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« May 2021 | Main | July 2021 »

June 30, 2021


For those who have never lived there, Florida remains a sunny, steamy, golden enigma.

You want Florida, and will abide no evidence that suggests you don't. We lust for it.

Fabulous foreign wealth and consumption teeter-totter there on the other end of dire poverty and human frailty, all fueled by conflicts so deep it's a marvel how humanity can survive itself.

Or maybe, why should we hope humanity survives its depravities and pastel pants? We hope it does, because Florida is your rich playboy cousin you hope invites you to live with him when you're 20. Florida is simultaneously beautifully steamy and seamy.

Speaking of dire poverty, I was a newsroom guy in Fort Myers, which in 2019 U.S. News & World Report named the best American city in which to retire. Fairly cheap. It's hot and sunny, even at dawn, dusk and night.

You should never be surprised by Florida's quirks. That a near-Miami condo fell down and killed dozens is tragic, but surprising only because it hadn't happened sooner and more frequently. South Florida is always one loose rebar away from architectural catastrophe in the porous limestone they call dirt.

For acquiring such insight, temporary visiting doesn't count. But because I lived there for 7.334 percent of my life, my insights are at least 7 percent true. We press on to enlightenment.

To those of us who lived in the eternal sunshine as permanent residents and (twice) moved north - imagine that - nothing bad or odd or weird that happens in Florida is unusual. It's inevitable genetic disposition.

Floridians elected a vain, intellectual thug as governor this time, and seem to like him. Florida always has drawn its full allotment of transplanted murderers and worse, many of which your tax dollars hired and kept in power.

Half of South Florida wants to reanimate the corpse of dead Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista and reinstall him in Cuba, which he once ran and leased to the Mafia. Batista's Frankenstinian return would dovetail nicely with Florida culture, sort of Mengele's Sunny Weekend with Bernie.

Florida is built on two inches of topsoil, which is barely soil at all. It is a sandpile constantly inching back into the ocean. The Everglades has dirt, but it also has 20-foot pythons. You always have choices in Florida.

South Florida's social hierarchy is populated by all flavor of Hispanic and Latin cultures. They stir a grand, rich sauce of real culture to which Anglo immigrants offer no competition. Try pico de gallo, a chunky and raw tomato-based salsa. But it's not clear if Latin cultures blend in South Florida or merely replicate old national disdains.

Guatemalans hate the Nicaraguans who hate the Chileans who abhor the Brazilians who loathe the Dominicans who distrust the Colombians who despise the Haitians. They all hate the Haitians, who speak Creole and French. Haitians sometimes speak Spanish just to irritate Cubans.

The Cubans hate everyone, except, of course, Gloria Estefan and Pitbull, who are Cuban royal Windsors.

With some valid historical reasons, they all hate yanqui imperialists. That's us.

As for the condo collapse, theoretically laws order condo builders to inform prospective buyers of any architectural perils. They never do that because it's bad for business. If you want laws, move to Ohio.

You would have had to experience Florida historically first-hand as a resident to appreciate its manic obsession to build and sell high-rise condos - and golf courses. The state at last count had 48,000 homeowner associations (the most common method of condo buyers' self-protection) inhabited by 10 million owners, all wearing pastel blue and pink golf pants.

Of the state's 20 million residents, the U.S. Census says 98 percent live on the coast or near enough to drown after a brief drive.

In fact, the entire state is predicated on temporary existence that gets more temporary by the hour. Disney World is one bad hurricane season from being a seaside attraction.

Miami someday will be a 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea Disney theme park.

But, really, who cares? It's always warm and sunny. Go to Duluth if you insist on freezing.

However, the state's pending return to the sea does obscure cultural oddities.


The groundwater table is so close to the surface that Floridians have no basements and no efficient way to bury dead people. It's either mausoleums, cremation or ship grandma's corpse back to Ann Arbor by cargo plane. As a result, Floridan culture literally is wide but not every deep, like a parking lot with palm trees.

As American Airlines Cargo advertising advises living customers: "Dry ice is not necessary to pack unembalmed remains. When using dry ice, remember that it will be subject to dangerous goods shipping regulations." Good to know, though no sentence that includes the word "unembalmed" is a happy sentence.

Cargo shippers also transport leftover body parts north separately, in case grandma had a few good components left for sale.

Florida civilization, using that term loosely, is built atop Putt-Putt golf greens. I once asked a physician acquaintance in Fort Myers to describe Florida's cultural values. "Aren't any," he said. I looked. He was right.

But the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico are coming to reclaim their property. This is not theory but meteorological fact.

A state with no shared culture is defenseless against such natural forces.

Now the best guess ahead by federal scientists? Miami's sea level is rising on an average of 1 inch every 3 years. It is 8 inches higher than in 1950. Scientists now think that in the next 15 years, the sea level will rise another 6 inches, at a slightly faster rate.

By 2030, at least 800,000 who live in Miami's Dade County will have to live somewhere else.

Zillow's real estate statisticians list 20 urban areas in America that will suffer the most from rising seas; Florida has five: St. Petersburg, Tampa, Miami, Miami Beach and Panama City.

In 2016, Zillow predicted that one out of eight homes in Florida would be underwater by 2100, a loss of $413 billion in property. That was before the pace of polar icecap melting picked up speed.

The Union of Concerned Scientists surveyed the issue and verified that Miami Beach and the Florida Keys will be under water in 30 years.

Under water like Atlantis and your mortgage.

Climate change prevention? We don't need no stinking climate change prevention. Bring me a margarita.

But still they come, as they always have. There are 35 billionaires there but 40 percent of Dade residents live below the poverty line. Just like Guatemala and Paraguay.

The rich are very rich there, and the poor are even poorer.

Batista was one of the rich ones.

In one of his occasional required escapes from Havana, Batista resided in Miami at the large pink home at 640 NW North River Drive, Miami. The walls were solid concrete. The next owner found an open safe there that contained 1,000 photo portraits of Batista's dead political rivals - all shot once in the head. Your tax dollars.

In South Florida, your next door neighbor could be a retired death squad organizer from El Salvador or a retired insurance salesman from Hoboken.

We were all jumbled into a gumbo of strangers. But we were warm. At the same time I lived in Delray Beach, Batista lived in the pink home down U.S. 41.

That was 1952, and I was 5 at the time.

That also was the year the U.S. State Department organized a coup and gave Cuba back to Batista. So he left the pink house.

Little has changed there.

Even now, no one talks much in South Florida about their good old days. As Tim Elfrink wrote for the Miami New Times of South Florida's allure to former U.S.-paid-and-installed torturers, dictators, and right wing assassins: "We make Casablanca look like a Daffy Duck cartoon."

None of this is new to the state. Orville Elias Babcock Sr. was a Union Army general and President Grant's right-hand man until tax corruption forced him to leave Washington.

Grant put him in charge of lighthouses in Florida, and he drowned on the job in 1884. Hey, it's Florida.

They embalmed him and put his body on a train headed north.


David Rutter is the former publisher/editor of the Lake County News-Sun, and more importantly, the former author of the Beachwood's late, great "The Week In WTF" column. His most recent piece for us was Shit Jobs. You can also check him out at his Theeditor50's blog. He welcomes your comments.


1. From Steve Rhodes, who lived in Florida for 18 months - six in Winter Haven and 12 in Lakeland:

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:21 PM | Permalink

Dear Sportswriters: Ditch The Clown Questions

LeBron James had enough.

During the press conference after Game 1 of the 2018 NBA finals, James was questioned repeatedly by ESPN's Mark Schwartz about the mental state of teammate J.R. Smith, whose final-seconds rebounding blunder contributed to a Cleveland Cavaliers overtime loss.

Over 70 seconds and four questions, Schwartz probed for the inner workings of Smith's mind, before James finally stood up, put on sunglasses, grabbed his briefcase and walked out through the gathered press corps.

He uttered a single sentence: "Be better tomorrow."

It was not the first verbal tangle between reporter and sports star, and it will not be the last. Recently tennis star Naomi Osaka left the French Open for mental health issues exacerbated, she said, by facing questions at the tournament-required press conferences.

These examples represent a fundamental struggle between athletes and those who cover them: interviews contested in a press room forum that feel more like a mixed-martial arts octagon than Oprah's couch.

On one side are reporters who need quotes to flesh out stories they hope will stand out from their competitors. On the other are athletes, who often want to be anywhere but in that press room.

Birth Of The Press Conference

I am a professor of sports journalism at Ohio State. Every semester I teach students to be good interviewers and get comfortable asking questions in front of other writers in the press conference setting.

As an Associated Press sportswriter, I also feel uncomfortable in nearly every press conference I cover, worried I will ask a question others perceive as superfluous or uninformed, and sometimes cringing at questions I hear from others.

Sportswriting has included post-game interviews since the early 20th century, when publishers realized covering sports would sell newspapers. In those days, the conversations were up close, face-to-face, building relationships. Writers got to know the rhythm of athlete and coach moods and balance them with coverage deadlines.

The arrival of broadcast news brought greater demand for access, and the press conference was born. But the exclusive coverage club that once required a printing press and mainstream publication for team access has more recently expanded in the digital world to self-proclaimed publishers with a mobile device and an internet connection.

The requirements are established between the league and the media. The NHL agreement, for example, provides that 10 minutes after each game, each club will make key players and the head coach available. The NFL agreement states, "Reasonable cooperation with the news media is essential to the continuing popularity of our game and its players and coaches."

What happens in a press conference is another issue.

Yes, There Are Stupid Questions

Press conference interaction is more transactional than conversational. Team reps call on reporters. Reporters ask questions. Athletes do their best to answer questions - whether they won a midseason game or lost Game 7 of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

But those questions.

A Toronto TV reporter asked Bryce Harper, a nondrinking Mormon, whether he planned to celebrate a homer with a beer. Harper's response: "I'm not answering that. That's a clown question, bro."

A reporter asked Serena Williams why she was not smiling after her quarterfinal win in the 2015 U.S. Open, a question rarely - if ever - asked of men.

After noting it was 11:30 p.m., and she'd rather be in bed, Williams added, "I don't want to answer any of these questions. And you guys keep asking me the same questions. You're not making this super enjoyable."

Taurean Prince was asked after an upset in the first round of the 2016 NCAA Tournament to explain how Yale could have possibly outrebounded his Baylor team. His response: "You go up and grab the ball off the rim when it comes off. And then you grab it with two hands, and you come down with it. And that's considered a rebound. So they got more of those than we did."

Few sports fans can forget Allen Iverson refuting that he did not practice as hard as the Philadelphia 76ers deserved.

To quote Bleacher Report, "Sometimes, a question is just so poorly researched, poorly timed or just plain poor that it makes you wonder what on Earth the reporter was thinking. Better yet, how does this reporter still have a job?"

Ask Questions To Get Answers

The press conference goal for media is to get insights to feed the fans' insatiable appetite to be in the know about their favorite competitor or team.

Some athletes, like tennis star Rafael Nadal, acknowledge the role the media can play in building brand and reputation. After Osaka refused to speak at the press conference, Nadal told reporters, "Without the press . . . we (aren't) going to have the recognition that we have around the world, and we will not be that popular, no?"

In truth, athletes no longer need the press to communicate with their fans. They can do that directly through social media channels.

Sports journalists have extraordinary access that can inform fans' understanding of the athletes and their performances, but they must do better if they are to remain relevant.

If sports reporters better researched games and subjects, they could ask questions that focused on more than just a single moment in time. That could turn "How did that team outrebound you?" into "You guys seemed to struggle to get position under the basket compared with your last game. What did this team do differently that proved challenging to you?" That would give fans a much better insight into the game.

Sportswriters often make sources do all the work by asking them to "talk about" a moment in time - the third inning, the fourth quarter, the play of the quarterback. Being more specific with a question will get a more detailed answer.

Sportswriters could consider how it would feel to be asked the question they plan to pose. How should a player feel when they win or lose a big game? Reporters who have compassion for the person at the microphone and the experience they endured get better answers.

Interviewing is hard, and press conferences make it no easier. Everyone hears your question and each reporter gets the same information, so standing out can be a challenge. Training and professional development in the art of the question is imperative to see question-asking as the chesslike game that it is.

Before asking a question (make a move), anticipate the response to that question (opponent's move). Is it the answer sought or needed? If not, be prepared to ask that question another way or ask another question. And what will be the follow-up question (next move)?

Anticipating and benefiting from moves is how you win at chess. It is also how you win at interviewing.

Let us all be better tomorrow.

Nicole Kraft is an associate professor of clinical communication at Ohio State. This post is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.


Comments welcome.


1. From Steve Rhodes:

Ask about facts, not feelings.

How does it feel to win? Great! How does it feel to lose? Bad!

You don't even have to watch the game to ask those questions.

What you're there for, besides doing PR for the team, is to ask about specific plays, strategy, the thought- and decision-making process at certain points. When it comes to how someone feels, it's really only relevant if you're asking about an injury.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:55 AM | Permalink

The Beauty Of Your Backyard

"In 2003, Fred Delcomyn imagined his backyard of two-and-a-half acres, farmed for corn and soybeans for generations, restored to tallgrass prairie.

"Over the next 17 years, Delcomyn, with help from his friend James L. Ellis scored, seeded, monitored, reseeded, and burned these acres into prairie.

"In A Backyard Prairie, they document their journey and reveal the incredible potential of a backyard to travel back to a time before the wild prairie was put into plow rows.

"It has been said, 'Anyone can love the mountains, but it takes a soul to love the prairie.'

"This book shows us how.


"The first book to celebrate a smaller, more private restoration, A Backyard Prairie offers a vivid portrait of what makes a prairie.

"Delcomyn and Ellis describe selecting and planting seeds, recount the management of a prescribed fire, and capture the prairie's seasonal parades of colorful flowers in concert with an ever-growing variety of animals, from the minute eastern tailed-blue butterfly to the imperious red-winged blackbird and the reclusive coyote."


Fred Delcomyn in 2017.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:38 AM | Permalink

The Myth Of The Absent Black Father

I am Black. I am a father. I love my children like nobody's business.

I will not be invisible.

I make this simple declaration because, even though involved Black fathers are the norm in the lives of Black children, we are dogged by a defamatory narrative about our supposed absenteeism.

Are there Black fathers not taking their responsibilities seriously? Of course.

Does that mean that Black fathers overall should be stereotyped as irresponsible? Only if you're detached from the realities and nuances of Black life.

The "Black fatherlessness" anthem is sung mostly by conservatives eager to summarily dismiss empirically true claims of structural racism. Deadbeat dad noir is their reliable weapon of choice to extinguish claims that the white power structure harms Blacks.

Need an example? Look at right-wing social media influencer Candace Owens' testimony before Congress that there is no such thing as white supremacy, and that Blacks need to focus on our real problems.

"The biggest issue facing Black America is father absence," she said in the presence of Black fathers who are elected officials, journalists, authors and tourists.

Right-wing politicians and media often point to 72% of Black babies born to unmarried mothers - the highest rate of any American subgroup - as definitive proof that if anything is holding Blacks back it is dereliction more than anything. If only we didn't have daddy issues we wouldn't experience gaps in income, wealth, education and justice outcomes.

The media is also complicit in erasing the contributions of Black fathers. For instance, a 2017 University of Illinois study on Black families commissioned by Color of Change and Family Story found that "media outlets promoted racially biased portraits and myths that pathologize Black families and idealize white families with respect to poverty and crime. At worst, media outlets amplified those inaccurate depictions for political and financial gain."

If your goal is to understand Black people rather than to simply marginalize them for claiming our country has yet to live its values of equal opportunity, then you'll have to start seeing Black fathers who are hiding in plain sight.

First, honest debate about us should start by admitting that the majority of Black dads - about 2.5 million of around 4.2 million - live with their children. And, of fathers who live with their children, Black fathers are the most involved.

I am a father of four children; three boys and a girl. I have been intentional about not only raising them, but protecting their freedom and joy. I want them to grow up in a world where they see possibilities, not limitations. My presence in their life doesn't make me an exception. Many of the Black men I know are active, engaged and connected to their children.

That's our norm. See us.

Second, fathers who do not live with their children are not necessarily disengaged from their lives. There are many factors to take into account before filing a missing person report.

Many other Black fathers are noncustodial co-parents, stepfathers and adoptive fathers.

For that first group, noncustodial fathers, we know that they often fight for their right to time in their children's lives but face barriers in court. According to a 2014 study " . . . noncustodial black fathers are more likely to visit and spend time with their children than unmarried, noncustodial fathers of other races, [but they] must contend with the stereotype that they are absent Black fathers when they enter the courtroom."

Courts have had a long-time bias against Black men, forcing them into the sole role of financial contributor rather than active father.

Further, noncustodial fathers in poverty have additional factors working against them.

According to a Fordham Law Review study, 75% of them work less than full-time, 29% are incarcerated, 43% aren't high school graduates, 39% have health problems, and 32% have been unemployed for more than three years.

If we really care about "fatherlessness" we will start seeing noncustodial fathers and supporting them to be their best.

As for another group, stepfathers, 24% of Black men are stepparents. That makes them the most likely to be stepfathers across all racial groups.

Mother-only households have been in decline.

Blaming Us Is An Old Tactic

I would love to say that blaming Black people for the results of racist and rigged economic, social and political systems is new. It's not. This type of gaslighting goes back to at least 1842, when Rev. Charles Colcock Jones wrote The Religious Instruction of the Negroes to provide a compensatory logic for white slave owners. In that work, he characterized Blacks as "proverbially idle," "improvident," drunkards, thieves and worse.

"It is a remarkable fact that a large proportion of those of marriageable age, remain single, especially in the free States, where the support of a family is difficult. This fact has a considerable bearing on their state of morals."

He wrote that during a time when all of the structures of America were geared to dehumanize Blacks and remove all of their right to self-determination. Then, like now, he didn't blame the structures he benefited from as a white man, but on some cosmic supernatural Black deficiency for which Blacks were to blame.

He wrote: "In multitudes of families, both by precept and example, the children are trained up in iniquity; taught by their parents to steal, to lie, to deceive; nor can the rod of correction induce a confession or revelation of their clearly ascertained transgressions. Virtue is not cherished nor protected in them. Parents put their children to use as early as it is possible, and their discipline mainly respects omissions of duty in the household; moral delinquencies are passed by; and that discipline owes its chief efficiency to excited passion, and consequently exists in the extreme of laxity or severity. They ofttimes when under no restraint, beat their children unmercifully."

All of that could easily be the subject of what conservatives - and some liberals - say about Blacks today. And the motive remains the same: To pretend unequal systems of education, economics, law, sport and media aren't the main drivers of the conditions that reduce opportunity for non-white people in America.

Ending Our Invisibility

Nothing I write here is going to settle the debates about the existence of structural racism, white privilege or white supremacist systems. Frankly, I'm tired of the conversation because it's full of noise and fog. Sadly, the mutual verbal headlock that anti-racism activists and system defenders are in probably won't be solved in my lifetime.

My purpose here is smaller in scope, which is simply to rescue the good Black father that I've seen in my family, my community, and my professional networks from our accusers who benefit from rendering us, invisible men.

I am Black. I am a father. I love my children like nobody's business.

You will acknowledge my existence.

Christopher Stewart is co-host of the 8 Black Hands podcast, CEO of brightbeam, founder of the Wayfinder Foundation, and a loving father.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:51 AM | Permalink

Chicago Student Inventors Changing The Game

Fifty students from throughout metro Chicago recently participated at the Invention Convention U.S. Nationals competition.

These students were among 200 young inventors who had advanced from the 9th Annual Chicago Student Invention Convention held in late May.

At that virtual event, students from kindergarten to eighth grade competed for prizes that included: connecting students to technology leaders at Molex for further development of their ideas; free prototyping services from mHUB (the midwest's leading physical product innovation center); and free non-provisional patent services from Thompson Coburn LLP.

Some of the winning inventions included:

* a 5th grader from Andrew Jackson Language Academy, Sénadé Sodji's The Solisquito Cap, inspired by the inventor's father who grew up in Africa and did not have regular access to electricity or protection from mosquitoes for his late-night study sessions. Sénadé invented a solar powered light affixed to a hat that also includes mosquito netting to allow the user to have light and safety from dangerous insects.

* an 8th grader from Quest Academy, Millan Mallipeddi's The Soap-Free Ultrasonic Faucet, inspired by the inventor's desire to eliminate water waste at water treatment plants by reducing the amount of soaps and chemicals used in everyday activities like washing dishes. Millan invented a device that can clear a plate of debris without the use of soap.

Other winning innovations at the Chicago Student Invention Convention included:

* Victor Ortiz, 3rd Grade from Jungman Elementary, for Voda Shoe Sanitizer.

* Tori Tucker and Khloe Kemp, 4th Grade from Lenart Elementary, for The Multi-Brush.

* Aishani De, 5th Grade from Sauganash Elementary, for The Right-Bud.

* Courtney Beatty, 7th Grade from Teen Innovators, for Clip-A-Cleat.

* Crystal Cervantes, 8th Grade from Jungman Elementary, for The Typer.

One area student took home a prize at the national competition. Arlington Heights 6th-grader from Quest Academy Lila Nanisetty won the Best Engineering Award, presented by Maxim Integrated, for Thermo-Bat.

"When playing baseball/softball, it is hard to improve your swing, when you can't tell where on the bat you hit the ball," she says. "My invention changes color in the spot that you hit the ball."

During this school year, over 2,000 area students representing 45 schools, libraries, and youth centers participated with invention education curriculum sponsored by the Chicago program. The inventors used creative problem-solving, design thinking, and engineering skills they learned to create an original solution to solve a problem they care about.

"Our children face a future of new, more demanding, and increasingly complex problems," said Allison James, program manager of the Chicago Student Invention Convention. "We offer a powerful approach to prepare K-8th graders today with the innovative skills they will need tomorrow to succeed in life and work in the 21st century."

The Chicago Student Invention Convention, a program of Chicago Innovation, inspires curiosity, confidence, and creative problem-solving in youth through a focus on applied STEM and invention education. The program provides training to educators in its free invention curriculum along with student mentorship opportunities, and regional invention convention competitions.

"We need to encourage students' curiosity by inspiring young people to innovate early," added Tom Kuczmarski, founder of Chicago Innovation. "Innovation is all about creating solutions to solve problems, and that's a mindset that any child can engage with."


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:42 AM | Permalink

June 28, 2021

Santiago Sunday & The Sox

The downpour finally subsided, moving on to the east, and Sunday showed promise. The suspended game from the night before would be resumed before a seven-inning contest to put a capper on the day. A perfect opportunity for the White Sox to get well against a still-developing Seattle Mariner outfit.

So we headed to the ballpark.

Sitting in a hot June sun down the third base line wouldn't have been my first choice, but with Dallas Keuchel taking over from Lance Lynn, who tossed three hitless innings Friday night before the storm interrupted activity, the Sox chances appeared promising. The presence of Hector Santiago on the mound for the Mariners aided that perception. The 33-year-old former White Sox draftee, pitching in his 10th big league season, could be described best as a journeyman, having toiled for five teams including two stints on the South Side.

Entering Sunday, Tony La Russa's charges had dropped six of their last seven encounters, primarily due to a power outage. The fellows had scored a mere 18 runs in those seven games. The team batting average was an anemic .192, with five home runs among their 14 extra base hits, five of which came last Wednesday in the week's lone victory in Pittsburgh. As we all recognize, you can't win in today's game unless you hit the long ball, as attested by the Sox record of 7-22 when they fail to blast a round-tripper.

When a ballclub is experiencing an offensive quagmire, not even good pitching or defense makes it look sharp. Keuchel provided an adequate performance Sunday, giving up two solo home runs among six hits over five innings before La Russa lifted him after 87 pitches. La Russa chose closer Liam Hendriks to handle the top of the ninth in a 2-2 deadlock. Unfortunately, Taylor Trammell sent a Hendriks offering over the right field wall, providing the winning margin for the visitors.

Of course, the Sox had ample opportunity to inflict damage against Santiago and five relievers who followed him. Leury Garcia singled home a run in the bottom of the fifth, and after Hector walked Luis Gonzalez to load the bases with one out, he was gone.

Well, not until the game was halted for about five minutes while the umpires conducted the equivalent of a prolonged traffic stop to examine Santiago's glove, uniform, hat, and body parts, ignoring only his locker and packed suitcase.

The umps determined that Hector - whom I always liked because he was willing to pitch, even somewhat effectively, in any situation - was a cheater. The end result was that Santiago, who already had been removed from the game, was thrown out by crew chief Tom Hallion, who made a dramatic motion of banishment.

Of course, this was reminiscent of the game five years ago when Adam Eaton, in his first go-round with the Sox, was tossed out for arguing a called third strike which ended the game. Hence he was ejected after the game officially ended.

"I don't know what he got ejected from," said then-manager Robin Ventura. "The game was over."

Sunday was a bit different since the quartet of officials determined that Santiago had a foreign - not to be confused with international - substance on his glove. The misguided crowd of an announced 30,017 booed Santiago, but the contempt should be aimed at Commissioner Rob Manfred.

Santiago thus became the first pitcher to be charged with doctoring the baseball under Manfred's edict that any guilty hurler would be suspended for 10 games while the club would be prohibited from replacing him on its roster.

As all this was happening, the band on my cap was damp with sweat, and perspiration was seeping through my t-shirt. My greatest form of exercise at that juncture had been bending my elbow to raise a can of Modelo to my lips. Meanwhile, Santiago had been expending far greater effort, having thrown 52 pitches over 2⅓ innings.

The absolute irony of this ruling by the commissioner is that rosin bags still rest in their traditional position on the ground behind the pitching rubber. Rosin, my friends, is a derivative of pine tree sap. Similar to anyone touching a pine tree emitting sap, last time I did so, my hand immediately resembled the back of a just-licked postage stamp. Poor Hector, bathed in sweat, said he had a decent amount of rosin, again, a legal substance, all over his equipment, uniform and body. Let's see what happens on appeal.

This mid-season legislation, intended to penalize pitchers under the guise of eliminating cheating in order to put more offense in the game, is simply another indication that people like Manfred continually make excuses for the slow, boring pace of the game.

Teaching hitters to use the entire field making shifts ineffective, choking up with two strikes, bunting for hits and hitting behind runners are the antidotes. The rate of strikeouts and pitchers' domination haven't diminished one iota since Manfred's ruling. In 16-inch softball, pitches need to have an arc, and a strikeout is an anomaly. So why not dictate that pitches more than 90 mph are automatic balls in major league baseball? You'd see a lot more offense and more plays on defense. However, that strategy seems about as foolish as Manfred's latest declaration.

The delay caused by the investigation of Santiago was just one of the distressing instances in Sunday's resumed game. I sat for 2½ hours as the Sox accounted for five hits, all singles. After Garcia's RBI single and the walk to Gonzalez, Tim Anderson grounded into a double play. An inning later after Yasmani Grandal's bases-loaded sacrifice fly for the first out, the Sox could score no more. Grandal's ninth inning single was the only hit over the final three innings as Yermín Mercedes grounded into another double play to end the game.

José Abreu writhed in pain on the ground after being hit flush on the left knee by a JT Chargois heater in the sixth inning, and more than a few fans said, "Oh, no not again," thinking of the devastating injuries that have shelved Eloy Jiménez, Luis Robert and Nick Madrigal. Abreu was unable to put any weight on his left leg as he was helped off the field. After x-rays showed no fracture, he was listed day-to-day. If he plays this week in the four-game series against Minnesota, we should be surprised and thankful.

The other guy who may be less than 100 percent is third baseman Yoan Moncada, who jogged to first base on a grounder to short in his last at-bat in the eighth inning. He also took his time walking back to his position after chasing a pop foul earlier in the game. Moncada had a hit and a walk, and his batting average has remained in the .275-.280 range, but he hasn't homered since June 3. He has two doubles in the same time frame, and that's it as far as extra base hits are concerned.

So between the Sox dinky attack, the Santiago affair, Abreu's injury, and Hendriks giving up the game-winner, we did something Sunday that we haven't done in years. We left.

By the time we got home, the Sox had scored twice - the extent of their output for the entire first game - in the first inning of the second game which they won 7-5. Because the bullpen couldn't protect a 7-1 lead after five innings of the seven-inning contest, Hendriks was called upon again to close out the Mariners after Jimmy Lambert, who was returned to Charlotte after the game, gave up a three-run homer to Mitch Haniger.

As ugly as it has been, even the best teams endure the kind of recent streak the Sox displayed starting in Houston more than a week ago. Injuries certainly play a role, but not just for the Sox. Cleveland's Josh Naylor, an important part of an otherwise weak offense, went down Sunday in a horrific collision, winding up with a broken leg. So the Sox continue to hold a 2½-game lead in the AL Central although it is just one game in the loss column over Cleveland.

We have tickets for Wednesday. We plan on staying the whole game.


Former Bill Veeck bar buddy Roger Wallenstein is our White Sox correspondent. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:14 AM | Permalink

June 25, 2021

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #362: Cubs Bull Pen

We are not amused. Plus: BenZo; The YerMIAnator; Whole Lotto Nothing; Coach [Hearts] NBA Playoffs; Les Inhabitants; and Sky, Red Stars & Fire.

Beachwood Radio Network · The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #361: Cubs Bull Pen



* 362.


Jim "Coach" Coffman likes this.


We do not find this amusing.


The chess game continues.


Face spotted on milk carton, though.


Maybe the problem was that he didn't have on-base video.


Terrible take. It's like reporter forgetting to write a lede.




35:55: The YerMIAnator.

* Coffman: "Any game [the White Sox] win is kind of a miracle."




51:12: Whole Lotto Nothing.


Coach no like this take:


56:26: Coach [Hearts] The NBA Playoffs.


1:06:13: Les Inhabitants.


1:07:14: Sky, Red Stars & Fire.


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


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:51 PM | Permalink

June 24, 2021

Why Carl Nassib Coming Out Is Such A Big Deal

The video was short and simple, but for America's gay community it was a blockbuster event.

In an Instagram post, Las Vegas Raiders defensive lineman Carl Nassib announced from his yard in West Chester, Pennsylvania, that he's gay and that, while he's a private person, he feels "representation is so important." He added that he would donate $100,000 to the Trevor Project, which offers suicide prevention services to LGBTQ youth.

Thus the 28-year-old Nassib, now in his sixth year, became the first active NFL player to come out, a milestone that immediately garnered national attention, a mention in a congratulatory tweet from President Joe Biden and an outpouring of support on social media from powerful sports figures and fans.

As someone who has reported on football and other sports since the early 1990s, and who directs the sports journalism program at Penn State, I know this development does not mean the end of homophobia in sports. Yet to have a gay player in America's most-watched sport represents a landmark moment.

Reasons For Reluctance

Gay athletes long have been conscious of the toll of coming out.

Dave Kopay, a running back who came out in 1975, three years after his NFL career ended, said in a 1980s television interview that he sometimes felt "too straight for the gay world and too gay for the straight world." The first retired NFL player to come out, Kopay described the hostile reaction to his announcement, including from his family. In his view, being openly gay froze him out from getting a coaching job in college or the NFL.

Tennis legend Billie Jean King once said she lost all her endorsements in the 24 hours after she was outed by a former lover in 1981.

The quest to combat discrimination against LGBTQ athletes has been long and fitful, particularly in male team sports, where homophobic language is commonplace and an emphasis on physical strength and a warrior mentality have clashed with gay stereotypes.

That's why it was big news when, in 2013, NBA center Jason Collins came out as gay, becoming the first active player in any of the four biggest male American pro leagues - the NBA, NHL, MLB or NFL - to go public.

Even though athletes like Collins have come out in recent years, it doesn't mean gay and lesbian fans and athletes live in a world that embraces them with open arms.

In 2020, Monash University in Australia conducted a survey of young people from six English-speaking nations. The Associated Press reported that, according to the survey, athletes who came out "were significantly more likely to report they'd been the target of homophobic behaviors in sport settings."

And in early 2021, researchers at Ohio State University and Mississippi State University found that half of LGBTQ respondents in a study said that they'd experienced discrimination, insults, bullying or abuse while playing, watching or talking about sports.

Michael Sam's 'Raw Deal'

Perhaps nothing illustrates the cost of coming out quite like the story of University of Missouri football star Michael Sam.

Since 2010, 12 players have been selected as the defensive player of the year in the Southeastern Conference, which many fans and pundits regard as the toughest league in college football. Of those players, 11 have been selected in the first round of the NFL draft and one in the second round. The median selection was ninth overall.

The exception to this incredible run of success was Sam, who tied C.J. Mosley as SEC defender of the year for the 2013 season.

Heading into 2014, Sam was projected as a fourth-round draft pick. Then he publicly declared in interviews that he was gay in February of that year and tumbled on the draft boards, sliding to a sixth-round projection.

Ultimately, he was not selected until the 249th pick overall - eighth to last - in the final round of that draft.

Michael_Sam_final_Mizzou_home_game.jpgMichael Sam holding a souvenir rock from the rock 'M' at Memorial Stadium after a win against Texas A&M

He never played a regular season down in the NFL and wound up leaving football after a very brief stint with the Canadian Football League's Montreal Alouettes.

Whether Sam got a fair shot from the league or homophobia came into play is still a matter of debate in football circles. But his mind seemed to be made up at a University of New Mexico speaking engagement in 2019.

"The NFL gave me a raw deal," Sam told students. "It was tough to forgive them. I love football."

The Times Are Changing

So to Jim Buzinski, co-founder with Cyd Zeigler in 1999 of Outsports, the leading LGBTQ sports website, it was an important step forward for gay rights to see the hypermasculine NFL welcome Nassib, a player who already had proved himself in the league.

Bit by bit, the number of athletes coming out has increased annually, Buzinski told me.

In 2014, Outsports began to post "Coming Out Stories," in which gay athletes write about their own experiences revealing their sexual orientation. Authors - who have ranged from athletes at the high school, college and pro levels - were a little reluctant at first. But more and more readers saw the articles and wanted to talk about their own stories.

Now, Buzinski estimates, Outsports has posted 150 or more of the pieces, with so many submissions that he's had to set a publishing calendar to keep the copy flowing smoothly.

The athletes "always find more support than they expected," he said. "These stories, and moments like Carl's announcement, create a positive feedback loop."

As of this writing, the athletes profiled on that Coming Out Stories page include a rower, a swimmer, a softball player, a volleyball coach, a tennis player and a triathlete. A high school football player whose story got held a day because of the Nassib announcement was also featured.

"We haven't had a cricketer yet," Buzinski joked when I asked if any sports were missing.

A big factor in the shift toward athletes telling their stories was the 2015 Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage, he said. "It was a touchstone moment. It made a huge difference and is now so accepted, there's so much more representation in the media."

Still, individual acts make a difference. So when Nassib came out, and supportive tweets from a range of people, including former Penn State teammate Saquon Barkley and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, quickly followed, it said something about acceptance of gay athletes. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported the day after the announcement that Nassib had the top-selling jersey on Fanatics, an online retailer of sportswear.

Buzinski expects the trend to continue. He noted that Outsports is preparing its quadrennial count of openly gay and lesbian athletes participating in the Summer Olympics in July.

For Rio de Janeiro, that number was 56.

In Tokyo, it's expected to easily surpass 100.

John Affleck is the Knight Chair in Sports Journalism and Society at Penn State. This post is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:57 AM | Permalink

Squirrel Strikes

LASALLE, IL - It was only a matter of time before the reigning DIRTcar Summer Nationals champion Brian "The Squirrel" Shirley scored his first win of the season.

On Wednesday night at LaSalle Speedway, he did just that, leading all 40 laps green-to-checkered for his 34th career Hell Tour victory. With this win, Shirley has now won the last three tour visits to the quarter-mile oval.

But as dominant as the drive was, Shirley reflected on some of his recent performances and struggles in his Victory Lane interview and made it a point to show his determination for the rest of the races heading forward.

"I feel like we've been a little bit off, and this is definitely nothing to get excited about," Shirley said. "We're gonna grind this week out - it's in our backyard and we need to get some wins."

To do it, Shirley was forced to work his way through lapped traffic and hold off a hard-charging Garrett Alberson for 40 non-stop laps. Shirley jetted out to the lead at the drop of the green and opened up a sizable advantage over second-place Billy Moyer Jr.

Alberson had been gaining on Moyer through the first half of the race, and as he began to fade slightly just past the halfway point, Alberson cracked the whip on the bottom lane, made the pass underneath for second and set his sights on leader Shirley.

Out front, Shirley was moving through traffic well, but was having to sweat for it.

"I was a little nervous because I didn't know how much they could catch me, as far as when I got stuck behind them guys," Shirley said. "There were times when I had to make my own lane, and then when I got to guys running as good as me, it was a little tougher."

The race then became a similar situation to the previous DIRTcar Late Model race contested at LaSalle earlier in the year, where Alberson passed Shirley for the $12,000 victory in the 10th annual Thaw Brawl. But this time, Shirley was not to be denied.

Alberson closed the gap to Shirley by one second in the final laps, but it was not enough to catch the Bob Cullen Racing #3s. Shirley crossed the stripe with plenty of room to spare for his first $5,000 check of the season over Alberson, Ryan Unzicker, Moyer Jr. and Chris Simpson who rounded out the top-five.

Ashton Winger had a great rebound night after barrel rolling his car in Qualifying, crossing the stripe in eighth with a backup car. Points leader Bobby Pierce also had a rough start to his night but finished strong, being forced to take a provisional after blowing a tire in his Heat Race. The three-time champion advanced 10 spots over 40 laps to go 19th-to-ninth.


The Summer Nationals Late Model action continues Thursday night at the high banks of Spoon River Speedway for Round #8 of the 2021 Hell Tour campaign. Catch all the action live on DIRTVision presented by Drydene.

ABBREVIATED RESULTS (view full results)

Feature (40 Laps) 1. 3S-Brian Shirley[1]; 2. 59-Garrett Alberson[2]; 3. 24-Ryan Unzicker[4]; 4. 21JR-Billy Moyer Jr[3]; 5. 32S-Chris Simpson[9]; 6. 74-Mitch McGrath[7]; 7. 81E-Tanner English[12]; 8. 12-Ashton Winger[10]; 9. 32-Bobby Pierce[19]; 10. B12-Kevin Weaver[5]; 11. 25-Jason Feger[6]; 12. 97-Cade Dillard[8]; 13. 4G-Bob Gardner[17]; 14. 48-Tim Lance[11]; 15. 29-Spencer Diercks[18]; 16. 14G-Joe Godsey[21]; 17. 30-Mark Voigt[20]; 18. 21B-Rich Bell[13]; 19. 99JR-Frank Heckenast Jr[16]; 20. 1M-Mike Mataragas[15]; 21. 18-Shannon Babb[14]

RECORD BREAKER: Hoffman Wins at LaSalle for Sixth Consecutive Triumph |Three-time champ breaks his own record of five-straight from last year

Few times in the motorsports world do drivers find themselves with a chance to write a new chapter in the record books. Nick Hoffman did just that Wednesday night at LaSalle Speedway and cashed-in on it, winning his sixth-straight DIRTcar Summit Racing Equipment Modified Nationals Feature.

Once again, Hoffman had yet another perfect night. Setting fast time in Qualifying, winning his heat race and leading all 25 laps of the Feature for another $1,500 check. The win broke his own record for the longest win streak in tour history at five.

"Hot rod's just been really good. Nothing's really gone wrong, it's just all going our way right now," Hoffman said in Victory Lane. "We're going to one of my best racetracks tomorrow . . . just trying to keep the streak alive,"

Last week, the three-time champion had some terrific competition come for his hot streak and denied them all, barring Mike Harrison, Curt Spalding and others from Victory Lane as he sailed to five-straight wins. On Wednesday night, Hoffman saw some more tough customers in Mike McKinney and Allen Weisser, but they were turned away as well.

McKinney started to Hoffman's outside and pressured him through the first half of the race, but never could mount enough of a charge to make a move. Hoffman drove away in traffic for his 44th career tour victory over McKinney and Weisser. He's now only eight shy of tying Harrison for most wins All-Time.

From his point of view, Hoffman didn't feel much of the pressure behind him at all. He and the Elite Chassis #2 were smooth sailing the whole way through.

"I come out here and do the same thing every single night," Hoffman said. "Me and Shawn [crew guy] worked our butts off today, had a couple of issues earlier, but we smoothed it all out."


The Summit Modified action continues Thursday night, June 24, at the high banks of Spoon River Speedway for Round #8 of the 2021 Hell Tour campaign. Catch all the action live on DIRTVision presented by Drydene.

ABBREVIATED RESULTS (view full results)

Feature (25 Laps) 1. 2-Nick Hoffman[1]; 2. 96M-Mike McKinney[2]; 3. 25W-Allen Weisser[3]; 4. 77-Ray Bollinger[6]; 5. T6-Tommy Sheppard Jr[4]; 6. 292-Josh Allen[5]; 7. 57-Tim Hamburg[10]; 8. 7-Kelly Kovski[7]; 9. 57A-Andrew Hamburg[13]; 10. 1-Nash Hilmes[15]; 11. 0-Travis Kohler[8]; 12. 9H-John Demoss[11]; 13. 1W-Bob Pohlman[12]; 14. 61-Chris Osborne Jr[14]; 15. 45-Kyle Hammer[9]; 16. 88C-Marshall Call[16]

DIRTcar Summer Nationals is brought to fans by many important sponsors and partners, including: Arizona Sport Shirts/Gotta Race, Chevy Performance, DIRTVision (Official Live Broadcast Partner), FireAde, Hoosier Racing Tire (Official Tire), Indiana Decal Company, Intercomp, iRacing, Racing Electronics, SIS Insurance (Official Insurance Provider), Summit Racing Equipment, and VP Racing Fuels (Official Racing Fuel). Contingency sponsors include: ARP (Automotive Racing Products), Beyea Custom Headers, COMP Cams, Drydene, Fox Factory, Hoosier Racing Tire, MSD, Quarter Master, Summit Racing Equipment, VP Racing Fuels, and Wrisco (Exclusive Racing Aluminum).

Summit Modified Nationals is brought to fans by many important sponsors and partners, including: Summit Racing Equipment, Arizona Sport Shirts/Gotta Race, Chevy Performance, DIRTVision (Official Live Broadcast Partner), FireAde, Hoosier Racing Tire (Official Tire), Indiana Decal Company, Intercomp, iRacing, Racing Electronics, SIS Insurance (Official Insurance Provider), and VP Racing Fuels (Official Racing Fuel). Contingency sponsors include: ARP (Automotive Racing Products), Bassett Racing Wheel, Bell Helmets, Beyea Custom Headers, COMP Cams, Drydene, Fast Shafts, Fox Factory, Hoosier Racing Tire, Jerovetz Motorsports Shock Service, K1 Race Gear, KSE Racing Products, MSD, Mulit FireX, Schoenfeld Headers, Summit Racing Equipment, Velocita USA, VP Racing Fuels, Wrisco (Exclusive Racing Aluminum), and Xceldyne.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:47 AM | Permalink

June 22, 2021

The DIRTcar Summer Nationals

LASALLE, IL - Five races down, 30 to go.

Week Two of the 2021 DIRTcar Summer Nationals and Summit Racing Equipment Modified Nationals hits five tracks in five nights, starting Wednesday night at the quarter-mile bullring of LaSalle Speedway.


With last Sunday's event at Plymouth Speedway lost to rain, Bobby Pierce, of Oakwood, IL, has clinched the Week #1 championship and the first $2,000 weekly points fund check of the season. The three-time Hell Tour champion is scheduled to race most of Week #2 and will carry a 15-point lead into Wednesday night.

Nick Hoffman carries a 125-point lead into Week #2 of DIRTcar Summit Racing Equipment Modified Nationals action on the back of five consecutive wins in five starts. The rest of the UMP Modified world will attempt to stop his run, going up against the three-time champion Wednesday night at LaSalle - a place where he won last year.

Week #2 Schedule

Wednesday, June 23 | LaSalle Speedway | LaSalle, IL

Thursday, June 24 | Spoon River Speedway | Canton, IL

Friday, June 25 | Sycamore Speedway | Maple Park, IL

Saturday, June 26 | Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 | Pevely, MO

Sunday, June 27 | Jacksonville Speedway | Jacksonville, IL

If you can't get in on the action at the racetrack, watch every lap of competition live from wherever you are on DIRTVision presented by Drydene. Monthly or yearly FAST PASS subscriptions are available.

Here are the storylines to follow and drivers to watch for this week . . .

TIRE RULE AMENDMENT - With the shortage of Hoosier Racing Tires, a temporary tire rule has been implemented.

All Late Model teams competing in this week's races will be required to run Hoosier LM20 tires on the left-front, right-front and left-rear corners with an LM40 on the right-rear. Each driver will be given a receipt at the registration table, which can be redeemed at the tire truck for a set number of tires each day.

The number of tires that a team is allowed to purchase may fluctuate daily, depending on the inventory of the dealer at each track.

BABB IS BACK - Fairbury Speedway witnessed a real treat last Saturday night, watching four-time champion Shannon Babb climb through the top-10 en route to his 99th career Summer Nationals victory and first since June of 2019.

It was only his second appearance with the tour this season, but he's got more going on his plate this week. Babb, of Moweaqua, IL, has the first four races of Week #2 on his schedule and has won a Summer Nationals race at all of them.

He's now shooting for career Hell Tour victory #100, which, if achieved, would tie him with six-time champion Billy Moyer for #1 on the All-Time wins list. Armed with his Team Zero Race Car and a ton of experience on each of the tracks he faces this week, Babb and his crew have a great shot ahead of them to make history.

SUMMIT MOD STREAK - Five tracks. Five wins. All 130 Feature laps led. Nick Hoffman is on one of the most dominant winning streaks the Dirt Modified world has seen in the past several seasons.

This Wednesday, he looks to make it six-in-a-row at LaSalle - the site of one of his 13 DIRTcar Summit Racing Equipment Modified Nationals Feature wins last year. He escaped the clutches of his biggest competition this past week in the six-time champion Mike Harrison, who chased him down both Friday and Saturday night but was unable to catch the Elite Chassis #2.

Hoffman, of Mooresville, NC, is now only nine wins away from tying Harrison for most Summit Modified wins All-Time at 52. He's also chasing his own single-season wins record of 13, which he set in 2019, and is well on his way to breaking it with only nine more wins required over the next 30 races.

POINTS BATTLE - Through the first five races, it's been a close points battle between Bobby Pierce and Tanner English.

Pierce has led since the start, winning the first two races at Brownstown Speedway and Peoria Speedway. But English has kept pace with five-straight top-five finishes and a win Friday night at Tri-City Speedway - the second of his Summer Nationals career.

Fifteen points is now all that separates the two young guns. Pierce, a three-time champion, has 39 Summer Nationals wins in his career, while English, of Benton, KY, looks for #3 this week.

SQUIRREL STILL SEARCHING - With four top-10 finishes in five starts last week, defending Summer Nationals champion Brian "The Squirrel" Shirley has yet to reach Victory Lane, but has been building momentum.

After being disqualified on Thursday night at Kankakee County Speedway for failing to report to the scales after he checkered, Shirley, of Chatham, IL, and the Bob Cullen Racing team regrouped the next day at Tri-City Speedway and earned one of their best finishes of the week - a third-place to Tanner English and Bobby Pierce.

The Squirrel comes into Week #2 sitting 81 points back of leader Bobby Pierce in the championship standings. He's the defending winner at LaSalle and also had some success there earlier this year, leading over half of the Thaw Brawl DIRTcar Late Model special in May.

DIRTcar Summer Nationals is brought to fans by many important sponsors and partners, including: Arizona Sport Shirts/Gotta Race, Chevy Performance, DIRTVision (Official Live Broadcast Partner), FireAde, Hoosier Racing Tire (Official Tire), Indiana Decal Company, Intercomp, iRacing, Racing Electronics, SIS Insurance (Official Insurance Provider), Summit Racing Equipment, and VP Racing Fuels (Official Racing Fuel). Contingency sponsors include: ARP (Automotive Racing Products), Beyea Custom Headers, COMP Cams, Drydene, Fox Factory, Hoosier Racing Tire, MSD, Quarter Master, Summit Racing Equipment, VP Racing Fuels, and Wrisco (Exclusive Racing Aluminum).

Summit Modified Nationals is brought to fans by many important sponsors and partners, including : Summit Racing Equipment, Arizona Sport Shirts/Gotta Race, Chevy Performance, DIRTVision (Official Live Broadcast Partner), FireAde, Hoosier Racing Tire (Official Tire), Indiana Decal Company, Intercomp, iRacing, Racing Electronics, SIS Insurance (Official Insurance Provider), and VP Racing Fuels (Official Racing Fuel). Contingency sponsors include: ARP (Automotive Racing Products), Bassett Racing Wheel, Bell Helmets, Beyea Custom Headers, COMP Cams, Drydene, Fast Shafts, Fox Factory, Hoosier Racing Tire, Jerovetz Motorsports Shock Service, K1 Race Gear, KSE Racing Products, MSD, Mulit FireX, Schoenfeld Headers, Summit Racing Equipment, Velocita USA, VP Racing Fuels, Wrisco (Exclusive Racing Aluminum), and Xceldyne.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:47 PM | Permalink

Media Pundits Police The World

If you get your foreign policy news today from CNN or MSNBC or NPR or similar outlets, then you're bombarded hour after hour with the idea that the United States has the absolute right to impose sanctions on country after country overseas if they violate human rights or are not democratic.

To give just one example: On Sunday, CNN anchor Dana Bash grilled Biden National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan on why the White House is not imposing yet more sanctions on Russia (and China) and why Team Biden was "giving in to Russia" on the gas pipeline to Western Europe. Sullivan was emphatic in insisting that sanctions had been imposed and more were on the way - boasting that Biden had grabbed even more presidential power to sanction Russia through an executive order.

I'm old enough to remember the superiority complex behind the liberal media propaganda during the Cold War with the Soviet Union - while U.S. foreign policy, in the name of democracy, massacred millions of people of color, mostly civilians, across the globe - from Asia to Southern Africa to Latin America.

In the middle of the Cold War, when Martin Luther King Jr. denounced the U.S. government as "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today," and criticized U.S. hubris fueling the Cold War, liberal outlets like the New York Times and Washington Post furiously condemned King - in essence, telling him to leave foreign policy to "us white guys."

When it came to relations between nations, King criticized the "arrogance" of our country and the West in "feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them."

Jump to the present, and you see the same arrogance in liberal U.S. media: We have everything to teach others - whether Russia or China or Iran or Venezuela or any of the dozens of countries upon which the U.S. is imposing crushing, often deadly, sanctions.

Let's do today what MLK urged us to do back then: look at ourselves in the mirror.

There is no more precious human right than the right to be free from jail or prison. So it's a human rights violation of epic proportions that the United States has more than 2 million people incarcerated, way more than any other country, including China with its much huger population. Our people behind bars are disproportionately Black or Brown people. Liberal media have recently learned how to throw around the term "systemic racism." However - when lecturing other countries - they deftly forget that our mass incarceration is an affront to notions of "democracy" and "human rights."

It's a human right to be able to live without the fear of violence. Yet no other major country has so much gun violence, with hundreds shot every day - one of many problems that U.S. "democracy" can't even address, let alone solve.

One might have hoped that recent U.S. history would have humbled liberal media pundits about their cherished belief in the U.S.A. as a "beacon of democracy" to the world - and therefore, our sacred right to punish other countries that don't measure up.

After four years of Trump and a Trump movement that has captured almost half the electorate; after our corporatized media system lavished massive amounts of free airtime on candidate Trump in 2015 (CNN, CBS, ABC, etc.) because it was good for network profits; after years of a dysfunctional political system in Washington that serves the rich and giant corporations when not in total gridlock; after the U.S. Supreme Court got packed with right-wing judges through legislative double-dealing; after ever-increasing voter suppression targeting people of color and young voters - after all that and more, one would hope for some humility about "U.S. democracy."

Yet liberal media pundits keep propagandizing the public about our nation's right to lecture foreign countries over their political systems, and to severely punish them (leaving aside allies like Colombia, Saudi Arabia and Israel, of course). Never mind the horrific consequences to civilians overseas when deprived of life-sustaining imports.

These liberal news outlets may despise Trump, but they sure put "America first" when it comes to policing the rest of the world. And they seem intent on instigating new Cold Wars with Russia and China.

It's indefensible that Putin has imprisoned and nearly killed opposition figure Alexei Navalny, and it's important for the U.S. government to publicly and privately speak out against such behavior. The same goes for China's terrible mistreatment of Uyghur Muslims. But while speaking out with self-awareness and humility about human rights, the U.S. also needs to work collaboratively with Russia on cyber-peace and disarmament (the two nations have 90 percent of the world's nuclear weapons) and with China on climate change. Without collaboration, the world is doomed.

The liberal view on the original Cold War with Russia is that "WE WON." The progressive view is that everybody lost, especially Global South countries like Vietnam, Iran, Indonesia, Guatemala, and El Salvador that were victimized by U.S. invasions, coups and proxy wars supported by both Democrats and Republicans.

I have a bold idea you won't hear on CNN or MSNBC: Instead of lecturing and sanctioning the rest of the world, let's get our own house in order. Let's lead by example. On democracy, instead of sanctioning other countries, Team Biden should rally Democrats to sanction the U.S. Senate by establishing majority rule through an end to that Jim Crow-legacy, the filibuster. And Biden should address the right-wing-packed Supreme Court.

On human rights, let's cut the U.S. military budget in half, and provide things that other advanced countries already have: universal healthcare and free or near-free higher education. Let's invest billions of dollars in poor and working-class communities, and end the horrors of mass incarceration. Let's cancel student debt that burdens 45 million people - and, at long last, seriously tax U.S. oligarchs and corporations to pay for these investments (and perhaps worry less about sanctioning Russian oligarchs).

Joe Biden likes to think of himself as a foreign policy specialist. If he listens to the laptop warriors in the media who want him to "pivot" belligerently toward China and Russia, an adventurist foreign policy will undermine the Democratic domestic agenda and doom his administration quicker than you can say "LBJ." And Republicans will retake Congress.

Biden can succeed only if he ignores the media hawks and focuses laser-like on domestic policy - galvanizing his party toward a serious FDR-like effort to address human rights and climate change with major federal programs uplifting working class people of all colors.

This post is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:49 AM | Permalink

June 21, 2021

Forget Houston

In case you didn't notice, the sun did rise again this morning. Thankfully, the rotation of the Earth is far more predictable than the White Sox starting rotation as displayed last weekend in Houston. Judging from some of the reaction on social media, this item requires reinforcement.

The consternation and hand-wringing resulting from the four-game thrashing administered by the Astros should be expected, but let's be realistic. Had most fans been told prior to the season that on the first day of summer, despite the extended absences of Eloy Jiménez and Luis Robert, the Sox would be 14 games above .500 with a 2½-game lead in the AL Central, back-slapping, high fives, the pouring of another shot likely would have been in order.

It matters not that the team has battered opponents with less than .500 records to the tune of 26-6 while going 17-23 against the stouter fellows. A win is a win, no matter if it's by a run - the Sox are 8-9 in those nail-biters - or a blowout of at least five runs in which the Sox are 14-5.

This in no way can hide the fact that the Astros, winners of seven games in a row and 11 of their last 13, basically tramped all over Tony La Russa's crew. Before venturing to South Texas, the Sox closed out a home series against Tampa Bay, another division leader, by nipping the Rays 8-7 in 10 innings last Wednesday, giving the Sox a 2-1 edge in the series.

In the four games in Houston, the Sox could muster just eight more runs over all four games combined. Aside from Carlos Rodón, starting pitchers Dylan Cease, Lance Lynn and Dallas Keuchel were fresh meat for the hard-hitting Astros. And the defensive breakdowns were painful to witness.

However, four games do not a season make. Besides, how about those vaunted Tampa Bay Rays who invaded the Grate last week with the league's top record? Maybe they figured a trip out to Seattle would be the remedy for getting whipped by the Sox, but they were swept by the Mariners, a team of prospects and guys you never heard of. Those Rays, respected because they play the game "right," now have lost five in a row and trail the Red Sox by a half-game.

Or look at the Yankees, the prognosticators' pick to win the AL East and quite possibly the World Series. Approaching the midway point of the season, the New Yorkers are just five games above the break-even point, trailing both Boston and Tampa Bay.

Even last year's champion Dodgers haven't figured out a way to overtake the surprising San Francisco Giants, who for some unfathomable reason own baseball's best record of 46-26, after trailing Los Angeles by 14 games at the end of last season's abbreviated 60-game schedule.

There are additional reasons not to fret, one being the division in which the Sox reside. So far Cleveland has offered the most resistance, but their top two pitchers, last season's Cy Young winner Shane Bieber and Zach Plesac, are inactive because of injuries. Each is at least two weeks away from returning.

The Sox have scored more runs than Cleveland (349-301), and Sox pitchers have the better ERA of 3.32 to the Tribe's 4.17. Nevertheless, so far Cleveland has beaten the Sox in six of 11 games, so the remaining eight contests between the two clubs very well could tell the final story of 2021.

Overall, the Sox have pummeled their division rivals, winning 24 of 36 encounters. Of the remaining 90 games on the schedule, 40 will be against Central Division foes.

Coming up this week are two games in Pittsburgh before the team returns to the Grate for a three-game clash against the aforementioned Mariners. The Sox are labeling the weekend as a "Re-Opening" since capacity restrictions have been removed.

The resiliency of La Russa's charges obviously will be tested but, of course, even the last-place Pirates record can't be taken for granted since they just took two-of-three against Cleveland last weekend.

With the major injuries that the Sox have endured so far this season, they've managed to field a patchwork lineup many days with La Russa moving personnel all over the diamond. The Sox manager has been continually chided for his strategy of employing bunts, hit-and-runs, and handling of players. Some of this criticism is well-deserved.

However, the crucial job of deciding who is going to play and where is something the Sox skipper has displayed notable skill at, or maybe just plain good luck. Players like Jake Lamb, Billy Hamilton and now Brian Goodwin, none of whom figured to be on a big league roster this season, have played important roles in a few of the Sox victories.

Once Adam Engel got healthy, he figured to be the team's everyday centerfielder. However, Engel has started in centerfield in just eight of the 14 games since he was activated off the injured list. Until last weekend, the Sox were 8-2 since Engel's return. La Russa started Engel in two games of the Houston series. Engel had a hit in each of those games. No one would argue that Goodwin or Leury Garcia is a better centerfielder than Engel. Yet there is no guarantee that La Russa will pencil in Engel on a daily basis.

This is the way La Russa operates, and he's been uncanny a number of times when his choices seem questionable. Hamilton homers on two consecutive days, and Lamb's home runs have led the club to a couple of victories.

Over a 162-game schedule, the use of these place-holders figures to run its course. Yermín Mercedes is a prime example. There is a reason he's a rookie at 28. The argument that La Russa's condemnation of Mercedes in the 16-4 blowout last month caused the tailspin for the team's DH is unjustified. In his 28 games since then, Mercedes is hitting just .140 with one homer. His on-base percentage is a meager .209. His performance hasn't helped the offense in the least, and he never plays in the field.

What's hurting Mercedes, far more than his manager's verbal spanking, is swinging at pitches out of the strike zone, and the pitchers know that. They've adjusted. He hasn't. In the national TV game on Saturday, Fox seemed to take great pleasure in showing Mercedes in the dugout after another fruitless plate appearance. He's hitless in his last 21 at-bats. Yermín appeared to be pouting, sitting alone on the bench. The focus on national TV seemed unwarranted at best and cruel at worst.

Even assuming that he's been mishandled by his manager, a successful professional athlete requires a thick skin, a sense of confidence even when he or she is performing poorly. La Russa has shown a degree of trust in Mercedes by continually inserting him in the DH spot. If the funk continues, a trip to Charlotte will follow to see if a dose of Triple-A pitching is the antidote. If not, we might not see Mercedes again.

At the same time, the Sox have to rely that other marginal players don't run out of gas before Jiménez and Robert are healthy. Core players like José Abreu, Yoan Moncada, Yasmani Grandal and Tim Anderson have track records that indicate slumps and lack of production won't last very long. History is on their side. If the fringe guys can continue to contribute, the club will get back on track. That, more than the nightmarish weekend in Houston, is cause for concern.


Former Bill Veeck bar buddy Roger Wallenstein is our White Sox correspondent. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:12 PM | Permalink

June 18, 2021

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #361: Sticky Tactics

Gripping agents and griping fakers. Including: White Sox No Longer Best Team In MLB; Cubs Bull & Pen; Go, Bears, Go!; Sky Hot; Red Stars, Fire & USMNT; and more!

Beachwood Radio Network · The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #361: Sticky Tactics



* 361.


11:04: White Sox No Longer Best Team In MLB.


18:29: Cubs Bull & Pen.


Coom's Corner:


* The Delta Variant!

* Nick Castellanos: Vaccinated!

* Baseball Prospectus: "The [Cubs] offense is average at best - 18th by DRC+ (95) - and the rotation, summarized by the replacement of Yu Darvish with Davies, is below average (21st, 105 DRA-). They're where they are because they have, so far, the best bullpen in baseball."

* Evan Altman, Cubs Insider: "As of Thursday, the Cubs are tied for 20th in MLB when it comes to both innings (335) and ERA (4.65) from their starters. That latter number is actually better than it should be, however, as the Cubs are 25th in the majors with a 4.48 xFIP, 29th with a 4.94 FIP, and dead last with just 1.1 fWAR. That's not the kind of performance you can count on to even get you to the postseason, let alone win there."



44:40: Go, Bears, Go!


1:03:45: Worst NBA Finals Matchup Ever?

* It could happen.


1:05:16: Sky Hot.


1:05:44: Red Stars, Fire & USMNT.




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


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:43 PM | Permalink

June 16, 2021

Kids Who Get Hit In The Head Playing Football Show Brain Changes

With preseason football training on the horizon, a new study shows that head impacts experienced during practice are associated with changes in brain imaging of young players over multiple seasons.

The research, conducted by scientists at Wake Forest School of Medicine and the University of Texas Southwestern, is published in the June 15 issue of the Journal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics.

"Although we need more studies to fully understand what the measured changes mean, from a public health perspective, it is motivation to further reduce head impact drills used during practice in youth football," said the study's corresponding author Jill Urban, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Wake Forest School of Medicine.

The purpose of the study was to examine changes in head impact exposure (HIE) pre- and post-season in a group of 47 athletes who participated in youth football for two or more consecutive years between 2012 and 2017. None of the 47 youth athletes sustained a clinically diagnosed concussion during the study period.

A group of 16 youth athletes who participated in non-contact sports, such as swimming, tennis and track, served as the control group.

Pre- and post-season MRIs were completed for both groups of study participants using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), a type of neuroimaging that can be used to assess the integrity of the brain's white matter, indicating possible sites of injury.

In addition, the research team gathered biomechanical data of linear and rotational head accelerations of head impacts from the football group during all practice and games via the Riddell Head Impact Telemetry System in the helmets. That information was transmitted in real time to a sideline data collection field unit for later analysis.

In 19 of the 47 youth football athletes, brain images were obtained pre- and post-season for two consecutive football seasons. Using data from the DTIs and the head impact telemetry system, the researchers found variations in head impact exposures (i.e., the number and severity of head impacts measured) from year-to-year and between athletes. For example, in an examination of data from three consecutive seasons, some youths experienced more impacts in their second year of play than in their first, while other youths experienced fewer impacts in later years of play.

"We observed variability in the amount and direction of imaging changes in the brain related to the amount of exposure that the players experienced on the field," Urban said. "If we can take efforts to reduce that exposure on-field, we can potentially mitigate changes in brain imaging.

"Our findings further support ongoing efforts to reduce the number of head impacts in football practices. In an upcoming study, we plan to engage stakeholders in the youth football community to develop and test practical solutions informed by the data we collect on the field to reduce head impacts in practice."

The study was supported by three grants from the National Institutes of Health, namely National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke grants R01NS094410 and R01NS082453, and National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences grant KL2TR001421.


Previously in brain injuries:
* Bob Probert's Broken Brain.

* NFL Players Killing Themselves Because They Miss Football So Much.

* The College Football Report: Dementia Pugilistica.

* Blackhawks Playing Head Games.

* Jay Cutler Should Consider Retiring.

* Dislike: Friday Night Tykes.

* Hurt And Be Hurt: The Lessons Of Youth Sports.

* Chicago Soccer Player Patrick Grange Had CTE.

* Sony Softened Concussion To Placate NFL.

* Ultra-Realistic Madden To Simulate Game's Debilitating Concussions.

* Dear Football: I'm Breaking Up With You.

* Dead College Football Player's Brain Leaves Clues Of Concussions' Toll On Brain.

* More Bad Concussion News For Young Football Players.

* NFL Tried To Fix Concussion Study.

* The Week In Concussions: Another Enforcer Down.

* Teen Concussion Rate Rising Significantly.

* Conflict Of Interest For NFL Doctors To Report To Teams: Harvard Study.

* U.S. Supreme Court Ends Fight Over $1 Billion NFL Concussion Deal.

* U.S. High School Soccer Concussions On The Rise.

* Youth Football Finally Listening To Coach Coffman.

* Many Kids Still Don't Report Concussion Symptoms. How Can We Change That?

* Brain Damage In Former Players Fuels Soccer 'Heading' Fears.

* Canadian Youth Hockey Injuries Cut In Half After National Policy Change.

* More Teen Knowledge About Concussion May Not Increase Reporting.

* High School Boys Fear Looking 'Weak' If They Report Concussions.

* Pro Flag Football Is Now A Thing - Starring Former NFL Players!

* Nearly All Donated NFL Brains Found To Have CTE.

* Female Athletes Are Closing The Gender Gap When It Comes To Concussions.

* Whoa. Perhaps The Smartest Player In NFL History - He's In Math PhD Program At MIT - Assesses Situation And Decides To Save His Brain.

* Study: CTE Affects Football Players At All Levels.

* Dan Jiggetts Is Right About CTE.

* Letting Our Boys Onto The Football Field Is A Losing Play.

* Tackle Rings?

* CTE Season Preview.

* The CTE Diaries: The Life And Death Of A High School Football Player Killed By Concussions.

* Study: Youth Football Linked To Adult Problems.

* Can Weed Save Football?

* NHL In Chintzy Tentative Concussion Settlement: Not Our Fault.

* The NHL's Deadly Denial.

* Could Helmetless Tackling Training Reduce Football Head Injuries?

* The Unique Concussions Of Female Athletes.



Former NHL Goalie Tim Thomas Details Brain Damage.

"Former NHL goaltender Tim Thomas says he has experienced significant brain damage from concussions during his playing career. Thomas says he still struggles to organize his thoughts."


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:45 PM | Permalink

When Rich Families Fundraise

In 2013, families at a Seattle high school raked in more than $100,000 for a raffle to win a Tesla Model S.

The year before, the parent teacher association at Garfield High cleared $40,000 in raffle tickets for a Nissan Leaf. Other schools in this tech-boom city rely on lavish galas to raise as much as $422,000 in a single night, and some spend almost as much as they haul in.

During the pandemic, parents at the John Stanford International School spent $249,999 - one dollar less than the school district allows before the board steps in to review such spending - on teaching assistants for a dual language program. This year, the Green Lake Parent Teacher Association paid about half that much to cover the cost of the elementary school's vocal teacher and a portion of a full-time counselor's salary, among other supports for students.

Meanwhile, on the city's South End, parents at Rising Star Elementary celebrate when they can cobble together even $300.

"That's in a good year," said Leticia Bazemore, former PTA vice president at Rising Star.

About 3 in 4 students at Rising Star come from low-income households. Parents often can't afford to pay membership dues for the PTA - let alone write hefty checks at its fundraisers. Instead it is often up to people like Bazemore, other PTA board members and school staff to donate their own money to cover membership fees, buy lunches during teacher appreciation week or help families afford tickets to attend special events.

"We were paying out of pocket for the smallest things - movie night, fifth-grade graduation," said Bazemore, a special ed paraprofessional. "Everyone wanted to do right by the kids. We can't always afford it."

The staggering disparity in how much parent groups can raise for their neighborhood schools exists throughout the country. And debates over how - and whether - to narrow those gaps have sparked headlines from coast to coast, from Malibu and Santa Monica in California to New York City. Some have called the whole issue a distraction from the real problem: A lack of sufficient state and federal funding.

A Racial Reckoning?

Rita Green, the Washington state education chair for the NAACP, volunteered on the parent-teacher group at Rainier Beach High from 2007 to 2016. The school's PTSA had zero assets or income as of 2018, according to a local public radio report.

"I know how hard we worked at Rainier Beach to get what little money we could, so if we had to give half of that to another school, I'd be upset too," Green said. "The real issue is Washington state just needs to fully fund education. If we had full funding, we wouldn't have to depend so much on PTAs to hire teachers or instructional assistants or provide the support services needed at school."

Morton-PTA-equity-3.pngMothers Gwyn Hainsworth, far left, Vernee Fletcher, Jamie Zimmerman, Katy Strange and Leticia Bazemore pose at Jefferson Park in Seattle during a June 2019 soccer scrimmage/Kam Yee

Still, since at least 2010, a small group of Seattle parents have tried to convince friends and neighbors to practice what many here preach about equity and voluntarily divert some of their wealth to high-poverty schools.

The idea has generated opposition, mostly behind closed doors, in this deeply progressive city. Despite this, a PTA equity plan slowly gained momentum - before grinding to a halt during the pandemic. Over the past year, however, COVID-19's outsized impact on marginalized communities and the national reckoning over racial justice may have spurred more white and affluent families to reconsider the consequences of only advocating for their own kids.

"This is kind of, like, almost now or never," said Vivian van Gelder, also a former PTA president in Seattle and co-founder of Families and Communities for Equity in Schools.

While the idea has hardly caught fire nationally, a handful of communities have already created mechanisms for redistributing parent donations between schools: Arlington, Virginia; Evanston, Illinois; Oakland, California; and Portland, Oregon are all examples. The push for equity among PTAs in those cities hit sometimes fierce resistance before advocates found ways to calm fears that wealthy parents might disinvest from - or leave - public schools. (Research suggests the practice has no significant impact on overall giving to schools.)

Despite the good intentions, the concept of funneling cash from the haves to the have-nots also raises concerns of paternalism and white saviorism. In Seattle, at least one group of parents has already worked through that issue. When the Green Lake PTA offered to help its counterpart at Rising Star three years ago, PTA vice president Bazemore and her board first set clear expectations: They wanted sweat equity, not just a hand-out.

"It was never about the money," she said. "We were focusing on new relationships to help these kids."

Morton-PTA-Equity-1.jpgParents from the Green Lake and Rising Star elementary schools in Seattle meet for a spaghetti dinner in late 2019/Dawn Larson

Parents from the two schools spent hours at spaghetti dinners and in mediation sessions making sure both sides understood the strengths of the other: Green Lake parents knew how to write a grant application; Rising Star parents knew a good accountant. Each PTA also had to play defense at home - against Rising Star staff making direct appeals for funding from Green Lake and against wealthy parents asking if their money was being spent appropriately at the other school.

Ultimately, the parents agreed that the Green Lake PTA would direct 3 percent of its fundraising - $5,000 during the 2020-21 school year - directly to the Rising Star PTA and would sponsor specific events for kids and teachers during the year. Parents from both schools believe they learned how to share power and advocate together for greater change within a system that often rewards a vocal minority of white voters.

"It feels really good to say, 'I believe in this and that,'" said Dawn Larson, a social justice and equity co-chair of the Green Lake PTA. "To actually do the things you have to do to support that, it takes risk and maybe failing and possibly looking foolish. We are a lip-service city and not everyone feels comfortable doing that."

Segregated PTAs

Parent-teacher associations date back to at least 1897, when nearly 2,000 women met in Washington, D.C. for the National Congress of Mothers - predecessor to the National PTA. A key priority at the meeting: Ensuring all children had access to a good education and skilled teachers. The focus inspired local parent-teacher groups - at the time, segregated by race - to drive many reforms in public schools, including the additions of kindergarten, playgrounds, school lunches and water fountains, according to Christine Woyshner, a professor at Temple University who has researched the history of volunteer groups in education.

"Widows and people with grown children would join," Woyshner said of the early PTAs. "This was a community cause and it was for everyone's kids and for the benefit of the entire community."

Over the decades, however, local PTAs shifted their attention and efforts away from advocacy work to fundraising for individual schools.

Leslie Boggs, president of the National PTA, blamed much of that evolution on the often-exhausting fights over K-12 funding within school districts and states.

"The only thing that could impact their own children immediately was if they [parents] did the fundraising on their own," Boggs said. "But the key education resources should come from the school district budgets. It shouldn't be linked to parents' fundraising at all."

Less than a quarter of public schools in the U.S. have parent groups formally associated with the National PTA, according to The Brookings Institution. When local PTAs reach out to the national group to ask about splitting fundraising more equitably, they are provided with information about how funds should be raised and spent or directed back to their state PTAs, said National PTA spokesperson Heidi May Wilson. Ultimately, Wilson and Boggs said, it is the position of the National PTA that all necessary equipment and staffing at public schools should be paid for with government funds. They encourage parent leaders in local PTAs to advocate for increased investments in public education.

Estimates of how much money PTAs generate each year range from about $425 million to $781 million, amounting to less than 1 percent of total school spending in the U.S., according to the Center for American Progress. (It's difficult to get an exact figure for PTA fundraising, as financial reporting rules offer little transparency. PTAs with less than $50,000 in revenue, for example, typically don't need to file federal nonprofit reports. Parents also can funnel donations through athletic booster clubs, school foundations and other nonprofit or private organizations.)

Though the overall amount raised is a drop in the national education budget, it's disproportionately distributed to schools in well-heeled neighborhoods. The nation's 50 richest PTAs raised and spent $43 million dollars for the nation's most affluent schools in fiscal year 2013-14, according to Meg Benner, a senior consultant at the Center for American Progress. In 2017, she co-authored a report that found some of the richest PTAs collected nearly $2,000 per student. In 2013-14, average per-pupil spending on public education in the U.S. was about $11,000 per student: Wealthy PTAs could boost per student spending at their kids' schools by about 20 percent.

"It's probably natural for parents to make sure their children have everything to maximize their education," Benner said. "Unfortunately, not all parents have the opportunity to do the same for their kids."

Portland's Problem

The 2017 report closely examined perhaps the longest-running experiment in redistributing parent donations - in Portland Public Schools.

Statewide cuts to K-12 funding in Oregon prompted some parents in 1994 to ask Portland's school board for permission to raise private dollars to pay for teaching and staff positions at their schools. The board agreed, but required a central equity fund to collect one-third of all funds over $10,000 raised at an individual campus. A school foundation that raised $40,000 would keep the initial $10,000 plus two thirds of the rest, for a total haul of $30,000. The remaining $10,000 would flow into a citywide foundation, which would share the funds with other schools based on student demographics, federal funding and other factors.

Last year, local school foundations in Portland raised $4 million, with $1.1 million set aside for the equity fund. In 2019, a new superintendent established a Fund for Portland Public Schools that coordinates fundraising, including parent donations, across the entire school district. Some have suggested to Jonathan García, the district's chief engagement officer, that the new arrangement might be good excuse to get rid of the local school foundations entirely, which would effectively stop parents from spending their money on staff salaries. (Austin has just banned parents from covering staff salaries.)

García isn't sure what message it would send to families to make rules about what they can contribute.

"How do we honor - not vilify - what parents are trying to do at their school level?" García said. "My mom would give tamales, not money . . . what does that say about commitment to campus?"

Additional support for citywide giving was provided by the 2017 study, which suggested that early fears that the central fund would diminish parent contributions were exaggerated. Benner and her co-authors compared three years of financial data for PTAs in Portland and Seattle - enrollment size, per pupil spending and socioeconomic data are similar between the two. And while data limitations restricted their study to about half of all PTAs in either district, the comparison found the equity policy in Portland "did not substantially reduce overall parent contributions."

Skip Card, a New York City parent who's written about the Portland model, rejected the idea on principle.

Card described the PTA at his daughter's elementary school - which during her first year there raised $800,000 - as "a parents association on steroids." Card, who grew up near Seattle and attended the University of Washington, didn't dispute that parent fundraising exacerbates inequities in schools.

"I don't think that's the intention," he said. "No one raises money for their parent association hoping to hold other people down. But the idea of taking private donations and diverting them to a place that the government thinks could be better served, people don't really realize just how revolutionary that is."

Card used the example of alumni donations to colleges to make his point. "I don't donate to UW and expect the state of Washington to say, 'Well, Seattle Central College needs much more money, so we're just going to take it.'"

Back in Seattle, advocates for a PTA equity plan have encountered similar arguments.

Van Gelder, a former PTA president at Montlake Elementary who advocates for equity in Seattle schools, pitched the idea to other parents at her kid's school. Only 6 percent of students come from low-income households at Montlake. The reaction was intense, van Gelder remembered. A meeting to discuss the proposal lasted nearly three hours. Many parents supported the idea, but some balked at the thought of moving money they donated specifically for their children to another school. Others suggested high-poverty campuses already get much more federal funding, through Title I, to support high-needs students.

Van Gelder has little patience for the Title I argument because she thinks the kids getting that funding need it just to start in a more equitable place.

"It's like having an elevator in a school," she said. "The extra money that goes into maintaining the elevator is so kids using a wheelchair can at least get to the classroom." Classroom access should be considered the bare minimum, she said. In contrast, "PTA funding provides more materials, better programming. It's an enhanced education experience, not just basic access."

Equity In Evanston?

More than 2,000 miles away, in Evanston, Illinois, a diverse group of parents spent years working through such debates.

Volunteers from each campus in the Evanston/Skokie School District 65 started meeting in 2016 to study the pros and cons of various redistribution models. They eventually settled on asking PTAs to pool their resources, donating up to 12 percent of their total income to a central fund that will distribute money to schools with a higher proportion of students living in poverty. And last December, every PTA in the K-8 school district voted to voluntarily join a three-year pilot that starts this summer.

"There was definitely a moment in the pandemic where we could have given up. But no, this is the exact time to put everything we've practiced into action," said Suni Kartha, co-facilitator of the PTA Equity Project.

Kartha, also a member of the school board, considered pushing for a formal policy. But she worried about inspiring widespread opposition, noting that after the Santa Monica-Malibu school district started redistributing donations equally between all schools in 2011, Malibu, the more affluent city, tried for years to split its schools from the district.

The grassroots approach appears to be growing in other communities: An equity fund in Oakland, California, operates entirely on voluntary donations from participating PTAs. So, too, does a countywide council in Arlington, Virginia, where schools must apply for grants from a central fund.

In Alameda, neighbor to Oakland, Brian Dodson, the district teacher of the year in 2020, said he and his colleagues felt the need to take some action following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis last year.

"There's this national crisis that's out of our control," he said, but added he feels "stubbornly optimistic that people want to make a positive change right now."

Dodson and other teachers will make a formal pitch to the individual PTAs at their respective schools throughout May, hoping to convince them to sign up to develop an equity plan among Alameda schools.

Last summer, the Seattle Council PTSA - an umbrella group of parent teacher associations - decided to move forward on a 2019 resolution and form a committee to explore advocating for more equitable funding, but a call for volunteers to work on the committee remained unfilled.

"Everything's at a standstill for a lot of reasons," said Edna Iglesias, a mother of three and an elementary school teacher who chairs a separate committee on the council. "You've got the people who like to talk about equity and then backpedal a little bit, and then you have others impacted so severely (by COVID-19) there's no extra time or extra effort to work on those things."

The Seattle School Board, meanwhile, will get a chance to weigh in soon. Board President Chandra Hampson plans to revisit the $250,000 cap on parent donations later this year - "Something will get done before I leave office," she said - but she also expects the past year to complicate any public debate over a potential PTA equity plan.

"Are we going to be the board who tells families they can't buy counselors for their school right after a pandemic?" Hampson said.

A New Normal?

Meanwhile, a coalition of 12 schools in Seattle's South End - many of which see little PTA spending in normal years - tried a pilot redistribution plan among themselves in May. Families and volunteers raised money through a virtual walkathon, then will dole it out to each participating school. As of early June, the "Moveathon" had raised $152,000 - well above its goal of $120,000.

"There's not a lot of resources here," said Sarah Igawa, president of the parent association at Maple Elementary, one of the schools in the new coalition. "But if we want everyone to do this, let's start with ourselves and prove it's possible."

It remains unclear to committed advocates of a citywide PTA equity plan here whether a renewed push after the pandemic will create actual change, or wither amid the rush for a return to normal.

Kaleb Germinaro, a doctoral student at UW, started working behind the scenes in Seattle in 2019, connecting parents and organizations interested in the idea of redistributing PTA revenues That work mostly stopped as he focused on the basic needs of families during Covid and the recession; he wondered whether the shared devastation would create a moment to reimagine a new normal.

"This is the first time that white people ever felt oppressed, obviously not to the degree of folks of color by any means," Germinaro said. "But a lot of people lost jobs, a lot of people died. A lot of other people have been dealing with that for centuries. So, what comes next?"

This post was produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education. Sign up for the Hechinger newsletter.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:01 AM | Permalink

They Changed The Name

Village Leadership Academy (VLA), Chicago's very own premier K-8 independent social justice school, is excited to announce the BET television debut of Change the Name, a short documentary highlighting their students' work to change the name of Stephen Douglas Park in Chicago's North Lawndale community to Anna and Frederick Douglass Park.

The "Change the Name" campaign, which began more than four years ago as one project of the VLA social justice GrassRoots Campaign curriculum, garnered much attention as VLA students refused to back down from the Chicago Park District's silent dismissal of their proposals to change the name of the park, which celebrated a slave-owning family in a historically Black neighborhood.

GrassRoots Campaigns (GRC), which are a central component of curriculum at VLA, are immersive civic engagement projects that promote critical problem-solving skills whereby students and teachers work collaboratively to create and develop an action plan that provides solutions to an identified societal issue directly impacting their community. VLA students acquire deep, interdisciplinary learning and essential leadership development skills as they work to enact direct, prolonged change within their communities.

The award-winning documentarian, Cai Thomas, became connected with VLA through their interest in social justice, youth activism, and education. Thomas is a NeXt Doc and Sisters in Cinema Fellow interested in telling verité stories about Black youth and elders at the intersection of location, self-determination, and identity.

changethename.jpgStudents leading the Change the Name campaign/Tribeca Film Festival

Change the Name will be aired on BET as part of the Queen Collective Shorts collection in this year's Tribeca Film Festival as a part of their Juneteenth programming. Those interested in viewing the documentary can tune into BET at 8 p.m. CST on Saturday, June 19, or purchase for viewing through the Tribeca Film Festival website June 18 - 23.

Village Leadership Academy, founded in 2007, is an independent kindergarten through eighth-grade social justice elementary school located in the South Loop. Those interested in supporting their work, learning more about the school, enrollment, or the GrassRoots Campaigns curriculum, can visit


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:29 AM | Permalink

June 15, 2021

Judge Certifies Class Action Lawsuit Against IDOC

The United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois certified all 28,000+ state prisoners to be part of a class Monday in a class action lawsuit challenging IDOC's excessive use of solitary confinement.

Plaintiffs, represented by the Uptown People's Law Center and pro bono attorneys with Winston and Strawn, allege that conditions in solitary are horrific; that IDOC permits the use of solitary confinement for minor infractions; and that IDOC uses lengthy, disproportionate stays, all of which constitute "cruel and unusual punishment" in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Plaintiffs also allege that prisoners are given no meaningful opportunity to present a defense, and sometimes are not even told why they are being sent to solitary, thereby violating the 14th Amendment by not complying with the minimum requirements of due process.

In Monday's opinion, the court not only held that plaintiffs had sufficient evidence to support their allegations, but also held that the six named plaintiffs could litigate the claims on behalf of all Illinois prisoners, since every prisoner is subject to being sent to solitary at any time, often for very minor violations. Plaintiffs do not seek damages; rather, they seek a court order to fix the system.

"Illinois' prison system locks up too many people, for too long, in horrific conditions," says Alan Mills, a UPLC attorney. "And as solitary confinement is prison within prison, it, too, is overused. The U.N. states that over 15 days of solitary is torture, yet sometimes people in Illinois spend decades there. And everyone who spends more than a couple of weeks ends up traumatized. We welcome the chance to finally expose these horrors in federal court."

Magistrate Judge Beatty stated in the ruling that prisoners "routinely are not offered the full amount of yard time required by IDOC policy. Even when they are, they often refuse to go because the yards are unstimulating, unsanitary, and/or unsafe. Cells are extremely small but nevertheless frequently occupied by two [prisoners]. Guards regularly use force against prisoners, chemical spray on prisoners, and use racial epithets and slurs when speaking.

"While variations undoubtedly exist between facilities as to other conditions, such as cleanliness, cell fixtures, and rodent and insect control, these dissimilarities do not bear on or somehow negate the broader, baseline conditions the facilities all have in common."

Beatty concluded that he found the conditions described by plaintiffs and their experts "disturbing, and quite frankly distressing."

The UPCL is a nonprofit legal services organization specializing in prisoners' rights, Social Security disability, and tenants' rights and eviction defense. The UPLC currently has six active class action lawsuits regarding jail and prison conditions.



* May 2017: Federal Court Certifies Lawsuit Charging Unconstitutional Illinois Prison Healthcare.

* May 2018: Mentally Ill Prisoners Win Injunction; Judge Declares IDOC's Failure To Provide Mental Health Care An "Emergency Situation."

* October 2018: Judge: "Deliberate Indifference" Of IDOC Mental Health Care Requires Federal Oversight.

* December 2018: Federal Judge To IDOC: Get Your Unconstitutional Shit Together.

* January 2019: Overhauling Illinois' Unconstitutional Prisons.

* March 2021: Illinois Prisoners' Health Care Still Unconstitutional.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:01 PM | Permalink

June 14, 2021

Next Team Up

This "next man up" might not be so much hooey after all. At least not yet.

But what's Tony La Russa, Rick Hahn, and the minions in the dugout supposed to say about the staggering injuries that this year's edition of the White Sox have endured? We heard the mantra once again last Wednesday when second baseman Nick Madrigal suffered a proximal tear of his right hamstring trying to beat out a slow grounder to third base. The Sox wound up losing the game 6-2 to Toronto, the team's only loss of the week. Madrigal had been on a roll recently, raising his batting average to .305 while 16 of his 61 hits have gone for extra bases. In the previous nine games, Nick was slashing a rousing .353/.389/.948 with a home run and six RBIs. Clearly his loss would hurt.

But not so fast. The team hasn't been beaten since Nick went down. Danny Mendick and Leury García will be the replacements for the foreseeable future, and beginning with Thursday's 5-2 victory over the Blue Jays prior to the weekend's three-game sweep of the Tigers in Detroit, that duo has combined for five hits, four walks, three RBIs, a two-base hit, and an on-base percentage of .529. Mendick also made a superb play on Friday, cradling a hard ground ball behind second base for the final out in the bottom of the tenth inning, preserving a 5-4 Sox win.

Consider that the Sox now possess a 41-24 record and a 5½-game division lead over Cleveland. All without Eloy Jiménez who very well might have been into double digits in home runs at this point. Since centerfielder Luis Robert went to the sidelines on May 2 with a torn hip flexor, the team is 26-12. Michael Kopech tweaked a hammie on May 26, yet the fellas are 13-4 awaiting his return to the pitching staff.

The wins have piled up right along with the injuries.

At the present time, Billy Hamilton, Jace Fry and Jimmy Cordero have joined the aforementioned quartet on the sidelines. Fan favorite Hamilton won't be back before June 25 while he nurses a sore oblique; reliever Fry could return this week, while Cordero has had surgery and is done for the season.

The most recent "next man" is outfielder Brian Goodwin, a 2011 first-round draft pick of the Nationals, who has bounced around since then. His best season was 2019 with the Angels when he hit .262 with 17 homers. The Pirates released Goodwin in early May, and Hahn signed him the next day, stationing him at Triple-A Charlotte.

Goodwin took Madrigal's spot on the active roster, and La Russa put him in the lineup on Saturday. "Next Man" Goodwin doubled in a run in his first at-bat and then smacked a three-run homer next time up. Recording the games on one's DVR is recommended these days in order to verify what's happening. Otherwise you can be excused for not believing the reports.

While some big names have been idled, as far as numbers are concerned, the White Sox have gotten off rather easily in terms of injuries so far this season. A perusal of the Injured Lists (IL) of the 40-man rosters of all 30 clubs discloses that 247 players were on the sidelines as of last Saturday. Remember, folks, this is not the NFL where violence is required. Shorn tendons and broken bones are expected at Soldier Field and other venues. Rosters are decimated by mid-season. The subject here focuses on the serene activity of baseball, a non-contact endeavor played on the green pastures of America.

The Oakland A's have just four players on their IL, the fewest of any team. Perhaps not surprisingly, the A's are atop the AL West.

However, that theory is quickly disproven because the Giants' IL contains 13 players, and they, too, are leading their division.

Tampa Bay will invade The Grate the next three days, sporting the American League's best record of 42-24. The Rays have nine players on the IL, of which eight are pitchers. The antidote is that the Rays stockpile pitchers like we accumulated hand sanitizer these past months. They trade Blake Snell to San Diego - where he hasn't been very good - because they know Tyler Glasnow is ready to be an ace. He'll face Lance Lynn in the match-up this evening at The Grate.

Ten teams have at least 10 players of their 40-man roster on the IL. Torn rotator cuffs, pulled hamstrings and obliques, tightness of lower backs and calves are as common as doubles, triples, and homers. The game's best player, Mike Trout, has a strained calf which reports say will sideline him for six to eight weeks. Taking a page from the White Sox, the Angels were four games under .500 when Trout was injured. Since then they've gone 15-10.

Some of us older folks recall the attention that consecutive game streaks attracted. The number 2,130 was synonymous with Lou Gehrig until Cal Ripken played in 2,632 games without a break. Locally the Cubs' Billy Williams played in 1,117 consecutive games between 1963-70, the sixth longest streak in history. Ernie Banks ranks 15th with 717 between 1956-61, and Sox second baseman Nellie Fox never missed one game between 1951 and 1962, which is 11th on the all-time list, a total of 798 games.

Not being a physical therapist, I have to assume these guys had anatomies that included hamstrings and obliques. They all played hard. They stretched singles into doubles. They went into the hole to nab hard hit shots and ran into the gaps to catch flyballs. Why didn't they get hurt as often as today's players?

Of the top 20 consecutive game streaks, only Miguel Tejada's 1,152 - No. 5 all-time - occurred this century from, 2000 to 2007. Kansas City's Whit Merrifeld presently has the longest streak, but it is only 275 games. Because of injuries and scheduled days off, consecutive game streaks have gone the way of complete games and guys who can steal 100 bases.

So why are hordes of players hurting themselves? Players today usually train year-round. Stretching is an integral part of pre-game preparation. Weight training and work in the gym are staples of the game. Nutrition is part of the training regimen.

At this time, no one has the answers for keeping players off the IL. A guy like Luis Robert is a physical specimen: long, slender, muscular, possessor of great reflexes and speed. Maybe his body, as sculpted as it is, simply isn't strong enough to endure what his brain tells it to do.

But Madrigal? He's just a little guy, not noted for strength or exceptional speed. His injury sounds devastating. Apparently the hamstring is composed of four muscles all connected to the bone where the top of his leg meets his buttocks. Simply running to first base, the tendons connecting those muscles gave way. Surgery to re-attach the hamstring may be indicated. If so, he's done until 2022.

Years ago baseball players were instructed not to lift weights. The thinking was that building muscle mass meant less flexibility. Muscle-bound guys couldn't swing or throw freely. Players like Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio, while strong, were long and lanky. They never pumped iron. And they rarely got hurt.

Babe Ruth was notorious for his sloppy habits. He was a glutton and a drinker, and he had a paunch. Like other players, he would report to spring training overweight and out of shape. And he arguably was the greatest ever while rarely missing a game because of injury.

The rash of injuries will be a hot topic this off-season. Keeping your best players on the field will dictate how a ballclub will finish. That is, unless the next man up turns out to be as good or better than the guy who hobbles off the field.


Former Bill Veeck bar buddy Roger Wallenstein is our White Sox correspondent. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:27 AM | Permalink

June 11, 2021

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #360: Cubs Screwing Front Office - And Themselves

Anti-vax clubhouse eminently despicable. Including: Anthony Rizzo No Longer Likable; Where These Cubs Came From; Next Manager Up, Please; Thibs Tout; Coby White Has A Shoulder; Justin Trubisky; Sky Trade; and The World Of Soccer.

Beachwood Radio Network · The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #360: Cubs Screwing Front Office - And Themselves



* 360.


1:38: Anthony Rizzo No Longer Likable.

* Literally endangering the lives of his teammates and their families.


14:14: Cubs Screwing Front Office.


31:23: Where These Cubs Came From.

* Kohl Stewart, Patrick Wisdom, Andrew Chafin, Tommy Nance, Rafael Ortega, Sergio Alcantara, Keegan Thompson, Dan Winkler, P.J. Higgins, Ryan Tepera, Matt Duffy.


36:13: Next Manager Up, Please.


49:10: The Right Week To Stop Sniffing Glue.



Joe Niekro's emery boar (I said Phil).


Yadier Molina's chest protector.


54:00: Thibs Tout.


59:01: Coby White Has A Shoulder.


59:44: Justin Trubisky.

* Rick Morrissey is right but missing something awfully big right in front of his face.


1:06:35: Sky Trade.

* Nemchock, Swish Appeal: Breaking Down The Chicago Sky's Trade For Dana Evans.


1:08:18: The World Of Soccer.

* Red Stars, Fire & the Euro.


1:09:59: TrackNotes!




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


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:33 PM | Permalink

June 10, 2021

Kapow! Zap! Splat! How Comics Make Sound On The Page

Typically, comics are considered a silent medium. But while they don't come with an aural soundtrack, comics have a unique grammar for sound.

From Wolverine's SNIKT! when unsheathing his claws, to Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 23 in The Death of Stalin (later made into a film) the use of "textual audio" invites comics readers to hear with their eyes.

Fundamental elements such as symbols, font styles and onomatopoeia (where words imitate sounds) mean reading comics is a cross-sensory experience. New and old examples show the endless potential of the artform.

Holy Onomatopoeia, Batman!

Onomatopoeia isn't unique to comics but comic artists have certainly perfected this figurative form of language. POW! BAM! BANG! appear on the page when Batman and Robin land a punch. BLAM! is the sound made by the Penguin's umbrella when it shoots from a distance.

The list of sounds represented by onomatopoeia is limitless in terms of creative potential. There are words that mimic sounds directly, such as SPLOSH! (the sound made by an object falling into water) and made-up sounds like that of Wolverine's adamantium claws (as we will see further below).

The language of comics offers creative freedom to expand the aural lexicon. One online database lists over 2,500 comic book sounds with links to comics images in which they've been used.

Screen Shot 2021-06-10 at 7.00.35 PM.pngStan Lee's Gunsmoke Western #68 (1955), with lettering and penciling by Dick Ayers/The Comic Book Sound Effect Database

This can also present special challenges for translators. Sounds represented in comics can range from speech sounds (subject to language rules including those governing how syllables can be formed) to human-made non-verbal sounds like sneezes, to sounds made by objects and environments.

Visual context is important too. We only recognize the warning of Wolverine's violent retribution in SNIKT! when the word is drawn and displayed next to the hairy mutant.

Screen Shot 2021-06-10 at 7.02.26 PM.pngWolverine extends his claws/Author

Likewise, the word THWIP! by itself may not mean much. But when positioned in context it can imbue a comic page with excitement and adventure.

Imagine a young man dressed in a tight red-and-blue bodysuit diving at high speed from the top of the Empire State building. Suddenly, just before hitting the ground, THWIP! he shoots spider webs from his wrists, using them to swing from building to building. Both readers and the crowd of enthusiastic fans on the page react: "Here comes Spidey!"

The Way They Say It

Comic creators also use font style and size and different speech bubble shapes and effects to shout, whisper or scream language.

Bold, italics, punctuation, faded or irregular letters are used to emphasize different features of the written words: fear, courage, loudness or quietness.

In My Friend Dahmer, created by a school friend of the infamous serial killer, the protagonist is seen carrying a dead cat on his way home by a group of kids. Comics creator John "Derf" Backderf applies bigger-bold words in one of the kids' speech balloon to emphasize the shouting and surprise of onlookers.

Screen Shot 2021-06-10 at 7.03.57 PM.pngMy Friend Dahmer (2012) by Derf Backderf/Author

Music To My Eyes

The 1973 manga Barefoot Gen, written by Keiji Nakazawa, explores his firsthand experience of the bombing of Hiroshima and its aftermath.

Gen, the main character, sings through several pages of the story. The author uses a musical note symbol () to indicate where speech bubbles are sung. By the final pages of the fourth volume, Gen sings to celebrate that his hair is beginning to grow again after being affected by radiation poisoning.

When preceded by the easily recognizable musical symbol, it's virtually impossible to read the dialogue without "hearing" a melody:

"Red roof on a green hilltop . . .

A bell tower shaped like a pixie hat . . .

The bell rings, ding-dong-ding . . .

The baby goats sing along, baa-baa-baa . . . "

Expanding on this concept, How to Talk to Girls at Parties by Neil Gaiman contains musical panels where the combination of drawings, words and signs present a soundtrack.

Screen Shot 2021-06-10 at 7.05.13 PM.pngThe How to Talk to Girls at Parties party scene (created by Neil Gaiman, Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá) gives us a sense of how the scene sounds to the characters in it/Author

In film terminology, this is diegetic sound - noises or tunes from within the storyworld - as opposed to a narrative voiceover or a musical soundtrack the characters can't hear within the story.

In Gaiman's comic a combination of illustrations, musical notes and words (including the onomatopoeic TUM for a bass drum beat) convey the sense that music fills every room of the house where a party is taking place.

In the political satire comic that inspired a movie, The Death of Stalin> creator Fabien Nury and illustrator Thierry Robin show lines from Mozart's orchestral score for his Piano Concerto No. 23 at the bottom of two pages. This adds drama to a climactic scene where a Russian leader suffers a stroke.

Screen Shot 2021-06-10 at 7.07.08 PM.pngThe musical score can add pace and drama to an already dramatic scene/Author

Next time you read a comic book, make sure you listen carefully. KABOOM

Victor Araneda Jure is a teaching associate and filmmaker at Monash University. This post is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:45 PM | Permalink

Riding Illinois' Storm Out

"With Illinois on track to further loosen COVID-19 restrictions . . . and moving toward a full reopening [Friday], Gov. JB Pritzker [last month] announced a new tourism campaign seeking to lure visitors back to the Land of Lincoln this summer," CBS2 Chicago (and others) have reported.

"The $6 million 'Time For Me To Drive' ad campaign, featuring the hit song 'Time For Me To Fly' by Champaign rock band REO Speedwagon, invites people to visit downtown Chicago, dozens of state parks and historic sites, winery tours in southern Illinois, and more."

Yeah, we've got some better ideas for how the state could have rejiggered some REO songs.

"Back on the Road Again" would have been an obvious choice, even if that song is about leaving a mama behind.

They could have Rode The Storm Out, like these Illinois icons are doing.

After all, Ed Burke can tune a piano but did he land the tuna fish?

Then again, why not "Roll With The Changes" - as soon as you are able, I am willing, to map the districts the way that we are able.

Maybe Danny Solis is gonna Keep On Wirin' You - he played dead, but he never bled, instead he laid still in the grass all coiled up and listenin'.

Of course, instead of driving or flying, Illinoisans could "Take It On The Run." It's a fucking Golden Country; you strut around and you flirt with disaster. Yup, that's us.

We could go on, but you get the point. This is Illinois, where You Get What You Pay-To-Play For. Or something like that.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:02 AM | Permalink

Why Do White Republicans Oppose Black Lives Matter? Look At What They're Watching

To mark the one-year anniversary of George Floyd's murder at the hands of police officer Derek Chauvin, the New York Times put together a special opinion section reflecting on what has changed and where the country is now on race and police violence. One piece described and analyzed the rise and fall of support for the Black Lives Matter movement: "Did George Floyd's death catalyze support for Black Lives Matter? If so, for how long and for whom?"

Looking at data from online polling firm Civiqs, the authors concluded that "Republicans and white people have actually become less supportive of Black Lives Matter than they were before the death of George Floyd." Indeed, after a gradual increase in support for BLM among both whites and Republicans following the 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, and then a more marked rise that began around the release of the video of the vigilante murder of Ahmaud Arbery in May 2020, support plummeted from early June through late September.

The authors, professors Jennifer Chudy and Hakeem Jefferson, attributed the rise to the "viscerally upsetting and morally unambiguous" videos released around that time, including the video of Floyd's murder, and the subsequent fall to "politicization of the issue by elites."

In the days and weeks following Floyd's death, Republican politicians quickly turned attention away from the actions of a murderous police officer to those individuals protesting the injustice. As just one salient example, three days after Floyd's death, as protesters took to the streets in Minneapolis, Mr. Trump declared, in memorable rhyme, "When the looting starts, the shooting starts."

That's true as far as it goes, but it leaves out a critical piece of the story. While Trump's tweet made headlines, it didn't name BLM; the former president actually called out BLM very infrequently. Given his average of more than 30 tweets per day in 2020, his 25 "BLM" or "Black Lives Matter" mentions across the entire year were a drop in the bucket. In contrast, he tweeted or retweeted about Antifa 55 times.

The right's most influential media outlet, however, was more than happy to make those links explicit for its predominantly white, Republican audience.

For the first five months of the year - when Republican opposition to BLM continued its slow creep downward from a high of 83% in 2017 toward 60% - Fox News mentioned Black Lives Matter in 14 shows. For the next five months, the network mentioned the movement in 543 shows.


Primetime ratings leader Tucker Carlson led the charge, with such racist and false depictions of BLM protesters that at least nine advertisers withdrew their ads from his show. To give just a few examples (see Media Matters for a lengthier list), Carlson agreed with a guest that BLM "has been a violent movement from its inception" (6/5/20), claimed that one of its stated positions was "the destruction of the nuclear family - your family" (6/15/20), suggested that BLM "is a totalitarian political movement and someone needs to save the country from it" (6/22/20), and argued (6/15/20):

Black Lives Matter believes in force. They flood the streets with angry young people who break things, and they hurt anyone who gets in the way. When they want something, they take it. Make them mad and they will set your business on fire.

But of course, the attacks on BLM were not limited to Carlson; they went wall-to-wall at Fox. On just one episode (6/8/20), host Laura Ingraham brought on three different guests to attack BLM, asking one why the movement seeks "a complete subjugation of others." (The guest, in turn, warned of BLM's "Black supremacy" and "Marxist agenda.") To another guest, Ingraham caricatured the BLM philosophy: "If you have to burn down the neighborhoods and tear down the Lincoln Memorial, because he wasn't woke enough, then you're going to have to do it." Guest Lara Logan of Fox Nation argued: "These people don't care about justice for anyone. What they're actually trying to do is provoke violence, provoke more incidents where more innocent people will die."

(In another piece from the Times' Op-Ed package, the paper devoted some 4,500 words to a transcript of an un-factchecked focus group with "14 Trump Voters on the Legacy of George Floyd;" in it, the influence of right-wing media distortions was apparent. When asked what comes to mind when they hear "Black Lives Matter," the answers were invariably negative, including "Marxist hate group," "misguided," "corrupt" and "a bunch of losers." When told that the BLM protests last summer were "overwhelmingly peaceful," a participant retorted: "I just want to say, is this a joke? I mean, are you serious? Really? They were peaceful protests? You've got to be kidding." The Times might have saved a great deal of ink and just posted a link to an episode of Tucker Carlson's show.)

While centrist media didn't vilify BLM in the same way, they did disproportionately emphasize disruptive protesters, particularly early on.

Protests, in fact, were overwhelmingly peaceful - one major study found that 96% involved no property damage or police injuries - with episodes of violence typically initiated by police rather than protesters.

Yet outlets ran with headlines like "George Floyd Death Protesters Spread Violence, Destruction Across US Cities" (on a USA Today video, 5/30/20) or Reuters' "Racially Charged Violence Rages For Third Night in Minneapolis."


Such coverage didn't seem to erode Democrats' support for BLM, which rose sharply after Floyd's murder and has since stayed high. But it did nothing to correct the right-wing purveyors of outright bigotry and falsehood, whose role in turning white Republicans strongly against the Black Lives Matter movement should not be overlooked.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:58 AM | Permalink

June 9, 2021

Illinois Caverns Reopening After 10 Closed Years

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) announced Wednesday that the Illinois Caverns, a staple attraction in Southern Illinois, will re-open to the public on Wednesday, June 16, after being closed for more than 10 years.

"As the life-saving power of vaccination allows more and more Illinoisans to get back out there and explore this summer, I'm delighted to announce that travelers will be able to add the Illinois Caverns to their road trip itineraries for the first time in over a decade," said Governor JB Pritzker. "Starting June 16, visitors can explore these natural wonders feeling secure in IDNR's ongoing management of the native ecosystem, which allows Illinoisans to explore nature while also letting nature thrive.

"The Illinois Caverns are the perfect addition to any Metro East or Southern Illinois road trip - and visitors from across the Midwest can visit to plan their safe summer adventures."

Illinois Caverns, along with all IDNR-managed caves in Illinois, were closed in 2010 as a precaution again the spread of White-nose Syndrome (WNS), a fatal disease which affects certain types of cave-dwelling bats.

"The caverns - one of the state's scenic wonders - attracted visitors from across the state, which is why the decision was made to close them,"said Joe Kath, Endangered Species Program manager, IDNR."Our biologists felt that proactively closing Illinois Caverns, and other state-managed caves across the state,was the best option to protect the state's bat population from WNS."

While WNS cannot be transmitted to humans or other animals, it is fatal to hibernating bats. Named for the white fungus that infects skin of the muzzle, ears, and wings of hibernating bats, the fungus thrives in cold and humid conditions characteristic of caves and mines used by bats.

Scientists believe that WNS is transmitted primarily from bat to bat, but there is a possibility that it may also be transmitted by humans inadvertently carrying the fungus from cave to cave on their clothing and gear, necessitating the closure of the state's caves.

"Compared to many other caves and mines in Illinois testing positive for WNS, the prevalence of this disease in bats hibernating within Illinois Caverns has been relatively low," Kath said."A small number of animals exhibiting the white fungal growth on their muzzles was first documented at Illinois Caverns in 2013. Since then, instances of WNS at Illinois Caverns continue to be very localized. Further, the bat population was never significant in this cave and seems to be the same despite WNS being witnessed in a small number of animals."

While the site was closed, staff were able to complete necessary repairs and maintenance to buildings and the site in general.

"We certainly didn't like to see the site closed, but the closure did allow us to complete some necessary work to ensure the safety and enjoyment of our visitors once we reopen," said Von Bandy, director, Office of Land Management, IDNR. "We are always looking for ways to engage with the state's diverse population and Illinois Caverns is like no other IDNR site. There are so many excellent opportunities for everyone from school-aged children to adults looking for something other than one of our existing outdoor program offerings."

Beginning June 16, Illinois Caverns will be open seasonally from April through October. Weekly,the site will be open Wednesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Ahead of the public opening, media are invited to attend a media preview day Tuesday, June 15 at 1 p.m. at Illinois Caverns, 4369 G Road, Waterloo, 62298. IDNR representatives will be on hand to answer questions about the site and future accommodations.


See also:

Q&A With Joe Kath: White-Nose Syndrome In Illinois Bats


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:01 PM | Permalink

'The Most Important League In The City'

The Chicago Challenger League started the 2021 season last week with a game against the Thundercats.

"We [were] thrilled to be able to launch our 2021 season by playing against another Little League team," said coach Tom Mayer. "This shows what makes Challenger baseball so special: building community, providing opportunities, and having fun through baseball."

The Challenger Division is a division of Little League for boys and girls with disabilities, ages 4-18 (or up to age 22 if still enrolled in high school) to enjoy the game of baseball.

In a Challenger game, each player bats and plays the field each inning. No score is kept during Challenger games, but rather the focus is on player interaction and skill development - both physical and interpersonal. That said, kids still get competitive with players competing against their best selves.

Games are played Sunday morning at Horner Park at 10 a.m.

"This is the most important league in the city," said Carlton Jones, the district administrator for Illinois District 12. "All children deserve to experience the most beautiful sport in the world, the only sport played on a diamond."

The Thundercats are a softball team that plays as part of the Horner Park Northwest Little League. They came out to play the Challenger League and will serve as buddies for the Challenger players.

"Buddies are an important part of the Challenger experience. We assign a buddy to each Challenger player, and they work together to field and run bases," said Coach Mayer. "The Thundercats have been a successful softball team for years, and we are thrilled to have these talented young women come out and play with us."

Both the Thundercats and Challenger League are non-profit organizations that focus on individual and team growth, development, positive coaching, good sportsmanship and most of all having fun! For more information on the game, please contact Coach Mayer at or 630-632-6128.

Families can still register for the 2021 season at the Challenger website: Registration will remain open throughout the season, which ends August 8th, as we want as many kids to come out and play as possible. While there is a fee to join the league, we regularly fundraise so that no family will be turned away.

The Challenger League supports families in Chicago north of I-290. For families of disabled children south of I-290, there is the Jackie Robinson League.

If anyone has questions or would like to volunteer, they can reach Tom Mayer at 630-632-6128 or


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:25 AM | Permalink

June 7, 2021

Hero For A Day

Driving down North Avenue on Sunday for the first time in months, I had to double check to make sure that I wasn't on Division or Ohio. New high rises stood in places where taverns and eateries used to dwell. Crossing Elston was a new experience since the fruits and vegetables of Stanley's had turned into a pile of bricks and rubble. Remember that place kitty korner? The one with the surrey out front? Long gone. Thankfully Art's Drive-In remained to slap me back to reality.

And talk about rapid change! On Saturday, Tony La Russa was getting roasted once again for having Danny Mendick bunt in the bottom of the sixth at The Grate. Having just scored two runs to trail 4-3, runners stood at first and second with no outs. Poor Danny bunted into a force at third base, the beginning of the end of the rally as neither team scored again the remainder of the afternoon.

"I think that's the play," said the White Sox skipper later. "I felt really good about bunting them over."

And the Twitter world lit up.

However, after blanking the Tigers 3-0 on Sunday to win the series three games to one, the Sox once again hold a four-game lead in the Central Division of the American League. Not only that, but the victory was La Russa's 2,764th as a big league manager, nudging him past John J. McGraw into second place all-time.

"Won for the Ages" blared the Sun-Times. "For the Books" the Tribune chimed in. The Grate's scoreboard lit up with a tribute to La Russa's feat. The social media fusillade even abated compared to 24 hours earlier.

What didn't change was La Russa's post-game appearance, featuring his deliberate, monotone summary of his feelings, which included, "The most important part of the season so far is the way the players have included me as part of the family."


I thought it was the other way around. Wasn't this supposed to be La Russa's show, one in which the players needed to adapt to Tony's old-school world? You know, like don't swing at 3-0 pitches with your team ahead by 11 runs. Change can be so confusing.

This is La Russa's 34th season as the boss in a major league dugout. No matter when he finally retires, and possibly for as long as the game is played, La Russa will be runner-up to Connie Mack's 3,731 for number of victories. After La Russa, the winningest active manager is Houston's 71-year-old Dusty Baker with 1,925, good for 12th on the all-time list. Cleveland's Terry Francona, who is just 62 but has had health issues, is 18th at 1,733.

Did anyone mention that La Russa's 2,388 losses also are second only to Mack's 3,948? This is what longevity can do. Mack had a distinct advantage in this regard since he also owned the club he managed, the Philadelphia Athletics, from 1901 to 1950. He obviously had a high regard for his managerial prowess.

La Russa's respectable .536 winning percentage ranks only 66th all-time despite the fact that his teams have won six pennants and three World Series'. The Yankees' Joe McCarthy (1931-46) is the leader in that department with a mark of .615. McCarthy's New York clubs won the World Series seven times, but his 1929 Cub team also won a pennant before bowing to Mack's Athletics in the Series.

Dave Roberts of the Dodgers is tops among active managers with a .611 winning percentage.

Now that La Russa has passed his milestone, the next time he orders a sacrifice bunt, things once again will return to normal. However, the peaks and valleys of La Russa's return to the South Side are not the only occurrences worth noting.

Now that COVID restrictions are steadily being loosened, fans are returning to the ballpark, but the vibe seems to have changed. A winning ballclub with huge expectations tends to do that. Once again it is hip to be a Sox fan. Along about the sixth or seventh inning of each game, the Wave is created in the left centerfield stands with the entire place usually joining in. We saw this in the past but not nearly as frequently.

During Friday night's seventh inning, when Detroit scored six times to erase a five-run deficit, the Grate was filled with undulating noise as Codi Heuer and Evan Marshall futilely tried to silence the Tigers. The events on the field had nothing to do with what was happening in the seats.

Personally I have little patience for the Wave because my amusement comes from watching the action on the field. I am more amused when the Sox win, but the focus is on the players. Nevertheless, the Wave has been around for approximately 50 years, having originated on the West Coast and at college football stadiums, which says a lot about my aversion to the practice. Using the Wave and South Side in the same sentence seems incongruous to me, but, hey, people want to have fun. Why stop them?

Throwing the opponents' home run balls back on the field is a different story. Again, it's the folks in left centerfield who insist on this distasteful behavior.

There are those of us who have been going to ballgames for 50 or 60 years and never have retrieved a souvenir baseball. You frequently see septuagenarians carrying their baseball gloves through the gates in hopes of catching any kind of ball, be it home run or foul. When the other guys hit a homer, you tip your cap, as they say. Anyone who homers in a major league game deserves respect since few of us can even fathom the idea of homering in a 16-inch contest at the corner park. Throw the ball back? Gimme a break.

Sox management has many foibles, but they're right on top of this one. When Detroit's Eric Haase homered off Lucas Giolito in the fourth inning on Saturday, the jerk who threw the ball back onto the field was escorted from the park by security to chants of "Let him stay" by a good portion of the fans nearby.

I'm not exactly sure how these folks wound up at the Grate, but sitting in the upper deck a couple of weeks ago during the Cardinal series provided a bit of insight. Aside from gingerly navigating what I regard as the treacherous terrain of the stadium's upstairs layout, we were surrounded by young fans primarily in their 20s who were not shy about inhaling $11 beers one after another. They were having a grand time, but their chatter also disclosed a working knowledge of the game, the players, and the situations on the field.

They also educated me about Cup Snakes, a heretofore unknown exercise to this longtime fan. Stacking beer cups into a long, well, snake apparently is the idea, and along about the seventh inning empty beer cups were as common as La Russa critics. Starting at the first few rows closest to the field, the snake inched its way up the bleachers. It was a team effort. Some fans supported the burgeoning stack while others scavenged for additional cups. The longer the snake, the louder the cheers.

"Look, it's just like Wrigley," exclaimed the young female fan sitting behind us. Ahhh, things were beginning to make sense.

Reasonable, thoughtful change is a wonderful development. Football and hockey games used to end in ties. Nothing was decided. The four-on-four overtime arrangement in the NHL is among sports' most exciting changes. The shootout is titillating, though critics may think it's a cheap way to decide a winner. Nevertheless, the losing team still earns a point in the standings.

Same with football. The overtimes at both the college and pro level have created rousing finishes, so that today we wonder why those contests ever ended in a draw.

Organ music was the staple at baseball parks everywhere for decades, and most big league stadiums have retained a certain amount of the old-time music. But rock and hip-hop are the soup de jour nowadays. Remember when former Sox third baseman Todd Frazier used Frank Sinatra's "Fly Me to the Moon" for his walk-up song? Today's players probably have an equal chance of recognizing journeyman catcher Matt Sinatro as Ol' Blue Eyes.

What we can assume is that change will continue to happen. Putting a runner on second base to start an extra inning - I have come to accept this rule, and it's even begun to grow on me - is just the beginning. Let's just hope that future changes won't disguise the game that we love. And puhleeze, if you, or anyone you know, have ever thrown a home run ball back onto the field, promise that it will never happen again.


Former Bill Veeck bar buddy Roger Wallenstein is our White Sox correspondent. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:46 AM | Permalink

June 4, 2021

TrackNotes: Savor The Baffertless Belmont

One week does not a trend make, but if this goes longer, I could get real used to it.

That would be big race days without Bob "Silver-Maned" Baffert boppin' all over my viewing screen.

But we'll get to him later - there's much to do on that front - and talk about a potentially wonderful day of racing.

Our focus shifts east to beautiful Belmont Park, Elmont, NY, for the 153rd Belmont Stakes. There's no Triple Crown on the line, just as well, but this race and a menu of other stakes will do quite nicely.

This is Belmont's big day. Besides fields being on the short side, we'll find out how our old friends are doing. The Belmont, at 12 furlongs, is an anomaly, but maybe it will help us sort out these blasted three-year-olds. None of these ran in both the Derby and the Preakness. The majority were in Kentucky and skipped the Preakness.

Keep in mind throughout the card that top jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. was unseated Thursday and banged up on the fall. X-rays were negative and he's expected to be out for a number of weeks. He'll probably be replaced on his mounts Saturday by a variety of jockeys.

In post order:

1. Bourbonic (jockey Kendrick Carmouche, trainer Todd Pletcher, morning line 15-1)

His claim to fame is a win in the Wood Memorial, with a tepid, and top, 89 Beyer Speed Figure. He was 13th in the Derby. At his best, he's a deep closer, but he'll probably be back too far to do it here. Todd, he's a miler.

2. Essential Quality (Luis Saez, Brad Cox, 2-1 ML favorite)

He won five straight, including the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, before a tough-trip fourth in the Derby. His class willed out as he was only a length back, enough to like him here, at the wire. His sire, Tapit has produced three (Tonalist, Creator, Tapwrit) Belmont winners. With challengers, he'll need to put in a professional performance and Saez must measure him all the way and time his move perfectly. I'm not wild about 2-1, which portends chalk at Big Sandy.

3. Rombauer (John Velazquez, Michael McCarthy, 3-1)

Your Preakness winner, the little colt reminds me of Birdstone, probably in appearance only, who thwarted Smarty Jones in the 2004 Belmont. Flavien Prat rides Hot Rod Charlie, but in Johnny V., nobody knows Belmont better. He had a 14-point Beyer improvement in the Preakness, so that's either coming into his own, or a total giraffe figure. This is even headier company, so he'll need a lot of help up front. I had him at Pimlico at 12-1, won't get that here, but will include.

4. Hot Rod Charlie (Flavien Prat, Doug O'Neill, 7-2)

Son of 2013 Preakness winner Oxbow, Prat aggressively got him up to third in the Derby. He won the Louisiana Derby against a quality field and was nipped by Essential Quality in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. Close third in the Robert Lewis and a close win in a $55,000 maiden race last fall. That's my point. He'll need to step up from his 100 Derby Beyer, and in general. A tough task in a 12-furlong race for a horse who loves to be up front. Damsire Indian Charlie is likely a distance red flag. They say he's loaded for bear in workouts. He needs to stay on the improve. I can't say I see him winning.

5. France Go de Ina (Ricardo Santana Jr. Hideyki Mori, 30-1)

Everything says no, but he seems to have heart, if not enough talent. He kept up for awhile there in the Preakness (only a 77 Beyer!) before fading to seventh. His only angle is to love the really long distance. I'll fly on him. Call me irresponsible.

6. Known Agenda (TBD, Todd Pletcher, 6-1)

If his price stays there or higher, this could be a gift. He looked strong by three in his Florida Derby win, but drew the dreaded one post at Churchill Downs. While he ran relatively well in Kentucky, he's going to need to step up pretty bigger than his 94 Beyer at Gulfstream. With the undeserved hype he got for the Derby, his 10-1 there was a little light. With sire Curlin (Smart Strike) on his side, he figures to contend. I think.

7. Rock Your World (Joel Rosario, John Sadler, 9-2)

Put a line through his Derby. He got a terrible trip. He beat Medina Spirit by nearly five in the Santa Anita Derby, which may shed light on Baffert's meds organization. If you look at the Derby as a workout and learning experience, he'll be ready. Include.

8. Overtook (Manny Franco, Todd Pletcher, 20-1)

Another Curlin (Smart Strike), he has the distance cred. But he's only won once in five races, an $80k maiden special weight, and had only an 84 Beyer in his last, third in the Grade III Peter Pan here. He's going to need every inch of 12 furlongs, with others hitting the exit ramps. He'll get blinkers on for the first time, and Pletcher is 18 percent on that angle. Not bad. flyer.

Savor The Whole Day

We were given some bad news the past couple days as Swiss Skydiver and Valiance both spiked fevers and will not go in the 53rd The Ogden Phipps Stakes. (Grade I, 1-1/16 miles, Four-and up, dirt, $500,000). 'Skydiver has been really up and down in the past year with the arrow pointing up for the Phipps. Valiance hasn't run since November's Breeders' Cup Distaff.

But there should be a showdown between Letruska, a thrilling, driving winner by a nose over superwoman Monomoy Girl in the Apple Blossom at Oaklawn in April; and Shedaresthedevil, your 2020 Kentucky Oaks winner, Azeri winner at Oaklawn in March and best in the LaTroienne on this year's Oaks undercard. Your other shot might be Bonny South, winner of the Grade III Doubledogdare in April at Keeneland. This is a step up in class.

Knicks Go, morning line 6-5, is the buzz horse in the 127th Metropolitan Handicap (Grade I, 1 mile, dirt, $1,000,000), better known as The Met Mile. But he'll have to prove it, at a prohibitive price. He's flush with four triple-digit Beyer Speed figures and wins, including the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile and the Pegasus World Cup Invitational. But he ran into a brick wall in the Saudi Cup in February, finishing fourth. I can't find an angle, although the mile seems up his alley. He's never run at Belmont.

He'll have a lot to deal with in Mischevious Alex, Dr. Post, and Silver State. I love this race. It's not a sprint, but these guys can't afford to dilly-dally.

Domestic Spending, Gufo and Colonel Liam all figure to duke it out in The Manhattan (Grade I, 1-1/4 miles turf, $750,000). They all come in relatively hot. I'll take a flyer on Channel Cat, who cuts back in distance.

Baffert's Dominos?

The Bob Baffert saga continues. The second, split sample from Kentucky Derby first-place finisher Medina Spirit also tested positive for betamethasone, a steroid.

On Wednesday, Churchill Downs banned Baffert from running any horses from his barn, even under another trainer's name, at any Churchill track until after the 2023 spring meet is over.

Churchill cited Baffert's "increasingly extraordinary explanations" for his slew of drug violations, including the hay salesman did it, the groom did it, my assistant did it, the vet did it.

The New York Racing Association had also banned Baffert indefinitely from its tracks Belmont, Aqueduct and Saratoga. NBC reported Friday that Monmouth will allow Baffert to run there. I wonder why the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission did not itself ban Baffert from all Kentucky tracks.

Until a few things happen, I believe this is garbage starting to rot.

Churchill has said it will take away the Derby from Medina Spirit and Baffert. I assume that will happen, but I'm not sure if some sort of appeals process has to run its course first.

Then, either the Stronach tracks or, better yet, the California Horse Racing Board needs to suspend Baffert.

Keeneland needs to suspend him and, because the Breeders' Cup is actually headquartered in Lexington, they need to keep Baffert out of the Breeders' Cup.

A more difficult task will be to get owners to keep horses away from him. As Jerry Bailey said on NBC Friday, turning into 2022, if an owner knows his horse can't run in that Derby, why give his horse to Baffert?

If you subscribe to the theory that no one, in sentencing, should be made an example of simply because of who he is, no.

In this case, Baffert should be taken out of racing because he is Baffert. Not only one of the winningest trainers by many measures, but now one of the most corrupt.

Just look at the Derby. I had Mandaloun. Baffert ruined the pari-mutuel payouts on a goddamned fix. Messing with the betting is the mortal sin in racing. His is in no effing way too big to fail; he saw to that himself.

It sickens me, but I don't believe he will pay nearly the price he should for his arrogant, blatant cheating. This is America, where everything is OK, if even only one deranged person says it is so.

I say, bust him down to sitting in a McLaughlin, Nevada casino selling tout sheets. I won't miss him.


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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:17 PM | Permalink

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #359: Measuring Stick Month

June will tell the tale. Including: Unlike Cheers, Not Everybody Knows These Cubs' Names; White Sox Still Overcoming Manager; They Call Him Mr. Thibs; Putin's Plan Is Working; Blackhawks Lose Lottery; Sky Nothing Without Parker; Red Stars, Fire Should Move; and Is David Montgomery Really Faster?

Beachwood Radio Network · The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #359: Measuring Stick Month



* 359.

:59: Best Chicago Baseball Month Ever?

* Blah, blah, blah.

3:26: Unlike Cheers, Not Everybody Knows These Cubs' Names.

* Coffman: Who (Literally) Are These Guys?

* Rhodes: Who the fuck is Tommy Nance?

* Part of a lineup last week:

Screen Shot 2021-06-04 at 1.39.15 PM.png


26:18: White Sox Still Overcoming Manager.

* Billy Ham, Eloy Musk.

36:40: They Call Him Mr. Thibs.

* An epiphany.

43:44: Putin's Plan Is Working.

* Like bin Laden, knew how weak we were.

48:11: Blackhawks Lose Lottery.

* Will pick 11th.

50:17: Sky Nothing Without Parker.

* James Wade losing it.

52:20: Red Stars, Fire Should Move.

* Red Stars to Soldier Field, Fire to Arlington Heights.

54:11: Is David Montgomery Really Faster?

* Correlation with improved offensive line is likely causation.

* P.S.:

"Brady admitted that, as many suspected, he didn't know it was fourth down in Tampa Bay's 20-19 loss to the Chicago Bears. At the end of the Week 5 game, Brady failed to connect on a pass to tight end Cameron Brate but was motioning as if there was another down. There wasn't. The game was over. He told reporters after the game he was simply more focused on yardage."




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


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:31 PM | Permalink

June 1, 2021

Little Village Car Wash Workers Win 9-Year Fight

Workers' rights group Arise Chicago supported workers through a nearly decade-long campaign to recover more than a quarter-million dollars from their former car wash employer, Octavio Rodriguez, involving several government agencies and a federal court.


In 2011, Arise Chicago, with the help of the U.S. Labor Department, supported workers at Little Village Carwash to collect wages owed to them.

In 2012, Arise supported workers to try to recover wages again, through a complaint with the Illinois Department of Labor. The employer did not pay despite the resolution in favor of the workers.

In 2014, the Illinois Attorney General sued the employer, Octavio Rodriguez, who declared bankruptcy to avoid paying his workers their owed wages.

In 2017, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court brought charges of fraud against the employer and took over his properties.

After Octavio Rodriguez hired a private investigator to harass the workers to try to "settle" their complaints in exchange for $2,000 each, the bankruptcy court ruled in favor of the workers.

It has taken nine years for the workers to collect their wages.

Cases like this, which began years before Arise Chicago won the creation of a Chicago Office of Labor Standards to uphold city worker protections, have motivated the City of Chicago to strengthen its enforcing power and labor ordinances.

Last week, new legislation was introduced in the city council regarding wage theft protection, an enhanced leave policy, support for domestic workers, a review of chain businesses (for when companies falsely report they have fewer workers than they actually do to pay less than minimum wage), conducting a tipped wage study, better informing future worker policies, promoting workplace safety and outreach and education programs.

Such actions and programs are needed to ensure no other workers in Chicago have to wait nearly a decade simply to be paid their regular, legally owed wages.


Previously in wage theft:

* Wage Theft: Unregulated Work In Chicago.

* Wage Theft In America.

* Report From The Wage Theft Front: Little Village Car Wash.

* ProPublica 'Temp Land' Investigation Nails Little Village Check Cashing Store.

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

* CyberMonday, Amazon & You.

* Rose's Story: How Welfare's Work Requirements Can Deepen And Prolong Poverty.

* Politico: 'Shady Bosses' Stealing $15 Billion In Wages From Low-Income Workers.

* McDonald's Breaks Promise To Raise Wages.

* Report Reveals Rampant Wage Theft Among Top U.S. Corporations.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:18 PM | Permalink


One of my friends gave me a copy of the book Siteless: 1001 Building Forms, by François Blanciak, as a gift a few years ago, and I use it often for reference images and inspiration for my drawings. Although I'm not an architect and this is an architecture-inspired book, the forms in it are great for drawing inspiration, creature parts, or just fun eye candy.

Screen Shot 2021-06-01 at 3.56.15 PM.png(ENLARGE)

Siteless, published in 2008, includes 1001 different building forms - "structural parasites, chain link towers, ball-bearing floors, corrugated corners, exponential balconies, radial facades, crawling frames, forensic housing" and more. The forms are all drawn freehand and laid out 12 per page, in no particular order. Besides the title of each form, the book contains few words, which I'm glad for because it allows me to get lost within the shapes as a reader. The end of the book demonstrates what it's like for these shapes to be constructed in real life, at an architectural site in Tokyo.

The book is a great resource for artists and designers who draw things like architecture, interiors, products, and so on, and therefore a great reference book to have on hand, but it's also great for general inspiration as well. Art students, architects, interior designers, furniture designers, product designers, and graphic designers, take note: This is a great book to have on hand and I would highly recommend it.

Screen Shot 2021-06-01 at 4.03.16 PM.png(ENLARGE)

"Its author," MIT Press says, "a young French architect practicing in Tokyo, admits he 'didn't do this out of reverence toward architecture, but rather out of a profound boredom with the discipline, as a sort of compulsive reaction.' What would happen if architects liberated their minds from the constraints of site, program, and budget? he asks. The result is a book that is saturated with forms, and as free of words as any architecture book the MIT Press has ever published."

Says Metropolis:

"Imagine Learning from Las Vegas as illustrated by Chris Ware, and you'll get a sense of François Blanciak's marvelously inventive . . . book."


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:53 PM | Permalink

Who (Literally) Are These Guys?

So, not only do the Cubs have heretofore unreported-upon young arm talent in their organization, but they might just have something approaching unlimited pitching depth there? And this happened how?

The first-place North Siders (30-23 heading into Tuesday) put a fearsome 12th player from their early-season roster on the injured list Monday, announcing that starting pitcher Trevor Williams had undergone an appendectomy. But that just meant yet another promising prospect would make the trip to The Show.

This time it was Kohl Stewart, who hustled back to the big leagues (he was there with the Twins a few times late last decade) in time to toss five innings of one-run (unearned) ball and spark the Cubs to a delightful (five homers) 7-2 home victory over the powerhouse Padres. I will never get used to writing those last two words, but the 34-and-21 team from San Diego has absolutely deserved it so far this season.

Stewart has been in professional baseball for a long time (he was drafted fourth overall in 2013, a few picks after Kris Bryant) after signing his first contract right out of high school. But he is all of 26-years-old at this point, so he still qualifies as a prospect in my book. He doesn't have the nasty velocity that so many young hurlers seem to possess these days, but his primary breaking ball featured consistent, late sink on Monday as he posted ground-ball out after ground-ball out.

Speaking of nasty velocity, recent call-up Tommy Nance ended up finishing the game with a one-two-three ninth. Nance took the long road to the majors, toiling in minor-league obscurity for a decade. But (as was pointed out by Jim Deshaies on the broadcast) he definitely doesn't fit the mold of most of the pitchers like that, guys who have hung on with guile and clever breaking stuff. Nance entered the ninth firing 96-mile-per-hour tailing fastballs that were flat-out filthy.

In between, reliever Keegan Thompson tossed a couple critical bridge innings. Yet another relatively recent call-up, Thompson did give up his first run of the season on MVP-candidate Fernando Tatis Jr.'s solo home run, but on a day when batted balls were carrying a long way Thompson avoided the pre-homerun walks that often make the difference.

At the plate, Javy (it is time to just refer to El Mago by one name) launched a glorious, 455-foot, two-run home run to center field to start the scoring and Kris Bryant enjoyed a particularly lucky day. He watched centerfielder Jurickson Profar play what should have been the first-ever, MVP-worthy utility player's line-drive single into a triple early on. And then he benefited from much kinder-than-usual, early-season atmospheric conditions (light wind mostly blowing out) to notch a two-run home run later on. Recent call-up third baseman Patrick Wisdom had two solo home runs and Javy added another solo shot later on.

Going into this season the vast majority of professional prognosticators believed the Cubs' pitching staff - especially their bullpen - would prove wanting. And based on prospect rankings it sure didn't seem as though there would be much help in the minors.

It didn't help of course that the Cubs all but gave away ace Yu Darvish (and switch-hitting Victor Caratini - perhaps the best back-up catcher in the majors) in a monstrously bad trade in the offseason that only made even a little bit of sense when viewed as a desperate move to reduce payroll. I realize the Rickettses lost plenty of money during the pandemic but they have more than enough in reserve. Oh, and if things get really bad they could always sell at least part of the team, valued most recently by Forbes at about $3.5 BILLION.

The Darvish trade lives in infamy. Nothing that happens this season will change that. Oh, and Darvish has continued to pitch like an ace for the Padres. He struggled his last outing but his ERA is still 2.16.

Overall, there is obviously still a long way to go this season. But the team that leads the Cardinals by a half-game going into Tuesday obviously has much to celebrate after its best May of baseball since 1977.

Monday's game was also a great start to a tough stretch of schedule. The Cubs play the Padres on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, then head to San Francisco (the Giants are a surprising 34-20) for four and finally to San Diego for three more.


Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:57 AM | Permalink

The Guitar Industry's Hidden Environmental Problem

Musicians are often concerned about environmental problems, but entangled in them through the materials used in their instruments. The guitar industry, which uses rare woods from old-growth trees, has been a canary in the coal mine - struggling with scandals over illegal logging, resource scarcity and new environmental regulations related to trade in endangered species of trees.

We spent six years on the road tracing guitar-making across five continents, looking at the timber used - known in the industry as tonewoods for their acoustic qualities - and the industry's environmental dilemmas. Our goal was to start with the finished guitar and trace it to its origin places, people and plants.

We first visited guitar factories in Australia, the United States, Japan and China. There we observed materials and manufacturing techniques. From factories, we visited the sawmills that supply them. And then we journeyed further, to forests, witnessing the trees from which guitars are made.


Our task proved more complicated than imagined. At Martin Guitars alone, based in the U.S., wood comes from countries on six continents and 30 different vendors.

And the timber supply chains on which the guitar industry relies have been secretive. Many sources of wood are from places with historical legacies of environmental conflict, colonial violence and dispossession: spruces from the Pacific Northwest; rosewoods from Brazil, Madagascar and India; mahogany from Fiji and Central America.

We learnt about the guitar's environmental footprint, while appreciating the skills and experiences of behind-the-scenes people, and the capacities of the forests and trees to adapt. And we saw how Australian guitar-makers, such as Maton and Cole Clark, are leading the way in embracing sustainable options, salvaging recycled wood, and sourcing native species from timber suppliers in Victoria, Tasmania and Queensland.

How Are Guitars Made?

Around 2.6 million guitars are produced annually, constituting a $1 billion industry.

Unlike the timber used in construction or mass produced furniture - plantation species selected for fast growth and quick returns on investment - guitars use rare woods from old-growth trees. This is because the slices of wood used on guitars are quartersawn: cut perpendicular to the tree's growth rings to ensure stability and sound wave projection. The slices have to be wide enough to become the front face, backs or sides of the instrument, hence large diameter logs are needed.

Screen Shot 2021-06-01 at 2.23.36 PM.pngAt the C.F Martin & Co. factory in Nazareth, Pennsylvania, internal braces are shaved underneath the soundboard. Such braces provide the instrument with structural reinforcement, but also influence tone/Authors

From carefully cut timber, guitar parts are then carved (whether by hand or machine), sanded and assembled. The soundboard (the top) is most critical. The guitar is musical because the strings are pulled extremely tight.

With their solid bodies, electric guitars can withstand tension better than acoustics. On acoustic guitars, the soundboard must be strong, but also light, and reverberate responsively, its stiffness harnessed for tonal qualities.

Until recently, a narrow range of timber species were considered suitable for guitars. Through centuries of European craft tradition, luthiers established spruces (Picea) worked best as acoustic and classical guitar soundboards.

They had the strength to be cut thinly and yet not collapse under extreme string tension, with straight and parallel grains that, in the words of guitar-makers William Cumpiano and Jonathan Natelson, "impart a natural symmetry to the instrument, both visually and acoustically."

For necks, guitar-makers use mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla) or maple (Acer species); for fretboards and bridges, ebony (Diospyros species) or rosewoods (Dalbergia species); and for acoustic guitar backs and sides, rosewoods and mahogany.

Since the inter-war Hawaiian music craze, koa (Acacia koa) has featured on acoustics, electrics and ukuleles.

Screen Shot 2021-06-01 at 2.20.29 PM.pngOn the slopes of Maui's Haleakalā volcano, land managers are replanting koa trees/Authors

Some of the woods used are plentiful and well managed. Leo Fender's Telecaster captures the electric guitar's rock 'n' roll sensibility: an unpretentious "slab" of swamp ash (Fraxinus species) and a one-piece, maple neck, bolted together in utilitarian simplicity. When we visited the Fender factory in California in 2018, Mike Born, head of wood technology explained:

We were fortunate that the old Fender designs used very easy-to-get American woods. Leo Fender was a very economical kind of guy looking to make inexpensive instruments, and developed them around woods that weren't used for other things. Swamp ash is a good example: it was a throwaway product from furniture wood.

Other woods used in guitar making have more fraught histories and sustainability problems. Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis), used on guitar soundboards, comes from trees at least 400 years old, but these are increasingly scarce. Ebony is threatened in its African habitat, with tightening restrictions on its use.

Habitat destruction for agriculture and urbanization led to Brazilian rosewood - once considered the "gold standard" for guitars - being effectively banned from use since 1992. Guitar companies replaced it with similar species from other places, but they too were over-harvested.

Scandals have engulfed the industry since the Gibson Guitar factories in Nashville and Memphis were raided by U.S. Fish and Wildlife marshals (in 2009 and again in 2011) over allegations of illegally sourcing and improperly verifying Madagascan ebony and rosewood.

Alternative Sounds?

Attachments to "traditional" instrument woods have prevented heritage brands from switching to more sustainable options. As guitar historian Dick Boak explained, convincing guitarists to switch to instruments made from sustainable materials is difficult: "musicians, who represent some of the most savvy, ecologically minded people around, are resistant to anything about changing the tone of their guitars."

Screen Shot 2021-06-01 at 2.22.01 PM.png Many acoustic guitar players insist on "traditional" timbers such as rosewood/Authors

But attitudes are shifting. Musicians are increasingly concerned about the provenance and environmental impact of their instruments, encouraging guitar brands to improve transparency and rethink their ecological entanglements.

One necessity will be to embrace a more diverse range of alternative timbers. These will include more plentiful plantation species, salvaged trees and urban forestry.

On this, Australian brands Maton and Cole Clark are among those leading the way. Decades ago, Maton pioneered the use of Australian native species. In recent times, it and Cole Clark have worked with specialist guitar timber suppliers Kirby Fine Timbers in Queensland, Otways Tonewoods in Victoria, and Tasmanian Tonewoods to established bunya pine (Araucaria Bidwillii) as a credible, quality alternative for soundboards, Blackwood (Acacia melanoxylon) for backs and sides, and Queensland maple (Flindersia brayleyana) for necks.

Meanwhile, guitar-makers have salvaged timbers from urban trees. In 2018, Cole Clark's head of wood technology, Karl Krauss, heard of a municipal council near Melbourne removing sycamore-maple trees (Acer pseudoplatanus) seen as a fire hazard. He recalled their historical use in Renaissance instruments and claimed them for a limited run of guitars.

Other salvaged urban timbers have included California redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) planted in Victorian parks in the 1850s by then-colonial government botanist Baron Ferdinand von Mueller and southern silky oak (Grevillea robusta). Such urban recovery sources now constitute 30% of timbers on Cole Clark guitars.

Screen Shot 2021-06-01 at 2.11.35 PM.pngAt Cole Clark's Melbourne factory, CEO Miles Jackson explains the unlikely story behind salvaging California Redwood from Victoria for use in guitar-making/Paul Jones, UOW Media

Around the world, relationships between sawmills and forest resource managers are also shifting. Indigenous communities are asserting custodianship of trees. Commercial relationships are being forged between these communities, specialist companies supplying guitar tonewoods and guitar firms. There is considerable potential for working with Indigenous and ecological values rather than in spite of them.

Growing Future Guitar Forests

Taking matters into their own hands, guitar timber people are also planting trees for future sustainable instrument-making on their properties, and in partnership on cattle ranches and Indigenous-owned and managed lands. These efforts are guided by an ethic of care for trees, forests, communities and guitars.

The goal is to ensure wood for future guitar-making well beyond individual lifetimes. As Born emphasized at Fender's factory: "We don't have a lot of choice in what was planted generations ago, but we certainly do for the future."

On Maui's volcanic slopes, land managers are working with the U.S. firm Taylor Guitars and Pacific Rim Tonewoods (a U.S. specialist wood supplier) to regrow koa forests.

In Washington state, Pacific Rim Tonewoods claims it is growing "the world's first tonewood forest," cultivating fiddleback maple in a 100-acre plot near its sawmill. Taylor also supports ebony replanting in Cameroon, in partnership with Spanish tonewood supplier, Madinter.

Screen Shot 2021-06-01 at 2.14.07 PM.pngAt Pacific Rim Tonewoods north of Seattle, a Sitka spruce log is prepared for splitting and quartersawing (cut radially) into thin, soundboard pieces/Authors

In the Sunshine Coast hinterland, specialist tonewood supplier David Kirby cultivates Queensland maple and bunya pine, as well as blue quandong (Elaeocarpus angustifolius) used by Maton in Melbourne for electric guitar models. He also manages century-old "legacy stands" on private land in the region.

Although these plantings are not large by forestry's standards, once a certain density and diversity is achieved, they "take care of themselves," in Kirby's words, providing enough wood for small harvests annually without degrading ecological values. Still, access to suitable land for growing trees and skilled labor to care for them will determine future success.

Screen Shot 2021-06-01 at 2.18.32 PM.pngBlue Quandong trees growing on old cattle ranches are being used by Maton/Paul Jones, UOW Media

Earlier in their careers, the guitar timber people we interviewed did not intend to become forest stewards - although all profess a life-long love for plants. They have assumed stewardship roles after personal experiences of industrial forestry's inability to sustainably manage forests to supply high quality timbers from centuries-old trees.

The guitar industry has breached the factory gates, extending its activities and influence upstream, into forests. As Steve McMinn from Pacific Rim Tonewoods put it, "[T]he world's primary forests are nearly mined out. If you want wood for a specific purpose, you need to grow it."

Sustainable Guitars In A Changing Climate

The most significant uncertainty facing the sustainability of guitar timbers is climate change. Global warming has already altered the geographic distribution of trees, insects and pathogens, posing severe threats to forests.

As we were on the road, insect pathogens surviving unprecedented warmer winters in the Rockies attacked and killed millions of Engelmann spruce trees (Picea engelmannii). The emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis) has killed millions of American ash - of Fender Telecaster fame. Environmental scientist Jared Beeton is now working with guitar companies to experiment with using the affected spruce for guitar-making.

Screen Shot 2021-06-01 at 2.16.45 PM.pngInsect pathogens have attacked and killed millions of Engelmann spruce trees/Authors

In Queensland, David Kirby admits his planted trees may not survive: "It could be a massive screw-up of everything I've done in my life. But at the end of the day, what if I don't do it? If everybody planted trees for future generations, of course, that would help stop climate change. I can't be the one to say I'm not going to plant trees because they might not survive."

Cities may prove vital future habitats for guitar trees too. Fender's Mike Born outlined a new initiative between Fender, the U.S. Forest Service and the Baseball Hall of Fame to encourage tree replanting schemes in inner cities. Like Telecasters, baseball bats are made from American ash.

As the emerald ash borer annihilates trees across the continent, the two niche industries share the same problem of securing future resource supply. The idea is to replant a variety of urban street trees to disperse the genetic and geographic base of vulnerable species.

"We have a chance now," Born said, "to replant old street trees." Instead of gearing management of forest resources towards short-term profit, "we could think a century down the road. Are there trees that at the end of their life cycles can have a future life? What should we be planting for the future? It's a worldwide discussion we need to have."

Chris Gibson is a professor of human Geography at the University of Wollongong. Andrew Warren teaches economic geography, also at Wollongong. This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.


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