Chicago - Dec. 13, 2017
Music TV Politics Sports Books People Places & Things
 
Must-See TV
Army Of Darkness
ElRey
5 p.m.
A discount-store employee is time-warped to a medieval castle, where he is the foretold savior who can dispel the evil there. Unfortunately, he screws up and releases an army of skeletons. (tvguide.com)
Weather Derby
Tribune: 51/37
Sun-Times: Ferro/McKinney
Weather Channel: 44/41
Ntl Weather Service: 54/43
BWM*: 82/12
Beachwood Bookmarks
K-Tel Classics
WKRP in Cincinnati
So You've Decided To Be Evil
St. Paul Saints
Nye's Polonaise Room
The Arcata Eye
Roadside USA
This Day In . . .
Onion History
Weird Al History
Baseball History
Beachwood History
History History
Spy Magazine History
#OnThisDate History
Chicago
Indicted!
Under Suspicion
Find Your Towed Car
Cable TV Complaints
Freedom of Information
The Expired Meter
The Mob & Friends
Stolen Bike Registry
O'Hare Music Tracker
Rats
Report Corruption (city)
Report Corruption (state)
Beyond
Scoundrels, State
Scoundrels, Federal
The Odds
Random Flight Tracker
Casting Calls
Cosmic Log
Buy Stamps
Beachwood Blogroll
A Handy List
Beachwood Ethics Statement
How We Roll
Today's Horoscope
Liberties will be taken.
Do We Sudoku?
No, but we do do moose stuff, and that can be anything you want it to be. Except Sudoku.
Losing Lottery Numbers
8, 25, 39
Daily Affirmation
I am open and receptive to new avenues of income. (louisehay.com)
Ellie
Knowing that a person may be unwittingly in danger of an assault imposes a moral duty to warn them.
Now Playing
Psychodrama/Marshall Law
Letters to the Editors
FAQ
About
Tip Line
"The Papers" archive
RSS
Beachwood Link Buttons
Media Kit/Advertising
 

« July 2008 | Main | September 2008 »

August 30, 2008

Hugging Ralph Nader

Sure, the infamous presidential candidate questioned my drinking prowess, but he also added justice to my agenda.

See the rest of the Citizen Kate collection!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:26 PM | Permalink

The Five Dumbest Ideas of The Week

1. Conservative talk show host Glenn Beck is spearheading a "carbon onset" program to mock the Democrat's "green" convention, which was more notable for its ambitions than its results. To reach his goal of generating 70 million pounds of carbon, Beck is imploring his audience to "give me an extra day of increased garbage, maybe two, maybe three? Can you throw away some stuff that you don't really need to throw away? Can you not recycle?" Beck, for example, vowed to do his part by dispensing twice as much trash over the air as he usually does.

2. Sarah Palin is what happens when your nominee's judgement is impaired by spending too much time at toga parties and happy hours.

3. Does metalhead Kevin Cogill really deserve three years of hard time for posting nine tracks from Guns 'N Roses' forthcoming album, Chinese Democracy, on the Internet? Absolutely, says Cogill's hero, GNR guitarist Slash: "I hope he rots in jail." Which would be a perfect example of, um, Chinese democracy.

4. The new bosses at the Tribune have reportedly ruled out re-naming the paper "The Trib", but adding the "u," "n" and "e" back into the budget will cost another investigative reporter.

5. When in Syria, be sure to drop in to the world's largest restaurant, The Damascus Gate, to share an intimate evening with 6,000 other customers. We can't hope to improve on the redoubtable Guardian's description of the establishment: "The Damascus Gate resembles a film set from Lawrence of Arabia that's been hijacked by a flamboyant Las Vegas hotelier, redecorated, then carefully placed in the middle of the desert." Now, if they add blackjack tables they might be on to something.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:25 AM | Permalink

The Weekend Desk Report

LABOR DAY UPDATE: While there will be no Papers column today, please note the fantastic new material we've posted to the site just for your enjoyment. ->>>

The Weekend Desk Report
Just be really careful at the barbecue this weekend, OK? You watch the recipes, we'll watch the headlines.

Market Update
Concerned about a lingering trade deficit, at least one American institution has hit on a novel way to keep cash in the United States.

Running Mate Runner-Up
Sarah Palin looked to avenge a decades-old loss this week by entering one beauty contest in which she's almost certain to trounce the competition. Sorry, Joe, but years of foreign policy experience can't help you here.

Running Free
Meanwhile, key McCain wranglers rejoiced at having distracted the public from his 72nd birthday. Sources close to the Republican candidate say that as long as no one mentions the whole Katrina anniversary the weekend will be a total win.

Daddy's Girl
Lindsay Lohan this week bristled at her father's continued meddling in her affairs, suggesting he simply wants access to her financial assets so he can bolster his own depleted coffers.

While You Were Gone . . .
Taking advantage of key distractions this week, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich continued his attempts to completely bankrupt the state's public transit system in the name of fairness. Analysts point out that this latest wave of gubernatorial generosity may leave the Regional Transit Authority literally without a pot to piss in.

Paper Cuts
Finally this week,
duh. Just ask Jay Mariotti.

Posted by Natasha Julius at 9:15 AM | Permalink

August 29, 2008

The [Friday] Papers

1. I have plenty of thoughts about Barack Obama's speech last night - and on the Democratic convention as a whole - but you know what? I'm just tired. Maybe I'll write something up for Division Street later or post something here over the weekend. But I will say this: I was expecting a monstrosity of a set given all the hoopla about columns and togas and the set was fine. As for the speech, I will say here in general that I liked the beginning and the end, but the middle not so much because it was quite simply filled with Democratic boilerplate, phrases beneath the candidate ("Eight is enough!") and attacks on John McCain representative of the worst of the old politics. (Regurgitating Phil Gramm? In this historic speech? Please.) But that's enough for now, except to say that the TV punditry might have reached an all-time high on the inanity scale.

2. I'm a Roger Ebert fan, but his loyalty to the Sun-Times is often blinding and misplaced. On Thursday he issued an open letter to Jay Mariotti that extended the paper's bizarre public campaign against its former star columnist - a man valued so highly that he was signed to a three-year contract extention surely in seven figures just a few weeks ago. Let's take a look at what Ebert had to say.

"Your timing was exquisite. You signed a new contract, waited until days after the newspaper had paid for your trip to Beijing at great cost, and then resigned with a two-word e-mail: 'I quit'."

Ebert makes it sound as if Mariotti took a paid vacation to Beijing. Instead, he gave the paper exactly what it paid for: Mounds of coverage. What's the problem?

*

"Newspapers are not dead, Jay, and this paper will not die because you have left. Times are hard in the newspaper business, and for the economy as a whole. Did you only sign on for the luxury cruise?"

Newspapers may not be dead, but they are dying. Are you a rat if you strike out for other opportunities including the Internet? Or is there some principle I'm not aware of requiring you to stick around while your bosses put out a crappy product?

*

"You were a great shouter in print, that's for sure, stomping your feet when owners, coaches and players didn't agree with you. It was an entertaining show. Good luck getting one of your 1,000-word rants on the air."

Apparently Ebert does not watch ESPN.

*

"The rest of us are still at work, still putting out the best paper we can."

If this is the best paper you all can put out, you're the ones who should be leaving your jobs.

*

"[We] believe in our internet site, which you also whacked as you slithered out the door . . . I don't have any complaints about our web site. So far this month my web page has been visited from almost every country on earth, including one visit from the Vatican City."

Ebert believes in the Sun-Times's Internet site so much that he has his own, far superior site. Anyone who defends the Sun-Times's Internet site must be on the Internet for the first time.

*

"You have left us, Jay, at a time when the newspaper is once again in the hands of people who love newspapers and love producing them. You managed to stay here through the dark days of the thieves Conrad Black and David Radler."

Ah, the dark days.

In 2002, Ebert wrote: "The current owner is publishing a paper I can be proud to work for, and at least his politics are crystal-clear and defend an ideological position that has been taken for ethical, not marketing, reasons. The Tribune, meanwhile, has abandoned a century of conservatism and tiptoed timidly to the center, hoping not to offend anybody."

I'm not sure if there was ever anything ethical about the ideological position of the paper under Black and Radler, but the Sun-Times has, of course, since altered its ideological position for admitted marketing reasons - without a peep from Ebert.

3. "I looked at the newspaper this morning and went, What the hell? It was the most ludicrous thing I've seen in my life," Chicago Newspaper Guild executive director Gerald Minkkinen tells Phil Rosenthal.

"Mariotti called it a 'rather comical assault' . . . You've been selling me out there for years and promoting me, then you turn on me and you expect people to buy it? It's crazy."

Yes. The Sun-Times's editors - and some of their most familiar writers - have managed to make themselves look more comical and childish than Jay Mariotti. Bravo.

4. Speaking of comical and childish, Neil Steinberg couldn't resist either. But what really struck me about Steinberg's column today was his continuing man-crush on Rick Telander.

"Personally, he's a stand-up guy," Steinberg writes. "When I hit a rough patch a while back, and some friends shunned me, Rick sought me out to make sure I was OK."

From Steinberg's new book, Drunkard:

Rick Telander fills the doorway of my office at the paper. He's our star sports columnist, lanky, tall, a hero's tousled hair, still resembling the football player he once was. He asks me how I'm doing.

"I'm hanging in there, I say.

"You still want to do lunch?" We had talked of getting together for a drinking lunch not long before my life took its unplanned detour.

"Sure," I say, perhaps a bit too eagerly. "Why not?"

"You drinking?"

"No."

"He considers this for a moment.

"You mind if I do?"

"No, of course not," I say. We look at each other, as if each waiting for the other to say, "What would be the point then?"

"We'll have fun!" I finally bluster, and we set a date. He gets his book out and we settle on December 22, though I doubt it will actually happen.

But it does.

I get to the empty restaurant at the NBC Tower early, so I order a vodka tonic while waiting at the bar. Over a few glasses of wine we talk about my travails - he's full of rumpled sympathy, can't imagine giving it up. "Yeah, it's hard," I say, taking a long sip. He heads to his afternoon work, I go to Rossi's for a shot and a beer.

5. For a guy everyone hated, Mariotti's co-workers are awfully angry that he's left. I guess the unprincipled are willing to tolerate someone's bad behavior as long as he's making them money.

6. Speaking of Drunkard, Sun-Times editor-in-chief Michael Cooke is portrayed in the book as Steinberg's best friend - and a drunk who is disappointed when his pal decides to quit drinking because he won't be any fun anymore.

7. "Chicago reporters covering the Democratic Convention in Denver were stunned to witness WGN-Channel 9's Allison Payne cheering and applauding for speakers Wednesday night while she was seated with the Illinois delegation in the Pepsi Center," Rob Feder reports.

Most reporters just cheer on the inside; others save their cheerleading for the air.

The Beachwood Tip Line: Like a dream.



Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:48 AM | Permalink

RockNotes: AC/DC vs. Oasis

1. AC/DC: Back and Back and Back In Black

Your eight-year wait is over, my friends. Angus and Malcolm Young have finally delivered a new album, called Black Ice, conveniently only available at Wal-Mart and Sam's Club. The lead single, cleverly titled "Rock 'n' Roll Train," is available for streaming here. I must say that if you were afraid AC/DC were going to change even one teensiest, weensiest, hair-splittingest bit, well, no worries, mate. "Rock 'n' Roll Train" sounds exactly like every song they've done since singer Brian Johnson joined the band in 1980.

To AC/DC's millions of fans, consistency is a virtue, I guess. To me, well, after Back In Black, it's all kind of a blur. For about a half-hour in 1979, AC/DC (with Bon Scott, dammit!) was the soundtrack to some misadventures in my tentative trips into the then-new world of "classic rock" white trash rebellion. Thank God I sobered up and found The Replacements (see below). I still have one great friend from that era whom I love dearly, but I've spent many hours in the 30 years since then trying to get him to listen to the best bands of each successive trend of rock 'n' roll. He'll surprise me once in a while and take a liking to a newer band like Sloan, but mostly it's still the hard rock bands from 1979 to 1982 that he'll put on the car CD player. (I'm pretty sure that even he gave up on AC/DC years ago, though).

Anyway, here's how "Rock 'n' Roll Train" goes, and tell me if this sounds familiar: Solo intro guitar riff from Angus, cue Phil Rudd with the drums, Malcolm adds the bass, then Johnson starts singing semi-intelligibly about "fantasy," "ecstasy," "making it really hot," "giving it all you got . . . " Cue chorus, "Runaway train, running right off the track (no apologies to Soul Asylum)," repeat four times, cue Angus guitar solo, another chorus, and outro with a final Rudd drum riff.

Nice to know that Black Ice producer Brendan O'Brien knows what the AC/DC crowd craves . . . which is always more of the same. O'Brien is Pearl Jam's studio producer, and he really kind of invented the hard-edged alternative rock sound in the post-Nirvana 1990s, producing the best Stone Temple Pilots albums as well as your favorite records from Matthew Sweet and Rage Against the Machine. Judging from "Rock 'n' Roll Train," though, it sounds to me like a case of one rock relic working with an even older relic to produce yet another indistinguishable widget on the AC/DC assembly line.

2. RIP: Replacements drummer Steve Foley

You'll have to forgive me if I indulge in a bit of Minneapolis-ism here. Steve Foley, 49, died in late August after what family members said was an accidental overdose of prescription drugs. Foley was a replacement Replacement, joining Slim Dunlap in that thankless category in 1990 just as the 'Mats were gaining their widest recognition - and just as they were falling apart. Foley stepped in for Chris Mars - who in my opinion, was always the unsung key member of the band, and whose disinterest in staying with the hard-drinking crew after All Shook Down to me was The Replacements' death knell, even more so than Paul Westerberg kicking out alky guitarist Bob Stinson.

Foley was a veteran Minneapolis drummer whose biggest accomplishment was the many years he spent ably backing 1980s local superstar rocker Curtiss A, undoubtedly one of the godfathers and progenitors of The Replacements and all the Twin Cities alt-rock bands of that amazing era. Foley toured with the 'Mats in 1991 and probably is best known in that respect as drumming during the band's onstage break-up at the Taste of Chicago in Grant Park.

After that, Foley was recruited by Tommy Stinson for his post-Replacements band, Bash & Pop. The 1993 album they put out, Friday Night Is Killing Me, was always my favorite ex-Mats album. It was just a terrific collection of alt-rock that tended toward the Brit-rock side (compared a lot to The Faces) but also had loads of awesome sonic trash, much like the 'Mats. To me, this album was really the '90s musical inheritor of The Replacements' mantle. Although it's rumored that Foley didn't actually play drums on the album, he and his brother, bassist Kevin Foley, certainly toured with Bash & Pop - Beachwood Reporter editor Steve Rhodes and I saw them play at the Double Door in 1994. It was a delight, of course. In recent years, his family said, Foley had been working as a car salesman. Ouch.

You can get some real good glimpses of the bespectacled, blazer-wearing Steve Foley (looking a lot like Max Weinberg, actually) in this music video for Bash & Pop's great song, "Loose Ends."

Bash & Pop/Loose Ends (1993)

3. News Flash: Oasis Still Act Like Idiots

How in God's name after all these years can it surprise anyone that Oasis still is going to give you a crappy concert experience? They are AC/DC-like in their consistency on this particular level. Did you really think that just because Liam and Noel Gallagher are older now that they'd somehow change their spots and start running around the stage like Billy Joel, being Joe Entertainer? Did you seriously expect that just because they're trying to flog another sure-to-be-lifeless album (Dig Out Your Soul, due Oct. 7) that they'd try to curry some favor with the masses by, perhaps, not turning their backs on them while playing their "good-as-the-Beatles" classics (all two of them)?

All this came as a shock to the reviewer from the Vancouver Sun who said Oasis' show at GM Place this week was "surprisingly dull and lifeless" for the three-quarters of the time they were playing songs that didn't come from 1995 or so. Liam is still refusing to talk to the audience, doing nothing but standing there while singing, which is fine when Oasis is playing the handful of songs they've written that are transcendent, but a real bore otherwise. He was able to get away with being an asshole when Oasis' fame was of the type that only comes when you are so cool that even doing nothing is cool, the sort of Dylan-esque pose of bored, slightly hostile nonchalance that only works for . . . well . . . Dylan consistently, and for others, only during their 15 minutes in the top echelons of mass fan worship. I think the Gallaghers were only there for about 10 minutes, tops.

I know that dour Noel Gallagher is at least some kind of genius and that Oasis has secured their place in history as being the musical zeitgeist for the "New Labour" renaissance of '90s Britain. Good times, good times, indeed. But take a look at the concerts from their glory days, like the ones posted here from Chicago's Metro in 1994. Even back then, the Gallaghers merely phoned it in onstage, relying on their off-stage buzz to cast a magical glow of resplendence to an experience that, seen in the light of day, just isn't that big of a deal.

You know, I don't ask for my rock bands to be fawning and too eager to please. I don't mind being made to feel that I will never be their equal in cool - I know my place. But still. Oasis, your act long ago wore thin and has passed over into "shtick." I know Noel said recently that he's down to his last 4 million pounds, so he doesn't need to please anyone, let alone me. But c'mon. If you're going to be rich and boring, play somewhere where your long-suffering fans don't have to pay $100 to see you. Give some free concerts outdoors. Play small clubs. Re-establish some credibility. Prove to me that you aren't still the biggest assholes on the planet.

-

Send Don your comments. Please use a real, full name to be considered for publication.

-

Catch up with all the RockNotes you need to keep you tuned in, man.

Posted by Don Jacobson at 2:02 AM | Permalink

August 28, 2008

The [Thursday] Papers

"When party activists gathered in Chicago to nominate Bill Clinton to a second term in 1996, Mr. Obama was making his first run for political office, but he did not have enough clout to get full access to the convention," the New York Times recalled this week. "Instead, he concluded that high-dollar breakfasts and dinners seemed to lock voters out of the system, grousing to a reporter, 'The convention's for sale, right?'"

Yes. And it still is, even at a convention under his control. Just a few days earlier, the Times reported this:

"When Senator Barack Obama gives his acceptance speech before 70,000 people at Invesco Field on Thursday in Denver, most supporters will be sitting under the open night sky. But a group of lobbyists and corporate executives will watch the event from plush skyboxes, with catered food and a flowing bar, and a price tag of up to $1 million.

"And Mr. Obama's biggest fund-raisers will be staying at the Ritz-Carlton, with its 400-thread-count linens, indoor basketball court, lap pool and 6,800-square-foot spa. They will be treated to an array of cocktail parties and receptions in their honor, including one Monday evening with Howard Dean, the party chairman, at the Denver Performing Arts Center, a reception with the vice-presidential nominee on Wednesday night at the Pepsi Center and a celebration with Mr. Obama after his acceptance speech in a club-level lounge at Invesco Field."

So you might say that the party has changed Obama, rather than Obama changing the party. After all, when Mayor Daley is at your side . . .

"In fact, millions of dollars are being spent on entertainment to wine-and-dine specific members of Congress, including Representative Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, the chairman of the House Democratic caucus, and Senator Richard J. Durbin, also of Illinois."

Of course, last night Obama said he scheduled his acceptance speech at Mile High Stadium so the little people could have access. But that's not the real story.

"One of Mr. Obama's boldest moves before his party's convention was to change the location of his acceptance speech from an enclosed area, the Pepsi Center, to an open-air stadium, Invesco Field. The change was to symbolize a new spirit of openness and to allow grass-roots Obama supporters, and not just party regulars, to participate in the event.

"But in addition to the Invesco skyboxes - which are reserved for major donors to the Democratic Party, the Obama campaign and the Denver host committee - other premium seats will be auctioned off by the Obama campaign to donors. For a $1,000 donation to the Obama Victory Fund in Colorado, supporters will get a 'club level' seat, which has easy access to restaurants, bars and lounges, along with an invitation to a postspeech reception.

"In addition, members of the Obama National Finance Committee who met their commitment of raising at least $250,000 for the campaign have been assured of getting premium seats and passes to the convention itself, even if they are not delegates."

See, it turns out that money matters more than ever in the Obama campaign.

"Credentials are being distributed to top Obama fund-raisers every morning, with the level of access and the number of credentials available depending on how much they have raised. Special lounges will be available at the Pepsi Center for major donors. Some will get the prized podium passes that will allow them to mingle with politicians backstage. National finance committee members have also been assured of premium seats at Invesco Field for Mr. Obama's speech."

All the grassroots gets are 3 a.m. text messages.

*

And Democrats undoubtedly ready to criticize the corporate presence at next week's Republican convention should take note:

"Jennifer Backus, a spokeswoman for the Obama campaign, said Mr. Obama would allocate his skyboxes to "staff, supporters, family members and friends." Among those getting skyboxes are Qwest, Comcast, Xcel Energy and Tom Golisano, the New York Republican who recently gave $1 million to the Denver host committee.

"Invesco skyboxes come with catered food, an open bar and big-screen televisions. Those with access also avoid standing in the general security lines, since there is a separate entrance with a private elevator to whisk them to the skybox level."

At least the Republicans don't pretend to be a party of the people.

"Corporations and other donors are being solicited to buy 'sponsorship packages' for events costing $25,000 to $50,000 and honoring the New Democrat Coalition, a group of moderate Democrats.

"Donors to the New Democrat event will get V.I.P. tickets and access to the exclusive area, with amenities, for a party at Union Station, a Rockies game at Coors Field and a jazz brunch at 'an incredible private residence' in Denver, according to the invitation.

"Visa and U.S. Bank are also sponsoring a reception honoring the freshman Congressional class."

Natch.

God's Will
"He'll win if it's meant to be,'' Michelle Obama told NBC News.

Just like George W. Bush was meant to be?

Like Father, Like Nominee
"Sen. Barack Obama sought more than $3.4 million in congressional earmarks for clients of the lobbyist son of his Democratic running mate, Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware, records show. Obama succeeded in getting $192,000 for one of the clients, St. Xavier University in suburban Chicago," the Washington Post reports.

"One of those clients was St. Xavier University, a four-year, 5,600-student institution run by the Roman Catholic Sisters of Mercy in Orland Park, Ill. Steve Murphy, vice president for university advancement, said Hunter Biden approached him in 2005 offering to secure congressional earmarks.

"Hunter Biden and his colleague, Eric Schwerin, told Murphy they were working with a number of clients, institutions like yours, and we would like to help you identify earmarks, federal support and grants.'

"Murphy said he found Biden's parentage a selling point. Murphy then accompanied Biden to the offices of the Illinois delegation, including Obama's."

---

"[Biden] was a crucial supporter of the law in that he paved the way for other Democrats to support it," said Travis Plunkett, legislative director of the Consumer Foundation of America, a consumer group that opposed the bill. "Senator Biden provided a lot of political cover for the credit card industry because they wanted to show that the proposal had bipartisan support. He aggressively undermined the opposition to the bill."

Joe Biden, working-class hero.

The Beachwood Tip Line: Something to be.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:19 AM | Permalink

Mariotti Drives Sun-Times Insane

Is Michael Cooke insane?

Just months after signing Jay Mariotti to another humongous contract, the editor of the Sun-Times is now marketing the controversial sportswriter's resignation from the paper as the greatest thing since the Mirage.

Just look at the top of today's front page:

PeteJay.jpg


Classy!

But that's not all.

Turn the paper over to the sports front and you'll see "NO MORE MARIOTTI: Reaction Is Swift - and Harsh."

Whereby the paper runs 14 anonymous comments from readers ripping Mariotti to shreds.

Which begs the question: If Mariotti was such a plague upon the Sun-Times and its readers, why did Cooke continue to pay him so much money for all these years? And why did the paper put his face on buses and advertisements and other promotional materials?

The paper used Mariotti to sell the paper right up to the time he left; now the paper is running a notice today offering free home delivery of the "Jay-Free Sun-Times."

But that's not all!

Sun-Times sportswriter Chris De Luca writes a wholly inappropriate column today also ripping Mariotti to shreds. What is this, grade school?

De Luca turns a chunk of his column over to White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, a frequent Mariotti target - quite often deservedly so. And when Guillen says "I'm not going to say I will get the last laugh because I will get fired from this job," De Luca doesn't correct the record that Mariotti was not fired; he resigned.

And yet, there's De Luca a few paragraphs later saying "Once again, Mariotti was playing fast and loose with the facts."

Which begs another question: Does that mean Mariotti played fast and loose with the facts for all these years and neither Cooke nor his colleagues did anything to stop him? How is that for a contract with your readers?

It's a laugh when De Luca writes that "Mariotti spent the better part of his first day divorced from the Sun-Times acting like a scorned lover."

Projecting much?

Mariotti spent the better part of his first day as a free man talking about the woes of the newspaper industry and the rise of the Internet; De Luca wants to pretend instead that all is not only okay in printland, but that the Sun-Times is putting out a terrific product. Riiiight.

But that's not all!

De Luca also wheels in Ken Harrelson, the pathetic and putrid homerest of homer baseball announcers to say that "[Mariotti] wouldn't have signed that extension if the things he's saying about the Sun-Times now were true. So he's spinning again."

Um, the Sun-Times certainly wasn't saying the things they are saying about Mariotti now when they signed him to that extension, so you've got it backwards, Hawk.

Finally, De Luca says that "those of us who work at newspapers have one edge over the blogging world. We have access to the players, coaches, managers and front-office executives. We can talk to key figures on and off the record to get insight unavailable to others."

Then why are sports blogs so much better than newspaper sports sections? What insight exactly are you delivering? Hanging out with your heroes isn't the same thing as reporting. Take this recent "mailbag" session with the Tribune's Paul Sullivan, for example.

Paul, Have you ever read your White Sox counterpart's mailbag? He actually posts good questions and has well-thought-out responses to them. I know you think you are very witty, which would be okay if you would actually put a little effort into this and provide a little insight for once. -- Ray Kluesner, Madison, Wis.

Mark does a great job and I read his mailbag all the time. I consider us the Tribune's version of Goofus and Gallant. (You can figure out which one is which.) If you're looking for more insight on the Cubs, I would suggest going to one of the many fine blogs that service Cubs fans. They have more time to run through the stats and look things up for you. I don't believe this is a matter of life and death, so let's not pretend it's anything other than entertainment.

Sullivan doesn't have time to run through the stats! He's too busy having access!

The fact is that Mariotti is right: the Internet is where the action is for any serious sports fan. And the Sun-Times website - including its sports blogs (Last post for "Inside the Cubs" was nine days ago!) - blows chunks. And why is that? Daily newspapers have all that access, all those resources, all that insight, and yet they by-and-large produce not only inferior blogs but inferior coverage altogether.

In an interview with The Score, "Jay Mariotti blasted his former paper's internet ineptness, going as far to say that it had a 'rickety' website and his USA-Spain gold medal basketball game column 'sat in a bin for three and a half hours' because nobody was at the paper to read it," The Big Lead reports.

The Tribune reports that "Just back from Beijing, where he covered the Olympics, Mariotti said in a phone interview that he decided to quit after it became clear while in China that sports journalism had become 'entirely a Web site business. There were not many newspapers there. He added that most of the journalists covering the Games were 'there writing for Web sites'."

On the other hand, Deadspin reports that Mariotti quit because he wasn't allowed to write about Barack Obama's criticism of Cubs fans, which isn't any more in the favor of the paper - it's ludicrous, of course, but it follows a stupid old newspaper dictum; see, Rick Telander already had dibs on the topic.

Cooke tells Michael Miner that "we're not hearing from grief-stricken fans. The truth is quite the opposite. Quite the opposite. We've gotten hundreds of e-mails, including ones that say 'Now we'll buy the paper.' By all indications our circulation will go up."

So you made a really bad decision a few months ago when you brought Mariotti back with a new contract rumored to hover around half a mil? Again, how do you keep your job, Mr. Cooke?

I can only hope that when Cooke is finally dispatched, a memo as classy as this one is distributed.

None of this is to defend Mariotti as a columnist. Despite a gift for knowing exactly what Chicago sports fans were thinking about and feeling in their hearts at any given moment (and for being absolutely terrific on TV and radio), Mariotti was a terrible writer who relied on awful, forced nicknames and provocation for the sake of provocation. Many are undoubtedly glad to see him go. But the Sun-Times is perpetuating a charade upon its readers by reacting like the bunch of children they apparently are.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:12 AM | Permalink

Connie's Corner: Finn

Jon Clinch/Finn: A Novel

Why do we love a story? Why do we need fiction at all? Above all, why do we need a sequel (prequel?) to an American classic like Adventures of Huckleberry Finn? Because we need to escape the restrictions of our own rules of engagement with our civilized world much as Huck did; and then we must reconstruct this world, remake the rules, even break them completely, and, finally, dance among the ruins.

Jon Clinch does this in Finn through his recreation of Huck's father "Pap" - we never know his real name. On the cover of the paperback version of his book there is a picture of a large hook with the word "Finn" floating just beneath it. Pap Finn is hooked by many things in this novel, but so are we as we become entrapped by the dark and powerful Mississippi that is at the center of his life. This river has many things within it, such as the fish he catches on his many trotlines that provide him his livelihood, such as it is. There are also strange things:

CFinn.jpgUnder the low sun, pursued by fish and mounted by crows and veiled in a loud languid swarm of bluebottle flies, the body comes down the river like a deadfall stripped clean.

This is the opening sentence of the book.

Clinch soon lets us know that this is a woman's body that has been skinned. Later, in the dead of night, we see Pap looking for his backwoods bootlegger, Bliss, for his daily dose of drink. He barters with Bliss and treats him to a campfire dinner of fresh "bacon." Bliss is blind and lives in the deepest of dark woods, so he does not suspect where that food came from. Clinch lets us guess. Now we know we are dealing with some kind of monster. The question is, do we want to keep reading?

This world is beautiful in spite of some of the creatures that inhabit it. As Finn lurches through one drunken day after another, nature seems to re-ravel all his unraveling: One winter-like day he finally throws his last bottle "over the edge into the quarry where it lands with a distant suggestion of breakage and the snowflakes turn to spiders lowering themselves on threads of moonlight while he sleeps."

The spider's web is a symbol of the very fragile things that keeps Finn going. We follow him through almost superhuman struggles for his goal of his own salvation. At first, he sees it as the recovery of some of the money that Twain's Tom and Huck had found in Huckleberry Finn. But eventually, Clinch draws us deeper into Finn's other search: his own redemption.

Many of Twain's characters live and breathe in this world. Huck himself, of course; Judge Thatcher; and various widows who are trying to make everyone happy and "civilized." The truly loathsome con man, King, is simply a preacher whose motives and actions even Finn can't stomach. But there are new ones also, such as Finn's father The Judge, who is the iconic Bad Father. Huck's mother is created as a totally new mystery for the reader to ponder.

The most interesting reference to Twain comes in the frontispiece before the book even begins. In Adventures, Finn and Huck lived in a ramshackle cabin on the river that was always threatening to slide into the water, and in Finn it finally does with the help of The Judge, who wreaks his revenge on Pap by pulling it down. When Twain's Huck and Jim find Pap's body in the remains in the original novel, Twain describes the scene:

(Jim) went and bent down and looked, and says:

"It's a dead man. Yes, indeedy; naked, too. He's been shot in the back. I reck'n he's ben dead two er three days. Come in, Huck, but doan' look at his face - it's too gashly."

I didn't look at him at all. Jim throwed some old rags over him, but he needn't done it; I didn't want to see him. There were heaps of old greasy cards scattered around over the floor, and old whiskey-bottles and a couple of masks made out of black cloth; and all over the walls was the ignorantest kind of words and pictures made with charcoal. There was two old dirty calico dresses, and a sun bonnet and some woman's underclothes, hanging against the wall, and some men's clothing too . . . There was a boy's old speckled straw hat on the floor; I took that too. And there was a bottle that had milk in it; and it had a rag stopper for a baby to suck . . . There was a seedy old chest, and an old hair trunk with the hinges broke.

Every item in the only room left of that cabin played a part in the dark and entangling story of Finn. You read on at your own risk - in the end you have to leave the story and leave the fate of Finn's redemption to Huck, who takes what he needs from his father's legacy and lights out.

What you take from it depends on how well you can dance.

-

Previously in Connie's Corner:

* "Heavier Than Air." Nona Caspers creates a tapestry of small towns and chronicles the lives of people living there who have a hard time coming down to earth.

* "Pale Fire." Nabokov creates a novel that doesn't seem to have coherent plot but a story that contains a do-it-yourself kit.

* "Out Stealing Horses." A coming-of-age story that reveals a father's secret life during wartime.

* "An American In Iceland." Answering the riddle: how many Icelanders does it take to change a light bulb?

* "The Physics of the Dalai Lama." How Buddhism squares with quantum mechanics.

Posted by Don Jacobson at 12:26 AM | Permalink

August 27, 2008

The [Wednesday] Papers

I will be attending to other business today so there will be no Papers column, but there is plenty of new and great stuff elsewhere on the site. ->>>

The [Tuesday] Papers
"In my own small way, I've tried to give back to this country that has given me so much," Michelle Obama said in her speech last night. "That's why I left a job at a law firm for a career in public service."

Really?

"One of Michelle Obama's signature efforts has been working to relieve crowding in the emergency room, the second-busiest in Chicago," the Washington Post reports.

"Backed by a federal grant, Michelle Obama in 2005 launched the South Side Health Collaborative, under which counselors advise patients with noncritical needs that they can receive care elsewhere at a reduced cost. The medical center said in a report that some patients 'make frequent visits to the ER because no one in the family has a personal doctor . . . '

"[A] hospital report quotes Michelle Obama as saying, 'The world is seeping in, and our salvation will be the success of our partners' at local clinics.

"Obama's program has enjoyed favorable news media coverage in Chicago and was eventually expanded into a broader program, the Urban Health Initiative . . . Critics, however, describe the program as an attempt to ensure that the hospital retains only affluent patients with insurance.

"If you put enough money into it, you could save a whole bunch of community health centers," [Quentin] Young said. "But to date, they haven't."

"Edward Novak, president of Chicago's Sacred Heart Hospital, declined to discuss the center's initiative in particular but dismissed as 'bull' attempts to justify such programs as good for patients. 'What they're really saying is, Don't use our emergency room because it will cost us money, and we don't want the public-aid population,' Novak said."

This is where things get cozy. Susan Sher, former corporate counsel to Mayor Richard M. Daley, hired Michelle Obama for a job that had not previously existed ("We really didn't know what this office would be, so it was really her creation," Sher said). Michelle Obama worked with Sher at City Hall - that's right, Michelle worked for Daley, though little has been reported about what she actually did. Once ensconced at the University of Chicago Medical Center, Michelle turned to an old friend: David Axelrod.

"In December 2006, the medical center hired a public relations firm, ASK Public Strategies, to help sell the Urban Health Initiative. ASK is co-owned by Axelrod, Obama's chief campaign strategist. ASK was selected on the recommendation of Michelle Obama . . . ASK started work in January 2007; the next month, Barack Obama launched his campaign.

"The firm delivered its report in May 2007 saying that, while nurses were generally favorable about the Urban Health Initiative, 'primary care doctors were more negative, viewing it as a break with UCMC's community commitment.'"

Axelrod's survey research found that "While most of those surveyed expressed favorable views of the center and its program, critics complained of arrogance and a lack of empathy . . . More than a few staff members - particularly medical staff - express strongly worded concern or disappointment with UCMC in its commitment to the community . . .

"One survey question asked for reaction to a particular criticism that had been leveled:

"'This new health initiative is not really about helping the residents of the South Side of Chicago. It is simply a way for the University of Chicago Medical Center to save money and reduce costs by serving fewer poor people without health insurance.'"

* * *

"'I've had some complaints from my constituents,' said Alderman Toni Preckwinkle, a former teacher who represents Chicago's 4th Ward and who will be an Obama delegate at the Democratic National Convention. 'It's hard to know whether this is motivated by the interests of the patients or by the financial interests of the medical center.'

"Asked her personal conclusion, Preckwinkle paused. 'They have decided they need to have as many paying patients as possible," she said. 'That's all I'm going to say.'"

Michelle Obama, an American success story.

P.S.
Actually, that wasn't all Preckwinkle had to say. In a Sun-Times story, she said "I've heard complaints from a handful of constituents, but I've also had calls from people in the health care profession complaining. The medical professionals who have come to me are accusing the university of dumping patients on its neighboring institutions . . . Whether it's being implemented in the way that's in the best interest of the patient, I can't tell you."

Oh, but you just did.

Michelle's Money
Nice to see the Post and S-T catching up. See the last item "Money Woman." See also the item "Michelle Missives" and "Floppy Earmarks."

Finally, dedication to public service doesn't include local schools; Michelle is on the board of the private University of Chicago Lab School - where she and Barack send their kids.

Bond Market
"Barack and I were raised with so many of the same values: that you work hard for what you want in life, that your word is your bond and you do what you say you are going to do."

Except when it comes to domestic spying, offshore oil drilling, gun control, trade agreements and campaign finance. Then you do what you think you need to do once the primary is over.

Crooked Talk Express
"Mr. Obama's campaign began sending out a one-page sheet of daily talking points to delegates, instructing them what to say and what to avoid in talking to reporters," the New York Times reports. ""(In one last week, according to a recipient, the central thrust was how to parry questions about Clinton-Obama strife and Mrs. Clinton's speech by saying 'I can't wait to hear Hillary Clinton talk about the future and am excited that her candidacy is unifying our party!')"

Biden's Eyes
"You have to have a track record," he told Citizen Kate.

He also told her she had "killer eyes."

Programming Note
More coverage, as always, at Division Street.

The Beachwood Tip Line: Indefatigable.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:19 AM | Permalink

Channeling Comcast

Descriptions of the Music Choice channels available in Comcast Area 2.

Sounds of the Seasons: Enjoy the holidays with tunes that capture the spirit of the season. Now playing: DJ Shadow, "Building Steam With A Grain of Salt."

Today's Country: Description not available. Now playing: Keith Urban, "Who Wouldn't Wanna Be Me."

Classic Country: Swing on through the doors of the Opry and step back in time to your kind of country. Now playing: Johnny Cash, "Guess Things Happen That Way."

Bluegrass: Catch breakneck pickin' and high-lonesome singing straight off the mountain from the masters. Now playing: The Seldom Scene, "Blue And Lonesome."

Hip Hop and R&B: Description not available. Now playing: Rhianna, "Take A Bow."

Classic R&B: Groove to classic R&B, funk, soul and Motown from the '60s, '70s and '80s. Now playing: Stevie Wonder, "That Girl."

R&B Soul: Urban adult music from yesterday and today, plus sultry slow jams for the grown and sexy. Now playing: Noel Gourdin, "I Fell."

R&B Hits: Enjoy the best R&B of the '80s, '90s and today. Now playing: Christopher Williams, "I'm Dreamin'."

Rap: Don't miss blazin' beats and hot lyrics from all over the hip-hop nation. Now playing: V.I.C., "Beat Dat."

Metal: Pit your soul against the uncensored aural assault of Music Choice Metal. Now playing: Living Sacrifice, "Symbiotic."

Rock: Experience the new rock revolution on Music Choice Rock. Now playing: P.O.D., "Addicted."

Arena Rock: Slam your head to doses of straight-up glam rock and flick your Bic to teary-eyed ballads. Now playing: Dio, "Rainbow in the Dark."

Classic Rock: Witness a tribute to the original architects of rock and the classic hits that defined the foundation of rock 'n' roll. Now playing: Yes, "Owner Of A Lonely Heart."

Adult Alternative: Tune in to an adventurous mix of lyrical, inspiring songwriting from the best artists of yesterday and today on Music Choice Adult Alternative. Now playing: Natalie Imbruglia, "Torn."

Alternative: Hear the tracks that continue to define the modern rock sound. Now playing: Temple Of The Dog, "Hunger Strike."

Retro-Active: Pogo your way through the synthesized sounds of post-punk and new wave madness. Now playing: Bow Wow Wow, "I Want Candy."

Electronica (uncensored): Turn up the bass as international DJs hit you with phat beats, pulsating sounds and exclusive hour-long mixes you can't hear anywhere else. Now playing: Trust, "Fracture."

Dance: Keep it moving with the biggest club mixes and the hottest international DJ compilations. Now playing: Todd Terry, "(DJ Mixed CD) Strictly Todd Terry."

Lite Hits: A mix of slow and mid-tempo pop hits from today and the '90s, along with favorites from the '80s and '90s. Now playing: The Tony Rich Project, "Nobody Knows."

Adult Top 40: Today's pop and rock hits, along with favorites from the '80s and the '90s! Now playing: Don Henley, "All She Wants To Do Is Dance."

Hit List: Description not available. Now playing: The Spill Canvas, "All Over You."

Kidz Only! A channel just for youngsters featuring the coolest pop hits and sing-a-longs. NO parents allowed! Now playing: Cast Of Camp Rock, "We Rock."

Party Favorites: Get the party started with a mix of good-time tracks from teh '60s to the present. Now playing: Billy Idol, "Mony Mony."

Old School Rap: Description not available. Now playing: Stetsasonic, "Sally."

'90s: Relive the diversity of the '90s with the top rock, pop and R&B hits of the decade. Now playing: Destiny's Child, "Bills, Bills, Bills."

'80s: Hear doves cry with the best pop songs of the '80s. Now playing: The Bangles, "Walk Like An Egyptian."

'70s: Slip into a pair of bellbottoms and trip back to when love was free, peace was the sign of the times and polyester was the fiber of choice. Now playing: Carole King, "Sweet Seasons."

Solid Gold Oldies: Relive the first great era of rock 'n' roll, when the car was king and Elvis wouldn't be caught dead in a rhinestone jumpsuit. Now playing: Neil Sedaka, "Breaking Up Is Hard To Do."

Smooth Jazz: Feel the funk and experience fresh, soulful, polished grooves mixed with a rock/pop base. Now playing: Mindi Abair, "Smile."

Jazz: Discover the truth and essence of jazz with tracks from throughout this music's rich history. Now playing: Gene Harris, "There Is No Greater Love."

Blues: Get your mojo workin' with everything from the electrifying Chicago sound to Mississippi Delta Blues. Now playing: Dave Hole, "White Trash Girl."

Reggae: Catch a cool breeze with reggae, ska, dancehall and soca from the Caribbean. Now playing: The Congos, "Rock Of Gibraltar."

Soundscapes: Caress, energize and expand the soul with this rich mix of New Age, atmospheric and world-positive music. Now playing: Rasa, "Arati."

Easy Listening: Wrap yourself with the warm feelings of remembrance of string orchestras and great instrumentals. Now playing: Living Strings, "With Pen In Hand."

Big Band & Swing: Jump and jive to the rich sounds of an era when bandleaders were the kings of swing. Now playing: Harry James, "Record Session."

Singers & Standards: Celebrate the grace, beauty and timelessness of the world's greatest voices on Music Choice Singers & Standards. Now playing: Tony Bennett, "As Time Goes By."

Show Tunes: Take a front-row seat for the best in Broadway and musical theater. Now playing: John Rubinstein, "Corner of the Sky," Pippin: Original Broadway Cast.

Contemporary Christian: Enjoy a wide variety of inspiring, entertaining and uplifting Christian music from yesterday and today. Now playing: TobyMac, "I'm For You."

Gospel: Lift your spirit with the best of traditional and contemporary gospel music. Now playing: Brent Jones And The T.P. Mobb, "Get Up."

Classical Masterpieces: Discover the power, passion and elegance of the great classical masterpieces performed by the world's greatest performers. Now playing: BANTOCK, "Fifine At The Fair/A Defense Of Inconstancy," Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

Light Classical: Enjoy the lighter side of classical with the delicate sounds of solo, chamber and orchestral favorites. Now playing: BACH, "Italian Concerto In F, BWV971, The Harp Consort.

Pop Latino: Enjoy chart-topping hits from today's hottest Latin artists. Now playing: Marco Antonio Solis, "Te Voy A Esperar."

Musica Urbana: Description not available. Now playing: Daddy Yankee, "Pose."

Salsa y Merengue: Sizzle to today's hottest hits and all-time classics from your favorite artists. Now playing: Ng2, "Ella Menea."

Mexicana: Capture the essence of Mexican music with a rich variety of traditional styles featuring a perfect blend of Ranchera music spiced with the sounds of Norteno, Banda and Mariachi. Now playing: Los Elegidos, "Cuando Me Vaya."

Rock En Espanol: Description not available. Now playing: Cafe Tacuba, "Dejate Caer."

-

From the Beachwood jukebox to Marfa Public Radio, we have the playlists you need to be a better citizen of the Rock and Roll Nation.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:30 AM | Permalink

Feeling McCain's Pain

Cindy: Let's order takeout, I'm starving.
John: I know a lot about starvation. I lived on a bowl of rice a day for five-and-a-half years.

*

Cindy: C'mon, John, you've hogged the remote all night.
John: You'd hog the remote, too, if you had to live without one for five-and-a-half years.

*

Cindy: John, how many times do I have to ask you to put the lid down?
John: If you had to use a hole in the ground for a toilet for five and a half years, you'd understand

*

Cindy: Not tonight John, I have a headache.
John: I had a headache for five-and-a-half years, now lay down and shut up!

*

Cindy: Rafael, have Vincent copter you to the penthouse condo to let John know he forgot to tell Julio to separate the plastic and glass recycling . . . again!
John: Rafael, tell Cindy that the only thing I gave a shit about separating after five-and-a-half years of being a POW was my disfigured first wife.

*

Cindy: Did you really just call me the C-word?
John: Listen, toots, the only C-word around here is five-and-a-half years of Captivity.

*

Cindy: Happy Anniversary honey, can you believe it's been 28 years?
John: Wow, 28 years? It's only felt like five-and-a-half.

-
See also:
* McCain vs. McRib
* McCain for McPresident

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:04 AM | Permalink

August 26, 2008

The [Tuesday] Papers

"In my own small way, I've tried to give back to this country that has given me so much," Michelle Obama said in her speech last night. "That's why I left a job at a law firm for a career in public service."

Really?

"One of Michelle Obama's signature efforts has been working to relieve crowding in the emergency room, the second-busiest in Chicago," the Washington Post reports.

"Backed by a federal grant, Michelle Obama in 2005 launched the South Side Health Collaborative, under which counselors advise patients with noncritical needs that they can receive care elsewhere at a reduced cost. The medical center said in a report that some patients 'make frequent visits to the ER because no one in the family has a personal doctor . . . '

"[A] hospital report quotes Michelle Obama as saying, 'The world is seeping in, and our salvation will be the success of our partners' at local clinics.

"Obama's program has enjoyed favorable news media coverage in Chicago and was eventually expanded into a broader program, the Urban Health Initiative . . . Critics, however, describe the program as an attempt to ensure that the hospital retains only affluent patients with insurance.

"If you put enough money into it, you could save a whole bunch of community health centers," [Quentin] Young said. "But to date, they haven't."

"Edward Novak, president of Chicago's Sacred Heart Hospital, declined to discuss the center's initiative in particular but dismissed as 'bull' attempts to justify such programs as good for patients. 'What they're really saying is, Don't use our emergency room because it will cost us money, and we don't want the public-aid population,' Novak said."

This is where things get cozy. Susan Sher, former corporate counsel to Mayor Richard M. Daley, hired Michelle Obama for a job that had not previously existed ("We really didn't know what this office would be, so it was really her creation," Sher said). Michelle Obama worked with Sher at City Hall - that's right, Michelle worked for Daley, though little has been reported about what she actually did. Once ensconced at the University of Chicago Medical Center, Michelle turned to an old friend: David Axelrod.

"In December 2006, the medical center hired a public relations firm, ASK Public Strategies, to help sell the Urban Health Initiative. ASK is co-owned by Axelrod, Obama's chief campaign strategist. ASK was selected on the recommendation of Michelle Obama . . . ASK started work in January 2007; the next month, Barack Obama launched his campaign.

"The firm delivered its report in May 2007 saying that, while nurses were generally favorable about the Urban Health Initiative, 'primary care doctors were more negative, viewing it as a break with UCMC's community commitment.'"

Axelrod's survey research found that "While most of those surveyed expressed favorable views of the center and its program, critics complained of arrogance and a lack of empathy . . . More than a few staff members - particularly medical staff - express strongly worded concern or disappointment with UCMC in its commitment to the community . . .

"One survey question asked for reaction to a particular criticism that had been leveled:

"'This new health initiative is not really about helping the residents of the South Side of Chicago. It is simply a way for the University of Chicago Medical Center to save money and reduce costs by serving fewer poor people without health insurance.'"

* * *

"'I've had some complaints from my constituents,' said Alderman Toni Preckwinkle, a former teacher who represents Chicago's 4th Ward and who will be an Obama delegate at the Democratic National Convention. 'It's hard to know whether this is motivated by the interests of the patients or by the financial interests of the medical center.'

"Asked her personal conclusion, Preckwinkle paused. 'They have decided they need to have as many paying patients as possible," she said. 'That's all I'm going to say.'"

Michelle Obama, an American success story.

P.S.
Actually, that wasn't all Preckwinkle had to say. In a Sun-Times story, she said "I've heard complaints from a handful of constituents, but I've also had calls from people in the health care profession complaining. The medical professionals who have come to me are accusing the university of dumping patients on its neighboring institutions . . . Whether it's being implemented in the way that's in the best interest of the patient, I can't tell you."

Oh, but you just did.

Michelle's Money
Nice to see the Post and S-T catching up. See the last item "Money Woman." See also the item "Michelle Missives" and "Floppy Earmarks."

Finally, dedication to public service doesn't include local schools; Michelle is on the board of the private University of Chicago Lab School - where she and Barack send their kids.

Bond Market
"Barack and I were raised with so many of the same values: that you work hard for what you want in life, that your word is your bond and you do what you say you are going to do."

Except when it comes to domestic spying, offshore oil drilling, gun control, trade agreements and campaign finance. Then you do what you think you need to do once the primary is over.

Crooked Talk Express
"Mr. Obama's campaign began sending out a one-page sheet of daily talking points to delegates, instructing them what to say and what to avoid in talking to reporters," the New York Times reports. ""(In one last week, according to a recipient, the central thrust was how to parry questions about Clinton-Obama strife and Mrs. Clinton's speech by saying 'I can't wait to hear Hillary Clinton talk about the future and am excited that her candidacy is unifying our party!')"

Biden's Eyes
"You have to have a track record," he told Citizen Kate.

He also told her she had "killer eyes."

Programming Note
More coverage, as always, at Division Street.

The Beachwood Tip Line: Indefatigable.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:44 AM | Permalink

Landing in Chicago

1. Peaceful

2. Heavy Braking

3. Loud and Long

4. Gatebound

5. Disco Landings


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:36 AM | Permalink

A Dozen Democratic Ducks

The Democratic National Convention that gathers in Denver this week to nominate Barack Obama for president will be more like a coronation than a competition. Huzzahs, speeches, bands, balloons. These affairs have long lost any suspense or spontaneity, but somewhere amid the many corporate 'hospitality parties' and lobbyist glad-handing, you'd expect some demonstration of political courage to shift power toward the American people.

Instead, voters will watch (or, rather, not watch) as more than $16.5 million of their tax dollars (the amount allotted by the federal government for each convention) is spent on saying very little of substance.

Rather than ideas, this convention is about power and avoidance: the power of big business and the avoidance of important but neglected issues.

Here is a short list of what you won't hear this week, either on the convention floor or in the party's platform. Call them the 12 taboos.

1. You won't hear a call for a national crackdown on the corporate crime, fraud, and abuse that, in just the last few years, have robbed trillions of dollars from workers, investors, pension holders, taxpayers and consumers. Among the reforms that won't be suggested are resources to prosecute executive crooks and laws to democratize corporate governance so shareholders have real power. Democrats will not shout for a payback of ill-gotten gains, to rein in executive pay, ending corporate personhood, or to demand corporate sunshine laws.

2. The convention will not demand that workers receive a living wage instead of an inflation-ravaged minimum wage. There will be no backing for a repeal of the anti-union Taft-Hartley Act of 1947, which has blocked more than 40 million workers willing to form or join trade unions to improve wages and benefits above Wal-Mart or McDonald's levels.

3. Barack Obama will not call for a withdrawal from the WTO and NAFTA. Trade agreements should stick to trade while labor, environmental, and consumer rights are advanced by separate treaties with strong enforcement mechanisms without being subordinated to the dictates of international commerce.

4. Obama will steer clear of any suggestion that our income tax system be substantially revamped. Workers should keep more of their wages while we tax the things we like least at the source, such as polluters, stock speculation, addictive industries, and energy guzzling technologies. Corporations should be required to pay their fair share; corporate tax contributions as a percent of the overall federal revenue stream have been declining for 50 years and now stand at about 7.4 percent despite massive record profits.

5. There will be no call for a single-payer health care system. Sixty years after President Truman first proposed it, we still need health insurance for everyone, a program with quality and cost controls and an emphasis on prevention. Full Medicare for everyone will save thousands of lives while maintaining patient choice of doctors and hospitals within a competitive private health care delivery system.

6. There is no reason to believe that the Democrats will stand up to the commercial interests profiting from our current energy situation. We need a straightforward carbon pollution tax, not a convoluted cap-and-trade system that would invite massive manipulation. We need a major environmental health agenda that challenges these entrenched interests with new initiatives in solar energy, efficiency in motor vehicles, and other sustainable and clean energy technologies. Nor will there be any recognition that current fossil fuels are producing cancer, respiratory diseases, and geopolitical entanglements. Finally, there will be no calls for ending environmental racism that leads to contaminated water and air in our cities, to toxic dumps in poorer neighborhoods, and to high toxicities in the workplace.

7. Democrats will not demand a reduction in the bloated, redundant military budget that devours half the federal government's operating expenditures at a time when there is no Soviet Union or other major state enemy in the world. Studies by the Government Accountability Office and internal Pentagon assessments support the judgment of many retired admirals and generals that a wasteful defense weakens our country and distorts priorities at home.

8. You won't hear a clarion call for electoral reform. Both parties have shamelessly engaged in gerrymandering, a process that guarantees reelection of their candidates at the expense of frustrated voters. Nor will there be any suggestion that law-abiding ex-felons be allowed to vote. Other electoral reforms should include reducing ballot access barriers to candidates, same day registration, a voter verified paper record for electronic voting, run-off voting to ensure winners receive a majority vote, binding none-of-the-above choices and most important, full public financing to guarantee clean elections.

9. You will hear no calls for reform of the criminal justice system. Our nation now holds one out of four of the world's prisoners, half of them nonviolent. While they attempt to counter Republican charges that they favor criminals over victims, Democrats will say nothing about a failed war on drugs that costs $50 billion annually. And they will not argue that addicts should be treated rather than imprisoned. Nor should observers hope for any call to repeal the "three strikes and you're out" laws that have filled our jails.

10. Democrats will ignore the Israeli peace movement whose members have developed accords for a two-state solution with their Palestinian and American counterparts. It is time to replace the Washington puppet show with a Washington peace show for the security of the American, Palestinian, and Israeli people.

11. The Democrats will not call for the United States to begin a military and corporate total withdrawal from Iraq. Such a withdrawal would result in mainstream Iraqis no longer supporting or joining the insurgency. Internationally UN-supervised elections will allow for appropriate autonomy for the Kurdish, Sunni, and Shi'ite communities within a unified Iraq. Seriously waging peace will be far cheaper than a permanent war economy which is generating huge deficits and diverting attention, talent, and resources from the necessities of the American people.

12. Democrats will not stand up to business interests that have demanded changes that close the courtroom to wrongfully injured and cheated individuals, but not to corporations. Where is the campaign against fraud and injury upon innocent patients, consumers, and workers? We should make it easier for consumers to band together and defend themselves against harmful practices in the marketplace.

To the voters I say: Don't hold your breath waiting for the Democrats to put people before corporations. Watch as this Convention obeys the 12 taboos.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:21 AM | Permalink

Poi Dog Parking

A FREE CONCERT FOR THE ENTIRE FAMILY

Summer wraps up with a Labor Day concert for the entire family featuring Poi Dog Pondering on Monday, September 1 at 3 p.m. on the stage of the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park. Sponsored by Target and presented by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, Millennium Park as part of the Family Fun Festival, this free concert will begin with a pre-show that includes the international sounds of dj Madrid.

Led by Frank Orral on guitar, vocals and ukelele, the Poi Dog Pondering band includes Charlete Wortham (voice, casio, percussion), Rick Gehrenbeck (keyboards), Susan Voelz (violin, vocals), Max Crawford (trumpet, keyboards, accordion), Ron Hall (bass), Dag Juhlin (guitar, vocals), Dan Leali (drums), Kornell Hargrove (vocals) and Ted Cho (guitar, mandolin), Inger Petersen Carle (strings), Alison Chesley (strings), Nate Lepine (horns), Dave Smith (horns) and Nick Broste (horns). The Chicago Bucket Boys will join the band onstage for one song.

"I love Gehry's work," Orral said. "He is a master. His Pritzker Pavilion and BP Bridge have transformed Chicago's already wondrous lakefront into a modern marvel."

*

Maybe Dag will re-create this classic:

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:34 AM | Permalink

Joe Biden's Eyes

When Joe Biden was just another guy on the trail, Citizen Kate caught up with him and promoted her Hugs and Peace platform to great effect.

- See the rest of the candidates flirt with Kate!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:01 AM | Permalink

August 25, 2008

The [Monday] Papers

Not only do we have the city's best baseball roundup, we have the world's best collection of Joe Biden material. I mean, really. We're good.

* The Best of Beachwood Biden
* Joementum!
* The MasterCard Senator

Plus, "Rocky Mountain High" in Song of the Moment.

Is there a better publication than us on the planet today?

Uncle Emil
Emil Jones, classiest political mentor to a president ever.

Daddy Jones
"I respect fathers who take care of their children."

Especially those who do so at the expense of everyone else's children.

Spit Take
"'Machine,' Jones spat out the word. 'Now, I don't know what that means.'"

Cousin Todd
Todd Stroger, best Cook County board president ever.

Chicago Night is gonna rule!

Conventional Wisdom
"Since Obama clinched the nomination - it's official Thursday after the roll call - his campaign has become more conventional," Lynn Sweet reports. "Fired up and ready to go has been muted.

"Obama has had a change of heart on offshore oil drilling, opted out of public financing, angered his activist base by backing a foreign intelligence surveillance law, and demonstrated he indeed has the stomach to approve negative ads.

"'He made a set of compromises all in a row that freaked people out on the progressive side of the party,' said Robert Borosage, co-director of the Campaign For America's Future."

Status Quo You Can Believe In
"A senior Obama adviser, speaking on condition of anonymity, said his boss has expressed impatience with what he calls a 'reverence' inside his campaign for his message of change and new politics. In other words, Obama is willing - even eager - to risk what got him this far if it gets him to the White House."

Patronage Army
Bobbie Steele, who was Cook County board president for a second before bequeathing her seat to her son, said on CLTV over the weekend that "no one said a word" about nepotism when George W. Bush ascended to the presidency in part due to his family connections.

Steele was out of the country that year.

*

Worse, CLTV host Garrard McClendon was so enthusiastic about Steele's defense of the very sort of nepotism that kept people of color out of jobs for decades that he told Steele she was "blowing this up!"

The Wages of Nepotism
"Long before a little boy was crushed and killed by a falling gate at a public housing project on the Near North Side, inspectors repeatedly warned the Chicago Housing Authority that gates around the development were a problem, federal reports show," the Tribune reported over the weekend.

"Inspectors for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development reported at least as long ago as 2006 that gates at the Cabrini-Green complex were damaged, falling or leaning. In their last report, in December 2007, they also said 'multiple' gates were 'missing hardware' and the defects were severe.

"Six months later, 3-year-old Curtis Cooper died when one of the massive metal gates fell on him. A lawyer for the boy's family has alleged that the gate was dangling by one hinge because the two others had rusted through.

"After being alerted to the problem, it's not clear what steps -if any - the CHA took to get the politically connected firm managing the Cabrini-Green Rowhouses to fix the gates. Urban Property Advisors, or UPA, is run by the son of developer Allison Davis, one of Mayor Richard Daley's top allies in the African-American community."

Allison Davis, of course, is also Obama's former boss and an inside player in the Chicago nexus of power Obamaphiles like to pretend their man wasn't a part of.

"As a state senator, Barack Obama wrote letters to city and state officials supporting his political patron Tony Rezko's successful bid to get more than $14 million from taxpayers to build apartments for senior citizens," the Sun-Times reported last year.

"The deal included $855,000 in development fees for Rezko and his partner, Allison S. Davis, Obama's former boss, according to records from the project, which was four blocks outside Obama's state Senate district."

Rope-A-Dope
Richard Roeper refers today to Joe Biden's "relatively minor scandals."

You mean the ones so minor that they ended his 1988 presidential campaign?

Memory Almost Full
"Mayor Richard Daley and the City Council have forced city workers to take as many as five unpaid days off in the last two years, but the mayor and most aldermen have not shared in the hardship," the Tribune reports.

The mayor hasn't taken any days off.

"Quite honestly, it was an oversight on the part of staff who forgot to remind him to take days off," Jacquelyn Heard said.

A) They also forgot to tell him who hired Angelo Torres.
B) They were supposed to tie a string to their fingers to remind them, but forgot.
C) In fact, staff is so forgetful the mayor shows up for work every Saturday and Sunday morning too.

Chicago-oploy
"Monopoly Thumbs Its Nose At Chicago."

The Beachwood doesn't!

A Cop and His Chair
Avocado rotary phones and Jack Lord in the latest awesome installment of our series reviewing the debut season of Ironside.

The Beachwood Tip Line: God's casual reply.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:29 AM | Permalink

Joementum!

"Senator Joe Biden's personal story has been tested many, many times," Robert Gibbs, Obama's communications director, said on Fox News Sunday.

And the focus groups liked what they heard!

Judging Joe:
  • The Beachwood's Best of Biden
  • The MasterCard Senator
  • *

    Says Ed Rendell: "But Joe Biden's going to grow on the American people very fast."

    He hasn't even grown on Democrats all these years.

    *

    "Joe Biden works in Washington but he doesn't live there," Gibbs responded.

    He would if he didn't represent a state that's a train ride away.

    *

    Dick Durbin on Biden saying during the primary that Obama wasn't ready to be president. "If you can reach back into history, you'll find quotes."

    History? It was a few months ago!

    *

    "You can pull up a lot of quotes from August when these two guys were running against each other," Gibbs said.

    And your point is?

    *

    A better answer: "He's ready now."

    Geez, do I have to do everything for you guys?

    *

    "Gibbs rejected the notion that Obama advertisements attacking McCain over the fact that he could not recall in an interview how many houses he owns is an example of the 'slash-and-burn' politics he once said he would reject.

    "'It's a legitimate issue . . . he either forgot how many he has or he just wasn't being truthful with those reporters,' Gibbs said. 'You're out of touch if you have seven houses and don't even remember.'

    "Kaine, who was also on Obama's shortlist, said on Fox that Biden would still help Obama win votes in his state, since he 'comes from a state, Delaware, that borders Virginia.' (The states are actually separated by Maryland.)"

    Either Kaine forgot or wasn't being truthful, but either way it's a good thing he's not on the ticket because he's clearly he's out of touch."

    *

    CNN report: Biden told an Obama ally: "You know, I'm trainable!"

    *

    Biden say we cannot survive another "eight years of Bush & McCain."

    Huh, I thought we had just gone through eight years of Bush & Clinton.

    *

    Amy Holmes on CNN: "Poor Dick Cheney, he wants his enemies back."

    *

    "[Biden] asked Mr. McCain in 2004 to leave his party and be the running mate for Senator John Kerry," the New York Times reports.

    *


    In his speech on Saturday, Biden cited Obama's work on Walter Reed Hospital as his most impressive Senate accomplishment. But, like most things on Obama's resume, his achievement has been vastly overstated.

    *

    When Biden was saying we couldn't survive another eight years of Bush & McCain, the crowd was chanting "Yes we can!"

    *

    Obama: 2,201 delegates won
    Clinton: 1,896 delegates won
    Biden: 0 delegates won

    *

    "According to a CBS News/New York Times poll, twenty-eight percent of the nearly one thousand delegates surveyed, super and otherwise, stated a preference for Clinton. Joe Biden, touted by many in the media as the most likely pick, came in second with six percent."

    *

    In his remarks on Saturday, Obama mentioned that Biden's son Beau, the Delaware attorney general, was deploying to Iraq. He did not mention Biden's son Hunter. Here's why:

    From Kos, unironically: "KStreetProjector and Atrios have both pointed to one of the things liberals should really be cheering about Joe Biden being on the Democratic ticket: The man is one of Amtrak's biggest supporters.

    "That support comes in several forms:

    "Biden commutes to work each day on Amtrak and has been a strong supporter of the beleaguered rail service. He is an original co-sponsor of the Amtrak Reauthorization Bill (National Defense Rail Act), S.104, introduced on January 7, 2003. Introducing an earlier version of the bill with Sen. Fritz Hollings (D-SC) on March 6, 2002, Biden stated, 'For 30 years, I have witnessed Congress dangling a carrot in front of Amtrak's eyes, funding it just enough for it to limp along. And I'll tell you, this has to stop. Now is the time to commit politically and financially to a strong, safe, and efficient passenger rail system.'

    "Biden has been particularly concerned with rail passenger security, and has, in the words of communications director Norm Kurz 'worked furiously' to secure funding for Amtrak to upgrade its tunnels, hire more cops and bomb-sniffing dogs, build more fences, and add lighting to terminals.

    "Amtrak president George Warrington presented Biden with a Champion of the Rails award in June 2001 and the American Passenger Rail Coalition (APRC), a national association of railroad equipment suppliers and rail businesses, presented him its Rail Leadership Award in March 2002.

    "Moreover, his younger son is on the Amtrak board, and in that capacity is a major advocate for the railroad."

    That's right: Biden is Amtrak's best friend in the U.S. Senate, which is fine as far as that goes, but his son is also on Amtrak's board.

    *

    And that's not all. He's a lobbyist. For the credit card industry.

    "James Ridgeway wrote in the December 13, 2005, Village Voice:

    Delaware senator Joe Biden's son, R. Hunter Biden, provides another example: In 2003, The New York Times reported, he joined MBNA America Bank, the huge credit card empire, as a management trainee after graduating from Yale Law School. He moved up the ladder, becoming executive vice president, and now is a partner of Oldaker, Biden & Belair, a D.C. lawyer-lobbyist shop. In that capacity during 2003, he got a $100,000 annual retainer from MBNA to advise the company on 'the Internet and privacy law.'

    As it turns out, MBNA is Senator Biden's biggest contributor. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Biden raised $147,700 from MBNA employees from 1999 to 2004. MBNA's ties to the Bidens might seem ironic since the firm is usually viewed as a big Republican campaign fundraiser and was George W. Bush's sixth-largest contributor during last year's presidential campaign, with a total of $356,350.

    *

    Peggy Noonan, January 2006: "The great thing about Joe Biden during the Alito hearings, the reason he is, to me, actually endearing, is that as he speaks, as he goes on and on and spins his long statements, hypotheticals, and free associations - as he demonstrates yet again, as he did in the Roberts hearings and even the Thomas hearings, that he is incapable of staying on the river of a thought, and is constantly lured down tributaries from which he can never quite work his way back--you can see him batting the little paddles of his mind against the weeds, trying desperately to return to the river but not remembering where it is, or where it was going. I love him. He's human, like a garrulous uncle after a drink.

    "In this, in the hearings, he is unlike Ted Kennedy in that he doesn't seem driven by some obscure malice - Uh, I, uh, cannot, uh, remembuh why I hate you, Judge Alioto, but there, uh, must be a good reason and I will, um, damn well find it. When he peers over his glasses at Judge Alito he is like an old woman who's unfortunately senile and quite sure the teapot on the stove is plotting against her. Mr. Biden is also unlike Chuck Schumer in that he doesn't ask questions with an air of, With this one I'm going to trap you and leave you flailing like a bug in a bug zapper - we're going to hear your last little crackling buzz any minute now!"

    *

    TERRY MORAN: So let's talk about experience, which you talk about a lot. You said recently that the strongest experience you have in foreign relations is that you grew up for four years as a child in Southeast Asia.

    SEN. BARACK OBAMA: Well, that's not exactly what I said. What I said was I think one of the things that sets me apart is that I spent time in other countries.

    [Actual quote: "Probably the strongest experience I have in foreign relations is the fact that I spent four years living overseas when I was a child in southeast Asia."]

    BIDEN: "I think he's right. That is his strongest [foreign policy] credential."

    *

    Not anymore. Now Joe Biden is.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:12 AM | Permalink

    SportsMonday

    A.J. snookered 'em again at the Cell on Sunday, shortly after Jeff Cox proved he has stones of steel. And in a remarkable baseball game, the White Sox finally turned the tables on the resourceful Rays from Tampa Bay, a team that - despite a history filled with nothing but futility - has refused to falter this summer.

    Beachwood Baseball:
  • The Cub Factor
  • The White Sox Report
  • The Eastern Division-dominating Rays have done so even though they've never been close to close (it is tough to contend when you've never won more than 70 games - and they've only done that once in their two-decade or so history). They haven't just won nine more games this summer than they ever have before with 30-some still to play, the Rays have also played their best against good teams. Doing so against the White Sox had resulted in five straight wins (three in Tampa Bay earlier in the season and two in Chicago on Friday and Saturday).

    Clearly something drastic needed to be done and "drastic" would be a good way to describe third-base coach Jeff Cox's decision to send Brian Anderson with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. Most third-base coaches try to be aggressive in that situation, but pinch-hitter Paul Konerko had absolutely nailed a base hit to left that bounced once before being gobbled up by the on-rushing Ben Zobrist with pinch-runner Anderson still a couple steps away from third. So it was more than a little ballsy (don't even try to coach baseball without testicular virility - you got that?) for Cox to send Anderson. But it paid off when catcher Shawn Riggans couldn't handle Zobrist's two-hop throw, Anderson tapped the plate as he slid by and the game was tied at five.

    Oh by the way, the still struggling Konerko (average under .230 going in) was pinch-hitting for Juan Uribe, who came into the game hitting over .340 on the season with runners in scoring position. It seemed like an at-best questionable move . . . and it paid off big-time. A doff of the cap to Mr. Guillen.

    Then in the 10th, let's just say if catcher A.J. Pierzynski hadn't already earned the title "craftiest guy ever named A.J.," he just about sewed it up on Sunday. Pierzynski is usually good for one or two unusual heads-up plays per week but he crammed a couple into the 10th inning alone. First he hustled back to first on Carlos Quentin's deep fly to center, tagged up and advanced to second with one out (thereby eliminating double-play potential and moving closer to the coveted "man on third with less than two outs" scenario). Second, well, settle in because this is going to take a while.

    One of the guys who coached a baseball team my son Noah played on this summer often urged his charges to "put pressure on the play." And that's what Pierzynski did when he wandered off second base on the ground ball that followed. Of course, if Tampa Bay had executed the resulting rundown correctly (with shortstop Jason Bartlett forcing Pierzynski to commit to returning to second before throwing there), the move would have been remembered as nothing but a bonehead play; Jermaine Dye would have stood at first with two outs and the 11th inning looming.

    But Bartlett threw it early and Pierzynski was able to head back toward third. Second baseman Akinori Iwamura then made the same mistake, failing to force the runner to commit to third before throwing and allowing Pierzynski to break back toward second. The standard wisdom is that the best a runner can hope for in a pickle like this is to keep the thing going long enough for the batter to advance to the base where the runner started. Then the situation is a wash (if the runner hadn't placed himself in a pickle he would have stayed in the same spot as the hitter was thrown out - instead, the hitter moves up to that same spot while the runner is tagged out). But Pierzynski was thinking about something else: he was thinking about getting close enough to a fielder to create a situation in which it was plausible for the umpire to rule interference. Third baseman Willy Aybar took Iwamura's throw and then chased Pierzynski back toward second. He gained on him and then threw.

    At the same time Aybar moved to the side and seemed to get out of trouble but as Pierzysnki headed back toward third again, he moved toward Aybar, stuck his arm out a little and contact ensued. Interference was ruled (the call was another one of those "at-best questionable" deals) and A.J. was awarded third with one out. After an intentional walk, the Rays deployed a five-man infield - one of the ways teams play it when the winning run is on third with less than two outs. While Alexei Ramirez's subsequent game-winning hit probably would have dropped even if the right fielder hadn't been playing in right-center, it was still a rarely seen end to an amazing baseball sequence.

    The most amazing part of the whole thing? The umpire who made the interference call, Doug Eddings, was the same ump who ruled Pierzynski safe at first on a strikeout during that memorable game during the 2005 ALCS against the Angels, the game in which Pierzynski went on to score another disputed winning run. In that situation, the super-savvy Pierzynski didn't just break for first after noticing the strikeout pitch was at least close to bouncing in the dirt, necessitating a tag or a throw to first, he paused, waited for the catcher to roll the ball toward the mound and then broke to first.

    With Sunday's victory, the White Sox jumped back into the top spot in the AL Central, but more importantly, stopped a potential losing streak before it started. And Chicago moved another week closer to double-baseball-postseason qualification for the first time in a century.

    -

    Jim Coffman brings you SportsMonday every Monday. He does so out of love. You can write to him personally! Please include a real name if you would like your comments to be considered for publication.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:20 AM | Permalink

    The Beachwood's Best of Biden

    Date: January 18, 2007
    Article: The Trouble With Obama
    What We Said: "No matter how some Democrats (though still not the majority) might like Obama, Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden, just to pick two, ought to be given a serious look because they are serious, experienced public policy leaders. If only our media was as serious."

    *

    Date: February 12, 2007
    Article:The Obama Kool-Aid Report
    What We Said: "A Joe Biden appearance on a Sunday morning news show has more poetry than this."

    *

    Date: April 27, 2007
    Article: Mystery Debate Theater: South Carolina
    What We Said: "Biden's worst mistake was overestimating the ability of the Bush Administration to carry out the Iraq war and underestimating its incompetence, or something. So, Joe, you want to be the president of the free world and have us place our trust in your ability to judge foreign leaders far more inscrutable than George W. Bush? Same for you, Hillary."

    *

    Date: June 4, 2007
    Article: Mystery Debate Theater: New Hampshire
    What We Said:

    SPRADLING: Senator Biden, question for you on Iraq. You are on the only person standing on this stage tonight to recently vote to continue funding the troops in Iraq. My question is this: why were Senators Obama, Clinton, Dodd and Congressman Kucinich wrong to vote against the funding? On Iraq, voted to fund war. Why others wrong?

    BIDEN: No one has fought harder to change this president's policy.

    STEVE: He's projecting really well.

    BLITZER: Senator Biden, why are you reluctant to say now they were wrong and you were right?

    BIDEN: Because I don't want to judge them.

    STEVE: You just want voters to judge them - guilty!

    BLITZER: Senator Biden, you voted last year to support this immigration legislation, including the construction of an approximately 700-mile fence along the border between the United States and Mexico. Governor Richardson doesn't think there needs to be such a fence. Why is he wrong?

    BIDEN: Well, he's not wrong. There doesn't need to be a 700-mile fence . . .

    BLITZER: If you don't think there needs to be a fence, why did you vote for that legislation?

    BIDEN: The reason I voted for the fence was that was the only alternative that was there, and I voted for the fence related to drugs. You can - a fence will stop 20 kilos of cocaine coming through that fence. It will not stop someone climbing over it or around it.

    ANDREW: It's a fence that just stops cocaine. The drug fence.

    *

    Date: July 24, 2007
    Article: Mystery Debate Theater: YouTube Charleston
    What We Said:

    COOPER: Senator Biden, in the past, you've talked about NATO troops. What about American troops?

    BIDEN: Absolutely, positively. Look, I'm so tired of this. Let's get right to it. I heard the same arguments after I came back from meeting with Milosevic: We can't act; we can't send troops there. Where we can, America must. Why Darfur? Because we can. We should now. Those kids will be dead by the time the diplomacy is over.

    (APPLAUSE)

    I'm not joking. I've been to that camp. I walked through that camp. You know what happened when I landed? When I landed and the dust settled, a young African aid worker came up to me and he looked at me and he said, "Thank you. Thank you, America, for coming." You don't understand - they don't understand. They think we can save them.

    -

    COOPER: Senator Biden, how do we pull out now? That was the question.

    BIDEN: Anderson, you've been there. You know we can't just pull out now. Let's get something straight. It's time to start to tell the truth.

    TIM: Everything up to now has been a lie.

    BIDEN: The truth of the matter is: If we started today, it would take one year, one year to get 160,000 troops physically out of Iraq, logistically. That's number one.

    Number two, you cannot pull out of Iraq without the follow-on that's been projected here, unless you have a political solution. I'm the only one that's offered a political solution. And it literally means separate the parties; give them jurisdiction in their own areas; have a decentralized government, a federal system. No central government will work.

    And, thirdly, the fact of the matter is, the very thing everybody's quoting is the very legislation I wrote in January. It said: Begin to draw down combat troops now; get the majority of the combat troops out by March of '08.

    -

    QUESTION: By what date after January 21st, 2009, will all U.S. troops be out of Iraq? And how many family members do you have serving in uniform?

    BIDEN: Number one, there is not a single military man in this audience who will tell this senator he can get those troops out in six months if the order goes today.

    Let's start telling the truth. Number one, you take all the troops out. You better have helicopters ready to take those 3,000 civilians inside the Green Zone where I have been seven times and shot at. You better make sure you have protection for them, or let them die, number one.

    So we can't leave them there. And it's going to take a minimum 5,000 troops to 10,000 just to protect our civilians. So while you're taking them out, Governor, take everybody out. That may be necessary.

    Number three, the idea that we all voted - except for me - for that appropriation. That man's son is dead. For all I know, it was an IED. Seventy percent of all the deaths occurred have been those roadside bombs. We have money in that bill to begin to build and send immediately mine-resistant vehicles that increase by 80 percent the likelihood none of your cadets will die, General. And they all voted against it.

    How in good conscience can you vote not to send those vehicles over there as long as there's one single, solitary troop there?

    -

    QUESTION: Hey, there, my name's Jackie Broyles. And I'm Dunlap [2nd person on video; both are yukkin' it up hillbilly style]. We're from Red State Update. Murfreesboro, Tennessee. This here question's for all you candidates. Mainstream media seems awfully interested in old Al Gore these days. Is he losing weight? What's it say in his book? Is he still worried about all the ice? They interpret all these as signs that he may or may not run. They really want to know if Al Gore's going to run again. Yes. Well, what we want to know is does that hurt you-all's feelings?

    (APPLAUSE)

    (LAUGHTER)

    COOPER: Anybody have their feelings hurt?

    BIDEN: Anderson . . .

    COOPER: Yes?

    BIDEN: I think the people of Tennessee just had their feelings hurt.

    STEVE: Hey, we'll do the snappy retorts, Joe.

    -

    COOPER: We're going to take a short break. We're going to go to break with a YouTube-style video from Senator Biden's campaign.

    (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

    ANNOUNCER: Imagine you're trapped deep in a hole with a group of politicians debating. President Bush says the only way out of Iraq is to dig us deeper and deeper. But what if one leader stood up for us and said no, we can get out now, without leaving chaos behind?

    ANDREW: We'll stand on top of each other.

    STEVE: What is a YouTube style campaign video - a candidate's cat on a skateboard? They're campaign ads!

    -

    BIDEN: I don't have Barack Obama money either. My net worth is $70,000 to $150,000. That's what happens you get elected at 29. I couldn't afford to stay in the Congress for the minimum wage. But if I get a second job, I'd do it.

    TIM, ANDREW, STEVE: [Discussion ensues about whether Joe Biden can really have such a relatively low net worth. We conclude he can't. Or maybe he needs credit counseling.]

    -

    QUESTION: My name is Jered Townsend from Clio, Michigan. To all the candidates, tell me your position on gun control, as myself and other Americans really want to know if our babies are safe. This is my baby, purchased under the 1994 gun ban. Please tell me your views.

    COOPER: Senator Biden, are you going to be able to keep his baby safe?

    BIDEN: I'll tell you what, if that is his baby, he needs help.

    (APPLAUSE)

    I think he just made an admission against self-interest. I don't know that he is mentally qualified to own that gun. I'm being serious. Look, just like me, we go around talking about people who own guns. I am the guy who originally wrote the assault weapons ban . . .

    COOPER: Time.

    BIDEN: Anyway . . .

    (APPLAUSE)

    COOPER: We got one more question. Before . . .

    BIDEN: . . . I hope he doesn't come looking for me.

    -

    BIDEN: I don't like a damn thing about him. I - no, I'm only kidding. Only kidding. Dennis and I have been friends for 25 years. I think this is a ridiculous exercise. Dennis, the thing I like best about you is your wife.

    STEVE: Uh-oh. This question is Gaffe City.

    *

    Date: August 8, 2007
    Article: Mystery Debate Theater: Soldier Field
    What We Said:

    BIDEN: I'm the only one on this stage that has a detailed political plan how to get out. Separate the parties. Let them be in regions.

    STEVE: Like the NCAAs. There can be a civil war every March.

    *

    Date: August 20, 2007
    Article: Mystery Debate Theater: ABC
    What We Said:

    BIDEN: Look, the fundamental disagreement I have with my colleagues up here is that . . .

    TIM: I shouldn't be president.

    ANDREW: My hair is not real.

    BIDEN: Look, we've had 20,000 Western troops in a place where there's more sectarian violence - from Vlad the Impaler to Milosevic - than in 5,000 years of history in Iraq.

    And what did we do? We separated the parties. There's not one single troop has been killed, not one, in the last 10 years. There is peace. There is a circumstance where the genocide is ended. They're becoming part of Europe.

    Every troop must be out over time if there is not a political agreement.

    -

    BIDEN: Tomorrow morning at 9 o'clock, my wife will walk into a classroom and teach for the 30th year in a row. And the one thing any teacher can tell you is that . . .

    STEVE: These students are getting worse every year.

    *

    Date: September 27, 2007
    Article: Mystery Debate Theater: Russert
    What We Said: "Biden continues to be a really smart guy who seems to be just temperamentally off in some way - and the idea of making him Secretary of State is laughable. He's not a diplomat. He is a quarterback, no doubt about that. But not a president."

    *

    Date: October 10. 2007
    Article: Mystery Debate Republican Theater: Dearborn
    What We Said:

    BROWNBACK: This Friday, Joe Biden and I are getting together in Des Moines and we're going to be talking about the political side, a three-state solution in Iraq. This is what ultimately is going to happen. You're going to have a Kurdish north, a Sunni west, a Shia south, within one country, federalism with a weak federal government, the federal government headquartered in Baghdad.

    TIM: So you from Des Moines out there, if you're looking for a good time Friday night, come see me and Biden talking about federalism.

    *

    Date: October 31, 2007
    Article: Mystery Debate Theater: Philadephia
    What We Said:

    TIM: If you put a fluffy white beard on Joe Biden, he's a dead ringer for Kenny Rogers.

    STEVE: Or Kenny Loggins.

    -

    BIDEN: Rudy Giuliani. I mean, think about it. Rudy Giuliani. There's only three things he mentions in a sentence: a noun and a verb and 9/11.

    TIM: He's copping our shit, man.

    *

    Date: November 16, 2007
    Article: Mystery Debate Theater: Las Vegas
    What We Said:

    CLINTON: You know, Senator Edwards raised health care again. When Senator Edwards ran in 2004, he wasn't for universal health care.

    TIM: He wasn't even for himself for president. He was for John Kerry. Talk about a flip-flopper.

    BLITZER: I want Senator Biden to weigh in.

    BIDEN: Oh, no, no, no, no, no.

    BLITZER: I want you to weigh in.

    BIDEN: Don't do it. No. Don't make me speak.

    BLITZER: What do you think about this exchange among Democrats?

    BIDEN: Hey, look, let's get to it, folks. The American people don't give a darn about any of this stuff that's going on up here.

    ANDREW: He's getting all Mike Gravel on their ass.

    BIDEN: Look, they're sitting down at their table tonight, they've put their kids to bed, and they're worrying about whether or not their child's going to run into a drug dealer on the way to school.

    They're worrying about whether or not they're going to be able to pay for their mortgage, because even if they didn't have one of those subprime mortgages, things are looking bad for them. They're worrying about whether they're going to keep their job. And they're worrying about whether their son in the National Guard is going to get killed in Iraq.

    STEVE: But they're not interested in health care?

    BIDEN: Ladies and gentlemen, look, every political campaign gets to this place. And I'm not criticizing any of the three people who are the ones who always get to talk all the time at these events. (LAUGHTER)

    I'm not. I'm not. I'm not criticizing. But look, folks, let's get straight to it here. This is not about experience, it's not about change, it's about action.

    Who among us is going to be able to on day one step in, end the war. Who among us understands what to do about Pakistan? Who among us is going to pick up the phone and immediately interface with Putin and tell him to lay off Georgia because Saakashvili is in real trouble? Who among us knows what they're doing?

    I have 35 years of experience. While everyone's talking about their experience - and Hillary has a great experience, and John and the rest of them - I was passing the Violence Against Women Act. I was passing the crime bill.

    -

    BROWN: Senator Biden, a question on Pakistan. As you know, in the past few weeks Pakistani leader Pervez Musharraf has declared a state of emergency there. He's dismissed several Supreme Court justices. He has recently placed opposition leader Benazir Bhutto under house arrest twice now and imprisoned numerous other dissenters.

    And I know you spoke with Musharraf last week. And you, along with several others on this stage, assert that the U.S. should maintain its current level of financial support for Pakistan. Is it your view that there are times when the security of the United States is more important than the way a key ally like Musharraf disregards freedom and disregards democracy?

    TIM: Wouldn't it be great if Biden said, You know, I really haven't been following this Pakistan thing. Let's got back to this merit pay stuff for teachers.

    BIDEN: First of all, I do not think we should maintain the same aid we're giving. I have made it clear to Musharraf personally, when he called me, and I've spoken personally to Bhutto - before, I might add, the president spoke to either one of them - I spoke to them and I indicated very clearly two things.

    One, if he did not take off his uniform, if he did not hold fair and free elections by the middle of January, I would, on the floor of the Senate, move to take away the aid we're giving with regard to F-16s and P-3s, because that's the biggest leverage you have on him within his military. He is not a sole player. He has to keep his military happy as well. I would use that leverage.

    TIM: What about all the torturing he's done? Doesn't he get credit for that?

    BIDEN: Secondly, I've indicated that what we should do is move from a Musharraf policy to a Pakistan policy. Unlike anyone else, within five days of this happening I laid out a detailed plan. The president hasn't. No one on this stage has.

    -

    BIDEN: Look, it's not the agreement; it's the man. Under the WTO, we can shut this down. What are they all talking about here? It's about a president who won't enforce the law. When they contaminated chicken, what happened? They cut off all chickens going in from Delaware - a $3 billion industry - into China. They cut it off. We have power under the - this agreement. I don't know what anybody's talking about here. Enforce the agreement.

    STEVE: Biden can't believe he's losing to these people.

    -

    "Biden may not be temperamentally suited to be president, but he's smart and speaks clearly, directly and forcefully. He does have a plan. Many plans, in fact."

    *

    Date: November 16, 2007
    Article: The [Friday] Papers
    What We Said: "Joe Biden is super smart and fun to watch and listen to. I'm not sure he should be president, but he should be something."

    *

    Date: December 27, 2007
    Article: The [Thursday] Papers
    What We Said:"The New York Times forgets to interview its own editors while it searches for mysterious reasons why Joe Biden hasn't gotten a fair hearing for such a serious man.

    "'Mr. Biden's supporters will tell you that this is all the media's fault for not covering him more - much the same argument you hear from Bill Richardson and Christopher Dodd's supporters, too,' Matt Bai writes. 'This has some validity, but personally, I think Mr. Biden is less a victim of the media itself than of the distinct political culture that we in the media have wrought. Ten years of endless blather about the game of politics on cable TV have trained the most engaged American voters to handicap candidates rather than hear them, to pontificate about who might win rather than deciding whom they actually want to win. Voters seem to approach politics increasingly as pundits, and they look to poll numbers to tell them who's electable and who isn't, never stopping to realize that they are the ones who get to decide.'

    "That's just insane on so many levels my head is spinning too fast to comment further."

    *

    Date: January 8, 2008
    Article: The [Tuesday] Papers
    What We Said: "Joe Biden on WashingtonPost.com, via The Economist: 'John [Edwards] doesn't have a record in the Senate. John's only passed four bills. They're all about post offices. I mean, literally.'"

    *

    Date: January 9, 2008
    Article: Mystery Debate Theater: New Hampshire Primary Edition
    What We Said: "Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell suggests an Obama/Biden ticket. I don't think Biden could stomach that, and it certainly doesn't scream change to put a veteran Washington senator on the bill. Obama would have to choose a plausible outsider."

    *

    Date: August 14, 2008
    Article: The Political Odds
    What We Said:"Barack Obama picks Joe Biden as his running mate: 5 percent. Holding steady. Biden wants to partition Iraq."

    *

    And from Division Street:

    Date: July 14, 2008
    Post: Left Out
    What I Wrote: "Interesting aside: Those voting against the FISA bill include not just Hillary Clinton, but John Kerry, Dick Durbin and Harry Reid, among others. And in the veep watch, Joe Biden and Chris Dodd - neither of whom has a chance to be put on the ticket in my view - voted Nay. Evan Bayh, who I think has a very good chance, voted Yea."

    *

    Date: August 22, 2008
    Post: How the Veepsters Roll
    What I Wrote: "With the Obama campaign keeping us in high suspense today, let's take a look at the contenders.

    "1. JOE BIDEN. Joe Biden? I happen to be a Joe Biden fan. He's super-smart, has a great sense of humor, and knows foreign countries down to the block level. But if you put him on the ticket, you'll have to spend valuable time and energy cleaning up after him. And truthfully, he creates a stature gap, because he's bigger than Obama. Also, the idea of him as Secretary of State is a laugh. He's not what I would call a diplomat. Funny, though, how the pundits who dismissed his presidential run from the get-go have suddenly discovered his virtues."

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:28 AM | Permalink

    Song of the Moment: Rocky Mountain High

    With the Democrats convening in Denver this week, let's take a look at the quintessential Colorado song - by John Denver.

    -

    Released: 1973

    Co-writer: Mike Taylor

    Length: 4:12

    Charts: Reached No. 9 on the US Hot 100 and No. 3 on the Easy Listening chart.

    Wikipedia: Numerous radio stations cautiously banned the song until Denver publicly explained that the "high" was his innocent description of the sense of peace he found in the Rockies.

    After years as an unofficial anthem for Colorado, on March 12, 2007, the Colorado General Assembly made Rocky Mountain High one of two official state songs, sharing the honor with "Where the Columbines Grow".

    The song was also used in an advertisement for Colorado-based Coors

    Snowmass, Colorado, a ski resort near Aspen, named a run "Rocky Mountain High," in honor of John Denver.

    Songfacts: In Denver's autobiography, he wrote: "I remember, almost to the moment, when that song started to take shape in my head. We were working on the next album and it was to be called Mother Nature's Son, after the the Beatles song, which I'd included. It was set for release in September. In mid August, Annie and I and some friends went up to Williams Lake to watch the first Perseid meteor showers. Imagine a moonless night in the Rockies in the dead of summer and you have it. I had insisted to everybody that it was going to be a glorious display. Spectacular, in fact.

    "The air was kind of hazy when we started out, but by ten p.m. it had grown clear. I had my guitar with me and a fishing rod. At some point, I went off in a raft to the middle of the lake, singing my heart out. It wasn't so much that I was singing to entertain anyone back on shore, but rather I was singing for the mountains and for the sky. Either my voice gave out or I got cold, but at any rate, I came in and found that everybody had kind of drifted off to their individual campsites to catnap. We were right below the tree line, just about ten thousand feet, and we hadn't seen too much activity in the sky yet. There was a stand of trees over by the lake, and about a dozen aspens scattered around. Around midnight, I had to get up to pee and stepped out into this open spot. It was dark over by those trees, darker than in the clearing. I looked over there and could see the shadow from the starlight. There was so much light from the stars in the sky that there was a noticeable difference between the clearing and everywhere else. The shadow of the starlight blew me away. Maybe it was the state I was in. I went back and lay down next to Annie in front of our tent, thinking everybody had gone to sleep, and thinking about how in nature all things, large and small, were interwoven, when swoosh, a meteor went smoking by. And from all over the campground came the awed responses "Do you see that?" It got bigger and bigger until the tail stretched out all the way across the sky and burned itself out. Everybody was awake, and it was raining fire in the sky.

    "I worked on the song - and the song worked on me - for a good couple of weeks. I was working one day with Mike Taylor, an acoustic guitarist who had performed with me at the Cellar Door and had moved out to Aspen. Mike sat down and showed me this guitar lick and suddenly the whole thing came together. It was just what the piece needed. When I realized what I had - another anthem, maybe; a true expression of one's self, maybe - we changed the sequencing of the album we'd just completed, and then we changed the album title."

    *

    "He was born in the summer of his 27th year" - John was 27 that summer.

    "Coming home to a place he'd never been before" - He and Annie had just made Aspen home.

    "And he lost a friend but kept his memory" - A good friend from Minnesota had come to visit and was killed riding John's motorcycle.

    "Why they try to tear the mountains down to bring in a couple more" - This referred to the debate at that time about bringing the Olympics to Colorado. (thanks to Mary and Pam at john-denver.org)."

    LYRICS:
    He was born in the summer of his 27th year
    Comin' home to a place he'd never been before
    He left yesterday behind him, you might say he was born again
    You might say he found a key for every door

    When he first came to the mountains his life was far away
    On the road and hangin' by a song
    But the string's already broken and he doesn't really care
    It keeps changin' fast and it don't last for long

    But the Colorado rocky mountain high
    I've seen it rainin' fire in the sky
    The shadow from the starlight is softer than a lullabye
    Rocky mountain high (high in Colorado) rocky mountain high (high in Colorado)

    He climbed cathedral mountains, he saw silver clouds below
    He saw everything as far as you can see
    And they say that he got crazy once, and he tried to touch the sun
    And he lost a friend but kept his memory

    Now he walks in quiet solitude the forests and the streams
    Seeking grace in every step he takes
    His sight has turned inside himself to try and understand
    The serenity of a clear blue mountain lake

    And the Colorado rocky mountain high
    I've seen it rainin' fire in the sky
    You can talk to God and listen to the casual reply
    Rocky mountain high (high in Colorado) rocky mountain high (high in Colorado)

    Now his life is full of wonder but his heart still knows some fear
    Of a simple thing he cannot comprehend
    Why they try to tear the mountains down to bring in a couple more
    More people, more scars upon the land

    And the Colorado rocky mountain high
    I've seen it rainin' fire in the sky
    I know he'd be a poorer man if he never saw an eagle fly
    Rocky mountain high

    It's a Colorado rocky mountain high
    I've seen it rainin' fire in the sky
    Friends around the campfire and everybody's high
    Rocky mountain high (high in Colorado) rocky mountain high (high in Colorado)
    Rocky mountain high (high in Colorado) rocky mountain high do de do

    YouTube:

    -

    Previously in Song of the Moment:
    * Iron Man
    * The Story of Bo Diddley
    * Teach Your Children
    * Dream Vacation
    * When The Levee Breaks
    * I Kissed A Girl
    * Theme From Shaft

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:01 AM | Permalink

    The White Sox Report

    There will always be a disconnect between baseball fans who are into sabermetrics and people who view the game through a more, um, traditional lens. If you grew up learning that the way to play baseball is to bunt, steal, and hit-and-run, it probably won't matter how many studies show that that isn't necessarily the most efficient way to score runs. People are generally stubborn, and don't want to relearn something they already know.

    But I've never understood when those people blast teams for "hitting too many home runs." A home run scores at least one run, and scoring runs is kind of the whole point of the game. The Sun-Times's Greg Couch has done it a couple times this year, once famously bashing Alfonso Soriano for being selfish by trying to hit homers (uh, what?), and more recently wondering if the White Sox can do any real damage in the playoffs by relying so heavily on the long ball.

    But if the Sox keeping mashing the way they have been lately, scoring 13 or more runs three times in a four-game stretch last week, even the most old-school critics will realize that hitting a boatload of homers is a pretty great way to win baseball games.

    The Sox currently lead the majors in homers with 192, 20 more than the Phillies in the NL, and 30 more than those powerful Rangers. Kenny Williams has assembled the best fleet of power hitters he possibly could, and so far, it's paid off. With about five weeks left in the regular season, the Sox are 20 games over .500 and lead the Central by a game. Their run differential of +111 is tied for the best in the AL with the Red Sox, and trails only the Cubs overall.

    One argument against hitting homers seems to be that critics think they only come in bunches. That may have been the case in 1980, when a team's best hitter may crank out 25 dongs, but that simply isn't the case anymore. Just look at the Sox lineup: they start six guys every night who would hit third, fourth, or fifth in most lineups. Sure, their defense may be a little shaky, but over the course of a 162-game season, their power well outweighs that.

    -

    Week in Review: The Rays are legit, people. If not for A.J.'s standard tomfoolery, the Sox may have been swept at home for the first time all season. A three-game pounding of the Mariners made losing two of three to Tampa a little more tolerable.

    Week in Preview: Much is being made of the 14-game road trip Minnesota is currently on, but the Sox head out to Baltimore this week to begin a streak of nine games away from The Cell.

    Fields on the Farm: How far has Fields fallen since last year? Juan Uribe starts over him now, and no one seems all that upset. Maybe it's because Uribe makes Ozzie look civilized by comparison.

    The Missile Tracker: Was there any doubt that Alexei was going to knock in A.J. yesterday in the 10th inning after that goofy rundown play? Ramirez is far from a perfect player, but it's hard to imagine where the Sox would be this season without him.

    Over/Under: 100: the number of games the Seattle Mariners, who the Sox swept in a three-game series this week by a combined score of 33-7, will lose this season. In a related story, they're managed by Jim Riggleman.

    Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The White Sox Report staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that the next time the Sox see Tampa Bay, A.J. is getting beaned, probably in the head.

    The White Sox Report: Read 'em all.

    -

    Comments welcome. Please include a real name if want to be considered for publication.

    -

    Ricky O'Donnell is the proprietor of Tremendous Upside Potential , a contributor to the Sun-Times's Full Court Press and a lot of other things.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:44 AM | Permalink

    The Cub Factor

    Another week and two more series wins. I guess you could be mad that the Cub didn't get the brooms out and sweep away a couple of the worst teams in the league, but winning two of three in every series is not bad. I just think the fans expected more.

    Is that wrong? Maybe we're asking too much as fans to say that the Cubs should of won all six games this week instead of a mere four of six. But before you reconsider, consider the fact that this team has done nothing but disappoint its fans for 100 years. Wait, so does that mean we should expect more from these guys? Like they should of swept both of these series'? Or do we realize that they always disappoint us so we should take what we can get?

    I for one don't know what to think. And I further don't know if this team deserves to be ripped this week for disappointing me. But I can't tell if I'm disappointed. And if I should I be. And if I'm speaking in circles it's because I don't know what to call this week. I mean, it wasn't bad, it wasn't horrible, but it wasn't great either.

    Kind of like going to a restaurant and ordering the Half-Pound Cheddar Burger. Only they are out of cheddar cheese so instead you order the Swiss Burger. And the Swiss is pretty tasty, but you wanted the big Cheddar Burger and, in fact, you drove all the way across town to House of Cheddar Burgers just to get it. And you could have gotten a Swiss Burger from the place right by your house, but you wanted more than that. Yet, in the scheme of things it was totally fine. But you don't know if you should be angry or not. You just feel okay. Okay, I think Cub fans should feel okay.

    -

    Week in Review: The Cubs took four of six from two of the worst teams in baseball. It was good, but it wasn't like the Cheddar Burger.

    Week in Preview : The Cubs travel to Pittsburgh for three against a Pirate team depleted as usual after the trade deadline, and then come home again to close out the month with four against the Phillies. It's all about Pennsylvania this week.

    The Second Basemen Report: Mark DeRosa got four starts, while Mike Fontenot and Ronnie Cedeno each had one. Six games, three second baseman. I'd really like to see just one more week where we can get four guys at the second sack in the same week. Just like Henrdy drew it up.

    In former second basemen news, Davey Lopes is the Phillies' first-base coach. And even though he'll be here this week, he is missed.

    The Zam Bomb: Big Z chipped a tooth and that made him angry. But he knows it's the stretch run and - with the help of sedatives - he's receded to apologetic.
    zam_furious.jpg

    Lost in Translation: Fukudome is Japanese for "one-month wonder."

    Sweet and Sour Lou: 69% sweet, 31% sour. Lou is down two points on the Sweet-O-Meter due to losing twice at home to really, really bad teams. And like your real crazy drunk uncle, you can say all you want about the second-place finish you had in the citywide under-15 hog calling contest, but Lou knows the kid who beat you was weak. He's just not going to say anything about it. Just makes sure his Falstaffs stay cold this week or he might kick the dog.

    Center Stage: Jim Edmonds got four starts, Reed Johnson got two. And as good as J-Ed has been, we all know Reed Johnson is the fucking man.

    The Cub Factor: Catch up with them all.

    Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by the The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that playoff hysteria is about to become unbearable.

    Over/Under: The number of games Ryan Dempster loses the rest of the way: 1.

    Mount Lou: Lou remains at green. But if there was a shade of Mount Lou in between green and yellow he would be there. Like a banana about to turn.

    mtlou_green.gif

    -

    Contact The Cub Factor!

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:16 AM | Permalink

    Ironside: Dead Man's Tale

    Our look back on the debut season of Ironside continues.

    *

    Episode 4: Dead Man's Tale

    Airdate: 28 September 1967

    Plot: This episode has a pre-credit opening worthy of The Sopranos. Warren Stuart, a middle-aged "big shot" "criminal" ("The No. 2 man in the organization") and his much younger fiance Tina emerge from a large California split-level. They stroll arm-in-arm toward the gleaming turquoise swimming pool. After a cursory conversation in which the German beauty pouts when she learns Stuart is "sending (her) away" - because of "them" - Stuart tells her to go ahead and take her swim.

    As soon as Tina and her three-foot-long blond braid are under the water, a sniper's gun emerges from the trees, zeroes in on Stuart, and bang-bang, he's a goner. Before he expires, Stuart tells his screaming fiance not to call the doctor, but to make "the other call first." A dripping Tina grabs the avocado green poolside phone - an unintentional dramatic pause inserted while she dials the number on the rotary phone, dial-whirr, dial-whirr, dial-whirr, dial-whirr, dial-whirr, dial-whirr, dial-whirr, to call . . . Chief Ironside.

    Could this be the big break Ironside needs to bring down a crime syndicate?

    Guest star: Jack Lord

    Is it a father-daughter thing? Why do older men on TV and in movies always coax their pretty young things to do what they want using the phrase "good girl"? As in, "Go on and swim for me. Be a good girl."

    Pimp my ride: Every time we see the interior of Ironside's mystery mobile, they've added something new. This time it's furniture: an L-shaped metal desk for the Chief to sit behind and bench seating for passengers Eve and Ed. There's also a large map of San Francisco on the wall and one of those small boxy desk lamps with an adjustable arm.

    Perhaps it's in the shop: Hey, what happened to Ironside's motorized wheelchair?

    If you don't let Ironside go after this guy, Commissioner, I think his head will explode: Ironside is practically chomping at the bit to take down the mob kingpin John Trask when he makes the following speech to his superior officer -

    Ironside, spitting nails: " . . . Trask is a plague. A piece of every dirty dollar in this town winds up in his pocket and still we haven't been able to touch him. He's laughed at us for ten years . . . There's a chance now and I want it. We nail Trask, fifty others will wind up behind bars along with him. It'll be the biggest day the department ever had. A free hand, Dennis. Do I have it?"

    Commissioner Randall: As long as you play it by the book.

    Ironside: You want the book or do you want Trask? (pause) Pleasure to do business with you. (Cue muted trumpet exclamation point.)

    Book 'em Danno: John Trask (Jack Lord) is a senior partner at the law firm of Trask, Conroy, Hardy and Slezak, head of the entire West Coast division of a criminal empire, and a dead-ringer for Steve McGarrett.

    First row, second car from the left: An exterior shot of the hospital. Hey, I think that's my dad's pale green 1963 Plymouth Valiant in the parking lot! I loved that car, with its pushbutton transmission on the dashboard.

    Method acting: As part of the team watching over Stuart's body in the hospital, Eve poses as a nurse and does a tremendous amount of scribbling on charts.

    Tick, tick, tick, ding: A man disguised as a hospital orderly pulls a homemade bomb from a laundry cart. It's a mass of wire wrapped around five sticks of dynamite attached to an old-fashioned spring-wound kitchen timer which the bomber dials to 15 minutes.

    Where's the gang from Station 51 when you need them? When the bomb goes off in the hospital, wood, metal and debris fly everywhere. Ironside is at his most ineffective as he wheels himself directly into the mess.

    Call in the Army: Helmeted soldiers who look like extras from a Korean War movie have inexplicably been called in to secure the bombsite.

    Whatchu lookin' at? Ironside announces that the next step in turning up the heat on Trask is for Stuart to "regain consciousness" and start singing like a canary. Eve is positively baffled. Doesn't Ironside know Stuart is dead? She looks with amazement at Mark, who looks back at her with an expression that says, "Well, what are you looking at?"

    The Bat Phone: Trask has a private phone line that connects him to the syndicate boss out East. When a call "from the East" comes in, a big red light flashes between a desk set of two crystal decanters. Out comes another avocado green rotary phone, hidden in the top right desk drawer.

    Quick, let's go driving aimlessly around: Tina is abducted by two of Trask's henchmen disguised as paramedics. After Ironside puts out an APB on the ambulance, he, Eve and Mark race for the van as Ironside says, "We won't help sitting here. We should be in the area." The area being the entire city of San Francisco.

    For that price, you can park in Chicago for about one minute: A street sign advertises lot parking in downtown San Francisco for 35-cents each half hour.

    Nothing makes a car chase more exciting than following along on the map: Now we know why there's a map on the wall of Ironside's van. Word comes in over the car phone that the ambulance has been spotted. Ironside uses a stick pointer (the kind used by grade school teachers back in the day) to indicate the location on the map for Eve and Ed, who are sitting six inches away from him.

    Driving Miss Daisy: This episode contains a record number of close-up shots of Mark driving the van.

    Location, location, location: Good thing Ironside's surveillance ID photo of Trask (shown earlier in the episode) conveniently had the hood standing in front of his private plane. It's just the nudge Ironside needs to go from Point A to Point Z, quickly jumping to the correct conclusion that Trask has gassed up his airplane and is waiting on the runway to flee the country.

    They just don't cuff 'em like they used to: When Trask emerges from the plane, Ed puts a single handcuff on the crook. Ed holds the other handcuff in his hand, like he's taking the dog out for a walk rather than locking up the No. 1 wanted mobster on the West Coast.

    -

    Previously:
    * A Cop and His Chair
    * Message From Beyond
    * The Leaf in the Forest

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:52 AM | Permalink

    Farmers' Friend: Solar Water Pumping

    The following press release announcing the affordable solutions solar water pumping offers farmers may be of interest to your audience. Any editorial comment or mention that you may give this press release would be greatly appreciated.

    SOLAR WATER PUMPING OFFERS AN AFFORDABLE SOLUTION TO REAL-LIFE ISSUES FOR FARMERS

    RICHMOND, MO - With the tremendous rise in fuel costs over the past few years and the push for better energy efficiency around the globe, solar water pumps are becoming increasingly popular. A company called Call for Solar (CFS, Inc.) is making it easier than ever for farmers or anyone needing a remote water source to embrace this remarkable technology.

    Call for Solar has been active since 1994 in communications and electronics. The company's Web site, CallforSolar.com, enables anyone to easily choose pumps and solar panels based on the amount of water needed and the type of water supply available.

    Call for Solar has not necessarily introduced anything new to citizens in the United States, but is merely helping farmers to recognize the solar application that is appropriate to their needs. People have experimented with and have used solar power for decades. The company's goal is to provide an affordable solution for those wanting to benefit from solar power - those who just aren't sure how to take advantage of it.

    The company's founder, Jeffrey McFadden, can definitely relate to the real life issues of farming. He states, "We live on a small farm in rural Missouri with our few cows, some horses and donkeys, some ducks and chickens. Many of our friends farm on a much larger scale than we do. We see the issues of riparian (streamside) land conservation, of pond destruction and pollution, and we also understand why farmers are grazing those creeks, streams and ponds."

    So, what makes solar water pumping unique? Solar water pumps provide an excellent solution for farmers or anyone who needs to move water to a location where no on-grid power is available at the water source. The pumps operate on solar power and can pump water from ponds, creeks, shallow wells, or deep wells. Solar water pumps can deliver water over 900 feet higher than the source, and can push water through hundreds or even thousands of yards (meters) of pipe from source to user. With diesel fuel prices so high these days, solar water pumping provides a very attractive alternative to diesel fuel pumps.

    Solar pumping offers a three-fold benefit. Farmers benefit because they're able to pump water for their cattle or use the pumps in drip-irrigation systems without the high costs of extending the power grid to reach their ranch or farming areas. Farmers are also able to fence their stock out of the water and conserve riparian zones while still providing water for their stock. Solar water pumps help the environment by using solar panels for power instead of other forms of energy.

    Many solar pump users enjoy the fact that there is very little (if any) maintenance, and solar panels can last for many, many years without replacement. And farmers aren't the only ones who can benefit. Solar pumps can also be used to provide water for remote home sites, cabins, or hunting lodges.

    "Solar water pumping often has higher initial costs than diesel or gasoline-powered pumps in the same application, but over time the solar system will more than pay for itself," states McFadden.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:12 AM | Permalink

    The MasterCard Senator

    "MasterCard VP," Pro-War Biden Doesn't Have What it Takes to Deliver Hillary Votes That Obama Needs

    In naming the MasterCard Senator and pro-war Joe Biden to be his Vice Presidential nominee, Senator Obama has chosen a running mate whose biting primary season criticisms of Obama will be used by John McCain.

    While Biden has shown backbone by supporting the Violence Against Women Act of 1994, habeas corpus for Guantanamo prisoners and voting for the McCain-Feingold overhaul of campaign finance, it is difficult to see what Biden brings to the Obama campaign other than the possibility of being a rhetorically populist attack man against the McCain campaign.

    Biden will have a tough time when people find out that as MBNA's man in the Senate - MBNA has been his biggest financial backer, after contributing $214,000 over his career - he was the long-time champion and key architect of, in the words of Chair of the Senate Banking Committee, Senator Chris Dodd, "one of the "worst bills ever," the anti-consumer bankruptcy law, which helped pave the way for the present foreclosure crisis by shifting the risk for engaging in predatory lending practices from predatory lenders to hapless borrowers.

    I doubt that the millions of Americans being pushed out of their homes and squeezed on interest rate payments will want to vote for a ticket with Biden's name on it when he was the one who worked through two presidential administrations to ram this legislation through, first with President Clinton who had the good sense to veto it, and then President Bush who had the moral bankruptcy to sign it.

    The chief knock on Obama, besides his numerous flip-flops on matters of civil liberties, the war and justice, has been his lack of experience. That Obama ultimately picked the one person who most bluntly criticized his experience and readiness for the presidency suggests that one of the reasons the Illinois Senator picked Biden was for his foreign policy experience. Does that include his Iraq war support? Does that include his support for the militaristic repression of Palestinians and their homeland instead of supporting the Israeli and Palestinian peace movements for a majority backed two-state solution?

    Biden is highly regressive on criminal justice issues. He was the architect of the modern drug war (i.e., the Anti-Drug Abuse of 1986), including mandatory-minimum sentencing that can be credited with the world record U.S. prison population. On foreign policy, Biden is a hawk who supported the use of military force in Iraq and has voted for every funding bill put forward by Bush-Cheney

    By picking Biden, arguably the most powerful pro-war Democratic Senator, to fill his foreign policy experience vacuum, Obama has squandered his biggest perceived image distinction with McCain, and can no longer ride the coattails of the anti-war movement and the majority of Americans who oppose Bush and Cheney's illegal foreign wars.

    Biden, who voted for reauthorizing the PATRIOT Act along with Obama, will not help much with the millions of independent voters who care about the Constitution. Hillary Clinton, who after voting, like Biden, for this bill the first time in 2001, decided to vote against the reauthorization of the notoriously misnamed PATRIOT Act.

    Coming from Delaware, Senator Biden knows full well the weak Delaware state chartering for large corporations that have, for 100 years, chosen Delaware as a most permissive jurisdiction for the concentrated powers of corporate officers and directors over all the corporate stakeholders, including shareholders and workers. We look forward to his broader responsibility as a vice presidential candidate to see whether it will include support for the long overdue federal chartering of large corporations endorsed by Presidents Teddy Roosevelt and William Taft.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:55 AM | Permalink

    August 23, 2008

    The Five Dumbest Ideas of The Week

    1. "Our special for the day is a lovely salmon steak, laden with tapeworm larvae and served on a bed of irradiated spinach." Or so goes the menu at the Paranoia Cafe, where everything that's supposed to be good for you turns out to be swarming with deadly pathogens. This week, the Cafe did gangbusters business when a man filed suit - two years after the fact - against Shaw's Crab House for serving him an undercooked salmon salad, which he alleges was the source of his nine-foot-long tapeworm. Maybe radiating our food isn't such a bad idea after all.

    2. Does John McCain's confusion about how many houses he has strike you as a "metaphorical moment," just waiting to be etched the consciousness of America's undecided voters? That's what Barack Obama's campaign strategists hoped as they
    unveil the world's slowest attack that had Obama cogitating over three recent missteps by McCain including remarking that being rich means earning at least $5 million.

    3. We all have lousy days at work, but most of us have the good sense not to write a book about them. Not so Steven Dublanica, the proud author of Waiter, an account of his seven years in food service. Dublanica had the nightmarish experience of being yelled at by a customer whose gift certificate was declined and who came back an hour later and did it all over again. (Insert Chinese food joke here.) On the bright side, Dublanica swears he "never, never spat in anyone's food." Unlike his brethren at the Paranoia Cafe.

    4. As if Windows Vista doesn't have enough problems already, Microsoft's most unloved operating system is getting a $10 million spokesman: Jerry Seinfeld. The computers in Microsoft's executive suite must have been down when they were looking up the success of Seinfeld's latest project.

    5. Lindsay Lohan and Samantha Ronson might want to think about moving to New York.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:40 PM | Permalink

    The Weekend Desk Report

    It may be closing time for some, but here at the Weekend Desk we're just getting started.

    Market Update
    Officials with John McCain's presidential campaign note the nation's mortgage crisis has reached such desperate levels their candidate no longer can remember how many of his homes are in foreclosure. Not to be outdone, the Obama campaign has announced his shady real estate holdings now stay on the market at least twice as long as they did this time last year.

    Change You Can Believe In
    Seeking to strengthen his image as a Washington outsider, Barack Obama has selected for his running mate an equally radical party misfit who isn't afraid to talk tough to paper over his previous lapses in judgment. "And most importantly," Obama enthused, "Joe Biden is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy I mean, that's a storybook, man".

    Change You Saw Coming
    The CTA has announced that, due to budget shortfalls, next year's Doomsday shenanigans will be canceled and, instead, costs will be passed directly to consumers. In related news, retiring senate president Emil Jones has announced his son will inherit the elder Jones' free ride card, in addition, of course, to the free ride he's already been given.

    Seeing Red
    The United States' claim to be the world's sole superpower took a hit this week as mounting evidence suggests China is not only richer and more populous but also younger and more innovative. Analysts suggest China's dominance of the most precious natural resources could soon lead to even greater conflict between the two nations.

    Ominous Change
    Finally this week, international observers have noted that despite encouraging signs regarding nuclear development, Paris Hilton continues to forge ties with known terrorist entities. State Department sources consider her activities to be much more threatening than either Lindsay Lohan's "canoodling" or Britney Spear's "aggressive posturing."

    Posted by Natasha Julius at 8:52 AM | Permalink

    August 22, 2008

    The [Friday] Papers

    Unless that was a drunk and horny Barack Obama trying to reach me last night, he still hasn't sent his vice presidential text.

    Q: If he sends it while walking down a Chicago street, will he be arrested?

    Jonesing
    Emil Jones is a vile man and, now we've learned, so is his son.

    If they only way to defeat the Machine and bring democracy to Chicago is to vote for a clown, then vote for a clown. Two years of Ray Wardingley is bettter than two years of Emil Jones III, I can assure you, and the result would be a slew of candidates in the next election trying to grab that seat - just like it should be. Ray Wardingley is endorsed.

    Evil Emil
    "Just because you're in public office does not mean you're a second-class citizen," Emil the Elder said.

    No. Being out of public office means you're a second-class citizen.

    "'He's well-qualified for the position,' Jones said, shortly after displaying a picture of his son attending a Senate committee hearing as a child."

    His son voted present.

    "As the constitution says, 21 years old, resident, must reside in the district. All the other things are extra."

    So he's not well qualified, he's minimally qualified. Except that by "extra" I think he meant "relative."

    "He has all the tools necessary."

    Like a safecracker.

    "He knows the process."

    So he can start screwing the public immediately!

    Triple E
    Emil III says "economic development is my strongest point."

    For example, look at how he just fattened his wallet.

    State Slate
    Just as I wrote the other day that Illinois Republicans could do worse than nominating Christine Radogno for governor, the Democrats could do worse than to nominate Susan Garrett.

    Thought: Doesn't the Jones ascension work against Lisa Madigan? The circumstances are different - she actually ran in a tough primary, though her father strong-armed an awful lot of people along the way - but if the public's outrage finally, finally wells over, there could be room for a candidate without dubious family ties.

    Meeks & Piques
    What-ever. But it's not solely about funding. It's about the socioeconomics that means poor kids are already way behind when they first enter school, and it just gets worse from there. No one wants to talk about the fundamentals of poverty anymore because, you know, you might be called a socialist. And that's just by the Democrats.

    *

    This is also a reason why the real answer to public housing is scattered-site not scatter-away.

    Tribeye Special
    The Tribune's new managing editor is the editor of RedEye. No, really.

    Take a look at what the new management team has in store.

    John Cusuck
    We now have the original John Cusack HuffPo post so you can see for yourself how he - and any editors that may theoretically exist - misspelled Michael Jordan, among other lunacies.

    Product Placement
    This article brought to you by Del Monte.

    Ghost of Royko
    What strike me most about the Sun-Times's cynical re-publishing of old Mike Royko columns is how hard he obviously worked both as a reporter (well, he had legmen, but still) and at his craft as a writer. You know, like it was a full-time job.

    When I finish reading some columnists in town these days, I find myself thinking, Okay, that was just a couple of crappy blog posts. What are they going to do with the rest of their day?

    Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report
    It's back, and it's funny.

    Teenage Wasteland
    Hail to the CTA motorman.

    Beachwood Invitational
    As some of you already know, we'll be holding The Beachwood Jukebox Invitational tonight at ye olde Beachwood Inn.

    The Invitational is a tournament whereby we compete to see who can put together the best sets on the jukebox while also judging everyone else's picks - and yes, I mean judging. In other words, it's just another Friday night at the bar, but stop by if you want and we can plan Ray Wardingley's campaign.

    Dear Chicago

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Vote Clown.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:37 AM | Permalink

    The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report

    As we approach this season, the Kool-Aid Nation has low self-esteem. The Bears' fortune is tied to an inexperienced quarterback, a rookie running back, an injury plagued offensive line, inept wide receivers, and a defensive scheme that fails to adjust. Let's face facts: The Bears have more question marks than that guy giving away the government's money.

    Yes, we were just beaten by J.T. O'Sullivan, but at least it wasn't Peter Tom Willis.

    No, the Bears don't smell so good right now, but they don't quite stink to high heaven just yet. Here are some signs that your team is really bad.

    * Your general manager is Matt Millen.

    * Your new free agent QB played for the "John H. Stroger Hospital" in the Chicago Municipal Football League.

    * As your team takes the field, the public address announcer half-heartedly states "Give it up for your home team," followed by a gun shot.

    * Fan base regularly touts that it's been 100 years since their team's last championship.

    * Coke pays your favorite team to sponsor Pepsi.

    * Delusional fans keep calling local sports radio claiming that your team is only 3 to 5 good players away from a championship.

    * Vegas has taken your team's games off the board.

    * Your favorite team's coach is last in his fantasy league too.

    * Congress passes a law stating that all toys bearing your favorite team's emblem will contain lead.

    * Fan base insists that all home games are blacked out on local TV.

    * First round draft pick played for the Washington Generals.

    * Your favorite team's nickname is "Bye Week."

    * All your players went to my high school.

    -

    Sugar in the Blue and Orange Kool-Aid: 15%
    Recommended sugar in the Blue and Orange Kool-Aid: 20%

    -

    For more Emery, see the Kool-Aid archive, and the Over/Under archive. Emery accepts comments from Bears fans reluctantly and everyone else tolerably.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:55 AM | Permalink

    August 21, 2008

    TribEye Special

    The new editor of theTribune, Gerould Kern, has named Jane Hirt, editor of RedEye, his managing editor. Yes, that's right: the editor of RedEye - who as far as I can tell has never been a reporter - is now the managing editor of the Chicago Tribune.

    Here are some other changes the new Tribune management team has in store:

    * Editorial board replaced by the cast of The Hills.

    * Editor of Streetwise new director of circulation.

    * New texting-based style guide eliminating vowels will help shave newsprint costs.

    * Instead of offering daycare, new Trib employees can enroll in day care themselves.

    * The Trib will save money by replacing the vehicle fleet with skateboards.

    * The Trib will save money by shrinking the TV grid, eliminating the History Channel, Discovery, C-Span and PBS.

    * Tribune will now take summers off to get in some "me" time.

    * Alumni Tribune edition, to be marketed to seniors.

    * New features editor: Billy Dec.

    * Investigative unit replaced by Trixie Team.

    * Tribune stories will now be only as long as Twitter allows.

    * Zell buys CTA as an investment in his new core readership.

    * Quotes from unfamiliar artists like Bob Dylan to be removed from Zell team's newsroom posters and memos.

    * Two reporters, a blogger, a photographer and a web producer to be assigned to the new Pete Wentz beat.

    * Paper will shrink in size by eliminating all news that could be construed as "depressing."

    * Feature section to be written totally in emoticons. Like, totally.

    * New sports feature: Which team has the hottest fans?

    * All business beats eliminated; reporters now assigned to malls.

    * New metro columnist: John Cusack.

    -

    Suggestions welcome!

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:24 PM | Permalink

    The [Thursday] Papers

    "Will that be the motto: 'Come to my university. Drink as much as you can as long as you pay your tuition'?"

    Actually, yes. If I had a university, that would be my motto.

    "Do you think you send your son or daughter to come home as an alcoholic?"

    No. I send them to Cubs games for that.

    "That's a bad message, I'm sorry. You have enough time to drink the rest of your life."

    Not with hot 20-year-olds.

    "You think the president of the university is gonna open a beer hall in his house?"

    No, they'll just use the student union.

    "Do you think the coach of the baseball team or football team will open it up?"

    If that's a recruiting advantage, sure.

    "They should raise their standards and think that drinking is not part of college life."

    What are you, a Commie?

    "Everybody has responsibility on this and drinking at universities isn't something you should be proud of."

    But I'm prouder of fewer things more than my college drinking.

    "You don't send your son or daughter to learn how to drink at universities. You send 'em for an education."

    Like how to get a job with the city? Who needs to go to college to learn that.

    Repeal Deal
    Of course the drinking age should be lowered to 19. Or to 18, though the Sun-Times is right that legal drinking for people still in high school is problematic.

    College students shouldn't have to wait until their junior year to (legally) drink. That's insane.

    *

    I was expecting to see the libertarian Steve Chapman argue that we do away with drinking ages altogether, which I might be amenable to as well. Instead, he goes the other way.

    The Daley Show
    As voluble as the mayor is on the somewhat abstract and unlikely topic of lowering the drinking age, he clammed up when it came to an issue more directly related to his power to control the affairs of taxpayers: Giving a direct answer about whether the Richard J. Daley Library should declassify its file on the Annenberg Challenge.

    In the Zone
    As voluble as the mayor is on the somewhat abstract and unlikely topic of lowering the drinking age, he clammed up when it came to an issue more directly related to his power to control the affairs of taxpayers: How the city's vaunted rewrite of the zoning code is a complete failure.

    "Daley on Wednesday brushed off questions about whether the zoning reforms had been successful," the Tribune reports.

    "Ask John Schmidt. John Schmidt has done a tremendous job," Daley said. "John worked on that very, very hard."

    In fact, Schmidt told the Trib that the code rewrite failed to bring the closer regulation of development that was promised, in part because the wards weren't re-mapped.

    "Unless you remap the wards, you don't get the real benefit of the new zoning code," Schmidt told the paper.

    *

    "Daley shook his head and declined to answer when a Tribune reporter asked if his administration should enforce a rule requiring developers or their lawyers to post signs on the sites of proposed zoning changes. The Tribune found the rule, which is intended to notify neighbors of pending plans, is ignored more often than it is obeyed.

    "The Tribune found no such signs at sites represented by James Banks, a zoning lawyer and nephew of the Zoning Committee chair."

    Daley's Headlines
    A man and his obsession.

    Will Obama Ask For A Correction?
    The Tribune runs a wire story today that says this: "[Joe] Lieberman also felt somewhat alienated from the party - and from Sen. Barack Obama. Obama was one of the few Senate Democrats who gave Lamont money, and just before the primary he sent an e-mail to about 5,000 Connecticut residents urging them to back Lamont."

    That is patently false. Obama actually endorsed pro-war Lieberman in the primary against the anti-war Lamont. After Lamont won the primary anyway, Obama supported the party choice - as always - when Lieberman ran in the general election as an independent.

    High Infidelity
    According to Stella Foster - did I really just write those words? - John Cusack is scheduled to sing the 7th-inning stretch at Wrigley on Sunday. Maybe he'll take the El up to Wrigley from Evanston.

    Roasting Royko
    "He kind of twisted the truth in his article - he took 25 or 30 letters and picked out one sentence here and one sentence there," Robert Maszak tells the Sun-Times 28 years after being featured in a Mike Royko column.

    'He told Royko just that in a phone call after the column ran," the paper notes, "but Royko 'just kind of laughed and said 'too bad.'"

    Outrage the Rage
    The Sun-Times publishes a torrent of outrage about Emil Jones right next to an excerpt from Neil Steinberg's column on Jones Wednesday claiming that "outrage has fallen out of fashion."

    This is getting too easy.

    I didn't even contrast Neil's sadness at the lack of outrage with his recent sneering at the "social justice crowd."

    Booty Call
    "Rezko Gets Sentencing Delayed Until October."

    But Obama will text you as soon as he learns something.

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Texty.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:13 AM | Permalink

    Daley's Headlines

    Our mayor is obsessed with headlines. And, to be fair, Fran Spielman of the Sun-Times does seem to use a reporting strategy of trying to elicit comments at press conferences on angles she's pursuing in order to crank out three mediocore stories a day. Still, Richard M. Daley is a lousy media critic and a perpetual crank. Let's take a look.

    *

    Headline: "Firefighters graduate as possible layoffs loom"
    Date: August 20, 2008
    Publication: Sun-Times
    Quote: "Everybody's jumping. I know you need a headline . . . We are in a recession in the country. There's major problems in the economy. Let's not jump to headlines and scare people . . . "I'm not gonna answer that question. You need a headline . . . I'm not gonna give you that. Simple as that."

    *

    Headline: "Daley insists layoffs will not be political"
    Date: August 19, 2008
    Publication: Sun-Times
    Quote: "That's just a phony headline. It's done by union rules. I'm sorry. About 99 percent of the people are unionized in the city of Chicago. So don't make up phony stories."

    *

    Headline: "Want that 7% property tax cap? You've got to apply by June 30"
    Date: June 22, 2008
    Publication: Sun-Times
    Quote: "You're not gonna get that headline from me. The Sun-Times will not get that headline. Simple as that. Now, print that."

    *

    Headline: "Daley: It's 'not my way' to 'ram through' museum vote - 'Perhaps they do not have the votes,' critic says"
    Date: May 21, 2008
    Publication: Sun-Times
    Quote: "If I rammed it through, you would say, 'Daley rams it through' . . . You would run that headline: 'He ran it through' . . . And you would run a big headline: 'Daley rammed it through. He wants his way.' This is not my way."

    *

    Headline: "Daley scoffs at relaxing Wrigley landmark status - Also not crazy about giving up tax growth"
    Date: March 5, 2008
    Publication: Sun-Times
    Quote: ""I'm not going to be the mayor saying, 'OK, we're going to relax on the historic aspect of Wrigley Field. Mayor Daley says it'll be torn down.' That'll be a great headline for the Sun-Times. I'm not going to do that. You're not going to get that from me . . . I'm a White Sox fan. I'm not going to say, 'We're going to change Wrigley Field.' That would be the end of me."

    *

    Headline: "'Please don't write that headline' - Daley bristles at questions about son's secret deal with city, asks Sun-Times not to play it up"
    Date: December 21, 2007
    Publication: Sun-Times
    Quote: "Fran, please, you've done this. No other questions [on this topic]. Any other questions . . . And I'm not mad at her. So, don't write a big headline: 'Mayor Daley is mad. The mayor gets mad. He gets red, screams, yells.' No, I'm not. Please don't write that headline. I know you want to write it. They're having challenging times there [at the Sun-Times]. But please don't do it to me."


    Correction
    Date: December 22, 2007
    Publication: Sun-Times
    Text: "A headline in Friday editions mistakenly quoted Mayor Daley asserting he had asked the Sun-Times not to write a headline about his son Patrick's secret deal with the city. As the story said, the mayor merely cautioned the press not to write headlines about his being angry, when in fact he wasn't."

    *

    Headline: "Ready for rumble? - Daley hypes event with an eye on 2016 Olympic bid"
    Date: October 12, 2007
    Publication: Sun-Times
    Quote: "I caution the media not to relate any sporting event to the Olympics. You're trying to relate everything to it. Pretty soon, you'll blame the Olympic movement for the Cubs losing, for the Sox losing. I mean - you'll go to extremes just to get a headline. I know you need headlines. Your papers need help. I understand that. But, please . . . You have a responsibility."

    *

    Headline: Daley revs up - Mayor blasts civil rights leader's comments suggesting he's 'getting a pass' on issue of police abuse"
    Date: August 1, 2007
    Publication: Sun-Times
    Quote: ""All the headlines you ran against me for two years - I did nothing right in Chicago under your headlines. You know. You wrote the articles. Look at every headline. You wrote articles about everything [negative] about Mayor Daley . . . I didn't take exception. I just said that you wrote every major headline against me. So, that's your gig. We understand that. Police understand that, too. One minute you hit 'em. And the next day, you're going to be nice to 'em."

    *

    Headline: "Mayor livid over 'ridiculous' headline"
    Date: July 19, 2007
    Sun-Times:
    Quote: ""It's ridiculous. Just another headline you provide . . . It's ridiculous to basically place me in that position. That's how you do it."

    *

    Headline: "City gives Navteq a lift - GPS mapping leader gets $5 mil. subsidy"
    Date: June 13, 2007
    Publication: Sun-Times
    Quote: "If I just sat back and said, 'This is the greatest city' [and we don't need incentives], you know what they'll do? They just move. And then, you'll have a big headline: 'Why does Mayor Daley let all these companies move?'"

    *

    Headline: "Daley suggests state tax hike, city casino - 'Everything should be on the table'"
    Date: May 17, 2007
    Publication: Sun-Times
    Quote: "If you don't get the revenue for education, you're going to be back in the same situation: 'Dire Need. Crisis in September.' I can read the headlines."

    *

    Headline: Under pressure: Personal, professional stresses weigh on mayor"
    Date: February 19, 2007
    Publication: Sun-Times
    Quote: "If I take $1,500, you'd be screaming and yelling [and writing] headlines. So I did that. I go to people I know personally. They have a lot of businesses. A lot of interests in this city. They don't have to give me money."

    *

    Headline: City releases 5-year capital program: 4 police stations - upgrades at airports new North Ave. bridge
    Date: June 14, 2006
    Publication: Sun-Times
    Quote: "These projects seldom make big headlines."

    *

    Headline "Daley picks chiefs for aviation, human services: Appointees will lead 2 departments marked by controversy"
    Date: March 28, 2006
    Publication: Sun-Times
    Quote: "If you think it's too high and you accept it, there would be headlines. You'd love to see those headlines. We're not in the business of providing headlines."

    *

    Headline: "Daley won't commit to Hispanic for clerk"
    Date: February 9, 2006
    Publication: Sun-Times
    Quote: "'Mayor Daley Abolishes All the City Offices.' You'd love to have a headline like that. I'm not giving you one."

    *

    Headline: "Daley dumps construction chief, taps Hispanic for post"
    Date: February 7, 2006
    Publication: Sun-Times
    Quote: "If [a roof or porch or wall] collapsed, you would have a headline: 'Why Did Mayor Daley OK That Permit in a Week?'"

    *

    Headline: "Daley: No demolition for bigger, safer Midway"
    Date: December 16, 2005
    Publication: Sun-Times
    Quote:"You're mixing apples and oranges. You're doing that intentionally to get a headline. Any other questions?"


    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:58 AM | Permalink

    August 20, 2008

    The [Wednesday] Papers

    John Kass wins the Emil Jones Punditry Sweepstakes today.

    From his winning entry:

    "I've used this theme in the past, particularly about Stroger, fumbling, stumbling, suffering self-inflicted media wounds, his ridiculous haplessness reinforcing the political subtext the mayor of Chicago thrives upon:

    "That without Daley to protect us, we would get a Stroger, and the sky would fall.

    "That's a political lie. Chicago thrives in spite of its politicians, not because of them, but it is a convenient falsehood, artfully dropped into the news to help maintain the status quo.

    "And Emil Jones? The wily boss hog Democrat, gorging on patronage and the fruits of politics, should have a new political job soon, once his protege, President Obama, finds one for him.

    "How about ambassador of reform?"

    *

    Then again, if the Southtown Star's Phil Kadner wasn't a day ahead of the pack, he would have won the gold.

    "I suppose Emil Jones could have stayed in the Illinois Senate and gotten more jobs and contracts for friends and family members," Kadner wrote on Tuesday.

    "But Jones on Monday announced his retirement. So it can't be said that he squeezed every dime he could out of the political system in Illinois."

    Classic.

    While Kass places the creature that is Emil Jones in the context of the whole rotten Illinois political universe, Kadner wraps up Jones's 25-year legislative career in 725 words that tell you everything you need to know about the hack's hack befriended by an ambitious Barack Obama.

    "In describing Jones' tenure as Senate president, one Springfield reporter wrote that he 'long championed more money for school and education funding reform and made them his top priorities.'" Kadner writes.

    "I can't agree with that.

    "I would have to say that Jones talked about those things and how important they were for most of his 25 years in the Senate."

    Talked, but never lifted a greasy thumb.

    Kadner ends this way:

    "Jones has made his preference clear. He wants his son to take his Senate seat.

    "That's the Chicago way.

    "So at least one Chicago child can thank Jones for helping him.

    "As for the rest of the kids in Illinois, they simply chose the wrong parents.

    "Thanks for the public education, Senator Jones."

    Go read the whole thing, then clip and save.

    *

    The Sun-Times editorial page manages to pull off the difficult trick of dry satire in "A Fine Tradition of Chicago Mediocrity."

    Again, the ending is the best part:

    "You can get hung up on how clout in this town can take a nobody from nowhere and set him up for life with money, prestige and a cushy job, based solely on blood.

    "Or you can learn to respect an old Chicago tradition:

    "Some folks - but not you - are special."

    *

    The Tribune's editorial starts off with a nice bit of snark but is mostly filled with straight-on anger.

    "After their years of near-irrelevance - taking their orders (and campaign cash) from the soon-to-be-retired Emil Jones - the Senate Dems finally have a decision they can make all by themselves: Who will be their chamber's new president?" the Trib says.

    "Emil Jones never was what his successor desperately needs to be. He has led the Senate in an era of Springfield dysfunction that has misserved and angered citizens by the millions. The damage as measured in problems unsolved, reforms unseized and innocents victimized - this state can't even pay promptly for the medical care of its poor people - is incalculable.

    "Jones could have helped meet those crushing needs. Instead he lived by a simple credo - Spend other people's money with abandon! - and let his jealousy of Madigan, the more powerful and cannier of the two, entrap him in an alliance with the governor."

    *

    Where the Tribune sees millions of angered citizens, Neil Steinberg sees an apathetic public that doesn't care as much as he does. Instead, Steinberg - who once wrote that the mayor's corruption didn't bother him - comes off as the weary one trying to muster a response.

    "You would think there would be outrage . . . But outrage has fallen from fashion, apparently . . . I feel antique even complaining about it."

    Steinberg doesn't say why he thinks the public is apathetic. Maybe it's because he didn't see anyone protesting along the Metra on his way into work. What is the public supposed to do, march on Springfield?

    *

    Like some of our other pundits, Carol Marin also makes the Obama connection.

    "At the very same moment Barack Obama, an alumnus of the Illinois State Senate and a mentee of President Jones, is campaigning across America in behalf of change we can believe in and a new kind of politics. Here on the homefront we have his mentor playing the same old, cynical game that treats public office like a family entitlement. And the public payroll like a bequest."

    Marin then advances the story by hitting the trail in search of Emil Jones III.

    "Now President Jones is pretty angry with us at the Sun-Times and at NBC5. Furious that we have dared to ask questions about how young Emil, lacking a college degree, got an administrator-level state job paying almost $60,000 a year . . .

    "What does Emil Jones III have to say about his candidacy for his dad's seat?

    "Nothing.

    "He has not returned Sun-Times' phone calls or e-mails. Why? President Jones' spokeswoman, Cindy Davidsmeyer, said Tuesday by phone from Springfield that Emil III is 'still a private citizen, not on the ballot yet. That's the way he's conducting himself.'"

    So he's already got the Illinois Pol thing down.

    *

    Finally, let's give props to the Peoria Journal-Star, which starts its editorial this morning this way:

    "Senate President Emil Jones announced this week that he intends to retire after the fall veto session. Well, that's a start in the right direction.

    "It will surprise no one who reads this opinion page regularly that we are not fans of the 72-year-old, 'Got to Get Me Some Food Stamps' Jones, who as time passed turned from harmless and sometimes entertaining into a bit of a power tripper, turning state government into something of a personal plaything.

    "That was fine if you were a friend or family member or contributor to Jones and discovered that such relationships had rewards - as the likes of Jones' wife and son and stepson and Chicago State University and Commonwealth Edison did - but if you weren't, you were out of luck at the taxpayer trough."

    I would be remiss if I didn't note that the Journal-Star also says this:

    "Arguably, the last thing Illinois government needs is yet another legislative leader from Chicago."

    *

    I'll have a few posts about the rest of the day's news over at Division Street.

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Food stamps accepted.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:04 AM | Permalink

    Open the Debates

    Ralph Nader, Matt Gonzalez, Val Kilmer, Sean Penn, Cindy Sheehan, Tom Morello, Jello Biafra, Nellie McKay, and Ike Reilly will all appear at the Nader/Gonzalez "Open the Debates" Super Rally August 27 at 6 p.m. at the University of Denver Magness Arena in Denver, Colorado.

    "Our focus at the Denver Super Rally will be to expand the debates beyond just two parties," said Nader. "It's an issue of central concern to many Americans and extends far beyond any one candidate. It is a first amendment matter of speech, petition and assembly during a Presidential election for both the candidates and the voters."

    The Denver Super Rally is being held to coincide with the Democratic National Convention. A second Super Rally is planned for Minneapolis on September 4th at Orchestra Hall during the week of the Republican National Convention.

    Nader/Gonzalez is on track to be on the ballot in 45 states - the campaign was on only 34 in 2004 - and the Nader/Gonzalez ticket is at 6 percent in the latest CNN poll.

    The Super Rallies will be part of an outpouring of protest in Denver and Minneapolis against the two corporate-controlled parties and their policies of perpetual militarism and war, at the expense of the necessities here at home. In recent months, Nader/Gonzalez has been campaigning across the country to open up the Presidential debates.

    "If tens of millions of Americans could hear the Nader/Gonzalez message through the Presidential debates, it would be a three-way race," Nader said.

    During his 2000 campaign, Ralph Nader drew sellout crowds to Super Rallies in arenas from Portland's Memorial Coliseum to New York's Madison Square Garden. After the election, PBS NewsHour's Mark Shields called the Nader Super Rallies "the most exciting political development of the campaign year."

    "My apology to Ralph Nader for not demanding that he be included in the debates," Shields said.

    At the Denver rally, actor and activist Sean Penn will offer his own comments on the state of the debates. "I met with Sean Penn, and we talked at length," Nader said. "He was very clear that he is not currently planning to endorse any candidate in the general election, but that he has serious concerns about the state of Presidential debates. He did support Kucinich in the primaries and saw how Dennis was excluded from MSNBC debates."

    Tickets to the Nader/Gonzalez Open the Debates Super Rally are $10 in advance, $12 at the door. Go to www.votenader.org/denver for more event details.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:31 AM | Permalink

    Reviewing the Reviews

    While Tom Frank's What's the Matter With Kansas was not without its problems, it still stands as one of the most incisive works not only about recent American politics but American culture in at least the last decade.

    The fact that Frank is a University of Chicago graduate who founded The Baffler here doesn't seem to get him any special dispensation from the local media, though, much of whom I'm certain have never heard of him. The larger political universe has heard of him, though, and not just because he lives in Washington, D.C. now (and is a columnist for The Wall Street Journal, but because he is one of the leading political and cultural intellects of our time.

    Still, his latest book, The Wrecking Crew sounds like a bit of a disappointment - not just because it is getting lukewarm reviews, but because those reviews seem to ring true in their main complaint that Frank has fallen into a leftist ideological prism that he can't get out of long enough to see, for example, that Democrats are evil too. My God, didn't Chicago teach you anything?

    In Sunday's New York Times Book Review, Michael Lind writes admiringly of Frank' "gifts as a social observer" and his take on lobbyists and libertarians, but argues that "Frank's portrait of the conservative movement, however, sacrifices complexity to caricature."

    I haven't read The Wrecking Crew myself but an acquaintance whose judgement I respect has described it to me as solely blaming government malfeasance and the rise of the corporate-lobby state on Republicans, ignoring the more hypocritical sins of Democrats who claim to be above this sort of thing.

    This notion is not only bolstered by Lind's review, but by the review a day later in the Times by Michiko Kakutani, who writes: "Less humorous and far more hectoring than Kansas, this volume quickly devolves into a highly partisan, Manichaean-minded screed against conservatives and private-sector economics . . .

    "Instead of carefully dissecting the many failures and missteps of the Bush administration (from its handling of the Iraq war to Hurricane Katrina) and its penchant for favoring political loyalty over expertise, Mr. Frank tries to extrapolate its many stumbles into an object lesson about the wickedness of conservative governments in general."

    Gee, Democrats would never favor political loyalty over expertise.

    Is this what happens to your brain when you move to Washington?

    The Revolution Will Be Faked
    More relevant to today's political scene is Frank's first book, The Conquest of Cool, in which he described Corporate America's co-optation of rebellious language and codes to make raw capitalism and mindless consumerism seem cool. Call it gentrified dissension. It looks an awful lot like the Obama campaign - all of the symbols but none of the content.

    RFK Street
    "But Fred Dutton, Robert Kennedy's campaign manager in 1968 and the champion of a 'new politics' uniting suburban idealists, college students and racial minorities (sound familiar?), went on to become a lobbyist for Mobil Oil and Saudi Arabia, earning the nickname 'Dutton of Arabia,'" Lind notes.

    Pabst Blue Hipster
    Paging Tom Frank and the Obama "movement"!

    "Consider Pabst Blue Ribbon," Farhad Manjoo wrote recently in a Times of Rob Walker's Buying In. "Beginning in the 1970s, the cheap beer that had long been synonymous with the blue-collar heartland began a steep decline, with sales by 2001 dipping to fewer than a million barrels a year, 90 percent below the beer's peak. But in 2002, Pabst noticed a sudden sales spike, driven by an unlikely demographic: countercultural types - bike messengers, skaters and their tattooed kin - in hipster redoubts like Portland, Ore., had taken to swilling the stuff. When asked why, they would praise Pabst for its non-image, for the fact that it seemed to care little about selling."

    I'd say it was more because of blue-collar chic, its perceived-to-be ironic label design, and its affordable price, but whatever. It was a genuine countercultural trend. Like Howard Dean. But then . . .

    "Neal Stewart, Pabst's marketing whiz, had studied No Logo, Naomi Klein's anti-corporate manifesto, and he understood that overt commercial messages would turn off an audience suspicious of capitalism. Thus the company shunned celebrity endorsements - Kid Rock had been interested - and devoted its budget instead to murketing, sponsoring a series of unlikely gatherings across the country. Like 'some kind of small-scale National Endowment for the Arts for young American outsider culture,' Pabst paid the bills at bike messenger contests, skateboarder movie screenings, and art and indie publishing get-togethers. At each of these events, it kept its logo obscure, its corporate goal to 'always look and act the underdog,' to be seen as a beer of 'social protest,' a 'fellow dissenter' against mainstream mores.

    "Pabst's campaign was designed to push beer without appearing to push it. To the extent that it conveyed any branding message at all, it was, Hey, we don't care if you drink the stuff."

    But of course, they did. It was a marketing ruse.

    "In reality," Manjoo writes, "Pabst Blue Ribbon's anti-capitalist ethos is, as Walker puts it, 'a sham.' The company long ago closed its Milwaukee brewery and now outsources its operations to Miller. Its entire corporate staff is devoted to marketing and sales, not brewing. 'You really couldn't do much worse in picking a symbol of resistance to phony branding,' Walker writes. But PBR's fans don't care. In the new era of marketing, image is everything."

    China Syndrome
    Unusually well-written - and timely - local reviews!

    "Twenty Fragments of a Ravenous Youth by Xiaolu Guo is a little novel, less than 180 pages," writes Mary Wisniewski in the Sun-Times. "Told in short, slangy sentences, it seems to be about not very much - a peasant girl coming to Beijing and getting work as Extra No. 6787 in the movies. She plays parts like 'waitress-wiping-a-table' and 'woman-walking-over-the-bridge,' while fighting off roaches in her terrible apartments.

    "But Twenty Fragments resembles a Chekhov story in containing, under its brief, chatty surface, an enormous world. Here is modern China, struggling to belong to the 21st century while still tied to fascism and Communism. And here is a universal story of a young woman figuring out who she is, and deciding, despite the machinations of bad boyfriends and noisy neighbors, what she really wants."

    And a a lively read from Jessica Reaves in the Trib ends like this:

    "Some folks read travel books to get a sense of a place before they go; others hope to learn about foreign lands they'd love to visit but fear they will never see. I read Troost because he's willing to navigate his way around countries that hold little or no appeal for me as travel destinations. There is almost nowhere on this Earth, for example, that I have less desire to visit than China. Now, thanks to Troost's hilarious and cutting narrative, I don't have to. And if that's not worth $22.95, I don't know what is."

    Traffic Jam
    Tom Vanderbilt's Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (And What It Says About Us) has been getting a lot of attention and indeed it sounds like a fascinating book. My favorite review line so far is from Mary Roach in the Times: "An alternate title for this book might be Idiots."

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:19 AM | Permalink

    August 19, 2008

    The [Tuesday] Papers

    Seeing as how "this reporter" has an "exclusive" about Barack Obama calling Emil Jones on Monday, the time is ripe to ask the candidate of a new kind of politics if he condones his self-described political mentor installing his son into his old job.

    *

    Maybe at Chicago Night in Denver, which sounds an awful lot like Apalachin.

    *

    "Emil Jones III, 31, worked for the state between May 1999 and November 2006, when he briefly left the payroll," the Sun-Times reports. "Despite not having a college degree, he was hired in April 2007 as an administrator for Gov. Blagojevich's Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity - a job that pays $59,436. Attempts to reach him Monday were unsuccessful."

    *

    "Give him a chance to prove himself," state Rep. Robert Rita (D-Blue Island) says.

    At the exclusion of everyone else?

    This reminds me of rich kids who tend to say things like "My father got me the interview, but I had to get the job."

    Yes, and getting the interview is half the battle. Plus, your father got you the job, too.

    *

    State Sen. Ricky Hendon (D-Chicago), now vying for the presidency of the Illinios Senate, told Carol Marin last night on Chicago Tonight that "maybe three groups did it incorrectly out of a hundred" when she questioned him about a recent education grant scandal. In fact, Hendon bragged about what he called a 97 percent success rate.

    But that's not what the facts show.

    "[A] Tribune investigation found that nearly half of the 48 groups that got money this past school year were running dubious programs, or declined to show how they spent the money. Only 11 of the grants went to established programs with a history of tutoring or mentoring school-age children," the paper reported last month.

    "All of the questionable projects share the same sponsor: West Side Sen. Rickey Hendon (D-Chicago), who awarded many grants to campaign workers and donors, the investigation found."

    *

    Illinois Republicans could do worse than to run Christine Radogno - who was also on the show last night - for governor. If she'd played basketball with Obama in Hyde Park like Alexi Giannoulias used to, maybe she'd be state treasurer right now.


    *

    John Cullerton (D-Chicago) and Jeff Schoenberg (D-Evanston) are definitely running for the senate presidency. But this will impress Terry Link's colleagues.

    Vote Clown
    "The lone opponent [Emil Jones III] he'd face is perennial candidate Ray Wardingley."

    Seriously, let's make this Wardingley's year.

    Keeping Tabs
    The Sun-Times's big front page story on Monday actually already appeared on page 40 of the most recent National Enquirer.

    A faithful Beachwood reader writes:

    "The Enquirer used the same photos, too - provided by the couple's wedding photographer.

    "The actual wedding incident happened more than a month ago (in Lakeside, Mich.)

    "None of the people arrested are from Chicago.

    "I just find it interesting that the Sun-Times is using the Enquirer as a big news source - and running old news about a stupid wedding, that didn't even happen in Chicago, on its front page.

    "Didn't anything happen in Chicago yesterday?

    "Pretty lame."

    Meet the Internet
    Chicago Tonight host Phil Ponce and business correspondent Kris Kridel briefly discussed last night the launch of Huffington Post Chicago.

    Kridel mentioned that the site includes content from a variety of sources, including the Tribune and Sun-Times.

    PONCE: Why would the Tribune and Sun-Times allow their content on the Huffington Post?

    KREIDEL: I think that, like Matt Drudge, they think it will send traffic to their own sites.

    Um, okay, first, to turn on your computer you push this button right here . . .

    *

    Just to be clear, HuffPo links to the papers but does not republish their content. First time on the Internet, guys?

    *

    Speaking of HuffPo, Kevin Allman takes on Fred Armisen's lame post and we fact-check the mess that is John Cusack's insipid love letter to Chicago.

    *

    Also, local pols now know they have an outlet besides the Sun-Times to publish their press releases.

    *

    Memo to local HuffPo contributors: I'll pay you a dollar to write for me, which is a dollar more than multi-millionaire Arianna Huffington is paying you. Yes, I know I don't have the same kind of purchased glory that you can reflect in, but who knows, maybe in time . . .

    Enquiring Minds
    I guess it's too much to expect of oldstream media to understand something as basic as linking. After all, during the John Edwards saga the MSM (a term just now catching Neil Steinberg's attention; but then Richard Roeper recently wrote that he would finally stop using "LOL") repeatedly referred to the Enquirer as the kind of publication that writes about space aliens performing sex probes here on Earth, but the magazine is actually several years into a pivot toward celebrity and scandal news, having discovered that at least a gauzy version of the truth is far more fascinating than anything anybody could make up.

    No, these days if you're looking for made-up stories about alien intervention, you can just turn to your daily paper.

    Northerly Island

    The Beachwood Tip Line: X marks the spot.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:11 AM | Permalink

    Fact-Checking John Cusack

    UPDATE 8/22: NOW WITH THE ORIGINAL, UN-CORRECTED POST

    *

    Maybe it's because he was writing bleary-eyed from Bangkok, but John Cusack's debut post for Huffington Post Chicago was riddled with more errors than the 2006 Cubs.

    Some - but not all - of the errors have been corrected. But really.

    From a Beachwood reader:

    "I submitted a comment to John Cusack's meandering love letter on the Chicago edition of the Huffington Post about eight hours ago. It hasn't posted yet. I'm wondering if one of the conditions of the pro bono agreement is that no negative comments will be brooked. Or perhaps I shone too bright a light on the lazy (or nonexistent) editing over there. I was not nasty. I simply wondered why Cusack neglected to correctly spell Biittner, Jordan, Chelios, and O'Neill (as in Eugene; I have to admit I also pointed out O'Neill was born in the U.S., not Ireland). Additionally, Cusack mistakenly wrote Eddie Gaedel pinch-hit for the White Sox and Sammy Sosa was on the '89 Cubs.

    "It's no big deal, but it makes me wonder what other comments aren't being published (or taking an ungodly amount of time to post). I completely understand spelling and fact-checking make for uninteresting reading for some (okay, maybe most), but it's got to be more compelling than a bunch of 'OMG, I love Chicago, too!'"

    Or, as So-Called Austin Mayor wrote, Michael Freakin' Jordan!

    And that's not all.

    Another Beachwood reader, Joel Reese, writes that "I grew up in Evanston. I used to do the same thing to Cubs games. There was no Express to Wrigley (we'll forgive the fact that he means 'Addison'). The El was an A/B system - trains were either A trains or B trains, and stations were either A or B (or AB). An A train stopped at A stations, a B train stopped at B stations, and both stopped at AB stops. If I remember correctly, the Cubs were such a minor deal that Wrigley (I mean) Addison wasn't an A/B stop. I could be wrong - surely that's easily found on the Web*. But the point is, there was no Express. There was the Evanston Express, which ran to Belmont, but my thinking is, it's only rush-hour."

    Reese also notes:

    "Cusack grew up in a massive house on Sheridan Road. Everyone knew which house it was. So it's slightly disingenuous to say he had to 'scrape' together $2.50. I'm thinking that wasn't an issue."

    And:

    "Incidentally, I posted an not-positive comment about Cusack's little Chicago jerk-off piece. It didn't make it on the site, interestingly."

    Indeed. As of this morning the post had 34 comments, all of them positive.

    Get it right next time, John.

    Or better yet, just keep your day job.

    -

    * From a Beachwood reader: Yes, it was easily found on the Web. Addison was a B stop during Cusack's childhood.

    -

    COMMENTS
    1. From Mike Kennedy:

    Regarding Cusack and The Huffington Post: I'm glad to see your item about corrective comments not being posted because I also sent a comment pointing out that the Eddie Gaedel midget episode occurred when Bill Veeck owned the St. Louis Browns, not the Sox. Nothing snarky, just the facts - I always liked Cusack. I also prefaced it with a friendly "this mistake is excusable since you're writing on the fly halfway around the world . . . " And I also left out the part about there being no Express run from Howard to Addison because I moved away in the 80s and I thought maybe such a service was offered after I left. (Addison was a B stop, but usually in the couple of hours before game time, both A and B trains stopped at Addison.) So I guess getting some blogs to correct errors is as difficult as it is to get print newspapers to do so.

    -

    Thanks also to Kevin Allman. See his post on HuffPo Chicago here.

    -

    Wondering how Cusack - and any editors HuffPo may have - could misspell Michael Jordan's name? Now we know how. One of our aggrieved readers captured the original, un-corrected post:

    August 14, 2008
    John Cusack
    Bleary-eyed in Bangkok: Daybreak Memories of Chicago
    Posted August 15, 2008 | 11:45 PM (EST)

    I've had pressing business in the Far East as of late so I happened to be in Bangkok working nights when my friend, the good and great Arianna, reminded me she was launching HuffPost Chicago and asked if I remembered my promise that I'd write something about my memories of the Windy City.

    "Yes, of course," I lied. "When is it due?"

    "Tomorrow, darling."

    Since it's August and we're in a pennant race, my mind first goes to Chicago sports: Wrigley Field and all-things-Cubs, when Jose Cardenal was the only player who could really play. When it was Mick Kelleher and Larry Bittner and George " the Baron" Mitterwald - and Pete LaCock on first base and "Tarzan" Joe Wallis in centerfield. And Bruce Sutter with that unhittable split-fingered fastball . . . Ride the El up from Evanston, change on the Howard line and take the Express to Wrigley - which I did as many times as I could scrape together $2.50 for a one-way kamikaze mission, and another $1.75 for bleacher seats, then steal hot dogs and Cokes from the vendors before taking the train home after the game . . .

    Through the '80s, with Gary "The Sarge" Matthews hitting third, taking us to our first division title in 7 million years. The great Andre Dawson and Sammy Sosa, getting us to the playoffs but never all the way . . .

    From Jack Brickhouse and Billy Williams to Harry Caray, liquored up on a hot summer day, down by seven runs and loaded for bear, most of my childhood was at least partially centered on this Mecca of baseball, this civic shrine that is home to the Chicago Cubs. Every visit to Wrigley Field adds six months back onto one's life expectancy - doctors have proven this many times.

    The next thing that comes to mind is the image of Walter Payton turning a corner. It wasn't a fall until Walter ran around defensive ends and then through linebackers. Walter would take the handoff, and it was Sunday, and the crisp frost of autumn was in the air, and there was nothing prettier than Walter in his prime.

    Then there was watching Michael Jordon learning to win, defying physics and the Detroit Pistons over a grueling 7 or 8 years - making the whole city stop in the darkest, coldest days of winter to watch as he performed feats of magic every time he stepped on the court. The whole city gasped in delight and awe, knowing they were seeing something that would never be equaled on a basketball court. Michael Jordon was one of the great things about Chicago winter - consistently, spectacularly brilliant every goddamn game, every goddamn night. It was a thing to behold.

    And the old Comiskey Park, where Shoeless Joe and Buck Weaver played. The one-legged owner, Bill Veeck and the midget at-bat and the players in shorts and the showers in the bleachers, and Jimmy Piersall and Harry Caray doing filthy standup in the booth. And Oscar Gamble and the South Side Hit Men, and Chet Lemon and then Ozzie Guillen and Greg " the Bull" Luzinski and Carlton Fisk and Harold Baines.

    Can't forget watching old friend Chris Chellios skate for the Hawks and eating with him in Greektown after the game . . . thinking in a few years I'll be there for his Hall of Fame induction speech after he played another season or two. That was ten years ago and counting.

    And the music - dozens of the best clubs and bars in America, with live music of all kinds: blues, jazz punk rock, ska, rap, always something going on, with great venues like Metro, and the Aragon Ballroom where I saw Nirvana at the peak of their formidable power.

    Plus hundreds of theaters - some with only thirty seats. I rented out a bunch and produced plays in Chicago - and a good time, I hope, was had by all.

    And then the old Irish bar O'Rouke's with the pictures and quotes by Yeats and Shaw and O'Neal and Brendan Behan and other Irish luminaries and lunatics. Many glorious and savage nights there.

    O'Rourkes is gone now but whenever I drive by, I tip my cap.

    Chicago is the best kept secret in America, or so it's been said . . . That sounds about right to me.


    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:36 AM | Permalink

    Ironside: The Leaf in the Forest

    Our look back on the debut season of Ironside continues.

    *

    Episode 3: The Leaf in the Forest

    Airdate: 21 September 1967

    Plot: In a newspaper headline befitting the outbreak of World War III, the Bayside Strangler has hit again and Chief Robert T. Ironside is on the case. Five little old ladies have met their untimely ends, but something about the most recent murder doesn't sit right with Ironside, who suspects a second killer has used the Strangler's MO to disguise his own dastardly deed.

    Guest stars: John Larch, Edward Andrews

    Directed by: Leo Penn, Sean's dad.

    Earthquake Schmearthquake: The episode opens with an elderly woman, her gray hair in a bun and a sweater draped around her shoulders, sitting up late at night in bed reading the newspaper. Esther Garrison looks old enough to have survived the San Francisco Quake of 1906. Judging from the framed paintings hanging over her brass bed, she's not too concerned about living through the next one.

    What part of "Bayside Strangler Still at Large" did you not understand? Apparently the headline screaming across the front page of the San Francisco Dispatch isn't enough to keep this widow from opening her front door in the middle of the night.

    Now you see it, now you don't: In a bizarre lapse of continuity, Chief Ironside seems to have had his hair cut between two scenes which are connected by a short car ride. Somehow, I just can't see Eve wielding scissors in the back of the Ironside van, snipping at her boss's hair, all the while bumping down the streets of San Francisco.

    Hot wheels: Ironside is tooling around in a motorized wheelchair now. Easier on everyone involved.

    Number of Ironside F-bombs: The Chief utters his "flaming" expletive twice in this episode.

    Nightcap: As the sun sets on the first day of the investigation, Ironside gathers his team for a "skull session" to review the facts of the case. Mark fixes the old man his late night toddy, a shot of bourbon in a glass of milk.

    The 'Frisco fog lifts slowly: It takes Eve and Ed a full day before they figure out that Esther Garrison knew her killer, and even then Ironside has to spell it out for them, connecting the dots while they sit with puzzled looks on their faces.

    Anything you have to say to me, detective, you can say in front of my wet bar: Ironside, Eve and Ed pay a call on their No. 1 Suspect's home to question his wife. During their interview of Myra DuPont (played by Barbara Barrie, eight years away from life as Mrs. Barney Miller), a cart with an ice bucket and six very large liquor decanters is prominently set in the foreground. It looks like a fifth character in the room.

    In a New York Minute: The police commissioner puts the heat on Ironside to close the Bayside Strangler case ASAP. The number of applications for pistol permits has gone up at an alarming rate: 15 in the last ten days! (A shocking increase from the normal rate of one per year!!)

    Imagine a time when every third TV show wasn't a police procedural crime drama: Ironside wakes Mark up in the middle of the night, asking him to perform a series of baffling tasks: read the newspaper, drop the paper on the ground, answer the door. Mark is completely baffled by Ironside re-creating the scene of the crime, even when his boss gravely tells him, "Mark, I'm sorry I couldn't let you in on it, but what you just did gave us a very important clue. Thanks."

    More fog between the ears: Eve is so flaming clueless. Ironside spends five minutes explaining how he believes the Bayside Killer goes about choosing his victims while Ed and Eve listen, their brows furrowed in mutual looks of intense concentration. He has an idea to test his theory:

    IRONSIDE: We put someone in an apartment with a view of the plaza and leave the lights on. (Do I have any volunteers?)

    EVE: Well, you'd have to use a woman.

    IRONSIDE: Yes, and she gets no protections because he only attacks women living alone. (Is there a policewoman in the house?)

    EVE (aghast): You might be setting up the seventh murder. A defenseless old woman!

    IRONSIDE: She only has to look old and not necessarily defenseless. We could use a young, vigorous graduate of the police academy skilled in Judo. (I'm looking at you, Eve.)

    Cut to Eve with a shocked look on her face. She's the only one who didn't see that one coming. Well okay, neither did Ed.

    The secret to a successful stakeout is to blend in: Mark (the only black man in a plaza filled with white folks) is hanging out near a group of hippies who are entertaining a small crowd. Though it's nighttime, the hippies singers all sport sunglasses. Ed, in his usual brown suit, wanders conspicuously through the crowd, blending in like oil and water.

    No, really, they're hippies: A couple of the musicians are credited as "First Hippie" and "Second Hippie," who's played by John Rubinstein, the original Broadway Pippin.

    Old habits die hard: During the stakeout, Raymond Burr (who co-starred in Rear Window) looks right at home sitting in a window peering with binoculars at "old lady" Eve in a nearby apartment.

    Query: Imagine detectives show up at your house to interrogate you a second time about your husband's guilt as a murderer. You firmly believe your spouse is innocent and serve as his alibi. Would you serve these detectives martinis or Harvey Wallbangers?

    Wise old Ironside: "The more you get into police work, Eve, the more you'll know that every time you solve a case some innocent person ends up behind a closed door crying. It's tough. You've got to be tougher."

    -

    Previously:
    * A Cop and His Chair.
    * Message From Beyond.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:41 AM | Permalink

    Expert: Let Employees Watch Olympics

    No pain, no gain

    In an age of multimedia accessibility to an information overload, business owners and managers have every reason to be concerned about the entertainment temptations that can pull their employees off task.

    Currently, around the world, this is especially true with the excitement of the Summer Olympics, available 24/7 through multiple digital channels and the Internet, with updates and event alerts popping up on cell phones hourly.

    But Dave Crenshaw, a time-management consultant to some of the nation's top business executives, says companies are not only wise to allow the inevitable when it comes to their employees sneaking online peaks at the Games, but if managed the right way, it can actually improve productivity.

    "The distraction is there," he says. "It's better to acknowledge and manage it so it is not a distraction. Increased productivity is rooted in a staff's ability to focus. Work with your employees to establish guidelines and allow viewing flex time, for example, so when they are working, they can focus."

    Not to mention, Crenshaw adds, orchestrating a give-and-take with employees makes for a happier workforce. "And when it comes to productivity, happier is far better."

    The issue of focus is at the core of Crenshaw's new business book, The Myth of Multitasking, and he's primed for interviews to discuss its intriguing content as it applies to the daily grind - from watching the Olympics at work, to avoiding the dangers of "multitasking" in a market-driven business world.

    ABOUT DAVE CRENSHAW
    As a highly sought-after business coach and time-management expert to some of the country's top business executives, Dave Crenshaw has expanded his reach to that of an author and speaker. He began his coaching career in 1998 as the youngest independent consultant for one of the world's largest small business coaching firms.

    Chrenshaw received his B.S. in Business Management-Entrepreneurship from Brigham Young University, one of the nation's top entrepreneur programs. As the creator of TimeGym, a productivity and time management-coaching firm, Crenshaw has helped business owners worldwide.

    Crenshaw is one of the foremost experts on the epidemic known as multi-tasking. As a business owner himself, he formerly experienced the struggle of keeping focused. Dave recognized that he needed to re-evaluate how he organized his time. Consequently, he developed the TimeGym system his Certified Time Coaches use to help clients maintain balance in their lives. He is the author of The Myth of Multitasking: How Doing it All Gets Nothing Done.

    Crenshaw's often humorous and entertaining approach always hits right on the head with audiences. His speeches to audiences as large as 1,500 people are described as life changing.

    THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE MAY BE USEFUL:

    Olympic challenge for businesses

    Published: 15/08/2008
    ©2008 The Press and Journal

    "SHOULDN'T you be at work?" - the famous words uttered by sports presenter Des Lynam during the BBC's World Cup 1998 coverage may well be repeated by many an employer over the next week or so.

    As the Olympic Games in Beijing come to an exciting climax, businesses are once again facing up to the challenges posed by a major sporting event.

    But there are ways to ensure that the 29th Olympiad does not add to the headaches being suffered by credit-crunched employers.

    And, with a bit of luck, businesses will manage to keep absences to a level equivalent to Great Britain's eventual medal haul and ensure that as few working hours as possible are lost due to Olympic fever.

    They may even be able to harness the Olympic spirit and use it to boost morale in the workplace.

    The difficulties posed by the Olympics have been seen before, but are, arguably, greater than ever.

    Unexplained absences, poor time-keeping and low productivity have all been symptoms of World Cup, Wimbledon and Open golf tournaments for many years.

    During the 2006 World Cup, one poll showed that 13% of men and 4% of women had called in sick either to watch or recover from a football match and the attendant celebratory or sorrow-drowning consequences.

    And a survey in New Zealand has estimated that its national economy will lose more than £5.5million due to the working hours lost as a result of the Olympic Games.

    This year, television coverage of the Olympics generally starts at 2.50am, so even if employees are at work physically, they may not be mentally attuned to the task in hand by the time they arrive at their desks.

    And what exacerbates the challenges in 2008 is that these are the "digital games". Media coverage from Beijing, across a multitude of digital channels and a vast array of websites, means the Olympics can be accessed from anywhere.

    The BBC is offering more than 2,000 hours of live streaming video and 3,000 hours of "on demand" content. Even in organisations that prevent staff from viewing such material, tomes of constantly updated content in other formats can be found on just about every news agency's website.

    Plus, the Olympics are readily available on many workers' mobile phones, and the BBC is even sending its viewers text alerts when the next big event is about to start.

    All this brings the employee closer than ever to the action and, for this reason, employers would be well advised to embrace the Olympic spirit and adopt a flexible approach to the games.

    Restating annual leave and disciplinary policies before the events begin is always recommended, and employers could consider allowing radios or TVs into the workplace.

    Another option could be to adopt a flexi-time approach which allows staff to make up any hours missed through watching the Olympics at other times during the working day or week.

    But whatever policies they adopt, employers must be careful to ensure that they do not, directly or indirectly, discriminate against any of their staff.

    For example, accommodations made to cater for sports enthusiasts must be offered to all staff regardless of sex, age or race.

    If British staff are permitted to watch Team GB compete in one event then staff of other nationalities ought to be accommodated when they want to follow their respective countries' progress.

    It may even be necessary to allow those employees who are not interested in the Olympics the equivalent time off, perhaps at a later date.

    Tesco's policy during the 2006 World Cup is a useful model. It installed televisions in its staff canteens and allowed staff to take time off, swap shifts and take breaks to watch matches.

    It communicated its policies extremely well through posters and a newsletter and used the World Cup as a team-building event.

    The company negotiated the pitfalls of discrimination law effectively by encouraging employees to bring their national flag to work so that it could be displayed alongside those of their colleagues.

    And by creating special footie-free areas, it also ensured that those employees who were apathetic towards events in Germany did not feel disenfranchised or discriminated against.

    So the Olympics should not be seen as something to censor, but should be used as a tool to re-engage with staff. The challenges presented by this year's Olympics will surely be more acute four years from now when they are on our doorstep.

    If these challenges are managed correctly, however, staff might feel less inclined to stay at home and curl up with the Des Lynams of the day.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:50 AM | Permalink

    August 18, 2008

    The [Monday] Papers

    Emil Jones is expected to announce his retirement today, according to the Tribune.

    A) "I've done enough damage here."
    B) "I'm wanted back in Hell."
    C) Obama-Jones!

    *

    Chicago Public Radio reports that "Jones may make a move to have his son succeed him in office."

    The faces change, but not the names.

    Open and Shut
    Beachwood, August 12: Chicago's Opening Ceremonies.

    Tribune, August 18: London's Opening Ceremonies.

    Memo to Tempo: If you'd like to outsource this sort of thing to us, give me a call. We're cheaper and funnier.

    We Beg Of You
    Please take the buyout.

    Sex Hex
    A new study ballyhooed by the Sun-Times despite its obvious methodological failings found that abstinence pledges may "work." Well, except for one demographic slice.

    Toss-Up
    Front page of the New York Times on Sunday: "Seeing Tougher Race, Allies Ask Obama to Make 'Hope' Specific."

    "Okay. I hope for change."

    *

    On the other hand, the story underneath that about John McCain's response to 9/11 ought to singularly disqualify him from the presidency.

    *

    The Beachwood Mystery Debate Theater team takes on The Summit on Saddleback Mountain.

    Web Master
    Steve Johnson had a nice profile of local journotech Adrian Holovaty in the Trib's Sunday magazine.

    Key Holovaty quote:

    "I'm just amazed at how much the news industry does because other people are doing it. There's no sense of individuality or entrepreneurship."

    For example, if you want to comment on that quote or Twitter it to your friends, just go to the Trib website or its Facebook page! Oh, and don't forget to Digg the article!

    Made in China
    "Indeed, after the photo shoot for this article, Holovaty e-mailed this good-natured complaint: 'They made me dress up in clothes I would never wear, and they even applied makeup! It was surreal.'"

    Hmm, let me dig up that Julia Keller essay about the Age of Fake.

    *

    Because people can never be presented as they are, they have to be presented as journalists imagine them to be. You know, the next Lincoln, the Great Communicator, the hipster tech maven.

    Wrigleyism
    "Some guy brings a goat to the field, and they won't let him in. Some cat runs across the field. Some guy with headphones sticks his hand out on a ball that's in the stands. Those aren't the reason you don't win. You want to find answers, but that's not why."

    Did Ryan Dempster just explain the Cubs or religion?

    Book Kook
    When I saw the Mary Schmich column about the city's "grooviest" bookstore shutting down, I thought, Oh no, is Myopic going out of business?

    No, it's that New Age strip mall shop that exploits people's ignorance and emptiness by selling titles about angels and vibes and magic crystals that substitute for religion for people who like the message better.

    Why not just sell Cubs books?

    *

    Memo to Schmich: Please take the buyout and transition out of our lives.

    Obamaboating
    The idea that Barack Obama is somehow responsible for the rise in crime in Chicago is almost as absurd as the notion that he's a raving left-wing lunatic with a secret Islamoterrorist agenda that will include nationalizing American industry and seizing control of our radio stations. Obama is responsible for many things - sins of omission far more than sins of commission when it comes to his local record - but the rise in crime is not one of them. In fact, his supporters should be clear that he supports the death penalty, despite everything we've seen in this state. On that score, George Ryan would make a better president.

    And yet, the Tribune somehow saw fit to put this story on its front page.

    Yelping Beachwood
    What hype?

    Reverse Obamaboating
    If only.

    My Hero
    "For all its eviscerations of the administration, The Daily Show is animated not by partisanship but by a deep mistrust of all ideology," the New York Times writes. "A sane voice in a noisy red-blue echo chamber, Mr. Stewart displays an impatience with the platitudes of both the right and the left and a disdain for commentators who, as he made clear in a famous 2004 appearance on CNN's Crossfire, parrot party-line talking points and engage in knee-jerk shouting matches. He has characterized Democrats as 'at best Ewoks,' mocked Mr. Obama for acting as though he were posing for 'a coin' and hailed MoveOn.org sardonically for '10 years of making even people who agree with you cringe.'

    "He's the Jersey Boy and ardent Mets fan as Mr. Common Sense, pointing to the disconnect between reality and what politicians and the news media describe as reality, channeling the audience's id and articulating its bewilderment and indignation. He's the guy willing to say the emperor has no clothes, to wonder why in Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton's 'It's 3 a.m.' ad no one picks up the phone in the White House before six rings, to ask why a preinvasion meeting in March 2003 between President Bush and his allies took all of an hour - the 'time it takes LensCrafters to make you a pair of bifocals' to discuss 'a war that could destroy the global order.'"

    Bleacher Preacher
    From Jerry Pritikin: In regards to the Tribsters reneging on the 400 parking spaces for the addition of 1,791 Bleacher seats: I wrote letters to the editors of the S/T, Trib and also Alderman Tom Tunney at that time asking that all new bleacher seats have a clause that 1,791 Bleacher seats be sold only on the day of the game to prevent scalping. But that was before we learned that the Cubs had their own ticket brokers who not only resell their own tickets, but have the Chicago Police arresting anyone doing the same. Truth, Justice and the Tribune's way.

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Unscalpable.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:52 AM | Permalink

    Mystery Debate Theater 2008: Saddleback Mountain

    The Mystery Debate Theater team of Tim Willette, Andrew Kingsford and Steve Rhodes couldn't re-assemble over the weekend for Rick Warren's Saddleback Mountain, but Steve pinch-hit with a run through the transcript. The following has been edited for space, clarity and sanity. We start with Obama and end with McCain.

    -

    WARREN: Who are the three wisest people you know in your life, and who are you going to rely on heavily in your administration?

    STEVE: Richard Daley, Bill Daley, and John Daley.

    *

    WARREN: What would your greatest moral failure?

    OBAMA: You know, there were times where I experimented with drugs. I drank in my teenage years. And what I traced this to is a certain selfishness on my part. I was so obsessed with me.

    STEVE: Until when, five minutes ago?

    OBAMA: When I find myself taking the wrong step, I think a lot of times it's because I'm trying to protect myself instead of trying to do God's work.

    STEVE: I thought that was George Bush's job.

    WARREN: What about America?

    OBAMA: I think America's greatest moral failure in my lifetime has been that we still don't abide by that basic precept in Matthew that whatever you do for the least of my brothers, you do for me.

    STEVE: And that's why poverty is at the top of my agenda.

    *

    WARREN: Can you give me a good example where you went against party loyalty, and maybe even went against your own best interest, for the good of America?

    OBAMA: Well, you know, I'll give you an example that, in fact, I worked with John McCain on, and that was the issue of campaign ethics reform and finance reform.

    STEVE: He did not just go there!

    *

    WARREN: A lot of times candidates are accused of flip-flopping, but actually sometimes flip-flopping is smart because you actually have decided on a better position based on knowledge that you didn't have.

    OBAMA: Right.

    STEVE: Even when your epiphany comes immediately after the primaries are over.

    *

    WARREN: You've made no doubts about your faith in Jesus Christ. What does that mean to you?

    OBAMA: It means I believe that Jesus Christ died for my sins, and that I am redeemed through Him.

    STEVE: And everybody else is fucked.

    OBAMA: And I know that if I can get myself out of the way, that I can maybe carry out in some small way what He intends.

    STEVE: I thought that was George Bush's job.

    *

    WARREN: At what point does a baby get human rights?

    STEVE: When he can change his own diapers.

    OBAMA: Answering that question with specificity, you know, is above my pay grade.

    STEVE: I'll answer once I'm president.

    OBAMA: I am pro-choice. I believe in Roe v. Wade, and I come to that conclusion not because I'm pro-abortion, but because, ultimately, I don't think women make these decisions casually. I think wrestle with these things in profound ways, in consultation with their pastors or their spouses or their doctors or their family members.

    STEVE: Or they just use Plan B. So I'm told.

    *

    WARREN: Define marriage.

    OBAMA: I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman. Now, for me as a Christian - for me - for me as a Christian, it is also a sacred union. God's in the mix.

    STEVE: God only likes three-ways when a woman is involved.

    OBAMA: I am not somebody who promotes same-sex marriage, but I do believe in civil unions. I think my faith is strong enough and my marriage is strong enough that I can afford those civil rights to others, even if I have a different perspective or different view.

    STEVE: It's not strong enough to afford marriage to others, though.

    *

    WARREN: Does evil exist?

    STEVE: Yes, and it's name is Hillary Clinton!

    WARREN: And if it does, do we ignore it? Do we negotiate with it? Do we contain it? Do we defeat it?

    OBAMA: I think we see evil all the time. We see evil in Darfur. We see evil, sadly, on the streets of our cities. We see evil in parents who viciously abuse their children. I think it has to be confronted. It has to be confronted squarely, and one of the things that I strongly believe is that, now, we are not going to, as individuals, be able to erase evil from the world. That is God's task.

    STEVE: I don't think He got the memo.

    *

    WARREN: Which existing Supreme Court justice would you not have nominated?

    STEVE: That's above my pay grade.

    OBAMA: I would not nominate Justice Scalia, although I don't think there's any doubt about his intellectual brilliance, because he and I just disagree.

    STEVE: I new litmus test!

    *

    WARREN: Would you insist that faith-based organizations forfeit that right to access federal funds?

    OBAMA: I know the power of faith-based institutions to get stuff done. What I have said is that when it comes, first of all, to funding faith-based organizations, they are always free to hire whoever they want, when it comes to their own mission, who the pastor is, various ministries, that they want to set up, but, and this has been a longstanding rule.

    WARREN: College Christians?

    STEVE: Totally!

    OBAMA: Yes, absolutely.

    STEVE: College Muslims?

    *

    WARREN: Do you think better teachers should be paid more than poor teachers?

    OBAMA: I think that is a concept that all of us should embrace.

    STEVE: Do you think better senators should be paid more than poor senators?

    *

    WARREN: Define rich.

    OBAMA: If you are making $150,000 a year or less, as a family, then you're middle-class or you may be poor. But $150,000 down you're basically middle class, obviously depends on the region where you're living.

    WARREN: In this region, you're poor.

    STEVE: What, Hollywood?

    OBAMA: Yes, well - depending. I don't know what housing practices are going. I would argue that if you're making more than $250,000, then you're in the top three percent, four percent of this country. You're doing well. Now, these things are all relative. And I'm not suggesting that everybody is making over $250,000 is living on easy street.

    STEVE: I am.

    *

    WARREN: What's worth having sacrifice of the American lives for?

    OBAMA: Well, obviously American freedom, American lives, America's national interests.

    STEVE: Obviously.

    *

    WARREN: Tell me in a minute why you want to be president.

    OBAMA: I feel like the American dream is slipping away. I think we are at a critical juncture. Economically, I think we are at a critical juncture. Internationally, we've got to make some big decisions not just for us for the next generation and we keep on putting it off. And unfortunately, our politics is broken and Washington is so broken, that we can't bring together people of goodwill to solve these common problems. I think I have the ability to build bridges across partisan lines, racial, regional lines to get people to work on some common sense solutions to critical issues and I hope that I have the opportunity to do that.

    -

    HALFTIME

    -

    WARREN: Who are the three wisest people that you know that you would rely on heavily in an administration?

    MCCAIN: First one, I think, would be General David Petraeus, one of the great military leaders in American history, who took us from defeat to victory in Iraq, one of the great leaders.

    I think John Lewis. John Lewis was at the Edmund Pettis Bridge, had his skull fractured, continued to serve, continues to have the most optimistic outlook about America. He can teach us all a lot about the meaning of courage and commitment to causes greater than our self- interest.

    Meg Whitman, the CEO of eBay.

    STEVE: She sells stuff, like pasta that looks like Petraeus and Lewis.

    *

    WARREN: Can you give me an example of where you led against your party's interests - oh, this is hard - (LAUGHTER) - and really, maybe against your own best interests for the good of America?

    MCCAIN: You know, by a strange coincidence - (LAUGHTER) - I was not elected Miss Congeniality again in the United States Senate. I don't know why. I don't know why. I don't know why.

    Climate change, out of control spending, torture, the list goes on, on a large number of issues that I have put my country first and I've reached across the aisle. but I'd probably have to say that one of the times that probably was one of the most trying was, when I was first a member of Congress, and I'm a new freshman in the House of Representatives and very loyal and dedicated to President Reagan, whom I still think is one of the great, great presidents in American history who won the Cold War without firing a shot, in the words of Margaret Thatcher. He wanted to send troops to Beirut for a peacekeeping mission. My knowledge and my background told me that a few hundred Marines in a situation like that could not successfully carry out any kind of peacekeeping mission. And I thought they were going into harm's way. Tragically, as many of you recall, there was a bombing in the Marine barracks and well over 100 brave Marines gave their lives. But it was tough, that vote, because I went against the president I believed in, and the party that believed that maybe I was disloyal very early in my political career.

    STEVE: Can you give us an example since 2000?

    *

    WARREN: What is the most significant position that you ten years ago that you no longer hold today?

    MCCAIN: Offshore drilling. We've got to drill now and got to drill here.

    STEVE: Right under this church.

    *

    WARREN: What's the most gut-wrenching decision you've ever had to make?

    MCCAIN: It was long ago, and far away, in a prison camp in North Vietnam. My father was a high-ranking admiral. The Vietnamese came and said that I could leave prison early. And we had a code of conduct. It said you only leave by order of capture. I also had a dear and beloved friend, who was from California, named Ebb Alvarez, who had been shot down before me. But I wasn't in good physical shape. In fact, I was in rather bad physical shape. So I said no. Now, in interest of full disclosure, I'm happy I didn't know the war was going to last for another three years or so.

    But I said no, and I'll never forget sitting in my last answer, and the high-ranking officer offered it, slammed the door and the interrogator said, "Go back to your cell. It's going to be very tough on you now." And it was. But not only the toughest decision I ever made, but I am most happy about that decision, than any decision I've ever made in my life.

    WARREN: Great, great.

    MCCAIN: Could I finally say, it took a lot of prayer?

    STEVE: No! Don't ruin it.

    *

    MCCAIN: You publicly say you're a follower of Christ. What does that mean to you?

    MCCAIN: It means I'm saved and forgiven.

    STEVE: And everyone else is fucked.

    *

    WARREN: At what point is a baby entitled to human rights?

    MCCAIN: At the moment of conception.

    STEVE: I'm sorry, that question is above your pay grade.

    *

    WARREN: Define marriage.

    MCCAIN: A union between man and woman, between one man and one woman.

    STEVE: No, were looking more for something like, "Marriage is hell!"

    *

    WARREN: Does evil exist and, if so, should ignore it, negotiate it with it, contain it or defeat it?

    STEVE: Divorce it!

    MCCAIN: Defeat it. If I'm president of the United States, my friends, if I have to follow him to the gates of hell, I will get bin Laden and bring him to justice. I will do that. And I know how to do that.

    STEVE: But I won't tell how unless you make me president!

    *

    WARREN: Which existing Supreme Court Justices would you not have nominated?

    MCCAIN: With all due respect, Justice Ginsburg, Justice Breyer, Justice Souter, and Justice Stephens.

    WARREN: Why? Tell me why.

    STEVE: I just don't agree with them.

    *

    WARREN: About 80 percent of America says they support merit pay for the best teachers.

    MCCAIN: Yes, yes, and find bad teachers another line of work.

    STEVE: Maybe in politics!

    *

    WARREN: Define rich.

    MCCAIN: Some of the richest people I've ever known in my life are the most unhappy.

    STEVE: Just think how miserable they'd be if they also didn't have any money.

    *

    WARREN: Why do you want to be president?

    MCCAIN: I want to inspire a generation of Americans to serve a cause greater than their self-interest.

    STEVE: Plus, I find it oddly appealing to be the most powerful man in the world.

    -

    Now available: Every episode of Mystery Debate Theater!

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:53 AM | Permalink

    Chicagoetry: Great Expectations

    GREAT EXPECTATIONS

    It is the best of cities
    And the worst of cities.
    I checked it out, and I found myself a city

    To live in.
    WHERE will let me
    Be me?

    I made a bet. You bet!
    I knew I'd need
    Big shoulders to cry upon,
    Big enough for both

    My dirty angels. I knew I'd need space
    To spread my brittle wings. I knew I'd need a place
    To sing.

    When I was just a boy
    In Naperville, Illinois
    I thought Chicago was a blown-glass downtown
    Surrounded by
    A vast, dissipated

    Ghetto. Burlington-Northern got me where I needed to
    Get to: Wrigley Field, Chicago Stadium, the
    International Amphitheater. I saw what I could see:

    Led Zeppelin, the Stones,
    The Foghat, Queen.

    Wax Trax, Bizarre Bazaar, eventually

    Max
    Tavern. I became
    What I could be.

    Hey: I didn't go
    To college. I went to
    Illinois State. There, I
    Learned that middle-class, heck, even UPPER
    middle-class people lived in

    The city. Dick Roeper, Mick Caplan,
    Randolph

    Salerno. Evan, Vinnie . . .
    Phyllis', Rainbo, Czar

    Bar,
    Ola's.
    Metro, Club 950, Exit.

    Checkerboard Motherfucking
    Lounge (hi Mr. Guy! OK

    If we stay?)

    Souled American . . .
    Tribe . . .

    Then, I made myself take
    A leap

    Of faith, a virtual swan-dive
    Off the Sears
    Tower: I got up

    Onstage

    In a
    Bar,

    And read my terrified poem
    To a handful of people who came
    To watch the hockey game.

    Not only did I survive,
    I got a FREE BEER, and got out
    Alive.

    I found myself
    I found myself
    I found myself

    A city
    To live in.

    -

    J. J. Tindall is the Beachwood's poet-in-residence. He can reached at jjtindall@yahoo.com. Chicagoetry is an exclusive Beachwood collection-in-progress.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:50 AM | Permalink

    SportsMonday

    Baseball is just too good right now to spend much time on the Olympics. Besides, the swimming is over and track and field is tape-delayed and drug-riddled (and it certainly didn't help that the Americans managed all of one bronze medal in the men's and women's 100-meter dashes). We might get back to the Olympics next week because the USA men's and women's teams in everything from basketball to water polo to volleyball had strong first weeks. There could be a whole bunch of red, white and blue squads going for team golds later this week. But today it is baseball, baseball, baseball, and more baseball.

    Beachwood Baseball:
  • The Cub Factor
  • The White Sox Report will not appear this week.
  • The White Sox have had more trouble with the Oakland A's than any other opponent - including the Twinkies - the last half dozen years. And essentially starting with the oh-so-special 2003 National League Championship, the Cubs have almost never known what to do with the Marlins during the same time. So the fact that the local squads simultaneously stuck it to those homestanding teams over the weekend would have to qualify as what, the 1,000th sign that this is the year of Chicago baseball?

    Yes, I know that Oakland is something like 5-23 since the Rich Harden deal and that if anyone actually cared about the A's, general manager Billy Beane would have been flogged 10 times as hard as Jerry Reinsdorf was for the White Flag deal in 1997 for Beane's giving up on this season though his team was in contention for a playoff spot. Of course, we won't know just how bad this trade was for Oakland for another couple seasons, but it's hard to believe that it won't go down in history as a big ol' steal for Jim Hendry. Heck, if the deal had just been reliever Chad Gaudin for starter Sean Gallagher - the only guy in the deal who will be any kind of a consistent contributor for Oakland unless catching prospect Josh Donaldson eventually makes it big - that would be looking pretty good right now. Throwing in Harden definitely makes it seem like the Cubs won this one by a bit more than a smidge.

    For those who don't remember, the White Flag deal involved trading away established pitchers Wilson Alvarez, Danny Darwin and Roberto Hernandez for six Giants prospects (the most prominent of which were Bobby Howry and Keith Foulke) with the Sox still in the hunt at the end of July. Many fans argued the White Sox were throwing away a shot at the playoffs but, shockingly enough, Chairman Reinsdorf did not agree. Anyway, yes, I know the team is horrible but the Sox pounding Oakland is still a sign, man . . . just like that time the Virgin Mary appeared on the Kennedy underpass at Fullerton.

    The Other Sox
    I was in Boston over the weekend and on Sunday had a chance to scout the team that leads the American League wild-card race (although maybe not for long - after a 15-4 loss, the Red Sox's lead over whichever currently tied team doesn't win the AL Central was down to a half game). The home team looked lousy. The Sawx used about seven pitchers, starting with ace Josh Beckett and working their way through big-time prospects Clay Buchholz and Justin Masterson and most of the bullpen and eventually finishing with closer Jonathan Papelbon. And they all gave up runs except for Papelbon. After giving up eight earned, Beckett's ERA crested the 4.00 mark for the season. And even Papelbon has been less than 100 percent of late. He apparently suffers from migraines. As for the Red Sox lineup, well, wonderboy leadoff hitter Jacoby Ellsbury may have 50-plus stolen bases but he's barely hitting .260, and so is David Ortiz. Ortiz, by the way, is another one of those hitters facing the radical infield shift that teams also deploy against Jim Thome.

    I vote for Ortiz, and Thome for that matter, to lay down a few bunts against the alignment that puts three infielders on the right side, leaving the third baseman all by his lonesome over on the left. Even with no speed, Ortiz and Thome could bunt for doubles if they pushed the ball with little bit of pace into the wide swath of diamond between the third-baseman and the third-base line. But back to the issue at hand - how are the Red Sox doing? The answer? Scuffling.

    At the same time I was assessing the home team's chances, I was also absorbing Fenway Park for the second time in my life. This is the place, after all, that dubs itself "America's most beloved ballpark." If that is the case, and of course it probably isn't, it's not because Fenway is actually worthy of that love. Wrigley has better sightlines and much better bleacher and upper-deck seats. Many of the aisles at Fenway are unbelievably narrow and it's just much easier to get around (and into and out of) Wrigley both inside the park and back in the concourses.

    The food ain't great at either place but there is more variety at Fenway, including a Legal Seafood Clam Chowder vending station near my seat. The neighborhoods surrounding both ballparks sometimes seem a bit much, but hey, it's hard to argue with areas featuring many cool places to toss back a beverage or four.

    Other observations from Fenway:

    * "Sweet Caroline" sounds pretty stupid (the Red Sox play it and a whole bunch of fans sing along to it in the middle of the eighth inning) when your team is down double-digit runs. Us Cub fans can give ourselves an itty-bitty pat on the back by only singing "Go Cubs Go" when we win. Of course, shouldn't something be done about the chorus if we're going to continue to sing this little ditty after victories? I'm sure Mr. Steve Goodman wouldn't mind too terribly much if we changed his lyrics to "Go Cubs Go, Go Cubs Go, Hey Chicago, whaddya say, the Cubs have won again today" instead of "the Cubs are gonna win today."

    The goofballs working in the hand-operated portion of the Fenway scoreboard (there are also electric screens situated high above right-center and center fields) struggle mightily to maintain anything even remotely resembling an up-to-date accounting of scores around the league. As opposed to Wrigley, much of the Fenway scoreboard must be adjusted on the ouside instead of replacing panels from the inside of the Green Monster. My wife was keeping track on her Blackberry Sunday and with the Cubs game heading into the top of the seventh, the Fenway scoreboard still said the Marlins led 1-0 in the fourth. When the Cubs rallied in the bottom of that inning, one of the scoreboard guys rushed out between innings and changed the score to Cubs 5, Marlins 2 in the 7th. Of course, still in the seventh, the Cubs scored three more runs about a minute later. But the scoreboard did not change the rest of the game. Oh, and Fenway does not display more up-to-date scores on one of the electric scoreboard like Wrigley does. Lame.

    I noticed a woman about three rows ahead of me had a small tattoo just above the neckline of her white-with-pink-trim Ortiz jersey. The tattoo read "Manny." I'm thinking she wasn't overjoyed when the Red Sox traded Manny Ramirez at the deadline but hey, perhaps a valuable lesson was learned. The only thing dumber than inking the name of your actor boyfriend onto your skin these days is substituting the name of a favorite ballplayer.

    There isn't a whole lot of heckling going on when the home team falls behind by six before anyone even settles into their seat. But there was a little. My favorite, belted out as Toronto outfielder Alex Rios took a bit too long settling into the batters box: "Get in there, Princess!"

    Ah the sublime charms of the pastime.

    -

    Jim Coffman appears in this space every Monday with the best sports wrap-up in the city. You can write to him personally! Please include a real name if you would like your comments to be considered for publication.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:23 AM | Permalink

    The Cub Factor

    Another week and another week of Cub victories. The wins are coming easy these days. But as their lead in the division widens and the schedule grows shorter, Cub fans are in a strange predicament. Where's the drama? We need some soap operas about the bullpen, the rotation, Lou's lineups . . . anything. To that end, we here at The Cub Factor have put together a few tips to "increase the drama" as we head toward fall.

    * Tell your girlfriend that the next time the Cubs lose a series you'll propose to her.

    * Parlay the Cubs with the Bears the rest of the way.

    * Call in to sports radio stations claiming that the Cub season rests on the arm of Bob Howry and then try to argue your point.

    * Drink every time someone makes an out.

    * Bring your pet goat to a game at Wrigley and see what happens.

    * Watch games with the sound down and Dark Side of the Moon on to see if they sync up.

    * Start devising all the ways you could make money if the World Series comes to town.

    * Do the unthinkable and turn your attention to the White Sox.

    -

    Week in Review: The Cubs beat the living hell out of the Braves and took two of three from the Marlins to go 5-1 on a historically tough road trip.

    Week in Preview: The Cubs come home to play three against good old Dusty Baker and his godawful Reds team and then three more at home against the even-worse Nationals. Anything less than 6-0 will be a travesty.

    The Second Basemen Report: Six games this week split down the middle for starts by Mark DeRosa and Mighty Mike Fontenot. Of course, DeRosa played every other position as well as taking tickets and serving beer in the stands. Just like Jim Hendry drew it up.

    In former second basemen news, Dave Rosello needs to tend to his legacy. He is missed.

    The Zam Bomb: Even with a sweet mustache, Big Z is getting angry. He could go at any time.
    zam_furious.jpg

    Lost in Translation: Domo Areedgoto is Japanese for platooning with Reed Johnson.

    Sweet and Sour Lou: - 71% sweet, 29% Sour. Lou is up a staggering seven points on the Sweet-O-Meter due to winning on the road. And just like your real crazy drunk uncle, Lou is happy that you kids behaved yourself when he took you to Six Flags over the weekend. Because he really would have turned that car around if he'd heard a lot of yappin' in the backseat.

    Center Stage: Jim Edmonds started four games this week and Reed Johnson started two. They both bring different and needed things to the table. Like, if this was a barbeque, Jimmy would bring the ketchup and RJ would bring the tunes.

    The Cub Factor: Catch up with them all.

    Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by the The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that the Cubs should start printing playoff tickets.

    Over/Under: The number of games the Cubs will lose this week because they are the Cubs and should never be trusted: +/- 3.

    Mount Lou: Lou stays at level green. Birds, deer, and cute little bunnies have all returned to the once volatile surface of Mount Lou. And they should stay there for a while.

    mtlou_green.gif

    -

    Contact The Cub Factor!

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:36 AM | Permalink

    I Shot the Band: The Bluesbaby

    Band: Alicia V. (age 13), a.k.a The Bluesbaby

    Song: Born Under a Bad Sign

    YouTube Added Date: Aug. 13, 2008

    Shooter: Bluesbaby8

    Locale: Friday Night Live Festival, location unknown, possibly Downers Grove

    Video Quality: Good

    Sound Quality: Excellent

    Overall Beachwood Shaky-Cam Rating: 6 (out of 10)

    Comments: Up here in Minnesota, we thought our very own little Jonny Lang was young when he recorded his first blues album at age 15. Alicia V. probably isn't quite ready to give Jonny a run for his paper route money just yet. And she certainly isn't getting the attention of that kid in Wisconsin. But the Bluesbaby is a pretty good bluesman for a 13-year-old from the southwestern suburbs.

    Here's what I can tell from the clues I've been given and a little old-fashioned Internet detective work. The BB is in her school district's senior high jazz ensemble as an eighth-grader. She wears a bluesman's fedora. Her dad wears a jersey with "Chicago" written on it and is her roadie. She handles a guitar like someone who's been playing for 40 years. When she sings, "Hard luck and trouble been my only friend, I've been down ever since I was 10," it's kind of ironic because that was, like, three years ago.

    She's posted 10 songs from her "Friday Night Live" sidewalk set, where she wails on the axe, sings and plays to the accompaniment of a karaoke machine. Not only does she do Albert King's "Born Under a Bad Sign" included here, but she also picks it Chess-style on such classics as "Mustang Sally," "Sweet Home Chicago," "Every Day I Have the Blues," "Boom Boom" . . . the list goes on.

    On her YouTube page, there is also a video of Alicia V. performing with Fernando Jones at this year's Chicago Blues Fest. Fernando says he met the BB and her parents in Ludington, Michigan. And there's a priceless video of her performing a couple Stevie Ray Vaughn numbers at her junior high school talent contest. I'm guessing she might have beaten out the kid who juggled beanbags to the tune of "Golden Slumbers."

    Not that he didn't try hard, too, but I'm just sayin'.

    *
    The Bluesbaby/Born Under a Bad Sign

    -

    Previously in I Shot the Band:
    * Company of Thieves: At Welles Park covering OutKast.

    * Funhouse: At Kankakee County's famed fish fry.

    * Lady Tramaine Hawkins: High praise from the Pritzker Pavilion.

    * XSNRG: Transport yourself from Cermak & Harlem to that wondrous night in 1978 at the International Amphitheater.

    -

    Contact Don!

    Posted by Don Jacobson at 1:14 AM | Permalink

    August 16, 2008

    The Weekend Desk Report

    Study hard this weekend. There may be a "pop" quiz on Monday and we'd hate to see what happens if you don't make the grade.

    Market Update
    Talk is still cheap. Especially with walking still so costly.

    Summer Games
    It's week two of the Olympics, which means the tracking is heating up. Qualifiers in Verbal Gymnastics seem content to muddle along until the final. Meanwhile, the Marathon event has lost a major contender to freak injury.

    Legacy of Terror
    Meanwhile, outgoing Control Vault champion George W. Bush is hoping his recent performance in the 400 Meter Spy Relay will put his world record out of reach for generations to come.

    Chicago 2016
    Plans to bolster Chicago's Olympic bid took center stage this week. Not to be outdone by Beijing's swift and efficient deportation of any and all protesters, the CTA has announced that by 2016 it may be able to ship dissidents all the way to Skokie. Chicago officials also say they'll do more than simply upgrade the appearance of a little girl. Plans are already in place to "beautify" entire neighborhoods.

    London 2012
    Finally this week, British officials have moved to identify the biggest threats to domestic security ahead of that nation's Summer Games in 2012. However, containing this agents of terror has proved nearly impossible.

    Posted by Natasha Julius at 8:30 AM | Permalink

    August 15, 2008

    The [Friday] Papers

    1. In its coverage this morning of the city's budget crisis, the Sun-Times notes that Chicago has suffered a $4.5 million decrease in cigarette tax revenues this year as well as a $1.9 million decrease in gas tax revenue.

    In other news, the mayor announced a new pro-smoking, anti-biking campaign.

    2. A Buffalo Grove whistleblower has been awarded $56 million for his efforts.

    In other news, the mayor was spotted in the vicinity of Patrick Fitzgerald's office this morning.

    3. Ald. Tom Allen on the measures the city ought to take to solve the budget crisis: "We've got to stop, take a deep breath, count to ten and postpone some of these capital projects."

    Meanwhile, the Tribune notes that "O'Hare expansion is more than two years behind schedule, and the city is at least $300 million short of the money needed to complete the $3.2 billion first phase. And the airlines say they are in no position to help play for the vital second phase of the $15 billion project, which would provide the biggest gains in airport capacity."

    Boondoggle Air now loading!

    *

    "Privately, the airlines say it's only a matter of time until the city acknowledges it must scale back the project," Jon Hilkevitch reported last week.

    Hilkevitch adds that "O'Hare air-traffic controllers say the southern runway is the most important element of the project and should have been built first, along with jettisoning other parts that add to the cost but don't significantly help expand flights.

    "But in light of the financial challenges confronting the airlines and the economy, it may take years to build the southern runway, if it ever is built."

    *

    Alternate idea: The O'Hare waterpark!! Where the power never goes out.

    4. "[The mayor] reiterated his promise that no local taxpayer dollars would be used to put on the 2016 Olympics," the Tribune reports.

    Wait, haven't we put this delusion to rest already?

    5. "CEO 2016, citing a Chicago Urban League study, said more than 25,000 people in Atlanta were displaced by Olympic development there for the 1996 games," the Sun-Times reports.

    We'll displace 25,001!

    6. "Conventions feature hundreds of parties; one of the hottest tickets already is 'Chicago Night in Denver'," Lynn Sweet reports.

    A) Nobody nobody sent allowed in.
    B) Minorities and women allowed in only if they are white men.
    C) How convenient for Patrick Fitzgerald that all his suspects will be gathered together in the same room.

    7. "The taxpayer-funded Harold Washington Cultural Center stands in the heart of the Bronzeville neighborhood as a tribute to Chicago's first African American mayor. Fox News Chicago has learned the city is conducting an audit of the center's finances, amidst accusations that the family of a former Chicago alderman is running it into red ink. Dane Placko reports."

    *

    Dorothy Tillman will appear at the convention, by the way, on Machine Hacks I Endorsed Night. Er, I mean at that Chicago Night party.

    8. "Politically Connected Bidders Set Sights On Big Cleaning Deal."

    Announcing a new business model: The Beachwood Cleaning, Snow Removal and Landscaping Division.

    9. The city just announced that jaywalkers will have their legs booted after two violations.

    10. The city just announced a new campaign informing drivers that red lights mean "step on it" when cameras are present. Also, you should smoke more when you drive.

    11. "A recent admission by Chicago police spokesperson Monique Bond underscores the role that police policy and actions play in inadvertently stimulating more frequent and fierce gang violence in Chicago," Tracy Jake Siska writes at Chicago Justice. "The zeal with which the Chicago Police Department has gone after street corner gangs in the past has, according to spokesperson Bond, contributed greatly to the increase in deadly violence."

    12. "I'm so angry that I don't know where to direct my anger. I've fervently supported Obama's campaign up until now, having just donated to his campaign again last week, but I'm not sending him another dime until I see some evidence that he's willing to take a principled stand against this kind of bigotry. If Obama won't stand up to the flimsiest of accusations linking someone in his campaign, however remotely and ridiculously, to terrorists, then I'm not sure what he'll stand up against. I realize this kind of feckless approach worked so well for Michael Dukakis and John Kerry, Barack, but could you act like a man for once and grow a pair? Maybe Hillary will lend you hers."

    13. The Night Chicago And This Song Died.

    -

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Glory be.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:40 AM | Permalink

    The Five Dumbest Ideas of The Week

    1. The tabs are saying that Lindsay Lohan is flirting with the idea of converting to Judaism, the religion of her main squeeze. Which is fine by us, as long as she pays her dues. We've always thought that converts ought to have their faith tested the same way ours was during childhood - by eating Grandma's dreaded cholent, forgoing Christmas presents and - last but not least - having a humiliating theme bat mitzvah.

    2. You say you love Michael Phelps but do you mean it? Prove your devotion by bidding $20,000 on eBay for an autographed painting of Michael dashing to the finish line. If that's a little steep, you can choose a replica of his Speedo bathing cap for $19.99.

    3. Scratch an insomniac and you'll find an infomercial connoisseur. Up until recently, we had to content ourselves with paranoid pitches by Kevin Trudeau and that weird ponytail guy who sells colon cleansers. Now, however, Barack Obama is using infomercials to get out his message of hope and change. Frankly, we just want to know if he can clear up our skin and improve our sex life.

    4. This is just sacrilege. On the other hand, Conan the Barbarian could only be improved by bringing back its original star and having him subdue armies of civil servants by freezing their paychecks.

    5. The Step-n-Pull may be God's gift to OCDs who are fearful of touching restroom doorknobs. The device is a metal plate that attaches to the bottom of the door so you can open and close the door with your foot. We always make a point of bringing along a robotic arm for just such occasions.

    -

    Stephanie B. Goldberg brings you the Five Dumbest Ideas of the Week every Friday.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:27 AM | Permalink

    August 14, 2008

    The [Thursday] Papers

    Follow the bouncing budget ball.

    1. "Last week, union leaders said they would hold off on matching the unpaid furlough days and canceled pay raises impacting the city's nonunion employees until Daley comes clean about the deficit and spells out how many union jobs are at stake and how many might be saved with each unpaid day off," Fran Spielman reported on Wednesday

    "On Tuesday, a Daley adviser did just that."

    No, on Tuesday a Daley adviser anonymously threatened the unions through a compliant reporter, almost assuredly after a meeting of the mayor's communications strategy.

    "The source pegged the 2009 deficit at somewhere between $400 million and $450 million - exceeding the figure previously disclosed by the Sun-Times."

    How convenient.

    2. "The Daley administration has tripled the number of crews assigned to shut off water to delinquent Chicago customers in response to a 70 percent increase in water scofflaws over the last year," Spielman also reported on Tuesday.

    That estimate comes from a water department spokesman with no data behind it cited.

    "He offered no estimate on the amount of money owed."

    So there's really no way of knowing if there indeed has been a 70 percent increase in water scofflaws.

    Send a message, call Fran Spielman. Cheaper than Western Union.

    3. "Chicago has a $425 million budget gap that will require a 'paradigm shift' in services the city provides, the way they are delivered and the number of employees and agencies responsible, top mayoral aides told organized labor on Wednesday," Spielman reports today.

    "In a closed-door meeting with 40 union leaders, Mayor Daley's chief-of-staff Lori Healey, Chief Financial Officer Paul Volpe and Intergovernmental Affairs Director John Dunn promised that redundant layers of middle management would share the burden of employee layoffs.

    "Healey promised to leave 'no stone unturned' and solicited labor's help in identifying 'waste and inefficiency'."

    As opposed to the last time the mayor put together a budget?

    4. "Despite a budget deficit estimated in the hundreds of millions of dollars, the Daley administration is giving raises for 50 politically appointed Streets and Sanitation ward superintendents," the Trib's Dan Mihalopoulos reports.

    "The move angered labor leaders, who have been told by the administration that unionized city workers must make sacrifices - or even face layoffs - to balance City Hall's budget."

    Here's the best part:

    "The pay increases for the ward superintendents will be put into effect retroactively from Jan. 1, according to a memo sent by the mayor's Streets and Sanitation commissioner, Michael Picardi."

    Pander Bear
    "If you're a senior citizen and make less than $50,000 a year, Barack Obama has a deal for you: the rest of your life free of federal income tax," AP reports.

    "Sounds appealing, right? Maybe to many seniors. But tax policy experts in Washington are giving it bad reviews. They see it as another subsidy for senior citizens, who already get federal help through Social Security and Medicare and often have economic advantages over other demographic groups."

    Maybe Obama should offer free bus rides instead.

    Private Sector
    "Two-thirds of U.S. corporations paid no federal income taxes between 1998 and 2005, according to a new report from Congress," AP reports.

    And half of them were owned by Sam Zell.

    Age of Fake
    "But few people seem riled by the switcheroo."

    Then why is this a front-page story?

    "Does anyone care if it's real anymore?"

    I know! It's not like the old days, when game shows were fixed, FDR's legs worked, JFK was a faithful husband, payola ruled the charts, cigarettes were good for you and Rock Hudson was heterosexual.

    Memo to Kanye
    Shouldn't they be Phatburgers?

    Irony Institute
    Check out the featured guest speakers at the bottom of the brochure.

    Homeward Bound
    Carol Marin recalls that Jesse Jackson once said "My constituency is the desperate, the damned, the disinherited, the disrespected and the despised."

    A) So is my readership.
    B) So is my dating pool.

    Dummo
    "Dog stays by dead owner's side for 6 weeks."

    The report calls this "an amazing display of loyalty."

    What else could the dog do, hire a lawyer to tidy up the estate? Pack up and leave the keys under the mat? Call the next of kin?

    Arenda's Benda
    "But Troutman told reporters she only knew Jehan as a businessman."

    Well, she did say she was a ho.

    Summer Rerun
    "Donna Brazile: Old GOP tactics won't work vs. Obama."

    A) Why is the paper re-running a column from 2004?
    B) Why is the paper re-running a column from 2000?
    C) Why is the paper re-running a column from 1988?

    Gov. Baloneyvich
    "I didn't become a Democrat because some Chicago boss knocked on my door and offered me a job."

    That's for suckers. I married the alderman's daughter instead.

    Pro Bone You
    "From KEVIN ALLMAN: Phil Rosenthal's story on Arianna Huffington's foray into the local blogging market included this line: 'Writers work pro bono.'

    "'Pro bono' means 'for the public good.' What Rosenthal should've said is that Huffington wants writers to work for free so she can sell ads around their work. That ain't the public good. That ain't good, period.

    "The Huffington Post has been a winning formula, because it gives platforms to Huffington's D.C. and L.A. buddies who need vanity exposure more than they need money. But when she comes into communities and applies the same formula, there's another word for that formula, and it's exploitation.

    "It's hard for me to take any 'progressive' site seriously that expects people to work for free while the founders make money. At least Wal-Mart pays minimum wage."

    Like everyone else and their dog in Chicago, I've been asked to contribute to the new Chicago version of Huffington Post - for free.

    So let me get this straight. Arianna Huffington is incredibly rich and you want me to work for free to make her richer? And to help her put me out of business? Let me think about this while eating my ramen dinner and reading Arianna's latest post about how the Republicans don't care about working people.

    How about this? If Arianna writes for me for free, I'll write for her.

    Not Dead Yet
    The late John Stroger has more than $1.5 million in his campaign fund, placing him 14th between congresswoman Melissa Bean and congressman John Shimkus on the Sun-Times rankings.

    Stroger reportedly is the Democratic Central Committee's choice to replace his son.

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Bono free.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:58 AM | Permalink

    Big in Japan: Charisma Man

    The release of The Dark Knight in Japan has me thinking about superheroes. Every culture has them, whether they come from ancient Vedic texts or faded dusty scrolls. Heroes are often social commentaries about life, society and morality.

    After walking out of the Piccadilly Cinema in Shinjuku with the events of a Chicago-tinged Gotham City fresh in my memory, I started thinking about Japanese superheroes. There are too many to mention, but the most famous in the States are the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Pokemon and Ultraman. Take into account hundreds of Japanese anime movies (Akira, Ghost in the Machine, etc.) and many more thousands of manga anime comic books, and there are quite a few to choose from here.

    In this installment of BiJ, however, I shall refrain from delving into the Japanese superhero and instead discuss a different, and much more mundane 'hero' that is truly unique to this country.

    Who is this (not so) masked man?

    It's Charisma Man.

    Charisma.jpg

    Charisma Man is a comic book character created in the late 1990's by a pair of Canadian expats working for the now defunct Alien magazine. His mythology is loosely based on Superman and his power is his ability to impress and pick up Japanese women.

    In his home country of Canada, Charisma Man is a burger-flipping 98-pound weakling who can't get a date to save his scrawny life. But when he travels to the mysterious Japanese Archipelago, his muscles bulge, his jaw squares, his quaff flares and his confidence soars. He is Charisma Man (or as he says in the comic strip, "Watashi wa CHARISMA MAN DESU!"). Of course, his powers fade whenever his archnemesis, Western Woman, enters the picture.

    What is noteworthy about Charisma Man is that he is based on the very real subculture of white expats living in Japan. I can speak from experience; these people do exist.

    Much like the "hot chicks with douchebags" phenomenon in the States, Charisma Man defies all previously held social stereotypes and makes us all say, "WTF!"

    They are found all over Tokyo. Although the metropolitan area boasts a population of nearly 35 million people, Tokyo itself has a relatively small population of about 50,000 American citizens.

    It is a strange thing walking down the street seeing a guy who would be generally perceived as a dork in America walking down the street with a beautiful Japanese woman on his arm. It is even stranger to walk into a club and see a skinny, dorky guy with two or three Japanese girls clinging to him and fawning over every one of the broken Japanese words he utters.

    Something about the "geek" does not translate culturally. Interestingly, whenever I see these guys, I can't help but imagine the wannabes on Rush Street after a long night of pathetic drinking. Somehow I doubt that the Chicago women would respond to them in quite the same way.

    I asked a few Japanese women about the Charisma Man phenomenon and I was met mostly with blank stares. One friend of mine, however, did offer some insight. "There is an expression in Japanese, which I am not quite sure how to translate into English," he said. "Basically, here in Japan, just like anywhere else, there are some that Japanese men don't want to date. We let the foreigners go out with these women."

    His feeling was that many foreigners date the women that would be otherwise considered "undatable" from a normal Japanese man's perspective. Why are they undatable? Supposedly they are a little "off" and sometimes it is simply their infatuation with foreign guys that alienates them from Japanese men. Sometimes, too, they are not quite what Japanese men look for in a woman (whatever that may be).

    When I quizzed a former co-worker of mine about the Charisma Man, he said that some Japanese girls go out looking specifically for a foreign boyfriend. He added that often these girls have struck out with Japanese men and feel that a foreign guy is the only way to go. I have encountered these women as well. Sometimes they are pretty obvious about their aims and tend to carry around a lot of baggage.

    There are different types of expatriates in Tokyo. There are some, like yours truly, who ventured to Japan for a job and to learn about the culture and language. There also bankers and high rollers who came here for the action and/or high-paying gigs with large Japanese or foreign companies.

    The stereotype of Charisma Man often is with a third group of foreigners, those who have come here as English teachers. Of course, not all of them fall into the Charisma Man classification. But many who do are in Japan because they have washed out at home socially and professionally, or they came here for an adventure and realized that they did better away from home. Add an Asian fetish on top, and you have the perfect recipe for an expatriate superhero.

    The truth is that Charisma Man is alive and well, and he is prowling the streets of Tokyo. He looks harmless and yes, even weak, but he has something that many in the city want: a hot girlfriend.

    Christian Bale declared himself something between a hero and something else in the latest Batman movie. Depending on how you look at it, Charisma Man too is either a hero or an anathema.

    Call him the "White Knight" of this Asian Gotham.

    -

    -

    Previously in Big in Japan:
    * Not Fukudome
    * The Yokohama Cubs
    * The Chicago Way
    * Not The Olympics

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:07 AM | Permalink

    August 13, 2008

    The [Wednesday] Papers

    This reporter is attending to business this morning. The Beachwood will return on Thursday.

    The [Tuesday] Papers
    "A 7-year-old Chinese girl was not good-looking enough for the Olympics opening ceremony, so another little girl with a pixie smile lip-synched 'Ode to the Motherland,' a ceremony official said - the latest example of the lengths Beijing took for a perfect start to the Summer Games," AP reports.

    "A member of China's Politburo asked for the last-minute change to match one girl's face with another's voice, the ceremony's chief music director, Chen Qigang, said in an interview with Beijing Radio.

    "'The audience will understand that it's in the national interest,' Chen said in a video of the interview posted online Sunday night."

    This would never happen in America!

    "The news follows reports that some footage of the fireworks exploding across China's capital during the ceremony was digitally inserted into television coverage, apparently over concerns that not all of the 29 blasts could be captured on camera."

    This would never happen in America!

    Opening Ceremonies
    "Emerging technologies that threaten to destroy the current paradigm can have precisely the opposite effect. Remember when VCRs and then DVDs were going to lay waste to the movie industry and ended up saving it instead? The Web leaks of entertainment that NBC bought and paid for served as a kind of trailer for the real thing," David Carr writes in the New York Times.

    "On Saturday, Mr. Stelter's wonderful article in The New York Times on how people were working around the blackout on the Olympic ceremony began as a post on Twitter seeking consumer experiences, then jumped onto his blog, TV Decoder, caught the attention of editors who wanted it expanded for the newspaper and ended up on Page One, jammed with insight and with plenty of examples from real human experience."

    *

    The Beachwood looks ahead to Chicago's opening ceremonies in 2016.

    Pay Raise Politics
    "With lawmakers returning to Springfield this week, Illinois Senate President Emil Jones said on Monday that he is considering placing a controversial pay raise for legislators up for a vote," the Tribune reports.

    "'That's a great possibility,' the Chicago Democrat said during an appearance in Chicago, adding that he will consult with his Democratic colleagues before deciding."

    That statement is at odds with state Sen. Susan Garrett's claim last night on Chicago Tonight that Jones "promised me he would get it called."

    State Sen. Donne Trotter also appeared on Carol Marin's panel, and if you haven't put Trotter on your list of Worst People in Chicago, do it now.

    Trotter launched his performance by stating that legislators hadn't had a pay raise since 1999. In fact, they get automatic cost-of-living increases - and if I understood what was said last night, their last one was 3.5 percent.

    "We shouldn't forget that we're public servants," Garrett said. "We should put the interests of the state first."

    Garrett said the average state worker makes $54,000 a year. Illinois lawmakers make $66,000 - for a part-time job. The proposed pay raise would lift that figure to $73,000. And of course, "leadership" makes six figures.

    "I think we deserve it," Trotter said. "We work hard."

    How hard can it be to do what Emil Jones tells you to do?

    "These jobs are not guaranteed," Trotter said (after noting that he did not have an opponent in the upcoming election).

    As opposed to the jobs that are guaranteed?

    Trotter said that his colleagues who oppose the pay raise simply shouldn't take the money, as if they have no other responsibility over the allocation of taxpayer funds.

    I have another idea: If you don't like your salary, go get another job.

    Self-Regard
    "My conscience remains the same," Jones told the Trib.

    Meaning it's still missing in action.

    "I have members of my caucus who are single parents who feel very strongly they deserve a pay raise."

    A) What about members of your senate district? You work for them, not your caucus.

    B) Taxpayers should subsidize single lawmakers?

    C) Married members don't deserve the raise?

    Dunkin' Donuts
    "The governor, who has been making more frequent public appearances recently after curtailing them the past two years as the federal probe deepened and investigative newspaper stories dropped, also mulled a new way to raise money for his long-stalled statewide construction program: a trip to the dunk tank," the Trib notes.

    From "Blago's Special Session" in the Beachwood:

    "Fundraising idea: Dunk the governor! This would come close to closing the budget gap."

    Political Pushback
    "Obama tries to turn 'celebrity' label on McCain."

    Compares him to Ali Lohan.

    Central Committee Time
    "Beijing is 13 hours ahead of Chicago."

    Daley will fix that once he gets back home.

    Olympic Excuse
    "As one audience member put it in a question to [University of Chicago economist Allen] Sanderson, 'Don't you agree that throwing a party can be an impetus to clean up the house?'" the Chicago Weekly reports.

    "'I don't think anyone ever had a party on a Saturday night because they wanted to clean up the house,' replied Sanderson, who argued that while the Olympics might leave behind a legacy of improvements, it would be more prudent to simply spend the money on those projects now. For example, if Chicago's bid is successful (as all panelists seem to agree was highly likely), an empty truck parking lot near McCormick Place will become the Olympic Village and then, after 2016, a new public housing complex; but if we want the housing complex, why not just build it now? Sanderson argued that the question we should be asking is 'We have a plan; how do the Olympics fit in?' rather than 'How can we benefit from hosting the Olympics?' Furthermore, he rejected the pro-Olympic argument that much of the financial backing for the games would be provided by contributions from the private sector; after all, each philanthropist who donates money to make the Olympics happen isn't donating that money to another worthy cause such as a charity."

    Help Tequila
    "Tequila Mockingbird, paralyzed from the neck down eleven months ago in a Windy City Rollers bout, has taken her first steps!!!" the team reports.

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Staying gold.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:24 AM | Permalink

    August 12, 2008

    The [Tuesday] Papers

    "A 7-year-old Chinese girl was not good-looking enough for the Olympics opening ceremony, so another little girl with a pixie smile lip-synched 'Ode to the Motherland,' a ceremony official said - the latest example of the lengths Beijing took for a perfect start to the Summer Games," AP reports.

    "A member of China's Politburo asked for the last-minute change to match one girl's face with another's voice, the ceremony's chief music director, Chen Qigang, said in an interview with Beijing Radio.

    "'The audience will understand that it's in the national interest,' Chen said in a video of the interview posted online Sunday night."

    This would never happen in America!

    "The news follows reports that some footage of the fireworks exploding across China's capital during the ceremony was digitally inserted into television coverage, apparently over concerns that not all of the 29 blasts could be captured on camera."

    This would never happen in America!

    Opening Ceremonies
    "Emerging technologies that threaten to destroy the current paradigm can have precisely the opposite effect. Remember when VCRs and then DVDs were going to lay waste to the movie industry and ended up saving it instead? The Web leaks of entertainment that NBC bought and paid for served as a kind of trailer for the real thing," David Carr writes in the New York Times.

    "On Saturday, Mr. Stelter's wonderful article in The New York Times on how people were working around the blackout on the Olympic ceremony began as a post on Twitter seeking consumer experiences, then jumped onto his blog, TV Decoder, caught the attention of editors who wanted it expanded for the newspaper and ended up on Page One, jammed with insight and with plenty of examples from real human experience."

    *

    The Beachwood looks ahead to Chicago's opening ceremonies in 2016.

    Pay Raise Politics
    "With lawmakers returning to Springfield this week, Illinois Senate President Emil Jones said on Monday that he is considering placing a controversial pay raise for legislators up for a vote," the Tribune reports.

    "'That's a great possibility,' the Chicago Democrat said during an appearance in Chicago, adding that he will consult with his Democratic colleagues before deciding."

    That statement is at odds with state Sen. Susan Garrett's claim last night on Chicago Tonight that Jones "promised me he would get it called."

    State Sen. Donne Trotter also appeared on Carol Marin's panel, and if you haven't put Trotter on your list of Worst People in Chicago, do it now.

    Trotter launched his performance by stating that legislators hadn't had a pay raise since 1999. In fact, they get automatic cost-of-living increases - and if I understood what was said last night, their last one was 3.5 percent.

    "We shouldn't forget that we're public servants," Garrett said. "We should put the interests of the state first."

    Garrett said the average state worker makes $54,000 a year. Illinois lawmakers make $66,000 - for a part-time job. The proposed pay raise would lift that figure to $73,000. And of course, "leadership" makes six figures.

    "I think we deserve it," Trotter said. "We work hard."

    How hard can it be to do what Emil Jones tells you to do?

    "These jobs are not guaranteed," Trotter said (after noting that he did not have an opponent in the upcoming election).

    As opposed to the jobs that are guaranteed?

    Trotter said that his colleagues who oppose the pay raise simply shouldn't take the money, as if they have no other responsibility over the allocation of taxpayer funds.

    I have another idea: If you don't like your salary, go get another job.

    Self-Regard
    "My conscience remains the same," Jones told the Trib.

    Meaning it's still missing in action.

    "I have members of my caucus who are single parents who feel very strongly they deserve a pay raise."

    A) What about members of your senate district? You work for them, not your caucus.

    B) Taxpayers should subsidize single lawmakers?

    C) Married members don't deserve the raise?

    Dunkin' Donuts
    "The governor, who has been making more frequent public appearances recently after curtailing them the past two years as the federal probe deepened and investigative newspaper stories dropped, also mulled a new way to raise money for his long-stalled statewide construction program: a trip to the dunk tank," the Trib notes.

    From "Blago's Special Session" in the Beachwood:

    "Fundraising idea: Dunk the governor! This would come close to closing the budget gap."

    Political Pushback
    "Obama tries to turn 'celebrity' label on McCain."

    Compares him to Ali Lohan.

    Central Committee Time
    "Beijing is 13 hours ahead of Chicago."

    Daley will fix that once he gets back home.

    Olympic Excuse
    "As one audience member put it in a question to [University of Chicago economist Allen] Sanderson, 'Don't you agree that throwing a party can be an impetus to clean up the house?'" the Chicago Weekly reports.

    "'I don't think anyone ever had a party on a Saturday night because they wanted to clean up the house,' replied Sanderson, who argued that while the Olympics might leave behind a legacy of improvements, it would be more prudent to simply spend the money on those projects now. For example, if Chicago's bid is successful (as all panelists seem to agree was highly likely), an empty truck parking lot near McCormick Place will become the Olympic Village and then, after 2016, a new public housing complex; but if we want the housing complex, why not just build it now? Sanderson argued that the question we should be asking is 'We have a plan; how do the Olympics fit in?' rather than 'How can we benefit from hosting the Olympics?' Furthermore, he rejected the pro-Olympic argument that much of the financial backing for the games would be provided by contributions from the private sector; after all, each philanthropist who donates money to make the Olympics happen isn't donating that money to another worthy cause such as a charity."

    Help Tequila
    "Tequila Mockingbird, paralyzed from the neck down eleven months ago in a Windy City Rollers bout, has taken her first steps!!!" the team reports.

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Staying gold.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:50 AM | Permalink

    Chicago's Opening Ceremonies

    The Beachwood staff was so impressed with the opening ceremonies in Beijing on Friday that we got to thinking what the opening ceremonies would be like in Chicago in 2016.

    * The mayor's patronage army performs an intricately synchronized dance mimicking the exchange of cash and the occasional federal sacrifice who "stands up" and keeps his mouth shut. In its final arrangement, the army executes a giant eye-wink.

    * Red-light cameras and blue-light cameras loaned to ceremonies along with illegal Indiana fireworks and the police department's new M-4s in a tribute to the security state. Ends with the city blowing up Bensenville.

    * At the conclusion of the ceremonies, everyone is instructed to look under their seat to discover they've been gifted a pair of Oprah Winfrey's favorite cozy flannel pajamas.

    * A re-enactment of the arrival of LaSalle and the subsequent murder of savages.

    * A re-enactment of the LaSalle Street TIF.

    * The 1995 heat wave set to a moving score, with animated body bags on wires floating around the stadium.

    * The cryogenically frozen 1985 Chicago Bears are brought back to life to perform the Olympic Funding Shuffle.

    * The cryogencially frozen 1985 Chicago Bears are not brought back to life, they are just hung on wires floating around the stadium.

    * David Copperfield makes dissenters disappear.

    * Illuminated cow burns entire fucking city to the ground. How you like them pyrotechnics, Beijing?!

    * St. Valentines Day Massacre re-creation starring the Olympic rifle athletes.

    * The Jesse White Tumblers bounce on gigantic trampoline to light the Olympic torch. The trampoline, inspected by a young Friend of Todd, collapses. Tumblers burn instead.

    * Chicago River re-reversed.

    * Chocolate covered doves released to represent the candy makers all fleeing Chicago.

    * All vehicles within three miles of the ceremonies are towed for failure to apply for boot permits.

    * Ceremonies end with Richard M. Daley crowned Master of his Domain.

    - Julia Gray, Rick Kaempfer, Marilyn Ferdinand, Natasha Julius, Kathryn Ware, Steve Rhodes

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:58 AM | Permalink

    SportsTuesday

    I love swimming. Competitive swimming that is. And bear with me here because a little personal history will eventually dovetail satisfactorily with recent sporting events, I promise. It all started with the fact that my dad was particularly fond of the sport and he cruised through the pools at impressive speeds all through college. My parents signed my brother and I up when we were little for the swim team at the Jane Addams Center Hull House in Lakeview, the community center located just north of Belmont on the west side of Broadway. Incidentally, Hull House closed a decade or so ago and now has been converted into a giant gym. It's just what the neighborhood needed of course - there's at least one other gym on that block of Broadway, let alone the dozen or so more located within the surrounding half-square mile.

    Beachwood Baseball:
  • The Cub Factor
  • The White Sox Report
  • Nat and I learned to swim in the warm, 20-yard pool in the basement. And we competed in age-group meets, ones that managed to last only a couple hours, as opposed to the nightmare youth-swimming competitions they put on now, which often last entire weekends. Later, one of the best things to happen to me at St. Ignatius was being cut from the basketball team my freshman year. I then went out for swimming and avoided four years of not just sitting on the bench but sitting at the very end of the bench. The competitions were great but the training . . . let's just say I was thoroughly sick of it by the end of my senior season.

    After I went to Haverford College in small part because it didn't even have a pool (they can't hold a practice if there isn't a pool), I continued to follow swimming first through my brother, who was a better swimmer than I (and a water polo star), and then through our slightly younger first cousins, who moved to the western suburbs when they were in high school and who won state championships at Hinsdale Central. And of course we all followed USA Swimming whenever the occasion warranted.

    Shortly after I came back to Chicago, I started covering sports, first as a stringer for area dailies and eventually as a full-timer for Pioneer Press based in Glenview. Fortunately there were always a few swimmers at the high schools I covered who were good enough to make it to the state finals. So for 10 years in a row I had a front-row vantage point for the best swimming in Illinois.

    It is safe to say, I've watched a great deal of swimming. And when I say Sunday night's Olympic 400 free relay final was the best race I've ever seen, I do not do so lightly.

    * * *

    Of course the details have already been covered in the many, many media outlets featuring wall-to-wall coverage. But they bear repeating, relentlessly. Going into the overblown, overwrought, overdone Olympics (which are also often utterly compelling), the by-far best individual story line was Michael Phelps' quest for eight gold medals (one more than Mark Spitz's record-setting haul way back in the 70s. It was an individual story line but it would also hinge not only on Phelps' individual brilliance, which he again proved immediately with a dominating, world-record setting performance in the 400 individual medley the night before, but also on three sets of teammates (his teammates in the relays).

    And the first test of those teammates came in the 400 free relay. So not only was Phelps' quest completely on the line but so was USA swimming pride. The 400 freestyle and medley relays are the most prestigious events at any big swim meet. It means a ton to a team to pull them out. The U.S. dominated the 400 free relay for the first 40 years of Olympic swimming competition but faltered in 2000 and again in 2004.

    And then there was the trash-talking. Frenchman Alain Bernard, the world-record holder in the 100 freestyle going into the Olympics, said in an interview published on the eve of the relay in question that his team, which was a sizable favorite, would "smash" the Americans.

    The Americans set a new world record in preliminary competition but virtually everyone agreed that the French were still the favorites to win. And nothing that happened in the first three legs of the race did anything to change that. The Americans needed to build up a lead in the first three 100-meter legs big enough for anchor man Jason Lezak to hold off the speedier Bernard. Phelps swam the first and established a small lead but teammates Garrett Weber-Gale and Cullen Jones couldn't hold it. So Lezak faced the seemingly impossible task of swimming down the guy who had been the fastest 100-meter man going into the Games.

    Lezak, a veteran and the captain of the overall US swim team this year, had been a part of the disappointing relay efforts in 2000 and 2004. He hadn't been at his best at the Olympic Trials last month. He had a shot at redemption but it could hardly have been longer. He dove in almost a full body-length behind.

    I have heard swimming analysts speak about trying to swim in the wake of other swimmers with small leads by moving over to the edge of the lane and "riding the wave" that comes off of them, but I really don't ever remember a swimmer even coming close to executing the strategy as well as Lezak did against Bernard. He pulled up to three-quarters of a body-length behind early in the final leg and then held on into the turn and then out of it. In the final 30 meters or so he pulled within half a body-length and then a quarter but with 10 meters to go it seemed certain he wouldn't make it the rest of the way. Then with one, final, unbelievable surge he shot past Bernard, beating him by less than .1 of a second for the gold.

    * * *

    This column can't be all happy, happy, joy, joy. There is nothing to be said about Jerry Angelo's drafting of left tackle Chris Williams other than, What a debacle. The news was out there on draft day last spring. Williams was falling down draft boards because of concerns about potential back and neck issues. One of the reporters on the NFL Network took to the airwaves, for goodness sake, and reported the news for all to absorb.

    But Angelo and the Bears decided to ignore the intelligence that was right there for them. They took Williams with their first-round pick and not only pronounced him absolutely and completely healthy, they also made it clear that he would be the linchpin in the remaking of their offensive line, a line that had faltered badly during last year's disappointing season. Left tackle, after all, is usually the most important position on the line. He protects the right-handed quarterback's blind side.

    The Bears also drafted Williams despite the fact that five, count 'em, five other tackles were deemed good enough by their NFL brethren to be drafted later in the first round. And sure enough, in the first hour of training camp, Williams aggravated his back. After blathering on about a muscle strain for double-digit days, the Bears finally acknowledged on the eve of their first exhibition game last Thursday that Williams needed back surgery on a herniated disc. No matter what Jerry and his minions say about their left tackle's immediate future, he almost certainly is out for the season. And the Bears offensive line, the foundation for everything on that side of the ball, is in complete disarray.

    -

    Jim Coffman appears in this space every Monday with the best sports wrap-up in the city. Except on occasion when he appears on Tuesday. You can write to him personally! Please include a real name if you would like your comments to be considered for publication.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:53 AM | Permalink

    August 11, 2008

    The White Sox Report

    If you watched the White Sox this past week, you noticed something familiar: Carlos Quentin was rather awesome. But his four homers in the last six games aren't all that surprising. Quentin has been the best hitter in the American League all year long, and as the season starts to wind down, his numbers look even more eye-popping. At his current pace, Quentin will hit 43 home runs. You can expect him to finish with over 120 RBI as well, and post one of the highest OPS' in White Sox history.

    Beachwood Baseball:
  • The Cub Factor
  • SportsMonday will appear on Tuesday this week.
  • And that got me thinking, how many players would you rather start a team with than Quentin? Age is certainly a factor in this equation, and at 25, Q! has time on his side. Sure, a lot of baseball superstars are more established, and Quentin has just started his career. But anyone who thinks he may be a one-year wonder hasn't done their homework. Quentin was always supposed to be really good. After being a first-round draft pick in 2003, Quentin OPS'd over .900 in four minor-league seasons. His failures early in his career as a Diamondback were largely a mixture of bad luck, injuries, and adjusting to life in the majors at a very young age. I'm confident that this is just the start for him.

    So say baseball had one massive draft where every player in the league was available. How high would Quentin go? I think we can immediately rule out any player 33 or older, which means Ichiro, Manny Ramirez, and Derek Jeter are out of the equation. There are a few other things to factor in here though, like defense. As a mediocre left fielder, Quentin is less valuable than a slick-fielding shortstop or centerfielder. The most important aspect of baseball will always be pitching, so those guys get top priority as well.

    Still, a 25-year old corner outfielder OPS'ing around 1.000 is nearly as valuable as any player in baseball.

    When I ran through the roster of every team, I found Quentin to be in higher demand than most of the best players on each team. I placed him around 30 in baseball's best, behind guys like Ryan Braun, Tim Lincecum, and, of course, Alex Rodriguez, but ahead of people like Aramis Ramirez.

    Any way you spin it, that's not bad for a player who was traded for a 21-year old single-A first baseman.

    -

    Week in Review: Was Contreras' season ending injury the best thing or the worst thing to happen to the Sox this season? It depends how you feel about Horacio Ramirez.

    Week in Preview: As the Sox enter Tuesday with only a half-game division lead, a four-game series against Kansas City becomes one of the most important the team has played all year.

    Fields on the Farm: I have no idea what to make of Josh Fields' White Sox future. One year, he's smacking homers all over the place as a rookie, the next he finds himself starting in AAA then being called up only to find himself sitting in favor of Juan Uribe.

    The Missile Tracker: Though Alexei only homered once this week, he still picked up a hit in six of his last seven games. As if that wasn't enough, Yahoo mentioned Ramirez as having one of baseball's best nicknames.

    Over/Under: 4. The number of times Carlos Quentin has been hit by a pitch the last four games.

    Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The White Sox Report staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that Gavin Floyd immediately regrets his pre-season bet.

    The White Sox Report: Read 'em all.

    -

    Comments welcome. Please include a real name if want to be considered for publication.

    -

    Ricky O'Donnell is the proprietor of Tremendous Upside Potential , a contributor to the Sun-Times's Full Court Press and a lot of other things.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:35 AM | Permalink

    The [Monday] Papers

    I truthfully never paid any attention to Bernie Mac, and in fact I assumed he wasn't very funny at all because he struck me as just another mediocre TV sitcom comic, but when he first got sick I asked a friend whose judgement I respect and she told me that, no, he was actually really good.

    I can't speak to that and I won't pretend I was a fan. But reading through the tributes and obits, I wish now I had paid closer attention.

    *

    "Born Bernard Jeffery McCullough in a poor part of Chicago, he vowed to become a comedian after witnessing his single mother cry with laughter when watching Bill Cosby on television," the London Independent writes. "'I came from a place where there wasn't a lot of joy,' he said in 2001. 'I decided to try and make other people laugh when there wasn't a lot of things to laugh about.'

    "However, his first attempts to entertain his friends and family backfired. 'My first monologue that I did, eight years old, I got a spanking,' he recalled. 'I used to mimic people. I was mimicking my grandmother and my grandfather at the dinner table.' Despite the punishment, he said, 'I was so into the joke, I did it again. That's how dedicated I was to the joke. It started then.'"

    *

    AP Report: Stars Pay Homage

    Bad Mother
    I have a little more familiarity with Isaac Hayes. Damn right.

    *

    Song of the Moment: Theme From Shaft.

    Olympic Opening
    "The scope, precision and beauty of the production were, you will agree, astonishing," Roger Ebert writes.

    The regulars at the Beachwood certainly agree. We were pretty frickin' amazed.

    "What other Olympics will have a $300 million budget for the ceremony?"

    Uh, wait, don't answer that.

    "Certainly this was the most expensive theatrical spectacle in history."

    I suppose that could be true, I really don't know. But man . . . it was really something. The only government I can think of that could top it is the Obama campaign.

    Honest John Edwards
    Exclusive video! See what he told Citizen Kate.

    *

    Keep Kate on the trail!

    Cop Chop
    "Chicago Police officers will no longer be paid overtime to attend monthly beat meetings or community policing functions in a budget-cutting move that, critics warn, could put the 15-year-old program 'on life support'," the Sun-Times reports.

    Students of community policing - you know, like police reporters ought to be - know that Chicago has never truly had community policing, and the fact that attending beat meetings required overtime is just the latest factoid revealing the lack of commitment to a strategy exploited for public relations purposes not doing a better job of protecting and serving the, um, community.

    "The Rev. Albert Tyson, pastor of St. Stephen A.M.E. Church, 3050 W. Washington, called the ban on CAPS-related overtime 'another indication that they're backing off community policing' as a law enforcement tool."

    The key word there is "another," though it's hard to back off something that was never actually entered into in the first place.

    Fake Trend Addiction
    The Sun-Times "reports" that the "top five obsessions of those addicted to the Internet" are pornography, role-playing games, shopping, gambling, and chatting.

    My guess is that it's not the Internet that folks are addicted to, it's activities like pornography and gambling. In other words, if you could take drugs online, that would be a drug addiction, not an Internet addiction.

    A Cop and His Chair
    Our very own Kathryn Ware is back with the second in a series looking back at the TV classic Ironside. She really put a smile on my face this morning.

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Wheels up.


    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:20 AM | Permalink

    Ironside: Message From Beyond

    Our look back on Ironside continues.

    *

    Airdate: 14 September 1967

    Title: Message From Beyond

    Plot: It looks like an inside job when $175,000 is stolen from a horseracing track. Good thing Robert T. Ironside and his team of three (police officers Eve Whitefield and Ed Brown and the Chief's bodyguard/driver Mark) just happen to be enjoying one of their semi-regular afternoons at the track when the power goes out and the cash is taken. Bad thing for Ironside that it happened just moments before he's about to post his sure thing, big-money bet.

    Guest stars: Gene Evans, James Gregory, Madlyn Rhue and Ken Lynch. You may not know their names, but you'd recognize their faces.

    Stepford Blondes: In episode two, Eve is looking even more like a Hitchock blonde, sporting an up-do modeled after Tippi Hedren in The Birds.

    The Socratic Method: Ironside likes to brainstorm a case by constantly peppering his young team with questions, most of which he already knows the answers to. When Mark (who's not a trained police officer) surprises his boss by correctly answering one of Ironside's queries, he adds, "I study everything. You told me you don't want me to be ignorant."

    A (police) woman's work is never done: Back at Ironside's police station apartment, as Ed and Ironside discuss the case so far, Eve busies herself with cleaning up the dinner dishes.

    Quit touching my stuff: Ironside's irate because Eve washed the coffeepot out. "It was just starting to build up flavor."

    Obligatory chase scene: When the bagman who stole the money rams through a police roadblock, a motorcycle cop takes off in hot pursuit. Racing through the dry California hills, the suspect spends more time looking behind him than where he's driving, so you know how this is going to end. Sure enough - smash, crash, and a shattered windshield brilliantly colored red indicates Game Over for Ironside's best lead on the case.

    One-Adam-12, The Audition: The motorcycle cop first on the scene is none other than Kent McCord, a year away from starring in Adam-12.

    Meanwhile, back at the stationhouse: Mark is playing darts and Eve is washing dishes. Again.

    What the well-dressed police detective will wear: In one scene, Eve's dress looks like it shrank in the wash. The wide patent leather belt wraps under her chest and the hem comes up above her knees. Her stylish black patent leather shoes have clear acrylic heels. Good for running, no doubt.

    Have purse, will travel: I truly feel sorry for Eve. In almost every scene, she's clutching a handbag. Is this really the best way to carry around her badge and gun? She wears three different outfits in this episode, each with a coordinating handbag and shoe combination:

    * A navy blue bag at the track.
    * A black patent leather purse with the outfit mentioned above.
    * A taupe bag paired to her orange and mustard yellow woven suit with burnt orange piping.

    Do I have to do everything myself? When he learns the local sheriff has left the suspect's car unattended and unsearched, an irate Ironside heads out to pick over the car himself.

    Lamest directions ever: Ironside asks where they'll find the abandoned car wreck. The sheriff puts his finger in the middle of a large San Francisco wall map, in the manner of someone blindly picking a point on the map, and says, "In there, by the culvert. It'll take you about half an hour." That's okay, they can just use their GPS.

    That Eve is so handy to have around: After a bumpy ride in the back of the truck with Ironside, Eve hands him the radio when Ed calls in with important news.

    Our suspect has a thing for old cars: When Ironside & Co. fail to find anything in, on, or around the car that will lead them closer to their suspect, they use it as bait at a police auction. A shifty-eyed man who looks like Jack Albertson in a fedora tops the previous winning bids of $80 (by ten dollars!) to score the car. Mark and Ed exchange a knowing glance. They've got their man.

    Slow chase pursuit: As the suspect drives the bait car away, Ed and Eve follow. They're followed in turn by the head of security from the track, who slyly hides behind a newspaper before jumping behind the wheel of his car. All three cars slowly wend their way through city streets, dodging huge wood-paneled station wagons and little old ladies as the soundtrack thumps out a jazzy version of the Ironside theme.

    When did we cross the border into Mayberry? Ed and Eve approach the car's new owner, a man named George Bentley, currently Suspect No. 1. They identify themselves as police officers and Bentley cheerfully asks them if they'd like to come in? "Marthy will be so excited. Well, come on along!"

    They just don't make cars the way they used to: George Bentley on why he buys all his cars from police auctions: "Only place in town hasn't raised its prices and you get good clean cars, too. Not like it was back in Prohibition of course. Then I used to get some of those fancy black limousines. You know, the kind they grabbed off the rumrunners."

    "Oh George, you're such a good provider": As soon as Eve and Ed are out of the house, Bentley flashes a wad of cash at his adoring wife. "Nothing like doing a small favor for a friend. Just buy him a car." Ed and Eve emerge on the street to find (surprise) the bait car is gone!

    It's always sunny in '60s San Francisco: So far, every exterior interstitial scene is of a bright sunny day - no rain, no fog, no homeless people.

    What's missing from this picture? About the fourth time the camera pans the San Francisco skyline I realize what looks so odd: There's no Transamerica Pyramid (1969-1972).

    The "iron-fingered Viking": Ironside's a-ha moment comes during his weekly Swedish massage, delivered by the thickly accented Helga. (What else could her name be?) "Better ya? Ya . . . Yust one more gud one, Chief. Hold still until Helga can finish scapula."

    It ends with a splash: Just as in the pilot episode, Ironside & Co. catch their man after a tussle with the suspect ends with him falling into the bay.

    -

    Previously:
    * A Cop and His Chair.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:15 AM | Permalink

    Chicagoetry: The Great Black Diamond

    THE GREAT BLACK DIAMOND

    At the center
    Of the universe, at the center
    Of the skyline,
    Feminine handiwork.
    At the center
    Of two long, thick, metallic American thighs,

    The Diamond.
    At the center
    Of miles of thrusting
    Phalli, the center
    Of the visible universe,
    Amidst preening, reaching, grasping, often FAILING

    Phalli, including the country's
    Tallest . . . the ONE building
    Everybody asks about,
    The ONE building designed
    By a woman,
    The White Diamond.

    Go to the planetarium
    And see for yourself.
    This time,
    Don't take your kids.
    Would it be more obvious
    If it were pink?

    I think
    Not.
    "What is that diamond-
    Shaped building
    At the center?"
    Yap about the Sears Tower,

    Yap about the Trump Tower.
    Yap about the Aon Center,
    YAMMER about the phalli.
    "What is that diamond-shaped building?"
    Oh, you mean
    The one at the

    Center? The ONE
    Designed by a
    Woman? Careful, there are kids
    On the tour bus . . .
    "Oh, the Smurfit-Stone Container
    Building, from 1983 . . .

    When it was first built,
    Ice formed on the diamond,
    Broke off in chunks,
    And landed on the sidewalk
    If your HEAD
    Wasn't in the way.

    So they installed heating pipes
    To melt the ice
    So it would just
    Drip, drip, drip on you, wet wet wet.
    Look. See. Georgia O'Keefe
    Would be

    Jealous. Obvious
    Enough?
    She trumps Trump.
    SHE is the center
    Of the visible universe,
    The feminine aspect.

    Like Trump Tower SLICED OFF
    At the base.
    Obvious
    Enough?
    Look.
    See.

    The center
    Of the visible
    Universe.
    Without
    End:
    Amen.

    -

    J. J. Tindall is the Beachwood's poet-in-residence. He can reached at jjtindall@yahoo.com. Chicagoetry is an exclusive Beachwood collection-in-progress.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:14 AM | Permalink

    Song of the Moment: Theme From Shaft

    "Isaac Hayes, 65, the Oscar-winning soul singer and songwriter whose swaggering 'Theme From Shaft' became a signature sound of the 1970s, died Aug. 10 at his home outside Memphis."

    Released: September 1971.

    Length: 3:15 edited single; 4:34 album version.

    Label: Enterprise.

    Charts: Went to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in November 1971.

    Wikipedia:

    * In 2000, Hayes told National Public Radio that he had only agreed to write and record the Shaft score after Shaft producer Joel Freeman promised him an audition for the lead role. He never got the chance to audition, but kept his end of the deal anyway.

    * The song begins with a sixteenth-note hi-hat ride pattern, played by Willie Hall, which was drawn from a break on Otis Redding's "Try A Little Tenderness", a Stax record on which Hayes had played.

    * The song was not intended to be a single, but the success of the film and the popularity of the track in nightclubs led to a 45 record of the theme being released on Enterprise Records two months after the soundtrack.

    Songfacts:

    * When Hayes was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002, he opened the ceremonies with this.

    * Bart and Lisa sing this on The Simpsons episode "One Fish, Two Fish, Blowfish, Blue Fish."

    LYRICS:

    Who's the black private dick
    That's a sex machine to all the chicks?
    Shaft!
    Ya damn right!

    Who is the man that would risk his neck
    For his brother man?
    Shaft!
    Can you dig it?

    Who's the cat that won't cop out
    When there's danger all about?
    Shaft!
    Right on!

    They say this cat Shaft is a bad mother-
    Shut your mouth!
    I'm talkin' 'bout Shaft.
    Then we can dig it!

    He's a complicated man
    But no one understands him but his woman
    John Shaft!

    YouTube:

    -

    Previously in Song of the Moment:
    * Iron Man
    * The Story of Bo Diddley
    * Teach Your Children
    * Dream Vacation
    * When The Levee Breaks
    * I Kissed A Girl

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:53 AM | Permalink

    The Cub Factor

    The Cubs could of really stuck a huger fork into the Redbirds this weekend with a sweep but it didn't happen. Even so, the feathered foul from St Louis has been dipped in egg batter, rolled in a flour seasoning mixture and is about to be thrown into the fryer. But looking at this team, you have to wonder how they've stuck around for so long. Most commentators give credit to the supposed genius of Tony LaRussa and his pitching coach/designated driver Dave Duncan. But are these two guys really that good? We here at The Cub Factor don't think so and have a few theories as to why the Cardinals are better than they should be.

    * Tony LaRussa went down to the Crossroads.

    * LaRussa and Duncan are managing on HGH.

    * A series of specially placed mirrors shrouded in smoke.

    * Old-time hockey.

    * Pitchers going through Tommy John surgery are actually given Tommy John's arms.

    * Whole team took Tony Robbins courses in off-season.

    * New inspiring team slogan of "change."

    * Team MVP will get slot on Dancing With the Stars.

    -

    Week in Review: The Cubs took two of three from Houston and two of three from the Cardinals. Two out of three ain't bad.

    Week in Preview: The Cubs travel to Atlanta and South Florida.

    The Second Basemen Report:Mark DeRosa started five of six at second but he rarely stayed there. Uncle Lou changes second basemen more often during a game than Jiffy Lube changes oil. Okay, it's getting late in the season, cut me some slack. Just like Jim Hendry drew it up.

    In former second basemen news, Joe Morgan was never a Cub but is still a douchebag. He is not missed.

    The Zam Bomb: Serving up more homers than he can hit makes Big Z furious. So, he moves to furious.
    zam_furious.jpg

    Lost in Translation: Fukufadeo is Japanese for a player's season-long fade into obscurity.

    Sweet and Sour Lou: 64% sweet, 37% sour. Lou is up four points on the Sweet-O-Meter due to winning two more series'. And just like your real crazy drunk uncle, Lou is feeling pretty good these days. The beer is cold, he's winning at the track, and he spent his stimulus check getting his golf clubs regripped.

    Center Stage: It really is okay to embrace Jim Edmonds, Cub fans. You can even call him Jimmy. Or J-Ed.

    The Cub Factor: Catch up with them all.

    Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by the The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that it won't be lack of talent that will cause this year's Cubs collapse.

    Over/Under: The amount this season will matter if the Cub don't win it all: +/- not much.

    Mount Lou: Lou moves down to level green. Things have been so peaceful on the surface of Mount Lou that villagers have begun to think that the volcano has gone completely dormant. But don't be fooled, there's still old man anger lava coursing through Mount Lou. We may not see it this week, but we'll see it.

    mtlou_green.gif

    -

    Contact The Cub Factor!

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:18 AM | Permalink

    August 9, 2008

    Honest John Edwards

    Welcome to politics, Citizen Kate!

    On June 5, 2007, Citizen Kate asked John Edwards what it took to be a great leader. Part of his response: "Someone who is honest and very open . . . America wants to feel like they can trust their president."

    That was enough for CK. "I like that you're honest!" she told him.

    But we should have been paying closer attention. Watch for the creepy moment when Kate asks Edwards for a job and he seems to briefly consider hiring her to make webisodes for his campaign.

    -

    See the Citizen Kate collection!

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:52 PM | Permalink

    The Weekend Desk Report

    While you enjoy a summer of hot mollusk love in St. Tropez, we'll be keeping an eye on the news.

    Market Update
    Don't look now, but former blue chipper Civil Liberties just got delisted.

    Summer Games
    Every four years, the world enjoys watching a very special collection of sporting events. For our readers, we now present the Weekend Desk Sleaze Olympics update. Medal ceremonies have already taken place in such crowd-pleasing contests as Sinning and Modern Pandering. Meanwhile, a clear front-runner has emerged in the Synchronized Denial tournament.

    Just a Flesh Wound
    Local animal trainer Larry Dean this week downplayed the significance of an on-the-job tiger mauling, saying the multiple deep puncture wounds he received were "not that bad." Officials have announced that, upon his release from hospital, Dean will be named White House press secretary.

    Self-Medicating
    In related news, a recent study has revealed Austin, Texas is America's hardest-drinking city. Researchers suggest the town has "a whole lot of bad memories to forget." Based on current trends, the team expects Springfield, Illinois to lap its southern competitor any day now.

    Hang Ten
    Of course, Detroit might overtake both state capitols in the long run.

    Wind-Free Energy
    Finally this week, an Australian scientist has suggested farming more kangaroos to replace greenhouse gas-producing animals such as cows and sheep. Analysts warn the marsupials eventually could decimate well-established human industries as well.


    Posted by Natasha Julius at 9:15 AM | Permalink

    The Five Dumbest Ideas of The Week

    1. Attention, Chicago police officers: Starbucks has not gotten the memo that you're entitled to a lifetime supply of free coffee and donuts - actually, scones if we're talking about Starbucks. Flashing your badge, waving your gun and just generally acting like an ass in hopes of a free lunch will only garner a 15-month suspension, as Officer Barbara Nevers is about to find out. (Hint: next time, try 7/11, Babs.)

    2. Oh to be young and stupid again like those 26 Texas cheerleaders who thought it would be fun to stuff an elevator that was designed to accommodate 15 people. Much hilarity ensued but then the teens got stuck inside and called both firefighters and the police to rescue them. Sometimes life is just like a really bad Tommy Lee Jones movie.

    3. After her moribund movie career - Coyote Ugly, anyone? - and giving birth to two of the most obnoxious TV shows in recent memory, Tyra Banks has one unfulfilled ambition: to be First Lady. If she can only get a contract to make videos for Barack Obama, she'll be on her way.

    4. We don't know any men who want to don false eyelashes before that big date, but British company Eylure is betting they're out there. You'll be relieved to know that these guylashes are very natural in appearance. To be honest, they're kinda cute in a Bambi sort of way.

    5. Yes, Virginia, there is something more futile than conducting a march on behalf of Hillary Clinton at the Democratic National Convention. Members of the Raelian Movement are planning a demonstration as well. Raelians believe that the world was created as a giant lab experiment by extra-terrestrials. Sounds like an interesting premise for a reality show hosted by Tyra Banks.


    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:13 AM | Permalink

    August 8, 2008

    The [Friday] Papers

    "When musician, producer and Invisible Records label owner Martin Atkins visited Beijing in the fall of 2006, he had no idea what to expect," Bloodshot Records writes of its Invisible China project. "What he found was a thriving underground culture of rock bands that reminded him of his time in London in the late 70's, and of the downtown scene in NYC in late 70's and early 80's. Punk, avant-guard experimentation, Brit-pop, new wave, scratch DJs and more. He signed several bands while he was there, shot 80 hours of video footage, and rented out High End Sound Studios, where he recorded tracks from well over a dozen bands. He recorded live shows at the D-22 club - a venue that embodies the spirit that CBGBs had when Martin arrived in NYC over 25 years ago.

    "Both the compilation Look Directly Into The Sun: China Pop 2007 and Martin Atkins' China Dub Soundsystem album are out now, in stores, on-line, and on iTunes. Released on the Invisible China imprint (a collaboration between Invisible Records and Bloodshot Records), these album represent the first wave of material from Martin's trip to Beijing in fall of 2006."

    Today's Beijing Daily
    I tried to search for Daley but I didn't know the proper Chinese characters.

    Disqualification
    I'm no fan of the Chinese government and America's wimpy response to Tiananmen Square still rankles. I remember exactly where I was when that guy stood before the tank - I was at a friend's cabin in northern Minnesota and we were transfixed. Not transfixed enough to miss a night of beer-drinking later that night in town at the Wagon Wheel, but truly, we were emotionally taken by the sequence of events, as anyone should have been.

    But Neil Steinberg has displayed some deeper, odd animus toward China that often reads like a John Birch Society tract against the Soviet Union from 1958.

    Today Steinberg writes: "Did hosting the Olympics promote the rights of people in China?

    "'Not at all,' said Xiao Nong Cheng, executive director of the Center for Modern China, a think tank in Princeton, N.J. 'This Olympics is bad, and China's people have lost even the smallest right to talk.'

    "Cheng pointed out that in the run-up to the Olympics, China, terrified at losing face on the world stage, suppressed its citizens even more than usual, and that indications to the contrary - such as a recent Pew survey - are merely lies.

    "'The Pew ignored a basic fact that surveys in China, according to official regulations, have to be approved, and all the data filtered,' said Cheng. 'There are no independent surveys in China. These are controlled, manipulated surveys. The data is not reliable.'"

    Obviously I don't doubt China's suppression of its citizens and this scenario is entirely plausible, but I wondered whether and why Pew would go along with such restrictions - and if they disclosed them in its report.

    Now, in the modern world you'd be able to click on a link in Steinberg's column to the actual report, but the Steinberg and the Sun-Times don't exist in the modern world but in some parallel historic universe where HTML hasn't yet been invented, so I searched out the report itself.

    The first Pew site about the report that I landed on had this headline, which I found indeed laughable: "96% - Chinese Applaud Beijing Olympics."

    Then again . . .

    Digging a little deeper, though, I found a remarkable percent of Chinese surveyed apparently willing to speak their minds.

    For example, In 2002, only 48 percent of Chinese polled by Pew said they were satisfied with the direction their country was going; that number rose to 86 percent in 2008. Yet just 14 percent in 2008 said they were "very satisfied" with their family life and just 4 percent said they were "very satisfied" with their jobs - a drop of 2 percent since 2002. Similarly, only 4 percent said they were "very satisfied" with their household income.

    Pew also asked the Chinese to rate their country's biggest problems.

    Forty-one percent said the gap between rich and poor was a "very big" problem while 48 percent said "moderately big." I wonder how Americans view this question.

    The rich-poor gap, by the way, was viewed as the country's second-biggest problem, behind rising prices. The third biggest problem was corrupt officials - and the Chinese weren't afraid to say so.

    Thirty-nine percent said corrupt officials were a very big problem; 37 percent said a moderately big problem. I wonder how Chicago residents would answer this question.

    By the way, 78 percent said people are better off in free markets.

    I downloaded the PDF of the whole report but I was unable to find any caveat by Pew as to interference in their methodology. That doesn't mean it doesn't exist, but Steinberg might have put in a call to Pew to find out.

    I also took a spin around other news articles mentioning the poll. Even the Voice of America - quoting a National Journal columnist who worked on the survey - didn't question the methodology, though One News Now did.

    Again, I'm not saying there wasn't interference. I'm saying you don't just print what people tell you because you want to believe it. That's dangerously close to propaganda.

    *

    "[Cheng] added that the world media, rather than turn a spotlight onto China, is instead muzzling itself in order to cover the Games."

    The media inside China may be muzzled, but the whole world has been watching and reading an awful lot about China in recent months. There is no doubt that the Olympics have brought more scrutiny to the country than it otherwise would have received, and I have no doubt that in turn that's piqued the curiosity of readers and viewers who may otherwise dismiss foreign news.

    *

    The Sun-Times chose to illustrate the cover of it's wire-service written Olympic guide today with the headline "Chinese Takeout,' complete with chopsticks and a fortune cookie.

    *

    The blog of The Committee to Protect Journalists is posting about the Olympics.

    *

    Beijing's Scoff at the D-22 club

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Seeing red.


    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:58 AM | Permalink

    August 7, 2008

    The [Thursday] Papers

    At first I was angry about the governor's proposal to raise revenue by putting speed cameras on interstates. Then I remembered that the governor's proposals tend to have a shelf life of one news cycle, so I don't think we have too much to worry about.

    Camera Shy
    Sure enough . . .

    "The idea is in its infancy with no budget and no timetable."

    At The Fair
    The governor has called a special session for next week, coinciding with the Illinois State Fair.

    We've got the inside scoop.

    And in case you missed it, While Daley's Away is pretty funny too.

    Power Play
    About 35,000 people are still without power after Monday night's storm. It won't be turned on until they pay their parking tickets.

    Prison Ho
    "[Arenda Troutman's] lawyer Sam Adam Jr. that she will not cooperate with federal investigators in any continuing probe," Mark Brown writes.

    "'Never,' declared Adam, fresh from his successful defense of singer R. Kelly. 'She's a stand-up woman with a stand-up counsel.'

    "Meaning no disrespect to Adam, who is hardly alone in the usage, but is there another city in America where being a 'stand-up' person means they won't give information to law enforcement authorities concerning criminal activities about which they have personal knowledge?"

    For example:

    "Troutman's surprise guilty plea came just months after her reputed onetime boyfriend, Donnell 'Scandalous' Jehan, surrendered after four years on the lam," the Sun-Times reports. "Jehan reputedly is a high-ranking gang member charged in a drug conspiracy."

    If the mayor was in town, I would ask him this:

    1. Should Jehan cooperate with authorities or be a stand-up guy?

    2. He should cooperate? Well, should Troutman cooperate then?

    3. And what about Robert Sorich?

    4. Who hired Angelo Torres?

    *

    Wouldn't it be interesting if Daley cooperated with authorities? Really, what if he told them - and us - everything he knows?

    Beachwood Troutman
    We'll miss her.

    * Arenda Troutman: A Beachwood Primer.

    * "Troutman actually had the gall to (allegedly) accept a bribe to develop a property that wasn't even in her ward."

    * Tank vs. Troutman.

    Lincoln's Bedroom
    "Barack Obama, heavily reliant on major donors and celebrities despite his public emphasis on small contributors, upped the ante this week to enter his VIP donor world. A new high was set Monday for hosting or chairing an Obama event; chairs of his birthday fund-raiser in Boston had to raise $285,000; co-chairs needed to collect $142,500," Lynn Sweet reports.

    "The higher price tags in the Boston event were reflected down the line: dinner and the 'photo line' were $28,000 per couple or $15,000 a seat."

    Good thing Obama declared independence from a broken system.

    Lovable Losers
    "It looks like the Cubs may never build the 400-space parking garage adjacent to Wrigley Field promised to area residents in exchange for a 1,791-seat bleacher expansion," the Sun-Times reports.

    Next time Wrigleyville signs a deal with Tribune Company, they should make sure there isn't cork in the pens.

    Loyal Opposition
    "Labor leaders press Daley for deficit details."

    Fills niche where city council used to exist.

    The Wimp Factor
    "The Obama campaign finally tapped an Arab-American and Muslim-American coordinator July 26 - Chicago lawyer Mazen Asbahi. Monday, he stepped down after questions were raised by the Wall Street Journal about his brief tenure on the board of an Islamic investment fund. The episode exposes the Obama team's struggle to woo Muslim voters while denying Obama ever embraced the faith and as he looks for Jewish support," Lynn Sweet reports.

    "Asbahi, an associate at Schiff Hardin, e-mailed the campaign Monday, before the story was published, saying he was quitting the volunteer position in order to not become a distraction.

    "'In 2000, I agreed to serve as a member of the board of trustees of the Dow Jones Islamic Index Fund. I served on that board for only a few weeks before resigning as soon as I became aware of public allegations against another member of the board.'"

    If that's really all there is to it, Obama should have been a man and stood by Asbahi while proclaiming that his vision of a higher form of politics in America means acting like adults. Maybe he was too busy looking for his flag pin.

    Succeeding Obama
    Bob Reed has an intriguing scooplet.

    Division Street
    More posts over there, including The Beijing Transit Authority and Burning Out On Barack.

    Programming Note
    Apologies for the column seeming to appear later and later each morning the last couple of weeks. I've just been overwhelmed with everything I'm trying to do to both maintain the site and actually try to conduct some business, which continues to be a struggle. Thanks for your patience.

    The Soriano Spill

    -

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Power up.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:37 AM | Permalink

    Blago's Special Session

    "Gov. Rod Blagojevich is bringing state lawmakers back for a two-day special session next week, just in time for the Illinois State Fair."

    * The governor will propose dates for next summer's special session.

    * Legislators will solve the state's budget crisis by holding the world hostage for $1 million - no, $100 billion - dollars!

    * The governor will reveal that he actually has a doomsday machine.

    * Michael Madigan will abandon the governor on the rollercoaster at the State Fair and take the workers home with him.

    * Fundraising idea: Dunk the governor! This would come close to closing the budget gap.

    * After puking funnel cake and Orange Julius all over the Tilt-a-Whirl, Blagojevich molests the butter cow with a foot-long corn dog.

    * Blago brings in retired EST founder Werner Hans Erhard and forces budget concessions for permission to go to the bathroom.

    * The governor proposes that Illinois set its clocks back two hours instead of one to "save more" in the fall.

    * The governor puts the entire state budget on Papa's Mustache in the fourth.

    * The governor reneges on his promise to knock over the milk bottles to supply stuffed animals to every kid in the state.

    * Special sessions in Illinois now part of the Paralympics.

    * Governor accidentally shows up in Springfield, Missouri.

    * Legislators vote to transfer the governor's powers back to George Ryan. Hey, if mob leaders can run their organizations from prison . . .

    * Bill proclaiming October 15 as Silly Putty Day in Illinois finally passes, breaking logjam.

    * Blago greeted at Capitol doors by process servers.

    * Special session turns out to be cover for a surprise birthday party for Bill Cellini.

    * Emil Jones squares off against Carol Ronen to see who will be the Governor's Baton Host this year.

    * The governor unwittingly finds himself in the Polygraph Booth and easily breaks several state fair records.

    * Special session adjourns abruptly when the House and Senate cannot agree on whether to go see Fergie or Weird Al Yankovic.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:03 AM | Permalink

    August 6, 2008

    The [Wednesday] Papers

    I told you that storm was a doozy. The Tribune reports on its front page today - thank you very much - that northern Illinois saw 90,000 lightning strikes on Monday night. It usually takes six months for that many strikes to accumulate.

    "There was no precedent for this," Tom Skilling told the Trib. "In every way imaginable, that storm last night was in its own league."

    Of course, by "last night" he meant Monday night. Your daily newspaper: Yesterday's news tomorrow.

    *

    The storm produced three tornadoes, according to a brief buried inside the Sun-Times.

    COMMENTS
    1. From Paul Mollica:
    Did you notice that the Tuesday Sun-Times carried a great picture of the storm over Wrigley Field on the Sports page? The front page on Tuesday had a rather homely graphic about their series on violence in the neighborhoods. I noticed, on the way to work, that the paper was displayed backwards in a number of ST paper boxes.

    -

    Scoffing at You
    The Tribune editorial board is incredibly wrong-headed in its editorial today defending the mayor's plan to make vehicles boot-eligible after just two parking tickets. The paper argues that city's system is so full of warnings and opportunities to object and payment plans that scofflaws are practically stealing taxpayers' money as it is.

    Right.

    Anyone who's tried to cope with the city's parking ticket adjudication system knows what a descent into hell it is.

    First, penalties have become entirely unreasonable. For example, I just received notice in the mail that I twice violated a neighborhood parking permit restriction and now owe the city $120. What?

    Yes, I parked my car one night outside the Beachwood Inn - just a few blocks from my home, I was coming from somewhere else - in a permit zone that rarely seems to be enforced. I walked home as I usually do, forgetting my car was there. I retrieved it two days later.

    A couple weeks later I received a notice in the mail because apparently you don't get tickets on your windshield anymore. I was cited for a violation at 8 in the morning the day after I left my car there, and again the next day. Two tickets and - under the mayor's proposal - boot-eligible. Can you imagine? Is that really a $120 mistake? Was anyone hurt? After all, there was a lot of available parking. Did I somehow rip off taxpayers?

    Of course, this violation was legit, if not petty. But over the years we've all had bogus violations that we either pay and consider the price of living in Chicago or fight with all our might against a bureaucracy beyond anything Kafka imagined.

    For all the Tribune's wankering about notices of violation and notices of determination and "boot hearings" and the (limited) defenses you can use to contest a ticket, those of us who live in the real world - or at least in Chicago - know that half those notices never arrive and the other half arrive late, and that hearing officers are douchebags (here come the letters!) and the system is as rigid as the Trib editorial board's tight asses.

    And then there are the red light cameras. I recently got hit with my first red light violation. I remembered the incident exactly. I was traveling at the exact speed limit - as confirmed by the video provided by the city - on a slick surface in routine daytime traffic when a light turned yellow as the car ahead of me went through the intersection. I could either continue through or hit my brakes, and with a car following closely behind me and a wet road, I applied my brakes lightly but went through the intersection. Halfway through the yellow turned to red and the camera snapped my photo.

    Was that really a $100 crime against society?

    And yes, Mr. Tribune, I contested the ticket online, pointing to the city's own video that I was actually driving quite conscientously. You could see my brake lights on as I went through the wet intersection.

    "You'd think the aldermen would be furious that scofflaws are simply shifting that huge burden to city taxpayers," the Trib writes.

    That makes no sense. This isn't money that is otherwise owed to the city. This is money the city is generating through its own desperate enforcement and panoply of rules. If nobody ever made a mistake and got a parking ticket, the city would find another way to fine us for hundreds of dollars a shot to make up the revenue. You know why? Because it can't make a budget the honest way - by directly raising taxes to fund government or cutting government services to match the taxes it raises. Instead, the mayor makes living in Chicago a series of dodges and weaves that invariably hurt the nobodies while the somebodies not only get rich off kinky contracts and ill-thought development deals, but free parking too. (sixth item)

    Finally, I'm pretty sure the editorial was written by someone who doesn't live in the city. Here's the giveaway: "We know motorists feel gouged by the high costs of parking, of ramp parking taxes and of parking penalties in Chicago."

    You know, I don't know from parking ramp taxes. That's the sort of thing a skinflint driving in from the suburbs worries about. Those of us who actually live here are tired of the inability to move freely about the city. You might as well ask for papers when traveling to another neighborhood for all the hassles permit parking presents. Meters that don't work, street cleaning restrictions that make no sense, tow zones that seem to come and go, city stickers, license stickers, visitor passes for chrissakes, and an alternative - the El - that doesn't get you to where you need to be nor when you need to be there, besides the fact that it might hurt you - it's enough to make you want to drive up to the Fifth Floor and do donuts in the mayor's office.

    Show some humanity, Tribune.

    Go, scofflaws, go!

    -

    COMMENTS
    1. From a faithful Beachwood reader with reason to remain anonymous:
    Isn't it telling that tickets are paid not to a Department of Parking Enforcement or a Department of Serving and Protecting, but are required to be paid to the Department of Revenue?

    2. From Dave Wischnowsky:
    Every time I think I've figured out all possible ways the city can give me a parking ticket, they find a new way to stick it to me.

    Tickets are a joke in this city. The city is literally printing money with them.

    I blogged briefly yesterday morning about my latest ticket headache yesterday morning.

    My street is now in the 383 Zone in Wrigleyville (I live near the Sheridan Red Line stop) and apparently has been since July, but I never received any notification in the mail about it.

    All I recall was a questionnaire or a flyer either posted at my building or in the mail months and months ago asking if we wanted the street to be permit parking. I didn't, for the record.

    Now, I need to apparently pay $115 to park on my own street. AND pay a ticket without ever having been notified.

    3. From Matthew Harness:
    Nothing gets me more incensed than Chicago parking laws. My worst experience (I've had many) was when I parked and then got booted on the 6600 north block of Sheridan. So I go to pay to get the boot off (which was a nightmarish exercise) and I come back to see a ticket stuck underneath my wiper. Why did I get a ticket, you ask? Because I couldn't move my car in time (i.e. the boot) for the 4-6 p.m. rush hour parking restriction.

    -

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Mmm, donuts.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:42 AM | Permalink

    Meeting Up Now

    The newest meetups in your area. For reals.

    * Anarchist, Mises Greater Chicagoland Meetup Group

    * Chicago Mah Jong Meetup Group

    * WWE Meetup Group

    * The Heart of Success - Networking Circles for Women

    * Karaoke at Halftime in Romeoville

    * Chicago David Deida Meetup Group

    * Chicago MMA fans/fighters meetup

    * Stroller Strides Buffalo Grove

    * Elgin Real Estate Buying & Investing Meetup Group

    * Stress, Emotional Eating, and Self Control

    * Business Networking & Lead Sharing Meetup Group

    * The Great Outdoors - Chicago Meetup Group

    * Chicagoland Scavenger Hunt Club

    * Naperville Flag Football Meetup Group

    * Chicago Real Estate Buying & Investing Meetup Group

    * Gurnee Card Games Meetup Group

    * Professional Events Florists

    * "Beach Tennis" Chicago

    * Chicago Vizsla Dog Social

    * South Suburban Chihuahua Meetup Group

    * Schaumburg Business Networking Meetup Group

    * South Shore Single Parents Association

    -

    Previously from the Meetup Affairs Desk:

    * Meeting Up Now: Wiffleball in Chicago Heights. Beadwork in Schaumburg.

    * Meeting Up Now: Millionaires and insomniacs now have the support groups they always needed.

    * Meetup Match Game: The Calabrese And Friends Bensenville Basement Meetup. New this week.

    * 15 Meetups: Ex-Southerner? Expat Aussie? Expert in cash flow and living in Lincoln Park?

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:13 AM | Permalink

    August 5, 2008

    The [Tuesday] Papers

    Wow, one of the rare days when I look for weather news in the papers and there's barely anything there. The sirens went off! C'mon!

    I was also a bit surprised at how the local news shops didn't cut into regular programming last night. The sirens went off! C'mon!

    Seriously, I was wondering if the Sox had just clinched the pennant or if I should head for shelter.

    Fox News Chicago did cut in for the weather and did a remarkably unsensational job - and I mean that in the best way possible - and there was, of course, CLTV, which was its usually boring self.
    I've never understood why the Tribune Company didn't make more of CLTV. There are loads of possibilities, but obviously they don't think they'll get a return on their investment. What a waste.

    Anyway, one of the cool things that Fox had was tracking of lightning strikes - more than 500 last time I looked.

    Oh, and I thought I heard a report of a tornado touchdown near Schiller Park - I called a friend to say I hoped it didn't hit the Twinkie plant - and that a cop called in a funnel cloud over the Kennedy.

    COMMENT 11:54 A.M.: From Scott Buckner: Fox dedicated a major and continuous chunk of time Power Doppler-ing the storm and identifying in real time the locations of atmospheric rotations that can spawn funnel clouds and tornadoes. It also had the path predicted at least 30 minutes before you heard the sirens. This sort of thing came in handy (and was astoundingly accurate) both last night and a few months ago, when I watched the tornado that blew thru the south suburbs pass down the road from me. Fox had its location tracked dead-on in real time and correctly predicted long before it arrived.

    When there's really scary weather, WFLD's Power Doppler-ing coverage is simulcast on WCIU (Channel 26) and, if I recall, WPWR (Channel 50)

    *

    The Scene At Wrigley

    Bus vs. Flood

    Angela's Flooded Apartment

    Through The Skylight
    New from M. Night Shyamalan!

    Club Mix

    Power Outage
    "ComEd crews said about 238,000 customers - 102,000 in Chicago - remain without power this morning due to the powerful storms that blew through overnight," the Daily Herald reports.

    Zoned Out
    "In the city of Chicago there are 112 Civil Defense sirens in six zones ready to warn residents of severe weather," CBS2 reports.

    Siren Song
    R.I.P. The Thunderbolt.

    Programming Note
    I'll be appearing today on a panel about citizen journalism as part of the annual Association for Education in Journalism & Mass Communication at Columbia College. The panel is scheduled for 3:25 p.m. on the second floor at 33 East Congress.

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Like making a citizen's arrest.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:05 AM | Permalink

    On The Dark Side

    "The New Yorker writer Jane Mayer's new book, The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into a War on American Ideals, reviewed on this week's cover, may be the most uniformly praised nonfiction title of the summer," Dwight Garner writes in his "Inside the List" column in the New York Times Book Review. "It enters the hardcover nonfiction list this week at No. 4."

    Behind books by David Sedaris, Madonna's brother, and Chelsea Handler.

    Be that as it may, Dennis Kucinich ought to stop fooling around with his impeachment articles and just enter this work into the congressional record. If there were more time left in the terms of Bush and Cheney, if the Democrats had an ounce of courage, and if there was any justice in the world, our fearless leaders would be in the dock for war crimes before you could finish saying extraordinary rendition.

    Of course, anyone who has been reading the work of Mayer and others in the New Yorker - or who has half a brain - won't be surprised at her thoroughly reported findings. But the gathering of detailed evidence in one narrative still has the power to shock.

    Alan Brinkley wrote the Times cover piece on Sunday, opening it this way:

    "Within hours of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, Dick Cheney in effect took command of the national security operations of the federal government. Quickly and instinctively, he began to act in response to two longstanding beliefs: that the great dangers facing the United States justified almost any response, whether or not legal; and that the presidency needed vastly to enhance its authority, which had been unjustifiably and dangerously weakened in the post-Vietnam, post-Watergate years. George Bush was an eager enabler, but not often an active architect, of the government's response to terror. His instinct was to be tough and aggressive in response to challenges, and Cheney's belligerence fit comfortably with the president's own inclinations.

    Among the book's revelations among Brinkley's observations:

    * "[I]t was only the picture that made Abu Ghraib an aberration. The tactics the president denounced were precisely those he had authorized and encouraged in the growing network of secret prisons around the world."

    * "But there is, Mayer persuasively argues, little available evidence that [torture works], and a great deal of evidence from numerous sources (including the United States military and the FBI) that torture is, in fact, one of the least effective methods of gathering information and a likely source of false confessions."

    * "At one point, the FBI agents collaborating with the CIA on interrogation plans were so alarmed by what they were hearing that they urged their superiors to arrest [James Mitchell, who introduced the CIA to a secret military program]. Soon after that that, they withdrew from the program altogether. 'We don't do that,' one of the FBI agents said. 'It's what our enemies do!'"

    * "There is no happy ending to this sordid and shameful story. Despite growing political pressure, despite Supreme Court decisions challenging the detainment policy, despite increasing revelations of the once-hidden program that have shocked the conscience of the world, there is little evidence that the secret camps and the torture programs have been abandoned or even much diminished."

    * "Jane Mayer's extraordinary and invaluable book suggests that it would be difficult to find any precedent in American history for the scale, brutality and illegality of the torture and degradation inflicted on detainees over the last six years; and that it would be even harder to imagine a set of policies more likely to increase the dangers facing the United States and the world."

    Torture Nation
    The cover art is worth the price of admission alone.

    Torture2.jpg

    Black Sites
    The Brinkley cover story was at least the second review in the Times. On July 22, Jennifer Schuessler wrote that the book documents "a cage match between the Constitution and a cabal of ideological extremists, and the Constitution goes down."

    The Tribune ran a Bloomberg News article on July 19 by Craig Seligman that started this way: "Torture is wrong; end of discussion. Except that the discussion has been in full swing for several years now. As soon as Americans began to debate the advisability of torturing prisoners in the war against terror, the nation had ceded the moral high ground it once occupied, or at least laid claim to.

    "In Jane Mayer's angry and important book The Dark Side, the tenacious New Yorker reporter takes us, step by step, through the process by which practices and methods we associate with tyrannies became official U.S. policy."

    Tyrannies, people. Has it sunk in yet?

    *

    Near as I can tell from their crappy search engine, the Sun-Times has not written about the book. And the Trib's treatment is hardly sufficient.

    This isn't just about a book review. It's about journalism and news. Unfortunately, you can be the most diehard newspaper reader these days and know next to nothing about the war on terror - and the war in Iraq - if you're not reading the books (books!) that are breaking the real news.

    -

    Comments welcome. Please include a real name if you wish to be considered for publication.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:00 AM | Permalink

    The White Sox Report

    Sure, Ken Griffey Jr. has his flaws. If you read White Sox blogs this week, that is abundantly clear. He's a borderline terrible defensive player - particularly in center field where he has started twice in his three game White Sox career - and isn't nearly the five-tool player he once was. Things happened. Griffey got hurt, he got old, and it's the reason the Sox were able to acquire him without giving up anything of value.

    Don't be mistaken, though: Griff can still rake at the plate. The 103 OPS+ he posted in Cincinnati is well above average, even if he's staring at the lowest slugging percentage of his career since his rookie season in 1989. Griffey's plate patience will be valuable wherever he is on Ozzie's scorecard, and he's on pace to smack nearly 30 homers. That makes him a useful bat in any lineup.

    I think most would agree that, if deployed correctly, trading loose change for Griffey was a pretty good move. But I think there is one thing we can agree on unanimously: that trade was really, really weird.

    Problem 1: Griffey doesn't fit anywhere defensively for the Sox.

    Griffey would seem to fit best at DH at this point in his career, but the Sox already have another future Hall of Famer there in Jim Thome, who is still extremely productive. Carlos Quentin and Jermaine Dye have been staples in the corners of the outfield all season long. Center field and first base are clogged up, too. Even if Nick Swisher and Paul Konerko are struggling, they are both lineup mainstays. It's true that Konerko has been hot garbage for nearly all of the last two seasons now, but he's still the captain of the team and arguably one of the biggest legends in team history. If for nothing else but that, the Sox have to give him at-bats to see if he breaks out of it.

    Problem 2: Griffey is very similar to most of the White Sox starters.

    Hey, who does this remind you of: over 30, slow, and hits a lot of home runs? At least one of those characteristics can be applied to every member of this White Sox lineup besides The Missile. All three can be said about basically half the lineup now that Griff is slotted in there.

    Problem 3: If anything, the Sox should have dealt for pitching.

    Keep this one on the DL: our guy John Danks has been roughed up a bit lately. Of course that is going to happen during an eternal baseball season, particularly for a 23-year old starter. But still, it's a little disconcerting. Javy Vazquez has struggled mightily the last couple months, Contreras seemed to revert to the infamous cover-your-eyes mold he perfected in 2007 before hitting the disabled list, and Gavin Floyd is beginning to regress as most expected he'd do all season. So if the Sox needed anything at the trading deadline, it would have been pitching. It's likely there wasn't anyone worth getting, but it was still a bigger need than acquiring Griffey.

    So yeah, all those factors make the deal a bit odd. But here's the thing: most of the time when sports teams become great, weird stuff happens along the way. Look no further than the 2005 Sox. El Duque pitching out of a bases-loaded, no-outs jam versus the Red Sox, the dropped third strike against A.J., and Scott Podsednik and Geoff Blum hitting game-winning homers in the World Series. None of those scenarios made any sense at the time, and they still don't. The way the champion Celtics were constructed in the NBA was certainly out of the ordinary, and no one ever would have expected Eli Manning to rip apart the undefeated Patriots.

    I generally never have championship aspirations for my favorite teams until something kind of goofy happens. Maybe Kenny Williams just provided that moment for the Sox.

    -

    Week in Review: Not a great week for the Sox. A 2-5 record let the Twins grab first place in the AL Central.

    Week in Preview: A three-gamer v. Detroit followed by four against Boston, all at home.

    Fight Night: Even if D.J. Carrasco did kind of slap a guy, the Sox and Royals' recent brawl still looks like an MMA event compared to how baseball teams in other countries handle their differences.

    The Missile Tracker: Too bad you can't see Alexei anywhere in that fight, I bet the guy knows karate or something. I could totally see Alexei re-enacting Chan Ho Park's famous drop kick or leaping off Jim Thome's back to execute a perfect flying elbow drop. Maybe next week.

    Fields on the Farm: Fields' performance over the next week or two could go a long way in determining who is going to play third base next year. Fields has gotten off to a slow start since being called up from Charlotte, and if he continues to struggle, maybe that means Joe Crede is back the Sox' long term plans.

    Over/Under: 11: The rating Ken Griffey Jr. scores in the coolness department on a scale of 1 to 10. Griffey will forever be my favorite baseball player of all-time, and he may be my second favorite athlete ever. When I was growing up, I thought that man could do no wrong. I own his rookie card, his sweet N64 video game, and even bought a Mariners cap when I was 10. I wore it backwards, naturally.

    Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The White Sox Report staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that Griffey looks strange wearing 17.

    The White Sox Report: Read 'em all.

    -

    Comments welcome. Please include a real name if want to be considered for publication.

    -

    Ricky O'Donnell is the proprietor of Tremendous Upside Potential , a contributor to the Sun-Times's Full Court Press and a lot of other things.


    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:03 AM | Permalink

    Chicagoetry: Wish You Were Beer

    WISH YOU WERE BEER

    So: you think you can tell
    Heaven from Hell?
    Swell!
    Do tell.

    Your husband
    Wants me to help him
    Go out and
    Get

    Laid.
    "What a wonderful world!"
    Men cave, and then
    Cheat.
    Men cave men

    Cave.
    "Men are easy," as my X
    Used to say.
    I wouldn't pay,
    Won't pay.
    Yay!

    Two lost souls swimmin' in
    A fish bowl, year ahfta year.
    Have you found
    The same old fear?

    Anymore, I don't care to
    Hear. "You caved."
    Rave on.
    Without me.

    Freedom isn't free
    But it sure is a
    Bargain.
    The best

    I ever had.
    Love is free.

    -

    J. J. Tindall is the Beachwood's poet-in-residence. He can reached at jjtindall@yahoo.com. Chicagoetry is an exclusive Beachwood collection-in-progress.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:13 AM | Permalink

    August 4, 2008

    The [Monday] Papers

    The mayor leaves today for eight days in Beijing to take in the Olympics and pick up some management tips from the Chinese government.

    We have some excellent ideas for what to do while Daley is away.

    Big Daddy Daley
    "Daley said he is hoping that the Beijing Olympics will go forward without disruptions from protesters.

    "You're there as a spectator," Daley said. "I don't think politics should ever interfere with arts or sports."

    In other words, the mayor wishes these people would just shut up and enjoy NBC's coverage of the pole vault.

    -

    Chinese Democracy
    "Even Chairman Mao never used bulldozers at midnight to play tic-tac-toe on an airport runway," Chuck Goudie writes.

    Family Affairs
    Bill Daley has been polling.

    Briggs Security
    "Briggs declines to say if anyone was in car with him and refuses to identify the person who picked him up at the scene," the Tribune reports. "Asked if alcohol was involved, Briggs carefully collects his thoughts.

    "'Instead of people wondering if I was OK or not, the main question was, 'Was he drinking?' Regardless of whether I was drinking or not, I've been in a car and I've sped before. I've done so in the daytime. It's a poor decision no matter what time of day it is."

    In other words, Briggs was driving drunk and got away with it by fleeing the scene.

    Cubby Bear Heir
    Among the local Olympic hopefuls: the daughter of the folks who own the Cubby Bear.

    Dance Craze
    "I can't dance and I once lived in Connecticut."
    - Deborah Douglas of the Sun-Times assessing her qualifications for reparations

    CNN: Do you think Bill Clinton was our first black president?

    OBAMA: I have to say that, you know, I would have to, you know, investigate more of Bill's dancing abilities.
    - January 2008

    The conversation about race continues.

    Brett Net
    "The Green Bay Packers welcomed back quarterback Brett Favre from the reserve-retired list Sunday knowing full well that they've already taken the first step toward trading him to the Vikings," reports say.

    "An executive in personnel for an NFL team with close ties to teams in the NFC North Division told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the Packers called the Vikings on Friday informing them that Favre was available."

    Maybe the Bears should offer Brett Favre $20 million not to play.

    Royal Rehab
    "[M]aybe the 14-3 demolition of the previously first-place Chicago White Sox on Sunday at Kauffman Stadium is another small step on the franchise's path back to relevance," the Kansas City Star writes.

    How The Cubs Could Blow It
    In The Cub Factor.

    Anthrax Journalism
    Trib editorial: "The federal government owes Hatfill more than $1.8 million. It owes him an apology."

    Yes. Right after the media apologizes.

    J-Fed's Feathered Bed
    "When Weis was hired last November to clean up the Police Department, Daley justified his top salary by saying the former FBI agent would be wearing two hats: those of top cop and chief emergency officer," the Sun-Times reports in a survey of government salaries.

    "But in July Weis' authority to supervise response to disasters was diluted when Fire Commissioner Raymond Orozco was named to head the Office of Emergency Management and Communications. Daley said Orozco, not Weis, will be calling the shots at disaster scenes."

    *

    By the way, note how the dubious assumption that Weis was hired to "clean up" the department worms its way into news stories and is stated as fact.

    *

    Orozco, by the way, saw his salary go up by $4,000 after he was named the emergency guru. Weis's salary - an astonishing $309,996 - remained the same.

    Salary Survey
    * The mayor of Chicago makes $216,210 a year; the governor of Illinois makes $166,000.

    * Daley press secretary Jacquelyn Heard makes $172,056 a year in taxpayer money for lying to us.

    * The Cook County State's Attorney makes $185,731 - more than the governor.

    Fight the Parking Powers
    The Expired Meter.

    Holding Pattern
    Trib: "The Other Airports: Consider Putting Rockford, Milwaukee On Your Radar." I haven't had time to stop considering since the last time you wrote this story.

    *
    Another newspaper favorite: They just love etiquette lessons.

    Now, if they can just construct a story about proper airplane travel etiquette reported from Milwaukee or Rockford that wistfully recalls the era when people wore suits on planes.

    Beachwood Bonus
    * The Weekend Desk Report by Natasha Julius. You can also listen to Natasha's appearance on Eight Forty-Eight's Month in Review panel last Friday.

    * In case you missed the late posting, The [Friday] Papers is pretty good.

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Tripped out.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:13 AM | Permalink

    Homosexual Files Suit Against The Bible

    Persecution Potshot!

    Attention Christians: Get your faith ready for an ongoing litigious form of harassment as a result of a new precedent set earlier this month in a U.S. District Court. There, a gay activist has filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against two Christian publishers for a Corinthians passage that denounces homosexuality. And experts in the Christian camp say it's likely a sign of things to come.

    The man, Bradley LaShawn Fowler of Canton, Michigan, is seeking $10 million from one publisher and $60 million from the other, claiming that the Bible's reference to homosexuality as a sin "made him an outcast from his family and contributed to physical discomfort and periods of 'demoralization, chaos and bewilderment'."

    momo.jpg"Just when I think I've heard and seen it all, a more ludicrous form of persecution takes shape somewhere in this world," says Andre van Heerden, a writer, director and producer of Christian faith-based films.

    Van Heerden tackles the subject of persecution every day, both in terms of his films' content and their associated media relations. His most recent release, a film entitled SMUGGLER'S RANSOM, is a Cold-War-era story about the Soviet capture of a young woman attempting to smuggle Bibles into Romania.

    "Call this lawsuit what it really is, a publicity stunt, and it still concerns me," says van Heerden, "because it inspires others to conceive similar legal crackpot cases just for the sake of attacking our faith. Whether such cases are legit or reasonable doesn't matter. They still attract the media and provide these people a bully pulpit."

    Apparently, the U.S. District Judge on the case also found the suit weak, because he denied the gay man's request for a court-appointed attorney, saying the court had "very genuine concerns" about the legitimacy of the claims.

    THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE MAY BE HELPFUL:

    'Bible' lawsuit may be sign of things to come
    By Jeff Johnson, OneNewsNow.com

    Pro-family advocates say Christians should get used to legal harassment such as the lawsuit a homosexual activist recently filed against two Bible publishers.

    Bradley LaShawn Fowler of Canton, Michigan, does not like the fact that the Bibles produced by Zondervan and Thomas Nelson Publishers both accurately convey God's prohibition against homosexual behavior. So he is suing in federal court, seeking $10 million from Thomas Nelson and $60 million from Zondervan.

    Peter LaBarbera, president of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, says Bible-believing Christians had better get ready for more of this type of sniping. "Obviously, this is a frivolous publicity stunt, but this is a portent of things to come," he warns.

    "We know that the homosexual activists are now targeting, essentially, born-again Christians and committed Catholics and Mormons who oppose their agenda. They're out to re-write the Bible, to say that the Bible really does not condemn homosexual practice, which it obviously does," says LaBarbera. "Ultimately, we believe they'll be doing more and more of these lawsuits against Christians and Christian companies."

    LaBarbera says the suit reminds him of British actor and homosexual activist Sir Ian McKellen, who has admitted to ripping pages that contain scriptures condemning homosexuality out of Gideon Bibles in hotel rooms. "The fact is whether you rip the pages out or not, or whether you sue, or whether you pass a law against it, the Word of God still stands," he emphasizes. "And God's authority on that issue still stands, no matter what man does."

    The judge in the case has denied Fowler's request for a court-appointed attorney, saying the court had "very genuine concerns" about the legitimacy of the claims in the lawsuit.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:59 AM | Permalink

    While Daley's Away

    The mayor leaves for Beijing today and doesn't return until August 12. Here are some things to do while he's gone.

    *

    Break curfew.

    *

    Call City Hall and ask if their Shakman Decree is running.

    *

    Rename Northerly Island "Meigs Field."

    *

    Paint the Bean black.

    *

    Bulldoze the Children's Museum.

    *

    TP the Hancock.

    *

    Elect a real city council.

    *

    Hello, Peotone!

    *

    Solve the city budget crisis with the help of some Nigerian pals we just met online.

    *

    Let all his plants die.

    *

    Boot his cars. Every wheel.

    *

    Hire Patrick Fitzgerald as a janitor and send him to City Hall to clean the mayor's office.

    *

    Finish Block 37.

    *

    Make fun of Bill Daley.

    *

    Recall Todd Stroger.

    *

    Call City Hall and tell them you want Amanda Hugginkiss.

    *

    Change Olympic bid documents to 2017.

    *

    Seize the radio stations first as we liberate the city.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:43 AM | Permalink

    SportsMonday

    Let's obliterate, once and for all, the myth that the Cubs are at a competitive disadvantage because they play more home games during the day than the competition.

    This was one of Dusty's favorite excuses and it might have had some validity way back in 1969 when all the home games were under the sun and bad ol' Leo Durocher refused to give his regulars a day off every once in a while during the dog days. Sure enough that squad collapsed so badly in late August after building a nine-game, NL-East lead midway through the month that the Mets were comfortably in front by the time the last few weeks of the season dawned with the promise of cooler autumn afternoons.

    Beachwood Baseball:
  • The Cub Factor
  • The White Sox Report will appear on Tuesday this week.
  • Now that the Cubs play plenty of home games at night, there is no question start times have nothing to do with how they play. It is the visiting team that comes in with a disadvantage when it comes time to play Friday and Saturday games under the sun (and it says here that could have been the case in 1969 as well if other factors hadn't worked against the home team).

    The excuse was aired again after Friday's game with the Pirates in tandem with the news that the Cubs will soon ask the City of Chicago for the right to schedule even more games at night. The Cubs had played the previous day and then laid an egg against the Pirates Friday (a 3-0 loss) and so it must have been the darn daytime start that did it. The problem was, the Cubs' previous game was in Milwaukee. They had a much easier trip into Chicago for the game than did the Pirates and they had a much better chance to get maximum rest.

    And here is the main flaw with what we will forevermore dub "Dusty's Daytime Diversion." It was a diversion, of course, because if the Cubs were losing because of too many day games, well, the manager's questionable moves certainly didn't have anything to do with anything. Anyway, the members of the visiting team clearly have it tougher because they're the ones who have played virtually all of their previous games in the evening. The visitors are much more likely to come to the game tired after travel travails or uncomfortable sleeping arrangements. I've even heard that, on occasion, members of visiting teams have been known to take advantage of local nightspot closing times that are a little later than the national average.

    Sure enough, the Cubs fought through their daytime difficulties on Saturday and Sunday, taking a pair from the Pirates. Of course, in those games the Cubs piled up great at-bats (disciplined and patient hitting seemed to suddenly re-appear against the Brewers early last week and it was wonderful to see them again). They hit behind base-runners and bashed doubles to the opposite field and got guys in from third with less than two out. And when the bullpen faltered on Sunday, they threw in a few clutch home runs as well. This Cubs team is constructed to win whether the games start at 7 p.m., noon or midnight.

    Rocky Horror Picture Show
    I was ready for some football Sunday evening (especially after the Cardinals took an early lead against the Phillies on ESPN and former Cub mediocrity Todd Wellemeyer was mowing 'em down again for the hated rival). So I tuned to the NFL pre-season opener featuring the Colts versus the Redskins in Canton, Ohio. Or should we say it was the Scrubs against the Redskins (who eventually won by a couple touchdowns). The Colts benched more than a half-dozen of their frontline players and even less-than-stellar backup quarterback Jim Sorgi stayed on the sideline after one, count 'em, one, possession.

    Anyone who saw Sorgi's deer-in-the-headlights performance in last year's regular season finale - when the Colts lost to an undermanned Tennessee squad 16-10 despite numerous Titan turnovers - probably would have argued for more playing time . . . but that's about enough about the Colts, even if I am still pissed they gave less than their all during that contest with Tennessee (benching a healthy Manning) and thereby denied a deserving Cleveland Browns squad a playoff spot.

    Anyway, it was late in the first quarter and the Redskins had the ball and the lead (7-3). And then, just like that, there he was. The thrillingly named Rock Cartwright took a hand-off, cut off left guard, broke a tackle and picked up six tough yards. He carried the ball a few more times as the Redskins put together a decent drive before a timeout was called. And at that point I moved on. I'll really start to settle into the football season on Thursday evening when the Bears kick off their first exhibition.

    Oh by the way, the Phillies came back and knocked off St. Louis 5-4. Cardinal management failed to upgrade the bullpen before the trading deadline and they blew it again on Sunday, giving up four runs in the eighth inning.

    Cotts Shot
    I don't know about you guys but I've seen enough of Neal Cotts as the lead lefty specialist in the Cubs' 'pen. I know Scott Eyre tied Lou's shoes together or something at some point but it is time for the manager to get over it and give Eyre another shot at the job. He's more healthy than he's been all season, he is certainly well-rested (one appearance in the two weeks since he returned from the disabled list - when Piniella is pissed at a player there is no dog house, there is dog prison) and he has loads of experience.

    Illini Sigh
    Following up on an angry column I wrote early this year:

    A thank-you note won't suffice. Head coach Bruce Weber ought to send a thank-you blimp to circle Jamar Smith's house for a day or two after Smith went out drinking last weekend and got caught. Weber kicked the Peoria native off his Illini basketball team sooner than Smith's hangover had dissipated and what would have been an incredibly embarrassing chapter in University of Illinois basketball history was avoided.

    The backstory: Weber not only allowed Smith to stay in the program after Smith got drunk on an icy night the season before last, crashed his car and almost killed passenger and teammate Brian Carlwell (who was knocked unconscious and suffered a severe concussion); Smith then abandoned Carlwell in the car (did we mention it was freezing?) before a bystander happened upon him and called emergency services. The coach also managed to arrange a red-shirt year for Smith, who was sentenced to a few weeks in jail after he was convicted of felony driving under the influence of alcohol.

    Red-shirt years are supposed to be for college athletes who suffer injuries either before or early in seasons and don't deserve to lose a year of eligibility (and so they officially sit out the season and theoretically wear a red shirt during practices for clarity's sake). Or red-shirts are awarded to freshmen who need a year of conditioning before they're ready to dive into varsity competition. Smith should have been suspended from the team, not red-shirted. But that would have cost him a year of eligibility.

    Carlwell left (was pushed off?) the team last year so Weber was looking at going into this season with the perception that the perpetrator had received special treatment in order to stay on the team while the victim had been discarded. But that won't happen now.

    -

    Jim Coffman appears in this space every Monday with the best sports wrap-up in the city. You can write to him personally! Please include a real name if you would like your comments to be considered for publication.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:28 AM | Permalink

    The Cub Factor

    Marty Gangler was on assignment in Wisconsin this weekend, leaving this week's report to his staff.

    While the Cubs actually lost a game to the Pirates at home, perhaps experiencing a Miller Park hangover from all the partying they did in what cheeseheads are calling the Milwaukee Massacre, there now seems to be very few ways the Cubs could actually lose the division, much less fail to make the playoffs.

    We've come up with those ways.

    * Sam Zell decides the team can do more with less and reduces the 25-man major league roster to 15.

    * In one final bid for immortality, Jim Hendry re-acquires Nomar Garciappara and LaTroy Hawkins.

    * Lou Piniella starts pinch-hitting himself every time he runs out of players late in the game.

    * Bench coach Alan Trammel is added to the second basemen rotation.

    * Alfonso Soriano will not only leadoff but close.

    * Derrek Lee out for the season after Wrigley Field rat bites off a foot.

    * Team forfeits season when it is revealed that Mark DeRosa has three clones after Lou accidentally pencils two of them into the same starting lineup.

    * Kosuke Fukudome accidentally poisons team with homemade sushi by misreading the English press and adding a dash of E coli.

    * Bob Brenly sends several Cubs to the hospital by throwing darts into the dugout to test his theory.

    * Mark Cuban secretly has Schlitz Dark shipped to Wrigley instead of Old Style to reduce value of the team.

    * Kerry Wood's blister turns out to be contagious.

    * Team refuses to go on road trips when United starts charging for extra gloves.

    * Carlos Zambrano leaves team to participate in Dancing With the Stars.

    * A goat is refused admission . . .

    -

    Week in Review: The Cubs didn't just sweep the Brewers up in Milwaukee, they pummeled them by a combined score of 31-11. They came home to drop a game to the Pirates, but came back to win the next two.

    Week in Preview: The Cubs continue their homestand with three against the Astros and three against the Cardinals. The Cardinals game on Saturday afternoon will be featured on Fox, while the Sunday night game will be on ESPN. It's possible the Cubs could issue a death blow to the Redbirds - or let them back into the race.

    The Second Basemen Report: The Cubs' first game against Milwaukee was what this category is all about, and things only let up slightly the rest of the week. In that glorious series opener, Ronnie Cedeno started at second with Mark DeRosa in right. Daryle Ward pinch-hit for Cedeno and DeRosa moved to second while Fukudome took over in right. Mighty Mike Fontenot pinch-hit for centerfielder Reed Johnson, and Fukudome moved to center while DeRosa returned to rigt field as Fontenot took over second base.

    In game two, Fontenot started at second and DeRosa in right. In game three, DeRosa started at second and Cedeno pinch-hit. In game four, DeRosa started at second, Fontenot came in in a double-switch and and Cedeno took over at third.

    Fontenot started at second in the opener against the Pirates while Cedeno started at short. DeRosa made a pinch-hit appearance. In game two, DeRosa started in right and Cedeno at second. Fukudome pinch-hit and took over in right while DeRosa moved to second. In game three, DeRosa played second.

    In former second basemen news, Mickey Morandini is the head baseball coach at Valparaiso High School and still runs a stationery store with his wife, Peg, He is missed.

    The Zam Bomb: Big Z's next probable start is Saturday against the Cardinals, and he's due for a major meltdown. It won't be hard for Tony LaRussa to get inside Z's head as the Cards try to make a statement. Z is already getting angry.
    zam_gettingAngry.jpg

    Lost in Translation: "Sushi-san pot pan" is Japanese for "dandy little glove man."

    Sweet and Sour Lou: 60% sweet, 40% sour. Lou holds steady on the Sweet-O-Meter as victory in the series finale against the Pirates staves off a bitter taste to big week. But just like your real crazy drunk uncle, Lou doesn't want you getting too big for your britches just because you impressed the girls by scoring some brewski and bringing it over to the Emporium. He'd rather you kept some change in your pocket. Now go get him a Falstaff.

    Center Stage: The Reed Johnson-Jim Edmonds platoon looks to produce more on both offense and defense than Ken Griffey Jr. and Brian Anderson - especially considering that Edmonds and Griffey have about the same injury rate, except that Edmonds' injuries tend to be nagging while Griffeys are major fiascos.

    Against the Brewers and Pirates, Johnson and Edmonds each got three starts in center and Fukudome got one.

    The Cub Factor: Catch up with them all.

    Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by the The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that it's more likely that the White Sox won't hold up their end of the bargain this year than the Cubs.

    Over/Under: 6: The chances out of 10 that back spasms keep Kerry Wood out of the playoffs.

    Mount Lou: We're also looking at Saturday's game for a volcanic eruption, possibly tied to whatever incident Big Z gets involved in at the instigation of LaRussa. Therefore we're moving to yellow alert for now, possibly shifting to orange by game time.

    mtlou_yellow.gif

    -

    Contact The Cub Factor!

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:53 AM | Permalink

    August 2, 2008

    The Weekend Desk Report

    We've scored a bit of a coup here at the Weekend Desk as, apparently, we welcome LAPD Chief William Bratton to our Triumvirate of Terror bureau. While he monitors the West Coast, here are some of the stories the rest of us will be following.

    Market Update
    Analysts warn that the nation's mortgage crisis could yet deepen. The well-documented struggles of industry giant Freddie Mac reportedly have begun to impact the long-term prospects of Bernie Mac as well.

    Mission Accomplished
    President Bush this week announced that "major combat operations" have ended in his quest to bring peace to the Middle East before he leaves office. "If we just stay the course," he noted in his remarks, "a lasting solution is right around the corner."

    Play Nicely
    Eager to head off any emerging controversies, China this week pleaded for a politics-free Olympic campaign. Also eager to head off any emerging controversies, Barack Obama this week pleaded for a politics-free presidential campaign.

    Oops! They Did It Again
    In related news, a U.S. court agreed to extend China's custody over the always-controversial Britney Spears at least through the end of the summer.

    I Want To Be Sedated
    Finally this week, the FDA has rejected a drug designed to counteract the effects of anesthesia. Officials say the drug's side effects include a potentially violent allergic reaction to, you know, being awake.

    Posted by Natasha Julius at 3:12 AM | Permalink

    August 1, 2008

    The [Friday] Papers

    Sorry for the delay, I lost the whole column just as I was posting it and I had to reconstruct the whole damn thing. This has been a really crappy week. Is the bar open yet?

    -

    1. The view from Minnesota:

    "That's the best game by far, this year, emotionally," Twins pitcher Scott Baker said.

    The players gave manager Ron Gardenhire - seen here kicking the game-winning field goal - the game ball.

    *

    Why no reporting on what Ozzie Guillen was jawing about to Minnesota fans from the top step of the dugout?

    *

    The Dusty & Ozzie Show rolls on.

    2. The view from Milwaukee:

    "[T]he Brewers walked out of Miller Park in silence, their heads bowed, momentum swiped and their confidence and even poise crumbled."

    *

    "The four-game series with the Chicago Cubs brought thousands of rabid Cubs fans north to spend their money, drink our beer and, yes, behave like . . . well . . . like Cubs fans always behave," the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel wrote in an editorial this morning. "But we'll put up with their odious ways and manners and even their cheesy Cubbie Bear outfits - believe us, we know cheesy - because we're happy to take their money."

    3. The view from Cincinnati:

    "Saturday night, at Great American Ball Park, Ken Griffey Jr. pulled up on a fly ball to right field, letting it bounce in front of him for a base hit," the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. "Fans booed, even some who were wearing Reds jerseys with his name and number on their backs. Less than a week later, he was gone, taking with him all the promise, all the thrill, all the excitement many of those same fans felt eight short years ago."

    4. The same people who think the Bears shouldn't go after Brett Favre are the same people who thought the Bulls were better off without Kobe Bryant.

    5. Guides to Lollapalooza. (If you don't have tickets yet, you're out of luck, unless you sneak in.)

    * Aftershows, by DeRo.

    * Hour-by-hour, by Kot.

    * The most painful conflicts.

    6. "For all the potential of the Internet, there are times when I consider it a cesspool of misinformation, ignorant opinion and faked imagery," Tribune public editor Timothy J. McNulty writes. "I also find it confusing and untrustworthy."

    7. "Mayor Richard Daley on Thursday defended his move to boot vehicles with just two parking tickets as justified when the city budget is short by several hundred million dollars," the Tribune reports.

    Sure, if we get to boot the mayor after every two violations of the Shakman decree.

    8. "Patrick Swayze was spied filming The Beast in the Millennium Park garage Wednesday night," Bill Zwecker notes.

    Gee, I didn't know Swayze was playing the mayor in an upcoming movie.

    9. "All but one of the half-dozen aldermen in attendance said they would begrudgingly go along with the booting crackdown," the Sun-Times reports.

    In exchange for the mayor releasing their ward budgets from the pound.

    10. Our hero.

    Via commenter Wes Sabi at Chicagoist.

    11. "Daley Defends Secrecy On Deficit."

    Why should the budget be different than any other part of city government?

    12. "'What they're going to try to do is make you scared of me,' Obama said. 'You know, he's not patriotic enough, he's got a funny name, you know, he doesn't look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills,'" AP reports in a story that appears today in the Sun-Times.

    "He didn't explain the comment. But it evoked images of past presidents such as George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Jackson and Ulysses S. Grant."

    A) He didn't explain the comment and we in the media are too stupid to know what he meant by it.
    B) "They" weren't available for comment.
    C) Yes, this is the image that comes to mind! AP must pay better than I thought.

    *

    Just a wild guess here: Leno did a joke last night about how McCain knew all those presidents?

    13. You loved her Maude series; now our very own Kathryn Ware is back with Ironside, a cop and his chair. See the first kick-ass installment.

    14. Baby Daddy Gold.

    15. So Madigan was right?

    16. Daley heading to Beijing.

    A) Will study budget secrecy techniques.
    B) Will return with more red-light cameras.
    C) Wouldn't it be great if his car got booted while he was gone?

    17. NBC News has hired Luke Russert to cover the conventions and focus on youth issues.

    First story: How unfair it is when kids of politicians get jobs through their family connections.

    18. The Denver Boot.

    19. "It's big. It's ugly. It looks invincible. But the Denver Boot is really a marshmallow."

    How to beat the boot.

    20. Tour of Secret Chicago Impound Lot.

    -

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Send 'em your boots.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:56 AM | Permalink

    The Five Dumbest Ideas of The Week

    1. Sharon Stone has been threatened with a $1 billion lawsuit by an enterprising lawyer who, amazingly enough, doesn't represent the audiences who lost four hours of their lives sitting through Catwoman and Basic Instinct II. According to the New York Post, attorney Ming Hai is acting on behalf of 1,000 Chinese earthquake victims who were offended by Stone's remark at the Cannes Film Festival that the earthquake that killed 55,000 people was karmic retribution for human rights violations.

    2. What's it like to apply mascara during an earthquake? Possibly something like the effect supplied by Lancome's vibrating PowerMascara, a bargain at $35. In a stroke of marketing genius, the limited edition was available for one day only and sold out by 6 a.m., because there just aren't enough sharp moving objects women can put near their eyes.

    3. Which leads us logically to Pete Wentz, a man who wears mascara and was terrified by LA's recent earthquake The expectant father and husband of Ashlee Simpson (not to be confused with Ali Lohan) has announced that he will be bringing his child along on tour because "it's a really awesome environment for kids." From Wentz's point of view, anything must be better than growing up Peter Lewis Kingston Wentz III in Wilmette.

    4. Of course, a vibrating mascara might also be popular at Swingfest 08, billed as the world's largest swingers party, now in progress at the Westin Diplomat in Hollywood, Fla. We wonder if GOP operative Roger Stone and one-time swinging U.S. Senate candidate Jack Ryan will be in attendance.

    5. A more imaginative venue for swinging is the Vimy War Memorial in France, which honors 3,598 Canadian soldiers slain in WWI. Or so Alain Robillard and Jackie Boldoduc must have thought when they used the site as a backdrop for filming their sexual escapades. Convicted of sexual exhibitionism and desecrating a monument by a French court, the couple was given a four-month suspended sentence and fined one Euro as reparation to the Canadian government, plus 1,000 Euros for tax evasion.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:01 AM | Permalink

    Ironside: A Cop And His Chair

    Following my rundown of the amazing debut season of Maude, I'm ready to delve back into another iconic television series from my youth. As I write this, the disc I've received from Netflix is fresh out of its shipping envelope. Though my next foray into '70s TV pop culture is only 15 minutes into the first episode, I'm already marveling at how well this program lives up to my high expectations.

    Ironside is a crime drama that ran straight through my formative TV years, from 1967-1975. Long before I saw Raymond Burr's performance as the creepy wife killer in Rear Window, I knew him as chief of detectives Robert T. Ironside, a 30-year veteran of the San Francisco police force confined to a wheelchair by a would-be assassin's bullet in the first scene of the pilot episode.

    Each week, Ironside solved a new case with his Mod-Squadesque team: Don Galloway as Ken-doll detective Ed Brown, Don Mitchell as Mark Sanger (Ironside's African-American bodyguard with an attitude), and Barbara Anderson as the cool socialite-turned-policewoman Eve Whitfield. ("Yes, I'm one of those Whitfield's," she purrs to a team of reporters in her first scene.) In 1971, she was replaced by another mod-looking blond, Elizabeth Baur as Fran Belding.

    I loved Ironside. My family gathered each week around our TV trays in front of the set, our evening meal (complete with iceberg wedge salad) perfectly timed to coincide with the electronic siren sound that kicked off Quincy Jones' thrilling theme song.

    Here's my rundown of the "World Premiere" episode of Ironside. The highlights are many.

    Ironside.jpgAirdate: 28 March 1967

    Plot: Ironside may never walk again after a sniper's bullet shatters his spine, but that doesn't mean he can't continue as the top cop in San Francisco, solving cases (starting with his own) from the chair.

    Guest stars: Kim Darby, Geraldine Brooks, character actor Wally Cox and, a year before he hit it big with "Tip Toe Through the Tulips," Tiny Tim!

    Ironside sure knows how to take his mind off his work: The Chief's first vacation in 25 years is a relaxing stay on a chicken farm. Shots ring out in the dark, taking out Ironside and a bottle of his favorite whiskey.

    You can quote me on that: "Bob Ironside was a cop's cop," Police Commissioner Dennis Randall sternly tells the press after Ironside has been shot. "I know you won't understand that and neither will your readers but you might as well put it in. People expect it."

    Meet the press:
    * The local TV anchor announces Ironside's shooting on the air in a "this just in" style break. He looks more like a CEO than a newsman, sitting in a high-backed leather swivel chair behind a desk with a huge nameplate and a pen set, complete with a large potted plant and map of the United States covering the wall behind him.

    * One of the reporters buzzing around Eve Whitfield, hoping for a quote, shoves a microphone toward her. In the same hand is a burning cigarette, blowing smoke across her face.

    Everything old is new again: Quincy Jones wrote the excellent theme song and score for the first 11 episodes. The music under one sequence is a single, tension-building note plucked over and over and over. It sounds a lot like the soundtrack for Lost, or should I say, vice versa.

    In another life, Ironside could have served as Tony Soprano's talent scout: As Chief Ironside lays on his deathbed and the TV news crew prepares his obit, his character is introduced to the audience with testimonials from co-workers and others who knew him, including a stripper who tells a reporter, "If it wasn't for Ironside I'd still be a shoplifter. He made me understand I had a talent. He was a policeman, but he had an eye for the finer things in life."

    She's okay, for a girl: Apparently Eve got into the police racket when Ironside used her as a witness and complimented her on her "excellent powers of observation, for a broad."

    Well, this is San Francisco: Ironside's favorite obscenity is "flaming," as in, "Take off your flaming hat, Ed. You're in the flaming house."

    Bedside manner: After studying his X-rays, three different specialists have determined that Ironside will never walk again. Ironside's flip, back-to-business response is, "That all? All right, you told me. I've had guys confess to murder quicker."

    Riding in style:
    * Ironside's first fancy wheelchair is a gift from the nuns and hospital staff "to the world's greatest detective." The nuns look more star-struck than charitable. Apparently that Ironside can be a real charmer.

    * His transport is a tricked-out black van that includes a lift for his wheelchair, recording equipment, a car phone, and a bottle of whiskey. All the comforts of home.

    Pass me the Dramamine: Occasionally there are sequences with such rapid-fire cross-cutting between close-ups that I'm left positively dizzy.

    Muppet cameo: Ironside's boss Commissioner Randall (Gene Lyons) wears the largest horn-rimmed glasses I've ever seen. He looks like The Newsman on The Muppet Show.

    The Bat Cave:
    * Ironside's lair - his office-slash-apartment located downtown in police headquarters - has wheelchair ramps and bars hanging from the ceiling to help him get around. It also has a poker table that doubles as a dining table, an antique barber's chair for atmosphere, and the scariest looking horse's head, over his bed, I have ever seen. (That includes the horse in The Godfather.)

    * The only food in his kitchen is 30 cans of chili. "Chili happens to contain every food element needed to support life."

    Tough love, part one: Colleagues call Ironside a cripple no less than five times during the course of this episode.

    The legman: It's angry black man vs. crotchety "cripple" when Ironside succeeds in persuading Mark to come work for him. "Well, now, you lookin' for a boy!" snaps Mark in his best yessa massa voice. "No, just legs," Ironside snaps back. "You got 'em and I need 'em."

    Back when a dollar bought a whole lotta Tang:
    * Mark agrees to be Ironside's driver/personal assistant for $20 a week, plus "walking around money."
    * A quick pan across a gas pump shows that gas is 39 cents a gallon.

    Don't mess with Baby Peggy:
    * Ironside has narrowed the list of suspects who might want to do him harm (Mark having graduated from the list to personal assistant), and the investigation into who shot Chief Ironside is in full swing. First stop is "Margaret Marvel's Motor Supplies" to pay a "social call" on Baby Peggy. Predictably, she's a huge woman, decked out in coveralls, and her reaction to seeing Ironside is to heave a crowbar at the "copper."

    * When Baby Peggy goes for Ironside's throat, that tells him everything he needs to know, and he crosses her off the suspect list. As Mark pays for the gas, Ironside notes a sign that says "No charge if we don't smile." When he calls her on it, the camera quickly pulls into Peggy's face as she gives a demented smile that will haunt my dreams for weeks.

    CSI 'Frisco '67: Apparently the police department has the latest in high-tech equipment: a "big vacuum cleaner" they can use to "pick up anything movable." A clean sweep of the location where the shooter stood turns up an envelope of physical evidence. "Apparently that sycamore grove is a popular spot with the younger set," says Ironside as he unpacks the evidence. "Candy wrappers, cigarette packs, cigarettes, used matches, a dime, a nail file." What, no condoms? Apparently it wasn't that popular a spot.

    Snatch the pebble from my hand: The discovery of six acorns, which Ed had written off as "some miscellaneous nuts," is the key to Ironside cracking the case wide open. Acorns found one hundred yards from the nearest oak tree leave Ed, Mark and Eve scratching their heads. These grasshoppers have much to learn from the master.

    Call in the flaming Boy Scouts: Ironside recruits a Boy Scout troop to scour the area searching for a rat's nest he's convinced will contain the shell casings left behind by the shooter.

    Teamwork: Eve screams like a girl and trips over the rat's nest (not the one in her hair). Ed rushes to her rescue. They cling to each other for an unprofessionally long amount of time, prompting Ironside to say, "Not in front of the Scouts, please."

    Role-playing:
    * The black guy (Mark) goes undercover hanging around the juvie playground, smoking and acting tough to get a lead on their No. 1 suspect. He also does some undercover work at a military school, where he tells the kid who plays Reveille, "Man, you play a mean horn."

    * The white girl (Eve) goes undercover to an art gallery looking for info on an artist linked to the suspect. "Just give me the flaming address," she says in her best Ironside tone of voice.

    Get on the Magic Bus:
    * The investigation takes Ironside and company on a mini-tour of San Francisco counterculture circa 1967. The first stop is a basement club where Master of Ceremonies Tiny Tim descends the stairs blowing kisses to everyone

    * Before Tiny Tim sings a painful version of "Whistling in the Dark," he introduces octogenarian "Miss Margaret Morris and her Concerto for Cymbal." Here's her act: "1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-11" and crash go her cymbals. "1-2-3-4-5-6-7," another crash and she's done. Outta sight! The crowd goes wild.

    * Next, they take a walk through the park complete with strolling hippies singing folks songs. Grab your dulcimer and sing along.

    * Their final stop is an underground film entitled Dirt - a single shot of the Statue of Liberty with nothing moving until "a bird flies by" as a person walks in front of the projector making hand shadows.

    Most exciting chase scene not involving an actual chase: In another instance of the heart-pumping soundtrack accompanying Ironside as he rolls around in his wheelchair, the Chief hoists himself out of the chair and onto a descending escalator. After a series of quick edits (set to some "mean" trumpet playing) between Ironside gripping the handrails, the suspect fleeing, and Ironside's immovable legs, the Chief finally collapses in a heap.

    Tough love, part two: On his way to the exciting climax, Ironside careens down a steep hill, surely burning the skin off his hands as he tries to slow down his wheelchair, until he slams into a parked car. He continues down the hill while his team watches from the sidelines wondering if they should help him.

    Exciting flaming conclusion: The episode literally goes up in flames when Ironside tussles with his would-be assassin, who unwisely wields a blowtorch against the iron man.

    The moral of the story: "No, he's not a man in a wheelchair, he's Ironside in a wheelchair. If we go in to rescue him, then he is a man in a wheelchair."

    -

    First in a glorious series.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:17 AM | Permalink

    MUSIC - The Weekend In Chicago Rock.
    TV - Cricket vs. Brexit.
    POLITICS - Corporate Spies Like Us.
    SPORTS - Why Was This Game Even Scheduled?

    BOOKS - Postdictatorship Argentina.

    PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Public Lands Matter.


    Search The Beachwood Reporter

    Subscribe To Our Newsletter
    Email:

    Follow BeachwoodReport on Twitter



    Beachwood Radio!


    Ask Me Anything!