 2008. Scioscia was 41 when he assumed the helm of the Angels 16 seasons ago.

In his first season in 2012, the Sox led the division for 126 days and as late as September 25. Losing eight of nine games in late September dropped the Sox to second place, three games behind the Tigers. No one was blasting Ventura then. Few were questioning his in-game moves, nor did we hear complaints about preparation, fundamentals and execution.

So what has changed? The players for one. That team of three years ago had A.J. Pierzynski and Paul Konerko. DH Adam Dunn, despite a .204 batting average, hit 41 home runs and drove in 96. The promising Dayan Viciedo belted 25 homers, as did Alex Rios, who drove home 91. Chris Sale emerged as a star with 17 wins, while Jake Peavy and Gavin Floyd had 23 victories between them.

They also had a declining Kevin Youkilis and Gordon Beckham, who was beginning his long slump.

With a decent, not great, cast, 2012 was a nice beginning for Ventura. His teams haven't come close since.

I'm not sure whether Ventura is the right guy for the job. I do know that someone like Terry Francona had four losing seasons in Philadelphia when he started managing before being hired by the Red Sox in 2004 after a three-year hiatus. Of course, the Red Sox won the World Series in Francona's first season in Boston, and they won another one in 2007.

Assuming the reins in Cleveland in 2013, his club won 92 times and another 85 a season ago. This year the Indians have struggled. Francona is the same guy he's always been, but the results vary.

Kansas City's Ned Yost, whom sabermatricians despise, was on the hot seat until last year when the Royals became an elite team. Prior to that, Yost had a 374-435 record in four seasons in Milwaukee followed by a woeful .439 winning percentage in his first three years in Kansas City. He's not being hailed as a genius now, but he is enjoying respect that heretofore eluded him.

Ventura appears to have the support of his players. Most say they like and respect him, although if there are ones who don't, they would never say so. Prior to last season, Robin signed a contract extension which reportedly expires after the 2016 season. Everything out of the mouths of Rick Hahn, Kenny Williams, and The Chairman, who is loyal to a fault when it comes to his favorite players, indicates that Ventura will fulfill the length of the contract.

A year from now, if the problems haven't been addressed and fixed, then we no doubt will say adieu to Robin Ventura. But all signs say that Robin is going nowhere in the immediate future.

My problem is that we can't really tell how bad or good Robin is because things like strategy and preparation rarely are revealed. He was OK the first year. He's still the same guy. What's happened? I don't think his players are so bad. Some of them like Sanchez show exciting potential. And he has legitimate stars like Sale and Abreu. I do think they are underachievers, and no one - including the fans - has the answers. So he returns next year, and that will be the decider as far as his future on the South Side is concerned.

I can't simply say he sucks, nor do I think he's a Joe Maddon. But he might be a Ned Yost.

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Roger Wallenstein is our man on the Sox. He welcomes your comments.

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1. From Mark Schaeffer:

I believe Robin is closer to Don Gutteridge than Joe Maddon, but that's just me.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:17 AM | Permalink

August 22, 2015

The Dyett Hunger Strikers Stand On The Shoulders Of These Forgotten Heroes

Today is Day Six of the Dyett Hunger Strike. Twelve Chicago activists have put their bodies on the line to persuade the suits at City Hall and Chicago Public Schools that the now-shuttered Walter H. Dyett High School, 555 E. 51st St., should be reopened as a neighborhood high school, and not as a politically-connected charter or contract school.

By stepping up their fight for quality public education, the Dyett 12 join a venerable list of Chicago's social justice reformers.

The courage shown by these South Side hunger strikers, who are subsisting only on fluids, brings to mind the determination of the Payton 16, a group of North Side attorneys and consultants who, in 2013, went without food for close to 25 minutes, until Mayor Emanuel grudgingly agreed to use roughly $17 million in TIF funds to build an addition for their kids' selective-enrollment high school.

The Payton 16 were said to have drawn their strength from the UNO 13, a group of political insiders who, in 2009, refused to eat for nearly 45 minutes, until the Illinois legislature awarded them a $98 million grant to build charter schools.

The UNO 13, of course, continue to cite as their chief inspiration the LAZ 40, a group of Chicago aldermen who, in 2008, refused to leave the city council chambers until they were allowed to vote in favor of former Mayor Daley's plan to lease Chicago's parking meters for 75 years.

The Dyett Hunger Strike is a great opportunity for both Mayor Emanuel and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to help their kids (who attend the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, roughly two miles away from Dyett) earn some community service hours by bringing bottled water to courageous Chicagoans who are risking their own well-being on behalf of thousands of clout-free kids in their historically underserved neighborhood.

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Previously in Matt Farmer:
* Dear Manny Flores.

* Another Super Bowl Shuffle.

* I'd Love To Talk To You But There's An Ongoing Investigation.

* Twelve Percent Of The People Have Spoken.

* If Daley Managed The Cubs.

* I Tried To Break Into George Blanda's Car.

* Good King Rich b/w Pay To Play (But Keep Love In Your Heart) & Crawl Back To Crawford.

* Rahm: Too Big To Fail.

* Clemente FOIA: Show Us The Paper Trail.

* These Are Your Schools, Chicago: Tell 'Em What To Do, G.

* The Apology Kristen McQueary Should Have Written.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:52 AM | Permalink

Show Me A Hero: A Q&A With David Simon

David Simon's new HBO miniseries Show Me a Hero, which premiered last Sunday, is the harrowing tale of a hopeless battle. Based on a nonfiction book of the same title - written by former New York Times reporter Lisa Belkin - the show dramatizes the real fight that took place 25 years ago in Yonkers, New York, after a federal judge ordered public housing projects to be built in the wealthier (and whiter) parts of the city.

In an interview with ProPublica, David Simon discussed the legacy of the Yonkers crisis and what desegregation is all about. The transcript has been edited for clarity and length.

You said that you thought about this show many years ago. How has the project changed over time?

Very little, sadly. We optioned this book shortly after it came out [in 1999], and we were fairly certain that the dynamic of hyper-segregation was a national dynamic, that we were not just writing a story about Yonkers.

What do you mean by hyper-segregation?

White people, by and large, are not very good at sharing physical space or power or many other kinds of social dynamics with significant numbers of people of color. It's been documented time and time again. There is a great book by Andrew Hacker called Two Nations. My God, it's almost a quarter century old, but it is an incredible primer on just how specific the desire of white America is to remain in a hyper-majority.

The reason we wanted [Belkin's] book was that Yonkers was a place where the housing department actually got the housing right. They didn't overwhelm the neighborhood with a massive project or hundreds of walk-up units. They were trying to do scattered-site housing for the first time, which has been this quiet revolution in public housing. It works, it doesn't destabilize neighborhoods. But you were dealing with people who were entrenched behind the same fears as previous generations . . .

This project kept getting bumped a little bit to the back burner but every time we bumped it, in talking about it with the HBO executives, we'd say, "You know what, look, it just happened to Baltimore." They tried to do the same thing with scattered housing in eastern Baltimore County, and the white folks went batshit, batshit crazy. At every point, there was a new fresh example that the dynamic was still there, that the racial pathology was still intact. And I think it has only become more pronounced. The show was greenlit before Ferguson, before Baltimore, before Charleston.

If you had written the screenplay after these events, would you have changed anything?

No, no. First of all, Show Me a Hero is not about police violence. It's certainly not about a white racist backlash against changing demographics, which is how I would characterize the Charleston or Lafayette shootings. Part of the implied power of the piece is we are taking you back 25 years and nothing has changed!

Lisa Belkin wrote an op-ed in The New York Times a few days ago saying she viewed Yonkers, at the time when she was doing her reporting, as a place of hope. She expected desegregation to happen around the United States as a result. That didn't happen. The NAACP didn't pursue the same cases anywhere else.

Nor did the Justice Department because of horrible resources.

Why do you think that happened?

Because of how blistering Yonkers was, how insanely volatile and irrational Yonkers was. You have to remember that this case was brought at the end of the Carter administration. There wasn't a single civil rights action filed by the Justice Department from 1980 to 1988 that mattered. Reagan effectively shut down the civil rights division of the DOJ. Then you had Clinton, who was doing everything he could during the Gingrich years to maneuver to the center. The reason you didn't have aggressive use of this legal precedent under Clinton is the same reason you have those omnibus crime bills that filled up prisons as fast as we can construct them. Bill Clinton's triangulation with the political center made things like fair housing prohibitive for his political priorities.

We haven't seen any movement on this in any presidential administration until the last two years of Obama. They sort of opened the books on all their data to basically encourage the use of the Fair Housing Act to do precisely what they did in Yonkers. But notice that this is coming in the last two years of the administration, and it's coming as an administrative act.

In the show, no one really wants the housing either. The NAACP is already tired of the whole ordeal before any units were built.

You have to remember, they filed the case in ['80]. It was litigated. They are now in 1987, and they can't get the goddamn city to name a geographic site to build house No. 1 . . .

But the truth is, the 200 units were built. They are still there, and there has been no increase in crime in those neighborhoods as a result of it. There has been no substantive decrease in the housing values in Yonkers. There was a brief dip as there was some fundamental white flight, mostly surrounding the school desegregation portion of the civil rights suit, which is a whole other can of worms.

The population in Yonkers is now probably about 56 percent white, 44 percent people of color, heavily Latino. A lot of people, with a certain amount of unknowing racial malevolence, say "oh, look, it was 80-20 white, now it's almost 50 percent people of color. See what happens? Look at all that white flight." But in 25 years, the population of the New York metropolitan area has been transformed.

What desegregation is about is not about keeping Yonkers 80-20 or 75-25. This is about the browning of America. We are becoming a less white country. The trick is, can we become more brown without destabilizing ourselves and without having gated white communities and ghettos?

Did you hear from current residents as you were filming?

We talked to all the people in the book, some of whom are still living in those townhouses. I mean, did I go take a poll of random people in Yonkers? No. But every time we set up and started filming, people would come over, and we talked to people who were unrelenting in their belief that what was done was illegal and that the judge had no right to do this and that it was an affront to their freedom and their liberty. They would come and tell us that, and we'd say "well, okay . . . "

Did anyone object to you filming at, for example, the actual city hall of Yonkers? Or that this could reopen wounds?

No, the mayor appeared with us in Yonkers. I'm sure there are people who didn't want to see the story made at all. But, you know, I'm not used to making shows that everyone agrees with, so I wouldn't know what that would feel like anyway.

With two episodes down, is there anything that viewers should remember, have in mind, when they watch the next two on Sunday?

I certainly don't want to tell people what to watch until they watch it. Just that we were very true to the history. This is all predicated upon a 40-year history of American government at the federal, state and local level using public money to purposefully hyper-segregate our society. Poor people didn't end up all packed into housing projects in one square mile of Yonkers by accident. It was a plan. It was a plan in Chicago, in Baltimore, in Dallas and everywhere that took federal housing money since the 1930s.

The records, the history of it is in plain sight. I have nothing but contempt for anybody who says that [the racial integration of Yonkers] was social engineering by this judge. Really? You want to parse it that way? What bullshit. The social engineering begins in the 1930s, with FHA mortgages and with the first public housing monies in the New Deal. Republicans and Democrats are both complicit.

The idea that the social engineering starts at the moment that somebody might want to restore somebody to their full civil rights, 40 years into the rigged game. And that's when you object? Sorry, that's racist to begin your argument there.

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See also: Living Apart: How The Government Betrayed A Landmark Civil Rights Law.

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ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for their newsletter.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:33 AM | Permalink

The Weekend Desk Report

Vortex Report
"Chicagoans will see a portion of their electricity bills rise in coming years because of new electric grid rules tied to the polar vortex, according to power auction results that were made public Friday," the Tribune reports.

Meanwhile, the financial crisis at CPS has now been tied to a bipolar vortex.

The universe, however, is not a vortex.

Therefore, bad governance is not universal.

Server Report
Michael Jordan Awarded $8.9 Million In Lawsuit Against Chicago Supermarket.

That means a $1.78 million tip for the jury.

Blago Report
"Lawyers for imprisoned ex-Governor Rod Blagojevich filed a motion on Friday asking a federal judge to hold off on resentencing until they learn whether the U.S. Supreme Court will take on his case," the Sun-Times reports.

Be careful, lawyers. Blago is a prime candidate for sentence-lengthening based on the "Just Being Annoying" and "Are You Still Around?" clauses of the revised Patriot Act. One more time-wasting appeal could mean indefinite detention.

Rauner Report
Governor Signs Gay Conversion Therapy Ban For Young People.

Old people, you're on your own.

*

Alternate: Replaced by charter school conversion therapy.

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The Dyett Hunger Strikers Stand On Shoulders Of Forgotten Heroes
Let us not forget the Payton 16, the UNO 13 and the LAZ 40.

Michael Jordan Tipped 20%!
He's just like us!

Show Me A Hero: A Q&A With David Simon
"This is all predicated upon a 40-year history of American government at the federal, state and local level using public money to purposefully hyper-segregate our society. Poor people didn't end up all packed into housing projects in one square mile of Yonkers by accident. It was a plan. It was a plan in Chicago, in Baltimore, in Dallas and everywhere that took federal housing money since the 1930s."

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour: Maddon For Mayor
The Super PAC starts here. Plus: Babe "Bam Bam" Schwarber, Ace Arrieta & Cogsy; The Chicago White Sox Did Something This Week; Chasing David Haugh; The Chicago Fire Did Something This Week; Vic Fangio Does Not Walk On Water; Two-Minute Mess; and The Erik Kramer Story Once Again Raises The Question: Should You Let Your Kids Play Football?

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "Jim and Greg put on their white coats once again as the Rock Doctors attend to a patient in need of some musical treatment. This time they attempt to revive a woman bored by rock's recent formulaic trends."

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BeachBook
* Fuck You Fancy Bar With Your Over-Priced Over-Constructed Drinks With Your Mustached Arm-Banded Bartenders.

* Mac Blackout Is The Local Rocker Putting Faces On Tree Stumps.

* What Kain Colter Really Learned At Northwestern.

* St. Louis To Refund Motorists For $5.6 Million In Red-Light Camera Tickets.

* For $1,900, Live In An 850-Foot Apartment Above The Double Door.

* McDonald's Signs Major Franchising Deal To Expand To Siberia.

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Straight outta Beachwood.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:49 AM | Permalink

Man Of The Year Michael Jordan Tipped 20 Percent!

After reading Michael Sneed's ridiculous column this week about Michael Jordan's dinner at what she calls "the city's new and hip seafood eatery," C Chicago, my insight into today's boorish behavior of so many of our athletes again is reaffirmed.

Set the bar low enough, and the simple, polite, civil actions - those which many of us perform daily - become celebrated. Furthermore, there's a direct relationship between the stature of an idol like MJ and the height of the bar which descends lower and lower as the star power rises.

Sneed, who writes as though her big night out includes Chicken McNuggets, publicizes Jordan entering through the front door and sitting at a table with other patrons rather than in a private room. What a great guy!

Then he orders "uber-expensive French Burgundy" and makes nice-nice with the waiter - MJ was so accommodating that he posed for a photo that accompanied the column - who has 75 pairs of Air Jordan shoes, leading me to believe that diners where he's toiled tip more than Michael Jordan. Then Mike picks up the "four-figure tab" for his party of eight.

To say Sneed's column needs a dose of perspective is like saying California needs rain.
Last March Jordan made Forbes' list of billionaires for the very first time. I'm not sure that Michael received a trophy or plaque for this latest accomplishment, but if he did, no doubt it's on the mantelpiece right next to one of his five MVP awards.

Forbes figured that there are a mere 1,740 people on the planet who have more money that Michael Jordan. We know that Mike is a competitive fellow; look for him to move up that list.

So we would assume that Michael would pass on the $70 bottle of 2012 Boisset Bourgogne Rouge from C Chicago's wine list in favor of the 2003 Domaine Henri Boillet Bonnes-Mares with a price tag of $700. (Keep ordering bottles of that potion, and you just might fall off the billionaires' list.)

The final kicker is that MJ tipped 20 percent. Now that you have read this far, ask yourself if you have ever tipped 20 percent.

My pal Tim, a gem of a man who picks up tabs about as often as our celebrated athletes pick up women, texted, "Can you imagine? Mike Jordan reached for the bill!! What [was] he supposed to do? 'OK, folks, let's divvy it up.'"

Imagining that he was Michael Jordan, my friend continued, "What do you think he tipped? I would be embarrassed to tip like that."

All of which brings us to a place where an "uber-rich" celebrity treats his wife and friends to a lovely dinner, while according his waiter respect before leaving a not-unusual 20 percent tip. The result is glamorous coverage on Page 3 of one of two big city dailies.

Did I mention that the bar keeps getting lower and lower?

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Comments welcome.

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1. From Brad Herzog:

Amen, Roger Wallenstein. Every time I hear something about Michael Jordan, I like him less and less. Every time I hear something about Magic Johnson, I like him more and more.

2. From Ben Glazer:

I once had dinner with a veteran pro football player and we did split the bill and I had to leave the tip. He was a high paid linebacker for the Eagles at the time.

3. From Rory Clark:

I think that would have been a more stunning event had it been Scottie Pippen. He is notorious for not tipping.

Thanks for a good laugh and a great observation.

4. From Tom Chambers:

And the Tribune ran a thing: Just how well is Michael dressed?

Well quite nicely, right? He SURE AS HELL ought to be!

Athletes' boorish behavior? Be a nice person, but when people drool over him they're an easily exploitable crowd. I know for a fact Scottie Pippen is a cheap SOB and he has that rep. But proportionally, Jordan seems worse. Should have been a 100% tip!

Is it any consolation that perhaps Jordan himself was overpaying for the wine?

I could NOT believe the verdict. They didn't even really use his likeness. The number 23 belongs to the Bulls, or NBA. Dominick's for a piece of beef they had to give a name: Rancher's Reserve Steak. What part of the cow's butt did that come from?

What about the kids who died because of his shoes?

Don't think you know them and don't think they're nice people.

I've got Michael Jordan right here:

Thanks, Roger.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:26 AM | Permalink

August 21, 2015

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #65: Only The Cubs' Light Shines In Chicago

Maddon for Mayor. Plus: Babe "Bam Bam" Schwarber, Ace Arrieta & Cogsy; The Chicago White Sox Did Something This Week; Chasing David Haugh; The Chicago Fire Did Something This Week; Vic Fangio Does Not Walk On Water; Two-Minute Mess; and The Erik Kramer Story Once Again Raises The Question: Should You Let Your Kids Play Football?


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SHOW NOTES

* Noah "The Buddha" Jackson.

:38: Only The Cubs' Light Shines In Chicago.

* Kris who?

* New Kyle Schwarber photo.

* Cogsy.

* American Legion Week.

* Less is more.

* Maddon for Mayor.

* Key concerns.

* Lester's yips.

* Arrieta > Lester.

* Jake Arrieta is 29.

29:45: The White Sox Did Something This Week.

* And it was second-rate.

37:58: Chasing David Haugh.

* Haugh: Don't mess with the chemistry!

"If Utley arrives before the Aug. 31 waiver-trade deadline, somebody either must go or have his role reduced. Who? Jonathan Herrera? Herrera, one of the more popular players in the clubhouse, started at third base Sunday and has served as invaluable bench player on a roster Maddon uses skillfully. Sure, Utley offers experience the Cubs lack at second base, but the platoon of Castro and Chris Coghlan hardly screams shortcoming."

* That was written by a highly paid marquee metro newspaper columnist.

"Castro, in the midst of a terrible year, still has value despite the occasional error - such as Friday when he had three hits or last week when he made an impossible catch in foul territory."

* So was that. We deserve better, Chicago.

"On the flip side of Coghlan's team-first mentality to accept any role, reports say Utley insists on getting a guarantee of playing time before he approves any trade."

* He's a 10-5 man; he's earned the right to approve any trade and doesn't want to go somewhere to sit on the bench. Christ.

"Getting 13 hits in his first 26 at-bats after returning from an ankle injury, including a home run Saturday, made some people forget how bad Utley was before going on the disabled list June 24 when he barely was hitting his weight - .179. That's part of Utley's history too."

* He was hurt; he suffered his injury in January. Last year he was an All-Star with a 4.5 WAR.

* CLARIFICATION: "Utley was officially traded to the Dodgers Wednesday along with cash for minor leaguers Darnell Sweeney and John Richy."

44:15: Our New Mascot.

45:30: Two-Minute Mess.

* Get used to it.

* Bowen: New Bears Defense May Have Great Schemes, But It Needs Some Great Players.

51:30: Erik Kramer Survives Apparent Suicide Attempt.

1:00:38: The Chicago Fire Did Something This Week.

1:01:27: Chicago Sky: Adversity!

1:01:53: This Week's T-Shirt.

natlcoffman.jpg

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STOPPAGE: 4:36

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For archives and other Beachwood shows, see The Beachwood Radio Network.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:04 AM | Permalink

Survey Says: Steve Harvey Is A Terrible Father

"On Sunday, a group of male Chicago comedians attended the season premiere taping of The Steve Harvey Show in Chicago," Kate Dries reports for Jezebel.

"These ten men were part of an audience of roughly 2,000 at the Ford Oriental Theatre downtown, who were all there for What Men Really Think - The Event! What Men Really Think, according to accounts, is that it is acceptable for thousands of them to catcall and harass 150 women onstage.

"Advertised as an event intended 'for gentlemen of all backgrounds and ages,' the taping appears to be a more elaborate version of a segment that was part of an episode that aired in July during It's Raining Men Week, also entitled 'What Men Really Think.' That segment had featured a regular-sized studio audience of women, with men onstage who'd been quizzed on questions like 'Which is more important, a pretty face or a great body?' (Answer: A pretty face!)"

Click through for the rapey rest and read the rest of the horrible story.

*

At The Root, Yesha Callahan notes that "Over the last several years, Harvey has successfully rebranded himself as a relationship expert, and it seems as though people are really buying into his schtick once again."

As Jezebel notes, Harvey "has been married three times and has admitted to cheating multiple times."

Plus, he hosts Family Feud.

*

If that wasn't bad enough, look at the advice he's given to his college-bound son.

1. Have respect for the law. No back and forth with the police. Just comply.

I'm sure a lot of parents - especially African Americans - tell their kids this. But there's also a whiff of servitude (and victim-blaming) to it.

2. Let nobody outwork you. People will be able to sing better than you, people will be smarter than you, But let nobody outwork you.

A lot of people give this advice, but there's a grand fallacy to it: It's simply impossible for everyone to outwork each other.

3. I'll let you smoke cigars, but don't smoke weed.

You can kill yourself with lung cancer, but don't get harmlessly high.

*

And then there's the ego.

"I started this blog to show you that once you peel back the layers, I'm no different than you."

Dude, you host Family Feud.

*

Finally:

"In August 2011, on his radio show, Harvey called Cornel West and Tavis Smiley 'Uncle Toms' because of their criticism of President Barack Obama."

Always comply! And, um, maybe study a little better in school so you know what things mean.

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UPDATE 5:41 P.M.: "Embarrassing Is An Understatement:" Stories From Steve Harvey's Sexist Nightmare Special.

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Previous Steve Harvey on Jezebel:
* Steve Harvey Teaches Us To Act Like A Lady, Think Like An A-Hole.

* Why Steve Harvey Is Only Giving Women Love Advice.

* Steve Harvey's New Show Excels In Stating The Obvious.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:03 AM | Permalink

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Royal Headache at the Empty Bottle on Wednesday night.

Loerzel photos.

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2. Beres Hammond at the Shrine on Tuesday night.

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3. Janelle Monae at the Concord on Monday night.

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4. Jidenna at the Concord at Monday night.

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5. Rude Unkal at SPACE in Evanston on Tuesday night.

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6. Jerry Douglas at City Winery on Tuesday night.

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7. Insomnium at the Tree in Joliet on Monday night.

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8. Mordatorium at the Tree in Joliet on Monday night.

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9. Sublime at Northerly Island on Thursday night.

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10. Yes at Northerly Island on Sunday night.

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11. Needtobreathe at Ravinia on Wednesday night.

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12. Collective Soul at Ravinia on Monday night.

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13. Johnny Gill at Promontory on Thursday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:06 AM | Permalink

Beachwood Photo Booth: Don't Worry, Be Cookie

Have a nice day!

yellowcookiesthebageletcbw.jpg(ENLARGE FOR PROPER VIEWING)

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More Chicago photography from Helene Smith.

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Helene on Twitter!

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Meet Helene!

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Stationery, iPhone cases, hoodies.

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Listen to Helene talk about Photo Booth; starts at 57:54.

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Previously:
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Man Grilling
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Yum Yum Donuts
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Father's Day
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Vintage Airmaster
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Time
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Window Shade
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Illinois Slayer
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Fire Escape
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Golden Nugget
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Hollywood, Chicago
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Flag Man.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Van In Flames.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Fluid Power Automation.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Corn Dog.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Stop The Killing Car.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Backyard.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: A to Z Things.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Swedish Diner.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Rothschild Liquors.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Silos.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Wires.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Orange Garden.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Irving Park Guy.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Pigeons.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: O'Lanagan's.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: For Rent.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Marie's Pizza & Liquors.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Mori Milk.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: American Breakfast.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: A Chicago Christmas Postcard.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Holiday Harold's.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Family Fun.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Snow Bike.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Nativity Scene.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Old Warsaw.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Deluxe Cleaners.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Marie's Golden Cue.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Die Another Day.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Sears Key Shop.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Window Dressing.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Jeri's Grill.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Barry's Drugs.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Liberty.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Kitchen.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Golden Specials.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: We Won The Cup.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Bartender Man.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Blue Plane Blues.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Finest Quality.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Family Guy.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Girls Wanted.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Skokie Savanna.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Signpost.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Old Man And The Tree.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Street Fleet.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Citgo Story.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Fantasy Hair Design.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Garage.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Clark Stop.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Pole Position.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Window Dressing.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Geometry.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Found Love.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Fill In The Blank.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Vacuums Of The Night.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Dumpster Still Life.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Wagon Master.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Intersecting West Rogers Park.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Penn-Dutchman Antiques.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Cow Patrol.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Backstage Chicago.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Skully Bungalow.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Francisco Frankenstein.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Long Cool Heat.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Smokers' Mast.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Big Fat Phone.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Happy Day.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Alley Men.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Holiday Show!
* Beachwood Photo Booth: You've Got Mailbox.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Broken Window Theory.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Dali Logan.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Svengoolie.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Horner Park Hot Dogs.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Cubs Rehab.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: 20th Century Schizoid Man.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Men On Vans.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Penn-Dutchman Is Done.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Snowy Lincoln.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Waiting Room.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Avondale Chicken.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Winter's End.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: The Friendly Skies.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Boyhood Buzzer Beater.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: J Date.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: International Window Lady.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Shanghai Inn.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Open For Business.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Andersonville Unplugged.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: 3-Flat.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Evanston Turkey.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicagolandia.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Eat At Odge's.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Deitch Pharmacy.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Sud-Z Bubble.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Bands Wanted!
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Belmont Tavern.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Superheroic San Luis Freeze.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Evanston Oasis.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Lyndale Food & Jewelry.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Lincoln Tap.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Book Window.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Alco Dude.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Ballin Drugs.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:06 AM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

"Legendary Chicago Bull Michael Jordan served up a side of super nice at C Chicago, the city's new and hip seafood eatery Sunday night," Sneed "reports."

Jordan, who has kept it low-key since fighting began in an endorsement infringement case at the federal courthouse last week, sent eatery patrons into overdrive when he showed up in a front-row seat.

"Celebrities usually request private rooms at odd hours," said C Chicago owner David Flom.

"But not Michael Jordan. He didn't want a private dining room. His manager called earlier in the day and ordered up a window seat in full view of everybody," Flom added.

Not Michael Jordan! He's just a regular guy! At least just this once - in full view of everybody!

But did he charge a $10 million appearance fee?

*

"Minus security, Jordan arrived in a casual white linen shirt looking like he had just stepped off a yacht - and dined with his gorjus wife, Yvette Prieto, and three other couples."

Can you believe he was minus security? Man of the people!

Um, is it a jury trial?

*

"His server, Nathan Haadsma, 28, told Sneed: 'I have been so in awe of Jordan's legacy, I am the proud owner of all 75 pairs of Air Jordan shoes.'"

Dude.

*

"'I was stunned to find out how humble he was, despite his extraordinary fame, while I was waiting on his table,' said Haadsma.

"'His smile was genuine and just the way he talked to me, super nice and not belittling at all, was surprising to me. He could have been just the opposite like some celebrities can be.'"

Nathan, you're probably a nice guy, but you might be the only person on the planet who believes Michael Jordan is humble - and hasn't spent his life belittling others. But thanks for playing!

*

"When the check came, Jordan reached for the bill. How much was the tab? It's safe to say it slipped easily into the four-figure range - and the tip was 20 percent."

Michael Jordan tips just like us! In fact, he only tips just like us - 20 percent.

Dude.

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See also: Sneed says Patti Blagojevich is "a classic case of a woman standing by her man."

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Our very own Roger Wallenstein tipped me to the Sneed item. Our very own Tom Chambers also weighed in:

Is The Beachwood thinking of the idolatry of Michael Jordan in his "trial" to protect his riches?

Well, I guess it is a big thing, because it's the first time he's been back in Chicago in 30 years, except to count the money from the brushing-elbows prices of a filet or a piece of pie at his steakhouse.

Here's a selfish bully who invented the concept of an athlete's brand, the precursor to special people such as Tiger Woods, LeBron James and all the rest. Probably because of improper behaviors and acquaintances, "retired, left the game" for a year. He fouled the Jazz guard, hit the shot, took his money and ran. If he catches a cold, does he get $10 million a sneeze?

I only watch WGN news, through the weather, and I thought Patrick Elwood at the courthouse was going to take off his jacket, shirt and tie (certainly he was better dressed than for most any other story, but never better dressed than Jordan) and ask Jordan to autograph his chest hair.

I know there won't be discounts on the cheap shoes that kids who couldn't afford to paid hundreds of dollars for. But I hope the jury gives him $4, the amount of the total discount the two people who cashed in the coupon received. I don't think it was the Dry Aged Porterhouse, $99 at MJ's joint.

Tom adds:

I enjoyed immensely the Bulls and Jordan and the championship years: ON THE COURT.

I never thought I knew them, at least not enough to like them, or not.

Although I think the Bulls the year he wasn't there worked harder and got screwed against New York. Remember, I think Jordan was being punished and it was a golden opportunity to get the Knicks in the finals.

Thanks, Tom.

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McDonald's Grilled In Brazil
Chicago worker testifies at human rights Senate hearing.

*

ME: Movie Pitch: Remake Point Break except instead of wearing ex-presidents masks, we dress like fast-food mascots. Everything else is the same.

TIM: Reality pitch: Remake U.S. history with fast-food mascots replacing presidents.

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Steve Harvey Is A Terrible Father
Worst advice-giver ever.

Beachwood Photo Booth: Don't Worry, Be Cookie
Have a nice day!

The Week In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Royal Headache, Beres Hammond, Janelle Monae, Jidenna, Rude Unkal, Jerry Douglas, Insomnium, Mordatorium, Sublime, Yes, Needtobreathe, Collective Soul, and Johnny Gill.

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #65: Only The Cubs' Light Shines In Chicago
Maddon for Mayor. Plus: Babe "Bam Bam" Schwarber, Ace Arrieta & Cogsy; The Chicago White Sox Did Something This Week; Chasing David Haugh; The Chicago Fire Did Something This Week; Vic Fangio Does Not Walk On Water; Two-Minute Mess; and The Erik Kramer Question.

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BeachBook
* Iraq War General Cashing In With New Job At JP Morgan.

"In Thomas Ricks' 2006 book Fiasco, Odierno was characterized as helping enable indiscriminate mass detentions, prisoner abuse, and extrajudicial killings of Iraqi civilians in the area under his control ... "

* House Music Makes News For The First Time In Chicago (1986).

Jay Levine on the story.

* Mark Buehrle Has Fallen In Love With Toronto.

* Kain Colter's Union Battle With NU Cost Him More Than He Ever Expected.

FU, NU.

* The Political Press's Pork Chop Reporting.

* Smack Shack Plans 300-Seat Chicago Restaurant.

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TweetWood

Embedded tweets will return only after Twitter has fixed the problem it caused when it changed its code (or something) last night and made everything go bonkers. That's why some pages on the site are now too wide for our design. I'm told they're working on it.

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Beachwood Tip Line: Embeddable.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:57 AM | Permalink

McDonald's Faces Global Crackdown In Brazil; Chicago Worker Testifies

Workers from five continents, elected leaders from around the world testify before Brazilian Senate at first-ever global hearing on McDonald's 'race to the bottom'

Citing a pattern of illegal behavior that is undercutting Brazil's workers and economy, Brazilian leaders Thursday called for major investigations into McDonald's that will place the fast-food giant under the microscope in its most important Latin American market.

Brazilian Labor Ministry prosecutor Leonardo Mendoca announced the formation of a task force to investigate extensive allegations of labor law violations by McDonald's throughout Brazil, which could find the company in breach of a national accord it signed in 2013 pledging to respect the country's labor laws. Mendoca also said Brazil's new prosecutor general would continue to support enforcement and investigations involving McDonald's.

Additionally, Brazilian members of Congress Carlos Zarattini (ruling PT Party) and Antonio Carlos Mendes Thame ( PSDB Party) called for the reopening of a Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry into slave labor, the highest level of investigation possible, to probe so-called "social dumping" and poor working conditions at McDonald's.

The announcements were made at an extraordinary global hearing before the Brazilian Federal Senate, where McDonald's workers from five continents joined elected officials and labor leaders from around the world to testify on how McDonald's - the world's second-largest private-sector employer - is undermining workers, governments, competitors, suppliers and consumers through its low-road business model.

"McDonald's is one of the most recognized brands around the world, and this hearing makes clear that its corrosive business model spans the globe as well," said Sen. Paulo Paim, chairman of the Human Rights and Participative Legislation Committee in the Brazilian Federal Senate, who called the hearing Thursday. "Brazil can be the country that leads the way in holding this company accountable. Let this hearing mark a moment where governments around the world join together to demand that global companies like McDonald's do better by workers and the public as a whole."

The hearing, which drew attendees from 20 countries, marks a significant escalation of a global campaign to hold McDonald's accountable for its low-road business model, featuring wide-ranging testimony on the company's mistreatment of workers and bad corporate citizenship around the world, including low wages, dangerous working conditions, labor law violations, tax avoidance, and abusive business practices, among others.

"The verdict of today's hearing is clear: no company is more responsible than McDonald's for driving a global race to the bottom," said Scott Courtney, assistant to the president at the Service Employees International Union. "McDonald's has pioneered and perfected a brand of 'cannibal capitalism' that chews up and spits out the very people and communities that it needs in order to be successful in the long term. It is unsustainable from a business perspective, but more importantly it is morally wrong.

"McDonald's has a choice - it can continue dragging down standards nearly everywhere it operates, or it can use its considerable power and influence to help improve the lives of workers around the world. Today's hearing shows that there is a global consensus in support of McDonald's stepping up and leading a better way forward."

McDonald's workers from countries including the United States, France, Korea and Brazil testified on how the company's low wages and harsh conditions - including racial and sexual harassment and widespread health and safety hazards - drag down economies across the world.

"When I look around at other McDonald's workers who are here today from five different continents, I know that I am speaking not just for myself, but for hundreds of thousands of cooks and cashiers like me who are fighting for better jobs and a better life at McDonald's," said Adriana Alvarez, a McDonald's cashier and Fight for $15 leader from Chicago.

Alvarez, who is paid just $10.50 an hour after five years on the job, broke down in tears describing how hard it is to come up with the $75 a week she needs for child care for her son Manny following recent government cuts.

Elected leaders from around the world testified on McDonald's record of aggressively dodging taxes. In the European Union - McDonald's second-largest market by sales - the company is the subject of a preliminary investigation by the European Commission over allegations of tax avoidance. From 2009-2013, McDonald's deliberately avoided more than one billion euros in corporate taxes throughout Europe, according to a report released in February by a coalition of European and American unions and NGOs.

"McDonald's way of doing business is costing European governments and taxpayers dearly," said Jutta Steinruck, a member of the European Parliament from Germany, in her testimony before the Senate. "McDonald's has the power to play a positive role in the European economy. But instead, it has created a tax scheme designed to pad its own profits by dodging taxes throughout Europe. This is draining European governments and taxpayers of money desperately needed to support investment in public goods like health care and infrastructure, all for the purpose of making a billion-dollar American company even richer."

Last week, one of Brazil's most powerful unions filed a complaint asking Brazil's public prosecution service to open a civil inquiry into allegations of tax dodging, unfair competition and violations of franchise laws by McDonald's. Calling McDonald's largest franchisee, Arcos Dourados, "recalcitrant in its breach of employer obligations in Brazil," the General Workers' Union (UGT) filed a petition calling on the Public Prosecution Service to launch a wide-ranging civil investigation into the burger giant's alleged illegal business practices in the country.

"These companies come to Brazil and want to treat us as if we are still in colonial times," Ricardo Patah, president of UGT, said at the hearing. "They think they can exchange trinkets. We are the seventh largest economy in the world and get treated like a banana republic."

The Senate hearing follows months of heightened scrutiny over McDonald's illegal activity in Brazil. Earlier this year, a coalition of trade unions has filed two lawsuits accusing the company of widespread and systematic labor and health and safety violations. One of the suits accuses McDonald's of "social dumping," an anti-competitive practice that drives standards down for workers across the country, and seeks to prevent the company from opening new stores unless it complies with Brazilian law. Also, McDonald's agent in Latin America and the Caribbean, Arcos Dorados, has come under scrutiny, with an investor group asking the New York Stock Exchange to review the company's corporate governance.

The hearing Thursday also featured testimony from underpaid workers outside the fast-food industry, who declared that McDonald's low-road business model is undermining pay and working conditions for workers throughout the economy.

"When I hear about the McDonald's workers' low pay and poor working conditions, I hear my own story too," said Nadaije Paul Jajaoute, a child care worker from Tampa, in her testimony. "McDonald's is one of the largest companies in the world. You can find at least one in nearly every city. And that means that McDonald's way of doing business is driving down standards not only for McDonald's workers - or even fast-food workers - but also for workers across the economy."

In the United States, the federal government recently launched a case against McDonald's, accusing the fast-food giant of rampant labor-law violations, and arguing that the corporate parent, and not just franchisees, are responsible for the illegal actions. This is all on top of suits alleging wage theft and racial discrimination in the U.S.; more than two-dozen complaints filed with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration alleging McDonald's workers are being burned on the job, with many told to use condiments like mustard to ease the pain; and the more than $1 billion in public assistance taxpayers spend to subsidize its low wages here.

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See also:
* Guardian: McDonald's Faces Global Scrutiny At Brazilian Senate's Human Rights Hearing.

* New York Times: Union Takes A McDonald's Challenge Overseas.

* Reuters: McDonald's Grilled Over Labor, Tax Practices At Brazil Hearing.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:10 AM | Permalink

August 20, 2015

The Trews' Final Episode: On Cyclical, Scripted Journalism

The color and shape of "news."


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Previously in The Trews, like the news if the news were true:
* What Should We Think About CIA Torture?

* CIA Torture: Guantanamo Bay Prisoner Lifts Lid.

* Coca-Cola's Christmas Commercial.

* The Sainsbury Christmas Ad.

* Who Is Our Real Common Enemy?

* Budweiser's Super Bowl Commercial.

* About Those Super Bowl Ads.

* Government Spying: Who's The Biggest Threat To Your Security?

* Ferguson's Minstrels.

* If Politics Is Dead, Is The Election Its Funeral?

* Is Rupert Murdoch More Powerful Than Your Vote?

* What Does It Mean To Support The Troops?

* Am I Mad Enough To Crash A Plane Into A Mountain?

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:57 AM | Permalink

EFF Sues Justice Department For Records About FBI's Plans For Rapid DNA

FBI Says It Can't Find Any Documents Responsive To FOIA Requests Even Though Congress Has Been Briefed For Years

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the FBI to gain access to documents revealing the government's plans to use Rapid DNA. The FBI said it found no records responsive to EFF's FOIA requests, even though it's been working to roll out Rapid DNA and lobbying Congress to approve nationwide use for more than five years.

Rapid DNA analyzers - laser printer-sized, portable machines that allow anyone to process a DNA sample in as little as 50 minutes - are the newest frontier in DNA collection and profiling in law enforcement.

With Rapid DNA, the police can collect a a DNA sample from a suspect, extract a profile, and match that profile against a database in less time than it takes to book someone - and it's all done by non-scientists in the field, well outside an accredited lab.

"EFF has long been concerned about the privacy risks associated with collecting, testing, storing and sharing of genetic data," said Jennifer Lynch, EFF senior staff attorney.

"The use of Rapid DNA stands to vastly increase the collection of DNA, because it makes it much easier for the police to get it from anyone they want, whenever they want. The public has a right to know how this will be carried out and how the FBI will protect peoples' privacy.

"Rapid DNA can't accurately extract a profile from evidence containing commingled body fluids, increasing the risk that people could be mistakenly linked to crimes they didn't commit.''

The FBI has been working with manufacturers for years on a program to develop Rapid DNA and incorporate Rapid DNA profiles into a national DNA database used by crime labs and law enforcement agencies across the country.

While some local police stations are already using Rapid DNA, the FBI can't allow Rapid DNA profiles generated outside accredited laboratories into the database or the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) until lab validation rules are modified and Congress amends DNA laws - something the agency and Rapid DNA technology makers have been lobbying lawmakers for.

Despite briefing Congress and discussing plans at biometric conferences, the FBI hasn't disclosed full information about its Rapid DNA project. EFF filed FOIA requests with the FBI seeking documents from 2012 to the present about these plans.

"Incredibly, the FBI told us it found no records responsive to our requests," said Lynch.

"Even though it has been funding and working with manufacturers to develop the technology, and has a whole webpage devoted to the subject, the FBI said it couldn't local a single document about this major effort to use Rapid DNA.

"The FBI shouldn't be allowed to hide its plans to develop a technology that could have a huge impact on genetic privacy.

"We are asking a court to order DOJ to turn over documents we requested so we and the communities where Rapid DNA is being deployed can review the program."

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See also:
* The complaint.

* More on DNA collection.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:18 AM | Permalink

Why It's So Hard To Catch Track & Field Cheaters

Earlier this month, London's Sunday Times and German broadcaster ARD published a joint investigation on doping in track and field that included an analysis of 12,000 leaked blood tests from 5,000 athletes between 2001 and 2012. The tests had been carried out by the IAAF, track and field's international governing body. Two respected experts in doping methods said blood tests of 800 of the athletes were "highly suggestive of doping or at the very least abnormal." Ten runners who won medals in endurance events at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London had suspicious test results. And a startling 80 percent of Russian medalists recorded tests that showed likely doping. The vast majority of athletes with suspicious tests were never sanctioned.

On Saturday, the 2015 track and field world championships kick off and, of course, some athletes who are doping will vie for medals. Most will not be caught; only 1 to 2 percent of tests in international Olympic sports result in sanctions each year. If doping is so rife in track and field, why are athletes penalized so rarely? It's partly because many suspicious tests don't quite reach the high evidence bar to be considered officially positive. But it's also because doping athletes tend to employ methods that make drug testing extremely difficult. As Paul Scott, head of Scott Analytics, which provides testing services in multiple sports has put it: "Drug testing has a public reputation that far exceeds its capabilities."

Here's a look at why drug tests will never snare every cheater.

Looking for a (tiny) edge

Top-tier track and field has become so competitive that the margin of victory is often vanishingly small. In the men's 100 meters at the last Olympics, the difference between gold and silver was .12 seconds, less than the time it would take you to blink if a flashlight were shined in your face. The difference between silver and bronze was less than half that.

The tiny gap between winning and losing has led athletes to look for what they call marginal gains, whether that comes from extra sleep, better equipment or cheating. It also means that athletes needn't take the industrial strength drugs that some baseball players and Soviet Bloc athletes famously took. The most popular doping agents today are synthetic versions of natural hormones: testosterone and human growth hormone - which aid muscle building and workout recovery - and EPO, which causes the body to produce more oxygen-carrying red blood cells. Athletes have learned they can take small amounts - known as "microdosing" - to evade detection and still get the benefits.

Why is it so difficult to detect?

For starters, accurately measuring the presence of tiny concentrations of drugs - particularly synthetic versions of natural hormones - is difficult. For the sake of calling a test positive, it's even more difficult. Consider the ubiquitous anti-doping test known as the T/E ratio. "T" is testosterone and "E" is another hormone called epitestosterone, a natural product of steroid metabolism that provides no benefit. Most people have a T/E ratio of 1-to-1. But there is natural variation among people, so the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) set the T/E ratio limit at 4-to-1. If a test goes above that, it is deemed suspicious and testing for synthetic testosterone ensues. This gives an athlete with a typical T/E ratio room to dope before hitting 4-to-1, and even small amounts of testosterone provide benefit. To make matters worse for drug testers, for many people, an elevated T/E ratio will quickly return to normal, even as the benefits of the drug are just beginning. Christiane Ayotte, director of the WADA-accredited lab in Montreal, knows that athletes are slipping through the porous T/E screen every day. She once said that she "cannot retire until we've found a better probe." This is one reason why it's important that athletes are tested repeatedly and, ideally, outside of competition without advance notice.

Still, athletes focused on cheating can find a way. A clever doper might add epitestosterone to the testosterone they take to keep their ratio within allowable limits. That was what made "the cream" of BALCO-scandal fame so difficult to detect.

Even if the T/E ratio test were perfect, some athletes would slip through simply because their genes alter how testosterone shows up in their urine. In these athletes, their T/E ratio wouldn't rise even if they took testosterone, and for some, it actually falls. In the first study documenting this, two-thirds of Koreans and 10 percent of Swedes tested had the sail-past-drug-testing physiology.

So what can be done?

There's a testing method called CIR - carbon isotope ratio testing - that does not rely on the T/E ratio and can distinguish between natural and synthetic testosterone. Ayotte has caught athletes in random testing with CIR even though they had normal T/E ratios. CIR measures the ratio of types of carbon atoms in urine - which differs between natural and synthetic testosterone. Sprinter Justin Gatlin, a favorite to win the 100 at the world championships, was sanctioned based on a CIR test even though he didn't go above a T/E of 4-to-1. But the CIR test is costly and laborious, so it's typically only done to follow up a suspicious T/E ratio. And it's also far from foolproof. An athlete might stick to small doses because the test isn't sensitive enough to detect the synthetic testosterone in urine at low concentrations. It's also likely that kitchen chemists who work in sports doping are engineering synthetic testosterone with just the right ratio to beat the CIR tests. The hope of drug testers is that by combining various testing methods they raise the chances of catching a habitual cheater.

What about the Athlete Biological Passport?

The biological passport is a newer method of doping detection that tracks particular blood variables for individual athletes over time. It debuted in 2009 and has been updated since then. By monitoring things like the percentage of new red blood cells and the amount of oxygen-carrying hemoglobin, the passport documents physiologic trends for each athlete. In this way, a baseline profile is established - basically a minimum and maximum value for each variable for that athlete. The athlete could get in trouble if a future test shows a variable well outside the profile.

Before the passport, testers needed to detect a drug - or the chemicals that the drug breaks down into - in the body. The passport simply documents the effects of the drug. Thus, it has a longer testing window, and can detect previously undetectable doping methods, like when an athlete transfuses their own blood. Known as "blood doping," athletes remove and refrigerate their blood, wait until their bodies regenerate the blood supply, then transfuse the refrigerated blood. The athlete ends up with a significant advantage: a lot more oxygen-carrying red blood cells. Because it's their own blood, none of the older doping tests would pick it up. The passport, though, would document the reaction of the athlete's body. When stored blood is reinjected, the athlete's body would ramp down production of red blood cells. If the opposite occurred - an athlete's body produced an unusually high proportion of new red blood cells - it could indicate the use of injected EPO, which signals the body to make them.

After the biological passport was introduced in cycling, the percentage of tests that showed unusual proportions of new red blood cells was more than cut in half, suggesting the test was having some deterrent effect. Lance Armstrong famously posted a series of his drug tests from 2008 and 2009 to prove that he wasn't doping after his comeback. He didn't fail any single test, but taken as a timeline, the tests look like the signature of blood transfusions. (When Armstrong confessed doping to Oprah in 2013, he still denied doping post-comeback.)

Okay, then why wasn't he sanctioned?

So many devils in so many details. It is highly unlikely that Armstrong's blood profile could've occurred naturally. And yet, it wasn't so conspicuous as to reach the level required for a definitive positive.

In order for such a review to be triggered, the offending test result has to be so unusual that there's a 99.9 percent chance that it's a true positive. So if there's only a 99 percent chance, that's not good enough. This means there's room for athletes who are very likely, but not conclusively, doping to slip through. In one study, for example, when the 99 percent probability was used, 10 of 11 subjects who were transfusing blood as part of the anti-doping research were caught through biological passport testing. But there was also one false positive. When the probability limit was set to 99.9 percent, only eight of 11 doping subjects were caught, but with no false positives. (And these subjects weren't making specific efforts to avoid detection, as pro athletes often do.) Anti-doping is like the criminal justice system in the sense that it is constructed to keep the number of false positives to a minimum at the cost of letting some false negatives slip through what are, in fact, pretty big cracks.

Yikes, so the burden of proof is really on the testers.

Yes, and because the passport constitutes a very indirect form of drug testing - unlike some pre-employment testing which looks for direct metabolites of drugs like cocaine - athletes get the chance to try to explain abnormal results. And there actually are some good explanations. Blood count measurements can vary 10 percent or more just based on how hydrated an athlete is, the time of day, even the athlete's body position during the test, not to mention training at altitude or sleeping in tents that simulate altitude.

And don't forget natural human variation. Populations of elite athletes tend to include at least some people with physiology that is rather extreme compared to most normal people. For example, one recent U.S. gold medalist naturally has a T/E ratio of 11-to-1, and a cross-country skier who won seven Olympic medals famously had 50 percent more red blood cells than his peers due to a rare genetic mutation. The line for a positive test has to be set very conservatively because we know there are natural outliers, particularly among pro competitors. Even athletes with clearly abnormal results sometimes walk away clean, and some of them actually are clean.

What about testing for human growth hormone?

Similar difficulties, only worse. Back in 2013, the NFL and the NFL players' union were bickering over whether to implement HGH testing. Rarely discussed was the fact that the test probably wasn't going to catch anyone anyway. The most common test for HGH is called the "isoform test." The isoform test looks for a ratio of different weights (or isoforms) of growth hormone in the body. One isoform weighs 20 kilodaltons and the other 22 kilodaltons. Synthetic HGH comes only in the 22-kilodalton variety. So if an athlete injects synthetic HGH, the drug throws off the ratio of isoforms in the body, and the test looks for the altered ratio. But the ratio corrects itself in hours. Plus, to account for natural variation, the limit for a positive test is set way beyond normal, which means an athlete using HGH would really have to get unlucky with test timing to get caught. In a study, even the subjects who were intentionally doped with HGH for research did not quite reach positive-test territory.

When the NFL and the players' union were having their spat, nobody mentioned that of 10,000 HGH tests around the world, only a dozen had come back positive. Importantly, one of those tests - a cross-country skier's - was overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which handles the final appeal if an athlete contests a doping sanction. The court deemed the "decision limit" for a positive test had not been sufficiently proven as scientifically valid. In its ruling, even the CAS panel seemed to acknowledge the skier - who had a very abnormal test result - was probably cheating. But the court wanted more scientific evidence proving that there was a 99.99 percent chance that the skier's test was a true positive.

For HGH in particular, there is a better test called the "biomarker test," which looks for changes in blood parameters after HGH injection. But that has generally been sparsely used due to the lack of a steady supply of testing kits.

Is there any hope?

Yes and no. As anti-doping authorities collect more biological passport data, they will have a better picture of what abnormal results look like, and can set the bar for a positive test less conservatively. And new biological markers that can be tested for evidence of doping will surely be discovered. But it is unlikely that anti-doping will reach the point where an athlete who is microdosing and carefully engineering their blood profile can't potentially slip through unnoticed.

It helps that anti-doping authorities are constantly adding tests. Last year, biological passport profiling for steroids was added to the system that was already looking for blood doping. They've also employed DNA analysis to determine when athletes have submitted someone else's urine. (Think former Minnesota Vikings running back Onterrio Smith and his "Whizzinator.") Plus, samples from major championships are now stored for 10 years so that they can be re-tested with new methods. The IAAF recently suspended 28 athletes after re-testing samples from previous track and field championships. Those suspensions could result in two American athletes - Kara Goucher and Shalane Flanagan - being upgraded from 10K bronzes in the world championships and Olympics, respectively, to silvers.

Still, even as technology has improved, the proportion of worldwide samples that test positive remains at about 1 to 2 percent year after year. The dopers and anti-dopers may be in technological lockstep. Perhaps the greatest innovation in modern anti-doping is the rise of investigations that lead to "non-analytical positives," as with Lance Armstrong, who liked to note that he'd never failed a test.

If you find the testing situation in Olympic sports depressing, remember that the WADA-approved testing regimen is the absolute gold standard in sports. Major League Baseball comes the closest - but not all that close - among the major pro sports leagues. The reason more athletes in those leagues aren't being sanctioned for doping probably isn't because it isn't occurring.

Enjoy the game.

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Michael J. Joyner is a physiologist and expert in human performance at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. The views expressed here are his own.

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ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for their newsletter.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:41 AM | Permalink

Camp Bullfrog Lake!

The fourth of five new and revitalized campgrounds is now open for reservations.

Camp Bullfrog Lake, located at 9600 Wolf Road in Willow Springs, is part of the Forest Preserves of Cook County's renewed camping program which launched this summer. Additional sites include:

* Camp Sullivan in Oak Forest (revitalized site, Now Open)

* Camp Shabbona Woods in South Holland (new site, Now Open)

* Camp Reinberg in Palatine (revitalized site, Now Open)

* Camp Dan Beard in Northbrook (new site, Coming Soon)

Reservations for all opened campsites can be booked online at www.fpdcc.com/camping, by phone 1-855-YES-CAMP and in-person at Forest Preserves of Cook County Headquarters located at 536 N. Harlem Avenue in River Forest. Phone and in-person registration are open Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m.

"Camping is a favored summer tradition and now, for the first time in 50 years, residents do not have to travel out Cook County to experience this activity," said Toni Preckwinkle, Forest Preserves of Cook County President.

Camp Bullfrog Lake is nestled in the Palos Preserve of southwest suburban Cook County and offers a variety of accommodations and amenities for individuals, families and groups. Lodging options include two-bedroom (heated and air conditioned) cabins with private bathroom, various walk-up and drive-up (with electric service) camp sites, as well as small rustic cabins.

The site also features new restrooms and shower facilities, a small concession area, a common area for field games and special events as well as three picnic pavilions overlooking scenic Bullfrog Lake.

"Camping is a great way to connect with nature and one another," said Arnold Randall, General Superintendent of the Forest Preserves of Cook County. "All of our campsites are also located near other forest preserve amenities, so visitors can maximize their experiences."

Nearby, there is access to nature trails, including the newly dedicated Stone House single-track mountain bike trail. Water activities can be enjoyed at Tampier Lake & Boathouse, the Saganashkee Slough and coming soon, the newly remodeled Maple Lake Boathouse. Also nearby is the Little Red Schoolhouse Nature Center and Sagawau Environmental Learning Center.

Unlike other camping sites, Forest Preserves of Cook County Camping will offer optional daily activities and regular special events for campers at all sites. This free programming is provided by Forest Preserve staff and varies by site, but includes archery, campfires and nature hikes.

Gear rental, Camping 101 and Family Campouts are also available.

All sites are professionally managed by Billy Casper Golf, the longtime manager of the county's golf courses. Campsites have 24-hour staff and will be monitored with regular patrols by the Forest Preserves Police Department. Camps Sullivan, Bullfrog and Reinberg are open 362 days a year but closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. Camps Dan Beard and Shabonna are open April through October.

Fees vary by season and day, but range from $30 for a weekday tent pad to $200 for a Saturday night stay at a 36-bed bunkhouse (at Camp Sullivan) for Cook County residents. Non-residents will pay $10 more per night. There is also a 50 percent discount for all non-profit organizations.

The total cost of the campgrounds including design, engineering and construction is approximately $29 million and is part of the Forest Preserves' Capital Improvement Program. Funding for the campgrounds came from General Obligation Bonds issued in June 2012 for the purpose of funding land acquisition and capital improvement projects.

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Video by Waclaw Szary.


"Camp just steps from the water in the heart of the vast, hilly Palos Preserves. Camp Bullfrog Lake offers year-round camping, group activities and water-based recreation such as canoe rentals and fishing. Just around the corner from Maple Lake's boathouse and the Little Red Schoolhouse Nature Center, it's also a perfect launching pad for hiking, mountain biking and birdwatching adventures on Palos' 50-plus miles of trails."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:38 AM | Permalink

Local Book Notes: Stemming STEM

Emanuel Announces Citywide STEM Strategy To Triple The Number Of Students With STEM Credentials By 2018.

"Pronouncements like the following have become common currency: 'The United States is falling behind in a global race for talent that will determine the country's future prosperity, power, and security.' In Falling Behind?, Michael Teitelbaum argues that alarms like this one, which he quotes, are not only overblown but are often sounded by people who do not disclose their motives," Andrew Hacker writes for the New York Review of Books.

"Teitelbaum vehemently denies that we are lagging in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, now commonly abbreviated as STEM. Still, he writes that there are facts to be faced:

  • In less than 15 years, China has moved from 14th place to second place in published research articles.
  • General Electric has now located the majority of its R&D personnel outside the United States.
  • Only four of the top ten companies receiving United States patents last year were United States companies.
  • The United States ranks 27th among developed nations in the proportion of college students receiving undergraduate degrees in science or engineering.

"A recurring complaint is that not enough of our young people and adults have the kinds of competence the coming century will require, largely because not nearly enough are choosing careers that require the skills of STEM. A decade ago, the Business Roundtable was urging that we 'double the number of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics graduates with bachelor's degrees by 2015.' We're now at that year, but the number of degrees awarded in those fields has barely budged. More recently, a panel appointed by President Obama asked for another ten-year effort, this time to add 'one million additional college graduates with degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.' Where the missile race was measured by numbers of warheads, now we hear of a race to award more diplomas.

"Contrary to such alarmist demands, Falling Behind? makes a convincing case that even now the U.S. has all the high-tech brains and bodies it needs, or at least that the economy can absorb. Teitelbaum points out that 'U.S. higher education routinely awards more degrees in science and engineering than can be employed in science and engineering occupations.' Recent reports reinforce his claim. A 2014 study by the National Science Board found that of 19.5 million holders of degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, only 5.4 million were working in those fields, and a good question is what they do instead. The Center for Economic Policy and Research, tracing graduates from 2010 through 2014, discovered that 28 percent of engineers and 38 percent of computer scientists were either unemployed or holding jobs that did not need their training.

"Teitelbaum stresses a fact of the labor market: contrary to the warnings from a variety of panels and roundtables, public and private employers who might hire STEM workers have not been creating enough positions for all the people currently being trained to fill them. Take physics, a quintessential STEM science. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in its latest Occupational Outlook Handbook, forecasts that by 2022 the economy will have 22,700 nonacademic openings for physicists. Yet during the preceding decade 49,700 people will have graduated with physics degrees. The anomaly is that those urging students toward STEM studies are not pressing employers to ensure that the jobs will be there. And as we shall see, the employers often turn to foreign workers for the jobs they have to fill."

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From the Beachwood vault:

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Shattering A Lost Cause Myth
"On May 25, 1863, after driving the Confederate army into defensive lines surrounding Vicksburg, Mississippi, Union major general Ulysses S. Grant and his Army of the Tennessee laid siege to the fortress city," SIU Press says of Justin Solonick's Engineering Victory.

"With no reinforcements and dwindling supplies, the Army of Vicksburg finally surrendered on July 4, yielding command of the Mississippi River to Union forces and effectively severing the Confederacy.

"This is the first detailed study of how Grant's Midwesterners serving in the Army of the Tennessee engineered the Siege of Vicksburg. It shatters the Lost Cause myth that Vicksburg's Confederate garrison surrendered due to lack of provisions. Instead of being starved out, Solonick explains, the Confederates were dug out.

"After opening with a sophisticated examination of nineteenth-century military engineering and the history of siege craft, Solonick discusses the stages of the Vicksburg siege and the implements and tactics Grant's soldiers used to achieve victory.

"As Solonick shows, though Grant lacked sufficient professional engineers to organize a traditional siege - an offensive tactic characterized by cutting the enemy's communication lines and digging forward-moving approach trenches - the few engineers available, when possible, gave Union troops a crash course in military engineering.

"Ingenious Midwestern soldiers, in turn, creatively applied engineering maxims to the situation at Vicksburg, demonstrating a remarkable ability to adapt in the face of adversity.

"When instruction and oversight were not possible, the common soldiers improvised. Solonick concludes with a description of the surrender of Vicksburg, an analysis of the siege's effect on the outcome of the Civil War, and a discussion of its significance in Western military history."

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Chicago Book Haul
Quimby's, Myopic, After-Words.

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See also:
* Feminist Book Lover's YouTube channel.

* Feminist Book Lover on Tumblr.

* Feminist Book Lover On Twitter.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:51 AM | Permalink

The [Thursday] Papers

"Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich will seek justice from the U.S. Supreme Court after losing his bid Wednesday for the full 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Chicago to reconsider its refusal to overturn his conviction and 14-year prison sentence," the Tribune reports.

Why not just say he will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court? The way it's written now presumes he didn't get justice at the appellate level, when indeed justice appears to have been done.

Anyway . . .

"What's clear is that in order for us to see justice, the appeal needs to be taken out of Illinois and be in the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court where we can find fairness and impartial justices," Patti Blagojevich "said" in a statement.

That's a clever PR line, but the 7th circuit is a federal court covering seven districts in three states.

"In announcing its decision, the 7th Circuit said that each of the three judges on the original panel voted to deny the rehearing and that none of its other active judges requested a vote."

So Blago was totally shut out.

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"No politician could avoid federal prison if held to the same standard as Rod Blagojevich, the imprisoned ex-governor's lawyer said," the Sun-Times reports.

What an odd angle to choose for a lead. The dude was shut out by the appellate court. Not a single circuit court judge sided with him. That's the story.

"That's the pitch his legal team could soon make to the U.S. Supreme Court after a long-shot bid in the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals fell flat Wednesday. It left Blagojevich's prospects looking dimmer than ever, more than three years after he began serving a 14-year prison sentence in Colorado.

"He's a person of great faith," Leonard Goodman, Blagojevich's appellate attorney, told the Chicago Sun-Times. "And he believes in the legal system, and he believes that we're right, and I tend to agree with him."

Okay, that's not even quoteworthy. What is the argument, Leonard? Why did you fail to persuade a single appellate court judge to see your side? And how much are you getting paid to string this along?

"It took 15 days for the appeals court to shoot [Blagojevich] down in a three-sentence order. It said, 'no judge in regular active service has requested a vote' on Blagojevich's request, and 'all of the judges on the panel have voted to deny rehearing. The petition for rehearing is therefore DENIED.'"

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"'Few politicians, who must raise campaign funds as part of their job, could survive the legal requirements imposed on Blagojevich,' Goodman said in his pitch to the full appeals court."

And yet, almost all of them have.

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See also: Blago Ruling Indicts Media.

Red Light Running
"The former CEO of Chicago's fired red light camera vendor pleaded guilty Thursday to helping orchestrate a decadelong $2 million bribery scheme - first disclosed by the Tribune - to win tens of millions of dollars in city business," the paper reports.

"[Karen] Finley admitted conspiring to funnel cash, lavish vacation trips and an Arizona condominium to co-defendant John Bills in return for the now-retired city transportation manager's influence in championing Redflex Traffic Systems Inc."

Unlike Rod Blagojevich - and a certain sector of the political punditry - she didn't argue that her actions were "just politics" and vow to take her case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Stemming STEM
Rahm - and the media - keep purveying a myth.

EFF Sues DOJ Over DNA
FBI refuses to turn over records.

The Final Trews: Scripted Journalism
The cyclical shape of the "news."

Why It's So Hard To Catch Dopers
Testing not as good as you may think.

Camp Bullfrog Lake!
Reservations now available.

BeachBook
* Chicago Rappers: Lucki Eck$.

* Police Accountability Release Party.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Talk to the hand.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:51 AM | Permalink

August 19, 2015

Rosemont Teen A Million-Dollar Evil Genius

Teams of video gamers playing characters ranging from wizards to monsters exchanged virtual punches, fireballs and lightning strikes over the past six days, battling at the main event of the Dota 2 International 2015 tournament in Seattle.

And by the end of the finals, five players, including a 16-year-old, became more than a million dollars richer.

Now in its fifth year and playing to a sold-out crowd in the 17,000-seat Key Arena, the International has grown every year in size, popularity and possible winnings for players.

The tournament launched in 2011 with a then-groundbreaking grand prize of $1 million and now offers an $18 million prize pool.

Fans, handfuls of whom roamed the arena dressed as their favorite in-game heroes, roared as the team "Evil Geniuses" secured the championship, wiping out their enemies with an earth-shaking smash and a devastating blast of frost.

Video games have long been a moneymaker for the tech sector, forecast to generate some $111 billion in revenue this year by consultants Gartner Inc. But over the past several years, playing them has turned into a full-time job for a select few top-tier players, as interest and prize pools have ballooned.

According to Valve, the publisher of Dota 2, about 11.5 million users log on monthly to play the game, in which two teams try to destroy each other's bases in an online arena.

Players and teams came to the United States from China, South Korea, Ukraine, Russia and elsewhere to compete for a share of the prize pool - with roughly $6.6 million going to the winning five-player squad.

Though while the tournament was international in scope, the home team Evil Geniuses drew the most support, with fans chanting "U-S-A" and "E-G" with each spectacular play.

Syed Sumail Hassan, 16, who moved from Pakistan to Illinois chasing his dreams of being a professional gamer and is most known for playing a powerful electricity-based champion for the team, said after winning the tournament: "It just meant everything to me."

Tickets for this year's event sold out and hundreds have registered to attend so-called "Pubstomp" viewing parties at bars and internet cafes in cities from Los Angeles to Sandy Springs, Georgia.

Hundreds of thousands of fans have tuned in daily this week to watch streams of the event on sites such as Twitch.TV, while thousands more have packed into the arena to cheer on their favorite players live.

Ben Mussett, 24, drove two days from his native Ohio in a car packed with friends. He said he found watching video games, which he and other young fans refer to as "eSports," more appealing than traditional spectator sports like basketball and football.

"Traditional sports are kind of boring," Mussett said, "eSports are the future."

His pal, 24-year-old Becca Eagen, agreed: "I've never watched or enjoyed sports the way I've enjoyed this."

Editing by Scott Malone and Digby Lidstone

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Sumail at work.

sunail.JPG

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See also:
* Liquipedia: Syed Sumail Hassan.

* 15-Year-Old Wins $1.5 Million Championship.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:26 AM | Permalink

Local Music Notebook: Tommy Stinson Is A Riot, And So Is Ezra Furman

1. Tommy Stinson's New Band Is Coming To Riot Fest.


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2. Australia's Love Affair With Chicago's Rise Against.

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3. A Week In Chicago With Mick Jenkins.

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4. Chicago's Joe Shadid Plays 100 TV Theme Songs.

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5. Darrylstock.

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6. Band of Brothers?

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7. The Hummable Outsider.

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8. Healthgoth Trend Started With Out-Of-Shape Chicago DJ.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:14 AM | Permalink

August 18, 2015

Fantasy Fix 2015 Football Draft Guide: WRs

I remember when you were never supposed to draft WRs in the first round, but in deep PPR leagues, there are now at least four that could make a pretty good case. The well of talent is deep, too. If I got No. 11 or No. 12 on this list as my WR-1, I would not be an unhappy camper at all.

1. Antonio Brown, PIT.

I've heard he's actually going as the No. 1 pick in some deep roster PPR Flex leagues. Led the NFL in catches in 2013 with 110, boosted that number to 129 last year, and could even surpass 130 this year if you believe the hype about the Steelers offense.

2. Odell Beckham, Jr., NYG.

Have seen Bryant and Thomas move ahead of him in some rankings, but 91 catches, 1,305 yards and 12 TDs ins 12 games makes me think he'll be better on all fronts this year. Plus NYG is pass-first, while DAL is run-first and DEN is looking to run more.

3. Dez Bryant, DAL.

They say he makes TDs look easy, and he should still be the Cowboys' top target in that respect, making him the best bet among all WRs for fantasy TDs. He's not a 100-catch guy, but if he beats double-teams and behaves himself, he could reach 1,400 yards, 15 TDs.

4. Demaryius Thomas, DEN.

Has the PPR value with 111 catches last year, and was way better than Bryant and Beckham yardage-wise with 1,619. Could easily move to top of the class if Manning the
Elder leans on him this season, but that's a fairly big if.

5. Julio Jones, ATL.

If he collects 2,000 receiving yards one of these years, I wouldn't be shocked at all. Some value this season will depend on ATL being better overall on offense and getting him more end zone targets, but could be money in the bank for 1,500 yards.

6. Jordy Nelson, GB.

I've always felt he gets half his yards and TDs thanks to Aaron Rodgers' acting ability (with pump fakes and such), but so what? Could have another season of 1,500 yards and double-digit TDs regardless.

7. Alshon Jeffery, CHI.

The injury to rookie WR Kevin White only makes it more clear he'll be busy. Seems like a lock for 1,200 yards, 12 TDs and a growing value for PPR leagues even if the Bears aren't good. If they're good? Well, let's not get ahead of ourselves.

8. Calvin Johnson, DET.

Just weeks ago, I felt the Lions approach would mean another season of barely 1,000 yards and eight TDs. But both he and QB Matthew Stafford are now being hyped as comeback cases. Having a problem ranking him any higher, but your results may vary.

9. Randall Cobb, GB.

Hard not to love GB WRs, and to be honest, I've always favored Cobb over Nelson, but Aaron Rodgers feels the opposite way, giving Nelson 151 targets to Cobb's 127 - but Cobb's 91 catches to Nelson's 98 give make the former much more efficient.

10. T.Y. Hilton, IND.

The biggest beneficiary of the most prolific QB last year still has weaknesses, like dropping passes, but his 16.4 yards per catch helped him to career-best 1,345 yards. Still could hit 1,500, but will Andre Johnson's presence on the Colts drive that number down a bit?

11. Emmanuel Sanders, DEN.

101 catches last year was fourth among WRs and 1,404 yards fifth. Ranked lower elsewhere, maybe because of his nine TDs, but also maybe because some see him as more likely than Thomas to take a big hit on his number if DEN runs more. I still like him.

12. A.J. Green, CIN.

Forgettable, injury-marred season from a former Top-3 WR: 1,041 yards and just six TDs. Yet, his career-best 5.1 yards after catch makes us believe he's got better seasons left in him. The biggest problem is QB Andy Dalton, who's backsliding.

13. Mike Evans, TAM.

If Jameis Winston turns out to be any good at QB, Evans could be the breakout player of this group. His talent suggests he could be top five in a great passing system. Even if Tampa's offense is so-so, he's in line for his second straight 1,000-yard, 12-TD season.

14. Jordan Mathews, PHI.

Broke out as a star of Philly's wild offense as a rookie in Week 3 of 2014 with eight catches and two TDs, though only 59 yards. Better sense of what we can expect came in the last eight games, when he had three 100+ yards games and five TDs.

15. Golden Tate, DET.

The top receiver in Detroit last year may not have been named Megatron. Tate dazzled with five 100+ yards games and 1,331 yards for the season, though only four TD catches. Guess Megatron takes back some yardage, but how about another TD or two for Tate?

16. DeAndre Hopkins, HOU.

Despite a revolving door at QB he caught 76 passes for 1,210 yards and six TDs. With Andre Johnson gone, he becomes the clear No. 1, so we have to expect 90 or more catches, although HOU's offense is still not exactly a well-oiled machine.

17. Sammy Watkins, BUF.

The sleeper that became the most hyped WR last year started well, showed some flash in four 100+ yards games, but finished quietly and without reaching 1,000 yards. A 200-yard game at some point wouldn't surprise, but still a WR-2 for now.

18. DeSean Jackson, WAS.

Only caught 56 passes, but averaged 20.9 yards per catch and collected 1,169 yards overall, both second-bests for his career. Still, he remains inconsistent game to game, and the WAS offense needs to get him the ball more to increase his value.

19. Julian Edelman, NE.

A PPR favorite with 92 receptions last year, but he didn't surpass 972 yards and only delivered four TDs. Wondering if he will miss Tom Brady for four games more than Gronk will, but still very reliable for touches on a weekly basis.

20. Martavis Bryant, PIT.

Didn't play until Week 8, but nabbed eight TDs and impressed with 21.1 yards per catch. With Brown and pass-loving RB LeVeon Bell around, he may not be a PPR darling, but a medium-risk, high-reward investment for his big play value alone.

Sleepers:

Eddie Royal, CHI: Kevin White was supposed to get this spot, but since he's out for at least half the season, why not another Bear? Royal is experienced, sneaky around the end zone and has been getting rave reviews at camp. 62 catches for SD last year was his most since his 2008 rookie year.

Jarvis Landry, MIA: Not an unknown quantity, as he was very popular late last season in PPR leagues, and finished with 84 catches. His shortcoming was averaging only nine yards per catch, but if he improves that and Ryan Tannehill finds him for more than five TDs, he'll prove himself a rising star.

Jeremy Maclin, KC: His fantasy stock crashed when he ended up in KC, where deep routes - the kind that constitute much of his value - go to die. But he knows Andy Reid's system and is coming off a career-best 1,318 yards and 10 TDs in his first injury-free season that we can remember.

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Previously in the Fantasy Fix 2015 Football Draft Guide:
* Overall Top 20.

* Top 20 QBs.

* Top 20 RBs.

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Dan O'Shea is our man in fantasyland. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:33 PM | Permalink

The [Wednesday] Papers

After all these years in the business, I can still be naive. When a friend asked me a couple days ago if Kristen McQueary would be fired for her now-infamous Hurricane Katrina column, I said I wasn't sure it would come to that, but that the Tribune bigwigs were undoubtedly huddled together trying to figure out how to address McQueary, her editor/s, the column and the PR disaster it wrought.

Now I don't believe they were huddled at all. I don't think it even registered at Trib Tower. After all, this is what editorial page editor Bruce Dold had to say in a (chicken-shit) statement e-mailed to WGN-TV:

"McQueary's column credits the resilience and ingenuity of the people of New Orleans and pleads for dramatic change in Chicago, which has not faced up to its financial crisis. That is her point. Her use of Hurricane Katrina as metaphor has unfortunately been misconstrued."

When paired with McQueary's non-apology, in which she was "horrified" at the way the rest of the world outside of the Trib's editorial boardroom read her words, it's clear that the paper is standing by the column - and blaming the outrage on everybody's poor reading comprehension.

As WGN-TV reported, "[McQueary] offered no apologies in a follow-up column, posted [Friday night] on the Chicago Tribune's website."

The Trib is, quite simply, only sorry that we all got it so wrong. Case closed.

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Also: "McQueary refused WGN's request for an interview."

She wouldn't want viewers to misconstrue her.

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Meanwhile, a couple of McQueary's colleagues dig in:

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So the Tribune has effectively told the multitudes of offended people - including the Chicago chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists - that they are unthinking leftists who misread and misconstrued McQueary. We're all idiots. You know, the people the editorial board is trying to persuade.

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Cochran Doctrine
Gov. Bruce Rauner's PR team sent this out via e-mail and it's no wonder - could Steve Cochran be any more solicitous? Emphasis mine.

The following is a transcript of an interview between Steve Cochran of WGN Radio and Governor Rauner that aired this morning on WGN Radio.

HOST: . . . look, the legislation you're trying to push through the legislature, including an interesting arbitration piece that's a little deep for most people to wrap their heads around in the short term here, the school funding situation that certainly appears to have merit. All of this stuff, including relieving some of the restrictions on schools doing business with third-party vendors, were ridiculous - the restrictions that had been in place - I've read this stuff inside-out and backwards, I don't see how it's even a fistfight. Why can't we get this done?

RAUNER: Exactly, ya know Steve, we sponsored, we put forward, a great bill that has wins for the students in Illinois and the parents and taxpayers in Chicago, that helps bring value and transparency into government, has a real property tax freeze in with local control of the costs of government. This is a win on every level and we are willing to help Chicago financially to get through its crisis in its public schools, from the states, as part of this. Madigan and Cullerton are dug in, they just don't want to talk about reform, they only want to force a tax hike and that's just fundamentally wrong.

HOST: Well you said that revenue could be on the table in the form of a tax hike, this would too, and I've been saying this for months you guys are going to get into a room and punch each other out, this would be you giving something up here that maybe you're not inclined to give. So what are they giving you?

RAUNER: Well, so far, really nothing, I mean, we put forward six bills, and for those who say, 'Well that's just too much,' I remind everybody we put forward six bills to reform government and get it working for the people again, term limits and property tax freeze and redistricting reform, we put forward these six bills, they refuse to call a single bill; not a single one of them. And meanwhile they pass five hundred and thirty bills. I'm glad, I love sweet corn, and I've eaten a lot of it this week at the state fair - glad it's the state vegetable - but ya know what, when we got a financial crisis, we've got to focus on our priorities.

Madigan doesn't wanna change, he doesn't want to give up any of his power, he doesn't want anything to change, and so far he's refused any reforms. The one thing he's done, and I give him some credit for this, he's voted for a two-year property tax freeze. Now that's a good thing. We've advocated that. But he knows, if we do nothing else but a two-year freeze, it really doesn't accomplish a whole lot, because real estate prices will spike in the third year and continue on their skyrocketing pace. We need local control of bargaining and bidding and contracting so we can keep the property taxes low.

HOST: Yeah and I don't blame the public sector union members here, the people that are running the unions are the issue. The math doesn't lie; this is the part that continues to baffle me. If you don't settle for a percentage of whatever you're owed going forward or fully funded what you're owed going forward over time, new employees, what do you think the magic money tree is gonna start for the state? The math is the math.

RAUNER: No, that's exactly right. I don't blame the government employees at all, I've met thousands of them. They're good people, most of them are there for the right reasons and they're working hard. Their leaders, the government union leaders, are failing the government employees, and as an insider of the system, it's rigged against taxpayers, and the proof of it is this bill that I vetoed, this senate bill 1229. For the first time in as far as I can tell American History, AFSCME the big government union has tried to take away collective bargaining from themselves. No lockout can be done by the governor and we can't strike. Let's turn the whole contract negotiation over to an unelected, bureaucratic arbitrator. They know two things; they know first that arbitrators in Illinois come from Labor Union backgrounds so they will be very friendly to labor unions. They also know that I'm the only governor in American history - Illinois history - who hasn't taken campaign contributions from AFSCME, so they have no leverage with me; they have no special appeal. I'm just working for taxpayers. So that scares them. They don't want to have good-faith negotiating with a strong governor who's fighting for taxpayers. They want to take away my ability to negotiate with them and turn it over to an arbitrator. It's terrible legislation. I vetoed that bill, and now tomorrow the Senate is debating whether to override my veto. I hope your listeners will call their state representatives, state senators, call Speaker Madigan, call Cullerton's office and say "DON'T OVERRIDE THE GOVERNOR'S VETO. Let him negotiate on behalf of taxpayers to get a fair deal for government employees and for the people of Illinois."

HOST: Well let's take this both ways now, and let's say your veto is subject to an override, and the vote comes in tomorrow, then what?

RAUNER: Well, you know, then it goes to the House, it's going to be voted on in the Senate tomorrow, then it goes over to the house, and if the house overrides my veto, and again, Madigan's got a supermajority there, then my ability to negotiate would be stripped away, and if the union doesn't like my proposal, they think that I'm too tough, for example, I've recommended that we have a wage freeze for a few years, if they don't like that, they want salary increases and higher pension, and right now their proposal is gonna cost Illinois taxpayers 1.7 billion dollars more in the next four years than we're currently spending with the government employees. So it's a terrible proposal from the union, and if they don't like my proposal, then they turn the whole thing over to an arbitrator who's got a labor union background, and they've got to choose either the union proposal or mine - well, the odds are they're gonna choose the union proposal, and the taxpayers in Illinois could be looking at billions in higher costs as a result.

HOST: Now, if they don't override your veto what's the next step?

RAUNER: Well then we continue our good faith negotiations.

HOST: It's funny, it's funny, has there ever been a more ironic statement than good faith negotiations because you know you were elected on a platform of someone who's had tremendous success in business and could understand how to run a business like the State of Illinois. You've negotiated more than anyone. The key to negotiation is to get decision makers in the room. Have you and Madigan been in the room, or is it people representing each of you, and what are your efforts to get Madigan in the room and work this out.

RAUNER: Okay let's talk about two things. First, since I want to finish your question now about what happens if we negotiate with the union. So, if they don't override, basically what I do is I sit with AFSCME and work out a deal. We've already done that with the Teamsters. The Teamsters have been critical to me. John Coley the head of MNI have battled a bit. But we worked out a deal and we had a salary freeze for four years, we had other modifications, we had outside contracts, we got them some healthcare improvements, and we cut a deal. I'm asking for the same from AFSCME but AFSCME has such an incredible deal, they don't want to get the same deal as the teamsters they want something better. So we're going to negotiate in good faith over the next month or two and trying to work it out. When it comes to Madigan, here's the issue. I have met with him a lot. Frankly I got to know him well before I ran for governor; I figured I'd get to know him personally. And on a personal level I mean we get a long great, great communication, and we've been in the room just the two of us as well as with other legislative leaders; many times in the spring and the summer. The reality is so far he has refused to budge. He doesn't want to do real reform. He wants to force me to do a tax hike. That's his real priority is putting a tax hike on to balance the budget. And I've told him I'll negotiate revenue, but we have to have taxes that are pro-growth because if we don't grow we're not going to fix our problems. I'll negotiate with ya, but please vote on at least some of our reforms. Don't just sweep them to the side. Vote on term limits. People want that. People want a real permanent property tax freeze, vote on that. Don't just do a two-year temporary one, do a real one. Vote on redistricting reform. Pick out a handful of our reforms vote on 'em please, and I'll work with you on the other issues.

HOST: We're gonna run out of time and I've got to ask you on the gas thing. I've got a question here in a second, but I would just tell again, I always tell you this because its true and I have merit. My daughter's a teacher. I care about teachers. But the teachers' union, especially the teachers' union in the city needs to understand that if there's a big property tax increase, that money is offset about whatever you're concerned about for your benefits that you're trying to protect, going forward with money that doesn't exist.

RAUNER: That's exactly right, crushing Chicago's economy, and pushes more people and small business owners out of the city. We've got to change the structure and not just raise taxes.

HOST: Governor, the price of a gallon of gas obviously much lower than it was this time last year, but in Chicago its about 80 cents more than the national average and they're blaming that on problems at the refinery in Whiting. Is there anything you can do as governor for gas tax relief?

RAUNER: We're willing to look at all forms of taxes and reforms on 'em. The reality is gas prices are gonna move up and down a lot this year and the next year, and it's very frustrating the Chicago area has always had very high gas prices, relative to the rest of the state and the rest of the country. And a lot of that has to do with the restrictions around ozone and the emissions, much, much heavier restrictions in the Chicago area that only certain types of gasoline with certain restrictions can be sold there. That's a big part of the cost.

HOST: Yeah the seasonal blend thing and if you could get a temporary relief on the gas tax, I don't know how that could be argued against again. That has direct effect on business and moving goods and services and everybody else including all of us. Governor Bruce Rauner, I appreciate your time. Good luck with it and please punch someone and allow yourself to be punched as well.

RAUNER: Will do that. Thanks so much, take care.

Wow, Rauner'll go on WGN any time!

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I don't have time to fact-check Rauner's statements, but I'm fairly sure there are some doozies in there.

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BTW: Cochran, like the editor of the Tribune and the top two editors of the Tribune editorial page, lives in the suburbs.

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Rosemont Teen A Million-Dollar Evil Genius
Arrived from Pakistan just a year ago.

Tommy Stinson Is A Riot
And so is Evanston's Ezra Furman. In Local Music Notebook.

Also featuring: Rise Against, Radkey, Darrylstock, Mick Jenkins, Joe Shadid, and Healthgoth.

Fantasy Fix: Top 20 WRs
Paging Alshon Jeffery.

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BeachBook
* The PBS NewsHour Goes To The Fair!

Scripted journalism.

* Ronald McDonald Decapitated Outside Broadcast Museum.

Warning: Graphic image.

* Chicago Company Creates Bendable Wristband Screens.

I would invest in this if I had the money.

* The Chicago Housing Authority Choir On Bobby Jones Gospel.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Construe.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:33 PM | Permalink

The [Tuesday] Papers

"The Obama Foundation is conducting intensive economic development studies to help determine if the Obama Presidential Center should be located in Chicago's Washington Park or Jackson Park, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned."

By "has learned," we can fairly assume "was spoon-fed."

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"A spokesman for the Chicago-based foundation said it 'has engaged a number of consultants to look at different aspects of the potential sites for the Obama Presidential Center.'

"As part of the due diligence, the economic impact analysis will assist the Foundation in their evaluation of opportunities for the Presidential Center to serve as a catalyst for revitalization of the entire area encompassing both Washington Park and Jackson Park neighborhoods," the spokesman said.

By "spokesman said," we can fairly assume "spokesman read from a statement," because nobody talks like that.

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"This is the first confirmation that the foundation is collecting data on its own to help the Obamas, the foundation board and advisers in the White House understand the economic benefits of each site."

By "first confirmation," we can fairly assume "made up excuse to publish this and pretend that the obvious, as 'confirmed' from a spokesman reading a boilerplate statement, is a scoop."

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"Each park has positives and challenges when it comes to sparking linked economic development, a top priority of the foundation.

Champions of using Jackson Park point to its proximity to the lakefront and the Museum of Science and Industry, one of the top tourism draws in the city.

The community around Washington Park may present more land for economic development expected to be triggered by the Obama Center. While both parks were designed by famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, Washington Park is seen as the more pristine example of his historic urban parks legacy.

"The economic studies are separate from the competition the foundation will be launching soon to solicit proposals from architects to build the center on Chicago's South Side."

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Compare and contrast that hometown report to what David Dayen wrote today for Salon in "Presidential Libraries, An all-American Scam: Why These Overpriced Vanity Projects Are Bad For Politics, The Economy & History | Barack Obama is in the early stages of raising $1B for his planned library in Chicago. What a waste!"

We spend a lot of time fretting about the power of money in elections. But what about the power of money after all the elections end? The lure of cashing in once leaving politics can have as much of an impact on policy as the continual lobbying and campaign contributions while a politician is in office. Yesterday the New York Times depicted this in rather unseemly fashion, showing how President Obama has vigorously plotted his post-presidency since a week after getting elected to a second and final term.

By "plotted" I mean "flattered potential donors at late-night White House dinners." The scene-setter for the article featured Obama and his wife in a private upstairs dining room this February, hobnobbing until 2 a.m. with venture capitalists, billionaire CEOs, actresses and hedge fund manager Marc Lasry, last seen getting $450 million in public money from Wisconsin to build a sports arena for the Milwaukee Bucks, which he co-owns. The dinner was part of a series of all-night bull sessions with "extraordinarily rich groups of people."

The intent of the dinners: cash, $1 billion in all, seen as the benchmark figure for Obama to build his foundation and presidential library. Eight years earlier, George W. Bush raised $500 million for his showplace, more than all previous presidential libraries combined. Obama's goal is double that. The dinner participants wouldn't pay now but would certainly be asked to pay later, by the guy who regaled them inside the White House and solicited their important opinions on what he should do with his life after Jan. 20, 2017.

From that New York Times article:

"The process started as early as the week after Mr. Obama's re-election in 2012, when the director Steven Spielberg and the actor Daniel Day-Lewis went to a White House screening of the movie Lincoln. Mr. Spielberg held the president spellbound, guests said, when he spoke about the use of technology to tell stories. Mr. Obama has continued those conversations, most recently with Mr. Spielberg and the studio executive Jeffrey Katzenberg over dinner at a Beverly Hills hotel in California in June, according to some of Mr. Obama's close advisers.

"The advisers said Mr. Spielberg was focused on helping to develop a 'narrative' for Mr. Obama in the years after he leaves office."

In other words, a fairy tale.

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Back to Salon:

"[T]he record shows that history suffers when presidents build fortresses around their accomplishments and use well-funded public relations strategies to obscure the facts. As Rick Perlstein explained in The Baffler, modern-day presidential libraries put truth in the background in favor of a no-warts hagiography. If presidents pay for the buildings, they can spin the evidence however they want, you might say. But these places of hero worship are taxpayer-subsidized, publicly owned sites where presidential records are kept for future scholarship. The U.S. government spends about $100 million a year to run presidential libraries, a cost that will grow as we accumulate ex-presidents."

In other words, we'll all be paying for Obama's propaganda palace for the rest of our lives.

*

From that Baffler article:

Then there is [the National Archives and Records Administration's] ghastly record when it comes to honoring these institutions' actual statutory reason for existing. The Reagan Library "lost" thousands of pages of records concerning John Roberts's time at the Justice Department, "'finding' them once he was confirmed by the Senate." Don Wilson, the national archivist appointed by Ronald Reagan (on the recommendation of Dick Cheney), was so bad that the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs, which usually superintends the library system with about as much vigilance as the Intelligence Committee reins in the CIA, was forced in 1992 to conclude he had "failed to exercise care and diligence in fulfilling his responsibilities." So why in the world did George H.W. Bush name Wilson executive director of his library and foundation? Could it be because with only hours left in the Bush I term, Wilson signed a secret document granting Bush physical custody of the White House e-mail backup tapes? (A federal judge would later strike this document down as "arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, and contrary to law," but by then Wilson had already begun his new job.)

Presidential libraries suffer backlogs of unprocessed Freedom of Information Act requests stretching back for as many as a dozen years. No wonder the transparency activists at the Center for Effective Government gave the National Archives and Records Administration - the National Archives and Records Administration! - an "F" in the center's 2014 Access to Information Scorecard. NARA defends this whole rotten system with an absurdly anachronistic and specious argument, writes Clark: "Presidential libraries need to continue to be spread out around the country so that more people may access the records" - "cover," he says, "to secure continuing taxpayer subsidies for the private history at the library museums - since the records aren't, and won't be, available."

Which brings us back to Chicago, and the current presidential aspirant to immortality. Like so many things Obamian, when it comes to transparency, fantasies of reform turn to ashes in our mouths. On the very first day of Barack Obama's first term, civil libertarians cheered when the new president reversed an executive order removing White House e-mails from the reach of Freedom of Information Act requests. Then, this year, on March 17, the White House made an announcement: it was removing White House e-mails from the reach of Freedom of Information Act requests.

But even better:

But Chicago is not yet completely an oligarchy. To make these gears turn, the powers that be have to lubricate past that pesky irritant: public dissent. So last May, the university brought forth the numbers to flush it away. A study from the Anderson Economic Group estimated that the "annual net economic impact of the Obama Library operations and visitor spending" would be $221.9 million, including revenue from forty projected new businesses and a whopping 1,900 "net new jobs."

Do you see the problem? I knew you would; you're smarter than the Chicago media. Yes: This directly contradicts the study published only six months earlier estimating that an Obama library built on the former hospital site would cost the city $142 million. Meanwhile, the study concluded that this same tract would generate $208 million in "net proceeds" for the city if they built a casino there - which happens to be one of Mayor Emanuel's fondest political dreams for the Michael Reese site.

Me, in June:

"In other words, the University of Chicago, self-proclaimed haven of intellectual dispassion, commissioned an indefensible study that produced just what they were looking for!"

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Back to Salon:

"The Obama Foundation boasted that the library site would bring hundreds of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity to the city. But Anthony Clark, author of a book about presidential libraries called The Last Campaign, calls this a massive overstatement.

Clark wrote in Salon in 2013 that most libraries "struggle to attract visitors," no matter what kind of technical wizardry they serve up. I can think of a thousand better ways to aid the residents of the south side than "a pair of virtual reality goggles" allowing visitors or Web users to "be transported to Mr. Obama's 2008 speech on race in Philadelphia." To quote Clark: "Presidential libraries are supposed to be . . . guardians of history, of the documentary evidence of a presidency. They're not supposed to be theme parks."

From that "massive overstatement" link, which is a Marketplace piece:

[Consultant Jason] Horwitz says the development could create more than $200 million in economic activity from dozens of new restaurants and shops, even a hotel, to meet the demands of 800,000 library visitors a year.

"It would be fantastically unprecedented for 800,000 visitors to come to a presidential library," says Anthony Clark.

Five years ago, Clark was a senior aide in the U.S. House of Representatives, focusing on oversight of the National Archives and presidential libraries. He has since authored a book on presidential libraries, The Last Campaign.

"The idea that the library creates an economic boost that lasts indefinitely is just not borne out by the numbers," says Clark. "In fact, library attendance, no matter which library . . . declines over time."

Many of the 13 current presidential libraries have attendance figures in the tens of thousands, or low hundreds of thousands.

"The most-visited temporary exhibit at a presidential library in history was at the Reagan a few years ago, and it wasn't on the wit and wisdom of the great communicator, it wasn't on the secrets of the Cold War, it was on the treasures of the Disney vault," says Clark.

So, the impact the libraries have on local economies is modest, he says.

Benjamin Hufbauer agrees. He is the author of Presidential Temples, and teaches a course about presidential libraries at the University of Louisville.

Lesson: If the Chicago media would talk to the nation's foremost disinterested experts - and analyze their data - the picture they convey would be different than the one they're presenting by merely passing on the unvetted claims of hired hands with skin in the game.

*

To be fair:

But Hufbauer points to one big exception: the Clinton library, which was built amidst mostly abandoned warehouses in Little Rock, Arkansas.

"It sparked hundreds of millions of dollars of private investment," says Hufbauer. "And now it's a very successful touristy area in downtown Little Rock."

So why was the Clinton library different?

Horwitz says it's because the library did not have to do all the heavy lifting in redeveloping the area.

"It certainly seems that the Clinton Library served as an anchor," says Horwitz. "When a lot of other development was occurring in this downtown area, and it was a compliment to that."

In other words, presidential libraries can help, but they can't transform an area all by themselves.

In other words, the Clinton library added a piece to the economic development of a gentrifying downtown warehouse district. It also could have been a wax museum or an aquarium.

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Noted . . .

* From Perlstein in the Baffler:

"I made my way inside the gym, stationed myself beside the rostrum crowded with television news cameras - and was quite nearly tackled by Jeremy Manier, the U of C's executive director of news and public affairs, spouting talking points: 'economic development'; 'once-in-a-lifetime opportunity'; 'long Chicago tradition of museums in public parks.'"

Manier is a former Tribune reporter.

* From Salon:

"All presidents ponder their legacy in the final days, but having a senior adviser, former Wall Street Journal and Washington Post reporter Shalaigh Murray, working on legacy projects from inside the administration, two years out, can cause some distortions."

* From the New York Times:

"Mr. Obama "seemed incredibly relaxed," said another guest, the writer Malcolm Gladwell. He recalled how the group, which also included the actress Eva Longoria and Vinod Khosla, a founder of Sun Microsystems, tossed out ideas about what Mr. Obama should do after he leaves the White House."

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Seemingly related . . .

"The arguments in favor of hosting the [Olympic] Games - the immediate and long-term economic benefits, the international branding for the city, the national pride - don't stand up as well to scrutiny as they once did," the Tribune editorial board opined four days ago.

"Research by Andrew Zimbalist, an economist at Smith College, shows that Olympic tourists displace other tourists and anticipated increases in trade and investment don't materialize, while the branding benefits and feel-good effects for citizens are ephemeral."

Dear Tribune: The research you cite was all available back when you were cheerleading for the bid. Some of us pointed to that research again and again back then, in vain. To pretend that the arguments in favor of hosting the Games once stood up to scrutiny but now don't is wholly disingenuous. I'd be happy to send you some links to prove my point.

And when the Obama library turns out to be hugely disappointing in terms of economic development - while nicking taxpayers forever - I'll link to this column and say I told you so again.

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More important, than the editorial boards, though, are the reporters and their editors, who have (once again) utterly failed to do their due diligence. Then again, I bet a couple of you actually end up working for the library one day - and telling the truth now would quash that bright future.

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Other absurd economic development reports accepted blithely by the media:

* The NATO summit.

* Draft Town.

* The Blackhawks new practice facility.

Learn, dammit!

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NSA And AT&T Joined At The Hip
Reading your e-mails, no big whoop.

Canada To Take In Trump Refugees
Special offer!

The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Wussy, Uncouth, Nots, EMISunshine and the Rain, Adam Ness, The Living Statues, Great Peacock, Pleasure Leftists, Cinchel, Like Mots To Flames, Northlane, Dengue Dengue Dengue, Aaron Behrens & Jonas Wilson, Julian Alvarez, Juanes, Toto, KMFDM, Slipknot, The Fall Four, Marina City, Paint Me Red, She's Crafty, and Greg Ward II.

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BeachBook
* Janelle Monae Leads Chicago Protest Against Police Brutality.

* Patrick Kane's Lawyer Is Arguing With People On Facebook.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Hurricane Rahm.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:45 AM | Permalink

Why The Close Collaboration Between The NSA And AT&T Matters

Newly disclosed documents unveiling the close relationship between the National Security Agency and AT&T could breathe new life into a long-running legal dispute about the NSA's controversial method of tapping the Internet backbone on U.S. soil.

NSA Spying Relies on AT&T's 'Extreme Willingness to Help'

The National Security Agency's ability to capture internet traffic on U. S. soil has been based on an extraordinary, decades-long partnership with a single company: AT&T. Read the story.

A Trail of Evidence Leading to AT&T's Partnership with the NSA

Documents provided by Edward Snowden mention a special relationship between the National Security Agency and an unnamed telecommunications company. Here's how we figured out that's AT&T. Read the story.
This program, according to documents provided by Edward Snowden, is largely enabled by telecom giant AT&T, which filters internet traffic, based on NSA instructions. AT&T then forwards the "take" to the spy agency's storage facilities for further review and analysis.

But a single e-mail traverses the Internet in hundreds of tiny slices, called "packets," that travel separate routes. Grabbing even one e-mail requires a computer search of many slices of other people's messages.

Privacy advocates have long argued in court that grabbing portions of so many e-mails - involving people not suspected of anything - is a violation of the protection against unreasonable searches and seizures provided by the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital civil liberties group, is now hoping that the new documents will bolster their claims in a long-running case, Jewel v. NSA.

"We will be presenting this information to the court," said Cindy Cohn, executive director of the foundation. A Department of Justice spokesman declined to comment.

So far, the only court that has reviewed the constitutional question is the secret panel of jurists known as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. This court only hears arguments from the government and all of their decisions are highly classified.

Other federal courts have declined to debate the constitutional question for fear that discussing any collaboration with telecom companies would damage American security.

Last year, James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, told a court that confirming the identities of any telecoms that work with the NSA would alert terrorists that "certain channels of communications are vulnerable to NSA interception."

But the internal NSA documents describe a nearly unavoidable surveillance system on AT&T's Internet backbone in the United States. One document shows a technical sketch of how AT&T provides the spy agency not only with access to traffic on its own network, but also traffic from other telecoms that crosses its network.

Such cooperative arrangements, known in the industry as "peering,'' are central to the speed of the global Internet. The packets that make up e-mails and other messages are sent through the fastest routes possible, jumping on and off each company's network as needed. That means that any internet user's communications, regardless of whether they are an AT&T customer, could end up on AT&T's network - and in the NSA's hands.

The newly disclosed documents seem to confirm the words of former ATT technician Mark Klein, who has testified that the spy agency had access to vast amounts of data from other telecoms that was transmitted over AT&T's fiber-optic lines.

Klein's allegations are central to Jewel v. N.S.A., which alleges that the NSA's "bulk, untargeted seizure of the Internet communications of millions of innocent Americans" from AT&T's networks amounted to an unconstitutional search and seizure.

The government has responded that there is no evidence that any particular communications have been copied, and, even if they were, they would have been "destroyed within milliseconds of their creation" if they did not have intelligence value. Even in that scenario, the government says, the surveillance would be a "minimal intrusion on Fourth Amendment interests" that would be "vastly outweighed" by the benefits of the program.

The court agreed, dismissing most of the case in February without examining the plaintiffs' constitutional questions.

For Kevin Bankston, the new document disclosure is bittersweet. Bankston was the attorney at the EFF who first brought Mark Klein's allegations to court. After reviewing the documents, he said, "We were treated as crazy for years for allegations that we now know are substantially true."

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ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for their newsletter.

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Previously:
* EFF Sues For Records About 'Hemisphere' Phone Call Collection And Drug Enforcement Program.

* Snowden Documentarian Laura Poitras Sues U.S. Government To Uncover Records After Years Of Airport Detentions And Searches.

* Obama Secretly Expanded NSA Spying To Internet.

* Court: NSA Phone Program Illegal.

* The Chicago Connection To The Hidden Intelligence Breakdowns Behind The Mumbai Attacks.

* Human Rights Watch Sues DEA Over Bulk Collection Of American's Telephone Records.

* U.S. Secretly Tracked Billions Of Calls For Decades.

* Amnesty International Joins ACLU, Wikimedia In Lawsuit To Stop Mass Surveillance Program.

* Stop Spying On Wikipedia Users.

* EFF Wins Battle Over Secret Legal Opinions On Government Spying.

* The NSA's "U.S. Corporate Partners."

* I Fight Surveillance.

* Illegal Spying Below.

* Smith vs. Obama.

* EFF Sues NSA Over FOIA.

* Stand Against Spying.

* The NSA Revelations All In One Chart.

* U.S. Supreme Court Limits Cell Phone Searches.

* EFF To Court: There's No Doubt The Government Destroyed NSA Spying Evidence.

* House Committee Puts NSA On Notice Over Encryption Standards.

* Which Tech Companies Help Protect You From Government Data Demands?

* Lawsuit Demands DOJ Release More Secret Surveillance Court Rulings.

* Human Rights Organizations To Foreign Ministers: Stop Spying On Us.

* What The Proposed NSA Reforms Wouldn't Do.

* Technologists Turn On Obama.

* Dear Supreme Court: Set Limits On Cell Phone Searches.

* EFF Fights National Security Letter Demands On Behalf Of Telecom, Internet Company.

* Eighth-Grader Schools The NSA.

* You Know Who Else Collected Metadata? The Stasi.

* Today We Fight Back.

* The Day We Fight Back.

* FAQ: The NSA's Angry Birds.

* Jon Stewart: The Old Hope-A-Dope.

* Four Blatantly False Claims Obama Has Made About NSA Surveillance.

* EFF To DOJ In Lawsuit: Stop Pretending Information Revealed About NSA Over Last Seven Months Is Still A Secret.

* Judge On NSA Case Cites 9/11 Report, But It Doesn't Actually Support His Ruling.

* Edward Snowden's Christmas Message.

* Jon Stewart: Obama Totally Lying About NSA Spying.

* Presidential Panel To NSA: Stop Undermining Encryption.

* The NSA Is Coming To Town.

* 60 Minutes We Can't Get Back.

* Why Care About The NSA?

* NSA Surveillance Drives Writers To Self-Censor.

* Filed: 22 Firsthand Accounts Of How NSA Surveillance Chilled The Right To Association.

* Claim On 'Attacks Thwarted' By NSA Spreads Despite Lack Of Evidence.

* Obama Vs. The World.

* How A Telecom Helped The Government Spy On Me.

* UN Member States Asked To End Unchecked Surveillance.

* Government Standards Agency: Don't Follow Our Encryption Guidelines Because NSA.

* Five More Organizations Join Lawsuit Against NSA.

* A Scandal Of Historic Proportions.

* Item: NSA Briefing.

* The Case Of The Missing NSA Blog Post.

* The NSA Is Out Of Control.

* Patriot Act Author Joins Lawsuit Against NSA.

* Obama's Promises Disappear From Web.

* Why NSA Snooping Is A Bigger Deal In Germany.

* Item: Today's NSA Briefing.

* NSA Briefing: It Just Got Worse (Again).

* Song of the Moment: Party at the NSA.

* It Not Only Can Happen Here, It Is Happening Here.

* What NSA Transparency Looks Like.

* America's Lying About Spying: Worse Than You Think.

* Obama Continues To Lie His Ass Off About The NSA.

* The Surveillance Reforms Obama Supported Before He Was President.

* America's Spying: Worse Than You Think.

* Has The U.S. Government Lied About Its Snooping? Let's Go To The Videotape.

* Who Are We At War With? That's Classified.

* Six Ways Congress May Reform NSA Snooping.

* NSA Says It Can't Search Its Own E-Mails.

* Does The NSA Tap That?

* Obama Explains The Difference Between His Spying And Bush's Spying.

* FAQ: What You Need To Know About The NSA's Surveillance Programs.

* NSA: Responding To This FOIA Would Help "Our Adversaries".

* Fact-Check: The NSA And 9/11.

* The NSA's Black Hole: 5 Things We Still Don't Know About The Agency's Snooping.

* Defenders Of NSA Surveillance Citing Chicago Case Omit Most Of Mumbai Plotter's Story.

* Obama's War On Truth And Transparency.

* ProPublica's Guide To The Best Stories On The Growing Surveillance State.

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See also:
* Jimmy Carter: America's Shameful Human Rights Record.

* James Goodale: Only Nixon Harmed A Free Press More.

* Daniel Ellsberg: Obama Has Committed Impeachable Offenses.

* Paul Steiger: Why Reporters In The U.S. Now Need Protection.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:46 AM | Permalink

Canada Offers Relief From Trump

BREAKING NEWS: Canada welcomes Americans totally sick of conservatives in new marketing campaign by the Canadian Board of Tourism and Citizenry. Industry and small businesses in Illinois are paying particular attention, given that Indiana and Wisconsin don't seem to "be all that" these days.

Dear Americans:

We understand the problems you may be having with Mr. Donald Trump as of late. We totally sympathize. Which is why, for a limited time only should Mr. Trump become the Republican presidential nominee, we are throwing open our borders for you to flood over. Bring a Mexican or two if you so desire. We embrace all cultures here. Even yours.

Canada is a huge country with an amazing amount of land unsettled still today, hundreds and hundreds of years after this country was first created. You may think this is because Canada is full of unmotivated slackers, but the truth of the matter is, Canada is just bigger than the goddamn moon and the USA combined. So yes, we have plenty of land just lying there going to waste waiting to be plundered and raped by fine, hard-working, overly motivated American bootstrappers exactly like yourself.

Should Mr. Trump become the nominee and present a plan to round up all liberals as well as Mexicans, do not worry. You will be welcome here. In fact, Canada loves liberals. Especially since compared to American conservatives, American liberals are far more polite and have better manners overall. And best of all, you wouldn't have to build a rickety raft and worry about being eaten by sharks like all those people from Cuba when Reagan was president.

Not only that, but we have two flags to choose from: A Canadian one and some kind of Frenchy one, and nobody goes around getting all worked up over it like someone just murdered their grandmother.

So we invite you to settle upon the sunny shores of any Canadian province just across our unwalled border. We welcome you tired, huddled masses yearning to breathe free - especially during the winter, when you'd just be huddling together for warmth. We can't do anything about our weather during the winter, but we cheerfully welcome you anyway.

Cordially, your international friend, eh?

Canada

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:38 AM | Permalink

August 17, 2015

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Wussy at the Glenwood Ave. Arts Fest on Saturday night.

Photos by Loerzel.

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2. Uncouth at Record Breakers on Saturday.

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3. The Nots at the Owl on Thursday night.

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4. EMISunshine and the Rain at SPACE in Evanston on Friday night.

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5. Adam Ness at the Double Door on Sunday night.

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6. The Living Statues at the Empty Bottle on Thursday night.

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7. Great Peacock at the Empty Bottle on Thursday night.

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8. Pleasure Leftists at the Empty Bottle on Saturday night.

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9. Cinchel at Record Breakers on Saturday.

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10. Like Moths To Flames at the Double Door on Thursday night.

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11. Northlane at the Double Door on Thursday night.

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12. Dengue Dengue Dengue at the Double Door on Friday night.

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13. Aaron Behrens & Jonas Wilson at Schubas on Saturday night.

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14. Julian Alvarez at the Aragon on Saturday night.

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15. Juanes at the Rosemont Theater on Saturday night.

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16. Toto at Northerly Island on Sunday night.

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17. KMFDM at the House of Blues on Friday night.

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18. Slipknot in Tinley Park on Saturday night.

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19. The Fall Four at Reggies on Saturday night.

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20. Marina City at Reggies on Saturday night.

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21. Paint Me Red at the Bottom Lounge on Friday night.

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22. She's Crafty at Lincoln Hall on Saturday night.

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23. Greg Ward II at Millennium Park on Thursday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:43 PM | Permalink

The [Monday] Papers

So the hard drive on my Macbook is basically full. I have an external drive that is also basically full. I have a couple of thumb drives that are full. So this morning I figured out how to clear some space on my external hard drive so I could clear some space on my laptop hard drive and the whole exercise took a lot longer than I expected - a couple hours! That set me way back.

So (this is the third time I've used "so" in this column) let me just get these basics out and then I've got some other posts and a fresh column that will appear later today or tomorrow. Sorry.

The Apology Kristen McQueary Should Have Written
Penned by the gifted Matt Farmer.

This piece is also scheduled by to re-published by Crain's this afternoon is now also up at Crain's.

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See also: Hurricane Kristen in The [Friday] Papers.

The Cub Factor
It's Poppa Joe's Wagon Now.

The White Sox Report
Camp Crosstown.

TrackNotes: Arlington Truce
Check out the debate on this piece in comments, which is also going on at Barn to Wire.

CJR: Why Diffing Could Make News Orgs More Transparent
I'm quoted in this piece; we're on a roll! Just like the old days.

Chicagoetry: Psycho Killer
The Quaker Parrots of Washington Park/Suppress their parochial squawk.

Mobster Cop
One more time for this TV show, which I do a lot of narrating for.

Sound Opinions
There was no Weekend Desk Report - I was at a wedding shower all day Saturday - but that doesn't mean you can't listen to the weekend episode of the world's only rock 'n' roll radio talk show:

"Great records are released every year that, for whatever reason, fly under the radar. Jim and Greg unearth some of their latest musical Buried Treasures. Plus, we hear the untold story of the 'Patient Zero' of music piracy."

BeachBook
* Jeff Bezos, Like Many CEOs, Is A Psychopath.

* Despite Hurricane, New Orleans Public Defender System Remains Overwhelmed And Underfunded.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Hardly working.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:17 PM | Permalink

Chicagoetry: Psycho Killer

PSYCHO KILLER

You start a conversation
With a storm,
Speaking in tongues
Sliced by blue lightning,
Brooding into the gale
As if it were interested in your views.

Thus a squall gets the news,
The Quaker Parrots of Washington Park
Suppress their parochial squawk,
Clinging tenaciously to the tree bark.

You're talking a lot
Without truly elucidating your views
But somehow it sounds like music, music
That leers, music that chews,
Music that sways like a great oak

In a gale
Bejeweled with birds--tense, nervous--
Burying their tiny claws into its bark.

Lucidly you choose a new tack
In attempting to convince the downpour
Of your righteousness
(A thankless task) and
The lightning of your guile.
Chew on it awhile.

Like the first French ramblers
To land the south shore
Or the first monk parakeets
Of Washington Park lore,

You see the thunderhead
And wonder "Qu'est-ce que c'est?!"

"What is this?!"
It is Jupiter, Psycho Killer
Of the Sky,
Dispenser of death

In random fury.
What you said
That evening:
"It is nothing
Unless in me
Contained,"

But that's all
Just self-love

In vain.

There is no answer
To the blue lightning
And no origin
To the Quaker Parrots.

They are facts on the ground
And in the sky;
There is no reply.

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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

* The Viral Video: The Match Game Dance

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:20 PM | Permalink

It's Poppa Joe's Wagon Now

What is there to say? The Cubs went 5-1 for the week and only lost to Chris Sale. Who was as Chris Sale-y as it gets in that one loss.

The biggest question mark of the week was who would start in the wild card playoff game, Arrieta or Lester. Because you know, the Cubs are already there.

While I understand there will be a debate when that time comes, if it comes, I have faith that Joe Maddon will make the right call for the team to win. Just look at how he responded to the question when it was asked of him. How great is that?

Give me your best advice. And, if you are supposed to do these things. But there I have to disagree with Joe. This is the first Cub manager I can remember where there weren't glaring "What the fuck are you doing?" moments.

Sure, I truly don't get ever batting Chris Coghlan third, but it seems to work; they are 12-0 when he bats third. How is that possible?

I truly don't know, but Joe seems to have a handle on it. Maybe he tells Rizzo after he's up there what the pitcher has that day and it helps the Rizz? Maybe pitchers relax just enough in Coghlan at-bats that they can't focus clearly again quick enough for the next guy in the line-up? Maybe Coghlan just has brass balls up there and batting third makes no difference to him whereas other guys would let it get to their heads? I don't know the answer to any of these questions, but I do know that Joe is doing the best he can with what he has to work with.

And I also know that the first- and second-guessing as a fan is virtually nil with this guy.

Uncle Lou was too emotional and a little too old school to not be second-guessed. And Dusty would never play all these young guys and would be constantly second-guessed - while also being pretty much a complete idiot.

So yeah, my wagon is hitched to big Poppa Joe. Not only will he tell me who will be pitching in the one-game playoff, I will also know that it was the right move, even if the Cubs were to lose the game, you know because "baseball" and all. But kinda nice that the big issue this week was a silly debate about October baseball.

Joe's got this one, let's just see what happens.

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The Week In Review: The Cubs went 5-1 for the week. And it's the second week in a row they went 5-1. Not too flippin' shabby. Sure it was the Brewers and White Sox, but that is what good teams do.

The Week In Preview: The boys in blue stay in town for two against the Tigers and four against the Braves. Unlike the White Sox, the Tigers don't have pipe-dream illusions of making the playoffs, but they did get Miggy back off the DL, and he does this. And the lineup can rake - they have the third best OBP in all of baseball. Oh, and the Braves just signed Edwin Jackson, so, you know.

The Second Basemen Report: Chris Coghlan split his time this week with a new Cubs second baseman, Starlin Castro. I'm thinking Castro in the starting lineup might have been just an American League thing? Because his demotion has not changed him into the 2014 version of himself - or any other version. But with no more AL games on the road for the season, it's anyone's guess who will play second from here on out. Maybe even this guy?

In former Cubs second basemen, Eddie Miksis last played second base for the Cubs 1956. In June of 1951, with the Dodgers leading the National League by 14 1/2games, Miksis was traded to the Cubs. His main claim to fame as a Cub was lending his glove to Ernie Banks in Banks' first-ever major league game. He is missed.

Mad(don) Scientist: Hard not to point out a moment in the Crosstown series and think about Robin vs. Joe. The moment in particular was on Saturday when Robin decided to intentionally walk Dexter Fowler to get to Kyle Schwarber. Sure, Fowler had better at-bats that game coming into that situation, but still, WTF are you thinking? And then try to sneak a fastball by Boy Hulk? C'mon. So yeah, reason #258 why I'm glad I'm not a White Sox fan.

Wishing Upon A Starlin: I guess I was wrong when I said Castro isn't a defensive replacement at second base, because that's what he has been when he hasn't been starting there outright. And he's actually made a few nice plays. But his days as a Cub are numbered. If he is back in 2016, I'll be really surprised. He will not really be missed.

Kubs Kalender: On Saturday this week the Cubs are giving away a Jon Lester debut bobblehead. I guess that's cool, but why not make it a bobblehead from a different start? Lester didn't get out of the 5th inning and took the loss in his Cub "debut." It should be Lester's fifth start that they bobbletize. He beat the Brewers and went 7 innings giving up no runs.

Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Lots of investors shorted Futures of VMA this week. VMA - Robin Ventura Management.

Over/Under: The number of Chicagoans who put stock in Cubs vs. Sox: +/- not nearly as many as a while back.

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that this season means something.

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* Touch 'em all: The Cub Factor archives.

* Know thy enemy: The White Sox Reports.

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Marty Gangler is our man on the Cub. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:15 AM | Permalink

Camp Crosstown

Spending the past week in northern Wisconsin at the summer camp of my youth meant cooling off in a clear, sand-bottomed lake; canoeing down the Brule River, a truly pristine trout stream flowing north into Lake Superior; scaring the beejeezus out of my granddaughter, who was a passenger in the sailboat which I was doing my damndest to keep upright; and enjoying the company of family and friends.

But try as I might, the thought of completely blocking out the so-called Crosstown Classic proved to be too much of a challenge.

Men who haven't set foot at Camp Nebagamon for decades usually utter the same sentiment: "The place looks the same," they declare as they investigate the environs of their youth.

Of course, despite that reaction, there have been notable changes. As a kid, I enjoyed camp, but similar to last week, part of me was back on the South Side wondering how the White Sox were doing.

A subscription to the Tribune didn't quite do the trick decades ago since delivery usually took two or three days, failing to provide instant gratification. I mean, why hear what the Sox did in Detroit when I knew very well that they played Kansas City the night before?

However, I was able to depend on one source of information in the form of Bernie O'Brien, the camp's waterfront director who also happened to be one of the legendary Chicago Public League football coaches at Chicago Vocational.

Bernie - he was "Obie" at camp - had many great teams and players, but his most famous was Dick Butkus.

Butkus.jpg

I wasn't so much impressed that Obie was the great linebacker's coach - after all, Butkus was just a high school kid - but O'Brien's loyalty and dedication to the White Sox endeared him to me to this day. Those were the times of expensive long distance calls when Sports Center was the local athletic field.

Yet Obie knew the fortunes that befell the White Sox just hours after the games concluded. I never asked how he did it. But I knew that if I took a detour to the waterfront before cabin cleanup, I would receive a detailed summary of how Fox, Pierce, Aparicio and the rest of the boys did the day before.

Turn the page to last week, and the camp experience had a distinctly different flavor. It would have been divine to discuss the peaks and valleys of this season's Sox with Bernie O'Brien, but obviously that wasn't possible since Obie died in 2000 at the age of 87.

However, thanks to the wonders of iPads and cell phones, keeping up with the three-game sweep of the Angels before dropping two-of-three to the Cubs was squeezed in between lake dips, bike rides and walks through the woods.

With the passage of time, camp remains as alluring as ever, but so do the White Sox despite their sorry condition. That lake swim Sunday afternoon after the Sox' 3-1 victory in which Chris Sale (15) and Nate Jones (3) fanned 18 Cub hitters - a franchise record for a nine-inning game - was just a tad sweeter than if the outcome had been different. Obie would have understood.

He might have had a more difficult time deciphering how the Cubs, a third-place team in the Central Division of the National League, are threatening to qualify for October's postseason. But that's what three divisions and two wild card entries will do for you. Competition and interest have been created where none formerly existed. The purists were silenced long ago. This is fun.

It's news to no one that going into Sunday, the Cubbies had lost just once in the previous 16 games. That's a lovely streak, creating space between Joe Maddon's outfit and the Giants in the race for the two wild card spots.

The most glorious streak in White Sox history clearly was winning 11 of 12 in the 2005 postseason. But a similar streak that I remember, and one that I'm sure that Obie was monitoring from northern Wisconsin, occurred between June 11 and June 27, 1961. I was too old to go to camp that summer when the White Sox ran off 19 victories in 20 starts so I didn't have to consult anyone for each day's result.

The Sox had most of their pennant-winning team from two seasons before, but Minnie Minoso was back on the South Side and the left-hander Juan Pizzaro joined the pitching staff and won 14 games. When the streak began, the team wallowed in eighth place 15 1/2 games behind the Yankees due to an alarming 19-33 record.

After the streak, they moved up to fourth place in the 10-team American League, 7 1/2 games behind New York. They stood at a respectable 38-34. If this season's club was four games over .500 at this point, it would be tied with the Orioles for the second wild card berth.

Consider that the 1961 Yankees - the season that Roger Maris broke Babe Ruth's record - won 109 games, eight more than second-place Detroit. The White Sox closed with a 86-76 mark, good for fourth place, a whopping 23 games behind the Yankees. Even after winning 19 of 20, they were basically out of the race.

Of course, those Yankees won the World Series, and 40 years later Billy Crystal made a movie about them.

Barring a streak similar to 1961, no one would make a movie about the 2015 White Sox unless it would be of the blooper variety. Saturday evening's 6-3 loss was a sad reminder that this club remains capable of being extremely generous to the opposition.

Adam Eaton's failure to catch a routine pop-up off the bat of Anthony Rizzo in the sixth inning led to the Cubs' third run as the North Siders took a 3-1 lead. Jorge Soler followed with a base hit to left, and Melky Cabrera's throw to the plate went over catcher Tyler Flowers' head. Jose Quintana failed to back up the throw, a mental error that didn't register in the box score.

As long as we have mentioned events of more than 60 years ago, White Sox broadcaster Bob Elson would have labeled Eaton and Cabrera, who surely could have caught the ball, "Alphonse and Gaston," comic strip characters of more than 100 years ago. It would be an apt description.

The failure to turn a double play in the seventh inning - Alexei Ramirez was charged with an error on a throw that bounced in front of first baseman Jose Abreu, who might have come up with the ball - helped the Cubs score three times. Add in a baserunning blunder or two, and the Cubs accepted their ninth victory in a row.

When you look at the two Chicago teams, the Cubs have scored 30 more runs this season, but the Sox are hitting .249 compared to the Cubs' .240. The Cubs have struck out more than any team in baseball, but they've also drawn more walks (401) than any team except the Dodgers (405). Meanwhile, the White Sox have walked just 269 times which helps explain why they don't score much. The Cubs are 14th in the league in OBP; the Sox are 25th.

The Sox have committed 71 errors, six fewer than the Cubs.

It's in the pitching department where the North Siders excel, with a 3.38 team ERA compared to the White Sox 4.02.

In watching Jeff Samardzija get pummeled by his former teammates on Friday for six runs in as many innings, it was tempting to imagine a scenario where the Shark still was a member of the Cubs. Samardzija's ERA climbed to 4.78 and his record evened at 8-8 as the Cubs won 6-5. Samardzija has given up 22 earned runs in his three August starts. The Sox would have fared much better if they were facing Samardzija rather than sending him to the bump.

After sweeping the Angels three in a row at The Cell last week, the White Sox begin a four-game set in Anaheim on Monday night, where the Angels are 36-23 compared to 24-33 on the road. The chance of putting together any kind of streak appears daunting.

By week's end, the Wisconsin sojourn will have ended while who knows what blunders and gaffes the White Sox have in store for us on this West Coast swing. Meanwhile, that lake won't be beckoning in the late afternoon. I need to enjoy it while I can.

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Roger Wallenstein is our man on the Sox. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:36 AM | Permalink

August 15, 2015

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #64: Babe Schwarber's Chicago Cubs

Takes the baton from Kris Bryant. Plus: Bad News Bears And Their Pussy Press Corps, and Frickin' Sheboygan, Wisconsin, Is Hosting The PGA Championship.


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SHOW NOTES

* Henry Addad.

1:00: Babe Schwarber's Chicago Cubs.

* Jeremy Brown.

* Jake Peavy vs. Kyle Schwarber.

* Philadelphia Inquirer: On Paper, Cubs Best Fit For Utley.

* Starlin Castro is the new Edwin Jackson.

* Bernstein is batshit bullish for Baez.

* Lester Or Arrieta? Who Would Start In A One-Game Playoff?

* Clayton Richard Returns To The Cell With 95 MPH Fastball.

* Cubs' Bullpen, Not The Closer, Is By Committee.

* Joe Maddon mugshot.

* The Rizzo catch.

* Was Rizzo's Catch Great Or Idiotic?

47:58: Bad News Bears.

* Kevin White News Shows Bears Can't Be Trusted.

* Alshon Jeffery In Walking Boot.

* Jay Cutler Still Quarterback.

* Puppy press corps.

* Access to Bears bullshit.

1:00:28: Frickin' Sheboygan.

* Whistling Straits.

1:09:40: Seeing Red Stars.

* Chicago Red Stars Look To Continue NWSL Playoff Push Against Washington Spirit.

* And The Chicago Fire Did Something This Week.

1:10:00: Sky Get Critical Win; Survive Storm.

STOPPAGE: 10:48

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For archives and more, see The Beachwood Radio Network.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:43 PM | Permalink

August 14, 2015

The Apology Kristen McQueary Should Have Written

Shorter, sorrier than the one she did.

*

Hurricane Katrina claimed over 1,800 lives. Kids lost parents. Grandparents lost grandchildren. Neighbors lost friends.

I knew the storm's horrific death count when I sat down at my computer on Thursday to write an op-ed piece expressing my wish that such a storm hit Chicago.

I knew the death count, but for reasons I still can't explain, I plowed ahead with my work.

Chicago, I explained, needed to be hit by "an unpredictable, haughty, devastating swirl of fury," because unless it experienced the "chaos," "tragedy" and "heartbreak" of its own Katrina, the city was not likely to "hit the reset button" necessary to get its financial house in order.

And that's why, on August 13, 2015, I found "myself praying for a real storm."

Today, however, I'm praying only for forgiveness. My words hurt a lot of people, most of whom I'll never meet, and many of whom witnessed unimaginable events during the 2005 hurricane.

My Katrina column was a bad idea, poorly executed by me, an upper-income, white Chicagoan, who - in this case anyway - was remarkably tone-deaf to the suffering of hundreds of thousands of people.

Reaction to my column was swift and overwhelmingly negative, and after poring over hundreds of tweets and at least a dozen articles that ran in newspapers from Washington D.C. to New Orleans, I understand why my words angered so many readers.

Chicago has a lot of problems, but I know now that I wouldn't wish a storm like Hurricane Katrina on anyone.

I'm sorry for the pain I caused.

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See also: The [Friday] Papers: Hurricane McQueary.

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Comments welcome.

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1. From Peter Hylton:

Your version is vastly better than hers, of course (not least in acknowledging, on her behalf as it were, that she speaks or spoke from the point of view of an affluent white person).

Your last sentence ('I'm sorry for the pain I caused.'), however, is just the sort of thing that is characteristic of the kind of nopology you are attacking. One needs to apologize for the wrong one has done, not for the pain it has caused. Otherwise one too easily slips into thinking that the pain arises from over-sensitivity and is not really (certainly not entirely) one's own fault.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:14 PM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

PROGRAMMING NOTE: There will be no Weekend Desk Report this weekend.

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The [Friday] Papers

I'm not sure I've ever seen a Chicago journalist get pummeled (figuratively) as much as Tribune editorial writer and columnist Kristen McQueary has been pummeled since her column praying for a Katrina-like hurricane to strike Chicago was posted Thursday. Deservedly so.

And not just in Chicago - McQueary was trending on Twitter in New Orleans last night.

McQueary's column was wrongheaded - to put it politely - on several levels, most of which have been discussed at length elsewhere.

I would encourage you to also catch up on Twitter if you are behind.

I'll make just a few points, and try not to be repetitive.

* When people are alleged to be racist, they aren't necessarily being accused of being bigots. My guess is that McQueary doesn't have a bigoted bone in her body. But bigotry is the sin of personal prejudice. Racism, no matter how loosely the term is thrown around, is actually an institutional sin - and people make up institutions. When people of influence in those institutions are blind to the outcomes of their polices (or, in this case, policy proscriptions), they are "racist." This is why Rahm Emanuel and his school board (as well as African-American schools chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett) were rightly accused of racism for the closing of 50 schools that disproportionately and negatively affected African-American students, families and communities.

This, in fact, is the standard used in civil rights law regardless of what Establishment apologizer Eric Zorn thinks. (It's also hardly a redefinition of "racism"; the redefinition has been to use "racism" as a broad description of prejudice and bigotry.)

In this way, then, McQueary's column is racist. My guess is that McQueary is as personally pained as the average person - take that for what it's worth - at the lives lost and families torn apart in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. But her blind spot is in not recognizing that the diminishment of those lives is particularly offensive to African Americans who recognize most viscerally that Katrina was a disaster of enormous proportions particularly to African Americans, in the same way that a diminishment of the Holocaust cuts particularly deep to Jews.

In the same way, this explains what critics like myself mean when we characterize the media as (institutionally) racist; when you purposefully reject readers from economic quintiles that are predominantly black, even if you are just operating from a prejudice-free spread sheet, you have behaved in a racist fashion.

More to the point regarding McQueary, something in her worldview - and the worldview of her editors - conjured up that column with (apparently) nary a pause to consider if she was really saying what she was trying to say (although it's quite apparent that, yes, she was!).

(This is the point many local reporters couldn't - and still can't - get when Chicago criminologist Tracy Siska said their lack of attention to the Homan Square scandal was racist; it was, and continues to be, both from an outcome perspective - the victims at Homan are predominantly black - and from an institutional mindset that has predetermined the story isn't worth pursuing. If the victims were predominantly white?)

* Who, if anyone, edited this column? As an editor, you wouldn't want to curtail your writer's true beliefs. But you would want to challenge the arguments. Is this really a clear and useful metaphor? Are the city's financial problems - which could be largely solved tomorrow through a combination of a property tax increase, a financial transaction tax, the use of TIF surpluses and other measures - really more important than the crime and poverty that is killing people every single day right now? Are union contracts really to blame for the reckless spending of Richard M. Daley, endorsed six times by the Tribune, and the risky credit swaps of former school board chairman David Vitale, appointed by the twice-endorsed Rahm Emanuel? Is New Orleans' "free-market" school district, which means it's all charters, really more successful than the traditional model that preceded it? (Hint: No.) Has corruption really been rooted out of City Hall there? Is New Orleans really Heaven on Earth as McQueary describes? Links, please!

* McQueary's column was written after a board room visit from New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, who is currently on a publicity tour. Is it that easy to bowl over McQueary?

* McQueary's patronizing and ignorant response is unacceptable, though another light into the way her mind works.

We all read the piece, Kristen. And you did just diminish the tragedy of thousands of lives lost.

* The Tribune altered the headline of the column and one key sentence after a deluge of complaints rained down upon them.

This is patently deceptive and dishonest, and only makes the situation worse by intensifying and broadening disgust at the (moralizing) Tribune editorial board.

As nicely explained here (I am quoted!), news organizations should be transparent with readers about changes to stories after they are posted. What is the downside?

* On Monday, I wrote this about some of the coverage of the Patrick Kane investigation:

"One way diversity works: Women in the newsroom - and in editing/management positions - increases the likelihood that media deals with these issues in an understanding and enlightened way."

It's 2015. Chicago is roughly one-third Latino, one-third black, and one-third white. This is the Tribune editorial board.

* I used to admire and respect McQueary's work when she was at the Southtown, though I didn't always agree with her views. I have not much liked her work since she joined the Trib edit board. Is she trying to please her bosses, even unconsciously? Has she been socialized into the board the way Warren Breed first described? Is this the "real" McQueary? Has she evolved? I'd love to hear her discuss this.

* Again, check out Twitter for what is probably far more incisive commentary - Twitter demands a clarity in concision that is underrated. And let me know what I've missed or gotten wrong.

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6:25 P.M.: UPDATE: The Apology Kristen McQueary Should Have Written.

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Previously in Kristen McQueary:

From April 2006:

Kristen McQueary at the Daily Southtown somehow still thinks it was George Ryan's great big heart that tripped him up. She must be a graduate of the Michael Sneed School of Chicago Journalism.

"This was not an elitist who flaunted wealth," McQueary writes. "He was a grandpa from Kankakee with a pudgy wife. The spoils often referenced - corporate jets, premier sports tickets, Jamaican vacations, steak dinners - don't strike me as ostentatious. He was the governor of a major state. Your average state lawmaker is privy to the same recompense, and congressmen, more."

Ryan may not have flaunted his wealth, but he flaunted his power. He delivered wealth to his friends - in multi-million dollar state contracts paid for with our money. McQueary fails to see that the point isn't what Ryan got as much as what he gave (in return for what he got - elected.)

"One of the personal checks shown to jurors as part of the 'spoils' was a $1,000 boost for his daughter," McQueary writes. "One of his kids apparently married a bum who liked to gamble, and so Ryan helped them when he could. What father wouldn't?"

A law-abiding father, that's what father! Ryan "boosted" his daughters in part by shaving money out of Phil Gramm's presidential campaign fund!

"Think of your own life and the people with whom you would surround yourself if elected governor: I'd sure like my best friend from high school, now an attorney, to provide trusted counsel," she continues. "What if she owned a timeshare in Mexico? Would I have to pay her for my room-and-board? It seems a bit absurd."

If you were elected governor, Kristen, your best friend could provide counsel as your private attorney. But would you just turn over the general counsel's job to your pal? And what if your pal, like Ryan's boyhood friend, Dean Bauer, then quashed investigations into, say, a license-for-bribes scheme involving an illegally licensed trucker who killed six kids?

McQueary goes on to make the tired, cynical argument that this is how politics is done in Illinois, and that somehow now the ethical lines have shifted. I wonder how many Chicago journalists realize that in many states and cities, politics is not done this way at all and things still manage to get done. Or that the laws haven't changed at all - find me a federal statute Ryan was charged under that is a recent change of law. Pols have been sent to jail for these types of misdeeds for as long as they have been perpetrating them.

McQueary's column is an important one, though, because it exposes the shocking mindset of many Chicago journalists whose training is so much different than mine. It makes you wonder: If McQueary had been tipped off about some of Ryan's shady deals, would she have thought it not worthy of reporting?

From October 2006:

Speaking of [Green Party gubernatorial candidate Rich] Whitney, a good example of the media's mentality comes from Daily Southtown political writer Kristen McQueary. She opened a recent column about Whitney this way: "The goal was this: Find out if he's a whack job."

You know, as opposed to the felon who is our former Republican governor and the felon-to-be who is our current Democratic governor.

"I sat in my car outside the Pilsen restaurant, trying to stifle my elitist perception of credible gubernatorial fundraising - $100-a-plate dinners in chandeliered ballrooms with an open bar and tidy-looking men in patriotic neckties," McQueary continues.

"This was a dumpy restaurant on the Southwest Side with a couple of dudes in dreadlocks swinging through the front door. A disappointing crowd of 40 people sat in a back room that smelled of fried tortillas."

Well, that tells you everything you need to know about our political press corps. They still have more faith in tidy-looking men in patriotic neckties than dudes in dreadlocks.

* From October 2013: Wholly disingenuous - or ignorant - on mandatory minimums. Click through and scroll for it.

* from February 2015:

Now let's take a look at editorial board member Kristen McQueary weighing in with her own bit of weirdness.

"Emanuel is in trouble," McQueary writes.

"Why? Many reasons, but one is this: Voters aren't realistic about the financial tsunami this city faces."

I'm not above calling voters dumb - they put Rahm in office in the first place - but geez!

*

"If they were, they would not have galvanized around Garcia, who wants to reopen closed schools that for decades failed to properly educate kids. Where was the outrage over the schools' failure year after year to teach kids to read? Chronically underperforming schools in neighborhoods with the greatest population loss, in a school district teetering on bankruptcy, needed to close."

I'll tell you where the outrage was: In your face! Nobody has been more outraged about CPS for decades than its teachers and the parents who send their kids there. Where has the Tribune been?

To close "chronically underperforming" schools in neighborhoods with the greatest population losses is the exact opposite thing to do if your interest is in serving those kids. Maybe ask yourself: Why are these schools chronically underperforming and not others? Why are these neighborhoods losing population and not others? And why is a school district in a city with as much wealth as Chicago teetering - forever, so let's be clear - on the brink of bankruptcy? You can't run a school district successfully in a city that isn't invested in that school district - and this city isn't. If it was, Rahm and his pals would send their kids to public schools just like the rest of us. The fact is, CPS is for "other" kids. And those without a real stake who issue their moral proclamations from the sidelines are the biggest hypocrites of all. Hate to break it to you, but Rahm sends his kids to a school that opposes virtually every policy he has backed for CPS. But maybe the folks at the University of Chicago Lab School are just dumb, like the rest of the masses.

*

"If voters were concerned about the city's finances, they would understand that Garcia's knee-jerk proposal to hire 1,000 more police officers would not automatically decrease crime."

Voters are concerned about their own finances - because their political leaders obviously are not. That said, I agree that Garcia's policing proposal is nonsense. But then, so was that "authentic" pledge Rahm made four years ago to . . . hire 1,000 more police officers.

*

"If voters worried about economics, they would not have voted for a candidate who wants an elected school board - essentially putting the Chicago Teachers Union, whose mission is to protect pay and benefits of the adults in the system, in charge of the schools."

First, an elected school board is about accountability. Second, why would an elected school board put the CTU in charge? Rahm and his Super PAC - and his Super Friends like the Rauners and Griffins and Pritzkers and Spielbergs - wouldn't have candidates in the races? If the CTU was that good at electoral politics, the progressive caucus of the city council would have reached double digits by now.

*

"In fact, Garcia - a nice guy who promises the moon but has no realistic means to pay for it - is the prototype of the very politician teachers scream about who underfunded their pensions for years."

Really? I thought it was Machine politicians who did that. And if you know anything about Garcia, you know that he has spent his career opposing the Machine. That much is true.

*

"Left-leaning Democrats in Springfield and nice guys on the City Council are the people in charge who passed budgets, year after year, that borrowed against the retirements of government workers."

First, there are very few "left-leaning" Democrats in Springfield. Second, there are Republicans down there too, last time I looked. Republicans have even been governor!

Second, nice guys in the city council? Again, the nice guys have always been in the (extreme) minority. You are blaming people like Garcia for the sins of the Burkes and Mells (and Daleys and Emanuels).

*

"But none of that mattered Tuesday. Voters showed they care more about potholes, red light cameras and personality."

There we are again: Voters are stupid!

*

"Don't misread me: Those aren't insignificant concerns. They're exactly why Emanuel got shoved into a runoff and why Garcia might win. Most voters don't want to digest the stark math of the city's financial peril. They are turned off by Emanuel. And they're addicted to fairy dust."

You mean the fairy dust the Tribune sold us for 22 years of Daley?

*

Speaking of fairy dust, the Trib also endorsed Bruce Rauner.

*

"As for Emanuel's personality, his arrogance and his tone-deafness, I get it. I didn't vote for Emanuel on Tuesday for many reasons, including his dismissiveness toward the city's most vulnerable neighborhoods."

WHOA! YOU JUST SPENT AN ENTIRE COLUMN BASHING VOTERS FOR DOING WHAT YOU NOW ACKNOWLEDGE YOU DID YOURSELF!

*

Truly, I am . . . just . . . WTF.

*

"But against Garcia in a runoff, I might have to reconsider and hold my nose."

So, you voted for Fioretti. So did I.

Here's a tip: Fioretti's positions are virtually the same as Garcia's.

Fioretti's positions are opposite of Emanuel's.

I might have to hold my nose to finish reading this column.

*

"Because for all of his shortcomings, for all of his overpromise and underdeliver, Emanuel has tried to reform pensions. He has slowed the growth of controversial tax increment financing districts. He has tried to reduce the burden on taxpayers who subsidize city workers' health insurance. He does not support an elected school board. He hasn't caved to immense pressure to hire more police."

Even though he promised to hire more police four years ago when the Trib says he was being real, and he promised to reform TIFs and hasn't come close, and his pension reform solution is to wait on Springfield.

*

"As smarter people than I often say: You can't lead from a position of bankruptcy."

I've never heard anyone say that in my entire life.

*

"So will I come around for Emanuel by April? I don't know."

After all that, she still might vote for Chuy!

You know what that tells me? And I say this for the first time: Chuy is going to win.

Because if Kristen McQueary still isn't sure about Rahm after writing a column like this, then all those dumb voters out there certainly aren't going to vote for him.

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Beachwood Photo Booth: Ballin Drugs
Your corner pharmacy in the middle of the block.

TrackNotes: Arlington Truce
How the racetrack is like an Easter egg.

The Week In Chicago Rock
Featuring: High on Fire, Lucifer, Alive/Alone, John McCauley, Diana Krall, Steve Dawson and Robbie Fulks, Nicki Minaj, Charlie Organaire, and Nonpoint.

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BeachBook
* State Takes No Action Against Condo Attorney Over Threats To News Website.

* Chicago Riverwalk An Obstacle Course For Visually Impaired.

* Straight Outta Chicago.

* Chicago Meetup And I'm In Seventeen.

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TweetWood

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Like a hurricane.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:52 AM | Permalink

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. High on Fire at Thalia Hall on Tuesday night.


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2. Lucifer at Thalia Hall on Tuesday night.

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3. Alive/Alone at the Wire in Berwyn on Sunday night.

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4. John McCauley at City Winery on Tuesday night.

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5. Diana Krall at Ravinia on Sunday night.

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6. Robbie Fulks and Steve Dawson at the Hideout on Monday.

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7. Nicki Minaj in Tinley Park on Sunday night.

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8. Charlie Organaire at the Double Door last Saturday night.

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9. Nonpoint at the Tree (formerly Mojoes) in Joliet on Sunday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:20 AM | Permalink

TrackNotes: Arlington Truce

Those daily life tips Ellie provides, over on the left rail of The Beachwood Reporter homepage, are quite valuable.

They hit home every day and are way cheaper than analysis.

One recent entry struck me: "Sports-related fury signals broader anger issues to be managed."

I'm happy to say I took that advice a while ago, certainly before I read it here.

I decided quite a few years ago that the aggravation and resulting anger that would fester on any trip to Arlington Park were really pointless.

It would be solved by simply not going. So I haven't. And I kid you not, I usually felt like a puddle of chump after track visits in those last couple of years; rising prices, worse and worse food, surly patrons protecting their picnic tables (now a ticketed item) like Spanish explorers ready to consider violence, clueless patrons utterly unprepared to wager, ear-shattering music and video board commercials, unattended rugrats water-bugging all over the place.

"It's OK to grieve" is another classic, and great sadness has set in, like a death anniversary. You miss it, the grandeur of Arlington Park. But like an Easter egg next Halloween, the pretty shell can't hide the goings on inside.

(The Daily Herald's Mike Imrem describes the pastoral beauty of the place, but notice how he visited when there was no racing and no people around.)

I'm calling a personal truce for Saturday.

As the hours count down to Million Day Saturday, featuring the 33rd running of the Arlington Million, the first $1 million race ever run in the U.S., you wonder how it has come to this. How this race seems so far off the radar of American Thoroughbred racing on a nice summer weekend where tracks take turns holding their big days. Saturday is Arlington's leg of the August relays. It's the classic 10 furlongs on the lush and infinitely configurable AP turf course, one of the best in the world.

It won't be on any major kind of television with even the horse racing channels probably only showing pre-recorded replays and perhaps only the stretch runs. In what smells like a time-buy arrangement, the only television will be local, on WGN-TV, 5-6 p.m., and not even on the WGNAmerica superstation.

Rich King, a tryer as we say on the rail, and former Channel 2 sports teleprompter reader Howard Sudberry, now Arlington's Senior Director of Marketing & Communications, will bookend hockey and horse racing legend Eddie Olczyk on the telecast. Eddie O's been hangin' with the big boys in the Triple Crown and Breeders' Cup telecasts, so you might guess he's working Saturday for the love of the game. Listen to him. He knows what he's talking about and he only wants to talk about the races.

I don't believe in omens in this game, but there might have been one when it was learned 2014 Triple Crown contender California Chrome wouldn't be staying at Arlington for the Million because of injury and perhaps mismanagement. But his connections were doing it pretty much for the money, and the the black hole of a training schedule doomed his chances.

It started out bad a couple of weeks go when, underneath a combination of Renaissance Fair-meets-electro drama stock music, the big spot, as the ad biz sez, shows a horse and jockey going through the tunnel from paddock to the track. Out at the gate, the bell blasts, the gates fly open and the horses explode: out onto the miserable, black PolyTrack! This is a TURF festival, on one of the most scenic turf courses around, including the huge willow trees that will make you miss two furlongs as they enter the backstretch. A Mt. Prospect high school sophomore with an iPad could have gotten good turf footage.

And they already have this and this in the can.

Touting "coverage" of the post position draw "live" on the WGN Midday News on Wednesday, it felt like getting shut out at the windows as we joined the festivities in progress, post positions already drawn. Sudberry also blew the name of track bugler Monica Benson. At least he didn't call her Joe Kelly. Then Frank Sinatra impersonator John Vincent graced us with a hackneyed, trackneyed version of "My Kind of Town." Ouch, that's gonna leave a mark.

Then Arlington Park Executive Chef (who knew they had one?) Christopher Albano from institutional caterer Levy Organization whipped up a delicious looking Lemon Garlic Shrimp and Roasted Corn Polenta. I really question whether I'd be able to get that in the first-floor food court, but it looked way easy enough to make at home.

Corporate sponsorship all the rage in the new millenium, Million XXXIII will have LiftMaster, a garage door opener manufacturer, in its corner. But open sesame Batman, is this just another corporate tax writeoff? LiftMaster is part of Chamberlain Group, which is merely part of The Duchossois Group of godfather Richard L. Duchossois, Arlington's commandant and major Churchill Downs Inc. shareholder.

I can't honestly tell you that I'd love to go out there on Million Day, not with the hordes of amateurs successfully thwarting the ability to get in a bet as they stand in front of the Totalisator device and ponder the equine species from its Arabian origins through August 15 of 2015.

But the way I roll, it would be whole hog: reserved seat or table bought months ago, near food and the hydration station - or someone who would get it for me - and plenty of dough to wager. Only if I thought Churchill Downs Inc. and Arlington would be willing to put some sincere skin in the game, Saturday and in the future.

This is one part of the sadness, for every year at about this time, I feel as if they've taken one of my tracks away from me, although my exile from the big white palace has been cleansing. I don't know much about the runners in the six stakes races Saturday and I haven't been following the meet, except to know they cut races to eight per day (11 on Saturday) and the horsemen are hurting.

But I'll be watching, and probably wagering, because they should be good races with nice fields, unique in an American racing scene dominated by dirt.

With temps figuring to be in the middle or upper 80s, with high humidity, the top horses Saturday will be spared the oppressive heat that is sure to radiate from the tired black PolyTrack the plastic poobahs at CDI and its Arlington Army so stubbornly cling to. As I said, I haven't been there in a while, but some posters to the Chicago Barn to Wire forums predict a strong barnyard fragrance and worse emanating from all that you can imagine is now in the wax/sand/telephone wire/asphalt base - since 2007 - of Arlington's main track.

This will be a case of "on paper" handicapping, for I'm unfamiliar with many of the horses and will have to decipher the Europeans.

Be prepared to scroll down the avenue if you want to find much coverage in the horsey trades, at least at this writing.

Claire Novak, at no cost to you, succinctly sums up the Million, touting Chad Brown trainees Slumber and Big Blue Kitten.

I'll be looking at any horse with "Kitten" in the name. All sired by the great Kitten's Joy, it includes Granny's Kitten in The Secretariat, Stephanie's Kitten in the Beverly D., looking to bounce back from a tough fifth in the July 25 Diana at Saratoga, and the aforementioned Big Blue Kitten. While locally bred The Pizza Man out of the Midwest Thoroughbreds stable will get a lot of buzz, the six-year-old gelding doesn't seem up to the Grade I task.

You probably won't want to pony up to break through the paywall, but the Daily Racing Form's provost here at Fort Arlington, Marcus Hersh, doesn't like a lot of the Europeans in three races that are known as, rightly or wrongly, a showcase for the Euros.

He uses words like "well-exposed form is a cut below" for Belgian Bill, "not good enough" for Elleval, "not quite good enough for the best" for Secret Gesture, "can get into the trifecta" for War Dispatch, "small slice is the best hope here" for Panama Hat.

But Hersh is very high on Highland Reel in the Secretariat, Euro Charline and Wedding Vow in the Beverly D., and Maverick Wave in the Million.

This is a decent turf card, worth streaming and wagering. I just wish Arlington had the ambition to fix its main track and work to become a Midwest destination for horses and horse fans alike. Until it does, it's only worth the one online day a year.

Can't wait to get back to Hawthorne.

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Tom Chambers is our man on the rail. He welcomes your comments.

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1. From Dan Gaydosh:

My name is Dan Gaydosh or APCD Dan on Barn to Wire. Your words and writing style sound very familiar like you communicate on Barn to Wire under some screen name already.

You seem to be a confirmed Arlington hater. Obviously, I am a confirmed Arlington hugger. The problems that Arlington has faced have been the problems that the industry has faced. Being a Midwestern track, Arlington is not a vacation or tradition destination track like New York, Florida, California and Kentucky. They cannot compete for horses with these tracks, especially the good dirt horses. So they have that disadvantage in fighting the problems of racing. That is why they have emphasized the turf aspect of racing.

The rest of the racing world has turned to casinos to overcome the problem for the lesser tracks. The rest of the world does not have to deal with Illinois politics. This is another big disadvantage.

Arlington was sort of forced to go to an all-weather track. The bad publicity that they got from their dirt track demanded some change be made to make the track safer. Besides, like turf, all weather tracks are used all over the rest of the world. So they must be bad, right. Not as good as our sand (really not dirt) tracks.

Arlington merged with Churchill Downs to strengthen their position in racing. Unfortunately, the focus of CDI changed to gaming, leaving Arlington on an island (thanks to the Illinois government).

Yes, AP has made mistakes, but I do not know how they could have done much better under the circumstances. Go to Hawthorne, which is your typical degenerate gambler track. The beauty of horse racing does not exist there.

You are part of the problem and not a solution to Illinois racing. You are good at dirt since that is all you throw at Arlington. Positive solutions you do not have.

I refuse to give up on the shining light of Arlington and believe that it will return to that status again some day.

Chambers responds:

Mr. Gaydosh,

Thank you for our input. I read the Barn to Wire forum nearly every day and I'm very familiar with your contributions there.

All I can do is address the issues you've raised, from the top.

I don't hate Arlington Park. I believe I expressed my sadness in what this jewel has become. I do hate Churchill Downs Inc. Its own actions warrant it.

Through its actions, and specific comments by its own executives, CDI does not care about, nor is it interested in Thoroughbred horse racing. This is a sad fact. To think otherwise is delusional.

I will agree with you on the confusing, to say it nicely, condition of Illinois politics. The people in Springfield tell us all what they think we want to hear, then renege, seemingly on a weekly basis. I can only imagine how much grease the casino lobby has pumped in.

But you cannot blame Illinois politics for the corporate direction CDI chose to take. If Arlington is an island, CDI helped, immensely, in putting it there.

As for competing for horses with other tracks in the summer, on the surface, it can't help that corporate in Louisville is demanding the same horses in the early Arlington meet, when trainers and owners need to think mid- and long-term, that Arlington might entice.

And how about CDI's childish attempt to charge barn fees and dictate trainer/horses running schedules? On a corporate level, that's counterproductive, to say the least. Another word: self-strangulation.

Arlington's, and CDI's, scorched-earth policy in baldly demanding all the racing dates in Illinois, even dog-and-ponying what it thinks are Hawthorne's financials, goes beyond the pale. When CDI is trying to dictatorially fashion racing at Arlington and clearly trying to kill racing at Hawthorne, how does it get off in doing this?

As for the PolyTrack, I know a couple of people in the game. They say that the old dirt track was not maintained properly and that there was a major dip on the turn into the stretch.

As for having to change the track because of "bad publicity," that is never, ever a good reason to do anything. You fix the problem, period. Arlington Park (CDI) went typically corporate mum, no openness, then installed the plastic. It was the same knee jerk reaction California had. If it's racing, fix the track. If it's all about perception . . . that's the condemnation road.

Arlington Park is much like the old Wrigley Field (which they've finally succeeded in ruining) model. The facility draws. But when Ricketts and the Cubs tank, with no price decreases, it smells just like the not-so-benign neglect by CDI of Arlington. Do you honestly think the suits and bean counters in Louisville are not salivating over the real estate deal to be made at Arlington? They sell, take their bonuses, and run.

I take great offense to your comment: "Go to Hawthorne, which is your typical degenerate gambler track." And garbage is the word people use when someone doesn't believe in what they believe in.

I am not a degenerate.

This is elitism and classism at its worst. It hurts me every single time the civilian media portrays horseplayers as degenerate bums. I've had the opportunity to meet some truly great people at the track or OTB. As I know you have, I've expended the intellectual energy to learn the game, the ins and outs. That's its lure to me. Even $2 is enough, as I have my brain in the game. Neither you nor I nor anyone on Barn to Wire are degenerate, I think you'll agree.

Hawthorne knows what it is. Dickie D. gets all the pub and hype and love, but what family has done more for racing around here than the Careys? They spent the money to conceptualize and design a complex of racing and fun. Meanwhile, corporate CDI holds out its self-entitled, gimme greedy hands for slots.

As for "beobob," you should not speak of things you know nothing about.

I'll admit I don't know quite what to make of "1st over," but he is a light lilt, entertaining and well thought out. But I steal from nobody, and to insinuate such a thing is insulting, and worse. That's a very serious accusation.

I am not Steve Rhodes. I am not Jim O'Donnell. I am not "1st over." And I don't want to be Howard Sudberry.

I am Thomas Chambers. It's all out there. The Beachwood Reporter demands it.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:54 AM | Permalink

Beachwood Photo Booth: Ballin Drugs

"Your corner drug store in the middle of the block."

ballinpharmclosedbw.jpg(ENLARGE FOR PROPER VIEWING)

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nhballinexpbw.jpgENLARGE FOR PROPER VIEWING)

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More Chicago photography from Helene Smith.

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Helene on Twitter!

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Meet Helene!

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Stationery, iPhone cases, hoodies.

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Listen to Helene talk about Photo Booth; starts at 57:54.

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Previously:
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Man Grilling
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Yum Yum Donuts
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Father's Day
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Vintage Airmaster
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Time
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Window Shade
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Illinois Slayer
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Fire Escape
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Golden Nugget
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Hollywood, Chicago
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Flag Man.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Van In Flames.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Fluid Power Automation.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Corn Dog.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Stop The Killing Car.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Backyard.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: A to Z Things.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Swedish Diner.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Rothschild Liquors.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Silos.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Wires.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Orange Garden.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Irving Park Guy.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Pigeons.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: O'Lanagan's.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: For Rent.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Marie's Pizza & Liquors.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Mori Milk.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: American Breakfast.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: A Chicago Christmas Postcard.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Holiday Harold's.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Family Fun.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Snow Bike.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Nativity Scene.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Old Warsaw.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Deluxe Cleaners.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Marie's Golden Cue.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Die Another Day.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Sears Key Shop.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Window Dressing.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Jeri's Grill.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Barry's Drugs.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Liberty.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Kitchen.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Golden Specials.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: We Won The Cup.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Bartender Man.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Blue Plane Blues.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Finest Quality.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Family Guy.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Girls Wanted.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Skokie Savanna.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Signpost.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Old Man And The Tree.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Street Fleet.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Citgo Story.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Fantasy Hair Design.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Garage.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Clark Stop.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Pole Position.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Window Dressing.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Geometry.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Found Love.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Fill In The Blank.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Vacuums Of The Night.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Dumpster Still Life.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Wagon Master.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Intersecting West Rogers Park.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Penn-Dutchman Antiques.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Cow Patrol.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Backstage Chicago.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Skully Bungalow.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Francisco Frankenstein.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Long Cool Heat.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Smokers' Mast.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Big Fat Phone.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Happy Day.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Alley Men.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Holiday Show!
* Beachwood Photo Booth: You've Got Mailbox.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Broken Window Theory.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Dali Logan.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Svengoolie.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Horner Park Hot Dogs.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Cubs Rehab.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: 20th Century Schizoid Man.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Men On Vans.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Penn-Dutchman Is Done.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Snowy Lincoln.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Waiting Room.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Avondale Chicken.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Winter's End.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: The Friendly Skies.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Boyhood Buzzer Beater.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: J Date.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: International Window Lady.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Shanghai Inn.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Open For Business.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Andersonville Unplugged.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: 3-Flat.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Evanston Turkey.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicagolandia.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Eat At Odge's.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Deitch Pharmacy.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Sud-Z Bubble.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Bands Wanted!
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Belmont Tavern.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Superheroic San Luis Freeze.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Evanston Oasis.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Lyndale Food & Jewelry.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Lincoln Tap.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Book Window.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Alco Dude.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:30 AM | Permalink

August 13, 2015

The [Thursday] Papers

"For lifelong Chicagoan Ron Hall, a bite into a Maurice Lenell cookie brings flashbacks to his younger days - from grade school field trips to the former cookie factory on Harlem Avenue in Norridge to walking his beat as a police officer while snacking on the sweets," the Tribune reports.

"But soon, Hall and other Maurice Lenell fans will have to find other ways to satisfy their nostalgic cookie cravings. The company that has been producing a limited supply of the cookies since the Maurice Lenell Cooky Company went bankrupt in 2008 has pulled the plug on pinwheels, jelly stars and other sentimental favorites.

"We don't want to be the bad guy that discontinued the tradition and legacy," said Roy Jasper, vice president of sales and marketing for private labels at Ohio-based Consolidated Biscuit, which took over production seven years ago. "It just didn't make sense for us anymore."

Too bad, Roy, you're the bad guy!

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Previously in Pinwheels: Chicago Cookie World Weeps.

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Mmmm, pinwheels.

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Although I like these pinwheels way more.

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But not these.

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Except when they were these.

Cheap Cut
That Michael Jordan ad didn't even include his likeness.

Anthony Armpit
Hey, check out the armpit airvents on those Cubs uniforms.

Weep For Woodlawn
"Woodlawn is a perfect example of a community that could benefit from the City of Chicago's tax increment financing program, economic development experts say," Adeshina Emmanuel reports for the Chicago Reporter.

"Vacant lots, abandoned buildings and empty storefronts define many parts of the neighborhood. And small-scale entrepreneurs are typically the only people doing business there, along with national chains like Family Dollar that target underserved neighborhoods.

"But a Chicago Reporter analysis found that most of the money generated in Woodlawn's oldest TIF district, which includes a swath of 63rd Street and Cottage Grove Avenue, has not been invested in the area. Of the $30.8 million in revenue generated by the district from 1999 to 2014, according to city data, nearly three-fourths of the money was either unspent or transferred out of the district to repay the city bond debt from the construction of a high school in South Shore, another struggling South Side community."

Let's read that part again: [M]ost of the money generated in Woodlawn's oldest TIF district, which includes a swath of 63rd Street and Cottage Grove Avenue, has not been invested in the area. Of the $30.8 million in revenue generated by the district from 1999 to 2014, according to city data, nearly three-fourths of the money was either unspent or transferred out of the district.

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"Mayor Richard M. Daley siphoned millions of dollars from Woodlawn and some other TIFs in high-poverty communities on the South Side to pay for [a new] high school. This was part of Daley's citywide plan to renovate and construct dozens of new schools, something that is typically funded by school bonds. The money added up $10.4 million, or about one-third of the revenue generated in the Woodlawn TIF from 1999 to 2014."

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"Ald. Willie Cochran, whose 20th Ward encompasses the Woodlawn TIF district, declined to talk to the Reporter."

Maybe he was too busy "Getting Things DONE!"

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Cochran's donors include: Rahm Emanuel, Ed Burke, Joe Berrios, Wringling Brothers Circus, Universal Circus and the fauxgressives at SEIU.

Why the circuses? Because.

My favorite part:

"In delaying the vote, Cochran said he was concerned that a ban on the use of chains and restraining devices that Smith wants could end up depriving elephants of sleep and, as a result, endanger circus patrons."

Willie Cochran, everybody.

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Back to the Reporter:

"The Mayor's Office and planning department, which oversee the city's tax increment financing districts, e-mailed a list of accomplishments in the Woodlawn district, including the rehabilitation of a historic hotel on South Cottage Grove Avenue."

Instead of answering questions, that is.

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The next time a kid is shot and killed in Woodlawn and someone asks "Where is the outrage?," tell them it's in a TIF fund that has siphoned money out of the neighborhood and into the mayor's piggy bank.

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Our 3 Words Of Advice To College Freshmen
Countering Buzz Killington.

The Political Odds
Updated to reflect recent developments.

The Democrats' Latest Cynical Enterprise
Grasstops organizing.

Dub Witch, Hairbangers, Metal Garfield
Plus: Father-Son Floyd & The Chicago Guy With A Hand In Nearly Every North Texas Album. In Local Music Notebook.

CTU Erotica, Graphic Chicago, The Welsh
Plus: Recovering Chicago Attorney Savages The Law & The Wrong Way To Justice. In Local Book Notes.

Blind Sailing Championship Coming To Chicago
How do they do it?

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BeachBook
* More Than 50 Journalism Groups Again Urge Obama To Stop Excessive Controls On Public Information.

Least transparent ever; worse than Nixon, Bush, Reagan.

* Americans & Mexicans Playing Volleyball Over Border Fence.

Hey, Trump: Maybe we should charge admission! Or put it on TV! Losers have to stay in their own country!

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Alphabetized.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:50 PM | Permalink

Local Book Notes: CTU Erotica, Graphic Chicago, The Welsh

"The Chicago Teachers Union is pissed at a Tucson writer - who goes by the pseudonym Gabby Matthews - over a political erotica novel he wrote about a teachers strike that shut down part of Chicago's public school system for about a week back in 2012," the Tucson Weekly reports.

"The union has told the author they do not want to be associated with this 'spanking novel,' titled The Teacher's Strike, citing alleged trademark violations, according to the author.

"CTU's communications director, Stephanie Gadlin, says a fictional Teachers Union logo on a shirt worn by the teacher's character on the cover should be removed from both print and online copies, because it is way too similar to the union's actual logo.

"The union also demands that any copies of the book already printed be recalled, a letter from the union's attorney says."

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Geez, CTU, you're not CPS! Lighten up.

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"The novel is described as work that 'takes a sympathetic perspective on the Union's struggle over educational policy inside Chicago schools. The main and supporting characters take part in the high-profile labor battles against city policies, personified in the book's unseen antagonist, 'mayor of the 1 percent,' the unflattering title used by activists to describe Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel . . .

"At one point in the story, the book title's double meaning becomes clear when the teacher spanks (or 'strikes') the student's bare behind (and vice versa) in a romantic act of affection during intercourse."

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Heh-heh.

strikebook.jpg

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Graphic Chicago
"'Write what you know' is an old adage that some authors live by in order to make their stories personal and relevant," Andrea Towers writes for Entertainment Weekly.

"But as Eisner and Harvey-nominated cartoonist Glenn Head learned in writing his comic memoir Chicago, detailing difficult life experiences can sometimes be more challenging than you expect.

"In Chicago, Head's graphic memoir, he nakedly airs out his struggles as a teen living on the street, his insecurities, and his transition into adulthood. It's a blunt take on growing up and finding one's identity."

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chicago-cover-01_612x380.jpg

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The Welsh Who Built Chicago
"A Welsh expatriate who has lived in Chicago for more than 40 years has written a book about how Welsh settlers helped build and shape the Windy City during the nineteenth century," Wales Online reports.

"Dilys Rana, 67, from Flintshire, has spent the last 15 years researching how Welsh settlers who emigrated to Chicago in the 1800s left their mark on one of the biggest cities in the United States.

"She is now preparing to release her historical fiction work, The Welsh Who Built Chicago, by next year."

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Recovering Lawyer
"Lynne Raimondo was a lawyer with a major Chicago law firm before she left to write mystery novels," Margaret Cannon notes for the Toronto Globe and Mail.

"It shows in her slick and often savage portrayal of law in this excellent series featuring Dr. Mark Angelotti, a blind psychiatrist also working for a major Chicago law firm."

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Wrong Way To Justice
"Michela Wrong has been writing about Africa for more than 20 years. She came to the subject by accident, relatively early in her career as a foreign correspondent when the news organisation Reuters sent her to cover events in Cote d'Ivoire and Zaire," Matthew Adams of Abu Dhabi's The National writes.

Wrong's experiences in Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of Congo, prompted her to write the first of her three works of non-fiction devoted to the subject of Africa: In the Footsteps of Mr Kurtz (2001), which chronicled the precarious condition of the country as its leadership passed from Mobutu Sese Seko to Laurent Kabila.

This arresting book, which was awarded the PEN James Sterne Prize for non-fiction, was followed by I Didn't Do It for You (2005), which attended to the vicissitudes of Eritrea under British, American, Ethiopian and Italian occupation; and It's Our Turn to Eat (2009), which told the story of the Kenyan "whistle-blower" and journalist John Githongo, who in 2002 discovered widespread corruption in the government of Mwai Kibaki.

To these titles Wrong has now added a novel, also concerned with Africa. Borderlines, her first work of fiction, has at its heart a territory dispute between the countries Darrar and North Darrar.

We are introduced to this story through the figure of Paula Shackleton, a British national working in America as a corporate lawyer, who is struggling to come to terms with the death of her great love, Jake Wentworth. Now, in 2004 and after Jake's death, she feels she has been living an etiolated existence, a "botched, interrupted, pointless demi-life."

It is in this condition that she encounters Winston Peabody, also a lawyer. Winston has made a good living advising US corporations on foreign investments; yet he is also a celebrity in the world of human rights, an individual with a natural affinity for the downtrodden, the weak, the vulnerable ("Underdogs, that's my thing. Takes one to know one.").

Winston and Paula are both staying at the Langham hotel, Chicago, to conduct business; and when Winston notices Paula one day at breakfast, he invites her to attend a talk he is giving on human rights, and later offers her a job: would she like to help him represent the government of North Darrar, a country that is negotiating its borderlines at The Hague, and effectively attempting to prove its right to exist?

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Whistleblower On A Crusade For The Truth.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:20 AM | Permalink

Local Music Notebook: Dub Witch, Hairbangers, Metal Garfield

"Music fans around Des Moines have been hearing Stella Katsoudas' music for years, even if they don't know her by that name. In the late '90s the Chicago musician made frequent visits to Des Moines, performing under the name Sister Soleil at Dotfest, and her song, 'Red,' got heavy airplay on the now defunct KKDM," the Des Moines Register reports.

"You might remember her brief turn as a pop star under the name Stella Soleil (though she would prefer you didn't). She even had a top 40 hit with the song 'Kiss Kiss.'

"Most recently she was the singer of Shawn Crahan's Dirty Little Rabbits, even living in Des Moines for a time. Saturday she'll return for her first Des Moines show in years with her latest project, the EDM-inspired Dub Witch."

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Red.

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Kiss Kiss.

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"The first live performance of Dubwitch, the new project from Chicago's Stella Katsoudas."

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Ina's Story
"The story of Chicago's own famed 1930's Big Band leader Ina Ray Hutton is set to dazzle at The Gift Theatre," Broadway World reports.

"Ina Ray Hutton was the most successful female conductor of an 'all-girl' band, The Melodears, during the Big Band era. She was the first woman to conduct all-male bands in the 1940's, and the first woman to have her own TV show on NBC in the 1950's."

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Ina!

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Hairbangers Ball
"With the booming beat of a bass drum and the electricity stemming from a power chord, the 1980s are reborn every time Hairbangers Ball takes the stage," the Franklin, Indiana, Daily Journal reports.

"It was a time when teased hair, eyeliner and skin-tight Lycra outfits were as much a part of the scene as squealing guitars and flying double drum kits.

"The Chicago-based group wants to unearth the entire scene."

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Atlas Moth
"While most metal bands are one-trick ponies with regard to the feeling they create (anger and aggression), the Atlas Moth have a much broader range," Kathleen Richards writes for the Portland Mercury.

"While they began in the sludgy Eyehategod vein, the Chicago band branched out on their second album, 2011's An Ache for the Distance, juxtaposing raspy, black-metalish screams and clean singing, swirling post-rock guitars and doomy riffs into proggy songs that were at times reflective, triumphant, mournful, and cathartic.

"On third album The Old Believer, released last year by Profound Lore, Atlas Moth are even moodier - combining the heaviness of Neurosis, the spacey atmospherics of Pink Floyd, the emotional weight of Deftones, and the hypnotic dreaminess of Slowdive."

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Last week in Kansas City.

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Father-Son Floyd
In Joliet on Friday.

Hetfield
Chicago Engineer Has Hit With Cartoon Blending Metallica And Garfield.

Aftermath Are Back
Chicago thrashers return after a two-decade absence.

Yes, Master
Meet The Chicago Man With A Hand In Most Every North Texas Album.

Disturbed Not Dead
Will play first show in four years next week in Chicago.

South Side Nils
"Well, I spent eight years on the South Side of Chicago, where I was born."

From Wikipedia: "Lofgren was born in Chicago in 1951 to an Italian mom and Swedish dad."

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Chicago Thyagaraja Utsavam 2015

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:01 AM | Permalink

Three Words Of Advice To College Freshmen

An e-mail I sent out to Team Beachwood on Wednesday:

Columnist Eric Zorn offers three words that all incoming college freshmen should take to heart.

So, I haven't clicked through. It scares me. So I was thinking, we could either/or predict what Zorn's three words are, and/or each offer our own three words. For example:

ZORN: Study even harder.

ME: Wear a condom.

I'm so proud of Team Beachwood's responses:

* Liquor before beer.

* Don't read comments.

* Take late classes.

* Skip the readings.

* Parents big donors.

* Photos of dean.

* Have Rich Parents.

* Beg. Borrow. Refinance.

* "It probably shouldn't surprise me he'd write such a hoary column, but still - has the man paid no attention to campus assaults in recent years? Shouldn't that be something for students of both genders (or their column-reading parents) to consider? Sigh. Give Marty his column (and income and health care).

"Although I'd be even happier if Zorn's three words had been Try gay sex, with a discussion of how he wishes he had before he left college, b/c now that he's married and saddled with kids, it's more complicated to explore alternative lifestyles. I'd read that column."

* Ignore columnists' advice.

* Fake ID card.

* Administrators screwing you.

* Buy good pot.

* Covet Schmich's Pulitzer.

* Reject newspaper paywalls.

* Duty. Humanity. Naivete.

* We don't care.

* Obfuscate. Rationalize. Succeed.

* Drink. Cheat. Graduate.

* Graduate. Bitch. Moan.

* Loans. Juice. Servitude.

* Don't rock boat.

* Shut. Up. Dad.

* Blowhard. Dad. Leaving.

* Bang more chicks.

* "Who the hell is he even writing for? No college student is reading him. Is anyone under 50 even aware the Trib has columnists? (Or that the Trib itself exists?)"

* No means no.

* Bro means no.

* Say no bro.

* Bros are dicks.

* Plastics - wait, that's post-grad.

* Self-esteem. Self-aggrandizement. Selfies!

* "Based on my students, they seem to adhere to these three words of wisdom: Adderall. Piercings. Excuses."

* Well, spoiler alert, but if you want to have parallel constructions, here are Zorn's:

Perseverance. Curiosity. Perspective.

Beer. Pizza. Coffee.

* My three-word response to Zorn's three words: Jesus. Fucking. Christ.

Contributors: Marty Gangler, Natasha Julius, Tim Willette, Mike Luce, Tom Chambers, Helene Smith, Mike Knezovich, Steve Rhodes

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:37 AM | Permalink

The Democrats' Latest Cynical Enterprise: Grasstops Organizing

This story was co-published with The Daily Beast.

When the former head of the U.S. government's health insurance programs was hired in July to run a lobby that had spent tens of millions of dollars trying to derail Obamacare, it was more than just another spin of Washington's revolving door.

Marilyn Tavenner, former administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, became chief executive of America's Health Insurance Plans, the industry's main lobbying group, which is known as AHIP. As the latest of a half-dozen prominent architects and overseers of Obamacare to move into the health industry, her move signified growing ties between health insurers and Democrats despite battles over the Affordable Care Act.

The relationship has long been marked by ambivalence and tension. Tavenner's predecessor at AHIP, Karen Ignagni, was a former Democratic staffer on Capitol Hill, but the insurance lobby led the way in defeating the Clinton health coverage plan in 1993 and secretly spent about $100 million to attack Obamacare even as it negotiated to make it palatable to the industry. More recently, as the law added millions to the insurance rolls and generated big profits for many companies, they have turned to defending it.

The connections may continue or strengthen if Hillary Clinton wins the Democratic nomination and the presidency. That's because a Washington firm called the Dewey Square Group, which is closely identified with the Clinton campaign, was at the center of the industry's efforts to win influence among Democrats - at a time when the two sides were sharply opposed.

As it helps corporations play both sides of the street, Dewey Square stands as a primary example of an ascendant breed in the Washington influence industry: Democratic consulting firms that, over time, have expanded from advising political campaigns into advising industry groups.

While these firms may do actual lobbying here and there, their main service is what's known as "grasstops organizing," to help corporate clients win over Democratic constituencies. Others in the business, including Glover Park Group and SKDKnickerbocker, also lean Democratic. Their clients generally need less help reaching Republicans.

Among Dewey Square's clients have been the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which hired the firm to fight for limits on damages that can be awarded in lawsuits - a longtime plank in the Republican platform - by invoking the plight of Hispanic restaurant owners taken to court; the National Restaurant Association, which paid Dewey Square $772,000 in 2009 as it was fighting legislation that would make it easier for unions to organize workers; and the Private Equity Growth Council, which paid it $188,544 in 2009.

And in 2012, Dewey Square was hired by the advocacy campaign Fix the Debt, which pushed an austerity approach to budget deficits.

Dewey Square was founded in Boston in 1993 by Charlie Baker III, a longtime Michael Dukakis hand; Charles Campion, a former aide to Walter Mondale, and Michael Whouley, a legendary master of Election Day turnout tactics. (He is credited with helping Al Gore narrowly beat Bill Bradley in the 2000 New Hampshire primary by sending Gore, with his Secret Service motorcade, into strong Bradley areas on voting day to cause traffic jams.)

The firm was bought by British advertising giant WPP in 2006. It evolved from mostly consulting for candidates to advising other clients - nonprofit groups, companies and industry groups 2014 on how to win political fights.

Among the more than 40 consultants at Dewey Square is Minyon Moore, the director of its multicultural and state and local practice, a former political aide in Bill Clinton's White House who joined the firm in 2004. Moore is close with Hillary Clinton - in 2008, she asked a Washington businessman to fund a shadow pro-Clinton effort during the Democratic primaries in four states and Puerto Rico costing $608,750. Moore weathered that revelation, and it was she who organized the first meeting at Clinton's Embassy Row home in 2013 to discuss what another run for president would entail.

Moore, Baker and Whouley were in the so-called working group that oversaw the Clinton campaign-in-waiting before her formal announcement. And Baker was hired as the campaign's "chief administrative officer" - essentially, its liaison to the Democratic National Committee. If Clinton wins the nomination, Baker is expected to assume control of the party structure in 2016.

Further affirming Dewey Square's influence in Hillary-land is its alum Guy Cecil, who leads the main pro-Clinton super PAC, Priorities USA.

None of the firm's known projects was as directly opposed to the Democrats' core agenda as its work on behalf of AHIP in 2007 and 2008.

When Democrats took control of Congress after their 2006 election sweep - a sweep in which Whouley played a key role in boosting turnout - one of their first agenda items was to expand health insurance for low-income children.

To pay for it, they proposed reining in subsidies given to insurers who offered seniors coverage under Medicare Advantage, the privately run alternative to Medicare.

Medicare Advantage was created on the logic that it would increase choice and provide more efficient care. But by 2007, the plans were costing the government about $1,000 more per enrollee than traditional Medicare. Congressional budget analysts found that if the government cut payments to insurers to match those in the traditional system it could save $54 billion over five years.

That would be bad news for AHIP's members, who were relying on Medicare Advantage for an increasing share of their profits. The insurance lobby, then led by Ignagni, turned to Dewey Square.

The firm already had offered AHIP its services as a conduit to Democratic lawmakers and activists, in particular African-American and Hispanic ones, according to a person involved in the discussions. The two came up with a shrewd argument against cuts to Medicare Advantage: Minorities were especially prone to chronic conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure. Since Medicare Advantage plans purported to be superior at managing those problems, the subsidy cuts, and resulting benefit cuts, would hit minorities especially hard. (In fact, enrollment levels were no higher among minorities than white retirees.)

It was an all-out effort, as described by the Wall Street Journal in 2007. Dewey Square held a briefing for black and Latino lawmakers, with the invitations sent out by a Dewey Square principal who used to be executive director of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. There, the lawmakers heard a pitch for Medicare Advantage from Aetna CEO Ronald Williams, who is African-American.

The message seemed to register with several Democratic House members, including Stephanie Tubbs-Jones, from Cleveland, who spoke up against the cuts at a House hearing, saying, "It's a program where a significant number of minority seniors have decided to place themselves." (Among the black lawmakers who weren't persuaded was Sen. Barack Obama.)

AHIP unveiled an advisory committee on the issue that included three dozen black, Latino and Asian-American leaders, including the former mayors of Denver and Miami. Dewey Square coaxed letters to Congress opposing the Medicare Advantage cuts out of the NAACP and the League of United Latin American Citizens.

The firm even flew in from Orlando an 81-year-old Hispanic woman in a wheelchair who had had five heart attacks and three strokes to testify against the cuts, saying that her Medicare Advantage plan paid for a foot doctor to come to her house to clip her toenails to avoid diabetes complications.

"It was a creative way to look at the issue that I don't think had been examined before - and it did catch folks' attention on the Hill," said Dan Elling, who was a Republican health-policy staffer on the House Ways and Means Committee at the time.

Congressional Democrats ended up implementing some cuts to Medicare Advantage in 2008, over President Bush's veto. But the fight arose again the next year, with higher stakes, when Obama and congressional Democrats launched their push for the Affordable Care Act, which called for additional cuts to Medicare Advantage to help pay for near-universal health coverage.

This time, AHIP's campaign included getting seniors to send letters to their local newspapers opposing the cuts - a tactic that backfired when an editor at the Lawrence Eagle-Tribune, in Massachusetts, discovered that some of the people whose names were attached to the letters had no recollection of writing them. He got even more suspicious when he found that a young man who had called to make sure the letters were published was an intern at the Dewey Square Group.

The AHIP campaign didn't keep Congress from including more Medicare Advantage cuts in the final legislation.

"I knew they were out hustling lobbyists to work the crowd, as it were, but it didn't seem to make any difference to us," said Pete Stark, a California Democrat who chaired the health subcommittee on Ways and Means prior to losing his seat in 2012.

But AHIP did ultimately win important concessions. The industry limited the impact of cuts by getting the Obama administration to expand a demonstration project rewarding high-quality insurers with higher payments.

With insurers under less pressure to raise the plans' costs to enrollees or reduce their benefits, the big exodus from Medicare Advantage that AHIP had warned about never happened. In fact, enrollment has surged to nearly 17 million beneficiaries, more than a third of all Medicare enrollees.

Ginny Terzano, a spokeswoman for Dewey Square, said it stopped working with AHIP in 2008.

"The firm tends to work with businesses and organizations that are like-minded in our policy views and values," she said. "If it becomes clear that a policy position is not in line with our thinking, we either won't take the work or we will step away from the work."

She declined to comment on how the firm's work for AHIP reflects on Clinton given the firm's prominence in her campaign: "If you're looking at the Clinton campaign and what they think, I refer you to the Clinton campaign."

A Clinton campaign spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.

With Obamacare, the next occupant of the White House will preside over a continual tweaking of health-care rules and payments that will have more consequence for the insurance industry than ever.

Congress and the next administration will also be facing the big decision of whether to retain an excise tax on high-cost insurance plans, which is supposed to go into effect in 2017. AHIP is already lobbying to repeal it.

Richard Kirsch, the former director of Health Care for America Now, which lobbied for universal coverage, said he isn't kept awake nights by Dewey Square's connections to the insurance lobby. Just because the firm was doing the industry's bidding when it was being paid doesn't mean its principals would take up the industry's cause if they ended up in a Hillary Clinton administration, he said.

Kirsch said he and other policy advocates are more worried about Obama officials like Tavenner, the former Medicare and Medicaid chief, who have moved into the industry.

Clare Krusing, a spokeswoman for the insurance lobby, said the hiring of an Obama official as chief executive doesn't reflect a change in the group's strategy. "This isn't a shift or an evolution," she said. "How you move forward in a way that creates and delivers affordable choice for consumers has always been our focus."

To Kirsch, though, Tavenner's connections raise the prospect of unfair influence even though government ethics rules forbid her from directly lobbying the administration over the next two years.

"It's a huge conflict and a great example of revolving door," Kirsch said.

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Related stories: For more coverage of politics and lobbying, read ProPublica's reporting on Hollywood's gift to U.S. embassies, how the gas tax explains Washington gridlock and the impact of Scott Walker's legal victory.

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ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for their newsletter.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:31 AM | Permalink

August 12, 2015

The [Wednesday] Papers

There most likely will be a column today. Sorting through a bunch of things - the departure of managing editor Craig Newman from the Sun-Times, the return of the NFL draft to Chicago, layoffs at Kraft-Heinz . . . and the usual suspects: CPS, Homan Square, Governor Raunervich. If not today, I'll blast a bunch of stuff out tomorrow.

In the meantime:

More Bricks In Tribune Tower Walls
Another Beachwood Special Report.

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I'm not going to oversell it. It's mildly amusing, with a couple of really good ones and some average ones. A lot of times the concept is better than the execution. But I do think it's worth your while.

Fantasy Fix Draft Guide: RBs
How high should you draft Matt Forte? This high.

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BeachBook
* McDonald's Plans To Shrink By 50 U.S. Locations This Year.

More McRib for the rest of us?

To those who want to tell me that McRib isn't real food, let me tell you that every ingredient comes from material found in the universe. How is that not natural? (Not that there is anything inherently superior or healthy about nature; much of it kills. A big part - maybe the only part - of the human project is to overcome the lousy hand of nature we've been dealt. McRib, in its own small way, does that.)

* Toby Keith's Suburban Chicago Bar Faces Closure Due To Pending Lawsuit.

The human project, working itself out.

* John Brennan Admits To Lying About Working With Human Rights Abusers.

In a world of better journalism, this would be "front-page" news across America - and the world. Instead, we have to read about it on (the formidable) emptywheel. If only Toby Keith worked for the CIA.

I'm not so sure he doesn't, by the way. Think about it.

* Patrick Kane And The Blind Loyalty Of Sports Fans.

The latest from Evan F. Moore, and don't let the headline lull you into thinking you don't need to read another story like this; you do.

* Horse Racing Is Dying In America. So Why Is Minnesota's Canterbury Park Thriving?

"With Prairie Meadows in Des Moines struggling and Chicago's venerable Arlington Park down to three racing days a week, Canterbury has become a prime Midwest racing destination."

Find and how and why and consider if there are any lessons for Illinois to learn. FYI: It's not mentioned in the article, but my understanding is that the agreement forged between gambling and racing interests there was at the behest of a forthright governor who picked up the phone and ordered the top dogs of each industry to get it done.

The source for that is my dad, but he's on top of these things, as a frequent blackjack player at the casino in question and a reliable newspaper reader with sources of his own.

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Maybe they could play Chicago Fire games in the infield during the racing. Or hold year-round Draft Town.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Unsealed.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:13 AM | Permalink

International Blind And Visually Impaired Sailors Coming To Race In Chicago!

The 2015 Blind World & International Championship is coming to Chicago Yacht Club September 10-13. Fifteen blind and visually impaired teams from around the world will be competing in this event.

Each team races with four crew members, two of whom are visually impaired. The additional crew members are sighted, but one can only manage the headsail and the other can only provide oral instructions.

"There is an amazing level of trust between a blind sailor and the sighted tactician," said Vicki Sheen, Chair of Blind Sailing International. "The blind sailors have to trust the information given by the tactician, and the tactician has to have faith that their blind teammates will deliver what is asked."

There are three levels of blindness that will be competing at the event: Blind 1, Blind 2 and Blind 3. The classifications range from total blindness or detection of light (Blind 1) to various degrees of visual impairment (Blind 2 and Blind 3). Competitors go through a testing process to identify a racer's classification by measuring central visual acuity and undergoing visual field testing to determine peripheral vision.

Among this year's competitors are 2014 Blind Match Racing World Champion and Member of the British Empire Award winner Lucy Hodges (GBR) and 2013 Blind Worlds Champion Sharon Grennan (GBR).

Hodges has never been to Chicago and is excited to experience what the city is all about. "I love the challenge of new places: learning the environment and weather patterns especially. My first time on Lake Michigan, I could not tell the difference from the sea to the lake it is so big!"

Racing will be done on two types of 23' and 28' one design sailboats, which means that each boat has the exact same setup and features. Additionally there will be no modifications to the layout of the boats or changes to how the race is run relative to standard regattas.

Racing will begin each day at 10:55 a.m. approximately 1.5 miles off of Belmont Harbor. Results and releases will be posted daily here.

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From Green Bay's WBAY-TV:

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:04 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix 2015 Football Draft Guide: RBs

So much for Arian Foster's return to greatness. The Houston RB, who looked like a top 10 fantasy RB and a top 20 pick overall, suffered a serious groin injury in training camp and likely will be out until at least the second half of the season.

Too bad - for Foster, of course, because ouch! - but also for fantasy owners who drafted early. If you have him, you probably got him early in the second-round and now that pick is almost worthless unless he comes back by Week 10 and somehow at full strength. For those still to draft, his absence makes it even more important to draft a top 10 RB, because the certainty of fantasy value really dissipates after that.

1. Adrian Peterson, MIN.

There seem to be concerns about everyone this preseason, and the one I've heard circulating about AP is that he's lacking his old explosiveness. I'd call it "shaking off the rust." The Vikes will either hand him the ball or throw it to him a lot . . . a lot.

2. Eddie Lacy, GB.

Surpassed 1,100 rushing yards each of his first two seasons. Very consistent, locked in as the No. 1 RB for Green Bay, and even getting a little more attention in the passing game. If concerns dog everyone else (see above and below) they aren't dogging him.

3. Jamaal Charles, KC.

The recent concern about Jamaal Chuck has been the likelihood the Chiefs will cut down his touches to rest him more, bringing in Knile Davis more often. But, if KC doesn't lean on one of the most complete dual-threat RBs in the game, they'll go 0-16.

4. LeVeon Bell, PIT.

Four-game suspension isn't stopping some from drafting him higher. There have been concerns about how quickly he'll return to form after the layoff, but think about it another way: He probably won't tire out late in the season.

5. Marshawn Lynch, SEA.

The concern here is age - 29 to be exact, but that concern itself is aging, since it followed him last year into what turned out to be a career-best season. If Seattle learned anything from the Super Bowl, it's that they need to keep calm and hand off to Lynch.

6. C.J. Anderson, DEN.

Finally, an RB with no concerns. Actually, no one knows how much more activity he'll get as the Broncos look for offensive balance, but last year's marks of 849 rush yards, 324 receiving yards and 10 total TDs should all see a boost.

7. Matt Forte, RB, CHI.

Will OC Adam Gase's plans ignore him? Will Jay Cutler need to dump off to him constantly as he learns yet another new offensive scheme? The only clear thing is that Forte is still one of the best overall RBs around, with an improving O-line in front of him.

8. DeMarco Murray, RB, PHI.

Another fantastic RB who some are worried could be left out of a high-flying, fast-moving offensive scheme. No way he collects another 1,800 yards rushing, 400 receiving, but even 1,200/500 makes him an early second round value.

9. Jeremy Hill, RB, CIN.

Stole the thunder from fellow RB Giovani Bernard, and Bengals are talking like Hill will be a real workhorse this season, so his stock has been rising. 1,500 yards 10 TDs not out of the question if CIN can safely get near the end zone, which is the real concern.

10. LeSean McCoy, BUF.

The expectations are low enough now that he could really be a pleasant surprise if drafted late second round or early third. Probably won't have long cut-back runs like in Philly, but still could prove a passing game threat.

11. Melvin Gordon, SD.

This is where things get even less certain in the RB ranks, though that's not fair to this rookie, who should get a lot work on rushing downs and has the explosiveness to reel off some long runs. What's unclear is his readiness for passing downs.

12. Justin Forsett, BAL.

There were no winners in last year's Ray Rice saga . . . except Forsett who took over the starting job in surprisingly seamless fashion. Really doubt a guy turning 30 in October just hard a career year can run for 1,300 yards again, but he remains the Ravens' No. 1 back.

13. Frank Gore, IND.

Supposedly due for a revival, assuming QB Andrew Luck looks his way with passes. He could suck and still be better than certain past Indy RBs, so the bar is set low. I don't know about him being a star receiver, but can believe in another 1,100 yards rushing.

14. Mark Ingram, NO.

Rumbled his way into a better season last year than anyone expected, and could be the next DeMarco Murray if the Saints learn to lean on him. With Drew Brees at QB, they won't, but got a feeling Ingram is headed for his first 1,000 yard, double-digit TD season.

15. Latavius Murray, OAK.

So much of the hype is based on a single short appearance last year in which he quickly piled up more than 100 yards and then was lost for the season due to injury. Too hard to trust as a fantasy RB-1, but could prove a huge bargain if the hype is right.

16. Lamar Miller, MIA.

Quietly ended up a yard short of 1,100 yards rushing last year. Also caught 38 passes for 275 yards - not top shelf, but with a few more touches things could get interesting. Question is whether improving QB Ryan Tannehill will give more work to his WRs instead.

17. Jonathan Stewart, CAR.

After years in tandem with DeAngelo Williams, he's on his own as the true No. 1 RB for the Panthers. Probably should get a higher ranking, but he's been partnered up so long that he's unproven with a bigger workload, and QB Cam Newton likes to run, too.

18. Alfred Morris, WAS.

His carries and rushing yards have gone down each of the last three seasons, while he remained a non-factor in the passing game. Still, he has yet to have a pro season with less than 1,000 yards rushing, and if he gets more than last year's 26 pass targets . . .

19. LaGarrette Blount, NE.

Suspended for one game, which has no real bearing except that Blount is that sort of character. Can he excel in the Pats' demanding culture? Well, he was little used in PIT last year, but after moving to NE averaged 4.7 yards per carry over five games, so maybe.

20. Andre Ellington, ARI.

His big talent is as an open-field runner after making a catch, and he had some big games doing that last year before an injury. Could be the sort who manages 35 yards rushing in a game, but 80 receiving on six catches. A nice PPR value, but not a goal line guy.

Sleeper: Joseph Randle, DAL.

The Cowboys have Darren McFadden, but there will be no surprise if Randle overtakes him as the starting RB. DAL rushed so often last year and has one of the best O-lines that Randle could be the next big thing. We haven't seen a big enough sample, but a good mid-to-late round find.

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Previously in the Fantasy Fix 2015 Football Draft Guide:
* Overall Top 20.

* Top 20 QBs.

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Dan O'Shea is our man in fantasyland. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:17 AM | Permalink

More Bricks In Tribune Tower Walls

"Bricks from Wrigley Field and old Comiskey Park will be permanently added to the exterior of Tribune Tower on North Michigan Avenue during a ceremony Friday," the Tribune reports.

"All in all, it's more than just another brick in the wall. The ballpark bricks will join 148 historically significant remnants installed in the Indiana limestone exterior of the building, including artifacts from all 50 states, the Great Wall of China, the Taj Mahal and other famous structures throughout the world."

The Beachwood has learned, though, that the following additional bricks are under consideration beyond the ballpark bricks:

* One brick each from all the schools Rahm has closed with the help of the Tribune editorial board.

* A brick of cocaine from the old Playboy headquarters.

* A brick of parking meter cash.

* A brick of Meigs Field rubble to honor the mayor the Tribune always supported but now blames for recklessness.

* A brick of the Beachwood Inn to represent the death of Old, Weird Chicago.

* A brick of Mary Schmich's cheese.

* A brick of Chief Keef's cheese.

* A brick from Billy Dec signed by Fall Out Boy and spit on by Billy Corgan.

* A brick from Al Capone's vault.

* One of the bricks Rahm Emanuel has put on proposed legislation he doesn't like, addressed to the city council's rules committee.

* One of the bricks in Starlin Castro's head.

* One of the bricks thrown at MLK during his 1966 visit to Chicago.

* A brick from a bag tied to a mope dumped in the Cal-Sag.

* A brick of undelivered mail.

* A brick of shredded City Hall documents.

Contributing: Mike Luce, Tim Willettte, J.J. Tindall, Steve Rhodes

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:16 AM | Permalink

August 11, 2015

The [Tuesday] Papers

"A person familiar with the police investigation of Chicago Blackhawks star Patrick Kane tells The Associated Press that it involves something that happened between the player and a woman in her 20s.

"The person spoke on condition of anonymity Monday because authorities have not revealed any details of the investigation being conducted by Hamburg police."

How is this even news.

Why is the source leaking this particular factoid.

The source wouldn't say anything more substantive?

#Journalism.

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The Score's Dan Bernstein on Monday again referenced how well the Blackhawks have heretofore managed to sell through the media the image of a clean, corruption- and sleaze-free organization to the public despite an underlying secret reality.

"Anyone who is connected has heard all kinds of stuff," he said.

Bernstein has dropped hints like this - including talk of ice girls and Patrick Sharp - for the last year, and I wish he would put up or shut up. Tell us what the fuck has been going on - if it's newsworthy - or stop dropping self-serving teases that seem designed only to remind us that you are "connected."

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Meanwhile: Which Is The Bigger Joke, Sports Mockery Or DNAinfo Chicago?

Gov. Raunervich
"Gov. Bruce Rauner on Monday took a stern position against any members of his administration using personal e-mail to conduct government business," the Sun-Times reports.

"We have a very firm policy. We say: no personal e-mail if you're serving in the administration," Rauner said. "Don't use personal e-mail for any government business whatsoever."

"Yet Rauner's hand-picked, $250,000-a-year education secretary Beth Purvis has used private e-mail to communicate with outside consultants about education policy in Illinois - and the governor's administration for months refused to make the exchanges public.

"In fact, the governor's office initially denied a May Freedom of Information request by the Chicago Sun-Times. When the paper appealed, Rauner's office then advocated extensively in a seven-page argument to the Illinois Attorney General's office against the release of such e-mails. Attorneys further argued that employees' private e-mails are not subject to freedom of information laws."

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Look, you should click through and read the whole maddening article. But also remember what I've said repeatedly in this space: I've never seen a gubernatorial campaign as wholly disingenuous as the campaign Bruce Rauner ran. He lied with impunity, flipped and flopped more than a fish in a boat, and delivered daily hypocrises without a care - and the media by-and-large let him. And now he's governing just as he campaigned.

CPS's Special Budget
"CPS released its 2015-2016 budget, and began issuing nearly 1,500 pink slips to teachers, support staff and other employees in the district," Catalyst reports.

"In addition, teachers say the district has quietly shut down the Montefiore Specialty School despite a five-year moratorium on school closings."

WTF?

Last week CPS quietly closed Montefiore Speciality School on the Near West Side, teachers and union officials say. Montefiore serves male students with severe to profound emotional disorders.

CPS did not respond to questions Monday about whether it had shuttered Montefiore or any other specialty school.

District officials had previously assured that there would be no additional school closures for five years after the historic school closures of 2013.

Teachers learned of the closure last Thursday in phone conversation with the school's assistant principal. Staff had been anxious about the possibility of a closure since last year, when Montefiore got into trouble for allowing VICE Media to film an eight-part series called Last Chance High at the school, potentially violating students' privacy rights.

In addition, the number of students at the school has been falling for years, from 52 in the 2009-2010 school year to 26 last fall. CPS made $1.4 million in capital improvements to the building in 2013.

"They stopped allowing other schools to send kids there and it's something they've been doing for a really long time," said Kristine Mayle, CTU financial secretary and a former special education teacher. "There are teachers out in the district that have been trying to send students out to the school and have been blocked."

Adding context:

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Back to Catalyst:

"But as had been announced earlier this summer, schools that serve large populations of students with special needs or physical disabilities are among the schools seeing the biggest reduction in funding - and positions."

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I know this might sound crazy, but it seems to me that the most vulnerable should be protected first when it comes to budget cuts . . . so start whacking away at Payton Prep first and save the Montefiores of the world for last. But what do I know.

College Kops
"During a press conference Wednesday announcing the indictment of a University of Cincinnati police officer for murder in the shooting death of an unarmed black man, the prosecuting attorney questioned whether colleges should employ police officers at all," the Chicago Reporter reports.

"I don't think a university should be in the policing business," Hamilton County prosecutor Joe Deters said flatly, after announcing the indictment.

"Yet nationwide, more than two-thirds of colleges and universities with 2,500 or more students employ sworn, armed police officers, according to a Bureau of Justice Statistics report. More than 90 percent of public universities and nearly 40 percent of private universities have sworn police officers who have full arrest powers; most employ sworn officers who also are armed.

"In the Chicago area, 13 of the 23 colleges and universities with 2,500 or more students have sworn police officers, according to a Reporter analysis of the BJS survey data. The data are a little old - the survey covers the 2011-2012 academic year - but they provide the most comprehensive and current look at the activities of campus police."

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The (Awesome) Pentecostals Of Chicago
A helluva choir, straight outta Alsip.

The Pentecostal Dude's Late-Night Talk Show
Dan Willis is Just Sayin'.

Chicago Navy Commander's Continuing Promise
Giving it up Sean McKay.

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BeachBook
* Wow, The Geek Bar Sucks.

* NYT: Jets Hope Brandon Marshall's Catches Fix A Snag.

* 1973 WMAQ-TV Editorial: Beef About It.

The Butchers' Union should not dictate deli times!

* Serbfest Chicago 2015.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Trumpolicious.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:12 AM | Permalink

Which Is The Bigger Joke, Sports Mockery Or DNAinfo Chicago?

On Monday morning, DNAinfo Chicago published this puff piece on Sports Mockery.

What was missing? Only the actual real story about Sports Mockery right now, which is how its staff and audience seem to align perfectly with Donald Trump supporters.

To wit:

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Heretofore, Sports Mockery was best known for its post "Did Patrick Sharp Have Sex With Teammates' Wife?"

Pro tip: If you have to ask, you don't have the story.

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Sports Mockery: Is It Possible Patrick Kane Was Targeted? Or Is It Wrong To Ask The Question?

Is It Possible The Sports Mockery Staff Raped The Woman? Yes!

Is It Wrong To Ask The Question? It's Wrong To Be A Douchebag, Yes.

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Sports Mockery: The Glaring Hole In The Patrick Kane Story Everybody Is Talking About.

But Not As Glaring As The Holes In Sports Mockery's Brains.

But it's fun to pretend to be real journalists.

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Here's another Pro Tip - to DNAinfo: 30,000 Twitter followers is not an impressive number when you are following 33,000. In other words, Sports Mockery has a Twitter deficit.

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Obviously I'm on Team Spain on this one, except for one thing: She's been much too polite to these dicks.

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Comments welcome.

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P.S.: Adding this:

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See also: Reporting on the Patrick Kane investigation is already off the rails. In The [Monday] Papers.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:54 AM | Permalink

Dan Willis Is Just Sayin'

Late night Christian talk, on the Tri-State Christian Network.

1. "Contemporoary Gospel bass vocalist Elder Harvey Pinkney appears on the Christian Late night talk show I'm Just Sayin' with host Pastor Dan Willis & Co-host Jason Grant. Harvey discusses his call from The Lord to write and produce prophetic music in these last days."


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2. Don't you let nobody turn you around.

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3. Take it away, Apostle.

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4. The heartbeat of his life.

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See also: The Pentecostals of Chicago, Dan Willis's amazing choir.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:08 AM | Permalink

The Pentecostals Of Chicago

"The Lighthouse Church of All Nations in southwest suburban Alsip, IL is known as Chicago's 'Bridging the Gap' Church. This 2,200 member non-denominational ministry is led by the dynamic Senior Pastor Dan Willis. You may know Pastor Dan Willis from the Pentecostals of Chicago Choir, the All Nations Choir or host of the television show I'm Just Sayin'.

"Pastor Dan, as he is affectionately called, founded the church at the young age of sixteen. He and his wife Linda have led this body for over thirty years, having started with small storefront in Oak Lawn.

"A vibrant speaker, Pastor Dan teaches in conferences and workshops across the nation on cross-cultural ministry, music and leadership development.

"Today, The Lighthouse Church is home to over sixty different nationalities, making Sunday mornings a time of vibrant worship and contagious praise."

Indeed - he's got a helluva choir.

1. Wow.


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2. "Rev. Dan Willis and The Pentecostals turned out The Apostolic Church of God in 1991 as they helped Saving Grace Ministries celebrate their 5th anniversary," Phillip Richardson writes. "The Pentecostals' energy was electrifying and an integrated choir of this size and magnitude was groundbreaking."

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3. Launch Rev. Dan Willis and The Pentecostals Radio here.

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4. Sort of recognized by MTV.

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5. "This group, now known as The All Nations Choir, has six albums to their credit and have performed with artists from Celine Dion and Kirk Franklin to missionary trips in the orphanages of Kingston, Jamaica."

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6. "There is so much joy in what we do."

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See also: Dan Willis Is Just Sayin'.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:32 AM | Permalink

August 10, 2015

Chicago Navy Commander's Continuing Promise

PORTSMOUTH, Dominica (Aug. 5, 2015) - Cmdr. Sean McKay, a native of Chicago, Ill., and cardiologist assigned to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center Bethesda, Md., takes a patient's blood pressure at a medical site established at the Roosevelt Douglas Primary School in support of Continuing Promise 2015.

Continuing Promise is a U.S. Southern Command-sponsored and U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet-conducted deployment to conduct civil-military operations including humanitarian-civil assistance, subject matter expert exchanges, medical, dental, veterinary and engineering support and disaster response to partner nations and to show U.S. support and commitment to Central and South America and the Caribbean. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Tomarius Roberts/Released)

chicagonavy.jpg

"Why Being There Matters" - On our planet, more than 70 percent of which is covered by water, being there means having the ability to act from the sea. The Navy is uniquely positioned to be there; the world's oceans give the Navy the power to protect America's interests anywhere, and at any time. Your Navy protects and defends America on the world's oceans. Navy ships, submarines, aircraft and, most importantly, tens of thousands of America's finest young men and women are deployed around the world doing just that. They are there now. They will be there when we are sleeping tonight. They will be there every Saturday, Sunday and holiday this year. They are there around the clock, far from our shores, defending America at all times.

Thank you very much for your support of the men and women in U.S. Navy, deployed around the clock and ready to protect and defend America on the world's oceans.

Very respectfully,

MC3 Amanda L. Owens

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See also:
* Sean McKay on LinkedIn.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:52 PM | Permalink

The [Monday] Papers

Matt Spiegel on The Score this morning eviscerated the Buffalo News for this story about the Patrick Kane investigation for much the same reasons I did on The Beachwood Radio Hour #65: Why I Hate Reporting On Investigations. In fact, Spiegel (rightly) went further than I did in explaining why the noxious owner of Skybar in fact has "skin in the game" - both financially and legally - when it comes to defending Kane. That aspect escaped me; I hadn't read enough of the coverage to understand that.

To the Buffalo News, then, I ask: No one in the newsroom saw the problems with that article during editing? For the zillionth time I will proffer to you: There is a huge quality problem in the journalism profession.

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From The Score's Julie DiCaro:

"As both a former rape victim and a former criminal defense attorney, I have some tips on how to talk about the Kane investigation without saying things so out-of-line that people screen cap them and use them as examples of idiocy on local news sites. Here, then, is how not to talk about the Kane investigation."

Click through, please.

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DiCaro spoke on the air last week about how she didn't have the "guts" to prosecute when she was raped. Her description of unavoidable but humiliating forensic testing was harrowing enough in itself.

Also:

"Nearly 70% of rape cases in America go unreported. Think about that for a minute, then ask yourself why that's the case. As a rape victim myself, I can tell you exactly why, because I was one of the majority of rape victims who didn't report the crime to the police. I was drunk. I left a club in Cancun with a guy I'd been 'hanging all over all night,' I went to a secluded spot with him. Did I deserve to be raped? I certainly don't think so, but plenty of people do. One thing I do know is that I didn't report my rape because I knew the questions I would face: 'You were drunk? Why did you leave with him? Are you sure you didn't lead him to believe it was okay? Why do you want to run this guy's life? Are you sure didn't want to have sex with him and now you're crying rape because you're embarrassed?'

"Good grief. Who wants to go through all of that? We require rape victims to behave perfectly in the hours leading up to the crime or we instantly doubt their stories, yet we don't do the same for victims of any other type of crime."

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From AB7 Chicago, via DiCaro:

"My experience over all the years is that a big percentage of these cases first of all turn out not to be true," Chicago Kent Law Professor Eldon Ham said. "The key is to not jump to conclusions. We don't even know if there are going to be charges."

DiCaro's fact-check: "The best number we have, probably, is the FBI's estimate that around 8% of rape allegations turn out to be false."

And, as we learned earlier, an estimated 70% of rapes are never reported. If they were, the percentage of false allegations would be even lower.

Eldon Ham (a designated legal analyst for The Score!), you are Today's Worst Person In Chicago.

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Seemingly related:

"When former University of Minnesota athletic director Norwood Teague abruptly resigned on Friday amid sexual harassment complaints, some wondered if other shiver-inducing tales would emerge," the Minneapolis Star Tribune's Amelia Rayno wrote over the weekend.

"I knew of one more: mine."

This is one helluva story. Click through, please.

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One way diversity works: Women in the newsroom - and in editing/management positions - increases the likelihood that media deals with these issues in an understanding and enlightened way. (The Buffalo News is top-heavy with men, though the sports editor there is a woman.)

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Finally, please spend some time with this year-long study of how Chicago's newspapers cover violence against women. We still have a long way to go.

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The Cub Factor: Waiting For The Goat
Something still doesn't sit right with our very own Marty Gangler.

The White Sox Report: Royally Schooled
An argument for trading Chris Sale?

The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Featuring: The Ladies of Panama, Total Control, Udusic, Final Grin, Alpha Rev, The Returnables, The Good Points, Nimitta, The Watkins Family Hour (feat. Fiona Apple & Benmont Tench), Tab Benoit, The Pamphleteers, Steve Earle, Alice Cooper, Motley Crue, Ramsey Lewis, The Smashing Pumpkins, Marilyn Manson, and When Night Falls.

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BeachBook
* Shipping Woes Grow At O'Hare.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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Sounds familiar.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Blood everywhere.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:40 AM | Permalink

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. The Ladies of Panama at Reggies on Sunday night.

Reggies: "The Ladies of Panama were the core of a fabulous self-contained band in the late 70's early 80's called Israel Torres and Panama. Israel Torres had a vision of putting a female ensemble together to realize his dream of a Brazilian Band along the lines of Sergio Mendes. Panama was one of the premier bands in Chicago at that time and audiences would wait in line for hours just to see the band perform. Panama was indeed the cream of the crop and has been the vehicle for some of the baddest musicians and vocalist the City of Chicago has had to offer, many of them having their humble beginnings with the Panama group."

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2. Total Control at Thalia Hall on Thursday night.

Warwick: "A long overdue visit to the States."

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3. Udusic at Thalia Hall on Thursday night.

Opening for Total Control; both bands played in-the-round.

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4. Final Grin at the Empty Bottle on Thursday night.

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5. Alpha Rev at Beat Kitchen on Friday night.

Beat Kitchen: "A glistening rock sound that is at once fragile and tough."

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6. Nimitta at Transistor on Friday night.

Transistor: "Free improvisation ethno-psychedelic 'jazzcore.'"

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7. The Watkins Family Hour (feat. Fiona Apple & Benmont Tench) at the Old Town School on Wednesday night.

Old Town School: "For singer-songwriter-multi-instrumentalists Sara Watkins and Sean Watkins, the Watkins Family Hour has long been an oasis from the rigors of the road, a laboratory where they can try out new material or master beloved cover songs."

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8. Tab Benoit at SPACE in Evanston on Saturday night.

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9. The Pamphleteers at the Hideout on Saturday night.

TJ Superfan: "On the 10th anniversary of the passing of three friends, this was a celebration of their friendship. John, Doug, and Michael were all members of Chicago bands. Becky Crawford is the bassist/singer of The Pamphleteers. John was her husband and the guitarist/singer of The Returnables. Doug was her drummer in The Dials."

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10. The Returnables at the Hideout on Saturday night.

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11. The Good Points at the Hideout on Saturday night.

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12. Steve Earle at Thalia Hall on Friday night.

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13. Alice Cooper in Rosemont on Saturday night.

Setlist.

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14. Motley Crue in Rosemont on Saturday night.

Arena: "The notoriously hedonistic glam-metal pioneers are calling it quits with a Final Tour that launche[d] Wednesday night in Grand Rapids, Mich. A 72-date North American tour runs through November, ahead of a global itinerary expected to extend through 2015."

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15. Ramsey Lewis at Ravinia on Saturday night.

Reich: "It isn't often that a leading jazz musician makes his Chicago Symphony Orchestra debut at age 80 - playing the world premiere of his first concerto."

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16. The Smashing Pumpkins at Northerly Island on Friday night.

Gendron: "Corgan brings urgency, energy to Pumpkins."

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17. Marilyn Manson at Northerly Island on Friday night.

Gendron: "The same couldn't be said for Manson's 75-minute production."

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18. When Night Falls at the House of Blues on Friday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:24 AM | Permalink

Waiting For The Goat

What a freaking week.

The Cubs haven't been this hot since sweet Lou was in charge.

But there is something that still just doesn't sit right with me.

Okay, as anyone with a pulse has heard, the Chicago Blackhawks have been in the news this week. And the reason I bring this up is because the San Francisco Giants and the Blackhawks are as close to modern-day dynasties as you can get (if they aren't already).

So sure, the Cubs taking four from the Giants and a 3 1/2-game lead for the second wild card spot is huge.

But it kind of feels like the St. Louis Blues winning a "big" regular season game against the Blackhawks in February.

The Giants know, like the Blackhawks, that a couple of wins in August, like February, doesn't mean the season is over.

They know there is a lot of season left and just aren't going to get all that excited about losing a few games.

It's just the kind of thing you understand after you win three World Series championships, like three Stanley Cups.

So yeah, I'm kind of being a wet blanket here, but I just can't help it.

Sure, no one would rather be in the Giants' shoes being 3 1/2 games back of the Cubs, and 3 1/2 back of the Dodgers as well for the division, but their track record makes it feel like maybe you still would rather have that roster, and manager, and that experience. And I can't really get that out of my mind.

But that is kind of the deal with the Cubs; you are just waiting for that next shoe to drop. Waiting to get your soul crushed, waiting for the inevitable "goat" moment.

But I'm going to try and enjoy this for at least one day - the Cubs are off on Monday. And then it's back to the grind. And yes, being a Cub fan is a grind. It's almost easier to deal with them being bad.

And then add that this is still a pretty flawed roster, kinda shaky bullpen at times, that fact that it will mostly probably be just a ONE game playoff, and all that flippin' history and that's where you are.

What a week.

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The Week in Review: The Cubs went 5-1. They split two games with the Bucs, with one rainout, and then took four straight from the reigning World Series Champion Giants. It was pretty much what no one thought would happen and there is just no doubt now that it's on. It is on.

The Week in Preview: The Cubs get a day off Monday to bask in the glow of the last four games. Bask, boys! Then the Brew Crew (how cool is this?) comes to town for three and then it's Crosstown Cup time again on the South Side. Boy are the Sox a mess. No other way to say it.

The Left Field/Second Baseman Report: Chris Coghlan is now the Cubs' second baseman; he used to be the primary left fielder. But geez, this is still the tallest little person deal. He's 5-for-21 in August with one walk after hitting .219 in July with a .305 OBP. That's just barely better than Starlin Castro. Well, actually, it's a lot better than Castro, but Coghlan is still not good. I wonder if Castro realizes this?

In former Cubs second baseman/left fielder news, Glenn Beckert last played with the Cubs in 1973. Almost exclusively a second baseman, Beckert played one game in the outfield (let's assume left field) in 1970. How Coghlanesque! Glenn was the subject of this kind of odd local sports segment from back in the day in what looks to be St Louis. The one question I have at the end of this is: Was there truly any monkey business? Glenn is missed.

Mad(don) Scientist: Big Poppa Joe wants you to think it's essentially because of Kyle Schwarber that the dominoes started rolling to bench Starlin Castro. I just wish he would stop some of this bologna. It's because Castro stinks. Nothing to do with Schwarber or Coghlan, or anyone. But this is how he spins pretty much everything in a positive direction. Maybe it's better for Castro to think Joe's hands were kinda tied on this one? I have no idea what's better for Castro. The nice thing is the Cubs finally know what is better for themselves.

Wishing Upon A Starlin: I guess when you have no chance to trade the guy you might as well just bench him. The weird thing about the benching is what the heck do you do with him now? He's not a defensive replacement. He's not a solid bat coming in to pinch hit in a big spot. What is he? They should probably send him down to Iowa, no? He's a former All-Star washout at 25 who is signed for another four years (and a club option for a fifth). Chalk this up as another big mistake for Theo and company on the re-signing. You have to.

Kubs Kalender: Guys, we missed it. It was Bob Uecker Bobblehead Day on Sunday against the Cardinals.

Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Shares of the season traded higher this week.

Over/Under: The number of Giants who think their playoff chances are over: +/- .5 (The under is a lock!).

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that it's now theirs to lose.

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* Touch 'em all: The Cub Factor archives.

* Know thy enemy: The White Sox Reports.

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Marty Gangler is our man on the Cub. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:51 AM | Permalink

Royally Schooled

The differences weren't huge, but they were to readily apparent. They defined a ballclub that knows how to execute just well enough to win against a team that finds a myriad of ways to manufacture frustration and failure.

It all added up to three one-run ballgames in Kansas City last weekend as the high-flying, talented Royals edged the fading White Sox 3-2, 7-6 and 5-4.

We can begin with key hits as Kansas City, the division-leaders with an American League-best record of 66-44, came through seven times in 20 opportunities with runners in scoring position. The Sox were 6-for-24 in the same department. Go no further, and you can explain in three tight games how our local club was swept.

The Royals' bullpen, arguably the greatest strength on a team that came within a Bumgarner of winning last year's World Series, wasn't untouchable. The Sox nicked Kelvin Herrera - he of the 101-mph heater - for an eighth-inning run on Sunday that tied the game at 4 on Melky Cabrera's - what's new? - shot into left field.

But our Jake Petricka gave it right back on an Alex Rios single and a double by Paulo Orlando before Rios scooted home on a dribbler to first baseman Jose Abreu. Jose fielded the ball bare-handed and threw too high to get the sliding Rios. Sure, the play was close at the plate, but that's the point. The Sox needed to make a play and couldn't do it. The Royals are just the opposite.

Jeff Samardzija put the Sox in a hole on Saturday, leaving in the fifth inning and being charged with all seven Kansas City runs as the Royals raced to a 7-2 lead. Samardzija leads all pitchers in one category: He's given up at least seven runs in five different starts. No one else has done that.

After Geovany Soto and Tyler Saladino singled in the top of the fifth, Abreu was at the plate with two outs and a full count. In one of the moves that has no explanation in a season that has seen plenty of them, Soto took off for third before pitcher Jeremy Guthrie delivered to the plate. Needless to say, Soto was tagged out to end the mild threat.

Wouldn't you know it? Abreu homered to lead off the next inning - the Sox scored four times to creep within a run - which made Soto's gaffe not exactly on a par with Merkle's Boner (I just love that) but clearly in a similar category. Unfortunately, four Kansas City relievers limited the Sox to one hit the rest of the way for the final 7-6 margin.

And Friday night the White Sox simply weren't up to the task of challenging Royals right-hander Edinson Volquez, who allowed a lone run and four hits in seven innings. The Sox had some chances - Cabrera led off the second with a double but stayed there as Volquez retired the next three batters. Robin Ventura's crew was 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position.

Royals' closer Greg Holland yielded Adam LaRoche's solo home run - he hadn't homered since June 24 - in the ninth inning before Carlos Sanchez lined a two-out single. But Tyler Flowers, who strikes out in about one-third of his plate appearances, whiffed to end the game.

The Royals are playing with confidence, skill and the feeling that they can beat anyone. This is a relatively recent development. In the nine seasons from 2004 to 2012, Kansas City averaged 96 losses. They drew poorly with lineups that included guys like Mark Teahen, Matt Stairs, Joey Gathright and Yuniesky Betancourt.

General manager Dayton Moore arrived in mid-season 2006 after being assistant GM in Atlanta. Just three years ago in 2012, the Royals lost 90 games, but they improved to 86-76 a year later before gaining a wild card berth last year with an 89-73 mark.

Moore's formula for reversing fortunes in Kansas City is not unlike what most GMs would endeavor. He drafted wisely, helped by "earning" high draft choices because of the Royals' lopsided losing records. He made some astute trades and signed Latin American prospects like catcher Salvador Perez in 2006 when Perez was just 16. Perez's signing bonus was $65,000. The young catcher learned and developed over four minor league seasons. Today he's the best catcher in the American League.

Moore's draft choices also paid dividends. First-rounders Luke Hochevar (2006), Mike Moustakas (2007), and Eric Hosmer (2008) have become mainstays for the Royals. Before Moore arrived, Alex Gordon (2005) and the now-departed Billy Butler (2004) were selected in the first round.

In addition, Kansas City has been notable for developing lower choices like Holland (10th round in 2007) and the speedy Jarrod Dyson (50th round in 2006). (Today the draft has 40 rounds, so Dyson would have gone undrafted under present rules.)

And then there have been some noteworthy trades, the most productive which occurred before the 2011 season when Moore dealt pitcher Zack Greinke to Milwaukee and received shortstop Alcides Escobar and center fielder Lorenzo Cain in return.

Greinke, another Royals' first-rounder in 2002, was the team's best pitcher, but was going to become a free agent - his new contract with the Brewers was almost double what Kansas City had paid him. The much-advertised, small-market Royals traded him in what arguably was the move that put the team where it is today, getting two future middle of the field defenders who today bat leadoff and third in the order.

The then-24-year-old Escobar immediately became the team's regular shortstop. Today he plays every day, hitting .275, stealing bases, while being a superb defender. Tell me how many successful teams don't have a stellar shortstop. (Check Joe Maddon's recent move on the North Side.)

Meanwhile, Moore was patient. Cain, a 13th round draft choice of the Brewers, spent almost all of 2011 at Triple-A Omaha honing his skills before becoming the Royals regular center fielder the next season. Now he's an All-Star.

[Editor's Note: Isn't this an argument to trade Chris Sale?]

And lest we are remiss, Moore signed free agent designated hitter Kendrys Morales last December after releasing Butler, a fixture in Kansas City. Morales, just 32, had a miserable, injury-plagued 2014 season in Seattle. This year the switch-hitter is leading the Royals with 80 RBI, batting fourth and hitting .290. His two-run homer on Sunday provided the margin of victory.

(Morales, by the way, was available when the White Sox signed LaRoche last winter. But more on that next week.)

One factor in Kansas City's rise is that the core of the team - Gordon, Moustakas, Cain, Hosmer, Escobar, and Perez - started playing together as young men. They lost a lot of games, but management showed faith in them. Of course, all their eggs were in one basket. That core was all Dayton Moore had, but they got better as a unit.

Manager Ned Yost has received criticism for his strategic skills, but someone - why not Yost? - deserves credit for developing the present ballclub. They catch the ball, lay down a bunt, steal a base, and move runners along. All parts of the game that have severely challenged the 2015 White Sox.

However, one could argue that the makeup of the present team on the South Side is not wholly unlike the Royals of a few short seasons ago.

The White Sox have averaged 84 losses since 2007, not nearly as inept as the Royals had been. (This includes 2015 if the Sox continue to play at their present rate of .468.) The Royals had much farther to travel than the White Sox.

However, the Sox have a young core composed of Sanchez (23), Garcia (24), Saladino (26), and Eaton (26). None have played more than Garcia's 239 games in the big leagues. Add in Abreu, who is 28 but only in his second season, and Cabrera, who is 30 and in his prime, and you have six players who have either good track records and/or the promise of youth with promising talent.

[Editor's Note: Wow, has this column taken a turn!]

Chris Sale (26), Jose Quintana (26), Carlos Rodon (23), and David Robertson (30) have already established themselves or shown potential to lead a formidable pitching staff. John Danks (30) has been throwing in the low 90s. Who knows? His best days may be ahead of him.

The Royals struck oil with first-round draft choices, and that could determine how the Sox will do in the near future. Sale (2010) already has shown what he can do despite his recent problems. Rodon (2014) is just starting out and has shown flashes of being a genuine stalwart. The Sox front office feels that Vanderbilt pitcher Carson Fulmer, this season's first-rounder, can follow in Sale and Rodon's footsteps.

If shortstop Tim Anderson (2013), a .304 hitter with 44 stolen bases at Double-A Birmingham this season, turns out to be a keeper, he will be added to the list of young talent.

What's important to note is that the core of the team - even during a losing season - is learning how to play together much as the Royals youngsters did a few seasons ago. Whether Ventura and his coaching staff are the mentors to develop this crew to teach them how to play the game is debatable. The mistakes they make are indisputable. However, the talent is there for the future. The Royals provide a model. Time will tell if a team such as the present White Sox can copy that model.

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Roger Wallenstein is our man on the Sox. He welcomes your comments.

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Comments:

1. From Steve Rhodes:

1. Aren't you making the case for trading Chris Sale when you discuss the success of the Greinke trade? Besides this not being a small-market . . .

2. I was taken aback by the turn to optimism in the column . . . you are comparing 26- to 30-yearolds with 18- to 22-year-olds! I don't know if anyone would consider Adam Eaton a core young player. The Royals had a couple draft classes come in and play and lose together for a few years, and added other young players through, for example, the Greinke trade. I don't see how that compares to the Sox situation . . . they don't have high draft picks and you're really describing trying to win next year by . . . adding Tim Anderson? To follow the Royals model, they need to tear it down! Seems to me they are following the Padres model by saying we still believe in what we did over the winter and we're going to stick with it and tweak it next year and see what happens.

Roger's reply:

Guys like Eaton may be 26, but in terms of big league experience, he's just starting out. Same with Garcia, Sanchez, Saladino, and, for that matter, Abreu. I watch these guys and see some good things like Sanchez completely turning it around with the bat. Put Saladino at short, and you have a combination that could be around for a while.

One of the differences between Sale and Greinke is that Sale is tied up contract-wise. The Royals were going to lose Greinke.

My point is patience. The 2016 White Sox might be the team Hahn thought he had this year. I'd give it another season to find out. If they lose 85/90 next year, then, OK, start looking to deal someone like Chris Sale.

I'd be surprised if at the end of June 2016, the Sox are last (or even near the bottom) in runs scored. I just think it takes time for a team to gel, to learn how to play together, to adapt to different personalities.

Of course, a manager can make a difference, and I question if Ventura is the right guy. But, again, Yost was on his way out in KC. It's just so hard to tell without inside information, and the beat writers provide absolutely zero insight. My biggest problem with Robin is his strategy. He does some things I simply don't understand, and, again, the beat guys rarely quiz him.

Now, all of this could depend on them finding (trading for) a catcher and/or a third baseman. Having Flowers and LaRoche both in the lineup absolutely kills them offensively. But looking at the past vis a vis Adam Dunn, LaRoche will be back. Dunn was even worse than LaRoche his first season with the Sox. If LaRoche plays the first two months in 2016 like he has this year, they'd have to move or release him. Batting fifth or sixth, he's killed the offense. I just don't get it.

So, my point is that these relatively inexperienced - if not as young in age as the Royals of a few years back - progress, improve in many aspects, then I can envision a competitive team. If it doesn't happen next season, then tear it down. But one unsuccessful season (with a few new faces like Robertson and Cabrera) is not enough to throw in the towel.

Finally, if only Joe Maddon was the manager . . .

Rhodes' reply:

You're describing the Padres, not the Royals!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:12 AM | Permalink

August 9, 2015

The Beachwood Radio Hour #65: Reporting On Investigations Is Not Investigative Reporting

And I hate it. Plus: Mobster Cop & Me; Good Night, Knight Foundation; Get That Twitter Off My Lawn; That's Shia!; Cowboys Will Be Boys?; Lil Herb & John Kerry; and Renaming Navy Pier.


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SHOW NOTES

* Strawberry Rock Show.

1:13: The Kills at the Metro last Sunday night.

3:21: Mobster Cop & Me.

* The Lost Don.

16:28: Martin $ky at Reggies last Sunday night.

17:54: Why I Hate Reporting On Investigations.

* Mediocre Media Moralizers.

* Buffalo News: New Details Emerge In Allegations Against Patrick Kane.

* Violence Against Women As Covered By Chicago Media.

35:43: ASAP Mob at Reggies last Sunday night.

36:38: Pocket Stories.

* Good Night, Knight Foundation.

* Incestuous foundationland.

* Rahm's tech boys.

* The alternative is the truth!

* Chass: Tweeting Trash In Race To Be No. 1.

* Haugh: Twitter, where prudence goes to die.

* Kapos: On Quazzo. On Zopp.

46:12: Roy French at Reggies last Sunday night.

46:48: Newspaper Magazine Stories.

* Cowboys Will Be Boys?

* Newspaper Stories: The Car Wash.

* My Journey Through America's Dumbest Newsrooms.

55:27: Watsky at Durty Nellie's in Palatine on Tuesday night.

57:00: This Week In The Beachwood.

* Lil Herb & Talib Kweli Talk Chicago Violence.

* Human Rights Lecture:

1:02:00 Todd Rundgren at Thalia Hall on Wednesday night.

1:02:55: From The Beachwood Vault: Renaming Navy Pier.

STOPPAGE: 8:20

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For archives and other Beachwood shows, see The Beachwood Radio Network.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:59 PM | Permalink

The Weekend Desk Report

Everything will return Monday!

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ICYMI From Friday
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Alco Dude.

European craftsmanship.

* The Beachwood Radio Hour #63: Maddon's Mojo.

Cubs manager moves in mysterious ways. Plus: Mediocre Media Moralizers; White Sox SNAFU; Bears' Foxhole; The Chicago Fire Did Something This Week; Jimmy Butler > Derrick Rose; The Return Of Epiphanny Prince; A Beer Note; and We Already Miss You, Junior Lake.

* American Pimp, Born In Chicago.

In Local Book Notes. Plus: Buckley, Mailer & Schultz; Batman, Superman & Nobleman; How To Rip Off A Drug Dealer; and Empire Maker?

* Me & 'Mobster Cop.'

So it turns out I practically narrated a great deal of this show, which you can find on Investigations Discovery (ID) or purchase from YouTube for $1.99. My line about the dude having a Burt Reynolds mustache made it in, as well as such classics as "Take your cut - that's what Chicago's always been about."

* The Week In Chicago Rock.

Featuring: The Kills, Martin $ky, ASAP Mob, Roy French, Watsky, Todd Rundgren, The Vamps, Justin Townes Earle, Tokio Hotel, Jasta, Coal Chamber, A Skylit Drive, Fear Factory, Lil Tits, and Georgia O'Queefe.

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "Television has entered its Golden Age and music is playing an essential role. Jim and Greg examine the evolving use of music in commercials and TV shows from Mad Men to Empire to The Voice."

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BeachBook
* Jon Stewart's Best Moment Wasn't On The Daily Show - It Was The Day He Eviscerated CNN.

* Naperville Starbucks Denied Liquor License.

* I'm Voting For This Guy.

* Report: Hundreds Of Civilians Killed By U.S.-Led Bombing Of ISIS In Iraq And Syria.

Pentagon says two - maybe.

* Chicago Is A Polka Town.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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Note: This has nothing to do with Patrick Kane, for godsakes.

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: A mission of national import.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:33 AM | Permalink

August 7, 2015

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #63: Maddon's Mojo

Cubs manager moves in mysterious ways. Plus: Mediocre Media Moralizers; White Sox SNAFU; Bears' Foxhole; The Chicago Fire Did Something This Week; Jimmy Butler > Derrick Rose; The Return Of Epiphanny Prince; A Beer Note; and We Already Miss You, Junior Lake.


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SHOW NOTES

* Jay Hilgenberg.

:53: Mediocre Media Moralizers.

* Police Confirm Patrick Kane Under Investigation.

* Haugh: While Withholding Judgement, It's Clear Patrick Kane Must Change Ways.

* Rozner: Innocent Or Guilty, Blackhawks' Kane On Road To Ruin.

* Patrick Kane Singing Karaoke.

12:38: Maddon's Mojo.

* Anthony Rizzo, MVP.

* Three-Headed Catcher!

* Captain Hook.

* Uncle Joe!

* Clayton Richard > Dan Haren.

* Pedro Strop's hat.

* Sullivan: It's Nice Cubs Finally Are Beginning To Fulfill Playoff Promise.

33:52: White Sox SNAFU.

36:32: Bears' Foxhole.

* Jim Rome Is Your Guy?

* Many In Media Upset With Bears Limiting Live Training Camp Coverage.

* USA Today's 2015 NFL Projections.

* New system; more physical; culture change. We're really gonna stress the fundamentals this year! Journesia.

48:52 The Chicago Fire Did Something This Week.

49:07: Epiphanny Prince's Return Highlights Key Stretch For Sky.

* New York Times: Epiphanny Prince's Arrival Raises Liberty's Hopes of Returning to WNBA Playoffs.

50:01: Jimmy Butler > Derrick Rose.

51:08: Montanus Fermentum.

Previously in Montanus Fermentum.

* Permanent Funeral.

* Beer Bistro.

54:17: We Already Miss You, Junior Lake.

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For archives and more Beachwood shows, see The Beachwood Radio Network.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:17 PM | Permalink

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. The Kills at the Metro on Sunday night.


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2. Martin $ky at Reggies on Sunday night.

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3. ASAP Mob at Reggies on Sunday night.

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4. Roy French at Reggies on Sunday night.

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5. Watsky at Durty Nellies in Palatine on Tuesday night.

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6. Todd Rundgren at Thalia Hall on Wednesday night.

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7. The Vamps at the Vic on Monday night.

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8. Justin Townes Earle at City Winery on Tuesday night.

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9. Tokio Hotel at House of Blues on Wednesday night.

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10. Jasta at the Concord on Thursday night.

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11. Coal Chamber at the Concord on Thursday night.

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12. A Skylit Drive at the Metro on Thursday night.

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13. Fear Factory at the Concord on Thursday night.

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14. Lil Tits at Bric-a-Brac on Monday.

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15. Georgia O'Queefe at Bric-a-Brac on Monday.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:32 AM | Permalink

Local Book Notes: American Pimp, Born In Chicago

"In the late 1960s and early '70s, if you wanted a book by Iceberg Slim, the best-selling black writer in America, you didn't go to a bookstore. You went to a black-owned barbershop or liquor store or gas station. Maybe you found a copy on a corner table down the block, or being passed around in prison," Dwight Garner writes for the New York Times.

"The first and finest of his books was a memoir, Pimp: The Story of My Life, published in 1967. This was street literature, marketed as pulp. The New York Times didn't merely not review Pimp, Justin Gifford notes in Street Poison: The Biography of Iceberg Slim. Given the title, this newspaper wouldn't even print an ad for it.

"Pimp related stories from Iceberg Slim's 25 years on the streets of Chicago, Milwaukee, Detroit and other cities. It was dark. The author learned to mistreat women with a chilly elan. It was dirty, so filled with raw language and vividly described sex acts that, nearly 50 years later, the book still makes your eyeballs leap out of your skull, as if you were at the bottom of a bungee jump."

See also:
* The Street Poison Amazon link.

* Slim was born in Chicago.

* Washington Post: Why Rappers Owe A Debt To Iceberg Slim.

Buckley, Mailer And Schultz
"The 1960s fascinated former Parkite Kevin M. Schultz to the point that he became a historian, author and history professor at the University of Illinois Chicago," Scott Iwasaki writes for Utah's Park Record, where Schultz was once a reporter.

"(That decade) has always interested me because it's become this mythologized time in our history," Schultz told The Park Record. "We look at Selma the film or the TV show Mad Men and the excitement surrounding these things and see how the 60s are portrayed as this transformative time in American history. It was through this decade that we went from this World War II culture to today's America."

"Schultz's interest in the turbulent times led him to write his new book Buckley and Mailer: The Difficult Friendship that Shaped the Sixties."

"The book, published by W.W. Norton & Co., was a No. 1 new release on Amazon.com and reviewed by The New Yorker, The Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe and Minneapolis Star Tribune."

From the publisher:

William F. Buckley, Jr., and Norman Mailer were the two towering intellectual figures of the 1960s, and they lived remarkably parallel lives. Both became best-selling authors in their twenties (with God and Man at Yale and The Naked and the Dead); both started hugely influential papers (National Review and the Village Voice); both ran for mayor of New York City; both were noted for their exceptional wit and venom; and both became the figurehead of their respective social movements (Buckley on the right, Mailer on the left). Indeed, Buckley and Mailer argued vociferously and publicly about every major issue of their time: civil rights, feminism, the counterculture, Vietnam, the Cold War. But behind the scenes, the two were close friends and trusted confidantes. In Buckley and Mailer, historian Kevin M. Schultz delves into their personal archives to tell the rich story of their friendship, their arguments, and the tumultuous decade they did so much to shape.

Here is the entertaining and deeply American story of what Mailer himself called a "difficult friendship": from their debate before the Floyd Patterson-Sonny Liston heavyweight fight in 1962 to their failed mayoral campaigns, to their confrontation at Truman Capote's Black-and-White Ball, to their starring roles in the central events of the '60s, including the giant antiwar rally in Berkeley, the March on the Pentagon, and the national political conventions in Miami and Chicago. Through it all, Schultz charts their friendship, whether sailing together off the coast of Connecticut, celebrating rave reviews and grousing about lousy ones, and defending each other's decisions privately even as they attack each other's positions publicly.

Brimming with Buckley and Mailer's own thoughts from their personal diaries and letters, Buckley and Mailer also features cameos by other leading figures of the time, including James Baldwin, Joan Didion, Barry Goldwater, Robert F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Gloria Steinem, and Gore Vidal. Schultz delivers a fresh chronicle of the '60s and its long aftermath as well as an enormously engaging work of narrative history that explores these extraordinary figures' contrasting visions of what America was and what it could be.

From the New Yorker: "Both were disgusted by the tepid consensus of American liberalism; they feared not that the center couldn't hold but that it would."

Batman, Superman And Nobleman
"When Marc Tyler Nobleman set out a decade ago to publish illustrated books about the creators of Batman and Superman, he quickly became engaged in a dogged effort to unearth fresh details about men most fans had never heard of," Martin B. Cassidy writes for the New Canaan News.

"To Nobleman, it is wrong that the names of Batman co-creator, Finger, and Superman co-creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, only have the proper weight with a small cognoscenti of comic book historians and fans . . .

"In his research for Boys of Steel, Nobleman said his passion as a fan made him press for incredible levels of historic detail when researching Siegel and Shuster's formative years in Chicago. In Chicago, Nobleman talked the current owner to let him enter Siegel's boyhood bedroom to take photographs."

How To Rip Off A Drug Dealer
"Gary Engel hanged himself in a jail cell after his arrest three years ago in one of the most chilling murder plots in recent Chicago history," the Tribune reports.

"But even in death, the story of the former Willow Springs police officer, reputed Outfit-connected burglar and alleged kidnapper has continued on a bizarre path.

"The tale took another stunning turn Wednesday when Engel's lawsuit against an FBI agent he accused of framing him in a 1984 Missouri kidnapping was abruptly dropped in the midst of trial."

This is a confusing story, but this caught my eye:

"When agents searched Engel's home, they found handcuffs, blank search warrants, an electronic bugging device similar to one used on a kidnap victim's phone and a book titled How to Rip Off a Drug Dealer."

Here it is.

Empire Maker?
"Sophia Eggleston wants a piece of Fox's Empire," Fox News Detroit reports.

"She's suing the creators of the show, claiming she is the real-life Cookie Lyon and that they stole her life story for the hit show based on a hip hop mogul and his family . . .

"How did the creators get the idea? Sophia claims it is all in her book The Hidden Hand - a memoir she penned while in prison, serving time for manslaughter."

Not this Hidden Hand, unfortunately, but one I can't find.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:10 AM | Permalink

Beachwood Photo Booth: Alco Dude

European craftsmanship.

alcoconstruction.jpg(ENLARGE FOR PROPER VIEWING; EVEN BETTER CLICK TWICE AND LOOK AROUND!)

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More Chicago photography from Helene Smith.

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Helene on Twitter!

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Meet Helene!

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Stationery, iPhone cases, hoodies.

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Listen to Helene talk about Photo Booth; starts at 57:54.

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Previously:
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Man Grilling
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Yum Yum Donuts
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Father's Day
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Vintage Airmaster
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Time
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Window Shade
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Illinois Slayer
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Fire Escape
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Golden Nugget
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Hollywood, Chicago
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Flag Man.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Van In Flames.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Fluid Power Automation.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Corn Dog.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Stop The Killing Car.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Backyard.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: A to Z Things.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Swedish Diner.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Rothschild Liquors.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Silos.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Wires.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Orange Garden.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Irving Park Guy.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Pigeons.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: O'Lanagan's.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: For Rent.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Marie's Pizza & Liquors.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Mori Milk.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: American Breakfast.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: A Chicago Christmas Postcard.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Holiday Harold's.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Family Fun.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Snow Bike.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Nativity Scene.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Old Warsaw.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Deluxe Cleaners.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Marie's Golden Cue.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Die Another Day.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Sears Key Shop.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Window Dressing.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Jeri's Grill.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Barry's Drugs.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Liberty.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Kitchen.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Golden Specials.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: We Won The Cup.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Bartender Man.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Blue Plane Blues.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Finest Quality.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Family Guy.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Girls Wanted.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Skokie Savanna.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Signpost.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Old Man And The Tree.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Street Fleet.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Citgo Story.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Fantasy Hair Design.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Garage.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Clark Stop.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Pole Position.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Window Dressing.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Geometry.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Found Love.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Fill In The Blank.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Vacuums Of The Night.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Dumpster Still Life.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Wagon Master.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Intersecting West Rogers Park.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Penn-Dutchman Antiques.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Cow Patrol.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Backstage Chicago.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Skully Bungalow.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Francisco Frankenstein.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Long Cool Heat.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Smokers' Mast.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Big Fat Phone.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Happy Day.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Alley Men.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Holiday Show!
* Beachwood Photo Booth: You've Got Mailbox.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Broken Window Theory.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Dali Logan.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Svengoolie.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Horner Park Hot Dogs.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Cubs Rehab.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: 20th Century Schizoid Man.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Men On Vans.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Penn-Dutchman Is Done.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Snowy Lincoln.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Waiting Room.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Avondale Chicken.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Winter's End.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: The Friendly Skies.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Boyhood Buzzer Beater.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: J Date.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: International Window Lady.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Shanghai Inn.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Open For Business.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Andersonville Unplugged.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: 3-Flat.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Evanston Turkey.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicagolandia.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Eat At Odge's.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Deitch Pharmacy.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Sud-Z Bubble.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Bands Wanted!
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Belmont Tavern.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Superheroic San Luis Freeze.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Evanston Oasis.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Lyndale Food & Jewelry.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Lincoln Tap.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Book Window.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:36 AM | Permalink

August 6, 2015

The [Thursday] Papers

Programming Note: Working on some Homan Square coverage and a few other things. Not sure when I'll be done - this afternoon, tonight or tomorrow. A bunch of things happening at once.

But some really great stuff elsewhere on the site:

* I Might Be On TV Tonight!

If so, I'm sure my hair will be stoopid.

I was interviewed on-camera for this, though I don't know if I made the final cut.

* Lil Herb On Chicago Violence.

Says access to guns is too easy.

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Also, Talib Kweli says violence is the symptom, poverty is the cause.

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Also:

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* Junior Lake, We Miss You Already.

We here at the Beachwood loved Junior Lake; he provided multiple moments of happiness and made our lives better because of it. I take a look.

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* ICMYI: The Beachwood Radio Hour #64.

I don't wanna go to school; I just wanna break the rules.

Plus: A Subway Story; Are Those Articles In Your Pocket Or Are You Just Happy To See Me?; Newspaper Stories: The Car Wash; Paid Influencer Opp!; Obama Caves On Human Trafficking; Pope Theo; Blackhawks Bullshit, and; Chicago's Opening Ceremonies.

Tease:

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BeachBook
* Think University Administrators' Salaries Are High? Critics Say Their Benefits Are Lavish.

Related, from Tim Willette:

"Today I looked up the tuition at my alma mater. It's up 400% from when I graduated 20 years ago. U.S. inflation rate over same time frame: 161%."

* Why These Parents Chose A Neighborhood School Over A Charter.

Also: Neighborhood schools build community. They're good for all of us.

* Booting Cars In Private Lots Now Legal In More Than Half Of Chicago.

"The owner of a parking management company took the unusual step of personally introducing the legislation to City Council."

* Media Outlets Debate Whether Increased Access To Kochs Is Worth All The Strings Attached.

No strings, people. Or you cease to be a journalist.

* How The Media At Its Grandest Heights Thinks.

Is this really the best we can do?

Also:

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Meow mix.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:40 PM | Permalink

Lil Herb, Talib Kweli On Chicago's Guns, Poverty, & Violence

1. Lil Herb: Easy Access To Guns.

Stories of deaths by shooting in Chicago are reported more than most major cities in the country. Lil Herb believes it is due to everyone in the area having easy access to guns, as they often cost no more than $100 - even $20 in some cases. "Everybody can get their hands on a gun" in Chicago, says Lil Herb. "Kids can get their hands on a gun - money speaks. Money talks."

"A beef can start with something so little as an Instagram post or a fight, like, a petty fight," the drill rapper tells us in this eye-opening exclusive. According to Lil Herb, female bystanders and people getting killed within a day of getting involved in someone else's beef is a common-day occurrence - he even admits to some women being shot at while being in his presence.

He himself had a gun charge that got dismissed because officials didn't have probable cause to do so, which came at a time where he was just starting his career and trying to avoid harming his reputation. To keep himself in a good light, Lil Herb has decided to follow in the steps of fellow Chi-town rapper Chief Keef and take his talents to California. "Me, Lil Herb, I am moving to L.A., Los Angeles [and] getting away from all the violence," he says with a smile. "I wanna be around positive energy, and I wanna be rich, and I wanna make the lives better for everybody around me."


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Editor's Note: Not sure sentences are as harsh as he says, but not sure of the context he is thinking of.

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2. Talib Kweli: This Is A Poverty Issue.

Talib Kweli commented on Chicago's battle with gun violence during a recent sit down with VladTV, and he believes that the violence in Chi-Town represents everything that's wrong with our inner cities.

Mentioning the 4th of July weekend in which 82 people were shot in the city, 14 fatally, the Brooklyn emcee calls Chicago a "perfect storm." "Because it's such a big city, it's experienced so much migration, so much gentrification at such a fast rate, people being put out of their homes . . . " Kweli noted, later adding, "These are problems of poverty, these don't happen because Black people are violent . . . this is a poverty issue."

Kweli discussed further the challenges faced by inner city communities, mentioning cuts in education, lack of opportunity, lack of housing and more.

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Editor's note: There weren't 82 people shot this Fourth of July weekend; that was a story from last year that mistakenly went viral when taken for this year's toll.

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See also: DJVlad's YouTube channel.

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Previously:
* Rappers vs. Rahm.

* Chief Keef's Deadly Rap War.

* Lil Chicago.

* The Field: Chicago.

* Chicago Week On Sway.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:26 PM | Permalink

Untouchable: Illinois Mobster Cop In Grip Of Chicago Outfit

I was interviewed on-camera for this, though I don't know if I made the final cut. Turns out I'm all over this thing!

"Mobster Cop" premieres Thursday, August 6, at 9/8c. In an Illinois town in the grip of the Chicago mob, Police Chief Michael Corbitt is surrounded by temptation. A string of extortion scams, violent crimes and a deadly extramarital affair prompts investigators to suspect that Corbitt has been lured in.

This video preview is being finicky, so here's a link to it if it doesn't work for you.


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From my 2005 Chicago magazine story about Joey "the Clown" Lombardo:

Everything connected to the Las Vegas operation seemed to go sour. Somehow, though, Lombardo escaped reprisal. In Double Deal, Michael Corbitt offered his explanation: "In the Outfit, when you screwed up, you got planted. End of story. It wasn't like they handed you a pink slip and you went to work for another crew. You were done. That is, unless you used a tactic that was a favorite of America's corporate set, the old CYA routine - cover your ass and blame whatever went wrong on the other guy. That was Joey Lombardo's modus operandi, and that's what kept the son of a bitch alive and in power. Every time somebody who reported to Joey got in trouble, he just blamed that particular guy for the problem and got permission to have him whacked. Obviously, you didn't want to work for Lombardo."

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"Michael J. Corbitt's life revolved around mob crime. He committed it, did time for it, helped FBI agents probe it and wrote about it," the Tribune wrote for his obit in 2004.

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Double Deal: The Inside Story Of Murder, Unbridled Corruption, And The Cop Who Was A Mobster.

Sample:

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The series is heavy with Chicago content:

EVIL WITH POWER: ID'S NEW SERIES UNTOUCHABLE: POWER CORRUPTS DELVES INTO THE DARK UNDERBELLY OF AUTHORITY

A powerful resume and a charming smile can be the keys to success-but they can also be beguiling tools to mask a cold-blooded killer. Investigation Discovery's (ID) new series UNTOUCHABLE: POWER CORRUPTS offers an inside look into how a taste for power can turn into a thirst for blood, featuring the perplexing journeys of seemingly good citizens to corruption.

This six episode series uses chronological reenactments and expert commentary to tell the stories of people whose ambition, authority and sense of entitlement drove them to abuse their power-and ultimately do the unthinkable.

Each hour-long episode of UNTOUCHABLE: POWER CORRUPTS gives viewers a front-row seat to the cat-and-mouse game pitting the police against the perpetrators who believe they are above the law.

Episodes of UNTOUCHABLE: POWER CORRUPTS include:

* "House of Pain" Premieres Thursday, July 16 at 9/8c Detective Jon Burge has a gift for closing even complex cases with a confession. So when allegations about his interrogation methods surface, they are ignored or dismissed until an explosive tip-off suggests that Burge is hiding a sinister secret.

* "Teflon Joe" Premieres Thursday, July 23 at 9/8c By infiltrating the shady but glamorous world of cocaine dealers and drug mules, Joe Miedzianowski has become one of the best Gangs and Guns cops in the Chicago PD. But a series of suspicious events leads the FBI to wonder exactly whose side Miedzianowski is on.

* "Courtroom Killer" Premieres Thursday, July 30 at 9/8c New Jersey defense lawyer Paul Bergrin is the go-to-guy for criminals looking to stay out of jail. When he takes to extreme measures to win unwinnable cases, the Feds suspect that Bergrin has become more dangerous than the clients he represents.

* "Mobster Cop" Premieres Thursday, August 6 at 9/8c In an Illinois town in the grip of the Chicago mob, Police Chief Michael Corbitt is surrounded by temptation. A string of extortion scams, violent crimes and a deadly extramarital affair prompts investigators to suspect that Corbitt has been lured in.

* "Ballot and Bullet" Premieres Thursday, August 13 at 9/8c After swapping police work for politics, Sidney Dorsey ascends to a position of enormous power - the Sheriff of DeKalb County. Amid claims of corruption, a political rival emerges to challenge Sheriff Dorsey's authority. With careers and reputations at stake, people are pushed to unspeakable acts in order to maintain their grip on power.

See also: The Untouchable: Power Corrupts website.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:24 AM | Permalink

We Already Miss You, Junior Lake

Junior Lake burst on the scene in 2013 like no other Cub this side of Tuffy Rhodes and Emilio Bonifacio. While his red-hot start cooled to an eventual .284 with a .332 OBP over 64 games in that rookie campaign, he proved Theo Epstein prescient in his warning to then-manager Dave Sveum that Lake would do some things that would amaze - for both better and worse. Now he's in the Baltimore organization, having been traded for reliever Tommy Hunter. We here at the Beachwood loved Junior Lake; he provided multiple moments of happiness and made our lives better because of it. Let's take a look.

1. Rookie Year Highlights.


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2. From the Cub Factor vault, June 16, 2013:

Wishing Upon A Starlin: Starlin Castro lost another two points on his batting average this week and six points on his OBP, which puts his slash line at .241/.277/.337. His career average is now .290 with a .329 OBP. On Sunday he committed his 10th error of the season.

Junior Lake's slash line in Iowa: .383/.434/.489.

It's time.

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3. Junior Lake Not Sure If He Hit A Home Run.

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4. Junior Lake Makes Bang-Up Debut.

On a day Matt Garza owned the Cubs' headlines and Jeff Samardzija owned the Colorado Rockies, the major-league debut of Junior Lake might have been the most important on-the-field event for the Cubs so far this season.

"Since I've been here, that's our first kid that's come up and really looked like a major-leaguer," second-year manager Dale Sveum said, "and was aggressive, aggressive on the bases. He did a great job."

In the most impressive debut for a Cubs rookie since Starlin Castro more than three years ago, Lake doubled inside the bag at third on the first pitch he saw, stole third on the next pitch and added two singles in a 3-for-4 night that included his regular-season professional debut in center field as the Cubs defeated the Rockies 3-1 on Friday.

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5. Junior Lake Slides Into Outfield Door.

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6. From the Cub Factor vault, July 22, 2013:

The Legend of Dioner Navarro: On Sunday, Navarro struck out in a pinch-hit appearance, leaving a runner on and disappointing his legion of followers. On Monday, he not only hit a home run but got plunked in his next at-bat. Dioner!

More importantly, last week we said Dioner was the only fun guy on this team. Now we can add Junior Lake to what is now a list.

Lake and Navarro - sounds like a prog rock folk art band that will sometimes tour with Neil Young as Lake, Navarro and Young. In another guise, they will play as Crosby, Stills, Lake and Navarro.

Mad Merch: Have you gotten your The Junior Lake Effect t-shirt yet? Sounds like an jam-oriented pyschedelic rock outfit with acid guitars and gospel-prog blues keyboards. And yes, they do Hendrix covers.

Deserted Cubs: Sadly, Tony Campana is still in Reno (.289/.352) so he can't steal home against the Cubs this week.

We miss Tony, too.

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7. Junior Lake Breaks Bat Over His Knee.

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8. From the Cub Factor vault, July 28, 2013:

Week in Review: The Cubs split a four-game series in Arizona and then swept the Giants in San Francisco. Can anyone truly say it's not The Junior Lake Effect?

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9. Junior Lake Wears Wrong Uniform.

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10. From the Cub Factor vault, May 10, 2014:

The Junior Lake Show: Homered, doubled twice and drove in six runs against the Cardinals. Also committed a bone-headed error. Yes! That's why we love him here; he keeps both teams in the game.

He's on pace to hit 17 HRs and drive in 50 - a pace dictated by his limited playing time. Free Junior Lake!

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11. Junior Lake Shushes Marlins Dugout.

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12. From the Cub Factor vault, May 19, 2014:

The Junior Lake Show: All Junior did was get on base in all six games last week, including a 3-for-6 performance with one HR and six RBI against the Cardinals and a pinch-hit walk against the Brewers. All told: 8-for-21 with 2 HRs and eight RBI.

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13. And then it went something like this . . .

Jul 7, 2014 ... The Junior Lake Show: Who?

Jul 14, 2014 ... Junior Lake: Seeking advice from Senior Lake.

Jul 20, 2014 ... The Junior Lake Show: Soon appearing in Des Moines.

Jul 28, 2014 ... The Junior Lake Show: Drowned in a sea of Cub.

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14. Awesome Junior Lake Bat Flip.

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15. Junior Lake hitting .333 in three games with a .500 OBP for the Orioles' Triple-A affiliate in Norfolk. He has three walks and a stolen base.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:24 AM | Permalink

August 5, 2015

The [Wednesday] Papers

"Spending nearly $60 million for land and construction of a new two-rink ice center on the Near West Side will help the Chicago Blackhawks bolster participation and interest in hockey citywide," Danny Ecker reports for Crain's.

"But the new 125,000-square-foot facility also stands to become the next big moneymaker for team owner Rocky Wirtz's expanding empire."

You mean it's not all about the children?

"Aside from renting the place out to what Wirtz believes is pent up demand for ice time among recreational hockey leagues, the new 'Chicago Blackhawks Community Training Center' will become a massive new marketing vehicle.

"A Wirtz spokesman said that there have been no discussions about naming rights for the facility, but industry experts say the right to put a corporate name on the building could be worth in the neighborhood of $1.5 million to $2 million per year."

So when the city discounted the sale price of land due to the project's "community benefits," the city meant the community of the Wirtz family.

"Naming rights for the ice center might be worth $2 million if it were purchased independent of a broader sponsorship deal with the team, said Tony Schiller, president of Skokie-based sponsorship consultant Paragon Marketing. But being tied to the Blackhawks could push it even higher in value, he said."

So in four years, max, the team will be able to pay back taxpayers for the cost of demolishing Malcolm X College for them! With interest!

*

"In addition to owning half of the United Center, Wirtz also helps drives revenue to his beverage distribution business through the team's official bar program and spun off the team's video production department into a separate business, Banner Collective, which now does corporate video production and provides all video and graphics for the new video boards at Wrigley Field."

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Previously:
* Rocky Wirtz Should Be Ashamed Of Himself.

* Rocky Nudges, Rahm Winks.

* Blackhawks Net $10 Million From City.

Rubber Stamp School Board
"When the Chicago Board of Education unanimously approved a $20.5 million, no-bid contract with the former CEO's previous employer that's now under federal investigation, the members were voting the way they typically do, a Chicago Sun-Times analysis shows."

Without dissent - and, let's face it, without real (public) debate.

I discuss this story further on The Beachwood Radio Hour #64: Break The Rules!

(Consult the Show Notes if you want to skip right to that segment.)

The Beachwood Radio Hour #64: Break The Rules!
Don't go to school. Plus: A Subway Story; Are Those Articles In Your Pocket Or Are You Just Happy To See Me?; Newspaper Stories: The Car Wash; Paid Influencer Opp!; Obama Caves On Human Trafficking; Pope Theo; Blackhawks Bullshit, and; Chicago's Opening Ceremonies.

Pension Pickup
"In exchange for securing more property tax money for pensions, Emanuel has expressed a desire for teachers to cover the full cost of their own pension contributions," the Tribune reports.

"For years, the city has picked up most of the 9 percent contribution required of teachers - meaning they end up sending 2 percent of their salaries toward pension contributions.

"I don't see a solution that does not involve the teachers paying the 9 percent, which is consistent with what teachers around the country and other public employees pay. In fact, most public employees pay more. At the Chicago Transit Authority, where I was previously at, the employees pay 11.5 to 12 percent. No one pays 2 percent," [schools chief Forrest] Claypool said.

"Jackson Potter, a CTU officer, said eliminating the pension pickup practice would amount to a pay cut and violate a longstanding agreement with teachers."

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Claypool may have a point - if a race to the bottom is a point - but I'd need to know more about the rest of the CTA's union contract to know; each union decides for itself where to give-and-take. In other words, maybe CTA workers (and other public employees) took a higher pension contribution in exchange for something else teachers weren't as interested in.

Or maybe teachers should get better benefits than many other public employees. After all, the governor is paying his favorite appointees salaries higher than the previous governor did because, well, he thinks they deserve it and it compares more favorably to the private sector. (In other words, maybe great teachers are hard to find.)

At the same time, maybe this is an area where teachers will have to budge. I don't know without more information - and I'm not about to take Claypool's formulation for it.

*

Here's one (well-regarded) CPS principal's response:

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Our Lying, Politicized CPS
Local education reporters Sarah Karp (formerly of Catalyst now with the BGA), Becky Vevea (WBEZ) and Lauren FitzPatrick (Sun-Times) appeared at the Hideout on Tuesday night for the weekly panel show there hosted by the Reader's Ben Joravsky and Mick Dumke. Raise Your Hand was there, too:

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Fantasy Fix Draft Guide: Top QBs
Find Cutler!

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BeachBook
* Maria's Team Aims To Prevent 'Bro-Hole' From Replacing Club Foot.

* Chief Keef Quotable - Play Along.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Infinite.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:16 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix 2015 Football Draft Guide: QBs

In an increasingly pass-happy league, the depth chart for fantasy QBs looks deeper than ever.

1. Andrew Luck, IND.

In his prime, and an upgrade from a hobbled Reggie Wayne to a less hobbled Andre Johnson (and from a gaping hole at RB to reliable old Frank Gore) could push him over the 5,000 yard mark. If he cuts down on turnovers, could we expect a 50 TD season?

2. Aaron Rodgers, GB.

In his last three full seasons (2011, 2012, 2014), he has chalked up 122 pass TDs vs. 19 INTs. If you want efficiency, reliability and few mistakes from your QB, he's your No. 1 choice.

3. Russell Wilson, SEA.

Will the Seahawks unleash his passing game with huge target TE Jimmy Graham in town? If he throws for 4,000 yards, he'll probably run for less than last year's 849, but we'll be plenty happy with a 4,000/450 season, especially if he surpasses 30 total TDs.

4. Ben Roethlisberger, PIT.

Probably higher on him than most, but he has the best veteran WR in Antonio Brown, one of the best young WRs in Martavis Bryant, one of the best pass-catching RBs in LeVeon Bell, and one of the most reliable TEs in Heath Miller. 5,000 yards here we come.

5. Peyton Manning, DEN.

Tough call. He's proven the last few years he can defy age to be a top five passer, and he still has great targets. Rumors of a more balanced offense are somewhat concerning, but even with a slight decrease in yards and TDs, we're still looking at 4,500/35.

6. Drew Brees, NO.

Three of his top five receivers from last year are gone. But, the system is the thing here. It's why Brees threw for 5,000+ yards three years in a row, and only missed that mark by 48 yards last year.

7. Tony Romo, DAL.

Threw for barely 3,700 yards last year with the league's best workhorse RB on his team, but did manage 34 pass TDs, his most since 2007. DeMarco Murray is elsewhere now, which means the passing yard explosion we expected last year should finally arrive.

8. Eli Manning, NYG.

A great array of targets, including sudden star WR Odell Beckham, Jr., returning vet Victor Cruz and new pass-catching RB specialist Shane Vereen, should make the revival of the nearly forgotten Manning complete. Outside shot at 5,000 yards, 35 TDs.

9. Matt Ryan, ATL.

After an underwhelming 2013 season, he was better last year, fifth in pass yards with just under 4,700 yards and 28 TDs. He's got great targets always seems this/close to a 5,000 yard 40 TD season. But we're still waiting.

10. Tom Brady, NE.

The four-game suspension probably cost him one or two spots on my list, but I think he will play with a massive chip on his (non-throwing) shoulder. 4,100 pass yards and 33 TDs last year in 16 games will be hard to match in 12 games, but he'll get close.

11. Ryan Tannehill, MIA.

Up and coming, and I won't be surprised at all if he plays above this ranking. Has increased pass yards, TDs and rush yards, and could come close to 4,500 pass yards, 30 TDs if he cuts down from 12 INTs last year. Dash of running ability makes things interesting.

12. Cam Newton, CAR.

I'm lower on him than most even though I love dual-threat QBs. Pass yards, pass TDs, rush yards and rush TDs all have been down the last two seasons. Still, if he can get 3,300 yards/20 TDs in the air, 550 yards/six TDs on the ground, he's a borderline fantasy starter.

13. Philip Rivers, SD.

After a rebound season in 2013, he took a step back last year, tying Jay Cutler for the league lead in INTs with 18. His 31 TDs give him borderline starter consideration, but it feels like a stretch to expect more than that and last year's 4.200 or so passing yards.

14. Jay Cutler, CHI.

Could he reduce his 18 INTs, increase TDs from 28 to 30+ and put up 4,000+ yards in a system run by the guy who coached Peyton Manning in Denver? Maybe. Could he be benched by Week 6? Maybe. A backup with an outside shot as a lottery ticket.

15. Matthew Stafford, DET.

A big drop from top five fantasy starter to likely backup over the last few seasons. This 5,000 yard passer in 2011 tossed for just 4,257 last year, with just 22 TDs. Also had a career-low 12 INTs, but a more conservative system in DET has killed his fantasy value.

16. Colin Kaepernick, SF.

A less exciting version of Russell Wilson, his 3,300 or so passing yards came with a career-high 639 rush yards, but 19 pass TDs, 10 INTs and just one rush TD dulled his value last year, Still, he can turn into a fantasy stud of the week with the right matchup.

17. Teddy Bridgewater, MIN.

Managed a couple games of 300+ yards passing in his first year, and his 14 to 12 TDs to INTs ratio could be written off as typical rookie numbers. Having Adrian Peterson back in the backfield will take some pressure off. A fantasy starter in the making.

18. Carson Palmer, ARI.

12 TDs in six games before injury last year. Though his best years are long behind him, a talented group of pass-catchers all over the field make him a very safe back-up bet who can be a decent long-term fantasy starter if your No. 1 QB gets hurt.

19. Sam Bradford, PHI.

Some people will surely rank him higher as head of the fast-moving, productive PHI offense, and he was likely headed for a 30 TD season in 2013 before injury, so the talent is there. Hard to say exactly how good PHI will be, but an interesting draft gamble.

20. Joe Flacco, BAL.

3,986 passing yards and 27 TDs last year were somehow both career highs (although nine of those TDs came in just two game). Always a pretty boring fantasy option, but like Palmer, a solid back-up when the occasion arises.

Sleeper: Jameis Winston, TAM.

Not expecting much here, and the Bucs are not likely to turn to a pass-heavy attack, but they do have great WRs in Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson, a good young TE, and an upgraded O-line. Plus, Lovie Smith already named him starter - what could possibly go wrong?

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Previously:
* Your 2015 NFL Top 20!

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Fantasy Baseball Update
Get Spanky, if you haven't already - and particularly if you lose the runs scored category every week. Adam Eaton, OF, White Sox, leads all of MLB in the last 30 or so days with 24 runs scored. Yes, he'll probably only deliver when the Sox are winning, and they appear to be on another down-swing in the last few games, but he's also managed a 1.030 OPS over the last month and five of his 10 SBs this season have come in the same stretch. He's still available in about 36% of Yahoo! leagues.

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Dan O'Shea is our man in fantasyland. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:20 AM | Permalink

August 4, 2015

The Beachwood Radio Hour #64: Break The Rules!

Don't go to school. Plus: A Subway Story; Are Those Articles In Your Pocket Or Are You Just Happy To See Me?; Newspaper Stories: The Car Wash; Paid Influencer Opp!; Obama Caves On Human Trafficking; Pope Theo; Blackhawks Bullshit, and; Chicago's Opening Ceremonies.


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SHOW NOTES

* Strawberry Rock Show.

1:07: Charli XCX at Lollapalooza on Saturday.

* And at Lincoln Hall on Friday night.

6:14: A Subway Story.

* Cookie container.

* What Would You Do?

11:52: Florence + the Machine at Lollapalooza on Sunday night.

15:05: In My Pocket.

* After 27 Years, Reporter Who Exposed ECHELON Finds Vindication in Snowden Archive.

* NSA: "Yes, There Is An ECHELON System."

* Unanimous SUPES Vote Typical For Board Of Ed, Analysis Shows.

* The Yes Men.

27:07: Tove Lo at the Concord for a Lollapalooza after-party on Thursday night.

28:30: Newspaper Stories: The Car Wash.

35:37: Twenty One Pilots at Lollapalooza on Sunday.

37:24: Paid Influencer Opp: The Flaming Lips, Patti LaBelle, Kings of Leon + Josh Groban To Appear On New Ovation Show.

* Great executions!

41:00: Special Report: State Department Watered Down Human Trafficking Report.

44:56: Pope Theo.

* Cubs mailbag.

55:57: Metallica at Lollapalooza on Saturday night.

56:17: Borns at House of Blues for a Lollapalooza after-party on Friday night.

58:00: Blackhawks Bullshit.

* Rocky Wirtz Should Be Ashamed Of Himself.

* Rocky Nudges, Rahm Winks.

* Blackhawks Net $10 Million From City.

58:38: From The Beachwood Vault: Chicago's Opening Ceremonies.

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STOPPAGE: 3:14

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For archives and other Beachwood shows, see The Beachwood Radio Network.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:37 PM | Permalink

The [Tuesday] Papers

"The city of Chicago expects to net about $16 million from the sale of the Malcolm X College site to the Blackhawks and Rush University after paying roughly $8 million to tear down the building, Mayor Rahm Emanuel's administration said Monday," the Tribune reports.

Well, if that's what they say . . .

"The details of the deal came four days after the mayor said the Near West Side parcel would be developed into a Blackhawks practice center and a Rush University expansion. At the time, Emanuel would not provide specifics of the deal's finances, saying only that the buyers would be 'paying market rate.'

"The hockey franchise and Rush will pay $50 per square foot for the 11-acre parcel - slightly below the $55 rate that the city's appraiser determined the land is worth, Emanuel spokeswoman Elizabeth Langsdorf said."

So not market rate, but $2,395,800 below market rate.

"[Langsdorf] declined to provide a copy of the appraisal, saying the Tribune would need to file an open records request to obtain that information."

Oh, for fuck's sake!

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"The lower rate is the result of a 'community benefits' package offered by the team and university, Langsdorf said. The Emanuel administration, however, has declined to say what those benefits entail and how the value of them was determined, other than to say they will be worth more than $2.4 million. Langsdorf said the Blackhawks and Rush are handling such calculations, and did not respond when asked whether the city will do its own analysis."

Oh, for fuck's sake!

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Pro tip to the Blackhawks/Rush: Ask for free Wi-Fi.

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"On 4 acres of the parcel, Blackhawks Chairman Rocky Wirtz said the team would build what he called the Chicago Blackhawks Community Center. The building would cost the team $50 million."

That may be the cost, but the city is providing the Blackhawks with an opportunity to make a tidy profit. Earlier from Crain's:

"For the Blackhawks, the new facility stands to be a moneymaker through rentals to youth and other hockey leagues. The team also stands to get a financial windfall from selling naming rights to the new building. Their fellow United Center tenant, the Chicago Bulls, opened a new practice facility east of the arena last year after selling naming rights to the building to Advocate Health Care for an estimated $1 million per year."

This is not a charitable endeavor.

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"Cash-strapped Chicago will net $16.3 million from the deal that will bring a Blackhawks practice facility and new academic buildings for Rush University Medical Center to the site of the soon-to-be-demolished Malcolm X College," Fran "Steno" Spielman "reports" for the Sun-Times.

Okay, let us pause here to note that both papers used the $16 million net figure in their headlines, which is misleading, as we shall see, and both led with the official claim by the city, which is standard newspaper convention, even though, as we saw in the Tribune article, the claim doesn't contextually stand up to scrutiny.

Of course the city will net a relatively large figure for the sale of the land - it's selling an 11-acre parcel! It will naturally "net" millions. The question is whether the city is netting all the millions it should or whether it's made a sweetheart deal.

In addition, both papers seem to forget that the city is destroying the old Malcolm X College - and it's a perfectly reusable building that another buyer might have preserved, saving the taxpayers $8 million in demolition costs, because we're gifting that to the Blackhawks - and spending $251 million to build a new one. I'm not saying that's wrong; I'm saying that all the figures need to be taken into account when figuring out the "nets" and "grosses" instead of just amplifying the mayor's spin.

Note, for example, how Spielman begins her story with "Cash-strapped Chicago" to make it seem like Rahm Emanuel is bringing a desperate city much-needed relief. An alternate lead might look like this:

"City officials dribbled out a few more details of the new Blackhawks practice facility project on Monday, but also remained secretive about how the latest financial figures were determined."

Instead, we get what we got, followed by this:

"After playing it cagey for days, Mayor Rahm Emanuel's administration finally came clean with the fine print of an agreement that, City Hall insists, is a good deal for Chicago taxpayers and a boon for the Near West Side."

First, it doesn't appear the administration "came clean" at all, or else it wouldn't have advised the Tribune to file a FOIA for a document clearly in its possession (unless non-existent).

Second, if this is such a good deal for Chicago taxpayers, why has the mayor played it "cagey" for days?

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"Together, the team and the hospital will pay $26.7 million for the 11-acre site at 1900 W. Van Buren, including 4 acres for the Hawks and 7 acres for Rush.

"But only $24.3 million of that money will be paid in cash. The rest will be a credit for 'community benefits' provided by both parties."

And how was that credit determined? Quod tibi necesse erit FOIA - you'll have to FOIA that!

Of course, if the Blackhawks and Rush determined that for themselves (!), you can't really FOIA them.

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"City Hall also put an $8 million price tag on the city's cost to demolish the old Malcolm X and prepare the site for construction. That leaves Chicago taxpayers with a bottom line of $16.3 million from the deal.

"Mayoral spokeswoman Elizabeth Langsdorf said the $26.7 million price tag matches the value placed on the 486,526 square feet of land by the city's third-party appraiser.

"But the appraiser's price of $55 per square foot was for a 'clean site' after demolition. The Hawks and Rush will end up paying $50 per square foot after the city's demolition and site preparation costs are deducted.

"It was not known how the city arrived at the $2.5 million value placed on 'community benefits.'"

That says to me the city left $10.5 million on the table - or about .02 percent of Rocky Wirtz's net worth.

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"The Hawks' contribution to that figure stems from the practice facility having two ice rinks instead of one.

"That'll be enough to accommodate the explosion of youth hockey in Chicago triggered by the Hawks' three Stanley Cup championships in the last six seasons and still allow Blackhawks Charities to oversee year-round programs and clinics for underprivileged youths."

Oh, please. The Blackhawks are going to profit from that extra rink, as shown.

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"Chicago needs every dollar it can get to solve the $30 billion pension crisis that has dropped the city's bond rating to junk status.

"That's apparently why Emanuel was so skittish about revealing the fine print of the Malcolm X deal."

Huh? If this was a good deal for taxpayers, why would he be skittish about revealing the fine print? Because Chicago needs every dollar it can get and didn't get it?

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"Chicagoans will now have to make their own judgment on whether the mayor is following through on the promise he made last week.

"There is no public support, financial support for this endeavor. They'll be paying market rate for the facility. Our job as a city will to obviously make the land available, which means taking down the old Malcolm X," Emanuel said then.

"The net result will be resources that will come back to the city . . . When you're done with demolition of the facility, with them paying market rate, there'll be additional resources for the city . . . It'll be a net gain for the city from a financial standpoint - not even counting what they're gonna be doing in the sense of community work."

Nooooooo! It's not up to Chicagoans to "make their own judgement* on whether the mayor is following through on the promise" - it's your job to determine that and tell us! But clearly, even Spielman has her doubts.

* I insist on spelling "judgement" this way and I'll explain why some other time.

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"It appears City Hall is getting a good deal for the site of the old Malcolm X College, which it's selling to the Chicago Blackhawks, for a training facility and youth hockey center, and Rush University Medical Center, for an expansion of its West Side campus," Greg Hinz, a Rahm voter and supporter, writes for Crain's.

Appearances can be deceiving! That's why we're in the business we're in.

"For some reason officials were a little shy about releasing numbers in the original announcement, saying only that the land was being sold for its appraised value and that the city would pay the cost of demolition and land clearance for the 11-acre project."

For some reason!

"Spokesmen for the team and medical center confirm the figures and suggest that, if anything, the price is a high one."

Even though it's less than the appraised value.

More important, so does an outside party with no interest in the matter: Eric Feinberg, senior vice president and Chicago co-head of Savills Studley, a real estate firm that has been involved in multiple transactions in the West Side Medical District area in recent years.

"I think it's a very good deal for the city," Feinberg told me. "This is not a sweetheart deal by any means."

More important, look at what Eric Feinberg thinks! The one guy who got a call for some reason who has no interest in the matter - besides his numerous business and civic involvements with the city!

Feinberg also contributed $500 to Chicago for Rahm in 2011, which isn't a lot of money but hints at a general political predisposition.

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"According to Langsdorf, the total price - cash and the in-kind services - matches the value placed on the land by the city's appraiser, Kelly Appraisal Consultants. Kelly is one of the precertified firms the city uses for such work and was the low-bidder on this project, she said."

I thought it was less than the appraised value - which we have to FOIA to see. Or we could just go by Langsdorf.

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Also, just FYI: Kelly Appraisals campaign contribution history.

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"Demolition and land preparation will eat up about $8 million of the city's sale price, Langsdorf said. Such costs sometimes are paid by the buyer, sometimes by the seller."

Of course. And in this case, there's no reason why that cost should accrue to the city. Another buyer might have wanted to use the building - it didn't have to be demolished to make the land sellable.

"A Blackhawks spokesman said the team's community benefit will come first from providing a second ice rink in the facility, not just one for the Hawks and visiting professional teams. The second sheet will cost about $20 million. Beyond that, the team routinely, through Chicago Blackhawks Charities, will make the facility and equipment available at no charge to area youth groups that cannot afford to pay costs."

That's nice, but let's not be mistaken: the Blackhawks are not planning to operate that second rink at a loss.

"Rush spokesman John Pontarelli said its community benefits will be detailed later."

Once the PR people figure out what they are.

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Here's the best headline on the story, by the way: "Chicago To Internet $16 Million For Malcolm X Website."

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Do you even Internet?

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The lead:

"Metropolis expects to internet about $16 million from the sale of the Malcolm X School website to the Blackhawks and Rush College."

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Previously:
* Rocky Wirtz Should Be Ashamed Of Himself.

* Rocky Nudges, Rahm Winks.

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Special Report: Obama Caves On Human Trafficking
"In the weeks leading up to a critical annual U.S. report on human trafficking that publicly shames the world's worst offenders, human rights experts at the State Department concluded that trafficking conditions hadn't improved in Malaysia and Cuba. And in China, they found, things had grown worse. The State Department's senior political staff saw it differently - and they prevailed."

Because trade.

The Cub Factor: Pope Theo
Theo Epstein is a smart guy who's done a lot of smart things. He's also pulled some real boners. But we're not allowed to talk about that.

8-Paneled Bifold Manufactured For Home Run Inn
Unfolding Opportunities.

The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Charli XCX, Florence + The Machine, Tove Lo, Twenty One Pilots, Metallica, Travi$ Scott, Delta Spirit, Borns, Brand New, Twin Peaks, Logic, Elle King, Young Thug, Paul McCartney, Halsey, Floetry, Marina and the Diamonds, Angus and Julia Stone, Gogol Bordello, Of Monsters and Men, Moon Taxi, NGHTMRE, Ryn Weaver, Coasts, TV On The Radio, Sturgill Simpson, Bassnectar, A$AP Rocky, Pentatonix, The Ike Reilly Assassination, David Duchovny, Walk The Moon, Max Plankton, Brandi Carlile, 5 Seconds of Summer, and Kelly Clarkson.

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BeachBook
* 7 Ways Switzerland Ruined America For Me.

* New USPS Program Lets You See Your Junk Mail Before You Get It.

But not before the U.S. government takes a peek.

* Air Force Issues Guidance On "Media Operations."

As a rule, U.S. Air Force personnel should not employ physical violence against news reporters who disobey their instructions.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Fare the well-ish.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:22 AM | Permalink

August 3, 2015

Pope Theo

Thank God for Russ in Los Angeles!

Russ wrote to the Tribune's Mark Gonzales for his mailbag feature and asked:

I watched the All-Star lineup introductions, and who is the National League starting second baseman but DJ LeMahieu. I looked up who the Cubs got when he was traded in 2011: Casey Weathers and Ian Stewart. What a horrible trade - who is responsible for that?

Maybe because Russ is in Los Angeles, he doesn't know you aren't allowed to question Theo Epstein. Every word he utters is the gospel - the Theospel. And he's infallible!

Look, Theo is a smart guy. And no major league GM/President is going to bat 1.000. If you're just above .500, you're a genius. Every GM will make a bad trade, a bad free-agent signing, a bad draft pick. We're just saying we should be allowed to discuss Theo's (long list of) mistakes without getting crucified by local sports-hack fanboys who so dearly want him to like them - maybe even pass them a mash note in the cafeteria.

At least Gonzales, in this case, gave a relatively decent (though flawed) answer:

"That would be this current administration. I think this group has done a terrific job, but they have committed their share of mistakes. One of the local unpaid advisers recently praised the under-25 talent they gathered in Boston and with the Cubs through multiple acquisitions. But he failed to point out several of the financial mistakes that include Edwin Jackson and Daisuke Matsuzaka."

(Does Gonzalez mean a local member of the media when he references an unpaid adviser? Name names! That's your job. And provide a link.)

But Gonzales really gives Theo a break with that answer. First, to the question at hand: Yes, DJ LaMahieu is an All-Star. And, yes, the Rockies got him from the Cubs for Ian Stewart and Casey Weathers. And then Theo brought Stewart back for a second go-around after he battled through a fucked-up wrist - with the same miserable results. Just let him own it!

LaMahieu is coming into his own at age 27, hitting .326 with a .384 OBP. His fielding percentage is third in the NL, as it was last year when he won a Gold Glove.

There have been other mistakes, too - we won't list them all here. But this also came out of Gonzales' mailbag:

"Some people are having a fit over what will become of Miguel Montero and the remaining 2 1/2 years and $32 million left on his contract. It's not my money, but I have no problem with the move because relying on Welington Castillo would have been too much of a risk for a team that intended to contend before the start of the season, and Montero has given the Cubs more offense than his .230 batting average suggest.

"Some Cubs fans in Arizona already were griping about giving up Zac Godley as part of the trade to acquire Montero. But Godley has made only one - albeit impressive - start for the Diamondbacks. I would say that the Diamondbacks scouts who recommended Godley did their homework, but he's pitched in only one major league game."

Just FYI, Castillo, who is 28, is hitting .293 with a .379 OBP for the Diamondbacks.

Godley, 25, is actually now 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA.

Oh, and just to make matters worse:

"The Cubs have designated pitcher Yoervis Medina for assignment, according to the MLB.com transactions page. Medina, who turned 27 last week, came to the Cubs in the May deal sending Welington Castillo to the Mariners.

"The right-hander has tossed a combined 21 innings for the Cubs and Mariners this season, adding up to a 4.71 ERA with 6.9 K/9 and 4.7 BB/9 in a small sample size. In 20 Triple-A appearances, the hurler has posted a skyhigh 7.03 ERA with 9.2 K/9 and 4.8 BB/9. Medina struggled in Triple-A Iowa and, at this time, doesn't seem like a candidate to receive tremendous outside interest."

Oops.

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Now the Cubs are reportedly interested in acquiring Chase Utley.

"An Utley acquisition would provide depth to existing middle infielders like Starlin Castro, Addison Russell, and Javier Baez."

This pierces another Cubbie myth - that they are knee-deep in middle infielders. Not so. Castro is a mystery; Russell is still a prospect with good potential but who cannot yet hit in the major leagues; Baez is back to mashing in AAA, but we've seen that movie before. Do the Cubs have even one decent major-league middle infielder right now? No.

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Here's Peak Theo:

"We certainly were very aggressive in my mind packaging our prospects, especially for controllable, impact, major-league talent," Epstein said, "including deals both in volume and impact - volume in big numbers of impactful prospects going the other direction.

"The two main players we focused on late ended up not getting moved. There's only so much you can do about that. We'll definitely live to fight another day."

I don't know what that last sentence mean - every team lives to fight another day, or something. But if Theo is to be believed - and I'm skeptical, though I suspect he's talking about going after Padres pitchers Tyson Ross and Ian Kennedy - put that in the FAIL column too (although, to be fair, no one was able to make a deal with San Diego GM A.J. Preller).

Which prospects was Theo packaging? Probably Baez and Arismendy Alcantara, for starters, showing that sometimes Theo is like every other meathead fan who thinks you can wrap your garbage up with a bow and find a taker.

But here's the real Theo reveal:

"I don't think finances played a big part of what we were able to do or weren't able to do," he said. "You see some teams out there that were just absolutely leveraging their massive resources, taking on bad contracts left and right in order to acquire young players. In their situation it's smart and creative. But every team has to find what's appropriate for their situation."

You don't think finances played a role?

Let's let Theo clear the situation up himself:

"He said it's not out of the question the Cubs could add a hitter during the waiver period in August, but the payroll is close to tapped at this point. They had just under $5 million of payroll left before the moves, according to sources."

The Ricketts' were just named by the New York Times as one of the 400 families in America funding our political system.

The payroll for their baseball team should never be tapped.

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The Week in Review: The Cubs rebounded from getting swept by the Phillies to take two of three from the Rockies before sweeping the Brewers and putting together a five-game winning streak going into Monday night's series opener against the Pirates. The Cubs also neither won nor lost the Trade Deadline, they just kind of . . . stood pattish, Dan Haren and Tommy Hunter notwithstanding.

The Week In Preview: Big Boy Series in Pittsburgh and Big Boy Series against the Giants at Wrigley this week. Theoretically, we should know in seven days just what kind of club we have here. Realistically, they'll probably win three or four out of seven and basically tread water.

Left Field Report: The Cubs now have a three-headed left-field monster we will call Conorfber. In the last week, Chris Coghlan got three starts in left, going 3-for-12 with 5 LOB and being replaced once by Chris Denorfia; Chris Denorfia got two starts in left, going 2-for-8 with 6 LOB; and Chris, I mean, Kyle Schwarber got two starts in left, going 2-for-7 with 4 LOB and being replaced twice by Chris Denorfia. It's all so Coghlanesque.

In former left fielder news, we miss Junior Lake below.

Also, in former second basemen news, the Marlins have released Jeff Baker. Bake is missed.

Mad(don) Scientist Hey, everything is great, man. Don't the pressure of the moment exceed the pleasure. I'm just gonna take my bike ride and plot the kidnapping of Starlin Castro and invent a new position for Kyle Schwarber. I think I'll call it catch baseman. Rock 'n' roll.

Wishing Upon A Starlin: The Cubs reportedly tried so hard to give Starlin Castro away before the trade deadline that they started packaging him with Ernie Banks' estate and the ghost of Harry Caray. Maybe just have Robin talk to him.

Lake Effect: Theo & Co. sure never thought much of Junior Lake, whom they gave to the Orioles at the trade deadline for reliever Tommy Hunter. The Orioles were eager to get whatever they could for Hunter, a pending free agent occupying a spot in the bullpen for which they had other plans. Lake has been one of The Cub Factor's all-time favorites; he truly gave us moments of happiness." Lake burst onto the scene in 2013, batting .284 with 16 doubles, six home runs and 16 RBIs in 64 games," Reuters notes, "but he fell off considerably the next season, hitting just .211 with nine homers and 25 RBIs in 108 games." Lake was electric in those first couple of weeks, proving Theo right when he said "he can do some things on the baseball field that make you drop your jaw." He meant that for better and worse. My favorite was his habit of following a home run with bunting in his next at-bat.

And this:

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Kubs Kalender: The first 5,000 children 13 and under through the gates on Sunday will get a "Construction Clark" plush bear. There are a couple different ways I could go with that, and none of them are pretty.

Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Shares of Starlin Castro have been downgraded to Leon Brinkopf.

Over/Under: The number of left fielders who will get starts the rest of the season: +/- 4.

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that there are several likely ways the Cubs will lose its wild-card play-in game, none of them pretty.

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* The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour: Post-Trade Deadline Edition.

Including: The Starlin Castro Saga; Len Kasper, Company Man; Bill Veeck, TV Bartender.

* Touch 'em all: The Cub Factor archives.

* Know thy enemy: The White Sox Reports.

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Marty Gangler is usually our man on the Cub. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:30 PM | Permalink

Special Report: State Department Watered Down Human Trafficking Report

In the weeks leading up to a critical annual U.S. report on human trafficking that publicly shames the world's worst offenders, human rights experts at the State Department concluded that trafficking conditions hadn't improved in Malaysia and Cuba. And in China, they found, things had grown worse.

The State Department's senior political staff saw it differently - and they prevailed.

A Reuters examination, based on interviews with more than a dozen sources in Washington and foreign capitals, shows that the government office set up to independently grade global efforts to fight human trafficking was repeatedly overruled by senior American diplomats and pressured into inflating assessments of 14 strategically important countries in this year's Trafficking in Persons report.

In all, analysts in the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons - or J/TIP, as it's known within the U.S. government - disagreed with U.S. diplomatic bureaus on ratings for 17 countries, the sources said.

2015-08-03T192533Z_2_LYNXNPEB720WL_RTROPTP_4_USA-HUMANTRAFFICKING-DISPUTES.JPG

The analysts, who are specialists in assessing efforts to combat modern slavery - such as the illegal trade in humans for forced labor or prostitution - won only three of those disputes, the worst ratio in the 15-year history of the unit, according to the sources.

As a result, not only Malaysia, Cuba and China, but countries such as India, Uzbekistan and Mexico, wound up with better grades than the State Department's human-rights experts wanted to give them, the sources said.

ReutersTraffickGraph.JPG

Of the three disputes J/TIP won, the most prominent was Thailand, which has faced scrutiny over forced labor at sea and the trafficking of Rohingya Muslims through its southern jungles. Diplomats had sought to upgrade it to so-called "Tier 2 Watch List" status. It remains on "Tier 3" - the rating for countries with the worst human-trafficking records.

The number of rejected recommendations suggests a degree of intervention not previously known by diplomats in a report that can lead to sanctions and is the basis for many countries' anti-trafficking policies. This year, local embassies and other constituencies within the department were able to block some of the toughest grades.

State Department officials say the ratings are not politicized. "As is always the case, final decisions are reached only after rigorous analysis and discussion between the TIP office, relevant regional bureaus and senior State Department leaders," State Department spokesman John Kirby said in response to queries by Reuters.

2015-08-03T192533Z_2_LYNXNPEB720WM_RTROPTP_4_USA-HUMANTRAFFICKING-DISPUTES.JPGStill, by the time the report was released on July 27, Malaysia and Cuba were both removed from the "Tier 3" blacklist, even though the State Department's own trafficking experts believed neither had made notable improvements, according to the sources.

The Malaysian upgrade, which was highly criticized by human rights groups, could smooth the way for an ambitious proposed U.S.-led free-trade deal with the Southeast Asian nation and 11 other countries.

Ending Communist-ruled Cuba's 12 years on the report's blacklist came as the two nations reopened embassies on each other's soil following their historic detente over the past eight months.

And for China, the experts' recommendation to downgrade it to the worst ranking, Tier 3, was overruled despite the report's conclusion that Beijing did not undertake increased anti-trafficking efforts.

That would have put China alongside the likes of Syria and North Korea, regarded by the United Nations as among the world's worst human right abusers.

Typically, J/TIP wins more than half of what officials call "disputes" with diplomatic sections of the State Department, according to people familiar with the process.

"Certainly we have never seen that kind of an outcome," said one U.S. official with direct knowledge of the department.

ABILITY TO EMBARRASS

The Trafficking in Persons report, which evaluated 188 countries and territories this year, calls itself the world's most comprehensive resource of governmental anti-human trafficking efforts. Rights groups mostly agree.

It organizes countries into tiers based on trafficking records: Tier 1 for nations that meet minimum U.S. standards; Tier 2 for those making significant efforts to meet those standards; Tier 2 "Watch List" for those that deserve special scrutiny; and Tier 3 for countries that fail to comply with the minimum U.S. standards and are not making significant efforts.

While a Tier 3 ranking can trigger sanctions limiting access to aid from the United States, the International Monetary Fund or the World Bank, such action is frequently waived.

The real power is its ability to embarrass countries into action. Many countries aggressively lobby U.S. embassies to try to avoid sliding into the Tier 3 category. Four straight years on the Tier 2 Watch List triggers an automatic downgrade to Tier 3 unless a country earns a waiver or an upgrade.

The leverage has brought some success, including pressuring Switzerland to close loopholes that allowed the prostitution of minors and prompting the Dominican Republic to convict more child trafficking offenders.

President Barack Obama has called the fight against human trafficking "one of the great human rights causes of our time" and has pledged the United States "will continue to lead it."

But the office set up in 2001 by a congressional mandate to spearhead that effort is increasingly struggling to publish independent assessments of the most diplomatically important countries, the sources said.

The rejection of so many recommendations could strengthen calls by some lawmakers to investigate how the report is compiled. After Reuters on July 8 reported on the plans to upgrade Malaysia, 160 members of the U.S. House and 18 U.S. senators wrote to Secretary of State John Kerry urging him to keep Malaysia in Tier 3, based on its trafficking record. They questioned whether the upgrade was politically motivated.

Senator Robert Menendez, a Democrat, has threatened to call for a Senate hearing and an inspector general to investigate if top State Department officials removed Malaysia from the lowest tier for political reasons.

2015-08-03T192533Z_2_LYNXNPEB720WN_RTROPTP_4_USA-HUMANTRAFFICKING-DISPUTES.JPGThe final decision on disputed rankings this year was made in meetings attended by some of the State Department's most powerful diplomats, including Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman and Kerry's Chief of Staff, Jonathan Finer, according to the sources.

Sarah Sewall, who oversees J/TIP as Undersecretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights, presented the experts' recommendations, the sources said. The State Department declined to make any of those officials available for comment.

"NO, NO, NO"

The unprecedented degree of discord over this trafficking report began to become clear after Reuters early last month revealed plans to upgrade Malaysia from the lowest Tier 3 rank to Tier 2 Watch List.

The improved ranking came in a year in which Malaysian authorities discovered dozens of suspected mass migrant graves and human rights groups reported continued forced labor in the nation's lucrative palm oil, construction and electronics industries. As recently as April, the U.S. ambassador to Malaysia, Joseph Yun, urged the country to take prosecution of human trafficking violations more seriously.

U.S. officials have denied that political considerations influenced Malaysia's rankings.

"No, no, no," said Sewall, when asked by reporters last Monday whether Malaysia was upgraded to facilitate trade negotiations. She said the decision was based on how Malaysia was dealing with trafficking.

Representative Chris Smith, a New Jersey Republican who authored a 2000 law that led to the creation of J/TIP, said in an interview that the office's authority is being undermined by the president's agenda. "It's so politicized," he said.

If Malaysia had remained on Tier 3, it would have posed a potential barrier to Obama's proposed trade pact, the Trans-Pacific Partnership. That deal is a crucial part of his pivot to Asia policy. Congress approved legislation in June giving Obama expanded trade negotiating powers but prohibiting deals with Tier 3 countries such as, at that time, Malaysia.

Congressional sources and current and former State Department officials said experts in the J/TIP office had recommended keeping Malaysia on Tier 3, highlighting a drop in human-trafficking convictions in the country to three last year from nine in 2013. They said, according to the sources, that some of Malaysia's efforts to end forced labor amounted to promises rather than action.

The analysts also clashed over Cuba's record with the State Department's Western Hemisphere Affairs Bureau, whose view took precedence in the final report.

Human rights groups and people with knowledge of the negotiations over the rankings said an unearned upgrade for Cuba, especially at a time of intense attention due to the historic diplomatic thaw between Washington and Havana, could undermine the integrity of the report.

Cuba had been on the "border line" for an upgrade in recent years, a former State Department official said. And although Cuba ended up with an upgrade, the final report remained highly critical, citing concerns about Cuba's failure to deal with a degree of alleged forced labor in medical missions that Havana sends to developing countries.

China was another source of friction. J/TIP's analysts called for downgrading China, the world's second-biggest economy, to Tier 3, criticizing Beijing for failing to follow through on a promise to abolish its "re-education through labor" system and to adequately protect trafficking victims from neighboring countries such as North Korea. The final report put China on Tier 2 Watch List.

SHOWING DEFERENCE

But the candor of J/TIP can run afoul of other important diplomatic priorities, particularly in countries beset by instability or corruption where U.S. diplomats are trying to build relationships. That leads every year to sometimes contentious back-and-forth over the rankings with far-flung embassies and regional bureaus - the diplomatic centers of gravity at the State Department.

"There is supposed to be some deference to the expertise of the office," said Mark Lagon, J/TIP's ambassador-at-large from 2007 to 2009 and now president of Freedom House, an advocacy group in Washington. If the office is now losing more disputes over rankings than it is winning, that would be "an unfortunate thing," he said.

Most U.S. diplomats are reluctant to openly strike back at critics inside and outside of the administration who accuse them of letting politics trump human rights, the sources said.

But privately, some diplomats say that J/TIP staffers should avoid acting like "purists" and keep sight of broader U.S. interests, including maintaining open channels with authoritarian governments to push for reform and forging trade deals that could lift people out of poverty.

From the start, J/TIP has tried to be impartial. It is based in a building a few blocks away from State Department, adding to the sense of two separate identities and cultures.

But establishing genuine independence has been difficult. At first, the heads of regional bureaus, representing the business and political interests of U.S. embassies, would join the J/TIP team around a table and have almost an equal say in deciding country rankings in the final report.

John Miller, a former Republican congressman from Washington state named by President George W. Bush to head the bureau from 2002 to 2006, overhauled that structure.

"I said 'no way'," Miller said in an interview. By 2004, decisions on how to rank countries were made by his office. Diplomats who objected could appeal to then deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage. "He rarely overruled me," said Miller. Armitage, who is no longer in a government job, did not respond to a request for comment sent through his office.

Laura Lederer, who helped set the office up as senior human trafficking adviser from 2002 to 2007, said its job was "to assess and rate countries solely on their progress in addressing the prevention of trafficking, the prosecution of traffickers, and protection and assistance of victims."

But officials who worked in the office over the past 15 years acknowledge that countries with sensitive diplomatic or trade relationships with the United States sometimes received special treatment following pressure from local embassies and other constituencies within the department.

One such country is Mexico - a key trading partner whose cooperation is also needed against drug trafficking and illegal immigration. It was kept at Tier 2 despite the anti-trafficking unit's call for a worse grade, according to officials in Washington and Mexico City.

The controversy over this year's report comes at a time when J/TIP lacks a congressionally confirmed leader.

The prior chief, ambassador-at-Large Luis CdeBaca, left in November of last year. His deputy, Alison Friedman, then resigned to join a non-profit anti-slavery organization. And then it took until mid-July for Obama to nominate Georgia federal prosecutor Susan Coppedge as the next ambassador-at-large.

The lack of a director can increase the unit's exposure to political influence, said Lederer.

Some say the perceived hit to the integrity of the 2015 report could do lasting damage.

"It only takes one year of this kind of really deleterious political effect to kill its credibility," said Mark Taylor, a former senior coordinator for reports and political affairs at J/TIP from 2003 to 2013.

Additional reporting: Patricia Zengerle in Washington, Dave Graham in Mexico City, Michael Martina in Beijing, and Dan Trotta in Havana; Editing by Martin Howell.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:52 PM | Permalink

8-Panel Bifold Manufactured For Home Run Inn

"Prior to shipment, we assemble and test all bifolds in our facility. This is a test video of the bifolds we built for Home Run Inn in Chicago."


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See also:
* Chicago Bifold's YouTube Channel.

* ChicagoBifold.com.

Unfolding Opportunities.

* Home Run Inn Pizza.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:27 PM | Permalink

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Charli XCX at Lollapalooza on Saturday.

*

And at Lincoln Hall on Friday night.


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2. Florence + The Machine at Lollapalooza on Sunday night.

Erbentraut: Florence + The Machine Electrifies At Lolla.

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3. Tove Lo at the Concord for a Lollapalooza after-party on Thursday night.

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4. Twenty One Pilots at Lollapalooza on Sunday.

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5. Metallica at Lollapalooza on Saturday night.

Loudwire: Blistering Performance.

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6. Travi$ Scott at Lollapalooza on Saturday.

That's rock 'n' roll, baby!

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7. Delta Spirit at Subterranean for a Lollapalooza after-party on Friday night.

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8. Borns at the House of Blues for a Lollapalooza after-party on Friday night.

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9. Brand New at the House of Blues for a Lollapalooza after-party on Friday night.

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10. Twin Peaks at Lollapalooza on Sunday.

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11. Logic at Lollapalooza on Sunday night.

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12. Elle King at Lollapalooza on Saturday.

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13. Young Thug at Lollapalooza on Friday night.

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14. Halsey at Lollapalooza on Sunday night.

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15. Floetry at the Shrine on Wednesday night.

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16. Paul McCartney at Lollapalooza on Friday night.

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17. Marina and the Diamonds at Lollapalooza on Sunday.

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18. Angus and Julia Stone at Lollapalooza on Sunday.

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19. Gogol Bordello at Lollapalooza on Sunday night.

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20. Of Monsters and Men at Lollapalooza on Sunday night.

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21. Moon Taxi at Lollapalooza on Sunday.

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22. NGHTMRE at Lollapalooza on Sunday night.

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23. Ryn Weaver at Lollapalooza on Saturday.

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24. Coasts at Lollapalooza on Friday.

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25. TV On The Radio on Sunday night.

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26. Sturgill Simpson at the Metro for a Lollapalooza after-party on Friday night.

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27. Bassnectar at Lollapalooza on Sunday night.

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28. A$AP Rocky at Lollapalooza on Sunday night.

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29. Pentatonix in Rosemont on Saturday night.

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30. The Ike Reilly Assassination at the Abbey on Saturday night.

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31. David Duchovny at Joe's on Friday night.

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32. Walk The Moon at the Vic for a Lollapalooza after-show on Friday night.

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33. Max Plankton at Reggies on Saturday night.

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34. Brandi Carlile at Ravinia on Friday night.

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35. 5 Seconds of Summer in Tinley Park on Saturday night.

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36. Kelly Clarkson in Rosemont on Saturday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:35 PM | Permalink

The [Monday] Papers

Coming soon:

* The Weekend In Chicago Rock.

Including Lollapalooza highlights Featuring: Charli XCX, Florence + The Machine, Tove Lo, Twenty One Pilots, Metallica, Travi$ Scott, Delta Spirit, Borns, Brand New, Twin Peaks, Logic, Elle King, Young Thug, Paul McCartney, Halsey, Floetry, Marina and the Diamonds, Angus and Julia Stone, Gogol Bordello, Of Monsters and Men, Moon Taxi, NGHTMRE, Ryn Weaver, Coasts, TV On The Radio, Sturgill Simpson, Bassnectar, A$AP Rocky, Pentatonix, The Ike Reilly Assassination, David Duchovny, Walk The Moon, Max Plankton, Brandi Carlile, 5 Seconds of Summer, and Kelly Clarkson.

* The Cub Factor: Pope Theo.

I'm pinch-hitting today for Marty Gangler, who is on a double-secret national security mission.

* The Beachwood Radio Hour #64.

News, sports, rock 'n' roll.

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From the weekend:

* The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #62: Neither A Buyer Nor A Seller Be.

Our man on the White Sox, Roger Wallenstein, joined me and Jim "Coach" Coffman on Saturday morning to talk post-trade deadline Cubs and Sox.

Plus: The Starlin Castro Saga; Len Kasper, Company Man; Bill Veeck, TV Bartender; The Journesia Of Training Camp Narratives; The Chicago Fire Continue To Disgust Us; and Eleane Delle Donne Emerges As The Face Of The WNBA.

* The Sad & Suspicious Return Of American Pharoah.

Monmouth's mad money. In our very own Tom Chambers' TrackNotes.

*

From today:

* The White Sox Report: If Only We Had Billy Pierce.

Damn Yankees.

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BeachBook
* Morgenson: Signature Obama Program Drowning Homeowners.

The program has allowed big banks to run roughshod over borrowers again and again.

* Garfield Park Artists Lose All In Extra-Alarm Fire.

Three artists and a sound engineer lost almost everything in a fire in the Garfield Park studio and residential space they started nine years ago.

* Rachel Maddow Continues To Be Deeply Dishonest.

Does her "campaign coverage" ever make any real sense?

* Rahm Keeps Us Waiting For An Overdue TIF Report.

The annual TIF reports will tell us, among other things, how much the mayor has stashed away in the bank accounts for each TIF district. It's information teachers, parents, and activists want to get at it to refute his claim that there's no money for Chicago schools. You can see why the mayor's in no hurry to release it.

* Reagan Judge Reveals Truth About American Criminal Justice System.

Much of the so-called wisdom that has been handed down to us about the workings of the legal system, and the criminal process in particular, has been undermined by experience, legal scholarship and common sense.

* Wealth Doesn't Trickle Down - It Just Floods Offshore, Research Shows.

A staggering $21 trillion has been lost to global tax havens.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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*

*

*

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Lollabazooka.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:45 AM | Permalink

August 2, 2015

If Only We Had Billy Pierce

In the week that former Sox pitching legend Billy Pierce died at age 88, it was fitting that the Yankees were in town.

When "Little" Billy Pierce, the 5-foot-10, 160-pound lefty, led the White Sox staff throughout the 1950s, it was a big deal when the New Yorkers invaded. Between 1949 and 1964, the distasteful, despised, agitating Yanks were American League champions all but two seasons. Cleveland interrupted the streak in 1954 but had to win 111 games to do it. And, of course, in 1959 the White Sox went to the World Series while the Yankees finished third.

But throughout the decade the White Sox fought to remain in contention, which created high expectations and anticipation and huge crowds almost every time Casey Stengel led his crew to the South Side.

Sox broadcaster Bob Elson would preview a Sox-Yankee series at Comiskey Park by saying, "That whole gang will be here. Mantle, Berra, Skowron, Ford, Bauer, Howard. They'll all be here. Get your tickets now."

He knew about which he was talking, but the outcome - with a few notable exceptions - was pretty much predictable. In the days of an eight-team American League, each team played the other seven 22 times. So the Yankees paid three visits to Chicago every year. They most often left town a bit healthier than when they entered, while the Sox licked their wounds and regrouped.

In the entire decade, the Sox enjoyed a season's edge over the Yankees just once, in the pennant-winning season of 1959 when they beat the Bronx Bombers 13 times. That was an anomaly. For the 10 years (1950-59), the ledger favored the New Yorkers by an astounding 132-88. Stated simply, the Sox got their ass whipped soundly over a long period of time.

Nevertheless, Billy Pierce won more games (186) in the American League between 1949 and 1961 than any pitcher except Early Wynn, who pitched nine seasons for Cleveland and four more for the White Sox with 220.

However, beating New York was another matter for Pierce, who had a losing career mark of 25-37 with an ERA of 3.94 against the Yanks. This from a lefthander who made seven All-Star teams - starting in three of those games. However, the numbers say more about the unparalleled talent and power of the Yankees rather than the ineptitude of the White Sox star.

Despite losing to New York more often than not, some of the greatest match-ups during the 1950s were between Pierce and the Yankees' Whitey Ford, a Hall-of-Famer who won 236 games with an astounding winning percentage of .690.

Pierce and Ford opposed one another 15 times as starting pitchers between 1953 and 1960. The Sox actually won eight of those contests while Pierce posted a 7-7 record with an ERA of 2.49. Ford went 5-7 with a 3.42 ERA.

Don't be misled. Whitey Ford mastered the White Sox over a 16-year career, beating our fellows 39 times while losing just 21. But when he went head-to-head with Billy Pierce, the White Sox more than held their own.

Pierce - who experienced success although he was reluctant to pitch inside; he almost never brushed back a hitter - competed furiously when facing Ford, pitching eight complete games, while Ford completed five. On September 18, 1956, Pierce pitched all 11 innings in a 3-2 Yankee win when Mickey Mantle homered in the top of the 11th. Another classic was played on June 5, 1955, when the Yankees' Billy Hunter circled the bases for an inside-the-park home run in the top of the 10th for a 3-2 Yankee win. Again, Pierce pitched a complete game.

Pierce never received more than 2 percent of the votes for Hall of Fame election in the years when he was first eligible. I certainly can understand a lack of a plurality for the Sox lefthander - a standout to be sure, but arguably not in the league of Wynn, Ford, Bob Lemon, Bob Feller or National Leaguers Warren Spahn and Robin Roberts. But 2 percent? What a travesty!

The Sox surely could have used a pitcher of Billy Pierce's stature over the weekend in losing two of three games to the hated Yankees. All three were blowouts, the New Yorkers winning Friday 13-6 and Sunday 12-3 while our athletes played splendidly Saturday evening in an 8-2 victory behind John Danks and three relievers.

While the Yankees may not have the likes of Mantle, Roger Maris or Berra, they rank second in the majors both in runs scored and home runs. Rookie Carlos Rodon found himself in a 6-0 hole Friday after yielding a grand slam to Mark Teixeira in the second inning, while Jeff Samardzija was solved for nine runs in less than five innings on Sunday.
Of course, Samardzija was spared the chore of packing his bags due to a trade deadline deal since the White Sox completed a 7-1 road trip in Boston by winning three of four to creep within striking distance of the second American League wild-card berth.

Is it Bud Selig we have to thank for giving us hope that our below-.500 ballclub has a chance to advance to the postseason? In Billy Pierce's day, games in August and September would be meaningless as the team would be playing out the string.

Not so today. The Yankee series drew some of the largest crowds of the season - a total of 103,578 - including Yankee fans Spike Lee and Chicago police superintendent Garry McCarthy. And despite the two lopsided losses to the Yankees, the White Sox are just 3 1/2 games out of the wild card even though they are 50-53.

Another seven-game winning streak like the one completed last week would put our favorite team right in the hunt. That means sweeping Tampa Bay in the three-game series beginning Monday evening at The Cell before traveling to Kansas City for the weekend.

One positive note is that the team, led by Melky Cabrera, Jose Abreu and Adam Eaton, is scoring runs while the defense continues to showcase some spectacular plays while making the routine ones look easy. The recent steak featured stingy starting pitching, but Chris Sale got slammed around last Thursday in the 8-2 loss at Boston followed by Rodon and Samardzija's maltreatment by the Yankees.

Those three are going to have to rebound to match what Danks and Jose Quintana - a 9-2 winner in Boston last Wednesday - accomplished in their last starts. If only we had someone like Billy Pierce.

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Roger Wallenstein is our man on the Sox. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:21 PM | Permalink

August 1, 2015

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #62: Neither A Buyer Nor A Seller Be

Post-trade deadline edition. Plus: The Starlin Castro Saga; Len Kasper, Company Man; Bill Veeck, TV Bartender; The Journesia Of Training Camp Narratives; The Chicago Fire Continue To Disgust Us; and Eleane Delle Donne Emerges As The Face Of The WNBA.


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SHOW NOTES

* Jose Quintana.

:35: Post-Trade Deadline Edition.

* Hollywood Ending Leaves Wilmer Flores In A New York State Of Mind.

* Rooting for laundry:

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6:27: What's Up With The White Sox?

* Frankie Montas.

* Gleyber Torres.

34:00: Kudos, Cubs.

* Moves at the margin.

* From the Beachwood vault, June 2012:

"Junior Lake seemed to be the only guy trying, what with a two-homer game, a 4-for-5 game, and a catch in left field not seen in this part of town since Alfonso Soriano arrived with his fear of the ball and the wall . . .

Dale Sveum is supposedly thinking about giving Junior Lake some starts at third, where he played some in the minors.

"It seems pretty clear to The Cub Factor that Lake ought to be playing centerfield, and it's a typical Cubs mystery as to why this wasn't figured out a long time ago. He has the range, speed, arm and instincts for it - even more so than Starlin Castro, who has long been rumored to be ticketed to either there or third in the future. Lake is Castro-plus if he maintains some plate discipline; one thing Lake has shown so far is that if the ball is in the zone, he'll hit it. The important question down the line is what he does when he stops getting those pitches."

45:27: The Starlin Castro Saga.

55:50: Len Kasper, Company Man.

1:00:00: Bill Veeck, TV Bartender.

1:02:00: Training Camp Narratives.

* Journesia.

1:07:34: The Chicago Fire Continue To Disgust Us.

1:08:17: Elena Delle Donna Emerges As Face Of The WNBA.

STOPPAGE: 10:02

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For archives and other Beachwood shows, see The Beachwood Radio Network.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:18 PM | Permalink

The Weekend Desk Report

"The United States ought to give up trying to keep secrets. We sure are no good at it. Between the Walkers, the Pollards and the U.S. Marines, the only person in the world the government can deceive is Ronald Reagan," Aaron Freeman wrote in the Tribune in 1987.

It is at least gratifying that most of the spying is done by noncommunists for nonideological reasons. These are capitalist scoundrels. They may sell out the country, but they still love the system. I think it is unfair and inaccurate to call them traitors. What they have done is wholly consistent with our national character. Nothing is more American than an assiduous commitment to money and sex - although I wish they would have held out for more substantial payments.

The largest payment Navy spy John Walker got was $40,000. That ain`t exactly chump change, but it barely pays for a week's worth of lawyers once you get caught. In exchange for "four or five" sexual encounters with Violetta Seina, Sgt. Clayton Lonetree allegedly gave her "Uncle Sasha" the run of the U.S. Embassy and got only $3,500. He should have had Jessica Hahn's lawyer.

But the real lollapalooza of unintelligence is the new U.S. Embassy in Moscow. Some geniuses in the Nixon administration decided it could be assembled of pre-fabricated pieces built by the Soviets. But now the thing apparently has more bugs than a Chicago housing project. It is refreshing, however, to have a national security catastrophe that can't be blamed on the liberals.

That's the first use of "lollapalooza" in the Tribune in the 1985-to-present archival era.

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Did you know that Gene Ween is the stage name of Aaron Freeman?

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Of course, the Trib piece was written by this Aaron Freeman, not that one, sadly.

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The first use of the word ever by the Trib was in this 1934 Old Gold cigarette ad, if the ProQuest database is to be believed.

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Here's the first mention of the word by the Sun-Times in their 1986-to-current database era, from 1991:

"Lollapalooza" tour, stopping at the World Music Theatre at 2 p.m. Aug. 3. The tour features Jane's Addiction, Living Colour, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Nine Inch Nails, Butthole Surfers, Ice-T and the Rollins Band. Tickets are $27.25 for the pavilion, $22.25 for lawn seats.

Dig the rest of the World calendar from that year:

Tickets will go on sale at 10 a.m. today for David Lee Roth, Cinderella and Extreme, playing heavy metal at 6:30 p.m. July 21 at the World. Tickets are $27.25 and $24.75 for reserved seats and $14.75 for lawn seats.

Hard rockers Alice Cooper, Judas Priest, Motorhead, Dangerous Toys and Metal Church will bring "Operation Rock 'n' Roll" to the World at 5 p.m. July 20. Tickets are $34.75 and $29.75 for the pavilion and $22.25 for the lawn. Tickets will go on sale at 11 a.m. Sunday.

There also are several changes in the World's lineup. The Styx show will begin at 7:30 instead of 8 p.m. on June 21 ($24.75 and $22.75 for pavilion, $12.05 for the lawn), the AC/DC and L.A. Guns concert, set for 8 p.m. June 29, has been changed t o 7:30 p.m. ($29.75 and $27.25 for pavilion, $17.25 for lawn).

The Subdudes will be opening for Huey Lewis and the News at 7:30 p.m. July 6 ($27.25 and $22.25 for the pavilion and $17.25 for the lawn).

Aldo Nova has been added to the Scorpions, Great White, Winger and Mr. Big show, which will begin at 5 and not 6 p.m. July 12 ($24.75 and $22.25 for pavilion and $14.75 for lawn).

The Yes show will start at 7:30 and not 8 p.m. on July 25 ($42.25 and $27.25 for pavilion, $14.75 for lawn).

And the Lynyrd Skynyrd concert, set for 8 p.m. Aug. 16, now will start at 7:30 ($24.75 and $22.25 for pavilion, $12.25 for lawn).

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What's the difference between Lollapalooza and Pitchfork? The Pitchfork lineup, as usual, is easily superior. That's not to be a snob, it's just to tell the truth.

But The Weekend in Chicago Rock will still be chock full of good stuff.

Meantime, here's the pre-Lolla Week in Chicago Rock that I posted late Friday, featuring "Tiny Dancer" From Almost Famous at Millennium Park, Viet Cong, St. Paul and the Broken Bones, Mutemath, Lissie, Paper Mice, Colin Stetson, Dick Dale, Snow Tha Product, Smoking Popes, Laura Marling, Johnny Flynn, Bryan Adams, 50 Cent, Shania Twain, and Delbert McClinton.

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I really enjoy compiling The Week/Weekend In Chicago Rock; it also really helps me keep on-point.

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The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #62: Neither A Buyer Nor A Seller Be is in post-production.

Our man on the White Sox, Roger Wallenstein, joined me and Jim "Coach" Coffman on Saturday morning to talk post-trade deadline Cubs and Sox.

Plus: The Starlin Castro Saga; Len Kasper, Company Man; Bill Veeck, TV Bartender; The Journesia Of Training Camp Narratives; The Chicago Fire Continue To Disgust Us; and Eleane Delle Donne Emerges As The Face Of The WNBA.

Bonus tweet:

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A new Beachwood Radio News Hour is in the works too.

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The Sad & Suspicious Return Of American Pharoah
Monmouth's mad money.

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "The Grateful Dead has the most devoted following of any rock band in history, but also has its fair share of detractors. Jim and Greg re-examine the legacy of The Grateful Dead as the band celebrates its 50th anniversary."

See also:
* A Grateful Dead Dime Story.

* The Beachwood Radio Hour #61A: Grateful Dead Edition.

* Grateful Dead Chicago.

* Meet Chicago's Worst Deadheads.

* Confessions Of A Covert Deadhead.

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BeachBook
* We're Suing The Justice Department Over The FBI's Secret Rules For Using National Security Letters On Journalists.

* Why Your Team Sucks: Chicago Bears 2015.

* "Yes, We're Corrupt:" A List Of Politicians Admitting That Money Controls Politics.

* What The BGA's Story About Fatal Chicago Police Shootings Gets Wrong.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Crown me.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:40 PM | Permalink

MUSIC - The Weekend In Chicago Rock Including Riot Fest Highlights.
TV - 24 Hours With WYCC.
POLITICS - Wolfpack vs. Obama.
SPORTS - Joe Maddon's Magical Mystery Tour.

BOOKS - Why Al-Qaeda Is Still Strong.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Beachwood Photo Booth: Mural Man.


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