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« September 2010 | Main | November 2010 »

October 31, 2010

Mystery Senate Debate Theater

In which I talk back to the transcript. Edited for clarity and sanity.

ABC News Illinois Senate Debate/October 19, 2010

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Joining me in the questions tonight, ABC 7's Charles Thomas, political writer Carrie Lester of the Daily Herald and Andy Shaw, executive director of The Better Government Association, long-time reporter for WLS, as well. Each candidate will have an opening statement of one minute each. They had a draw. Alexi Giannoulias, you go first.

ALEXI GIANNOULIAS: Thank you. This has been a tough and at times very negative campaign. But there is a lot at stake. Because of this devastating recession people across the state have lost their jobs, have lost their homes and are struggling just to make ends meet. Tragically, the decisions in Washington, D.C. over the last decade have made things worse. Exploding budget deficits. Shipping jobs overseas. A failure to address our environmental challenges. Why in the world would we send the same people who created this mess back to Washington, D.C.?

RHODES: Therefore, I am announcing today that I will not support Barack Obama for re-election in 2010. And don't even get me started on Dick Durbin.

GIANNOULIAS: You may not always agree with me, but you will always know where I stand.

RHODES: For example, you may not agree with it, but you will always know when I am dodging questions about Broadway Bank.

*

ANDY SHAW: Congressman Kirk, this campaign has featured an abundance of attack ads, character assaults, mudslinging and a notable lack of high-level discourse on the important issues facing the next Illinois Senator.

RHODES: And that was just the primaries!

SHAW: To what extent should you be held accountable by the voters of Illinois for the negative tone of the campaign, which has been disappointing to virtually everyone?

MARK KIRK: I think this campaign certainly has been about the resume and background, but at heart, when we vote on November 2nd, it will be about economic philosophy. If you're happy with the direction of the government right now, of trillions in debt, of increasingly accelerating the spending of the Congress, and the growing of the government into our national life, then my opponent is your candidate.

But there is a growing voice in Illinois that wants a check and balance. That does not think that we should raise taxes in Springfield, like my opponent would like, or in Washington, D.C. And we need a new small business bill of rights. Ten new policies to help out the real number one employers, small business. Half of all the jobs. Eighty percent of the job losses. We know how Congress has hurt them. We don't know very much how the current Congress has helped them at all.

RHODES: Terrific. Now how about a citizens' bill of rights wherein you are required to answer the question.

*

GIANNOULIAS: You're right, Andy. This has been a brutal campaign. But it's brutal out there for a lot of families.

RHODES: I mean, did you see the ads the Johnsons were running against the Smiths?

GIANNOULIAS: To hear Congressman Kirk say that he taxes less, borrows less, and spends less is a tremendous irony, because there's no one in this race who's actually taxed more, spent more, and borrowed more.

RHODES: Which isn't surprising considering he's a five-term United States congressman and you're a first-term state treasurer. You might say he's the one in the race who's spent the most for national security too.

*

SHAW: Let me follow up by confronting the elephant in the room, the character issue. Congressman Kirk, what do you tell voters who wonder about a man who embellishes a resume. Mr. Treasurer, what do you say to voters who wonder about someone whose bank makes loans to unsavory characters and whose student loan program, Bright Start, virtually collapsed?
RHODES: The same thing we've been telling voters for the past year! Don't you read the papers?

*

KIRK: I misstated a part of my military record. It's a painful process. I learned a big lesson from that.

RHODES: Yes. Don't get caught.

*

GIANNOULIAS: I am very proud of the community bank that my father started 30 years ago. And let's be clear, no one has ever suggested that the bank has ever done anything illegal, illicit, or improper. Never.

RHODES: No one has ever suggested the bank ever did anything improper! Dude, now who's the serial embellisher?

CARRIE LESTER: Looking back at how you responded to those revelations, do you feel you should have done anything differently? Do you feel that any of your statements may have ultimately discouraged voters?

RHODES: Well, I'm pretty sure that last one did!

GIANNOULIAS: I think back when I for ran for state treasurer, I probably should have done a better job, quite frankly, explaining the way that community banks decide whether or not to approve or deny a loan.

RHODES: Instead, I dodged the media in order to win the race. And then I dodged the media in the Democratic primary. And I'm dodging the media now. But if I had just explained from the beginning . . .

GIANNOULIAS: But again, we need to be clear on the facts. And I understand it's politics. No one has ever accused my father's business of doing anything illicit or improper.

RHODES: Except everyone.

GIANNOULIAS: And Congressman Kirk - and Karl Rove - have said a lot of things that are untrue and deeply offensive.

RHODES: Plus, my polling shows that I should mention Karl Rove's name as often as possible tonight. That's number three, for those keeping score at home.

GIANNOULIAS: Congressman Kirk wants to fight for big corporations and the wealthiest Americans. I want to fight for middle-class families that have been destroyed by this recession.

RHODES: By banks like mine.

*

KIRK: I made a mistake and I corrected it. I took ownership. As naval officers, we're trained to take command, to be responsible, accountable, and for that, I am. But the difference between me and my opponent is he made a number of mistakes. Betting his bank's future on risky real estate loans. Brokered hot money deposits and loans to well-known convicted felons and mobsters like Michael "Jaws" Giorango. Even this mystery trip to Florida, in which you went to see him and his business. In which he ran a prostitution ring.

RHODES: But nobody has suggested he did anything illicit or improper.

*

GIANNOULIAS: Typical Washington, D.C. change-the-subject sleight-of-hand. Congressman says he's been accountable. Look, I've seen the congressman's fitness reports. And they're impressive.

RHODES: He's very fit!

GIANNOULIAS: But nowhere in those fitness reports does it answer any of the questions that have plagued him throughout this campaign. He keeps on pointing to these fitness reports to provide answers to these questions. But I've looked at the fitness reports. Nowhere in there does it say that he served in Iraq. Nowhere in there does it say he was shot at by Dutch peacekeepers. Nowhere does it say that he was shot at at all.

LESTER: The question was about how you handled your own situation. And if you felt you should have done differently.

GIANNOULIAS: Congressman, simple question: Were you shot at or not?

RHODES: Because God knows I was, making loans to guys named Jaws!

*

KIRK: But the ultimate irony is that he is a man who spends most of his campaign for the Senate criticizing my military record and yet he never served a day in uniform himself.

RHODES: No, I think the ultimate irony is that Alexi was in more danger serving in his dad's bank than you were in the military.

*

GIANNOULIAS: Were you shot at or not?

KIRK: I have put my life on the line for the United States, as many of my fellow veterans have done. But your entire campaign is about a military record in which I served. I put it on the line. You were back in the rear - with the gear. And I understand, you made that decision. And when we look at all of these bank loans to felons and mobsters, the people that were your business associates, and then on national TV you admitted "I didn't know the extent of the criminal activity of the people that I lent money to." From a federal licensed institution that then collapsed. And then you transferred a $390 million bill onto the back of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. I think you should have some apologizing to do, too.

GIANNOULIAS: Again, no answer to the question.

CHARLES THOMAS: To Congressman Kirk. You have made fiscal responsibility a centerpiece of your campaign, citing your opposition to the Obama Administration's economic stimulus because of its cost. What different course or courses of action would you have supported in 2009 to stimulate the economy and get unemployed Americans back to work?

RHODES: Um, we were kind of on a line of questioning here, Charles. If you're gonna sleep through the first part of the debate, don't ask questions until you catch up.

*

KIRK: I think if we had a much smaller bill with a much larger amount of money for infrastructure, it could have gained bipartisan support. But a surprising amount of the stimulus spent money on social programs that had been rejected by the Congress for many years. And the failure of the stimulus, remember we were promised that unemployment would top out at eight percent by the Administration.

In Illinois, it's 10 percent. And we have seen a raft of wasteful spending stories about what the stimulus tried to spend money on. And a real failure of its record. I think we could have built a bipartisan record on that bill, but instead, the lasting legacy of the stimulus will be a near trillion-dollar debt leveled on the financial future of our kids. And much of that money borrowed from creditors who gave it to Uncle Sam expecting to be repaid with interest by our kids.

GIANNOULIAS: Again, facts and records matter.

RHODES: So, that trip to Florida . . .

GIANNOULIAS: Congressman Kirk voted for every single one of the Bush budgets that took us from record budget surpluses to record budget deficits.

RHODES: While I was in Florida.

KIRK: One of the tragedies of the stimulus was that it limited projects to shovel-ready projects.

RHODES: And then it turned out we couldn't afford shovels!

*

THOMAS: Will you go to Washington to simply be a rubber stamp for the Obama Administration?

RHODES: Um, do you want me to? I can't tell by the tone of your question.

GIANNOULIAS: No, of course not. I'm gonna vote my conscience.

RHODES: Paid for by the National Conscience Association, a subsidiary of America's sugar growers and the SEIU.

*

STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, of all the Senate candidates in the country, you're probably closer to the president than any of the other candidates. You're one of the few candidates who's actually advertising his relationship with the president. But no matter what happens on Election Day, there are gonna be fewer Democrats in the Senate. There are gonna be fewer Democrats in the House. So, as a friend of the president, what mid-course corrections would you advise him to take? Give me two specifics.

GIANNOULIAS: I will give you two specifics. But I also think it's important to point out that, again, we were dealing with some enormous challenges when the president took office. That being said, there was an omnibus spending bill which had thousands of earmarks - a ton of pork. This is somewhere where I think the congressman and I agree. I would have voted against it. I think that President Obama should have vetoed it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I'm talking about going forward, though.

GIANNOULIAS: Going forward, I think we need to do everything we can to create a sense of urgency when it comes towards a clean energy future. I think it's a priority not just from a moral perspective, but from a national security, from a global competitiveness, and from a job creation standpoint. And we need to do everything we can to incentivize the private sector again to start hiring.

RHODES: Those are your two specifics? No wonder you made a cruddy loan officer.

*

STEPHANOPOULOS: Similar question for you, Congressman Kirk. Sarah Palin yesterday said that the Republican Party is quote "through" if they don't follow the dictates of the Tea Party. What does the Tea Party get right and what do they get wrong?

RHODES: In what universe is that a similar question?

KIRK: Well, certainly we should spend less, borrow less, and tax less to help this economy out.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I'm not sure I got a direct answer to my question from either one of you.

RHODES: Why should that question be any different than the others?

STEPHANOPOULOS: So, I'm gonna try one more time. First to you, Mr. Giannoulias, again, on the President's basic approach, what kind of mid-course correction does he have to make?

GIANNOULIAS: Sure. As I mentioned, learning from mistakes in the past, I think there is a focus on health care reform, which is something that I'm supportive of.

RHODES: He mentioned that?

GIANNOULIAS: That being said, I think we should have had a laser-like focus on creating jobs.

So, we need to do everything we can, again, to create private sector jobs and to stimulate the private sector.

RHODES: Including stimulating the question-answering industry, because it's obviously not doing much business at the moment.

*

STEPHANOPOULOS: What did the Tea Party get wrong?

KIRK: Fiscal conservative is good. But if you ask what is my independence from the Republican Party, I've been very independent.

RHODES: Um, I think he asked about your independence from the Tea Party. Can I see those fitness reports again?

*

SHAW: Gentlemen, Illinois is a fiscal basket case. Virtually bankrupt. A $13 billion budget deficit. Six billion in unpaid bills. An $80 billion unfunded pension liability.

RHODES: That's why neither of us is running for governor!

*

SHAW: If you go to D.C., facing these multitrillion shortfalls, where do you look to cut? What one or two places do you look first, and what is sacrosanct, what wouldn't you touch?

KIRK: Across the board spending reductions, and no department is exempt. I've talked about the cuts that I would make, for example, in the DOD budget.

GIANNOULIAS: Four things. The first is we need to immediately do everything we can to promote economic growth. When people aren't working they're not paying taxes, that's less revenue long term. Again, when people aren't working, when they don't have jobs.

SHAW: But that's not a budget cut.

GIANNOULIAS: But it's important. It's an important investment to make.

RHODES: So your first budget cut is to spend more. No wonder you made a lousy loan officer.

GIANNOULIAS: The second thing we need to do . . .

RHODES: Is spend more?

GIANNOULIAS: . . . is enact pay-go legislation, something that the congressman voted against, to end these deficit-busting budgets that have been all too familiar in Washington D.C.

The third thing we need to is let the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans expire. We don't have $700 billion to give to millionaires and billionaires. And the fourth thing is, when the deficit commission comes out with their report in December, we're going to need a bipartisan spirit.

RHODES: Finally, more loans to mobsters. They're good for it.

*

STEPHANOPOULOS: Corruption is, of course, the big story in Illinois, but it also exists at the federal level. So let me ask each of you what single ethical or transparency-related law or statute or provision would you fight for when you get to D.C. in the hopes of giving people a better government.

RHODES: How about more transparency about military service and bank lending?

KIRK: I broke with my party early and backed the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform legislation. Now we need to go further and have all candidates disclose contributions within 24 hours on the Internet.

GIANNOULIAS: This is probably the starkest choice in this race. If you turn the TV on after or before this, you're going to see that Karl Rove . . .

RHODES: That's four.

GIANNOULIAS: . . .and the independent expenditures that are fueling Congressman Kirk's commercials every single day are having a dangerous impact on the future of our democracy. Which is why I am very proud to be the first candidate in the history of Illinois to run for the U.S. Senate not to take money from federal lobbyists and corporate PACs.

RHODES: Which I can do because I'm rich.

GIANNOULIAS: We can't afford to let Karl Rove come into town and steal these elections.

RHODES: Five.

*

LESTER: Where do you stand on gay marriages and civil unions?

GIANNOULIAS: I am in favor of full marriage equality.

RHODES: So you think the president is wrong to oppose gay marriage? And is "marriage equality" your way of avoiding the phrase "gay marriage"?

KIRK: I oppose gay marriage, and I support civil unions.

RHODES: So the same position as the president.

*

KIRK: He says he doesn't take money from corporate PACs, but he does take money from union PACs.

GIANNOULIAS: I have to give the congressman credit. He is a great politician. Karl Rove . . .

RHODES: Six.

GIANNOULIAS: . . . is coming here, and American Crossroads, with exorbitant sums of money . . . We're seeing what's happening on our airwaves with Karl Rove.

RHODES: Seven.

GIANNOULIAS: You know, Mark Kirk helped Karl Rove . . .

RHODES: Eight.

GIANNOULIAS: . . . destroy the economy, and now Karl Rove . . .

RHODES: Nine.

GIANNOULIAS: . . . is repaying the favor with millions of dollars.

*

STEPHANOPOULOS: Would you have voted for Justice Thomas?

KIRK: I think Justice Thomas was confirmed.

RHODES: That's what Wikipedia says. Can I see those fitness reports again?

*

STEPHANOPOULOS: Treasurer Giannoulias, is there any member of the Supreme Court who's been appointed by a Republican president on the court right now that you would've supported? But first, the question about Anita Hill.

GIANNOULIAS: You know, again, I'll finally agree with Congressman Kirk.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I'll ask the question again. Is there any Supreme Court justice appointed by a Republican on the court today that you would've supported?

GIANNOULIAS: I can't think of any offhand.

RHODES: But if you name some, you might jog my memory!

-

Analysis: If you're not offended by these candidates, you deserve 'em. Show some self-respect and vote Jones or Labno.

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:37 PM | Permalink

October 30, 2010

The Weekend Desk Report

Not in the mood to party this Halloween? Stay home and tell everyone you dressed as an "El" train.

Market Update
Is it still considered outsourcing when we ship our problems to Americans overseas? Or is it just sound business practice?

Electioween 2010
We'd be remiss here at the Weekend Desk if we didn't note the approach of the most terrifying holiday of the year - Electioween, wherein every trick is its own treat and every choice is wrong.

Warsaw 3D
In the weeks leading up to Tuesday's gubernatorial election, polls showed neither major-party candidate holding much of a mandate. In fact, some analysts project either candidate would be defeated in a run-off with Lech Walesa's moustache.

The Abyss
Meanwhile, the race to replace the next sitting governor of Illinois took a bizarre turn as debate centered on what should be taught in Illinois public schools. For the record, the correct answer to that question is nothing.

Nightmare on Clout Street
Of course, just like in all great horror stories, the real threat is already inside the House.

-

The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Like candy.

Posted by Natasha Julius at 9:39 AM | Permalink

October 29, 2010

The College Football Report: Dementia Pugilistica

As viewers and fans of an inherently violent game, at what point are we morally obligated to object, to stop watching, to stop buying merchandise and to demand that the officials (administrators, coaches, athletic directors) make changes to the game to protect the players?

While not always stated as directly, the damage done by playing football on players has been the topic of discussion for several weeks. For example, Michael Sokolove authored an opinion piece for the New York Times' "Week In Review" section (from Sunday, October 24) titled "Should You Watch Football?" about the quandary of watching - and being entertained by - a game "whose level of violence is demonstrably destructive". (Sokolove's opinion seems to be "it depends".)

Much of the hand-wringing results from a weekend of nasty injuries in college and pro football. Last Saturday, Rutgers University defensive tackle Eric LeGrand suffered a traumatic spinal cord injury during a kickoff return against Army. As of this writing, LeGrand remains paralyzed.

The following day, several NFL players suffered concussions from brutal hits to the head. Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson's hit on Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson exemplified the problem: defensive players leading with the head and shoulders on tackles against vulnerable skill position (mostly receivers, backs, QBs) players. (We caution those with queasy stomachs against watching the clip.)

The issue of violence, injuries and permanent damage is not new to football. It's not limited to the pro or college game. Commentators last weekend rightly noted that defensive players, beginning at a young age in leagues like Pop Warner, are all taught to tackle the same way. Further, the media - most explicitly in segments such as ESPN's "Jacked Up!" - fans and players celebrate violent hits. While few (if any) would cheer for injuries, most football fans relish hard hits that jar the ball loose, break up a play by the offense, or knock an opposing quarterback out of the game for a time.

New research has shown that the accumulation of hard hits to the head - even without any evidence of concussions or other trauma - can accrue, at least in some cases, and result in lasting damage. Earlier this season, the case of Penn co-captain Owen Thomas created a stir in the community as one of the youngest football players ever documented with an incidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative condition stemming from brain injury. Thomas had no history of mental illness nor had he shown any signs of depression. After being named Second Team in the conference in 2009 he was named as a co-captain for the 2010 season. He committed suicide in his apartment on April 26, 2010.

CTE can result in behaviors similar to Alzheimer's disease - changes to mood, disorientation, poor impulse control, and so on. For those who find this hard to believe, consider the original medical term for CTE: "dementia pugilistica" - punch drunk.

For our part, we would like to see stronger regulations - not necessarily changes to rules and penalties, although some improvements could be made in those areas as well - in place, mostly regarding the equipment required at all levels of the sport.

Beyond the breaks, fractures, tears and bruises we have come to expect every week while watching football, at what point should we demand better treatment for the thousands of players who take the field - at least in part - for our entertainment?

For this weekend, let's watch the sport we love with some thought to the price we ask the players to pay and at least a bit more consideration of the power that we, as fans, wield over the NCAA and other officials who administer the game.

Come back next weekend for a further discussion of the College Football Report's recommendations, but for now here's what you came for . . . the picks:

The Sports Seal (floundering, blubbering, barking mournfully):

UAB @ Southern Miss (-10, 11AM Saturday)
Tulsa @ Notre Dame (-8.5, 1:30PM Saturday)
Miami, Ohio (-2.5) @ Buffalo (2:30PM Saturday)

And those of the College Football Report (it's getting ugly around here, folks):

#5 Michigan State (+6.5) @ #18 Iowa (2:30PM Saturday)*
#1 Auburn (-7) @ Ole Miss (5:00PM Saturday)

*As we always say, buy the hook. Even in "for entertainment purposes only" situations.

-

Mike Luce and the Beachwood Sports Seal bring you The College Football Report every week. They welcome your comments.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:44 AM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

Our countdown coverage to Election Day has begun with A Beachwood Candidate Questionnaire. More to come between now and Tuesday.

On to the news.

Disturbed Disturbed
"Two members of the Chicago rock band Disturbed have asked a Kentucky attorney to quit distributing a political flier that implies they are guilty of child pornography and other crimes," the Tribune reports.

"Campbell County Attorney James A. Daley has been using the flier in a political race, according to band members David Draiman and Dan Donegan."

Mad Mike Madigan
"Madigan is not known for giving extensive interviews and would prefer to stay at arm's length from any inquisitive reporters," Joe Boyle writes for the Southwest News-Herald.

Yet:

"Madigan essentially told a receptive crowd of business owners and community leaders to not believe everything you read about him."

It's not true what they write about me and they would know it if I only agreed to answer their questions!

Off Wisconsin
White House gives up.

My Waterloo
"Waterloo police say criminals apparently took the day off earlier this week," AP reports.

"According to the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, police made no arrests on Tuesday, apparently a first for the city in quite some time."

As a former Waterloo Courier police reporter, I can say that maybe they just lost the reports.

Chicago Math
"And that memorable [JFK] trip down the Fox River Valley - 50 years ago this week - may well have tipped a tight Illinois race and the presidential election Kennedy's way," the Tribune reports.

The myth that Illinois gave JFK his victory persists, but the fact is that Kennedy won by 97 electoral votes (303-209). Illinois was then worth 27 electoral votes.

The Tinley Triangle
"Witnesses and believers are gathering this weekend to discuss the Halloween sighting of those famous three red lights reported hovering above Tinley Park six years ago," the Tribune reports.

"To recognize the anniversary of the mass-sighting events on Aug. 21 and Oct. 31 2004, Sam Maranto, president of the Illinois Chapter of the Mutual UFO Network, said the Tinley Park phenomena will be discussed during a special presentation 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Orland Park Library.

"'The Tinley Park sighting was one of the best mass sightings ever recorded,' he said. 'The 911 centers were being bombarded in the south suburbs.'"

*

Or it could have just been this.

Junior Mint
"Jesse Jackson Jr. Won't Endorse For Mayor."

Candidates breathe collective sigh of relief.

You Are Getting Sleepy
"Skokie Chamber of Commerce member Karen Hand received the Hypnotist of the Year Award at the recent Mid-America Hypnosis Conference," the Tribune reports.

Um, couldn't you just hypnotize the judges to make you the winner?

Brain Drain
"Thieves continue to plague Arlington Heights as a total of 20 storm drain covers have been stolen in a three-week period, police said," the Daily Herald reports.

"Arlington Heights police noted that the storm drain covers are part of worldwide metal thefts because it is cheaper to recycle metal than to mine it."

Plus, criminals have gone green too.

Exactly What The Facts Is
"Illinois is one of the lowest tax states and lowest-spending states in the nation," Phil Kadner writes today. "If you're like the three people I told that to in person, you're laughing."

But it's true. The income tax here is low. It's the corruption tax that's high.

The Week In Chicago Rock
They played at a venue near you.

Obama vs. Stewart
The interview and the reviews.

History Passes Us By
American horse racing pulls a Cutler.

Best-Selling Books
On Amazon under the search term "Chicago."

The College Football Report
Dementia Pugilistica.

The Week in WTF
Tom Dart & Co.

-

Wind and Sky

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: DTS.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:37 AM | Permalink

A Beachwood Candidate Questionnaire

The single question we'd like to see put to each candidate if we could only choose one.

Pat Quinn: Are the many previous supporters of yours who are depressingly disappointed with your job performance simply wrong, or have you let a lot of people down?

Bill Brady: If raising taxes was truly the only way to balance the state's budget, would you raise taxes on the rich first and most?

Alexi Giannoulias: If you weren't rich, do you think you'd be in a position today to become a United States senator - and if so, describe how that would have happened.

Mark Kirk: Do you deny moving to the right during this campaign?

Joe Berrios: How do you square your campaign's appeal to party loyalty in attacking Forrest Claypool, who is running as an independent, with your support of past Republicans such as Jim Edgar and convicted felon George Ryan?

Forrest Claypool: What is the worst thing you saw Richard M. Daley do while you were his chief of staff?

Michael Madigan: Will you sign an affidavit upon penalty of perjury swearing that you know nothing about the candidacy of challenger P.J. Ryan, that you do not condone using "shill" opponents, and you will fire and/or disassociate yourself with anyone in or near your campaign if they had any involvement with Ryan?

Sheila Simon: If you weren't the daughter of Paul Simon, do you truly believe you would be on this ticket based on your accomplishments and experience - and if so, explain how that would have happened.

Jason Plummer: If you weren't rich, do you believe you would still be on this ticket based on your accomplishments and experience - and if so, explain how that would have happened.

Lisa Madigan: Are you willing to investigate possible voter fraud involving the challenger to you father?

Toni Preckwinkle: Do you believe - as your pal Joe Berrios contends - that the BGA is engaged in a conspiracy against him?

Jesse White: Why should the Illinois Secretary of State be an elected position? (Same question to the candidates for state treasurer and comptroller.)

To All Judicial Candidates: Do you believe judges should be elected or appointed?

*

Surrogate Bonus:

Michelle Obama: If Alexi Giannoulias was a Republican, can you honestly tell us you wouldn't campaign for his Democratic opponent by citing the same set of facts about Broadway Bank that exist now?

Barack Obama: Why should we believe you and your judgement when you say we can trust Alexi Giannoulias when you also urged voters to cast ballots for Todd Stroger, Dorothy Tillman, Joe Lieberman and Richard M. Daley and your past friendships include Tony Rezko, Emil Jones and Jeremiah Wright?

-

Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:39 AM | Permalink

The Week in Chicago Rock

1. The Cult at the Vic on Thursday night.

-

2. Los Amos in Chicago on Thursday night.

-

3. All Time Low at Lincoln Hall on Tuesday night.

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4. Bayside at the Metro on Wednesday night.

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5. Blood on the Dance Floor at the Bottom Lounge on Thursday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:03 AM | Permalink

TrackNotes: History Passing Us By

Today's secret word is "marketing."

Every time you see that word here, shout. Maybe the pee-wee brains who run Thoroughbred horse racing will hear you and decide to market and promote the next animal even resembling a super-horse.

That's because we have a couple of ladies preparing to do great, unthought of things in the 2010 Breeders' Cup World Championships at Churchill Downs on November 5th and 6th.

And a lot of people don't even know it.

The American is Zenyatta. She's the California girl who will attempt to become the first female to win back-to-back Breeders' Cup Classics, the last one on Santa Anita's synthetic and this year's on the Twin Spires dirt.

And did I mention? She's never lost a race in her life! That's 19 races, and next week's 20th will be her last. At six, she's getting up there in the world of racing, but she's a big, tough broad who will run you down if the stretch is long enough. At Churchill Downs, it figures to be plenty long.

The Irish lass is Goldikova, a five-year-old who has dazzled on both sides of the pond. She will attempt to win her third straight Breeders' Cup Mile. No horse has ever won the same Breeders' Cup race three times running, or even different races three straight years.

Goldikova has won 11 of her last 12 races (20-14-3-2 overall!), all Group or Grade I, including the two Miles at Santa Anita. Ten of those wins, including the Prix de la Foret on October 3rd, have been against males. In 2008, Goldikova seemed doomed in traffic as late as inside the eighth pole. She geared down, found a seam, and shot through like a bullet to make it look easy for a daylight win. Last year, again facing traffic aggravations, she had to go wide and even her half-length victory looked easy. Like Walter or Michael, you watch her. Her turn of foot will take your breath away.

Many will tell you Goldikova is the best racehorse in the world right now. Difficult to argue.

But while we Americans are never really expected to keep up with the day-to-day back in the old country, there's no such excuse here in the new world. American racing, as it usually does, has pulled a Jay Cutler times-ten in throwing away opportunities to promote one of the greatest horses in generations, a horse who has already done the near-impossible: Won all of her races. And more in a row than the legendary Citation.

Yet the lords of racing now "mount" a too-little-too-late campaign to hype her for the Breeders' Cup, and sell pink and aqua merchandise, of course. Her owners, Jerry and Ann Moss, and her trainer, John Shirreffs, do not get off without a rap on the knuckles either. Through their efforts, as Zenyatta approaches one of racing's biggest stages, it's even being debated whether the 19-19-0-0 mare is really all that!

Since Rachel Alexandra put together a three-year-old filly season for the ages and won 2009 Horse of the Year honors, crushing Zenyatta in the voting, debate has absolutely raged over the merits of the two. And Zenyatta's connections have cried loud and often about the mare's inability to become all of America's heartthrob - ours and the media's fault, of course.

Quotes Eric Mitchell in his Bloodhorse.com blog: "'They had a great filly on the East Coast and a great filly on the West Coast, and they didn't celebrate both of them. Instead they pitted one against the other. I thought they made a huge mistake,' said (Shirreffs), the man who's molded the champion Zenyatta, keeping her focused and conditioned through 19 consecutive victories."

Sure, Zenyatta won the Apple Blossom twice on Oaklawn's dirt, with 2008's edition including a very nice field. And she traveled once to Churchill Down to run on Derby Day, but was scratched in sloppy conditions.

But as 2009 and 2010 wore on, what with Zenyatta winning the same races over many of the same horses on the same three Southern California tracks, it began to look a lot like her connections were simply protecting the unbeaten string instead of trying to find out just how good she really was. She wasn't even taking on the boys in Southern California - a fraternity she surely could have rushed - let alone traveling east to run against better females.

She's a huge mare who can close like a locomotive into just about any pace scenario, so why not test her? Who Beat Who is the game for handicappers, especially when the top horses rarely face each other, or a super-horse is protected in a rarefied air of warm breezes, short fields and synthetic surfaces. About Zenyatta, it will always be "Yeah, she kicked butt on those synthetics they used to have."

I'd have to bet she'll win Horse of the Year if she wins the Classic, but on the other side of the coin, if she loses with anything but a very tough beat, she very well might not win the Eclipse Award. That's a heavy change purse to be hauling around Louisville.

Like it or not, coming out east and showing off would have gotten Zenyatta a lot of attention. Oaklawn's Charles Cella tried to put together the dream race with Rachel Alexandra, but Jess Jackson and Steve Asmussen blundered mightily themselves with Rachel Alexandra. See what I'm saying?

As it was, Zenyatta was buried on sports-package cable racing channels in a time zone that was not ever going to catch up with New York or Chicago. And, as I said earlier this year, racing on mainstream television was the most limited I've seen in years. It was pretty much Triple Crown, of course, Travers, and then what appeared to be Keeneland buying its own television time - or ABC/ESPN trying to get racing back into our brains with the Breeders' Cup looming. God forbid we'd see the best turf racing of the year, Arlington Million Day.

You'll see the TV wiseguys trying to make amends for two days. It could get awkward.

But don't cry for Argentinian Sidney's Candy or John Shirreffs. Not when, through it all, American racing has seemed impotent in touting its inherent excitement, even with spectacular superstars in the gate.

The last mass excitement I remember was with Smarty Jones, the Triple Crown hopeful of 2004. Since then, the industry has failed in ways such as the early retirements of Ghostzapper, Afleet Alex and even Rachel Alexandra.

They missed the boat by not getting Curlin out front and center. Admittedly, the tragedies of Barbaro and Eight Belles hurt us all even today.

But it seems naive that there were more than a few hoping upon hope the movie Secretariat would somehow resurrect the game. The old "raise awareness" saw. Look for the Disney fantasy on DVD right after the Breeders' Cup, I predict.

And I suppose the piece on Zenyatta on this week's 60 Minutes will reach a few more people. I just hope they don't use Leslie "That's what he just said!" Stahl.

Where was everybody on June 13th when Zenyatta beat one of her toughest foes, St. Trinian's, in the Vanity Handicap, breaking Citation's record by a half-length?

Are we to feel blessed that "America's Newspaper," the hallowed New York
Times
, has even crawled out of the woodwork? I guess you have to give them credit for at least admitting they're late beyond fashion.

Zenyatta's legacy will never be a sure thing, not after being safe and warm in L.A. for all those races. But the Times's Joe Drape has already made up his mind.

"Let me get a couple of things off my chest," he writes. "Whether she wins or loses the Breeders' Cup Classic on Nov. 6, Zenyatta is the Horse of the Year. End of story. She should have won that honor last year. Zenyatta beat one of the greatest fields - all boys - ever assembled last year in the Classic."

Feel better, Joe? Not one of the greatest fields. But call me with any questions.

See? We horseplayers think we have it all figured out. And we wish all of the rest of you could have been there to see it too.

Next week's Breeders' Cup is a program already in progress to us, but sit down and enjoy.

There's still some history to be made.

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Thomas Chambers is our man on the rail. He brings you TrackNotes every Friday and welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:22 AM | Permalink

The Week in WTF

1. Tom Dart, WTF?

He's not running for mayor of Chicago; he's not running for U.S. Senate. Leave me alone! I WANT TO BE SHERIFF of COOK COUNTY! There are tears and sobs and pleas for understanding.

Okay, okay, calm down; we get it.

But as much as we like Tom Dart based on what we empirically know about him (which I'd suggest is Almost Nothing), is WTF the only one feeling slightly irritated by the Dart penchant for tease?

At some point in every pending big league race in Illinois, Dart's name gets tossed around like he's a beanbag at a senior center activity center. Someone In Authority always seems to think Dart is hot to trot. We suggest that misperception could be cured by Dart telling insiders to cut it out in advance of the political minuet.

After awhile, the bowing, curtsying and winking starts to seem like a delicate damsel who raises her petticoats just enough for a peek at a shapely ankle and then hurriedly drops the curtain in mock amazement that anyone might see.

And for what it's worth, if Dart won't seek a higher office because it diminishes his role as a father of small children, we're cool with that if it's the real reason. But doesn't he know these are hard jobs? He appeared shocked (twice) by the news.

But he's now used the father of-the-year reasoning twice. If there's a third occasion, no one has to believe it. If it happens again, then the children were just a handy prop.

Meanwhile, hail to Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

2. NIU campus cops, WTF?

We're sure there's a solidly thought-out customer service concept that explains why the Northern Illinois University campus police force wears so many medals on their uniform shirts. Really, guys, WTF?

This kabuki show pony puffery does not impress people who actually have shown gallantry in the face of real bullets and not just out-of-control frat parties.

We've only recently got a serious dose of medal inflation during the recent tragedy of Antinette "Toni" Keller's death.

Campus police chief Donald Grady presented himself on TV news several times wearing more medals than Sergeant York and Audie Murphy combined. We're sure Grady is a swell fellow, but should he dress up like Admiral Halsey? He's actually been a municipal police chief before (In Santa Fe, N.M.,) and refused to wear a uniform in those days. He did, however, wear clothes.

According to the department's office, the NIU medals are "awards for things like good attendance and good driving." Good driving?

Can I get a group yell of "WTF!!" on that one?

3. DeKalb cops, WTF?

While the NIU campus deals with the heartbreak and terror of another student killed, the question of why local cops kept pertinent details secret for a week defies logic. They defied logic 50 years ago when keeping such secrets began in earnest and the instinct is even more incomprehensible now.

Think of it this way: With a fearful family and entire student gripped in horror and terror, the police withhold the fact the girl is dead and her remains likely have been found because to reveal such information would "impede the investigation." Haven't you heard that phrase a thousand times as a defense for secret-keeping?

What does that phrase mean logically? Not much.

First, the one person in the world who knows exactly what happened is the person who killed her. None of the details being kept secret from the community is a secret to the killer. The killer knows everything and should have had no doubt that police would find the remains momentarily. He knew where he left the body. He knew he left her personal items close by.

He's either hanging around in the area or he's gone. In either case, the police missed a chance to enlist the entire campus as detective allies by hinting for a week she was merely missing. Police often mask a cruel entitlement in this secrecy.

According to the Tribune, "DeKalb police Chief Bill Feithen said he believed the slaying was an 'isolated incident' . . . " This is a statement devoid of any meaning. The truth is, Feithen has no idea what it was.

4. Valentino, WTF?

We love happy endings to dog stories. They're cute. We love cute. Many people think we're cute. Okay, so maybe that last sentence was stretching things. We love stories about Brian-Urlacher-shirt-wearing dogs being saved by his gastroenterologist owner with emergency CPR. This dog is named Valentino. It's Studs Terkel meets Damon Runyan.

The Valentino-saving doctor clears the gagging Chihuahua's mouth, gives him the breath of life and, shazam, health is restored.

We hope the suburban doctor keeps more updated on his medical reading of human matters.

A week before this event, the American Heart Association changed its rules about CPR and revealed that new research shows the mouth-to-mouth thing is mostly a waste of time - at least for humans. They say you should skip the liplock and head straight for the chest pounding.

We're not sure there are any rules about CPR for dogs. So maybe the doctor spent a few minutes French kissing his dog just because he liked it.

5. Iowa City, WTF?

It is entirely possible that the WTF crew is missing some deeper element of infrastructure insight, but we have been to Iowa City. Once you go to Iowa City specifically and Iowa in general, most of your desire to go back is satiated unless you're running for president; you pretend you want a retirement home in Keokuk. But who really wants to visit a place where you might run into Mike Huckabee or Mitt Romney on the street?

So we wonder if the $230 million in federal cash being sent to Illinois and Iowa for a spiffy new passenger train route to Iowa City really is the best use of the nation's money. No oil company needs a bailout this month?

On the other hand, we certainly understand the migratory imperative of Iowans to escape periodically. We suspect most Chicagoans can tough out the sudden urge to see more corn fields. But asking the entire country to subsidize that urge with a $230 million get-out-of-Iowa-free card seems fiscally ostentatious for such tough times.

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David Rutter is the former publisher/editor of the Lake County News-Sun, a Sun-Times Media property. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:14 AM | Permalink

Booklist: Best-Selling Books On Amazon Under The Search Term "Chicago"

1. Side Jobs: Stories From The Dresden Files. By Jim Butcher.

2. The Road To Serfdom: Text And Documents - The Definitive Edition (The Collected Works Of F.A. Hayek, Volume 2). By F.A. Hayek and Bruce Caldwell.

3. Body Work. By Sara Paretsky.

4. The Devil In The White City. By Erik Larson.

5. The Chicago Manual of Style. By the University of Chicago Press staff.

6. A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, Seventh Edition: Chicago Style for Students and Researchers. By Kate L. Turabian, Wayne C. Booth, Gregory G. Colomb, and Joseph M. Williams .

7. Shaken. By J.A. Konrath.

8. Storm Front (The Dresden Files, Book 1). By Jim Butcher

9. The Firebrand. By Susan Wiggs

10. The Craft of Research, Third Edition. By Wayne C. Booth, Gregory G. Colomb, and Joseph M. Williams.

11. Culture of Corruption: Obama and His Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks, and Cronies. By Michelle Malkin.

12. Turn Coat: A Novel of the Dresden Files. By Jim Butcher.

13. Twice Bitten (Chicagoland Vampires, Book 3). By Chloe Neill.

14. The House on Mango Street. By Sandra Cisneros.

15. Little Girl Blue: The Life of Karen Carpenter. By Randy L. Schmidt and Dionne Warwick.

16. Hardball: A V.I. Warshawski Novel. By Sara Paretsky.

17. Friday Night Bites: A Chicagoland Vampires Novel. By Chloe Neill.

18. The Myth of the Rational Market: A History of Risk, Reward, and Delusion on Wall Street. By Justin Fox.

19. Capitalism and Freedom: Fortieth Anniversary Edition. By Milton Friedman.

20. Storm Front (The Dresden Files, Book 1). By Jim Butcher.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:12 AM | Permalink

Obama Vs. Stewart

Last month Jon Stewart told Bill O'Reilly that "I thought [Obama'd] do a better job. He ran as a visionary; he's led as a functionary."

This week Stewart welcomed Obama as a guest. First, the appearance. Then, the reviews.

1. Official interview: "Actual President of United States Actually on The Daily Show in Actuality."

2. Elizabeth Hasselbeck schools the panel.


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3. CNN goes after the tough issues.

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4. Robert Gibbs pretends he's serious.

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5. On ABC News: Ex-Clinton aide discusses appearance with two partisans.

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6. Candidate Barack Obama on The Daily Show, 2007.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:08 AM | Permalink

October 28, 2010

The [Thursday] Papers

I've got a lot of material for our Politics section I'd like to get to between now and Tuesday - including our legendary Beachwood Voters' Guide - so I'll post as I can from today until then. You'll just have to keep coming back.

To that end, I'll hold my fire here on the U.S. Senate race, the congressional campaigns and the county assessor race and get on with the rest of the news.

Dart Board
I have absolutely nothing interesting to say right now about Tom Dart's decision to abandon his mayoral run. I would like to note, however, that Dart always wears fleece pullovers and jeans. I always found that an appealing quality. So nothing new there. Let a thousand conspiracy theories bloom!

Zagel Zinger
Blago's conviction stands.

"Defendant's motion is founded in substantial part on the well-known principle that if a lawyer cannot attack the law or the facts in a criminal prosecution, the only recourse is to attack the prosecutor," [federal judge James] Zagel said. "One aspect of the case that makes it clear that the defense had no attack on the law or the facts . . . is that defense counsel did not, and correctly so, choose to attack the evidence" of Blagojevich's guilt on the lone count of conviction."

Of course, Blago's defense lawyers attacked Zagel's rulings in their appeal so now it goes to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, where the real action takes place.

Meters Kaput
Did he really just ram them with his van? What a disappointment.

City Stuck Up
"City Sticker Problem May Have Cost City Millions In Parking Ticket Revenue," The Expired Meter reports.

And here is the most aggravating part of the fiasco:

"Chicago-based SecureMark Decal Company is the company that won the five year contract to supply the City Clerk's office with city vehicle stickers and residential parking permit guest passes in March of 2010. Their bid came in about $300,000 lower over the length of the contract.

"But from the moment Chicago's Procurement Services Department announced SecureMark as the winning bidder, City Clerk Miguel del Valle began his opposition to SecureMark's contract. Del Valle sent Procurement a letter dated March 4th, 2010 asking them to ignore the low bid. Instead, del Valle asked Procurement to assign the contract to a company the Clerk's office had worked with for years - The Standard Register Company.

"Del Valle pointed out in his letter that the State of New York Department of Motor Vehicles, less than a year earlier, had experienced a well publicized problem with defective decals from SecureMark.

"The problem?

"They didn't stick.

"In fact, according to an October 14, 2009 article from New York Newsday, of the 13.4 million DMV decals ordered, over 5 million were defective. Ultimately, according to the Newsday piece, SecureMark agreed to replace 1.4 million DMV decals.

"Despite del Valle's reservations, Procurement went forward and awarded SecureMark the contract on April 8, 2010 for nearly $960,000."

*

Disclaimer: I have a business relationship with The Parking Ticket Geek.

Enthusiasm Gap
"If you take into account prisoners, a large majority of African American men in some urban areas, like Chicago, have been labeled felons for life," Michelle Alexander writes in The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (via ScienceBlogs).

AOL Genius
Art Institute of Chicago graduate Jimmy McBride ('02) has been named one of AOL's 25 for 25 - meaning he just scored 25 grand.

I applied, positing this website as an intersection between art and journalism. Oh well.

Hail, Bedbugs!
I, for one, welcome our new bedbug overlords.

Four Extra Pockets
"Six-Legged Metaphor For Zell Era Removed From Tribune Co. Lobby."

Ditching The Front Desk
"The Holiday Inn program forgoes keycards altogether, opting instead for a system in which guests can unlock their doors with their cell phones," MSNBC reports. "Called MobileKey, it involves getting a travel-day text message, but one that includes a link to an encrypted audio tone that can be played back to open the door.

"The system is currently being piloted at the Holiday Inn & Suites Chicago-O'Hare and Holiday Inn Express Houston Downtown with enrollment topping 200 in the first month of operation."

Chicago Sharpies
"Sanford Manufacturing Co., a Chicago purveyor of ink and glue, launched the Sharpie line in 1964, later becoming Sanford L.P. and part of the Newell Rubbermaid empire," GuelphMercury reports. "Easily the market leader, half a billion Sharpie products were sold around the world last year."

In Action! Gary Numan
The only way to live.

What Should LeBron Do?
How 'bout get real.

Giants=Sox
Just catching up with this, from our very own Dan O'Shea.

Indonesian Journal
It's Funny Until 13 People Die.

The 99th Worst Cub Ever
Is Bobby Murcer.

Freakin' Fantastic Fliers!
Nobody out-alliterates Aldi.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Milk it.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:50 AM | Permalink

What Should LeBron Do?

He should realize that very few people on this Earth have access to the kind of creative talent that can so brilliantly reposition his brand in search of more acclaim.


It's too bad all that creative talent can't be directed toward something that matters. Just say you made a boneheaded, ego-exploding screw-up and to make good you'll give this year's salary to charities in Cleveland that serve the needy. And ask Nike to lend their creative team to the same purpose.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:22 AM | Permalink

Indonesian Journal: It's Funny Until 13 People Die

All day yesterday and into this morning, the TV news here has been airing admiring stories about Mt. Merapi's former spiritual gatekeeper, a much admired but apparently deeply stubborn 83-year-old shaman-volcanologist who went by the name Mbah Marijan.

He died Tuesday when he refused to leave his volcano-side home, despite many repeated efforts by authorities and friends to get him off Merapi. I wrote a little yesterday about the televised scene of rescue workers prying his body from the ashes of his home. Watching on TV as workers manhandled his corpse - images of a sort we never or very rarely see on TV news in the United States - I felt like maybe some moments, including this one, ought to remain private.

What did I or anyone else gain by way of understanding the story of Merapi's eruption with unfettered, unvarnished, televised access to the guy's death chamber? Yeah, it was gross. Yeah, the guy's very dead. And?

I still think the footage was in poor taste but what's really grotesque is the fawning encomiums for Marijan (whose real name, according to the New York Times, was Penewu Suraksohargo) that fail to mention his central and very direct role in the deaths of 13 other people at Merapi the other day.

MarijanPhoto.jpg

According to the Indonesian government and press reports, 29 people were killed in this week's eruption. Fourteen of them died in Marijan's house. Marijan reportedly believed he had a supernatural connection with the volcano and that he could stop lava from flowing down the mountain. He opted to stay because he thought it was his "duty" to do so.

This is quaint and kind of anthropologically fun, old-timey, Old Java stuff - until it starts killing people. Especially people who didn't necessarily believe in those hokum powers.

Among those killed in Marijan's house was the editor of a news Web site. Another of the dead was a Red Cross volunteer. According to a report published in the Jakarta Globe, these men and others had visited Marijan in an effort to get him to evacuate. "In the final minutes before Merapi erupted on Tuesday afternoon, 13 people were still in his home trying to convince him to evacuate," the Globe reported. "They were all found dead with him."

Marijan emerges in these vacuous and platitudinous TV puff-pieces as a wizened and gruffly charming Javanese throwback, a reminder of a different and older age that maybe we don't completely want to forget about in our mad rush to Western-style modernization.

That's fine. Every nation likes their crotchety cranks.

But in their haste to label Marijan a national figure and one who died, I guess, for his beliefs, even if that death was completely unnecessary, the television media here is trafficking in the very worst kind of heroic-mythmaking bullshit.

Marijan was free to think whatever he wanted - although I can't help but wonder how much of his thinking about his singular spiritual role at Merapi was shaped by the attention he's gotten, from the local and international media, since replacing his father in 1982 as the main conduit between the humdrum human world above and the capricious spirit world inside the volcano. But I'm not sure he was free to risk the lives of 13 others in a heat-ball death Tuesday afternoon.

Yes, the men who died in Marijan's house made a choice to be there. They could have stayed away. But they were trying to help take him to safety - a noble effort, to be sure - and they would have never been there if Marijan hadn't decided to hole himself up on the mountain as it rumbled and prepared to explode.

According to the Globe, Marijan told a friend last week that he wasn't going anywhere.

"He said he couldn't [leave] because he had a responsibility," that friend told the Globe. "And that because 'my time to die in this place has almost come, I can't leave.'"

Maybe Marijan's time was up but I'm guessing the younger men who died trying to rescue him weren't thinking their clocks were ready to run out. Marijan got to be 83. The Red Cross volunteer was a year younger than me. Maybe he saw it differently but I'm not ready to die. And especially not for such an ultimately ridiculous and inexcusably selfish old man.

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Brett McNeil is a former Chicago Tribune reporter, Chicago Journal editor, and Fulbright English teacher living in Indonesia. He blogs at The Year of Living Volcanically and is also the Beachwood's new Southeast Asia correspondent.

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Previously:
* Indonesian Journal: Buying Flowers, Burning the Koran
* Indonesian Journal: The Control State
* Indonesian Journal: The Swarm And The Sick House

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:04 AM | Permalink

In Action! Gary Numan

At the Metro on Tuesday night.

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1. The opener.


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2. I eat dust.

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3. Plug me in and turn me on.

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4. It's the only way to live.

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5. With a friend called five.

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6. I can not be saved.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:41 AM | Permalink

October 27, 2010

The [Wednesday] Papers

BREAKING: Is Tom Dart out?

We'll update our Mayoral Odds later today.

Mope Dope
"A suspect was charged early this morning in connection with the theft of several of the hefty pay-and-display parking boxes from city streets," the Tribune reports.

"[Jeffrey] Kaput was pulled over late Monday at 5518 W. Augusta Blvd. by an Area 5 robbery mission team after police had received a description from a witness of a car that had collided with one of the LAZ parking boxes, according to a police report."

He was also charged with misdemeanor possession of a crack pipe, so maybe not the folk hero we hoped for, but he certainly couldn't have acted alone, could he?

Windpocalypse!
* Chiclone! Scary! Ugly! Massive! Shocking!

* Song of the Moment: The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald

Baker Bummer
"A Mississippi businessman has been awarded $103 million in a lawsuit against the Chicago-based law firm that he accused of defrauding his oil and gas business," AP reports.

"Lavon Evans Jr. filed the lawsuit in Jones County Circuit Court in Mississippi in 2008. It sought $150 million in damages from attorney Joel Held, who worked at the Dallas office of the Baker & Mackenzie law firm."

Wausau Wonderland
"A Chicago man has been sentenced to 20 years in federal prison for supplying over five-million-dollars worth of cocaine to an operation in Wausau," the Pierce County Herald reports.

Worst Candidate He Has Seen In Years
Find out who Ray Hanania is talking about.

Runner-Up?
"Unlike [Green Party candidate Ronald] Lawless, [Cook County Commissioner Earlean] Collins has run no ads and placed few, if any, yard signs in Austin. She has no campaign web site and a scant Facebook entry under her name contains no photo or wall posts. She declined to fill out campaign questionnaires for both the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times - both of which have endorsed Lawless," AustinTalks reports.

"The commissioner's office did not respond to two requests for an interview. On the third request, her scheduler said he was unable to schedule a phone interview at this time; he said AustinTalks could call back later in the week to try again to make an appointment, but that he was 'not going to promise anything.'"

Audubon High
"Another North Side elementary schools is poised to extend into a high school. On the agenda for the October board meeting comes the proposal to expand Audubon Elementary School in Roscoe Village so that it will now include a high school," Catalyst reports.

"The Audubon High School follows behind Alcott High School for the Humanities and Ogden International High School, both of which opened in Fall 2009. Alcott Elementary and High School are in Lincoln Park; while Ogden Elementary School is on the Gold Coast, but the high school is located in West Town.

"These three high schools are among new public schools in the city, although they serve students in areas that were not identified as needing performing options in a 2004 report done by the Illinois Facilities Fund. That report was supposed to set the stage for the Renaissance 2010 initiative, which was Mayor Richard Daley's project to improve education by opening new schools.

"There are no South Side schools that serve children from kindergarten through 12th grade. On the West Side, Spry School has an elementary and high school."

Remembering Cabrini-Green
A Chicago Reporter photo gallery.

Campaign Cash
"With a week to go until the Nov. 2 election, 10 legislative races - three of them in the suburbs - have passed the $1 million mark in terms of fundraising dollars, putting them among the most expensive campaigns in Illinois history," the Daily Herald reports.

Deer Tacos
"Chicago area residents can participate in a unique anti-hunger program this week," AP reports.

"The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is bringing its deer donation initiative back to the area. The 'Target Hunger Now!' initiative encourages hunters to bring venison to food banks. Then state officials have it cooked into such items as venison tacos and chili."

Ryan's Renaming
"Changing the title from Ride-Along to The Chicago Code reflects our belief that this is more than just a cop show," Shawn Ryan tells New York magazine. "It's about the not just the police but politics, the Midwest, history, government corruption and the city's code. Plus adding 'Chicago' to anything is always a good idea."

Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report
"Like a personal timepiece made of stone, last Sunday's afternoon affair against the Washington Redskins was a hard watch," our very own Carl Mohrbacher writes.

Fantasy Fix
"I like [Matthew Stafford's] chances against the Washington secondary, which has only looked good against Jay Cutler this year and terrible against everyone else," our very own Dan O'Shea writes.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Timeless.



Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:52 AM | Permalink

Chiclone!

1. Massive!


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2. Ugly!

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3. Shocking!

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4. Possibly combustible!

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5. Windpocalypse!

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:18 AM | Permalink

Song of the Moment: The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald

A storm stronger than the one that sank the freighter Edmund Fitzgerald in 1975 is expected to slash across the Midwest tomorrow, snarling Chicago travel and whipping waves as high as 30 feet across Lake Michigan. - Bloomberg

This year, the gales of November have come calling a week early. Rumors are flying that the storm we have right now rivals the region's most famous storms of old. "The rumors are not rumors because they're true," said Dan Miller with the National Weather Service. "This storm is actually probably a little stronger than the Edmund Fitzgerald storm." - Northland News Center

[T]he storm's pressure was worse than that produced the Blizzard of 1978, the March 1993 "Storm of the Century" or the November 1975 storm that sank the Edmund Fitzgerald freighter, memorialized in a song by Gordon Lightfoot. - AP

Recorded: December 1975

Artist: Gordon Lightfoot

Released: August 1976

Produced By: Lenny Waronker and Gordon Lightfoot

Label: Reprise

Length: 6:32 album, 5:57 radio edit

B-Side: "The House You Live In"

Charts: No. 1 in Canada on the Top Singles, Adult Contemporary, and Country charts; No. 2 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Covered By: Brainclaw, Laura Cantrell, Jag Panzer, The Dandy Warhols, Rheostatics

Wikipedia: It was inspired by the Newsweek article on the event, "The Cruelest Month," which appeared in the issue of November 24, 1975.

One unusual aspect of the song is that it is written in Dorian mode.

Capt. Ernest McSorley stated over the radio, until the boat sank, that they were "holding our own." What the cook or any other crew member did or did not say will never be known; however, it is customary for folk music to include artistic renderings of a crew's final moments or speech, especially if unknown.

Songfacts: In the U.S., this was held out of the #1 spot by Rod Stewart's "Tonight's The Night."

This was nominated for the Song Of The Year Grammy, but it was beaten by Barry Manilow's "I Write The Songs." [Editor's Note: Written by Bruce Johnston, who received the award.]

Ohio-based Great Lakes Brewery produces a beer called Edmund Fitzgerald Porter.

Lyrics:

The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down
Of the big lake they call Gitche Gumee
The lake, it is said, never gives up her dead
When the skies of November turn gloomy.

With a load of iron ore - 26,000 tons more
Than the Edmund Fitzgerald weighed empty
That good ship and true was a bone to be chewed
When the gales of November came early

The ship was the pride of the American side
Coming back from some mill in Wisconsin
As the big freighters go it was bigger than most
With a crew and the captain well seasoned.

Concluding some terms with a couple of steel firms
When they left fully loaded for Cleveland
And later that night when the ships bell rang
Could it be the North Wind they'd been feeling?

The wind in the wires made a tattletale sound
And a wave broke over the railing
And every man knew, as the captain did, too,
Twas the witch of November come stealing.

The dawn came late and the breakfast had to wait
When the gales of November came slashing
When afternoon came it was freezing rain
In the face of a hurricane west wind

When supper time came the old cook came on deck
Saying fellows it's too rough to feed ya
At 7 p.m. a main hatchway caved in
He said fellas it's been good to know ya.

The captain wired in he had water coming in
And the good ship and crew was in peril
And later that night when his lights went out of sight
Came the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

Does anyone know where the love of God goes
When the waves turn the minutes to hours
The searchers all say they'd have made Whitefish Bay
If they'd put fifteen more miles behind her.

They might have split up or they might have capsized
They may have broke deep and took water
And all that remains is the faces and the names
Of the wives and the sons and the daughters.

Lake Huron rolls, Superior sings
In the ruins of her ice water mansion
Old Michigan steams like a young man's dreams,
The islands and bays are for sportsmen.

And farther below Lake Ontario
Takes in what Lake Erie can send her
And the iron boats go as the mariners all know
With the gales of November remembered.

In a musty old hall in Detroit they prayed
In the Maritime Sailors' Cathedral
The church bell chimed, 'til it rang 29 times
For each man on the Edmund Fitzgerald.

The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down
Of the big lake they call Gitche Gumee
Superior, they say, never gives up her dead
When the gales of November come early.

YouTube:

1. Gordon Lightfoot on Soundstage, 1979.

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2. An even longer version by the Rheostatics.

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3. Jag Panzer rocks it.

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Comments welcome.

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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
* Rocky Mountain High
* North to Alaska
* Barracuda
* Rainy Days and Mondays
* Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?
* Baby, It's Cold Outside
* Man in the Mirror
* Birthday Sex
* Rio
* My Sharona
* Alex Chilton
* Surfin' Bird
* By The Time I Get To Arizona
* Heaven and Hell
* Sunday Bloody Sunday
* Lawless One
* Tell It Like It Is

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:37 AM | Permalink

The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report

Blue: Choosing the Blue (positive) side of this report seemed at first to be a great idea. I could talk up my Chicago Bears week after week. And after last year, they just had to have far less embarrassing games than the 2009 campaign.

Ahem.

Four interceptions by Jay Cutler this week against the Washington Redskins, zero offense the week prior versus the Seattle Seahawks, and only marginal improvement from the Bears' offensive line . . .

However, I've learned by lesson from having two wives, and that's to be open about saying things like "I'm sorry, I was wrong." (Or as my brother would say "I hate myself already.")

So, I'm sorry I offered to always hype the Bears by drinking the Blue Kool-Aid, and I really hate myself. But, if I'm to write, I'm to write of the positive. Let's see if I can do this without making anything up.

As hard as this is to say, the defense actually played well against Washington. But, when your offense is as impotent as the 2010 Bears have been the last four weeks, anything better than not terrible is considered a positive.

DJ Moore scored on a wacky tipped ball and might have scored two had it not been for the delay of game called on Donovan McNabb.

Speaking of McNabb, the secondary, with a resurgent and previously egg-layer of a DB in Peanut Tillman, held Donovan to a very pedestrian 200 yards with two interceptions. Ryan Torain ran hard and ran well, with 125 yards, but didn't score. The front four not only held Torain from scoring, but were able to get to McNabb a couple times for sacks, and pressured on more.

Staying on the positive note for a moment, how about that run game? Matt Forte ran wild with an average of 4.1 yards per carry , and Chester Taylor chipped in 6.7 yards a clip. With that kind of ground attack, you would figure that the Bears would revert to the traditional "we get off the bus running" approach, right? Wrong.

When you have Mike Martz dialing up the plays, you have no need for a run attack. Seriously, why run more than 13 times? Better to throw four interceptions, all to DeAngelo Hall, totally abandon the run game even when the game is close, and sink to 4-3 and lose sole possession of first place in the NFC North.

Though the ball was pushed to Greg Olsen more this week than in weeks past, Martz has to (I'm sure he's reading and listening here) find more ways to get the ball to him even more, as well as to Forte and Chester "Money Well Spent?" Taylor.

As Blue as I like my Kool Aid, and as much as I have delusions of why this Bears team should be 6 -1 (a little more pass protection vs. the Giants; Lance Briggs in against the Seahawks; running the ball at the Redskins), this team needs to find a way to put it all together for a full four quarters.

Yes, at times the O-line has been an Ole line, allowing Jay Cutler to look more helpless than one of Mike Vick's puppies. But, in the second half of last Sunday's contest against the 'Skins, the gruesome fivesome of our offensive line was able to slow up the pass rush. The defense looked marshmallow soft against the Seahawks, but were rock solid against the Giants for three quarters, held the Cowboys' many weapons to only 13 points on offense, and did enough to keep the Packers at bay. The special teams have been strong with the return of the Ridiculousness of Devin Hester and the continued danger that Daniel Manning presents every time he takes a return back at the opposition. That's three phases, and as much as I'd love to talk about the fourth phase of the home crowd, my brother, who has two sets of four season tickets, won't even sell them to me for over face value. I hate him already.

Thank God for the Bye Week. I don't have to look like an ass with my ridiculous prediction of another Bears victory that somehow slips into a group exercise of head-shaking. Some time off to forget that this year's edition of the Monsters of the Midway has possibly already thrown away the season by pissing away wins at the hands of the very beatable Seahawks and Redskins. Two weeks to prep for the juggernaut that is the Buffalo Bills in football crazy Toronto! Shit, here comes the prediction:

Bears 24-21.

The D shows up, Cutler proves that the new reality girlfriend isn't a poor man's Jessica Simpson, and the combo of Hester and Manning at least put the Bears in Robbie Gould field goal range. The Bills really suck, and there's no reason for our Bears to blow another.

*

Orange: This profession is filled to the brim with unrealistic [football teams]. [Football teams] who thought their [2010 season] would age like wine. If you mean it turns to vinegar, it does. If you mean it gets better with age, it don't. - Marsellus Wallace

Like a personal timepiece made of stone, last Sunday's afternoon affair against the Washington Redskins was a hard watch. It was a tale of two halves, each their own special snowflake of frustrating, poorly executed, soul crushing football. To paraphrase the great philosopher Plato, the first half was abject poop.

The Chicago Bears offense staggered backwards for negative five (-5) yards of offense in the first quarter and with the exception of their final drive of the half, would rack up a grand total of 25 yards.

But hark! Mike Martz just loves dialing up plays (copyright Jon Gruden) and the elusive offensive adjustments that had proven impossible to implement throughout the last several games would rematerialize for the first time since week 2.

However, like that convincing tranny at your cousin's bachelor party, these adjustments would lead to red zone catastrophe, a trip to Lens Crafters and a bad taste in your mouth that isn't washed away with Scope (all similes courtesy of The Naked Gun).

While the yardage totals would seem to indicate a level of success, the drive chart for the final two quarters unmasks this rooster tease.

QTR. POSS. YARD PLAYS YARDS RESULT
3 03:18 CHI 23 6 76 Fumble
3 00:00 CHI 47 1 0 Intercepted Pass
3 06:32 CHI 22 10 65 Intercepted Pass
3 03:42 CHI 16 8 59 Fumble
4 00:05 CHI 7 1 0 Intercepted Pass
4 01:45 CHI 27 3 0 Punt
4 01:15 CHI 19 4 28 Intercepted Pass

Try fast forwarding the fourth quarter on the DVR. You can hear Yakety Sax if you turn your TV all the way up.

Somewhere between identifying the sturdiest rafter in the basement and Googling "hangman's knot," disgusted Bears fans missed a fourth interception by Washington cornerback DeAngelo Hall.

Conversely, the Bears defense was effective and ball-punchy, featuring six forced fumbles (one recovered) and highlight reel interceptions by DJ Moore and Danieal Manning. Ultimately though, the more effective unit would add insult to eye rape as they were unable to hold the line and allowed Washington to run out the clock by permitting two first downs on the final series of the game.

Other than a game in Toronto against the Buffalo Bills and a stop in Detroit on December 5th, the schedule consists entirely of playoff contenders from here on out, so adjust your viewing schedule accordingly.

Did you notice a sign out in front of my [TV] that said Dead [2010 Season] Storage? - Jimmie Dimmick

Week 8 Prediction
This is the Bears bye week, thus making the chance of a loss statistically improbable.
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Andrew Golden brings you the Blue half of this report every week; Carl Mohrbacher brings you the Orange. They welcome your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:52 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: Sleeper Monsters

Week 7 in the NFL featured monster performances from a RB who was supposed to see very little action, a WR who was missing his starting QB, and a QB who was facing one of the toughest defenses in the league.

Probably very few people expected Darren McFadden, Kenny Britt, Tennessee, and Ryan Fitzpatrick to have much success last week, but they ended up as the top three fantasy point scorers in Yahoo! leagues. McFadden had 165 yards rushing and four TDs; Britt had 225 yard receiving and three TDs; and Fitzpatrick collected 374 passing yards and four TDs.

Can these guys keep it up? More importantly, who might be three sleepers poised to have huge games in Week 8?

Answers to the first question:

McFadden: He's coming back from hamstring injury that had stalled a very good season. He looks likely to get more carries than fellow RB Michael Bush the rest of the way, but if the injury bug crops up again, look for Oakland to protect its investment by keeping him on the bench.

Britt: He's a bona fide No. 1 receiver, but Tennessee's game plan usually leaves him on the fantasy fringe. Before getting injured, starting QB Vince Young was looking for him, and now No. 2 QB Kerry Collins is doing the same. Also helping him is the fact that star RB Chris Johnson is underperforming and getting fewer carries. Don't expect another game like Week 7, but he's worth starting with favorable match-ups.

Fitzpatrick: His huge week against the scary Baltimore defense was the biggest surprise of all, and his 374-yard game probably will be his season high. What makes him a decent second QB the rest of the way is that he doesn't throw many interceptions, but I don't think he's a week-to-week starter.

Answers to the second question:

Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit: Week 8 will be his comeback from being injured in Week 1, and I like his chances against the Washington secondary, which has only looked good against Jay Cutler this year and terrible against everyone else.

Jon Kitna, QB, Dallas: He takes over for the injured Tony Romo against Jacksonville, which may have a worse pass defense than the Redskins. Should have a good Week 8, but he's iffy after that.

Beanie Wells, RB, Arizona: He has split time with Tim Hightower, and while he's 69% owned in Yahoo! leagues, he probably has spent every week on the fantasy sidelines. That could change this week and for the rest of the season as a poor passing team looks for a spark.

Expert Wire
* Yahoo! Pickups of the Week shows some love for Fitzpatrick, as well as LaGarette Blount.

* Bleacher Report looks into the Romo injury, and has a list of the biggest injuries of the season thus far.

* SB Nation reminds us that despite the huge week, Britt may end up in the dog house. Uh-oh.
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Dan O'Shea's Fantasy Fix appears in this space every Wednesday. He welcomes your comments. You can also read his about his split sports fan personality at his Beachwood blog SwingsBothWays.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:37 AM | Permalink

October 26, 2010

The [Tuesday] Papers

1. "The Chicago Wind Soccer Club was formed in the fall of 1998 to meet the need and desire for a year round, professionally trained youth soccer program in the Chicago suburban area."

2. "560 WIND is Chicago's Conservative Talk Radio Station."

3. "Massive 'Chiclone' storm slams into Illinois; forecaster predicts strongest storm in 70 years."

twister: are yo ukidding this is only the start

4. Chicago Wind: Merle Haggard.

5. Chicago Wind Speed Map.

6. Chicago and Earth, Wind & Fire: 25 or 6 to 4.

7. "It's actually pretty impressive; we're seeing wind, hail, rain, tornados, pretty much the sky is the limit."

8. Thanks to everyone who came out last night for Monday Night Beachwood! We may have set a record at the cash register for a regular ol' Monday night. Good times were had by all, including Beachwood poet-in-residence J.J. Tindall. We actually ran out of Old Style. That's right - we sold every bottle in the house. Awesome. Good job, everyone! See you next week.

9. "It took years for Illinois officials to discover that southwest suburban Crestwood was pumping contaminated water to its residents, in part because the state took village officials at their word that nothing was wrong," the Tribune's Michael Hawthorne reports.

"Such lax oversight is a problem in scores of communities throughout the nation, according to a new report from the U.S. Environmental Agency's inspector general that urged federal and state officials to conduct more rigorous inspections and adopt tighter reporting guidelines.

"The report, prompted by a Tribune investigation, also found there is no way to determine if emergency water supplies that serve more than 58 million people are contaminated or being misused. Oversight is based on trust, rather than routine inspections, the inspector general concluded."

10. The Weekend In Chicago Rock: NOW WITH PELICAN!

11. Too Deep - A Music Video Tribute To Slacker P.I.

12. NFL To Players: You Are On Notice.

13. Junior is officially out. His status - and others' - on our oddsboard will be updated later today.

14. Count your blessings.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:36 AM | Permalink

NFL To Players: You Are On Notice

"A player is accountable for what he hits."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:06 AM | Permalink

Slacker P.I.: Too Deep - A Music Video Tribute

"Bo and Wyatt, two unemployed 20-something stoners, spend their lives sitting on the couch watching reruns of their favorite 80s detective show, Derringer P.I.. Faced with a mountain of overdue bills and back rent, our boys' foggy but overactive imaginations conjure a version of their hero into their living room. Derringer P.I. takes the slackers under his wing and shows them how to deal with partners in too deep, mafia run amok, and territorial drug lords. Undercover goes under the influence."

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Seventh in a series.

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Tonight's special episode: Too Deep - A Music Video Tribute.


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See also:
* Episode 1: Reverse Psychology
* Episode 2: The Race Card
* Episode 3: Too Deep
* Episode 4: Partners
* Episode 5: Bill Me
* Special Episode: Ode to Wyatt

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:48 AM | Permalink

October 25, 2010

The [Monday] Papers

"In throwing four picks in the second half alone he displayed all the delightful deficiencies that made last season such a romp - the Grossman backpedal, the locking-in on one receiver until everyone in the stadium knew where the pass was going, and the throws to absolutely blanketed receivers who apparently should have been open (according to a petulant quarterback) if they had just run their routes well enough," our very own Jim Coffman writes in SportsMonday: Bring Me The Head of Jay Cutler.

That's about right.

Randy Resigns Ironically
On late Friday afternoon in order to draw less attention from the media outlets he used to run.

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From Chicago Tonight: Week in Review, edited for clarity:

Tribune reporter Bruce Japsen: This is a corporate culture story, this is not a newsroom story. There are no allegations of misbehavior, sexual harassment in the newsroom.

Moderator Joel Weisman: I thought there were some complaints of inappropriate language, at least, in the newsroom.

Japsen: There may have been, but it does not affect the editorial process . . .

Weisman: Did you ever see any of the types of things that have given rise to this change? Cmon.

Japsen: Was I witness to boorish behavior? Sure. It was not in the newsroom. Biotech convention was in town. Two gentlemen from Pfizer, we were taking them on a tour of the Tower. We were up on the now infamous balcony on a Tuesday evening about nine o'clock at night, dressed as we are here, in business attire. We walk out on the balcony and there's the boss sitting out there with a half bottle of Dewars gone. He was having a good time. He invited us to have a drink, took us on a tour of the upper reaches of the Tower, setting off fire alarms, calling security guards, "Hey, it's just me." Clearly he was roosting up there at different times.

Laura Washington: Is that as wild as it gets in the Tower? (Panel laughs.)

Japsen: He tossed a cigar butt off the top of the . . .

Washington: The impact on morale, though . . .

Japsen: Nobody wants to see the place you work be maligned, and thousands of people have lost their jobs . . .

Weisman: And you got your statement today. How much is your stock worth?

Japsen: My stock is worth zero. And you know what? I'm a hundred percent vested.

Weisman: You know what? A hundred percent of zero is still zero.

*

EXCLUSIVE! The Tribune's Exit Strategy.

Quinn Always Does The Right Thing
"I've never served with such an idiotic, racist, sexist, homophobic person in my life," [state Sen. Rickey] Hendon said [of Bill Brady] before introducing Gov. Quinn. "If you think that the minimum wage needs to be three dollars an hour, vote for Bill Brady. If you think that women have no rights whatsoever, except to have his children, vote for Bill Brady. If you think gay and lesbian people need to be locked up and shot in the head, vote for Bill Brady."

Quinn refuses to apologize for standing by silently. Beyond that, someone should ask Quinn if he thinks Hendon is an exemplary public servant whom he's proud to have as an ally.

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Maybe Brady's old poker buddy should also be asked if he agrees with Hendon.

That's Mary!
"No need to feel sheepish if, when you heard that Rhymefest is running for Chicago alderman, you said, 'Who?' Or at least there's no need to feel more sheepish than I felt," Mary Schmich writes.

"I hadn't heard of Rhymefest until Thursday, when he appeared at the Tribune's new Chicago Live! show at the Chicago Theatre. A few hours earlier, he'd announced he wanted to be alderman of the 20th Ward.

"Rhymefest's given name is Che Smith. He's 33 and a hip-hop star. A song he co-wrote with his friend Kanye West won a Grammy."

He co-wrote a song with Kanye West that won a Grammy but no need to feel sheepish if you are too old and white to know who he is!

The world is upside down. More appropriate: No need to feel sheepish if you don't know who Barbara Billingsley was.

That's Neil!
"I know every election is touted as the worst ever, but this one, dominated as it is by Tea Party rancor and its fantasies of vanishing the debt without either raising taxes or cutting programs above the level of the National Raisin Board, has to be some new low."

Ahem.

1. New York Times poll of Tea Party supporters:

"Suppose a smaller government required cuts in spending on domestic programs such as Social Security, Medicare, education, or defense - then would you favor smaller government , or not?"

Favor: 73 percent.

2. Yahoo Resolved Question:

"Tea Party Members, what SPECIFIC programs would you cut to make the government smaller and how many jobs would you cut?"

Best Answer chosen by Asker:

"Eliminate the Department of Energy, The Department of Education, The Department of Labor, and the Department of Transportation. Eliminate all farm aide, and then cut the Department of Agriculture by 50%."

3. "'Tea party' activists are exhibiting a fervor for budget cuts not seen in years, pushing to slash everything from Social Security to unemployment benefits in their drive to cut the burgeoning federal debt," Newsmax reports.

That's Sneed!
"Yipes! An inauspicious date? Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich's lawyers may be relieved they were granted a three-month extension of his January trial date, but it sure sounds like a case of bad timing: The new trial date is April 20 - Adolf Hitler's birthday and the date of the Columbine shooting tragedy."

That's the lead item in Sunday's column. Her best stuff. A grown woman. I give up.

The Weekend In Chicago Rock
They appeared at venues near you.

Bartender Journalism
Once again I'll be slinging drinks and singing songs at the venerable Beachwood Inn tonight from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.; perhaps I'll read from today's featured columnists. Also:

* Old Style: $2.50
* Old Style Light: $2, but I can't recommend it.
* Bottom shelf: $1 off.
* Top shelf: Worth the extra dollar.
* Jukebox: On, loud.
* Poetry: Perhaps.
* Pool: Yes.
* Pinball: Of course.
* Pizza: Free.
* Contribute to tomorrow's Beachwood: Quite possibly!

See you there.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Now with lime.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:55 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: Bring Me The Head Of Jay Cutler

For the first six games of the season, Jay Cutler was so determined to cut down on his interceptions that he was going to hold onto the football come hell or high water or halitosis. When things began to break down in the pocket he cared about one thing: Don't throw the ball to the other team.

I already miss that guy . . . even if it was clear he wasn't going to survive the season. The old, scary Jay (model 2009) returned on Sunday (in preparation for Halloween?) and in 30 minutes of football obliterated all the work the new Jay had done to rehabilitate himself.

In throwing four picks in the second half alone he displayed all the delightful deficiencies that made last season such a romp - the Grossman backpedal, the locking-in on one receiver until everyone in the stadium knew where the pass was going, and the throws to absolutely blanketed receivers who apparently should have been open (according to a petulant quarterback) if they had just run their routes well enough.

Let's take a break from making excuses for the guy for the next two weeks (the Bears have a bye next week) and hold the quarterback accountable. The offensive line stabilized for decent-sized stretches of the second half on Sunday, providing solid protection and opening holes in the running game. Cutler was under some pressure but did you see some of the hits that Donovan McNabb took (or the hit he takes in his Dr. Pepper commercial with former New York Giant defensive lineman Michael Strahan)?

I loved it when Minnesota coach Brad Childress officially stopped coddling Brett Favre earlier this season, at least for a little while, after someone asked him if he was worried about the punishment his quarterback was taking. The coach's response was something along the lines of "He's making enough money (a reported $18 million for this season alone)" to make the risk worth his while. In other words, he's rich enough that we're not going to cry for him.

You just wish you could climb inside Cutler's head sometimes and maybe start to figure out what the hell he's thinking when he throws passes like the second interception to DeAngelo Hall. The third and fourth picks were plenty annoying but interception No. 2 was the killer. With a chip-shot field goal and a seven-point lead there for the taking if he just heaves the third-down pass out of bounds, Cutler instead lobbed a prayer toward Johnny Knox near the sideline.

Knox is clearly the best Bear receiver but he is not the guy to throw it to for a jump ball (or on a well-covered slant for that matter but that was pick No. 3). Not that a jump ball was a good idea at this point but if you're going to throw one, you need to send it toward a big, physical receiver. It is clear that Knox is more of a small, speedy receiver, isn't it Jay? Devin Aromashadu is supposed to be the Bear receiver who can go up and fight for a reception like this one (or, I don't know, Greg Olsen? Olsen won a fight with linebacker Rocky McIntosh for just this sort of 50-50 pass in the fourth quarter?) but he has been so far back in the doghouse he has barely seen the light of the field for five weeks now.

One final note about Cutler's overall performance: In case his judgment and footwork weren't bad enough, Cutler also failed to throw tight spirals on numerous occasions down the stretch. It better be time for him to return to quarterback fundamentals boot camp next week.

Bound And Gagged
As for the quarterback's team, well. It needed only to split two home games against eminently beatable foes to go into the bye week with a far better seven-game record than anyone anticipated. No one was really surprised the Bears couldn't get the job done were they? Instead they fell into a tie for the top spot in the NFC North with an entirely predictable 4-3 record.

The Bears were thoroughly, brutally out-coached by Seattle's oh-so-inexperienced staff (a head coach who's been away from the NFL for a decade and coordinators who had never been coordinators in the NFL before this season) last weekend.

And then they managed to gag away the game against the Redskins on Sunday. How could the Bears blow a contest in which their offensive line played atrociously in the first half but still took a 10-7 lead into the intermission?

How could they blow a game in which the defense allowed all of 10 points, scored a huge touchdown and forced two second-half turnovers of their own (and punched out three more fumbles in the final two quarters that that Redskins - far more lucky than good - managed to recover)?

And how could they lose a game in which their foes were apparently happy to post a punting average of well under 30 yards per attempt in order to make absolutely sure Devin Hester didn't have a chance to bring one back?

Lovieland
One big way to lose it was to take another nightmarish trip with Lovie Smith into Challenge Land.

The two-play sequence at the end of the Bears' first possession after halftime was a big reason why Bear fans will never believe that Lovie is sharp enough to take their team back to the Super Bowl, let alone win it.

The coach deployed a doomed - and just plain stupid - challenge after the long pass completion from Jay Cutler to Earl Bennett took the ball inside the Redskin one-yard-line. An official had ruled the ball down on the one-foot line and the Bears were in perfect position to hand the ball to Chester Taylor three times and almost certainly score a touchdown.

Instead, despite the fact that replays almost always show that ball-carriers come down further back than they appeared to during real time, Lovie challenged the officials' decision that Bennett hadn't scored. When the challenge so irritatingly predictably failed, not only did the Bears lose a timeout, officials also re-spotted the ball a little further back, closer to the one than the goal line.

So on the next play, a quarterback sneak that was simply another brutally stupid coaching decision (why call a sneak for a quarterback who has already taken way too many shots to the head this season?), Cutler wasn't credited with a touchdown when he stretched the ball out in front of him. Smart football coaches know that side judges are rarely going to give a team with a touchdown when a quarterback does that. It is almost impossible for them to see the ball crossing the plane of the goal line. What is needed is a slow-motion replay to prove the ball made it to the line while Cutler still possessed it.

Sure enough, the goal-line camera showed the ball did cross the plane before the quarterback fumbled it. But Lovie was afraid to toss the challenge flag again because he had already blown a timeout on his dimwitted challenge the play before. I know my daughters think I'm nuts when I scream at the television at times like this - but how the hell (that's three "hell's" in one column - a new record) is a fan supposed to react to this kind of monumental incompetence?

I suppose the bye arrives not a moment too soon. There's no way Jay can throw even one more interception or Lovie can blow one more challenge next Sunday.

*

Even the notoriously uptight folks at NFL headquarters are making fun of this game. The official highlight reel:

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Jim Coffman brings you SportsMonday every week in this space. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:07 AM | Permalink

Exclusive! The Tribune's Exit Strategy

"Tribune Co. has submitted a revised reorganization plan in the latest attempt to end its nearly two-year stint in bankruptcy protection," AP reports.

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The intrepid Beachwood Bankrupt Culture Desk has obtained that plan. Here are the highlights.

* Tribune Tower to be converted into a cozy little bed and breakfast.

* Lap dances no longer qualify as legitimate lunch expenses.

* Statue of Peter Francis Geraci to replace statue of Nathan Hale at entrance to Tribune Tower.

* Entire inventory of Sam Zell bobbleheads to be "liquidated forthwith" at the Swap-O-Rama in Alsip.

* All unexpired points on Hooter's frequent visitor cards to be delivered to secured creditors no later than one week prior to Mardi Gras.

* Strippers will not be considered secured creditors.

* Sole control of Tribune At Night interactive division will go to senior lender Larry Flynt.

* Executive collection of smoking jackets will be returned to the Bob Guccione estate.

* Supply of cafeteria glasses featuring images of women whose clothes come off as cold beverages are poured in will be returned to Acme Novelties.

* Halloween Party requiring employees to attend as their favorite porn star to be canceled.

* Peepholes into women's bathrooms to be caulked up.

* Plans for dating site called Datelines to be canceled.

* Employee subscriptions to MILF Weekly to be canceled.

* Company to be broken up and sold off in pieces; Bud Fox named new president of Blue Star Airlines.

* Sam Zell will not be allowed to use credit cards for seven years.

* Trojan named a secured creditor. Altoid's not.

* New company to be owned by JP Morgan Chase, which will charge a fee for every story "withdrawn" from its website.

* Randy Michaels required to reimburse every employee charged texting fees for his sexts.

* Tribune to withdraw endorsement of Cynthia Plaster Caster for mayor.

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- Scott Buckner, Steve Rhodes

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:26 AM | Permalink

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

1. Deadmau5 at the Congress Theater on Saturday night.

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2. Skrillex, same show.

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3. Hank Williams III and Assjack at the House of Blues on Thursday night.

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4. The Script at the Riv on Saturday night.

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5. The Gories at the Empty Bottle on Friday night.

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6. Haste The Day at the Bottom Lounge on Friday night.

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7. Die Antwoord at the Double Door on Friday night.

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8. Pelican at Bottom Lounge on Saturday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:57 AM | Permalink

October 23, 2010

The Weekend Desk Report

We'll totally back you if you want to make a last-minute run for U.S. Senator this weekend.

Market Update
Analysts are cautioning over-eager investors to tone down their exuberance: the tacky plastic bubble is due to burst by the end of the month.

Robo-Outrage
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange resurfaced this week in a media blitz aimed at convincing people his newly-revealed documents are the most relevant and disturbing.

Wikileeks
In fact, Wikileaks has discovered acres of actual leeks that are even tougher to swallow.

Unreal Tournament
Apparently there are still consumers in this world who believe in the sanctity of mainstream cinematic nudity, and to these people the Weekend Desk Legal Affairs Team offers the following advice: sue. After all, the Supreme Court might be real game to hear the case.

Final Fantasy
In related news, Playboy Enterprises has announced plans to sublease its corporate headquarters in an attempt to distance themselves from the uncomfortable realities of their stock-in-trade.

In Repeats
Finally this week, federal judge James Zagel has dealt a potentially fatal blow to former governor Rod Blagojevich's nascent television career. After all, how can you compete if you're in repeats during sweeps?

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Sweep the bums out.

Posted by Natasha Julius at 9:18 AM | Permalink

October 22, 2010

The College Football Report: God Bless The Genius Coach Myth

Last week, we talked about a phenomenon unique to college football: In contrast to their NFL brethren, who often seem content to call plays "by the book" to keep the game close, college coaches put themselves above the book. Premier NCAA coaches seem to prefer to win or lose the game on a single call rather than play the odds and keep the game within reach. The Genius Coach Myth is so pervasive that few question decisions by the likes of Nick Saban, Urban Meyer and Steve Spurrier.

Why does that happen?

Many fans love the college game for this very reason - teams take risks you would rarely see on most Sundays in the NFL. Fans of professional football revel in precise execution and a finely tuned game, yet the strategists who call the plays don't want to sacrifice a six (or seven) figure salary on, say, a fake field goal. And who can blame them? In a league where even the likes of Dick Jauron can find gainful employment - for years - why would coaches shorten their shelf life?

And who can blame them?

The upside just isn't there - an NFL coach could pull out all the stops every week, but if risky play-calling only adds one or two to the W column, what's the point? In a league with razor-thin margins for error, the occasional risky play may cost NFL coaches more not only on the field but also in the press, on sports radio and so on. Paradoxically, the risk-averse environment in the NFL not only spotlights those few coaches who do take risks but will also push unsuccessful (yet fun to watch) wildcards out in favor of respectable losers like Jauron.

Of course, the entertainment value could depend on your perspective - your team could convert a trick play every game but if they finish the season 3-13, well, I doubt any number of fake punts, onside kicks, flea flickers, dipsy doodles, hook-and-ladders or Statue of Liberty plays will alleviate the pain.

That doesn't mean, however, that we will let the latest evidence of the Coaching Genius issue slide. Witness Steve Spurrier, regularly quoted spouting such coaching truisms like "play smart and not beat ourselves" as key to winning games - and who last Saturday night sacrificed South Carolina's national title hopes on the altar of his own ego.

Carolina entered the game against Kentucky last weekend ranked in the Top Ten. Fresh off the program's first victory ever over a #1 team the week before, Spurrier continually reminded his players about the hangover effect from beating Alabama. And the Gamecocks did seem to look a green around the gills at times, especially QB Stephen Garcia.

Despite throwing for 382 yards, Garcia threw two interceptions. The much maligned signal-caller has had problems with accuracy and execution in the past, but seemed flawless against the Tide. Yet against the Wildcats, Garcia seemed to suffer as much on the field as on the sidelines. ESPN began to cut back to Spurrier on the sidelines on what seemed like every passing down. The Ol' Ballcoach grew increasingly agitated, eventually graduating to a full-on clipboard tossing, headset-flinging hissy fit. If Spurrier was a cat, he would've had kittens.

All this had to be in the back of Garcia's mind as he looked into the endzone for a receiver on what proved to be the last play of the game. The Gamecocks had a first down at the Kentucky 20-yard line, with 11 seconds remaining and no timeouts trailing by a mere three points. Spurrier, in all his wisdom, opted for a pass play rather than kick the game-tying field goal and send the game into overtime. Next play: Garcia's pass intercepted in the end zone, game over.

Pure genius indeed. But then, had Garcia found a man for the touchdown, we can only imagine the reaction from commentators: "What a gutsy call!"

But why wasn't the interception greeted with cries of "What a stupid call!"? Perhaps the most telling words came from the mouth of the coach himself: "I thought we'd play better tonight but we didn't."

Coach, your team didn't play great but they played well enough down the stretch to extend the game and give themselves a chance. You just beat the top team in the country, defending national champion and last year's Heisman winner. Would you really have us believe that you were so skeptical of your chances on the road against an unranked .500 Kentucky team that you had to go for the win in regulation? Really? Who are we kidding here?

And here are the picks for this week - first, the Seal:

Fresno State (-19.5) @ San Jose State (7PM, Saturday)
Birmingham @ Mississippi State (-20, 6PM Saturday)
Ball State @ Toledo (-11.5, 6:30PM Saturday)

And by your genius College Football Report staff:

Syracuse @ #20 West Virginia (-13.5, 11AM Saturday)
#7 Michigan State @ Northwestern (+6, 11AM Saturday)
Colorado State @ #9 Utah (-30.5, 5PM Saturday)

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Mike "Dr. Dude" Luce brings you The College Football Report every week, with the able assistance of the Beachwood Sports Seal. They welcome your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:09 PM | Permalink

The Week in WTF

1. Benjamin Homel, WTF?

At long last, our national nightmare is over. The infidels have the left the building at Tribune Tower. It's safe there to be smug and sanctimonious again.

Innovation officer Lee Abrams (Memo to staff: "Hey, I just invented unemployment") has said adios and CEO henchman-in-chief Randy Michaels will follow momentarily.

This leaves mostly radio programmer Kevin "Pig Virus" Metheny hanging in the lakeshore breeze. The car is warming up as we speak.

Once he's gone, only one question remains. Why did Benjamin Homel change his name to Randy Michaels in the 70s?

We here at WTF understand the cultural imperative of Leonard Slye becoming Roy Rogers, and Allen Konigsberg taking Woody Allen for his name. Archibald Leach morphed to Cary Grant and Joyce Frankenberg transformed to Jane Seymour. Sure, stage names. Howdy Doody wouldn't know Robert Emil Schmidt was really Buffalo Bob Smith. De-ethnicing yourself for the silver screen is a tradition.

But why did a guy whose professional habits include on-air radio farting and killing animals in a radio station's parking lot for the public spectacle of it need a more melodious name? Sure, calling yourself Randy (nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more) seems sort of obvious. Is that it? Otherwise Benny Homel sounds usefully goofy enough for radio.

WTF's theory? It's the same reason really ugly guys form rock bands when they have absolutely no musical talent. To get chicks. Some guys counteract glass-breaking ugly by hanging a Strato or Fender sling around their necks and becoming artists. Chicks dig that. We think Randy Michaels' entire career was aimed at impressing babes. Not everyone gets the humor of that urge.

At least all the females at Trib Tower don't have to worry about Harpo Marx jumping into their bathroom stall and honking his horn.

2. Evil Bastards, WTF?

WTF has managed to avoid sexual politics up to now because, really, WTF?

And anyway, what does a middle-aged, really straight white guy have to contribute to a discussion about gender openness? On the other hand, because we are resolutely against letting the evil bastards win (and you know who you are), you can't stay silent on human rights. One of these days, you might wake up to find Christine O'Donnell is the president. So we present this. Click and play.

3. Jackass 3D, WTF?

By the time the Jackass movie franchise reaches 10 sequels, the total box office take will pass Gone With The Wind. In this comparative context, Sarah Palin now makes a lot more sense as president. Or maybe pope.

Of course, there is only one GWTW, but Jackass essentially is the same movie repeated ad nauseam, and never has the phrase ad nauseam been more apt.

Adjusted for inflation, insipidity and human oddness, the take for No.1-ranked cash generator GWTW is $1.6 billion.

In succession, the three Jackasses have pulled in $22.8 million, $29 million and $48 million in three weekend openings.

The first two Jackasseries took in $64 million and $72 million. This one is an easy 100 mil. We're already on target for the GWTW pinnacle. This is like Pee Wee Herman de-horsing Clark Gable.

4. Bill Kurtis and bananas, WTF?

WTF's ears perked up this week. It sure sounded like him.

But what siren song could have brought Bill Kurtis, the Ancient Journalism Mariner, out of the comfy harbor of voiceover checks for one more voyage? Busting crime syndicates? Uncovering political corruption? Nah. Turns out Kurtis' duty Tuesday night was another of his specialties, a voiceover promo for a hard-hitting piece on why eating bananas in the morning can dampen your mood. They didn't even let him do the actual banana story. Just the cutaway promotion.

And the piece itself? Another indication that a TV franchise's long-term death spiral is not totally a function of which pretty face sits behind a desk and reads the teleprompter. Sometimes what's on the station stops viewers from watching.

This particular piece suggested we avoid carbs and eat fresh fruit, eggs and peanut butter for breakfast. Also, be sure to avoid turkey at breakfast because that tryptophan can make you really drowsy. Plus when you eat too much turkey, you wake up in the middle of a Lions-Cowboys game on Thanksgiving afternoon.

WTF, breakfast is your most important meal.

And somewhere far away where only the angels could hear, Murrow whimpered and asked, "What the EF?"

5. Mark Curran, WTF?

We have taken note previously of the odd attitudes that manifest themselves as law enforcement in Lake County. The latest comes from Sheriff Mark Curran, who truly is a strange fellow.

Speaking at a Tea Party gathering there, he suggests the Tea Party is God's Will being manifest among his flock, and Curran is the deliverer of that message.

He also includes the suggestion that it's God Will we breed more, at least 2.1 children, leaving the "or else" to be debated. Since reproducing too few of itself has not really been a problem for the race, we assume that Curran is intimating that more of "us" reproduce to counteract more of "them" reproducing.

As for ourselves, WTF already has reproduced twice. We're properly covered under God's Will. We have asked about the decimal point one additional reproduction and were told it was okay with her as long as it didn't involve sex. WTF.

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David Rutter is the former publisher/editor of the Lake County News-Sun, a Sun-Times Media property. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:18 PM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

First, some housekeeping.

* We still have some tweaking to do, but our Beachwood Novelties store is now open for business.

* I'll be filling in as barback tonight at the Beachwood Inn and back to my regular bartending shift on Monday night. Stop in, say hello, bend an elbow and sing a few songs.

* Tindall on Kindle: A Hole To China.

* Ballots From The Dead: Selected poems from our Chicagoetry series.

* And, of course, our Beachwood memberships.

Thanks for your support!

Senior Living
"Ventas says it's buying the real estate assets of Atria Senior Living for $1.5 billion in cash and stock, giving it a portfolio of 118 homes located in coastal regions," AP reports.

"The healthcare real estate investment trust is also assuming $1.6 billion in debt.

"Ventas Inc. says the deal will make the company the largest owner of senior housing communities in the country. The Chicago company owns nearly 600 assets in 44 states."

I have nothing funny or insightful to say about this, I just thought it was interesting. Here's who they are.

Party Tours You
"Last week, a group of delegates from Russia came to Chicago Lawn to tour the community," the Southwest News-Herald reports.

"The delegates were treated to a mini version of the Chicago Lawn Community Showcase tour on a San Francisco style trolley riding through the Marquette Manor, Chicago Lawn and West Lawn neighborhoods.

"While most communicated through interpreters, some spoke English very fluently, especially when trying to talk their hosts into allowing them to go inside the Tootsie Roll plant."

My favorite part of the story, though, is this passage:

"And they were full of unexpected questions. While passing Marquette Park some of the questions were, 'How does this park work? Who takes care of this land? How do the streets stay clean?'

"And expected questions arose: 'What is an Oreo? Is that plane going to hit us?'"

Color Fast
"This weekend is likely the last chance to see the season's fall colors in Wisconsin," AP reports.

"The Wisconsin Department of Tourism says the northern half of the state is reporting past peak conditions - with most of the leaves already on the ground.

"But peak color is reported in Iowa and Crawford Counties in southwestern Wisconsin."

The Fastest Guitarist Alive . . .
. . . is from Chicago.

Lonesome Trail
"A 19-year-old Antioch man was arrested after police said he broke into a garage, drank a few beers and stole a vehicle from a residence a few blocks away on Saturday," the Daily Herald reports.

"After a report of a garage break-in that night where an offender stole beers and smoked cigarettes in the garage, police said they were able to literally follow a the trail of the same brand of cigarettes and beer. Empty beer cans and cigarette butts were found first in the garage, then at the location of the vehicle theft and finally where the truck was found."

Wash 'n' Dry
"The state is awarding the city of Chicago $2 million for a program that lets customers volunteer to have water meters installed at their homes," AP reports.

You just have to feed them every 15 minutes.

No-Hitter
"A 73-year-old Chicago-area businessman was arrested at Denver International Airport this week in connection with a murder-for-hire scheme, Colorado authorities said Thursday," the Tribune reports.

"An executive of a Libertyville real estate agency, Brooks Kellogg, who lives in Chicago, met at the airport Tuesday with an undercover agent he thought was a hit man, according to an FBI affidavit.

"Kellogg is accused of paying the agent $2,000 in cash to murder a Florida man who had sued Kellogg for $2.5 million over a real estate deal. A hearing for another lawsuit for $500,000, filed by the same Florida man, was set for Wednesday in Steamboat Springs, Colo., according to the court document."

They've Got Wood
"After a Meteoric Rise and a Painful Fall, Yankees Reliever Kerry Wood Is Writing His Own Ending," the Wall Street Journal says.

Nice Package
"The EcoPak, an all-paperboard jar developed by American manufacturer Chicago Paper Tube & Can Co., earned top honors in Green Packaging at the 10th Annual International Package Design Awards," AZoM reports.

Think Pink
"The Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is home to unique plants, animals and birds," WBEZ reports. "But the lakeshore park is also home to unique houses. They were part of last century's Chicago World's Fair, and they include what could be the region's only pink Florida-style house. These odd houses have been preserved for the public to see, but their preservation comes with some controversy, too."

Bank Stank
"A Chicago Ridge man was accused Thursday of fraudulently selling his bank customers promissory notes totaling $2.4 million, then using the money to gamble at casinos, renovate his home and make credit card payments," the SouthtownStar reports.

"Beginning in 2002 and lasting until January 2009, banking executive Glenn J. Kozeluh obtained money from customers by falsely stating the money would be placed as investments to collateralize loans to buy small banks, according to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District court. Instead, Kozeluh used the money for personal expenses, the complaint said."

Act Now
Or forever hold your punch.

100th Worst Cub
The countdown begins.

Robbie O'Fulks
In action at the Hideout this week.

24 Hours With CNBC
Strategies for success and pain-free hair removal.

The Mayoral Odds
Updated in all their glory.

Amazon and Me
What they think I should be reading.

The College Football Report
Will appear later this morning. Is in, featuring fake punts, onside kicks, flea flickers, dipsy doodles, hook-and-ladders and Statue of Liberty plays.

The Week in WTF
The same, we hope. Is in, featuring Randy Michaels and other Jackasseries.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: FTW.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:29 AM | Permalink

24 Hours With CNBC

Paid programming.

5 a.m.: Squawk Box

8 a.m.: Squawk on the Street

10 a.m.: The Call

11 a.m.: Strategy Session

11:30 a.m.: Fast Money Halftime

Noon: Power Lunch

1 p.m.: Street Signs

2 p.m.: Closing Bell

4 p.m.: Fast Money

4:30 p.m.: Options Action

5 p.m.: Mad Money

6 p.m.: The Kudlow Report

6:30 p.m.: Your Taxes, Your Vote

7 p.m.: The Apprentice

8 p.m.: Biography on CNBC

9 p.m.: To Be Announced

10 p.m.: Mad Money

11 p.m.: The Apprentice

Midnight: Biography on CNBC

1 a.m.: Pain-free Hair Removal

1:30 a.m.: Paid Programming

2 a.m.: Paid Programming

2:30 a.m.: Secrets of Success

3 a.m.: Mad Money

4 a.m.: Suze Orman Show

5 a.m.: Options Action

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Comments welcome.

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Previously:
* 24 Hours With QVC
* 24 Hours With Tru TV
* 24 Hours With Current TV
* 24 Hours With The Military Channel
* 24 Hours With The Hallmark Channel
* 24 Hours With TVGN
* 24 Hours With Retroplex
* 24 Hours With Penthouse TV
* 24 Hours With The DIY Network
* 24 Hours With BET

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:13 AM | Permalink

In Action! Robbie Fulks

With Kathleen Keane and Jim Conway at the Hideout earlier this week.

1. My sins, they have overtaken me.

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2. Ice is gonna crack.

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3. Irish night.

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4. Something that you love so much.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:56 AM | Permalink

October 21, 2010

The [Thursday] Papers

"Tribune Co.'s board is preparing to replace Chief Executive Randy Michaels with a four-person caretaker management team to steer the company as it attempts to exit bankruptcy, according to people familiar with the matter," the Wall Street Journal confirms today.

Now when will NBC come clean?

Let us review. At the request of someone "high up" in the Tribune Company strongly intimated to me to have been Randy Michaels, this piece was pulled down from NBCChicago.com after it had been up for a day.

Tribune's New CEO Has a Shocking Past
Zell steps aside for old friend
By STEVE RHODES
Updated 12:54 PM CST, Thu, Dec 3, 2009

Sam Zell is leaving control of Tribune Company in the hands of a former shock jock who used to tell jokes about gay people on the air and reportedly roamed the offices of a past employer with a rubber penis tied around his neck.

That would be Randy Michaels, Zell's chief lieutenant at Tribune and now the once-staid media institution's CEO, a post Zell abdicated on Wednesday. Zell will remain chairman of the company to provide, you know, a strategic vision until Tribune gets out of bankruptcy. Then Zell will probably be gone.

Michaels, however, reportedly wants to stay. What a nice gift that would be for Zell to leave behind.

Michaels is known for, among other things, believing he is the first to measure reporters' productivity by the number of words they produce and actually believing that is a legitimate way to measure a reporter's productivity. That and a lawsuit that once alleged - among other things - that he roamed his old Clear Channel offices with a "flexible rubber penis" tied around his neck as well as a host of other crude rituals. The suit was settled.

As an executive with Clear Channel, Michaels was "an effective but tasteless programmer," according to Salon.

"Behind the mike he made a name for himself back in the '70s and '80s farting on the air, cracking jokes about gays and tantalizing listeners with descriptions of 'incredibly horny, wet and ready' naked in-studio guests," the Salon account reports.

Michaels is "well regarded by the creditors who are expected to control Tribune when it emerges from bankruptcy protection next year," the New York Times reports.

Michaels, whose real name is Benjamin Homel, was once described as the AntiChrist of radio. He told Radio Ink magazine that "We'd all prefer to be liked, so of course it bothers me. I think I personify uncomfortable change in our business for a lot of people."

Or at least a certain kind of change.

Pretty prescient, I'd say.

If I've learned one thing, though, from my 20 years in the business, it's this: It never pays to be ahead of the curve. And in this case, I wasn't even ahead; I was just reporting what a little nosing around turned up. Nobody else bothered.

Now that it's safe, though, everyone is piling on - without mentioning, of course, the way my post disappeared 10 months ago. Maybe that was a sign that Michaels would be, um, trouble? Channel 5, in particular, has a lot of nerve airing a story by Phil Rogers - as it did this week; no link that I could find - about the the Michaels mess without mentioning its own culpability. Hey Channel 5, maybe you haven't heard, but transparency is in.

Or a story like this without mentioning this.

And maybe when NBCChicago writes that "Tribune officials could not be reached for comment on Michaels' rumored departure," they should place a call to this guy - after all, he seems to have a back channel to the Tribune executive suite.

Finally, to all of those who have asked: No, I have not received an apology. But more than an apology to me, NBC and its local affiliate ought to apologize to its viewers and website readers for failing to uphold the most basic standards of a news organization. Ironically, by doing so it could have burnished its journalistic reputation instead of embarrassing itself. That's the funny thing in this business: Being ethical is an awesome branding move.

*

Of course, Tribune columnist John Kass would prefer to rail at bloggers. You know, the kind who work out of mommy's basement. Here's a question for you, John: What blogs do you read? Cite some examples. Or are you just cutting and pasting from the hoariest cliches you've heard about the Internet?

*

Kass's patriotism about his newsroom is both bizarre and naive. Like Trib editor Gerry Kern, Kass tries to argue that the newsroom is a separate operation from the corporate suite or the rest of the company - as if it doesn't matter what the boys upstairs do. But it does matter. When executives make decisions about marketing strategy, for example, that dictate sending reporters and resources to cover affluent communities instead of city neighborhoods or poor suburbs so their demographic can be presented to advertisers, that's a perversion of the values Kass thinks his newspaper holds. When the Trib website becomes littered with "Comic Con Hotties" and "Hot Sports Wives & Girlfriends," that's an editorial matter influenced - explicitly or implicitly - from the top. When the corporate hacks install as managing editor of Kass's newsroom the former editor of RedEye who, for all I know, has never reported a one-alarm fire, that impacts the product. And who does Kass think Kern has to make happy - and how? - to keep his job?

And that's not even to address a newsroom that vies for the most dysfunctional office politics in the land.

That doesn't mean the Tribune doesn't ever do outstanding work. It does. But that doesn't absolve its blind spots and embarrassments.

*

For example - and again, once it was safe to do so - the Tribune itself reported this on Wednesday:

"One example is Denise Brown, a former member of the company's corporate communications staff. Brown, who sat across the hall from Michaels on the Tribune Tower's sixth floor, said she was quietly disgusted with what she saw going on in Tribune Co.'s executive suite before she left the company earlier this year to start a small business. After the Times story, Brown began blogging about her concerns."

(Link please! Duh.)

"In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, Brown described an incident in 2008 when she had been given the task of organizing a Mardi Gras lunch for people on the sixth floor. The Cajun food she ordered came with a set of colorful beads and she put them on as she walked down the hallway. She said that when she encountered Michaels in the hallway he asked, 'What did you have to do to earn those beads? Will you do that for me?'

"Brown said she took it as a clear reference to the Mardi Gras tradition in which women earn beads for exposing their breasts."

And:

"One former Tribune Co. corporate employee said she had an interaction with Michaels that played a significant role in her decision to leave the company. It occurred shortly after Michaels arrived at Tribune, she said, when she was called to his office to review some documents with him. Michaels, she said, asked her to come around to his side of the desk, even though there was no chair. As she stood next to him, he asked her to lean down and move closer so that eventually she was crouching at his side, which made her feel uncomfortable.

"'Then he looked at me and said, Did anyone tell you that you'd look really good on your knees?' she recalled."

*

And just so there's no gloating, don't forget that the Sun-Times was run by an amoral sexist for years.

*

That wasn't my only issue with NBC, of course. There were a series of embarrassments, but the big one that occurred concurrently with the Michaels incident was how this post never ran because a station executive who was friends with the subject was unhappy with the coverage of his pal. The website's managing editor got the message and spiked this:

What more does police chief Jody Weis need to know?

Consider:

- The city's vast surveillance network has captured Scott driving alone from his sister's nursing home to the spot on the Chicago River where he was found dead. He didn't meet anyone along the way. If he was murdered someone would have had to have been waiting for him. There is no evidence anyone else was present, though.

- He was shot with his own gun. Unless he kept the gun in his car - unlikely - he brought it with him from home. If he was murdered, someone else would have had to have somehow gotten the gun from him or his home.

- He was shot in his left temple, consistent with him being left-handed. Gunpowder residue was found on his left hand. The residue found was also inconsistent with any theory that someone else put their hand over his and forced him to pull the trigger.

- A spent bullet casing found at the scene was linked in forensics tests to his gun.

- His money clip and credit cards were found on the scene, indicating he was not robbed.

- The Cook County medical examiner quickly and firmly ruled the case a suicide. Not a shred of evidence has emerged to suggest otherwise.

And yet, Weis won't make the call.

"As of right now, I'm keeping it a death investigation," Weis said. "We're going to sit down and just take one more hard look at everything, make sure we haven't missed anything"

Like what?

Weis said the police still haven't reached everyone Scott talked to on the day of his death - which seems odd. How many people can there be and how hard can they be to reach?

Weis also cites friends and family who swear Scott would never kill himself. But that's not unusual in suicides. Even friends and family are often in the dark about people's inner struggles. And veteran political reporter Greg Hinz has written that Scott "had personal, business and family problems."

Perhaps police want to explore those problems so they can offer a fuller explanation to skeptics. Perhaps Weis has an ornery mayor to satisfy. Perhaps an announcement will come late on a Friday to avoid media glare.

None of it is an excuse for Weis's charade, though. Michael Scott killed himself, and Weis knows it.

Guess what? The announcement was made that afternoon - a Friday.

*

That's how it's been my whole career. And that's why I'm doing what I'm doing, despite the immense financial stress. I'm not looking for sympathy, I'm just trying to explain how systemically and culturally awful our news organizations are.

So Kass can complain about bloggers all he wants, but maybe he ought to focus more of his attention on the media powers that be. They are the real pretenders.

*

Note to Kass via Whet Moser, a blogger who easily outdistances this city's newspaper columnists in original thought, research, awareness and smarts:

"Dean Starkman has a piece in the Columbia Journalism Review on journalists vs. bloggers in the specific realm of the growing mortgage/foreclosure crisis. You'll have to click through to see who he thinks is winning."

Rhymefest Runs
For 20th Ward alderman. A closer look at his music and politics.

The Real Reasons Ryno Was Rejected
A Beachwood exclusive.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Bar-backed.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:33 AM | Permalink

Booklist: Amazon's Top 10 Picks For Me

1. Family Secrets: The Case That Crippled The Chicago Mob.

Comment: Have.

2. The Battle For Las Vegas: The Law vs. The Mob.

Comment: Would like.

3. When The Mob Ran Las Vegas: Stories of Money, Mayhem and Murder.

Comment: I'm sensing a theme here.

4. Change We Can Believe In: Barack Obama's Plan to Renew America's Promise.

Comment: Please.

5. Supermob: How Sidney Korshak and His Criminal Associates Became America's Hidden Power Brokers.

Comment: Would like.

6. Barack Obama In HIs Own Words.

Comment: See No. 4.

7. Family Affair: Greed, Treachery, and Betrayal in the Chicago Mafia.

Comment: Okay, something is seriously wrong with this algorithm.

8. America: What Went Wrong?

Comment: Have.

9. The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression.

Comment: Eh.

10. Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time.

Comment: See No. 9.

-

Comments welcome.

-

Previously in Booklist:
* Hangovers

* Drunkards

* Kinko's Kiosk 2009

* Coming Attractions

* Amazon Recommends

* The Walgreens Discount Shelf

* Kinko's Kiosk

* The Last 10 Books I Read And Why

* The Beachwood Inn Bookshelf

* Five Best Books Ever (For Now)

* A Beachwood Gift Guide

* Have A Right-Wing Christmas

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:00 AM | Permalink

Rhymefest's Run

For 20th Ward alderman. Let's take a look.

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1. Campaign video.

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2. Rhymefest on Sound Opinions, July 2006.

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3. "Rhymefest (born Che Smith 32 years ago in Chicago) was already something of a star before he made an album," Greg Kot wrote in the Tribune in a June review of El Che.

"He bested Eminem in a national battle-rhyme competition in 1997, co-wrote Kanye West's Grammy-winning 2004 hit 'Jesus Walks' and was signed by U.K. producer Mark Ronson to a major-label deal. When Rhymefest's 2006 full-length debut, Blue Collar, appeared on Clive Davis' J label, West-like stardom seemed within reach.

"But Blue Collar stiffed commercially, in part because it couldn't be easily pigeonholed. It presented Rhymefest as astute social critic, style-hopping visionary and street hustler, topped by a self-deprecating sense of humor."

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4. No message could have been any clearer.

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5. I see what shorties need.

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6. On The Interview Show with Mark Bazer.

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7. "Rhymefest for Mayor: He's got a brand-new album and a lot of tough questions for the Daley Machine."

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8. Bullet.

Straight outta high school he didn't know what to do
Wanted to go to college but no money was nothin' new
Wanted to get away go see the world and do somethin' new
He got approached in the mall by the army recruit
Told him "If you wanna go to school we got money too,
Sign up at eighteen you be you when you twenty-two"
He joined the army airborne got his uniform went to bootcamp got some
discipline Iraq is where they shipped him
He's in the mission where bullets flyin' and missin' him
Wishin' he was a kid again with his family in Michigan
In the midst of fightin' militiamen, one round took down six of them
He ain't really a killa though, takin' a lotta risks
This is what a poor person do for a scholarship
He turned around and got a face full of hollow-tips
But don't be mad, he died for the flag

Now what you've done here, is put yourself between a bullet and a target
And it won't be long before, you're pullin' yourself away
What you've done here, is put yourself between a bullet and a target
And it won't be long before, you're pullin' yourself away

Papa was a playa, knew just what to say ta'
Get the women back to his lair, and lay her
If sex had a trophy he's the Heisman touchdown
Hittin' models and B-chicks in Buzztown
He got the women with crazy stares with his lady there
Thay ain't care they like "Ooh look at his baby hair"
He took 'em all put 'em in a line hit five new chickens
He though they was fine
Got head from five dopefiends smokin' a dime
And did it all raw dog, and dog I ain't lyin'
Til' he woke up one season with lesions
He went to the doctor asked him what was the reason
The test read positive he couldn't believe it
He tried to blame God askin' why did he leave him
Pleadin' please let the disease leave him
From women that he conquered, he caught the monster

Now what you've done here, is put yourself between a bullet and a target
And it won't be long before, you're pullin' yourself away
What you've done here, is put yourself between a bullet and a target
And it won't be long before, you're pullin' yourself away

Now when the sun goes down, north side of town
On the other side of the block, when cops ain't around
On the same side of the street that 'Pac hit the ground
Not in Vegas, cause every nigga got 'Pac in him now
When my guys hit the block, and we provin' we thugs
I ain't on no swim team but you see pools of blood
Skip Judy when you die, she ain't whose the judge
If you married to game then prove your love
Here's a strap shorty, shoot it do it then do it
This ain't a game this a organized movement
My hurt, my love, my pain, my stress
My strife, my wife, my life, my test
We made for more, we die for less
When you starvin' in the ghetto I'ma right the rest
See my girl think I'm hard, and my Momma think I'm hard
But when I'm all up in the dark I just fall on my knees

Now what you've done here, is put yourself between a bullet and a target
And it won't be long before, you're pullin' yourself away
What you've done here, is put yourself between a bullet and a target
And it won't be long before, you're pullin' yourself away

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:23 AM | Permalink

The Real Reasons Ryno Was Rejected

Why did the Cubs not only "spurn" Ryne Sandberg but "break [his] heart?"

The Beachwood Ad Hoc Committee On Cubs Affairs has learned that Ryno was rejected for the following reasons:

* Insisted on being called Ryno.

* Real name is Randy Michaels.

* Demanded fans in section 114 hold up signs calling themselves "Ryno's Gynos."

* Joe Morgan used his secret veto.

* Concessions manager unsure team could sell a "Rynestone Sandwich."

* Cubs marketing department hesitant to use "Get Sandberged" as 2011 slogan.

* Has outstanding warrants in three states for overseeing elaborate four-year runs-for-wins scheme.

* Wore t-shirt to interview reading "Who the fuck is Darwin Barney?"

* Had Shawn Boskie penciled in as Opening Day starter.

* Proposed contractual allowance for gold teeth.

* Brought preliminary clay model of his statue to the interview.

* Wanted Steve Stone as his bench coach.

* Refused to drive a Chevy like Ronnie's.

* No way, not after that awful RCN Cable/Beaches commercial.

* Winning record in minors showed he clearly did not understand Cubs culture.

* Bet Pete Rose that he was a lock.

* Turns out it wasn't Ryne Sandberg that Jim Hendry interviewed; it was some guy named Ryan Sandberg who had been managing the Iowa Cubs this whole time.

* Insisted the Cubs hire Rafael Palmeiro as a special assistant for $500,000 a year. Palmeiro's sole responsibility would be to allow Sandberg to hit him in the face with a fungo bat every day during batting practice.

* For some reason, he would only take the job if Tuffy Rhodes and Hector Villanueva were on the active roster.

* Turned out to be extremely bad under pressure. Early in the face to face interview, he nervously yelled "Fuck Chevy, fuck Budweiser, fuck the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and fuck you!!!" at assistant GM Randy Bush before sprinting full speed out of the Cubs front offices.

* Tested positive for PEDs . . . last week.

* He planned to retire again first so he could triple-dip from the Cubs pension system.

* Wanted Addison Red Line stop renamed "Ryneland."

* Demanded team change name to "SuperAwesome MegaHippos" for some reason.

* Shanked a guy outside of Murphy's just to watch him bleed.

* Spent the whole interview asking if Ozzie Guillen would hang out with him after the games.

* Jim Hendry only interviewed him because he was hoping to meet Cindy Sandberg.

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- Andrew Reilly, Thomas Chambers, Drew Adamek, Carl Mohrbacher, Dan O'Shea, Steve Rhodes

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:46 AM | Permalink

October 20, 2010

The [Wednesday] Papers

I'm still catching up from Monday night bartending followed by an all-day social media conference, so some items of interest will just have to wait. Let's see what we can muster in the meantime.

Trib Tower
"Randy Michaels, Tribune Co.'s embattled chief executive, has decided to resign his post at the Chicago-based media company and intends to leave the company before the end of the week, sources close to the situation said," the Tribune reports.

"He will be replaced by a four-member office of the president that the sources said would comprise Eddy Hartenstein, president and publisher of the Los Angeles Times; Tony Hunter, president and publisher of the Chicago Tribune Media Group; Nils Larsen, Tribune Co.'s chief investment officer; and Don Liebentritt, chief restructuring officer."

How Cublike.

Of course, the Tribune Company no longer owns the Cubs, but both have been infected by the dysfunctions of the other enough to last a lifetime.

For example, the Cubs just extended their interim managerial position for another two years. Then Jim Hendry will likely be replaced by someone who will hire their own manager.

By that time, the Tribune Company may have finally emerged from bankruptcy while the Cubs, with Hendry still at the controls, will be ready to enter it.

And so it goes.

Sweet Q
"The team's performance down the stretch was a positive reflection of Quade's performance, but also an indictment of the disconnect that existed between the manager's office and the players during the final days of the Lou Piniella (they lost 20 of their last 25 under Uncle Lou) regime," our very own Chris Rewers writes. "Quade's passion made it obvious to the players that he had their back, but it also made it clear that he was holding them accountable."

In the same post, our very own Dan O'Shea writes:

"I'm wondering if the timing has something to do with Sandberg turning down a behind-closed-doors offer to be one of Quade's coaches. The Cubs may now have to watch Sandberg take a manager job elsewhere, and if Quade stumbles early, fans surely will be calling for his head - and GM Jim Hendry's - and demanding explanations for why Sandberg wasn't hired as manager."

Randy's New Roost
"Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville restaurant is sailing into Navy Pier for a 10-year run," the Tribune reports.

The new restaurant's first big event will be the Tribune Company's annual meeting.

Ask Tom Why
"The inspector general for the U.S. Department of Energy found in Illinois what state inspectors have repeatedly found in Texas: shoddy and unsupervised work under the federal stimulus Weatherization Assistance Program," Texas Watchdog reports.

"An audit of the $242 million state program found that energy efficiency upgrades for low-income homes repeatedly failed final inspections. Inspectors checking 15 homes in the Chicago area found that 14 would not pass inspection and 12 were left with problems that could have posed a health risk to the residents or damage to the property. Inspectors found that contractors had overpaid for materials on the jobs and that, overall, the work had been poorly monitored."

Additionally, the inspector general found the homes would not survive a Tribune Company executive retreat or rush week.

Dart Board
I'll be impressed when he halts my credit card debts.

Keys Club
"A Chicago man died Monday while diving at Looe Key in the Lower Keys on Monday, becoming what is apparently the eighth dive- or snorkel-related death of 2010 in the Florida Keys," KeysNet reports.

No Margaritaville jokes; this isn't funny.

The Public Transit Paradox
A debate erupts about our post earlier this week about the CTA. See the comments.

Fantasy Fix
Wither Carlos Boozer?

Why Not Mayor?
"Jay-Z may have lent his visage and voice to a PSA, but Chicago rapper Rhymefest is really putting his money where his mic is," Consequence of Sound writes. "The Windy City better get ready, because if he has his way, we'll be calling him Alderman Che 'Rhymefest' Smith by the end of next spring. The Grammy-winning artist released a video today confirming his run for 20th Ward Alderman."

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And:

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Booze in the blender.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:01 AM | Permalink

Sweet Q

"Cubs general manager Jim Hendry made the right call Tuesday in announcing that Mike Quade would manage the team in 2011," our very own Chris Rewers writes at sister site Agony & Ivy.

"Ryne Sandberg may have been the people's choice, but the 53-year-old Quade was the choice of the players, who played with a lot of passion over the final portion of their schedule long after there was anything to play for.

"The Cubs were 24-13 overall and 17-5 in road games under the direction of their interim manager.

"The team's performance down the stretch was a positive reflection of Quade's performance, but also an indictment of the disconnect that existed between the manager's office and the players during the final days of the Lou Piniella (they lost 20 of their last 25 under Uncle Lou) regime. Quade's passion made it obvious to the players that he had their back, but it also made it clear that he was holding them accountable.

"The lines of communication were always open. Players remained informed on their roles and starters were often notified two or three days prior to getting a day off. Lineups were posted six hours before game time. Everyone knew where they stood and that is the mark of a good boss.

"Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts said that Quade was chosen over two other finalists - Sandberg and former Cleveland Indians manager Eric Wedge. A disappointed Sandberg told the Tribune that he would explore other major league managerial and coaching positions. Hopefully, he will be part of Quade's 2011 coaching staff. Wedge was named the Seattle Mariners skipper Monday.

"In choosing Quade, the Cubs hired a permanent manager from within the organization for the first time since Jim Marshall replaced Whitey Lockman during the 1974 season.

"The choice of Quade certainly pumps me up more than had the Cubs braintrust settled on a retread like Wedge.

"When he took the reins of the Cubs from Piniella on Aug. 22, I did not know much about Quade other than that he was team's third-base coach and that he had done well in his three-plus years in that position. Unlike Wendell Kim, Quade went about his business without being noticed. It's a telling trait for third-base coaches and umpires.

"But I soon discovered that Quade had an accomplished career as a longtime minor league manager and major league coach:

"* His teams won 1,213 minor-league games in 17 seasons.

"* He was twice named his league's Manager of the Year - at Double-A Harrisburg of the Eastern League in 1991 and Triple-A Ottawa of the International League in 1993.

"* He led Class A West Michigan to the Midwest League title, Aguilas Cibaenas to the 1996-97 Dominican Winter League championship, and Vancouver to the Pacific Coast League crown and Triple-A World Series title in 1999.

"His performance in his short tenure as the Cubs' interim manager was also impressive.

"Quade gave many of the team's younger players a chance, particularly pitchers. Hurlers like James Russell, Scott Maine, and Marcos Mateo were called upon in clutch situations and, more often than not, got the job done. Cubs relievers closed the season with 28 straight shutout innings. The bullpen posted a 1.19 ERA in its final 25 games.

"He cracked the whip with shortstop Starlin Castro, benching the rookie phenom for two contests for a series of mental mistakes he made in a game against the Mets on Sept. 5.

"Quade also laid down the law with veteran players as a blog post from WMVP-AM's Bruce Levine last month illustrated:

One veteran player was supposed to report for therapy with the training staff two weeks ago at 10 a.m. before a night game. Instead, he showed up at 2:30 for his treatment. Afterward, he found out his name wasn't in the lineup. When the player approached Quade to find out the reason for his benching, he was told that off-the-field preparation was to be taken as seriously as batting practice or the game itself.

"The best part of the discipline was that it was handled behind closed doors. Quade made his point with the veteran and his teammates without embarrassing the unnamed player.

"Quade also seemed to be more involved than Piniella, always leaning forward in the dugout, taking his walks to the mound in purposeful passion, and even continuing with his teaching roles he filled as a coach. I don't think Piniella, if ever, hit pregame fungoes as Quade regularly did.

"Quade's energy rubbed off on his players.

"My only two beefs with Quade were:

"* His insistence on playing Koyie Hill instead of rookie Welington Castillo after Geovany Soto was shut down on Sept. 18. Castillo, who made just three of his five starts, after Soto has shoulder surgery hit .300 with a .983 OPS. Hill, who is not likely to be a Cub in 2011, hit just .214 and walked five times as much as he struck out in 2010. The 31-year-old switch-hitter was just 6-for-36 (.167) with one double and no RBI in 11 starts after Sept. 18.

"* His failure to give Tyler Colvin some playing time at first base.

"But both of those quibbles are minor.

"I understand that the Cubs fell out of contention long before Quade took over, but the difference in how the team went about its business late in the season was startling.

"It's easy for a team to go through the motions under an interim manager and to quote Dallas Green, several Cubs teams have quit with a capital "Q" under interims: Charlie Fox in 1983, Frank Lucchesi in 1987, Jim Essian in 1991, and Bruce Kimm in 2002.

"Sandberg has paid his dues, but Quade has been doing so for much longer and his short but impressive major league track record gave him the nod."

* * *

Our very own Dan O'Shea concurs in his post at the Beachwood blog SwingsBothWays:

"It's probably the right move and the right length of contract for a guy who guided the young Cubs of the latter part of the 2010 season to a 24-13 record. He probably will be working with pretty much the same group next season, and there was no reason to hire a World Series winner like Joe Girardi if the Cubs aren't planning to add much next year.

"It seemed like maybe the Cubs were going to wait for Girardi, which would have very publicly made Quade or Ryne Sandberg second choice if Girardi had turned down the job. Of course, the most obvious choice prior to Quade's late-season tryout was Sandberg, and if Quade hadn't done well it would still be Sandberg.

"I'm wondering if the timing has something to do with Sandberg turning down a behind-closed-doors offer to be one of Quade's coaches. The Cubs may now have to watch Sandberg take a manager job elsewhere, and if Quade stumbles early, fans surely will be calling for his head - and GM Jim Hendry's - and demanding explanations for why Sandberg wasn't hired as manager.

"Had Quade never been given the chance by Hendry, most fans probably would be behind Sandberg as top choice, but Quade's success leaves them conflicted, and, as always, hopeful."

From The Beachwood Q File
* What To Expect In The Mike Quade Era

* Q Ball

* The Quade Kool-Aid

* How Quade Can Seal The Deal

* Jim Hendry's Interview Schedule

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:16 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: Touch 'Em All

It's one of those times of year when fantasy sports enthusiasts have a lot on their plates: Fantasy basketball drafts are underway, the football season is nearing its halfway point, and the baseball postseason is giving us a few things to ponder as we make some mental notes for next year. I will try to touch 'em all in this week's entry.

Basketball
Whether you believe the Bulls' Carlos Boozer, PF/C, injured himself by tripping over a gym bag while answering the door, what's done is done, and you can't count on any fantasy production out of him until at least the end of November.

Yet, if you were already planning on drafting Boozer for your fantasy team, it was because you know he's injury prone and you're willing to accept that. Fantasy managers who can't handle that tend to stay away from him altogether. Like Troy Murphy, another injury prone PF/C, he is still a borderline top 50 player. Given the injury, you might want to wait until the sixth-round, rather than picking him in the fifth, but leaving him on the board any longer than that makes him a bargain. He still averages a double-double when healthy, and he improved his stats in almost every fantasy category last year.

Football
U of I product Brandon Lloyd has never been much more than a No. 3 wide receiver, and that really was only during his earliest years in the league when he played with San Francisco. Yet, now with Denver, he leads all WRs in total receiving yards with 663. Can you continue to count on him?

He's got a tough match-up this week against Oakland. Also, while QB Kyle Orton, who has been a top fantasy player himself, has been focusing on getting the ball to Lloyd, the 2-4 Broncos have not been winning much with that plan. Last week, rookie QB Tim Tebow also made an appearance, getting seven snaps and scoring a TD himself without throwing the ball once. If Tebow becomes a red-zone regular for Denver, it could mean fewer catches and TDs for Lloyd. So, don't expect Lloyd to lead the league in the receiving yards when all is said and done.

Baseball
With Roy Halladay's no-hitter, Tim Lincecum's 14-strikeout complete game shutout and Cliff Lee's ongoing near-perfection, the Year of the Pitcher has extended into the postseason. Then again, you already knew these three guys were great. Has the postseason produced any surprise heroes who may require closer inspection before next year's draft?

How about Cody Ross? The San Francisco OF, a late-season acquisition from Florida, has hit four home runs in the playoffs so far. Ross has always been a borderline OF bench pick, fantasy-wise. He seemed to have a breakout year in 2009 with 24 HRs and 90 RBIs, but took a step back this year, hitting 14 HRs and collecting 65 RBIs. Florida and San Francisco are both pitchers' parks, so it's hard to expect much more next year in terms of power. He has hit .288 since coming to San Francisco, well above his career average of .265. If the Giants continue their run, and Ross continues his - and assuming the Giants sign him for next year - I could see him becoming a late-round sleeper pick next season. But don't expect him to be the next Jose Bautista.

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He welcomes your comments. You can also read his about his split sports fan personality at SwingsBothWays, a new addition to the Beachwood Media family.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:19 AM | Permalink

October 19, 2010

The [Tuesday] Papers

Oops, I promised yesterday to catch up with a few news items from the weekend but I have to be downtown all day at a conference so I'll just have to do it tomorrow. Thanks to everyone who came out last night for Monday Night Beachwood. We'll do it again next week.

Meanwhile, please enjoy these fine offerings:

* The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report: Olin Kreutz totally had the brew situation covered.

* Saturday Afternoon: Savoring the complacencies of a beer run.

The [Monday] Papers
I'll catch up with the gubernatorial debate on Tuesday, as well as Fran Spielman's interview with Rahm Emanuel. Let's get the rest of the news out of the way.

Alexi's Spotless Mind
"Giannoulias has admitted meeting with [convicted bookie Michael 'Jaws'] Giorango a few times at the bank, years ago, and inspecting one of Giorango's Miami hotels in 2006 as standard operating procedure when approving a loan on the property," Kristen McQueary writes.

"But that's about it.

"On Thursday, he couldn't recollect a single detail about his visit to the hotel - a hotel which landed on Florida law enforcement's radar in 2002 after a nationwide prostitution sting."

Not a single detail.

Huh. I remember details of trips I took as a kid. You know, like family trips to California and Washington, D.C.

Don't you?

And I would certainly remember visiting Jaws Giorango, even if it was routine business.

But then, I'm not running for U.S. Senate.

*

Barack Obama in a campaign ad for Alexi:

"Alexi's my friend. I know his character. You can trust him. You can count on him."

Isn't it time the president was pressed on Alexi's memory problems? Is he really urging us to vote for someone who refuses to come clean about his bank's dealings with unsavory characters? And just what really happened on that trip?

*

Remember this one?

"Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias tried to dampen criticism Thursday of what role he may have played in causing problems at the family bank where he worked before being elected state treasurer," the Tribune reports.

"On more than one occasion, however, Giannoulias did not answer direct questions about which loans he approved while chief loan officer at Broadway Bank that have since gone bad.

"'We'll have plenty of time to get into that,' Giannoulias said at a hastily called news conference."

*

From the Beachwood vault:

About Alexi.

*

COMMENT: From Paul Clark:

"On Thursday, he couldn't recollect a single detail about his visit to the hotel - a hotel which landed on Florida law enforcement's radar in 2002 after a nationwide prostitution sting."

When I was in my late teens, going all the back to the last century, I used to deliver groceries to Tony "Big Tuna" Accardo's house. Though I never met him, I remember the visits to the house very well, where I would ring the doorbell and then heard a voice from a speaker by the door telling me to just leave the groceries at the door and walk away.

And I would sometimes deliver groceries to Tony Accardo AND Paul Harvey in the same trip. I would think to myself - "America . . . what a country!"

The Public Transit Paradox
Public transit is built for those who least need it, our very own Kiljoong Kim writes.

Political Science
"Illinois has been cutting the number of points required to pass annual achievement exams, allowing children to flub more questions but still be deemed 'proficient,'" the Tribune reports.

And in a related move, Illinois is also lowering the level of proficiency required to hold public office.

*

The Bears are considering a new rule that would lower the number of yards required for a first down.

Bears' Return Game
"Kick returns are again the Bears primary offensive weapons," writes our very own Jim Coffman in SportsMonday.

*

AP's summary, with appropriate photo:

"The way Jay Cutler got knocked around [against the Giants], Lawyer Milloy and the Seattle Seahawks couldn't wait for this game.

"When it came, they delivered another beating.

"Matt Hasselbeck threw for a season-best 242 yards and a touchdown and Seattle's defense sacked Cutler six times in a 23-20 victory over the Bears on Sunday.

"Cutler was in trouble much of the game, and completed just 17 of 39 passes for 290 yards. He missed last week's win at Carolina with a concussion after being sacked nine times by the Giants in the previous game.

"'We were licking our chops, the way the Giants had success,' said Milloy, who had one of those sacks.

"Cutler insisted he felt fine no matter how sickening this performance was. At least the Seahawks were blitzing, something the Giants rarely did two weeks ago.

"Either way, it was another ugly afternoon for the Bears."

The Weekend in Chicago Rock
Spanning the city's venues.

Schmich Pique
Our very own David Rutter responds.

The Swarm and the Sick House
By our very own Brett McNeil, in his Indonesian Journal.

Bartender Journalism
Once again I'll be behind the bar at the Beachwood Inn tonight bringing you Monday night in all of its new vigor. We'll stick with the $2.50 Old Styles and $1 off the bottom shelf and raise you new songs on the jukebox and input into tomorrow's Beachwood Reporter. Doors open at 5 p.m. and don't close until 2 a.m.

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An Original Ballad

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The Beachwood Tip Line: On the house.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:58 AM | Permalink

The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report

Blue: As the writer of the Blue side of the Kool Aid report, I am obligated to pull the positives from each and every Chicago Bears game. Let's be honest, the Bears got their collective asses beat on offense and defense (go special teams!) in Sunday's 23-20 thrashing at the hands of the ever dangerous Seattle Seahawks. Therefore finding positives from that morass might seem a task akin to throwing a football accurately while facing impending pain from onrushing 300-pound defensive lineman. But if Jay Cutler has to face this for the next 10 games, who am I to disappoint this column's eight fans? Granted, my 87 year-old grandfather is one of those fans, so it's not that tough a crowd (for the record I'm KICKING HIS ASS in fantasy football). But here's a few positives I came up with:

* Devin Hester's return to ridiculousness. When Deion Sanders did his recap of the top 10 plays of the day he got so excited when calling the Hester 89-yard punt return that he was somewhere between multiple orgasms and having a massive stroke. This can be channeled: though Primetime needs a rascal to get around his ginormous house (Yes, I watched his show for 20 minutes once. Watching anymore might have made my ears and eyes bleed like something out of a George A. Romero film), he looks to be in great shape and has to be available for a lower price tag than Brandon Manumaleuna. I'm guessing that even on a rascal he can provide tighter coverage than Charles Tillman did when facing Mike Williams (10 receptions? Really? The guy had 15 receptions from 2006 to 2009!). And if he doesn't produce, at least we can say he cost less than did Manumaleuna, who has also done absolutely nothing for this team to date.

* No lab animals were killed in the continued experiment of just how much physical punishment a professional quarterback can take and still find his way back to the huddle in one piece. Not a single cat was swung around by his tail and whipped into a wall. No cute little ratatouille had his head smashed in by a hammer. Thanks to Jay Cutler, the beating he took by virtue of a totally disengaged offensive line successfully simulated an adorable golden retriever puppy being trampled by a herd of buffalo. Though there is the possibility of losing our franchise QB to injury and having to turn to the untested hands of Caleb Hanie, the lives of a puppy, kitty, and a rat were saved. Thanks Jay! PETA will be sending along a party tray of tofu and soy.

* In Monday's press conference, Bears head coach Lovie Smith announced he did not foresee any changes in the offensive line for next weeks game against the Washington Redskins. Not only will the lives of defenseless animals be saved (see above), but there will be less upsetting negative surprises for Bears fans. If 59-year-old Lawyer Milloy can cause havoc like he did last Sunday, we all know exactly what Brian Orakpo will do. Probably be stopped cold!

As bad as the game looked with Marshawn Lynch running through the defense like Earl Campbell, Matt Hasselbeck having enough time in the pocket to knit a nice grey, blue and lime green booty for his pet Seahawk, and their defense slicing through our offensive line like a hot knife through water, the end score was still only 23-20. Give us a healthy Lance Briggs on the field, a offense that doesn't include multiple wide receivers running the same route on plays (that had to be a mistake, but it happened numerous times), a little more O-line, a whole lot more D-line pressure, and maybe that game ends a little differently. So, next week just has to be better, right?

Next: Redskins at Bears
The 'Skins come in with a defense rated dead last in yards allowed; this has to give the Bears offense enough breathing room to allow for some self-resuscitation, which should lead to at least one third-down conversion. As of today, Washington TE Chris Cooley is out for next Sunday, leaving Santana Moss, Donovan McNabb and Ryan Torian as only real weapons that need be accounted for. Charles Tillman bounces back from "meaning to lay an egg" as he stated in a post-game interview after the Seahawks game; Moss covered. Julius Peppers, a non-factor against Seattle, decides to earn some more of that big contract; McNabb covered. Lance Briggs returns and the run defense pushes the bus to Soldier Field; down goes Torian. Add in the resurgent Devin Hester scoring one, maybe 2 return TDs and this should be a piece of cake, right?

Prediction: Bears 17, Redskins 10

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Orange: Like most sports franchises, the Bears have had many marketing tag lines over the years.

"One city, one team," many in-stadium references to the "4th Phase," the ever popular, "Da Bears" and "Only you can prevent forest fires," top the contemporary list.

Since we're starting to see what we have this season, now is a good time to nominate new tag lines for the remainder of 2010:

* We were 4 and 1 at one point, right?

* Smith, Tice, Marinelli, Martz! Coaching Voltron, UNITE!

(Q: Did you know that the guy who narrated Voltron also played Optimus Prime and Eeyore?*)

* Welcome Back Hester/That was ver-ry impressive Mister Hester-r!

(We like to keep the humor topical here at the Blue & Orange Report)

* Ole!

Perhaps that last one's an overly charitable assessment. Bullfighters usually wave a cape in front of their charging foe.

On multiple occasions, replays revealed left tackle Frank Omiyale hurriedly excusing himself from the left side of the line as though his ex had unexpectedly stopped by a party, prompting him to speed walk to the other end of the field in hopes of sparing himself an awkward interaction by offering to help Olin Kruetz carry in some beer. For the record, Kreutz totally had that brew situation covered.

On the day, the Bears' offensive line yielded six sacks and nine quarterback hits to a defensive unit that came into Sunday's action ranked near the bottom of the league in pass defense. As is becoming his custom, Jay Cutler played as well as one can while being attacked by professional athletes, throwing for 290 yards without committing a turnover.

Let's face facts. It was pretty obvious what we were getting ourselves into when we signed up for another season of fandom with these guys.

So when the Monsters of the Midway ask you to meet them for lunch at a crowded restaurant in Week 17 after days of not responding to your calls and texts, don't act surprised when they break it off and go back to their wives.

Chicago Bears Football:
You knew what this was.

Next: Redskins at Bears
The Redskins are 3-3 and were able to hang with a couple of high-powered offenses in losses to the Colts in Week 6 and the Texans in Week 2. Sure, they laid a stinker at the feet of their fans against the Rams, but something about this Ryan Torrain character reeks of 141 rushing yards and two scores. In a game that features two historically proud defensive franchises, look for a high scoring affair. Though a non-factor in the game, Rex Grossman will be assert his presence by throwing angry sideways glances at heckling Chicago fans off of his back foot.

Prediction: Redskins 31, Bears 24

* Answer: If so, YOU ARE A HUGE NERD!

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Andrew Golden brings you the Blue half of this report every week; Carl Mohrbacher brings you the Orange. They welcome your comments.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:38 AM | Permalink

Chicagoetry: Saturday Afternoon

Saturday Afternoon

Music, if music, is divine,
the sub-atomic matter of divinity.
Not as a god but as a god might be.
He savored the complacencies
of a beer run, illumined by siren song,
the luminous trill of a woman's voice
in Spanish--not the tyrannous bleat
of emergency engines--sluicing through
ash-grey alleys like invisible water
through caverns of Indian-corn brick,
fluttering, flirting and luring,
lute en fleur.

A brook of invisible gems, supple
and turbulent, a careening of lush atoms.
Spanish is music-upon-music to the non-Spaniard
in the works. He encountered a church
festival in the parking lot of Iglesia del
Nazareno, a carnivale of faith and family,
pulsating with popular rhythm and blues.
Children darting and dancing, setting pigeon
flocks--flecked in ash--undulating, supple
and turbulent. Young couples embracing,
husbands and wives in intense conversations
of labor, pain and enduring love.

Visible, culpable: keyboards, trap-set
and bass guitar, with a chorus of three (a trinity).
Music invisible, but real as rain.
The Spanish did not batter his heart
with mythy rhetoric. Divinity pressed upon him
in lush, sub-atomic reality, whorling and whooshing,
like a jettisoned flock of scavenger birds.
Like swirling birds, not a seething, humanesque god.
The more human, the less humane. The less humane,
the less godly. Music, if music, is miracle,
luring lush hearts from deifying life's inherent pain,
not as a god but as a god might be.

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

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More Tindall:

* Book of poems: Ballots From the Dead

* Music: MySpace page

* Fiction: A Hole To China

* Critical biography at e-poets.net

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:47 AM | Permalink

October 18, 2010

The [Monday] Papers

I'll catch up with the gubernatorial debate on Tuesday, as well as Fran Spielman's interview with Rahm Emanuel. Let's get the rest of the news out of the way.

Alexi's Spotless Mind
"Giannoulias has admitted meeting with [convicted bookie Michael 'Jaws'] Giorango a few times at the bank, years ago, and inspecting one of Giorango's Miami hotels in 2006 as standard operating procedure when approving a loan on the property," Kristen McQueary writes.

"But that's about it.

"On Thursday, he couldn't recollect a single detail about his visit to the hotel - a hotel which landed on Florida law enforcement's radar in 2002 after a nationwide prostitution sting."

Not a single detail.

Huh. I remember details of trips I took as a kid. You know, like family trips to California and Washington, D.C.

Don't you?

And I would certainly remember visiting Jaws Giorango, even if it was routine business.

But then, I'm not running for U.S. Senate.

*

Barack Obama in a campaign ad for Alexi:

"Alexi's my friend. I know his character. You can trust him. You can count on him."

Isn't it time the president was pressed on Alexi's memory problems? Is he really urging us to vote for someone who refuses to come clean about his bank's dealings with unsavory characters? And just what really happened on that trip?

*

Remember this one?

"Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias tried to dampen criticism Thursday of what role he may have played in causing problems at the family bank where he worked before being elected state treasurer," the Tribune reports.

"On more than one occasion, however, Giannoulias did not answer direct questions about which loans he approved while chief loan officer at Broadway Bank that have since gone bad.

"'We'll have plenty of time to get into that,' Giannoulias said at a hastily called news conference."

*

From the Beachwood vault:

About Alexi.

*

COMMENT: From Paul Clark:

"On Thursday, he couldn't recollect a single detail about his visit to the hotel - a hotel which landed on Florida law enforcement's radar in 2002 after a nationwide prostitution sting."

When I was in my late teens, going all the back to the last century, I used to deliver groceries to Tony "Big Tuna" Accardo's house. Though I never met him, I remember the visits to the house very well, where I would ring the doorbell and then heard a voice from a speaker by the door telling me to just leave the groceries at the door and walk away.

And I would sometimes deliver groceries to Tony Accardo AND Paul Harvey in the same trip. I would think to myself - "America . . . what a country!"

The Public Transit Paradox
Public transit is built for those who least need it, our very own Kiljoong Kim writes.

Political Science
"Illinois has been cutting the number of points required to pass annual achievement exams, allowing children to flub more questions but still be deemed 'proficient,'" the Tribune reports.

And in a related move, Illinois is also lowering the level of proficiency required to hold public office.

*

The Bears are considering a new rule that would lower the number of yards required for a first down.

Bears' Return Game
"Kick returns are again the Bears primary offensive weapons," writes our very own Jim Coffman in SportsMonday.

*

AP's summary, with appropriate photo:

"The way Jay Cutler got knocked around [against the Giants], Lawyer Milloy and the Seattle Seahawks couldn't wait for this game.

"When it came, they delivered another beating.

"Matt Hasselbeck threw for a season-best 242 yards and a touchdown and Seattle's defense sacked Cutler six times in a 23-20 victory over the Bears on Sunday.

"Cutler was in trouble much of the game, and completed just 17 of 39 passes for 290 yards. He missed last week's win at Carolina with a concussion after being sacked nine times by the Giants in the previous game.

"'We were licking our chops, the way the Giants had success,' said Milloy, who had one of those sacks.

"Cutler insisted he felt fine no matter how sickening this performance was. At least the Seahawks were blitzing, something the Giants rarely did two weeks ago.

"Either way, it was another ugly afternoon for the Bears."

The Weekend in Chicago Rock
Spanning the city's venues.

Schmich Pique
Our very own David Rutter responds.

The Swarm and the Sick House
By our very own Brett McNeil, in his Indonesian Journal.

Bartender Journalism
Once again I'll be behind the bar at the Beachwood Inn tonight bringing you Monday night in all of its new vigor. We'll stick with the $2.50 Old Styles and $1 off the bottom shelf and raise you new songs on the jukebox and input into tomorrow's Beachwood Reporter. Doors open at 5 p.m. and don't close until 2 a.m.

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An Original Ballad

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The Beachwood Tip Line: On the house.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:57 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: The Bears' Return Game

Anybody have a clue what is going on in the National Football Conference?

The leading contenders have emerged in the AFC, what with the Steelers, Colts and Jets winning again on Sunday and the Patriots eking out an overtime win over the otherwise-impressive-so-far Ravens. It isn't hard to project those five teams into the playoffs already, along with whatever lame team wins the AFC West (I suppose the Chiefs are still the favorite despite having lost two in a row).

As for the other conference, the one the Bears are fortunate to call home, well, it was screenwriter William Goldman who memorably said: "Nobody knows nothing" about which movies will be successful and which will tank. And that assessment certainly applies to a group of divisions in which everybody has at least two losses and no one has mustered any sort of sustained excellence.

In other words, the rest of the conference appears to be just as shaky as the Bears. There's some hope in that . . . isn't there?

As for yesterday's game . . .

A fan could forgive the Seahawks' first touchdown on Sunday, what with the visitors coming off a bye while the Bears had been busy knocking off Carolina the Sunday before. Seattle had clearly used its extra prep time well, putting together a game plan that exposed numerous Bears weaknesses on offense and defense.

In fact, a fan could forgive the first half, especially when the Bears finished it trailing by only a point. All that was needed was a little tweaking and . . . oh, wait a minute, you can't tweak fundamental shortcomings on the offensive line. But we've covered that topic ad nauseum in previous posts. Okay, one quick thing: How could they not adjust after, what, the third time a safety came in free and clear off the edge and slammed into Jay Cutler? At times Mike Martz is so negligent about protecting the passer with his play calls that you wonder if he might be arrested.

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One thing I never want to see again: Rashied Davis scurrying back to tell Danieal Manning not to return a kickoff that has sailed a couple yards into the end zone. Plenty of up-backs have done this over the years, appointing themselves the arbiter off which kicks should be returned by the deep man and which ones should result in the taking of a knee for a touchback. Why this has been acceptable to various teams is a mystery but with the Bears it absolutely cannot happen.

Hey Rashied, Danieal can handle it back there. If he wants to return a kick, he'll do so, especially considering that kick returns are again the Bears' primary offensive weapon. From now on, on every kick, you just go and block someone until you hear the whistle. Thank you.

Why don't the Bears ever go all out for a punt block? They never bring 10 guys in tight and do absolutely everything they can to stuff one. We understand that, given what was pointed out in the previous paragraphs, their focus is on the return more than 90 percent of the time.

But when a punter as good as Seattle's John Ryan is taking aim at the space between the sideline and the numbers from near midfield, his kicks will almost always be just about impossible to return. Ryan employs a different sort of ball drop on his kicks that seems to be gaining popularity. Instead of the classic flat drop that Brad Maynard and just about all other punters have used as long as I can remember, Ryan drops the ball point down. Perhaps it is just that Ryan is exceptionally good at it but the method certainly seems to result in kicks that are even less likely to bounce into the end zone than even very well-executed punts done the old way.

No matter how well he does on the football field, though, Ryan needs to never forget he's just a kicker. He seemed to mistake himself for a football player after that last punt, rushing in to try to make a tackle. And man did he pay the price when Earl Bennett lined him up and laid him out with an almost too easy blind-side block.

On that play, the Bears finally managed to force Ryan to punt from a little further back. At that point devoting everything to the return was the obvious call and the Ridiculous One worked his magic again. It was a crying shame that the team's myriad other deficiencies doomed Devin Hester's return to "too little, too late" status.

Brian Billick, who expertly pointed out that Ryan's last punt didn't quite get over to that aforementioned magical zone near the sideline, was sharp on the call all day. If the analyst wasn't taking the Bears to task for mistakes like trying to a throw a quick out out of the shotgun formation, when the quarterback has to wait for the snap and therefore loses precious time, he was describing the typical chaotic scene on the sidelines when a controversial play occurs.

"I'm sure there's some (assistant) coach over there saying 'coach, he was out of bounds! Coach he was out of bounds," i.e. the assistant was advocating throwing the challenge flag and putting a timeout and future challenges at risk. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll blew the challenge on Johnny Knox's huge gain in the first half but when Billick was talking about it after a near-interception in the second half, Carroll kept the flag in his pocket.

*

Whoops, I think another Seattle rusher just zipped into the Bear backfield untouched.

Fortunately no one else in the NFC has yet figured out how to perfectly protect their passer, or their overall chances, this season.

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Jim Coffman brings you SportsMonday every week in this space. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:24 AM | Permalink

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

1. Ha Ha Tonka at the Beat Kitchen on Friday night.


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2. Gorillaz at the UIC Pavilion on Saturday night.

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3. Adam Haworth Stephens at the Empty Bottle on Friday night.

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4. ATB at the Congress Theatre on Saturday night.

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5. Angus and Julia Stone at Lincoln Hall on Saturday night.

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6. Langhorne Slim at the Double Door on Saturday night.

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Comments welcome.

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7. Added by request: Sufjan Stevens at the Chicago Theatre on Friday night.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:48 AM | Permalink

The Public Transit Paradox

In contemporary American urban life, commuting to work has become one of the most insufferable activities. Considering that the cost of operating a car is well over 50 cents per mile for most cars, for anyone going to work beyond 2.5 miles from their homes, public transit becomes a cheaper option if available. Despite this economic rationale, 80.7% of commuters drive to work (including 0.2% or close to 11,000 who identify taxicab as their primary mode). Many scholars and policy makers attribute this heavy reliance to Americans' obsession and fascination with cars, sense of independence, and convenience. But what is not often discussed is that it is also because public transit is built for those who might need it the least.

According to the American Community Survey conducted by the Census Bureau between 2006 and 2008, American workers on the average spend 25.3 minutes to commuting to work. For those who work in the Chicago metropolitan area, their commute takes longer at about 31.1 minutes. An overwhelming majority of the workers in the area drive to work (80.6%). Perhaps there is a good reason for that: those workers who identified subway as their primary mode of transportation took much longer at 55.2 minutes to commute, while train took 45.6 minutes, and bus took 44.5 minutes. On the other hand, those who are able to walk took only 12.2 minutes.

Despite the long ride, the subway appears to be reserved for mostly those who are affluent and highly educated. This difference is even starker when compared to bus commuters. First, 63.8% of the commuters who use subway have at least a college education. Considering Chicago metropolitan area's population is composed of 32.4% of individuals with college education or more, the subway ridership during rush hour is highly skewed toward those who are highly educated.

Similarly, their median income per worker is more than twice that of the region ($32,884) at $67,497. They reside in households whose median income is $110,700, which is close to double the regional median ($61,300) and the median housing value for these commuters is $350,000, which again, is higher than the regional median housing value ($262,000). Even for those who rent, these subway commuters pay substantially more (median of $1,014 per month) compared to the area's median monthly rent ($882).

Bus commuters, on the other hand, are far worse off. Their median income per worker ($22,845) is only about a third of that of subway commuters and only 26.1% are college graduates. Their household income is also about a half ($51,921) of that of subway commuters and their median housing value is also far less ($225,000).

Lastly, if commuting pattern is a simple reflection of societal inequality, then it is no surprise that close to three quarters of subway commuters (73.4%) are white versus 40.8% of bus commuters who are black.

Such characterization makes sense given that CTA train routes are designed to merge into the downtown area where professionals can take advantage of such convenience without traffic congestion. Large parts of the Red, Brown, and Blue Lines in the city are gentrifying if they haven't already. Purple, Yellow, Green and Blue Lines connect to affluent suburbs like Evanston, Skokie, Oak Park, and Forest Park. Consequently, those who can afford to live along this affordable convenient system are those who are more likely to be affluent (and own cars).

What is not often shown is historical neglect of the poor who are denied access by the CTA and those who design public transit. This is evident in the Brown Line, which skips 1.2 miles between Armitage and Sedgwick stations and then another 1.4 miles from Sedgwick to Chicago Avenue Stations to avoid what used to one of the most impoverished areas in the country - Cabrini Green.

The same avoidance is found along the Green Line between Roosevelt Road and 35 Street (2.5 miles), where much of the land remained vacant for years before the South Loop was developed. The newly constructed Pink Line between the Damen Avenue and Ashland Avenue stations (1.4 miles) pass through the West Side near the United Center.

Ironically, it would not be a surprise to see additional stations being built in each of these areas now that the concentration of the poor have been dispersed.

In addition, there are also financial programs that fueled this composition of elite subway commuters in affluent areas. While programs like the Location Efficient Mortgage may provide opportunities for individuals to purchase homes near public transit, there are two major drawbacks: first, such a program encourages people to buy homes near public transit through borrowing more money, not a reduction in prices, which means those who utilize programs like this are in even greater debt.

The underlying assumption for such programs is that housing values will always increase in the long run so taking on more debt in this case is justified. If there is a lesson in the recent housing market crash, it is that assuming more debt than necessary is never a good idea, even if a lender is willing to give you the money.

Second, giving more buying power to those who are interested in these areas near public transit artificially drives up the prices of these homes to a point where most good housing stocks became unaffordable to those who are below middle class. This means those people who can afford cars are the ones also taking advantage these programs and buying up housing stocks near public transit.

All this becomes significant because the commuting mode of transportation is another measure of our society that separates people by credentials, race, and class. We increasingly encounter fewer places to interact with people who are different from one another. It makes one wonder why we live in a city pretending we are constantly experiencing diversity.

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Kiljoong Kim is a research consultant and doctoral student in sociology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He welcomes your comments. Read more in the the Who We Are archives.

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1. From Michael O'Connor:

I agree but I think Kim is looking only at the most recent efforts of the CTA and not the historical context. We need public transit to be affordable for those who need it the most, but we also need it to be sufficiently attractive to the middle classes who will help make it affordable through fare revenue. So yes, extend the Dan Ryan line to 130th St., but think bigger and extend the subway to Howard St. and use the old L embankment as a greenway to the loop for bicycles. Put a stop on the Paulina Connector at Madison serving the stadium. Hell, reclaim the rest of the Paulina connector past Lake St. so the line can connect with the Kennedy segment of the Blue Line.

We cannot remake the transit system entirely to serve the reverse commute for jobs that exists today. For example, I live in Glenview. How do I get to the high-tech corridor in Naperville without going downtown first? I can't.

But we need to make mass transit user-friendly when and where we can - so people will use it! That means adding real 3rd-track express service to O'Hare, and that means linking all mass transit in the Loop so it can serve the widest customer base. If you've ever taken the subway in Munich, there is a section where all the trains from every line come into a 3-stop section, so anyone can transfer to any line along that section. Now we probably built that system with the Marshall Plan, but it was the German approach to public transit that designed something so simple. The truth is that public transit, especially rapid transit, relies upon density to make it practical. It's why cities like Milwaukee don't have a subway. And it galls me to see federal transit money wasted in bringing light-rail to cities like LA, Houston or Denver, where the car culture is too ingrained and the urban sprawl so wide that it makes no sense for people to switch to public transit without a huge disincentive to driving.

2. From Jon Davis:

The notions that Chicago's subways are built for "elite commuters" who "might need it least"; are "reserved for mostly those who are affluent and highly educated"; and indicate "another measure of our society that separates people by credentials, race, and class" are undone by the daily experience of, say, riding the "L".

Anyone who rides the "L" more than once knows it is actually one of the few places in Chicago where people of all races, creeds, colors, and economic backgrounds encounter each other on a regular basis.

Although most of the system was built in the 1890s and early 1900s, the "L" serves communities rich and poor, offering myriad urban neighborhoods access to economic opportunities downtown or across town.

Of the newest "L" lines, the Orange Line (opened on Oct. 31, 1993) serves six stations between Roosevelt Road and Midway Airport in working class and/or industrial neighborhoods. The Pink Line was originally a branch of the Blue Line, and completely rebuilt from 2001 to 2005, and re-routed in 2006 via the "Paulina Connector" into the Loop, improving service to and from 11 other working class neighborhoods.

How elitist! Damn the bourgeois CTA for its focus on on the affluent and highly educated!

The lack of "L" stations near Cabrini Green and on the South Side from Roosevelt to 35th-Bronzeville-IIT is presented as a deliberate attempt to stiff the poor. A quick glance at the history of the "L" system at Chicago-L.org belies this premise.

There were "L" stations between Armitage and Sedgwick, and between Sedgwick and Chicago, and they were all shut down in the late 1940s due to lack of adequate ridership patronage - long before Cabrini Green became the stuff of notoriety.

When the North Side Main Line began revenue service in 1900, there were - moving north from Merchandise Mart - stations at Kinzie, Division, Schiller, Larrabee, and Halsted. Other stations were opened at Willow in 1905, and Oak in 1906.

The Kinzie station was replaced by one at Grand in 1921 (10 years after the Chicago & NorthWestern Railway moved its Chicago terminal to the current Ogilvie Transportation Center from the site that is now the Merchandise Mart). Merchandise Mart station opened at the end of 1930 to serve the new commercial behemoth.

Willow station closed in May 1942 to make way for the State Street subway.

In 1947, when CTA took over operations from Chicago Rapid Transit, the new agency reviewed operations (beginning the A/B/all stop principle that lasted through the 1990s). Halsted, Larrabee, Schiller and Division stations were closed in August 1949. Grand station survived until September 1970.

Shockingly, those stations were closed because too few riders were using them.

On the Green Line's South Side branch - which was the very first "L" line in the city, dating from 1892 -- there were stations at 18th, Cermak, 26th, 29th, 31st and 33rd. All but Cermak were closed on July 31, 1949, because too few riders were using them. Cermak, which was closed on Sept. 9, 1977, is the only station where CTA actively discouraged people from using it. And while nothing has happened since, CTA is actually on record acknowledging the need for an infill station between Roosevelt and 35th-Bronzeville-IIT.

Mr. Kim's treatise reminds me of the UW-Madison students who wrote for the opinion pages of The Daily Cardinal, when I was a reporter and editor there. Their great, grand missives on political and/or sociological theory bore no relevance to students' daily lives, but surely impressed someone's professor or TA. You want to see what diversity exists on the "L"? Go out and ride the "L". Ride different lines, and ride at different times throughout the day. Then compare your economic and census data with actual observations.

If Mr. Kim's point is that transit service generally winds up skewing toward more affluent neighborhoods, that's the result of a paradox: Neighborhoods with good transit service are more desirable places to live, and thus more valuable, than ones without. Attacking transit systems as promoting elitism for this is lazy thinking.

The solutions to affordability lie in helping people gain access to housing in those neighborhoods, which means supporting programs like Location-Efficient Mortgages, encouraging preservation and development of rental units, and ensuring Chicago's zoning code encourages and enforces a strong urban character: allow mixed-use developments so apartments can once again be built over stores, and prevent suburban sprawl-style separations of residential housing types, and residential from commercial uses.

The goal should be improving transit service citywide so more neighborhoods gain that value. As for diversity, I leave Mr. Kim to his world. I prefer my mixed Rogers Park neighborhood and the mix of people I see every day on the "L."

Kiljoong Kim Responds

To Michael O'Connor:

I agree with much of what was said by Mr. O'Connor. In many ways, I think he and I are talking about the same issues. What he calls a CTA scam is what I would call strategic preference toward certain clientele.

Many of the stations that were eliminated were quite strategic. As he mentioned, the Green Line is the one that was cut most severely. In fact, they even took out the elevated tracks along 63rd Street, which pretty much ensured that the service would never come back to that area. On the flip side, in the days of A and B trains on the Red Line it made sense to have stations bunched up together in Uptown and Edgewater from Wilson to Loyola. With the elimination of the A and B system, they could have easily closed a couple of them to make the line flow better but they decided to keep them all. So, yes, I agree with Mr. O'Connor that different areas receive difference services and, inevitably, the North Side gets preferential treatment over the South and East Sides.

Mr. Connor's examples of the Howard Station on the Red Line and the Ashland Station on the Green Line are precisely my examples of neighborhoods changing along the train lines. I live near the Ashland Station on the Green Line and that area is not Englewood (the location's official designation is Near West Side).

The expansion of West Loop development is slowly reaching the area near that station and it is quite obvious when you look at the people who go in and out of that station.

I didn't specifically mention those who take the bus lines from the Southwest Side because, as I mentioned in my piece, those who rely on buses pretty much suffer the same inconveniences whether it'd be the Southwest, Far South, or East Side of the city. In fact, many people, let alone city agencies, don't even know that Chicago has an East Side!

I didn't touch up policy implications because that would've lengthened the piece by another 1,000 words. But I do share the skepticism of Mr. O'Connor when it comes to renovations and modifications of public transit through tax revenues.

I also did not chronicle historically what has happened over the past century because that would be a book on its own and there are number of books that already do a very good job. Chicago's pattern of inequality has been well studied from late 1800s and produced number of classics like The City (1925), Black Metropolis (1945), Nature's Metropolis (1991) and Block by Block (2005), to name a few. We even have the Encyclopedia of Chicago, which is a great source for anyone who wants to learn about Chicago. History certainly tells us a lot of what has happened but, more importantly, it is a good indicator of where we are headed.

The point of my article was simply that this city (and many cities around the country) has reinforced inequality through various ways whether it'd be by race, class, or even gender. And when government agencies make decisions, knowingly and unknowingly, they often make them to accommodate those who are privileged. Something as mundane as going to work can show a pattern that reflects this inequality.

* * *

To Jon Davis:


Thanks for your thoughtful response. I really enjoyed reading your chronicle of "L" history. But I strongly urge you to go back and reread my piece if you care to do so. I think you and I agree on many elements on this issue. I'm not quite sure if I'm attacking the CTA as promoting elitism, but it is difficult to ignore the disparities shown in the census data, don't you think?

A couple of items I'd like to point out: the area by Cabrini-Green was a poor ghetto even before there was Cabrini-Green. In fact, there is no record that proves that there was low level of ridership in those stations but they have census records that show that many blacks from southern states moved into those ghetto areas well before 1940s. In fact, all the stations you've mentioned had greater ridership than they do today because, if anything, Chicago's population was much greater in 1940s and 1950s than it is today (could you believe there were nearly 650,000 more people back then?). What we commonly think of historical facts are sometimes not fact. That is why we revisit and reevaluate some of them to see what really happened.

I also wanted to tell you that I chuckled at your comment about the Daily Cardinal. I was not good enough of a writer to contribute to the paper when I was a student so I suppose it became a pretty darn good motivation for me though I didn't think much of it after I left. After editing and writing couple of books, being cited in the Harvard Law Review for this little column I write, I'd like to think that I'm doing okay. I'm still working on impressing my professors, but I do get to create policies and try them out for my work so I guess you can say that I came a long way from being a Cardinal-reject.

I strongly agree with you that preservation and affordability through development of rental units and ensuring Chicago's zoning code is the key to urban development. In fact, I've been a big fan of Brian White's organization Lakeside Community Development Corporation in Rogers Park for many years for their work on this issue. After all, Rogers Park is I where grew up and it will always be a home for me. Perhaps we can grab a drink or two at the Lighthouse one day. I'd love to have a debate with you about LEM.

3. From Garry Jaffe:

Mr. Kim's claim that service along 63rd St will never return is correct, because The Woodlawn Organization & the merchants on 63rd St wanted it gone! In fact, the merchants & TWO want the L removed from the rest of 63rd St.

First, the CTA cut service at Dorchester Ave because the CTA's bridge over the IC Mainline was in such poor condition, that it needed replacement, but the number of riders at the 63rd/Stony Island station were so low, they just cut the service at Dorchester.

Then, when the line was rebuilt, they cut it at Cottage Grove, again because of low ridership east of there.

In fact, in one of the poorest areas of Chicago, there is a station approximately every half-mile on the Green Line from 35th/State to 63rd/Cottage Grove.

As I ride it at least once a month, I can assure you that there are few riders south of 35th, where the IIT students get off/on!


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:20 AM | Permalink

Indonesian Journal: The Swarm And The Sick House

I thought it might take some getting used to, driving on the left side of the road after a lifetime on the other side of the yellow line. But driving in Indonesia isn't really about sides. It's about space: If there's a space, someone will fill it. Headed to town for a fried rice dinner? Watch out for three motorcycles in your lane, coming your way. Oh, and mind the Toyota Kijang SUV that's swung wide to pass a tottering pedicab. The Kijang's taking up most of your lane, and its driver is closing in at about 40 miles per hour. You'd pull toward the outside but there are six people walking in the street right there and you're boxed in between a Honda Civic with a new lime green paint job and a tour bus with a chrome sun shade that reads "Total Cowboy." The bus driver blasts his horn so people will just naturally drift over and out of the way, only there's nowhere to go to get out of the way. So what? He keeps honking. The Kijang blows by, maybe eight inches from your foot. Normal. And here comes a man with about 100 chickens inside a plastic cage that's balancing on the back of his motorcycle seat. Right at you. And another guy with, I don't know, 50 or 60 pounds of banana leaves bundled on his back. Cutting across your lane, two friends on a little black Honda are somehow transporting a small-but-not-insubstantial refrigerator.

We move together, waves of to and fro, left and right, merge and brake. Exhaust thick in the air. And did I mention the guys in the orange vests? The freelance traffic control guys? They stand in parking lots or on sides of roads and stop traffic for drivers seeking egress; they walk into traffic, sometimes with a little official-looking orange flashlight and sometimes just flailing their arms, and they halt everyone who doesn't swerve around them into oncoming traffic. In return, the egressing driver hands them about 1,000 rupiah, maybe 10 cents. It's very organic, this traffic swarm. And everyone's involved.

I joined the swarm when I recently bought a manageable little Yamaha scooter - in Indonesian parlance, an automatic - so that I could get around my Central Java town without cadging rides or being left stranded by the public mini-bus. The Yamaha is almost brand new, very red, and it gets me back and forth from the municipal pool and the grocery store and several excellent sidewalk food carts. Biking is almost out of the question. The distances are pretty great, the heat at times stroke-inducing, and the roads and drivers simply aren't made for bike lanes. A share-the-road, bike-right-of-way, even if I could describe the idea in Indonesian, would be heartily laughed at. Oh, Brett! That a good one! This is a country, after all, where the state-owned petroleum company dominates distribution and provides a nifty subsidy for all Indonesians (and visitors) who can afford internal-combustion transportation. So, everyday I strap on my shiny new helmet, fire up the scooter, and head out for some harrowing transit. And everyday I see something that makes me think maybe I should get off and push this thing for a little while. Just slow wayyyy down. A visit last week to the local hospital - where I'd be taken in the event of a bike wreck - was all I needed to forever give up any lingering lead-foot fantasies I brought from home. Like jail here, I'd pretty much do anything to stay out of that hospital. The Indonesians call hospitals rumah sakit, which means "sick house," or more literally "house of sick." They're exactly right.

A friend of a friend, a young kid about 17, had been struck by a car and busted his shoulder. My friend was delivering some snacks to lift the kid's spirits and asked if I wanted to see the hospital. Sure. A little local color. Let's go. Well, I wasn't ready for the blood. At least not all over the entryway tile, a splattered trail that we followed into the building. It had dried and turned rust brown and nobody was moving to clean it up. People walked through the blood, or around it, or they stepped over as they smoked and talked and came and went. We followed a group of smoking men back into the hospital, a cluster of white-washed buildings with tall faded-orange tile roofs, all connected by outdoor walkways. Very Javanese. People stood or squatted in the walkways, the yard, and on front porches of various buildings. We arrived about dinner time and several families were actually cooking over charcoal fires in the interior courtyard, dirty smoke billowing across the campus. A couple women were washing pots from an outdoor spigot. Others were sleeping on oily mattresses, or maybe they were eating on the mattresses. The place had a squatter's camp feel and most everyone looked very tired. They were sitting vigil for friends and relatives inside. Who knows for how long. I wasn't ready for the encampment, either.

We waited a few minutes before a guard would let us in to the patient ward - plenty of waiting here - and finally were waved in. All white, and tile. But dirty. Grimy. No disinfectant smell. Nothing like that antibiotic tang you get when you step off the elevator into even the most basic American health clinic. This place smelled heavily of sweat and dirt, a little of piss and shit, and curiously of fried chicken. We found the boy's room and ducked in. We were very definitely not alone. The kid was in a three-bed recovery room, maybe eight feet wide by about 20 feet long. Each bed was occupied - there were no curtains for privacy - and the guy on the far end wore a thick and blood-stained bandage on his head. His wife and one child sat beside him as he turned over and back, over and back. Right near the door, an adult man lay on his back with a small blanket covering his lower half. He smiled at me when we walked in. The man's son climbed in and out of bed with him and at one point changed into pajamas. He was clearly there for the night. The man's wife bickered with the young boy, who didn't want to change into pajamas, and she produced two plastic stools for my friend and I to sit on during our visit. She did not look at us, just shoved the stools toward us and went back to skirmishing with her son.

My friend's friend, the kid we'd come to see, actually didn't look that bad. His shoulder was slumped and his chin was scraped but he was sitting upright and forcing a smile when I met him. He had an IV but no sling. A shy kid, he mostly mumbled and stared at his feet. His mother and father explained the accident to my friend, who translated just a little bit for me. The boy, Yoga, had run into the street after a ball and got clipped by a van. It could have been much worse. They were upset but glad he would recover. Yoga sat in the bed in a dirty black t-shirt and blue shorts. Nothing like a gown. Nobody had a gown. It was street clothes and children's pajamas, and whatever food people cooked outside or bought and brought to you. A ceiling fan hung still. The night wasn't that hot but the room was close, and fetid. We said our goodbyes and headed back toward the entrance.

On the way out, we passed a bulletin board with pictures from a staff party and what looked like a birth announcement for one of the doctors. And right beside that, we saw some truly grisly images. Of surgery, at the hospital. It took me a minute to recognize what was happening in the roughest one: They were performing knee surgery on some poor asshole whom I swear did not walk again, not on that leg. The entire leg was exposed from about the hip to the shin, like cubic yards of red meat and tendon, and a doctor was standing inside the joint, kind of wrapping the bloody leg around his own waist. When I first saw the picture, it looked like someone was wrestling a skinned alligator. And then I thought maybe someone had been cut in half and a doctor was holding the spinal column in a bear hug. But it was just knee surgery. Or maybe they were amputating it. That would actually make more sense. My friend, though, insisted is was a repair job. Like old-timey sawbones shit. Raw. I thought about the Yamaha and about the traffic swarm. My stomach got very heavy. This hospital . . . ? I asked my friend. Is not a good hospital, is it? she interrupted.

The Indonesians have a sing-song word that means "be careful." Hati-hati, they say. It's on warning signs all over the place and almost every time I head off on the Yamaha, someone says to me, Hati-hati, Mr. Brett. Driving home from the hospital, I could feel the phrase in my marrow. Hati-hati. No, seriously. Hati-fucking-hati. This is a country where I can keep a blog routinely updated with little fuss using a wi-fi router, and where Coca-Cola and Heineken line the shelves of the local grocery store, where cell phones are a total fact of life, and where you can take air-conditioned buses up and down this overcrowded island. You can direct-dial the U.S. from Borobudur Temple. You can take a hot shower, and then another. But that's just part of it. Beneath that modern gloss, there's still an old and sometimes broken, sometimes perilous world under there. Indonesia. Hati-hati.

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Brett McNeil is a former Chicago Tribune reporter, Chicago Journal editor, and Fulbright English teacher living in Indonesia. He blogs at The Year of Living Volcanically and is also the Beachwood's new Southeast Asia correspondent.

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Previously:
* Indonesian Journal: Buying Flowers, Burning the Koran
* Indonesian Journal: The Control State

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:03 AM | Permalink

October 16, 2010

The Weekend Desk Report

We always strive for clarity and relevance.

Market Update
It's not like the entire market is trending up or anything, but it sure does seem like a good time to be a headache doctor in Hollywood.

Bully Pulpit
In other economic news, Bullying received an unexpected boost when officials announced that as long as it's funny, it's totally safe.

That's Rich
Chicago election officials have promised to fix a glitch in some voting machines that displays the name "Rich Whitey" in place of Green Party gubernatorial candidate Rich Whitney. The officials promise by Election Day the moniker will appear in place of Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Brady instead.

Hand In Glove
Chicago Bulls power forward Carlos Boozer this week dismissed allegations of an investigation into the cause of his injured hand. Similarly, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi says there is no need to investigate the cause of his bum flipper. Because, seriously, you don't want to know.

Sticky Fingers
Finally, with the conclusion this week of the error-plagued Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, officials have announced a probe into allegations of corruption. With an eye to the most exacting standards of thoroughness, the investigation is expected to wrap up sometime around summer of 2020.

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Clear, relevant.

Posted by Natasha Julius at 8:40 AM | Permalink

October 15, 2010

The College Football Report: Bear Claws, Fakes and the DMV

Here's an oddity about college football you won't see in the pros.

Pretend for a moment you don't know the identity of either team involved in the following situation. Both teams enter the game ranked, with the #1 team playing on the road against #19. The visiting squad attempts a comeback in the second half after trailing by 12 points at halftime.

After an interception, the visitors take over in great field position early in the fourth quarter down by only a touchdown. The offense sputters, however, and the visitors face fourth- and-long on the home 25-yard line. The kicker for the visitors is a freshman yet he has booted through two of three field goal attempts of 40 yards or more on the season. As the visiting coach, what would you do?

Kick the field goal, right? There's nearly 12 minutes left to go in the game! Kick the field goal, pray your kicker can earn his scholarship and narrow the gap to 28-24. Kick the ball back, get a stop on defense and force your opponent to punt.

Don't we see this situation every Sunday in the NFL? In this scenario, you want to extend the game. Did I mention that the visitors are the top-ranked team in the country?

Presumably, some of their players are good. Maybe they haven't played too well all afternoon, but what's the alternative? Bet the game on the guy who holds the ball on field goals - the backup QB - to run a fake and convert a first down on 4th-and-11? Why not take your chances on a 42-yard field goal?

So what happened?

Nick Saban hit the panic button and called the fake. Not exactly a ringing endorsement for his defense. No surprise, then, that after the failed fake, the Bama D promptly surrendered a 10-play, 74-yard drive for a touchdown.

The decision would make more sense (i.e. "our defense just can't stop these guys, we gotta score a touchdown here!") had the Tide not just forced a turnover. Carolina's previous possession? Incomplete pass. Complete pass for 7 yards. INT. (For a breakdown of the fourth quarter, go here.)

We can't help but feel that Saban threw a temper tantrum. He seemed to forget that winning sometimes requires patience. You can't expect to blow everyone out by 20 points. (Looking at you, Penn State - you too, Florida.) Odd, considering that two weeks ago Bama went into the half at Arkansas down by two scores and trailed by as many as 13 late in the third quarter and yet still pulled out a W.

Saban is like the spoiled kid (okay, this happens to people of all ages) who gets pissed at the computer and hits the restart button on his video game rather than lose. Or maybe he just couldn't stomach the thought of losing to South Carolina and Steve Spurrier.

One final detail that escaped notice by many in the moment: The targeted receiver on the fake was linebacker/defensive end Ed Stinson.

Now, Stinson is a fine athlete. But how about finding somebody who has some past experience in, say, catching the ball? Like a backup tight end? Hell, maybe your starting tight end!

Saban, asked to defend his decision, replied: "Probably didn't make a very good call on the fake."

* * *

Not only did South Carolina (+7) topple the #1 ranked team in the country last Saturday, but the game also marked the school's first win over a #1 team ever. The Gamecocks scored 35 points on the Tide, the most since LSU in 2007, and ended Alabama's 19-game win streak (18 in the SEC). Big kudos not only to much-maligned SC QB Stephen Garcia but also to the Carolina defense - Bama QB Greg McElroy suffered four sacks in the second half and defending Heisman winner Mark Ingram and super-backup Trent Richardson were held to 64 yards.

Further Fakery
Les Miles rolled the dice on a fake FG last Saturday as well, only with far better results.

Miles led the #12 LSU Tigers into The Swamp to face the #14 Florida Gators (-6.5) in a high-stakes bid to remain unbeaten. Down by three, LSU lined up for a 52-yard field goal to tie with only 35 seconds left in the game. Holder Derek Helton took the snap, but rather than placing the ball he flipped a no-look bounce pass over his shoulder to kicker Josh Jasper who scooped up the ball and sprinted for a first down. The play took the Gators, officials, fan in the stands and TV audience by complete surprise. Words don't do the play justice - let's got to the tape.

1. At the 0:43 mark.

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2. And again.

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Other teams have run the same play in the Big 12, where officials have ruled against it for reasons we don't understand. Maybe trickeration of this magnitude just doesn't seem sporting in the Corn Belt.

We love it, although even Miles would be the first to admit that a little bit goes a long way in this department. Witness a not-so-spectacular outcome of the same play from South Carolina @ LSU in 2007.

* * *

Finally, Texas Texas Tech put the "special" in special teams last Saturday with one of the worst onside kicks of all time. Well, the kick itself was fine. But somebody forgot to tell the Red Raiders that it's still a live ball.

We imagine the game this Saturday will come as a welcome relief from what has surely been a long week of up-downs, wind sprints and verbal harangues in Lubbock.

Blotter Report
What do you call it when you stalk your ex-girlfriend via text?

Stexting?

Telking?

Neither sound adequately sinister given the nature of the messages.

Someone needs to figure this out, because University of Florida running back Chris Rainey has lowered the bar.

Rainey allegedly sent threatening texts to his ex earlier this fall, including one that read "Time to Die B-tch". Nice work avoiding the profanity, Chris. I'm sure the police took a second look and said "Oh, there's a dash in there instead . . . well, that's fine."

The 27th player to run afoul of the law in 30 separate incidents during Urban Meyer's tenure at Florida, Rainey has been reinstated after pleading to a misdemeanor and agreeing to a counseling program. No word yet on if a spelling lesson is included.

Meyer has - rightly - taken heat in the press for the move, and the timing couldn't be more transparent. With a 4-2 record and a slumbering offense, Meyer seems willing to forgo his superficial commitment to "core values" in favor of guys who can score touchdowns.

In lighter news, two Washington State Cougars have been arrested after police discovered a few dozen marijuana plants in a residence shared with two other people. Coach Wulff won't "necessarily kick them off the football team" however . . . attaboy, Coach! Your Cougars may be 1-5, but at least the bake sale this fall will be awesome.

Meanwhile, coach Mark Richt at the University of Georgia not only can't win but also can't seem to keep his players out of trouble . . . with the DMV. Richt announced the suspension of Caleb King, the Bulldogs' second-string running back, earlier this week. This isn't the first offense for King - two years ago, he was flagged for scootering on a suspended license. The first-string back, Washaun Ealey, also missed a game this season after an accident in a school parking structure - while driving his roommates' car. On a suspended license.

Assuming he steers clear of any vehicular mishaps, freshman back Ken Malcome may get a shot to contribute against Vandy this Saturday. Asked to comment on Malcome's motor, center Ben Jones said: "He's not scared to run anybody over."

Flea & Tick Desk Update
To follow up on two stories we mentioned here last week, our diligent reporter on the veterinary beat filed the two updates below.

* It's official, the Ole Miss Rebels now have a Rebel Black Bear as their mascot.

(We still can't figure out what the hell the Rebel Hotty Toddy was supposed to be, but no matter.)

Speculation has now turned to the staying power of the new mascot, with even the New York Times weighing in.

We think all of this will be resolved when fans realize they can now wear enormous Ole Miss foam bear claws. And who doesn't love foam bear claws?

* Big Bad Bruce, the common name of Uga VIII, will take the field this Saturday on the Georgia sidelines. No word as to what will happen to deposed interim mascot Russ, but Bruce certainly looks the part.Given the Bulldogs' transportation issues, maybe Bruce should walk - not drive - to the game.

File Under . . . "It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time"
With our thanks to Adam Jacobi of CBS Sportsline and the Slow States blog, we present to you . . . the worst (well, one of them) idea of the 2010 college football season: "Ghosting Out" the Penn State-Michigan game.

Refer to the More Info section for . . . more info, and for those of you who stayed out too late last night, a clue as to why this is not such a hot idea.

The Seal And I
We promise to fill you in the salacious details later, but for now take comfort in knowing that the Beachwood Sports Seal has returned in all his blubbery glory. Here are his picks:

Cincinnati (-3) at Louisville, 7:00PM Friday
Bonus: game will decide who takes home The Keg of Nails Trophy!)
Arkansas State at Indiana (-10), 11:00AM Saturday
Louisiana-Lafayette at Troy (Over 59.5), 6:00PM Saturday

*

And finally . . . our picks for Week Seven. We haven't had much luck in this department under the new Beachwood Bankroll plan, but we're only halfway home, right? We can still rally! Let's win this one for Russ!

#1 Ohio State (-4) at Wisconsin, 6:00PM
Comment: We hate to pick against Wiscy in this one, given our level of distaste for all things Buckeye, but we just don't see how the Badgers will hang in this one. And UW star RB John Clay admitting his surgically repaired ankles were probably at "95 percent" earlier this week doesn't help.

Texas at #5 Nebraska (-10), 2:30PM
Comment: Nebraska has been waiting all year for this one.

#12 Arkansas (+3.5) at #7 Auburn, 2:30PM
Comment: Kentucky was a healthy John Locke away from locking up the upset in the fourth quarter last weekend. We'll roll the dice with Ryan Mallet and his crew.

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Mike "Dr. Dude" Luce brings you The College Football Report every week. He welcome your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:23 PM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

1. "The major-party candidates for Illinois governor bickered over the state budget and jobs Thursday without providing specifics in an hourlong debate, leading Green Party candidate Rich Whitney to accuse them both of offering 'fantasy economics,'" AP reports.

Funny how Whitney is the candidate the media doesn't take seriously when he's the only candidate who is serious.

2. "The standoff at Whittier elementary school in Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood could be coming to an end," WBEZ reports.

City agrees to fix errant Whitey Elementary School signs.

3. "Former Chicago Ald. Ed Vrdolyak alderman, who got probation after pleading guilty in a $1.5 million real estate kickback scheme, will be resentenced today and could be sent to jail," the Tribune reports between panty raids.

Otherwise Vrdolyak plans to run for mayor under the ballot name Whitey.

*

If sentenced to jail, he'll do his time from the back seat of his limo.

4. Tribune Memo of the Day:

FROM: Randy Michaels
TO: Lee Abrams
RE: That hottie in marketing

Does she like me? Check one:

_YES

_NO

_SHE COULD BE PERSUADED WITH JAGER BOMBS AND A PROMOTION

5. "A suburban topless-bar honcho was slapped with federal charges Thursday after he was accused of stiffing the IRS of millions of dollars in taxes while hoarding $12 million in cash in an Elk Grove Village warehouse," the Sun-Times reports.

Randy Michaels declined to comment.

6. FaceMash.com up for auction.

The bidding starts with Randy Michaels.

7. Haute Halloween vs. Beachwood Halloween.

8. 50 Secrets Your Pilot Won't Tell You.

Including:

"At some airports with really short runways, you're not going to have a smooth landing no matter how good we are: John Wayne Airport; Jackson Hole, Wyoming; Chicago Midway; and Reagan National."

9. On the next Sound Opinions:

"It's an over-the-top, larger-than-life and full of neuroses. No wonder The Wall remains a masterpiece today. Jim and Greg conduct a Classic Album Dissection of Pink Floyd's The Wall and review the new Ben Folds/Nick Hornby collaboration."

*

We've got the whole Wall show from the former Chicago stadium last month.

Pt. 1.
Pt. 2.

10. Thanks to everyone who came out last night, it was a blast.

11. Disney's Fraud.

12. The College Football Report will appear sometime between now and kickoff on Saturday is up in case you have to make a phone call. What you do with our information is your business.

13. The Week in WTF.

Possibly including some Tribune-related items.

14. In case you missed it.


VH1 Reality Show Bus Crashes In California Causing Major Slut Spill

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Your spill chill pill.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:55 AM | Permalink

The Week in WTF

1. Tribune, WTF?

The Tribune Company apparently is angry at almost everyone this week, and there likewise is a full balcony of people mad at the Trib, too. Whom you ask? Media critics. Fans of good taste. Bar hostesses who didn't get $100 offers to show their superstructure. People who remember what the Trib used to be.

The Trib is angry mostly at Gov. Pat Quinn (D-Dense).

WTF has seldom read a more hostile non-endorsement. It was Beau Geste epaulet stripping. They kicked him out the door with a loud "and you're an idiot, too!"

Sure, Wild Bill Brady (R-Freakin' Nuts) might have a plan to save Illinois, and we could tell you what it is if we spoke Sanskrit. The plan apparently is like Creationism. You just have to take it on faith.

2. Gary fake police, WTF?

Reserve cop (volunteer who gets to pretend he's a real cop) sitting in squad car. Has a new gun. While putting bullets into the chamber, he shoots himself in the hand with it. Bullet hits his partner on the driver's side. One bullet. Both okay, except for lacerated dignity. Wins marksmanship trophy and award for tight inventory control.

3. Will County, WTF?

This has not been a lousy year for Will County law enforcement. It's more like a lousy millennium, of which Brian Dorian's misfortune is only the latest faux in the pas.

So, first Dorian was guilty of the Two-State Bee Crime Spree and, to be fair to all us WTF conclusion jumpers, his police mug shot sure makes him look like Nick Nolte after a seriously bad bender. What more do you need?

Now it seems he's not guilty. This is the official position as of this moment, more or less.

We think that just as the Constitution prevents us from assuming guilt, it should also prohibit presumption of innocence. After all, we're all guilty of something.

By the way, the Constitution does not require we think Blago is innocent because Flying Monkeys are not protected by any Article.

Luckily for Dorian and what appears to be an irreversible emotional contusion on his soul, $50 million will make him feel lots better.

4. Rich Whitney, WTF?

Okay, so it was an odd if not totally hilarious gaffe that someone translated the ballot name of the Green Party's nominee for governor to Rich Whitey. That would prove to be a negative indicator on the South Side if anyone there had heard of either names. WTF is waiting to vote for a Green Party candidate whose name actually is "Green Party."

WTF thinks this particular event was a plot to deprive the Green candidate of a totally pointless and irrelevant electoral swan dive into an empty pool. No need to pity them. It's what they were bred to do. Whitney was appalled and indignant, as people in the Green Party often are.

It's lucky for him they switched from the first fake name. That was Rich Honky.

5. Mary Schmich, WTF?

Never read her column. At least not on purpose. Life is short enough as it is without losing those minutes. But considering her current bosses at the Tribune - Bluto Blutarsky and Dean Wormer - have been in the news recently, it's either a stroke of genius or stunningly dumb luck that she wrote this week about "Great Bosses."

Each sentence in her fuzzy, tender-hearted litany of good boss street rep is either brutal and hilarious sarcasm or mindless drivel.

Based on history, we vote for mindless drivel.

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David Rutter is the former publisher/editor of the Lake County News-Sun, a Sun-Times Media property. He welcomes your comments.

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1. From Alan Solomon, ex-Tribune staffer:

"Based on history, we vote for mindless drivel."

History? With no history? And you talk about drivel? Either grow a brain before you rip someone's work in public, or get an editor.

Steve Rhodes responds via e-mail:

Um, I never read her column based on her history of writing mindless drivel either.

Solomon responds:

Huh?

Rhodes responds:

Huh right back at you.

Rutter: "Never read her column. At least not on purpose. Life is short enough as it is without losing those minutes."

Me too.

Rutter: "Each sentence in her fuzzy, tender-hearted litany of good boss street rep is either brutal and hilarious sarcasm or mindless drivel. Based on history, we vote for mindless drivel."

I agree.

Solomon responds:

But Steve, if he never reads the column (aside from an occasional stumble), how does he know she's reliably horseshit?

His opinion aside (an opinion that, certainly on this specific column, I don't share), don't you see the illogic? And how stupid he sounds?

That's all.

Bye.

Rhodes responds:

I see what you're saying but see what he (and I) are saying: I know from past experience that she writes mindless drivel. Therefore I never read her column - unless forced to or I stumble upon it or have some particular reason. Why is that so hard to grasp?

He didn't say "I have never read her column."

He says he (now) never reads her column, not on purpose anyway (get it?) because of what history has told him. Same with me.

Geez.

Solomon responds:

Consider two pronunciations of "read," which alters the tense/meaning. "Never read" the column. "Never read" the column.

I'm through with this. Have fun, guys.

Rhodes comment: I think I just said that.

2. From Richard Wronski, Tribune staffer:

David Rutter . . . is either the world's wisest and most talented, Pulitzer prize-winning former newspaper publisher/editor, or he's an idiot.

Cheers,
Rich Wronski
(who would have written this even if I didn't work at the Trib).

Steve Rhodes responds via e-mail:

I'd be happy to post this if I understood what it meant. Care to explain?

Wronski responds:

Just echoing what he had to say about Mary Schmich's column. And make that "mindless idiot."

3. From Judson Randall:

Or job security.

4. David Rutter responds:

Over the course of many years, one might read many sources and find them intellectually appealing. Or perhaps, find them generally a waste of time.

Sometimes you start to read a regular columnist and then realize it's one of those you'd just as soon avoid investing the energy. So, one might avoid Mary Schmich as, for example, you might miss many of those who write for both the Trib and the Sun-Times. Lots of people who used to read both papers don't anymore. They've made their own decision.

As to whether her "bosses" column was really smart or not, I found it not. Just taste based on 40 years of writing and editing columns. Others are free to disagree. But if it wasn't a devilishly clever barb aimed at her Animal House chieftains, then it was just silly. Besides, deliberate silliness is my job. At this point in my life, I certainly don't resent hot kitchens.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:22 AM | Permalink

TrackNotes: Disney's Fraud

Third and last in a series.

I'm a lucky guy.

Being single, I've never had to go Kremlin on any kids in order to censor, block, shun or protect them from all things Disney. Which I would do with every fiber of my being. That annual parade on Michigan Avenue gives me the willies.

This loathing has protected me, I think, from the insidious tentacles of Disney's intellectually bankrupt crusades over the years to shape culture for its own social and commercial gain.

Secretariat: The Impossible True Story is a new, prime example of a fine story cranked through the Disney meat grinder, under the direction of Randall Wallace, a movie guy with a big Christian street rep. Screenplay by Mike Rich.

They saw fit to turn the tale of one of the finest Thoroughbreds to ever live into a heavy-handed statement piece about religion, politics, and good versus evil, with evil manufactured to meet their own ends. I really don't think it has very much at all to do with Secretariat or Thoroughbred horse racing.

After the aerial view of the big Disney castle to remind me who brought me this fine entertainment, it was "SECRETARIAT" in that golden font they have, and blaring, aggressive music. The entire score was reality show drama music on steroids.

The movie begins and ends with a bibilical reference about horses from Job.

When it was over, I wondered "Why did they try to hit me over the head with all that biblical crap?" By that time, the Christian parable was full circle. Were they using it to boost sales in the Bible Belt? Or did they do it to stay in the good graces of that demographic? Was Wallace sermonizing? With Disney, it's probably all three.

From the scene of Secretariat being foaled in a manger straight out of Bethlehem to him running out of the heavens and into the races; the use twice of Edward Hawkins' "Oh Happy Day," once blatantly alluding to baptism as they soaped down Secretariat ("when Jesus washed"), Penny Chenery (Diane Lane) clearly fulfilling the Mother Mary role; Secretariat figuratively carrying Penny to salvation under The Staples "I'll Take You There."

Was it a sin for Penny to get all independent and take care of Meadow Stable, diverting a good part of her time and attention to the horses and not to the domestic bliss of a put-upon husband and four kids who don't even know how to load a washing machine? The movie implies as much but, hey, as long as the horse wins, Penny will be saved. Especially after her husband betrays her.

It was an outrageous Louisville Slugger in the shape of a cross, square upside my head.

Why? Because they can? It was cheap and insulting.

And then there was the treatment of politics and feminism.

It's a Disney cartoon as the film voyeuristically attempts to take us back to 1969 as feminism and anti-war sentiment were gaining steam. Disney sure didn't want to have any part of it back then. What's Wallace's explanation?

Penny's daughters drop the bombshell of asking to spend a couple of months in newly socialist Chile, "to protest the war." And Kate (Amanda Michalka) is having a heck of a time getting her anti-war play onto the stage at school. Her smarmy old man, Jack Tweedy (Dylan Walsh) counters with something about the kids not giving the school timely and open discovery of the topic of the play. You calling your daughter a sneak and a liar, Jack?

Do the daughters go to Chile? Beats me. But after we see the well-scrubbed suburban kids making protest signs, Penny having to listen to her daughter's play, finally produced, on the phone because she's at a race with Secretariat, Penny assuring Kate that while their politics may differ, they both really do just want to be independent women and then having a good cry, we're rescued, Disney-style, from the prospect of Kate degenerating into a filthy, Communist Hippie.

How? Jack and the kids make their entrance into the Belmont Stakes pre-race ball and Kate is all gussied up in a beautiful gown just like, guess what, a princess. Penny tells her she really, really is beautiful, as if she hasn't always been. Holy Karl Marx, that was a close one.

And the media buzz about Penny taking on the chauvinist pig men at their own game, defying all odds to run the ultimate horse?

Well, Penny does fire a shady trainer (Graham McTavish) who looks like he would love to haul off and punch her. And she crashes an all-male social club to get a meeting with Bull Hancock (Fred Dalton Thompson) to seek his help in finding a new trainer. And she fires it right back at Ron Turcotte (real jockey Otto Thorwarth) during the tough jockey interview.

But we never get any real indication that the horsey people are trying to sabotage her, and I don't think that really happened anyway. Her father, Chris Chenery (Scott Glenn) was a highly respected breeder and horseman and monied people tend to stick together, don't they? She works seamlessly with Seth Hancock (Drew Roy) in planning and executing the stud syndication deal, and even persuades Ogden Phipps (James Cromwell) to buy the first share in the horse he lost in a coin toss to get the syndication ball rolling.

But it's in the racing aspects where Wallace and Rich blatantly fabricate events and conflicts and the film irretrievably degenerates into its permanent fraudulence.

The rationale doesn't come until the credits start rolling and we see "Suggested By" the William Nack biography Secretariat: The Making of a Champion. So Nack apparently took the money and let them destroy his well-reported account? But he did get a cameo, so he's got that goin' for him.

* Penny, her son, trainer Lucien Laurin (John Malkovich) and groom Eddie Sweat (Nelsan Ellis) were not in the foaling shed when Secretariat was born. And they wouldn't have been there. There was a veterinarian, the foaling supervisor and another hand there to assist. Standard procedure.

* "The farm has been (and is) losing money for years!" Not quite. Meadow Stable emerged from difficult times through the winning exploits of Riva Ridge, who won the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes in 1972. Not too shabby. Riva won the stable more than $1.1 million over his career. It was Riva Ridge who "saved the farm."

* There was no account I could find of Penny Chenery firing a fraudulent trainer upon her arrival after her mother's death. And she didn't just burst on to the scene at that point. She had at least kept tabs on things for years before that.

* Chenery did not meet and hire Ron Turcotte the day after he took a spill and walked into the diner looking like the wrong end of a Road Runner cartoon. Turcotte already had a strong relationship with fellow French-Canadian Laurin and Meadow Stable. He was already Riva Ridge's regular rider.

* Unconscionably, the screenplay says that the syndication deal to send Secretariat to stud after his three-year-old racing year contained a performance clause, strongly suggesting that if Secretariat were to lose two races in the year, the value of the $190,000 stud shares would diminish and a refund would be in order, or she might lose the horse altogether.

After Big Red loses the Wood Memorial right before the Derby, Ogden Phipps basically calls "Strike One!" right to Penny's face. In fact, Penny's shrewdness in the deal guaranteed that she could run Secretariat anywhere and in any damned race she wanted to, and that she would keep all purse money he earned on the track. She simply had to deliver Secretariat to stud in November 1973, and he would have to pass fertility tests.

Then the movie insults Chenery by depicting a temper tantrum, dressing down Laurin and Turcotte, over the money they might give up with another loss.

* In the movie, Penny proclaims her guarantee that Secretariat is going to win the Triple Crown. Nack's book reports the opposite - that she thought Bold Ruler's lack of distance pedigree would probably prohibit Secretariat from getting the 10-furlong distance in the Belmont. Horse owners and trainers do not go around guaranteeing victories, even if they know they have the best horse.

* Then the movie tells its biggest lie - that it was Sham who won the Wood Memorial when, in fact, it was Angle Light. Sham finished second and Secretariat third. Their purpose was to manufacture conflict between Sham's trainer, Pancho Martin (Nestor Serrano) and give Sham's jockey, Laffit Pincay (Keith Austin) the opportunity to give Turcotte the evil eye in the paddock and in the gate. Lucien Laurin also trained Angle Light for a different owner.

They use the lie to stage two Tyson-Holyfield type press conferences between the three legs of the Triple Crown, where Martin is portrayed as a perfect jerk, insulting Chenery both professionally and as a woman. Wouldn't happen. Didn't happen.

What, they couldn't depict the tremendous internal, external and media pressures Secretariat's connections were facing as he attempted to become the first horse in 25 years to win the Triple Crown?

By then, Secretariat was an international sensation, making history in the three most important races in America. Chenery's marriage to Jack Tweedy was on the verge of collapse. And she was genuinely worried that Secretariat could break down, given his all-out running style. Why couldn't they at least try to explain why Secretariat was so fast and how much he loved to run?

The racing scenes fall flat. The Derby is just okay, and we see the Preakness by watching the actors watch the race on a television set in the Tweedy's living room.

Apparently, they couldn't get Belmont for the Belmont Stakes and it shows. It was impossible for the filmmakers to depict the very long back stretch and homestretch of Belmont when they were using Keeneland. The head-on telephoto shot of Secretariat ahead the legendary 31 lengths at the finish also fails.

Diane Lane was excellent, even as her dialogue became more and more ridiculous. John Malkovich plays John Malkovich playing Lucien Laurin. He didn't even try for the French accent and it shows when he tries to summon up some French profanity in tough times. Thorwarth is excellent as Turcotte - even looks a lot like him.

The best part of the movie is afterwards, when they show real photos and some information on what the main characters ended up doing in their lives.

One question I have is why the media and many fans put up with this fraudulent foolishness from Disney. Daily Racing Form's Jay Hovdey, of all people, takes the "I'm not a movie critic" cop-out. "Think of Secretariat as a combination of truthy and fictionesque, and be at peace." Okay, Jay.

Even Chenery has doubts about the film. "There are some omissions, some contrivances," she told the Daily Racing Form.

Roger Ebert takes pains to tell us his close personal friendship with Nack won't affect his review, and then it does. Roger, I luv ya, but you should have given this one to Roeper.

Gapers Block's Steve Prokopy was fairly typical as many film critics reviewing the movie as just a movie. "I will always be impressed by Penny Chenery's accomplishments and intuition, but I was not much impressed with this disposable and forgettable telling of her story life in horse racing."

There's a lot of "I cried" and "lighten up, it's just a movie" out there on the forums - even those dedicated to horse racing.

But I'm not going to swallow this crap from Disney. Ever.

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Pt. 1: Secretariat's Not Impossible Story.

Pt. 2: Secretariat Knew.

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Thomas Chambers is our man on the rail. He brings you TrackNotes every Friday and welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:58 AM | Permalink

October 14, 2010

The [Thursday] Papers

Of all the things to suspend someone for, the Tribune Company suspends a vice president for sending out an e-mail chock full of interesting links including three Onion News Network videos, one of which was a feminist critique of the way women are portrayed and rewarded on reality TV?

Get a grip, people.

It wasn't offensive when ONN made it - last January - and it's not offensive now.

Scapegoating much?

Of all the things that have gone on in the Tribune Company since Sam Zell took over, this is what earns a suspension?

I'm sorry, but I can't applaud a PR move designed to staunch the hemorrhaging of the Tribune's dignity.

I'm not a fan of Lee Abrams, but he is trying to get Trib folks to pay attention and think about the same sort of things I write about here and find severely lacking inside our news organizations: management, leadership, creativity and change. There is no doubt that the company is now run by clowns, but that doesn't mean they haven't been refreshing at times. It just means they don't quite have the right DNA to steer the ship.

Oh, but the timing of it, that was just stupid!

Really? Why? Because it "looks" bad? Is "perception" everything? What, we're all corporate publicists now? I don't care how it "looks," I care how it "is."

And how it is is nothing like it's being portrayed in many quarters.

"Well, that was quick," Chicagoist reports. "Tribune Co. Chief Innovation Officer Lee Abrams, whose office memo filled with video links to Onion News Network video links and references to 'sluts' led to a litany of employee complaints, was suspended indefinitely without pay by Tribune Co. CEO Randy Michaels."

There were links to three ONN videos and the memo was not filled with references to sluts. It used the word once to introduce the video.

"Tribune Co. Clown-in-Chief Lee Abrams has been suspended after sending a poorly-timed memo linking to a video about 'Sluts,'" Gawker writes.

First, the Tribune Company's Clown-in-Chief is Randy Michaels. Second, is the issue simply that the memo was "poorly timed"? Finally, doesn't this give you the impression that Abrams send out a memo linking to a video about sluts? Is that what he did? Do what so few reporters seem to have done and look at the memo yourself. Are you offended?

And then there's this from Robert Feder:

"Although it contained links to some videos that any normal person would consider outrageously inappropriate for the workplace - including one in which women identified as 'sluts' were seen simulating lewd acts - Abrams' memo was not much different than dozens of others he'd written since 2008."

Do you know any normal people, Robert? My God! Nowhere does Feder explain that the video including "sluts" was a parody of what you can see on TV every night.

(But then, Feder bungled this story too; one in which Michaels was actually right.)

Why am I so upset about this? Three reasons.

1. If people don't understand what is and isn't offensive - and why - then we'll never solve anything. There's a lot of piling-on here that is ignorant to its core. Putting time and energy towards things like this only allows the real problems to continue flourishing. Far, far, far worse has occurred at the Tribune that has never been spoken about. Don't make a cause out of nonsense.

2. Because Abrams is being made a scapegoat when the spotlight of scrutiny should remain on Michaels. And because it's a transparently insincere PR move, which we should never condone.

3. Because the facts are being misreported. Al Gore said he invented the Internet! I believe in facts. The impression the public - and many in the media - have about the Abrams memo is simply wrong. Because of what the media has told them.

A brilliant ONN video? I thought the day would never come!

*

Meanwhile, how much does Stella Foster make? How do some (other) columnists, ahem, keep their jobs after making mistake after mistake? Remember the circulation scandal at the Sun-Times? I mean, it goes on and on. Accountability is rare. Except when you include a video parodying the misogynistic world of reality TV. Then you are suspended because your employees aren't the most sophisticated cats in the land and a former shock jock who used to make jokes about gay people and still uses the stage name Randy (get it?) and allegedly roamed the halls of Clear Channel wearing a penis necklace now leads one of the nation's largest media companies and wants to stay after bankruptcy so he needs a scapegoat. It's a misdirection play - and it's working.

*

Now this is offensive.

Riotfest!
Third and last in the series, including Jello Biafra and the Smoking Popes.

A Beachwood Halloween
Costume ideas from the Beachwood Adult Halloween Affairs Desk.

ALERT!
This is tonight. See you there.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: The world needs more lerts.

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Tribune Memo Of The Day
From Tony Hunter.


From: Hunter, Tony W.
Sent: Wednesday, October 13, 2010 5:37 PM
To: zzCTC.ALLCHICAGOTRIBUNE
Subject: CTMG Culture

Colleagues:

The high-profile media coverage of our company over the last week or so has generated angst and raised a number of questions. Given the nature of the coverage, yesterday's complaints about the inappropriate email, and today's decision to suspend Lee Abrams, I want to take a moment to address our environment at Chicago Tribune Media Group. I also want to reiterate the importance we place on treating employees with respect, and the high standards of conduct we expect of everyone at CTMG, especially those in leadership positions.

As you know, one of the strategic pillars of the Winning Plan is our emphasis on culture. As the plan states, "Our culture attracts and retains highly talented and engaged employees". While there's been significant progress in creating and maintaining a positive working environment at CTMG, I want to reiterate our principles:

* We do not tolerate hurtful or offensive actions and behaviors. We believe everyone should be treated fairly and work in a high performance environment.

* We believe and invest in communication, actively seeking employee input to develop winning solutions for customers.

* We are focused on creating an innovative, collaborative environment to increase the number of new ideas and strategies.

* We have high standards of conduct including integrity, honesty and professional decorum. This is not a new set of expectations. These have, and will continue to be the high standards we strive to achieve at CTMG.

If you have any feedback on our environment and/or how we can improve our performance, please feel free to contact me directly. You can also contact your department head, Human Resources or report any breaches of the company's code of conduct by calling the confidential hotline 1-800-216-1772.

In addition to the communication channels described above, I will continue to be accessible and available to answer your questions. I appreciate your efforts, and my confidence is high because we have great people in our company. You have so much to be proud of, and I hope you share my enthusiasm and optimism regarding our future.

Let's continue to build on our momentum and success,

Tony

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:03 AM | Permalink

A Beachwood Halloween

Scott Buckner is doing grown-up trick-or-treating this Halloween. I'm going door to door with just a shot glass.

- Buckner's Facebook feed

Not bad, Buckner, but don't stop there.

* Dress in rags and say you're the City of Chicago budget.

* Do your trick-or-treating the following day as a CTA bus or train. Because you're never on time.

* Dress like a Chicago cop and lug around a car battery and some jumper cables. You're Commander Jon Burge!

* Dress like a fish and smack people in the head when they answer the door. Tell them you're an Asian carp.

* Buy a Barack Obama mask. Go around stealing everyone's candy and give it to people working in banks.

* Dress yourself in fairy wings, a tiara, and a magic wand. Tell everyone you're a Republican.

* Dress up like an ass and tell everyone you're Todd Stroger. Don't worry - everyone in Cook County will know who you are.

* Screw this going door to door shit. Just dress up like a parking meter, sit down curbside on any Chicago street, and go home with $2,800 in quarters by the end of the day.

* Dress up like The Great and Powerful Oz and tell everyone you're Michael Madigan.

* Dress up like God and tell everyone you're Rahm Emanuel.

* Just wander about aimlessly yelling at the sky and tell everyone you're a Tea Party candidate. Or Glenn Beck.

* Wrap yourself in last week's newspaper and say that you are today's Sneed column.

* Go as Jesse Jackson Jr.'s career - cover yourself in ashes and your own self-entitled excrement.

* Put blinders on, fill your ears with cotton, defiantly fold your arms and go as the Holdout Juror.

* Go as Rod Blagojevich in Prison - spend all Halloween cowering in the corner muttering "Not in my hair!"

* Go as an alderman - dress as a sheep in handcuffs

* Go as Oprah. Once you get your candy, tell everyone to fuck off and move to Los Angeles.

* Dress as a bank. Go around kicking homeless people out of their cardboard boxes and take their stuff.

* Go as a Tribune Company executive. Tell any attractive woman giving you candy that she has nice tits.

* Cover yourself in shredded paper and say that you are what's left of the Trib's dignity.

* Dress up like Ricketts family and instead of begging for candy, go door-to-door seeing if you can unload Carlos Zambrano on someone.

- Scott Buckner, Drew Adamek

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:37 AM | Permalink

In Action! Chicago Riotfest 2010

1. The bidding starts at $19.95.

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2. Punk-influenced pop with crooning vocals.

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3. It's the suede/denim secret police.

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4. I luv u.

5. Victory is ours.

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6. Hookers, gangsters.

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Part one featuring: The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Corrosion of Conformity, Naked Raygun, Cap'n Jazz, and Articles of Faith.

Part two featuring: Bad Religion, The Swellers, Circle Jerks, Cobra Skulls.

*

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:00 AM | Permalink

October 13, 2010

The [Wednesday] Papers

"A woman from Chicago's South Loop - Paula Cannon - asked President Obama a question on Skype at a town hall in Washington on Tuesday aimed at jazzing up grass roots voters," Lynn Sweet reports for the Sun-Times under the breathless headline "Chicago Woman Asks Obama A Question Via Skype At Town Hall In Washington."

Maybe the headline should have been "Obama PR Team Hypes Failed New Media Attempt."

Why?

Read on.

"From the DNC, Cannon, 'a volunteer with Organizing for America (OFA) who asked President Obama a question via Skype at tonight's webcast town hall - marking the first time in history a President has ever taken a question through the web-based service.'"

So Sweet is pushing out a DNC press release. And the "Chicago woman" is member of Obama's political organization, which can be found at barackobama.com.

It gets worse.

Skype is basically free Internet phone/teleconference/video service. But in this case, it would've been better to use a landline. And to use a question from a real citizen instead of a plant.

CANNON: Good evening, Mr. President. In this last push to get out the vote, is there an overarching message or approach that you think volunteers could best take to persuade voters to get back to the polls on November 2nd?

OBAMA: Great question, although I don't think she can hear me, right? This is not a two-way Skype?

MODERATOR: I don't think it's - I don't think it's two-way here.

OBAMA: Okay.

MODERATOR: She's watching you online right now.

In other words, she could've been watching him on TV and dialed in through Sarah.

Or better yet, Obama could've just read his prepared statement without the hullabaloo.

Verdict: Fail.

Grumpy or Whiny?
Daley blames Group of Five for Sneedling.

George Ryan's Park Bench
Dedicated to a convicted felon.

Riotfest!
Part 2 of our continuing coverage.

Fantasy Fix
What's New At No. 1.

Plan Ahead For Fire Safety
A whole house can go down in five minutes.

Frat Row
More news from Delta Tau Zell, but I'm going to have to defend the rush chairman on this one - I hardly find distributing Onion News Network videos that contains sexual content to be offensive. It's the Onion! It's a parody of the news, people. (And in this case, a pointed commentary against misogynistic reality shows that only portray women one way - as sluts.) Like Jon Stewart's Daily Show, it's an instruction book for how badly the media behaves despite its vaunted rhetoric - and an argument for change.

So I totally believe memo-sender and Tribune innovations chief Lee Abrams when he says "The video in bad taste was a parody of a cable-type reality show. It is not something that we would ever air on our TV stations - in fact quite the opposite - we show this as an example of what NOT to do."

The notion that Tribune editor Gerry Kern would be offended is laughable and just goes to show you how lame the whole company has become - I mean, it was lame before, but at least in a less psychotic way. We get Corporate Lame. This is the jocks vs. the nerds and I can't take sides in that crappy fight. I hated high school. I'm with the rockers, the burnouts, the misfits, the pranksters, and the smart and witty independent outsiders who don't care about the prom, their SATs, or tattling about beer and sex. My god, when they came for the journalists there were none of us left!

Anyway, here's the memo:

THINK PIECE: ENCOURAGING FORWARD MOVEMENT

WPIX REFLECTS NEW YORK: Take a look at the attached (and John's note below).

We are now doing streets in other languages. I've told the team I want a different language at least once every 2 weeks and we are not allowed to just repeat Spanish. I want a Farsi-speaking cab driver and a thick Irish-accented bartender and a Jamaican, etc.

This is so right. Instead of screaming, We're local with a picture of the skyline, they are truly matching the mood of New York, in its pan-ethnic and gritty reality. This is one, small step toward reinventing TV for the 21st Century, not to mention one of the few cases of AFDI'ing something that's been in discussion for years. Of course the key is consistently doing it vs. a one off. Incidentally, these are not finished pieces, but will give you an idea of the direction

INSTANT STAFF MEETING: Below are a list of videos that Ray Brune, the Executive Producer of our new morning concept, put together for our first Bootcamps with the new staff. Many have been circulated, but I am always surprised how many have not yet seem these. Always pretty inspirational or at least interesting stuff:

BOOT CAMP DAY #1/DISC #1

DID YOU KNOW (POPULATION): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ECDZbrzkTxk

ONION:
* STUDENTS DON'T GIVE A SHIT http://www.theonion.com/video/in-the-know-are-tests-biased-against-students-who,17966/

* Firefighter http://www.theonion.com/video/incredibly-sexy-firefighter-tragically-dies-in-ste,17549/

* Sluts http://www.theonion.com/video/vh1-reality-show-bus-crashes-in-california-causing,14390/

* Boston Globe http://www.theonion.com/video/boston-globe-tailors-print-edition-for-three-remai,17572/

DID YOU KNOW (HUMAN CAPITAL): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kzCQ219bxl8

THE SURPRISING TRUTH ABOUT WHAT MOTIVATES US: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6XAPnuFjJc

A DATE WITH YOUR FAMILY (Cut Down): http://www.archive.org/details/DateWith1950

SELECTIVE ATTENTION TEST #1: http://viscog.beckman.illinois.edu/flashmovie/15.php

SELECTIVE ATTENTION TEST #2:

DO YOU KNOW (SOCIAL MEDIA): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ILQrUrEWe8

STIMULATE CREATIVE PROCESS: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kPC8e-Jk5uw

TED SPEECH LARRY LESSING (LAWS THAT CHOKE CREATIVITY): http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/larry_lessig_says_the_law_is_strangling_creativity.html

DO OUR PROPERTIES LOOK LIKE BANKS? I think often yes.

http://positivesharing.com/2007/03/12-ways-to-pimp-your-office/

THEN, THERE'S THIS RASMUSSEN STUDY: It s a battle out there.

http://www.mediapost.com/publications/?fa=Articles.showArticle&art_aid=136373

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The Beachwood Tip Line: The cure for battle fatigue.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:05 AM | Permalink

In Action! Chicago Riotfest 2010

1. He built his great empire.

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2. There's cars along this shit street.

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3. Society is burning me up.

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4. Two sins are better than one.

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Part one featuring: The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Corrosion of Conformity, Naked Raygun, Cap'n Jazz, and Articles of Faith.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:28 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: What's New At No. 1

Miami may have the "Three Kings," but none of them will be the king of this year's fantasy basketball draft. Without further delay, here's my fantasy hoops top 10:

1. Kevin Durant, SF, Oklahoma City.

Surprisingly little argument here for LeBron James or anyone else to be No. 1. Durant is still growing as a shooter, a scary thought for a guy who led the league in scoring last year. He's an impeccable free throw shooter, and plays enough defense to balance his stat sheet.

2. LeBron James, SF, Miami.

A strong case can be made to drop him to No. 3. He's still the all-around best player by a large margin, but the consensus is that going to Miami will not be as good for his fantasy production as it will be for his chance to win a title.

3. Chris Paul, PG, New Orleans.

Last season was marred by injury, so you have to trust that he's healthy and that the arrival of Trevor Ariza will keep him happy. I think at least one of those things is true.

4. Dirk Nowitzki, PF, Dallas.

I was ready to write him off as a fading star last season, but he did again what he does every year - score with amazing consistency. I'm now convinced he can keep doing it for another year or two.

5. Dwyane Wade, PG/SG, Miami.

Unlike the uncertainties surrounding LeBron's stats, I think Wade definitely will get a boost, probably in assists and overall scoring as defenses try to decide which one of the three kings is taking the ball to the hoop.

6. Kobe Bryant, SG, LA Lakers.

Seems shocking that he's at No. 6 until you look at the top five. Missed nine games last year, but his average stats remained consistent. His only enemy at this point is probably boredom.

7. Stephen Curry, PG, Golden State.

Probably the most upwardly mobile member of the top 10. This is where a lot of people had Durant in the 2009-10 draft, and Curry has almost the same potential to end up in the top five in scoring and free throws. Plus, he's a top three-point shooter.

8. Danny Granger, SF/PF, Indiana.

It probably would surprise no one if he ended up third or fourth in points this year, but injuries have stopped him from reaching full potential last year, and his free throw and three-point percentages have dipped.

9. Gerald Wallace, SF/PF, Charlotte.

The first of my top 10 surprises. He's underrated on an annual basis, and then people are surprised when he ends up as a top 10 player at the end of the year. His averaging of a double-double last year put him in elite company, and I think promised more good things.

10. David Lee, PF/C, Golden State.

My second surprise. What's more shocking - that I have two Golden State players in my top 10, or that I ranked both Wallace and Lee ahead of Pau Gasol? Lee is another double-double machine who some are writing off after his departure from a fast-paced New York offense. I think he'll prove a nice counter-balance to Curry.

Expert Wire
Here's more fodder as you fine-tune your fantasy hoops draft list:

* Yahoo!'s Ball Don't Lie is making its way through a long list of underrated players. Look, there's Gerald Wallace!

* Bleacher Report gathers a roundtable of fantasy experts to analyze how the move to Miami will affect LeBron James. I like the observation that Miami's game-pace isn't as fast as Cleveland's.

* FanHouse has a list of the top 150 fantasy players. It's enough to give a guy with just a top 10 an inferiority complex.

* ESPN looks at some of the fluke successes and disappoints of last season and what they portend for this season. Summary: A lot of guys got better by shooting fewer three-pointers, and one guy got better by shooting more of them.

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Dan O'Shea's Fantasy Fix appears in this space every Wednesday. He welcomes your comments. You can also read his about his split sports fan personality at SwingsBothWays, a new addition to the Beachwood family.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:11 AM | Permalink

George Ryan's Park Bench

A park bench dedicated to a convicted felon sits just outside Kankakee County's courthouse where justice is sought against the felonious. Those tried and convicted in the Kankakee court are usually the typical criminals we see on the crime dramas on television, like murderers, rapists, burglars and car thieves. The park bench is in honor of another type of felon common to Illinois, a corrupt politician. The bench is dedicated to former Governor George Ryan who is now serving time in a federal prison after being convicted on a 22-count indictment.

KanKaKee park bench 1.JPG

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The bench is framed by young boy reaching out to a young girl with a bouquet of flowers.

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Kankakee park bench 2.JPG

According to a 2003 article in the Kankakee Journal, a private group raised $20,000 for the sculpture to honor the former governor.

Ryan was convicted in 2006 of crimes in part of a license for bribe scandal connected to several national highway deaths. One of the fatal accidents linked to that scandal was in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and resulted in six children burning to death in their family van. Investigators discovered that bribe money taken by license examiners was going to Ryan's campaign funds. The examiner who issued the license to the truck driver who caused the Milwaukee crash admitted to federal agents that she received eighty thousand dollars in bribes that went to Ryan's campaign. Ryan conspired with his chief of staff and inspector general to cover up the bribe scheme.

On Nov.1, 2010, Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer, the judge who sentenced Ryan, will be hearing arguments on a motion by Ryan's attorneys to reduce his six-and-a-half year sentence. He has served less than half thus far. The motion filed by Jim Thompson, another former governor, and Dan Webb, a former federal prosecutor, is asking to reconsider the sentence based a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the "honest services" law deemed unconstitutional.

The honest services clause refers to a section of the federal mail and wire fraud statute which includes the phrasing, "a scheme or artifice to deprive another of the intangible right of honest services." In June of this year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that section as unconstitutional as it applies to the private sector cases of Sun-Times magnate Conrad Black and former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling. In public corruption cases, honest services fraud may be more easily proven because the officials' unethical conduct is a violation of their oath and other state statutes. Ryan was convicted of racketeering, tax fraud, obstruction of justice, and making false statements to federal agents. The obstruction charges are linked to Ryan's attempt to cover up investigations of the license- for-bribe scheme by agents in Ryan's own Department of Inspector General.

The Kankakee park bench is dedicated to George Ryan for his years in public service which began in Kankakee. According to a July 2010 column in the Chicago Daily Observer by political biographer Jim Ridings, Ryan's first political scandal was in 1973 when he attempted to bribe a candidate not to run for Kankakee sheriff against Ryan's choice.

The list continues from there, including fixing cases, abuse of time, ghost payrolling, defaulting on county loans, prohibited state contracts, getting charges dropped on a nursing home accused of patient neglect and abuse, misuse of state airplanes, laundering money, bid-rigging, attempting to hire a convicted drug felon for DCFS, and soliciting campaign contributions from state-licensed automobile dealers.

If the park bench dedicated to Ryan's public service includes this litany of allegations that culminated in a conviction for covering up an investigation that is linked to the death of innocent children, then Illinois voters can only pray that Pallmeyer determines the Supreme Court's honest services decision does not apply to Ryan's conviction and he serves out his complete sentence in a dedicated prison cell.

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

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:55 AM | Permalink

Plan Ahead For Fire Safety

October is Fire Prevention Month. And now that fall is here, it's important to remember how easily fires can spread this time of year. With these tips from the Federal Citizen Information Center, learn what to do to prevent and survive a fire.

In just two minutes, a fire can become life threatening. In five minutes, a whole house can be destroyed. Read up on fire safety procedures and devices that can help save you and your family.

Damage to outside electrical equipment such as lighting and power cords can start a fire or cause a shock, so checking them regularly is vital to keeping your family and home protected. To help get you started, use the Electrical Safety Foundation International's outdoor safety checklist.

fire.png

In small spaces like a bedroom, avoid tall halogen lamps. They can get hot enough to ignite nearby curtains or blankets. Fluorescent bulbs are not only safer, but also keep rooms cooler. In dorm rooms, make sure you are using electrical equipment safely and know the location of the closest fire extinguisher.

To get younger kids involved and help them understand the importance of fire safety and prevention, check out the U.S. Fire Administration's Kids website and the U.S. Forest Service's Smokey Bear website, where kids can play interactive games and learn vital information about preventing fires.

The best way to avoid panicking in the event of a fire is to have a plan ready to go so every family member knows what to do. Plan an evacuation route for everyone and a meeting place for the family once you get outside. Make sure to move fast and not collect valuables - any second can make a difference in getting out safely.

By following these tips from the Federal Citizen Information Center, you and your family will be better prepared for any fire danger that comes your way.

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The Federal Citizen Information Center connects people with government benefits, services and information through its family of websites, including Pueblo.gsa.gov, USA.gov, GobiernoUSA.gov and ConsumerAction.gov; by phone at 1 (800) FED-INFO (that's 1 (800) 333-4636) and with publications by mail from Pueblo, Colorado. FCIC is part of the U.S. General Services Administration's Office of Citizen Services.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:24 AM | Permalink

October 12, 2010

The [Tuesday] Papers

Yeah, the Beachwood will be delayed today - possibly until tomorrow. I had to stay extra late last night/this morning to complete training as the regular Beachwood Inn Monday night bartender. Many trade secrets were revealed, some having to do with properly ordering and documenting the free pizza. Thanks to everyone who came out - see you next week!

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Best customer quote of the night: "I wish my girlfriend was a better punk rock fan."

Don't we all . . .

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The [Monday] Papers
About that memo . . .

I've talked to a number of you over the week about the New York Times article that negatively characterized the culture and values of our company.

Negatively? Or inaccurately? And isn't this the sort of memo targets of Tribune articles write?

The Chicago Tribune and our newsroom always have operated with the highest professional, ethical and moral standards. Everyone who truly knows us understands this to be true.

Since when - the days when Colonel McCormick banned Rhode Island from the newspaper (and altered its maps accordingly) because he didn't like some horse-racing legislation it's lawmakers had passed? Or when the company bought the Cubs to create an obvious conflict of interest? Or perhaps when corporate chieftain John Madigan would call the paper's automotive writer to - according to former editor-in-chief Jim Squires - to speed up delivery parts for his Saab?

Perhaps Kern is thinking of more recent times, such as the firing of sexual predator Bob Greene, whose creepy but well-known habits were allowed to flourish until one of his victims called him out. Or maybe he's thinking of his predecessor, Ann Marie Lipinski, who quit amid alleged editorial interference from Sam Zell. Or perhaps he's thinking of the Tribune Company's former executives, who are now alleged by a federal bankruptcy examiner o have engaged in fraud when selling to Zell.

Contrary to Kern's statement that "everyone who truly knows us understands" that the Tribune has always operated at the highest ethical standard, everyone who has worked inside the paper has stories to tell that makes that one of the silliest claims ever made in American journalism history.

Not that the Tribune is unique in that regard. That's what makes Kern's assertion even more mind-boggling.

But it gets worse.

For me, the greatest revelations are the choices that people make in their personal moments of truth. That is the place where history is made. These choices reveal everything about a person's character, values, about their courage to face adversity and stay true to their beliefs. History celebrates those who are principled, those who are selfless, people who defend their families, friends and homelands, people who put themselves and their careers at risk for larger ideas than themselves.

And what courageous choices have you made, Gerry?

For example, this memo fails to tell us what you surely know - if your corporate bosses are a bunch of misogynistic yahoos. Has your experience been otherwise? Do tell.

It is easy to profess your convictions when things are going well. It is quite another to hold onto those convictions and to push ahead when times are difficult.

I couldn't agree more. Perhaps that's why I'm in such financial peril after your boss killed a factual post that proved prescient in describing the culture Randy Michaels would bring to Tribune as CEO based on sexual harassment allegations from his time at Clear Channel.

I'm kind of tired of rehashing my sad little part of this saga, but who has really shown courage, Gerry?

*

If the Tribune newsroom was truly an independent operation, it would be investigating the allegations against Michaels & Co. as we speak. That wouldn't even take courage, it would just be fulfilling the requisites of the job. After all, immunity is not part of the deal for corporate executives who run media companies. In fact, their very jobs demand unparalleled transparency.

Carla Oglesby's Case
"One curiosity in the alphabet soup of the case," the Sun-Times reports. "The list of those referred to as "Public Official" starts with "Public Official B." There is no mention of a "Public Official A." Law enforcement sources said that was by design but otherwise would not discuss even the existence of a "Public Official A."

Flores FAIL
Manny is out.

McRib Is Back!
Somewhere.

In Action!
Part one of our video review of Chicago Riotfest 2010. Today:

* The Mighty Mighty Bosstones
* Corrosion of Conformity
* Naked Raygun
* Cap 'N Jazz
* Articles of Faith

The New MSNBC
Now a Spike Lee Joint.

Bears Now Hogs
Reminiscent of old Redskins.

Lou Was A Boo-Boo
If Jim Hendry had hired Joe Girardi the first time around, he'd be home by now.

Bartender Journalism
I'll be behind the Beachwood Inn bar tonight and every Monday night for the duration. Specials tonight: Old Style for $2.50 and $1 off the bottom shelf. Plus, free pizza!

And don't forget: Chicagoetry Live this Thursday night.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Real courage.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:35 AM | Permalink

October 11, 2010

SportsMonday: Bears Now Hogs

On the first play in the red zone at the end of the first drive of the day Sunday, the entire Bear offensive line broke to the right as quarterback Todd Collins turned to make the handoff. Except Collins held onto the ball and then made his best pass/pitch of the day to Matt Forte as he sprinted back against the grain toward the left side. Forte was far too speedy for the defensive end who was responsible for containing him and soon he was busting through to the end zone.

Shortly thereafter, Forte again broke into the open, this time thanks to a crisp cutback and an awesome block from tight end Brandon Manumaleuna. There was no catching him on his way to the 68-yard touchdown that put the Bears in command for the rest of the day. Thanks to a very stingy defense and a banged-up and struggling Panther offense, the Bears' foes would never again pull closer than 11 points on the way to a 23-6 decision. Now let's talk about that awesome first touchdown a bit more.

The Bears almost never employ misdirection in the running game these days, and they haven't for a long time. It is clear that the trap plays (ones in which linemen feint in one direction, causing defenders to move that way and set themselves up to be sealed off as running backs cut back behind their blockers) and their relatives that work great against college and high school defenses don't get the job done against NFL linemen and linebackers who are too quick and too powerful.

And really, no one in the NFL has successfully committed to misdirection power football as a primary offensive scheme over a long run since Joe Gibbs' great Redskins teams in the 80s and 90s that were led by the offensive line known as, yep, it's coming back to you now, the Hogs.

Those teams' signature was often the classic Counter Trey. That was the play that started with a surge to one side by everyone but the center, guard and tackle on that side. The quarterback hesitated, turned and then handed the ball to the back who was heading back against the grain toward the other side with those three powerful blockers in front of him.

The play was almost as important to the Redskins as the power sweep was the Lombardi's Packers. But since then it has become obsolete.

Surely there is still a place for this sort of trickery, isn't there, at least slightly more frequently than once every couple years? Perhaps the Bears could even put Forte and Chester Taylor in the same backfield . . . sending one in one direction and the other in the other? Get on it, Mike Martz.

Big Mo! The Bears' initial momentum -and my goodness the first 10 minutes of this game were about as good as football gets for Bears fans - officially ended with the very irritating series of events that took the 10-yard score away from Chester Taylor shortly after Devin Hester's awesome 50-yard punt return. And didn't Hester look dangerous all day Sunday? But for a series of great kicks by Carolina punter Jason Baker, kicks that went directly out of bounds but didn't do so until they had covered a respectable distance, I'll bet Hester would have posted at least one more huge return.

Despite two officials signaling touchdown (thank you play-by-play man Sam Rosen for that observation) at the end of Taylor's run, referee Mike Carey rushed in and convinced everyone Taylor's knee was down before the ball broke the plane of the goal line.

That meant that when the inevitable video review was requested, in order to change the call officials had to find irrefutable evidence that the ball had broken the plane rather than vice versa. Then Carey added one final twist by mis-spotting the ball after the review. No way the football should have been more than a foot away from the goal line but instead it was almost a full yard back. And if we know anything around here this year it is that in short yardage situations, every inch counts.

Back to the return game: Let's all get on board for the foreseeable future with Danieal Manning handling kickoff returns and Hester focusing on punts, okay? Many have questioned not putting Hester back there for kickoffs as well but Manning achieves top speed in a hurry and is dangerous every time he touches the ball. After the offense effectively took advantage of Manning's big return, Forte's big run and tacked on a field goal after Julius Peppers' ridiculous interception, the Bears were in position to essentially put the game away after Hester's slick little sideline return, even if Taylor's touchdown was taken away.

Crappy Collins: But then Collins went to work, seemingly doing his determined best to bring the Panthers back. I've been pondering it for a while and I think I've come up with the best word for the quarterback's performance on Sunday: execrable. Synonyms for that term, as listed by my word processing program's dictionary, include "terrible, appalling, disgusting, repulsive, deplorable" and I think that just about covers it.

Three of Collins' four interceptions were absolutely inexcusable. The first one, my gosh, how could he throw that pass . . . right to a defensive lineman . . . with the Bears in position to take a comfortable 17-point lead if they kicked the field goal that would have followed a third-down incompletion?

So perhaps we could have forgiven one terrible mistake. But the second pick happened when Collins' wounded duck pass flew way over the intended receiver into the hands of a waiting defensive back. What made that pick special is that Collins had thrown virtually the exact same pass, another wobbling monstrosity that was way off the mark, for an incompletion the play before. Any observer would have pointed out that the last thing Collins should have been doing at that point was heaving up another pathetic attempt.

Collins' third pick was a tipped ball and it capped off a play in which the offensive line allowed significant pressure. In other words, it was far from all his fault. Oh by the way on all three of those picks, Bear offensive players turned around and made real good tackles, stopping what could have been a series of big returns before they could start.

And finally, Collins heaved one last no-hope flutterball deep down the field. I'm confident the Panther defensive back who picked it off has never had an interception nestle so softly into his hands. I've got another synonym: atrocious.

The killer is that the Bears sacrificed Dan LeFevour for this stiff. And no, Mr. LeFevour, the local guy who excelled at quarterback at Benet Academy and Central Michigan before the Bears made him a sixth-round pick earlier this year, is not available for re-signing. The Cincinnati Bengals snapped him up after the Bears cut him at the end of the preseason to make room for Collins. Argh.

In the end, though, the Bear defense not only wouldn't let Carolina back into the game, they wouldn't even let them make it close. Panther quarterback Jimmy Clausen struggled, especially on that brutally underthrown bomb that should have been an easy touchdown and on those out-pattern passes late, but mostly the defense dominated.

Israel Idonije, come on down! Early indications are that you are the guy best prepared to take advantage of the fact that just a decent rush opposite Peppers will almost certainly result in sack opportunities all season long. Otherwise there were almost too many great plays to count. The Panthers never did get anything significant going offensively.

They should have tried the Counter Trey.

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Jim Coffman brings you SportsMonday every week in this space. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:26 AM | Permalink

The [Monday] Papers

About that memo . . .

I've talked to a number of you over the week about the New York Times article that negatively characterized the culture and values of our company.

Negatively? Or inaccurately? And isn't this the sort of memo targets of Tribune articles write?

The Chicago Tribune and our newsroom always have operated with the highest professional, ethical and moral standards. Everyone who truly knows us understands this to be true.

Since when - the days when Colonel McCormick banned Rhode Island from the newspaper (and altered its maps accordingly) because he didn't like some horse-racing legislation it's lawmakers had passed? Or when the company bought the Cubs to create an obvious conflict of interest? Or perhaps when corporate chieftain John Madigan would call the paper's automotive writer to - according to former editor-in-chief Jim Squires - to speed up delivery parts for his Saab?

Perhaps Kern is thinking of more recent times, such as the firing of sexual predator Bob Greene, whose creepy but well-known habits were allowed to flourish until one of his victims called him out. Or maybe he's thinking of his predecessor, Ann Marie Lipinski, who quit amid alleged editorial interference from Sam Zell. Or perhaps he's thinking of the Tribune Company's former executives, who are now alleged by a federal bankruptcy examiner o have engaged in fraud when selling to Zell.

Contrary to Kern's statement that "everyone who truly knows us understands" that the Tribune has always operated at the highest ethical standard, everyone who has worked inside the paper has stories to tell that makes that one of the silliest claims ever made in American journalism history.

Not that the Tribune is unique in that regard. That's what makes Kern's assertion even more mind-boggling.

But it gets worse.

For me, the greatest revelations are the choices that people make in their personal moments of truth. That is the place where history is made. These choices reveal everything about a person's character, values, about their courage to face adversity and stay true to their beliefs. History celebrates those who are principled, those who are selfless, people who defend their families, friends and homelands, people who put themselves and their careers at risk for larger ideas than themselves.

And what courageous choices have you made, Gerry?

For example, this memo fails to tell us what you surely know - if your corporate bosses are a bunch of misogynistic yahoos. Has your experience been otherwise? Do tell.

It is easy to profess your convictions when things are going well. It is quite another to hold onto those convictions and to push ahead when times are difficult.

I couldn't agree more. Perhaps that's why I'm in such financial peril after your boss killed a factual post that proved prescient in describing the culture Randy Michaels would bring to Tribune as CEO based on sexual harassment allegations from his time at Clear Channel.

I'm kind of tired of rehashing my sad little part of this saga, but who has really shown courage, Gerry?

*

If the Tribune newsroom was truly an independent operation, it would be investigating the allegations against Michaels & Co. as we speak. That wouldn't even take courage, it would just be fulfilling the requisites of the job. After all, immunity is not part of the deal for corporate executives who run media companies. In fact, their very jobs demand unparalleled transparency.

Carla Oglesby's Case
"One curiosity in the alphabet soup of the case," the Sun-Times reports. "The list of those referred to as "Public Official" starts with "Public Official B." There is no mention of a "Public Official A." Law enforcement sources said that was by design but otherwise would not discuss even the existence of a "Public Official A."

Flores FAIL
Manny is out.

McRib Is Back!
Somewhere.

In Action!
Part one of our video review of Chicago Riotfest 2010. Today:

* The Mighty Mighty Bosstones
* Corrosion of Conformity
* Naked Raygun
* Cap 'N Jazz
* Articles of Faith

The New MSNBC
Now a Spike Lee Joint.

Bears Now Hogs
Reminiscent of old Redskins.

Lou Was A Boo-Boo
If Jim Hendry had hired Joe Girardi the first time around, he'd be home by now.

Bartender Journalism
I'll be behind the Beachwood Inn bar tonight and every Monday night for the duration. Specials tonight: Old Style for $2.50 and $1 off the bottom shelf. Plus, free pizza!

And don't forget: Chicagoetry Live this Thursday night.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Real courage.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:54 AM | Permalink

In Action! Chicago Riotfest 2010

"The city's expansive punk beatdown."


1. Let's move the song along.

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2. Spreading their cancer into uncared brains.

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3. Woof woof.

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4. Achtung Chicago!

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5. What we want is free.

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6. Til death do we part.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:07 AM | Permalink

The New MSNBC

Mono, the award-winning Minneapolis-based creative branding and advertising agency, today announces the new brand position, campaign and tagline for cable news giant MSNBC.

The line, "Lean forward" is a simple, yet bold statement designed to impassion MSNBC's audience and urge them to engage with the issues of the day.

For director Spike Lee, the campaign was an opportunity to mix his talents with his beliefs. "It was great to get the call from MSNBC President Phil Griffin and mono. This is a big campaign and it comes at an interesting juncture in American politics. I'm happy to be a part of it."

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The Beachwood TV Team has obtained the taglines to be unveiled in the coming months.

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* MSNBC: Do The Left Thing.

* Leaner Staff. Hey, Times Are Tough.

* Lean Left. But Not Too Far Left. In Fact, Just Tilt Your Head Imperceptibly.

* MSNBC: The Other White News.

* Lean news. Less filling.

* MSNBC: FOXY.

* OBAMACARE TV.

* MSNBC: Do The Wrong Thing But For The Right Reasons.

* Now MSNBC-HDTV - in 3D.

* RUN-DMC.

* Tea Party TV.

* MSNBC - A Spike Lee Joint.

* MSNSPIKELEE.

* Mo' Better News.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:02 AM | Permalink

Lou Was A Boo-Boo

Seeing Joe Girardi in the New York Yankees dugout chasing his second straight world championship is a reminder that Cubs general manager Jim Hendry has not only saddled his franchise with some of the worst contracts in baseball history, but that his choices for manager have been as bad as his choices for players to invest in.

If Hendry had hired Girardi four years ago, he'd likely still be in the Cubs dugout. Instead, Hendry went after a manager who let it be known that he would be working on his last contract, ensuring continuing instability instead of finally growing a real baseball organization.

Sure, Lou won a couple division titles. Would Girardi have fared any worse? After all, Girardi was named NL Manager of the Year after his first campaign - and has now won just as many World Series' as Piniella. Isn't the fact that Girardi is high on Hendry's wish list confirmation that he should have been hired when the Cubs had the chance? After all, if the guy you're trying to hire could have been here by now, you blew it.

Season in Review: The Cubs finished 18 games out of last place, one game out of fourth (to the surging Houston Astros, who are possibly next year's Reds). They tied with Seattle for the worst home record in the majors (35-46). They did go 24-13 under Mike Quade to finish the season - which goes to show just how bad they were playing in Sweet Lou's last season.

Off-Season in Preview: Winter meetings will be held Dec. 6 - 9 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. We'll be at the Courtyard.

The Second Basemen Report: Blake DeWitt, Darwin Barney, Jeff Baker . . . it never ends.

In former second basemen news, Mike Fontenot is a hero in San Francisco. He is missed.

The Zam Bomb: Fool us a million times, shame on Jim Hendry. Trade him.

zam_apologetic.jpg

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Lost in Translation: Visio manana-san, Rodan is Japanese for See ya' later, alligator.

Endorsement No-Brainer: Tom Ricketts for the stimulus bill because neither of them are working.

Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Corked bats are trading slightly higher.

Over/Under: Early O/U betting line for Cubs wins next year: 80.

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 Tom Ricketts has been buffalo burgered.

Agony & Ivy: It's a way of life.

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

The White Sox Report: Now with a weekly Cubs Snub.

The Mount Lou Alert System: Officially being retired. You've been good to us, MLAS. You will be missed.

mtlou_red.gif

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Contact The Cub Factor!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:53 AM | Permalink

October 10, 2010

The Week in WTF

1. Embattled Carla Oglesby, WTF?

We all enjoyed the perp walk by county board president Todd Stroger's deputy chief of staff on Monday (What is this title fetish? It's like the bridge command for Battlestar Gallactica).

According to the Trib, "A message left on Stroger's cell phone was not immediately returned" but that's because he was too busy screaming "Son of a bitch!" at the top of his lungs.

Carla ain't be going down by her own good self. Nosiree, Bob. It was an all-around bad day for Olgesby. If you entered the words "Carla Oglesby arrested" on Google, it reported 78,000 hits.

We could regale you with the juicy details of this scam, but it's the pathetically usual taking-money-for-nothing at county government headquarters. She was very clever and was totally in the clear because she made all the filched contracts cost $24,900, which avoids the law that requires the county board be advised of $25,000 deals. What she forgot was that it was still illegal to steal the money. A minor detail, sure, but that's one of the quirks in felony theft law.

And speaking of Nosiree, Bob . . .

2. Tony Peraica, WTF?

County Commish Tony Peraica had a beaming Cheshire Cat smirk permanently stitched onto his face when local TV graciously asked for his view on the Embattled Carla matter. Even Tony, who has all the political instincts and charm of a dead person, knows that Todd Stroger has a red laser dot on his forehead.

Even Stroger, who has worse instinct than The Walking Dead, knows that now, and it didn't take Peraica to educate him.

Who figured that law enforcement eventually might achieve what the voting people of Cook County could not? Until Monday, it seemed to embody the concept of the blind leading the blind. And the visually impaired, too.

3. Randy Michaels, WTF?

The WTF staff has worked for ignoramuses, ingrates, dolts and raging nincompoops. Some of us are dolts, too, but none of has enough money to ever be true media thugs. So we've been around and, as Al Pacino says in Scent of A Woman, I have seen things, ya know?

But how did we miss the chance to work for Randy Michaels, the Trib's reigning king of everything?

Maybe it's a sign of our inept higher brain function that we don't know exactly what his "intention to create a fun, non-linear creative environment" means. Not a clue. It sounds vaguely like a Craigslist "date."

Speaking of the New York Times story that compared Tribune Tower to Animal House, the unanswered question is: Did Michaels offer $100 to a Loop bar waitress to show him and his pals her breasts? Both breasts? Was it $50 for each? Is that the going rate or was the Trib trying to get a better deal? And were they good breasts? For a guy trying to invent a non-linear creative environment, it seems rather pedestrian. Scummy, sure, but insipid.

4. Carlos Zambrano, WTF?

Headline Sept. 30, 2010: "Zambrano won't agree to trade until Cubs win World Series."

Headline: Oct. 30, 2087: "Cubs finally win Series; Zambrano, 106, OKs trade."

5. Brian Dorian, WTF?

We're glad they finally caught the Crazed Bee Killer of Crete, but gosh, we'd rather meet the dumbest cop in Indiana. Someone identified as an "Indiana officer" stopped Dorian during his several-day spree and ordered him out of his truck at gunpoint. And then they let him go. We know that because Dorian laughed about it on his Facebook page before they arrested him.

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David Rutter is the former publisher/editor of the Lake County News-Sun, a Sun-Times Media property.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:27 AM | Permalink

October 9, 2010

The Weekend Desk Report

UPDATED 10/10/10

We're sure you have a very important marathon to run or something, so we'll keep an eye on the news for you this weekend.

Market Update
Shares in Duh skyrocketed in value this week as almost every major news outlet snapped up all available supplies.

Sweat and Lowdown
Klaxons sounded and relatives cheered as a drill finally reached 33 Chilean miners trapped since August 5. Celebrations were tempered, however, as news spread that the miners will be brought to the surface via CTA train.

Compete and Lowdown
The miners have also had to cope with the fact theirs is not the most dramatic collapse since August 5. Not even close.

Repeat and Lowdown
Come to think of it, theirs is not the greatest escape since August 5. Although at least they can be reasonably sure they're not jumping from frying pan to fire.

Defeat and Lowdown
In fact, spending 65 days underground might not even be such a bad deal considering what could be waiting up top.

*

NEW!

Trib Editor Responds To Times Story With Bizarre Memo

The Week in WTF

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Breathless.


Posted by Natasha Julius at 8:56 AM | Permalink

October 8, 2010

The [Friday] Papers

UPDATED BELOW WITH TRIB EDITOR GERRY KERN'S MEMO TO STAFF REGARDING THIS WEEK'S NEW YORK TIMES STORY.

1. Maybe Rahm Emanuel's campaign supplied the wrong address.

2. "South Florida Sun-Sentinel May Move Headquarters."

Closer to Hooter's, presumably.

3. "Obama on Giannoulias: 'Doesn't Shift In The Wind.'"

The pages on his calendar kind of get blown around, though.

From Rich Miller's Capital Fax Blog:

Oh, for the love of Mike . . .

Giannoulias said he has been "absolutely, unequivocally consistent in all my statements for the last four years.

"I left day-to-day operations in 2005, and I fully left the bank about April 2006," he said.

"Absolutely, unequivocally consistent"? Um, didn't he tell the Tribune last week that he left the bank in May of 2006, not April, as he just told the SJ-R?

Dude, seriously, what is wrong with you?

4. Geez, this looks nicer than Wrigleyville.

5. Oct. 7 Barack Obama fundraising e-mail:

"Making change is hard. It's what we've said from the beginning. And we've got the lumps to show for it."

Oct. 7 New York Times story:

"White House allows big firms to dodge health reforms."

6. "State Sen. James Meeks (D-Chicago) said Thursday he will not give up his ministry of a massive South Side church if he's elected mayor - a 'non-negotiable' position that could cost him the chance to become the consensus black candidate to succeed Mayor Daley," the Sun-Times reports. "I feel that I can run my church and run the city of Chicago."

But would he have to recuse himself from the annual mayor's prayer breakfast?

7. "City Should Track All Taxis By GPS, Inspector General Says."

Can't we track every TIF dollar by GPS instead?

8. "A federal judge signed off Wednesday on a $16.5 million settlement between the city of Chicago and tens of thousands of people who say they were mistreated by police while being held as suspects in crimes," the Tribune reports.

By generally accepted accounting practices, will this deducted from the corruption fund or the stupid fund?

9. "Sex-Offending Doctors Left on Honor System."

I will avoid a Tribune Company joke here because it's really not funny.

10. "[F]or me," writes Andrew McIlvaine for Human Resource Executive, "what really takes the cake is this little gem, from a rewritten version of the company's employee handbook that was apparently one of the new team's first priorities, according to the story:

"'Working at Tribune means accepting that you might hear a word that you, personally, might not use,' the new handbook warned. 'You might experience an attitude you don't share. You might hear a joke that you don't consider funny. That is because a loose, fun, nonlinear atmosphere is important to the creative process.' It then added, 'This should be understood, should not be a surprise and not considered harassment.'

"Wow - management actually went ahead and redefined harassment. Brilliant! So the obvious question is: Where was HR when this new handbook was approved and distributed to employees? How could any HR leader possibly sign off on this? For a quick answer, I checked the archives of our People section and discovered that Luis E. Lewin served as Tribune's senior VP of corporate human resources from 2000 to 2008. In other words, Lewin (who's currently the CHRO at Purdue University) left Tribune right as Zell and his team were in the midst of making their changes at the company. I don't know Mr. Lewin or the actual circumstances of his departure, but I'd really like to think that it was because he would not be part of a management team that apparently had so little respect for the employees who worked there. I'd also like to think that most HR leaders would, upon failing to convince a CEO that their policies were similarly misguided, do the right thing and tender their resignation. Times may be tough, but principles are priceless."

*

And remember, it's not just the workplace, it's what the workplace is rewarded to produce.

*

Another lesson: Sometimes it's not news until it appears in the New York Times. For example, David Carr and the New York media were uninterested in my tale of corporate executives from two of the nation's largest media companies - Tribune and NBC - colluding to protect one of them from a wholly factual and sanctioned blog post.

(Beyond that, at least some of the tales appearing in Carr's story weren't new to at least some of us in Chicago - or news junkies who follow sites like Romenesko.)

But you wanna know what? The mainstream media in Chicago has been uninterested in this story too. Not true of the blogosphere. Maybe they have fewer friends to protect.

Finally, how can anyone trust anything coming out of Channel 5 knowing that news about a friend - late mayoral pal Michael Scott - of a station executive was also withheld? Does anybody care? Seems to me that's worse than giving a commentary gig to Jerry Springer.

And shouldn't some folks in both shops be losing their jobs about now?

11. "Secretariat captured the imagination of the nation, racking up record television ratings and grabbing the covers of major magazines of the time," our man on the rail Thomas Chambers writes. "He wasn't plucky, like Seabiscuit. He was Chick Anderson's 'tremendous machine,' the power and speed of the Saturn V rocket, Craig Breedlove on the salt flats. But he was nice about it. They say he knew what he was and what he could do, and that he loved to do it. And they say he enjoyed the fans enjoying him."

12. The College Football Report: Wearing Milk-Bone Underwear In A Dog Eat Dog World.

13. Apropos of nothing, but I wanted to end the week on a rocking note. This has more than 8.6 million views for all the right reasons.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Bark us up.

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KERN'S MEMO

message: From: Kern, Gerould W.
Sent: Friday, October 08, 2010 11:30 AM
To: zzCTC.ALLEDITORIAL
Subject: Real courage

Colleagues:

Today's Chicago Tribune is yet another reminder of why I am so proud to be part of this newsroom, to be working with you.

Sam Roe's and Jared Hopkins' heart-breaking story about death of 9-year-old Jeremiah Clark exposes how our system failed to care for the most vulnerable among us. This is not an isolated story. Nearly every day we present reports to our readers that fulfill our promise to stand up for the community.

It's not just investigative stories like today's that make this statement. Every department, every section, every column, photo and editorial make the case that we are dedicated to public service in a diversity of forms. Others in the industry are recognizing innovation at the Chicago Tribune, as this link demonstrates. http://ronreason.com/designwithreason/2010/10/06/innovation-in-u-s-papers-where-is-it-how-to-define-it/

Given the events of this week, it is important to pause and remember that the words on our pages and websites speak loudest about who we are and what we value.

I've talked to a number of you over the week about the New York Times article that negatively characterized the culture and values of our company. Consequently, I believe it is important to reinforce the values of our newsroom and the Chicago Tribune Media Group.

Some of you have received inquiries from friends and family around the country, asking if you are safe and treated well. I am very sorry that this has been called into question. It is painful to hear that you've had to answer those questions. The Chicago Tribune and our newsroom always have operated with the highest professional, ethical and moral standards. Everyone who truly knows us understands this to be true.

We have established a set of principles and an environment that supports courageous journalism, and this is driving real reform in our city and state. Together we have worked diligently to establish a newsroom that is built on mutual respect, individual responsibility, openness and collegiality. We've done this during a time of trial for our company, our industry and our nation.

As many of you know, I read history. My advisors sit on a bookshelf behind my desk. I invite you to come by my office sometime and chat about some of these books and the stories they tell. For me, the greatest revelations are the choices that people make in their personal moments of truth. That is the place where history is made. These choices reveal everything about a person's character, values, about their courage to face adversity and stay true to their beliefs. History celebrates those who are principled, those who are selfless, people who defend their families, friends and homelands, people who put themselves and their careers at risk for larger ideas than themselves.

In the 163-year history of the Chicago Tribune, no group has confronted more disruption and more uncertainty than you. No group has demonstrated more innovative spirit and driven more transformative change than this one. No one has worked harder to keep journalism alive despite the economic assaults upon it. It is easy to profess your convictions when things are going well. It is quite another to hold onto those convictions and to push ahead when times are difficult.

Faced with the most crucial moment of our careers and the most perilous moment in the Chicago Tribune s history, we did not retreat. Instead, we stood and fought to create a brighter future for the Chicago Tribune. That is real courage.

History will be the judge of us all, as it is for all men and women. No matter where we go or what we do the rest of our lives, we can look back at this time with pride and the satisfaction that we carried the mission forward despite the challenges and that we stood by each other.

I am honored to be your colleague. I believe that our best days are still ahead.

Gerry

Gerould Kern|SVP/Editor|Chicago Tribune|435 N. Michigan Ave., TT 400, Chicago, Ill. 60611-4041|(w ) 312-222-4420| gkern@tribune.com|chicagotribune.com

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Commentary to follow on Monday.

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COMMENTS

1. David Cay Johnston:

Copy of commentary I posted at Romenesko:

Gerry Kern's memo makes a significant contribution to the history of subversive journalism, which reveals the lies inherent in official truth by shining light around, rather than directly on, the problems. In contrast to the blunt style of the Chicago Tribune, the power of subversive journalism comes from readers discerning the subtleties and the unstated.

Without a [critical word] of David Carr's perceptive piece, Kern adroitly reveals the newsroom anguish under the Zell regime of clown princes with ethics as flexible as their boss's.

Like the New Testament, Kern's memo adds to the literature of vanquished peoples who refuse to relinquish their humanity to their oppressors and instead seek a shared inner life that perpetuates their values.

Kern's memo also gets at the enormous power the Supreme Court granted, without hearing, in 1886 to what had been tightly controlled and short-lived entities when it declared that corporations are persons with 14th Amendment rights. His memo goes to Justice Rehnquist's forgotten 1977 warnings in Bellotti about corporate power. And Kern's memo is very relevant to this year's Citizens United decision, which was to expanding corporate power what the Big Bang was to the singularity.

When scholars look back at journalism in our age, and the relative shift of power from the democratic state to the corporation, Kern's brilliant memo may win him a place in the history books he so loves.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:35 AM | Permalink

The College Football Report: Wearing Milk-Bone Underwear In A Dog Eat Dog World

After five weeks of college football action, the season is beginning to shape up. Apart from the usual suspects (Alabama, Ohio State, Boise and now Oregon) some interesting shifts have taken place in the polls. In some cases, unheralded teams have fought their way into the national picture while others have climbed the ranks into the Top 10.

The Season So Far: An Overview of BCS Contenders with a Minimal Number of Ladder-Climbing or Mountain-Scaling Metaphors

Without looking at the Associated Press poll for Week Five, guess what the following teams have in common: Arizona, Michigan State, Michigan, Nevada, Oklahoma State and Missouri. That's right, all six teams began the 2010-11 season unranked in the Week One poll. Five weeks later, each have emerged as contenders ranking between #6 (Oklahoma) and #24 (Missouri). Each has yet to lose a game, and at least two will remain unbeaten next week. (Michigan State travels to the Big House to face Michigan while Nevada hosts San Jose State. Sorry, SJSU, we don't see it happening.)

From the list, the Mizzou Tigers seem the most suspect. Missouri has yet to play on the road and will face #6 Oklahoma and #7 Nebraska in back-to-back weeks later this month.

Let's check back with the Tigers and the rest of this list on November 1 to see if they still remain in the rankings.

Among the preseason contenders who began the year already ranked in the Top 25, three undefeated teams have climbed at least seven spots: LSU (from #19 to #12), Utah (#20 to #10) and Auburn (#21 to #8).

Between LSU and Auburn, only one of the two will have any hope of finishing at or near the top - the two squads match up on October 23 and the winner still must defeat SEC West foes #11 Arkansas and #1 Alabama to have a shot at an undefeated season.

Unless Bama stumbles down the stretch or injuries throw the Tide off course, we don't see either team making the BCS title game. But should Alabama run the table in the SEC and win the conference championship game . . . could the Tigers or Bayou Bengals qualify as a BCS "at-large" selection?

Let's say this - with LSU playing in The Swamp on Saturday night, we'll keep our eyes on Auburn. You know what they say, never pick against reptiles on their home turf. The Gators will look to regain some respect after an absolute shelling by Alabama (and precipitous drop in the polls, from #7 to #14) last weekend.

Utah has some tough sledding ahead as well but the Utes will play #25 Air Force and #5 TCU at home in Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City. Is it possible we might see two (the Utes and Broncos?) undefeated teams from non-automatic qualifying conferences crash the BCS? (Again?) Our guess is yes, but we're hard pressed to pick from Boise, TCU or Utah - or even another WAC dark horse, #21 Nevada. (For those skeptical about the Wolf Pack's chances, note that they host Boise State the day after Thanksgiving in Reno.)

Don't Count Your Beachwood Bucks at the Table

We introduced a Beachwood Sports innovation for The College Football Report earlier this season: the Beachwood Bankroll. Our crackerjack staff has yet to light the world on fire at the (for entertainment purposes only) betting window. With eight wins and nine losses thus far, our CFR picks would net you a loss of $190 assuming $110 bets to win $100 (hypothetically) per game.

If you haven't been keeping track of our progress, we understand. We won't mention the balance at this point either. Frankly, there is too much math involved. I don't who thought it would be a good idea to place varying amounts on different games. I'm blaming our statistician Ned - he found a pink slip on his desk Monday morning and has joined Doris the Fact Checker on the soup lines. We expect them to show up at Fox Sports any day now.

Along with Ned, another ugly mug you won't see around here for awhile is that of the Sports Seal. The Seal has a record of 6-11 as of Week Six and is either hiding his face from embarrassment or out of fear. We hear the Seal put some heavy wagers on some questionable games (Fresno over Ole Miss? Florida International over Maryland?) and . . . well, let's just say that kind of debt can't be cleared up by springing for a few anchovy pizzas. It's not like a few guys who just helped move the couch, after all. The goons who take his action aren't the trifling sort. Here's to you Sports Seal - set things right and hurry back for Week Seven.

The Week Six Challenge: Find Something to Talk About Other Than Denard Robinson

If Heisman voting took place today, Denard "Shoelaces" Robinson would win. In a landslide.

The Michigan QB has dominated opponents with what looks like a modified Wildcat offensive attack: Robinson lines up in the shotgun and reads the defense. If the D sits back in a zone or only shows one or two extra rushers, the play stays on the ground. (And by that we mean Robinson hikes the ball, looks for a crease in the defensive line, invariably finds one and then streaks up the field.)

The Wolverine quarterback will run variations on this play about 20 times a game, at 9 yard average clip until the opposing defense looks ready to puke.

If the defense walks a safety down into the box, forcing Robinson to run into an eight-man front, Shoelaces takes a few steps back and bombs away (at a 70% completion rate) to one of his wideouts - who will only face man coverage.

At this rate, we should forget the Heisman and declare Denard Robinson the Tecmo Bowl Player of the Year.

More than once this season, Robinson has reeled off a run worthy of "Tecmo Bo" Jackson, the most dominant video game character of all time.

#17 Michigan State @ #18 Michigan (-4.5), 2:30PM Saturday
The whole world seems to like the Spartans in this one, but we felt a great deal better about MSU getting points at home last week over the Badgers. While the motivational impact of the return of the Spartans HC Dantonio (who suffered a heart attack earlier this season) can't be discounted, and the "over" 65 also looks alluring, we just don't feel confident about picking the game in any direction. From our perspective the most important factor might be this: Michigan Stadium will hold 109,901 screaming fans on Saturday. If MSU doesn't keep Robinson under control and sufficiently execute on offense to play "keep away," it could be a long afternoon for Sparty and an epic day for the maize-and-blue.

#1 Alabama (-7) @ #19 South Carolina, 2:30PM Saturday
What are we missing about this game? Alabama runs one of - if the not the most - efficient offensive attacks of all 120 Division I-A schools. South Carolina fields a good defense, but gave up nearly 500 yards to Auburn a few weeks ago. Gamecock fans should root for the "under" (47.5) as a very low-scoring game (with few to no turnovers) late into the fourth quarter may be the only recipe for success. Despite our 1-2 record to date picking road favorites this year, we'll take our chances with the Tide.

#8 Auburn (-6) @ Kentucky, 6:30PM Saturday
We think whoever has the last possession of the game will win this tighter-than-expected affair. By rule, we can't pick for or against the Wildcats - so we're not sayin', we're just sayin'.

And just to prove we don't need Ned the Statistician, we'll put $220 Beachwood Bucks (to win $200, you know - hypothetically) down on The Crimson Tide on Saturday.

From the Canine Errata Desk

News from around the world of college football took on a Milk Bone flavor this week:

* University of North Texas player Tyler Stradford suffered an accident recently while fleeing a dog in his apartment complex. The Mean Green wide receiver vaulted a fence, landed on a piece of lawn furniture and suffered a four-inch deep puncture wound to the chest. Ouch. He'll be out until October 30.

* The Georgia Bulldogs will welcome the newest Uga to the sidelines on October 16 for the homecoming game against Vanderbilt. Uga VIII, the latest in a long line of direct descendants from Uga I, will replace Russ, the 5-year-old half-brother of the departed Uga VII, who has been dutifully serving as interim mascot.

A Note from the NCAA Marketing and Anti-Fun Committee

The NCAA would like our loyal readers to know how seriously they treat matters like trademarks and copyrights:

* The Supreme Court (with what we can only assume was a derisive snort) turned down an appeal from South Carolina (the other USC) to a ruling from a lower court about the University of Southern California's trademark of the interlocked "SC" logo.

* The Ole Miss Rebels are finally doing away with the controversial Colonel Reb in favor of . . . a Rebel Black Bear, apparently. Earlier this season, the campaign to install Admiral Ackbar (you know, of the Rebel Alliance?) sadly drew to a close.

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Mike "Dr. Dude" Luce brings you The College Football Report in this space every week. He welcome your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:11 AM | Permalink

TrackNotes: Secretariat Knew

The second of three parts.

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"All was of a piece, in proportion (Charles) Hatton (of the Daily Racing Form) thought. Secretariat had depth of barrel, with well-sprung ribs for heart and lung room, and he was not too wide in the front fork, nor too close together, and he came packaged with tremendous hindquarters. It was as straight a hindleg as Hatton had ever seen and would serve as a source of great propulsive power."

- "Secretariat: The Making of a Champion" by William Nack.

Secretariat had been regally bred, the son of the great sire Bold Ruler, out of the Princequillo mare Somethingroyal.

The earliest notes on him, before he even had a name, pretty much said "he's real good lookin', and a nice kid, too." He really didn't need breaking, at least not the bronco kind you see on TV westerns, but he did have a learning curve. As with any great athlete, his mind had to catch up with his body, and then his body had to catch up with his mind.

Sure, Secretariat was a precocious two-year-old, but those can be dime-a-dozen. His transition into his three-year-old year went about as well as it possibly could.

With the big rear end, the straight legs, huge lung and blood-pumping capacity, and his great size, he was a phenomenon waiting to happen.

Famously, after Secretariat's death at 19 in 1989, it was discovered that his heart was two-and-a-half times the size of a normal heart for a horse his size. Not enlarged. Just big. There's an equine gene for it. He had that too.

The record is clear. Two-Year-Old Champion and Horse of the Year in 1972, Three-Year-Old Male Champion, Male Turf Champion and Horse of the Year in 1973. Triple Crown winner in 1973. Lifetime record of 16-3-1 in 21 total starts that were compressed, by today's standards, into 12 total calendar months of racing. He won short, middle and long distances, on slop, fast dirt, turf. He went eleven sixteenths of a mile - the shortest - in his first race, and a mile and five eighths - the longest - in his final race. He earned $1,316,808 in his racing career. He was the leading broodmare sire in North America in 1992.

Was Secretariat the greatest Thoroughbred racehorse who ever lived?

The same 16.2 hands as Secretariat, Man o' War had a bad start (no starting gate in 1919, just a mustering at the start line with a volleyball net-type barrier raised to start the race) and a bad ride in the Sanford Stakes, a race Secretariat would win 53 years later, and lost to Upset. A loss so shocking, "upset" quickly became a part of the American sports lexicon.

It was the only race Man o' War lost. He didn't win what would 10 years hence become the Triple Crown because his owner, Charles Riddle, didn't think he could possibly be ready for the Kentucky Derby. But the original "Big Red" did win the Preakness and the Belmont.

Citation, the epitome of the American work ethic, ran 45 times, winning 32. He won 16 consecutive races, the 16th (equaled by Cigar in 1994-96) after missing his four-year-old season with an injury. He ran a lot, perhaps too much, and usually with the highest weight in the race, so that his owners could be the first with a horse to reach the magical $1 million earnings mark.

Kelso may not have won the Triple Crown, but he was Horse of the Year five times from 1960-1964 and won the Jockey Club Gold Cup those same five years. He just won, a lot.

Whirlaway? Affirmed? Seattle Slew? Spectacular Bid? Seabiscuit?

Go anywhere there's a horse fan and you'll get an argument. But it's difficult to argue against Secretariat.

He lost five times and may have had a legitimate excuse in three of those. He was beat up in traffic in his first race, he had a mouth abscess in the Wood Memorial, and he was not well in the Woodward. Plus, he was disqualified from first to second in the Champagne. It can be argued that his connections may have run him at times when they shouldn't have.

He was what they call visually impressive, in spades. When he won, Big Red won big, open lengths, what seemed like a full furlong in the Belmont Stakes. He ran each and every quarter in the Kentucky Derby faster than the last! He was on the threshold of the track or stakes record in most of his races and he broke them in his Triple Crown races, the human timing screwup in the Preakness notwithstanding. He nearly broke the Arlington track record in what was for him a supermarket ribbon-cutting appearance. Secretariat was just plain fast.

Secretariat captured the imagination of the nation, racking up record television ratings and grabbing the covers of major magazines of the time. He wasn't plucky, like Seabiscuit. He was Chick Anderson's "tremendous machine," the power and speed of the Saturn V rocket, Craig Breedlove on the salt flats. But he was nice about it. They say he knew what he was and what he could do, and that he loved to do it. And they say he enjoyed the fans enjoying him.

To be sure, there was some not to like about Secretariat's connections.

We can see-saw all day on every single issue. Facing a large inheritance tax bill (no, Meadow Stable was not nearly bankrupt at the time; Riva Ridge saw to that the previous two years), Big Red was syndicated to stud before he ever ran as a three-year-old. It was why he never ran as a four-year-old and you could argue that it might have been the seeds of today's breeding profit-over-racing philosophy.

The horsewoman in Penny Chenery held some sway as Bold Ruler's offspring were not the greatest turning into their third year, nor did they necessarily excel at the classic distances. Rather than take the cash outlays of the Arlington Invitational or the Marlboro Cup, I would have rather seen Secretariat in the Travers and/or the Jockey Club Gold Cup.

But would anybody have raced him? And I guess you have to give them credit for getting at least as far west as Arlington.

The $6,080,000 syndication at $190,000 per share was a record at the time. Dealing with horseflesh has always been a business and the Chenerys had a decision to make. They maximized Secretariat's value. There were those who turned down a share in Secretariat's offspring at the $190K price tag. Hell, Mrs. Phipps gave up on Seabiscuit. All part of the game.

And how remarkable it is that we revisit the great Secretariat just as today's Zenyatta has won all 19 of her races and prepares for her 20th and final run. Imagine, 19 straight! But her legacy is also puzzling to us as the scales of immortal justice preclude the Triple Crown for her on the one hand, and weigh her parochial campaigns on the synthetic surfaces of California on the other.

Save a four-year-old season, we have no such reservations about Big Red.

In the 21st century's what-have-you-done-for-me-lately or I-only-know-what-I-just-saw mindsets, there are those who, in a most vitriolic style, downplay or dismiss Secretariat in favor of the big mare from California. Please don't be so short-sighted for the sake of a forum post.

Today, there's not much time to fall in love with a racehorse. Owners seem to care more about breeding, trainers more about their stats - neither of them willing to take on each other the way they should. The game suffers. Through no fault of hers, Zenyatta's reputation suffers.

Been plenty who've done much, even won more than Big Red. There's room for every single one of them in our racing memories.

But there is only one Secretariat.

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Pt. 1: Secretariat's Not Impossible Story

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Next Week: Secretariat: The Impossible True Story. A review.

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Thomas Chambers is our man on the rail. He brings you TrackNotes every Friday and welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:48 AM | Permalink

October 7, 2010

The [Thursday] Papers

"A well-known South Side preacher who had been appointed to a state post by then- Gov. Rod Blagojevich has pleaded guilty to steering state business to companies in which he had a stake," the Tribune reports.

"Bamani Obadele, 37, stepped down as a deputy director of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services in 2005 after an internal investigation found he had profited from state contracts.

"In pleading guilty Tuesday to one count of mail fraud in federal court in Chicago, Obadele admitted he had DCFS vendors buy tote bags, magnets and other items from a promotional company he secretly owned. He also directed DCFS contractors to subcontract work to a company in which he held a board seat . . .

"Obadele, a preacher at Greater Harvest Missionary Baptist Church on the South Side, faces up to 21 months in prison, but his attorney, David Wiener, said he would seek probation. U.S. District Judge Charles Kocoras set Dec. 14 for sentencing.

"Obadele, who struck up a friendship with Blagojevich two decades ago when Obadele shined shoes in a police station, worked for Blagojevich's election in 2002."

This is actually a pretty sad story. From Elizabeth Brackett's Pay to Play:

"Paris Thompson was thirteen years old when Blagojevich first sat down on a police station bench to have his shoes shined. He struck up a conversation with the young teenager, telling him he too had shined shoes as a kid. It was true. When Millie Blagojevich took a job in the factory across the street from their home, she set both boys up with shoe shining jobs after school in the factor's reception area.

"At first Thompson, who lived in the Robert Taylor Homes, didn't know what to make of Blagojevich. 'Here's this white guy - gonna tell me shined shoes. I thought this guy really . . . was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. I thought, 'Yeah, this is a bunch of crap.' But after getting to know him, I learned that he came up the hard way. I mean, he did shine shoes. He did deliver pizza. All I can say is, I just really had a great appreciation for a person like that - and had a great deal of respect for his level of sincerity and commitment to the little people. I considered myself the person locked out. I mean, as child growing up I was isolated here in public housing, cut off from the rest of the world.'

"Blagojevich introduced Thompson to a much wider world, taking him along downtown and to the North Side - places Thompson had never seen, though he had grown up in Chicago. He took him to his first baseball game - the Cubs, since Blagojevich was a North Side guy. And he was able to arrange for Thompson to meet some of the ballplayers. Blagojevich also stuck up for Thompson when another shoe shine kid stole a policeman's gun at the station. The police wanted all five of the shoe shine boys kicked out, but Blagojevich knew how much their $25 a day meant to the kids who came from public housing. He intervened, and the kids kept their jobs. Without Blagojevich's help, says Thompson, he probably would have turned to selling drugs like most of his friends . . .

"When Paris Thompson grew up he became a high-profile community activist and a well-known Baptist minister on Chicago's South Side, and changed his name. Reverend Bamani Obadele helped get out the black vote in Blagojevich's first gubernatorial campaign. The governor then appointed him to a $65,000-a-year job overseeing adoption and foster programs for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services."

Obadele is scheduled to be sentenced in December.

Trib Squib
"Although Michaels issued a blanket denial of the Times' article's characterization of Tribune Co.'s work environment as a hostile and sexist 'frat house,' sources predicted creditor groups looking to discredit management will almost certainly use the article as ammunition," the Tribune's Michael Oneal reports.

But doesn't Oneal know firsthand - or have a slew of colleagues who do - whether Michaels' blanket denial is a blanket lie? Does Oneal have the reportorial independence to call out the Trib CEO the way he would the CEO of any other company?

In other words, aren't Tribune reporters - and their company colleagues - just pretending they don't know if Michaels is lying?

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Among the comments posted to Phil Rosenthal's Wednesday story "Tribune Co. CEO Michaels: 'Ignore The Noise' Of NY Times Story:"

I guess Michaels and his cronies are oblivious to - or don't care about - the fact that almost nobody today at Tribune is having fun.

Posted by: Elizabeth Maupin | October 06, 2010 at 10:22 AM

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As a former employee of the Chicago Tribune, I can attest it certainly did have a culture of hostility and sexism. It is especially inappropriate for senior management to ignore complaints about its culture. If they have appeared in an article in the New York Times, that is, publicly, then management has ignored them internally. That's a violation of the law.

Posted by: Laura Rizzardini | October 06, 2010 at 10:23 AM

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The New York Times article paints a clear (channel) picture of the culture and goings-on at Tribune. I was there. It's all true (including the 22nd floor balcony detail). It was a sad, sad place to work.

Posted by: iwasthere | October 06, 2010 at 11:18 AM

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As a former Chicago Tribune reporter, I can attest that the culture at the paper was abysmal. As a woman, I never experienced sexism but the verbal abuse was nauseating. Even after reporting problems, nothing was done. I know several reporters who left as a result, simply because they couldn't take it any longer and finally realized there was life outside the "Tribune." Ignoring the noise only makes it worse. Stop burying your head in the sand. You don't need to work in an abusive environment.

Posted by: Former Trib Employee | October 06, 2010 at 12:40 PM

Tell It Like It Is
Rahm spoils a classic, in Song of the Moment.

Whitney to Teachers: Torture or Beheading
Either way, you're dead.

Waiting For The Cable Guy
What it costs you.

Ballots From The Dead
Don't forget! Start planning now! One week from today!

As if J.J. Tindall reading Chicagoetry for you isn't enough, this will be a great chance to meet some Beachwood contributors and readers. Inebriation may also occur afterwards, who knows. Then we'll read limericks.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Rhyme or reason.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:54 AM | Permalink

Song of the Moment: Tell It Like It Is

Mayoral contender Rahm Emanuel has not only embarked on a so-called Tell It Like It Is listening tour but opened up a Twitter feed using the hashtag #tellitlikeitis.

Too bad, because we'd prefer to continue associating that phrase with the classic R&B song we and so many others have come to know and love over the years.

Recorded: 1965

Artist: Aaron Neville

Released: Nov. 9, 1966

Written By: George Davis and Lee Diamond

Label: Par-Lo Records

Format: 7" single

Length: 4:20

B-Side: "Why Worry?"

Charts: No. 2 on the Billboard U.S. Hot 100; No. 1 on the U.S. R&B.

Covered By: Otis Redding and Carla Thomas; Percy Sledge; Andy Williams; Heart; Billy Joe Royal; Nina Simone; Don Johnson (yes, that Don Johnson).

Wikipedia: Tracy Chapman and Lightnin' Hopkins composed songs with the same name not to be confused with Davis and Diamond's version discussed here. [Editor's Note: Nor the Ludacris song.]

Songfacts: According to the Rolling Stone magazine's Top 500 Songs, Neville was working as a longshoreman when he recorded this plea for true love: "A lot of people come up to me and say, 'That song got me and my wife together, and others say, 'It broke me and my wife up."

The record was issued by Parlo Records, but the hit unfortunately coincided with the label's demise and as a result Neville was unfortunately unable to follow up the song's success. However, in 1989 he teamed up with Linda Ronstadt to record "Don't Know Much," which again peaked at #2 in the US. This gave Aaron Neville the record for the longest period between the first and second top 40 hits in the US.

Lyrics:

If you want something to play with
Go and find yourself a toy
Baby, my time is too expensive
And I'm not a little boy

If you are serious
Don't play with my heart, it makes me furious
But if want me to love you
Then, baby, I will, girl, you know I will

Tell it like it is
Don't be ashamed to let your conscience be your guide
But I-I-I-I-I know deep down inside of me
I believe you love me, forget your foolish pride

Life is too short to have sorrow

You may be here today and gone tomorrow
You might as well get what you want
So go on and live, baby, go on and live

Tell it like it is
I'm nothin' to play with, go and find yourself a toy
But I-I-I-I-I
Tell it like it is
My time is too expensive
And I'm not your little boy

YouTube:

Aaron Neville's Original Version

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Heart, 1981

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Don Johnson, 1989

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Betty Swann Outdoing Them All

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Comments welcome.

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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
* Rocky Mountain High
* North to Alaska
* Barracuda
* Rainy Days and Mondays
* Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?
* Baby, It's Cold Outside
* Man in the Mirror
* Birthday Sex
* Rio
* My Sharona
* Alex Chilton
* Surfin' Bird
* By The Time I Get To Arizona
* Heaven and Hell
* Sunday Bloody Sunday
* Lawless One

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:06 AM | Permalink

Whitney To Chicago Teachers: Slow Torture Or Quick Beheading

Dear Chicago Teachers,

In the race for Governor, you are facing tremendous pressure to "fall into line" with other unions and endorse and support Pat Quinn - the same Pat Quinn who has already been presiding over the systematic destruction of the public sector, including the public school system in Illinois.

Quinn poses as a friend of education but his proposed FY 2011 budget proposed cuts of $1.227 billion, a 16.8 percent drop, the largest single-year cut in Illinois history.

As the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability put it, "Primary education funding bears the brunt of the cuts implemented in [Quinn's proposed] FY2011 budget."

And when the Democrat-controlled General Assembly ultimately adopted a different approach - i.e., more borrowing, more unpaid bills (which amount to de facto cuts), and let the Governor make the spending cuts - Quinn obliged with cuts to school funding of $261 million imposed on July 1st, not to mention another cut of $100 million to higher education.

In this race, I am the only candidate standing up for tax and budget reforms aimed at restoring health to the public sector, especially education.

I am the only candidate who stands with the Responsible Budget Coalition and its campaign to fix our broken tax system and raise more revenue by making it more progressive, the campaign supported by your union.

I was the only candidate who stood with you and your brothers and sisters in the IFT on April 21st when we protested for a responsible budget in Springfield.

And I am the only candidate who brings to the table new and innovative ideas for raising more revenue, such as a tax on speculative trading in Illinois, which could readily raise billions of dollars to restore health to the public sector, and a state bank, which will enable our government to raise additional revenues without raising taxes more than necessary.

Yes, I've heard the argument: "As bad as Quinn is, Brady would be even worse." But that's like the "choice" between slow torture and a quick beheading. You still end up dead.

The fact is that the Democratic Party has had complete control of our State government, the General Assembly and the governorship for seven straight years. Ask yourself: Have things gotten better or have they gotten worse? Do you really want more of the same? Do you really want to continue to leave your future in the hands of the Party that has given you Rod Blagojevich, Pat Quinn, Mike Madigan and Arne Duncan?

If you keep voting the (perceived) lesser of two evils, the system only continues to grow more evil.

You don't have to accept the no-win choice of Quinn or Brady. You can choose your ally, me, Green Party candidate Rich Whitney, and my running mate for Lieutenant Governor, veteran school teacher Don Crawford.

I realize that I am a long shot to win but the odds will improve if you endorse me and provide a little support.

Never mind the public opinion polls, most of which don't reveal their methods and which have an institutional bias against candidates like me and anyone who challenges the status quo.

I am gaining traction, since I am the only candidate presenting a realistic budget plan.

We are working the media effectively. I did well in the Chicago Tribune editorial board debate and I will be included in at least one more televised debate, maybe more.

We have Green Party members throughout the state working the phones and hitting the streets. People respond to my message with overwhelming approval; I just need to get the message out to enough people. With your help, we can reach critical mass.

Besides, even if Quinn or Brady does win, what will send the stronger message to the new Governor? That you are a union that is going to stand up for itself and fight the cutbacks, and fight to fix our broken tax system, or that you are a union that is going to fold, give in, and beg and plead for slightly less devastation? Does anyone think that our public schools can withstand any more cutbacks? If you don't fight for real political change now, what will it take to get you do so?

What do you think your students would want you to do?

For goodness sake, please let there be one labor union that will put up a fight for the public interest on the political field and stop this craven, abusive relationship with the Democratic Party, which just takes your support for granted. Stand up for your interests, stand up for your principles, have the courage of your convictions. Please support me, Rich Whitney, in the 2010 race for Governor.

In Solidarity - no matter what you decide,

Rich Whitney

Green Party candidate for Governor

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Comments welcome.

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See also:
* I'm With Whitney
* Whitney: Fair Taxes For All
* Whitney: Abolish Secret Lottery
* A Personal Plea From Me - And Rich Whitney
* Where Whitney Stands

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:26 AM | Permalink

The Waiting Is The Hardest Part

Being forced to wait for hours at home for a service or delivery appointment is a frustrating experience for today's busy consumer, and it is also an expensive one.

TOA Technologies, a software company uniquely focused on putting an end to waiting without knowing, conducted the second annual Cost of Waiting Survey and Report to shed new light on the economic impact of waiting for in-home appointments.

The report, published today, found 69% of American adults have waited for utilities, cable/satellite TV, Internet, retail home deliveries and other services in the past year.

Those that wait typically do so about four times per year, for an astonishing average wait of almost four and a half hours per appointment - costing consumers about $752 in lost time annually (based on respondent-reported values for their time).

waiting.jpgEnlarge image

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TOA's 2010 Cost of Waiting Survey puts a clearer consumer price tag on waiting at home for an appointment:

* Nearly 1 in 4 (23%) American respondents have lost wages waiting for an appointment in the past year.

* 35% have wasted a sick day or vacation day waiting for a service call or delivery.

* On average, companies make respondents wait 1 hour and 45 minutes longer than the customers expected for an appointment.

* 49% of respondents have cancelled personal plans to wait for an appointment.

Customers aren't the only ones who suffer from waiting at home for an appointment. Businesses are also losing money and hurting their reputations by making people wait. The margin of time companies have to satisfy their customers is slim. Customer satisfaction drops from 60% when on time to 19% when service or delivery companies are just 15 minutes late.

The Cost of Waiting Survey also found that:

* 21% of respondents switched companies as a direct result of waiting for their appointment.

* 28% of Americans waiting for an appointment or delivery gave up and left their home in frustration.

* Businesses lose $719 annually for each person who cancels or switches service providers (based on respondent estimates).

* 48% of waiting Americans contacted customer service to complain about their experience.

"The results of this year's survey show that waiting for an in-home service or delivery is a costly proposition for everyone involved. Based on the survey's findings, TOA calculated American adults collectively wasted about 2.75 billion hours waiting in the past year, or the equivalent of 1 million people out of work for one year. Companies that ignore the reality of consumer's time lost and the frustration that comes with waiting do so at their own risk," said Yuval Brisker, President and CEO of TOA Technologies.

Additional findings of interest:

* 26% of respondents said current wait times are moderately or very unreasonable; of those 62% feel the company doesn't care about their time.

* 55% of respondents blame the company when an appointment is late.

* Almost half of waiting Americans (48%) want on-time arrivals as a customer service improvement.

* 58% of respondents said they would recommend a company for an on-time arrival.

* However, if the company is just 15 minutes late that drops to just 10%.

* 49% of people have complained to a friend about their wait experience.

* 13% of consumers have actually posted a complaint online about their waiting experience.

Demographic differences:

* 29% of respondents earning less than $25,000 annually lose wages, vs. 23% overall

* Men value their time by $6.50/hour more than women. The average perception of an hour's value was $46.90 for American men vs. $40.40 for women.

* Waiting Northeasterners estimate their time is worth $50.40/hour, vs. Southerners' $39.20/hour.

Methodology
On behalf of TOA Technologies, Vision Critical interviewed 1009 US adults, 1008 British adults and 1008 German adults, in detail, who had said they waited for at least one service or delivery appointment in the preceding 12 months. The interviews were conducted August 13th to August 23rd, 2010 online amongst members of the SpringboardAmerica, SpringboardUK and German partner panels, who were actively sampled to be representative of the wider adult population using a quota method. The full dataset for the US and UK (including those who did not qualify) have also been statistically weighted according to the most current Census data for gender, age and region. In the US the data has also been weighted by education, and in the UK social grade to ensure accurate representation of population in those markets. The margin of error is ±3.1%, 19 times out of 20. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding. TOA conducted its first Cost of Waiting Survey in 2009.

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1. Time to kill.

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2. The hardest part.

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3. Secret on your lips.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:20 AM | Permalink

October 6, 2010

The [Wednesday] Papers

All I have to say is this: I kept my reputation but where do I go to get my income back?

Actually, that's not all I have to say.

The tone in any organization is set at the top, as I reminded readers just a month ago. At the Tribune Company, that tone is officially adolescent. (See "The Year Tribune Company Became A Joke").

Was I right or was I right?

Perhaps most distressing, though, is that - to my knowledge - no one has been held accountable. Michaels will likely get the boot once (or if) Tribune emerges from bankruptcy, but not before he and his boys take the place for every bonus dollar they can fit in their G-strings.

As for NBC, everyone who was involved in the Michaels (and Michael Scott) debacle still has their jobs, as far as I know. The same goes for the boys in the corporate suite in New York. I wonder if the NBC Universal VP for Local News would have reacted differently if he had been a woman - or a man with a less protruding frontal lobe.

Somehow, I'm the only one who got hurt because I was the only one who did the right thing.

I'm not asking for a medal; that's how the world works. But Michaels and NBC put my very livelihood on life support. The least they can do is pay off my credit card debt.

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Tribune employees are also responsible - they didn't speak up.

"A woman who used to work at the Tribune Company in a senior position, but did not want to be identified because she now worked at another media company in Chicago, said that Mr. Michaels and Marc Chase, who was brought in to run Tribune Interactive, had a loud conversation on an open balcony above a work area about the sexual suitability of various employees," the New York Times reports.

"'The conversation just wafted down on all of the people who were sitting there.' She also said that she was present at a meeting where a female executive jovially offered to bring in her assistant to perform a sexual act on someone in a meeting who seemed to be in a bad mood.

"Staff members who had concerns did not have many options, given the state of the media business in Chicago, the woman said. 'Not many people could afford to leave. The people who could leave, did. But it was not in my best interest to have my name connected to an E.E.O.C. suit,' she said, referring to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. (Indeed, there are no current E.E.O.C. complaints against the Tribune Company.)"

But poor people unwilling to endanger their lives by "snitching" are moral reprobates!

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"In Chicago, Ms. Lipinski said, it became clear that Mr. Zell was not above using the newspaper as a tool for his other business interests. In June 2008, Mr. Zell approached her at a meeting, saying that The Chicago Tribune should be harder on Gov. Rod Blagojevich. She reminded him that the newspaper had aggressively investigated the governor and that its editorial page had already called for his resignation.

"'Don't be a pussy,' he told her. 'You can always be harder on him.'

"In a news meeting later the same day, she found out that Mr. Zell was in negotiations to sell Wrigley Field to the state sports authority.

"'It was hard to avoid the conclusion that he was trying to use the newspaper to put pressure on Blagojevich.'"

Now, to be fair: "Through a spokeswoman, Terry Holt, Mr. Zell denied he used the newspaper to business ends. 'From Day 1, Sam vowed never to interfere with the editorial content at any of Tribune's media properties, and he has always honored that commitment,' Ms. Holt said."

Or maybe that isn't being fair. I mean, who do you believe?

At the same time, Lipinski did Tribune readers (and employees) a tremendous disservice by keeping her mouth shut up to now. (Unless, perhaps, her silence was driven by not wanting to somehow interfere with the Blagojevich investigation; but even then.)

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Our business, at its core, is about transparency and accountability. Many of us have made it a lifelong mission to inform the public about what goes on inside our institutions and halls of power. But the institutions that take on this responsibility - and in fact profit from it - are among the least transparent and accountable that we have.

Those of us so dedicated to the cause of journalism that we find it impossible to aid and abet the obvious corruption of our deepest values should be rewarded, not punished. It's fitting and proper that Tribune - and many of its institutional colleagues - ended up in bankruptcy court. I hardly think it is so that I - and those like me - may end up there as well.

Michaels Responds To Carr
Says story is all lies. See you in court!

This CEO Will Pay To See Breasts
Or How Not To Run A Media Company.

The Scrubbed Story
Reposted here.

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Rahmedy Central
Lists about the next mayor that we started and aborted.

The Blue and Orange Kool-Aid Report
Offensive line charged with football manslaughter. Plus, Jesus.

Fantasy Fix
Not another Randy Michaels item, but this week's fantasy sports column by the awesome Dan O'Shea.

Dan has also brought his awesome Swings Both Ways to the Beachwood.

And don't forget our very own Agony & Ivy; and a special shout-out to Reading With Scissors.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Always a good choice.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:29 AM | Permalink

The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report

Blue: Reports are that Jay Cutler both knew his name and found his way to the plane after Sunday night's game. That and the fact that the defense looked tough for three-fourths of the game are about the only positives that can be found from the Bears 17-3 ass-whupping at the hands of the New York Giants. The offensive line didn't get off the bus, which made the passing attack as non-existent as the run game, which not only didn't get off the bus but doesn't appear to believe it has to get on the bus to get to the game. Ever. But I'm here to drink the Blue Kool-Aid of Bear love, so this might be a very quick installment.

However, before I get to the positives, I have to ask a small question: Did Jerry Angelo not realize - and does he still not realize - that no matter how fast you get the ball out of the quarterback's hands, he does need to have a few seconds with which to work as he looks for a receiver?

When he was on his feet, as opposed to on his ass or back, Cutler either couldn't find an open receiver or was waiting to be pummeled and inwardly bracing himself for the next hit. Never before did you feel so much like the quarterback's inner clock was tuned to "oh shit oh shit oh shit!" instead of knowing that he had to get the ball out about three seconds ago.

Oh wait, another question before we get to the happy part of the game. Where is the increased defensive pressure that Julius Peppers' presence was supposed to bring? Although our offensive line can't hold up against a mediocre and aging defense missing their No. 1 pass rusher, our vaunted D-line managed a measly two sacks. Through to the fourth quarter the defense looked to be fighting hard, but even they had to realize that the old arm of Todd Collins wasn't going to rally the offense to any points. There still seemed to be some reliance on the forcing of turnovers, but after we pulled the ball free on occasion, there was no offense to answer once the ball was given to us.

Positives you ask? We've got 12 games left. Logan Mankins is available via trade from the Patriots (if Cutler was worth two first-round picks and a third, this guy has to be worth giving up a second to shore up the O-line). Other than our franchise quarterback, the team made it out of this debacle unscathed as far as injuries go. I'm struggling to find positives past the fact my wife made an amazing pot of matzo ball soup that might have been laced with valium as to keep me from killing her during this terrible showing.

Bears at Panthers

WITH CUTLER: The Bears find some work-arounds to the total lack of O-line and the defense comes out strong versus a run-first, second and third team that will be sending a rookie quarterback out. Cutler gets the ball out quicker which leads to more completed passes versus sacks taken, Peppers plays with reckless abandon against his former team, and the defense shuts down the Panthers run game.

Bears 28, Panthers 10

WITHOUT CUTLER: Todd Collins hands the ball off 32 times, Forte cracks 70 yards, and you'd swear you're watching Ron Turner trying to keep Kyle Orton from showing that he can be an effective passer with a couple weapons. The defense holds tight, but tires down the stretch again as they are forced to stop Carolina's twin battering rams of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathon Stewart.

Bears 13, Panthers 14

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Orange: Okay, then. Moving on.

The Bears' offensive line may not be entirely to blame for the death of the 2010 season, but with nine sacks allowed during the first half of Sunday night's 17-3 loss to the New York Giants, they face charges of second-degree football manslaughter.

There are a myriad of horrifying statistics to be gleaned from inside the police tape in Sunday's game film, but none of them are quite as distressing as the possibility of playing any significant portion of the season without quarterback Jay Cutler, who was physically knocked from the game just prior to halftime and likely was mentally knocked from the game sometime early in the second quarter, having suffered the equivalent of a lobotomy around sack number five.

For a moment, let's assume the worst: Cutler is out for the season and GM Jerry Angelo is forced to make desperate moves to save his job. There are some options just crazy enough to work. Unfortunately, trading for 28-year-old holdout Logan Mankins, manliest lumberjack/guard in all of New England, is not on the list.

Five hundred words could be dedicated to this scenario alone. Let's just summarize by saying that because of Mankins' salary expectations and Bears players available for trade, it's just not going to happen . . . even though his flannel shirt does smell of freshly fallen leaves and he once pancake-blocked the rare woodland rhinoceros in a quest to learn the secrets of the forest.

Other options:

* Trade for Jon Kitna.

The downside is that even though he's a 38-year-old quarterback, he's been unable to get a Wrangler Jeans endorsement deal. Also, he hasn't thrown a pass in a regular season game since 2008 and is under contract with the Dallas Cowboys. With that in mind, this might be the best option available. Kitna is familiar with the playbook having started 32 games under Mike Martz in 2006 and 2007 and can probably be had on the cheap (a signed Adam Archuleta jersey ought to be more than enough).

• Sign Jeff Garcia.

Believe it or not, he's available! Currently throwing touchdown passes to former Packer Robert Ferguson for the UFL's Omaha Nighthawks, the 40-year-old quarterback looked like he still had some gas in the tank in his stint during his stint with the Eagles in 2006. Even if he only runs bootleg scrambles and throws incomplete passes, he will still look better than Todd Collins did against the Giants.

* Convince Kurt Warner that Jesus is on the Bears' practice squad.

Save your angry letters, this isn't a knock on the proselytizing former Rams quarterback or Jesus. Just connect the dots. Kurt's gotten hit in the head a lot, he's a big fan of JC, and the Warner-Martz marriage in St. Louis was a huge part of the so called "Greatest Show on Turf." Plus, we know what Kurt is looking for. There's got to be some thin 30-year-old white guy out there who can be signed to the taxi squad under the conditions that he grow a beard and learn how to run a good slant.

From there it starts getting pretty thin. "See if Brad Maynard still knows how to throw the ball; he did that fake field goal play one time," or "We could always try running the ball," did not make the cut. But with 12 more games to go, the Bears might have to get creative to move on.

Bears at Panthers

WITH CUTLER: The Panthers are bad on offense and look beatable on defense. With Cutler's health a concern, the Bears construct an offensive game plan consisting of all six of Martz's running plays and five different types of bubble screens to Greg Olsen.

Carolina 12, Chicago 6

WITHOUT CUTLER: The Panthers are bad on offense and look beatable on defense. However, this embattled squad gave the defending champion Saints a good game in Week 4. Todd Collins, you are no Drew Brees.

Carolina 12, Chicago 9

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Andrew Golden brings you the Blue half of this report every week; Carl Mohrbacher brings you the Orange. They welcome your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:43 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: The Big Six Deep-Sixed

The top six picks in most fantasy league drafts this year were some combination of the following:

* Chris Johnson, RB, Tennessee
* Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jacksonville
* Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota
* Michael Turner, RB, Atlanta
* Frank Gore, RB, San Francisco
* Ray Rice, RB, Baltimore

The order may have varied from draft to draft, but the names didn't. Now, going into Week 5, none of those players is among the top 10 fantasy performers, with the borderline exception of Peterson, who is probably the one guy on that list who was expected to see a slight drop-off this year.

Running backs remain the most desirable, and usually, most consistent fantasy picks, but no position takes a more frequency beating on the field. The top performers one year can fade into obscurity the next, even if there seems every reason for still-maturing players like Johnson and Turner in particular to keep getting better.

So, who will be the top RB performers the rest of the way?

Here are my predictions for the top six fantasy RBs at season's end:

1. Arian Foster, Houston.

Inarguably, the top RB and the best fantasy player so far with the exception of Peyton Manning. He'll keep it up, particularly if Andre Johnson is slowed by injuries.

2. Darren McFadden, Oakland.

May be briefly out with an injury this week, but currently third in rushing yards, and should see TD opportunities increase.

3. Rashard Mendenhall, Pittsburgh.

Second in rushing yards behind Foster and has four TDs. The only negative is the possibility he will get fewer touches with Big Ben returning.

4. Chris Johnson, Tennessee.

I'm concerned that Vince Young is passing more, but Johnson should still benefit, if not pile up the yards like he did last year.

5. Adrian Peterson, Minnesota.

Brett Favre being back (again) should eat into his fantasy potential but Favre and the Vikings overall have been disappointing, and the ball will end up with Peterson more often.

6. LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia.

Having Michael Vick at QB has helped him become more dangerous, and I think he'll end up being a first round fantasy draft pick next season.

Expert Wire
* ESPN's Eric Karabell examines the Marshawn Lynch trade that occurred this week. Another formerly hot RB performer who faded fast.

* Yahoo! Monday Brunch looks at Ryan Torain's rising stock as he continues to out-play yet another declining rusher, Clinton Portis.

* The Big Lead sees comeback opportunities for Philadelphia QB Kevin Kolb and Oakland RB Michael Bush, but I think both will be brief before Vick and McFadden return to form.

* Bleacher Report says BenJarvus Green-Ellis's stock is up even though the Monday Night Football guys seemed to be talking only about Danny Woodhead, because he had been on Hard Knocks.

* Bleacher Report adds that Jay Cutler's stock is down. It will stay down for another few years until the Bears can draft a new offensive line.

Next week, we'll prepare for that upcoming fantasy basketball draft.

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Dan O'Shea's Fantasy Fix appears in this space every Wednesday. He welcomes your comments. You can also read his about his split sports fan personality at SwingsBothWays, a new addition to the Beachwood Media family.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:24 AM | Permalink

Rahmedy Central

Lists started and aborted by the Rahmedy Central Affairs Desk.

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1. The Real Reasons Rahm Emanuel Is Running For Mayor.

* Still has authority to call drone missile attacks wherever he wants.

* Looks pretty good in tights and a cape.

* Sick and tired of coordinating Michelle Obama's wardrobe for state functions.

* Beating Barack at H-O-R-S-E on the White House basketball court every morning isn't as fun as it used to be.

* I'll just fucking kick every fucking one of those fucking Asian fucking carp back to fucking Asia all by my fucking self.

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2. Rahm's First 100 Days.

Day 1: Declares martial law.

Day 2: Reverses flow of Chicago River and also makes rain fall up.

Day 3: Suspends city council and replaces with the Pritzker clan.

Day 4: Orders drone strikes over Englewood.

Day 5: Threatens Berny Stone while the two are nude in the City Hall locker room.

Day 6: Hangs an honorary street sign in front of City Hall naming the block Donald Tomczak Way.

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3. Things Lying Around Rahm Emanuel's Campaign Office.

* Frommer s Chicago Travel Guide.

* Copy of Dreams From My Father, with Post-it note on cover: "Get Axelrod to have somebody write something like this for me."

* The Apartment Guide, open to section featuring month-to-month rentals.

* Unopened mail - marked postage due - from Roland Burris.

* Scrap of paper with the phone number of Robert Sorich s parole officer.

* Printout of Yelp ratings for Chicago neighborhoods, with an enthusiastic Lincoln Park review highlighted in yellow: "The cupcake shops around here are soooooo yummy LOL ."

* Lyric sheet for "Bear Down, Chicago Bears."

* Suitcase full of cash.

* List of wholesale fish markets on Randolph Street.

* Scrap of paper with the phone number for Oprah tickets.

* Metra system map, with UP North line to Wilmette highlighted.

* Chicago 2016 windbreaker.

* Ticket from the windshield of his campaign van for exceeding parking meter time limit in Pilsen.

* Designer's measurements and estimates for redecorating 5th floor office at 121 N. LaSalle.

* Copy of Boss by Mike Royko.

* Copy of Chicago s North Shore DVD, a WTTW pledge drive gift.

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Scott Buckner, Matt Farmer, Beachwood Mark and Steve Rhodes

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:15 AM | Permalink

October 5, 2010

The [Tuesday] Papers

1. "A top aide to Cook County Board President Todd Stroger arrested Monday and accused of steering hundreds of thousands of dollars in contracts to her own public relations firm and associates who might not have done any work is scheduled to appear in bond court later today," the Tribune reports.

"(Deputy chief of staff Carla) Oglesby was arrested on a warrant as she pulled her vehicle out of a downtown parking garage shortly before 4 p.m. Monday, said Sally Daly, a spokeswoman for State's Attorney Anita Alvarez. Oglesby is expected in court Tuesday morning for a bond hearing."

Hardcore!

"(Oglesby) left work early, and she was seen entering her car," Daly said. "Our investigators moved in, and as she was exiting the garage, they blocked her car and she was arrested without incident."

2. Spencer Maus contributes a political ad:

Millionaire Politician Senator Bill Brady

In the last two years somehow he didn't pay any Federal Income Taxes

We paid Millionaire, Politician, Senator Bill Brady over $76,000

And he didn't pay any Federal Income Taxes?

He drives a Porsche and owns a Florida condo

Who is this guy?

>_>_>_>_> _>_>_

Keep going

_>_>_>_>_>_>_

Keep going

>_>_>_>_>_

Hi! I'm that guy! I'm CPA Bob Smith and I do Millionaire Bill Brady's taxes and financial planning. If you would like to legally avoid paying Federal Income taxes, own a Porsche and a condo in Florida, call me at 312-555-5555.

I'm CPA Bob Smith and I really approve this ad! Oh, and vote for Bill Brady!

3. "Democrats to Employ Man Who Played Obama During 2008 Campaign."

4. Jon Stewart on Rahm Emanuel: "Chicago: Where being a dick isn't a political liability, it's a job requirement."

5. Liberals are stupid too.

6. "Emanuel, who grew up in the suburbs, said he was born in Chicago, raised in the 'greater Chicago area' and owns a home in the city where he has raised his family," the Tribune reports.

Are you saying Wilmette is greater than Chicago?!

"I have spent my entire life, outside of going to college and working at the White House, here in the city of Chicago," he said.

So that's four years, presumably, at Sarah Lawrence College; one year, at least, at Northwestern for grad school; five years in the Clinton White House and two years in the Obama White House. As a three-term congressman, of course, he was mostly in Washington.

But besides that, his entire life!

"He said residents aren't 'really interested in my residency.'"

He could just as well be from Wisconsin! Chicagoans just don't care!

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"Emanuel also visited Pilsen, where he met with United Neighborhood Organization CEO Juan Rangel, a strong ally of Mayor Richard Daley's. Rangel said he wasn't endorsing Emanuel but felt he was among several candidates who are qualified to be mayor. Emissaries from those campaigns also greeted Emanuel outside Nuevo Leon restaurant on 18th Street.

"'It's a great restaurant visited by tourists,' said City Clerk Miguel del Valle, who has said he's running to be mayor. 'It's a must stop for tourists, and I can understand why Rahm went there on his first day back.'"

7. "Future ComEd Bills May Be Smaller."

I'm assuming this means literally smaller in order to save on paper costs because, well, it's ComEd.

8. Chicago's Next Olympic Bid.

9. "Star-Studded Movie May Film In Wilmette."

What, the Life and Times of Rahm Emanuel?

10. "I've been intrigued by stories that Chicago voters won't vote for Rahm Emanuel for mayor because of Obama administration Middle East policies," writes James Besser in The Jewish Week.

"What makes the story interesting: that's probably the least of the now-former White House chief of staff's political problems.

"First the Jewish problem: as some reports have suggested, Emanuel is taking the blame for Obama administration Israel policies detested by the Jewish right and a good part of the Orthodox community. That faction is a tiny proportion of Chicago's diverse electorate, but it's a loud and influential one.

"But there's more, something most of these stories has missed: the city's big progressive Jewish community isn't exactly enamored of the trash-talking Emanuel, either. They knew him and worked with him back when he was a local political activist and fundraiser, then a member of the House representing portions of the North Side.

"To GOP spinmeisters, Emanuel is one of those socialist-leaning liberals; to a lot of Chicago's Jewish liberals, he's a political manipulator without any real commitment to their priorities."

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Residency not required.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:45 AM | Permalink

Chicago's Next Olympic Bid

Outgoing Mayor Richard M. Daley has advised his successor to forget about seeking the 2020 Olympic bid, but the Beachwood Olympic Bid Task Force begs to differ. We just need to change a few things up this time.

* Send Joey the Clown Lombardo to Switzerland for the final vote instead of Oprah.

* Have Mayor Emanuel send a dead fish with a nice note to each member of the IOC.

* Fund the bid via TARP money.

* Replace Pat Ryan with Scott Lee Cohen

* Agree to lease each of the 1500 meters in the 1500-meter dash to JP Morgan Chase.

* Provide financing for Billy Dec to open a high-concept oxygen bar in Belgium as a joint venture with IOC chairman Jacques Rogge and two of Mayor Daley's nephews.

* Solidify Amsterdam's support by changing the city seal to the Zig-Zag Man and the motto to "Herbs in Horto."

* Remind the IOC that Rich Daley isn't mayor anymore, so our English is better now.

* Outright bribery: still a fine Chicago tradition.

* Mayor Emanuel sends goody bags with stuff swiped from The White House.

* Chicago delegation rents Lindsay Lohan as Official Party Broad.

* Promise to reveal who hired Angelo Torres to the IOC if they pick us.

* Agree to hold the Chicago 2020 Olympics in Africa.

- Scott Buckner, Matt Farmer, Drew Adamek and Steve Rhodes

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:14 AM | Permalink

October 4, 2010

The [Monday] Papers

I know you all have your favorite piece of Chicagoetry.

Now you finally have a chance to read it out loud - in front of people!

Please pick your favorite and join us on Thursday, October 14 for a very special Beachwood event: J.J. Tindall will read selections from his Chicagoetry collection, Ballots From The Dead, and then Beachwood contributors and readers will be invited to read as well. Or write one up special.

Books will be available for sale and some sort of post-event with adult beverages will likely materialize. We would love to have your support. Send questions my way.

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Also: Please bring books to donate to our gracious host and partner, Open Books.

That's Open Books, 213 W. Institute Place.

The event starts at 6:30 and is, of course, free.

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Here's the official poster.

Spread the word far and wide.

Now, on to the news.

Concussion City
"Hey Mike Martz, the formation and scheme you sent in for the play that resulted in Cutler's concussion was unconscionable," our very own Jim "Coach" Coffman writes in SportsMonday: Blame Angelo.

"Cutler is so determined to make the offensive coordinator's scheme work that he is refusing to throw passes away when need be (a fact that was pointed out in timely fashion by analyst Cris Collinsworth last night). If he doesn't start doing that he isn't going to make it, especially behind this line."

Rhamdomonium
"Former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel began his campaign for mayor of Chicago in earnest on Monday, greeting commuters at a downtown elevated train station," AP reports.

"'Hi, how are you? Good to see you. Have a nice day,' Emanuel said to commuters on the first stop of his 'Tell It Like It Is' listening tour."

Um, I'm confused. Why is a "listening tour" named after the notion that the candidate will be the one talking? Or is Rahm asking the people to meet to "tell it like it is"? 'Cause usually it's Rahm doing the telling. Just sayin'.

*

"'I like how he's talking to everybody,' said Maria Martinez, a 21-year-old Chicagoan heading downtown for a sales job.

"Emanuel will certainly be characterized by opponents as an outsider after his time in Washington, D.C., but Martinez said she sees him as a fellow Chicagoan.

"'I still say he's from Chicago,' she said. 'He's here, isn't he?'"

One question: Who cares what Maria Martinez thinks?

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Indeed, I found the AP story an odd but not unexpected mix of the artificial pseudo-news that tends to dominate political reporting.

"Emanuel's website offers several options for receiving updates, including e-mail and text, and more than 15,000 Facebook users had 'liked' his page by Monday morning."

Wow, several options for receiving updates including e-mail and text! Revolutionary! Maybe there'll even be . . . television commercials!

And . . . I'd look into how he got 15,000 Facebook likes so soon. Maybe pose that question to PR counselor Rick Jasculca or astroturf specialist David Axelrod.

"Lori Goldberg, an Emanuel spokeswoman, said the online video was an attempt to reach as many people as possible. Emanuel plans to make 'a more formal announcement' after the November election."

That way we can continue to garner free media buzz about nothing important at all, sucking the air out of attention that might be given to other candidates and framing Rahm as the big dog in the race. The formal announcement will have a lead-in and a lead-out that will generate even more content-free publicity.

"Bruce Newman, professor of marketing at DePaul University, called the online announcement 'a clever move.'"

How clever! A Facebook page!

Um, Bruce, doesn't every one of your students have a Facebook page? Easy A's for everyone!

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The Tribune's story also caught my eye, but more for how it exposed Rahm than for playing along.

The Trib likewise notes that Rahm is "kicking off a 'Tell It Like It Us' tour while failing to tell it like it is:

"While saying he wants to end 'business as usual,' Emanuel mentions little about ongoing corruption in city government except to say that in creating city budgets there's can't be any 'sacred cows.'"

And:

"Emanuel begins the video by saying his father was an immigrant from Israel and that he was born in Chicago, though he doesn't add that his family later moved to the North suburbs and that he attended New Trier High School in the North Shore."

And:

"[P]olitical consultant Don Rose, who is Jewish, a reigning guru of the independent movement.

"'We progressives found him unresponsive as a congressman when we wanted him to speak out against the Iraq war,' Rose said."

But Rahm wasn't on a listening tour then. Funny how that works.

Senate Seat
"The survey of 600 registered likely voters conducted Sept. 24-28 also found Green Party candidate LeAlan Jones getting 5 percent support, while Libertarian candidate Mike Labno received backing from 3 percent," the Tribune reports.

I wonder how much support these candidates would have if the majority of registered likely voters even knew they were in the race, much less knew anything about where they stand on the issues. What is everyone so afraid of? Let's hear what they have to say.

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Similarly, a faithful reader sends along this note:

Never hold a debate without Whitney. This is from a Trib editorial board meeting with the candidates:

"Quinn argued he is working to turn Illinois' economy around, taking credit for Ford Motor Co. bringing more jobs to the state. But Quinn cited the success with the car company so often that Whitney suggested everybody should 'take a drink' whenever the governor mentioned the word 'Ford.'"

Would have been nice to be hearing from Whitney all along.

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"Seriously, If you are upset about the process, don't look to me to be the scapegoat, blame the real culprits in this," writes Randy Stufflebeam, who is still trying to get on the ballot as the Constitution Party's nominee for U.S Senate.

"First of all, for those of us third party and independent candidates, we are sick and tired of the establishment parties violating our Constitutional right to ballot access and disenfranchising the hundreds of thousands of voters who signed petitions so that they could have a REAL CHOICE on the ballot besides the substandard candidates that the major parties have been shoving down our throats. If we don't take a stand now, it will never end.

"Secondly, this fight isn't just about me or Mark Kirk or Alexi Giannoulias. There is far more at stake than just me getting ballot access, so I can 'steal votes' away from the liberal candidates that the Democrat and Republican Parties elected here in Illinois. This is about getting the Constitution Party on the ballot so that we can get 5% of the vote and become an established party."

Water World
My favorite part of the Sun-Times series about the city's disparate water billing is actually the mayor's reaction when asked about his infamous pal, Freddie Barbara.

"Asked Saturday at a groundbreaking ceremony for a new high school in the Ashburn community why Barbara wasn't billed for years, Daley scowled and said angrily, 'How should I know?'"

Huh. As in, "How should I know, I'm too busy making notes about every loose garbage can lid in the city to worry about my friends getting free water?"

*

Back to the S-T:

"Daley had refused to discuss his relationship with Barbara, who has described himself as 'definitely a friend of Mr. Daley's.' City Hall sources have described Daley and Barbara as longtime friends who have golfed together.

Barbara's companies have long fared well at City Hall, even before Daley. He's made a fortune through deals under four Chicago mayors - including $279,600 for the final two years that Streets and San leased his garage. And his wife, Lisa Humbert, was president of Karen's Kartage, which was paid more than $2.5 million under the city's Hired Truck Program before being among the first companies thrown out of the now-disbanded program in the wake of a Sun-Times investigation that revealed politically connected companies were 'paid to do nothing.'

"In 2007, a witness at the Operation Family Secrets' mob trial accused Barbara of participating in an early 1980s bombing of Horwath's Restaurant in Elmwood Park. Barbara was never charged in the bombing."

Those are the kind of things that don't get discussed on media farewell tours like the mayor just took where everyone agrees to plays nice.

Off Season
* The White Sox Report: All the pieces are almost in place.

* The Cub Factor: Will appear tomorrow.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: In place.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:40 AM | Permalink

Beachwood Presents: Chicagoetry Live!

Please join us on Thursday, October 14 for a very special presentation of J.J. Tindall's Ballots From The Dead.

Choose your own poem to read from our Chicagoetry collection and bring books to donate to our gracious host, Open Books.

tindall.jpg

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For more information, inquire here.

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See also:
* Tindall on Kindle!

* Music: MySpace page

* Fiction: A Hole To China

* Critical biography at e-poets.net

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:02 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: Blame Angelo

Anyone still believe it matters whether Mike Tice is a good offensive line coach? He could be the Bill Walsh of line coaches but if the guys he coaches don't have it, they don't have it and nothing the coach says will make a significant difference. And that is why the Bears gave up an outrageous nine first-half sacks on their way to a worrisome 17-3 loss to the New York Giants in New Jersey on Sunday.

This is it, people. No more talking about a new assistant coach making a significant difference for one of our beloved teams. Maybe we should repeat it 10 times - you either have the horses or you don't. You either have players who are strong enough and quick enough and smart enough to play positions well or you don't. The specific sport, be it football or baseball or whatever, is immaterial.

It doesn't matter if Rod Marinelli comes in to coach the defensive line or if Mike Tice comes in to coach the offensive line. It doesn't matter if Rudy Jaramillo joins the Cubs to coach hitting.

Then again, the Bears' assembly of an all-star coaching staff has made one thing crystal clear: The primary problem isn't the coaching, although there were plenty of reasons to blast the assistant coaches and the head coach on Sunday. The primary problem is the guy who isn't bringing in enough good players, especially enough good players to protect the franchise, otherwise known as Jay Cutler.

Everyone knew the Bear offensive line wasn't good enough the off-season before last. Angelo's solution was to shop the bargain bins and bring in obscure Tennessee Titan Carolina Panther back-up Frank Omiyale as the primary addition for the 2009 campaign. It now appears the almost 350-pounder may have a decent amount of aptitude for playing tackle but when Angelo brought him in, Omiyale was immediately installed at guard, where he was a colossal failure. He has returned to the tackle positions this time around and has shown himself to be a competent pass blocker at least a decent amount of the time.

Otherwise the Bears stood pat hoping their first-round pick of several years ago, Chris Williams, would transition from right tackle to left tackle at some point in the 2009 season. Williams did just that, replacing over-the-hill Orlando Pace at left tackle late in the year. Also on the line were aging Olin Kreutz, barely serviceable Roberto Garza and overmatched Josh Beekman. The Bears went 7-9 and their line was that bad if not worse.

Then last offseason, the Bears brought in . . . no one of note. Oh, I'm sorry, they did draft J'Marcus Web in the seventh round and sure enough they threw him in there last night against the Giants' relentless pass rush, replacing Kevin Shaffer. The overwhelmed Garza also headed to the bench, replaced by Edwin Williams.

The bottom line, though, is that the Bears made no significant improvement to a line that was lucky to go 7-9 last year and managed to hide it for the first three weeks of this season. There's no hiding it anymore.

The only thing worse than the Bears' pass blocking is their short yardage run-blocking. They only managed to create one third-and-one situation all night, but when they did, the game was still a game in the third quarter. Shortly before the snap, Greg Olsen ran in motion and then stopped behind the right side of the line of scrimmage. This was obviously a power play where Olsen would blast in behind the offensive line to finish off the hole they had started and clear the way for Matt Forte to surge forward for a big first down.

Except the offensive line was blown back, Olsen never gained any purchase (isn't he a receiving tight end?) and Forte was driven down for a three-yard loss. The Bears do not have one offensive lineman who can be counted on to win all the battles against a good pass rusher on any given day and they don't have one offensive lineman who they can count on to push back the defensive line far enough to have any confidence about a third-and-one conversion.

Referring back now to there being plenty of reasons to blast the coaches: Hey Mike Martz, the formation and scheme you sent in for the play that resulted in Cutler's concussion was unconscionable. While Cutler's determination to hold the ball to let downfield routes develop and to limit the number of interceptions was a problem last night, by the time he had been sacked eight times, it was a problem that wouldn't be solved in the short term.

As a side note, it is also a problem of your (Martz's) making by the way. Cutler is so determined to make the offensive coordinator's scheme work that he is refusing to throw passes away when need be (a fact that was pointed out in timely fashion by analyst Cris Collinsworth last night). If he doesn't start doing that he isn't going to make it, especially behind this line.

So Mike, let's go back to the play in question. At that point, you can't go five wide with no one in the backfield and expect Cutler to react quickly enough to exploit the blitz you have to know is coming. Sure enough, not only did Cutler not get the ball out to a wide, wide open Earl Bennett in the left flat, he took the final head slamming hit that finished his night. Brutal.

As for the defense, it was an impressive performance, a performance that if paired with any sort of offensive competence would almost certainly have resulted in a victory. The few breakdowns were notable mostly because they stood in such stark contrast to so many great plays.

This game was for the winning (it would have had to be 6-3 but still . . . ) still in reach with the Bears down 10-3 until Zack Bowman, who otherwise played a solid game capped off by an awesome hustle play ending in a fumble caused and recovered inside the five, gave up that big reception down to the three-yard line in the second half.

Bowman looked back too late as his assignment, Hakeem Nicks, ran a fly pattern down the right sideline. He had him covered like a blanket but he turned his head too late after Eli Manning threw the ball to Nicks' back shoulder, allowing Nicks to back up and catch the ball while Bowman continued to proceed down the field. It is the sort of mistake that will happen at times during a football season and it is a mistake the Bears could have overcome on most nights.They had no chance to do so Sunday.

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Jim "Coach" Coffman brings you SportsMonday (nearly) every week in this space. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:29 AM | Permalink

Sox Pieces Almost In Place

Did you know that the 2003 White Sox had an eight-game winning streak?

That the 2001 team went 18-9 in June?

That the 1996 team emerged with a winning record against the AL Central?

No, you didn't and, all told, you probably shouldn't.

Not because those things weren't cool at the time, but because in the end they all just became marginal, less-than-representative components of larger, less-than-memorable campaigns.

And for all the bluster we're going to hear about how the Sox had that fantastic run in the middle bookended by horrible, horrible baseball and some extremely untimely injuries, the end result is a nothing more than a whole lot of the usual. They won some, and they lost some, but the weird part was simply that this team opted to get everything out of the way all at once.

In a way it was beautiful, knowing that when our beloved ballclub was going to lose it was going to lose all the way, or that if they were going to win, they were going to win forever.

Except we knew they wouldn't do either, and of course they didn't, so instead here we sit at the dawn of another October watching someone else get excited for what's in store and faced with a choice: Embrace the future, or bemoan it.

Jake Peavy may be finished, or he may be reborn. Paul Konerko may take his services elsewhere, or he may guard the right side of the Cell's infield into perpetuity. Edwin Jackson may be an albatross around the Sox' neck, or he may be turn out to be the smartest move they never should have made.

On their own, such dilemmas make it easy to dwell on the negative. The Sox, as with last year and most of the years before it, head into the winter with a mile-long list of question marks, most of which should sound awfully familiar. The money might not be there, the team doesn't have the pieces to make a major trade, the cornerstones are a little older and a little slower, and on and on and on it goes.

But what if, instead of unsolvable problems, the Sox actually have more opportunity at their disposal than they realize? What if, finally, they have a chance to clean house and truly build this athletic, fundamentally sound core of which they've been speaking since 2004? The division, despite whatever good fortune has smiled upon the Twins, is still up for grabs and the Sox are only a few pieces away, and some legitimately promising pieces sit poised to deliver in some very real ways in the extremely near future.

We're Sox fans. By nature or by experience we'll probably want to see it before we believe it. Soon enough though, we may just get our chance to trade their folly for our faith because, as the saying goes, there's always next year, even, no, especially when we have long since conditioned ourselves to believe there isn't.

Week in Review: Tardy. Take three of four from the Red Sox, then take two of three from the Indians. Where was this in April, May, August, and the first 27 days of September?

Week in Preview: Infuriating. The Twins will probably go winless yet the Sox will gain absolutely nothing despite going undefeated. Again.

Season in Review: Record-wise, second place in the Central is essentially fourth place in the East but you know what? The Sox don't play in the East, which is a good thing because I don't think any of us could handle the embarrassment of a fourth-place finish. Which is not to say this was such a graceful silver medal campaign.

Offseason in Preview: Right field, first base and/or designated hitter, catcher, closer, bench, left-handed power, situational hitting, defense, speed, hitting coach, and possibly a manager and we're all set. Piece of cake.

Hawkeroo's Can-O-Corn Watch: "And that's why, if you look at each team individually, you'll see how some things aren't real good measures of what each of those teams means after 162 games. Most good teams get to go to the playoffs, of course, and most bad teams end up at the bottom of the standings, but what makes baseball so unique is when you get teams like our Sox, who were by far, by far the best team in the American League this year, but there's no column in the win-loss records to measure that. I've always said that any team that can win not just a few but a lot of games, that's a team that deserves that spot in October, and I know that's something Bud Selig has been working to improve. Because you look at what our Sox did this year, with how they took care of business against the National League, how we beat the Yankees by a fine margin, how we beat the Carmines - even sweeping them at Fenway - or giving the Tampa Bay Rays such a run for their money, these are the things that good teams do, and the Sox did them so well that there needs to be a way for the record to show that. Now, the rules say certain teams will advance to certain playoff series, and that's what baseball is all about, but as far as I'm concerned our Sox finished this season as a better team than the Twins, or the Phillies, or the Rangers, or anyone who came through here, and when the dust settles I think that's what you're gonna see more of."

Gordon Beckham Hall of Fame Update: Gordon Beckham positions played: Three. Luis Aparicio positions played: One. Might as well start stenciling his face onto the outfield wall now.

Alumni News You Can Use: Javier Vazquez, Nick Swisher, Royce Ring, Jon Rauch, Jim Thome, Jose Contreras, Ross Gload, Nick Masset, Aaron Rowand, Juan Uribe, and the Corkaroo Bomb Factory all played for playoff-caliber teams this year. The White Sox Report wishes them individual success while simultaneously wishing tremendous, collective failure upon each of their current employers.

The "H" in "DH" Stands For: "History," as in "History will never, ever, ever vindicate this experiment. Ever." Now let us banish Mark Kotsay's name from the history books.

The Q Factor: That's not the way I look at it, he thinks, eyes turned towards the setting sun. It's my bat, yes, but it's also my broom, my hatchet, my wrench: a tool designed to help a man reach a result, and we all know it is a poor workman who blames his tools. My hands already feel cold without gloves; my soul exposed without the uniform to contain it. But while the world outside is frozen, know that the fire still burns inside, and that I will return when the time is right. To some of you, I implore you, please accept my promise, and know that my words are bonded by love and honor. To the rest of you, you have been warned.

October Bandwagon Jumping: For single-handedly ruining my fantasy baseball team, The White Sox Report will specifically root against Tim Lincecum and the San Francisco Giants, and because the double-switch is so grossly overrated as some sort of intellectual bench press, we also root against all other teams from the senior circuit. For operating as pure evil incarnate, The White Sox Report outright REJECTS the New York Yankees, as any good internet sports missive should. Out of some weird sense of bitterness over 2008's so-called divisional "series," the White Sox Report dislikes the Tampa Bay Rays and for even pettier yet more understandable reasons, outright HATES the Minnesota Twins. For playing their home games in the Schaumburg of the Southwest, the White Sox Report also refuses to hitch its wagon to the Texas Rangers' star and, as such, the only remotely desirable outcome of the 2010 World Series is for ringless good guy and beloved former South Side lumberjack Jim Thome to singlehandedly topple the Reds in six while the rest of the Twins' playoff roster sits at home, silently weeping over #25's decision to go it alone. Jim of Destiny!

Ye Olde Walnut Factory: You're right, he's probably not going to put up another .320/40/120-grade season ever again. So what? Someone's name has to sell those jersey t-shirts, and I promise you it won't be Mark Teahen's.

Rios Grande: He's a fine centerfielder and the long overdue solution to a problem that plagued White Sox baseball for far too long. That said, this play will forever best sum up 2010: an otherwise good player, now wearing a Sox uniform, tries desperately to stop the Twins from shaming his new club but fails so wildly, so hilariously, that the season effectively ends right then and there. In July.

The "A" Word: Total attendance at the Cell for 2010 clocked in at 2,194,378, a number both excellent and miserable at the same time. Should a mostly-contending team in a major market draw more strongly? Yes. Would it have mattered? No. No it wouldn't.

Odds: For entertainment purposes only. Including gambling.

Paulie comes back: Even. Because come on, where's he gonna go?

A.J. comes back: Even. Because, come on, dude belongs on the South Side.

Jake Peavy comes back as inferior version of known make of Jake Peavy: 1.25:1.
Jake Peavy comes back as a more pleasant version of Jaime Navarro: 3.25:1.
Jake Peavy comes back better than ever: 20:1.

Sox complete their quest to acquire every possible remaining mid-1990s Cleveland Indian: 1:2. Only Russell Branyan remains!

Sox sign a major free agent: 10:1.
Sox sign a formerly major free agent now past his prime: 2:1. Man, remember how awesome Edgar Renteria used to be?

Sox make an obvious, sensible trade that immediately upgrades the team: 3:1.
Sox make a bizarre trade for someone else's garbage: 1:3.
Sox trade for Carlos Zambrano: 4:1.

Sox position player receives votes for a major award: 1.2:1. Look to Alex Rios to get consideration, if not outright victory, for Comeback Player of the Year, with Paul Konerko notching a few tallies in MVP voting.

Sox manager, coach, or executive receives votes for a major award: Even. They give awards for trying, right?

The Guillen Meter: Having reached a nice managerial milestone, the Guillen Meter reads 600 for "Kiss my ass. I bought a boat, I'm going out to sea."

Endorsement No-Brainer: Peggy Lee and Diane Reeves for the inevitable end of baseball season: there'll be another spring.

Cubs Snub: It's a good thing the Pirates exist, lest the Small Bears finish the season as baseball's only sixth-place team. Because, you know, fifth place is totally respectable.

Na Na, Hey Hey, Kiss Her Goodbye: You took the winters and made it summer. Happy trails, Nancy.

The White Sox Report: Until then, read 'em again.

The Cub Factor: As it was, so it shall be..

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The White Sox Report welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:59 AM | Permalink

October 2, 2010

The Weekend Desk Report

We regret to inform you the Weekend Desk tip line is experiencing technical difficulties. But we'll still cover the news that counts.

Market Update
Shares in uber-florist FTD were expected to skyrocket this week because, let's face it - it's gonna take a shitload of poppies to make up for this.

Golden Moments
Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, set to abdicate his throne next year, has warned his successor against bidding for the 2020 Summer Olympics. Daley's bold prediction that the event will be awarded to a country that has not hosted before was bolstered by news that construction for this year's Commonwealth Games in New Delhi may be finished by then.

Silver Lining
As Chicago inches closer to crowning a new king who is louder, ruder and shorter than the last, we can take solace in the fact we're more likely to get that Jeremy Piven ban we've all been hoping for now.

Bronze Ambition
Cubs television analyst Bob Brenly this week removed his name from the list of potential replacements for Lou Piniella. After all, how many beloved Cubs managers have their very own statues?

Spears, Steers and Fears
Finally this week, there appears to be a new face to one of the world's vilest and most enduring dictatorships. But, of course, we all know deep down Daddy's still pulling the strings.

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Monitored for quality control.

Posted by Natasha Julius at 9:01 AM | Permalink

October 1, 2010

The College Football Report: Daddy Needs A New Pair Of Shoes

Some things should be left to the professionals.

Week Four was not the most successful week in the history of The College Football Report. We backed a loser - heavily - and even the Sports Seal took it on the nose, going 2-3 in his picks. This week, we're going to lick our wounds and give ourselves a bit of a break. We will ramp back up next week. For the moment, we will take some small comfort knowing that in the world of college football, we weren't the only ones who had an off week.

For an example, let's turn to our colleagues in television. In all fairness to the suits in the booth, there are a lot of games on TV every weekend. And calling games can't be easy. The interaction between the play-by-play and color commentator can't be taken for granted, even when the pair regularly work together. Throw in a virgin color commentator, and well, we think you see where this is going.

Let's pick up ESPNU's coverage of the Kentucky-Florida game 42 minutes into the broadcast last Saturday. From the booth, Clay Matvick will be joined by first-time color guy Mark Schlereth. Florida has just taken possession at their own 20 following a 42-yard Kentucky punt. As Florida takes the field, Matvick tees up Schlereth for this gem:

Matvick: A lot of people knew that John Brantley had big shoes to fill coming into this season, replacing arguably the best player in college football history, Tim Tebow . . .

Schlereth: Right.

Matvick: . . . you had a chance to talk to him this week.

Schlereth: I did, I talked to Tim Tebow about John Brantley. He told me some really interesting things about John Brantley. He said, "Hey listen, it's not about replacing me. You've been here. It's your time. You're good enough. You're a great quarterback," and essentially just released John Brantley and gave him the ability to go out there and be you. You're plenty good enough. You're a great player. Go out there and show the world.

[0:58 remaining in the first quarter, 1st and 10 at FLA 20, John Brantley pass complete to Andre Debose for 8 yards to the Fla 28.]

Matvick: . . . that's the fourth catch for Andre Debose. And I think there are a lot of people around college football that don't envy (Brantley).

Schlereth: Yeah, certainly not. I mean, it's tough to replace an icon. And I played in Denver with John Elway and to replace the shoes of John Elway, for a lot of quarterbacks, that's a tough thing to hear that comparison.

And John Brantley is coming into this situation trying to replace an icon in Tim Tebow. But as I said, Tim Tebow said, "This is your time, just go out there, have fun, enjoy it and make the most of this opportunity because you're a great football player."

And I love the way Tim Tebow and John Brantley talk to one another, I love the relationship that they have with one another, and I love the encouragement given by Tim Tebow to take the reins, John Brantley, because this is your offense.

To recap, that's five John Brantleys, six Tim Tebows, and two John Elways. Some or all of which may or may not have been talking about or to one another and/or Mark Schlereth. Mark, you can replace our shoes any time.

We will keep it brief this week as we try to dig back out of the hole. We learned our lesson last week: greed is only good if you pick the right side. So it's with some trepidation that we offer the following picks from the slate on Saturday:

#2 Ohio State (-17) @ Illinois, 11:00AM
#11 Wisconsin @ #24 Michigan State (+2), 2:30PM
Tennessee @ #12 Louisiana State (-17.5), 2:30PM
#25 Nevada (-20.5) @ UNLV, 9:00PM

And the Sports Seal likes these picks, and had a little gleam in his eye that leads us to believe a parlay might be in the works as well:

BYU @ Utah State (+4.5), Friday, 7:00PM
Washington State @ UCLA (-27), Saturday, 2:30PM
SMU (-12.5) @ Rice, Saturday, 6:00PM

That's it - keep the faith, true believers. We will talk to you next week. Just remember our rule: If the first two of your three-game parlay picks come in, hedge that third game.

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Mike "Dr. Dude" Luce brings you The College Football Report in this space twice a week, sometimes once, sometimes on Tuesdays, sometimes Thursdays, sometimes Fridays, sometimes Saturdays, but he always brings it in time to make any important phone calls you may feel compelled to make. Hey, it's not our business what you do with our information. He welcome your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:28 AM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

1. Rahm bingo.

My favorite is: "Give me my fucking house back."

2. Why can't we get Howard Dean instead? (See second item.)

3. "'Now is not the time to quit,' Obama tells young voters."

Do as I say, not as Rahm does.

4. I prefer Tom Dart. He knows where the bodies are buried.

5. "Emanuel plans neighborhood 'listening tour.'"

You write the check, he'll listen as you add another zero.

6. Little-known fact: Rahm first met Daley at evil mayor school.

7. "Today marks the first day of the media festival that some are calling Rahmapalooza and others have dubbed Rahmadan," Dan Mihalopoulos writes for the Chicago News Cooperative. "The Prague spring of Chicago politics lasted less than a month, and Rahm Emanuel is now preparing to roll back into town."

8. Rahm's replacement has a reputation as a fixer. Which is good, because Rahm is known as a breaker.

9. Little-known fact: Rahm Emanuel was once considered for the lead role eventually taken by Al Pacino in The Devil's Advocate.

10. Facebook Feed: Matt Farmer is now friends with The Tenant Who Won't Move Out of Rahm Emanuel's House and 13 other people.

11. Rahm Emanuel scaring nobody.

12. Rahm's White House Visitors.

13. Funny, Rahm is not trending in Chicago tweets but Paranormal Activity is.

14. I didn't think he'd do it. In our Mayoral Odds (now updated), I put the odds of Rahm running and becoming our next mayor at 100-1. Here's what I wrote:

"Ask yourself a few questions. Does he really want to go from running the free world to worrying about Streets and San? And the man is still relatively young and ambitious. Where would he go from here - president? He's everybody's favorite but it's hard to envision."

I guess he just needs a job, though. Like many folks, I'm not sure where his votes come from. My guess is that he'll inherit the Daley machinery and become the business candidate as well. A vote for Rahm will mean a vote for more of the same - or, as he may put it, continuity. (Though he'll dress it up in "change" language. He'll pledge "reform." As if.) Watch for him to also signal "strength," meaning more bullying (less pulpit).

One thing, though: He gives everyone else in the race somebody to really run against hard. Rahm will energize an opposition like no other candidate in the race. You'll be hearing a lot about Anybody But Rahm.

Secretariat's Not Impossible Story
"Choosing the ridiculous title Secretariat: The Impossible True Story, Disney stays devoted to its own peculiar tablets of storytelling ethics," our man on the rail Thomas Chambers writes.

"Sure, I'll buy into it for the couple of hours it runs, but I'd rather remember the real story. Because it wasn't impossible."

The Week in WTF
Featuring McDonald's, Conrad Black, TARP banks, Margaret Matthews, our gubernatorial candidates and Blago as the flying monkey.

The World's Greatest College Football Report
Will appear between now and kickoff on Saturday. Keep your phone lines open.

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Frankly, we're funnier.

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Speaking of the House . . .

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Ad infinitum.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:12 AM | Permalink

TrackNotes: Secretariat's Not Impossible Story

First of a three-part series.

The memory fades. Pushed further into the past, by more and more open lengths, just as he did to four others on that June day in 1973.

For anyone of an age to have been there, or simply remember the hold he had on America, it's easy. For all the others, I guess there's nothing wrong with a major motion picture rekindling the story of Secretariat, aka Big Red.

You'll get an argument over who's the best of all time, sometimes just for the obstinacy of it all, but Secretariat is always in the conversation. "Man o' War! Count Fleet! Citation!"

And then there's Big Red. Choosing the ridiculous title Secretariat: The Impossible True Story, Disney stays devoted to its own peculiar tablets of storytelling ethics. Sure, I'll buy into it for the couple of hours it runs, but I'd rather remember the real story. Because it wasn't impossible.

Penny (Chenery) Tweedy and Lucien Laurin and Ron Turcotte did it.

And, most of all, Secretariat did it.

Let's first remember the running. The 21 races he ran as a two- and three-year-old.

Aspirations were high for Secretariat the minute he was born; that's how good he looked to appraisers of horse flesh. He was the very-well bred son of Bold Ruler, out of the esteemed Princequillo mare Somethingroyal. Horse owners can only hope, but they had a lot of hope in this one.

A horse that learns to stay out of trouble is called "professional," and even Secretariat was no professional as he took to the gate in July 1972 at Aqueduct under Paul Feliciano.

He banged like a billiard ball out of the gate, and found himself in traffic trouble most of the way. More than eight lengths back at the quarter pole in the short 5.5-furlong race, he veered to the rail and got up for fourth in a near blanket finish. It was the only time he finished out of the money, but near as anyone could tell, he just wanted to run as fast as he could.

Eleven days later, he got his maiden win over six furlongs at Aqueduct and prepared for his coming out in the summer season at Saratoga.

Apparently already on the radar of horseplayers, Big Red jumped to stakes company in the $27,000 Sanford in August 1972. He had by then a new jockey, the veteran Ron Turcotte. The Sanford was the third in what would become a string of 10 straight wins, and the only race in his life in which he wasn't the betting favorite.

Secretariat won Saratoga's featured race for the kids, the Hopeful Stakes, and then moved down the road to Belmont. After overcoming more traffic troubles in the Futurity Stakes to win by an expanding 1-3/4 lengths, Big Red began what could be called a Fall Eastern Seaboard "tour." Unlike today's pampered stars, horses then ran more often - Secretariat ran about once every two or three weeks.

With his race purses escalating, he stepped into the gate for the $146,000 Champagne, a huge October race before the Breeders' Cup was even invented. It was the first race where he encountered his first true adversity.

Having already beaten some familiar foes such as Stop the Music, Angle Light, Linda's Chief and Master Achiever, Big Red had a rank race as he started badly in the Champagne and it got worse from there.

His lagging behind in last kept him out of Angle Light's hot pace, but he was all over the track as he made his way around the turn and chugged for the wire. He bore into the rail and bumped Stop the Music; Turcotte got him straightened and he went on to win by two lengths. Except he couldn't beat the stewards. They ruled Secretariat compromised Stop the Music's chances to win and disqualified Big Red to second place.

Two weeks later, Secretariat easily won the Laurel Futurity at Laurel over Stop the Music and Angle Light in 1:42-4/5ths, just 1/5 off the track record for the 8.5-furlong distance. He finished out his two-year-old season with a win in the slop in the Garden State Futurity at now-demolished Garden State Park in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.

Secretariat was 9-7-1-0 (with the disqualification) in 4-1/2 months of racing at five different tracks and five different distances. He won the Eclipse Award for best two-year-old and was also named overall Horse of the Year. He looked like a runner.

After a much-deserved freshening, Secretariat came out strong in March 1973, overcoming a rough start and threading his way through horses to win the Grade III Bayshore at Aqueduct.

* * *

Visually, Big Red had to be pounding himself into peoples' heads as all of his victories were by open lengths. In the Grade III Gotham in April, Secretariat's maturity and professionalism began to show even more as he fended off a determined challenge by Champagne Charlie, hugging the rail for a three-length victory. He did it in 1:33-2/5ths, equaling the track record for a mile and missing by just over a second the world record for a mile, set by the nearly mythically fast Dr. Fager.

By April, Derby Fever was firmly epidemic and the word was out on Secretariat: He looks like a superhorse. Then he went and did it.

We would learn in hindsight that as Secretariat entered the gate for the April 21 Wood Memorial (just two weeks before the Kentucky Derby; imagine that in this day and age!), he had an abscess in his mouth - something that could easily upset the fragile equilibrium of a delicate thoroughbred. Trainer Lucien Laurin might have known about it. Turcotte did not.

After a lackluster break from the gate, Secretariat ran wide for the entire race, got up to fifth coming into the stretch and just didn't have enough kick to overcome Sham or the winner, Angle Light. I remember the uproar as the competence of Laurin and Turcotte were questioned, and some had doubts about Big Red himself. His sire, Bold Ruler, was the greatest sire of the 1950's, one of the greatest ever. But had he handed down enough stamina for Secretariat's Triple Crown quest?

* * *

Secretariat never said, but he must have really loved to run. For not only was he wowing them in the afternoons, he was truly super in his morning workouts.

According to William Nack in his celebrated biography Secretariat: The Making of a Champion, Big Red drilled in :57-2/5ths for five furlongs and 1:10 flat for six furlongs preparing for the Preakness. That would be more than plenty to win races at those distances. In one of Laurin's patented tough workouts for Secretariat, he blistered five furlongs in :56-4/5ths before the Belmont.

Content to let Sheckey Greene dash to the lead, Secretariat laid nearly last in the 110th Kentucky Derby. As they settled into the backstretch, the cameras fixed on the leaders and Secretariat burst into the television picture, showing off a powerful, determined and relaxed run as he made his move to the lead.

Passing the quarter pole and safely near the middle of the track, Big Red seemed to be getting faster with each step. He was - running each quarter faster than the last. He consumed Our Native and Sham and won by more than two. His 1:59-2/5 clocking broke the 1964 two minutes flat of Northern Dancer and the two-minute barrier in the Derby has been broken only one other time, by Monarchos in 2001. And he looked comfortable doing it.

* * *

His foundation for greatness laid, Secretariat moved on to Pimlico for the Preakness Stakes two weeks later.

You marvel at his size and beauty and power as he approaches the clubhouse turn, last in the field of six. Then again as he commands the race and takes the lead on the backstretch in one of the most magnificent turns of foot in history. Once again, Sham and Our Native finish 2-3. But wait, there's controversy.

The Pimlico electronic timer failed and race officials had to depend on their own manual clocker for the final time, 1:54-2/5ths, officially. Other timers said no, he ran faster and the Daily Racing Form had him at 1:53-2/5ths, breaking Nashua's 1955 record by more than a full second. As far as I'm concerned, he stands tied for the record with Tank's Prospect (1985) and Louis Quatorze (1996).

Big Red was greeted by nearly 138,000 fans on Belmont Stakes Day and on the verge of gracing the covers of the biggest nameplates in the magazine biz and capturing the imagination of all sports fans in a day when Thoroughbred horse racing was still on the public's and media's radar. He was attempting to capture the first Triple Crown in 25 years and join the ranks of the greats, including 1948's Citation.

But nobody could anticipate his Belmont performance, which shot his name to the top of those ranks. You had the usual worries, such as the 10-furlong distance and Turcotte's ability to control his inner clock, the ability to know how fast you're going and how much ground is left to cover. What we got was a perfect run, a perfect ride, and a perfect call.

First in the gate, Secretariat stood stone still, not moving one hoof. Out of the gate, he stayed on the rail and calmly got to the front on the first turn. He seemed to be having fun as he ran along with Sham, both five lengths ahead of the rest. But as they continued down the backstretch, Secretariat had had enough and began pulling away. The giant American flag in the infield measured his lead, the long lens showing him in an optical illusion ahead of Sham by the length of that flag.

Entering the far turn, his lead was eight and growing seemingly exponentially and the television camera couldn't keep the first two in the picture. With the camera moving with Secretariat, by the time the director pulled back to get Sham into the frame Big Red had increased his lead to easily 15 lengths. On that turn, we heard Chick Anderson's immortal call: "They're on the turn and Secretariat is blazing along, the first three-quarters of a mile in one o nine and four fifths. Secretariat is widening now. He is moving like a tremendous machine!"

And he was. Metaphorically, Anderson was spot on as he marveled "Secretariat is all alone now!" As alone as a horse can be in a race with the other horses, tens of thousand of fans in the grandstand and millions of people watching on television.

With Turcotte nearly motionless in the irons, Secretariat appeared absolutely energized anew by the roaring crowd and he turned it on even more, lengthening the massive lead as Turcotte subtly turned his head to see where the rest of them might be and sneaking a peek at the scoreboard timer display.

Still at full speed through the wire, Secretariat continued running at least another two furlongs before smoothly easing up. Relatively speaking, he was barely winded. Dad and me and the rest of the bar were strangely quiet as we knew we had just seen history. Dad, not really a horseplayer, collected on a couple of small bets after telling the contrarians "nobody beats this horse."

Secretariat's owner, Penny (Chenery) Tweedy, hugged those around her, flashing the now-famous smile. She waved her arms to the crowd, as if to say "This is great, isn't it?"

Still bouncing on his toes, Big Red returned to the winner's circle and bobbed his head to the crowd and Turcotte tipped his helmet. The stats said 2:24 flat and 31 lengths at the finish. It annihilated Gallant Man's 1957 mark of 2:26-3/5ths and still stands as the race, the track and the distance records. A.P. Indy (1992) and Easy Goer (1989) share second for the race record, a full two seconds back.

Even for Secretariat, anything after a record-shattering Triple Crown had to be at least partially anticlimactic. He had kicked off a decade that would see three Triple Crown winners and the nation wanted to see Big Red.

Back in the day when television basically covered sports more than they ran them like now, Arlington Park ponied up $125,000 and created the Arlington Invitational in what was an early made-for-TV sporting event.

With Chris Schenkel and a microphone next to her, Tweedy commented during the race, which was a cakewalk. However, after starting slowly, Secretariat got going enough to just miss Damascus' track record by only one-fifth.

According to Nack, the Arlington money was too good to pass up, but it probably messed up Tweedy's and Laurin's strategies. They had been pointing for the summer season at Saratoga with the prestigious Jim Dandy-Whitney-Travers trifecta in their plans. And Big Red could probably have used a little break after the Triple Crown.

Plus, he wasn't feeling well with a slight fever and was not training well. It showed in the Whitney when H. Allen Jerkens' Onion pulled off the upset. Secretariat finally got his needed rest, battling the fever at the same time.

In an early manifestation of corporate sponsorship, Philip Morris offered a $250,000 purse for the newly created Marlboro Cup. Originally planned as a match race between Secretariat and his Meadow Stable mate Riva Ridge, winner of the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont the year before, the field added Onion, Cougar II, Key to the Mint and others after both Riva Ridge and Secretariat lost coming in.

After turning in anther sharp drill, Secretariat delivered a world-record 1:45-2/5ths for nine furlongs, beating Riva Ridge a couple of lengths.

Laurin pointed Secretariat to the 10-furlong Man o' War Stakes on the turf and Riva Ridge to the Woodward. But when the track came up sloppy for the Woodward, scheduled for nine days before the Man o' War, he scratched Riva and pressed Secretariat into service. Jerkens was ready again and his Prove Out stalked and then hunted down Secretariat to register a four-length win. Secretariat's training for another race did him in.

Laurin, however, kept Big Red on track for the Man o' War, his first turf race. The superhorse made it look easy as he dispatched the highly regarded Tentam and pulled away to a Belmont track-record 2:24-4/5ths for 10 furlongs on turf.

Secretariat's stud syndication deadline loomed (more on that next week) and he would have time for only one more race in his career. Tweedy chose the Canadian International, a long 13-furlong turfer at Canada's Woodbine.

Turcotte was required to serve a suspension for rough riding in another race and the mount was taken by veteran Eddie Maple. On or near the lead the entire race, Secretariat took command on the turn and pulled away, hot vapor flaring out of the nostrils of his legendary cardiovascular system.

As sad as it was to ponder his last race, the image was fitting as winter approached, and the odyssey of Secretariat through the four seasons of 1973 came to its conclusion.

He ran 21.75 miles in 21 races and countless more in his training.

"Secretariat loves to run," Tweedy said. "There are horses like Secretariat, who are sound and able, and think running is thrilling. He knows when he wins. He knows when people notice him. It's been a great experience for him, too."

The vision of Secretariat running. Etched in our minds forever.

(Next week: Secretariat: In perspective)

Rachel's Retirement
Rachel Alexandra, another horse who had a season for the ages, has been retired.

In a sorry excuse for an announcement, owner Jess Jackson created more questions than he answered, saying only that "she did not return to her 2009 form." It's not likely we'll get a full explanation, either.

Rachel had just turned in two very solid weeks in preparation for this Saturday's Beldame at Belmont. Does Jackson just want to get to the breeding part? He said he plans to breed Rachel to his own Curlin, his two-time Horse of the Year champion.

Trainers Steve Asmussen and Scott Blasi were training her hells bells and Jackson just pulls the plug? Unless Rachel was giving strong indications that she just didn't want to run anymore - they do that sometimes - he should have given her the chance to run in the Beldame and vault into the Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic.

Or did Jackson put an end to it now knowing he wasn't going to send her to the Breeders' Cup and thus avoid being called a chicken?

While I strongly disagreed with sending her 10 furlongs in the Personal Ensign, a distance she would not and could not conquer, her strong showing must have provided enough foundation for her to continue with two more races.

Then again, I've said all along that I thought her 2010 campaign was badly handled. She was rushed into training to get a prep into her in order to commit to an enriched Apple Blossom. She wasn't ready and Jackson caught hell when he took her out of what would have been a showdown with Zenyatta. Instead of a cooperative and careful strategy to get the two together in late spring or summer, it blew the showdown out of the water.

Once again, fans are left grasping for air and another great horse is taken from us.

RIP Real Quiet
In 1998, Real Quiet and Victory Gallop formed one of the all-time Triple Crown rivalries as they fought it out in each jewel of the crown.

Real Quiet won the first two, the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness. But 'Gallop came back to deny Real Quiet the crown in the Belmont in one of the closest finishes ever.

Real Quiet died earlier this week when he was severely injured in a paddock accident. He was only 15. He was the son of Quiet American, out of the Fappiano mare Really Blue.

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Thomas Chambers is our man on the rail. He brings you TrackNotes every Friday and welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:30 AM | Permalink

The Week in WTF

1. Goober-natorial, WTF?

Pat Quinn (D-Dense) and challenger Wild Bill Brady (R-Freakin' Nuts) have been debating over the governorship that one of them will hold in another month.

Depressed by the choice? Yeah, us, too. WTF is thinking about moving to Canada, buying plaid shirts and changing our name to Bruce.

WTF Bruce? Has a nice ring to it.

Quinn calls Brady "heartless" for his proposed social services cuts; Brady calls Quinn brainless because, well, let's not belabor the painfully obvious. All we need is the Cowardly Lion and a babe in sparkly red heels. We've already cast Judy Baar Topinka for Margaret Hamilton's Witch of the West role.

Blago is the flying monkey.

2. Margaret Matthews, WTF?

Margaret Matthews, 68, was tormented by two teen punks and eventually shot one. Good going, Margaret! We think there's an Eagle Scout badge for that.

WTF commends her because, as opposed to the lousy marksmanship shown by most gangstas, she still seems capable of hitting what she shoots at. Or the target at which she shoots. Gangstas usually kill the wrong person.

Maybe WTF can suggest this trade-in opportunity to gangstas. Avoid shooting anybody while you're a young punk and, when you hit 62, we issue your first monthly retirement check and a free shot at someone you don't like. We'll even give you the gun and a spare bullet. If the Republicans win next month, we'll have to advance the age to 69.

Actually, we think that turning Social Security age should entitle the card holder to one, free annual punk capping. Shoot a punk, win a prize. Sort of like Bradbury's carnie from hell in Something Wicked This Way Comes.

As Sun-Times intellectual wordmeister Stella Foster offers in this hard-hitting and trenchant assessment: "And it is time for parents and their rowdy offspring to be held more accountable for their actions. Yeah, I said it!" Who says she writes mindless drivel? Who? WTF wants to know.

3. Conrad Black, WTF?

Finally an appellate judge asks the relevant question of local media mogul (downhill version) Conrad Black, who is trying to wriggle away from the last three years of his sentence: Why do we care that the "honest services" version of fraud has been diluted by the U.S. Supreme Court? Aren't you just an old-fashioned crook?

Judge Richard Posner made Black's lawyers "bristle" with that analysis this week.

Bristling lawyers are best served with fire-toasted peppers and a piquant tartar sauce. It's a standard menu item at the WTF Bar & Grill.

4. Banks, WTF?

Do you know how banks work when no one is watching? Yeah, us neither. But WTF, you'd have to be an actually terrible bank manager to lose money with the breaks that banks give themselves.

Like this.

These Chicago banks borrowed millions during the TARP national near-meltdown. The going rate for taxpayer-paid salvation was 7.7 percent interest, which seems a little high but remember these are pretty lousy banks. But a new interpretation allows the banks to refinance the loans at 3.1 percent from a different federal agency. A doubleheader bailout? WTF

A loan at 7 per is a burden for a bank. But a fast-moving bank might even make a profit on TARP loans at 3.1 percent.

Sa-weet.

The manipulation champion pip in our neighborhood area is Discover Financial, a credit card company that got bailed out because it changed its self-definition to bank holding company. WTF, It Really Pays To Discover.

Go to your bank Monday morning and ask for the same deal. We'll sure they help you out, fellow WTFers.

5. McDonald's, WTF?

McDonald's, which makes about a billion buckaroos in profit per quarter, is hinting it will cut health insurance for its burger flippers because insurance companies need more than a 15 percent slice of the premium to make ends meet.

McDonald's doesn't even pay for it. The burger flippers do.

Big companies often adopt an inverse proportion rule to truth. Thus, the more McDonald's denies it, the more is seems inevitable. The Macsters also can prove a Big Mac and fries are good for you. Yes, they are. We wouldn't lie. And 10 Big Macs are 10 times as good for you as one is. It's math.

Let's reprise the facts. Insurance companies don't actually deliver health care. They just make money from it.

Their basic principle is that if they have to play fair, they can't make a buck. Which tells you something about the preposterous oddness of the entire structure.

Tell WTF again why a single-payer health plan without health insurance companies in the middle draining plasma is a bad idea?

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David Rutter is the former publisher/editor of the Lake County News-Sun, a Sun-Times Media property.

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Comments welcome.

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See also:
* An excerpt from Rutter's Olga's War


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:06 AM | Permalink

MUSIC - The Week In Chicago Rock.
TV - Cricket vs. Brexit.
POLITICS - Trailer: Swing District.
SPORTS - Ryan Pace's Narratives Are Killing Us.

BOOKS - Chicago For Dummies.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - The Sears Motor Buggy.


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